The use of surfactants can be traced back to the Mesopotamians, over 4,500 years ago. A Sumerian clay tablet was uncovered in present-day Iraq and contains the oldest soap recipe in the world. It calls for one liter of oil and five and a half times as much potash, boiled together to produce a soap-like detergent that, at the time, was primarily used for its healing properties.

Surfactants are surface-active substances capable of reducing both the surface tension of a liquid and the interfacial tension between two phases. Thanks to surfactants’ hydrophilic (attracted to water) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) properties, this enables substances to mix for which this would otherwise be very difficult, if not impossible. Surfactants can be used to mix oil and water, for example. Products of these types of mixtures are known as dispersions. There are both natural and synthetic surfactants, and surfactants as well as formulas containing surfactants are generally biodegradable.

Present-day formulas are biodegradable

Surfactants are common in a range of industries, such as cosmetics, pharma and the food industry. In the cosmetics industry, they are indispensable to the production of shampoos and bathing products (cationic and anionic surfactants), as well as skincare products (non-ionic surfactants). They are also used in oral care, mascaras, hair dyes and make-up removers.

Brenntag offers various surfactants for a range of product applications. The product line CosVivet features Brenntag’s assortment of natural surfactants. Contact our experts for consultation.

„With our CosVivet sugar surfactants, we offer our customers a range of natural cosmetics materials that are skin-friendly, boast excellent cleansing properties and are biodegradable. These high-end surfactants allow our customers to develop trendy, highly efficient and natural formulas.”

Pia Nagel, Technical Marketing Manager Cosmetics, DACH