How did this work?! Choosing an emulsifier for o/w emulsion serum...

I've been working on creating an o/w emulsion serum (going for a milky white appearance and smooth texture) but the original emulsifier I used caused pilling (recipe below). I've switched it out for what I randomly had on hand, polysorbate-20, which is a solubilizer. It ended up working; the texture is exactly what I wanted, even though I'm used ~7% oils. Why did that work, is it likely that the serum will separate eventually, and if so, is there a better emulsifier I could use? 

If anyone can provide advice on choosing an emulsifier in general, would definitely appreciate that as well. 

81% water
1% hyaluronic acid
5% niacinamide 

3% rosehip oil
3% jojoba oil 
5% triglyercide 
1% gelmaker EMU (i.e. Sodium acrylate, from -> switched out for polysorbate - 20 

1% benzylalcohol-DHA


  • At the end only stability testing can tell if the emulsion will hold,
    but you have 11% total oils (rosehip, jojoba and triglyceride) which may be too much for polysorbate 20.

    You can:
    1 lower oils a bit
    2 but a premade emulsifier (read the specs, some of them contain polysorbates plus other substances)
    3 increase polysorbate even more, but that can make it sticky.
  • I am a bit surprised that Gel Maker EMU caused peeling at 1%. I seriously suspect it's not your emulsifier. If you are using high molecular weight, the criminal is hyaluronic acid. I do not recommend using polsorbate 20 a very simple reason. When you are not using commericial emulsifier such as glyceryl stearate/PEG100 stearate blend, or Gel Maker EMU in your case, you are actually creating your own emulsification system. It will eventually separate, because polysorbate 20 has very high HLB comparing to your oil phase. You need to balance it out with something like glyceryl oleate. I made my own emulsification system of glyceryl oleate and polysorbate 60 (plus stabilisers). It shows no signs of separation so far (7 months in room temperature). Try the same formula without HA.
    Disclaimer: you don't need to calculate HLB when using commercial emulsifiers, but you do need to calculate it when you are creating your own system.
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