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Definition by the Society for Dermopharmacy
What is the Meaning of the Term "Emulsifier-free"?

Producers of cosmetic preparations are on a continuous search for special claims of their products. Claimed are for example terms such as "dermatologically tested", "hypoallergenic", "non-comedogenic" or "preservative-free". In case of skin care and sun protection products also the attribute "emulsifier-free" is frequently used. The department Dermocosmetics of the Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie has for the first time presented a definition for this interpretable term (see box).

According to this definition passed in an interdisciplinary consensus by pharmacists, dermatologists and other experts, a formulation can be denominated as "emulsifier-free" if it has been stabilized with surfactant-active macromolecules (molar mass above 5000) instead of using emulsifiers in a narrower sense.

The definition submitted is to serve producers and advising expert circles as orientation. The department attaches special importance to the statement that the claim "emulsifier-free" does not allow direct conclusions on the skin tolerability. It is true that an abstention from the use of emulsifiers is able to weaken the irritating effect of a product, it does not replace, however, the necessity of performing skin tolerability tests.

Definition of the Term "Emulsifier-free"

Emulsifiers are auxiliary agents, which are added for the purpose of stabilization of disperse systems - mainly emulsions. It concerns surface-active substances reducing the speed of the aggregation and/or coalescence in emulsions. Emulsifiers in a narrower sense are amphiphilic substances, which are able to form micelles and/or other liquid-crystalline aggregates.

Emulsifier-free cosmetics are free of emulsifiers in a narrower sense. If surface-active macromolecules (molar mass > 5000) are added for the stabilization of the dispersed condition the formulation can nevertheless be designated as "emulsifier-free".

The term "emulsifier-free" does not imply without any further proof a better tolerability.


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