How to make a TEWL reducing nighttime facial lotion without synthetic ingredients?

There's some demand for a nighttime facial lotion/cream that's great at reducing TEWL with good sensorials (not extremely waxy) and without synthetic ingredients (e.g. petrolatum, dimethicone or even hydrogenated vegetable oils).

I've proposed some tentative ingredients to go into an emulsion below with some % guesstimates for now. Let me know if you have suggestions for how to ensure TEWL is kept to a minimum!

1% Urea
1% Hyaluronic Acid (molecular weight is important)
0.5% Allantoin
1% Panthenol
2.5% Sodium Lactate

5% Beeswax (refined)
5% Lanolin (water based)
3% Soy Lecithin (could be used as an emulsifier in conjunction with beeswax + borax)

4% Shea Butter (some occlusive effect too)
4% Chia Seed Oil
4% Squalene (not squalane)

1% Lactic Acid to adjust pH to 4?


  • ZinkZink Member
    Other interesting ingredients, PEG-8 beeswax (natural enough?), Cholesterol (reduced TEWL 10% alone at 1% in one study!), Hemp Seed or Cocoa butter or other butters that might be superior to Shea.

  • Isn't the urea going to react somewhat with the HA and LA? I seem to recall some kind of insane buffering when I tried something along these lines, but I was using around 3% urea I think.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • @Belassi the buffering is a pain, getting the right balance of lactid acid/Urea to get the product pH stable is not easy. We have a line based off this technology though so with some time and diligence it's doable.
  • @Mike_M out of curiosity is the lactic acid/urea combo a line of facial or body products?

    Have been reading about urea/gluconolactone and urea/arginine/l-carnosine for various skin conditions and wondering about how these combos would fare as a facial moisturizer for winter skin.

  • These are body, hand and foot lotions and creams. I think that's an excellent idea, the Urea in higher percentages works great for desquamation and provides an almost instant softening effect. It's hard to formulate more than 5% but we have had success getting it to the market at 20% so it's doable. Just be careful with face, I would start at 5% to see if you can get your effect. Once you get above that you'll run into sensitivity issues. My boss can't come close to the 20% Urea lotion or her skin stings really bad.
  • Thanks @Mike_M. Will give it a go and see what comes of it.

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    edited March 2016
    The gold standard for reducing TEWL is Petrolatum. Since this is eliminated, I would suggest looking into Moringa Butter. Several years ago Tiffany Oliphant from Floratech did a wonderful presentation on this material as a replacement for Petrolatum,. It comes very near to Petrolatum (still short though) in occlusivity. Some may say it is not "natural" since it is a hydrogenated oil, but all the Natural standards allow hydrogenated oils as hydrogenation can occur in nature. (Without a catalyst of course).

    Here is the PowerPoint presentation. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • ZinkZink Member
    Thanks Mark, this is interesting!

    It should be noted they compared 2% moringa butter to 5% petrolatum
    And that the study was done by the company selling the product and that there are no other studies looking at moringa butter and tewl that I can find.
    It's not known how it compares to other exotic butters such as Cupuacu butter.

  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    Olus oil
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Zink - The interesting thing I notice about the study Mark attached was that the Petrolatum outperformed the Moringa Butter.  Usually, when you see a supplier presentation you see things that are more unexpected (like Moringa outperforming petrolatum). I don't know why they wouldn't compare equal %s though.  Seems strange.
  • ZinkZink Member
    The biggest effect could be from the partial hydrogenation, it's possible that the other butters would peform similarly if similarly hydrogenated. 

  • Hmmmm. . . Have you made this yet? If so, did it stay emulsified for an extended period of time? (I'm assuming this would be important for a product you were selling.)

    It looks like you may be wanting the beeswax, lecithin, and borax to act as an emulsification system, but I would be concerned that it would stay in an emulsified state for very long. Also, I personally would not want borax on my skin in a leave-on product.

    I see you are using "water-based lanolin." I'm guessing this is not natural, and that it may actually be ethoxylated lanolin, as lanolin is not naturally water-soluble.

    I understand the desire to create all-natural cosmetic products -- that's how I got started in my endeavors, but in recent years I've been adding synthetic materials. It is important to keep in mind that not everything natural is safe, and that not all synthetic ingredients are harmful.
    I'm a licensed Landscape Architect -- not a chemist. I just really like this stuff.
  • jirobandjiroband Member
    edited March 2016
    Have you considered the option of a 2-part system?

    Part 1 - the water-based, water-soluble ingredients applied first, followed by
    Part 2 - the oil-based emollients and occlusives

    This way, you can avoid potential issues with emulsification.

    If this must be "all-natural," what are you using as a preservative? I hope you are using one. Unfortunately, I don't know of any reliable natural preservatives. 
    I'm a licensed Landscape Architect -- not a chemist. I just really like this stuff.
  • BelassiBelassi Member
    edited March 2016
    That "emulsifier" system is really terrible, frankly. That's the kind of thing you see in a myriad of "personal care" products on Etsy. Both borax and egg yolk (lecithin) aren't things I want on my skin. How about THIS:

    Natural qualifications 

    • Ecological and Organic cosmetics (ECOCERT) approval
    • COSMOS-standard approval
    • NPA (Natural Products Association™) certification

    Formulation guidance

    Usage level: 2-4 % 
    Suitable pH level: 4-10

    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    You'd be better off using Organic Emulsifying Wax (Beeswax, Lecithin (Soy), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax) (From Nature With Love), but you're going to have to couple it with another emulsifier as it is a better thickener than emulsifier.  Pair it with RitaMulse (Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) which is ECOCert.

    Also, there are a number of natural Petrolatum alternatives on the market such as Vegeline 65 from Seppic that helps with TEWL reduction.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • ZinkZink Member
    jirobrand: Have not made, just theorizing at the moment. I don't have much experience with beeswax, but I do have some with lecithin + polysorbate 20 emulsification. I'm 100% with you on the natural/synthetic dichotomy, the most important thing is that the formula is good for the skin so the formula will likely have some good synthetics. 72% hydrous lanolin just says: water, anhydrous lanolin on the label. It needs to be a one part system.

    Belassi: Actually you DO want egg yolk lecithin on your skin see: 2013 Liposomes for Topical Use A Physico-Chemical Comparison of Vesicles Prepared from Egg or Soy Lecithin. But there are no suitable suppliers of liquid egg lecithin in the us.
    Emulium-mellifera looks really nice though, I'll try it out!

    Markbroussard: Thanks, worth testing, previously my main gripe with ritamulse and similar emulsifiers have been very rub in characteristics. 

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