Monday, October 25, 2010

Preservatives: Optiphen

Optiphen is a liquid preservative appropriate for fighting bacteria and yeast in our products (I can't find any information on its efficacy against mould). Its INCI is Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol. We know phenoxyethanol is a very effective against bacteria and yeast, but what about caprylyl glycol? It is paraben free and is not a formaldehyde donor.

Caprylyl glycol (aka 1,2-octanediol) is a good bacteriostatic ingredient (meaning it limits the growth of the bacteria but doesn't kill it) and bactericide, but it isn't very effective against yeast or fungi. Which means we really don't have a fungal killer in this preservative.

Its suggested use is at 0.75% to 1.5% in the cool down phase of our product (best below 37.5˚C or 100˚F). It is water soluble, so it's not suitable for anhydrous products or things like sugar scrubs that do not contain water. It's best in products with a pH of 6.0.

Some people report Optiphen can de-stabilize their emulsions, and apparently adding it to the really cool down phase of your product can help eliminate this problem. I've never used this preservative as it's hard to find locally, so I can't report on my experiences.

Kuldip notes in this postAdd optiphen at about 45-55°C, the trick is to keep mixing until cool. Usually adding optiphen to a cationic emulsion the product sometime thins out and will eventually thicken as it cools. Without looking at the ingredients you are working with hard to predict if the preservative is even compatible with the emulsion.

Summary of Optiphen:
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol
Usage: 0.75% to 1.5% in the cool down phase of your water based creations. 
Suitable for water based creations. 
No pH restrictions for this preservative.

READ THE UPDATED POST ON OPTIPHEN as it appears that it is suitable for anhydrous products as well. 


Tola said...

I use Microkill COS (INCI Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Chlorphenesin) and it has caused some seriously epic lotion fails. My trick now is to wait until the emulsion is stone cold then add the preservative.

Anonymous said...

The ISP Optiphen brochure specifically states that it is suitable for anhydrous products.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Can you give me a link to that data sheet, because the one I have from ISP (Personal Care Guide, page 12) indicates that it's used in water based products. Having said that, there's a line in this Mild Preservatives brochure that says it can be used in anhydrous products, but I haven't seen anything else that gives me more detail about it. I'm always eager to learn more, so if you could put a link into this comment, I'd be grateful!

Anonymous said...

Of course! I should have done that without asking. I had to sign in to the ISP website to download the brochure, so I hope this link works:

I've been looking for a paraben-free preservative for scrubs and that's how I came across this. However, I've noticed that supplier websites don't always get the details right. Preservatives are challenging at times!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks for the link. What's interesting is that although we see the line "such as aqueous and anhydrous systems as well as emulsions" on page 2 and a recipe for an anhydrous recipe later on in that brochure, that's the only information that it could be used in anhydrous products. In the recommended products section of that brochure and others, every one of them contains water. They don't actually make a recommendation there that it can be used in anhydrous products. Just that one line in those two brochures, but not others.

In all honesty, I'm not comfortable using it in anhydrous products as I feel like I don't have enough information - one line without details on why it would work in anhydrous products isn't enough for me - but if the company says you can do it, then it's possible. (Although interestingly, it doesn't give any solubility for oils other than mineral oil. And that's half of what it is in water!) I won't recommend it for that purpose without more information on how it works in anhydrous products, but leave it up to everyone who uses this preservative.

Thanks for sharing this information. I learn something new every day!

Kelley said...

Biologically, yeast is a member of the fungi kingdom. It is unicellular, but biochemically is a fungus, so it would be reasonable if it was at least somewhat effective against molds. I haven't been able to find out for sure, though.

Kristen said...

I am a CP soap maker and have recently started making lotion sticks. No water in the recipe but I wanted to add a preservative just in case. So far, this seems it would be the easiest for me. Any preservative that you would recommend specifically for lotion bars? Thank you!

Bob Hara said...

Hi , I am a oeganic cosmetics maker. Having trouble locating optiphen bsb n . Have found it but only sold in large quantities, 5 gallons or more. Can anybody give me some help.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Bob! Have you looked at the suppliers in your area as listed in the FAQ?

SHS said...

did you say what else you could use with it? I used to use just Optiphen but when I decided to get "edcuated" about preservatives, I am stupider than ever. Everything is so confusing and I find so much conflicting information. I've just never had an issue with Optiphen but I switched to Phenonip and then my customers and some wholesalers complained about parabens. I'm still so confused. I always used Optiphen in my emulsified scrubs in the cool down phase with NO issues even a year later, it's holding up (I have a 13 oz jar in a second guest bath that is used about once a month and it just finished up after a year and half). Then I got scared that something horrible would happen and I switched to Phenonip but my customers complained about parabens. I feel stuck.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi SHS! Did you read the updated post linked in this post?

Angel Mason said...

I've been using optiphen with no problem in my sugar scrubs,

This is from I order it from them.


ISP's first globally approved preservative in the Optiphen family developed as an alternative for personal care formulations requiring a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative system. Optiphen consists of Phenoxyethanol in an emollient base of Caprylyl Glycol. The combination of these ingredients provides optimized protection against microbial growth while imparting exceptional feel to the finished product.

Optiphen can be used in a wide variety of personal care products including aqueous and anhydrous systems and emulsions. It can be added directly to the formulation during pre- or post-emulsification at or below 60°C (140°F). While ISP's original brochures indicated there were no pH restrictions with Optiphen, they are now showing it best used between pH 4.0 - 8.0. It is compatible with most raw materials.

Recommended use levels: 0.5 - 1.5%.
Appearance: Clear liquid
Effective pH range: pH 4.0 - 8.0
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Angel! Did you read the updated post on Optiohen linked in the article?

Angel Mason said...

I have everything I make tested and there's never been a problem. I think one of the problems it there is way to much information on ingredients and then there's off-label use. I problem I often see with people making bath and body products at home is how there making it. a good example is weighing ingredients on cheep scale that's a very big mistake also people need to not just research what to use but how to make it the right way, that's on of the things I love about this blog, its some of the best info I've seen so far.

I got this from the manufacture website, I contacted them for more info on using it with anhydrous products and any other updates, as soon as I hear back from them I’ll let you guys know.

“Broad-spectrum activity against bacteria, yeast and mold additional fungicidal protection may be needed in difficult formulations
Effective over pH of 4 to 8

Used in conditioners, gels, mousses, novel stylers, shampoos, styling lotions/creams.

Suggested applications include body care, color cosmetics, face and body washes, facial care, and wipes.

Range offers protection against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mold”

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Angel. Did you read the post linked in the article? This one? I've already covered all you've posted here in that post. I really encourage you to take a look at it!

Thanks for your kind words. I work hard to make sure I'm providing good, evidence based information!