Replacing natural betaine with glycerin.......

GraillotionGraillotion Member
edited April 23 in Formulating
In my chase to create a premium lotion...I went down the humectant bunny trail with natural betaine (@ 3% inclusion rate).  I was using it in conjunction with sodium lactate (@ 2%), and hyaluronic acid (a 1% solution was included at 9% of formula).  The end result...was amazing.

However...as I look to go from formulation.....to production, the betaine is both costly, and given me a bit of grief in the always above 90% humidity environment I live in (Hawaii).  So for pure simplicity...I am thinking about dropping the betaine and replacing it with good old...(cheap)… glycerin.  Since I will keep the Sodium lactate and hyaluronic acid... at what rate should I include the glycerin?  I was thinking....1 to 2%?  Any thoughts?  … I always like the thought of my ingredients working in synergy with each other.

Formula is 14% blended natural oils...and 4% blended butters, one being Cupuacu.  The water has added Aloe 100X, @1 to 99.

*** The reason I left glycerin out in the beginning....is there are some negative perceptions about it.  I am open to other suggestions for humectants...that add value and skin feel.
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  • Normally i'd do 1:1 for Glycerin to Betaine, example 1.5% to 1.5%, i'm fine with Glycerin up to 3% in a polymeric emulsifier formulation as i'm in a humid country, having it too high would be slightly too tacky for me. 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited April 23
    Why use 3 humectants (well really 4 if you're using Aloe) when 1 will do?

    If you want them for marketing purposes cut down the aloe, hyaluronic acid, and sodium PCA to each 0.1% and just use glycerin and water. You can still get the same claims & probably make a product that works pretty much the same.

    The idea of ingredients working in synergy is a nice concept but is that really happening in your formula? Maybe, but you have to test it. Just putting two ingredients in the same formula doesn't mean they are working together. Instead, using two humectants just means they are competing against each other. 

    To answer your original question, sure you can replace your humectants with glycerin.
  • @Perry, re:why using several, in theory because of this: 
  • they perform differently at various humidities. I have no idea whether I consumer would notice a difference, but I can tell the difference between glycerin and sodium lactate in lotions.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @ngarayeva001 - good answer. 

    However, when formulating it comes down to the performance of the formula and what consumers can perceive.  Perhaps some consumers may be able to pick up on the difference between Glycerin in a formula versus Sodium Lactate although I doubt many. I have seen consumers demonstrate limited ability to differentiate performance on a blinded basis.

    But what I doubt even further is that a consumer (or you) could tell a difference when a blend of 3 or 4 humectants were used. This is especially true in the context of a formula that contains oils and occlusive agents.  

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Perry said:
    ...
    The idea of ingredients working in synergy is a nice concept but is that really happening in your formula? Maybe, but you have to test it. Just putting two ingredients in the same formula doesn't mean they are working together. Instead, using two humectants just means they are competing against each other...
    Some really do form some sort of synergy but it greatly depends on which you pair (two of the right kind would be enough) and more importantly at which ratio you combine them (it gets a bit tricky when using more than two and fairly unpredictable when using more than 3).
    I haven't found the time to properly try if that 'synergism' improves anything or even makes it more draggy or slower absorbing. It also remains elusive whether or not such a combination shows better water binding once assimilated.
  • Hi @Graillotion, I was looking into replacing some glycerin in a cream with less tacky humectants and this thread came up. I wondered what grief you were getting with the betaine in high humidity. Did you end up replacing it with glycerin in the end or did you stick with the betaine?

    Also, did you ever find the betaine giving off a fishy smell? I saw this mentioned a few times from various people.

    Thank you!
  • @helenhelen, if your product doesn’t include any electrolyte sensitive ingredients such as carbomers, sodium lactate is the best. Not tacky at all and more hygroscopic than glycerin.
  • Hi @Graillotion, I was looking into replacing some glycerin in a cream with less tacky humectants and this thread came up. I wondered what grief you were getting with the betaine in high humidity. Did you end up replacing it with glycerin in the end or did you stick with the betaine?

    Also, did you ever find the betaine giving off a fishy smell? I saw this mentioned a few times from various people.

    Thank you!

    The issue I was having was...even with brief opening of the bag it is stored in, it is such an effective humectant, that it was gathering moisture.  Keep in mind that I live on the wet side of Hawaii...so relative humidity essentially never drops below 90.
    I did end up keeping the betaine, at a lower rate.  Because I added Floratech's K-20W Jojoba, that wants to be slurried in glycerin first, my hand was forced.  I also use sodium lactate.
    I have NEVER had any odor issues with the natural Betaine I am using....resembles table sugar.  No negative odor...and let me tell you....if something were to smell fishy.... I would pick up on it.
  • helenhelenhelenhelen Member
    edited June 26
    @helenhelen, if your product doesn’t include any electrolyte sensitive ingredients such as carbomers, sodium lactate is the best. Not tacky at all and more hygroscopic than glycerin.
    Thank you @ngarayeva001 , that's really helpful to hear your experience of sodium lactate. I will add it to my neverending list of things I should try.

    The issue I was having was...even with brief opening of the bag it is stored in, it is such an effective humectant, that it was gathering moisture.  Keep in mind that I live on the wet side of Hawaii...so relative humidity essentially never drops below 90.
    I did end up keeping the betaine, at a lower rate.  Because I added Floratech's K-20W Jojoba, that wants to be slurried in glycerin first, my hand was forced.  I also use sodium lactate.
    I have NEVER had any odor issues with the natural Betaine I am using....resembles table sugar.  No negative odor...and let me tell you....if something were to smell fishy.... I would pick up on it.

    Thanks, that's useful to know! 90% humidity  :o :o :o.




  • Thanks, that's useful to know! 90% humidity  :o :o :o.
    Actually...delightful... I live at elevation....so temps in F...range from 48-78.  I call it Eden!
  • I read that as per IIG you can use glycerin upto 3%. Its good for skin 
  • As per IIG-FDA you can choose glycerin % till your product sensorials gets match your protocol. During my project I have done microemulsion gel based IIG-FDA and sensorial optimisation. It works great even i can claim my product as per guidelines.

    I think it may helpful for you too :) 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    ...even with brief opening of the bag it is stored in, it is such an effective humectant, that it was gathering moisture.  Keep in mind that I live on the wet side of Hawaii...so relative humidity essentially never drops below 90.
    ...
    Same thing happens with glycerol (especially the 99.8%, less so the 85%) only that you're not going to see much given that glycerol is already liquid.
    BTW I have also calcium chloride and choline chloride and they are even worse... they turned liquid over time even in a seemingly tightly closed container. Drying choline chloride sucks because it has to be done with desiccants. Reminds me that I have to change the desiccant bag for my proline.
    Betaine can be heated to dryness more easily without degradation. You could make smaller aliquots which you tightly seal so that you don't have to open and close the whole bag till it all gets sticky.
  • Pharma said:


    Betaine can be heated to dryness more easily without degradation. You could make smaller aliquots which you tightly seal so that you don't have to open and close the whole bag till it all gets sticky.
    Yes, hindsight is always 20/20. Next time I have to buy some...I keep a dry-room in the house, I will go in there and  will subdivide the product into 500gm baggies!  (Most Hawaiian home have no HVAC, but we often keep a closed room with a dehumidifier, where we keep our precious things, and paperwork.)
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