Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Emulsion Failure

  • Emulsion Failure

    Posted by natzam44 on October 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Hey all,

    I am a beginner level chemist who makes hair products for fun. I have been having a lot of problems with making a successful emulsion. Every time I pour my product into a container and let it sit, my two phases separate. I am still in high school and I don’t have a massive understanding of cosmetic chemistry but I don’t think I am making any massive mistakes.

    Here is what I am using:
    Water 70%
    Shea Butter 13%
    Emulsifying Wax NF 7%
    Jojoba Oil 6%
    Vegetable Glycerin 2%
    Vitamin E Oil 1%
    Phenoxyethanol 1%

    Should I just try adding more emulsifying wax? Should I try blending it faster? 


    natzam44 replied 6 years, 4 months ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • belassi

    October 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Yes, and note carefully the relative size of the phases after separation. One way of empirically finding the correct amount is to add more and more emulsifier, it will become harder to see two distinct phases once the emulsion point is neared, so it is not an exact method.


    October 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    You have a 20 percent oil phase: another way is by using a polymeric emulsifier.For example you could use Ultrez 10 by addition to water phase and after adding oil phase neutralize with a base such as triethanolamine.One percent of TEA will neutralize 1 of Ultrez and provide a smooth stable cream.

  • natzam44

    October 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    @Belassi @DRBOB@VERDIENT.BIZ Thanks for the help guys! It is appreciated!

  • markbroussard

    October 16, 2017 at 1:35 am


    Welcome to the world of cosmetic chemistry.

    I think you have a couple of issues:

    (1)  You’re not thickening your water phase.  Make a slurry by combining your 2% Glycerin with 0.3% Xanthan Gum and then add that slurry to your stirring water phase.

    (2)  You have way too much Shea Butter.  Cut that down to 3% Shea Butter and 12% Jojoba Oil so your oil phase is not more that 15% to 16%.

    (3)  I’m going to assume that your Emulsifying Wax NF is Cetearyl Alcohol + Polysorbate 60.  So you have two high HLB emulsifiers, but no low HLB emulsifiers to bring it in balance … your oils have HLB values of 6 (Jojoba) and 8 (Shea Butter).  You’ll need to add some Glyceryl Stearate to get your emulsifier HLB balanced with your oil HLB … this is why it is separating.

  • natzam44

    October 16, 2017 at 3:36 am

    @MarkBroussard Thanks for the advice. I will look into buying the ingredients you mentioned.

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