What is your favourite conventional emulsifier?

ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
edited August 6 in Formulating

Hello there!

I guess we all have favourite materials that we rely on. I realised that I rely on Arlacel 165 (Glyceryl Stearate/PEG-100 Stearate) a lot! It’s in the most of my O/W emulsions. I tried blending my own emulsifier with a certain level of success (polyglyceryl-4 oleate works pretty well with polysorbate 60, when the HLB is calculated properly), but I don’t really “trust” non-commercial blends.

I wonder if there are any other commercial blends with similar properties. To be honest, it’s a real workhorse. Tolerates extreme pH, doesn’t add viscosity, which allows freedom of formulation, can emulsify a lot of oil (I tried up to 40% and it’s stable so far). I want to explore other materials but the industry is too much focused on “natural” (even when you search at suppliers’ websites). It’s impossible to find anything that doesn’t have “organic/natural/COSMOS” tag attached to it. I am not interested in Olivem 1000 and whatever polawax used by the Etsy crowd.

What is your favourite conventional (non-polymeric) “synthetic” emulsifier?

Thank you in advance!

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    For me, a blend of sorbitan monostearate with Tween 20 (HLB adjusted ratio) with a few % of anionic surfactant (sodium lauryl sulfate  but SLES might likely perform even better) are the go-to but it's not my favourite since I'm on that "all natural base hype" since it not even really started. Not saying that stuff from renewable resources is better or anything (I sill like silicones and in some cases vaseline is unbeatable) but I just love it (truth be told, my opportunistic skin flora also loves it and thrives when I'm using creams rich in biodegradable ingredients *urks*!).
  • Interesting approach. I can't put my head around SLES (Coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, any other lathery surfactant) in leave in products. I know that all emulsifiers are surfactants, and I probably have no scientific point here.
    I mixed tween 20 with sorbitan oleate. I looked like it performed in room temperature ok but I don't have an incubator to run stability test.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    It's not about surfactancy/emulsification but simply adding a negative charge to the oil droplets = strong negative zeta potential = way better emulsion stability. Though that doesn't matter if it's a w/o emulsion, lamellar phase or similar. Adding a few drops dishwash liquid whilst nobody's watching is a very old trick to make emulsions work. You could take nearly any ionic emulsifier/surfactant for that job, like glyceryl stearate citrate but SDS, like Tweens and Spans, was and still is one of the things that was usually at hand during my professional life and hence my "preference" for these emulsifiers.
  • Thank you @Pharma. It’s quite interesting. I noticed that polymeric emulsifiers, that I always add for the texture, improve stability. I thought it has to do with viscosity. Now I understand why. They all are anionic. 
  • SpongeSponge Member
    edited August 7
    @ngarayeva001 Thats nice - it doesnt add any viscosity. Im always interested in emsulfiers that are viscosity-neutral.
    edit: AND its synthetic. Im with you, give me all the synthetics, the parabens and pour some mineral oil on top.
  • @Sponge, yes, it’s very unpopular opinion nowadays:) if you haven’t tried Arlacel 165, I highly recommend it. It’s used in huge number of commercial products. It’s a great material.
    I just would like to explore and not be one emulsifier formulator. 
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    I guess blend of ceteareth give nice emulsifier and we can add it low level of neutralized carbomer for better texture.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @ngarayeva001 - I'm not sure how unpopular the opinion is. If you look at the best selling beauty products, they use synthetic ingredients. Certainly, the Internet makes it seem like there is this huge majority of people who want natural products but it still represents only about 15 - 20% of the market.

    The fact that there is the "clean" beauty movement essentially demonstrates consumers are rejecting pure natural because they don't get the same performance as standard products. 

  • @Perry, I can't agree more on the point about the best selling products.  It is especially relevant regarding luxury skincare such as La Mer or Guerlain. They just go for good old petrolatum+glycerin for a simple reason: it works. And they use parabens, yet people pay >$250 for a small jar and don't question what is in it.

    I have a friend who thinks that she loves natural products and follows the buzz words. Her favorite hair oil ended up being cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, amodimethicone, parfum, and some fancy veg oil for claims. After the parfum in LOI. I don't want to generalise, but they like "natural" as long as it performs like silicone. 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Do you know the brand Weleda? 100% natural and 100% terrible rheology and 0% acceptable skin feeling. The renewable trend is just whitewashing so industry can sell better performing stuff (than 100% unadulterated nature) to all those who realised that pure natural doesn't do the trick but still want something that they can call "natural". Nonetheless, I support that trend (though for other reasons).
  • smoksmok Member
    i don't think there are an emulsifier better than othe
    each emulsion needs a precise emulsifier
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Silicones and silicone elastomers.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • @Microformulation, are you referring to silicone based emulsifiers? Something like thishttps://www.ulprospector.com/en/la/PersonalCare/Detail/2668/110940/ACULYN-2051-Agente-Espessante ? 
    Examples would be helpful. Thank you.

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    edited August 9
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • antmagnantmagn Member
    An emulsifier combo which I like using is old-fashioned liquid lecithin with ceteayl alcohol and polysorbate 20. I like the feeling on skin but it's mostly for dry skin types. The good about lecithin is that it also acts as an emollient, I can reduce or even omit glycerin and also reduce the amount of oils in the formula.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 8
    I also have a favour for 'ye good olde' reliable combo of GMS + PEG-100 stearate.
    Recently I found the combination of the w/o methyl glucose sesquistearate with o/w PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate to be very nice. Only disadvantage is the aeration after high shear which is nearly impossible to get out with slow stirring.

    Interesting approach. I can't put my head around SLES (Coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, any other lathery surfactant) in leave in products. I know that all emulsifiers are surfactants, and I probably have no scientific point here. (...)
    It's very common in pharmaceutical creams, e.g. SLS, tweens, spans.
    Probably because these have been thoroughly tested for interactions with pharmaceutical actives, plus they're cheap and stable.
    Usually the creams are named after their emulsifier (brand) name.
    This is the standardized formula for 'Lanette I cream' for example (here in NL):

    15% Cetearyl Alcohol + SLS (Lanette W)
    20% Decyl Oleate (Cetiol V)
    4% Sorbitol 70% non cryst.
    0,15% sorbic acid
    aqua purificata ad 100

    It's thick, 'soaps' and doesn't spread easily. I hate (indifferent) pharm creams. They're easy to make, but don't give a pleasant skinfeel to say the least. :/
  • Re Dowsil ES-5227, I recently got Dowsil Formulation Aid 5225. It's the same compound but in cyclopentasiloxane. I am still exploring it, but already like it. Dow papers say it creates medium viscosity, but my observation is it all depends what else is in the formula. I made a very thick but easily spreadable foundation with it. Stable so far (fingers crossed). The feel is absolutely amazing when it's mixed with phenyl trimethicone.

  • @Doreen " methyl glucose sesquistearate with o/w PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate" is this combination ok for HIPEs? 
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Silicone-based emulsions have great skin feel and are generally well-received by clients looking for performance. One could almost state that we are "chasing" this effect with our "natural" emulsifiers with emollients. 
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • Agree, w/si are the best. I am quite obsessed with this type of emulsions now  but it is quite difficult to find information, so it's pure trial and error for me.

    I am not sure if I saw a  w/si that is marketed as moisturiser (unless it's a sunscreen). I get very surprised when I find W/O commercial products in general. The only one that comes to my mind is Kiehl's avocado cream.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    @ngarayeva001
    No idea. Just made a simple O/W with it.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    p.s. The skinfeel was absolutely lovely. An oily phase of about 10-12% (don't have the formula here so don't remember precisely) with I believe Miglyol 829 and Miglyol Coco 810 and a bit of MM, Aristoflex Silk.
    It had a matte (despite the MM) fluffy, mousse-like to whipped cream appearance.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    There are numerous moisturizers out there that are W/SI based as well as numerous starting Formulas. If you look at the "natural" markets you will see much less of these products. Silicones are practically idiot proof and have outstanding qualities.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • em88em88 Member
    https://www.ulprospector.com/en/na/PersonalCare/Detail/33214/708848/Kolliphor-Cs-A great product if you are in pharmaceutical development 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    edited August 8
    @em88 That's about the same than Lanette SX, a standard pharmaceutical emulsifier (BTW they perform better when combined with a Span or Tween depending on HLB). Lanettes generally perform well for their intended purposes but, I'm all with @Doreen, these and other pharmaceutical semisolid preparations are anything but pleasant to apply. They're 100% function oriented = do the trick (occlusion, cooling, anti-itching, dissolving actives and so on), are stable, versatile, low in drug incompatibilities, easy to preserve, often do fine with very low shear force (mortar & pestle) etc. etc. All in all, they're "drugs" rather than beauty products. Certainly a plus is that such pharmaceutical preparations often follow the rules (or rather, the rules have been created based on them -> HLB, phase inversion temperature emulsification, zeta potential, just to name a few) and hence, they're a good starting point to learn the scientific/theoretical basis of emulsions and formulations. Alas, they don't make you a cosmetic chemist, let alone a good one, they just make you sound smart :blush: .
  • em88em88 Member
    @Pharma, the name was Lanette N. As I said it is a great ingredient for pharmaceutical oriented products. I used to make this myself before, but in an industry it is more easy to use a ready made mix. In pharmaceutical industries, the main point of choosing an expuent is its function, and as you said, this is a functional one. We don't have to sound smart, but efficient. :wink:
    Regarding the feel. I'd say that it is good enough. It really depends on the purpose of the product and where it is going to be applied. 
  • Apologies for the offtopic guys, but since we have several pharmacists in one place, I have a question. I read on one DIY supplier's website (who is actively promoting Easynov) that W/O emulsions are the way to go for the simple reason that they somehow improve delivery of actives. My quick search didn't give me anything particularly reliable on that topic. I understand that not all actives can be delivered deeper in skin and most of them  shouldn't be. But since most of pharmaceutical ointments are w/o, I wonder whether this statement has any scientific back up? 
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 9
    @ngarayeva001
    Do you mean pharmaceutical creams? Ointments are W/O or anhydrous per its name (ointment or 'salve'), or at least that's the correct name usage here in NL. The Lanette cream I shared was O/W. I think there are about just as many O/W as W/O. It just depends on the indication, skin pathology, environment (is it a dry or wet environment, hairy or non hairy etc etc). That's only my quick explanation as I am short in time.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 9
    re: deeper in skin
    Maybe they name W/O because these are occlusive and thus the used pharm. active has longer exposure time on skin.
    Urea has been used to penetrate nails in some cases I believe (fungal or psoriasis related, not sure)
    DMSO in extreme cases of extravasation of some chemos, but it's not common in dermatics.
    I think it's mostly marketing propaganda ("penetrates in deeper skin layers")
    I can only think of a few medicinal reasons wanting actives in deeper skin layers and those aren't cosmetic by far. And shouldn't be!
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    As @Doreen mentioned, occlusion is the reason why.
    Although, this line of thoughts is not always true and depends for example on the solubility of the actives in the base as well as in skin. This is because the preparation serves as reservoir which needs to create a concentration gradient to push the active into the skin. Completely undissolved active doesn't do anything and a super well solubilised one prefers staying in the product rather than passing into adjacent skin. Hence, best skin penetration is (again a rule of thumbs) achieved when using an occlusive preparation (a cling film works wonders, too) in which an oil soluble and/or non-ionic active is dispersed. As mentioned, said active should be slightly/poorly soluble in the used preparation too. For example a salicylic acid suspension/partial solution in vaseline/petroleum gives great skin penetration (systemic effect!) whereas salicylic acid dissolved in a polar oil or alcohol or, even worse, salicyate acid/salt in an aqueous preparation will only result in superficial penetration (good enough for exfoliation) or a film of "inactive" salicylic salt on top of the skin, respectively (okay if salicylic acid is used as antifungal preservative).
    Occlusion and penetration enhancers make skin "loose/porous" (urea is probably the standard showing that effect), the former also avoids drying out of the preparation (e.g. no useless salicylic acid crystals forming on the skin) whilst the latter may help keeping actives dissolved during their passage trough skin (DMSO is a prime example).
    @em88: You're right, Lanette N. Lanette SX is the version with SLES. 't was late and a long day at work.
  • @Pharma, that note on salicylic acid is priceless! Appreciate it!
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    @ngarayeva001 You're welcome!
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 12
    @Pharma
    What do you mean with 'great skin penetration, systemic effect!'
    How can a topical salicylic acid dispersion ever have systemic effect as target?
    Several intoxications and even deaths have happened due to salicylic acid intoxication due to topical use. These occurances usually happened in patients with damaged skin and needed application on relatively large body parts, like with ichthyosis. But cases in healthy patients have been mentioned as well, usually not leading to death, but still quite serious. 
    I even remember a salicylate intoxication (also topical) of a forum member here. Maybe if you search, the discussion might still appear. I won't mention this member's name if he/she doesn't begin about it his or herself.
    Physicians, especially GP's, don't always recognize a salicylate intoxication (especially not if the pathway was transdermal), so numbers aren't always correct. Plus many cases are mild and linked to other diseases. The recognition amongst GP's I know from a clinical pharmacist I have worked with, who of course dealt a lot with intoxicated cases.
    (So I know from a good source that I'm not overreacting with my warnings here and there.)

    I'm a bit amazed, as I am sure that you know all of this and probably a lot more than I do. Or did I misunderstand the seamingly positively sounding 'great effect!' sentence?
    I know this forum is also viewed a lot (and sometimes taken part of) by usually girls who feel a desire to seriously overdo salicylic acid dispersions, either in aqeous or fatty medium for home made peels, that's why I also feel a need to give a warning.
    A DIY webshop here in NL even sells aspirin tablets for this reason. "Grind about eight to ten tablets in a few spoons of honey or vaseline." 
    Google on DIY blogs or Youtube for 'home made aspirin mask'.
    You'll be horrified by the naivety. Concentrations don't seem important, nor the time of exposure. When used on feet and upper arms, I see some using 'extra' occlusion by using socks or even plastic. And leaving it overnight. *shudders*

    (As a side note. I think Aspirin (or generic) tablets are mostly used in those DIY blogs instead of salicylic acid, or SA containing products e.g. Curcylic 40, because (at least here) it's much easier to get. And oh well, it might give a bit of an analgetic effect too. (As far as I remember well from school, only the acetic anhydride reaction yielding its analgetic effect, and both forms being anti-inflammatory?)

    Edit about the part that's striked through: That particular DIY site has removed not only the 'how to make a home made aspirin mask' blog, but also has stopped selling aspirin tablets alltogether I see just now. I don't know the reason but I could think of one! ;)
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    @Pharma
    My sincere apologies if I did misunderstand that part!!
    It's terribly late and I should go to bed rather than participate on forums with my sleepy head. :sleeping:

    Had to mention as I couldn't delete my previous message anymore.
  • I wonder if aspirin even works for this purpose. I heard that many times, but as far as I understand aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid which is a different molecule.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @ngarayeva001 - I have not seen any scientific evidence that aspirin works for this.

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited August 13
    ngarayeva001 said:
    I wonder if aspirin even works for this purpose. I heard that many times, but as far as I understand aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid which is a different molecule.
    it could potentially work if the O-acetyl group were to be hydrolysed by esterase enzymes in the skin, but the rate of action would be much slower than with salicylic acid (see also: retinol vs. retinyl palmitate)
    @Doreen also salicylic acid in bulk is nasty stuff; there's a good reason it's limited to 2% in leave-on products and 3% in rinse-off products
    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
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    @Doreen (I'm going to read the rest later, just an answer to the first, important passage): Sorry, exceptionally bad phrasing on my behalf! Yea, I was even thinking about intoxications when I wrote it and I know that even healthy people died from topical salicylate ODs :(.
    What I meant was "very effective skin penetration (so effective that it can have unwanted systemic effects)". Sorry again for the bad phrasing!
  • Just curious whether salicylic acid penetrates and works when it isn’t properly solubilized? Because if not then the risk that someone inexperienced overuses it is minimal. I have a little bit of formulating experience but I cannot solubilize even 2%. Yes it solubilizes in PG. and then recrystalises again (in a toner).
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    I wonder if aspirin even works for this purpose. I heard that many times, but as far as I understand aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid which is a different molecule.
    It is indeed different, it is salicylic acid that has reacted with acetic anhydride. I have worked with acetylsalicylic acid in bulk (powder form). After a while you when you open the container you get a whiff of acetic acid smell when it has decomposed into rest products, i.a. salicylic acid).

    @Perry (and ngarayeva001), it does work. Maybe not in scientifically correct researches, but the huge doses and the abnormally long exposure time (see Bill Toge's explanation) probably make it work. I have seen video's and pictures before and after, it looks like a typical 'too much wart ointment left on too long' (whitish skin that can be peeled off by layers).
    I have also personally witnessed how acetylsalicylic acid reacts with stomach tissue, after a while it had the same corrosive effect.

    @Bill_Toge
    Thanks for the explanation!
    You're totally right with the maximum levels. But sadly so many try homemade concoctions and completely overdo it.

    @Pharma
    It's ok. I understand. ;)

    Just curious whether salicylic acid penetrates and works when it isn’t properly solubilized? Because if not then the risk that someone inexperienced overuses it is minimal. I have a little bit of formulating experience but I cannot solubilize even 2%. Yes it solubilizes in PG. and then recrystalises again (in a toner).
    Like Pharma explained, SA does work when dispersed instead of dissolved.
    And because of its lipophilic character (which is quite unique for an acid) it can even (partially) dissolve in a fatty medium and it has a better affinity with skin being lipophilic (lipid membranes/sebum).
    So a non-occlusive aqueous medium could potentially be less risky (even when fully dissolved).

    I thought I shared my formula (+ descriptions) with 2% salicylic acid toner with you a while ago?
    If you also follow those (SA in polyol phase, both phases heated to 70C and polyol phase slowly adding to water phase at 70C and not waiting too long with raising the pH to at least 3.2 in the cool down) you should be fine. I've been making this toner for years now and I love it!
    Remember that a formula alone doesn't necessarily say a lot, it's the description, the 'protocol' how to use it, that can make it fail or work.
    But you're totally right that it can be tricky. Once I tried another extract (hibiscus) along with the licorice salt I always use, and it turned into a gel. I thought only inorganic acids would turn that licorice salt into a gel, but Bill explained it could happen with organic acids as well. But the strange thing was that I used this licorice salt all the time with salicylic acid without problems. :/
    If you still find it too troublesome/cumbersome, you can try Curcylic 40 at 5% (cocamidopropyl dimethylamine + 40% salicylic acid), it's very easy to use. Trulux sells it too.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    edited August 14
    @Doreen Okay then!
    BTW hibiscus extract is usually acidic ;) . Salicylic acid is a weird thing because of the phenolic group just a carbon atom further away than the acid. This stabilises the acid; hence increased oil solubility and reduced interactions with other products. Regarding ammonium/potassium glycyrrhizate: it is pH sensitive and at low pH turns from a common "salt" into an emulsifier. That it gells is new to me (thanks for that tip!) but not astonishing given it's related to sterols.
  • DoreenDoreen Member
    edited August 15
    @Pharma
    You're totally right. And because hibiscus is acidic, I suspected that to be the culprit. I already was prepared for having to use more NaOH than usual to raise the pH in the cool down. I read in a leaflet of a manufacturer of dipotassium glycyrrhizate that it could form a gel when combined with inorganic acids, but since I thought I didn't use any inorganic acids in that salicylic acid toner I was a bit baffled.
    Because as I wrote in my previous reply: I used dipotassium glycyrrhizate every time in that 2% salicylic acid toner without a problem! No gelforming at all! So that's when I thought, hey maybe that hibiscus extract that I use now as new addition may contain some inorganic acids? No idea, I'm not a bota ... how do you call them, botanist? :smiley:
    @Bill_Toge  also gave good explanations about how licorice salts can behave with acids, inorganic or organic. But it's still a mystery because I never had it turning into a gel before in acidic formulations with salicylic acid.

    N.B. Paula's Choice uses that licorice salt too in one (or more) of her (liquid) exfoliating toners (pH of 3.2 even!) Probably in a lower concentration though. In my toner I use it at 0.3% (and have used it at 0.4%) without any problems at a pH between 3.7-3.9. Weird.
    I'm totally with @ngarayeva001 that it's tricky. I tried Euxyl PE9010 to preserve it a while ago and it precipitated.
  • ammezammez Member

    can emulsify a lot of oil (I tried up to 40% and it’s stable so far). 

    Could you please advise me how many percent of emulsifier you use it for blended oil up to 40% 
    Thank you.
  • Try 6-7%. If you add more it will be soaping.
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