BASF launches surfactant to ‘perfectly fit’ sustainable and free from trends

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The sustainable surfactant can be used in a wide range of personal care products, including cleansing bars and shampoos (Getty Images)
The sustainable surfactant can be used in a wide range of personal care products, including cleansing bars and shampoos (Getty Images)

Related tags BASF sustainable beauty Surfactant Formulation Free From

German speciality chemicals major BASF has developed a surfactant using RSPO-certified renewable resources that it says fits with market demand for sustainable, safe and free from personal care products.

Following several years in development, the sustainable and biodegradable anionic surfactant Texapon SFA, launched at the SEPAWA Congress 2019 in Berlin two weeks ago, can be used in a range of personal care products for sulphate-free stable, creamy and mild foams. BASF also co-launched a liquid blend Dehyton SFA that could be cold processed.

‘It perfectly fits with the market requirements today’

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Dr. Claudia Brunn, manager for global product development of primary surfactants at BASF and project lead on the development of Texapon, said the surfactant took “a few years” ​to develop because it required REACH registration and also wider thinking – for it to be used globally and in a range of applications.

“There are a lot of requirements when we think about new surfactants for the personal care market. With this development, we tried to somehow fit them all. We see there is a need for sustainable surfactants based on natural, renewable raw materials; that they have to be produced with safe and clean processes; they should be readily biodegradable; and they should match the surfactant performance we can already find on the market,”​ Brunn said.

Addressing all these requirements had certainly been a challenge, she said, but the result was a product that hit on important market trends.

Because of its limited water solubility, for example, the surfactant could be dried into a noodle base to incorporate into solid cleansing bars, she said, tapping into the “trend throughout industry”​ to get rid of plastic packaging. It was also extremely mild making it especially suitable for baby skin and had passed tear-free clinical tests in shampoo formulas, she said.

“We think it perfectly fits with the market requirements today – it’s sustainable, it’s safe, and we can see all these ‘free from’ claims (…) we can also serve this trend.”

Customer involvement early on

Brunn said BASF had worked with some front-runner customers early on during product development – a decision that had proved important in addressing market needs.

“It’s always a risk because it’s a sample and pilot plant; you cannot say whether this is really reproducible at large scale, but I think customers understand this and they like to be involved at early stage.”

BASF also issued formulation guidance alongside the launch, she said, given Texapon SFA was not a simple replacement to regular surfactants but hoped manufacturers could add some “creativity to enable new innovations”​ in the market.

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