There was an interesting discussion going on in the cosmetic science forum about a formulation that one of the chemists was working with which included Quaternium-15. Quat-15 is a formaldehyde donor preservative that has been around for a long time. It is effective but most people would consider it old technology. In fact, J&J recently removed it from one of their baby shampoos.
But you might wonder why it was still in there anyway. Why would cosmetic formulations continue to use old technology?
Well, there are a number of reasons.
Old technology still works
First, the technology still works. Just because a technology has been replaced by a newer one doesn’t automatically mean there is a good reason to switch. It’s not like a new iPhone or Car where the new thing is obviously better than the old technology.
It costs money to change
Another reason you wouldn’t necessarily change out of an old technology is because it requires significant resources to change old formulas. You have to repeat all the stability testing, the performance tests, safety tests, claims tests, etc. Plus you have to change all of your formulation batch sheets and assign new inventory numbers to the new raw material. If you have dozens of formulation, this could be a nightmare. It’s often just easier not to change.
You still have old inventory
Then there is the problem of old inventory. If you have a few 55 gallon barrels of an old technology ingredient it would cost you money to dispose of it. It makes more sense to continue to produce the old formula until you’ve used up the inventory. And if it is an ingredient which isn’t used at high levels this could take a long time.
Other projects are more important
Ultimately, one of the biggest reasons that an old technology continues to be used in formulas is because other projects with higher money making potential take precedence when it comes to work priority. There just is limited money potential in going through old formulas and cleaning them up. Cosmetic companies are better servers by spending their resources on the development of innovative new products. And consumers probably benefit more too.