University of East Anglia’s technology turns creamy moisturizers into confetti-like ‘paper’

UK – Researchers at the University of East Anglia have developed a new technology that turns beauty products like moisturizers into a dry piece of confetti-like ‘paper’.

The breakthrough means that 98 percent of the water in products like moisturizers, sun-cream, shampoo and conditioner can be removed. Users simply need to add a drop of water to the paper-like disc to rehydrate it instantly.

According to researchers, the innovation could revolutionize the beauty industry by dramatically reducing both its carbon footprint and packaging waste.

The new technology also removes the need for preservatives in these products and improves their shelf life.

Lead researcher Prof Sheng Qi, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “Most cosmetics and toiletries contain up to 95 percent water, leading to heavy units by volume and bulky packaging.

“Every year, 120 billion units of cosmetics and toiletries are packaged and shipped globally, so the industry has a huge carbon footprint.

“The technology that we have developed uses a no-heat process to transform a range of water and oil-based based beauty and skincare products into small discs of paper-like material.”

Although large-scale production of the new technology is not yet thought to be possible in the UK, Professor Qi believes that removing the weight of water from products – and in turn, the bulky, often plastic packaging used to contain them – will reduce carbon footprints and enable the beauty industry to pursue its net zero goals at a faster pace.

A full life cycle analysis of the process from production to distribution is apparently being planned to fully understand its carbon footprint and evaluate its cost-effectiveness.

Prof Qi said: “We originally developed this technology for the pharmaceutical industry, but it quickly became clear that it could really help reduce the carbon footprint of the beauty and skincare industries.

“Removing the water and oil from toiletries like moisturizer, sun cream, and other hair and beauty products means that we can not only improve their shelf life but hugely reduce product and packaging weight, transportation costs, plastic waste and the need for preservatives.

“Above all, it dramatically reduces their carbon footprint, which is better for the environment. We hope it will help the beauty industry achieve Net Zero carbon targets and sustainability goals, without compromising product quality and performance.”

The researchers have partnered with technology company PBL to commercialize their patent-pending formulations.

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