Responsible hair care with polyurethanes film formers – Polyurethane film formers: towards the next generation of highly performing hair styling products that respect the environment


Covestro Deutschland AG, Leverkusen, Germany


To address the increasing awareness and concern of end-consumers on the sustainability of their products, the cosmetic industry is seeking for new solutions with biobased and biodegradable ingredients. However, for demanding applications such as hair styling, the choice of film forming polymers to create both sustainable and performant formulations is very limited. Indeed, natural ingredients do not bring the required performances and only a few naturally derived or biodegradable film formers are available on the market.
In this paper the performance of naturally derived (Polyurethane-93, Maltodextrin/VP Copolymer and Sodium Polyitaconate) or biodegradable (Polyurethane-34) commercial film formers are compared to a synthetic persistent benchmark, PVP-K90. The polymers are tested in typical tests to assess hair styling performance.


Combining naturality and performance 

Cosmetic product users are more than ever looking for sustainable and natural products. The cosmetic industry is adapting quickly and the offer for products based on natural ingredients is booming. However, not all categories of cosmetic products are evolving at the same pace. While the offer for natural skin care products steadily increases, most of today’s hair care products are still based on synthetic polymers. Indeed, the performance of a hair care formulation mostly results from the film-forming polymer it contains, and the choice of polymers delivering both sustainability and efficacy is particularly limited. 

A modern styling formulation needs at least to provide a strong and long lasting hold as well as pleasant haptics, even under high temperature and humidity conditions. A few naturally occurring polymers can be used to bring the required level of hold, such as xanthan gum, which is used in some commercially available natural formulations. Un ...