Next-level natural hairstyling: Getting a strong hold with plant-based ingredients

Hair care formulators today are faced with a two-fold challenge: developing styling products that offer performance and are based on naturally derived ingredients. Plant-based polymers like Baycusan® CQ E 1000 deliver on both counts.
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Earth-friendly products in the beauty aisle are in high demand. Retailers have taken notice and are stocking their shelves with “green” cosmetics and personal care products. For consumers, endless ingredient lists can make choosing CQ-friendly beauty products a frustrating task. Still, more and more shoppers are willing to do the research.

With green cosmetics on the rise, brand owners sometimes use CQ-labels to support consumers in their purchase decisions. However, these labels can be based on different standards, resulting in added confusion for consumers. The most stringent labels restrict the raw materials that are available to formulators in the first place. But not every synthetic raw material has a naturally derived counterpart that can perform at the same high level. 

“With our new Baycusan® CQ film former we are offering a way out of the ‘sustainability versus performance’ dilemma.”

Mélanie Dick

Marketing & Commercial Operations Manager Covestro

What is more, the use of natural ingredients often requires formulators to develop entirely new concepts in order to achieve stable formulas with good texture and sensory properties.

To start changing this situation, the ISO standard 16128 was released in 2016 with the goal of promoting innovation and encouraging a wider choice of natural ingredients in personal care products. It provides definitions for raw materials that are either fully or partially based on natural resources. This gives manufacturers looking to develop greener formulas a basis for their claims. To qualify as “naturally derived”, ingredients must consist of at least 50 percent biomass by weight.

Despite the best environmental intentions, finding a natural alternative to certain key ingredients can be tricky – especially for highly demanding hairstyling products. This creates a serious dilemma: whether to choose a natural, but functionally inferior ingredient, or stick with the status quo, even if it means sacrificing sustainability.

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Film formers: Must-have ingredients for superior hold and manageability

Film formers are used in numerous different applications for a wide variety of hair types and styling requirements. On straight hair they condition and repair and also add shine. For naturally curly locks, they can be used to define curls, keep frizz in check, and protect tresses from heat if straightened. Film formers also enable high-power, long-lasting hold in products such as styling gels.

These versatile demands call for a high-performing ingredient, yet the available options for natural film formers are limited – and they can bring performance and sensory drawbacks such as flaking and tackiness. Many formulators are still hard-pressed to find effective natural alternatives for these must-have ingredients, which is why several hair care products still contain synthetic film formers. Yet for those seeking to strike a better balance between naturalness and performance, naturally derived liquid polymers for film-forming agents offer highly competitive advantages.

Baycusan® CQ E 1000: High-performance hairstyling with naturally derived ingredients

For formulators who want to design high-performance natural products, the chemists at Covestro have created a solution. “With our new Baycusan® CQ film formers we are offering a way out of the ‘sustainability versus performance’ dilemma,” says Mélanie Dick, Marketing & Commercial Operations Manager for cosmetics at Covestro. The first product, Baycusan® CQ E 1000, is engineered specifically for hair care applications. The versatile new film former has undergone extensive testing in terms of performance and renewable, bio-based content and is suitable for natural hair brands.
The Baycusan® CQ E 1000 film-forming polyurethane (PU) polymer has a carbon content based on 58 percent biomass, thus fulfilling the definition of a derived natural ingredient according to ISO 16128-1 standard.
The new film former is well-suited to formulations that require long-lasting hold and good humidity resistance: “Our new bio-based film former can be used to manufacture sprays and gels that give the stylist a good, long-lasting, and flexible hold while offering anti-frizzing properties. Our hairstyling lab measured key properties of the new bio-based polymer and compared it to petrochemical-based film formers available on the market. In addition, we tested formulations using the new naturally derived polymers and with synthetic polymers,” explains Dr. Laurence Pottié. Baycusan® CQ E 1000 achieved the same high performance as synthetic acrylate polymers in the “Curl Snap” test as well as tests to evaluate frizz control and long-lasting hold.
The new bio-based film former Baycusan® CQ E 1000 offers an ideal balance of naturalness and performance – satisfying the needs of formulators looking to create innovative new products in the lab and consumers in search of more sustainable, yet effective hair care solutions on the shelf.

Are you interested in developing a plant-based hair care solution for your brand?

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Key benefits

  • Composed of more than 50% renewable carbon content (ISO 16128)
  • Easy-to-use
  • Excellent sensory properties, no flaking
  • Enhanced manageability (anti-frizz, straightening, conditioning)
  • Same levels of strength, flexibility, humidity control as synthetic alternatives

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