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Why stable formulations matter

By Madeline Calfas - Expert in anti-ageing and regenerative medicine. Madeline is also an expert for Neutriderm.

In our never-ending quest for the smoothest, softest hair, or the most flawless, Dewey skin, it is all too easy to forget about the importance of the actual formulation itself as we focus on what ingredients are in there. We often just take it for granted that the formulation itself has been tried and tested, and this is more often than not pretty accurate, but let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight on why this is so important.

The formulation to a skin or hair care product is essentially the recipe, the exact blueprint used to create that product exactly the same over and over and over again. Formulation experts are paid to come up with these recipes that allow a product the ability to create shine in your hair, or help fight your latest breakout, and much like testing a recipe for a cake, there will often be multiple adjustments made as each ‘batch’ made reveals a flaw in the formulation. And we as the beneficiaries of the end result should be incredibly grateful for this unsung hero of each and every product.

As we all focus on the active ingredients in a product, it is important to realise that the other ingredients are like the chorus to a musical - their job is to support the ‘star’ of the product and ensure it can do its job properly. They all work together as a team and changing even just the smallest amount of one can destabilise the whole product. Some ingredients can have an adverse reaction with other ingredients in your formulation, others can prevent the absorption of fellow ingredients, or cause another ingredient to completely breakdown or oxidise and become a different, less beneficial (or even harmful) form of that ingredient.

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These supporting ingredients are also known as functional ingredients, and their job is to essentially improve the way the product works, they also influence the form (serum or cream for example) and texture of the product, they can act as a preservative for some of the active ingredients in a product and can even act as a delivery vehicle for those actives that are too unstable on their own. In short, they make your product better. Functional ingredients can even be responsible for how silky and smooth, or how lovely the scent of your product is.

Functional ingredients can also be active ingredients. AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids, are a great example of ingredients that can perform both active and functional roles. The more AHAs in a product, the more ‘active’ that ingredient becomes (the more exfoliating in this instance, as that is what AHA’s do), the less the amount of AHA, the more humectant that product will be.

Another super important reason that the formulation of the product is spot on is to protect the product from the surrounding environment. In Australia, we are subject to quite extreme temperature ranges, especially in summer. Why does this matter? Due to the high temperatures, we usually get in summer, if the formulations are not stable then there is very good probability that the ingredients in the formulation can be affected. Vitamin C for example will begin to break down when exposed to light, heat or oxygen, which, of course, means it won’t be able to offer you any of the benefits it is supposed to.

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A formulation that is not stable in heat can also start to sweat, which will not only affect the feel of the product (you are drawing moisture out from inside the product where it condenses on top of the product), but also makes it more susceptible to microbial growth - not the type of microbiome we want on our skin!

An Australian company will understand the Australian environment and how best to formulate for stability in an environment such as ours.

It is exactly for these reasons why it is super important to ensure that you have a greater understanding of what goes into your products than just ‘it smells nice’, or ‘my best friend said to get it’. Understanding the ingredients gives you the power to maximise your skincare or Haircare routine and get the most out of it. By choosing brands such as Neutriderm, who have decades of formulation experience, you know that you are getting products that have been formulated to maximise effectiveness for you.


Editor's Note: I have been using a range of these products for a few weeks now and I am thoroughly enjoying them.


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