Exfoliating Agents Selection

The process of exfoliation allows for cell turnover, which in essence is the removal of the old to make way for the new. Since regular exfoliation of the skin assists in anti-aging plus removes impurities and dead cells, the use of exfoliating agents has seen a rise in the past years. This guide will help you identify physical and chemical exfoliants, their features, risks, incompatibilities, etc. It would also talk about things to consider while formulating with exfoliating particles. Read on to know more!

Physical Exfoliating Agents

On top of regulation & marketing considerations, you need to pay attention to the following criteria when selecting your exfoliants:

  • Particle Size: Smaller particles will be prefered in facial application, while larger particles are best suited for body scrub.
  • Level of Exfoliation or Particle Abrasiveness: it depends on the hardness of the material used, the shape & edge of the particles
  • The sensitivity to oxidation & microbial issues as well as other formulation incompatibilities

Plastic Micro Beads (to be avoided)

Up to now, plastic micro beads have largely dominated the market.
Plastic micro bead
Plastic micro bead

There are four main reasons why a brand might have come to decision to use plastic micro beads in a cosmetic product:
  • They are cheaper than pretty much every other option. Cheaper by a huge margin, quite possibly only 1/10th of the cost.
  • They present a much lower micro bio-burden than the vast majority of their natural equivalents, especially the nutshell equivalents.
  • Nobody is allergic to plastic.
  • They can be colored, shaped, sized and weighted to order- hard or soft, big or small.

But times are rapidly changing and what was once a great idea now looks negligent and completely unappealing. Governments around the world have spoken, bringing in legislation to ban these tiny bits of plastic from cosmetic products, products that end up directly in our waterways and beads that ultimately wash into our seas.

There are plenty of alternatives, each having pros & cons. The challenge is to achieve microbially stable formulations with natural particulates without using ‘strong’ preservatives such as the parabens and formaldehyde donors.

Oil Derivatives / Wax Beads


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