HLB or not?

This post just wants to satisfy a curiosity that I have for some time
do you really use every time the HLB / HLBr system to start formulating ?
or maybe you follow directly the technical sheets / other formulations and do some tests yourself?


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    It depends on the formula. Usually cosmetic chemists are starting with an existing formula and trying to modify it to make it better/different. So in these cases, no.  But making a completely new formula...it can be helpful, depending on the emulsion system you are using.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Only if I have to use mostly PEG-based emulsifiers. Else, the HLB system simply doesn't add up (or at least isn't better than an educated guess).
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    Generally, No.  The HLB system is really a qualitative (or semi-quantitative) system developed in the 1940's ... in other words, the HLB numbers assigned to particular emulsifiers calculated based on assumption and observation.  It is not a number that is measured.

    I could make a sample using my knowledge of emulsifiers just as quickly as it would take me to calculate the requisite amount of oil and emulsifiers using the HLB system and it would really not make any difference in the outcome.

    That said, it is a useful exercise to learn the HLB system and put it into practice whenever you think it might be helpful.
    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
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