Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Question: Why did this lotion fail?

Catherine wrote to me in this post with these concerns: Hi. I've had my first epic lotion fail. My question: Can I still use this broken emulsion lotion packed with cosmeceuticals? It has preservative in it so I figure, even if it's not pretty, I assume I can still use it? Just shake it up before each use? Or is there some safety/etc reason I shouldn't use a broken emulsion lotion?

FYI, I got cocky after having a series of successes following your recipes, so I thought it was time to make my own recipe packed with expensive cosmeceuticals. 

BTW, I'm pretty sure my problem was I exceeded maximum solubility. I thought maybe I could finagle a higher "average" solubility (eg one thing was 15% soluble in water but another thing was 60% soluble so I thought I could inch the "average" solubility to 20% or so). But no, I think it's like a weakest link thing...the lowest solubility of all your ingredients is the maximum solubility of your entire lotion. 

Do you agree with my solubility theory or did I do something else wrong? I would love to make a really concentrated product so I don't have to put 10 different moisturizers on my aging face at night, but maybe that's just not possible.

There are many reasons we can encounter the epic lotion fail. (Click here for a post on troubleshooting a lotion fail!) I'm going to hope you heated and held long enough and had both of the phases at the right temperature before mixing them, so we only have to deal with the idea of ingredients interacting with each other and possible chemical reactions like solubility. It is possible you have too much stuff in a lotion, especially in the cool down phase. It's possible you used an emulsifier that was picky about the cool down phase - like Ritamulse SCG - or you've chosen a preservative that can break your emulsion - like Optiphen. It's possible you combined anionic and cationic ingredients in one lotion and it failed (this isn't always a failure, but it can be a reason for one!).

I think your solubility theory is sound. This is one of the reasons I buy liquid extracts. I know some people say there's no point in shipping water so you should buy the powdered version. But it's valuable to have some liquid versions around so you can reduce the amount of powder you're adding to your product. For instance, I'll use chamomile hydrosol, green tea liquid, and rosemary extract instead of using powdered versions of each one to ensure I'm not overloading my product in the cool down phase. But I have nothing definitive to share about how much stuff you should put into something. Again, I researched for it, but came up with nothing.

Here's a post I wrote on the everything in 1 product. I hate to say it, but I think using a serum, then a moisturizer, then an eye cream is a better choice than trying to get everything into one product! 

As for whether the broken lotion is safe or not...I haven't been able to find definitive proof either way of its safety. My gut instinct is to say that I wouldn't use it because it won't feel very nice on your skin...

Does anyone have any resources you can send me so I can research why we shouldn't use a failed lotion from a safety perspective? I've scoured all of mine!  

Related posts:
When lotions fail 
Troubleshooting a failed lotion
Question: Can I re-heat a failed lotion?
Should we reconsider the everything-in-1 product?


Christine Tritz said...

I saw the administrative thingy and will come here to read the article from now on.
Thank you for all you do,

catherine said...

Hi Susan. Thanks for answering this question! I definitely did heat and hold. FYI i used the oven method described in one of the comments.

I think my lotion fail was due to solubility.

I did continue to use it. It had 10% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a very expensive cosmeceutical, and the penny pincher in me couldn't bear to throw it out.

I did do a biosan test and it was clear for both bacteria and fungi.

So I think my original hypothesis is correct...that even if a lotion is not pretty, if you use a preservative and follow proper procedures like you outline in your blog, it will be safe to use; just shake it a little.

Thanks again!

Tara said...

I like to use 3 leave on products so I can use as much actives/cosmeceuticals as possible. I use a toner which contains my acidic, water-soluble ingredients, then a serum which would utilize some oil-soluble components, and finally, a moisturizer to combine some water and some oil-soluble ingredients. It takes some playing around to figure out what is going where, so I start out with small batches until I find a combo I like!

Robert said...

Catherine, you gave us a good hint what likely went wrong. It probably has nothing to do with solubility. I think you were overly ambitious with the 10% concentration of MAP. MAP is ionic and is very difficult to stabilize at such a high concentration in an emulsion system. One would need to use a non-ionic emulsifier (such as polawax) and a non-ionic stabilizer (such as xanthan gum). And even then, I think 10% could be too high. All the other ingredients should be non-ionic including the preservative system. Hope this helps.

I have tried (and failed)more than once at 10% MAP but have been successful at 5%. Join the club of those who have `botched`up Vitamin C products.

Tara said...

Try the 10% MAP in a non-emulsion product like a toner or a serum.

catherine said...

Thanks Robert and Tara! I did have luck with 10% MAP using the emulsifier gelmaker from bulkactives.com. It makes a pasty lotion that I only use at night but I've really liked the results.