My First Emulsion, Some Questions (Barrier Repair Cream)

Hi everyone, 

After months of research, I am about to create my first emulsion and would appreciate some help regarding choosing the ideal emulsifier for my specific formula.

Some basic facts about my (theoretical) cream:
Oil Phase: 25%
pH: 5.0
Main Oils Used (>25% of Oil Phase): Meadowfoam Seed Oil and Borage Oil
HLB: N/A (Note: One of my ingredients, Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide (Ceramide E) does not have a HLB value, so I cannot calculate my HLB.)

Given these circumstances, I plan to use Ecomulse at 8% for a few reasons. Ecomulse is not based on the HLB system, it can handle as much as a 25% oil phase, it's effective at a pH as low as 5.0, and it has its own moisturizing properties. 

Based on the main properties of my formula, would 8% Ecomulse with 0.3% xanthan gum be a wise choice? Considering my 25% oil phase, I was debating using 10% Ecomulse (maximum recommended concentration), but I do not want my cream overly thick. 

I should mention that I only have an electric whisk to work with right now. I was close to choosing Olivem 1000 before I realized it required sophisticated mixing technique with lab-grade equipment that I do not have ATM. 

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!

Comments

  • A quick tip as I'm in a hurry: you'd better use a stick blender than a whisk (a stick blender creates high shear forces).
    You'll find a lot of useful beginner information here regarding emulsions, mixing tools etc.

    And borage oil is very prone to oxidation, I would personally choose another type of oil (like jojoba for example, which isn't an oil officialy).
  • You don't choose the easiest emulsifiers to start with. Most beginners start with an emulsifying wax blend like polysorbate 60 + cetearyl alcohol (which doesn't need high shear).
    I think 8% Ecomulse is a good starting point and you could lower your oil phase a bit. 0.2-0.3% xanthan gum is also a good idea, it's also anionic. Personally I totally dislike gums and prefer synthetic polymers like carbomers, but that's personal, to each his own. And most of us start experimenting with xanthan gum first (as did I).

    About the recommended pH for Ecomulse: what type of preservative (blend) are you planning to use? Ecomulse and Olivem are Ecocert certified, is that important for you? (Blends with) organic acids like benzoic acid, sorbic acid (and their (sodium) salts) need lower pH's to be functional, so these can't be used with Ecomulse, as a pH >5 is too high.

    If you use vegetable oils in your emulsion you need an anti-oxidant as well, like tocopherol. Tocopherol acetate won't do. BHT, rosemary extract, ascorbyl palmitate are also good choices, depending on your other ingredients.
    Vitamin C and E work synergystically, so you can use these together (like in a blend, I use Phytrox LTR-15 IP MB with ascorbyl palmitate, tocopherols and rosemary).
    If you use a tocopherol blend that is rich in alpha-tocopherol, do not exceed 0.1 - 0.2% as it might paradoxically become pro-oxidative.
    Gamma and delta tocopherols aren't a problem if you use these in a higher concentration.

    Good luck and let us know how your first experiment went! :-)
  • Wow - A HUGE thanks for your substantive reply, Doreen! I've been contemplating this for an embarrassing amount of time and I'm so glad I decided to post this here and receive your helpful advice.

    Let me break this apart so we keep organized:

    "You don't choose the easiest emulsifiers to start with. Most beginners start with an emulsifying wax blend like polysorbate 60 + cetearyl alcohol (which doesn't need high shear)."

    Thanks for the tip! I wasn't aware this emulsifier combo didn't need high sheer. I'll consider this when I'm working with a formula with a known HLB. :smile:

    "I think 8% Ecomulse is a good starting point and you could lower your oil phase a bit. 0.2-0.3% xanthan gum is also a good idea, it's also anionic. "

    The main reason why my oil phase is on the larger side is because I want to use enough of my chosen vegetable oils for their skin barrier-repairing effects, not simply to dissolve my oil-soluble ingredients (e.g., cholesterol). If I keep it at 25%, do you then suggest 10% Ecomulse to be safe? And yes - that is why I chose xanthan gum here. Good to know I'm on the right track! :D

    "About the recommended pH for Ecomulse: what type of preservative (blend) are you planning to use? Ecomulse and Olivem are Ecocert certified, is that important for you? "

    I'm planning to use Optiphen (Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl Glycol) at 1.5%. It's effective at a pH of 4.0-8.0, so I thought it would be a good preservative to work with here. AND yes - Ecocert certified is important to me. If my homemade project becomes successful, I would like a chance to get it into stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods. That's also why I choose the preservative that I did.

    "A quick tip as I'm in a hurry: you'd better use a stick blender than a whisk (a stick blender creates high shear forces)."

    I've been going back & forth with this, wondering if the electric whisk would create high enough forces, but based on your recommendation, I'll bite the bullet and purchase a stick blender. Better to be safe than sorry. 

    "And borage oil is very prone to oxidation, I would personally choose another type of oil (like jojoba for example, which isn't an oil officialy)."

    This I know, which is why I had planned to add it in my cooling phase (< 40 C ). I'm really partial to borage oil due to its extremely high GLA content and therefore wanted to include it at a significant enough concentration (7%). Do you think taking multiple precautions (e.g., adding it at the cool down phase and using an antioxidant such as rosemary) would be enough? I've searched and seen other o/w formulas include borage oil in their formulas, although I do not know at what concentration.  I mean ... I guess if it's still too risky, I can cut it out and use it for a future anhydrous formula. My oil phase here would then be dramatically decreased as well, which would be a plus.

    And thanks so much for the antioxidant tips! I had worried about using tocopherol for the reason you stated. I'll look into the other ones you mention. Thanks again!
     



  • You’re welcome! I’m glad that my answers have been helpful for you. :-)

    You do not necessarily need a large oil phase for the skin barrier repair effects.
    You can also make a High Internal Phase (HIP emulsions) W/O cream, with an oil phase of only 10% for example, or a ‘gel-in-oil’ cream (Geltrap), this is patented by Seppic, which is very much like a HIPe W/O.

    These emulsions are said to reduce TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) even more than an average O/W cream with higher oil phase. Maybe it’s too much for a beginner to start with, but I wanted to make clear that a higher oil phase doesn’t always necessarily mean more benefit.
    About the Ecomulse, I think 8-9% can handle an oil phase of 25% as the xanthan will help to stabilize the emulsion.

    A ceramide complex, with skin identical lipids is indeed a very good idea as skin barrier repair active. The ratios are very important. An optimal mixture is 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol and 15% free fatty acids.
    And tocopherols are not only great as anti-oxidant for the oils in the emulsion, but also seem a skin protectant as the vernix caseosa (the wax like substance new born babies, especially premature ones, are covered in) is primarily made of ceramides and contain tocopherols as well. Here is a good read on ceramides (if they are useful actives in skincare products).
    As ceramides aren’t exactly the cheapest actives, I would suggest to add them in a later stage of experimentation and first focus on making your first emulsions. Though it is necessary to include them later on, as they have a huge influence on the viscosity (they tend to decrease it), however this doesn’t always mean that the emulsion becomes less stable.

    About your choice of preservative blend. Optiphen (phenoxyethanol + caprylyl glycol) isn’t exactly the strongest, especially not on fungi/yeast. I would recommend to include something that is especially strong on fungi. Parabens are great on fungi and yeast, but I don’t think you want to use them, I think? (Strictly speaking they are of natural origin, parabens are found in several kinds of fruit for example).
    Organic acids like benzoic or sorbic acid or their salts can’t be chosen, because of your pH of around 5. Maybe Dermosoft 1388 (ECO) with sodium anisate and sodium levulinate is an idea. These are also organic acids and it’s Ecocert certified. This blend needs a pH of 5 – 5.3 (Supplier says it can handle pH <5, >4, but then it might recrystallize). And a pH of 5 – 5.3 doesn’t give much ‘freedom’, so a good pH meter is a necessity.
    Supplier describes this blend as broad spectrum which can be used alone, but it definitely needs pairing up with Aw reducers like caprylyl glycol, glyceryl caprylate etc. and a chelating agent like disodium EDTA or sodium phytate. And of course use water that’s as pure (i.e. without minerals) as you can get, so distilled and or deionized.

    About the borage oil. If adding anti-oxidants is enough depends on the shelf life you plan to give to your cream.
    I don’t think it’s enough if you plan to sell it as you can’t expect customers to use it within 3 months after manufacturing. Borage oil oxidizes rapidly even with anti-oxidants and the reason it’s because it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids like GLA. So the reason that you want to add it, is also the reason it is unstable and becomes rancid quickly. Especially in larger quantities!
    I think 7% is also too much oil to add in your cool down phase  as it’s a substantative part of your total oil phase.

    Good luck! :-)

  • Wow - thanks for all this extra information. I'm learning a lot.

    You changed my mind. I'm definitely scraping borage oil in this formula - too much trouble for what it's worth. I will add it to another anhydrous formula I have in mind, which will undoubtedly work much better.

    Thank you for the invaluable advice about the preservative. As a beginner, it's difficult sometimes to sort out which preservative is truly broad-spectrum, beyond the marketing claims. Dermasoft is a new one to me, and I'll definitely consider it. Too bad it goes for $21 for 2 oz versus $6 for Optiphen. I'm also looking at Jeecide Cap-5 as a potential substitute, and if not, potentially a phenoxyethanol/chlorphenesin combo.

    I definitely feel A LOT more confident going into this after your advice. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience. 

    Best of luck with your formulations as well :-)
  • No problem, my pleasure! :-) 
    I think it's important to share as much important information as possible, especially about preservatives, because this is so extremely important and is a huge 'chapter' on itself within cosmetics.
    I've learnt a valuable lesson that there isn't a 'one size fits all' solution for preservatives. Every formula (or with any adaptation within a formula), you have to take a good look at the preservatives. Do they interact with other substances in the formula, is the pH right, does it contain 'bugfood' (like mineral water, oat, honey, extracts, proteins, clay, milk) etc.

    About the Dermosoft 1388 and 1388 ECO. There is also Dermosoft 688 and Dermosoft 688 ECO, these contain anisic acid, manufacturer states explicitly that it's active against mould/fungi. You could also use this together with Optiphen (phenoxyethanol + caprylyl glycol).
    A blend that is similar to this Optiphen blend is Euxyl PE 9010 (phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin).

    Jeecide Cap-5 contains potassium sorbate, this is the salt of sorbic acid. I don't know what the supplier recommends, but potassium sorbate needs a low pH (below 5) in order to convert to its active acid (sorbic acid). 

    And phenoxyethanol + chlorphenesin. I don't have experience with this blend, so I can't really say something about it. Maybe others here can chime in.
    All I know is that chlorphenesin (carbamate) is an obsolete muscle relaxant.
    I looked it up and read here that it has a high irritancy rate.

    The best and only way to know if a preservative blend is actually working in your formula is to do microbial tests by a lab!
    https://chemistscorner.com/cosmetic-tests-you-must-run-before-launching-your-product/

    Best of luck again and don't hesitate to ask any question you have!
  • p.s. I just read your initial question + first reply again and see that you don't mention the use of ceramides anywhere. I somehow thought you were using those?! That's why I wrote about it, sorry for being so long-winded about it! :no_mouth:
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