How to thicken a lotion without it feeling waxy

edited March 28 in Formulating
Hello,

i am new to the forum; thank you for the wealth of information that has been contributed, its fantastic to read by a newby like me. 

I would really appreciate your suggestions with the below. 

I am new to formulating (at home in my kitchen ;)) and am trying to make a product similar to https://www.lushusa.com/body/hand-care/lemony-flutter/02361.html

I have tried this numerous times and it always comes out waxier than their product. I am not sure how they get it so thick, it seems with beeswax and Shea butter since it’s high on the ingredient list,  but it’s not waxy and doesn’t drag on the skin. I am trying to work with their product list, but I really don’t mind adding something that’s not on the list for the sake of my sanity! 

Here is my attempt:

heated water phase
47% water
5% lemon juice
3% triethanolamine

Heated oil phase
6% Shea butter
6% beeswax
4% lanolin
4% mango butter
4% coconut oil
4% sunflower oul
4% apricot kernel oil 
1% Vitamin E oil
8% Stearic acid

cool down phase
1% dimethicone
1% IPM
1% Cap 5 preservative
1 % fragrance 

the original product ph is somewhere between 7 - 8. 

The consistency of this lotion  is super thick, it’s listed as a butter. It is similar to a diaper rash ointment in consistency. 

Thank you so much 

Comments

  • 1. Your LOI does not match exactly.
    2. You have omitted an emulsifier, cetearyl alcohol.
    The product contains TEA and stearic acid which combined, make soap, which acts as an emulsifier. "Lemon juice" is not necessarily "fresh organic lemon infusion" which itself is not a proper INCI name.
    3. How did you arrive at those percentages?
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Thank you @Belassi. Yes, I have omitted a few of the oils, because I didn’t have them on hand, the same with cetearly alcohol. I have cetyl alcohol at home, can I use that instead? What % would you suggest? It seems pretty low on their list of ingredients, so I’m thinking maybe at 2%? The % of ingredients is just guess work 😬 I have tried this about 10-20 times with different %, and this is the closest I’ve come to their product. The lemon infusion I’ve seem on their YouTube, which is basically squeezing and boiling organic lemons into water. 
  • Cetearyl and cetyl alcohol both have the same use as a thickener and stabilizer, but the end results can feel different. I typically use it between 0.5% and 2% for both. For something so thick maybe use it at 2-3%?
  • I have cetyl alcohol at home, can I use that instead? - No, these are not the same at all. Cetyl alcohol is a nonpolar thickener with a waxy feel. It does not emulsify.
    the original product ph is somewhere between 7 - 8  - This should tell you that the product basically is a soap because it has an alkaline pH. 42% lipids and 3% TEA, some of which is neutralised by the lemon juice? I would not want to try to duplicate this because it could take a long time. Lush products are weird.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Thank you @gld010 I will definitely try your suggestion at 2-3%. 
  • @Belassi thank you for your insight. Yes, the ph has me worried, and I am wondering how it’s working for them! But I guess they have plenty of money and expertise to get it right. I have made a version with emulsifying wax, and in my opinion I prefer this, it is much gentler. But it’s still not as thick, and still waxy 😬 
  • Oh, I had no idea cetearyl alcohol was also used as an emulsifier, I thought both cetearyl and cetyl were used as thickeners and stabilizers. I will keep that in mind @Belassi .

    Still, feel free to use your cetyl as a thickener and see what happens.
  • If it is too waxy then simply reduce or omit the quantity of beeswax. If you want it thicker then increase the proportion of stearic acid and TEA and cetearyl alcohol. That amount of shea, by the way, may cause breakouts.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Cetearyl alcohol isn't really an emulsifier. At best it's an emulsion stabilizer. See this discussion. 
    http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/discussion/745/cetearyl-alcohol-emulsifier-or-not

    Cetearyl Alcohol is also similar to Cetyl Alcohol so it's not unreasonable to substitute them in some systems. Cetearyl Alcohol is just a blend of Cetyl Alcohol (C16) and Stearyl Alcohol (C18). If you buy Cetearyl Alcohol from KAO it can be as much as 80% Cetyl Alcohol blended with 20% Stearyl Alcohol.
  • @Belassi I will order cetearyl alcohol and then try it again with a lower beeswax and Shea amount, as suggested, thank you. 
  • @Perry thank you, I will try one version with cetyl and one version with cetearyl, and see what the skin feel is at the end. 
  • edited March 29
    Consider also the commercial realities of making this.
    6% Shea butter
    6% beeswax
    4% lanolin
    4% mango butter
    4% coconut oil
    4% sunflower oul
    4% apricot kernel oil 
    1% Vitamin E oil
    - Shea butter is not cheap. Neither is apricot kernel oil. The problem with formulae that contain substantial (one third, here) amounts of oils / butters, is expense. This is worth considering because Lush must have had a target price for the cost of this. Remember, a correctly emulsified oil phase can be very thick with far less than the percentages you are suggesting. Your formula probably hangs around on the skin for hours. Does the Lush product?
    If I were looking to dupe this I would first put an accurately weighed sample (typically 100g) in a dessicating chamber to remove all the water, and calculate the relative water/non-water percentages.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Another way you can look at this kind of thing is to look at prices.
    1. Calculate the price per kg of the Lush product.
    2. Divide that by a value between 6 and 10. Try 8.
    3. Calculate, if you haven't done so already, the cost including labour and marketing, of your product.
    4. Compare with the result of (2).
    If yours is about equal, then your proposed knock-off might be accurate. But if Lush comes in substantially cheaper, then you know that their product is mainly water, and can reformulate accordingly.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • edited March 29
    Just to add my 2 cents, these sites have been very helpful to me when I started:

    http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.nl/2010/01/if-youre-new-to-lotion-making.html

    http://makingskincare.com/how-to-formulate-like-a-pro/

    and two documents about some emulsifiers and their HLB value
    (here you see cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol aren't emulsifiers, the second document shows the HLB value that these fatty alcohols (and other lipids) require)
  • just for the record: fatty alcohols are surface-active, and have a significant effect on emulsions as a result, but they do not act as emulsifiers
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • @Belassi thank you for all your great advice, much appreciated. The Lush product sells for approx US $20 for 1.5 oz (43g) and if I can purchase the oils/butters in bulk, I can make a reasonable cost comparison with my above formula.  Atm, with the above formula, which I am not satisfied with and would never consider selling, the most expensive component at the given rates, are the lanolin and mango butter. I have tried making it with cocoa butter which is slightly cheaper and easier to source, but the finished result ended up too greasy, which I am trying to avoid, as this is already one of the main complaints of the original Lush product. Yes, the product does sit on the skin for hours. It’s a cuticle butter, and never really fully absorbs. If I had to guess, I would suggest the water % is probably@ 70% in the original. As the main ingredients after water are Shea and beeswax, I still am baffeled by how they can get it so thick but not waxy. Unless they are not listing all the ingredients, which I have read could be the case. I also made a version with emulsifying wax instead of TEA, and about 2% soy wax, and that thickened up nicely and was not waxy, (I reduced beewswax and Shea to 1.5% each)but it does change the texture of the finished product. 
  • @Doreen thank you so much! I read Susan’s blog, that helped me get the basics of how to make lotion. She is amazing 🙂
  • The Lush product sells for approx US $20 for 1.5 oz (43g) 
    Bloody hell!!!
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • @Belassi yes! It is pretty pricey 😬 And you can’t make it out of the store without them upselling you something to go along with it. Last time I ended up with a $22 4oz salt scrub 🙄 which I could probably make myself for less than $5.00! 
  • Hey, hope you don’t mind me chiming in. 

    Personally I would attempt to get a cream at the thickness you want rather then copy something from lush. Really their products aren’t “great” but they have fantastic marketing, story and visual appeal something most brands are desperate for but lack.

    But to your formula  

    They use a lot of basic things but I think your quantities on your bees wax and lanolin are a little high even though based on the list of ingredients it would trick you into believing there is more wax then they really add. I think there is A LOT more shea butter being added. 

    So my take based on your ingredients 

    heated water phase
    water (lemon slices added during heating) too 100%


    Heated oil phase
    15% Shea butter
    1% beeswax
    1% lanolin
    4% mango butter
    2% coconut oil
    2% sunflower oul
    4% apricot kernel oil 
    .5% Vitamin E oil
    2% Stearic acid
    1% cetyl alcohol

    7% Emulsifying wax (Croda Polawax or other self emulsifying wax) it might be higher or lower depending on your wax 

    cool down phase
    1% dimethicone
    1 % fragrance 
    *% Preservative
    .5% xanthen gum (create slurry in glycerine) 
    2% glycerine 

    Adding water soluable things that can handle the heating phase like hydrolysed proteins and adding other things after making a slurry with glycerine

    If you want to be super tricky sepimax zen is an ingredients to look at that will stabilise, improve sensory on application, thicken and is super easy to use and compatible with emulsifying wax

    what I’ve gone too is not something that you’d buy at lush but I think it will improve the thickness and drag 
  • Thank you sooo much @BenM I will definitely give your suggestion a try. Appreciate your help :)
  • Do people use Ewax outside of DIY markets? Seriously though, there are far superior emulsifiers.

    I would leave the lemon slices out also.
    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.
  • @Microformulation what would you suggest as an emulsifier for this application? 
  • There are of course a multitude of other emulsifiers available and many commercial products rely upon emulsifying waxes. 

    I could have written a long winded reply about using a specific emulsyfing system that would require some testing and experimentation but I’ve taken the view that the poster was looking for a solution that would be within the scope of being accomplished by someone who might not have the techniqual skill set required to formulate an advanced formulation and wanted something that would be stable with a high level of potential success. 
  • You are right on @BenM I am just starting out and emulsifying wax seems easy to use and is readily available. I did make a version with TEA/Stearic acid like to Lush version, but to be honest I’m not a big fan of TEA as the Ph was at 8 with this system. 
  • edited April 17
    But why the Lemon slices? That is not great practice in Cosmetic Chemistry.

    Also, there are many different emulsifiers any of which I would highly encourage you to try as your experience level increases. EWax, as I was saying, has many issues. It's one advantage perhaps is that it is easy to use. As a Batchmaster, I dealt with when I started 30 years ago told me, "use 25% of the oils and that is your EWax percentage, If it isn't Polawax, add another percentage point of Ewax." Ewax, however, does soap. This soaping can be overcome to some extent with silicones and esters but it is limited when compared to some of the newer emulsification systems. Also, if you are trying to meet a credible "natural standard", most Ewax's would need to be avoided. Check the INCI names, but the majority are " Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60." Polysorbate 60 as an ethoxylated compound is not allowed under most of the "natural standards."

    If you are looking to start with some newer emulsification systems which can be purchased in smaller retail quantities, check out some of the available products at the Formulator Sample Shop for instance.

    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.
  • Thank you @Microformulation I will check that store out. Lush uses the method of boiling lemon slices with water and then using the infusion in their product, hence the lemon slices. They actually use a lot of fresh ingredients like avocado, honey etc in their products. Some of them are not even preserved with traditional systems, they use self preserving systems 😬 I am not going the 100% natural route, so Ewax is ok for my products. I use dimethicone and IPM to minimize some of the soaping effect, but as this is a cuticle creme it doesn’t really matter too much. 
  • @Melanie27 I think you will find that most trained Chemists will advise to avoid the lemon slices. It brings little to the table and it could stress your preservative system. The remainder of your products have good technical documentation and this does not. Keep in mind that LUSH has more assets available to limit the issues with the preservation which you do not.
    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.
  • Lemon slices? Honey? Sounds like LUSH will never be a benchmark for my stuff. Awful! :joy:
  • @Doreen - Indeed. The prospect of creating a consistent product with those raw materials would be daunting. 

  • I’m not a fan of lush but ultimately customers love them and they have store fronts and online retail that most would only dream of.

    lemon slices? Would I do it? No but lemon slices will hopefully introduce less potential food then any other “natural lemon” I’d personally use essential oil. But not everyone wants that. No I don’t have a lab to do a clinical analysis to back up my claim but I’m not calling it a clinical claim merely suggesting a path to explore

    at the end of the day most people formulating for themselves are probably going to try things most cosmetic chemists would frown upon, I certainly have and continue to do so. 

    As as to the ewax, well I’ve only used about a dozen on the market so can not comment on every single one of them. I suggest polawax, deviate to some other ewax and I would hope they are smart enough to find out what changes to make or come back and ask. I recommend polawax because it’s been the most straight forward and the most forgiving in my experience

    if we are forcing learning how to create an emulsification system before making anything I think you’ll find many won’t bother learning with such a high barrier of entry and high failure rate but with interest and success people might be interested in learning the different ways of calculating emulsifiers over time as they become comfortable and want to find better ways to meet their new and growing demand.

    i personally started with ewax as a curiosity, now I have multiple systems I love and have branched out to other polymer emulsifiers to create a multitude of things. 

    While I do understand why cosmetic chemists will push for education, for following simplicity, for following tried and true paths and want to guide them to the more complicated systems because yes the emulsifiers I have make some amazing luxurious and wonderful products they also aren’t all that easy to work with and have limitations on other ingredients, can spontaneously become unstable and are or cant be somewhat delicate especially when sitting at the maximum of what they can handle and a slight slip of the hand will mean the difference between stable and breakdown.

    All I’d like to see is the barrier of entry set for everyone who comes to learn at a level they can learn from and at a pace and depth they want to learn because you can’t force a donkey to read but you can guide a curious person to more when they are ready


  • Hey, I see LUSH uses parabens. Didn't expect that, thumbs up! :+1:
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