Monday, December 10, 2012

Epic lotion fail!

I think it has become abundantly clear that I love Ritamulse SCG, and I forgot what a fickle emulsifier this can be! I suffered an epic lotion fail yesterday while making a 1000 gram batch of hand protectant. I switched 8% Ritamulse SCG for the 7% Polawax, removed 1% from the water phase to compensate for the extra emulsifier, and heated and held. While mixing, it turned a lovely milky white quite quickly...then curdled. From perfect to cottage cheese with an icky yellow oily slick in about 20 seconds.

My best friend predicted this would plague me until I figured out what I did wrong, and she was right! What happened? I heated and held. I mixed well. I didn't use cationic ingredients. Uh oh...I had a 30% oil phase (cocoa butter, rice bran oil, cetyl alcohol, and borage oil) and I had planned to add 4% silicones at the end. Ritamulse SCG doesn't like oil phases over 25%!

Which just goes to show you that it pays to double check what you know, even when you really know your ingredients. (To turn this into a positive, I did get some great pictures of an epic lotion fail for future posts!) I don't think I was being cocky by thinking I knew this ingredient and didn't, but I do think I was rushing things and not thinking through the entire recipe as I would normally!

I need to clarify something...I have had exactly three lotion fails since I started making products six years ago. The first was when I added a bunch of water that wasn't the right temperature when I didn't compensate for the lost water in a foot lotion, the second was the Olivem 800 lotion, and the third is this one. In general, avoiding a lotion fail is as simple as using enough emulsifier and heating and holding. I need to add a third way to avoid it - don't go over the suggested oil phase! 

For more information on good manufacturing processes, click here!

Related posts:
When lotions go wrong! 
When lotions go wrong - an example


Jen said...

Oh, no, Susan! At least you were able to sort out what the problem was and hope your next batch turns out lovely!

Jane Barber said...

Sorry to hear this. Presumably it's because of the sodium stearoyl lactylate? I regularly use the GMS and Cetearyl alcohol with my v high oil phase so I figure it must be the SSL?? Hope you didn't waste too much ingredients and that the next one goes well.

Jessie said...

Sorry this could sound silly, but does that means the failed lotion can not be used?

Mychelle said...

Oh no! It's always a learning experience, right? :)

Michele said...

Hi Susan, you mentioned your second fail was with Oilvem 1000, I think you meant Olivem 800!! I use Olivem 1000 all the time, haven't had a fail yet! Love your blog!

Kim said...

I don't know if this is helpful or not, but I started making notes right on my containers, as in "no cationics" or "heated phase" and made notes as to what percentage to use so I didn't have to look it up every time, or make a mistake when I was formulating. My current favorite emulsifier is olivoil glutamate - love it in facial lotions with actives.

Kate McAfee said...

I've been having issues with Ritamulse SCG splitting at the end as well. I emailed the manufacturer and they mentioned that Ritamulse SCG is not compatible with cationics but they also mentioned that they use 0.5% Xanthan or Guar gum in the water phase to improve stability of their lotions. I also asked about the preservative I was using- Optiphen Plus- and they said that the capryl glycol in the Optiphen Plus wreaks havoc on their lotions.

Anonymous said...

OHMYGOSH - Susan!! A major ding-ding-ding went off in my head when you said: was when I added a bunch of water that wasn't the right temperature when I didn't compensate for the lost water...

I just suffered my third 'epic fail'/broken emulsion with my lovely goat's milk soap and I think I finally know why!?!! I invariably lose a lot of water in the heat and hold phase and when I add back in my lost water - I just add in room temp purified water. Could this be the source of my problems?? even if I'm adding as little water as 10 ounces to 160 ounces worth of water - do you think this could have an affect?
because I've calculated each ingredient very carefully...

thank you so much for your constant inspiration!

catherine said...

Hi jessie. I used my broken emulsion lotion and it was ok. My fear was that it would be 'bad'. So I tested w a test kit and it was fine. Maybe not a lovely feeling lotion but it had some expensive cosmeceuticals that I didn't want to go to waste.

Hi merilyn and anyone who's had a heat-and-hold lotion fail. Here's a much easier method I adapted from a comment to an older post on this blog:

- preheat oven to 170 F (if the lowest your oven will go is 175 that's ok...but that's probably the max)

- on the stove, in oven proof containers, heat:
1. Water phase
2. Oil phase
3. A titch of distilled water (to compensate for evaporation from water phase)

- when all 3 containers reach 70 c / 158 f, pop all 3 in oven. Lids on if you have them, to minimize evap.

- set timer for 20 min. After 20 min take all 3 out of oven. Add distilled water to water phase as needed. Combine water & oil phases to emulsify, etc.

I've found using the oven for heat & hold WAY easier. Especially convenient for smaller 'test' batches.

Merilyn, I would stick with distilled water (not purified) after all I've learned from this blog.

Hope this helps!

Mya Symons said...

Hello Susan. I am trying to avoid a fail before it happens. Do you or anyone else here know if Olivoyl Glutamate Emulsifier [Sodium Olivoyl Glutamate & Cetearyl Alcohol & Glyceryl Stearate] is compatible with Quaternium-87 [Imidazolium quat.]?

The Brochure on Olivoyl Glutamate Emulsifier says it is compatible with some cationics, but not others. I might have to begin with a small trial and error recipe. However, I hate fails.

What do you think?

Alliya said...

WOW!!! Heat and hold in the oven. I would totally try this. It is really a task to do stovetop. I usually heat my two phases in jugs I'm steamer baskets in pots with water that come up to the sides of the jugs and I often have to add water to the pots or sometimes they boil over. Thanks much

Diane said...

I had a fail with OliveM 1000 and talked with Angie at the Herbarie who told me that this emulsifier does not like anything else but water in that phase. Picky!

Paige B said...

Two things; the two times I used Olivem 1000, both times with Oliwax LC and behenyl alcohol, they came out wonderfully (31% oils/butters, 5% Olivem 1000, 3% Oliwax LC, 2% Behenyl alcohol). I had lots of things in the water phase, but after reading some posts, I didn't do a lot of mixing. I used the SB on low for about a minute to form the emulsion, then I just took the beater from my hand mixer, and periodically spun it with my fingers. It came up fluffy and thick, which is what I wanted. I think maybe because it's a liquid crystal former, it can't take vigorous mixing beyond the formation of the initial emulsion.

The second thing is, I'm having trouble with my emulsions breaking when I add the cool-down phase. I'm thinking it might be a powdered green tea extract I've been using, but want to see if anyone else has ideas. The emulsion forms beautifully and is thickening up as it reaches 40-45C, then I add the cool phase (bit of distilled water, germall plus, vit E, fragrance, green tea powder)...and it curdles, thins out dramatically, and separates. I've tried mixing in the cool phase with a mixer and by hand. The cool phase is less than 10% (about 6% liquid).
My recipe:
Hot Oil:
12% butter
12% oils
5.2% BTMS 25
1% PS-60
3% cetyl alcohol
1% stearic acid

Hot Water
48% water
2% colloidal oats
2% glycerin
3% sodium lactate
8% aloe gel

Cool Down:
5% distilled water
2% powdered green tea extract
0.5% germall plus
0.1% vit E
1% fragrance

The odd mix of emulsifiers is an experiment to mimic mixing 35% BTMS 50 with 65% e-wax using BTMS 25, PS-60 and cetyl alcohol. Up until the addition of the cool down phase, it appeared to be working great.

I heated and held the oil and water phases between 70 and 85C for 20 min, mixed at approximately the same temp. I can't think of anything other than the green tea. I suppose that's my next experiment; to leave it out and see, but any trouble-shooting would be welcome.

Paige B said...

Update: Ok, so I tried a batch without the green tea. I also added each cool down ingredient one at a time and my emulsion is just fine. I'm definitely thinking it's the green tea powder. I think next batch I'll keep out a small amount and try adding the green tea powder after everything else and see what happens.

I was wondering if anyone had any idea if there is a rule of thumb about how big a percentage the cool down phase can be without destabilizing an emulsion? Particularly liquid ingredients like extracts or water to dissolve powders.

Chris said...

What's this, you're HUMAN?
My world has just collapsed. I'd rather it were my lotion.
Love you ebooks btw the way Susan.