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Foam in cosmetics: We tell you everything!

Why is foam so important to users of body wash or hair wash ? 

We looked at consumer reviews on the Internet, developed a short questionnaire on solid cosmetics and we noticed how important the foam was. 

Source of dissatisfaction when it does not foam enough, real expectation of users when developing this type of product. In short, we wanted to dig into the subject…

How is foam formed? Why do we love him so much? Is the foam always a sign of a quality product? What about the planet? We answer all your questions.

How is foam formed?

The foam is bound to an emulsion of air in water. When you shake a bottle of water, bubbles form but they burst right away because they lack a stabilizer. In cosmetics, a stabilizer is added which will allow the bubbles to remain intact and to clump together to form foam: this is the surfactant .

Surfactants are the cleaning agents present in soap or any cleaning product. They consist of a part attracted by grease, dirt and another part attracted by water. The surfactants mixed with water will therefore on the one hand cling to the dirt and then attract it into the water to evacuate it during rinsing.

The surfactant is therefore the ingredient that will have the cleaning power in your soap or shampoo. He is also the one who leads the foam formation in a more or less abundant way according to its nature and its foaming power .

While the natural surfactants have a relatively low foaming power, the synthetic surfactants used in industrial cosmetic products have a very high foaming power, particularly sulfated surfactants.

The benefits of foam: why do we love it so much?

The foam promotes the spreading of the product

The foam makes it easier to spread the product over all of the hair or skin. A less foaming product using milder surfactants will be more difficult to spread. But don't panic, you just need to distribute the product better at the start instead of applying the entire dose to one place. That's what we usually do...

Foam brings sensoriality and pleasure

The foam is a pleasant, voluptuous, soft texture . It thus contributes to the pleasure of using the product. It participates in the sensory experience . We associate it with the bubble bath synonymous with relaxation or the delicacy of a chocolate mousse. This side light and airy pleases a lot and contributes greatly to the satisfaction of the user.

Abundant foam does not mean greater efficiency

The collective imagination associates foam and cleaning efficiency . Some detergent products even add additives to their formulas to make them more foaming if not more cleansing.

As seen above, the foam will have advantages in terms of practicality during use and application. It also has advantages in terms of efficiency since it reflects the presence of surfactants, cleaning agents .

But beware! The amount of foam is not linked to the cleaning power of the surfactant but to its foaming power. It is therefore not proportional to the effectiveness of the formula!

Some less foaming formulas such as those of natural solid soaps will have greater cleaning power than certain industrial formulas using synthetic surfactants. So be careful…

Lather is not a healthy formula for the skin or the planet

We have seen that the foam was linked to the presence of surfactants in the formula.

However, some particularly aggressive surfactants can damage the protective barrier of your skin: the hydro-lipid film . Admittedly, the product cleanses the skin well but it damages the epidermis . This is the case of sulphated surfactants, one of whose properties is precisely to create a generous foam.

Moreover, these sulphated products evacuated by the shower during rinsing are found in nature and can have harmful consequences on the environment.

Fortunately, it is now possible to identify in our products these irritating surfactants thanks to apps like Yuka. For example, we find the following:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate*,
  • Ammonium Sulfate*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
  • Sodium Dodecylsulfate,
  • Sodium Laureth-8 Sulfate,
  • Sodium Laureth-12 Sulfate,
  • PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate,
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate,
  • Sodium Oleth Sulfate.

If you find these ingredients in your cleaning products, run away!

Finally, who says too much foam, says longer rinse! Using products that are too foamy is therefore less good for the planet and your wallet! 

Is there a good compromise between foam and benefits for the skin and the planet?


Foam is important in terms of speed, practicality and sensoriality. It therefore greatly contributes to the satisfaction of a consumer when using a cleaning product.

Fortunately, today there are Mild, sulfate-free surfactants derived from ingredients of natural origin , with sufficient foaming power to be convenient to use.

There are also nonionic surfactants , sugar derivatives such as Decyl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside or Lauryl Glucoside.

There are therefore natural alternatives to lather up our cosmetic products while protecting our skin and the planet. Good news!

Long live cold saponification!

At On Behalf, we have of course taken this into account in our products. We made the choice of cold saponification for the formulation of our washing care . This manufacturing process makes it possible to have a foaming product without using surfactants. This is thanks to saponified oils!

For our range of children's cleansing care , we use a gentle non-ionic surfactant of natural origin approved by the cosmos charter.


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