Monday, June 8, 2015

Why did my lotion fail? Emulsifiers

When you are making a lotion, it is essential that you choose a good emulsifier that will work with the recipe you want and use it in quantities that will guarantee a great emulsification. In general, the lotion fails I see that relate to emulsifiers are all about not using enough or using the wrong one.

Every emulsifier comes with information on how to use it, like how much to use, when to use it (heated oil phase, heated water phase, cool down phase), what it can emulsify (vegetable oils, silicones, esters, etc.) to name a few things. For instance, Sucragel AOF can't emulsify silicones or non-natural oils, while Incroquat BTMS-50 is great at silicones. Check the suggested usage for your emulsifier with your supplier and make sure you're getting the one you want.

Emulsifiers may require other things to make them work. Something like Polawax is an all-in-one emulsifying system that works without anything else, but something like ceteareth-20 requires a low HLB emulsifier to work while glyceryl stearate would require a high HLB emulsifier to work. Check with your supplier to ensure what you are getting is what you want!

Note: All the emulsifiers I list below are all-in-one emulsifiers that are suitable for oil-in-water lotions. When it comes to water-in-oil lotions - like cold creams - you will have to find other emulsifiers, like borax and beeswax.

Polawax is generally my go-to emulsifier because it seems pretty much foolproof. Just use enough and make sure you heat and hold, and you've got yourself a lotion. It doesn't have any restrictions about what emollients it could emulsify. When we use Polawax, we want to use it at 25% of the oil phase of the product.

10% olive oil
5% mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

This oil phase totals 20%. We want to use 25% Polawax, so we would multiply the 20% by 0.25 and get 5%. So we are using 5% Polawax for this oil phase. Using a little more wouldn't be the end of the world, but we definitely don't want to go under.

Note: This 25% rule ONLY applies to Polawax. It doesn't apply to any other emulsifier.  Check out this post on why I might use more or less Polawax in a creation.

If you're using emulsifying wax NF, the general rule is that you would use 25% of the oil phase, plus one. So for the recipe above, you'd use 6% e-wax.

Incroquat BTMS-50 is another fairly foolproof emulsifier that works with any oils, butters, or other emollients you might want to use. (Make sure you are getting BTMS-50 and not BTMS-25 as the latter isn't a great emulsifier! Read the INCI to make sure!) There isn't a hard and fast rule about how to much to use in a product, but I generally use slightly less than I would with Polawax as it thickens the product quite a bit. If I were to use 5% Polawax for the oil phase above, I would use 4% to 5% BTMS-50.

As I mentioned above, Incroquat BTMS-50 is fantastic for emulsifying silicones. The data bulletin shows a recipe emulsifying 20% silicones with 3.5% BTMS-50.

Ritamulse SCG can be a bit tricky as there are some restrictions on what you can use with it. You should not go over 25% oil soluble ingredients total - check out this post to see the epic lotion fail! - and you can't use cationic or positively charged ingredients like honeyquat with it. Do not even think about adding your cool down phase before it hits 45˚C as that can lead to another epic lotion fail.

The usage suggested for Ritamulse SCG is 6% to 8%. I tend to use the higher amount to ensure a good emulsification.

Lotionpro 165 is a new emulsifier for me, and steadily becoming one of my favourites! It's usage rate is suggested at 2.5% to 5% for up to 30% oils. It works well with AHAs and BHAs, and is suggested for facial moisturizers. It tends to make thinner products than those made with the previous three emulsifiers, so you might need to add some cetyl alcohol or stearic acid to boost the viscosity.

Montanov 68 is a liquid crystal emulsifier. The suggested usage is 1% to 5%, and it is suggested to use it at 25% of the oil phase. For this one, you want to mix it with a stick blender, not a mixer. This emulsifier can be hard to preserve, so you will want to choose a preservative that works well with hard-to-preserve lotions, like Germaben II or Phenonip.

Olivem 800 is used at 1 to 3% if used with a co-emulsifier, and 2 to 5% as the primary emulsifier. It must be heated and held in the oil phase for use. It is suitable for oil free products and very light lotions.

Olivem 1000 is a liquid crystal emulsifier. The suggestion is to use 2% to 3% for light fluid lotions where the Olivem 1000 is the only emollient in the oil phase, 4% to 5% for 5% to 25% oils, and 6% to 8% to be a self emulsifying system. It's suggested that we use glyceryl stearate at 1% to 2% in the oil phase or xanthan gum at 0.2% or carbomer at up to 0.1% in the water phase to increase stability. It's also suggested to use cetearyl alcohol as the fatty alcohol in the oil phase.

Heat and hold your water phase at 70˚C and your oil phase to 70˚C to 75˚C. Add the oil phase to the water phase, then mix with high shear mixer, like a stick blender for this. Mix until the emulsion is formed, then a few minutes or so, then walk away until it reaches the cool down phase, then briefly mix again. I've seen it suggested that you mix the post-cool down phase lotion by hand as it is possible to overmix this lotion. It can take up to 24 hours for it to reach its final viscosity.

I've read that this emulsifier isn't a big fan of proteins and some hydrosols can cause clumping.

Side note: I have never had success with this emulsifier and have given up trying. If you want more information on it, please check out the comments in the linked post as people have offered great information on it! 

Sucragel AOF is a liquid emulsifier that can be used cold. As I mentioned above, AOF cannot be used with esters, mineral oils, or silicones. It works with ingredients that are pH 4 to 8. You don't want to go over a 25% oil phase. And you must use your ingredients in the proper order! This makes very light lotions that are slightly sticky, so I suggest adding a thickener like cetyl alcohol or stearic acid to the product to increase viscosity.

Join me tomorrow as we continue to take a look at emulsifiers!


Bunny said...

Hm, I have BTMS-25 and it's always worked lovely for me! You do have to use small amounts though, or it gets super thick.... my first conditioner was more of a butter consistency than liquid...!

Lesli404 said...

Are Olivem 1000 and BB's bio-mulsion the same? I've been using bio-mulsion for a few months with only cetearyl alcohol, and no problems.

Andy Lee said...

This is an excellent discussion. I have learned a lot from your books and I can see that you are expanding your scope in this presentation. I hope to learn even more about lotion stability secrets.

I am wondering if you will be getting into mixing and the various machine options from stirrers to homogenizers. I'm sure like many of us you have had a range of experience with various mechanical mixing options. A few acquaintances of mine cosmetics production have recommended a particular homogenizer, but it is a little pricey. I am anxious for your thoughts.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lesli404! Look at the INCI of the ingredient to see if it is the same.

Lesli404 said...

Well, that's a good question! When I looked it up, BB had: Botanical Name: Cetearyl Olivate (and) Sorbitan Olivate (BB seems to have replaced "INCI" with "Botanical Name" everywhere, even when it doesn't quite make sense...), while Lotioncrafter lists for Olivem 1000: INCI: Cetearyl Olivate (and) Sorbitan Olivate.

They look the same, but there's no guarantee both products have the same percentage of each component, right? so perhaps they don't work the same? I hoped you had some super-secret insider knowledge that I lacked!

Just for fun, The Formulary (UK) lists the INCI for Olivem 1000 as INCI : SORBITAN OLIVATE, CETEARYL OLIVATE and has a picture of pastilles rather than flakes.

Is the formula different across the pond, or is the listing incorrect? Not that it matters for me--I'm in the US, so they won't be my supplier.

My reason for asking this, though, was really just amazement. I've made a lot fewer lotions than you, but a lot of them have been with bio-mulsion wax, and so far, only one has failed (and that was likely lotionus-interuptus, as some guests arrived unexpectedly mid-stickblending).

Bonnie / Bonnie in SJ said...

Thank you for this info! It's always so helpful to hear your experience and opinions on these products ... real-world advice from a trusted expert.

Here's another personal experience to add to the pile of lab notes: for some reason, I've had bad luck with the generic emulsifying wax from Majestic Mountain Sage (Cetearyl Alcohol & Ceteareth 20). Even using it at 25%-35% of oil weight, the lotion invariably separates. Even when everything is heated and held. Even when it's mixed extremely vigorously. Even when the lotion is composed of basic oils and water (no fun/funny stuff).

Other generic e-wax products work fine for me, like my go-to one from Bramble Berry, which is Cetylstearyl Alcohol & Polysorbate 80.

I think the MMS version just personally hates me. Which is a shame, because I love all their other stuff.

Anyway, that's not a question or a plea for diagnosis/help; just wanted to say you're awesome.

Bonnie / Bonnie in SJ said...

(and I don't want it to seem like I'm badmouthing MMS's e-wax. They are a trustworthy company whose products are excellent, and obviously the problem is on my end -- I have not heard of any others having this problem with their e-wax. But sometimes, when you just gotta make lotion, it's just easier to go with a personal no-fail ingredient than spend the time to figure out what you're idiosyncratically doing wrong) (although if anyone else has found their e-wax to be challenging, I'd love to hear how you conquered it)

Lesli404 said...

Just to update: BB's bio-mulsion wax and Olivem 1000 are the same product, but they don't have any info on percentages of the two ingredients.

Kathryn said...

Hey there,
Which Emulsifier is the best, like performance and health wise in your opinion? I am looking into using Olivem 1000/ BioMulsion just because it is natural.

Also, which emulsifier emulsifies the fastest, or rather is there a difference in speed at all? Sorry I am a total beginner that has never made lotion before. I am seriously considering it though!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kathryn. I hate Olivem 1000 because it's so easy to fail. If you're new, my favourite is Polawax. So easy to make! (Check out the newbie section for my starter recipes.) They all emulsify within a minute of adding the oil and water phases. If they don't, you have trouble a'brewing!

Get to the newbie section and make a lotion!!! Seriously! Do it now!!! :-)