How to make a lotion: EMULSIFIERS pt.2 – THEORY

In the previous post about emulsifiers we talked about their HLB which, at the end of the day, only tells us wether an emulsifier is more lipophilic or more hydrophilic.
What we, more importantly, need to know about our emulsifier is
– how to use it (hot or cold process)
– and at which percentage.

This is not same for every emulsifier. Even with the same HLB, the ability of an emulsifier can be totally different (and therefore we might need to add to our cream more or less of it).

These information we can collect easily in the moment we purchase our emulsifier: who sells them know the percentage of use and usually posts it on the page of the product (if it is not written there, you could always send them an e-mail and ask for more details about their product. If they don’t know or don’t reply… well, change supplier and buy from a well informed one 😀 ).

However I have decided to put together a small guideline about emulsifiers.

The biggest difference is wether the emulsifier has to be used in hot process or cold process.
An emulsifier which needs to be heated up to 70° is usually solid, normally sold in pearls and his ability to emulsify is only at 70°C. If the two phases we are trying to emulsify do not reach this temperature… well, the emulsion will separate soon enough. So bear in mind to properly check the temperature of your two phases before you mix them (you don’t want to waste precious ingredients nor time, do you? 😀 ).
Since the highest number of emulsifiers work at 70°C, you have to simply follow the process which I already explained in the beginning: you heat up the two phases, you pour the phase B into the phase A and mix with an immersion mixer, once it looks emulsified very well you keep stirring with a spatula until the lotion cools down completely and eventually add your phase C.
There is an huge number of these emulsifiers.

Always remember that these emulsifiers can be more lipophilic or more hydrophilic… or can even be self-emulsifying (which means they already contain both lipophilic and hydrophilic emulsifiers) so always check their composition to find out if they need a co-emulsifier or not (you can, once again, find this specific information from the website where you order your supplies!).
Just to make an example of the two most easily found emulsifiers:
– Methyl glucose sesquistearate – needs to be used at 3%, needs to be heated up to 70°C to work and is more hydrophilic so it needs a co-emulsifier which will be lipophilic (for instance cetyl-alcohol at 1% will do).
– Montanov 68 – this is a self-emulsifier. If you read its composition it already contains both the lipophilic and the hydrophilic emulsifiers: Cetaryl alcohol,Cetearyl Glucoside. It is usually added at 4% to a cream and needs to be heated up to 70°C.
Even if it might sound more difficult, having to mix your own two emulsifiers gives you better results in your cream (at least once you get the grip of it and realize what is the effect of each emulsifier in the final lotion).
If you want to follow a good advice, you should make different experiments with just water (gelled water) and a very cheap oil in a fixed amount and different emulsifiers, if you do this, you will be able to experience the different effect each emulsifier gives to your cream. This is a very important experiment if you want to be aware of which emulsifier does what… (and in the moment you decide to formulate a cream these notions will be very important!).

The “no heat” emulsifiers, instead, are usually liquid (normally very dense). They simply need to be added to phase B and, unless you are using rather difficult active ingredients (meaning that these active ingredients should be added alone in the end of the process), the phase A might contain also the phase C.
Once again you simply pour phase B into phase A and you mix with your immersion mixer until the lotion is formed.
Just one note: usually creams made with “no heat” emulsifiers are not very emollient and rich. This is due to the fact that, since the emulsifier cannot be heated up, you cannot use butters in your cream.
However SOME “no heat” emulsifiers (that, let me repeat again, just mean that the emulsifier will have emulsifying power even at normal temperature) DO bear heating. If you use such an emulsifier you can heat up the phase B in order to melt the butters (let’s say shea butter for example… which doesn’t need a high temperature to melt!) and then you can combine phase B to phase A and normally create your lotion.
If you want to do so, you should be able to get information about your “no heat” emulsifier, once again, right from your supplier. 🙂

This is all about the emulsifiers.
Let me know if you have any more specific questions about them.

Have a great day! 😀


How to make a lotion – THEORY pt.2


As explained in the “Theory pt.1” post a cream is made of water and oils kept together by emulsifiers (one or more in the same formulation).
So, when you attempt to actually make a cream, you have to start preparing the ingredients separately. There will be at least:

PHASE A: the water based ingredients
PHASE B: the oily ingredients (or oil soluble ingredients)

I think it is better to actually show a very basic recipe of a cream so you can understand what I am talking about.
Every recipe is made for 100 grams of product and every number written after the ingredient indicates the grams (“water to 100” means that the water will be enough to make the recipe reach the 100 gr value)

Phase A: 
water (demineralized) to 100
glycerin 4
xanthan gum 0.3
Phase B:
fats 15
emulsifier 3 (imagine I have chosen one which need to be heated)
thickener 2

Phase C:
Active ingredients 5
Preservative 0.6
2 drops fragrance oil or essential oil

So what does it mean to “make a phase A and a phase B”?
Once you have the recipe you start weighting the ingredients and you cannot put them all together like an unknown mixture: there are rules to be followed and the most important rule is to keep the two phases separated in the beginning.
So you will need at least two bechers and in one you will add the phase A, in the other you will add the phase B.

The PHASE A usually contains water, glycerin, one or more jelling agents (mainly: xanthan gum, different kinds of carbomer or hydroxyethyl cellulose) which help the emulsion to keep stable and they give consistency to the cream. There are different kinds of jelling agents and each gives a final texture to the cream.

The PHASE B instead contains the oily ingredients and the emulsifier, the thickeners if needed and so on. I have not been specific in this recipe neither for the fats nor for the emulsifiers; this because too much must be said about these two subjects and I will make other posts about this.
What we will consider, however, is that the emulsifier in this cream is one of those which have to be heated at 70°C to actually emulsify water and fats.

So, in this case, now that we have the phase A and the phase B we need to heat them up to 70°C (measuring the temperature is important).
Phase A and Phase B
Once they have both reached the same temperature, you need to add the Phase B to the Phase A (never otherwise) and you have to start mixing them possibly with an immersion mixer (pay attention at this point: avoid incorporating air or it will result in bubbles inside your cream). Notice that when you pour the Phase B into the Phase A you should actually pour it little by little, mix, add some more, mix, add some more… this will give better results! 😀
Phase B in Phase A
Once the liquid (it should still be quite liquid at this point) looks emulsified you have to keep stirring with a spoon until it cools down completely.
When it is cooled down (you will notice that now it looks more like a real cream because it has become thick and creamy 🙂 )
Keep Stirring
this is the time you can add your PHASE C: the preservative, the active ingredients (the ingredients which are extremely good for your skin) and, if you wish to, two drops of your favourite fragrance oils or essential oils (bear in mind that if you want to add fragrance oils they need to be of cosmetic grade: not any fragrance oil will do).
Body cream itsallinmyhands

If it sounded very easy… well it is not really 🙂
I’m not trying to take the motivation away from you, but it is not easy to get a stable emulsified cream; sometimes it gets bubbles inside, sometimes it separates after few days (usually if there are many bubbles it means it is not really emulsified… but I will teach you a trick to get to know if it is emulsified or not). Sometimes things go wrong and you don’t even manage to know why.
So I would suggest that you start reading more and more about how to make creams, also from other websites (I am just summing it up, here… but there are many websites which helped me in learning this wonderful thing so I am sure you can find them interesting also!).
There are so many things to be said about this wonderful subject! 🙂
I feel I forgot to say so much, but I will try to add everything I can to this blog.
Anyway if you decide to study about making creams… ALL THE BEST! 😉 You won’t be left unsatisfied 😀

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