Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Cetyl alcohol really isn't an emulsifier, making a Vitamin E product, and non-smooth looking lotions

I mentioned in this post on Friday that cetyl alcohol isn't an emulsifier. I want to mention it again. It really isn't an emulsifier. It will not bring together water and oil. It is an oil, so if you mix it with a water soluble ingredient or into a water soluble product, it will eventually float on the top of your product in an icky mess.

If you want to add an oil to water or a water soluble product, you need to add an emulsifier. If you want to add cetyl alcohol to a water soluble product - for instance, if you want to make a conditioner with cetyl alcohol as the only oil soluble ingredient - you need to add an emulsifier. Cetyl alcohol has no characteristics that make an emulsifier or allow it to emulsify with water, so if you melt it and add it to water, it will not mix. (If you're curious why oils float on top of water, read this post on specific gravity!) I'm not trying to be a downer by telling you what you can't do: Im trying to help you make awesome products! 

In the Weekend Wonderings's comment post, Simone asks: My question is: Can I make a petroleum gel style of ointment that would deliver the Vitamin E but not melt into my eye? 

She also asks: I must have missed your post 26th April which includes an anhydrous eye shadow primer. Do you think I could use this base for the Vitamin E cream that I need to use for the scar on my eyelid? If I substitute Vitamin E for the some of the oils. I appreciate your opinion and realise it is just that, an opinion, but you have so much more experience than many of us who read your blog.
The doctor said nothing oily which kind of narrows it down. I still have to research your blog for the Cera Belina.

Hi Simone. I'm really uncomfortable suggesting something to put near your eye, so I'm just making comments on what you've written and ask that you don't do anything I've written here without speaking to your physician. Did the doctor mean "nothing oily" to mean you can't use anything with oil in it or did the doctor mean you couldn't use anything that was thin like an oil? I ask because Vitamin E is oil soluble, so by definition, Vitamin E is oily.

As for making a petroleum style ointment, you could make something like that. A common one we see is about 8% beeswax and 92% castor oil (or another heavy oil). Heat up these ingredients until melted, then whip! (Adding air gets the jelly like texture!) Add up to 1% Vitamin E in the cool down phase. As for using the primer recipe, sure. It's just a lip balm recipe with zinc oxide added. I don't know if the zinc oxide will do anything for you, so feel free to remove it and add up to 1% Vitamin E at the cool down part.

Again, in that post Rosi asks, My comment is although we can add as much and whatever we want in our lotion I haven't got a lotion that looks as uniform and smooth as the ones commercially made. I've been making leave in conditioner for a year and it always have very tiny particles that looks like it has not been mixed/blended in together, whether add more or less emulsifier it does not have a nice consistency. Is it always like that, does it happen with anybody else? I use BTMS 25, one oil, Cetac, cetearyl, water and preservative.

Hi Rosi. We really can't add what we want to a lotion as there are ingredients that make our products less stable - for instance, more oil than the emulsifier can handle or large amounts of green tea extract (more on this soon!) - but we can develop recipes to include those things we want. Your lotions, conditioners, leave in conditioners, and other emulsified products should look as smooth and consistent as a commercial products! 

It sounds to me like you are experiencing a lotion fail. A conditioner is a type of lotion - it contains water, an emulsifier, a preservative, and an oil phase - so it follows the same rules as a lotion. I fear your BTMS-25 might not be enough to emulsify your product - it isn't a great emulsifier compared to BTMS-50 - or your oil phase is too large (oil plus cetearyl alcohol). Cetrimonium chloride can cause some separation of ingredients, something I've noticed doesn't happen as much if I put it into the heated water phase, which seems counter intuitive, I know! 

Can you post your recipe so we can take a look at it?

There are a few things we can do to avoid a lotion fail. As I mentioned above, make sure you're using enough emulsifier for the oil phase. Make sure what you are using is an emulsifier. Make sure you're following the basic lotion making instructions, heating and holding both phases at 70C for 20 minutes. Mix well. 

We'll revisit this topic when we see Rosi's recipe! 

Join me tomorrow for the long weekend edition of Wonderings! 


melian1 said...

i have a question for weekend wonderings. on the dish at one time the statement was made: "Butylene glycol may act as an additional preservative in your lotions." tho i keep it in my notes, i didn't keep track of who said it, so i can't go back to them.

is this true?

i've already done a search on the blog and read everything about butylene glycol.

Simone said...

Thanks Susan,
The doctor just advised me to use Vitamin E on the scar, which I did (the oil) but as I said it was really unpleasant due to the fact that of course it melted with body heat, when I told him he said 'not an oil use a cream'.
I asked one of his medical staff and she was no clearer in her explanation other than to say that an expensive cream wasn't necessary just to use a supermarket product. The product they used immediately after the surgery was a paraffin based ointment with an active ingredient called Chloramphenicol.
Chloramphenicol is a synthetic antibiotic. I'll try again to narrow down what they mean by Vitamin E cream.
Thanks again for your advice, and thank you for the petroleum style ointment recipe.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi melian! Great thought. I've answered it in today's Long Weekend Wonderings. The short answer - you could use it, but I wouldn't!

Hi Simone. It sounds like you can use an anhydrous product if they are using a paraffin (mineral oil) based produduct!

Anonymous said...

Here goes my recipe and i like to make a 100 plus batch because i do not like tiny batches.
100% water, 2% sorbitol, 4% cetac, 2% panthenol, 6% BTMS 25, 3% cetearyl, 3% mineral oil, liquid Germal Plus, and Lavender EO few drops. The result is great on my hair and i like it thick too,it just don't have a smooth consistency. Sometimes a get tired of saying thank you, so i am gonna say a million blessings for such a kindness of you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. Are you using 100% water? I ask because that means this recipe totals 120%, so your percentages will be off.

BTMS-25 isn't a great emulsifier, so you might want to up it. As well, I have found that cetac can break the emulsion - I suggest trying 2% and putting it into the heated water phase and see if that helps. (I know, it doesn't make sense, but it works for me!) Are you heating and holding?

Anonymous said...

Yes 100% is just water i don't like tiny batches, i do add cetac to water phase i would not say i heat exactly 20 minutes.

Anonymous said...

question, what is the ingredient you use the most?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi! Sorry, what I mean is are you using 100 grams of water when you use 2 g sorbitol, 4 g cetac, etc. because your recipe would be 120 g total, which means you are using less than 6% BTMS-25.

Interesting question...what ingredient do I use the most? Overall? In lotions? In hair care? Hmm...I need to think about this!

Anonymous said...

yes, i do everything in grams,100 g, water, 6g BTMS 25 etc, and i did not understand your last comment about using less than 6% BTMS 25, sorry sometimes i don't get it. I mean hair product which one you use the most and can't stand not having it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan, is it true that our hair benefits from cold water rather than washing it with warm water?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi! For the conditioner, try upping the amount of BTMS-25 and see if that works! So my suggestion is to use something like 8% BTMS-25. Put the 2% cetrimonium chloride in the heated water phase. Heat and hold and such. See if that works!

As for my favourite ingredient...that sounds like a great post topic!

And for washing one's hair in cold water...What is the supposed benefit? I've never heard this before.