Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Products won’t completely absorb into skin or hair

  • Products won’t completely absorb into skin or hair

    Posted by LiChii on February 27, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    Hey guys, i’m what you may call an “amateur” in cosmetic chemistry, seeing as how everything i’ve learned on the matter has been self-taught over the course of about 5 years or so. Over the course of the past 2 years that have been putting the information i’ve learned into actually formualting hair products myself, i have consistently run into the same problem time and time again.

    The emulsions I make rarely ever absorb completely into either my skin or hair. It usually results in a lot of soaping that leaves behind a slight tacky feel, and after continued use, the product begins to sort of “rub off” onto my skin. It’s difficult to explain. 

    I’ve tried decreasing the amount of polymeric thickeners I use and increasing fatty alcohols instead to create the desired viscosity. This isn’t effective at all, the products STILL rubs off.

    I’ve also tried decreasing the use of solid thickeners to about 1-2% in the formula or even eliminating them altogether and instead relying on liquid emulsifiers and increased polymeric thickening to see if the results are any different…they aren’t. 

    Does anyone know the cause of this “rub off” effect? Also, when I do use the products in my hair despite them having the”rub off” effect on my skin, it usually results in A LOT of flaking. It looks as if my hair is producing its own snow.

    For reference, some of the thickener/emulsifier combinations i’ve tried are:
    Polyquaternium-10  0.75%
    Cetearyl Alcohol      2%
    Glyceryl Stearate     1%

    Polyquaternium-10  0.75%
    Cetearyl Alcohol      1.5%
    Polysorbate 80        1%
    Glyceryl Stearate     1.5%

    Polyquaternium-10  1%
    BTMS                     6%

    Cationic Guar       0.5%
    Polysorbate 80     2%
    Glyceryl Stearate  1%

    Cationic Guar        0.5%
    Cetearyl Alcohol     1%
    Polyglyceryl Oleate 1.5%
    Cetyl Esters           2%    (this emulsion was unstable and resulted in a grainy texture)

    HEC                     1%
    Cetyl Alcohol         2%
    Ceteareth 20         1.5%
    Glycol Distearate    2%

    I should also mention the majority of the emulsions I make are stable, the only issue is absorption. 

    Side-note: does anyone have any tips on using Cetyl Esters NF? I can never create a stable emulsion with it. It usually just results in a foggy, grainy mess for me.

    Thank you!

    Padmavathi replied 4 years, 3 months ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • belassi

    February 27, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    I think you have got the completely wrong idea about hair products, frankly. They are not meant to ‘absorb’.

  • DAS

    February 27, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    Absolutely, that’s against the definition of cosmetic products. 

    Although, if you search the forum you will find plenty about soaping effect. Short answer, add dimethicone.

  • jemolian

    February 28, 2020 at 12:37 am

    By “rub off” effect, it’s normally caused by the thickeners. I find that some polymeric thickeners do that for my formulation.  

  • LiChii

    February 28, 2020 at 1:35 am

    What i mean by “it doesn’t absorb” is that rather than coating the hair and forming a clear/thin film, it instead causes tiny white balls throughout the hair/flaking.

    I’ve been trying to stay away from silicones (although I know they’re propably a godsend)

    Are there any polymeric thickeners that dont have this effect? I’ve used Polyquat 10, HEC, Cationic Guar, HP Methylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates C10-30 alkyl methacrylate copolymer.. The only polymeric thickener i’ve tested that didn’t cause this effect is Dehydroxanthan Gum. Does the supplier of the thickeners matter at all?

  • belassi

    February 28, 2020 at 1:38 am

    But what are you supposed to be making?

  • LiChii

    February 28, 2020 at 2:13 am

    A styling cream

  • Padmavathi

    February 28, 2020 at 4:04 pm


    There is this product “Salcare SC 95” by BASF. It is *PQ 37, mineral oil and PPG-1 Trideceth-6* . You can try this starting from 0.5% upto 2%, post emulsification.

    PS: Im completely new to the field, its only been 7 months since i started working. 

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