Eco-design: how to evaluate the possibility of replacing synthetic polymers in the cosmetic product?

30 / 03 2021

Green cosmetics is experiencing a period of strong growth in terms of turnover and volumes, in line with the increasing interest of public opinion in environmental sustainability. For this reason, the market offer of naturally derived ingredients has increased, such as polysaccharides, which, thanks to their ability to swell in water and form a three-dimensional network, are considered a valid alternative to traditional acrylic rheological modifiers, recently at the center of the debate on the topic of microplastics. Although the offer is very wide, formulating with green ingredients still reveals some critical issues, mainly due to the difficulty of matching the performance of synthetic polymers in terms of yield and texture of the product. This is why the cosmetic industries increasingly need instrumental methods, with which to easily and quickly obtain objective data on the physical and applicative characteristics of the various raw materials.

Our work “Evaluating natural alternatives to synthetic acrylic polymers: rheological and texture analyzes of polymeric water dispersions“, recently published in the open-access journal ACS Omega, aims to characterize and compare different polymeric raw materials of synthetic or natural derivation, dispersed in water at different concentrations. We have developed an instrumental protocol that consists of the use of rheology and texture analysis. The first studies the viscosity and flow properties of the material; the second allows objectifying the tactile properties, such as hardness, consistency and adhesiveness, which are closely linked to some sensory properties. The combined use of these two techniques, which are significantly correlated with each other, has made it possible to classify each cosmetic raw material on the basis of specific applications, in order to rationalize and simplify their industrial use to achieve functional and sensorial objectives, to identify suitable alternatives to synthetic raw materials with a view to eco-design of the green product.

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