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Sugar, A Sweet Treat For Formulators
Author: Allison B. Vought
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The most common use of sugar in cosmetics is in sugar scrubs, but there are more skin benefits to sugar than you may think. Try some in your formulas today!

Sugar (sucrose) is a carbohydrate present naturally in fruits and vegetables. All sugar products in the marketplace differ only in crystal size or molasses content. Molasses adds both color and fl avor. The darker the brown sugar, the more molasses it contains. [1]

The most common use of sugar in cosmetics is in sugar scrubs, but there are more skin benefi ts to sugar than you may think:

Sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the skin. Sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that penetrates the skin and breaks down the “glue” that bonds skin cells. This process encourages faster cell turnover and provides fresher, younger-looking skin. Sugar's small particles make it an excellent topical exfoliant.

A surprising cosmetic use of sugar is in epilation. Through a process called “sugaring” [2], a warm paste of granulated sugar, water and lemon juice is applied to the skin. Strips of cloth are pressed over the paste, then quickly torn off taking body hair with them.

Granulated sugar, however, is not the only ingredient used in commercial skin care products. Derivatives from the sugar cane are now being synthesized into various raw materials with numerous skin benefits.

Traditional surfactants are slow to break down in the environment, causing problems from unsightly foaming to toxic effects on aquatic organisms. Sugar-based surfactants, however, are readily biodegradable and could represent a greener alternative to other dispersants. Some common sugar-derived surfactants are Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside and Coco Glucoside. [3]

C-8 xylitol monoester [5], a molecule derived from the natural sugar xylitol, is being considered as an alternative
co-preservative for cosmetic formulations and recent research on sulfo-carrabiose [6], a sugar-based cosmetic ingredient, showed favorable anti-cellulite properties.

Beyond the obvious use as a raw material in product formulation, sugar cane is also being used to create bio plastics. [7] The majority of plastics are derived from carbons found in crude oil.
Bio plastics are produced from a biological source rather than petroleum.

Sugar production will outpace consumption by 5 million metric tons in the 2014 season. [8] With such a massive supply and low demand, sugar is slated to be an economical and eco-friendly choice in both packaging and cosmetic product formulation.

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