Borax alternatives for creaminess in Pomade

I have a hair Pomade formulation that includes about 1% borax (dissolved in the water phase), that I was looking to replace with a different preservative for EU compliance, so replaced the borax with Phenoxyethanol SA and I believe it’ll preserve it, but the issue is that the removal of borax dramatically changed the consistency of the product. With borax the product is very creamy (almost like a lotion consistency) despite having a lot of hold, but getting rid of it creates a very thick, pasty and dry product. Is there a product that can have this softening type affect that borax has? 

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Borax is alkaline and hence acts as a base and a buffer (e.g. borax is more forgiving than standard bases in regard to overdoses). You may try sodium or potassium hydroxide, TEA or the like as alternatives.
    BTW preservation is 'just' a side effect of borax.
  • @Pharma thank you for this note. Would something like sodium bicarbonate work? I worry about having to handle sodium hydroxide.
  • EVchemEVchem Member
    Sodium bicarb is a much weaker base, it will likely not perform the same. TEA is also weaker than NaOH but not as bad as bicarb so maybe that is your middle ground
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Bicarbonate, if it even works because it's not really alkaline, will form carbon dioxide sooner or later = bubbles and overpressure. I highly advice against it! If ever, go with carbonate but avoid any acidic pH or the same happens. Unlike hydroxides which fully react if added properly, the final product using a carbonate will be fairly alkaline and aggressive, nothing to be put on hair.
  • Softening effect can be perfectly done by lanette O 
  • EVchem said:
    Sodium bicarb is a much weaker base, it will likely not perform the same. TEA is also weaker than NaOH but not as bad as bicarb so maybe that is your middle ground
    Thanks, I will give TEA a try and report back! 
  • Softening effect can be perfectly done by lanette O 
    Thank you! I’ll give this a try! My worry with lanette o and cetearyl alcohols was a fear in thinking that it would actually thicken the product, would that not be the case?
  • Pharma said:
    Bicarbonate, if it even works because it's not really alkaline, will form carbon dioxide sooner or later = bubbles and overpressure. I highly advice against it! If ever, go with carbonate but avoid any acidic pH or the same happens. Unlike hydroxides which fully react if added properly, the final product using a carbonate will be fairly alkaline and aggressive, nothing to be put on hair.
    I appreciate the caution! I’ll make sure to avoid this then. Do you think the hydroxides will be safe enough to work with? And at a low enough dose shouldn’t have any adverse effects right? 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    The amount of NaOH or KOH depends on your ingredients and will be safe because the alkali will chemically react ;) . Check your pH! Besides, you're not going to use as much as you're using borax or your hair will turn into felt.
    NaOH and KOH are safe to handle if you're careful and follow a few rules:
    Add cold water first, then the alkali, and mix carefully until dissolved. By preference, use enough water because dissolving these bases will result in considerable heat. A 1% solution will barely heat up whereas a 10% solution may get steaming hot.
    Wear safety goggles, good goggles, and gloves. If some gets into your eye, goodbye. It takes a split second to permanently burn your cornea. On normal skin, rinse with a lot of cold water and you'll be fine. Your skin will start to feel soapy should some cross-contamination get on your hands and you'll know that it's time to rinse your hands. Be cautious not to touch your eyes during your work because already a small indirect contamination can waste your eyesight.
    Always close the container firmly. A: NaOH and KOH attract water and B: you don't accidentally spill the whole container.
    If you're dissolving larger quantities, have a bottle of kitchen vinegar at arms length. Spillage of some litres of lye solution won't just ruin your clothes but it might prove tricky to rinse yourself from tip to toe under the tap; using vinegar to neutralise the alkali can come in handy. Mind, this is not something you should do as a standard operation procedure especially not with your eyes (you don't want to acid burn the remaining bit of eye you still have after an alkali burn)! Having that bottle nearby (and open or it's useless ;) ) is more of a psychological thing which calms your thoughts and fears and hence steadies your hands -> goal achieved without actually using it! ;)
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