Water Soluble Pomade Help

bohnjowersbohnjowers Member
edited September 2014 in Formulating
I'm having difficulty getting a strong fixative effect with a water soluble pomade I have been asked to develop. I'm currently using several comparable products on the market as a guide, but cannot seem to figure out the ratio between the polymer (PVP K90) and the plasticizers (Glycerin and PEG) to get an optimal hold. Below are the ingredients I am using with some rough concentrations I have tried--and everything in between: 

Ingredient w/w
WATER (AQUA) 50-60%
CETEARETH-25 20-30%
PVP K90 0.5-6.5%
PEG-8 BEESWAX .05-3%
Polysorbate 20 0.1-1%
As aforementioned, I'm primarily concerned with the PVP and plasticiser concentrations. I've pretty much got everything nailed except for the fixitave qualities of the formulation. Any guidance would be appreciated.


  • @bohnjowers: Decrease (or omit) your Glycerin level, because it overrides the PVP holding effect. Glycerin attracts moisture to the hair.

    With the fats in your formula, maybe you can try adding a little 'Isopropyl Myristate' to lessen the oil feel/effect. >a strong fixative effect
  • @tonyh

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try drawing down the humectant and see how that works. Out of curiosity, given the ingredients listed above, how would you place them in order of concentration? 

  • tonyhtonyh Member
    edited September 2014
    Water-Based Hair Pomade With Hold

    WATER (AQUA) -  60.5%
    CETEARETH-25 - 15%
    GLYCERIN - 7% - Moisture attraction
    PVP K90 - 3% - Fixative hold style. Increase to see if you get better hold. Try other polymers too.
    PEG-8 BEESWAX - 2%
    POLYSORBATE 20 - 1%
  • @tonyh

    That looks pretty similar to some of the formulations I have tried. I've also tried other fixative polymers (Fixate, VP/VA) and I still can't seem to get the effect of the current "water soluble" pomades on the market. They literally turn your hair into cement! I'm on my 80th iteration and I'm about ready to throw in the towel or just hire someone to help me figure it out. I'll take one more run at this and let you know if it's a success. 
  • tonyhtonyh Member
    edited September 2014
    >They literally turn your hair into cement!

    Water-Based Hair Pomade With Hold #2

    WATER (AQUA) -  65.6%
    CETEARETH-25 - 15%
    GLYCERIN - 3%
    PVP K90 - 7%
    SIMETHICONE - 0.5%
    PEG-8 BEESWAX - 0.2%
    POLYSORBATE 20 - 0.2%

    Fixate™ Superhold polymer.  >(Fixate, VP/VA)
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student

    whoa that's some pretty CRYSTAL clear insight given by you.
  • @tonyh

    I'll give it a go and let you know how it works out. 
  • @tonyh

    Still not a very strong hold. I'd say a light hold at best. I even drew down all of the plasticisers and increased the PVP to 8% and still it doesn't seem to be work. I think it's time to bring on some help. 

    Anybody have experience with hair care products and have a modest lab? I'll provide raw materials and monetary support if anyone wants to make an extra buck. 
  • tonyhtonyh Member
    edited September 2014
    Decrease the GLYCERIN to .5% and increase the PVP K90 to 15%
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist

    try using a different resin in combination with PVP; Advantage LC-E (or Advantage S, if you can get hold of it) is particularly good for stiff, rigid hold

    having some hard/sticky waxes into the oil phase, e.g. beeswax, microcrystalline wax or lanolin wax, helps too

    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
  • @bill_toge

    I've played around with increasing the PEG-8 beeswax up to about 2.5%, and that helps, but it still doesn't meet expectations. From my experience, it seems the secret is in the relationship between the PVP, PEG and Glycerin. I just can't seem to find the proper ratio. Especially when looking at ingredient lists from current products on the market:

    Product #1:

    Water (Aqua),
    Ceteareth-25, PEG-7 Glycerl Cocoate, Polysorbate-20, PVP, Propylene Glycol,
    PEG-7 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-8 Beeswax, Fragrance (Parfum), PEG-8
    Methicone, DMDM Hydatoin, Methylparaben

    Product #2:

    water, ceteareth-25, glycerin, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, PEG 40 hydrogentated castor oil, fragrance, hydantoin caramel, simethicone, PVP, PEG-8 beeswax, propylene glycol,methylparaben, polysorbate 20

    If the ingredients are in order by concentration, there is no way the PVP load can be very high. I did a dry down with Product # 2 and roughly 58% of the formulation are volatiles and I know the C-25 is set around 25%. That doesn't leave much room for high PVP loads. I'll look into the resins you recommended, but I'd love to figure out the secret with the PVP in these formulas before I start innovating. Let me know if you have any recommendations.

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student


    Check this link, maybe the ester oil can be done away with to bring in transparency. Also the glitter won't be your requirement I suppose, this should give you some lead hopefully. 
  • @milliachemist

    Thanks...I'm surprised I haven't seen this before. Looks pretty close to what I'm attempting to accomplish. I'm surprised it says to heat Fixate in phase B. Whenever I mix it into the water phase and heat it to 80-90 C it cross links and stick to my mixing head. It is a pain to clean! 

    Any ideas on how to avoid that? 
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    edited September 2014
    Not sure as I have never really tried Fixate but what you can do is heat the polymer separately and maybe to a lower temperature to avoid that cross linking. And rest of the phase B remains as is. 
    It's all about optimizing and I am sure you could do that with a few little adjustments of street smart kind. 

    cheers and good luck 
  • @milliachemist

    What I usually do is dilute the Fixate and heat it to 75 C and add it with the preservatives and fragrance. However, it still cross links a bit, but not as bad as heating it to 90 C. Maybe I'll contact Lubrizol and see what they recommend.

    Thanks for the help! 
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Have a good one.

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited September 2014
    @bohnjowers personally I'd take those ingredients lists with a HUGE pinch of salt; having battled through weeks and weeks of frustration trying to match products of this type, particularly those which have been made in China, I've found the best way to match them is to disregard the listed ingredients altogether, compare the product's characteristics with those of a known formula, and modifying that formula to fit

    I think you're right in that there's not much PVP in your benchmarks - it sounds like there's a more fundamental difference between them and your formulas, most likely within the oil phase of the emulsion, that's not reflected in the labelling

    I might also add that since the product is non-volatile, the entire emulsion will act as a plasticiser/hardener for the resin, not just the glycerine and PEG-7 cocoate, so the sensory characteristics of your pomade will have a real impact on the hold!
    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
  • @bill_toge

    Thanks Bill...I'll keep at it!
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    Bill Toge is on the right track there, BJ.  The entire mess here should be considered a plasticizer, with the exception of water and PVP. That goes for those other commercial formulas too. My opinion: trying to emulate the Hicks Transformation w/s pomades, such as this one, is wasting time, money and effort by adding ANY fixative resin, given the huge level of nonionics incorporated.  Just adjust the level of Ceteareth-25  to the point you can package it without seizing the pistons on your PD filler, then leave it at that. Minimize - or delete entirely - all the rest.  These are not emulsions, they are surfactant gel solutions.
  • @chemicalmatt

    Thanks for your input. I've basically decided to take the approach you have recommended. I've sourced some different fixative polymers and am starting from the ground up. Water, C-25, Polymers...and then adding what is needed to reach the desired organoleptic characteristics. So far I've had much more success than attempting to knock off these other brands. 

    Thanks again! 
  • @chemicalmatt & @Bill_toge

    I now understand what you two we're telling me, PVP has really nothing to do with the fixative effect. I can't believe I didn't realize this earlier! Thanks for bringing this to light for me!

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    @chemicalmatt ;

    Thank you so much for this great insight.
  • @tonyh

    about your recipe that you shared
    1.if its the correct ingriedient?
    2.can i used your recipe for my personal use?
  • I have to make a crystal clear water soluble pomade. I have difficulties to get a strong hold and a crystal clear formula ! 
    I understand that I just have to add water with C-25 but it is not enough hold. I would like to improve that, so I want to add PVP but my formula became opaque and I have the impression that when I work it in my fingers it emulsifies (become white) ... 
    I don't have refractometer to get transparancy with plasticizers...

    Have you got some ideas ?? 

    My simple formula is : 

    Phase A (85°C)
    PVP K 30 powder

    Phase B (85°C)
    Ceteareth 25 (solids)

    Phase A into phase B 

    If I want to package my formula, I can add maximum 23% of C-25. 

    I am waiting for your answer. Thank you !! 

  • Anybody to help me ????? 
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Please start a new discussion
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • How can i stop the formation of molds and discoloration on my water based edge tamer pomade, the products forms molds and gets discolored with time, i included a preservative(Methylisothiazolinone Benzisothiazolinone) 0.1% concentration. the basic ingredients in the formulation are.
    Tegosoft cg
    lipocol HCO40
    Olive oil
    propylene glycol

    More so, could the olive oil be the cause of the mold formation and discoloration or is there anything omited in the formula?

    Thanks in anticipation for your technical assistance.
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    edited September 2018
    @NWOKOLOG yes it will be better to eliminate olive oil for color and fixation.
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