In keeping with the all natural path I have chosen I am constantly
questioned on how I can make creamy lotions and rich creams that are
light and easily absorbed.
important but the emulsifier is actually the key. An emulsion is a
mixture of water and oil. Itís the glue that holds it all together.
There are 2
basic types of emulsions:
Water in Oil W/O - in this
emulsion the oil surrounds the water and the oil touches the skin
first. The level of greasiness depends on the formula - all of which
will be absorbed into the skin. The emulsion is usually made with your
choice of oil, beeswax, borax and water. If done correctly you will
have little to no greasiness.
Oil in Water O/W - this emulsion
has the oil being surrounded by water. This method creates cream and
lotions that feel moist, less greasy. When absorbed into the skin
there is very little to no oily residue. You must use an
EMULISFYING WAX for this emulsion.
There is only
one truly undisputed natural emulsifier. It is a beeswax/borax
combination and it takes some lab time to figure out the percentages.
Too much borax and you get grit in your lotion and/or cream. Too much
beeswax and you get this glob that is only good for your notes on what
not to do.
Some of the
emulsifiers used by handcrafters range from vegan all natural to 100%
synthetic. It takes some investigative work to determine the source
and extraction methods. If you ask what is this made of; you will
almost always find that it is at least partially plant based. As the
handcrafter you must then ask how was this extracted?
Stearic Acid is derived from plants; however, the method used to
extract the substance leaves little left that offers any benefit to
the skin. If you are making products to benefit the skin why would you
use something that doesnít offer a benefit?
Listed below are
some of the common emulsifiers that are in use today. There are many
more that are reaching the market everyday such as Ultramaize, and
others. If you have questions on emulsifiers try
www.theherbarie.com. Angie is a sweetheart full of information and
will answer all of your questions. She will also let you know what is
a synthetic as well as what is natural.
or sodium borate is a naturally occurring alkaline mineral first
discovered over 4000 years ago. It is found in large quantities in the
Western United States as well as in the Tibet area of China. Borax
alone will not emulsify. It must be used in conjunction with Beeswax.
Together the electricity from the friction of the two causes the
reaction and yields an emulsion.
The honey bee, Apis Mellifera, secretes
beeswax to build the walls of the honeycomb and when secreted the
wax is a transparent colorless liquid, which turns into a
semi-solid substance on contact with the atmosphere.
Beeswax (also known as Cera alba and
Cera flava) is used in cosmetic and skincare products as a
thickening agent, emulsifier, and humectant and has emollient,
soothing and softening properties and helps the skin retain
Only when used incorrectly in
cosmetic formulations can beeswax cause a problem with clogging of
pores, but used the way that our scientists have included it in
the products used, it only brings the positive properties of
healing, antiseptic, emollient and softening to the formulations.
Beeswax is purified from its raw
state by freeing it of solid impurities by melting and
centrifugation. Typically contains 10-15 percent paraffin
carbohydrates, 35-37 percent esters of C16 to C36 fatty acids and
about 15 percent cerotic acid, melissic acid and their homologues.
Even after technological processing
it still remains a
biologically active product retaining some anti-bacterial
properties and also contains some vitamin A which is necessary for
normal cell development.
Primitive people knew and used it as
an antiseptic and for wound healing. Hippocrates even recommended
that a layer of beeswax be placed on the neck for quinsy.
Typically, beeswax has a melting
point of 62 - 65 degrees Celsius and has an acid value of 17 - 24
and a saponification value of 89 - 103 and an ester value of 72 -
There is no doubt that the
Beeswax/Borax combination is somewhat difficult to master.
However, it offers benefits to the skin because the beeswax still
has active ingredients.
- The function of a carbomer is to act as an emulsion stabilizer
and to adjust viscosity and can therefore also be classed as a
Although it can be used in any type
of cosmetic product, it is very often found in gel-like formulas.
Carbomer is a synthetic compound
comprised of a cross-linked polymer of acrylic acid with a high
Emulsifying Wax NF
(Ingredients: Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate &
Steareth-20). It is used to bind oil and water together in creams,
lotions etc. It is a white waxy solid with a low fatty alcohol odor.
It has the characteristics of cetyl alcohol combined with the
viscosity building effect of stearyl alcohol as an effective thickener
and helps form extremely stable emulsions in either w/o or o/w
is a blend of high quality cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol meeting
- This synthetic compound is a family of the PEG group - which stands
for polyethylene glycol and it is made from ethylene oxide and when
the polymers are mixed with various other molecules produce a wide
variety of products - each with unique qualities.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a
water-soluble lubricant from petroleum and/or mineral sources
Cetyl Alcohol is not really
an "alcohol" such as ethyl or rubbing alcohol, which would dry the
skin, but is an emulsifying wax made by combining fatty alcohols
derived from vegetable sources. Cetyl alcohol may be naturally derived
from coconut fatty alcohol or made artificially. It is used in many
cosmetics as an emollient, thickening agent, moisturizer, emulsifier,
stabilizer, opacifier as well as a carrying agent for other
ingredients. Cetyl alcohol is used as an emollient, emulsifier,
thickener, and carrying agent for other ingredients. It can be derived
naturally as in coconut fatty alcohol or synthetically. This is one of
those ingredients where you will have to ask the supplier or go to the
source to find out how itsí extracted and what agent is used for
Propylene Glycol -
This much talked about product, together
with all other glycols and glycerol, is a humectant or humidifying
agent, solvent and delivery ingredient used in cosmetics.
Since it can penetrate the outermost
layer of the skin and carry the active ingredients into deeper
layers of the epidermis it is an extremely common ingredient in
cosmetics and is found in a variety of products.
In the cosmetic industry propylene
glycol is used in very small amounts to keep products from melting
or freezing in extreme temperatures and assists the active
ingredients in a product to penetrate the skin. It can also be used
as anti-freeze and anti-rust inhibitors for cars.
Propylene glycol further enhances the
performance of Sodium PCA in absorbing and retaining moisture in the
It is a synthetic compound and some
individuals may find that it irritates the skin if used in high
Stearyl Alcohol NF
is a high purity stearyl alcohol meeting NF specifications and is
useful in cosmetic formulations for thickening, opacity and emollience
Polysorbate 80 -
a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier derived
from sorbitol which comes from fruit and berries. Polysorbate 80 is a
highly viscose water-soluble yellowish liquid used as a dispersing
agent -mixes oil and water, stabilizer and lubricates.
is a mixture containing phospholipid as the major component and widely
found in animals and plants. It has long been used as a natural
Lecithin is classified into
∑ Plant lecithin derived from
soybeans, corn, rapeseed, etc.
∑ fractionated lecithin
isolated from special components of the raw materials
∑ yolk lecithin made by
excluding the phospholipid, which occupies about 30% of an egg
Lecithin as an
emulsifier makes a creamy lotion or very dense cream. It takes some
practice to get it to perform to meet your specifications but it holds
emulsions together well. It also works well in beeswax/borax
combinations. It should be kept to no more than 3% of the formula for
ease of use.
It is so
important that we be accurate in our labeling and packaging. We should
be able to tell our customers wholesale or retail enough information
to put their mind at ease without either overstating or understating
the product ingredients.