Whipped Beauty: Why We’re (Politely) Saying No to Foam

 

FORMULATIONS RESEARCH

Whipped Beauty: Why We’re (Politely) Saying No to Foam

 

Do you use a foaming cleanser?

As we continue on our product development path, we’ve established a strict set of guidelines to maintain the integrity and purity of our line. One of them? To steer away from foam products. Natural products don’t normally foam, so neither will ours. Discover why we made this decision for our Made with You range very quickly.

Did you know — we’re creating an unparalleled micro-range of activated essentials. Find out how you can co-design your own natural skincare range with leading experts – and get it free for an entire year.


Human nature gravitates towards things that are promising, familiar, and deliciously satisfying. In the beauty world, this translates to the belief that cleanliness is directly linked the texture and a visceral experience. 

We’re specifically talking about foam – tiny bubbles found in a plethora of products, from facial cleansers to shampoo. When incorporated into skincare formulas, foam makes a product interactive and delightful. 

As we continue to develop Noéma products, we’ve established a strict set of guidelines to maintain the integrity and purity of our line. One of them? To steer away from foam products. Natural products don’t normally foam, so neither will ours. 

Note: We’re specifically talking about the addition of foaming agents. Incorporating oils (like coconut and castor) can result in a creamy foam through a natural process. We are more than fine with that.

 
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As much as we love the idea of incorporating suds in the day to day, the fact is, foam is by no means natural. That’s because foam is created through surfactants, an added mixture of amphiphilic molecules that alter the surface of a liquid. In addition to shifting the physical existence, surfactants are utilized to increase how efficient and thorough a product is. 

Surfactants, whose ingredients differ largely based on the intended effect, lower the surface tension of a product to achieve optimal property balance. A product with oil and water elements have high surface tension - surfactants step in reduce said tension and help wash away dirt, oil, and impurities. Basically, surfactants encourage a separation between the surface layer and body while increasing the wetting properties of the liquid. They can also do the opposite and increase the viscosity. 

Surfactants can be pulled from natural sources, like coconut and palm (remember that palm surfactants are attached to an ethical and sourcing dilemma re: the palm oil industry). Natural surfactants tend to be gentler on the skin and easier to blend. We support a natural alternative to stark chemical formulations, but still won’t include them in our products.

In packaging or formulations, surfactants are referred to as foaming agents, detergents, and soaps. Formulations are always tailored for a specific use. For example, surfactants are added to shaving cream to make the user experience pleasant via a thick substance that prevents irritation. You’ll find surfactants in practically every item in the bathroom cupboard: toothpastes, shampoos and cleansers.

 
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There are four primary surfactants used in the industry: anionic, nonionic, cationic, and amphoteric. These surfactants differ in molecular structure, which dictate the harshness and texture as well as levels of foam and pH. 

A quick reminder from that required chemistry class you may have not paid attention to: the balance of ions (positive and negative) determine the stability of a molecule.

Anionic

Anionic surfactants are negatively charged ions that are insoluble at a low temperature. You’ll find anionic surfactants in soaps and general ski that require efficient cleaning, particularly for oil and dirt residue. 

Nonionic

Surfactants without ionizations are highly stable and robust when exposed to acids and strong electrolytes. That means that they are great for removing oils and dirt. The skincare industry uses nonionic surfactants because of their stability and resistance to water hardness. Nonionic surfactants cause less skin irritation.

Cationic 

Positively charged! Cationic surfactant molecules aren’t typically used in cleansing formulas because they are irritating and not cohesive to cleaning or rinsing well. 

However, the positive charge in the molecules work wonders for conditioning. You’ll find cationic surfactants in a majority of hair conditioning products due to the attraction between negatively charged areas (damaged hair) and the positive molecules in cationic surfactants. This iteration can be produced from raw fats and oils.

Amphoteric 

The balance of opposites - amphoteric surfactants are both negative and positive. They are used as a secondary surfactant to accentuate the effect of the primary surfactant while providing addition soothing properties. The pH level of amphoteric surfactants is key here - high pH products mean increased foam and low pH products mean hefty nourishment. 

You’ll find amphoteric surfactants in shampoos, body washes, and skin products because of their balancing properties, tendency to foam, and relative gentleness.

 

Why Noema Won’t Use Foam

The addition of foam in the skincare industry can be a game changer for marketing, product efficacy, and plain old pleasure. 

But, not for us. 

The addition of foam in skincare products may be appealing, but when it comes down to it, shifts the self-regulatory cycle of the body. Surfactants are linked to changing the vital oil balance and nature of skin through the introduction of additionally charged molecules. Foam-based products are known to tighten the skin, strip healthy oils, and leave the skin feeling dry. 

There’s also the often skirted issue of surfactants being harsh for the skin. Foam-based products are known to tighten the skin, strip healthy oils, and leave the skin feeling dry. 

We’re not claiming that not using foam and surfactants is the best way to produce skincare products. While surfactants are known to cause irritation, their benefits have changed the skincare industry by creating products that are efficient and effective.

When it comes down to it, we just want to showcase the bioavailable skincare properties of the ingredients we source. To us, that means staying away from added surfactants and (politely) saying no to foam.

 

Co-Design Your Activated Essentials —

Here at Noéma, we’re busy researching the best ingredients - so that we can make the best activated essentials for you, with you. We’re taking a radically new direction in skincare; we use you as the key ingredient.

By collaborating with industry experts such as naturopaths, biochemists, product specialists and formulators, our aim is to create an Activated Essentials product range with the best ingredients, formula and design.

We’re taking applications from our diverse community to contribute to co-designing an essential micro-range of products right for them. Get involved in upcoming events and workshops covering wellness, self-care and design.

 

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