Cosmeceuticals from Pierre Fabre: With a touch of Pharma
Pierre Fabre is therefore very familiar both with the very high pharmaceutical standards for aseptic processing and with the requirements of the cosmeceuticals themselves. Pharmaceutical ingredients and the substances in cosmeceuticals have a great deal in common, because many of the substances used in cosmeceuticals are also very cost-intensive to obtain and difficult to process. The hygiene requirements for filling and packaging are correspondingly high. Technologies from pharmaceutical engineering can be used as the prototype for processing cosmeceuticals but cannot simply be copied.
One segment in Pierre Fabre’s successful cosmeceuticals range is bodycare products. In order to comply with the special requirements for filling and packaging these products, Optima has developed a bespoke machine concept based on the OPTIMA Moduline. The OPTIMA Moduline offers the greatest flexibility for filling and sealing different containers. For André Raynaud, who was in charge of the project at Pierre Fabre, another important factor in the investment decision was that this was a standard (modular) machine model and had therefore been tried and tested.
Two effects with one cosmeceutical product
Optima has developed a specific filling module that has separate filling nozzle hubs for the first three and the second three filling stations. So each two-phase product is bottled in two stages: the first three filling stations deliver the first-phase dose and the second three filling stations the second-phase dose.
This means that, for example, oily and aqueous fluids come together in a continuous, linear process. These two-phase products are only shaken shortly before the cosmeceutical is applied, so the ingredients are mixed together for a short time and then separate again after use.
The MODULINE can process four container types ranging in size from 20 to 50 ml. The effective output is between 80 and 120 containers per minute, according to André Raynaud. Because of the many different ingredients, there is an immensely wide range of products. “We are currently filling two container types with 20 different formulations. From September 2018, there will be two more container formats for shampoos,” said André Raynaud.
Each change of product requires those parts of the machine that come into contact with the product to be cleaned. At Pierre Fabre, there is a separate machine for washing them. That is why the dosing parts of the machine that come into contact with the product have to be removable. Optima has provided a completely tool-free solution: In a few easy steps, the connections can be undone and the dosing needles safely put away. The parts that have been in contact with the product are taken away on a trolley to the cleaning station. A second set of dosing parts that have already been cleaned will then be waiting at the OPTIMA Moduline machine ready for fitting.
More than 20 cosmetics are processed with the flexible packaging system.
An entirely different but also hugely important aspect of processing cosmeceuticals concerns certificates and verification. First of all, manufacturers have to ensure that any materials coming into contact with the product have the necessary material certificate. Furthermore, any welded seams coming into contact with the product have to be made by certified welders. In everything to do with documentation, Optima Consumer was able to draw on the expertise of Optima Pharma, where these procedures and the so-called 3.1 certificates are standard practice.
Working together for success
When asked what was the main factor leading to the decision to award the contract to Optima at the start of the project, André Raynaud replied: “Above all, the good experience that we had already had with our first Optima machine.” The new line seems to be living up to his expectations: “So far we have produced about five million items on the machine. It works really well,” concluded the French project manager.
The manufacturers themselves and market research institutes refer to the fact that cosmeceuticals are characterized by having active ingredients which pass through the skin barrier (but are not allowed to enter the bloodstream). They bring health benefits (but must not promise to relieve or cure illness).
- These are not compulsory (by regulation) but are sensible: Cosmeceuticals normally contain active and delicate ingredients that require very careful processing.
- Technical expertise has been borrowed from the pharma sector in relation to hygiene technology such as the laminar flow and the 3.1 certificates.
- Given the expensive ingredients, high dosing accuracy is key factor for economic efficiency.
- The cosmeceuticals segment often involves two-phase products, many of which can be bottled in one container using special dosing technology.
- The many different combinations of ingredients and substances for specific purposes normally result in a very wide range of products. Highly flexible machines are specially designed to meet this need.