FROM ALOE VERA TO SKIN CREAM Five major steps in the cosmetics R&D chain

“Green” is in as a cosmetic industry trend. “Paraben-free” has become one of the most common natural labels out there, but if cosmetics are made without a proper substitute for this preservative then the finished product may have a chance of microbial contamination. But rather than focusing so much on labels that tend to mean different things to different people, companies should be investing in the solid science needed for clean cosmetics development says Dr. Aurelie Demont Product Specialist from BÜCHI Labortechnik AG.  She adds, “the one label that the products and their consumers deserve is “made with care”. Care for human health. Care for work conditions. Care for the process. Care for the environment”.

Throughout its full value chain, the cosmetic industry should make a positive contribution to the ecosystems and the environment. Innovation needs to be constant for brands to be able to update their products and to continue staying in line with customer demands while their manufacturing and commercialisation follow strict rules that are constantly changing. One can hence say that technology, R&D, and innovation are at the heart of the cosmetic industry. They are the tools that create environmentally and ethically friendly solutions for products, but to also give consumers high-quality performing products with the best possible materials.


STEP 1 – Sourcing raw materials

The sourcing of raw materials needs to adhere to norms and regulations and support conservation and sustainability of genetic resources, with the aim of enhancing biodiversity and human welfare.


STEP 2 – Screening of active ingredients

Raw material is systematically screened for active ingredients. Frequently, natural ingredients are extracted (UniversalExtractor E-800, SpeedExtractor E-914), purified (Pure Chromatography systems) and concentrated (Rotavapor® R-300). Then specific cosmetic properties such as whitening, anti-oxidant, anti-elastase, anti-hyaluronidase, anti-inflammatory, anti-collaganese and many more activities are tested.


STEP 3 – Formulation of a finished/intermediate product

Formulation is both structural and functional.  There must be a strong affinity between the structural ingredients to produce a desired physical form. This step may include discoloration or deodorization steps for marketing purposes. During formulation, spray-drying (Mini Spray Dryer B-290, Encapsulator B-390) and freeze-drying (Lyovapor™ L-200, L-300) are commonly used to dry emulsions and prepare solid ingredients.


STEP 4 – Development & Packaging

R&D processes are scaled up at this point to enable development of large quantities of product. This step also involves improving the use of materials, discarding faulty batches before or during R&D, guaranteeing suitability of the packaging, assessing the durability of products and ensuring product consistency.


STEP 5 – Quality control of intermediates and finished product – Quality control is performed over the entire value chain to make sure products meet requirements and regulations. QC frequently involves checking intermediates or final products for odour smells, reactions with skin, expiry dates, leakage checking of the packaging, function tests and workmanship checks. Sample preparation for analysis of metals can be facilitated using the BUCHI Digestion portfolio. The NIRFlex N-500 FT-NIR spectrometer provides reliable identification and quantification of substances and is ideally suited to QC and R&D purposes.