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Trends behind the Trends - Feature

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It is no longer enough for cosmetic formulators to make formulations to order for brand owners. Nowadays, they too must understand what the consumer wants – or will want - and respond accordingly.

Surfachem has for some years been working to that end, identifying not just trends in beauty and personal care but also the societal trends behind them. Product concept formulations to meet these demands are developed at Surfachem laboratories in Huddersfield, UK. Three that have been developed recently are entitled For Everyone, Zones and Chillax.

For Everyone

‘For Everyone’ reflects the reality that stereotypes based on simple characteristics like age, gender, location and socio-demographics are losing their meaning. This is exemplified in how the use of the term ‘unisex’, as shown by Google searches, has fallen away dramatically since 2006-8, while ‘non-binary’ and ‘gender-neutral’ have shot up in popularity in the last two years.

To address this trend is to embrace the diversity that millennials and Generation X-ers see as positive. Brands that do so, like Context and Sam Farmer, can reposition themselves to reflect acceptance, unity and equality. Surfachem has developed five formulations within the ‘For Everyone’ concept to address this trend, each with its own strapline:

One of the first formulations developed, For Eveywhere, is based on three key ingredients. The first, Merquat 2003 PR (INCI: Polyquaternium-53), is a conditioning agent which provides a dense creamy foam with improved stability

and improves the softness and smoothness of hair whilst enhancing colour protection (Figure 1).

The other two are an anionic and a nonionic surfactant, both from Stepan and used at 30% and 1% respectively. Stepan-Mild LSB (INCI: Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate) is milder than the more widely used SLS and SLES, whilst also being biodegradable and sulphate-free and generating a rich, creamy foam.

Ninol CAA (INCI: Dimethyl Lauramide/Myristamide) offers foam-boosting and fragrance solubilisation whilst also enhancing both viscosity and mildness. It has been shown (Figure 2) to outperform PEG 40 HCO in viscosity building.


The popularity of masks in the cosmetics market has grown rapidly in Europe, from about 100 new product launches in 2016 to about 350 in 2018. France and Germany have led the way.

While masks can be used in many different applications, face and neck care account for 76% of the total. Surfachem has taken a four-pronged approach to developing new mask formulations, each of which is used to treat different areas of the face or body:

An example of a formulation developed for the ‘S’ zone is based on 1% of Evonik’s Tego Cosmo C250 (INCI: 1-Methylhydantoine-2-Imide) as the brightening agent. This hot- or cold-processable, water-soluble ingredient reduces melanin content and gives both a brighter appearance and enhanced reflectance. Even at 0.1% content, it offers about 1.1% increased brightness, whereas 1.0% kojic acid achieves only 0.6%.

The rheology modifier is 0.25% of Lubrizol’s Carbopol Ultrez 30 (INCI: Carbomer), offering a cushioned and rich skin feel, excellent aesthetics, easy dispersion, good electrolyte tolerance and excellent tolerance at low pH.


‘Chillax’ is a widely used term, from the words ‘chill’ and ‘relax’. Surfachem has utilised it for use in a formulation concept that analyses the trend towards spa type luxury for at home use.

According to Mintel GNPD, from about 20 new product launches/year in the early 2000s, steadily growing to 160 2011, then fell back down to 70 in 2016, only to rise by 136% to around 160 again in 2017. Elemis and CND Spa are among the many brands active here.

These products are quite diverse with body care, shower products, bath additives and nail and hand care accounting for about 75% of all product launches within 2017. The claims made for these launches were equally diverse, including botanical or herbal (26%), moisturising and hydrating (16%), ethical and non-animal (15%) and paraben-free (also 15%).

Surfachem has, again, developed five formulations for this concept based around different parts of the body to be treated:

Hemp oil, a product whose use in new product launches grew by 173% between 2016 and 2018, is a crucial element here. One notable head care formulation that Surfachem developed included 1% hemp oil (INCI: Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil) from Aldivia for conditioning, with regenerating and anti-inflammatory attributes.

The other key ingredients, both from Evonik and also used at 1%, are; Varisoft EQ-100 (INCI: Bis-(Isostearoyl/Oleoyl Isopropyl) Dimonium Methosulfate) and the bio-inspired ceramide HairFlux (INCI: Ceramide NG; Olea Europaea Fruit Oil; Ricinus Communis Seed Oil) for scalp health.

The former is a conditioning agent with improved sustainability, offering excellent conditioning on both wet and dry hair, and superior manageability, lubricity and softness. It outperforms BTAC on 12 of the 16 key attributes (Figure 3). HairFlux, meanwhile, improves overall scalp health by reducing itching, dryness and erythema, and gives outstanding repair efficacy on chemically treated hair.

This article was originally published in Speciality Chemicals Magazine, June 2019

Wednesday, 19 June 2019