Wipe On, Wipe Off

  • Because the applicator and the functioning formula are married in the same packaging in beauty wipes, establishing the compatibility and stability of the components is a critical R&D process in their development.
  • In creating a beauty wipe product, how the wipes are manufactured and the economics of their production are important considerations—and new ingredients and formulation concepts must fit these economics.
  • Nonwovens are engineered to have a specific range of properties. For example, some are engineered to absorb liquids while others are engineered to release liquids.

Convenience and portability are easily two of the greatest features of beauty wipe products. Thrown into a purse, duffel bag, carry-on and so on, the nonwoven cloth products can offer a cleansing, refreshing touch nearly anywhere. And as these products grow in popularity, their uses—from makeup removers and baby wipes to sunscreen and anti-aging applications—are set to take off.

“You don’t have to be a beauty industry expert or skin care specialist to understand the appeal of wipes,” says Sarah Plimpton Liebowitz, global marketing and public relations manager for Inolex. “These cleansing cloths are aimed at making your life easier in many ways. I know since I had babies, I realized that I like to have the baby wipes around to clean my hands or face when I was feeling tired or dirty without having to get out of my chair. I also like them when I am on a long flight. It’s a way to refresh yourself and your skin quickly. When traveling or without easy access to a sink, you can just delve into your purse for a pack of disposable cleansing cloths to freshen up.”

As on-the-go, time-crunched lifestyles continue to be modus operandi in today’s society, the ease of beauty wipes ensures their success. Moto Okawa, marketing manager with Diamond Wipes International, Inc., comments, “The demand for wet wipes in skin and neck care category is strong and continues to grow. We see the convenience and ease of use being factors in these wipes winning a place in consumers’ skin care regimens. Of course, the performance is also part of the equation for the consumer to continue using the wipes. The combination of performance, convenience and ease of use are the primary benefits for consumers.”

Additionally, wipes help beauty brands focus consumers on key offerings and benefits. “Beauty brands rely on image building for their growth and sustainability. Being able to deliver on what the brand stands for is at the core of their existence,” says Shervin Zade, CEO of U.S. Nonwovens Corp.

And, as Okawa notes, “When we work with beauty brand owners and marketers, we often find that the wipe products are being developed as a line extension to an existing product portfolio.” Thus, beauty wipe products, which most often feature cleansing and application uses, need to help clarify and emphasize a core beauty focus for consumers.

Developing an Effective Beauty Wipe

To have beauty wipes reinforce the beauty message of a brand, however, they need to be effective. In order to be effective, they need to be developed and made properly. As Zade notes, “Each wipe has its own reason for existence. If a wipe doesn’t deliver on its premise, it becomes a general wipe. That is bad for the SKU and then for the brand.”

To make a beauty wipe, you need to start with the base—the nonwoven cloth. “Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products markets nonwoven roll goods to branded wipe product manufacturers, as well as to converters who perform secondary processing of the roll goods for wipes manufacturers,” says Michele Neher, business development manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products. “We call this business ‘Delivery Systems’ because our nonwoven materials are used to deliver chemicals and other formulations to the surface upon which they are applied.”

She continues, “Our nonwoven roll goods are used in a variety of personal care wet-wipes applications, including hand hygiene wipes, makeup remover wipes, nail care wipes, insect repellent wipes and sunscreen wipes. With the right nonwoven material, a wipe manufacturer can deliver just the right amount of chemistry needed for the job, which eliminates the waste that can occur if you’re using a cotton ball or durable wipe to deliver the chemistry to the skin.”

“Since you are marrying the applicator that are wipes and the functioning formulas inside the same packaging, establishing the compatibility and stability of the finished products is a very critical process during any R&D exercise,” explains Okawa.

Even the type of nonwoven cloth needs to be considered. For example, “When portability comes into play, i.e. with single-use packs, you want a thinner wipe. But for makeup remover wipes, consumers want a thicker, loftier, more premium feel,” Neher says. The formulas in wipes, in order to be effective, also need to have quality preservatives. However, with recent attacks on some preservative ingredients, this can be more challenging. As Plimpton Liebowitz says of Inolex’s decision to create preservatives specifically designed for wipes, “It was clear that developing formulations for wipes would be an added benefit to the consumer, as there has been much controversy about the chemicals used to fight bacteria and mold in recent news. In developing the Spectrastat L-series, Inolex consulted with leading experts in the nonwovens and wet wipes industries. The research took into account the unique production and formulation requirements, along with factors associated with the nonwoven substrates. The resulting products, Spectrastat OL and Spectrastat OEL, are liquids that are easy-to-use in high throughput wipe production, and they pass stringent microbial challenge tests on a variety of substrates.”

More and more ingredient suppliers are, in fact, also offering products targeted to and for wipes. For example, schülke recently debuted Sensiva PA 40, an antimicrobial stabilizer blend suited to leave-on, wet wipe and sensitive formulas that combines natural, nature-identical and gentle synthetic materials to produce an additive designed to meet the changing preservation needs of the industry. And Clariant’s new Nipaguard Zero line of preservative blends contain no parabens, yet deliver a comparable performance, and can be used for wet wipe formulations as well. Marrying the formula and nonwoven cloth requires specific ingredients and techniques. While Inolex has primarily worked in the baby wipes market, as the preservation systems used there have recently been under attack from NGOs, the creation of a cohesive system for all wipe products needs to be paramount.

So, in noting challenges in development, Plimpton Liebowitz says that, due to the structure of the nonwovens and the interaction of fibers and the liquid formulation, manufacturers need to have an expertise. “The edges, surfaces and individual fibers within a stack of wet wipes each represent physical environments, and each must be preserved effectively. If any of these areas become susceptible to microbial growth, the entire product is compromised,” she explains.

In a wipe product that is done right, however, the appeal is evident. “The compounded cleansing or treatment formula in a liquid form is evenly dispersed on a wipe. A consumer can practically use every square inch of the wipe to get their cleansing regimen done,” Okawa notes.

But it is clear different considerations need to be made when developing a beauty wipe product. “How wipes are manufactured and the economics of their production are important considerations,” says Plimpton Liebowitz. “It is an industry that relies on high throughput and efficient manufacturing. New ingredients and formulation concepts must fit these economics.”

Opportunities in Beauty Wipes

Focused development also has made wipes a bigger part of the beauty industry. “The makeup remover category, which often encompasses gentler cleansing wipes, is by far the most popular wipe product type in the beauty market. We are also seeing the growth in the acne treatment wipes—not conventional pads, but wipes,” says Okawa.

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.”

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