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The World of Shine

By Guadalupe Pellu00f3n, Esther Prat and Cristina Amela, Cognis | June 11, 2010

Cognis researchers explain how to systematically improving product appearance with pearlizers and opacifiers.

Today’s personal care market is driven to a large extent by the wellness megatrend. Increasingly, consumers demand products that make them feel good from head to toe. Of course, the performance of personal care products plays a major part in this, as does the way they feel on the skin. However, visual appearance has also become a key factor in the success or failure of shampoos and shower gels, as people expect a product’s functional and sensory attributes to be reflected in the way the product looks. Manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to create visually appealing formulations that enhance the consumers’ sense of well-being by eliciting positive associations and emotional responses.

A Systematic Approach to Controlling Product Appearance

One well-established method of modifying the appearance of formulations is the use of wax-based pearlizers and opacifiers. By using different dosages and combinations, manufacturers can achieve creative visual effects and give their products a unique look. However, the challenge is to do so in a way that is consistent with the product’s personality, and will appeal to the taste of the target market.

To help manufacturers create customized formulations in a systematic way, specialty chemicals supplier Cognis has developed a classification system that explains how the company’s comprehensive range of pearlescent concentrates and opacifiers affect the appearance of surfactant-based personal cleansing products. This is based on a list of attributes that can be used to characterize and compare formulations. The list was developed using feedback from a panel of consumers, who were asked to assess and describe test formulations. It includes general descriptions (e.g. cloudy, opaque, pearly), descriptions of shine (e.g. metallic or iridescent) and visual associations evoked by the formulation (e.g. fog, mother-of-pearl, silk). Cognis used these attributes to categorize its pearlizers and opacifiers on the basis of the visual effects they provide when added to surfactant-based formulations. The system shows how different degrees of brilliance, luster, silkiness, fineness and sheen intensity are obtained, depending on the structure and quantity of the selected additive. This helps manufacturers to choose the ingredients needed to tailor products to specific customer groups, and makes it easier for them to find persuasive marketing claims.

A Green Solution for a Natural Shine

Among the products categorized in the new system is Euperlan Green (INCI: Lauryl glucoside (and) stearyl citrate). By drawing on its experience in specialty chemicals based on natural, renewable raw materials and wax dispersions, Cognis has been able to develop the first purely vegetable-based, ethylene-oxide and amine-free pearlizing wax dispersion in the company’s comprehensive Euperlan product range. Euperlan Green is easy to handle, liquid, and cold processable, thus saving production time and energy costs. This exceptionally mild, NPA (Natural Products Association) approved product
The NatureCare Repair & Protect shampoo is a green solution for a natural shine.

is particularly suitable for natural and sustainable skin and hair cleansing formulations. To adjust formulation appearance, manufacturers can vary the dosage of the pearlizer. Higher concentrations result in a smooth, opaque background with sparkling pearl-shine effects, while lower concentrations help achieve a bright, smoky look.

“NatureCare Repair & Protect Shampoo” is a suggested formulation containing 2% Euperlan Green. The formulation consists of 100% natural, renewable C-atoms and is tailor-made for consumers who are not willing to compromise on sustainability. It has a mother-of-pearl aura which adds to the formulations’ appealing sensory profile and naturalness.

Intense Brilliance for High-performance Products

Another product categorized in the new system is Euperlan PK 4000 (INCI: Glycol distearate (and) laureth-4 (and) cocamidopropyl betaine), a pumpable dispersion with a high wax content (approximately 40%). The product achieves cold metallic brilliant effects, ranging from a glimmering cloudy look when used in lower concentrations to a pearly, reflective shine in higher concentrations.

The suggested “Luxurious Shower Crème” formulation has a Euperlan PK 4000 content of 4%. This is combined with Rheocare TTA (INCI: Acrylates copolymer), a liquid acrylic emulsion polymer specially designed as a rheology modifier to suspend, thicken and improve the appearance and foam texture of surfactant-based cosmetic cleansing preparations.

Personal care products must retain their integrity in-store, with zero separation or settling, in order to be perceived as delivering premium performance. In general, the stability of the pearlescent concentrate is influenced by such factors as the density and viscosity of the formulation. These can be modified to optimize pearlizer stability by incorporating appropriate combinations of organic viscosity regulators and electrolyte
The intense brilliance of the Luxurious Shower Crème provides consumers with a feeling of a high performance formulation.
concentrations as well as polyfunctional additives or polyols. By adjusting these factors, the stability can usually be guaranteed without any additional stabilizer. However, the use of Rheocare TTA will not only contribute to stabilizing the system, but will also further enhance the metallic shine effect of Euperlan PK 4000, for an intense and long-lasting brilliance that is suggestive of a truly indulgent product experience.

In addition to stabilizing the formulation and enhancing the product’s shine, Rheocare TTA also preserves the pearlescent effect, so that it does not disappear over time. It is well known that formulations with pearlizers tend to lose their pearlescent effect over time if the product remains still, as a result of a re-orientation of the wax particles. Rheocare TTA, which can be dispersed quickly and easily, guarantees a long-lasting pearl shine, even when the formulation is sitting on the shelf for a long period of time.

Wax Dispersion for High Performance Rinse-off Products

Lamesoft Care (INCI: PEG-4 distearyl ether (and) sodium laureth sulfate (and) distearyl ether (and) dicaprylyl Ether) is a microlipid system with a dual effect: not only does it give products an elegant marbled appearance, it also delivers outstanding conditioning effects in skin and hair cleansing

formulations. In fact, tests show that shampoos containing the micronized lipid dispersion provide particularly strong conditioning benefits and a significant reduction in hair breakage when compared to benchmarks.

The “White Satin Shower Gel” formulation contains 4% Lamesoft Care and 4% Rheocare TTA. It has a rich creamy texture, reminiscent of precious white satin. This reflects the mild caring properties of the formulation, representing its sensory effect in visual form.The formulation moisturizes and indulges the skin leaving it smooth and soft.

The White Satin Shower Gel contains a glistening wax dispersion that cares for the skin.
By using Cognis’ wax dispersions, manufacturers can give themselves a real competitive advantage. The comprehensive palette of visual effects enables them to create unique formulations with a broad variety of appearances – from metallic shine to silky intermediate gloss to intense brilliance. The new categorization system makes it easy for formulators to choose exactly the product they need to meet consumer demands. It also helps them to find persuasive marketing claims. All Euperlan and Lamesoft products also have the advantage that they can easily be incorporated into formulations using cold processes, enabling considerable energy and time savings.

*All calculations are based on the feedstock for the Cognis products; non Cognis raw material calculations are based on public information or best knowledge available. Calculations do not consider preservatives, perfume, color or enzymes.

About the Authors
Guadalupe Pellón is global marketing manager for hair, body and oral care at Cognis GmbH. Esther Prat is strategic marketing manager for hair, Body and oral care Europe, and Cristina Amela istechnology manager personal care at Cognis Iberia. More info: Email:; Website:

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