Retinol/Retinyl Palmitate - solubility, dissolving issues


I need some help to dissolve some retinol. I am aiming to create a light skin serum with about 0.1-0.5% retinol. 

According to the link below, I should be able to dissolve retinol "absolute ethanol, methanol, chloroform, ether, fats and oils." I have tried ethanol, isopropanol, and a variety of oils (sunflower, argan, soya bean), but I have had no luck in completely dissolving the retinol in either of these. I even tried ethanol 50% and isopropanol 50%. 

My method included putting about 0.05g retinol per 100ml of each solvent (listed above). I am using a 100ml glass beaker and stirring it with a magnetic stirrer. Even after 10+ hours of stirring there are still "floaties" in the solution, which drop to the bottom if I stop the stirrer. 

Am I wondering if there is anything I am missing? Or if there is anything wrong with the retinol powder (I ordered this from Ebay). I have some retinyl palmitate powder too but I am also experiencing the same issues with it (i.e. doesn't seem to dissolve, "floaties"). I didn't expect it would be so difficult to dissolve such a small amount of powder.

Ideally I would not like to use too much oil, I don't mind having up to 30-50% alcohol. Thanks



  • Haven't tried it myself but Triethyl Citrate might work
  • Thank you CedarWind for your suggestion. 

    I tried Googling "triethyl citrate, retinol", but the results I found just suggested that it was another ingredient to increase collagen production. I didn't find anything to suggest that it would help to dissolve retinol.

    Has anyone else had much experience with dissolving retinol or retinyl palmitate? I am still struggling to find anything :( 
  • We have same issues! The retinol is not dissolving, we have two different shipments from two suplliers one of them tested at it is retinol powder. Should solve in oil, but no dissolving...

    Anyone a good idea? Thank you!
  • There’s no study that proves that retinyl palmitate works. If you have no luck with the powder, I saw retinol liposomes on the makingcosmetics site.
  • Using alcohol, according to the literature you will need 100% ethanol. 
    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.
  • Try heating to 60-65C for oils, just before use. 
  • You could also try soybean oil! 
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    I would not heat Retinol. It is a fairly unstable compound. I can't share due to an NDA, but one of the most experienced manufacturers with this product takes special care to limit the stress on the compound through special process controls. The better raw materials are encapsulated in some way but costly with higher minimums. 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.
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited August 2018
    Makingcosmetics has two encapsulated retinol products:

    They should have a different concentration. For those in the UK, makingcosmetics sell it through Amazon.
  • @rkaufman6 I would be careful with soybean oil. It is rated 5 out of 5 on a comedogenic rating scale.
  • I guess it is your retinol the issue. I use a lot retinol even in High concentration. I Buy from BASF (50% retinol in polyglycol + BHT + BHA)
    it disolve without heating in ethanol easy.
    You have it also at 10% in soybean Oil. 
    You can also disolve in polyglycol and some oils. After you have to work out the stability of your retinol in your formula... Because it is not very table in ethanol over time.
  • I use Retinyl Palmitate i my formulas. I melt  it (in origin bottle) in а warm water, it becomes liquid and add to the oil phase.
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