By Tom Branna • Editorial Director
FOR THE MISINFORMED consumer, SLES is a four-letter word. Sodium lauryl ether sulfate and its partner in cleaning rime, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), have been blamed for
everything from causing cancer to forming dioxane to ruining a
new dye job. As such, surfactant suppliers to the global household, personal care, and industrial and institutional cleaning
industries are rolling out an array of ingredients that tout their
natural and mild profiles.
According to Kevin Gallagher, president, Kevin Gallagher
Consulting, Key West, FL, the move toward sustainability is well
underway and, for consumer product companies, the empha-
sis is on reducing their carbon footprint. To get there, Gallagher
maintains that demand is growing for products that are:
• Low carbon,
• Functional, and
• Cost/performance based.
“People have to realize that there will be bifurcation in the
market,” he explained. “There will always be a market for rela-
tively inexpensive workhorse surfactants, provided they don’t
Tom Keech, senior formulating chemist, Rita Corp., has re-
ceived requests for ingredients that meet requirements for
NPA, Prop. 65 and Whole Foods’ certification, as well as low
Environmental Working Group (EWG) scores. His company’s ex-
tensive line of Ritafactants includes ingredients that are sulfate-
free, PEG-free, DEA/MEA-free that are becoming a major focal
point of R&D development.
“These have steadily increased over the years with retail shelf
space increasing for the more natural products,”Keech explained.
In addition, building emulsions and serums using PEG-free
emulsifiers is another growing category that has expanded from
personal care and even into auto care segments in the form of
How GREEN Is
Suppliers offer a range of solutions to help household and personal care product
formulators develop effective, yet gentle formulas.
Hair color that’s to die for? You can credit a
proliferation of sulfate-free shampoo formulas.