Saturday, May 2, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Hydrolyzed proteins

This is a picture of the hydrolysis of saccharides. It really doesn't go well with this post, but I thought it needed a picture!

I do love the hydrolyzed proteins - they're humectants, emollients, and film formers, and they do this at really low usage levels, so they're fantastic additions to your products. We can choose from dozens of proteins - silk, wheat, oat, corn, soy, and so on - and what you choose really depends upon what you are seeking in your product.

Proteins have very poor water solublility, so they are hydrolyzed to increase this solubility. (How do they do it? They hydrolyze by cleaving the protein molecule to disrupt the peptide bonds. This cleavage can happen by chemical or biological means, or can be a combination of applying high temperatures and pressure.) They are usually vegetable proteins, and the hydrolyzation means they will be water soluble to offer conditioning, moisturizing, and film forming properties. They are amphoteric, and a positive charge makes them substantive.

Proteins can increase the substantivity (the adsorption of the product to your hair or skin) of your product by binding fatty alkyl groups to the proteins. The lower the molecular weight, the better they will penetrate your hair and skin. The higher the molecular weight, the better they will film form.

Proteins offer moisturizing, and will feel silky and soft in your creations. In surfactant blends, they will increase foam stability, add slipperiness, and offer creaminess and density. They can also reduce skin irritation caused by anionic surfactants, so they are good for combatting skin dryness. (Add a little crothix and you have an anti-irritation festival going on!)

If you've ever seen the hydrolyzed proteins, you'll notice some of them have a brownish colour and slightly weird odour (believe me, the kids in my craft group have noticed it!) This is due to the Maillard reaction between the proteins and carbohydrates (oligosaccharides) - you might recognize this from cooking, when meat browns! - and it is normal. (More complicated explanation here, if you're interested!)

So what does this all mean? Adding a hydrolyzed protein to your products can increase conditioning and moisturizing without the oils, make your products feel silkier and softer, and decrease irritation. Not bad for 2% of your recipe, eh? (You can go higher, but with the cost, you might not want to do so!)

Proteins should be added at 1 to 5% to your cool down phase, when your creation is less than 45C. Please preserve them well using the maximum level of your chosen preservative as they are protein based!

UPDATE NOTE: I've been contacted by Bonnie, who reminds me of the legendary LabRat's suggestion that adding a hydrolyzed protein to your cool down phase can result in contamination. Although all the materials I've read have suggested adding to the cool down phase, I'm going to side with LabRat on this one (after all, he's my guru!) Adding the hydrolyzed proteins to your water phase and heating and holding it will not result in the destruction of the goodness that is found therein, so add your percentage to your water phase while warm and avoid the pains and suffering of icky lotions and potions!

So when you're reading past posts, please put your proteins in the water phase, not the cool down phase. And yes, I've been doing it this way for years...which just goes to show we are always learning, eh? And no, I haven't had any visibly contaminated creations yet, but not all contamination is visible.

So let's take a look at some of my favourite proteins tomorrow!

24 comments:

France said...

Hi Susan!
I'm a bit behind reading, but thanks for that tip of putting protein in the water phase. I'd been wondering about this having seen both ways of doing it.
Wish I'd known LabRat!!

Skinflint said...

Wow, thanks Swifty. I hadn't heard that before! I've always put hydrolised proteins in the cool down phase.
I'll change my formulae based on your recommendations.

Megan (Skinflint)

Rebecca said...

Hi Susan! I've seen some people post on forums that they are protein-free and silicone-free. I understand that some people are not too fond of silicones, but is there a reason why some people avoid proteins? From your post, it sounds like they are wonderful for hair care (and I use them myself), so I'm curious as to why some people don't like products with them.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rebecca. I have no idea why anyone would leave out the proteins! They offer so much for such a little amount (not price wise, but percentage wise) and they can boost a hair care product from good to great. Sorry - can't think of a reason!

Esmée said...

Too late...

Now I have a great lotion...

XD

pearlyn said...

is hydrolyzed protein heat-sensitive?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Some say yes, some say no. I put it in the heated phase because of potential contamination.

pearlyn said...

if i put hydrolyzed proteins into heated phase, i presume they belong to water phase & not oil phase?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

If you are heating something and it is water soluble - like hydrolyzed proteins - then put it in the water phase. If you are heating something and it is oil soluble or an emulsifier, then put it in the oil phase.

I've detailed how to make basic lotions in this post - If you're new to lotion making - and they do apply to making hair products as well. If you have a heated water phase, a heated oil phase, emulsification, and a cool down phase, then you're effectively making a lotion. I've tried to put in every post whether something is water soluble, oil soluble, or heatable.

Anonymous said...

So, how does one make the proteins positive? Is that something we don't have to worry about when creating hair conditioners and shampoos? Thanks.

Lydia Davis said...

Where can I get hydrolysed protein? Thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. We can't make proteins positively charged - that's something that can be done by manufacturers in a lab, but not by us.

Hi Linda. Check out the FAQ section of the blog for retailers near you. Readers like you have been contributing their favourite suppliers from all around the world!

Noelle Veinet said...

Lydia, i received an email notification from a supplier of mine and they have these products
formulator sample shop
and the code i believe for free shipping is sept12
i will try to get link

Tracy said...

Re: Protein-free: Look up "protein-sensitive" hair. Some individuals experience hair breakage, dryness and other negative effects from using protein-enriched hair products.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tracy. I've seen people says they have problems with protein, but there aren't any studies showing this issue, at least none I could find in my numerous searches. All I've ever found are studies showing that proteins are good for hair, which makes sense because keratin is a protein. I'm not saying to each their own, but I can't find anything in my literature about it. If you have some studies, I'd love to see them!

Bonnie in SJ said...

Hi from a different Bonnie than the one mentioned in the post. :)

I recently bought a bottle of hydrolyzed wheat protein, and realized too late that celiac sufferers or generally gluten-free folks might have a problem with it. After reading articles here, I see that the molecular weight of hydrolyzed wheat protein is too high for it to be considered penetrative, but, understandably, someone who has had reactions to wheat might still give the ingredient the side-eye ... even taking into account that hydrolyzed wheat protein is a different critter than gluten.

The good news? It appears that even straight-up gluten-containing products are considered okay to rub on your skin. Sources like the Mayo Clinic say it's safe as long as you don't swallow the product or get it in your mouth.

So, lotions and toners and moisturizers: yes.

Dental products: no.

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/expert-answers/celiac-disease/faq-20057879

Celiac.com: http://www.celiac.com/articles/35/1/Can-products-which-contain-gluten-but-only-touch-the-skin-affect-celiacs/Page1.html

Anyway, I thought I'd mention that here, in case anyone was curious about this protein's danger (or non-danger, yay!) to wheat allergy sufferers.

Jodi Crossley said...

Hi susan, I am adding 2 different hydrolyzed proteins to a conditioner (silk and baobab). should the total amount of all hydrolyzed proteins be no more the 5% of the conditioner or can each protein be added at up to 5%? Basically, what I want to know is it best to do 2.5% of each or is it better to do 5% of each? Thanks so much for your help. I want to maximize benefits of each but not waste more than needed. Have a good day!
Jodi

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jodi! You can use up to 5% wheat protein, for instance, and 5% of something else without problem. But is there a point? Yes, it can feel nice, be film forming, offer moisturizing, and so on. There are reasons to use two different ones - for instance, if one penetrates your skin and the other is a film former - and reasons to use lots of one instead. It's up to you what you want to do!

kenna said...

Dear Susan, I absolutely love your blog and always come back when I'm researching to make a new creation for self use. I have a question regarding panthenol (vitamin B5). I have the powdered type and would like to know how to add it when making conditioners. I noticed in your recipe you have panthenol in the cool down phase but I am thinking that I would have to dissolve the powder. Please help.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kenna. Thank you for your kind words. It's nice to know I'm able to be of service.

It's best to ask your supplier what they suggest, but you could add the powder to the cool down phase as it's still pretty warm and will dissolve your panthenol easily. When I used to use it, I would save a small bit of water from the heated water phase to dissolve the panthenol, then I'd add it.

Can I make a small request? If you could ask questions about panthenol in the panthenol posts, more people could benefit from the answers! This is a question I've been asked before, and no one will think to look for the answer here.

kenna said...

Thanks for the quick response Susan! I thought about that after making the post. Next time I will ask a question on a related post.

AshOnTheGo said...

I have a question about the end of the post: "adding a hydrolyzed protein to your cool down phase can result in contamination." Is there a type of contamination specific to hydrolyzed proteins that is the concern here? We add other things at cooldown, so I was just curious why hydrolyzed proteins are specifically a cause for concern?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi AshOnTheGo! No, there isn't a specific contamination that proteins can cause, just that ingredients of a botanical nature can cause contamination if not included in the recipe properly.

Ian said...

Hi Susan.. my name is Ian. I see that hydrolyzed protein in my country have clear color instead a brownish color I bought from USA. What is the difference?

Thankyou/Ian