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Wipe On, Wipe Off

By: Abby Penning
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The variety of beauty wipes products are becoming more popular for a variety of reasons. “One benefit of using nonwovens for beauty care wipes is the fact that nonwovens are engineered to have a specific range of properties. For example, some nonwovens are engineered to absorb liquids while others are engineered to release liquids. Some are engineered to be smooth while others are engineered to have texture. Nonwovens also can be engineered to provide a specific level of softness, which is ideal for personal care wipes used on the skin,” says Neher. “The amount of wet-strength, durability and tear-resistance can also be engineered. All of these options mean that wipes makers can match a specific nonwoven to their needs and know that they are getting the same engineered performance each time. And unlike with durable wiping materials, these nonwoven materials are also hygienic because they are designed to provide a fresh, clean ‘wipe’ with every use.”

Ideas can also translate across categories. “Consider the use of [Kimberly-Clark product] Ultrasoft Spunbond nonwovens in insect repellent wipes. This nonwoven was chosen by the wipe manufacturer because it releases the chemical quickly and efficiently to the skin. The same is true with sunscreen wipes; you don’t want the consumer to be rubbing for five minutes,” explains Neher.

Ingredient suppliers are also continuing to develop products specifically for wipes. Plimpton Liebowitz says, “In terms of beauty wipes, it is clear the market continues to grow, and we are seeing more beauty wipes emerge, such as the gentle cleansing wipes and the beauty mask wipes. We are working on developing formulas focused more on the beauty industry at this time.”

And with demand from emerging markets factored in, this trend is only likely to get bigger, as well as influence other markets. “Wet wipes are extremely popular and commonplace in Asia, especially in the countries that are now influencing how American brands are looking for inspirations and developing their beauty products—Korea and Japan being most notable, and by extension, these other countries that are very quick to adapt the trends and do it in an eclectic way, like Taiwan and Singapore. We also understand that wet wipe adoption in the U.K. is quite strong,” says Okawa.

Questions of sustainability also crop up in the beauty wipe conversation, and brands and manufacturers are working to keep these products as environmentally friendly as possible. “On our part, we have partnered up with the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance to secure wet wipes that are sourced from responsibly managed forests, and ensure fair treatment and quality of life for the workers and their families,” says Okawa.

And Neher comments, “At Kimberly-Clark, we take a total product lifecycle approach to environmental sustainability. From product design and raw material sourcing to manufacturing, use and final disposal, there are many steps in the process that can be environmentally sustainable. Wipes makers and marketers would be wise to evaluate how their suppliers of nonwoven materials perform in areas such as energy and water savings, reductions in waste sent to landfill, and product innovations that allow the nonwovens to have reduced weight without sacrificing performance—the latter of which allows wipes makers to get more material per web, helping them to reduce the frequency of reel changeovers during conversion, which leads to less waste. Designing our nonwoven materials to provide superior performance with less material also means there is less material going to landfill at the end of the wipe’s life cycle.”