Demystify the surfactants
The surfactants are products that reduce tension between raw materials that do not love and repel, such as the typical example of water and oil. By definition, an emulsifying wax to link an aqueous phase and an oily phase when making cream is a surfactant, but in the field of natural cosmetics, the surfactants are mainly referring to the cleaning and foaming raw materials that make it possible to make soaps . Most of the surfactants are used for the manufacture of liquid soaps and some for the manufacture of solid soaps (the famous solid shampoos and the "Cake" dish).
A few years ago, when the natural surfactants (natural, really? We will come back to it) arrived on the market, we did not have much choice. This was summed up in glucoside decyl and cocobetaine and the cost of making a liquid soap of one liter was around $ 50, which was not very advantageous. Over time, other natural surfactants have appeared, demand has increased and prices have fallen fortunately. We also realized that some surfactants, even if they were natural, were not very good for the environment and could prove to be irritating. Of natural origin is not synonymous with biodegradable or soft for the skin. Thus cocobetaine has become a surfactant to avoid that sodium coconut sulfate that we sell to meet demand, but which we strongly suggest limiting (some formulas recommend up to 80% of SCS, which is far too much, sulfates being irritating). We now have mild and biodegradable surfactants that may have less foaming, but that are just as effectively clean. Better to prioritize our skin and the environment rather than an abundant foam, isn't it?
Some will tell you that natural surfactants are not really so because they are made in the laboratory. We should rather write: natural source or natural origin, since they come from natural raw materials like certain fats (coconut, babassu). It is preferable to avoid products containing derivatives of palm oil for ecological reasons (deforestation), for which we did the cleaning and withdrawn from our tablets the raw materials which contained them. Regarding the surfactants, we therefore want them without palm, without sulfates and the most biodegradable as possible (the more a surfactant is foaming, the less biodegradable). In our opinion, the surfactants of natural source remain natural. The simple fact of having to make them in the laboratory is not a factor of denaturalization. In fact, if we were in this logic, the essential oils in bottles would not be natural since they need man's intervention to be extracted. Let us simply accept the fact that he has several nuances of "natural" and that it is up to everyone to make their choices according to their vision and their values.
Here is a comparative table that will help you find yourself better
A word on "zero waste" fashion and solid shampoos. Let's be clear, unless you only consume the products that are cultivated and harvested ourselves, "zero waste" does not exist. The surfactants which are used to make solid shampoos travel (fuel), they must be packaged in barrels (plastic) and bagged or stamped. To think that a solid shampoo is a zero waste product is illusory. Of course it is much better since the container is not necessary and the raw materials are supposed to be biodegradable (however, know that the soaps deteriorate easily in the soil, in the earth, but not in the rivers) .
In flower souls, we kick liquid surfactants in bottles of recyclable or better, reusable, and solid surfactants in recyclable bags. The glass bottles are unfortunately heavier, which generates more costs and more fuel (transport). In addition, glass production is far from ecological. Fortunately, the glass recycles well, but not everywhere, and it is brittle (problem during transport). As for the compostable bags, they do not allow good conservation of the product and as they look very much like non -compostable bags, employees in sorting centers remove them from the compost and throw them into the garbage. The compostable products that are found in garbage produce polluting gases. The best option for the environment remains, at least, that of recyclable bags.
The surfactants are not perfect products, of course, but they allow us to design healthier products for us and for the environment if we choose them well and use them intelligently. Here is a table that brings together the surfactants selected by flower souls and their properties, hoping that this can help you in your formulations. Let us make enlightened choices and continue our evolution towards ever healthier products!
- Marie-Christine Vallières