Processes of Cosmetic Ingredients
Cosmetic ingredients go through different processes. Unless raw food is used for body, skin and hair care, the ingredients are processed. In a previous post I talked about the allowed processes at the NPA.At Joan Morais Naturals we use sustainable and biodegradable raw materials with minimal processing as much as possible. I wrote a post on raw materials we do use. The formulas contain no petrochemicals, no parabens, no formaldehyde, no formaldehyde donor preservatives, no DEA/TEA, no EDTA, no BHT, no propylene glycol, no silicones, no sulfonated surfactants, no sodium laureth sulfate, no PEG’s (polyethylene glycols) no PPG’s (polypropylene glycols), no phthalates, no synthetic colors and no synthetic fragrances.
Raw materials go through different processes. Here is a general view of the range of processes.
Minimally Processed Ingredients
Minimally processed ingredients do not go through a lot of high heat and processing. Avocado oil can be minimally processed but most avocado oil is highly refined. Sometimes it is hard to know the processes and the temperatures used to process ingredients. You must develop a relationship with the supplier in order to trust what they tell you about the ingredient.
Highly Processed Ingredients
Highly processed ingredients are processed with high heat and/or with chemicals, like highly refined oils. The higher the heat and more processing they go through, the more the nutrients are stripped out. Some materials must go through high heat processing to extract the oil. Also, some materials need chemicals to extract them like jasmine absolute. Jasmine is a very sensitive flower and cannot be heated. Hexane is used and then centrifuged out.
Chemically Modified Ingredient
Chemically modified ingredients are ingredients that the molecule is modified and turned into a different state such as from a liquid to a solid, like hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and guar gum to guar hydroxypropyltrimonium. Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium is a cationic ingredient that adds substantivity and conditioning to hair. At this time, there is not an unmodified ingredient to replace it. Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium is allowed in natural products.
The lines get blurred with what is a synthetic ingredient and natural ingredient. Everything is made up of chemicals included us. Synthetic ingredients are produced through a chemical reaction. Cold process soap therefore can be considered synthetic from the chemical reaction with the oil/fat, water and sodium hydroxide (lye). In the cosmetic industry, a synthetic material is generally referring to synthetic chemicals created with chemicals not from derived from nature but synthetically made, like most fragrance oils and artificial flavor oils. The definition of synthetic, “of, relating to, or produced by chemical or biochemical synthesis; especially: produced artificially.” Conventional cosmetics contain mostly synthetic ingredients derived from synthetic chemicals.
Many cosmetic materials are processed petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are chemicals derived from petroleum. It is hard to get away form petrochemicals but more materials are replacing petrochemical materials. The reason petrochemicals are being replaced and not accepted in natural products is that they are not sustainable. The main petrochemicals used in natural cosmetics are synthetic polymers, mineral oil and phenoxyethanol.
Processes of Cosmetic Ingredients
Accepted Chemical Processes for Natural Cosmetics by the NPA
Esterification or Transesterification
Saponification (Fat-Splitting of Oils)
Certain Reaction Catalysts
Natural Products Association
Randy Schueller & Perry Romanowski, Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry, 2009
Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.