Lotions with ethyl alcohol as preservative &Quillaja extract as emulsifier

I sell a lot of Dr Bronner lotions once I get customers to try it. They love the smell and how quickly it absorbs without leaving a greasy feel. It seems everything is 100% natural from its ingredients list. Quillaja saponaria as an emulsifier stabilised by xanthan gum and ethyl alcohol as a preservative.

I imagine it would be the alcohol that makes it absorb so fast and not leave a greasy feel. We have been using a bottle of tester for over a year and the product hasn't gone rancid. 

https://shop.drbronner.com/organic-lotions

Water, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil,  Ethyl Alcohol, hemp seed Oil avocado oil, Quillaja Saponaria Extract, essential  oil, xanthan Gum, vitamin E

Has anyone used Quillaja extract as the only emulsifier in their lotions and could you share your experiences and thoughts.

How much ethyl alcohol would be used to adequately preserve the formulation? I had one lady that commented on the smell of the alcohol everybody else has loved the smell of the orange lavender and not picked up on the alcohol.

Thanks for comments

Comments

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @Derya:

    I've used Quillaja Saponaria as a surfactant, but not as an emulsifier per se, usually at about 3%.  Depending on who you purchase it from, there is an acidic pH version and a basic pH version.  In this formulation, it may be used in the 2% to 3% range is my  best guess.  I suspect your 1% line is the Xanthan Gum, with probably 2% essential oils to mask the odor of the ethanol.

    Ethyl Alcohol as a preservative ... generally around 10% and you're good.  
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Thanks Mark. Just wandering why other so called natural companies don't use alcohol as a preservative. Is there any negatives to alcohol as a preservative apart from drying to skin?
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    I suspect because many consumers have a negative impression of putting a high concentration of alcohol on their skin.  They probably do not understand the difference between ethanol and isopropyl alcohol and perhaps assume that "alcohol" means isopropyl alcohol.

    From a product brand/manufacturing perspective ... why use a highly regulated, flammable liquid as a preservative when there are much better choices?  If you're trying to get USDA full Organic Certification, then it makes sense.  Otherwise, why bother.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Also, many emulsification systems will not handle a significantly high alcohol level.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • thank you Mark & Mark. So could quillaja extract be used as a co emulsifier for a lotion that had herbal alcohol extracts  to avoid using xanthan gum to stabilise?
  • and to handle the alcohol content.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    No, I think you're going to need Xanthan Gum .... I suspect that Quillaja functions more as a solubilizer in your reference formulation and the Xanthum Gum is necessary to thicken and bind the ingredients to make a "lotion" ... Otherwise, I suspect it would not be much more viscous than water.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • So if I wanted to make a sprayable lotion of the above ingredients and wanted  it in a fluid form it seems xanthan gum could be left out?  
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Yes, if you want it to be sprayable, you'll want a thin viscosity.  You'll have to experiment with it as I have no experience trying to use Quillaja as a solublizer.  Perhaps 3% Quillaja and 10% alcohol will work to solubilize the oils ... I really don't know.  This other issue I would also be concerned about is a soaping effect from the Quillaja.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • thanks for your answers Mark, I don't have any quillaja at the moment & will be looking to get a small amount to experiment with.

    However now I'm wondering if I was to leave out the water entirely  and wanted to make a sprayable lotion using  alcohol based herbal tincture  at 10%             do you think that quillaja would solubilise the alcohol based herbal extract into the oil? I imagine it wouldn't soap. Given that such a lotion is almost anhydrous would that then bypass the need for a preservative or in such a mixture would the quillaja itself need a preservative? ( usually herbal extracts are based in 45% alcohol depending on the herbal constituents being extracted) Or would this be too low a % of alcohol to act as a preservative?


  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Certainly alcohol and an alcohol tincture would be interchangeable ...

    But, Quillaja is water-soluble, so I think your anhydrous idea is not feasible.

    Your reference formula is UDSA Organic Certified and these are the kind of things you need to do to meet the requirements of USDA NOP ... but the products tend to be rather crude since you are so limited on ingredient options.  (The USDA Organic regulations were developed for food products and there are no USDA Organic regulations for cosmetics).

    Unless you are trying to get Organic Certification, I would make my life simple and use PolySugaMulse D9 (ECOCert) instead of Quillaja if you want to make a spray.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The other reason you don't see more companies using alcohol as a preservative is because of VOC regulations.

    https://www.arb.ca.gov/consprod/regs/2015/article_2_final_1-22-15.pdf
  • No I'm not trying to get an organic certification just trying to understand the popular items on the shop shelf, their ingredients, why they work and what the customer wants etc. so I can improve on what is available.

    I'm exploring the idea of less is more and the possibility of making anhydrous low greasy lotions without the headache of a preservative. 8%  tincture 8% IPM 84% jojoba oil,


    However back in June in Sydney when we had a beauty expo I asked a major supplier for an emulsifier that would emulsify an alcohol tincture with jojoba oil  to make a sprayable lotion out of a glass pump spray bottle  she couldn't think of any emulsifier that would do the job. 

    when I looked up liqueurs alas there is no ingredients list. I didn't have much luck with lecithin.
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