Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Question: BTMS-25 and products not emulsifying

Kathy wrote to me to ask why a recipe similar to this one wasn't working for her. I knew right away that BTMS-25 was the culprit!

If you're using Incroquat BTMS as your emulsifier, please ensure you're using BTMS-50 - not BTMS-25 - as your emulsifier! BTMS-25 contains 25% behentrimonium methosulfate, the active ingredient in BTMS, whereas BTMS-50 contains 50% behentrimonium methosulfate. BTMS-25 can be used as a great conditioner, but it doesn't emulsify as well as BTMS-50. (Click here for some information on substituting BTMS-25 for BTMS-50 in hair care products!) If you're in doubt about what you're getting, check the INCI on your product, as some suppliers will alter the names of products to suit their company's theme or name.

To recap:
BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol.
BTMS-25 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetearyl alcohol.

Click here for a post on INCI as it relates specifically to BTMS and here for how INCI names can make you a more awesome formulator!

This leads to a second question posed by Mya in this post: I am planning on making a conditioner with 25% natural oils and butters. My hair is very dry. I am going to be using Cupuacu butter, Argan Oil, and Avocado Butter. Do you think a combination of BTMS and Emulsifying Wax NF (Lipowax) would work? Last time I used BTMS alone and it did not turn out good. It was globby and part of the mixture was not emulsified.

If your product is not emulsified, there are three possible problems:
1. You aren't using the right BTMS. You're likely using BTMS-25 and not BTMS-50.
2. Your oil phase is too high for the amount of emulsifier you want.
3. You aren't heating and holding or mixing long enough.

The last two points are all about emulsification, and for it to occur we need a chemical emulsifier (the BTMS-50, in this case), heat (which is why we heat and hold), and something to mix it all together, such as a stick blender, Kitchenaid, etc (mechanical emulsification). If one of these things is missing, our emulsification will fail.

Unfortunately, there isn't a rule of thumb about how much BTMS-50 to use with specific oil phases, but my standard amount is around 7% for 15% oils, so for 25% oils, I'd look at something like 10% or so. The down side is that you might not want that much conditioning in your hair and 10% is really kinda wasteful when it comes to conditioners.

I'd like to suggest this - try making a 15% oil phase product with 7% BTMS-50 and 3.5% cetyl alcohol and see how you like it. Moisturizing dry hair isn't just about the oils; it's about the conditioning agents, humectants, and other things that can help make your hair less brittle and more lubricated. Also, consider using coconut oil. Studies have shown that..."coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product...Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft." It's one of the least expensive oils and one of the greatest for our hair!

For more information on hair care products, click here for that section of the blog!


Mychelle said...

I have to say that I only use BTMS 25 and have never had an emulsion issue. I don't like the 50 in hair care products and I have a reaction every time I use it in a body care product (don't know exactly what that is all about). I started out with the 25 in the old days (when it was just BTMS 'cause we didn't have the 50). Croda has a hair cream formula using 4% BTMS (25) and 40% oils/silicons; I have made this product a hundred times and it holds together beautifully. In body care I tend to use BTMS as a co-emulsifier to offset the dry feel, but as a sole emulsifier at 4-6% it holds up wonderfully. I am thinking the issues associated with it are related more to procedure and less to emulsifier? What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mychelle,
I was worried about this issue cause I can only find BTMS-25. Your post ease my worries!

Anonymous said...

It's just amazing how much I'm learning from your blog! It is a true treasure!!


7slaper said...

78A bit late to the party, sorry for that, but I second Mychelles post.
I've been using BTMS-25 forever and I love it in hair conditoners.
Never had any emulsification issues neither.
The BTMS-50 I keep for other B&B products; I don't really like it in a conditioner.
My latest experiment was a conditioner with E-wax - not bad at all, thanks to all the goodies I added of course. Works for male or short haired users.
(I admit I'm crazy, but in the worst case it might be a solution)

Anonymous said...

I'm even later to the party, 7slaper, but I've never had a product fail using BTMS-25 either.

BTMS-50 isn't even available to us poor muggles in Australia - many 'basic' ingredients Susan uses aren't available to us (like Dimethicone 1000 cst, for example), so I struggle to understand cautions and lack of interest in BTMS-25

Admittedly, it took some experimenting to come up with a basic hair condish formula thick enough to satisfy customers used to commercial products (that's all they seemed to care about - the thickness of the product, not the actual carefully and thoughtfully selected ingredients!), but experimenting is half the fun, right?

If it's helpful for anyone else in a country with pathetically limited options, I found a minimum of 10% BTMS-25 an excellent start to play around with hair conditioners; it's certainly thick, and works very nicely in bottles with pump dispensers.

Personally, I love the versatility of BTMS-25, but perhaps that's because I don't have any other choices available to me, other than Polawax or a mish-mash of other things, none of which are BTMS-50, no matter which way one reads the INCI's.

I do like BTMS-25 for it's reliability and flexibility and I'm not at all sure I'd used the 50 version now, even if it was suddenly available :)

The Land Down Under, "...where women glow and men plunder..."

Meg and Kris said...

I have used both BTMS 50 and BTMS25, there is not an emulsion issue with BTMS 25. It takes longer to emulsify (about 1 minute longer) but doesn't effect quality. I switched to BTMS 25 because the cost of 50 was more, I can't tell a difference in my hair conditioners that I sell. In fact, it is awesome. And I also use it in an all natural lotion. modernroots.org

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Meg & Kris. I'm glad you got BTMS-25 to work for you. Just wondering, though, are you calling it an all natural ingredient?

Olivia said...

I, too am curious if using BTMS-25 is considered a natural emulsifier?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I can't think of any way that BTMS could be considered natural. It is derived from colza oil, but the amount of processing it takes to get that oil to be behentrimonium methosulfate is pretty substantial.

Jane Askin said...

Hello Susan, I make two conditioning lotions using btms 25 (trying to stay away from the glycol). One always emulsifies just find, no issues and other curdles just a bit occasionally and I have no idea what causes it! The usage rates and ingredients are the same, except that the successful one uses some heavy butters and a touch of beeswax as part of the oil phase, whereas the other uses only light oils.

I was thinking maybe I need to increase the btms in the occasional failer. Here's the recipe:
oil 9.6 oz
water 14.4
btms 2.5
Cool Down
preservative 5.4 ml
frag 19.2 ml

Help :(

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jane! Can you please convert this into percentages so I can get a sense of how much of each ingredient is in this product. You can see more about using percentages in the FAQ. What preservative are you using?

Jane Askin said...

Thanks Susan,
here are the exact percentages
Oil 35.14%
Water 52.71%
BTMS 9.15%
Preservative .66%
Frag. 2.34%

I'm using the Optiphen meant for use with cationic ingredients. As I mentioned the other cream, same percentages holds perfectly each time. Help:)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jane! My thought is that your oil phase is too high for this emulsifier. My suggestion is to take it down to 20% and see what happens. I would ideally see you using BTMS-50 because there's no way to promise this will work with even the lower amount of oil, but you don't want to do that. And 2.34% fragrance for a leave on product is far too high!

Sorry, that's the best I can offer!

Jane Askin said...

Thanks Susan, what fragrance percentage would you recommend?