Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Extract: Marshmallow and mallow extract

We actually have two different species of plants here, although they sound the same and have similar functions in our skin and hair care products. Let's take a look at one, then the other.

What is marshmallow extract? It's the extract from the marshmallow root that contains a ton of polysaccharides and offers mucilaginous properties to our products. Its INCI is Althea officinalis leaf/root extract.

What the heck does it mean that's mucilaginous? From Wikipedia: "Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some microorganisms." This mucilage is what makes marshmallow extract so slippery and makes marshamallows so gooey and lovely. It's a demulcent or "A demulcent is an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane", which is why it's been used as a cough supressant.

So why do we use it in our skin care products? Because of those lovely mucous-y properties. It feels slippery and forms a film, two things we really like in our products.

What is mallow extract? It comes from the Malva sylvestris plant, and the INCI Malva sylvestris flower/leaf/stem extract. The one I have from Brambleberry is oil soluble. It offers anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, it film forms on your skin, and it offers a slippery feeling along with an emollient if you get it in oil soluble form.

I have both of these ingredients and they offer very similar properties. The one I have from the Formulator Sample Shop is marshmallow extract is marshmallow extract (Althea officinalis) and it's water soluble. The suggested usage is at up to 10%, and I tend to put it into the cool down phase as I'm not quite sure about the temperatures it can handle. It has many of the same properties as liquorice extract, so you can substitute them back and forth, being careful about liquorice's skin whitening properties when you decide how much to use.

The oil soluble mallow extract (Malva sylvestris flower/leaf/steam) I bought from Brambleberry. It has a suggested usage rate of 0.5% to 7%, and it's lip safe up to 3%.

Which one to use? As usual, ask yourself about the goal of the product you're making and what you want the skin feel to be. I like the very slippery feeling the mallow extract brings to my oil soluble and anhydrous products, and I've been using it at up to 10% in my sugar scrubs for more emolliency. I really liked it in my anhydrous eye gel with cera bellina as it gave it an almost watery slippery in an oil based product. I used it in this surfactant based facial scrub, but you could use the water soluble version here, too. And try it as one of the oils in a whipped butter!

I like the slippery, almost gel like feeling, of the water soluble marshmallow extract and I've been using it at up to 10% in my body washes, like this one, to get the moisturizing and slippery properties without adding oils. It's a great addition for moisturizing without oils, so normal to oily skin types will love using this in a toner or facial cleanser or other place we want to feel that almost oily film on our skin without actually adding oils.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at another ingredient!


Marjo said...

Oooh... I have both too so this post is awsome :)
I put the water soluable one in the cool down phase as well
And one question arose upon this: how far can you take putting things in the cooldown phase? I mean it is post emulsification so there must be a boundary not to break emulsification? Thanks again!

LeKenda said...

Susan, have I told you I love you lately? I have both in my arsenal and could not make a decision if I wanted to purchase either again. I do prefer the FSS version - but you got me thinking with the scrubs. Thanks again for taking the time to provide such wonderful information.

Netnuts said...

Can I infuse the marshmallow root herb in distilled water, and use the infused water as my water replacement in my formula?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Netnuts. I don't recommend making your own infusions.

Infusions, teas, and using vinegar to preserve things
Why can't we use tea in our products?

Anna said...

Paula Begoun refers to marshmallow (Althea officinalis) as an emulsifier so I just wonder if you know what the HLB-value of it is?

Thanks for a great blog!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Anna. Sorry, I've never heard of this particular water soluble marshmallow being an emulsifier, so I'm no help there!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anna. I went to Paula's site, and noted that she calls it a "thickener/emulsifier". It is a thickener in that will thicken up thanks to those polysaccharides, but I don't think it's an emulsifier.

Anna said...

Ok, and I was hoping Marshmallow was one of these multiple purpose ingredient that would also make for a good emulsifier.

Thanks for clarifying matters!

The Anarchist Soapmaker said...

Hello Susan,
What a great post! Thank you for clearing up the difference between these two. Both of which I have. I'm wondering if the oil soluble could be used in place of silicones in a body glossing spray to provide that slip factor? Thanks so much for your time. - Donna

maria cristina beredo said...

Hello Susan,
Thanks for this helpful article.
Is it right to conclude that these 2 ingredients are natural substitute for silicone?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Honestly, nothing's a substitute for dimethicone. I've tried so many, and nothing beats the dry silkiness of dimethicone. It's a barrier protectant, and it prevents the soaping effect in lotions. These are nice slippery ingredients, but nothing replaces silicones well.