Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: What to substitute for lecithin in a nail product?

In this post on the Chemistry of our nails: lotion bars with lecithin, Laura asks: What can I substitute lecithin with? Beeswax, more lanolin, exotic butter (which sounds fantastic for my 'gardening without gloves' hands? ;)

When we're trying to figure out what we can use as a substitute, the first thing I do is refer to the post on the oil, butter, or ingredient to see what it brings to the party. In this case, I'll go to the emollients section of the blog and see what lecithin brings to this product. Lecithin is used in this lotion bar for our nails because it contains phospholipids, which are also found in our nails. It can behave as an emulsifier when combined with a high HLB emulsifier and it can behave as a humectant, which means it draws water from the atmosphere to our skin. It is a great emollient, meaning it makes our skin feel softer, and it behaves as an anti-oxidant. It is a thicker feeling, slightly sticky oil, much thicker than any of the oils that we would normally use.

What can we use as a substitute? In a lotion bar, we have to ask if this product is keeping the product solid, because we wouldn't want to make a bar that remained liquid! Nope, it's just another liquid oil, which means we can use another liquid oil in its place, more beeswax, or more butters. We could choose an oil like raspberry oil to get some phospholipids. We could choose an oil like avocado oil to get the thickness, or we could use an oil like olive oil as a humectant. Something like meadowfoamseed oil would add some serious anti-oxidants to the mix as well. Or you could choose your favourite oil or something you have in your workshop as any oil will add some emolliency to the product.

When it comes to adding more solid ingredients like beeswax or a butter to this product, I would caution against it. This is already a solid product, and adding a solid ingredient might make it too stiff or waxy.

To sum it up, the short answer is that you can use any liquid oil as a substitution in this product, but you might want to choose that liquid oil based on the goal of the product and the skin feel of the various ingredients.

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun!

1 comment:

Laura Lisauskas said...

So helpful as always,
Thank you!