Sunday, December 16, 2012

A few questions about lotion fails...

I created an epic lotion fail the other day using Ritamulse SCG incorrectly, and it raised some questions. Let's take a look at those this morning...

Jesse wrote: Sorry this could sound silly, but does that means the failed lotion can not be used?

Hi Jesse! No silly questions, although they can be asked silly-ily if you put on a funny accent and speak nasally! This does mean you can't use the lotion. At the very least, it looks really awful and feels really horrible on your skin. There is no way to save a lotion that ends up like this. When you get these clumps, it's only the start of your problems. It will keep on clumping and the oil will keep rising to the surface. The only thing you can do with a lotion like this is to put it in a plastic bag and throw it out!

Related posts:
When lotions go wrong! 
Emulsifiers: What's a complete or all-in-one emulsifier?
Emulsifiers: Check what you've got! 
Question: Can you reheat a batch of failed lotion?

Merilyn noted: OHMYGOSH - Susan!! A major ding-ding-ding went off in my head when you said: was when I added a bunch of water that wasn't the right temperature when I didn't compensate for the lost water...I just suffered my third 'epic fail'/broken emulsion with my lovely goat's milk soap and I think I finally know why!?!! I invariably lose a lot of water in the heat and hold phase and when I add back in my lost water - I just add in room temp purified water. Could this be the source of my problems?? even if I'm adding as little water as 10 ounces to 160 ounces worth of water - do you think this could have an affect? because I've calculated each ingredient very carefully... 

Yes, this has a major effect. It is critical that all the ingredients in a lotion be at the same temperature when we mix them together after heating and holding. We don't have to compensate for the water that evaporates during the heat and hold phase, but failing to do so will cause us to have a way smaller water phase than we expected. This isn't a bad thing, but if you love the lotion, you won't be able to figure out how much water to add next time. So we compensate by adding water to the water phase at the end of the heating and holding phase. And we do it by adding warm water to the mix! (Click here for that post!) 10 ounces is still 6.25% of your water phase, and that's not a small number!

And finally...Kate noted: I've been having issues with Ritamulse SCG splitting at the end as well. I emailed the manufacturer and they mentioned that Ritamulse SCG is not compatible with cationics but they also mentioned that they use 0.5% Xanthan or Guar gum in the water phase to improve stability of their lotions. I also asked about the preservative I was using- Optiphen Plus- and they said that the capryl glycol in the Optiphen Plus wreaks havoc on their lotions.

Thanks for the information, Kate! We really appreciate knowing what the manufacturer has to say about things like this. Have you tried the xanthan or guar gum yet? What did you think?

I hate the idea of having to use some sort of gum to stabilize the lotion. I think this is why I keep going back to Polawax - it just seems to work, even when I make the odd mistake! I know the Herbarie suggests using another ingredient with it - I have some here, but I haven't added it to anything in the last 18 months of playing with this emulsifer - and I think Lotioncrafter might suggest something as well.

As an aside, yes, I wish I hadn't had this problem as I quite desperately need hand protectant as I'm getting horrible cracks and sores on my fingers from crafting too much, but I've learned a lot from it. And that's the point of making products and learning about ingredients by actually getting into the workshop and being hands on! You have to try and fail to learn what not to do next time. I always say I love my successes, but I learn from my failures. In this case, it was an epic one!

Related posts:
Newbie Tuesday: Making your first lotion!


melian1 said...

re the problem of evaporation during the heat and hold and having to add more water at the end - i solved this for myself by using a lot more water in the heat and hold than i need for my batch. i bring it to temp and then put in the oven in a nice stainless steel bowl, along with the oil beside it, so they are the same temp. then when it has been long enough, i measure out of the heated and held water the exact amount i need, so there is no need to heat and hold two separate amounts of water just to have enough to add at the end.

it has the added effect of the oil and water being the exact same temp at the end of heat and hold. i've been down the road of failed lotion due to temp inequalities! ime, temps differences between the oil phase and the water phase of more than 10 degrees F at the time of combining into the emulsion pretty much insures a lotion fail.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! Do you have any experience with "silicone hand creams"? My hands are SO ragged too and are in dire need of TLC. I am just wondering about a suggested percentage of silicones to use if I were to make one =)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. If you could sign off with your name, that would be great. It is nice to know who you are, and I've had some problems with anonymous posters in recent months...

Here's a suggestion for a silicone based moisturizer - click here - that you could create, although it might be a little light for your hands. You could take any recipe that contains Polawax, e-wax, or BTMS-50 from this blog and substitute the oils with silicones. (You can't do that Sucragel AOF as it isn't formulated to work with non-vegetable oils.)

Why are you interested in silicones specifically? I love them, so I'm curious!

Lyn said...

Hi Susan. I was wondering about possibly formulating a hand cream like the so-called "silicone gloves". Dunno, they just sound like they'd be more water-resistant since I am a housewife who spends a lot of time at the kitchen sink, lol. My hands are completely wretched and I am using a sugar scrub on them everyday too. Any advice for hand therapy would be greatly appreciated :-)

catherine said...

OK. I read "silicone gloves" and thought wow what a great idea, i'd never heard of. i was inspired, here's what i made just today:

heated water phase:
70% water

heated oil phase:
4% btms
2% cetyl alcohol
5% cocoa butter
2% beeswax
6% olive oil
5% canola oil

5% dimethicone
1% preservative

what a simple, light but still protective lotion! based on all the stuff i learned mainly from this blog:

- the cetyl alcohol makes the lotion "pillowy"
- olive oil bc it's a humectant
- canola bc it's an anti-irritant and always in my fridge :)
- cocoa butter bc it's occlusive (like dimethicone)
- beeswax to make it more water resistant
- 5% dimethicone...i'd never gone that high a % dimethicone before but it's not too much at all...still light and non-greasy feeling

it's only my first day w/ this lotion but I think it works...many hand washings later my hands still felt protected...

Kate McAfee said...

I have finally gotten around to reworking my Ritamulse SCG lotion. I made it with 0.5% Xanthan Gum (8% Ritamulse SCG) and I switched my preservative to straight phenoxyethanol instead of Optiphen Plus. I was able to process it just fine with no hint of separation, unlike 7 previous batches that either split during processing or you could tell they were going to split in the next couple of days. I did not notice anything different about the texture or feel with the addition of Xanthan gum. I was worried that it would get that "snotty" texture that comes with the gums but it doesn't. I will be doing a full stability profile (45C for 3 months at my company) on it so I'll be able to tell you then if it actually stays together long term.

Lyn said...

Awesome recipe Catherine! I am excited to try it :-)