Friday, October 12, 2012

Question: How do I prevent my lotions from getting a bit of oil on the top?

From a post that wasn't ready for prime time, Anonymous asked: I find a lot of my emulsions get little bit of oil leaking out after several days or even longer. Is there anything that can be done to prevent this? I never see that happening to store bought products, and those are on shelves for months sometimes! Am I not mixing long enough? Any advice would help. 

This means your emulsion hasn't worked. An emulsified product should see no separation at all, no oil or water on the surface of the product or at the bottom of the bottle. A lotion, cream, or any other emulsified product is called a homogeneous mixture. Think of homogenized milk. It looks like a white milky liquid. You can't see little globules of fat floating in water - you see milk! This is how a lotion should appear. It should be a white-ish liquid or semi-solid with no obvious water or oil leaking out of it.

Without your recipe and your process, I'm only guessing at what could have happened, but here are a few thoughts. To all of you, my wonderful readers, if you don't send me the process and the recipe, I can only guess. Save me the time and send me that information in your first e-mail or comment! 

What happened to your lotion? Here are a few thoughts...
  • you didn't have enough emulsifier for the product (for instance, 25% of the oil phase for Polawax);
  • you used the wrong emulsifier (for instance, using esters with something like Sucragel AOF); 
  • you used something that isn't an emulsifier (for instance, using beeswax on its own as an emulsifier) or something that isn't an all in one emulsifier (related link); 
  • you used a preservative that doesn't like your emulsifier (for instance, using Tinosan with a cationic emulsifier like BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225); 
  • you didn't heat and hold the product at all or for long enough, so the emulsion really didn't happen; 
  • you might not have mixed it for long enough; or 
  • you added something in the wrong phase (for instance, adding your preservative to a Ritamulse SCG lotion before the mixture was at 45˚C). 
There are a few other things that might happen that might have made this emulsification fail, but these are generally the biggest culprits. Check the links below as well to diagnose your problem! Good luck on the next batch!

Related posts:
Creating products: Combining the two phases - mixing 
Troubleshooting an epic lotion fail
Basic lotion making instructions
Emulsification - what's that then?


catherine said...

except for one epic lotion fail where i used too much of a vitamin c additive, i have never had a heat-and-hold emulsion break. my very first lotion i made back in feb 2012 is still nice and thick and creamy.

but cold emulsions are another story. while i love the convenience of gelmaker emu from or gelmaker ultra from, i have noticed these cold emulsions can sometimes break a little.

but cold emulsions are still totally worth it for small or experimental batches of lotion. it is a pain to heat and hold a mere 100 grams (or less) of ingredients. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Well I guess I didn't think it was a fail, since it is usually such a small amount of liquid sitting there. I mean a very little bit, but it still bothers me. So it didn't cross my mind to send the recipe. My apologies for that.

I've been wondering if I've been using too much emulsifier because of how super thick most lotions come out, but I guess I don't really know if an emulsifier can truly thicken a product, I just always assumed so because of what BTMS does when added to water.

Before I post this recipe, it is a possible wrinkle cream I wrote myself. I hope I haven't used too many cosmeceuticals, I was actually going to send you this recipe to see what you thought of it, and if I'm using a longer list of ingredients with actives and extracts (like a lot of big brands), if I need to keep them at the barest minimum. When I try to break down an Olay Cream for example, I find most cosmeceuticals and power packing ingredients at such a tiny percent it surprises me (like under .5%)

Here it is:
50% water
20% aloe vera liquid
3% glycerin
2% niacinamide
2% panthenol (powder)
.5% DMAE (powder)
.5% caffiene (powder)
6% soybean oil
4% rice bran oil
5% e wax
2% cetyl alcohol
2% dimethicone
2% citric acid
1% regular vitamin E oil (12,000 IU)
1% phenoxyethanol
.5% liquapar oil
.5% cucumber extract
with .05% ROE added to the oils

To review this with you:
Ok, now that I add it up I see I am 2% over, I need to adjust the water but that shouldn't have caused the fail should it? I know Liquapar oil is supposed to be for anhydrous products but didn't realized it until after I bought it, so I used it anyway because I am paranoid about growing mold. I bought it after reading your post on phenoxy. where you said a paraben or other mold inhibiting preservative should be used. I don't think this could be it either since it is the first time I've used it and I've had the bit of oil happen before. My emulsifier amount should have been about 4.75 (25% of 15 + 1). So I guess I don't know what happened! Well, I tried. So what do you think is the culprit?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is the problem?
I read your post on mixing the two phases. I do not believe I have ever mixed when adding the oil & water phases for over 3-4 minutes I'd say. But I've been mixing for quite a bit longer after adding the cool down phase, since this oil problem has happened to me before. So tonight I am making a lotion and will make sure I mix for 5-10 minutes upon adding together after heating and holding.