surfactants personal care ingredient

A Brief Look at Surfactants in Personal Care During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economic outlook is also uncertainOne thing that is certain is that even under lockdown, people will continue to use essential personal care products. For thareason, these types of products will be less affected.  

There will also be sharp levels of growth in some essential product categories, such as hand sanitizers and liquid soaps, as they are now needed more than ever. However, there are many products that are not as buoyant. Ingredient groups, such as ultraviolet absorbers, pigments, and hair fixative polymers, which are used in sun care products, makeup products, and hair styling products, respectively, could be the hardest hit. 

Among categories that will be impacted, but minimally, are baby care, personal cleansing, and shampoos and conditioners. 

Almost all consumption of surfactants is for rinse-off applications, mainly hair care and skin care. Surfactants are also used for cleansing applications and baby care products, and therefore, their usage is expected to be affected not as much as other categories. 

As consumers are even more focused on sustainability during the coronavirus pandemic, the growing demand for sulfate-free formulations and biodegradability remainthe key trend in the surfactant market, in both developed and developing markets. However, the transition to sulfate-free formulations is slower and is driven mainly by a few products, such as baby careskin care, and some premium products used for body care. In Brazil, for example, consumers are looking for softer, but not necessarily natural options, in most products. ​  

The major sulfate substitutes are anionic surfactants, such as sulfosuccinates and sarcosinates, which offer similar foaming and cleaning power. ​  

Amid the growing trend towards sulphate-free surfactants, the consumption of primary surfactants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLS/SLES), is expected to grow because of their good cleansing properties, cost-effectiveness, and ability to meet consumer demand for foam and lather. However, SLS/SLES cause irritation to the eyes and skin. As a result, formulators will retain SLS/SLES in their formulations but incorporate a combination of some mild surfactants, such as amphoteric and nonionic surfactants, to reduce the concentration of SLS/SLES in the formulation. Sulfate-free surfactants, such as acyl glycinates and alkyl polyglycosides (APGs), are expected to grow at the highest rate due to their natural profile​. 

Between 2019 and 2023, growth for surfactants in personal care globally was forecast to be nearly 4%. Given the current situation, in the most likely case, the CAGR was expected to be 0.3%; however, in the bestcase scenario, growth through 2023  could likely approach the original estimate of 2.6%. This growth rate could vary from one country market to another but Europe was forecast to be hardest hit by the pandemicTo gain more in-depth insights on this market, subscribe to our Personal Care Ingredients: Surfactants Market Analysis report.

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