Emulsion Failure

Hey all,

I am a beginner level chemist who makes hair products for fun. I have been having a lot of problems with making a successful emulsion. Every time I pour my product into a container and let it sit, my two phases separate. I am still in high school and I don't have a massive understanding of cosmetic chemistry but I don't think I am making any massive mistakes.

Here is what I am using:
Water 70%
Shea Butter 13%
Emulsifying Wax NF 7%
Jojoba Oil 6%
Vegetable Glycerin 2%
Vitamin E Oil 1%
Phenoxyethanol 1%

Should I just try adding more emulsifying wax? Should I try blending it faster? 



  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Yes, and note carefully the relative size of the phases after separation. One way of empirically finding the correct amount is to add more and more emulsifier, it will become harder to see two distinct phases once the emulsion point is neared, so it is not an exact method.
    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.
  • You have a 20 percent oil phase: another way is by using a polymeric emulsifier.For example you could use Ultrez 10 by addition to water phase and after adding oil phase neutralize with a base such as triethanolamine.One percent of TEA will neutralize 1 of Ultrez and provide a smooth stable cream.
  • @Belassi @DRBOB@VERDIENT.BIZ Thanks for the help guys! It is appreciated!
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    Welcome to the world of cosmetic chemistry.

    I think you have a couple of issues:

    (1)  You're not thickening your water phase.  Make a slurry by combining your 2% Glycerin with 0.3% Xanthan Gum and then add that slurry to your stirring water phase.

    (2)  You have way too much Shea Butter.  Cut that down to 3% Shea Butter and 12% Jojoba Oil so your oil phase is not more that 15% to 16%.

    (3)  I'm going to assume that your Emulsifying Wax NF is Cetearyl Alcohol + Polysorbate 60.  So you have two high HLB emulsifiers, but no low HLB emulsifiers to bring it in balance ... your oils have HLB values of 6 (Jojoba) and 8 (Shea Butter).  You'll need to add some Glyceryl Stearate to get your emulsifier HLB balanced with your oil HLB ... this is why it is separating.

    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • @MarkBroussard Thanks for the advice. I will look into buying the ingredients you mentioned.
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