Written by Mark Chandler, President – ACT Solutions Corp.
CAN NATURAL SKIN CARE PRODUCTS BE HIGH-TECH?/CAN HIGH-TECH SKIN CARE PRODUCTS BE NATURAL?
There has been a great divide between natural skin care products and high-tech performance skin care products. Natural products are endearing, complete with plant-based ingredients and avoiding those ingredients that offend our notions of safety. Premium skin care products are unfettered by such considerations, focusing on delivering the full consumer experience in terms of efficacy, aesthetics, and stability. We understand that the consumer decision to purchase, repurchase, and tell everyone (online) how thrilled they are with the product is both emotional and rational. If we would like to reconcile competing forces of natural and high-tech in order to control the narrative of the consumer decision, we must go back to first principles of formulating.
‘Aesthetics and performance. Stability and sensibility’
These are the challenges we face. In order to meet these challenges, a step back rather than forward is in order. Unquestioned notions based on suggestion and experience need to be vetted.
The first is the thought that emollient choice drives aesthetics. Though intuitively correct and reinforced over the decades by emollient suppliers, this could not be further from the truth. In work performed by the late Dr. Johann Wiechers, published way back in 2002, outlined that 74% of the entire aesthetic experience (Appearance, Pick-up, Rub-out, and After-feel) is controlled by the emulsifier selection. Further, nearly 100% of the consumer ‘moments of truth’, those roughly 90 seconds that the consumer sees, touches, and rubs the product on to the skin is controlled by the emulsifier. This knowledge cries out for formulators to break free of their emulsifier platforms and chassis and consider new colloid structures and chemistries.
One appealing yet underutilized approach is to use the power of liquid crystalline lamellar gel network (LC) stabilization. Knowledge of these structures dates back decades from the work of Stig Friberg and others. The first commercial LC emulsifier was launched in the early 1990’s as a natural alternative to natural/synthetic PEG-based emulsifiers. It was only later that it was realized that building skin care emulsions with an LC structure gave enhanced skin care performance with regard to moisturization and skin elasticity building, but also enhanced delivery of both hydrophilic and lipophilic active ingredients. Today there are great LC emulsifier offerings from Croda (Arlacel LC), SEPPIC (Montanov 202), Corbion (ESTERLAC Perform), and many others.
THE QUESTION THAT NATURALLY ARISES…
“If LC systems are so wonderful, why isn’t everyone using them”?
The answer is likely twofold. One may be in that aesthetics need to resonate with the target audience. LC systems have a distinctive aesthetic that is appealing to many, but success can only be found if that aesthetic is appealing to the intended customer. The primary reason may be that most LC emulsifiers are used incorrectly. Though many instruct that their LC emulsifier can go in either phase, there is only one phase that they should go in for success an full realization of the LC potential – a heated aqueous phase – no exceptions.