Monday, January 19, 2015

What do you want to know? Creating a setting lotion

I realized I didn't address quite a few questions in last year's post, What do you want to know?, so I thought I'd attempt to answer a few of them here and over the next few weeks.

Wendy asked about making a setting lotion. I'm not sure if I can help here, but perhaps we can look at the ingredient lists for a few of them?

Ingredient list for Proclaim Super Setting: Water, Oleth-20, imidazolidinyl urea, polyquaternium-10, glycerin, methylparaben, fragrance, panthenol, polyquaternium-11, lanolin, benzophenone-4, blue 1

Possible ingredient list for Lottabody Setting Lotion (in backwards order?): D&C Red No. 33, Dmdm Hydantoin, FD&C Blue No. 1 Fragrance, Methylparaeben, PEG 40 Lanolin, Polyquaternium 11, Polysorbate 20, Water

So this looks to be a very light conditioner using a cationic polymer - look at the polyquaternium 10 and 11 - with some oils - lanolin - with an emulsifier - polysorbate 20, oleth 20. Pretty simple, it would appear. 

Here's what I found out about it in Poucher's Perfumes...
The original liquid setting lotions were designed to prolong the life of a water wave. A variety of styles can be achieved without affecting the internal structure of the hair. Traditional setting lotions are ethanol/water mixtures in which polymeric materials have been dissolved. Application is to towel-dried hair with combing to distribute the product evenly through the hair. The hair is then set on curling rollers and dried. On removal of the curling rollers the hair should be combed gently into the desired style. Setting lotions do not work by sticking hair fibres together, but by coating each hair fibre, creating greater interfibre friction and reducing moisture uptake, thus conferring greater control to the hair.
This sounds more like the setting lotion I found in a shop in England. Ingredient list for Bristow's extra firm setting lotion: Alcohol Denat, Aqua, VA/Crotonate/Vinyl Neodecanoate, Copolymer, Parfum, Panthenol, AminomethylPropanol, Citric Acid 

Okay, so can we find a recipe? I found a few on-line, which consisted of putting honey in your hair, which isn't something I expected to see, so let's see if I can find some in my formulation archives. 

I found this recipe in a bunch of notes I have that might work for you...

4% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine lactate
8% polyquaternium 11
0.5% cetyl alcohol
0.5% to 1% preservative 
87% water 

This seems like it would be a bit more conditioning than those products I see above - in fact, I'd put on par with a leave in conditioner - so I think we need to go in another direction. 

It seems like there are a few definitions for what a setting lotion might be. It could be an alcohol based product with a styling aid in it, a polymer we might see in a gel or mousse these days. It could be something very conditioning with no styling aids in it at all. Or, as in the case of the two products above, something that has some light conditioning and moisturizing ingredients with no styling aids. I think I'll try making the latter as that's what I see on the market. 

The amounts used in the products above will be quite small. Consider that imidazolidinyl urea - the preservative - comes before the two conditioning agents and the moisturizing ingredients in the Proclaim product makes me think that there are low levels of cationic polymers in here. I could go with 0.5% of two cationic polymers - say polyquat 44, which is the usual usage rate, and honeyquat - and a small amount of moisturizing ingredient - say 0.5% water soluble shea - with a solubilizer - say 1% to 2% of something like laureth-4 or polysorbate 20

If I were to come up with a starting point for the product, I might try this...

95% distilled water  
0.5% polyquat 44
1% honeyquat 
1% PEG-7 olivate
1% polysorbate 20
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

But this seems like it won't be moisturizing or conditioning enough. Could we try something a little different? 

90.5% distilled water 
3% water soluble oil, like water soluble shea or PEG-7 olivate  
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

The fact that both of them contain lanolin in oil soluble or water soluble form makes me wonder if that's important. You could substitute water soluble lanolin for the water soluble oil, if you wanted. Or use some regular lanolin with equal parts PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil at up to 3%-ish (each being 1.5% or so). 

90.5% distilled water
1.5% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil or polysorbate 80
1.5% lanolin
3% polyquat 10 or polyquat 7 or honeyquat or up to 0.5% polyquat 44
2% panthenol
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

These are just my thoughts. These could be the best recipes in the world, or they could suck. It's meant to offer a starting point for a product I've never used. Please let me know if you try it and how it worked out in the comments! 

Want to know something? Visit the What do you want to know? post and make a comment! 


HoneyLady said...

Wow, Susan. Good job! That was a stroll down memory lane. Back in the days when my Mom and yours (or grandmothers - I think you are younger than I) got their hair "done" once a week, this was part of what was used. They'd wash, "set" with "styling lotion", (a very liquid thing as I recall, vs. a gel like Dippity-Do,)rolled, dried under the dome, combed out and sprayed within an inch of anaphylaxis. This was usually done on Saturdays, so your hair would be perfect for Saturday night out and Sunday Service. Then it would have to last until next Saturday. I have no idea if this is right, but I'll be interested in others' feedback. I think you are on track with the polymers. Cheers!

Tricia said...

Good starting point. Why do some companies use cocomadryl betaine in their setting lotion? Just to make it foam and won't that be drying?

Annie said...

I'm trying to figure out how to formulate a setting lotion that won't be as harsh on my hair as the commercially available setting lotions (it seems like they all contain alcohol), but will still hold curls when I do vintage wet-set pin curls. It seems like a lot of people make a gel out of flax seeds and water and use that to set curls- do you think it would be possible to incorporate flaxseeds (and then strain it, obviously) into one of the possible recipes you posted, or would that be a bad idea? I can't find any commercial setting lotions with flaxseed, and I'm wondering if there is a reason- maybe it breaks down after a while, is more difficult to preserve, or doesn't work as well as other ingredients? I haven't a clue.

Thanks any advance for any ideas you may have!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Annie! I've answered your question in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answer is that because it's not a great ingredient for holding compared to other ones and it's a pain to preserve. Thanks for asking this question!