Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why did my lotion fail? Emulsifiers continued...

One of the main reasons lotions will fail is due to improper use of emulsifiers. As I mentioned yesterday, you want to make sure you are using a suitable, all-in-one emulsifier that fits the requirements of your lotion.

For instance, if you wanted to make a body lotion with a 30% oil phase, and you were planning to use Polawax, you would want to use 7.5%% Polawax. For Lotionpro 165, you'd use up to 5%, and for Incroquat BTMS-50, you could use as low as 5% as well. You couldn't use Ritamulse SCG or Sucragel AOF as they can only handle oil phases up to 25%. If you were to use these latter emulsifiers or use only 5% Polawax, you would likely see a lotion fail.

So let's say you wanted to make a facial moisturizer with AHAs, proteins, silicones, and cationic ingredients. You would want to use Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, or Lotionpro 165. You can't use Ritamulse as you are using a positively charged or cationic ingredient. You can't use Sucragel AOF as you are using silicones. You can't use Olivem 1000 because you are using a protein.

If you wanted to make a light lotion, you might turn to Sucragel AOF, Olivem 1000, or Lotionpro 165 to keep the viscosity low. (And leave out the thickeners!) Having said that, you could use any of these emulsifiers as they can all make light lotions!

It is very important to consider which emulsifier you are using. Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, and Lotionpro 165 are fairly foolproof and have few restrictions on their usage. If you are using the right amount, heating and holding, and mixing with a hand mixer or stick blender, you'll be fine. With your other emulsifiers, please make sure you are familiar with their usage, including what ingredients you can't use with it, when to add other ingredients, and how to mix it well.

Related posts: 
How do we make substitutions with our emulsifiers? Polawax
How do we make substitutions with our emulsifiers? E-wax
How do we make substitutions with our emulsifiers? Ritamulse SCG
How do we make substitutions with our emulsifiers? Incroquat BTMS-50
How do we make substitutions with our emulsifiers? Lotionpro 165

I need to make one final point here. Beeswax is not an emulsifier. It can be combined with borax for water-in-oil lotions, but on its own, it is not an emulsifier. Other waxes like floral waxes or things like sunflower wax are also not emulsifiers. In order to be an emulsifier, the ingredient needs to be a surfactant with a hydrophilic - water loving -  head and a lipophilic - oil loving - tail. The hydrophilic head is in contact with the water phase while the lipophilic tail is in contact with the oil phase. The hydrophilic tail connects to the oil and the head protudes into the water connecting the two. Beeswax, floral, and vegetable waxes simply don't have those features.


Paige B said...

Susan, I know you haven't had much luck with Olivem 1000, but I've had great success with my BB Cream using 3% Olivem 1000 and 4% Oliwax LC (from Lotioncrafter). It is 33% Oils (hot phase plus essential oils and Vit E in cool down - I use OS extracts in the hot phase) and I use 2% silk amino acids. I also add a tint blend of oxide/mica powder and zinc oxide so it has light coverage. I chose the Olivem and Oliwax because they are specifically formulated to disperse powders like the tint, and has excellent staying power. Plus it supposedly can enhance sun protection. Now I don't consider this a sunscreen because of the many reasons you have listed over and over before :), however, I do use a lot of oils and cosmeceuticals that potentially prevent or help heal sun damage. Every little bit helps! One caveat; because it is a facial moisturizer, I only make 100g batches and I use the mini mixer (you can find at Brambleberry or on Amazon) which is intended for blending infant formula or, in formulating, for mixing colours into CP soaps. It's not terribly powerful when the emulsion thickens a lot, but it works just fine for small amounts of emulsions. The liquid crystals are very sensitive to stirring speeds. You can get a thicker or thinner final product just varying the way you mix. I add the water to the oil slowly and mix at fairly high speed with high shear until the emulsion forms, then often switch to a lower speed whisk later on. I haven't had a separation yet. I suspect the Oliwax LC helps stabilization quite a lot. Because I use a fair amount of powders, including clays, that can thicken the lotion quite a lot, I only use 1% fatty alcohol (behenyl) and it ends up the perfect viscosity. Honestly, it's the best moisturizer plus coverage I've ever used and I love it. It definitely stays all day.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing. Was wondering if the 33% oils include the emulsifiers (olivem 1000 & oliwax lc) as well?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kodi. We don't include the emulsifier in the oil phase amount because we're figuring out the oil phase to determine how much emulsifier to use.

Katie Neis said...

Hi Susan, Emulsifier question!

I have a homemade whipped body butter lotion that I am trying to recreate - several times now - and it hasn't worked out. Eek. I know the main problem is that I can't tell which one of these ingredients is the emulsifier to adjust my recipe percentages/ingredients. Also, can I use your lotion percentages for emulsifiers for a whipped body butter?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated! The ingredients are...deionized water, aloe, glycerin, cocoa butter, macadamia butter, Vitamins A, E, C, B5 and chamomile, calendula, lavender botanicals.

Paige B said...

Just to save Susan some time and effort, you really must include a proper recipe if you want help. What you've given has no amounts at all. You need to list the percentages by weight of each ingredient and the process you used, just like Susan's recipes. Also, nothing you have listed is an emulsifier, so no matter what your percentages are, the recipe will never work. Susan has links on the right hand side of the blog and you can do a search for "emulsifier" to find one you like. A couple of the more reliable ones are Polawax and LotionPro. Try checking out the links. I would suggest LotionPro because it doesn't have a thickener in it and since you only have butters, no oil, the product will end up quite thick. 4-5% LotionPro will usually work well with even large amounts of oil, I've done close to 40% by weight before and it worked just fine. You aren't going to get a "whipped body butter" exactly though, but a thick cream, like The Body Shop body butter. What is usually called a whipped body butter has no water soluble phase and so no emulsifier (or preservative, something else you need if you have water in your recipe). Check out Susan's newbie links too.

Good luck!

Katie Neis said...

Hi Paige B! Thank you so much for the feedback and tips the other day- I got engaged over the weekend and wanted to get back to you! I thought a lot about what you said and something really jumped out at me...yes, these ingredients must be a more a proper whipped body butter (WBB), so there probably would be no true water soluble phase and and no emulsifier - dug up Susan's article on WBB and read more on Macadamia butter as well. I originally assumed that the chamomile, calendula, and lavender botanicals were steeped in water and added the the melted butters along with aloe vera liquid 1X. But when I mixed originally, the waters/butters separated. So, I just ran another batch of 30 g Macadamia butter, 18.5 g unrefined cocoa butter, and 1.5 g glycerin, double broiled held for 20 minutes at approx 70 C. cooled quickly and whipped. The consistency is closer to the original product. Still too thick, but soft and spreadable with stiff peaks populated with 5-10% very small clumps (of what I assume to be cocoa butter that didn't cooperate, I'll mix more) still leaving a little more grease sheen on skin than original. All in all, I am a lot happier and closer to product I am trying to replicate. Now, I need to figure how to add in the plant botanicals, vitamins, and aloe. I am thinking the plant botanicals might be steeped in pure aloe vera gel from the plant, or added in powdered. If I get real aloe gel maybe it will stir in when whipping...Thanks for the inspiration and advice to keep trying with making my own lotion, I am sure I'll just get some of the emulsifier you recommended eventually, but I am having fun with the science part of all this.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Paige! That was awesome! Thank you so much for such an amazing answer! (Can you email me at sjbarclay@telus.net with information on which e-book or e-zine I can send you as my thanks?)

Hi Katie! Paige has offered you great advice!

From above: deionized water, aloe, glycerin, cocoa butter, macadamia butter, Vitamins A, E, C, B5 and chamomile, calendula, lavender botanicals.

The ingredient list is not truthful. There is no way that product can work the way it is written because there's no emulsifier and no preservative. You can get aloe into a product by getting something like aloe butter, which can be made with shea or coconut oil to be oil soluble, but you can't just add water, aloe, glycerin, Vitamin B5 (panthenol), or Vitamin C into the oils without an emulsifier. And you can't use water without a preservative. The person who wrote this is not sharing all their ingredients with you.

I heartily support Paige's suggestions! I encourage you to visit the newbie section and look at the newbie body butter recipe there as I think it'll work with with this very basic ingredient list. You can make all kinds of modifications to it to suit your specific ingredient wishes, but you need to learn how to make a product before you can go modifying it. I think you'll enjoying making a body butter that will come together and work for you.

Newbie body butter recipe

Or you can learn to make a body butter using only oil soluble ingredients via this link in the newbie section.

Paige B said...

Hi Katie! Glad you are having fun and getting closer to what you want. However, keep in mind that glycerin is water soluble, so it will not stay mixed into your whipped butter. Anything water soluble - aloe gel, glycerin, many cosmeceuticals and botanicals - will need an emulsifier to stay mixed with your oils and butters. Bramble Berry is one of the few places that carries oil-soluble botanical extracts, but almost any other ones are water-soluble. As soon as you have a water-soluble ingredient, even if you don't have actual water, you need an emulsifier and a preservative. Right now, what you made is probably so thick that the glycerin will temporarily stay suspended in the mix, but it will weep out slowly but surely. LotionPro (or the equivalent, INCI glyceryl stearate and PEG 100 stearate) is very inexpensive and an easy emulsifier to start with. Any whipped butter will be greasy and thick, but you can increase the oil:butter ratio a bit to thin it out a little, and you can reduce the greasiness slightly by using drier feeling oils and butters (like mango butter or hazelnut oil), and by adding a bit of treated tapioca powder (not just what you eat). Once you start making an emulsified body butter though, you have a lot more flexibility and you will reduce the greasiness a lot. Regardless, keep having fun and learning things!

Jini Lopez said...

Hello Susan,

Thank you for your amazing blog! I am having some issues with lotionpro 165. I tried making a "lotion" with only 3% of lotionpro, 13% oils and without a thickiner, that obvious did not work! But I wanted to try it out sense it said it emulsified from 1% to 5%. Now today I just finish with a recipe following some of your guidelines in the Pumpkin Seed Oil lotion with lotionpro, mines is a lot difrent tho but the thing is I used the same amoumt for lotionpro and cetyl alcohol i havent added the othe ingredients like glycerin, fragrance etc and my "lotion" is as thin as milk :'(

I dont know why my lotion faild, and I would really apreciate if you could shed some light on what probably caused this. Do I have to wait a little longer for it to get thick or some thing? This is the same amount of water I have used for other recipes and this has never happend with my BTMS or Ewax. My lotionpro is from LotionCrafters and my Cetyl Alcohol is from SaveOnCitrics witch both are good suplyers.

This is my recipe if you ever get the chance to help me out.Thank you :)

74% Water
4% Lotionpro 165
2% Cetyl Alcohol
4% Palm Oil
4% Soy been oil
4% Grape seed oil

2% Glycerine
0.8% Fragrance
0.8% Carrot Extract
0.8% Preservative.

Thank you for your time.

Best regards.
Jini Lopez

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi JIni! I need more information from you...
Did you heat and hold?
How did you mix it?
What preservative did you use?
Did you have separate phases?
I can help more if I have this information!

Shelly said...

HI Susan

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge generously.
I've seen a brand for skincare recently. they claim they are 100% natural. You cant find any emulsifier in their ingredient list for their creams. for example these are the full list of ingredients for their acai berry eye cream:
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Organic Aloe Juice)*, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Rose Hydrosol), Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit Oil, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit Extract, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax Extracts of Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf, Thymus Vulgaris Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) and Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E) * Certified Organic
I contacted them, and they said, if there is no emulsifier in our list it means we have not used any!
how is this possible?


Shelly said...

It is my first time to write a comment in your blog, I think I posted a comment twice. I do apologize!