Green without Compromise

November 4, 2008

Nearly every personal and household care company is interested in natural solutions for their hair and skin care products or hard surface cleaners. Cognis proposes several ways to create these formulas.

Green without Compromise

Nearly every personal and household care company is interested in natural solutions for their hair and skin care products or hard surface cleaners. Cognis proposes several ways to create these formulas.

Bettina Jackwerth, global marketing director, skin care, Cognis; Isabelle Benoit, global marketing manager, Laboratoires Sérobiologiques and Guadalupe Pellón, global marketing manager, hair-body-oral, Cognis

More consumers want to live a “green” lifestyle. But the majority of them will not sacrifice product performance. It is not enough knowing a product comes from natural resources; more importantly, it must satisfy consumer demand for performance. Therefore, one key challenge in the personal and home care markets is to increase the level of green ingredients in formulations without compromising their performance. By advancing the second phase of its Green Chemical Solutions classification system, Cognis Care Chemicals and Laboratoires Sérobiologiques (LS) answer this challenge. This time, the focus is on formulations, their level of greenness and demonstrating the relationship bet-ween the naturalness of the product and its performance through the Green Formulation Grid.
Consumers have embraced the green trend. Eco products are chic, smart to use and are regarded as able to enrich people’s lives. Yet, consumers are rarely willing to compromise on convenience, personal well-being or product performance.
The challenge for manufacturers is to increase the level of green ingredients in formulations without compromising performance. Often, making the formulation greener means the performance may be negatively influenced because the necessary ingredients are not available yet. Therefore, not only must manufacturers ask, “How far down the green road are we willing to go?” but also, “How far down the green road are we really able to go?”

Keeping an Eye on Consumers

The second phase of Green Chemical Solutions answers both questions. Formulations are differentiated into four categories based on their level of vegetable-based and renewable ingredients. Categories are visualized by a four-leaved icon with one to four of the leaves being colored green denoting the proportion of natural C-atoms in the formulation. But the category descriptions go one step further. They put consumers and their green lifestyle habits in the focus, thus rating the formulations according to the level of greenness aimed toward certain consumer profiles.
Eco-Passion: Formulations in this category contain the highest level of natural, renewable components. They are aimed at consumers who will not compromise when it comes to the different dimensions of greenness.
Eco-Spirit: These formulations appeal to consumers for whom living a green lifestyle is a high priority.
Eco-Mind: These formulations are aimed at consumers who are interested in doing something good for the environment, but who decide on a case-by-case basis how green they want to be.
Eco-Image: Formulations in this category appeal to consumers who are prepared to buy green products, but without sacrificing their lifestyle or budget.
These four categories are the basis of the Green Formulation Grid. It visualizes in a matrix the relationship between the naturalness of a product and its level of performance, considering certain claims that manufacturers want to make for best positioning in the market:
    • Classic products target traditional consumers demanding products suitable for the family and delivering what is generally regarded as well accepted, thus a basic level of performance in their category at a reasonable price;
    • Advanced products offer the targeted consumer performance that goes some way beyond these requirements; and
    • Superior products target the most demanding consumers who seek specialized products that have an overall convincing product experience and are the best performers in their category in terms of the claims made.
These classifications are based on market benchmarks and reflect the current situation and consumer preferences. They have been developed considering individual regional needs and can include benchmarks from the traditional market as well as from the green segment.
There are 12 different positions on the grid, representing every potential combination of performance and naturalness. Each position might be filled with formulation proposals relating to the product category and desired claims. In this way, manufacturers can see at a glance if a formulation with the desired levels of performance and naturalness is already available at Cognis or if it is possible to develop such a formulation. Cognis will consult manufacturers on which Care Chemicals’ products suit a certain formulation and support them with the entire development process to the point of performance tests.
A checkmark indicates that Cognis Care Chemicals considers it currently possible to develop a formulation that combines a specific level of performance with the chosen proportion of natural ingredients. A question mark, on the other hand, indicates that Cognis does not currently consider it technically feasible for a product in this naturalness category to deliver this level of performance.
Manufacturers and consumers must accept the fact that there are applications where a product with a high level of greenness cannot deliver the required performance because the necessary ingredients have not yet been invented; i.e., UV protection or hair conditioners. However, the lack of specific ingredients today offers opportunities for innovations tomorrow.

How green a whole formulation is depends on the “greenness” of each ingredient in it. The Green Formulation Grid is based on the Portfolio Easy Guide, which was launched in 2007, in the first wave of Green Chemical Solutions. Each ingredient of the Cognis Care Chemicals portfolio has been given a rating of up to four green leaves—indicating the proportion of natural, renewable components and how it is processed. Ingredients with four or three green leaves—Cognis Naturals and Cognis Natural Modified—contain only C-atoms from vegetable, renewable resources. The classification of formulations works the same way. The amount of natural, renewable C-atoms of each ingredient a formulation contains are added up to a total percentage rate.

Performance and Naturalness

To help manufacturers increase green levels and move up the matrix, there is a range of solutions that are both green and show strong performance. For those who want to increase the greenness of their end products, ingredients fully based on natural feedstocks are the best choice. Vegetable oils fit this position. Ideally, these oils must deliver good sensorial and efficacy-related performance and even conform to organic standards. This is the case with two oils from LS: Lipofructyl Argan, an extra virgin organic argan oil which is the beauty secret of Moroccan women and  Lipofructyl Cyperus, a new, universal caring oil for skin and hair. Both oils are 100% vegetable sourced, organically grown and Ecocert-certified (raw material certified by Ecocert SAS BP 47 32600 L’Isle Jourdain according to the standard of natural and organic cosmetics: 100% of the ingredients are coming from organic farming). Lipofructyl Argan is prepared by mechanical extraction (cold processing). Thanks to its content of unsaturated fatty acids, argan oil helps restore the skin’s hydro-lipidic film and strengthens the barrier function. It can be used in different skin care applications, such as anti-aging formulations or body lotions. In addition, as already discovered by Moroccan women who have been using this oil in traditional beauty recipes for centuries, Lipofructyl Argan perfectly conditions and nourishes hair. Therefore, it is suitable for all kinds of hair care applications. Lipofructyl Cyperus, extracted from the roots of Chufa Sedge, is rich in unsaturated fatty acid, particularly oleic acid. Its naturally high content of tocopherol induces endogenous protection against free radicals. Applied to hair, it brings about softness, shine and ease of combing, as demonstrated in a sensorial test. Skin care applications which contain Lipofructyl Cyperus have a moisturizing effect which is still significant 24 hours after application. This has been shown in an ex-vivo efficacy test. Lipofructyl Cyperus is suitable for any target group including women, men and children covering concepts for body, hair and face care.
Two of the latest green products in the Cognis Care Chemicals portfolio are Euperlan Green and Plantasil Micro. Euperlan Green (INCI: Lauryl glucoside [and] stearyl citrate) is the first green, vegetable-based pearlizing wax dispersion. In the recommended dosage of 2-5%, it gives a pearl shine, making it suitable for use in hair and body cleansing formulations that fit the trend toward natural, sustainable beauty products (see creams at left). If manufacturers want to develop a body wash that can be marketed as pearlescent and environmentally sound—a concept that so far has been unattainable—Cognis proposes a formulation called Naturecare Body Wash (left) with 100% natural, renewable C-atoms.
Classified under  the Eco-Passion category, Euperlan Green contributes to the level of naturalness of the formulation being derived from 100% natural-based raw materials. Euperlan Green allows the possibility to manufacture products that are green and have a pleasing appearance. Additionally, Euperlan Green is supplied as an easy-to-handle liquid. Because it is cold-processable, it saves energy and time during manufacturing.
Another green innovation from Cognis is Plantasil Micro (INCI: Dicaprylyl ether [and] decyl glucoside [and] glyceryl oleate). It is a transparent microemulsion (left) which provides improved hair conditioning performance to shampoos. Cationic polymers in combination with silicone oils are often used to achieve hair conditioning properties in shampoos. During application, they form a coacervate phase. Despite this smart technology, this approach is limited due to the patent situation for silicones in cosmetic compositions as well as the missing link to the green trend.
Therefore, a new green microemulsion has been developed based on a synergistic blend of a surfactant-oil system. Plantasil Micro is compatible with a wide range of surfactants and can be easily added in a cold process to a shampoo base. It helps formulators develop green performance shampoos on the basis of natural sourced ingredients. A performance shampoo containing Plantasil Micro can reach up to 97% of natural, renewable raw materials (see formula below). One indicator to measure the performance of shampoos is the combability of hair. Tests have shown that the addition of Plantasil Micro in a green-based formulation reduces residual combing work considerably (see chart below). Shampoos containing Plantasil Micro can be marketed as “high conditioning” and “environmentally sound.”
Manufacturers who want to reach a diverse range of consumers have to take their different demands on performance and greenness into account: Some are not willing to make any sacrifices when living their green lifestyle, and do not mind compromising on high-class product performance. Others do not take greenness so seriously and their priority lies on good product performance. Theoretically, it is possible to produce a completely natural product, at least in some product categories. But in practice, the challenge to deliver the aesthetic and functional performance on economically justifiable terms still remains. It has been shown how new innovations can increase the degree of naturalness in green products yet still maintain high performance levels. Such new products allow hurdles to be jumped and doors to new opportunities be opened.

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Website: www.cognis.com