Sulfates, sulfonates, sulfoccinates...

Hello ! I am presently working on a all natural shampoo formula. I have done alot of research and tried different shampoos already on the market but I am never satisfied with the foaming effect of all natural products such as decyl glucoside and sodium lauryl carboxylate.
I know that live clean products uses allegations like ¨biodegradable ingredients¨ and and they use sodium and disodium methyl 2-sulforeate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate as the main surfactants. Maybe ¨biodegradable ingredients¨ does not necessarily mean that all the ingredients are biodegradable ?
My question is are sulfonates and sulfoccinates as bad for the environement as sulfates ? 

Also, I wonder why alot of all natural companies refuse to use sulfonates and sulfoccinates because of the irritation factor but use cocamidopropyl betaine witch has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine and had contamination concerns with nitrosamines.

As you can see I am really mixed up about witch surfactants to use in my formulation. I would like to have a product with good foaming qualities that people are going to want to buy again but I would like the product to be eco friendly and mild to the skin.

I also wonder, can crothix be used in my all natural formula, considering I want a eco friendly product ? 

Can you help me please ?
Thank you !


  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I think you will be happy with Iselux.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Try Glycinate derivatives.
  • Check foam height of each of the surfactant & then check their synergistic effect in terms of foaming.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    This all arises from the topic that comes up over and over again, "What does "natural" mean?" This is a clear example of why you can't throw out the term "natural" and then use inference to select raw materials. For consistency and validity you MUST address a natural standard (NSF, NPA, WF's, USDA NOP, etc.) and then use their standard to vet raw materials. If you try to infer you will make these broad errors.

    Basically a "natural standard" will allow a raw material if a. the feedstock (initial raw material) is plant based and b. It is only purified/isolated/extracted with processes that occur in nature. I think these are braod conditions upon which we should all agree. I know it doesn't address some exceptions such as naturally occurring clays/minerals, beeswax and lanolin. As far as the beeswax/lanolin goes, these are left off some natural standards in order to meet a "vegan" requirement.

    Now, knowing all this, I think you can go back and look at each material you suggested and see why they are "natural" (hate that term) or not. It greatly simplifies the process.

    Lastly, it will make you re-examine your need to be "natural." In my opinion this movement to natural is driven by marketing primarily and the Marketers sometimes over value the demand for "natural" products in the market as a whole. With this in mind, don't let "natural" lure you into sacrificing performance. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • Thank you !
  • @melanie: Lots of good information and suggestions here. I also second the recommendation to try out Iselux. It's too bad the isethionates don't have any "natural" certifications (e.g. Ecocert), but I think it's Whole Foods approved, which may be more important depending on your market. I've tried most of the non-sulfate anionics, and the isethionates are nice. The only "downside" is that it produces a dense foam. If you're looking for copious large bubbles, you'll have to add something else to your blend. IME, doing so usually results in lower overall foam height in exchange for better bubble variety. We're in the same boat, so I wish you good luck!
  • Are sulfonates & sulfosuccinates as bad for the environment as sulfates?  Yes, to the extent they're bad, which is practically not at all.  With normal sewage treatment, their breakdown products are all equally harmless.

    There has been reported under some conditions persistence in the environment of surfactant moieties of the alkylphenol type, which may have adverse effects.  However, that has nothing to do with whether that moiety is capped by a sulfonate, sulfate, or sulfosuccinate group.  (Practically speaking, nobody makes alkylphenol sulfosuccinates, and alkylphenolsulfonates are actually mixtures of sulfonates & sulfates.)

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