The Science of Clean: Innovations in Soap Technology Made Easier with Formulation Software

soap technology
How can CPG companies use formulation development to drive soap technology innovation?
Image source: Flickr CC user jm3

Today’s newspaper headlines seem to be filled with panic over one type of communicable disease followed by another. While some of the public furor may be manufactured and overhyped, the concern has driven home the importance of a basic method of disease prevention: handwashing. Many people have taken to relying on hand sanitizers in recent years; I certainly keep a bottle in my purse. Despite its popularity, however, using hand sanitizer is not a replacement for good old-fashioned handwashing.1 And what do we need for effective handwashing? Soap.

Soap is a basic CPG staple—we don’t just use it for disease-preventing handwashing; we use it to stay clean, period. Dirt, protein, fat—consumers want the ability to remove contaminants from their skin, no matter the circumstance and cause. But as any person who’s worked in a research laboratory or in the medical field can tell you, the more you cleanse your hands, the more it strips moisture from your skin in the process. I still have memories of working on one long-term research project and how dry and cracked it left my hands due to frequency of handwashing required. When faced with the dilemma of balancing cleaning action and moisture preservation, what can CPG firms do?

Advances in Soap Technology Can Deliver the Balance Consumers Seek

Developing soap formulations can be a balancing act. Consumers want their soap products to clean dirt and other materials off their bodies but not at the expense of their natural skin moisture. However, striking this balance isn’t as easy as it sounds. A company can add a surfactant that preserves skin moisture but later discover it decreases the amount of foam produced. Today’s buyers have certain expectations. Whether or not it has anything to do with cleaning action, people will question if a soap product doesn’t produce the expected amount of foam. They’ll think the product is defective, which is the last thing any CPG company wants.

Soap technology innovation can take its cue from other areas in the personal care goods sector. For example, some deodorants are able to reduce underarm darkening while having a moisturizing effect.2 That same concept can be applied to soap and other skin cleansing products. Skin whitening creams and the ability to address facial spots caused by sun exposure are much sought-after in certain demographics.

Innovations in Soap Technology Can Offer Benefits That Attract Consumers

While cleaning ability, foaming performance and moisturizing effect are all important traits in soap products, fragrance remains the primary driver of consumer preference. I can’t argue with that. I like my soaps to be effective, but I want them to smell nice, too. I imagine many buyers view these products the same way. In fact, fragrance is one of the reasons bar soap still outsells liquid hand soap. Because of the difference in format, bar soap can make use of natural, organic ingredients that provide unique scents not as prevalent in other soap products, as well as other features, like texture.3

But unique scent offerings aside, CPG companies can still drive liquid soap technology innovation. What if we had encapsulated fragrance molecules that burst when rubbed together? It already exists in the deodorant sector, and this ability is perfect for body washes. After all, the act of washing requires friction to cleanse our skin, hence the desire for foaming action. Why not produce sought-after fragrances in the process?

When combined with eye-catching colors, the sky’s the limit for formulation development in the soap sector—as long as these products meet consumer expectations. Imagine the next generation of innovative soap technology. More and more consumers are growing interested in aromatherapy and how fragrances can influence mood. What about pairing scents known for their “wake up” factor with shower washes? Many people take showers in the morning to gain alertness. Why not add a scent known for that effect into the mix, too? On the other hand, some people take a bath before bed. In that case, soap products that incorporate relaxing fragrances would be a hit.

No matter what the future of innovative soap technology may hold, CPG companies will need the right set of tools to develop exciting new products quickly and effectively, so that they can meet shifting consumer demand. BIOVIA offers a solution tailored for Formulations in Consumer Packaged Goods Industries. Its many features increase productivity, reduce costs, and minimize compliance risks, all of which support your firm’s efforts to remain competitive in a mature market. Please contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Which Is Best: Hand Sanitizer or Soap and Water?” February 26, 2016,
  2. “Soap Is A Technology Platform At Unilever,” February 1, 2016,
  3. “4 Innovative Ways Bar Soap Is Revolutionising Bath Time,” September 23, 2014,

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