My vanishing cream leaves sticky feeling :( Please help!!

I am creating a very basic vanishing cream. But after application it leaves sort of like film on the skin which feels heavy and on washing with water, it comes off as a milky liquid.. i thought vanishing creams are suppoed to vanish completely in the skin :(

Below is my formula:

Water phase (85%)
  • water - 84%
  • glycerin - 0.5%
  • Triethanolamine - 0.5% (alkali)
Oil phase (15%)
  • Sesame oil - 10%
  • Stearic acid - 4%
  • Emulsifying wax NF - 1%
I know, TEA stearate is a bad choice for a leave-in product since its alkaline. But i really wanted to try the 1980's vanishing cream.

Possible hypothesis i have:
  1. Sesame oil is too thick?
  2. presence of E-wax NF?
  3. too less TEA? 
  4. too large oil phase?

i am looking for a very thin water consistency that gets absorbed instantly without leaving any greasiness or oiliness

Plz help :(


  • I am also fascinated by vintage products and have been working on my cold cream for a while (not there yet). Ideally, you need to calculate saponification value (which I have no idea how to do anyway) but if you don' know how to do it, there is a rule of thumb of 1 part of TEA to 2 parts of Stearic Acid (chemists would though rotten eggs at me but it works).  I think the oil type and amount is a culprit here. Try to replace it with something with a lighter feel (almond oil?). I think even mineral oil would be less heavy than sesame. You can also reduce it to 6-7%. Unless you know exactly how to calculate the required amount of TEA to Stearic keep that emulsifying wax as an additional emulsifier. You can increase glycerin actually, 05% is rather low. Add 0.1% of tocopherol (or BHT) is you are going to use veg oil.
  • Seems like far too much veg. oil in a formula to me. Also the stearic acid probably imparts a thick feeling that stays on the skin. Look into using glyceryl citrate/lactate/linoleate/oleate as the emulsifier for a very soft cream?
     Where are your preservatives?
  • Stearic acid in this particular case is being saponified into TEA-stearate and doesn't feel like 4% of stearic acid used as a thickener.
  • If I'm not mistaken, using TEA to neutralize/saponify stearic acid yields a different product feel than NaOH.
  • Unknown Member
    edited January 15
    thanks guys for your comments, suggestions and review.

    ngarayeva001: i am going to try a new formulation with 6% oil phase (4% light oil, 2% stearic acid and 1% TEA) and 0% E-wax NF. Maybe that should give more instant absorbtion and light feel

    LuisJavier: You are right, maybe oil is too much. I will try with lower oil and emulsifiers. Also, haven't added any preservatives, fragrances or EO because i first want to get the consistency right. These are just experiments that go in the dustbin. Once I get the desired consistency, i am going to all the good stuff :) like rose and lavender hydrosols instead of water, olive squalene instead of veg oil, and then obv preservatives and EO

    Gunther: thats true. NaOH gives harsh cream, KOH gives a better cream but TEA is supposed to give the pearliest sheen and fastest absorbtion. Source:

    will keep you guys updated with my experiments and results. In the mean time, keep the suggestions coming.

  • bil7bil7 Member
    Yes you can simply calculate for making Vanishing type cream
    Simple calculations depends on material classification 
    You can also choose cetostearyl alcohol 2 percent and stearic acid 2 percent 
    E wax nf 2 to 3 percent 
    If not want then emulsifying with peg 75 
    0.5 percent just for idea
    Oils choose light molecular weight 
    Add some little capric caprylic triglyceride for better smooth feeling non sticky type trade name liponate gc
    Usually do saponify with KOH instead of Tea will result in better 
    Simply is that 
    Fatty acid 10 percent 
    Oils phase 20 percent and water upto 100.
  • @wob12, I like that magazine too. This is where I got the inspiration for my cold cream. I noticed they have no oil. Stearic acid is the only emollient. You can create an emulsion with fatty acids and fatty alcohols only. Hair conditioner would be a good example of that. I would remove the oil at all and increase rather than decrease stearic acid. Otherwise, it will be runny. Please do keep us posted on your progress! 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    If memory serves me right: Didn't traditional vanishing creams use sodium stearate which forms special platelet-like crystals giving them the optical illusion of "vanishing" on the skin. Other stearate salts usually don't do that and mixtures may or may not form such opaquefying (is that even a word?) crystals.
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