Q&A: Unveiling the R&D process behind Sonneborn's launch of 100% plant-based emollient

Q A Unveiling the R D process behind Sonneborn s launch of 100 plant based emollient

US-based manufacturer Sonneborn, one of the world’s largest dedicated suppliers of white oils, petrolatums, and waxes for cosmetic and personal care product formulations, has launched a 100% plant-based emollient ideal for balm applications. SonneNatural NXG offers beauty product formulators “a unique combination of properties, including non-greasy application, excellent moisture retention and an occlusive afterfeel that leaves skin feeling soft and luxurious,” according to the company’s press release.

CosmeticsDesign interviewed Sarah Atwood, Product Specialist at Sonneborn to learn more about the R&D process behind the new ingredient launch, including formulation challenges and solutions and the ways in which Sonneborn was able to ensure that internal stability standards were met.

CDU: How long did the process to create SonneNatural NXG take?​ 

Sarah Atwood (SA)​: The comprehensive process began with brainstorming in July 2021 and culminated in a pilot production trial of the newly developed product in November 2023. This ambitious journey, spanning over two years, involved meticulous stages of formulation, testing and refinement to ensure the final product not only met the stringent plant-based criteria but also demonstrated versatility for various personal care needs.  

The objective was to develop a firm, 100% plant-based product tailored for diverse applications. There was a specific focus on suitability for lip and skin care, and antiperspirant and deodorant (APDO) applications.  

CDU: Was this a product you were always looking to produce?​ 

SA​: The SonneNatural product line has been in existence for several years and while the initial range has been well-established, there is a continuous commitment to its expansion. The development of SonneNatural NXG represents a strategic response to the growing demand for vegetable-based products and the ongoing discovery of new natural ingredients.

This innovative product integrates sensory and moisturization properties into one plant-based ingredient, offering versatility across various lip and skin care formulations. SonneNatural NXG stands out due to its game-changing humectant properties, particularly beneficial for applications such as lip care, where enduring moisturization is a key factor. 

CDU: Was the product developed using new or existing techniques/R&D?​ 

SA​: The development of the product, SonneNatural NXG, involved a combination of existing techniques for product development and necessary upgrades to the facility. While established methods were employed, adjustments were made to accommodate the higher melting point of SonneNatural NXG.

Specific modifications and facility upgrades were undertaken to optimize the production process and enhance the performance characteristics of SonneNatural NXG. 

CDU: What are the formulating challenges that using animal-based products do not solve?​ 

SA​: The formulating challenges addressed by SonneNatural NXG, as opposed to animal-based products, are primarily associated with meeting specific regulatory standards related to natural ingredients. Animal-based products are unable to meet various in-demand, regulatory benchmarks such as Vegan and Natural Index.

While traditional ingredient options for formulators may include animal-based components, they do not comprehensively resolve all formulating challenges. SonneNatural NXG emerges as a solution by offering a plant-based alternative that can effectively replace animal-derived ingredients like lanolin or beeswax in many formulations.

This not only addresses regulatory concerns but also provides a more versatile and inclusive option for formulators facing challenges associated with animal-based products. 

CDU: How did you ensure the ingredient met internal stability standards?​ 

SA​: To ensure the new ingredient, SonneNatural NXG, met our internal stability standards, a robust set of procedures were implemented. These procedures encompassed evaluations of thermal stability and UV stability, crucial aspects in guaranteeing the overall stability of this newly developed product.

Notably, all products, including those incorporating SonneNatural NXG, adhere to a stringent three-year shelf-life requirement, underscoring our commitment to delivering consistently stable and reliable formulations. 

CDU: Are you able to provide a general direction for future developments? What customer needs are you looking to meet?​ 

SA​: Our product portfolio currently comprises eight offerings and our commitment to development remains dynamic and is guided by emerging industry needs and the evolving demands of our diverse customer base.

Our customers are seeking out products that are vegan, versatile and provide the highest degree of moisturization and in the future we are confident to meet their demands and deliver products that surpass their expectations.  

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