Monday, May 28, 2012

Emulsifiers: Ritamulse SCG

Ritamulse SCG (INCI: Glyceryl stearate (and) cetearyl alcohol (and) sodium stearoyl lactylate) is an Ecocert self-emulsifier that can be used at 2% to 10% to emulsify up to 25% oils in an oil in the water emulsion, although I've found that almost every sample recipe I've seen uses 8% or higher. It works best at pH 5 to 7.5, which means it isn't a great choice for moisturizers that might contain AHA or other acidic ingredients. It is plant derived, and claims to have a "silky, soft, talc-like feel". As you can see in the picture, it comes in off-white waxy flakes that must be used in the heated oil phase of your lotion. Its melting point is around 50˚C.

When using this ingredient, you want to heat and hold your water and oil phases, then add the water phase to the oil phase in a thin stream. They suggest mixing it until it reaches 30˚C. I have found that I can mix it for a few minutes after combining the two phases, leave it a bit, add my cool down phase, then mix it further and still have a really stable product. (I have lotions from March 2011 that are still very stable, despite the slight rancidity of the oils.)

Do not add your cool down phase until you reach 45˚C or lower. I tried adding my cool down at around 49˚C, and I had separation within a few minutes. It turned into a cottage cheese looking product! So gross! 

Ritamulse SCG doesn't play well with acidic ingredients, like AHA or lactic acids, and it's not great with cationic ingredients, so you don't want to include any cationic polymers or cationic compounds, like Incroquat CR, cetrimonium chloride, cetrimonium bromide, or Incroquat BTMS-50.

I've found conflicting information on this - some things say it is substantive and works well with cationic ingredients, others say not to use cationic ingredients with it. My experience has been that cationic polymers have caused separation almost immediately upon addition, so I'm going to suggest either trying it yourself or not using cationics. (Normally I would add my cationic polymers to the heated water phase, but I thought perhaps having them in the cool down phase might help to avoid separation. I was wrong. It separated almost immediately! It was so awful!) 

The data sheets for this emulsifier claim that it is a good moisturizer - and I can't see a reason why that wouldn't be true as most of our emulsifiers offer moisturizing to our products - and a good humectant. What I've read indicates that sodium stearoyl lactylate doesn't pick up water as readily as other humectants, but it will hold on to it more tenaciously than other humectants, especially in low humidity environments. I have found it has quite a nice skin feel, although it does have a little waxiness to it, probably from the cetearyl alcohol.

As an aside, sodium stearoyl lactylate was originally created to be an emulsifier in baked products, specifically those that are yeast leavened. It's starting to get a bad name in foodstuffs - for instance, I've seen a bread recently advertising that it doesn't contain sodium stearoyl lactylate as an emulsifier - so I'm finding it interesting that it's being considered so natural in the bath & body community. See this link at Skin Deep - they consider it a 1, which considered of low concern (although they don't seem to have much information on this ingredient, so I wonder how they came to that conclusion).

Glyceryl stearate has an HLB value of 3.8 =/- 1 and sodium stearoyl lactylate has an HLB value of 6.5 and a melting point of 47˚C to 53˚C. Ritamulse SCG has an HLB value of 3.5, but it behaves like it has an HLB value of 9.0.

What the heck does this mean? HLB values under 9 indicate that the ingredient is lipophilic, or oil loving. HLB values over 11 indicate the ingredient is hydrophilic, or water loving. HLB values of 9 to 11 indicate the ingredient is a bit of both. So Ritamulse SCG has an HLB value that should mean it is a lipophilic or oil loving ingredient, but it behaves as an intermediate ingredient with a bit of each. 

Although all the components of Ritamulse could be animal derived, the company assures us in its data bulletin that all of the ingredients are plant derived.

Ritamulse SCG is sold under a number of different names, depending upon the supplier. You might see it as Ecomulse, Natramulse, Emulsimulse, and so on. I suggest learning the INCI name above and shopping for it that way. You can get it at quite a few suppliers - visit the FAQ to see if you can find a supplier near you.

Quick summary of Ritamulse SCG emulsifier
INCI: Glyceryl stearate (and) cetearyl alcohol (and) sodium stearoyl lactylate
Suggested usage rate: 2% to 10% in the heated oil phase.
Should emulsify up to 25% oils.
Not a good idea to use cationic ingredients with this emulsifier.
pH range of 5 to 7.5.
Special considerations: Add the water phase to the oil phase in a thin stream, and mix until it reaches about 30˚C.

Join me tomorrow as we have fun formulating with this emulsifier!


Clive said...

Is stearic acid an emulsifier? I have seen information that says that it is, but also, many seem to think it isn't.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Clive. No, it is not. To be an emulsifier, it needs to be a surfactant, and stearic acid isn't a surfactant. It can help thicken a lotion and might help stabilize it, but it doesn't emulsify anything. It's considered an oil soluble ingredient - check out this document on the HLB system, and you'll see that stearic acid has a required HLB value, which indicates that it's not an emulsifier.

Here's a post on stearic acid, if you're interested. Cetyl alcohol isn't an emulsifier, either.

Mychelle said...

I use this emulsifier(as ECOMulse from Lotioncrafter)quite a bit. On it's own I find it a bit draggy and too dry for my taste, but I like it combined with e-wax or LotionPro 165 (Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG 100 Stearate) for hair and skin creams that don't contain cationics. While I do not have any idea about its' substantivity, I have come to love it in my conditioner bar! I added some on the advice of another Disher and it made all the difference in my bar - soft hair and less expensive bar. :) I also use it a lot in my scrubs, as it lends a creaminess I don't get with e-wax alone.

Nancy Liedel said...

I've been switching it out with Mack Conditioner in my conditioner bars and love it too. I lose my lovely Cationic darlings, but I gain more Argan Oil and Coconut, which is fabu on hair. I can also use more amazing extracts. Brambleberry's Green tea, oil soluble being a current favorite. I use cones in my conditioner too. It seems to help with them as well. I do miss my Centronium Chloride, tho.

This post solved the puzzle of my seperating conditioner with BTMS-50 in it, however. Saturday, when I should have been getting ready for a show, ahem, I made a conditioner bar and used the Ritamulse. My conditioner seperated right before my eyes!!! GASP! CHOKE! HOW MUCH IN INCIS!!!!!!???

I got this post yesterday. Had my, "aha," moment and voila, enough conditioner bars for the show, no separation. The thing I adore about conitioner bars is that you can put them in a Pyrex container, melt it all up, whisk, or cheat and use a low setting on a hand held mixer, pour, freeze, take out and do over. None of this crock pot on high crap I do with my shampoo bars. That SCI takes forever to melt.

Then again. I can set it, put out a timer, and forget it.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Mychelle. I found it a bit dry when I used drier feeling oils, so I've been using soy bean oil and other greasy feeling oils and it is working out well. I'm definitely trying it in my scrub this weekend - I'm starting to quite like this emulsifier, although I have to get it from the States.

Hi Nancy. Are you removing your cationic quaternary compound and replacing it with Ritamulse? I'm sorry if I sound a bit confused, but the way you've written this sounds like you've removed all the cationic ingredients and are using Ritamulse as the emulsifier, which means you don't have any cationic compounds in the bar, which means it is more of a lotion bar than a conditioner. (You need the cationic ingredients that offer substantivity to be considered a conditioner.) Why can't you add those oils to a conditioner bar with Mack conditioner? I don't know much about that ingredient, but I know I could add a ton of oils to something with BTMS-50.

Clive said...

Now I am more than confused. In your link,, it states first that stearic acid is a co-emulsifier, and later, that it IS an emulsifier. Totally baffled ...

Mychelle said...

Nancy, you're the one who gave me the idea to use it in conditioner bars! Thank you. :) I use it with BTMS, BTMS 50, and Mack conditioner (a whole mix of emulsifiers). I figure the an ionic/cationic thing wouldn't be an issue in a solid, like in a shampoo bar. I freeze my molds, melt until just-not-totally melted and they solidify as soon as they hit the molds. I'm not going there in a liquid of course; I'm not one to tempt the separation gods too much.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Clive. I was wrong. That post was written a while ago and I had erroneous information. Stearic acid is not an emulsifier, but it can thicken and stabilize our products. I've updated the post to reflect how much more I've learned about stearic acid since it was written a few years ago. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

If you look at the stearic acid molecule, there's nothing about it that would indicate that it can emulsify our products. If that were so, we should be able to use shea butter or mango butter to emulsify some water soluble ingredients, the way we can with lecithin. Stearic acid is considered to be an oil soluble product, not an emulsifier!

I hope that clarifies things!

Clive said...

Thanks for the update. Much appreciated. I have a hand cream that I designed years ago thinking I was using stearic acid as an emulsifier. It now looks as if the only enmulsifier in it is glycerol monostearate, only about 2%. It is stabilized with Carbopol 940 which I would guess is why it never separates and passes freeze/thaw easily. I'll use the HLB system in future. I can't obtain those products like Ritamulse etc.

desiree said...

Sounds great. I think I'll try it out. By chance, is there another natural emulsifier you know of that can be used in a more acidic environment?

sara said...

Thank you for the wonderful information, Susan. I always cross reference your blog before purchasing new products. There is often conflicting information from suppliers and it is so helpful to hear from a knowledgeable individual with actual experience with a product when trying to decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Your posts are most appreciated!

seventh77 said...


I am having THE worst time with Ecomulse. I like it better than BTMS-50 because it gives my face pliability, unlike BTMS-50 which is too drying. Anyway, I have made dozens of creams/lotions with Ecomulse, each a failure in some way. I just learned it doesn't work well with cationic ingredients, but that still doesn't explain all the problems I've been having, so I was hoping you'd be able to give some advice.

Most of my lotions are 70% - 75% water, and I've been using 8% Ecomulse each time with 3% Oliwax and 8% - 12% Olive Oil unsaponifiables. In my cool down phase I have 2% allantoin (never causes problems in other lotions, and doesn't seem to be causing a problem in these ones either), 2% vitamin E (as it's 50% active), 2% - 4% honeyquat, and then 0.1% potassium sorbate (I was also using CQ until I found out Ecomulse doesn't like cationics, and every time I added CQ the lotion turned to cottage cheese and was ruined). So each variant is similar to that with small changes here and there.

The oils and emulsifiers are the only things in the oil phase, and then I have my water phase which is just water, and then the cool down phase with the rest of the ingredients, which I add at 45C or below. I heat the oil and water phases to 70C, then slowly add the water to the oil phase while it's mixing. The majority of the time it stays a runny mess and never turns into a lotion, let alone a cream. And it feels wet when I rub it on my skin, like a lot of the water hasn't been emulsified. It's also very tacky as the water evaporates off my skin. So it's ruined even before I get to the cool down phase.

What am I doing wrong? It breaks as soon as I add the oil and water phases. And what makes it even more confusing is one time I added the water to the oil when they were both 70C and when the oil was still heating, and I mixed with a spoon until it turned white and was kind of creamy. Then I took it off the heat and let it sit for a while until I saw it was beginning to separate, so I put it on my mixer and mixed, and it continued separating. So I whipped it and it turned into a smooth, thick cream. But that's the only one that has worked. I've done that same method before and it began to emulsify but then de-emulsified the longer I mixed.

The few times the water and oil phases have somehow emulsified, they later separated after a few days. Except that thick cream I made by whipping it. That one has CQ in it, though. So I don't get how it worked.

I'm so confused and frustrated. I keep wasting ingredients trying to figure out what is going wrong. Am I using too much water? But if I am that doesn't explain the three times it's actually emulsified and been stable. I thought maybe I was allowing it to get too hot (80C), but the ones I didn't allow to go above 70C have also failed.

Help :(

seventh77 said...

I just wanted to add that I've tried whipping it right away as I slowly add the water to the oil, but it just stays a runny frothy mess. And I've tried mixing on low the entire time as I slowly add the water to the oil, but it stays a runny mess. And I've tried mixing on low while I add the water, and then I whip it, but it just stays runny and frothy. Except that one time that I mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

@seventh77: honeyquat is a cationic. so you should probably avoid using it with ecomulse/ritamulse.

Anonymous said...

I've had the same problem with Ritamulse. Most of my creations come out runny/frothy, feel wet when I put it on my skin, then rapidly turns into a draggy, thin would-be lotion. Trial after Trial. No cationics. I'd also LOVE to know what's going wrong!

Thanks for any help, Susan :)

Sharon said...

I'm having a prob with Natramulse/Ecomulse too. I wonder if Natramulse works better with higher percentages of oils. The one time it worked, by oil phase was 20%. This time, I only used 9% oils, mostly water, and 1% allantoin, and it turned into a mess. The only thing that made it stay together (for now??) was the addition of 0.3% xanthan gum (wetted in glycerin 1st) during cool down. But its a super thin, wettish/stickyish lotiony mix.

curlytea said...

I, too, was having a terrible time with Ecomulse (Natramulse). Each time it wasn't quite what I wanted.

I was just about to throw Ecomulse in the trash until I decided to try it one more time by making a 2oz tester. I thought that since it wasn't working well the normal way (different phases), I would test out a different method.

I didn't separate the oil phase and water phase, then heating and holding for 20 minutes until recommended temp. Screw that. I dumped everything (oil+emulsifier+water) into the same glass at the same time (glass was thick like pyrex). Yes. I did it. And I'm NOT ashamed!

I sat the glass inside a small pot of water for 25 minutes. (The glass is thick and has a thick bottom, if that makes any difference) After 25 mins, I took the glass out of the water and stirred with a rubber spatula. Yes. A regular spatula. Not a mixer or stick blender.

And it made the best emulsion I've ever made with Ecomulse at 8%. The emulsion looked great, and it thickened into a rich cream just by stirring. It was only approx 2oz anyway so it cooled quickly at room temp. The after-feel was awesome.

My pics:

Now, honestly you'll have to test this out for yourself. Sometimes despite what you've been taught, you HAVE to experiment and figure out what works for you. If you're constantly have problems and wasting ingredients anyway, experiment.

Just note that I haven't yet tested my new process with a high amount (20%+) of oils, so take that into consideration.

Aljonor said...

Seventh77 I don't know if you found a solution to the problem, but honeyquat is cationic. So you must take it out. Maybe that will help

Danuta Kildan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Danuta. I really appreciate that you're contributing so much to the blog, but I cannot in good conscience recommend Saffire Blue for a number of reasons I've outlined a few times. (If you want to know more, please check out the suppliers in Canada post found in the FAQ. I can't link properly from here right now.) Again, I really appreciate your participation, but I'll be deleting all references to this company in the future.

Nicole Richard said...


So I have been experimenting with this emulsifier and weird things have been happening. My formula is pretty basic:

distilled water, oat protein, sodium lactate, allantoin, panthnol

20% oil + 8% ritamulse


After heat and hold, I slowly add the water to oil and blend with a hand blender. It looks great….until about 40 degrees, when it start to turn into an epic lotion fail (preservatives have not been added yet). then i stop and walk away discouraged.

but….I come back after it has cooled about 10 degrees and TADA! it has somehow magically turned back into something salvageable. I give it a whirl and I gotta a cream. this normal? does it just go through an ugly phase before becoming pretty again?

also, Susan, you mention in you blog to keep mixing until cool down, but that you also don't necessairely do that. is it ok then to start-stop-start?

Nicolita said...

I think you may have just helped me solve a mystery! I have a recipe for a rosewater facial cream which has been giving me grief (molding despite the addition of several preservatives and clean conditions, separating) and now I think it must be the acidity of the rosewater and willow extracts interacting with the Eco-mulse. Is there any way for me to ph balance the recipe so that I can still use rosewater? Or is there another Ecocert emulsifier you can recommend that doesn't have this issue?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nicolita. There's something wrong with your recipe if it is separating and molding, and I don't think it's your emulsifier. Lotions are supposed to be acidic, so there's nothing wrong there. Can you please submit your full recipe and process - I want all the specifics for each ingredient, please, not brand names (so the INCI name for something... - so I can help further?

Danuta Kildan said...

Susan I had deleted my comment with the link, :) I use that emulsifier for over two years and I love it, especially in my hand creams, they have a dry feeling so I just put it on and go to type on computer. I had never separation with it, (so far so good) and I am everything but experienced lotion maker. Even with using Optiphen plus which I add at 35C not seperation issues. Susan I made a lotion with Polawax and fractioned CO and the last jar got too much water in it. It is watery, still lotion. I wonder why it happens?
I keep my lotion in the beaker I mixed it for a few hours, then transfer it to jars.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Danuta. Thanks! What do you mean it has too much water in the lotion? It is thinner than you would like, or is there a layer of water at the bottom of the container? Why are you mixing for hours? A short period of time is enough - a few minutes, maybe five! How are you mixing it? I'm worried that you've done it too much!

MSC said...

I am new to this so maybe this is a very obviously uninformed question but is it possible to use Ecomulse in addition to beeswax in a lotion?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi MSC! Yes, Ritamulse SCG will work with beeswax as it is a non-ionic or neutrally charged ingredient. But I'm wondering, do you mean to use beeswax as an emulsifier? Beeswax isn't an emulsifier. Check out the post to learn more!

Megan Xi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Xi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Passion said...

Hi Susan,
Where can I get this product in Toronto??

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Passion. Sorry, I don't know specifically where, but if you look at this list of suppliers in Canada, you might find something near you.

LoveNature'n Art .com said...

Hey there!
I am not sure if I should use Ritamulse SCG or Btms-50 as my emulsifying wax, can you give me your suggestion. (I am a novice to lotion making).
Thanks !

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kat. What are you making? Decide on the product, then on the emulsifier. There are good reasons to use both, and incompatibilies with both. If you're a newbie, I'd suggest BTMS-50 and finding a good recipe you can practice at least ten times before even considering making your own recipe. I think it takes about a year to really understand why each ingredient is necessary and how to incorporate everything you want to use.

Laura Booras said...

Thanks so much for this post! I'm really getting into making lotions and am striving to go the most "natural" route possible. My last batch of lotion I used Ecomulse, and it turned out so beautifully! At 8% the texture was like a lovely whipped cream! I also used 20% oils and 5% butters, 56% water, 10% aloe and .5% liquid germ all plus. It was a bit thick to pour into bottles, so I had to use jars. It absorbed very fast into my skin too! It also emulsified everything fast and set fast, which is why I couldn't pour it into bottles! Since it doesn't do well with cationic ingredients, what are some anionic ones that would be good? Have you used Ecomulse in a face moisturizer before? Thanks for the help!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Laura. I'm a little confused by your question. Why are you seeking out anionic ingredients for a lotion? When it comes to lotions, almost everything is non-ionic like oils, butters, hydrosols, essential and fragrance oils, and so on. I can't think of an anionic ingredient I'd want to use in a lotion, except Ritamulse SCG. We save our anionic ingredients for body washes, shampoos, facial cleansers, and so on as they tend to be surfactants or bubbly, lathery things. So the short answer to your question is any ingredients I'd use in a lotion wouldn't be anionic or negatively charged.

Was there one specifically you were thinking of using?

You can't really use Ritamulse SCG as a facial moisturizer as it's quite thick, as you probably noticed. You can try making something with no butters and see what you think of it. You could try a version with something like 10% oils and 6% Ritamulse SCG to see what you thought of it. If you do, please let us know how it turns out!

As a quick note, I'd take the entire oil phase down to 23% to ensure you aren't getting a bit more than you expect given our scales aren't 100% accurate. We don't want to go over 25% oil phase as it can lead to a horrible lotion fail! (Do a search for my fail with Ritamulse SCG!)

Laura Booras said...

OH! Actually, you answered my question! I have not delved into the realm of any type of cleanser, which is probably why I didn't realize that anionic ingredients are for those things. (light bulb going off!)
I guess using Ritamulse as a facial moisturizer would be better for those with very dry skin...I may do a little experimentation with what you suggested.
I was very careful not to go over the 25% mark, I prob did just a bit under for the final product.
Will let you know if I experiment with it more. I'm interested to see how it does with Neodefend.

Thanks for the tips!

Emmanuela Urbani said...

Hi there!

I use emulsimulse in all my cream products. However, I have learned that if you are making a cream with a low percentage of oils, this emulsifier works amazing when paired with Glyceryl Stearate SE. The Glyceryl Stearate really helps stabilize the emulsion.


Alex said...

Hi Susan,

I am trying to make a face mist with around 3% Argan oil, other ingredients in my face mist include vitamin c and glycerin. I am trying to keep this as organic and socially responsible as possible. Is Ritamulse SCG a good emulsifier to use for this purpose? If not what would you recommend?


Alex said...

Hi Susan,

I am trying to make a face mist with around 3% Argan oil, other ingredients in my face mist include vitamin c and glycerin. I am trying to keep this as organic and socially responsible as possible. Is Ritamulse SCG a good emulsifier to use for this purpose? If not what would you recommend?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Alex. This is going to be far more complicated than you think as you can't really add Vitamin C to something like a water based mister without something to keep it from oxidizing. You need to add a preservative, too. If you are using a small amount of oil, you can use a solubilizer for the product. Ritamulse SCG is very thick, and will create a lotion, not a mister.

I encourage you to do a search for "solubilizers" on the blog to see what you find as that's what I think you want.