To formulate natural products, chemists must use new and different techniques and minimally modified raw materials, illustrated here on natural shampoos
Formulating cosmetic products with natural raw materials is riddled with dilemmas. These dilemmas focus mainly around the extent to which a raw material can be labeled as being "natural." However, there are other perplexing issues that can contribute to the dismay of the formulation chemist. For instance, the following list of perplexations is relatively typical:
* Is deionized water "natural"?
* Are bacteria considered "animal" by consumers?
* Are raw materials that have been synthesized by any means "natural"?
* In a reaction where the raw materials are "natural" but the catalyst is synthetic, is the resulting product still "natural"?
* Do consumers place all animals in the same category of esteem? (Another way of looking at this dilemma is to ponder whether cattle, crabs and bees are equal in the eyes of the consumer.)
It is doubtful that all formulating chemists and their marketing counterparts would agree upon the answers to such questions. In the final analysis, companies use raw materials that they feel can be rationally justified by their own definitions.
To demonstrate the challenges of working with natural raw materials, a shampoo prototype was selected with the following "rationale" as a guide:
* No ethoxylates
* No nitrosamines
* Foaming comparable to retail products
* As little petrochemical modification of raw materials as possible
* No formaldehyde-donating preservative; use a natural if possible
* Plant-derived raw materials
* No-heat manufacturing procedure
The list of objectives (rationale) seems formidable for a shampoo, since ethoxylated surfactants have been the mainstay of this product and petroleum modification is necessary to produce them. Nevertheless, from these objectives, a list of essential components of a "natural shampoo" was prepared (Table 1).
Water substitutes: It wouldn't be a very good idea these days to begin a formula with plain water. Everyone is using an "extract of" some lovely plant material. Two dilemmas confront the chemist: first, the issue of whether deionized water is natural and, second, what to use for a plant extract.
Table 1. Components …