Film-Forming Agents in Cosmetics: Benefits and Applications

In cosmetics, the film-forming agent is a component that can provide products with moisturizing, sun protection, sweat and water resistance, styling, and other functions based on the different properties and characteristics of film-forming polymers. While some film-forming agents can indeed enhance moisturization through film-forming, not all film-forming agents possess good moisturizing capabilities. This depends on the type and structure of the film-forming agent. For instance, even if a film-forming agent forms a thin film on the surface, if the pores between the films are large and have good permeability, its moisturizing effect is usually not very effective. In formulations where moisturization is needed, multiple moisturizing agents with different mechanisms are usually combined, but that is a separate topic.

Classifications Of Film-forming Agents

Film-forming agents are generally high molecular weight polymers. Different polymers bring about different usage effects. According to their sources and properties, they can be divided into protein film-forming agents, acrylic resin film-forming agents, polyethylene copolymers, copolymers of various hydrocarbons, organic silicon polymers, silicone acrylate esters, etc.

Commonly used oily film-forming agents include:

1. Polyethylene-polyvinylpyrrolidone/cis-1,4-polyisoprene copolymer (V-216) features a viscous liquid with good water resistance.

2. Trimethylsilyloxy-silicone (TMS-803), features a white powder that can form a waterproof film, prevent powder aggregation in formulations, and keep the product free-flowing.

3. Acrylic resin and dimethicone copolymer (KP545) features a colorless transparent to pale yellow liquid that can form a continuous waterproof film with good color dispersion.

Commonly used water-based film-forming agents include:

1. Acrylate/C8-alkyl acrylamide copolymer (DC-79) features a white powder with high hydrophobicity, water resistance, color dispersion properties, and film formation.

2. Polyvinylpyrrolidone-like polymers, features white powder forming a hard, glossy, transparent film, as a color dispersant.

3. Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) features white powder or granules and can form a hard film.

4. Acrylic copolymer emulsion features a flowing liquid that disperses easily in water, good water resistance, quick drying, and forms a glossy and hard flexible film.

Film-forming Agents In Sunscreen

Film-forming agents can promote the development of sunscreen products, including increasing the SPF index and incorporating waterproof styrene/acrylate copolymers. The addition of these polymers provides the products with certain waterproof properties to form a skin barrier, enhancing moisturization. Sunscreens containing alcohol are formulated with acrylate/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer to ensure water resistance and durability.

Film-forming Agents In Mascara

In mascara, film-forming agents offer moisturizing, sun protection, sweat and water resistance, and styling benefits. Commonly used film-forming agents include acrylic resins, polyvinyl alcohol, polyvinyl pyrrolidone, and silicone acrylates. Some of these polymers are water-soluble while others are oil-based film formers, all contributing to the water-resistant film-forming effect.

The risks or safety of film formers.

It is noted that there are many types of film formers, each with varying levels of irritability and performing different functions in various products. Some film formers may have certain controversies regarding their safety (though they are in the minority). In certain products, film formers are almost indispensable, such as in mascara. Additionally, in sunscreens, they effectively enhance the SPF rating. Of course, excessive application of some film formers may lead to acne, stuffiness, or a tightening sensation. These are aspects that are typically adjusted and controlled during the formulation process. Excellent formulations strive to minimize risks as much as possible, and any discomfort caused by film formers is usually easily perceptible. Therefore, the film formers themselves are neutral; they represent their role and efficacy in the product. It is best to evaluate each product individually, without unnecessary alarm.