pH is one of the technical terms you come across frequently in the cosmetic industry. A simple way to think about it is to read it as an indication of how acidic or alkaline your product is, typically on a scale of 1-15. In a cosmetic sense, both ends of the spectrum are classified as being harsh and potentially damaging to skin and as such, cosmetic formulators work to avoid creating products that sit at these extremes.
In technical terms pH is a measure of the number of hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution so, for a product to have a measurable pH there has to be water around for the hydrogen ions to swim around in.
A common way of assessing a cosmetic ingredient is to explore what it mixes with and for many, that starts with whether the ingredient is oil or water soluble. The fact that salt is both readily soluble in water and insoluble in oil is used to our advantage when making salt scrubs, allowing us to harness their exfoliant properties in a spreadable emollient base. The aesthetic of a salt scrub can vary from dry and granular, viscous paste-like solids through to those with a flowable oily top layer blanketing a crystalline salty bottom. Unlike in many cosmetic formulations, scrubs which lack homogeneity and that form these layers are not damaged or broken or less attractive to the public. Indeed, salt scrubs are enduringly popular in all their guises, thanks to their simplicity, wholesomeness and the way they leave your skin feeling.
Until last week this commonly-used cosmetic chemical had been something I'd never, ever thought of looking into. I hadn't questioned its chemistry or function having used it many times in many different formulations and while I knew of and appreciated the difference between the SE and non-SE versions of this (SE = Self Emulsifying indicating the presence of a little saponified fatty acid to help turn up its emulsification properties) beyond that, I had next to no interest in spending time analysing this. That has since changed.
It's difficult to get far in the anti-aging skincare world without coming across or at least considering vitamin A. Vitamin A receptor proteins exist within our skin ready to capture and employ it for the production, differentiation and normalisation of skin cells (keratinocytes), doing this by communicating with keratin genes. Vitamin A not only grows skin, it normalises, even optimises the process, facilitating production of natural moisturising fluid and suppressing excess oil secretions. As a Consequence of topically applied vitamin A is able to suppress, resolve and prevent the formation of pimples, increased skin hydration, decrease fine lines and wrinkle and improve barrier functioning- all highly desirable outcomes that deliver visible aesthetic improvements (1).
Hyaluronic Acid occurs naturally throughout our bodies and exists in our skin as part of our extracellular matrix. Here it functions as part of our water management system helping keep our skin moisturised from the inside, out.
Ceramides: Waxy chemicals that make up a significant proportion of the intra-cellular fluid that surround our skin cells.
Our outer skin layers are collectively known as the Stratum Corneum and it is these skin-cells that are often referred to as the ‘bricks' in the popular ‘bricks and mortar' skin analogy. Stratum Corneum cells organise themselves into sheets and like bricks, these cells benefit from the application of a little glue to hold them together and seal any gaps that exist. That glue comes in the form of a ceramide-rich lipid matrix that also contains free fatty acids and cholesterol which work together to keep our skin barrier strong, resilient and water-resistant.
Benzalkonium Chloride is one of a handful of recognised actives for alcohol-free hand and surface sanitisation. Here we unpick its chemical name and discover more about what it does, how it does it and its environmental fate.
Tell a customer that your product contains peptides and you'll always spark their interest even if most of us don't really understand what they are and how they work. We just know that they have the capacity to do great things and great things is what we really want!
Over the last few years Decyl Glucoside has become one of my closest surfactant friends and a 'must have' in my cosmetics laboratory. Why, because it ticks all of the boxes in terms of irritation potential, foaming, sustainability and performance. In fact when it comes to surfactants, Decyl Glucoside is a chemical Genius! So, let's find out what it is that makes this chemical so much fun to work with.