Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lotions: Humectants are a girl's best friend

Yeah, I know National Craft Month is over (sniff! sob!) but I'm having so much fun with the posts, I'm going to continue for a while longer. The mineral make up posts will be back next week (I'm thinking purples without purple?) and I'll keep posting these tutorials until I get too busy with the wedding (May 16th...and yes, presents are always welcome!)

I'm always going on about humectants and why you should use let's find out what's behind my obsession with these ingredients.

What are humectants? They are hygroscopic ingredients that draw water from the atmosphere to your skin. They are used at 2 to 5% in your lotions to make your skin feel more moisturized. (I know there is some debate as to whether using humectants in a non-humid climate - like the desert states - will actually draw water out of your skin. I have yet to be swayed to believe this...but if you can find something, I'll read it!)

These are a few of my favourite apologies to Julie Andrews...

Glycerin - cheap, easy to use, and plentiful. Glycerin helps to thicken your lotions slightly. It is fantastic in surfactant based systems as it increases bubble-age, so you'll want to use this in bubble baths, body washes, and shampoos! (If you look at these posts, you'll see we used glycerin in these mixtures!) Use at up to 5%, but 2 to 3% seems to be the less sticky option.

Hydrovance - this is a non-sticky, very nice humectant that can cause some pH drift (a change in your pH from acidic to basic or basic to acidic). Excellent in toners and other light, water based products where you don't want stickiness. Use at up to 5%, but 2 to 3% seems like a better range.

Propylene glycol - a lot of people don't like this product, but it's a great humectant. It doesn't impart the stickiness that glycerin can. Use at up to 5%, but 2 to 3% seems a better range.

Sodium lactate - At 3% sodium lactate has exfoliating properties, so you'll want to use it at 2%. Also has some anti-acne properties, but at higher amounts can be sun sensitizing, so make sure you weigh this ingredient properly! Fantastic where you want a humectant but not the stickiness or thickening properties of glycerin. Also great in surfactant or water based products as it doesn't thicken.

Olive oil - this is a great humectant, and can be used as a primary oil in something intended to be very moisturizing. Use at your normal oil usage amount.

Other humectants - tamarind seed extract, honeyquat (a cationic polymer derived from honey, use at 3% in body washes or lotions), and more...

How do we use humectants? For all but the olive oil, we add them to our water container and heat them with the water based ingredients. For the olive oil, use as you would a regular oil by adding it to the oil phase.

68% water*
2% glycerin, propylene glycol, or sodium lactate

15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)

1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

*Note the change in the water to compensate for the addition of the humectant.*

1. Weigh out your water in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

2. Weigh out your oil, butter, cetyl alcohol, and emulsifier in a heat proof container and put into your double boiler.

3. When both containers have reached 70C, weigh out your water again, then add it to your oil container. (This is a very cool closely. It's emulsified! It's lotion!)

4. Blend with a hand mixer or stick blender for at least 3 minutes. Repeat this process as often as you would like until the temperature reaches 45C.

5. Let cool to 45C, then add your fragrance oil and preservative. Mix well with your hand mixer or stick blender, then let cool.

6. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature (a few hours), put into a bottle (with a pump, if possible), jar, or malibu bottle, then use.

What difference will you notice? You'll notice this lotion feels cooler on your skin and will draw water to your skin throughout the day. I love a good humectant on a hot summer's day - I can actually feel my skin has some coolness on it!


Anonymous said...

I WANT TO SAY THAT i AM THE LUCKIEST PERSON TO HAVE FOUND YOUR BLOG! You are a saint or you will be! Should be! all in one blog! I have to ask if you have considered butylene glycol... as a humectant it is safer than propylene glycol... as rated by cosmetics database... any ideas?

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

Wow, thanks for the praise...I'm blushing.

As for butylene glycol, I have not used it before, but I understand it is a good humectant. (It differs from propylene glycol in that it has four carbon molecules - "but" means 4 - but it still contains two alcohols or OH groups.) I don't consider it more or less safe than propylene glycol, and would consider using it in my products if it were readily available. (I can't get it locally and I don't like paying duty on products from the States!)

I'm going to write a post about considering safety...look for it tomorrow.

Jelena said...

I am surprised to see Olive oil among the other ingredients. You say humectants are hygroscopic ingredients that draw water from the atmosphere to your skin. Can you say this about any oil?

I am curious - is ANY hygroscopic ingredient acts as humectant? Probably not...

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jelena. I think olive oil is the only hygroscropic oil or oil that acts as a humectant (Please correct me if I'm wrong!)

A hygroscopic ingredient draws water from the atmosphere to it. A humectant is a hygroscopic substance that draws water from the atmosphere and promotes the retention of moisture. So all humectants are hygroscopic, but not all hygroscopic substances are humectants; They may be drawing water from the atmosphere, but are they promoting moisture retention?

What an interesting question!

jane said...

Hi Susan! I have a couple of quick questions for this particular recipe. I don't have any cetyl so can I just use stearic? If I am using my preservative at 1% and I add up all the ingredients it still doesn't come out to 100% so I was wondering if I would just up the stearic to 4%? Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jane. You can generally switch cetyl alcohol and stearic acid in most recipes, but it will change the skin feel from a slippery lotion to a more grippy cream. It's okay if the recipe isn't exactly 100% - 99% to 101% works just as well.

jane said...

Thanks Susan! I have some random OCD issues so the 99% thing was making my brain twitch a little. I am going to order some cetyl but I wanted to go ahead and try the glycerin. I would rather change one thing at time ; )

Paula said...

Hi Susan! I have just made my first lotion thanks to you! I wanted a light feel lotion so i used apricot kernel as my oil, I used glycerin as the humectant, shea butter, cetyl alcohol and e-wax as the emulsifier. I love it!!!!. it came out a little thicker than i expected but i am so happy that i finally decided to do it. Thank you for encouraging me.
I live in a small town in Mexico and don't have access to a lot of these products and i was wondering if i wanted to do a face lotion or cream, could I leave the hydrolized proteins out and the lactic acid? could i still make a decent moisturizer untill someone comes visit and brings these goodies to me? thanks again for this blog!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Paula! Congratulations! Isn't it a wonderful feeling? What made you finally decided to make a lotion? What made you go from reader to do-er? I'm asking because I'm trying to get people who are scared to make lotions to make lotions this month - you might have noticed the Newbie Tuesday posts - and I'm wondering if you have any advice for me?

Congratulations again! Did you take pictures? I'd love to see them!

Paula said...

Hi Susan! I had purchased everything to make my first lotion and I was waiting to receive the emulsifier to start on Tuesday (with your Newbie Tuesdays post, of course)and once I had everything I just couldn't wait! You asked recently what was the worst that could happen if we tried.... so I thought about that and decided that I HAD to try it. I felt very comfortable with your tutorials; they are very thorough. I can't wait for the next couple of Tuesdays!
BTW, I meant to say "sodium lactate" not lactic acid in my previous post, hahahaha!!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog!
I am wondering instead fo using the glycerin as a humectant. Can I replace it with oat proteins and silk amino acids? If so, when would I add it, to the water phase or in the cooldown?
Thanks you :)

expeliana said...

I was googling to find out more about Humectants and stumbled upon your blog :) wow, your post is great, detailed and well-researched. I am definitely going to try and be as helpful when I start my own blog. I can't wait to read more of your posts, thank you!

Nicole said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you for all of the fantastic and factual information. I have a quick question for you...I have read a few places that aloe vera has humectant properties. I love aloe (and so does my sensitive skin) and i'm just wondering what you think about it. Would it be a good ingredient to help keep moisture in?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nicole! Check out the post on aloe vera and see what you think. (If you look to the right hand side of the blog, you'll see the links to ingredients and the links to lists with all the ingredients I've profiled!)

PsaltyDawg said...

Hi Susan,

I found your site not long ago and have been working my way through the Newbie and beginner reading topics. I couldn't wait anymore so I tried this lotion recipe today and I am so proud that it actually turned out! I used sunflower oil and mango butter for the oils, and made just a tiny batch of 50 ml. It is too light for me since I have older, dryer skin but even this light lotion goes on nicer and lasts better than store bought lotions. I'm very excited to continue working my way through your tutorials. Thanks very much for sharing all this info in such a clear and concise way.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Psalty Dawg! Woo! Did you march around the house declaring "I made lotion!" - 'cause that's what I did when I learned how to do it! :-)

PsaltyDawg said...

House! No, I shouted it all over the globe via Skype! Lol.

PsaltyDawg said...

Ok, now I have a question. I made a second batch and just changed the glycerin in the water phase to sodium lactate and change the oil from sunflower to sweet almond and did everything the same but the second batch separated on the second day. I have lotion on top and liquid underneath. I checked that the e-wax I have is ok for this use and it is, and the usage rate is 2-5% so the 5% should have been sufficient to completely emulsify. It is a small batch but I used a small blender to mix for 5 mins after adding waters to oil both times. I did it a bit longer to compensate for the smaller mixer. I waited for 45 C then used the mixer again to mix it thoroughly before letting it cool to room temp. Then I put it into a new plastic container. I wondered if you had any idea why this would happen. Here are both recipes:
Lotion #1
Water. 34 g
Glycerin. 1 g
Sunflower oil. 7.5 g
Mango butter. 2.5 g
Cetyl Alc. 1.5 g
E-wax N200. 2.5 g
GFPhen. .5 g
EO. .5 g

Lotion #2
Water. 34 g
SL. 1 g
Almond oil. 7.5 g
Mango butter. 2.5 g
Cetyl Alc. 1.5 g
E-wax N200. 2.5 g
GFPhen. .5 g
EO. .5 g

I appreciate any feedback you could give before I make the next batch. I wanted to try different oils to see how they felt so I wanted to make this same recipe several times.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Psalty Dawg! There's no reason exchanging one oil for another will change the chemistry, and 2% sodium lactate won't destabilize a lotion. However...I have no idea what emulsifier you're using here, so it may be unable to handle almond oil or sodium lactate. I'm afraid I don't know. And I don't know what preservative you're using. Can you please provide the INCI names for these ingredients and send me links for them. It might help me to help further.

(Can you please post your recipes in percentages next time? It's too much work for me to do all that math on the fly.)

PsaltyDawg said...

Hi Swift,
So sorry I know to put recipes in percentages, don't know why I didn't this time, will do so next time!

INCI for the preservative GFphen is Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol. I think it is Same as or similar to optiphen.
For the emulsifying wax n200 it is Cetearyl Alcohol and PEG20 Stearate. I can't find anything like a data sheet for it in English but I found a description in English at Gracefruit in the UK.

I haven't had anything else separate using this emulsifier and I've made 2 creams and 2 butters and one hair conditioner with it.

We don't have as many choices in the EU as in the US and Canada but I did find BTMS 50 so I will order some of that. I'm in Finland so the choices are even more limited than in the UK and shipping and exchange rates can be prohibitive anyway to order from UK. Your blog and discussions are more than helpful!


PsaltyDawg said...

Oy! Solved this one myself when looking up more about optiphen. It was the preservative. I will have to remember that, but now I have 100 ml to use up first. Weird that it only did that on one batch. i will have to research more the choices I have here for preservatives. Oh goody! I get to browse yet again the annex V to the EU cosmetics directive....makes my eyes glaze over....

Shannon said...

Hi Susan! I have become a big fan of your and thank you for you thoughts and education. I am curious about your thoughts in eliminating a humectant in lotions intended for already moist areas to avoid drawing more wetness to the area like cream deodorants. I have been playing with this.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Shannon! You can eliminate all humectants if you wish. They're optional, and we can eliminate them so easily by removing them from the recipe and adding more water in their place. Having said that, it depends upon the type of deodorant you're making. If you're making one using glycols like propylene glycol or glycerin and sodium stearate, you can't eliminate them as they're part of the essential chemistry!

Shannon said...

Thank you Susan for getting back to me on this. I was noticing my deodorant formula was really wet and sticky going on and took a while to dry. I opted to use sodium lactate instead of glycerin and that made a big difference. I also added panthenol. I am concerned it might dry out in the container if I take it out all together but think I might try a small batch. I thank you for your input!!