Ingredient Spotlight: ‘Free From’ Ingredient Claims in the Personal Care Sector

One of the biggest changes in the personal care industry in recent years is the consumer shift towards ‘free-from’ and natural products. As consumers have become more aware and educated on certain ingredients, products and brands have benefited from displaying these free-from claims on packaging.

This ingredient spotlight delves into what is actually meant by these claims, as well as what alternatives can be used in formulations. This will help you to create a desirable product range that fits in with the changing consumer expectation.

Sulphate Free

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) are synthetic surfactants used widely in all types of personal care products - they are commonly grouped under the name ‘Sulphates’. These ingredients are is generally added to soaps to increase the foaming performance of a product. Increasingly, consumers are aware of Sulphates as potential skin irritants. Research suggests that Sulphates are rarely irritant below 1%, however many formulations for cleaning products and personal care products can contain up to 20%. In recent years, more consumers are actively looking for ‘Sulphate-Free’ cosmetics and personal care products, as understanding surrounding these synthetic chemicals and possible irritation has increased. Traditional bar soap doesn’t contain SLS or SLES as the saponification process creates naturally occurring surfactants for foam performance. Here at Stephenson Personal Care, we are committed to providing high-quality products, and that is why more than half of our Melt & Pour soap bases are Sulphate free.

Paraben Free

Primarily used as preservatives, paraben is the name given to a compound of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. It is formulated into cosmetics and personal care products in order to increase the shelf life, and also to ensure that no bacteria can grow within the products. Parabens are usually found at around the 0.5% level in formulations, and cosmetic regulations all around the world have approved these ingredients as safe to use in cosmetics. However, consumers are still in doubt that these ingredients are actually safe, as research has suggested that they can act like estrogen through a process called endocrine disruption. This research has largely been disproved, but perceptions have already been changed, with consumers actively seeking ‘Paraben-Free’ products. Our entire product range is free from parabens and we only use raw materials we can trust.

PEG Free

Polyethylene Glycols (commonly known as PEGs) are widely used in cosmetic applications, specifically creams and lotions. They are usually used to thicken a product, as moisture carriers and also softeners.
Whilst PEGs in themselves are actually non-toxic, they can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane in the manufacturing process of this ingredient. These substances are toxic and can have a negative impact on the ingredient and overall formulation of a product. This possibility of contamination is enough for certifying organic bodies in the EU to rule them out in the creation of certified organic products. We do not use Polyethylene Glycols in any of our formulations, as there is a myriad of safer and better options available that we have decided to use instead.

Fragrance Free

Many consumers are now opting for fragrance-free options of personal care products. This is because the individual ingredients of a fragrance are not required to be listed on cosmetic and personal care products, despite the fact they can contain hundreds of ingredients. Fragrances are a common cause of dermal irritation or allergies. Over fears of non-transparency here, many consumers are opting now for natural essential oils or fragrance-free options. Our soap bases and cosmetic bases are specifically designed for the fragrance to be added and are formulated without fragrance, so it is up to you how much fragrance or essential oils (if any) you decide to add into your finished product.

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Stephenson Personal Care

As a responsible manufacturer, we are serious about finding the best ingredient solutions for our products. By understanding consumer trends ahead of time, we are able to formulate base products that help you create your ideal range. None of our products are tested on animals and we do not use any oils or ingredients that have been derived from animals. This makes our range suitable for vegetarians (please note: our Goat’s Milk and Honey soap bases contain sustainable and ethically sourced animal produce). In addition to this, we are always working on expanding our certified ranges, whether this is Organic, Fairtrade or even Kosher.

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