Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thickener: Behenyl alcohol

I do love working with thickeners in my products! We know that cetyl alcohol can produce something slicker and silkier than stearic acid, and that cetearyl alcohol can offer those same qualities with a little more waxiness, so what does behenyl alcohol bring to the party? First, a review....

Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that contains 16 carbons on a long chain. Because it's saturated, it will have a long shelf life, at least two years! It has a required HLB of 15.5. We add it to our lotions to thicken the product and give it some extra glide. It has a melting point of about 49˚C.

Cetearyl alcohol (also known as cetostearyl alcohol and cetylstearyl alcohol) is a blend of cetyl and stearyl alcohols that we can use at up to 25% in our creations. It can be a 30% to 70% cetyl alcohol to stearyl alcohol or 30% to 70% stearyl alcohol to cetyl alcohol, but you might find 50-50 from some manufacturers. (I have no idea which version I have, but it looks a lot like Lanette O, which is 50-50.) It has an HLB of 15.5 and is used as a thickener. Its melting point is 49˚C to 58˚C. It's also saturated, so it will have a long shelf life.

Both cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol are oil soluble, meaning they would go in the heated oil phase of our products, and they will thicken our lotions, creams, body butters, and other emulsified products when we use them in this way. Fatty alcohols are great in our conditioners because they boost the substantivity of the cationic ingredient, meaning you get more conditioning without having to add more conditioner!

Behenyl alcohol is a chain of 22 carbons with a melting point of 65˚C to 73˚C (as we increase the number of carbons, we see an increase in the melting and boiling points of our fatty alcohols). It is also saturated, and has an HLB of 15.5. It is also oil soluble, so it should be used in the heated oil phase of our products. It will boost the substantivity of our conditioners.

How am I going to use this ingredient? I'm going to try it out in my duplication of the Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector in place of the cetearyl alcohol. So join me tomorrow for that recipe and my results!


Milla said...

I've been very curious about behenyl alcohol compared to cetyl and cetearyl. Also curious if you find it to be soft and velvety.

Kathy said...

I love the Body Shop's Hemp hand cream, so am looking so forward to tomorrows post. Thanks, Susan.

seventh77 said...

Hi Susan,

I've used cetyl alcohol many times, and even though I like the velvety feeling, it makes my face break out. BTMS-50, on the other hand, doesn't irritate the skin on my face in any way; however, it's far too dry for my skin. Do you think cetearyl alcohol would be a better option for me, or do you think it would break me out the way cetyl alcohol does? I was also considering behenyl alcohol, but I'm worried it will be too drying, like the BTMS-50, except I'm really into how velvety and non-greasy it's supposed to be. Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi seventh77: I don't know the answer to whether it will make you break out or not as everyone has different skin types. I think cetearyl alcohol makes me break out, but then again, even the oils from my hand do that! I haven't tried behenyl alcohol on my face yet.

Cetearyl alcohol feels waxy to me, more like stearic acid than cetearyl alcohol. I wouldn't say it was a dry feeling. It really does feel waxy - I don't think it would be pleasant on the face, but that's my opinion.

Behenyl alcohol feels less dry to me than BTMS-50, but it still feels more powdery than cetyl alcohol. I can't tell if you'd like the skin feel or not, to be honest. I recommend getting a bit of it to try and see what you think about it. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

Monique Sharp said...

I love your blog!!! I would like to know how to use Behenyl Alcohol in a salve....only cause it what I have on hand...I also have Stearic Acid...My issue with wanted to use this versus beeswax or in addition is that my salves and balms are melting at the farmers markets.

Melanie said...

Can you explain the difference between Behenyl Beeswax, Polygyceryl 3 beeswax (cera bellina), PEG-8 beeswax?