Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekend Wonderings: Cetearyl alcohol is not an emulsifier, and using oils on dry skin

It's recently come up that NDA is calling a version of cetearyl alcohol "emulsifying wax O", with the disclaimer that it's not an all in one emulsifier and would require another ingredient to make it work.  If you look at this document, you'll see that cetearyl alcohol is an emollient ingredient on par with an oil and not an emulsifier. If you have this ingredient, use it as a thickener at up to 5% in a lotion, not 25% as they suggest. (25% would give you a very waxy product you'd be hard pressed use in a pump bottle!) Do not think you are buying an emulsifier when you get cetearyl alcohol. You are getting a fatty alcohol that works as a thickener, like cetyl alcohol does.

They also state that it "improves on beeswax as an emulsifier". And beeswax is not an emulsifier for oil-in-water lotions, so to say that it improves on it is misleading!

When you're buying an emulsifier, make sure you're getting an all-in-one or self-emulsifying emulsifier. Polawax, Incroquat BTMS-50, Ritamulse SCG, Lotionpro 165, Montanov 68 - these are all all-in-one emulsifiers you can use easily in your products. If your supplier states you have to use another ingredient to make the emulsifier work, it's not an all-in-one and it'll be a lot more work to make it work. (For instance, you'll likely have to use the HLB system to figure out percentages and such!) I don't suggest these non-all-in-one emulsifiers for beginners. Heck, I could easily make a lovely emulsifier using the HLB system, but there are so many cool all-in-ones available, I generally don't bother.

I've written an awful lot about emulsifiers, so I'll refer you to the frequently asked questions page to see those posts! And check out this post - emulsifiers: check what you have! - for ways to ensure you're getting the right thing at your supplier! 

In this post, Oil cleansing method (part 3), Cakey asks: Hoping you can shed some light. I usually have combination skin with lots of blocked pores on my nose - I have been using different oils & trying to find one that gives me good results but thus far am struggling as my skin is suddenly super dry. It doesn't matter how much oil I apply, it still feels tight & dry underneath. I have been using Mango butter to remove make up (mixed with a bit of Sunflower oil) & then moisturising with a mixture of Jojoba, Avocado oil, Sunflower oil, Meadowfoam oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, Broccoli oil, Camellia seed oil, Marula oil, Baobab oil, Pomegranate seed oil, Cranberry seed oil, Pequi oil & Echium oil. I thought these were all good oils - where am I going wrong?

Oils alone don't help with dry skin. I know so many DIY blogs out there want you to think that water is an unnecessary filler and that oils are the way to moisturize, but it's simply not the case. Having dry skin means you don't have enough moisture in your skinand no amount of oil is going to change that. You can use an oil as simple as soy bean oil or as complicated as the blend you've created, and nothing will change unless you have moisture to trap in, and dry skin lacks that.*

You need water and water soluble ingredients to hydrate your skin and add moisture, and this means making something like a lotion that will bring water to your skin that can be trapped in by the oils. Ideally, we'd add a ton of humectants to the mix to help draw water to your skin and use the oils and other occlusive ingredients to reduce transepidermal water loss.

If I may make this observation, you are using far too many oils and I suspect none of them are used in any quantity to do a good job. Choose one, two, or three oils and try those in combination. Use each combination for a week and keep good notes on what they offer to your skin. You're spending a lot of money on oils that aren't doing anything for your skin if you're using them at 1% and 2% and 5%. You want 20% of something, 20% of something else, and so on. (Check out this post on creating a facial serum to see how to create one of these and why we use the ingrdients we do!)

*I admit this is a simplified view of dry skin. I encourage you to read the posts on dry skin I've written in the skin chemistry section of the blog


Cakey said...

Thanks so much for answering my question.

Elisabeth said...

I'm just going to make the obvious disclaimer to go easy on the sea buckthorn oil, all the same. 20 % would turn your skin orange. (Also,the only way I've found to make oils work for dry skin is to apply a gentle hydrosol first, then use a facial oil to lock in the moisture.)


Emily said...

I've read that dry skin lacks oil and dehydrated skin lacks water, and they need to be treated differently. However, I've mostly read about that on skin care websites that are much less science-based than yours!

Do you know if the dry/dehydrated dichotomy is a real thing? I read your post on dry skin, and it sounds like they are linked (since skin without enough sebum can't hold enough water), but it does seem intuitive that lack of oil and lack of water aren't always found together.

- Emily

Lisa Jaeck said...

Thank you Susan for addressing the Ewax O from NDA question I posted.