Friday, December 3, 2010

Question: Can I save a separated lotion?

No. If your lotion has separated, it's bound for the garbage. Please don't bottle it and tell your friends or customers to shake it before using!

Why not try to save it? Because it's already failed. Emulsions are unstable creatures and every single emulsion will fail eventually; our goal is to make that date way off into the future and hope the product is used well before that date (and I'm talking well off into the future - a good emulsion can be stable for years and years). A lotion that has failed right after production will fail again in the future, and that date might be this week, next week, or a month from now, and that's simply not a nice experience for the lotion user.

Look at this as a learning experience. Why did the lotion fail? Did you fail to heat and hold? Did you use the right kind or amount of emulsifier? Did you mix it well? Did you change something in the recipe or add extra oils? Did you use a preservative that might destabilize the emulsion? Are you using a thickener that might help with emulsification? It's a good opportunity to re-evaluate your recipe and your manufacturing methods when you see this kind of failure!

If you want to know more about lotion fails, click here. If you'd like to see an example of my own epic lotion fail, click here.


Topcat said...

I am learning the hard way that a separated lotion is beyond saving!

Can you suggest why a recipe I have made several times before, with no change of ingredients* or manufacturing practice, would decide to curdle on me? Could it be the room temperature/humidity playing any part? I made it the first few times in our cooler/dryer months this year ~ April, May and again in August ~ yet when I made it in November (our hot weather) it curdled when I added my final phase. With much stick blending it came back together, only to separate permanently when I added the fragrance oils (*several new ones, but others I have used before with no challenges). Increasing the emulsifier % did not help in the next two batches. It stays together unscented (so far) but the fragrance oils blend in then separate out again within minutes. I am using fo at 1% rate. It is interesting to say the least :)
My emulsifier is called VegEmulse here and NatraMulse elsewhere. If you can shed any light I will be extremely grateful!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Topcat! Have you changed batches of your products, meaning you might be using the same emulsifier but is it from a new container? I have found some products can be great when I buy them once, but are awful the second time. I find liquid Crothix is like this - one bottle can turn my bubble bath into Jell-o while the next one won't thicken unless I use 5%. I'm using all the same ingredients, but different batches.

I've never heard of room temperature affecting the product, with the exception of a very cold room (like my workshop) making the product cool down quicker, which could be good or bad depending upon the product.

I'll have to look into it - I have this emulsifier, but I haven't had time to try it yet - but it could be the oils in the fragrance push it over the edge to not being enough. (But you said you increased the emulsifier, so I'm a little stumped here...)

Are you using a thickener? Can you send me your recipe and perhaps I can take a closer look at it?

Topcat said...

Thanks Susan! Same batch of emulsifier, but new bottle of Optiphen you have me thinking now that's for sure. I will email you my recipe and you can see if something blindingly obvious (to you) is out of balance :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Topcat! I'm looking forward to seeing your recipe. Optiphen Plus can curdle lotions (see this post), but if you've been using it for a while, you no doubt have a system in place to avoid that! Send me the recipe when you get a chance!