base emulsifier from Aromantic in the UK. This is not a complete emulsifier - it's glyceryl monostearate, a low HLB emulsifier that must be coupled with a high HLB emulsifier to create a complete emulsifier. The supplier recommends that you combine it with cetyl alcohol to create a complete emulsifier, but cetyl alcohol is not a high HLB emulsifier - it's a fatty alcohol, which means it's part of the oil phase. (Click here to learn more about the HLB system we can use to make our own emulsifiers). You won't be able to make a proper, stable emulsifier using glyceryl monostearate and cetyl alcohol.
You might be able to make an emulsification by sheer force (mechanical emulsification) or by heating and holding it (heat emulsification), but these are both unstable forms of emulsification. When we use proper emulsifiers, we create a chemical emulsification, which is the most stable version of all. Think of salad dressing - we create a mechanical emulsification by shaking the bottle. I know there are some of you who will swear by this product and have had great success, but what you've made isn't a chemical emulsion and it's not stable. We can't argue with the laws of chemistry!
If you want to use something like this glyceryl monostearate (HLB value 3.8), you'll have to combine it with a high HLB emulsifier like ceteareth-20 (HLB value 15.2) or polysorbate 80 (HLB value 15) to create a lovely emulsifier. (Click on the links below to learn how to do this!)
HLB system: The start of the series
HLB system: A demonstration (part 1)
HLB system: A demonstration (part 2)
Incroquat BTMS-50, Sucragel AOF, Ritamulse SCG, or emulsifying wax would be considered complete emulsification systems. You can use these at the suggested usage rates in your products without having to add anything else for awesome emulsions.
Check the INCI name of the product you're thinking of purchasing. If you see something that says emulsifying wax NF, then you're getting emulsifying wax NF. If you see something that only has one ingredient - let's say something like glyceryl monstearate or ceteareth-20 or polysorbate 80 - you aren't getting a complete emulsifier. You're getting something that has to be combined with something else to create an emulsion. There's nothing wrong with these ingredients, except they won't create a lotion for you.
Emulsifiers - check to see what you're getting!
INCI names (part one)
INCI names (part two)