Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Emulsion with over 50% actives

  • Emulsion with over 50% actives

    Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2014 at 8:55 am


    I want to make an emulsion with over 50% active extracts, botanicals and ingredients added after the emulsion have cooled to 45 degrees. How can this be done? I need to make an emulsion that can hold 50% liquid added. 
    I tried using Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Steariate and Myristyl Myristate in oil phrase with the butters and oils, this will be about 22% of the final emulsion. And in the water phrase with simply water and Xanthan Gum with Sodium Lactate and Glycerin, this will be about 18% of the final emulsion. I then added the actives, and the emulsion turned extremely runny. And before I added the actives, I tried applying the cream on my hand, and of course I got  a soaping effect, because the actives weren’t added and the amount of Cetearyl Alcohol would cause this. 
    Love to hear some ideas. 
    Bati replied 10 years, 5 months ago 7 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Chemist77

    January 6, 2014 at 9:02 am

    First of all please clarify what kind of actives you have used, whether they are oil soluble or water soluble, in powder form or liquid solution. Without this information any suggestion or comment would be utterly useless and trashable.

  • MakingSkincare

    January 6, 2014 at 9:24 am
    Sounds like a LOT of actives to me.  Why such a high % ? More is not always better - you only need enough to make a noticeable difference.  If you look at professional formulas you will find that the % of actives is much, much lower than 50%. I would also advise reducing the % drastically for the emulsion to be safe, not cause irritation, be stable and be able to preserve it.

    If the ingredient isn’t heat sensitive, it’s best added to the appropriate heated phase for a more stable emulsion.

    Re soaping - sounds like the waxes are not solubilized enough. Wax emulsifiers often need to be solubilized to reduce waxiness. One way to do this is by adding polar ester oils so I’d probably add IPM or a solubilizing ester oil. Try dimethicone too.
  • Chemist77

    January 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I think you can start by at least letting us know the final product function.
    @MakingSkincare Although on first look it looks understandable that he has some unused emulsifier but still I feel it could be from anything from the actives too. I mean 50% (that too no mention of the properties of the actives) is way too much and it can swing the properties to any extent. I might be wrong as well.

  • Herbnerd

    January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I can comment on the botanical part only.

    The botanical extracts, such as Aloe, come as extract ratios. Aloe is a 200:1 extract, meaning that 1 g of the powder is equivalent to 200 g of the fresh inner leaf gel.

    It doesn’t take a lot of maths to work out that in a 200 mL bottle, you could have 1 g of active and still be able to claim 100% activity!

  • Anonymous

    January 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Here is the link to our formula document:

    As we are natural, and use organic ingredients when ever we can, we could not use dimethicone @MakingSkincare. Instead we use Yerba Santa Glycoprotein (Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract) which is a natural alternative to silicone-based ingredients. 

    I think a lot of brands, for example Tata Harper use a lot of active ingredients. Like their serum and moisturizers are packed with ingredients at a large level. If the ingredients can be heated, and are heat stable and to be added in water or oil pharse, there shouldn’t be a problem should there? It will just be like using extracts or botanicals, replacing water or oil. 

    For me, the professional lines use  a low line of actives because they save money, and they don’t really do much of a difference. They make different products, for each skin problem or for what you want to achieve by using the product. Why not combine things, and make them multi-tasking?That’s just my perspective, and that’s why I have chosen to make my own line. 

    @Herbnerd We do understand the rule of 200:1 extract of Aloe, and we actually use this type of extract in our formula, and we stick to the formula guidelines. When the supplier tells us to use  1-10% of an ingredients, how much should we use? For example of our Gotu Kola Extract (Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract & Water & Centella Asiatica Extract) or Acerola BioFermet (Lactobacillus/Acerola Cherry Ferment). 

    For the preservative we use Leucidal Liquid (Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate), which have proven to work in our mists with a large amount of actives. 
  • alchemist

    January 6, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Why not combine things?
    One of the problems in including that many natural ingredients in the one product is determining the safety of the product, especially with so many relatively novel ingredients.

  • vitalys

    January 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    @ELDEskin, of course, combining that many actives together to get “multi-tasking”effect is a nice and challenging idea… But, unfortunately I doubt it would work great in reality. Look at the Pharmacology area ( which is the closest one to cosmetic formulation) - guess why they don’t create any elixir or panacea ( despite of all possible attempts in the past)? Because we may run into many issues like compatibility, ingredients interaction in the product and finally - the skin response and safety. As far as you add every other ingredient to your formulation inevitably you increase the risk of allergy. The longer ing.list the higher the risk of negative skin response. And the chance to cause a hypersensitivity is even higher when you use so called “natural” or plant derived ingredients in excessive dosage.

  • Bobzchemist

    January 7, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I think it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking “if a little is good, more must always be better”

    There are two problems with this:
    1) “The only real difference between medicine and poison is the dose” - This is tied up with the (mistaken) belief that “natural” extracts, etc. cannot ever do any harm. (and therefore can be used at any concentration up to 100%)

    2) For most active ingredients, the dose/response curve has a point of diminishing returns, where you can add more of that ingredient, but you don’t get a corresponding increase in efficacy.
  • Chemist77

    January 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    @vitalys & Bobzchemist wow what wonderful explanations!!!

  • Bati

    January 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Have you considered a different emulsion type?  If most of your “actives” are water based, why not try a cold process emulsion? There are a number of polyglyceryl esters that can form stable emulsions with cold processes.

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