how to thicken an 100% oily serum

simonasimona Member
edited December 2013 in Formulating
Hi Everyone!

I am looking for a way to thicken an oily serum. I want to have a clear product, honey-like consistency or a bit lighter (I am thinking at the serums form Paula's Choice). I've tried cera bellina and different emulsifiers, but , of course, the result is somewhat opaque.

Is there something that you would suggest? And something that I could buy in the EU for personal use, as I do not own a company and I can't ask for samples from various suppliers?



  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Try versagels or there are 2 more gellants from Ajinomoto namely EB 21 & GP 1. The ones from Ajinomoto are costly but eonderful but I guess in your case you csn use versagels too. Or the cheapest one is Aerosil grades, only dispersion is a bit tricky.
  • thanks for the hint! Would you know of any retailer in the EU that would sell to homecrafters?
  • I don't know of a supplier in the EU, but I got Versagel from a company in California that sells small quantities:

    I wasn't successful at getting a clear oil serum, though. It is a real pain to work with.

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Or try Sucragel grades, that might work too. 
  • oh dear :) Any hope of getting a crystal clear oily gel then? I have tried a version of Sucragel (the one sold by AromaZone in France) but the outcome is not clear, is more cloudy, and the skin feel is not my favourite.... Sucragel is now also selled by Gracefruit in the UK, perhaps I will get a bit from them as well.

    Now, form TKB - I may give it a try, I just need to see the shipping details to the EU - I hate ordering across the pond...

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    edited December 2013
    The gellants from Ajinomoto might work perfect for you but they are a costly affair and have to be used in sync. It would be around 100 euro a kg for each of them. 
  • and I just realised - my oily serums are to be "leave in" and not "rinse off" . And my skin is oily and acne/blackheads prone, so my choices are difficult!
  • oh, I wouldn't buy a kilo - way too much for my own cosmetics :). Hopefully someone in the EU would sell in smaller quantities, like 100g ...
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    If you thicken your serum it would give you drag and tack on the skin, better to keep it thin and easy to apply. Won't be a bad thing either, if it is for your ownself. 
  • I just want some variety and I really enjoy the feeling of these 2 serums below:

    INCI: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone (silicone slip agents/suspending
    agents), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (stabilized vitamin C/antioxidant),
    Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 (cell-communicating ingredient), Ceramide 3
    (skin-repairing ingredient), Tocotrienols, Tocopherols (vitamin
    E/antioxidants), Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10/antioxidant), Thioctic Acid
    (alpha lipoic acid/antioxidant), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin
    E/antioxidant), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (stabilized vitamin
    C/antioxidant), Ferulic Acid, Caffeic Acid (antioxidants), Beta-Glucan
    (anti-irritant), Superoxide Dismutase (antioxidant), ), Epigallocatechin
    Gallate (green tea-derived antioxidant), Ergothioneine
    (mushroom-derived antioxidant), Glutathione (fruit-derived antioxidant),
    Xanthophyll (antioxidant pigment), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract
    (antioxidant), Glycerin (skin-identical ingredient), Arctostaphylos Uva
    Ursi Leaf Extract (anti-inflammatory agent), Lupinus Albus Seed Extract,
    Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract (antioxidants), Elaeis Guineensis
    (Palm) Oil (emollient), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).


    INCI: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol (silicone slip agents/suspending
    agents), Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate (skin-conditioning agent),
    Dicaprylyl Carbonate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
    (skin-repairing ingredient), Phenyl Trimethicone (silicone slip agent),
    Squalane (emollient), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Tetrahexyldecyl
    Ascorbate (stabilized vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol
    (cell-communicating ingredient/antioxidant), Tocotrienols (vitamin
    E-based antioxidant), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Lecithin
    (cell-communicating ingredient), Laminaria Ochroleuca (Kelp) Extract
    (anti-irritant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil (anti-irritant), Elaeis
    Guineensis (Palm) Oil (skin-repairing ingredient), Stearyl
    Glycyrrhetinate (licorice-derived anti-irritant), Hexylene Glycol (slip
    agent), Caprylyl Glycol (emollient), Ethylhexylglycerin
    (skin-conditioning agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

    I just fail to se for the 1st one what thickens it - and for the second I suspect it is the Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate but I am not 100% sure ...

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    oh ok this is what you have. Re the first one I guess he has used high viscosity Dimethicone (there are many grades ranging from water thin to almost jelly) with cyclomethicone, you can reduce the tack and drag of high viscosity dimethicone by optimizing the ratio and still have a viscous consistency. Rest of the things we all know are for namesake, and if you see so many oils then many of them are carriers for the those namesake actives probably. 
    In the second one he has used DC 1501 (Xiameter now) and rest of the oils are to stretch the ing list otherwise the main ingredient is DC 1501. It is a gum dispersion of dimethiconol in cyclomethicone and itself carries some viscosity. 
    Hope it helps. 
  • @milliachemist - indeed this helps a bit ;) I only have some Dimethicone 1000cs - but I am not sure how high I can go with it in a facial serum. It's wintertime, I will enjoy the protection it would offer, but I also wish to have more room for some useful oils & extract that I am planning to use.

    Clearly I am unable to get anything but cyclomethicone & dimethicone (form Gracefruit) - no other EU supplier sells it and buying from Lotioncrafter who has a wider range or silicones is not an option due to the low flash point + high shipping rates.

    I will go ahead and just use some waxes/emulsifiers that my skin loves and ... se what comes out of that :)

  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Thats a good decision indeed, though u can melt 3-5% petrolatum in any light ester oil, I dont  think your skin would need anything else whole winter. 

  • I'm not a fan of petrolatum, but I do have some in a jar so I will experiment with 3%  - not sure if this would prove to be a problem for my pores or not. Anyway, 2-3 drops of the entire stuff should do it and , as I do 10ml batches, I would not waste too many "goodies" . BTW - for Dimethicone 1000cs what would you say it would be the highest % I could use for such a serum? I did not dare to go with more than 3% so far...
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    I am not sure how you gonna formulate it, for a silicone serum we use generally upto 10% to build the viscosity alongwith DC 1501, but  this is more on hair care side. From this you can take a leaf and formulate accordingly, if you want to just have it in formula then keep it to max 3% coz more of it can create tack. To reduce drag try to optimize between cyclomethicone and DC 200 1000cs
  • Thanks for the advice, @milliachemist! indeed, I am using the cyclomethicone offered by gracefruit (decamethylcyclopentasiloxane) along with Dimethicone 1000cs. And, as my other oils are high in linoleic / low in oleic, the result is pretty pleasant for the skin.

    I may try to be wild and use some floral wax - even though I tend to stay away from fragrance on my skin :)
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Well then start formulating and I wish you have a good one on that
  • I work in this field for 50 years. 30 years ego i have seen written in a commercial: "DO NOT PUT ON YOUR SKIN WHAT YOU CAN'T  PUT IN YOUR MOUTH" and ever-since i work in developing organic-natural skincare products.I am wondering if i could find somebody  who does the same.
  • simonasimona Member
    edited December 2013
    Well, i enjoy blue cheese but I would not spread it on my skin...

    Our digestive system is a bit different than our skin, so I would put on my skin what I would not be eating...
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @simona - I agree!  Pizza is excellent too but would make a terrible facial cleanser.
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    @Perry but I guess the spicy pizza can be a good cleanser for intestines ;-)
  • simonasimona Member
    edited December 2013
    so, for those wondering what I actually did after asking for your advice, here's my serum of the month. It's still very liquid, so next time I'll increase Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate to 6% (the max I would actually go) and see how it feels. It does have a wonderful scent thanks to all the fragrant components (pomegranate, calendula, chamomile, green tea and jasmine), so I will go ahead and to the testing!

    Simmonsdia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil    28,47
    Coco-Caprylate    13,02
    punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil    11,53
    squalane &d-mixed tocopherols & ubiquinone    11,53
    cannabis sativa (hemp) sed oil     11,53
    dicaprylyl carbonate    5,76
    Jasminum sambac (Jasmine) Wax    3,46
    Dimethicone    2,31
    Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate    2,31
    Phospholipids, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil    2,31
    ceramide-3, Olive Glycerides    2,31
    Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Extract, Caprylic / Capric triglycerides    1,45
    bisabolol    1,15
    Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil    0,92
    dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate    0,58
    d-mixed tocopherols    0,58
    Calndula Officinalis Flower Extract     0,35
    Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract    0,35
    Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Wax    0,12

  • p.s. is there a nice way to copy-paste here from a spreadsheet?
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    edited December 2013
    Good one that, going by the ing list I guess it's that special drink for the immortality  of the skin.  :)
  • LOL , that is what I love about making my own skincare. Now, what would something like that cost on the shelves - marketing and international brand added? :)))

    Plus, it's so much fun in changing the recipe each month and adding the other half of oil soluble actives one has bought....
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    Let me guess if someone had to buy this product he/she should have a net worth of not less 500 mil ;-)
  • MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
    looks great Simona. Let us know how the testing goes.
    Jane Barber (free online course)
    Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members):
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    As far as pasting a spreadsheet, unless you know html code the best way would be to take a screen shot and post the picture.

  • @Perry - thanks for the hint - will do either that or just copy-paste in notepad and take the pure text from there !
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Since formulas are such a big part of this discussion board, I'm going to look into a way to do it better.
  • CONTACT ME, i can help 

  • kotkot Member, PCF student
    Well, now 4 years later, do we still have only Dimethicone  and  Ajinomoto's EB 21 & GP 1 for clear oil- gel?
  • I have had experience in thickening oils using Resin Wax ( C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane). This wax reduce the oily feel and is an excellent ingredient. The only problem is that it is relatively expensive and sometimes it forms crystals on the surface if cooled inappropriately.
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