“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art”. Pick up a random cream, shampoo, conditioner, foundation, mascara, or nail polish and browse the ingredients. You’ll find an array of chemical names, included in this many polymers. The history of makeup products is many thousands of years of age – they existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and Japan. People seem to be drawn to changing their appearance naturally, whether for ritualistic or esthetic purposes, so it’s only natural that the trend continues today in the form of a multibillion buck industry.

Originally, makeup products and beauty products used natural flower and nutrient elements, including castor and olive natural oils, aromatic natural oils, beeswax, rosewater, henna, carbon, gelatin, egg whites, safflower, and grain powder. Natural makeup was used somewhat on every continent before 20th century when – Influenced by the movie industry – the mass production of cosmetics started.

The simultaneous development of the chemical industry made synthetic components an essential area of the cosmetics industry. Polymers are regularly found in many personal treatment and beauty products. The applications take advantage of the many properties of the polymers to impart unique benefits to their formulations. The range of properties is as varied as the class of polymers that have been used. Using polymers, cosmetic chemists can create high performance products.

Broad spectrums of polymers; natural polymers, synthetic polymers, organic polymers as well as silicones are used in an array of beauty and personal care products as film-formers, emulsifiers, thickeners, modifiers, protecting barriers, and as aesthetic enhancers. How Are Polymers Used? Let’s take a closer look at the polymers used in cosmetics nowadays. Water-based formulations are often quite liquid in character, and polymers are accustomed to change their rheology, i.e., to increase viscosity, thicken, or gel them. Natural polymers such as starch, starch, guar or xanthan gum, carrageenan, alginates, polysaccharides, pectin, gelatin, agar, and cellulose derivatives may be used to this last end.

On the artificial side, polyacrylate polyacrylamide and derivatives polymers are most popular for this function. More recent developments include merging hydrophobic and hydrophilic polymers into celebrity and block copolymers and thermally reactive systems. Structuring agents that add rigidity include synthetic and natural waxes, lanolin, long-chain fatty alcohols, and triglycerides. A favorite component, poly-alpha-olefin, does not feel greasy and is used in products like eye lip and shadows products.

Glycol stearates provide as opacifiers and put in a pearlizing effect. Polyurethanes are used in mascara and nail products because they form strong movies. Hair products use cationic polymers typically, since hair is negatively charged. Natural products include polysaccharides, such as cellulose and starch derivatives, natural gums, and hydrolyzed proteins. Synthetic hair-friendly polymers include polyvinyl acetate and pyrrolidone, polyvinylamides, polymethacrylates and polyacrylates, polyurethanes, and silicones. Polymers can provide as delivery systems for energetic cosmetics components, such as antioxidants and antimicrobials.

Natural antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, grape seed remove, horse chestnut remove, and cucumber or celery components are used, along with artificial components like butylated hydroxyanisole or butyl hydroxyl toluene. Polymer carriers can physically entrap the active component, preserving its biological stability, or the bioactive component can be incorporated into a polymer chain or pendant group chemically, then released through hydrolysis.

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For example, salicylic acid (an anti-acne component) can be included into the primary chain of polyanhydride ester and released within a short time. There is a lot of polymer development happening in makeup products. Among the latest ideas is 3D makeup printing, that allows you to create your own custom-color makeup using the Mink printer and FDA-approved polymer ingredients. What this could mean for the makeup industry is almost unfathomable. Source: “Polymers for Personal Care and Cosmetics: Overview,” with a. Patil and M.S. Ferritto, a section in Polymers for Personal Care and Makeup products, ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2013, pp.

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