Saturday, April 9, 2011

Duplicating products: Luster's Pink Light oil moisturizer

Bajan Lilly suggested another interesting product for African-American hair - Luster's Pink light oil moisturizer for hair.

Ingredient list: Deionized Water, Mineral Oil, Lanolin, Beeswax, Petrolatum Sodium Benzoate, Sorbitan Oleate, Ethylhexyl Dimethyl PABA, Methylparaben, Propylparabean, Imidazolidine Urea, Fragrance, Red 33

Water: Our solvent.

Mineral oil: An emollient.

Lanolin: An emollient from sheep that offers serious moisturizing and water repellency. Can take up to double its weight in water, so it helps with emulsification.

Beeswax: Thickens our products and can make the lotion more tenacious.

Petrolatum: A thicker emollient than mineral oil from hydrocarbons.

Sodium benzoate: A bacteriostatic preservative, meaning it prevents bacteria from growing as opposed to killing them. Best at pH 5 or under.

Sorbitan oleate: Low HLB emulsifier (HLB value 4.3). Combine with a high HLB value emulsifier to create your own system.

Ethylhexyl dimethyl PABA: Absorbs UV rays, so it can be considered a sunscreen ingredient.

Methylparaben, propylparaben, imidazolidine urea: Our preservatives.

Fragrance: Makes the product smell pretty.

Red 33: A colourant to make it pink (I'm guessing, based on the name).

So what are the key ingredients in this product? The emollients - petroleum and mineral oil - along with the water, preservatives, and emulsifier. But where the heck is the emulsifier? We can see sorbitan oleate is the low HLB emulsifier, but where's the high HLB one? Lanolin can act as an emulsifier in some situations, but not a great one and not one that would emulsify this recipe. So what do to?

Stop for a moment. I think this list is out of whack because we have the sodium benzoate above the emulsifiers, so this will be more difficult to duplicate.

And I'm really confused at the moment. Read this blurb from this website (which I found when looking for a picture to illustrate this post):

For hair that is healthy, shiny and when styling versatility is a must, Classic Light is the perfect solution. The Classic Light formula is made with aloe vera that penetrates the hair strand with moisture and protects the hair for improved elasticity and less breakage. Absorbs quickly and perfect for daily use! Luster's Pink Classic Light Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion is specially re-formulated with essential vitamins - Provitamin B5 & Vitamin E - and natural ingredients to restore and maintain healthy hair.

This doesn't make sense based on the list of ingredients from the website Bajan Lilly sent me. Based on the phrase " specially re-formulated", I'm wondering if what I have above is an older product? I thought I should search further, and this is what I found....

Deionized Water, Mineral Oil - Paraffinum Liquidum, Lanolin , Beeswax - Cera Alba, Petrolatum, Sodium Borate, Panthenol - Provitamin B5, Tocopherol - Vitamin E, Sorbitan Oleate, Ethylhexyl Dimethyl, PABA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea , Fragrance - Parfum , Hexyl Cinnamal , Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Red 33 - CI 17200

Just curious...where's the aloe vera in this list? And is it really in the right order this time?

So what's different here (and note the comma between dimethyl and PABA, which makes us think it's two different ingredients!)? We see panthenol and Vitamin E in this ingredient list, as well as sodium borate instead of sodium benzoate, which also known as borax.

We can use borax in our products to increase the pH, and I'm not really sure why that's in this product as the pH should be good for hair. It is starting to make me think that this could be a beeswax and borax emulsification system, which you'd use with a water-in-oil lotion, meaning there's more water than oil in the product. Let's try making this as a 50% water product as I don't like messing around with the beeswax and borax emulsifiers, although I think what I'm suggesting might be a little thick based on the fact that the product is found in a disc cap type bottle. (I have never seen this product, let alone tried it, so I'm not sure what the viscosity is of the product.)

You can use any oils you like if you don't want to use mineral oil. I don't know where to get petroleum, so that could be a problem in replicating it exactly. You can substitute another butter in its place - babassu or shea, depending on whether you like your products greasy or dry feeling. I'm thinking shea would be a great substitution for petroleum as it is should get that same level of greasiness. And we're going to use an emulsifier here. I'll use Polawax, but you can use any emulsifier you prefer at the recommended amounts. I will be including the lanolin and beeswax. I'll use panthenol at 2% and Vitamin E at 1% in the cool down phase.

So how much should I use of each ingredient? I'm thinking quite a bit of mineral oil - maybe 20% - 10% lanolin, and about 5% petroleum (shea or babassu). I really don't want to use that much beeswax, so I'm thinking 2% (you can leave it out if you don't want it in your product). So with 37% oil phase, I'll need to use 9.25% emulsifier (25% of my oil phase), for a total oil phase of 46.25%. Add the 2% panthenol, 1% Vitamin E, 0.5% preservative, and 1% fragrance and I have 49.75% non water and 50.75% water! I'm going to add 10% aloe vera because it claims to have it (although we don't see it in the ingredient list), but you can leave that out if your hair hates humectants!

One final note - there are many different weights of mineral oil and we don't know which one they're using here. If they're claiming it will sink in quickly, then we're looking at a light version. I'd substitute fractionated coconut oil or another light oil or ester for the mineral oil. I'm going to use fractionated coconut oil, but you can use any oil you really like.

To summarize, this is a hair lotion with a ton of moisturizing and emollient ingredients.

40.75% water
10% aloe vera

20% mineral oil or other light oil
10% lanolin
5% petroleum, shea, babassu, or other butter
2% beeswax
9.25% emulsifier

2% panthenol
1% Vitamin E
0.5% to 1.5% preservative
1% fragrance oil

Follow the basic lotion making instructions for this product.

I could be completely wrong here. If the product is a lighter product, more liquidy, then you'd want to adjust the water amount to be higher and the oil phase to be lower. If you've used this product, let me know if it's thick or thin and we can adjust the recipe to suit it!

Join me tomorrow for more duplicating fun!


Madeaj said...

Hi Susan

This is a great series, I thank Bajan Lily for suggesting the last two products. I used pink lotion ages ago and its a thin lotion with a greasy feel.

I liked the viscosity but I always wished it could be less greasy. And sometimes it made my hair have a hard producty feeling. I know now my hair does not respond well to mineral oil. Maybe I will try this with sesame or jojoba oil instead.

Tara said...

You can get mineral oil and petrolatum at The Personal Formulator:, and mineral oil substitutes at


Bajan Lily said...

Hi Susan,

I didn't realise that finding (or verifying) the ingredients list for this product would be so difficult! Gosh!

Thanks for trying and for working with what you found. Like Madeaj says the product is very greasy, and a pourable liquid. I'm not sure I would call it 'thin' because the CD Hair Milk is much much thinner (and that's not really thin either lol), but you've given some good starting points for me to play around with. I'll probably leave out the lanonin, mineral oil and petroleum (and the beeswax)though and look for suitable alternatives.

At least I have a better idea of what is(might be)in it and why!

Una said...

My beautician years ago said never to use pink oil. It would make your hair fall out. I used it a couple of times. Though my hair did not fall out, for some reason it gives my hair a hard feeling. Which is fascinating considering the stuff is straight grease.

Sheila said...

Great post Susan, I modified the recipe a bit. I never liked a greasy feeling in my hair or on my scalp. I used what I had on hand. I do have lanolin but that stuff felt really greasy I tested it on the back of my hand kind of sticky read some good stuff about it in hair care so I might try a small percentage next time. This is what I came up with for the oil phase:
Isoeicosane 1%,
Fractionated Coconut Oil 45%,
Dimethicone 500 2%,
Shea Butter 4%,
Cocoa Butter 5%, and
8% BTMS as my emulsifier (25% of oil phase)
I added some panthenol to the water phase at 2% my hair loves this stuff. I also added 1% Jojoba Protein HP at cool down that also works well with my hair type.
What I got was a wonderful thick rich cream Looks and feels like lotion. As a matter of fact I rubbed it on my hands and they feel so soft.
This got me to thinking did I just make a lotion that I can also use on my hair? Will it build up in my hair like one of the daily leave on conditioners made for dread locks and braids? The reason I asked is because I went to one of those web sites for African American Hair. I used one of the so called “recommended products” for my dread locks. I used the product every day like the label said and when I washed my hair at the end of the week I had a gummy waxy residue in my locks.
I shampooed and shampooed and could not get it out. After watching a Dawn Dish-washing liquid commercial on TV you know the one with the person washing a baby duck covered in crude oil. I said what the heck… I’ll give it a go if it doesn't work I will have to cut it off any way because of the gum. So I tried it and it dried the heck out of my hair made the locks really tight hmm…tight locks are a good thing but the straw texture not so good… and here I am 4 month later trying to formulate my own products. What fun!
My hair is fine meaning small in diameter, tightly coiled, high number of strands per square inch, cotton soft, and it is as full as this hair type can be. It was shoulder length and before I started growing Dread Locks my hair was very hard to manage and I found less has always been best (from personal experience). My hair could never take the abuse of intense hair styles, braids, stiff gels, and too much oil. The locks are working but there is not much out there in the way of care for locks. Some like to keep the locks tight at the roots so tight that the scalp shows. Twisting my hair that tight hurts and not to mention my hair cannot take that daily stress of twisting without getting thinner because of stress. So I don’t twist that often. I twist once a month or I go longer depending on activity level.
I have not used a conditioner since that gummy ordeal and my hair seems to like it. I shampoo and sit under the dryer until my locks are completely dry. I noticed when they air dry in humid weather the hair seems to become weak and far too elastic. So I try to dry it as fast as possible to relieve the stress of the weight of wet locks on my scalp. I also noticed that when I air dry they don’t stay as fresh for very long.
Off to wash my hair and try this new cream on my locks. I will let you know how it works! My next project is a shampoo for these gorgeous long locks. I am trying to figure out a low foam formula that rinses out easily. Locks are hard to rinse kind of like a sponge… Any suggestions?