Natural Surfactant Systems

and how to formulate them

Natural Surfactant Systems

and how to formulate them

The most common sulfate-based ingredients found in personal care products are sodium coco sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.

Sulfates possess cleansing and foaming properties, making them essential in cosmetic products such as shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, facial cleansing gels, liquid hand soaps, and more.

Cosmetic Services - person holding a green shampoo in their hand in front of a shelf full of shampoos


Now, new regulations have been published, presenting the next challenge for sulfate-free and COSMOS-approved natural products:

COSMOS announced the end of sulfates’ acceptance by the end of 2028.

Cosmetic Services - screenshot of regulatory

This implies a market need for innovative surfactant system solutions addressing this challenge.

Surfactant thickening system options

Option 1: Hydrophobic Thickening System

Amphoterics are key sulfate replacements, such as:

  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB)

The thickening effect is created through worm-like micelle formation. Hydrophobic thickeners support the correct organisation of surfactant molecules, moving from spherical micelles to worm-like micelles (see picture below)..

Cosmetic Services - graphic

Option 2: Biopolymer Thickening

Lambda-Carrageenan is used to create viscosity with a nice flow, such as:

  • Genuvisco CG-129 (CP Kelco)

When using this type of polymer option, it comes with a significant benefit: the freedom to choose the surfactant type and solubilisers freely. However, it’s important to note that the use of long-chain quats is typically not possible.


Cosmetic Services - hand in lab coat holding a glass plate which has two transparent liquids on it Left: Genuvisco CG-129 (Carrageenan)
Right: Keltrol CG-SFT (Xanthan Gum)


RAHN-Good-to-Know: Natural Surfactant Systems and how to formulate them

PDF, 5 Pages, 929.6 KB

Your personal contact

Sandra Gut

Sandra Gut

Portfolio & Application Laboratory Manager Cosmetics

RAHN (UK) Ltd.