Wednesday, May 29, 2024

New technology turns creamy moisturizer into a dry piece of paper

Many beauty products are hazardous to the environment. This is usually attributed to the higher percentage of non-biodegradable ingredients and hazardous chemical compounds in their composition. They pollute the atmosphere, in addition to the fact that they will end up in landfills.

Now, researchers at the University of East Anglia have developed a new technology that turns beauty products like moisturizers into a dry piece of confetti-like ‘paper’ which can be reconstituted with a small amount of water.

The innovative process allows 98% of the oil and water to be removed in products like moisturizers, sun-cream, shampoo, and conditioner while preserving the stability of delicate active ingredients. Just add a single drop of water, and the dry sheets rapidly reconstitute to a cream or lotion, which can be applied in the same way as conventional products.

“Most cosmetics and toiletries contain up to 95% water, leading to heavy units by volume and bulky packaging,” said lead researcher Prof Sheng Qi, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy. “Every year, 120 billion units of cosmetics and toiletries are packaged and shipped globally, so the industry has a huge carbon footprint.”

“The technology that we have developed uses a no-heat process to transform a range of water and oil-based based beauty and skincare products into small discs of paper-like material.”

As there is no water in the discs, these products do not need preservatives to improve their shelf life. Researchers claim their work could revolutionize the beauty industry by dramatically reducing both its carbon footprint and packaging waste.

“We originally developed this technology for the pharmaceutical industry, but it quickly became clear that it could really help reduce the carbon footprint of the beauty and skincare industries,” Prof Qi said.

“Removing the water and oil from toiletries like moisturizer, sun cream, and other hair and beauty products means that we can not only improve their shelf life but hugely reduce product and packaging weight, transportation costs, plastic waste, and the need for preservatives.”

“Above all, it dramatically reduces their carbon footprint, which is better for the environment. We hope it will help the beauty industry achieve Net Zero carbon targets and sustainability goals without compromising product quality and performance.”