Meet SugaNate - Good Clean Surfactant Fun

Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Laurylglucoside cross polymer. This long and almost unpronouncable INCI name belongs to a surfactant. Usually the manufacturers just leave it at that, but this particular surfactant has gotten a bit of love in the name department – somebody actually came up with a common name for it – SugaNate 160.

(can't help it, that name totally conjures up a rap artist for me)

There's a Whole Family of Them

SugaNate 160 belongs to a whole family of SugaNates – each with their own number (I haven't counted them all though).

The Technical Stuff

SugaNates are sulfonated surfactants based on alkyl polyglucosides (or APGs). APGs are a class of non-ionic surfactants derived from sugars and fatty alcohols. They are all the rage for 'natural' companies because SugaNates have plant-based origins – namely coconut oil and corn syrup.

So They're Green ...  right?

SugaNate suppliers advertise them as:
- Sulfate free
- non-irritating to skin
- non-irritating to eyes
- safe for environment
- biodegradable
- naturally derived and mainly from non-petroleum sources 

They back up their claims with documentation. They're not lying, but you could also say the exact same thing about many other surfactants (even some petrochemical-based ones). If you're a real stickler for green, that last point is where the needle hops off of the record. The term 'naturally derived' means the ingredient has all natural origins but is chemically altered to be made into what it is.

Is This Worrying?

Nope. You can't really make a surfactant without doing 'chemical alterations', so unless you want to disregard everything except soapnut and soaproot decoctions, chemical alterations are part of surfactant life – and that goes for both the 'naturally derived' as well as the petrochemically derived. So, I'd say it's about as worrying as a cloudy day.

Then Are The SugaNates Better?

For some things, yes. If the goal is formulating low-irritation shampoo and body wash products, SugaNates definitely fill the bill. Mind you, there are several others that also fill the bill, but SugaNates have several unique advantages:
  • The Suganates are not family members within the SLS and SLES group – giving them a huge marketing advantage
  • The EWG has no information on SugaNates to date, so there haven't been any scare campaigns attached to them – yet. 
  • SugaNate is a friendly, pronounceable, marketable name 
In short, SugaNates have what very few other members of the surfactant world have – a completely untarnished reputation.

Is That Really All?

From what I have been able to find, yeah, that's really all. (please feel free to drop a comment if you have information to the contrary)

Well, whaddaya know – a rap artist that is squeaky clean!


Anonymous said…
Wow they sound superb - do you know anything about their cleansing and lathering abilities?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anonymous - the suganate surfactants have a lower foaming ability than the SLS's and SLES's. As for cleansing abilities, they're right on par with other surfactants. :)