Natural alternative

Greetings cosmetic fellows

I'm developing some natural and vegan cosmetics, then I need natural/vegan alternatives to my formulations. 
Recently I'm having some problems with pH on my facial cosmetics, most of them has acid pH what harms the eyes area, so I need something like Triethanolamine(what is made from petroleum) to rise pH at least for a basic level. 

Can you help me?


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    You'll need to give a complete list of ingredients in your formula to get any useful advice.
  • Perry said:
    You'll need to give a complete list of ingredients in your formula to get any useful advice.

    I can't list it all. I'm looking for something witch has almost the same effect on pH as TEA.  
  • Probably wrong on both accounts of natural and ph adjusting but tromethamine rings a bell. 
  • @r3lax3d - don't worry, nobody wants to steal your 'natural' formula. Without knowing what you have that is causing acidity it's hard to know if the base will have any incompatibilities. 

    So that said, you could try niacinamide. It's certainly not a strong base so it may not raise pH enough.

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Arginine. 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.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Unfortunately, most sold arginine is arginine HCl or other salts tough several suppliers don't mention that or only on the small prints on the back side of the package. Haven't found a source for small quantities of free base ;( . Apart from that, arginine is a very good and, for an organic molecule, pretty strong base (actually the strongest one nature has to offer).
  • @Pharma ; it's hard to find good quality but  several supplement supply stores have it. We've bought  from here before, they  provide  a COA at least

  • Pharma said:
    Unfortunately, most sold arginine is arginine HCl 
    Arginine base is available, but it is produced in smaller quantities and you must specify arginine base from your supplier - otherwise, as you say, they will supply arginine HCl. 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Thanks @EVchem !
  • You need ‘natural’ version of TEA, is that your question? Have you considered simple NaOH?
  • @ngarayeva001 I tried this approach with clients who were so far in the 'natural/no toxins' rabbit hole (they literally said they would like nothing in the ingredient list over 4 syllables). Got asked "why would you put caustic lye in this product!? It can cause chemical burns" Now I've had to prove that even with 14% niacinamide I cannot gel carbomer... feel like i'm taking crazy pills!
  • 14% of Niacinamide? Why so much? I have not seen evidence that it’s getting more effective at higher than 6%. Was it the client’s request?
  • client said they wanted to use niacinamide to adjust the pH of the product with carbomer since other bases were not 'clean' enough .... even after saying it wouldn't work sales told me to make an attempt anyway. guess who was right? not that the client cares, they are at the dangerous level of knowing how to google but only to cherry pick their information
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Nicotinamide isn't even a good base... Why not take the aforementioned arginine or free base lysine? Unfortunately, there aren't that many available and 'clean' bases available ;( .
  • @Pharma Yep I have arginine and that has somewhat worked. Here's the kicker... the client wants an aloe gel with carbomer and they want the preservative system to be potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. The sales team refuses to tell the client the formula is never going to work as they hope
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Eh, wait a minute... I completely missed the point about CARBOMER aka poly(acrylic acid) aka poly(1-carboxyethylene). Ain't that a real nastiness? I mean a polythingie, synthetic plastic, explosive ethylene gas, and carcinogenic acrylic acid? That's terrible! Think about the birds and turtles who are all going to die!!!! Arrrghhhh!!!!

    Seriously, you could try chitosan as a base and gelling potentiator ;) .
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I make a gel product that is 100% aloe vera (using 10x liquid concentrate) and uses 0.8% Ultrez-20. It's quite stable, no problems at all. I should think sodium benzoate would be adequate as a preservative at pH <=5, with appropriate use of glycerine / other glycols, proper production technique and airless packaging.
    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.
  • @Pharma the chitosan sounded great but my next fear is they want to claim the formula is 'vegan' and all the poor shrimp had to give up their exoskeletons. and right?? let's pick the thing that used to be manufactured with benzene, it's only 3 syllables so it must be okay.

    @Belassi I'm using the 200x concentrate and ultrez 10. Ultrez 20 would probably work slightly better, but I think the sodium benzoate/ pot sorb and the carbomer will continue to be at odds with each other since they both need different pH ranges to function. 
  • @r3lax3d, what pH range is not harm around the eye? I am very new in this area.
    i appreciate your answer and thank you so much.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    You could possibly make that work using Ultrez-30 which is a low pH activated carbomer that will thicken at pH 4.0.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • @MarkBroussard Thank you, I'll take a look. I  work at a CM so they are always fussy about bringing in new materials but can't hurt for lab work!
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