In recent years, sustainability in the personal care industry has drawn considerable attention from media and society. Consumers want to know exactly the impact on the environment and climate a product has, how and where raw materials are sourced and what processes are used. Digitally connected and well-informed consumers are highly critical of any sign of greenwashing. In addition, regulators are increasing environmental standards. In response, future-oriented suppliers are seeking alternatives to silicone-based and non-biodegradable cosmetic ingredients.

Polymers, key ingredients that shape the performance and sensory experience a given product offers, are of particular interest. This is partly due to the fact that many conventional polymers are not biodegradable. In 2019, the chemicals authority ECHA advocated for EU-wide banning or labeling of polymers that it defines as microplastics.

BASF has proactively addressed this issue, and its personal care division has made significant progress in the development of plant-based, biodegradable solutions. The company has already introduced a number of biopolymers to the market.

Biopolymers to the rescue

BASF Personal Care is currently creating a versatile and diverse range of biopolymers for rinse-off and leave-on products, under the trademark Verdessence™. The product family contains five different ingredients to date, for applications including skincare, color cosmetics and haircare. All of them are based on renewable feedstocks like rice or algae and have earned the certification of COSMOS and Natrue. The plant-based ingredients are readily biodegradable according to OECD standards and have good eco-toxicological profiles. They are also non-GMO and free of preservatives and produced using low emission processes,. This adds up to make them ideal for natural and organic cosmetics.

BASF’s biopolymers

The sensory modifier Verdessence™ RiceTouch is the latest addition to this product group and is produced from rice starch. Its very small, octagonal particles create a powdery light and smooth skinfeel. Stickiness and greasiness are reduced, for example, in matte-type cosmetics. The rice starch is processes using 100% mechanical methods. The non-dusty, free-flowing powder’s microbial count is low.

Based on the tuber of the konjac plant, Verdessence™ Glucomannan is a cold-processable rheology modifier. It functions in aqueous systems such as gels, serums and fluids as well as in applications like jellies, patches and peel-off products. This biopolymer acts as a thickening and texturizing agent, supporting a smooth and soft skinfeel with a cooling effect in low- and high-viscosity systems. It has a low microbial count and is suitable for biome-friendly products. The powder dissolves fast in cold or warm formation processes without forming clumps, resulting in a colorless, translucent gel with low peaking.

The feedstock for Verdessence™ Alginate is, as the name suggests, algae. It is a versatile rheology modifier that enhances sensory profiles in rinse-off and leave-on hair- and skincare formulations. The biopolymer comes in the form of a free-flowing beige powder that is cold-processable. It performs well as a thickening agent in shampoos.

In applications as diverse as body washes, haircare, face care and oral care, Verdessence™ Xanthan enhances viscosity and provides a rich feel, making it ideal for fashionable shampoos, body washes, facial cleansers and tooth gels. Based on vegan-compatible xanthan gum, the versatile rheology modifier efficiently stabilizes and thickens emulsions and surfactant-based formulations. Its viscosity performance is further boosted by electrolytes like NaCl. It is cold-processable and suitable for crystal-clear products and formulations with pH values of >5.5.

Tara gum provides the feedstock of Verdessence™ Tara. The rheology modifier acts as a texturizer and thickener, creating smooth and pleasing textures in sun protection and after-sun products, deodorants and antiperspirants or hand-, face- and body-care products. It is also suitable for hairstyling formulations.

Stay tuned

BASF is among the suppliers to the personal care industry working to achieve greater sustainability, continually expanding its portfolio of renewable plant-based ingredients. The company has announced that further Verdessence™ products will enter the market in the near future.

This development benefits the industry and society, as nature-based chemistry enables creation of products that fulfill the personal needs and desires of environmentally aware consumers. It also helps manufacturers comply with upcoming regulations ahead of time, while boosting the sustainability credentials of the cosmetics industry as a whole.