In our recipes for skincare or make up, you regularly see the term emulsion or emulsifier. So we just wanted to take a little bit of time to explain what we’re talking about. It is not essential to fully understand this article. For those in a hurry, knowing nothing about this term will not prevent you from getting super natural and nourishing textures for your skin. But here are some infos for the most curious or those who aren’t in a rush:
What is an emulsion.
Basically, an emulsion is a homogeneous mixture of two liquids immiscible (which do not mix), like water and oil. The mixture stabilizes with a third ingredient called emulsifier. The emulsifier will not only stabilize but also allow the two liquids to bind together when they would normally seperate (without an emulsifier, if we pour water in oil, the two separate immediately, the more dense or heavy will remain in the bottom whilst the less dense or the lighter will float on the other liquid). An emulsifier is essential a binder that will allow this reaction to occur and therefore create the cream texture we all know. However depending on the type of emulsifier you choose, some will allow for a better penetration or a slightly different texture and density, making your skincare more or less creamy. An emulsifier can also provide an emollient action (soothing and moisturizing effects)
The best known example of an emulsion chemical reaction is mayonnaise, which without egg yolks, would not allow the oil and mustard to thicken and create a texture that has hold.
What enters into the composition of an emulsion:
A water base liquid, such as hydrosols (floral waters), but a mineral water or an infusion of tea or plants can also be suitable.
An oily base: a wide choice of botanical oils are available for you to choose from and the best, tailored creams or lotions based on your skin’s needs. We invite you to choose the botanical oil that best suits your skin by reading our article on this topic here .
What can be done with an emulsion in cosmetics?
- Very light lotions and creams that will penetrate the skin faster and leave no oily residue at all. As it won’t leave much of protective layer on your skin, it will offers only a light protection however it is very easily absorbed by the skin and means you can get dressed straight away, It will of course have less hold than a thicker cream and will resemble more of a body milk . Basically, the more your cream will contain water (or floral waters), the more it will hydrate your skin, and the easier it will be absorbed by your skin but it won’t have a very rich moisturising/protective layer
- Very creamy/thicker creams that will be very moisturising and that will tend to leave an oily/protective layer on your skin. The more oil and wax/emulsifier will be in your cream, the thicker it will be & the longer it will protect your skin.
We particularly like the light textured milk and lotions in summer and we will choose a more creamy and rich cream in winter or in cool weather. If you don’t have 2 minutes to wait from the moment you jump out of the shower to the moment you get dressed, a light lotion will allow you to get dressed faster. It should also be noted that the more water a cream contains, the shorter it will naturally preserve, so more powerful preservatives will have to be added. There are certified natural preservatives available that keep your creams for 3 to 6 months. The addition of certain essential oils recognized and proven to offer antiseptic benefits also help to participate in better conservation. To avoid adding preservatives, some will prefer using balms or ointments that do not contain any water at all however they have a much oilier texture. Milks and lotions can also be kept in the fridge for better preservation.
What are some Natural Emulsifier?
- It has a great film-forming power (which means your cream will be all the more moisturising)
- It has antiseptic properties (bees work very hard to produce a wax that will keep the entire beehive free of bacteria and viruses).
- It is also fabulous for creating lip balms and make-up products because the wax melts only above 70 degrees Celsius (158 F).
- It is more difficult to use when preparing a cream, beeswax used as the sole emulsifier is better for balms (balms are only oil and wax based/no water base).
- Beeswax is also not suitable for a vegan lifestyle (although some Vegans still use hive products).
Carnauba wax is the vegan version of beeswax. It has the same hardening and texturising properties.
Olive wax: This natural wax is derived from olives, it is oil soluble and will thicken your creams and lotions beautifully. This wax has more of a silky texture and is easy to use for a very light homogeneous cream. It also has great emollient properties for your skin.
Stearic acid: don’t let the name fool you or scare you off. It is a naturally occurring substance found in some butters (Cocoa, Shea, but also in Coconut oil). This substance is a thickener, which complements other emulsifiers very well (it is called a co-emulsifier). As it is very thickening, it can also be added to certain soap formulas which will create a very rich and creamy soap that will be nourishing and gentle to the skin. It will also help your soaps to remain more solid and not “melt” as much in the shower.
Polawax is a wax extracted from plants & based on fatty acids and sugars (simplified explanation, but that is the gist); it is an extremely easy wax to use as it will stabilise and thicken your creams without the addition of other waxes, thickeners or co-emulsifiers. It also has great moisturising benefits for the skin as well and is vegan.
There are many other vegan waxes: rice wax, acacia wax, etc. But for now, we will limit ourselves to the ones listed above as we don’t want to make your first steps in the exciting world of Beauty DIY too complicated or intimidating
We will share some water soluble thickener in another post soon so follow to get the last updates
Do not hesitate to ask us for information on other waxes, emulsifiers, thickeners if you have any questions
Please share the love 🙂