Sodium Polyacrilate Update

Hello Everyone! 🙂
Today one of you wrote me and asked my opinion about Sodium Polyacrilate.
Many thanks to him for making me realize that I had never written an update about this ingredient and a lot of time has passed since that happy post!
[Click HERE to read the old post]


I am glad I tried to make that cream because it helped me understand this ingredient better: it is a good practice to try to push an ingredient and see how much it can do on its own and, specially with emulsifiers, it is a good idea to try to see how they behave in “simple as possible” formulations. So here is all the full story of how my relationship with sodium polyacrilate has developed: 🙂

The cream of this post actually separated after a couple of months.
It was a weird kind of separation because some oil would get to the surface but the cream would still look “beautiful” and, if mixed again, it would LOOK stable again – at least for a couple of weeks – but, obviously, it would separate eventually. I wrote “look stable”  because clearly it wasn’t.
The supplier from whom I had purchased this ingredient had suggested its use as lone emulsifier and stated that Sodium Polyactilate could support up to 25% oils. Well, now I know better: it is not stable with up to 25% oils (I have tried making a cream with 20% oils and it was even less stable than this formulation, no surprise there 🙂 ).
Most of the resellers now do not suggest to use this ingredient alone and it is sold mostly as a “support” of some other emulsifier. I also haven’t found anyone saying that it would support up to 25% Oil Phase anymore (probably 5% – 10% maximum is more likely).

There is one big mystery though about HOW ON EARTH this cream could possibly be so good looking and firm even with that 2% D-Panthenol (and let’s add that protein as well)!
Sodium Polyacrilate, in fact, has ever since COLLAPSED in most of my other attempts if I only dared to add the smallest amount of electrolytes! And by “collapsed” I mean that from a firm-silky cream it totally liquefied leaving me with a watery waste of ingredients! 😉
I guess this ingredient blessed me with the beginner’s luck 😀 (and then kicked me in the teeth soon after! 😀 Ahaaa!).

Now, a side note about the “feel” of the cream: the feel at the touch was definitely “silky” and “smooth” and it would absorb rather quickly but there was something I didn’t quite appreciate of it: the cream would feel quite “empty”, as opposed to “rich” and “moisturizing”.
I know these are all words that can mean totally different things to each one of us, but I know no better way to describe it!
Well I remember actually a commercial cream from a famous brand that was meant for teenage girls (therefore, a skin that doesn’t require a lot of moisturizing) and the commercial was all about “fresh” and “water”. This cream had that same feel so this might be an interesting ingredient for such kind of product.

For more recipes click HERE 
To learn how to formulate cosmetics click HERE
For a list of online cosmetic ingredients suppliers click HERE 

I am happy I finally wrote this update… it was definitely needed! 🙂

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17 thoughts on “Sodium Polyacrilate Update”

  1. I find all my lotions feel empty – not sure what is happening. I have samples of sodium polyacrylate coming in the post soon and I also want to try and get a sample of Solagum AX. On that note, I was wondering if you could help me troubleshoot a recipe? 🙂


    1. Sodium polyacrilate has a quite empty feel too, no matter how many oils you add to it.
      I don’t know ingredients by their commercial names because these names change a lot. What is the INCI of Solagum AX? 🙂


      1. It’s apparently a special mix of Xanthan gum and Acacia Gum that improves the consistency / silkiness of the lotion. Something I can’t get eith Xanthn gum alone. My lotion just looks ‘mushy?’ I don’t know how to show a picture, but it’s missing something to make it have a firm film


      2. Gums usually are just needed to stabilize the water phase. Are you sure that the issue isn’t caused, instead, by the emulsifier and thickener?
        Most of the times I had issues with consistency, it was related to a bad combination of emulsifier/co-emulsifier and a poorly formulated grease-fall


      3. The mix I was trying-: Water, Glycerin 3% Xanthan gum 0.2% Shea 2% Oils 8% (4%sweet almond and 4%jojoba), 4% emulsifying wax NF (the cetearyl alcohol + polysorbate 60), 2% Coco-Caprylate, 2% Glyceryl Stearate, 2% cetyl alcohol, 0.1% vitamin E, 0.5 preservative. I was just adding everything. So it feels empty, stays white and takes ages to rub in and looks dead in general 😦


      4. The “takes ages to rub” is mostly caused by the combination of oils and your emulsifiers/co-emulsifiers/thickeners.
        Xanthan sometimes helps that problem too, but it is so low here (0.2%) that I don’t think it can do much.
        Just to say: a cream with xanthan at 0.5% is still pretty fluid unless you have a high content of thickeners… and you do! 🙂
        I have never tried this emulsifying wax, but it already contains cetearyl alcohol (a co-emulsifier and thickener, which tends to make the white stripes on the skin when you rub the cream) and then you also have added 2% glyceryl stearate and then 2% cetyl alcohol.
        That sounds like a lot of waxes to me.
        I don’t know what you mean with “dead looking” but I believe this cream is very very waxy feeling more than empty feeling (sodium polyacrylate makes a very different “empty” feel compared to a “waxy” feel).

        Let’s start saying that your formulation is NOT wrong. It just doesn’t match your expectations as it is.
        If you want to try and avoid a strong waxy feeling, I would try using this emulsifying wax without adding any other waxes as a test. I would rise the xanthan to 0.5% (or change the gelling agent if you receive the new ones).
        Make a small batch to see how firm the cream is with using just the emulsifying wax… then if it is too liquid for your taste, you can add cetyl alcohol at 0.5% in the next batch (and increase it even more if needed in the following batches) OR you could add the glyceryl stearate – instead of the cetyl alcohol – at 1% or 2% (it usually thickens less than cetyl alcohol and is less waxy).

        Good luck with experimenting Gracie!!


  2. I’m really interested in this recipe (if I can find Sodium Polyacrilate, Glicerin, Hydrolized Silk Proteins and Dry flo) since it seems more beginner friendly than the others. It’s getting a bit confusing for me here if the cream would separate after 2 weeks does this mean this recipe needs to be adjusted by adding another emulsifier? If so, which one & what percentage would you recommend?


    1. Yes this was more an experiment on sodium polyacrylate than anything else. It is a thickener but not a good emulsifier even though it was sold as emulsifier to me! It is also affected by elecrtolytes which means that it melts.
      Christina I suggest you to find a shop from which you would like to buy your ingredients (no ebay) and then we work out a formula from the ingredients that you can buy!


      1. I agree, I think that’s the only way if I’ll make anything. I have found a few professional cosmetic ingredient seller (still lack of necessary chemicals like emulsifier, because people are obsessed with ‘all natural’). I have seen ‘Pharmaceutical Grade Glycerin’ for sale on ebay and other sites, are you those suitable for skincare making?


      2. Yes, the Pharmaceutical grade is actually hugher in purity than the cosmetic grade, so that would be fine.
        I asked on the facebook page if anyone may help! I don’t pay to boost my posts so I am not sure if anyone is going to even see it, but let’s wait and see!


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