A common question we get asked here at New Directions is 'Is it possible to make a natural or organic hair de-tangling product?' The answer is both yes and no.
In terms of natural ingredients that help smooth out the hair and make it easier to comb it is hard to go past Apple Cider Vinegar (or any non-sugar containing vinegar for that matter).
This discussion pretty much got started on the back of a Palm Oil story but then, somewhere around the beginning of 2014 I stopped writing so much about it. I felt that I'd shared all I knew, that there was both a system and support for this better way of doing things that would ultimately solve the problems and elevate the palm crop to the lofty status of 'super veg' that I thought it deserved. But that was back then. Much has changed in the past two years and I don't feel it is all for the better. People can be such a disappointment.
Personally I don't drink. I used to drink a bit but it has never agreed with me and I don't particularly like effect it has on my body - I go from feeling fine to instantly hung-over after a few sips - and as such abstaining is not a problem. But as a chemist I don't abstain from alcohol (ethanol in this case), I use it in a number of formulations, not always but often enough to appreciate the benefits it can bring to a formula. But do these benefits come with risks? Does alcohol damage the skin? I have had enough clients turn their nose up at an INCI listing that includes 'alcohol' to know that it is an issue and have even had people wish to add alcohol to their 'free from' list, sometimes for religious reasons but mainly not. The main reason customers give is because of underlying concerns that topically applied alcohol will somehow damage the skin. I think it is about time that we investigated whether this really is the case.
Alkyl Polyglucosides are a key part of any cosmetic chemists ingredient arsenal and it's for good reason. These little babies have many pleasing attributes including but not limited to:
A preservative used in foods and cosmetics. Synthetic in origin but permitted in natural and organic formulations due to its nature-identical structure.
We've all been there, created a beautiful bubble bath, body wash or shampoo only to have it fall apart the moment we pop in our Essential oils. While this sort of thing doesn't exactly come as a huge surprise - essential oils are volatile mixtures and are prone to wreaking havoc in a formula - we thought it was time to take a closer look at the situation and so we did.
There were 28,000 tonnes of essential oils grown globally in 2012 - TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND TONNES!Wow.Breaking that down by region we get the following and as you can see, the bulk of production volume is concentrated in a very small number of essential oils - the usual 80/20 rule (80% of volume from 20% of oils)...
The words 'natural' and 'cosmetics' just go together don't they? As a manufacturer that operates in the Essential and Vegetable Oils market it is not surprising that the vast majority of our customers come to us with very clear ideas about what they want IN their formulations, having read up on the benefits of all manor of lovely things - Argan Oil, Sandalwood Powder, Kakadu Plumb or Virgin Coconut oil. Clients are also very good at knowing what they want OUT of their formula - parabens, SLS/ SLES, Mineral Oil, Silicones, Fragrances and sometimes more. The only problem is that many clients don't fully understand WHY any of these ingredients are on the must avoid list and have little understanding of the full implications of these 'easy-to-say-but-harder-to-achieve' positions. The motivation behind the vast majority of clients is safety which begs the question "What do we mean by 'safe'?"
You know that old saying 'the devil is in the detaiel'; well I've been wondering what that means and more specifically how that saying might relate to the success of a cosmetic brand. Despite well over twenty years of cosmetic industry experience spanning manufacturing, testing, material supply and management, brand development and customer service you will not find any of the staff here at New Directions singing out about how easy it is to become the next Body Shop or L'Oreal. That said, people do come through the NDA doors, month after month, year after year fired up and willing to give it a go, some of them succeeding in the most delightful ways. So why is that and more importantly how can we help YOU become one of the success stories?
The thinking cosmetic chemists dilemma...
You want your products to work but can't afford to test them so what do you do? The only thing you can do is look at what has been done before, look at what you have got and do a bit of calculating.