The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients
The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients

Formulating for Sensitive Skin

Belinda Carli – Feb 6, 2019

Formulating for Sensitive Skin It is a company responsibility to ensure cosmetic products entered into the personal care market are safe when used as directed. But, when as much as 50% of female skin care users self-diagnose themselves as having ‘sensitive skin’, how do you not only ensure your product will be mild on the skin/hair but high performing. Also, how do you not ensure additional care for those with truly sensitive skin or easily reactive skin types?

Before we look at some specific materials to reduce potential irritancy, let's look at how you can improve mildness in various cosmetic formulation types.

Make it Mild: Formulation Basics

The following should form the basis of your formulation principles and then include additional mildness and anti-irritant actives.

 − Start with a skin friendly pH - the pH of the product should be around the pH of the skin (5.5). Highly acidic (alpha-hydroxy acid products; pH of around 3.5) and highly alkaline (traditional soaps; pH of around 9.5) should not be marketed to people with skin sensitivities. This also means care when formulating male shaving foams using potassium or sodium hydroxide as they will, by the way they are created, have a pH above 9 which can be irritating.

 − Include high levels of lipidsoils and emollient lipids form a layer on the top of the skin to stop trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). And by capturing moisture levels within the skin, conditioning the surface of the skin and providing a barrier to moisture loss, products with a high lipid base content can help reduce irritation reactions. Barrier creams, for example, which have a high lipid content, can be applied to skin before exposure to harsh chemicals, providing moisture protection and decreased chemical penetration.

Formulating Mild Cosmetics

 − Re-hydrate the skinhumectants can hold water within the skin and also attract moisture from the surrounding atmosphere; helping it to stay plump, moist, and resist dehydration.

 − Clean with combinations – if you’re looking to create a foaming cleanser, use a combination of surfactants to ensure an effective yet mild clean. Not only does combining anionic, amphoteric and non-ionic surfactants boost the foaming and cleaning capacity of a surfactant product, but the addition of amphoteric surfactants and non-ionic surfactants and superfatting agents can also greatly reduce the irritancy profile of the anionic component. Adding pearlescing agents is a great way to provide a perception of mildness too. 

 − Clean with cremes – crème cleansers can also be a gentle cleansing option. Using very high HLB non-ionic emulsifiers to create the structure of the product with a small input of anionic emulsifier not only helps create an effective cleansing agent but also imparts a perception of mildness from a crème form. 

 − Balance your emulsions – waxy non-ionic emulsifiers not only help boost a creamy viscosity in your emulsions but also support that protective layer against TEWL and improve mildness in the formulation. You can use a small input of anionic emulsifiers for stability purposes, but ensuring there is a far higher input of non-ionic emulsifiers will dramatically boost the mildness of any emulsion you create.

 » Continue reading to understand how to formulate for sensitive skin using appropriate cosmetic actives! 

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