Help with defining gel (for curly hair)

LabLab Member
Hello friends!

I'm developing a defining gel for curly hair (formula below) and having a little trouble getting what I want (appearance/stickiness). The result has been a real disaster!  :D

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  • 1. Water -> q.s. 100%
  • 1. *Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer -> 1%

  • 2. Dissodium EDTA -> 0.1%
  • 2. Glycerin -> 1%

  • 3. VP/VA Copolymer -> 2%

  • 4. PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil -> 4%
  • 4. Coconut Oil -> 0.5%
  • 4. Fragrance -> 1%
  • 4. Preservative (blend) -> 1%

*"Carbopol Ultrez 20"


Manufacturing process:

1. Sprinkle "Carbopol Ultrez 20" over the water while stirring constantly at 300 RPM. Neutralize the system with "AMP Ultra PC 2000" (Aminometilpropanol).

2. Add the ingredients to the previous phase under the same constant stirring.

3. Add the ingredient to the previous phase under the same constant stirring (little by little).

4. Mix the ingredients to solubilize them in the PEG-40 and add to the system under the same constant stirring.



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My problem here is that's the first time the "VP/VA" lumped into a weird, plastic-like mass and didn't incorporate into the water. I hadn't neutralized the system after adding "Carbopol Ultrez 20" in this attempt, so I started doing it, however... it didn't work, it was too thick for the benchmarking gel I'm trying to achieve (which is MUCH more fluid).

I don't have a picture with me, but imagine one of those super-fixing clear gels for men's hair that you can find on the shelves. That's more or less what I got on the last try.

I thought about lowering "Carbopol Ultrez 20" to 0.5%, but beyond that I never worked with "VP/VA". Are there any handling secrets with it? Do I need to heat, hydrate, neutralize, anything like that?

Thank you in advance, as always, for your attention and availability (:

Comments

  • hi There 

    I would say your Concentration of Carbopol is way too high1 % leads to Viscosity way above 50000 mpas 

    Looking at the INCI list of the Benchmark i would say use 0,3 % Carbopol. to get a better Viscosity Profile. I would recommend checking the advice of your VP/VA Copolymer sublayer on how to use it and how much he would say should be used -20% for your kind of Product. you will get better results I would guess.

    If you look at the INCI liste of the benchmark the PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil  is below the VP/VA copolymer so I would recommend dropping some of that 4 % seems to be a lot. 

    For Styling products in general the best solution from my point of few is to use as less of all ingredients that are not the Styling Polymer as possible because all other ingredients will just limit the effect of your used polymer and therefore lower performance. 


    Head of Research and Development 
  • LabLab Member
    Wow, thank you so much for the points raised @Gordof ! I appreciate your help!  :)

    Today I will try to manipulate with 0.5% of carbopol to see how it will behave and, in case the result is still viscous, I will follow with your suggestion of 0.3%.

    My teammate raised an interesting point, see if you agree with his statement: basically, he noticed that the benchmarking has a slightly strange ordering of components, which may suggest that there is some raw material that is actually a blend and that raises concentrations of other substances listed.

    Do you think that makes sense and that's why the VP/VA finds itself in that position when compared to the PEG-40? Something doesn't sounds right at all with the LOI

    I previously requested the technical material from the supplier and I'm waiting, but you know how it is, sometimes they wind us up  :D
  • I agree with what's already been said- I  also think you could drop the coconut oil to  just claims level (0.01%), it's not functional for your formula and will just make it harder to have clarity, require higher usage level of PEG-40... based on that benchmark I'd say your 1% line is right after the VP/VA
  • LabLab Member
    Update: I made the gel with 0.5%... it was still sticky, but a lot less than with 1%! I will see if my manager approves this way or prefers more fluidity and then, if necessary, I reduce to 0.3% as suggested.

    However, it is not very transparent, it is a little opaque. I think @evchem2 is right! I hadn't thought that this lack of transparency could be due to coconut oil (although it was related to the high concentration of PEG-40). Sounds like a good idea, I'll try it as soon as possible!
  • VP/VA Copolymer should be added at neutral pH (after carbopol neutralization) else it would form a mass that precipitate out just as you saw , and 2% of it's just way too low you won't probably get a lot of fixation at that level , also glycerin can have a negative impact on the performance of VP/VA Copolymer why are you adding it in the formula ? , peg-40 HCO can also have a negative effect try to use as low as possible just to solubilized fragrance , regarding claim ingredient I would suggest to use a water soluble extract of coconut oil(yes they exist) or you would have a lot of problems with clarity and stability
  • LabLab Member
    HAL49 said:
    VP/VA Copolymer should be added at neutral pH (after carbopol neutralization) else it would form a mass that precipitate out just as you saw , and 2% of it's just way too low you won't probably get a lot of fixation at that level , also glycerin can have a negative impact on the performance of VP/VA Copolymer why are you adding it in the formula ? , peg-40 HCO can also have a negative effect try to use as low as possible just to solubilized fragrance , regarding claim ingredient I would suggest to use a water soluble extract of coconut oil(yes they exist) or you would have a lot of problems with clarity and stability
    Thanks for your comments! OK, here we go:

    - I'm adding the glycerin because the formulator thought it would be interesting due to the benchmarking's LOI. I didn't know that it could disrupt system stability (just like the PEG-40), could you explain to me how and why this occurs?  :/

    - I was a little afraid to use more than 2% of VP/VA because when I weigh it it seems like a lot of raw material (I'm making a batch of 100g). What percentage would you indicate for greater fixation? The technical material they sent me doesn't specify the concentration at all.  :#

    - About the coconut extract, I found the idea very interesting. I think I've seen something like this here in the lab and I'll check it out, thanks!  ;)

    -------

    Update: I redid the formula again with 0.5% Carbopol, changing only the neutralization order. My manager suggested to do a test making the formula normally, but neutralizing the system only at the end of the process (after adding all the ingredients and cooling <45 ºC)... In the end, what I got was not much different from the previous version (no viscosity changes), but it turned out a little more opaque in a slightly greenish hue (lol?)

    Here are images of the 3 versions (I didn't include the truly first one that turned into plastic because I discarded Dr. Frankenstein a long time ago)  :D


    First version (1% carbopol)




    Second version (0.5% carbopol)




    Third version (0.5% carbopol)




    P.S.: I think the greener look might be due the fragrance I used (if I'm not mistaken this one had a stronger orange color than the one I used in the second version that was lighter and a little bit greener)
  • MariaSibonMariaSibon Member
    edited October 25
    Hello, 

    My suggestions:

    1) if you want a thin and light gel keep your Carbopol NMT 0.5%, as already suggested and you observed yourself.
    2) You could replace Peg-40 Hyd.Castor oil with polysorbate 20 solubiliser, it might affect slightly your viscosity and make it thinner.
    3) You need to succeed clarity by adjusting your oils: solubiliser ratio.
    Your initial suggestion includes 2,5% oil (i presume preservative is in the oily phase, if not then 1,5%  and I ignore the effect of Vp/VA polymer) and you are using only 4% solubiliser, I can tell from the picture that the thick gel is not crystal clear. In the second case you decreased the solubiliser, but if you keep the same oils ratio, that is why you get a milky gel. 
    4) For a very natural hold of curly hair, 2% might be ok, for a "normal" hold at least 6% is recommended, but this is something you need to decide yourself based on your product application.

  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    So...lesson learned: ignore your manager if he/she is an idiot who never worked with this chemistry before. That's my take. ALWAYS neutralize acrylate polymers before adding fixative resins unless they are also anionic acrylates themselves. Even then it's a good idea. Otherwise you get the complex you saw. Also, per discussions, REDUCE the PEG-40 HCO and the coconut oil and fragrance (1.0% Yeesh! This will stank up the hair at that level) down a lot and you should have a product there. Glycerin is a cheap and good plasticizer for fixative resins (prevents flaking) so you can leave it.
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