Natural Alternative to Synthetic Ingredients in Cosmetic Formulations
Caroline Recardo -  Alchemy Ingredients

Presentation - pdf

Abstract: One of the most common substitutions is in the product group of emulsifiers; traditional ingredients for oil-in-water emulsions often involve PEGs which would be unacceptable in a natural formulation.  The alternatives to PEG based emulsifiers will be examined.  Another group of products is thickeners and stabilisers; for many decades carbomer has been the go-to ingredient, now with awareness of microplastics and materials of petrochemical origin, this ingredient is often required to be substituted for natural alternatives and these will be discussed.

Other product groups where natural substitutions could be made include oil thickening/gelling, colours, preservatives, fragrances and silicone replacements - we will examine some of the natural alternatives on the market and present some of the limitations and usage tips for each category.

In addition we will try and define ‘natural’ in a cosmetic formulation!

Caroline Picture

Caroline has over 25 years’ experience in the cosmetics industry in a variety of roles from bench formulation to sales and marketing.  She is currently the Technical Director at Alchemy Ingredients, leading a small and dynamic team focussing on developing novel natural ingredients that can mimic the function of synthetic materials.  Caroline has a keen interest in training amateur formulators how to use cosmetic ingredients, and also runs sessions for school age children to gain an interest in science.

Most cosmetic formulators are required to use natural ingredients at some point during their careers, either because their brand requires it, they prefer to, or a customer has specified it for their product.  The challenges of using natural ingredients in cosmetic formulations are many and varied, and these will be discussed in this presentation.

Q&A (answered in chat)

Q. Regarding polyglycerols, are there any concerns of residual monomer in these compounds? My understanding is these are made from glycidol, an oxirane that itself is known to toxic. With it's lower volatility there is probably more left behind then the ethylene oxide left from making PEGs.

Q. How do the PEG ester and polyglycerol ester compare in terms of biodegradability?

A. The PEG esters should be completely biodegradable because made up of Glycerine units joined by esters linkage.  As I understand it, 'nature' recognises it as a food and enzymes break it down.  The fatty acid part breaks down as expected.

Q. Is the cellulose gum biodegradable?

A. Yes. Cellulose Gum is a special case as it contains a very small synthetic group but it is biodegradable and is considered natural by COSMOS.

Q. Is nanocellulose gaining interest as an alternative to carbomers?