When we talk about skin care today, we mainly talk about ingredients. For a good reason, because ingredients make 100% of the product that is applied to the skin! And yet – that is not the whole truth.
The truth is that ingredients are fairly similar across most products found on the shelves. There are obvious category differences between conventional and natural/organic products (if they are not being greenwashed) - but the products are not the same. You know that, we know that. How can that be?
Because what makes a product unique is the formula. Even an extreme example of exactly the same ingredients, as seen on the label, can still result with different products. That is true not only of skin care and beauty industry; it has been at the root of excellence, trade secrets, and all of human originality since the beginning of time. With skin care products, it will be the concentration of ingredients, the pH, the process… even small changes in any of the factors can result with a noticeable difference in how the product feels and performs on the skin. In the end, as at the beginning, it is the art and craftsmanship, the knowhow that distinguish products: the good, the bad, the mediocre, and the amazing.
So when we talk about skin care products, or any product, we talk about ingredients as the starting point and the art of formulation as the mark of distinction.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the ingredients we use in SOPHIC formulas. This is the conversation that every brand must have.
Actives are the stars of a skin care product. Activated Base is the opportunity to create an equal partner. Creating beautiful formulas is the art of applied science.
The key materials of this art form are the ingredients. Classifications of skin care ingredients, apart from established chemical categories, are subject to interpretation and individual criteria. Even between certifying organizations for natural and organic products differences in definitions exist. Although that can be without a doubt confusing for consumers, we understand the passion and commitment that goes into establishing the selection criteria for ingredients because it directly reflects the values of the brand. Below are some of the guidelines we follow.
Natural and Organic Ingredients:
- Ingredients obtained through physical extraction by mechanical processing or use of solvents such as water, alcohol, glycerin, and natural oils. Organic ingredients are the natural ingredients obtained from organic farming and certified for compliance, processed as described above.
Organic skin care ingredients are parts of plants, plant extracts, oils, fats, butters. Alcohol is a product of fermentation, which is a biological process. Organic Glycerin, or Lecithin, for instance, although involves simple chemical processing is acceptable by agricultural standards. This is to illustrate that there are very few organic ingredients in skin care. All other skin care ingredients can be categorized as naturally-derived or synthetic. Ingredients derived from organic or just natural material are classified as naturally-derived ingredients.
- Cosmetic ingredients that exist in nature but are obtained by simple and green chemical processing of natural materials, such as esterification, neutralization, hydrogenization, hydrolysis, simple polymerisation using natural monomers. Examples: glyceryl stearate, fatty acids, fatty alcohols.
- Cosmetic ingredients that don’t exist in nature but are obtained by simpleand green chemical processing of natural materials, such as esterification, neutralization, hydrogenization, hydrolysis, simple polymerisation using natural monomers. Examples: polyglyceryl esters, glucosides, esters and derivatives of Ascorbic acid.
- Biotechnology and fermentation form a hybrid, where they produce ingredients that may or may not exist in nature, but are obtained through biological processes. Examples: Hyaluronic acid.
The Earth is rich in minerals, and their use has powered civilizations and epochs. All living things need minerals for their homeostasis. In skin care, makeup and sun care formulations minerals are used in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble salts are actives and can support skin functions. Insoluble minerals, such as metal oxides, Mica, Silica, Talc, Kaolin, are widely used. They provide sun protection, colour for complexion makeup, encapsulation of active ingredients and improve the texture and finish of products. As processing goes, they can be highly purified natural minerals or synthesized if desired purity cannot be achieved otherwise.
The above are the basic principles we follow when selecting ingredients for our formulations. It is far from simple and only the beginning of the process.
Why is all this important?
Because when we set out on this path we were determined to create great skin care products, and that starts with the ingredients. The journey’s end is reached when we become your favourite brand. That can be achieved only if based on merit.
(This text has appeared as two posts on our blog).