Can someone solve this Lush “emulsion” riddle?

Hi all!

I’ve come across a Lush product called “Ultrabland” which is sold as a basic balm cleanser. The ingredients list has absolutely stumped me!

List of ingredients

It seems to be a water in oil emulsion however.... there’s no emulsifier and nothing to saponify the beeswax....

Does anyone have any idea how they manage to emulsify the water and oil and achieve stability?
It’s sorcery!

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Water, oil, and beeswax sounds like traditional cold cream which is stabilised by the oil phase becoming hard enough to trap water droplets ;) .
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    @Pharma I thought so but I can’t seem to find any traditional formulas that don’t include borax.... any idea on oil phase/beeswax % to achieve this magic?
  • Also how to pass it through stability? That would stay put together if heated to 40C and hold for 3 months. Lush is a large business. They must be doing all relevant stability tests.
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited July 1
    I noticed a similar product by Fresh https://www.fresh.com/uk/crème-ancienne-H00001097.html also oil and beeswax. It puzzles me even more as they don’t have preservative. Also a known brand. I would assume LOI is correct. I think they all are trying to copy some ancient cream (rosewater, beeswax, oil).
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    Oooooh @ngarayeva001 I've never heard of Fresh, that cream looks decadent..... and also furthers the mystery! 
    I know that Lush makes self preserving products where possible but that one is puzzling indeed.
  • @katerinak it’s sold in Sephora. They always put Fresh’s mini products in the queue isle. I tried to make TEA stearate cold cream (like ponds) but couldn’t get the texture right. I am more accustomed to work with modern materials. I would be very interested to make that ‘ancient’ cream, but have no idea how to process it and how much water is a max. @Pharma we would really appreciate your guidance. I remember you mentioned it’s not an emulsion but water is trapped inside of bubbles of beeswax and oil (like a honeycomb I guess) in the thread discussing cold creams. I tried to research it back then but couldn’t find anything comprehensive.
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    100% seconding this @ngarayeva001! Also very keen to create an 'ancient' cream but no idea how to approach it. Would love @Pharma's guidance on this! 
  • PattsiPattsi Member
    a bit off topic. i personally don't like Lush. Their LOIs r really strange (to me)  some times they r like DIYish products.
    and now they say paraben is Safe Synthetics.

    back to the topic. i'd like to know the secret of  traditional cold cream too :D:blush: .

    this is fresh's ingredient. even stranger (to me) than Lush

    Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil

    Aqua (Water)

    Cera Alba (Beeswax)

    Pentylene Glycol

    Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil

    Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil

    Osmanthus Fragrans Flower Extract

    Rosa Damascena Flower Water

    Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil

    Ormenis Multicaulis Flower Wax

    Tocopherol

    Sodium Carbonate

    Limonene

    Citronellol

    Geraniol

    Citral

    Isn't Meawdowfoam oil go rancid fast? maybe i am confused it with other oil

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @katerinak:

    I have been tasked with developed formulas similar to this on a handful of occasions now.  Basically, it's a water-in-oil "emulsion" and the sorcery is to add the Water, Honey, Glycerin phase very slowly under homogenization to the heated oil phase.  Also, keep you Aqueous Phase down to 5% or less.  It's just basically brute-force jamming the Aqueous Phase into an oil/wax matrix.

    When presented with this by clients, I always suggest to the client to just use a water-in-oil emulsifier.  But, the clients who generally request this kind of formula are really hardcore naturalists who want a self-preserving balm with no emulsifier.

    These formulations are relatively unstable and quite prone to yeast/mold contamination.  I find it amusing that Lush elected to use Parabens as the preservative.

    While it might look intriguing, let me leave you with this thought:  After the last one of these, I promised myself that I would never again take on a client who wanted this type of product formulated.  They are just not worth the time and effort because they are so tricky to get right.  Why waste your time trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together when you live in a world where lighters exist.
    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
  • EVchemEVchem Member
    Why waste your time trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together when you live in a world where lighters exist.
    Amen, but many clients come convinced that because the sticks are natural they must be better than the dangerous synthetic lighters
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    As I explained to one of my clients who wanted to develop one of these non-emulsifier/non-preservative balms for Eczema:

    It is more dangerous to put a potentially contaminated product on compromised skin than it is to use a preservative.

    And, these are naturally-derived (non-synthetic) emulsifiers and preservatives that I was recommend.  No dice ... some people just don't appreciate the risk they are taking for the sake of being "natural" 
    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
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    @Pattsi
    Agreed! I'm not the biggest fan of Lush but I am intrigued how they manage to make 'self preserving' creams and the like. They tend to use that combination of preservatives throughout their products which I'm not a fan of.

    I've found it mentioned that the Fresh product has 17% water and that it's based on Galen's original cold cream formula.... sounds like they've slightly modernised the formula by adding in some fancy ingredients.
    Also seems to me that they are using the Sodium Carbonate as a means to saponify the beeswax to create the emulsion. But I'm certainly no chemist so perhaps someone else can comment.

    @MarkBroussard
    Totally agree with your perspective! Personally I'd love to be able to formulate this kind of ancient cream purely for the challenge of creating a modern feeling/performing product with such rudimentary ingredients. It's fascinating!
    Certainly not opposed to using preservatives and emulsifiers etc but I'd love to see if it's possible without. 

    It is no doubt tricky as all hell. Would you say that the use of beeswax in cold creams is beneficial in any way? Or purely just very natural. If you were going for the modern angle would you include the beeswax and help it along or omit it entirely in favour of other ingredients.

    Thanks for your input and interested to hear your take!
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    The old cold cream or vanishing cream formulas are actually Stearic Acid and Potassium Hydroxide ... you don't need beeswax at all. 

    These are more super-granola, birkenstock, all natural formulas ... I don't find them to be elegant at all ... they are merely brute-force kluges in an attempt to satisfy the organic certification requirements without using sodium hydroxide.  But, that's just my opinion.
    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
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    edited July 1
    Stability (physical and microbial) is an issue. Such creams for pharmaceutical preparations have a shelf life of 1 months if filled in tubes and are often stored in the fridge (for physical and microbiological reasons). They will not survive freeze-thaw cycles, heat stability testing, microbial challenges, or centrifugation. They are meant to be freshly prepared and produced under 'clean' conditions.
    An older Swiss formulation (European cold creams usually don't use borax but some use emulsifiers to increase stability) is as follows (Dermatologische Magistralrezepturen der Schweiz, page 59 and 60 -> book pages, not PDF pages, does also exist in French but not English):
    A Beesway 7 g
    B Cetylpalmitate 8 g
    C Almond oil 60 g
    D Tocopherol 0.03 g
    E Water 24.97 g
    Should be stored in the fridge!

    And a version with antioxidants of a Swiss pharmacopoeia variety (a nice formulation which is still in use):
    A Beeswax, bleached 8 g
    B Hydrated peanut oil (a partially hydrogenated oil common in CH) 17 g
    C Peanut oil, refined 49.978 g
    D Castor oil native 5 g
    E Ascorbyl palmitate 0.012 g
    F Ethanol 96% v/v 0.4 g (used to dissolve N° E and will evaporate)
    G Sodium lauryl sulfat 0.1 g
    H Water 19.9 g
    I Tocopherol 0.01 g
    It is supposed to work without SLS but is rather shear sensitive and tricky to prepare without.

    @Pattsi There is beeswax and sodium carbonate in your example = sodium cerotate/melissinate = emulsifier/soap. To my knowledge, almond oil will go rancid before meadowfoam oil but there's tocopherol in the product too.
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    I have a much simpler explanation than all of these, Katerina: they simply left the borax off the INCI listing, knowing sodium borate might be objectionable in certain circles. Omissions like these are not uncommon especially when you have direct sales involved. Add a little borax and viola': Blandcream. (I would have loved to be in that market team meeting when that product title was decided on … difficult holding laughter back)
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    @chemicalmatt Boric acid and borax are, with a few exceptions, prohibited in the EU and several other European countries for several years now ;) . Any water soluble alkali will do instead of borax (though borax has a few perks other bases don't offer).
  • I think we should give Lush a credit: not only they emulsify most of their emulsions with TEA stearate but use parabens and still create a vibe of a ‘natural’ brand. They make 1995 products and successfully sell them in 2020.
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    Thanks for that @MarkBroussard... do you know where those older formulations can be found? Can the KOH be substituted for NaOH? (I’m going off high school chemistry haha)

    Thanks for the great resource @Pharma! I can’t read German but I can read a little French so maybe I’ll have to go hunt it down.... really appreciate you translating those two simple formulas!

    @chemicalmatt nawww don’t break my heart telling me people lie  ;)

    Amen @ngarayeva001 hahah
    Walking into their stores certainly doesn’t smell natural 
  • GraillotionGraillotion Member
    edited July 2
    Pattsi said:

    Isn't Meawdowfoam oil go rancid fast? maybe i am confused it with other oil

    Yup confused.  One of the more stable oils.  Often blended with others, to give stability.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    katerinak said:
    ...Can the KOH be substituted for NaOH?...
    ...so maybe I’ll have to go hunt it down...
    Usually yes. There are certain differences regarding rheology but in mixtures you usually can substitute.
    No need for hunting, just CLICK ME.
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    @Pharma you are brilliant!
  • czkldczkld Member
    edited July 2
    Pattsi said:
    a bit off topic. i personally don't like Lush. Their LOIs r really strange (to me)  some times they r like DIYish products.
    and now they say paraben is Safe Synthetics.
    *edit: I just checked the ingredient lists and I saw that they do use some preservatives in many products (relieved). for whatever reason they don't mention that they use water in the mask of whatever on the ingredients list while its there in the video??*
     
    Their "how it's made" videos terrify me!! It looks more like a salad/dressing production plant than a true cosmetic manufacturing facility.



    how is that not going bad in 2 minutes? bentonite and honey? that looks like a disaster. my guess is there is very little water compared to the honey and glycerin so that helps it, but it's still sketchy



    no comment ..

    I'm wondering how is this even legal.. 
  • katerinakkaterinak Member
    @czkld I know. It looks like they’re making a bloody smoothie and packaging it up to sit on shelves for months. 😶
  • PattsiPattsi Member
    @Pharma thank you for the formulations, i really interest in cetylpalmitate.

    @ngarayeva001 thank you. i didn't mean to say that their products are bad formulations and i am grad that they use parabens too. things i don't like r their marketings that present their products as super natural like squeeze a juice fresh from the fruit in to the pot. it's not wrong it's just annoyed me :|.

    @Graillotion thank you. i really don't know the detail of Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil. the only thing i know is it's cheaper than Jojoba oil.

    @czkld thank you. totally agreed with you. they might left some word off when they promo. with this topic they sell cold cream as balm cleanser. i know that cold cream was used as makeup remover/cleaner. but  in 2019-2020 a balm cleanser without an emulsifier it ticks me.

    @katerinak thank you. it looks more like a cooking show promo vid :| .

    pls pradon my English thank you


  • Dr_SaraDr_Sara Member
    I think I am a bit late to the discussion, but I have some insight.

    List of ingredients

     It appears the formulation is non-aqueous, with the exception of the honey (H2O approximately 17%). The Bentone Gel® is clay in oil.

    The above is an "ingredient list" not a properly formatted label of ingredients. This list is not in INCI terminology (common names are being used, ie honey should be Mel) and is likely not in the order of decreasing concentration.

    Honey is antibacterial and depending on the actual percentage of honey, the honey will inhibit the growth of microorganisms.  From memory, I think the percentage needed is 40% honey.
  • GabyDGabyD Member
    edited August 4
    katerinak said:
    I'm not the biggest fan of Lush but I am intrigued how they manage to make 'self preserving' creams and the like. 

    Many of their self-preserving products have to be kept in the fridge. Even then, they can go mouldy. I have had this happen a few times with Lush products when I've put them in the fridge then forgotten about them.
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