Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Substitutions for cetyl alcohol for acne prone skin? Do we need to buy a hand mixer for making products?

In this post, substituting one ingredient for another, Zink asks: I'm looking for a Cetyl alcohol alternative for use in a spot treatment/for cystic acne. So anything relatively inert would be good, suggestions?

Can I ask a question? Where did the idea that cetyl alcohol is incredibly comedogenic or bad for acne come from lately? I've never seen this referenced, and there have been at least three people on the blog or by e-mail asking this question in the last few weeks. 

Here's the thing about the comedogenicity scale. It was collected using rabbits' ears, not human skin (although that's changing), and it doesn't take into account the interactions with other ingredients or in other products. For instance, this list has isopropyl palmitate as being 5/5. On page 584 of my Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, the rating for isopropyl palmitate is 3/4 when on its own with a low of 1/4 when mixed with 25% petroleum. On that site and this site, cetyl alcohol is listed as 2/5, while my textbook notes the the mean score for cetyl alcohol is 1.3 =/- 0.5 out of 4. (Given the references used by that site, I'm going with my textbook as the numbers for comedogenicity in this post.) They list cocoa butter as 4/4, while my textbook notes that it can change with the batch of cocoa butter from 2.6 +/- 0.5 to 4 +/-

I'll be going into a bit more detail about comedogenicity on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that. If you're reading this post after March 2nd, 2014, hit "newer post" at the bottom of this post to get to it! 

What does the word "inert" mean? It means something that won't react with something else, but how are we to know what won't make someone's skin break out? For every person who reacts adversely using shea buter, there's someone who adores it and would kill you before giving it up! So how can we know what is inert? I think this is a question that can't be answered...sorry...

Will cetyl alcohol make your cystic acne worse? I'm not a doctor and I'm not familiar with your skin, so I won't be able to offer you more than some generic advice about making a product with cetyl alcohol. Is it comedogenic? It looks like it's a lot less comedogenic than these websites would have you believe. It's a major emollient in oil free moisturizers because it doesn't tend to make those who can't have oils react. It's inexpensive - something like $4 a pound - and it feels slippery and glidy on our skin. It's a great ingredient that I use to thicken my lotions, act as a glide and slip increaser, and as the main emolllient in my oil free moisturizers. I'm a big fan of it, but it doesn't mean your skin will like it!

I guess my other question is why use any oil soluble ingredients on acne prone skin? Why not consider making a toner or face wash or something else water based to deliver the ingredients you want? Oils are not the friend of acne prone skin - hence the reason for oil free products - but even emollients can cause problems. If you have dry, acne prone skin, there might be a need for a moisturizer, but otherwise, I guess I'm wondering what you want it to do that you couldn't get out of a gel or toner or other water based product? Just some food for thought...

In this post, Creating products: Equipment (part two), Newbie asks: Great blog! I'm a newbie who's thinking of starting to make my own cosmetics. I asked around and most recommendations were to get a stick blender - I'm interested in body butters though I might do more (shampoo and conditioner) if successful. You seem to favour a mixer but I'm wondering if it's necessary for a newbie who might only be dabbling. 

I use a mixer for a few reasons. The first being that I had a mixer when I started making products, so it made sense to use it. The second being that I really like the whisk attachment for making fluffier lotions or whipped butter. And the third being that I really hate cleaning stick blenders, but don't mind cleaning mixers. I have used both and I keep coming back to my mixer thanks to the ease of cleaning. I think - for the most part - there isn't a big difference in using a mixer versus a stick blender. 

There are some emulsifiers that suggest using different types of mixers, and we're wise to listen to those suggestions. For instance, Montanov 68 (aka Sugarmulse) wants us to use a stick blender, as does Sucragel AOF, so don't bother using a mixer for either of those. This has to do with the shear generated by a stick blender, which is a high shear. On the other hand, gums and gels like low shear, like that generated by our hand mixers (but you can often mix these by hand and get a good result). 

That's it for today's Weekend Wonderings! See you tomorrow when we start delving into those questions that interest you! 


Zink said...

Looking for an alternative doesn't necessarily imply that I think it's bad for acne, In this case it was more for label beautification purposes :)

I actually don't think there's anything wrong with Cetyl alcohol, and it's a nice & versatile thickener. BTW It's wiki hints to impurities as a possible cause of skin irritation for eczema sufferers.

Cetyl alc doesn't do bad on the comedogenicity scale(s), but I don't give those numbers much credence: too much variance, little evidence linking it to acne.

I guess oil-free doesn't really mean oil free, as Cetyl basically is a slightly more polar fat/oil.

And topically applied oils do not cause acne,oils like jojoba can actually act as effective carriers for e.g. benzoyl peroxide potentially increasing it's efficacy, I've read studies on that, can look up. The best anti acne products I've tried have been oil in water emulsions, I think due to increased active efficacy and strong moisturization/alleviation of the active's unwanted side effects, possibly even oils solubilizing sebum (like dissolves like), but not seen any data on that.

Anonymous said...

I don't use neither the stick blender nor the mixer, i use a spoon to mix my lotions, conditioner and leave in to a point. When it thickens and start to form lumps i use a hand whisk. It works.

Katie Ziegler said...

Susan, I always wondered how to use my stand mixer for lotions. Do you put the oil phase in the metal mixer bowl after the heat and hold, then add the water while mixing? If so, how does the temp of the metal bowl affect the emulsion? I've been agonizing over this! I've thought about heating the mixing bowl up to 70C so there wouldn't be a big temp change. Or I thought about combining the oil and water phases and then putting them in the bowl so they stay the same temp; the problem with that is I use Olivem 1000 as my emulsifier, and I have to keep mixing from the moment the phases combine.

I'd really love to use my stand mixer. It would mean that I could make my mom enough lotion to last until her birthday without having to do multiple batches.

Okay, enough rambling. ;-)

Thanks for your help!
Katie Z

Laura said...

I'd love a recipe for the Green Tea Honeysuckle toner please :) Green tea I'm guessing has some caffeine, which would be perfect for my (combination) skin as I have a baby who does't sleep!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Laura. Check out this recipe and substitute the rosemary with honeysuckle!