Efficacy of water based actives in a W/O emulsion?

BatiBati Member
edited January 2014 in Formulating
I had a passing curiosity and I was wondering if anyone knows anything about it. How does the emulsion type affect the skin's ability to absorb or receive actives from the internal phase?  For instance, if I had a skin cream with water soluble actives such as panthenol, sodium hyaluronate/hyaluronic acid, etc., would putting these in a W/O emulsion significantly hinder their delivery to the skin? Again, this was just a passing curiosity, but if anyone has any insight I'd love to hear it.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I haven't seen a lot of research on this subject but I would guess that W/O would significantly hinder the absorption of any ingredient in the internal water phase. 

    In truth, I doubt there would be any noticeable difference as it's already pretty difficult to get penetration of those ingredients you mentioned.  Hyaluronic acid and panthenol just are too big to penetrate to any significant amount.
  • mariamaria Member
    If I'm not wrong I learnt about this study http://www.nyscc.org/cosmetiscope_archive/backissues/Cosmetiscope_01.2007.pdf
    in this forum.
    "It has been reported that urea is released more quickly and in a higher concentration from oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions than from water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions. Even after a long penetration period, most of the urea is found in the upper layers of the stratum corneum. The release of urea from W/O emulsions takes longer, but it penetrates in greater amounts into the skin and is more evenly distributed."
    I guess the correct answer to your question is: it depends.

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    "It depends" is frequently the answer in matters of science.
  • BatiBati Member
    Thanks for the reference @Maria. I'm still looking into this subject. You guys are probably right in that there are likely not any hard and fast rules to be found here.
Sign In or Register to comment.