The Role of Surfactants in Skincare

Can you imagine a world without jumping in the shower?

Adding water and lathering up

To instantly cleanse skin our skin.

That is what would happen if surfactants didn’t exist.

God forbid! They really are crucial to many formulations.

Shaping the user’s experience

So join us, and we will look at all things lather and  foam

And their essential role on our skin.

It Begins on the Surface

Chemical surfactants are designed to reduce surface tension.

This physical phenomenon occurs between an oil molecule and a water molecule.

The molecules are ‘hydrophilic’, which means they can dissolve in water, and ‘lipophilic’, which can dissolve in oil.

They produce the foaming’ and lathering effect in our personal care products.

  • Lipophilic: Oil Loving
  • Hydrophilic: Water loving
  • Hydrophobic: Water-hating, they repel water

Common Surfactants

These are the most popular that you find in your personal care products are sulfate detergents:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate
  • Cocamphocarboxyglycinate
  • Cocoamidopropyl betaine
  • Alpha-Olefin sulfonate

These surfactants are widely used in shampoos, bubble baths, shower gels, and cleansing lotions.

Not all surfactants are created equal; some are better off being avoided in our formulas, and here’s why.

Types of Surfactants

Anionic Surfactant

These are very strong and are by far the most common type of surfactant or cleaning chemical.

They are used in almost everything you encounter and are designed to clean grease and dirt from any surface, including your skin and hair.

Cationic Surfactant

These are commonly used in fabric conditioners and hair products.

Amphoteric Surfactant

These ingredients are adaptable to both alkaline and acid; they help adjust the pH of the water used in the solution because they are so neutral that they are mild and gentle on your skin.

These are our surfactants of choice because they are gentle enough to use even on a baby’s skin.

Nonionic Surfactant

These surfactants are often used in heavy thick creams, such as hand or body creams.

Fatty acid alcohols such as Cetearyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol are the simplest nonionic surfactants; these are useful where lots of lather is unnecessary, such as in dishwashers and front-loading washing machines.

Follow the link to learn more about surfactants’ role in bath and body formulas.


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