Hand cream formulation help!

Dear everybody hello!

I am new on this forum and need help about emulsifiers for my hand cream.

Can I use gylceryl stearate and cetearyl alcohol for emulsifiers-I have read that cetearyl alcohol can be emulsifier when is used under 2% in formulation?
I would also stabilize my formulation with cetyl palmitate.

Thank you for your help!


  • No, cetearyl alcohol is a co-emulsifier. It will not create an emulsion on its own. Glyceryl Stearate is also considered a stabiliser. What you can do, is either getting yourself Glyceryl Stearate SE version (self-emulsifying), but I personally don't like it or go for a very popular and easy to get Arlacel 165 (Glyceryl Stearate and PEG-100 Stearate blend). Another option, you can add Ceteareth-20 (also easy to find) to your cetearyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate.
    Cetyl palmitate is just a waxy ester. It won't really add much to stability when you already have cetearyl alcohol.

    Arlacel 165 and Ceteareth-20 are not natural (if it matters to you). Glyceryl Stearate SE is approved by some "natural" standards ( I think it must be COSMOS but double-check).
  • Thank you very much! 

    Can you please also tell me about this product on market with this ingredients - this is also a hand cream:

    aqua, glycerin, stearic acid, petrolatum, olea europaea oil, cetyl palmitate, cetyl alcohol, alcohol, sumatra-benzoe, parfum, methylparaben.

    what is an emulfisier in this product? 

    and I did some experiment with cetyl palmitate, I like it because hand cream is not greasy and absorbs quickly.

  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    @Gordana may be glycerin and stearic acid are used as glyceryl stearate wich is an emulsifier .
  • thank you, I thought so;

    so cetyl alcohol and cetyl palmitate are used because glycerol stearate has low HLB value?
  • I think they just forgot to include it. It looks like wrong list of ingredients to me.
    Let me tell you why this product is bad. It has a lot of thickeners, heavy olive oil, heavy petrolatum, and no silicones. It will leave white stripes when you apply it (if it doesn't they didn't include some other ingredients). Also, parabens are used in combinations. Methylparaben alone isn't enough.

    If you want to make a hand cream with these ingredients, my suggestion is as follows:
    - remove stearic acid (it's draggy and contributes to soaping),
    - keep petrolatum (3-6%) and glycerin (4-7%), it's an amazing combination for dry hands),
    - keep cetyl palmitate and cetyl alcohol (3-6% together),
    - I would suggest either change the oil (say to almond) or mix olive oil with some light ester (isopropyl myristate, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, caprylic/capric triglycerides etc) but it's up to you.
    - use an emulsifier, you can either combine your glyceryl stearate with ceteareth 20 or buy a blend of glyceryl stearate and PEG-100 (% depends on your oil phase but from 3-7%)
    - you can use germaben II as a preservative, it has both methylparaben and propylparaben which makes it broadspectrum. You can also use liquid germall plus or germall powder.
    - add dimethicone 1-1.5% to reduce soaping
  • Thanks a lot for the informations!

    My intention is to find low cost and raw materials that I can find on my market.. and to make natural cosmetic as much is possible.

    as a preservative can I use phenoxyethanol or Geogard 221?

    Thanks a lot again!

  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    @Gordana  actually cetyl alcohol and cetyl palmitate  are not emulsifiers they are just oil ingredients , and as i guess it is w/o cream so glyceryl stearate by it self can lead for that type of emulsion .
    Geogard 221 is good idea i guess.
  • Ngarayeva001 and Fekher thanks a lot for your help!
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    edited October 2019
    @Gordana you are welcome .

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Gordana said:
    Thank you very much! 

    aqua, glycerin, stearic acid, petrolatum, olea europaea oil, cetyl palmitate, cetyl alcohol, alcohol, sumatra-benzoe, parfum, methylparaben.

    what is an emulfisier in this product?

    I would suspect that they used a small amount of Sodium Hydroxide to get the Stearic Acid to form Sodium Stearate which would function as the emulsifier.  Otherwise, the formula appears to not include an emulsifier and Stearic Acid is the only obvious candidate that could function as an emulsifier, but it would require the addition of a base such as NaOH.  Otherwise, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Palmitate and Cetyl Alcohol all function as thickeners.

    Perhaps they just left NaOH off of the list of ingredients and considered it to be a processing aid.  You really don't need both Cetyl Palmitate and Cetyl Alcohol in this formula ... one of the two alone would suffice and Cetyl Palmitate would be the preferred option since it also functions as an emollient.
    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
  • @Gordana you'd need the SE grade glyceryl stearate as previously mentioned.

    By the way for hand creams, you may wish to look into factory, ready made emulsifiers that will provide better stability and skin feel.
    See what emulsifiers you can buy in your area (or online), and use the search function decide which one to use.
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