Episode 33: Cosmetic Process Engineering

Interview begins at 10:00

Bob Bornfriend is highly experienced in a variety of R&D, Quality, Engineering, & Manufacturing positions. He’s had extensive exposurebob-bornfriend to product, project, and process development in chemical & consumer products industries. During his career he has been a key liaison between R&D and Operations and has advised corporations on internal and external manufacturing sites and process optimization. He has worked on projects around the world including in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, China, and more. His primary product categories include haircare, skincare, and color cosmetics. He is currently the owner and operator of Personal Care Process Engineering, LLC.

Website - Personal Care PE.com

Beauty Science news

Revlon fights back
Here’s a story which shows that not everyone is overreacting to the NGO scaremongering. While big companies like P&G and J&J have vowed to reformulate (even though they think their current products are perfectly safe) Revlon has fought back against the claims of these scaremongers.

According to the story, three NGO groups including the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Breast Cancer Fund, and UltraViolet teamed up for a letter writing campaign urging Revlon to stop selling cosmetics laced with cancer causing chemicals.

Revlon’s response came from their senior vice president of corporate communications, Christine Taylor, who deemed the campaign as false and misleading.

I for one am glad to see a big company finally standing up to these groups that use junk science to scare consumers and manipulate companies. This is a win for critical thinking and science. I wish J&J and P&G would follow suit. You can’t give in to these NGOs when their conclusions are not based on evidence but instead fear.

Cockroaches in your protein

A lot of people love to formulate natural products. Well, here’s a report out of China that says there is an increase in the production of a natural protein source that many consumers might not find too appealing. According to the LA Times, cockroach farms are on the rise in China. Right now there are about 100 of these farms but the numbers keep growing.

And what do they do with the cockroaches?

They use them as a source of protein for cosmetic products. Specifically, apparently they are used primarily as a bulking agent for other types of protein materials but they are derived from cockroaches nonetheless.

So the next time you’re mixing your Silk protein into your batch, it just might be filled with amino acids that came from a farm of creepy crawling critters.

Now, I wonder if people who produce all-natural cosmetics would go for that material? And could you use cockroach protein and still call your products “cruelty free” or say they don’t contain animal products?

Win $1 million by making a chemical free product.

And finally, speaking of Natural products, I was recently reminded of a challenge that the Royal Society of Chemistry put out in 2010 that is still available to anyone today. If you can achieve the challenge they will pay you 1 million pounds (or $1.6 million in US).

The challenge?

Produce an actual “chemical free” product.

Simple right?

We see advertisements all the time for chemical free products. In fact, I often get request from people who want to make “chemical free” cosmetics. I just tell them that you can’t. It is…impossible.


Because all matter is a chemical! Water is a chemical, salt is a chemical, anything that you can put in a bottle or sell in a jar is a chemical!

But if you think you can produce a chemical free product, all you have to do is contact the Royal Society of Chemistry, show them the product, and if they agree, you get your money.

Somehow I don’t think they are ever going to have to pay out.

Cosmetic Science Tips

We had an interesting question posed by one of our readers who has a background in Chemical Engineering. Specifically, he wanted to know if there were some general guidelines for scaling up a formulation and creating a manufacturing procedure. Since we’ve never written specifically about this in the past, here are eight tips that can make your scale up from the lab to the production plant easier. While none of these tips will apply to every formula they are a good guideline to help you craft your manufacturing procedures.

1. Start with abundance
When making a batch you should fill the tank up with the ingredient that is the most abundant in the formulation. Since the vast majority of formulations are water-based, this typically means you fill the tank first with water.

2. Put in your powders
Since many water soluble powders can take a long time to disperse or dissolve, it is best that you get those ingredients mixing. This will speed things up considerably. You also don’t have to necessarily wait until every bit of the powder is evenly mixed into the formula before adding more ingredients on top.

3. Heat helps (usually)
Even if a formulation doesn’t need to be heated to melt the ingredients, it is often helpful to heat up the batch a bit to speed things up. In general, warmer ingredients take less time to blend. Note that this is not always the case. In fact, cellulose raw materials often go into solution faster when the water is cold.

4. Go 10 degrees C higher
When you are creating an emulsion or working with solids that need to be heated past their melting point, a good guide for manufacturing procedures is to heat the batch 10 degrees C higher than the highest melting point of the ingredients you are using. For most emulsion this means your batch should be anywhere from 75 — 80C.

5. Twenty minutes of mixing
While it depends on your mixing tank, a minimum of twenty minutes mixing after blending the oil and water phase together is needed. If you don’t have good turnover it could take a lot longer.

6. Add fragrances and preservatives last
Since these ingredients can break down when heated, it is best to add them at the very end when all your heating and cooling is completed. This will minimize ingredient degradation.

7. Color early
Add colors early on in the batch and check the color versus a color standard. If you make a mistake you can easily pitch the batch without much cost.

8. Neutralize at the end
Finally, neutralize your formulas that require it (gels & anything with Carbomer) at the end. This should be the last ingredient you add. It will help minimize the amount of air you get in the formula.
Of course, these are just general guidelines and every specific cosmetic formulation is going to be different. Sometimes things that work easily in the lab don’t work so easily in a 2000 gallon tank so it will take some experimentation.


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