Monday, September 8, 2014

One ingredient, five products: Gel

I love making gels. They're just so versatile! I thought we should take a look at five products you could make with gels!

What do you need to make a gel? You need a carbomer of some sort. There are various ones available - I'm using Carbopol Ultrez 20 (from Voyageur Soap & Candle), but there are others like ETD 2020 and Carbopol 940 (at the Personal Formulator). Each has its own process, but the gist is that you get this powder, sprinkle it over the water, let it get wet, then after a period of time that is determined by your carbomer, you add the neutralizer. You can use a solution of 18% lye (82% water, 18% lye) or triethanolamine at the suggested rate.

A few thoughts before we start this series...

Gels aren't inherently sticky. I know that your experience has probably been that the gel you used that one time was sticky, but that's thanks to the stuff you add to gel. If you don't add sticky things, you won't have a sticky product.

Gels can be sensitive to electrolytes, so check what your carbomer can tolerate. Why is this relevant? Because we find electrolytes in things like aloe vera or surfactants, which means you might not be able to make that aloe vera gel you really want!

Gels don't tend to like oils that much, so if you want to add some, I suggest using water soluble oils, like PEG-7 olivate or water soluble shea.

If you're interested in this series, I encourage you to take a look at this post - Gels: Ooey gooey fun (revised for 2013) - to get started. Join me tomorrow as we make our first gel based product - aloe vera gel!

And if you want to know how gels work further, check out this really in-depth data bulletin from Lubrizol! It is very interesting! And I love this data bulletin on how to neutralize your carbomers!

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Clive said...

I like working with gels and I'm glad to see a piece on using them. I use both Ultrez-20 and 940. Ultrez wets really easily and makes a great gel for things such as hair fixative or an anti-acne facial product. 940 works well in stabilising creams - it makes a great co-emulsifier and will keep things stable when they would otherwise separate.

Elizabeth Aqui-Seto said...

Susan, can you ever add a carrier oil to a gelled product? Or is this a total waste of product and time from a cosmetic science point of view?

I'm still waiting on my carboner to make my aloe vera gel. In the meantime, I ordered a small amount of some already made aloe vera gel which arrived today.

I know you've provided a lot of recipes for gelled prods which I'm looking forward to trying. But I was wondering if I could add a carrier oil, like e.g. sea buckthorn berry or evening in primose, just for the hell of it. I know I can test this, but I only have 250g of product and don't want to risk messing up the lot.

You are the expert in cosmetic science and would be able to help me avoid a small disaster.