Which ingredient in this lotion causes tingling under eyes?

Good morning Everybody!

This lotion causes tingling under eyes. I formulated it with an idea that since it contains very simple and generic ingredients it shouldn't cause any irritation for most of people. It's mostly synthetic and doesn't include any active ingredients. I tried all of the oils/silicones undiluted on my skin to figure out who is the criminal. Doesn't look like it's any of the emollients. I used all of these emulsifiers/polymers in other products before and haven't noticed any reaction either. The most surprising thing is that my skin is not sensitive and I can use an acid peel with pH of 2 on my skin without any consequences at all. So I assume that if this lotion causes tingling for me, it will cause severe irritation for someone else.

My suspectes are: BHT, or Phenonip or the fragrance (no natural EOs).

Your input is highly appreciated.

Trade Name - Company
Generic Aqua 76.20%
Generic Disodium EDTA 0.20%
Phenonip® P4 - Croda Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Butylparaben 1.00%
Generic Glycerin 2.50%
Zemea® Propanediol - DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products Propanediol 1.50%
Generic Cyclopentasiloxane 3.00%
Generic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil 2.50%

Generic Coco Caprylate 0.50%
10 cP Dimethicone 2.00%
Generic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) 2.00%
Generic Cetyl Alcohol 2.00%
Generic Behenyl Alcohol 1.50%
Arlacel™ 165 - Croda Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate 3.00%
Aristoflex® AVC - Clariant International Ltd Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer 0.40%
PNC 400 - 3V Sodium Carbomer 0.20%
Butylated hydroxytoluene - generic BHT 0.10%
Generic Tocopherol Acetate 0.50%
Generic Tocopherol 0.10%
Synthetic green tea, bergamot, jasmine - Perfumer's apprentice Fragrance 0.30%
Tween20 Polysorbate 20 0.50%
Color Color qs
Generic Citric acid 
qs to pH 6
Generic Sodium Hydroxide qs to pH 6


  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 2019
    Personally I find 0.3% fragrance quite a lot for a facial cream.

    I know you don't perform microbial tests and I don't know how your methods are regarding sanitizing, packaging etc., but can you be absolutely sure that it isn't microbe-related?
    No preservative is fail proof under any circumstance, even when obvious bugfood is absent.

    Is the tingling on the eyelid skin or also in the eye?
    I know that many creams have the tendency to 'travel' to the eyes and especially sunscreens are notorious for eye irritation when used too close to the eyes. I always have about 1 cm space below/above the eye where I don't apply.

    If I remember correctly you don't use a pH meter for emulsions, but strips.
    Can you be absolutely sure that your pH is 6?
    I know there is quality difference in pH strips, but these really aren't the best for pH testing.

    Regarding skin sensitivity and skin peels.
    Maybe your facial skin can withstand quite a low pH, but skin around the eyes is way more sensitive.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 2019
    Regarding pH strips:
    I know at most DIY sites you don't have a lot of choice in pH strips.
    But the best choice is a good brand (e.g. Merck) and those within a 'small usage width' (instead of 1-14, for example 3.8-5.4, the range where you expect your product to be in. Not that the 1-14 strips can't be used, these have more control colours, usually 3) Example source (It's a Dutch site, but the images can be more *coughs* helpful than my descriptions ;) )
    Of course a good meter is always better, but I know those with probes dedicated for emulsions, are expensive.

    A tip: the pH meter that's sold on Lotioncrafter (if it is still the Extech 101) is quite good and the probe is very easy to clean.
    You really don't need a meter that's as precise as those used in pharmaceutical labs.
    (But the pH strips sold in most DIY shops you can't distinguish a pH 2 from a pH 6. It's both 'orange-y' and hardly a difference in hue. I bought these once for fun on AliExpress and tested with pH meter. When the meter read 2.4, the orange hue was between 3 and 6!).
    Like these: 
    Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ph strips
  • I am quite sure it's not microbial contamination related, as I tested it right after it was made. Also, it is preserved with mix of parabens and phenoxyethanol (purchased recently), I used distilled sterile water (yes, I am overdoing it) and added a chelator. Equipment is sterilised with decent amounts of 75% of isopropyl alcohol, hands are sterilised + gloves (and everyone is kicked out from the formulation area).

    The tingling is specifically under eyes. I know that feeling with the sunscreen, it's not that one.

    Regarding the pH, I do use strips (because calibrating that pH meter is a nightmare). I don't see anything in this lotion to assume the pH is at a some extreme. It's worth testing though, thank you for an idea. 

    Now, I really wonder if it's the perfume... I actually thought 0.3% is on the low end. I will need to re-run it without the perfume and see what happens.

  • @Doreen thank you for the tip. I use this one https://www.hannainstruments.co.uk/hi-98100-ph-checker-plus.html
    It's ok, but must be calibrated after each use. It's also not too easy to clean, as you can imagine, so I use it primarily when make acids peels (that I never give to anyone).
  • Ah ok! Understood! :+1: :smiley:

    Not to be purposely annoying, but sometimes there can be so many factors and especially because I don't see anything in particular in your formula that might cause it. Apart from maybe the fragrance, but maybe the 0.3% being on the high side is my own personal experience, I'm not sure!
    Your formula looks fine to me!

    I used to have a 'pocket' pH meter like the one you had too, but because it was 1. not steady with emulsions and 2. a real pain to clean (and the delicate probes can't be sanitized with alcohols or H202), so they can become a source of contamination.

    A method to avoid contamination by pH probe could be to take 'samples' of your emulsion (when it's fully finished) and throw those away after it has been in contact with the meter, but then you can't adjust the emulsion no more (you'll get 100+% if you do (unless it's a nihil drop or two), and if you take samples before the emulsion is finished, the levels of the used substances aren't correct anymore.)
  • Silly question (I haven't done it because instruction says to clean it with a special liquid and I am too scared to break this monster) but what if I just soak it in isopropyl alcohol? Will it die? :smiley:
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Some people experience tingling from Phenoxyethanol. 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Silly question (I haven't done it because instruction says to clean it with a special liquid and I am too scared to break this monster) but what if I just soak it in isopropyl alcohol? Will it die? :smiley:
    No, it will not die. Although, it won't love it either. It is simply VERY important to soak/equilibrate it real well in KCl solution (the storage solution where you keep the glass electrode immersed in whilst not using your device).
  • I think it's the carbomer or the Aristoflex.
    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.
  • I will run it without fragrance and post the result. I really hope it's not aristoflex.
  • No, just a tiny amount of yellow oxide. I use so little that my scale (0.00) doesn't even register it. I used that yellow oxide in a foundation before and it didn't cause any issues.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 2019
    (...) I don't see anything in this lotion to assume the pH is at a some extreme. (...)

    You use both an acid and a strong base (at what concentration btw?) to adjust the pH while you didn't use a pH meter for this emulsion.
    I know from bad pH strips that it's more difficult to see if it's too acidic than too alkaline (if it's neutral to alkaline you get a green/blue hue quite fast), but acidic... it's all in the orange hues, which can be an enormous difference, as I found out with my meter (the visible difference within the hues are nearly undetectable at times). That emulsion might have been 2.4 while the strip read between 3 or 6 (in the test I performed that I mentioned earlier).
  • NaOH and Citric Acid are parts of my formula template. I don't use any of them if the pH is within 6. But I totally agree that pH strips are not accurate. My observation, they actually work fine within neutral pHs but once it goes low (acids) they don't detect that. pH meter was showing 3.4 while the strip was very very red (below 2). I guess all strips are different but all are not accurate.
  • We used phenoxyethanol + caprylyl glycol as a preservative and did a panel test of 100 to find out nearly 30% had burning / warming / tingling sensations. We found out it was phenoxyethanol and had to switch preservative systems. Just because its in everything right now, doesn't mean its not potentially an issue. If anything, it being in everything at the moment is precisely the problem.
    Cosmetic Product Development
    Sussex Research Laboratories Inc.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    JonahRay said:
    ... it being in everything at the moment is precisely the problem.
    That's true for about any preservative (or rather anything we get in contact with): The more it's used, the likelier it is that more people start having adverse reactions to it. It's not just because more get in contact with it but also the longer/higher exposure is, the higher chances get to develop an allergic or sensitivity reaction.
  • I must admit, I use phenoxyethanol, particularly Euxyl PE 9010 a lot (this formula isn't representative of that though). I prefer parabens and germall plus but for me those are expensive and not easily available (I have to order these from the US). I buy from repackers and they only hold popular materials. As you can guess parabens are not popular on that market especially in Europe.
  • @ngarayeva001
    A DIY supplier here (mainly for soapmakers) stocks Germaben (you can also request documents like CoA, MSDS etc). Above right you can select the English flag to have the whole site translated.
    Besides Germaben they also sell Phenonip, which is odd because they're on the natural/green/eco etc. side.
    They don't have a standardized shipping price list for abroad, so I have just sent them a mail about it, I'll let you know when I get an answer.
    Hopefully this could be a cheaper solution for you!
  • Oh look at these prices!!! Thank you so much  @Doreen! I am running out of germaben
  • You're welcome :smile:
  • Hello guys!

    An update. The villain is found. It's the perfume. I run the same formula yesterday without the perfume and poly 20. All other inputs were the same. No tingling. I guess i am just sticking to fragrance free formulating.

    Thank you All very much for your inputs.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Thanks for the update!
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 2019
    Glad you found the culprit! :smile:
    I never use fragrances in facial creams anymore either.
  • I guess that's why they say to always do a knockout on the fragrance, emulsifier or preservative for issues like this! Good to know!
    Cosmetic Product Development
    Sussex Research Laboratories Inc.
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