Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. What’s true for salmon works with silicones, too—at least at Shin-Etsu Silicones, where the company does much more than provide a wide range of product options for its customers. Shin-Etsu has assembled a strong team of researchers at its cosmetic application lab (CAL) in Totowa, NJ to help cosmetic chemists understand how silicones works, troubleshoot formulation problems, solve scale-up issues and help formulators see how silicones can help their products reach their full potential.
No wonder then, that chemists from some of the biggest companies in the business have been beating a path to Totowa for more than a year now to get an understanding of the basic raw materials, how to use the ingredients and what benefits silicones impart to finished products.
“Cosmetic chemistry is 25% science and 75% art,” explained John E. Heitler Jr., VP-marketing and sales, Shin-Etsu. “What we do here is art. We’re creating formulas that will appeal to our customers’ customers.”
Shin-Etsu’s portfolio includes 80 unique items, such as the KSG-300Z series of self-emulsifying elastomer gels in various carrier oils. Compared to conventional emulsifiers, KSG-300Z series can stabilize emulsions with much larger particle size distribution, which are key in creating light and fresh skin feel, according to Shin-Etsu. The ambient process is the norm when ingredients do not require heat.
The KSG-300Z product series enables formulators to create textures ranging from light and fresh to rich and nourishing. They can stabilize actives such as retinol and vitamin C, as well as formulations with pH ranging from 3 to 11.
But Shin-Etsu executives insist it’s not about pushing products; it’s about pushing formulation limits to create products that stand out on retail counters and shelves, which consumers return to again and again.
“We’re collaborating more with customers who see our products at events such as the NYSCC Suppliers’ Day and who then want to learn how to use them in finished product formulas,” explained lab manager Yinli Wang. “As often as three times a month, we provide one-and-a-half day training sessions for our distributors and customers. We work closely with major cosmetic producers.”
For those who can’t make the trek to Totowa, the cosmetic application lab also creates formulation kits, which include 47 formulas and 50 raw materials. Each month, Shin-Etsu sales representatives and distributors can bring new custom formulations to their clients that showcase the benefits of key raw materials.
A Talented Staff
Shin-Etsu’s Totowa staff is just as unique as the products that they work with. Wang has a PhD in chemistry from New York University and has 16 years of personal care industry experience at companies such as Avon Products, Coty Prestige and, most recently, L’Oréal, where she served as associate principal chemist for about four years. Senior chemist Janine Cherette is another L’Oréal alum, where she spent a decade in the color cosmetic lab and two years in the sun care/photoprotection lab. She has a degree in biology from Montclair State University. Rounding out the CAL staff is Dhara Parikh, a 2012 graduate of Rutgers, who is studying for her master’s degree in chemistry. The team plays a big role in disseminating information about silicones and their use in cosmetics and how formulators can create a variety of textures by tweaking the formula.
“We can simplify how to use silicones,” explained Cherette. “We show customers how we can move from water to a cream, all based on the emulsifier that you use.”
Wang explained that the lab’s current mission is to create new textures and skin feel using their products. For skin care, that means creating refreshing, cooling, moisturizing cream-to-water type products. In color cosmetics applications, the trend is toward long-lasting, yet comfortable, color, which can be achieved with siliconized Pullulan TSPL-30-ID and Polynorbornene NBN-30-ID used in combination with other film-formers such as silicone acrylates.
Finally, for marketers searching for high SPF, broad-spectrum protection and enhanced water-resistance, Shin-Etsu has created organic sunscreens using the KSG-300 series and KSG-18A elastomers.
“We want to be the industry trend leader in the development of novel textures,” explained Wang. “Growth is driven by consumer-perceivable benefits.”
Those benefits are evident in anhydrous wrinkle concealer formulas that contain ingredients such as KSG-016F. This silicone gel delivers an enhanced smooth and silky feel-broadening formulation capability with a wide variety of sensory feel. Its three-dimensional cross-linked, spherical structure diffuses light and gives a soft-focus effect, which conceals skin imperfection with a natural look. It is said to be ideal for W/O wrinkle blurring cream, O/W hydrating cream and CC Creams (color corrector with sunscreen). KSP 411 (polysilicone-1 copolymer) and KSP-441 (polysilicone-22) are the latest additions to Shin-Etsu’s line of hybrid silicone powders. They impart the soft feel of silicone’s rubber core and the smooth feel of silicone’s resin shell. This unique hybrid combination enables formulators to achieve a superior “soft-focus” effect.
One of the most interesting materials in the company’s lineup is KF-7002, a white, high purity, odorless organic compatible silicone wax. It is a high molecular weight, stearoxy functionalized copolymer with a 40°C melting point. It imparts good shine with a silicone-like, silky, non-tacky skin feel, according to Shin-Etsu. It is designed to enhance the texture of hair and skin care formulations, color cosmetics, sunscreens and personal cleansers.
Currently the Shin-Etsu staff is developing various novel textures using its unique 3D self-emulsifying elastomers, together with its KF emulsifiers. These include but not limited to KSG-210, KSG-710, KSG-300Z series, and KF-6017, KF-6028 and KF-6038. The textures range from gel to water, melting cream to water to BB cream compact and water hydrating sticks, just to name a few.
A Broad Range of Formulation Ideas
To ensure that customers select the right product, the company offers Shin-Etsu Formulation Design. It starts with a core group of basic formulations that feature Shin-Etsu’s unique silicone-based emulsifiers and gelling agents. By combining these with film-forming agents, powders, dispersants and other components that have special features not found in conventional materials, the user can develop products that meet specific needs in terms of functionality and quality.
With that lineup of products and that kind of staff experience, major multinational cosmetic companies work with the Shin-Etsu staff for formulation development. Shin-Etsu executives say that cosmetics are of one the company’s strongest markets, with strong double-digit growth year after year.
Although company executives are focused on the big picture, all agree that regionalization is key to a product success, as consumers in Japan may want a product that has different aesthetics than a consumer in Mexico or one in the US.
“We test locally,” explained Cherette. “You have to do product evaluations near the end consumer.”
With application labs in Europe, China, Japan and the US, a deep product line and a talented staff with decades of experience at beauty product manufacturers, Shin-Etsu executives say that the company is well positioned to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s consumer.