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Seeking the Magic to Delight Consumers

Denise Petersen

When a magician steps out onto the stage, the audience expects to be amazed. Behind the scenes, the magician has carefully planned every detail of the show. Costume, script and props all contribute to the excitement. And in the world of cosmetics, it’s quite similar—consumers have sophisticated demands for personal care products, and whether it’s a shampoo, a shower gel or a body lotion, they want formulations that make them wonder “How’d they do that?” Behind the scenes, formulators use modern technologies and high-tech ingredients to serve these demands. But what kinds of formulations have the potential to astonish customers? Which products can be marketed with a whiff of magic? Specialty chemicals supplier Cognis Care Chemicals and its active ingredients business Laboratoires Sérobiologiques (LS) have identified five platforms for magical personal care that serve the latest market trends. The common theme that unites all of these is that they make the seemingly impossible possible.

Platform 1

Silicone-free: Combining Environmental Soundness; High Performance

Disappearing tricks continue to be one of the most mesmerizing parts of any magic show. And in the personal care market, brands need to pull off the trick of making silicone disappear. With regulatory and environmental concerns surrounding the use of silicones in personal care products, consumers are looking for alternatives that deliver the same level of performance in skin, hair and body care: silicone-free claims are gaining more and more importance.

In the hair care market, too, brands can benefit from silicone-free claims and still deliver detangling, weightless conditioning and easy-to-style benefits. Making hair manageable and offering effortless rinse out without excess residue, leaving hair feeling soft and healthy, are product qualities that will build the consumer’s connection to a brand. Cognis’ Crystal Clear Conditioner is among the formulations created to address and enhance these qualities. It is based on a cationic rheology modifier that both enhances viscosity and has conditioning properties. In addition, the product is able to suspend beads and bubbles if desired.

Platform 2

PIT Technology: Light Feel; Lasting Effects

When the magician pulls a scarf out of his top pocket, everyone is surprised. But when 50 more scarves emerge, the audience is truly delighted. Brands seeking to astonish their customers in the same way can utilize phase inversion temperature (PIT) formulation technology. PIT formulations use a carefully balanced blend of emulsifiers, emollients and processing techniques to create stable emulsions. [Additional information about emulsions is available in the Chemical Reaction column in the July 2010 issue’s “The Mysteries of R&D, Part I” by Art Rich, PhD.] It also makes it possible to develop unique formulations—from sprayable systems to clear solids.

Cognis’ Super Silky Solid with arganyl is an example of a PIT-based formulation that is ultra silky and light. It has a glossy pearlescent appearance, yet doesn’t feel tacky, thanks to shea butter. The butter provides a lasting soft and pleasant skin feel, as well as moisturizing benefits.

And it is possible to surprise consumers beyond the mentioned attributes. Even with a light feel, lotions such as Super Silky Solid can have a deep cosmetic effect with additional ingredients. Arganyl, in this example, an extract from the leaves of the Moroccan argan tree, provides an anti-free radical and anti-aging effect.

Platform 3

SWOP Technology: Quick Application but Long-lasting Care

One of the most common magic tricks involves putting a coin in one place only to have it reappear somewhere completely different. Cognis’ SWitch Oil Phase (SWOP) technology begins with an oil-in-water (o/w) formulation that becomes a water-in-oil (w/o) formulation when rubbed into the skin. This allows brands to promise the best of both worlds in their claims: It is easy to apply and has a light feel, but when it “swops” over, it becomes water and transfer-resistant and delivers long-lasting moisturization. SWOP technology is ideal for sun care products, and can also be used for liquid foundations that are silky-smooth to apply, transfer-resistant and perfect for all-day wear.

Platform 4

Cationic Systems: Unique and Unexpected Textures

The magician turns to the audience and points to his arm, and with a twirl of the wand, a beautiful bouquet of flowers emerges from his sleeve. Sometimes, brands are expected to pull elegant formulations from their coat sleeves. Demanding consumers are looking for unique and unexpected textures to indulge themselves and enhance their personal well-being. And this includes not only simple moisturizing applications, but also highly complex formulations that deliver a sophisticated sensory experience. In this case, cationic systems (positively charged surfactant systems) are an ideal solution. For example, Cognis has developed a hand sanitizer that kills germs while leaving the skin soft and moisturized.

Platform 5

Anhydrous: Without Water, but With Little Secrets

With one tap of the magic wand, the magician causes items to float through the air. Once again, by using the right techniques and learning the right secrets, something the audience never thought possible is accomplished. Similarly, creating unique anhydrous formulations is easy when you have the right products and a few little secrets. Anhydrous formulations tend to be environmentally sound because they are concentrated and require less packaging. They are also a favorite with travelers, where convenience is a must. Anhydrous systems are ideal when formulating with volatile actives such as vitamin C that reacts with water.

The Real Magic Happens Behind the Scenes

Brands who want to surprise and delight consumers can build on high-tech ingredients and state-of-the-art formulation technologies—because it is what happens behind the scenes that shapes the magical characteristics of personal care products. The result is sophisticated products that overcome formulation challenges, multiply consumer benefits and provide unique textures that can easily be transferred into novel and convincing marketing claims: environmentally sound, yet high-performing; light feel, deep effect; quick absorption, lasting care.

These characteristics meet the demanding expectations of consumers who want holistic personal care experiences that improve their well-being.

Denise Petersen works as skin care marketing manager, NAFTA at Cognis Corporation. She has an undergraduate degree in sociology from Brigham Young University and holds an MBA.;; Twitter@CognisCareUS

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