Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: How to get a gel without using synthetic ingredients?

In this post, Oil free moisturizer, Tim asks: I'm thinking of formulating a completely water-based soothing moisturising gel using natural/nature-derived ingredients. So far I'm thinking of Honeyquat for the humectant as well as a marshmallow glycerine extract a bit of extra humectant and as the emollient. The rest of it would be something like a camomile or other soothing hydrosol with additional water added. I'm just wondering what gelling agent/thickener you would suggest to get a similar consistency to the common Aloe vera gels? I'd like to stay clear of Ultrez-21 and other synthetic thickeners.

Aloe vera gels that we buy from our suppliers is not a natural gel. It's aloe vera liquid combined with something to create a gel, like a carbomer or other gelling agent.

Most of the time, aloe vera gel'll have an INCI like this one  INCI: Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract (and) Aqua (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross-Polymer (and) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (from Voyageur Soap & Candle) or Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (from The Herbarie). So it's aloe vera liquid and Ultrez 20, a carbomer or gelling agent that I like to use quite a bit, mixed together to make a gel.

You could make a gel with my new favourite gelling ingredient, Sepimax ZEN, as seen in the picture above, which can handle aloe vera and all its electrolytes much better. I promise I'll share more with you about this ingredient shortly. There's just so much to write about and I'm trying to catch up on comments first! 

You can find some gels, like this one - INCI: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Sclerotium Gum, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate (from Ingredients to Die For) - that contain other gelling agents, like the sclerotium gum, but there is always a gelling agent in the mix. Otherwise, you're buying aloe vera juice that is a liquid.

As an aside, I've seen "aloe vera gel" sold at some suppliers, but it's very clear that it's a liquid, not a gel. I'm talking about ingredients that are thickened like gels that contain aloe vera. 

You have some choices in how to gel your products - carbomers, Sepimax ZEN, Sepinov EMT 10, xanthan gum, sclerotium gum, guar gum, and so on - and I'm not really sure what to suggest to you. It's hard to make any suggestions without knowing your exact ingredient list, so my suggestion is to write up your recipe, get the ingredients, have some fun in your workshop, then record the results. You can do some research beforehand to learn a few things that might conflict, like honeyquat as a cationic with xanthan gum, to save you time and money!

I have to be completely honest with you when I say I haven't found a gum that I like. I have found they feel sticky and a bit snotty on my skin. (I'm not trying to be mean; this is one of the words used to describe xanthan gum). I'm working with guar gum quite a bit lately, which I definitely prefer to xanthan gum, but I'm still not in love with it the way I am with Sepimax ZEN or Sepinov EMT 10. Gels aren't inherently sticky; it's what we add to them that makes them that way. Keep that in mind as you work with the your recipe!

I know my lovely readers will have some suggestions for you, so I'll open the floor to them: What would you suggest for making a gel without using synthetic ingredients for Tim? 


Ben said...

HEC might be an option, its about as natural as "aloe vera powder" which most "gels" seem to be made of these days (as according to most formulations I've seen)

But all the gels I've played with using those kinds of additives has been unpleasant to use on the skin since they don't seem to break just gum up and slide around.

Adela Francu said...

You could try Alginate, when mixed with water it hydrates and create a gel that has really nice skin feel.

JAG said...

I've found that lotioncrafter's "soft xanthan" is much less snotty than normal xanthan. The feel is not quite as nice as sepimax zen (my favorite) but it's acceptable.

Kelli Spears said...

I agree with Ben that HEC might be a good option if you want a clear gel. I think it has a nice skin feel by itself without being stringy or sticky, but adding other ingredients like humectants and extracts can also add a sticky or tacky skin feel.

The Ultra Pure Gel (Sclerotium Gum) from Ingredients to Die For has a very nice skin feel by itself. Considering that it is a polysaccharide polymer it doesn't feel sticky or tacky at all. You wont be able to get a clear gel out of it though. It comes out a creamy ivory or beige color. It's supposed to have good compatibility with most other ingredients and I have used it in many formulas, including with cationics and have had no problems. It is quite expensive but worth it, in my opinion.

TheSoapGallery said...

I'm just wondering why you aren't suggesting Amaze XT?

mparmpadeli said...

You can make flaxseed gel by boiling the seeds with water. I do this for my hair and I have also used it on my skin. I do add preservative but I keep it the fridge also.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Great suggestions, everyone! Thanks!

Hi TheSoapGallery! Amaze XT is hard to find, and every time I write about it, people tell me how hard it is to find, and I don't want that hassle. It would be a good choice, but is it really natural? When we think about it - are any of the things we're talking about all that natural?

Hi mparmpadeli! Good suggestion, but you must use a preservative if you are making flaxseed gel or it has a shelf life of one to three days, even in the fridge. It's suggested you use a strong preservative like Phenonip or Germaben II at 1% as it is something that can go very bad very quickly.

Katrina Li said...

Try Alginate or Carrageenan, they make very strong nice gels! Alginate gel is not reversible if you heat it, but carrageenan gel is reversible by heat. Both are natural polysaccharides extracted from seaweeds

Nicholls said...

Hi Susan,
Just wanted to share this with you and your readers...
I use Glucomannan powder (Konjac Glucomannan) and it gives a very clear and stable gel and it is sooooo easy to use (no lumbs) works with warm and cold water.
I also use it in my creams and lotions.
I was experimenting with Glucomannan and now I leave out the Cetyl Alcohol in every recipe in the oil fase and instead I put 0.5% Gluccomannan powder in the oil fase.
Just add the powder to your oil fase and heat and hold with your oils (it doesn't melt) en mix the oil and water fase as usual. It thickens the product and gives a fantastic glide AND...... ALL NATURAL!!
Has one down side, some extracts make it turn to water again (like my green tea extract)
Just make 100 grams of gel with the Glucomannan (using 1% Glucomannan powder, 0.5 to 1% preservative and 98 to 98.5% water)for 10 x 10 grams testing cups (so you can try out 10 extracts)and mix with the extract in the gel(as you only have 10grams of gel, use 1/10 of the percentage extract that you would normaly use for a recipe) and see if it holds and make notes.
If you can't find Glucomannan at your supplier, try stores/webshops that sell sport supplements. It is sold as a Dietary supplement to loos wheight (drinking gel to fill up your stomach before eating). Just make shore that it is 100% Glucomannan powder without any other ingredients.
Have fun and hope this is usefull information for your blog.

Tania Nicholls.

Kelly Tanner said...

Hi Susan
I actually just purchased the sepimax zen from lotion crafters, I love lotion crafters! I'm still learning so bear with me. My question for you was what percent sepimax zen did you use to make the gel pictured? Also did you add any other thickeners, etc. right now I'm actually playing with the zen, I am using 4ounces distill water, and measured 1.5 grams of the zen. As I'm still playing with it now it's pretty gelled and I'm guessing I've used 0.75grams of zen. Would liquid germall plus or germall plus powder be an appropriate option for preservation? Since I'm playing with this I thought of leaving gel how it is now which isn't quite thick enough and adding in hp starch, which I got from making cosmetics, as I read that would create a gel on its own, but that was an epic fail, for me at least. CAS: 113894-92-1 And INCI Name: Hydroxypropyl starch phosphate, just in case you have used this before, it has a nice description as far as the feel of product. It can also be used for mineral makeup. Since I'm asking about the zen gel, I did have a question about electrolytes, but more so in reference to other gels you've made with carbomer, I know aloe is an electrolyte, but I have no clue what other products have a high electrolyte content. But more so, where would I find the information about a products electrolyte level. I hope that is worded correctly. Thank you in advance for any guidance you can provide. And I want to say thank you for your blog and books! It's amazing! I hated chemistry in school, but in the context of making lotions and potions I get it, well most of the time!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kelly! Check out the post I wrote yesterday about this gelling ingredient. We'll be working with it over the next few weeks making various things, like facial toners, eye gels, and cleansers. I'm also using it to thicken surfactant mixes, which I'll share shortly. Finally, I did a huge write up about it with some recipes in my e-zine Gels, gels, gels, which you can find on the e-zine & e-books section of the blog.

DeeDee said...

I find konjac root powder is wonderful for making gels and they end up feeling really luxurious and with a great slip. I actually made a detangling spray for my daughter and beside a tiny bit of oil added, the detanging spray is amost entirely just water and konjac root piwder. You don't need much (sorry I haven't really worked out the %s but if you start low in say a cup of water, you can easily get to the gel consistency you like pretty quickly (it inly takes a few minutes). It will suspend oil but I also haven't worked out how mych, etc. But I have to say, the resulting gel is like silk. Really nice :)

Heather Behan said...

I'm just wondering if anyone knows where to buy Sepimax ZEN or Sepinov EMT 10 in the UK or Europe in small quantities? I've been searching online all evening! Thanks.