Body and Face St Cyrus Ltd
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Surfactant Update

Investigating possible alternatives to SLES, options under consideration include:

Alkyl (poly)Glucosides

A proprietary mild natural-based anionic surfactant blend with good foaming properties that is also free of alkyl sulfates and ethylene oxide is under investigation. Together with a second additive that supports moisturisation and which also acts as a viscosity modifier, a basic formulation has been tested. Both components are ECOCERT approved. Applications include body washes, face washes, liquid hand soaps, shampoos and baby care products.


General structure of an alkyl polyglucoside


Used as the sodium salt or disodium salt in combination, cocoyl glutamate anionic surfactants have gentle cleansing and foaming properties. Applications include facial and body cleansers, shampoos and baby products. Glutamates are claimed to be non-comedogenic. The products under consideration have ECOCERT approval.

Sodium cocoyl glutamate

Sodium cocoyl glutamate

Sucrose Esters

Predominantly used as non-ionic emulsifiers for O/W systems, sucrose esters of fatty acids (palmitate / stearate) can act as co-surfactants to be used in formulations for mild cleansers. They are claimed to provide controlled detergency and leave a pleasant after-feel. Sucrose esters can also be used as viscosity modifiers. Product range available is ECOCERT approved.

sucrose ester

General structure of a Sucrose ester

Natural Betaines

Cocoamidopropyl betaine is extensively used as a secondary surfactant in alkyl or alkyl ether sulfate-based systems to improve foaming. A modified cetyl betaine, developed from natural feedstocks, functions as a mild secondary surfactant in conjunction with anionic surfactants (such as glutamates) in sulfate-free systems. This shows enhanced viscosity-building properties, reducing the level of sodium chloride needed for thickening of products.

Acyl Lactylates


Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate – one example

Acyl lactylates are formed from the reaction of fatty acids and lactic acid in the presence of an alkali ion. Depending on the length of the carbon chain in the fatty acid and the degree of condensation, surfactants with varying degrees of foaming characteristics are shown. Sodium salts (such as that seen in the diagram) are efficient O/W emulsifiers useful in creams and lotions. Acyl lactylates are also recognized for their humectant properties.

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