Is my formula any good? + some Vitamin C & Retinol related questions

martii94martii94 Member
edited April 13 in Formulating
Hi all, I'm new here.

I'm thinking of producing my first serum.

This formula I've got:

AQUA 29%, CAMELLIA JAPONICA FLOWER WATER 20%, ADANSONIA DIGITATA LEAF EXTRACT 12%, HYALURONIC ACID 7%, HYDROGENATED RETINOL 4%, CETEARYL OLIVATE + SORBITAN OLIVATE 4%,  ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C) 4%, HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA EXTRACT 4%, ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE 4%, AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM (HORSE CHESTNUT) EXTRACT 4%, ADONIS AMURENSIS EXTRACT 2%, ALLANTOIN 2%, NIACINAMIDE 2%, LACTOBACILLUS FERMENT 2%

At first, I was shocked at the % of Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol, but I later found out that 4% Retinol only translates to 0.4% pure Retinol. Can someone confirm this?

Also, the 7% of HA, is that considered good?

I've read a lot of articles about Retinol + Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). Some say they compliment each other while others say they should not be used together. Since my formula has Ascorbic Acid in it, I want to know if this can be replaced by another type of Vitamin C, that might be better? 

I was wondering if it would make a difference if I use Ascorbic Acid or other types of Vitamin C like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)?

At last, does this look like a promising formula? Are there ways to improve it?

Comments

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited April 13
    It's tough to say whether the formula is "any good" without knowing what you consider "good."

    This is what I consider good.  

    1. Formula delivers the expected / claimed benefits
    2. The formula remains stable for a reasonable amount of time (~1 year)
    3. The formula uses an effective preservative system (this is related to stability)
    4. The formula looks, smells, and feels pleasing to the consumer
    5. The formula doesn't use superfluous ingredients at significant levels. (low levels are fine for marketing).

    So, from what you've listed based on my standards I would say this formula is not good.

    1. You've listed no claims or benefits you want out of the formula so it is hard to say whether you achieve any.

    2. It may be stable except...

    3. ...this is a terrible choice for preservation. Lactobacillus ferment is not a reliable preservative. I personally wouldn't use it. Use a proper preservative system (parabens, formaldehyde donors, or phenoxyethanol at least) especially when you have all these plant extracts in it. Plant extracts are chock full of natural microbes which can cause problems.

    4. Hard to say. You have no fragrance in there so it is probably not the best smelling formula.

    5.  Here's the biggest problem with the formula. Ingredients like flower water & plant extracts are claims ingredients. They will have no significant effect on performance. Or at the very least they are not the best choice for pretty much anything. Glycerin is a better choice than Hyaluronic acid for moisturization. (No you can't use 7% HA. Over 2% it becomes a thick gel). 

    You also have way too many ingredients. Every ingredient you use should have some specific purpose. For example, why would you use ADANSONIA DIGITATA LEAF EXTRACT? What is it supposed to do? 

    In my opinion, to make this formula better, first get rid of all the superfluous ingredients including all extracts & juices. And get a functional preservative system.  

  • martii94martii94 Member
    edited April 13
    Thank you so much for taking the time to advise me.

    It's funny how I thought Vitamin C and the Retinol together could be the main problem and now I'm learning so much about all the rest.

    I have no experience with formulating myself, but I'm trying to understand the formula better. This was made for me by a toxicologist to be a hydrating serum. I basically asked for a hydrating serum with Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid and this is what they came up with. 

    I now understand that it would be better to use Glycerin and lower the % of HA (I'm not sure why they recommended this 7% of HA).

    I was afraid of adding fragrance since I thought that could also cause irritation on the skin? Are there any good ones to use?

    Since I want my skincare to be paraben-free I will see if the other preservative ingredients can be added instead of the Lactobacillus ferment.
  • lmoscalmosca Member
    @martii94 may I ask you what do you mean with the following statement?

    This was made for me by a toxicologist to be a hydrating serum. 

    I am not sure I fully understand if we intend the same professional figure when we refer to a toxicologist.

    As retinol goes, if that's the Retinol H10 from Nikko. then it's a 10% solution in Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, which are otherwise missing from your LOI. Hydrogenated Retinol just behaves as a humectant, there is no actual proof that it works in the same way as retinol or retinoic acid and the only study I could find is hidden behind a patent from Nikko corp (in vitro, monitors Hyaluronic acid production). 

    Until there is some real evidence, it just behaves as a glorified form of glycerin, in my book.

    Aside from what @Perry already pointed out, 2% allantoin is far too much. At room temperature allantoin is only soluble to 0.5%, and it tends to crystallize back to very sharp crystals that are not pleasant at all.

    Of all the extracts you have there, you can remove them all with great benefits to the color and odor of your serum. Aside from the astringency of Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) and Horse Chestnut (Aesculum Hippocastanum) all the others are just a mixture of unproven chemicals. 
    Aescin (the triterpenoid of horse chestnut is effective as a vasotonic, and there is evidence it penetrates the skin, in ex-vivo models). However, you may want to get a standardized extract with known concentration of Aescin and use a final concentration between 0.2-2%. 



  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Perry said:
    ...For example, why would you use ADANSONIA DIGITATA LEAF EXTRACT? What is it supposed to do?...
    Baobab is soooo in trend, everyone needs it and it does everything which is good for your health and beauty! At least, that's what I've read in some very reliable advertisements :smiley: .
    Me, I wonder about the Adonis amurensis extract. Adonis species are toxic but exactly that toxin, which is hopefully lacking in the extract, is responsible for traditional use of Adonis.
    4% horse chestnut extract is used in a registered medical ointment in Switzerland. Said ointment is brownish and anything but pleasant to apply but it helps wonders against varicosis, haemorrhoids, and other similar illnesses.
    Regarding cetearyl olivate + sorbitan olivate: This is a o/w emulsifier which forms so called liquid crystal networks, your formulation doesn't look like one which needs that. The only thing in your serum which requires emulsification is hydrogenated retinol. If you intend using equal amounts of Olivem 1000 and an inactive retinol derivative... The only thing keeping that emulsion stable is the super high amount of gelling agent (i.e. hyaluronic acid) and you'd be better off going with a solubiliser or an emulsifier without cetearyl olivate, cetyl alcohol, or the like.
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @Perry, would you please explain why above 2% HA will be a thick gel?
    Thanks in advance @Perry
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited April 14
    Well, take a look at this video of a 1% HA solution.  It's already a thick gel.  Making 2% would be even thicker.  

    Check out video at the 6:25 point for an example of a 1% HA gel


  • DtdangDtdang Member
    thanks @Perry
  • EVchemEVchem Member
    Everything people have said so far I agree with, but you asked about different forms of vitamin C. 4% ascorbic acid will  likely cause you a lot of stability issues, and there are some papers that claim it can't have all the miraculous effects if the pH is too high- and in your formula it would be. SAP /MAP are less studied, the problem you might see with them is they are salts which are typically problematic to emulsion stability.

    Fragrances can contain common allergens, but that doesn't mean they are always irritating. There are also suppliers (ex Carruba https://carrubba.com/) who can provide 'aromatic extracts'. They are not true fragrances but they are blends of extracts that can impart smell
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    AQUA 29%, CAMELLIA JAPONICA FLOWER WATER 20%, ADANSONIA DIGITATA LEAF EXTRACT 12%, HYALURONIC ACID 7%,

    HYDROGENATED RETINOL 4%,
    CETEARYL OLIVATE + SORBITAN OLIVATE 4%, 
    ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C) 4%
    HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA EXTRACT 4%
    ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE 4%,
    AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM (HORSE CHESTNUT) EXTRACT 4%,
    ADONIS AMURENSIS EXTRACT 2%,
    ALLANTOIN 2%,
    NIACINAMIDE 2%,
    LACTOBACILLUS FERMENT 2%

    When in doubt, follow the 4%/2% rule of formulating ... LOL.
    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
  • alan123alan123 Member
    HYALURONIC ACID 7%? Is this possible?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @alan123 - Not if you are using 100% Hyaluronic acid. 

    There are companies that play fast and loose with their marketing and claim 70% Hyaluronic acid (e.g. https://www.amazon.com/HYALURONIC-Moisturizer-Anti-aging-Anti-wrinkle-ingredients/dp/B0027FO1ME

    But they are doing a trick where they use 70% of a 1% solution. 

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    7% 'hyaluronic peptide' would be possible...
  • alan123alan123 Member
    hyaluronic peptide - What is the function of this ingredient. I couldn't find any studies about it or supplier. 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    A: Marketing (because it contains the word 'hyaluron', much like silk peptides because of the 'silk')
    B: The same as any peptide product, just more expensive
  • kotkot Member, PCF student
    But it could be 7% of HA solution...

    @EVchem MAP is studied and performes great ,"the problem you might see with them is they are salts which are typically problematic to emulsion stability."- why are they problematic and how? Thanks.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Yea, today I stumbled over a product containing 40% ultrafragmented hyaluronic acid... in the small prints it reads 40% of a 10 ‰ concentrate.
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