Oils in shampoo help

I was hoping I could get some help trying to solve a problem I'm having with a product we make. It's a flea and tick shampoo that uses oils as the active ingredient. When the oils are added they turn the clear product turbid and the problem I'm having is that after about a month the oils rise out of suspension and remain at the top in a distinct isolated layer. I've tried a number of different variation on this formula and the only success I've found was to solubilize the oils before adding them using Liposorb 20, which works wonderfully, yields a perfectly clear shampoo. The wrinkle is that this product must use ingredients that are listed on the EPA FIFRA 25 exempt list for low risk pesticides, so that it doesn't require EPA registration. Liposorb 20 is not on that list, neither is decyl glucoside. I'm not a chemist, I'm a compounder with delusions of grandeur so my results have yet to meet my expectations.  Any help I could get from the sages would be sincerely appreciated.
The formula is roughly,  Potassium Cocoate soap, Potassium Oleate (emulsifier) Potassium stearate (emulsifier) and oils. The real culprit, I believe, is Castor oil (.3% -emollient), which has an HLB of 14 and upon addition instantly muddies the clarity. 
Matt K.


  • johnbjohnb Member
    What is the purpose of the castor oil in the product? If it is merely an emollient and you find it is the cause of your problem, don't use it. A level of 0.3% will have little or no effect on emolliency.
  • You must have more oils than .3 Castor oil if you are getting a layer probably with some having lower HLB.I think we need more info to help.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    You have a slight misunderstanding regarding the FIFRA 25 Exempt list. In order to claim the insecticide/pesticide claim the active oil (in your case the Castor oil) must be on the list, The incipients (in this case the Liposorb 20 and the Decyl Glucoside) are not claiming this activity and are not regulated under the Exempt List.

    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com 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.

  • You are absolutely correct Microformulation! Actually, I more than slightly misunderstand FIFRA, but I also was not clear that Castor oil is not an active in this formula it's merely the prime suspect in the turbidity problem. It's used as an emollient, so it falls to the FIFRA Inert list which was the link I provided above. The actives are Clove Leaf Oil and Cottonseed oil.

     DRBOB, I was attempting to be vague on the actives because this isn't our formula, we license it through a third party and I don't want to ruffle any feathers trying to solve this. Their chemist wasn't at all concerned with the issue, stating it "performs as intended". My thought is there's probably a way to achieve what I achieved with the liposorb 20 I just don't know what it is yet. 
    Is there another way I can solubilize the castor oil? 

  • I am really surprised to see potassium cocoate used in a shampoo. It reacts with minerals in tap water to form soap scum which will remain in the animal's hair. So, unless you intend rinsing the poor animals in dilute vinegar after the shampoo, this is not a good idea and it's precisely the reason we use synthetic surfactants that do not react with minerals in water.
    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,
    Before making this product, I had never used it. I'm not really a fan of it from a compounding perspective because it takes twice the time to make. I believe the main draw for the customer we make this for is the ability to make specific claims about the (cringes) "Naturalness" of the product. 
     As to the soap scum, I can't verify that claim. I haven't ever noticed this result, having used this product in my own hair for about two weeks, nor have I heard a single customer complaint about it and it been on Walmart shelves for almost 2 years. Maybe the buyers of this product live in areas with softer water? :)
  • Have you tried alcohol. IPA is on inert list?I haven't done it but may work
  • DRBOB,
    I haven't tried it but I will first thing tomorrow morning. I'll let you know. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • In a soft water area you don't get the problem. Where I live, it would be impossible, the water is very mineralised, in fact we get deposits of the damn salts clogging up shower heads etc
    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.
  • Update,
    DR.BOB I tried the IPA with high hopes, but unfortunately the castor oil is bit of bear and the batches I made still resolve cloudy. I tried a few different ratios to no avail, but I'm gonna give it a little time before I entirely give up on it. Thanks for the advice, I'll keep you posted if anything changes. 
  • Problem Solved. 
    Dr. Bob I'm starting a new fan club in your honor! It looks like IPA might actually do the trick. I was messing around in the lab and I heated one of the IPA samples up to 70c to get some bubbles out and when I came back to check on it an hour later, it was clear as a bell. I let cool down to roughly room temp and it remained clear. Woohoo! You ROCK Dr. Bob!  I used 2:1 IPA/Castor. I'm gonna do some more samples and see how little IPA I can get away with using.
    Thanks again, sincerely!  This has been one of those things that really bothered me for some reason and it feels great to have a 'clear resolution'. <span>:smile:</span>

  • DavidWDavidW Member, PCF student
    Don't 25b products also have to adhere to inerts being on their list of acceptable ingredients?
  • DavidW,
    Yes the do. Here's the list of inerts. 
  • matthewk ----good for you as perserverence always wins:):) 

Sign In or Register to comment.