This blog is to provide useful information, to existing and prospective clients; on all aspects of cosmetic contract manufacturing.
IS IT CORRECT TO CALL AN INGREDIENT NATURAL OR MORE APPROPRIATE TO CALL IT NATURALLY DERIVED
The first thing one needs to ask is what do people mean by natural?
By definition natural means existing in nature and not made or caused by people. Coming from nature and not having any extra substances or chemicals added as well as not containing anything artificial.
So by this definition we can see that there are some natural things that can be used in skin care products. Honey is an example but most honey has to undergo some form of human intervention through heating or autoclaving in order to sterilize it of the bee excrement and other detritus. So under this circumstance, do we consider honey natural?
When stating something is “natural” do we really mean “naturally derived”?
Many skin care products in the market currently claim to use "natural" or "organic" ingredients in their formulations. This would be a wonderful concept and definitely evokes the idea of purity and wholesomeness but the reality is far from this ideal concept.
There are very few, if any, raw materials that can claim to be “pure” and “natural” as there always needs to be some sort of “human intervention” to yield a viable ingredient ready to be used in skin, body or hair care products.
An example is that of claims that a soap is “natural”. Soaps are usually manufactured through a process called saponification. This is a heated reaction between a caustic ingredient (such as lye or sodium hydroxide) and an oil or fat. The product off this reaction is a soluble salt. This salt is then able to lift off dirt and oils from the skin using a water loving head and an oil loving tail. Therefore the problem is that there are no naturally occurring soap ingredients.
When a product is reputed to be made from natural ingredients there needs to be a question of where this product occurs in nature. Even water is not “natural”. When making a cream, the water has to be purified otherwise there may be too much biological activity present in the final product. So in theory the only really natural ingredients present in the product will be the microbes that spoil the final skin care product!
Can something be considered natural or organic if it is derived from crude oil?
Theoretically yes. Oil is produced when organic matter decomposes and undergoes a series of heat and pressure situations yielding a thick, black and viscous solution made of a number of organic ingredients. This can then be separated by various distillation steps. It can therefore be assumed that products such as mineral oil, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), paraffin etc. can be classified as naturally derived and organic products but have been manufactured by human intervention.
Can raw materials be safely declared organic or natural?
Companies claim they can certify, register and guarantee ingredients as being organic and natural, in some cases at considerable extra costs to the raw material prices. These registrations that ingredients are organic or natural are creating thriving new businesses but there may be debate whether they may or may not be necessary. For any ingredient to be considered as "certified organic" and of "natural origin" the following points need to be taken into consideration:
- · In many of the cases there had to be some form of human intervention to achieve the final raw material. The point is to what degree has there been human involvement.
- · The product which has been farmed on a property specifically designed to not introduce herbicides, pesticides and other objectionable additives, cannot necessarily guarantee that the neighbouring property has not used those products. The wind is indiscriminate which way it blows and so no guarantee that there had been an avoidance of introduction of the these unwanted elements. Some of the airborne pesticides and herbicides may still land in the property that tries to prevent using them. How does one analyse for all these variables and so "certify" them?
- · Water travel used for irrigating the crops may travel through a water table. There is no reassurance that the water is not contaminated by man-made pollutants such as chemicals from fracking coal seam gas. The water sourced from dams and estuaries may be contaminated from run-off. Even rain has no guarantee of being pure due to the airborne pollutants present which are absorbed into the water droplets forming rain.
The underlying conclusion is that man has polluted the earth so much that in reality it is not possible to source ingredients that are completely natural. Nearly all of the raw materials used in skincare formulations have undergone some form of human intervention to yield a suitable ingredient for formulating. Instead of calling them "natural" or "organic" we should really call them “naturally derived”.
Ortron uses many raw materials in their formulations. The fats, oils, emulsifiers, herbal extracts, essential oils, etc are all sourced from sustainable plant origin where possible. Ortron is always researching plant alternatives for any animal derived raw materials they use.
What is a moisturiser? Is it the same as an emollient a humectant or a hydrotrope?
Moisturisers, emollients, humectants and hydrotropes have one thing in common, they all deal with water in one way or another.
There seems to be a misconception that moisturisers and emollients are the same thing. Unfortunately they are not exactly the same, hence they have a different name.
A moisturiser is an emulsified blend of fats, waxes and oils which utilises properties of those certain chemicals to enhance the moisture retention level on the skin surface.
As explained before in Ortron’s blog (“Are sun screens really as effective as people wish you to believe?”) skin can dry out due to heat from the sun and dry air. “Once the skin has no more moisture to protect it, then the skin starts to denature (much like what happens when you boil an egg and the albumen changes form). This denaturing creates what we perceive as pain and burning. After this burning, we have the blistering of the skin which leads to that typical peeling of the skin.”
This drying out of the skin also results in premature aging of skin. The skin starts to lose its elastic properties as there is some damage to the collagen and elastin under the epidermis through the heat and drying.
Therefore a moisturiser must allow the skin to “breathe” and also to maintain a balanced level of moisture. This helps to maintain its suppleness but only as long as the moisturiser is always present. Unfortunately we perspire and the cream dries out so we need to regularly apply the cream to achieve maximum effect.
An emollient is a product that “softens” and “oils” the skin making it more pliable but not necessarily retaining moisture onto the skin. If anything it may actually occlude rather than retain the water onto the skin. So “Sorbolene” creams are mainly emollients but not very good moisturisers as they are made up of heavy emollients such as vaseline or petroleum jelly with some emulsifiers.
Examples of emollients are capric caprylic triglyceride, cetearyl octanoate, lauryl alcohol, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, almond oil
A humectant is a product that reacts with water, binding it hydrostatically into a mesh type network. This doesn’t necessarily result in any type of moisturising effect as the water is hydrostatically bonded within the humectant molecule. This is invariably used to prevent a product from drying out.
Examples of a humectant is propylene glycol, glycerine, and sorbitol.
A hydrotrope is a product that binds water through electrostatic forces due to their strong affinity to water (through their hydrophilic, or water loving, head) and some organic molecules (through their short chain hydrophobic, or water hating, tail). Hydrotropes are fantastic when used in products such as conditioners. Through its ability to capture water molecules and bind them tightly to an organic phase (the hair follicles) they prevent hair drying out through harsh hot blow drying.
Some examples of hydrotropes are cyclodextrin, dendrimer, sodium benzoate.