Physical and Chemical Properties of Active Ingredients

To yield a therapeutic benefit, an active ingredient must remain stable from the time of product production until the consumer finishes the product. The physical and chemical properties of the active dictate the necessity for special conditions or formulation techniques to maintain stability [3,9]. Key properties to consider include molecular size, pH, ionization parameters, buffer capacity or requirements, partition coefficient, volatility, melting point, solubility, odor, and color. Often this information is available from ingredient suppliers or in published texts [6,7,10,11]. Heat, light, and moisture stability should be evaluated if published information is not available. Differences in active properties between production lots or manufacturers should be noted.

When combining actives to create multifunctional cosmeceutical products, a logical first step is to evaluate these parameters for each active to determine whether there are any conflicts between the properties of different active ingredients. If a conflict is found, then the formulator must determine whether there are ways to meet the needs for the actives within one product or whether the conflict is so profound that the actives cannot be used together. For example, if one active requires a low pH to remain stable and deliver a therapeutic benefit from the product, and a second active requires a high product pH, the two actives may not be able to be used in the same product. However, if one active deactivates another active, there may be a way of encapsulating or protecting one of the actives in such a way that both will remain stable in the product.

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