Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When lotions go wrong - an example!

You may remember my experiment with Olivem 800, an emulsifier suitable for very light lotions or body milk (if you don't, here's the link!)


WATER PHASE (you can use 78% water if you don't have the hydrosols!)
56% water
20% lavender water (my aloe went bad! eek!)
2% sodium lactate

4% fractionated coconut oil
4% olive oil
2% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM
4% Olivem 800

0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance (key lime pie - my best friend's blend!)
2% hydrolyzed oat protein
2% cyclomethicone

As you can see, it separated. I made it around October 4th, and I finally noticed the separation this weekend - 7 weeks later. I divided this batch into two bottles - I took one upstairs so I could use it before bed, and left the other in the very cold workshop. (I always do this with new products - I leave one in the workshop and check on it, and the other I use. I have to check both the skin feel and stability!)

Why did it separate? (As a note, I think this looks like sedimentation. Learn more about the fun of epic lotion fails in this post!) I've made this recipe many times before with Polawax and with cetereath-20 and glycol distearate.

When considering why a lotion separated, consider a few things - did you heat and hold? did you mix well? which emulsifier did you use? did you allow it to cool properly before adding the cool down ingredients?

In this case, I heated and held, mixed it well, and I always allow my lotions to cool to room temperature before bottling. The two differences were the fragrance oil and the emulsifier.

I used key lime essential oil combined with vanilla fragrance oil (we call it key lime pie!) in this lotion, while the other two were cream cheese frosting fragrance oil. But I've used the key lime pie fragrance many times before without separation.

So it must be the emulsifier. I have two data sheets for this product. One is very poorly written and quite clearly has been translated from another language (The header on every page calls is an "emulifier" - no "s"). It recommends 2 to 4% emulsifier for up to 10% oil phase. I have a 15% oil phase. So there's the problem. Or is it? Their two example recipes contain up to a 22% oil phase. The other data sheet states you can use 1 to 5% for up to 30% oil phase.

I admit, I found the information this emulsifier really irritating. There doesn't seem to be any clear formula on how to use it best. The phrase didn't fill me with hope: "Studies are still on progress in order to enlarge our own background and experience on the use of this innovative functional ingredient for skin-care. Apart from the stability the aim of the study is to evaluate the moisturizing effect and the sensoriality profile." In other words, the company isn't really sure about the stability of the product?

So what will I do differently next time? Two things - up the emulsifier and check on the polarity of the oils (the poorly translated brochure went on and on about polarity of oils, so I will look into it).

In all honesty, I won't bother with this emulsifier again - apart from the challenge of making a stable lotion with it. I only have this as a sample and can't find it locally, and it felt much drier than the versions made with other emulsifiers. I don't need the headache of reformulating my recipes and considering oil polarity when I need a little moisturizing!

As a final thought, this lotion is a good example of why rushing into selling your products is a bad idea. If you are considering selling your products, you need time to evaluate what you've made, especially if it's something new! Don't make your first lotion this week and sell it next week - if it separates in the hands of your customers, you aren't going to get a lot of repeat business!


elena said...

take a look at this:

it seems to have been put out by btcompany, which i believe are the makers of olivem products..

they mention the need for some stabilizing polymer for hyperfluid products and there's an example too.. it is dated to 2007, so perhaps you have seen it? it doesn't sound at all like the poorly written document you describe though..

hope that helps!

Lauren said...

I just tried this and found it much more stable for making thin emulsions than BTMS. All the BTMS tries broke down. The one with Olivem 800 so far have been superior! Try it again. I like it.