Smart alternatives to sulphates

Isolated tooth with green and blue arrowsThe oral care category has changed drastically over the past five years. Orkila South Africa, through its international principal, Kalichem Italia, has introduced a range of olive oil-based surfactants to meet local market needs.

One of the latest trends in oral care is the use of safe, natural and performing actives and excipients. In particular, formulators are looking to replace alkyl sulphates – the surfactants traditionally used for their cleansing and foaming features. This is because the concept of tooth cleansing through abrasion has become obsolete, and some of the ingredients previously used are now under review.

Surfactants are likely the most important category of ingredients undergoing this generational change. Suppliers are now offering a variety of options to meet this new demand.

Surfactants for toothpaste

In order to find safer, more suitable, green ingredients to replace traditional surfactants like SLES and SLS in a toothpaste formulation, one has to consider their performance characteristics. These include the foaming power and cleansing action. In order to be technologically convenient, the surfactant must also have a pleasant taste, since it is aimed for oral use.

Olivoil surfactants from Kalichem Italia are a family of cleansing molecules based on lipo-amino acids.  These compounds are composed of olive oil fatty acids combined with vegetable amino acids. Their structure prevents dehydration and a harsh cleansing action – which could promote irritation and reddening of the gums. They are also unsaturated, which makes their targeted action delicate and bio-compatible, providing an emollient-like after feel. The polypeptides and amino acids are able to support a mild cleansing action linked to their strong affinity in binding the water from the surrounding environment.

What’s on offer?

Olivoil Glutamate (INCI: Sodium Olivoyl Glutamate) is a surfactant based on a combination of olive oil fatty acids and vegetable-derived glutamic acid. This surfactant is ideal for oral care applications as its foaming properties are excellent and it has a more neutral taste when compared to sulphates. Its foam is creamier with bigger bubbles produced.

Olivoil Fruttoside (INCI: Sodium Olivoyl, Cocoyl Hydrolysed Oat Protein, Fructosyl Cocoate, Olivate) is a surfactant based on the combination of olive oil and coconut fatty acids functionalised to fructose and oat amino acids. It has a sweeter taste, moisturising features, and an astonishing foaming power. During testing its performance results were 25 percent better than SLES after T0 and 38 percent after five minutes.

Olivoil Surfactant (INCI: Potassium Olivoyl Hydrolysed Wheat Protein) is a good option to promote healthy gums in a toothpaste formulation. This surfactant is composed of oligomeric hydrophilic moieties – the dimension of which enables an intense moisturising and protective film on the gum tissue. It also has good foaming action.

Each of the Olivoil family surfactants requires the same concentration for use as alkyl sulphates, which is around two percent. They can be used individually or in combination to benefit from their functional and technological capabilities. Combinations with alkyl sulphates and other mild surfactants are also possible.


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