Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What the heck are those? Liquid crystal emulsifiers

I recently tried some experimenting with a few new emulsifiers, Olivem 1000 and Montanov 68 (aka Sugarmulse at one supplier), and thought I'd share those experiences with you. These are new and interesting emulsifiers that create liquid crystal emulsions, which are quite different than the oil-and-water emulsions we're accustomed to making with something like Polawax, e-wax, or Incroquat BTMS-50. So let's take a look at what the heck this liquid crystal emulsion thingie means!

What the heck is a liquid crystal emulsion and why should I care?

These new emulsifiers are still non-ionic and based on the HLB system. A high HLB emulsifier and a low HLB emulsifier are combined to create an emulsifier that will help bring the oil and water together. This is what we do with every other lotion, so how is a liquid crystal emulsion different?

The micelle on the right hand side of this picture is what we normally make. The oil is surrounded by droplets of water and this creates what is called a micelle. In the picture on the left hand side, the actual lamellar structure or bilayered structure is composed of layers of oil and water instead of that circular formation.

Studies have shown that conventional emulsifiers can cause irritation to our skin by disrupting the skin's lipid barrier, while the liquid crystal emulsions mimic the lipid bilayers in our stratum corneum, which means more actives or lipids from the lotions can penetrate into our skin.* Studies have shown there is a reduction in transepidermal water loss when using a liquid crystal emulsifier and an increase in moisturization of our skin as the lotions hold more water in contact with the skin for a longer period of time.

As a note, take a look at this paper. The author notes "the efficacy of liquid crystal emulsions deep in the skin is a matter of reasonable theorizing substantiated with little or no clinical data." In this paper, the author notes that "it is hoped that the emulsion components will interact with the natural lipids of the skin". So it sounds like it hasn't been proven that it can deliver actives better to the skin? 

Liquid crystal emulsifiers really like to work with fatty alcohols to help increase the formation of the liquid crystal structure. It seems like cetearyl alcohol is used quite a bit, but you can use cetyl alcohol as well. I haven't seen behenyl alcohol in any recipes, and I did see a note that called for C16-18 fatty alcohols, so that would rule that one out.

The skin feel of these emulsifiers is described as being lighter and more moisturizing than our traditional emulsifiers.

I have to admit that I didn't notice a big difference between the various versions of the moisturizers I made with these emulsifiers. I think they felt a little lighter than something made with Polawax, but I really couldn't tell the difference between the one with Montanov 68 and Lotionpro 165.

So a liquid crystal emulsifier is one that helps to create a liquid crystal emulsion, which is a bilayered structure instead of one shaped like that micelle. It causes less disruption to our stratum corneum, decreases transepidermal water loss, and may help actives penetrate our skin better.

Features: Surfactants 2005
Trends in emulsifiers
Liquid crystal emulsifiers
Cosmetics & Toiletries paper 
Micelles, micro-emulsions, liquid crystals, and the structure of stratum corneum lipids
Liquid crystals and the skin

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at Olivem 1000, one of these liquid crystal emulsifiers.


renie said...

thank you so much,i just order olivem product and dont know the heck how to use it, please give more info for oliwax oliwax lc olivem 900 800 400 300 i had all these

Gillian Fryer said...

I bought both Olivem 1000 and Sugarmulse a while ago, and then forgot why... so I would be interested to see what you do with them.

Thanks for all you do!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Renie. I've written about Olivem 800 and 300 on the blog. Do a search and you'll find those posts.

renie said...

thank you Susan for your advice , i love ur blog

melian1 said...

i've tried out the olivoil glutamate one, (herbarie), inci: Sodium Olivoyl Glutamate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Glyceryl Stearate and i can tell a difference in the skin feel. i have made only face cream with it, so perhaps my face is more sensitive than elsewhere. it seems to me to soak in far more quickly, and it leaves a different finish on the skin, compared to a combo of e-wax and btms which is my usual.

i haven't put it thru freeze/thaw or high ambient temp tests, i've just let it set in the room and occasionally use some. at 2 months (so far) it is stable.

i found that the process for making it is rather different than the usual, and i'm not used to that. also working with teeny-tiny batches (expensive to experiment with) also adds to the difficulty.

it came out a lot thinner than i expected it to, but overall i'm very pleased with it so far.

melian1 said...

oh, i forgot to mention that after reading that using a lamellar crystalline emulsifier meant you didn't need a penetration enhancer, (on the dish) i removed that from the face cream formula. and it did soak in a little more quickly than my usual version does, in spite of the lack of penetration enhancers. the soft, dewey feel to my face was more pronounced, and lasted longer than the usual version.

this lamellar crystalline structure does act differently than the usual emulsifiers - at least to my perception and on my skin, anyway.

Mica said...

Nicely written post, thanks for sharing!

Liz Tóth said...

Hi, Susan... I have been reading that these liquid crystal emulsions might be easier on sensitive skin than regular emulsifiers, and would love to try working with them, especially the Montanov 68 and TegoCare 450, maybe Emulsiphos... so I have been googling busily for sources. I'm having quite a time: the Herbarie ships only UPS, not USPS (I'm in Canada and the UPS cross-border fees are just stupid - I've been caught by that one). The rest are all European or Asian sources; none of the other usual ones (Voyageur, Lotioncrafter, MakingCosmetics etc) seem to stock these items.

The best I could do was ULProspector and thought I could get a sample size, but they don't ship to residential addresses... only industrial or academic clients. Do you have any suggestions as to where I could find some of these please? Thanks a million!