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Natural surfactants to use in natural cosmetic formulations continues to be a challenge

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PERRY ROMANOWSKI 
Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA

Cosmetic surfactants are the most versatile and important ingredients in cosmetic formulations. They are used for everything from cleansing, moisturizing, emulsification, stabilizing and even as anti-microbials.

The first surfactants used were soaps but about 60 or 70 years ago, synthetic surfactants proved to work better, have more applications, and were generally less harsh. 

The cosmetic industry readily adapted to these new surfactants and things have remained that way until very recently.

Today’s cosmetic marketers and consumers appear to be more concerned with the environment, the sustainability of ingredients and they look to nature for ingredients that seem better. Unfortunately, there are not many surfactants that naturally occur so trying to make functional products with natural surfactants is a real challenge.  Here is a survey of options that cosmetic chemists have for natural surfactants in cosmetic products.
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