Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipids) in Personal Care: The Beginner’s Guide

Lexin Ann Morales     

Introducing rhamnolipid (INCI: glycolipids), a sustainable biosurfactant.

Produced by various bacteria species via a fermentation process using natural based feedstock such as glucose, sucrose and vegetable oil, the green surfactant rhamnolipid has grown in popularity among ingredient manufacturers and personal care brands recently. Because of its sustainable attributes and technological breakthrough in production, rhamnolipid has made its way to be in different products, particularly skin care.

If you’re looking for an up-and-coming biosurfactant that challenges to replace petroleum-based surfactants with increasing market demand - keep reading to learn more.

What is Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipids)?

Rhamnolipids, a type of glycolipid compound, possess surfactant properties and are produced by different bacterial species. One such method involves the use of recombinant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a fermentation process that utilizes sugar as a carbon source.

Both established companies and biotech startups have made significant investments in facilities to increase the production of rhamnolipids. With the decreasing cost of production, there is potential for rhamnolipids to replace petroleum-based surfactants in a wide range of applications, especially in the personal care industry.

What is the function of rhamnolipid?

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Rhamnolipids have several functions and potential applications in the personal care industry. Here are some of the key functions of rhamnolipids in personal care products:

Emulsification and stabilization

Rhamnolipids in personal care can act as emulsifiers, helping to create stable emulsions of oil and water. This property is particularly useful in the formulation of creams, lotions, and other cosmetic products that require the blending of oil and water-based ingredients.

Foaming and cleansing

In personal care, rhamnolipids can enhance the foaming properties of products such as shampoos, body washes, and soaps. They can increase the volume and stability of foam, resulting in a more luxurious and effective cleansing experience.

Moisturizes

Did you know that rhamnolipids have moisturizing properties?Just like the humectant betaine, rhamnolipids can also help improve the skin's hydration and softness. They can form a protective film on the skin's surface, reducing water loss and maintaining moisture balance.

Anti-micro bacterial

Because rhamnolipids exhibit antimicrobial properties and have the potential to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and fungi, it's considered beneficial in personal care products where preservation and protection against microbial contamination are essential.

Texture & sensory benefits

Rhamnolipids in personal care can also contribute to the sensory attributes of products. They can improve the texture, spreadability, and overall sensory experience of creams, lotions, and other cosmetic formulations.

Rhamnolipid for personal care: Benefits

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Sustainable

Rhamnolipid in personal care is biodegradable and can be produced via recycled raw materials such as industry wastes from oil refineries or protein-based industries. It does not use petroleum-based raw materials and is reported to be an excellent substitute for petroleum-based surfactants.

Excellent cleaning properties

Yes, rhamnolipid’s ability to reduce interfacial tension can be exploited in a number of personal care applications, in particular in washing and cleaning products. Moreover, it is a non-toxic ingredient that guarantees safety.

No residual after use

Unlike some traditional petroleum-based surfactants, rhamnolipid in personal care does not leave any negative residual byproducts after use. Its low-impact life cycle means it is a good alternative to conventional surfactants.

Challenges in rhamnolipid production

Until recently, rhamnolipid has been expensive to produce and their use as a petroleum-based surfactant replacement is not yet economically viable.

However, a number of companies have invested in lowering the cost of rhamnolipid synthesis through finding more desirable substrates for the process such as using industry waste.

Notable investments include Evonic’s construction of a large-scale rhamnolipid manufacturing plant in Slovakia (link) and a multitude of venture-capital backed biosurfactant startups.

The primary markets for Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipid) 

Rhamnolipid (INCI: Gycolipids) is a fast growing ingredient used in personal care products across multiple countries, with USA, Sweden, and Demark being its major markets. In May 2023 alone, there were over 170 new product launches that contain Glycolipids. Chinese brands’ adoption of Glycolipids increased over ten times (10x) in the last five years while products that use Glycolipids increased three times (3x) in the same time period.

A detailed market report on Rhamnolipid / Glycolipids is available here:

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Source: Gravel - Glycolipids adoption by Brands in China Market 2017-2022

Discovering the various uses of Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipids) in personal care products

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Source: Gravel - USA Market

Rhamnolipid is a renowned ingredient found in various personal care products such as creams, serums, and shampoos. In fact, it has been reported that in the USA, there are at least 97, 51 and 49 products containing rhamnolipid (INCI: glycolipids) in the product types cream, serums, and shamoos, respectively.

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Source: Gravel

Furthermore, products in personal care containing rhamnolipid have been found to be increasingly popular within the USA market. Data shows that new product launches that contains rhamnolipid is picking up race with multiple well known brands launching:

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Photo: Reallyree

  • Murad - Murad Perfecting Day Cream SPF 30
  • Honest Beauty - Honest Beauty Makeup Remover Wipes
  • The Ordinary - The Ordinary Glycolipid Cream Cleanser 150ml
  • FaceGym - FaceGym Signature Skin Mini Kit
  • The INKEY List - The INKEY List Make Up Prep 101 Kit
  • Dermalogica - Dermalogica Phyto Nature Oxygen Liquid Cream 50ml

Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipids) marketing claims 

Product description often contains numerous marketing claims, but our platform, Gravel  uncovers what claims are trending. Utilizing an AI engine, we summarize the claims into a broader concept. This allows us to track and identify what's trending in real-time. For example, the current percentage of products using a particular claim is 17.95% (for rhamnolipid/Glycolipids). With our platform, you can access multiple marketing concepts and find associated products with berhamnolipid/Glycolipidstaine by clicking into ‘view details’. By inputting ingredient, product type, and country of origin, you'll receive raw data on the rhamnolipid/Glycolipids market.

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Source: Gravel - Top Marketing Claims Concepts for Shampoo, USA Market

According to Gravel, the top marketing concepts for shampoo infused with Rhamnolipid (INCI: Glycolipids) offer a range of benefits, including ‘gentle cleansing, deep cleanse, and purify without stripping natural oils or color’ (17.95% shampoo). In addition, some shampoo improves elasticity and strength in hair and skin (15.38% shampoo). Some come with common ethical and natural beauty products that are cruel-free and/or vegan (12.82% shampoo).

Which brands use rhamnolipid (INCI: glycolipids) biosurfactant?

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Source: Gravel

There are number of leading brands utilizing rhamnolipid (INCI: glycolipids) in the US market. With an emphasis on product count, Joico, Rene Furterer, and Briogeo are the top contenders. However, in terms of market share determined by customer reviews, Pattern, The INKEY List, and Pipette reign supreme—making the biosurfactant rhamnolipid  common in industry-leading brands.

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Wondering how to identify rapidly growing ingredient demand before they become known to the market? With Gravel, our solution provides a systematic and data-driven approach to identify demand for ingredients across geographic markets, applications, and brand accounts. Uncover sales and market opportunities for every ingredient easily—book a call with us today.

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