How to Choose the Best Natural Emulsifier


 April 1, 2022

How to Choose the Best Natural Emulsifier

 What is a natural emulsifier, and why should emulsions be an important part of every natural skincare routine?

An emulsifier is an additive that encourages the suspension of one liquid in another. The most classic example of an emulsifier can be found in the world of cooking — when mixing oil and water together to make margarine or salad dressing. In natural cosmetics, we use emulsifiers to stabilize emulsions, or hold water and oil ingredients together, so the composition of a product is uniform throughout.

Emulsifiers are used in most popular hair conditioners, lotions, and skin creams. The best emulsifiers keep water and oil together in a stable state, so there isn’t too much oil in one part of the product or too much water in another. Emulsifiers break apart oils into smaller particles and disperse those particles throughout the water or other liquid. The result is a creamy, smooth texture that’s not lumpy or uneven.

Although there are many lotions that contain petroleum or hydrocarbon derivatives, these products are not considered “natural” or “clean.” Vegetable emulsifying wax is also not considered “natural,” despite having the word “vegetable” in its name. Vegetable emulsifying wax contains polysorbate 60, which is a sorbitol-based emulsifier and surfactant that could be toxic if consumed in extremely high amounts. In order to avoid those dangers, consumers are increasingly opting for cosmetics made from 100% natural emulsifiers, like beeswax and carnauba wax.

Choosing the Right Natural Emulsifier

The best natural emulsifiers are made from plant oils, nuts, sugar, leaves, and berries. Plant-based emulsifiers offer the same benefits as synthetic emulsifiers, but with fewer health concerns.

Beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, and rice bran wax are all considered safe, natural emulsifiers. They stabilize the oil and water in clean cosmetics without using harsh chemical ingredients.

Most of the natural emulsifiers used in clean cosmetics are what is known as self-emulsifiers or complete emulsifiers. This means they are non-ethoxylated, sustainable, and they are biodegradable.

If you are looking for a product containing natural emulsifiers, rather than synthetic, search the ingredient label for these names:

  • Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Glucoside
  • Cetearyl Olivate and Sorbitan Olivate
  • Cetearyl Wheat Straw Glycosides and Cetearyl Alcohol

Using Beeswax As an Emulsifier

Beeswax is an especially popular emulsifier in personal care formulation because it keeps the skin hydrated. It can also be used to exfoliate the skin. Beeswax is utilized in many different types of natural creams, lotions, and skin balms.

Carnauba wax is a closely-related alternative to beeswax. This is a strong option for consumers looking for a vegan alternative to beeswax. Carnauba wax is known for being hypoallergenic. It has a high melting point, so it’s a great solution for natural balms, body butters, and natural deodorants.

While rice bran wax is becoming more popular as an emulsifier in natural cosmetics, it has somewhat limited applications. Although rice bran wax is very effective for reducing wrinkles and promoting hydration in the skin, it cannot mix oil with water. Rice bran wax is only suitable when the personal care formulation calls for mixing oils with creams or butters.

Testing Natural Emulsifiers

Finding the right personal care formulation takes some trial and error. Certain emulsifiers work better than others, depending on the product and its ingredients. It’s important that natural cosmetics manufacturers take separation into account when creating product formulations, to ensure their cosmetics are shelf stable.

When the emulsification system is stable, a product should remain usable through temperature changes and other consumer factors for two to three years. If a product cannot remain shelf stable for that long, it might be a sign that the wrong emulsifier is being used.

Omya Kinetik: Experts in Clean Cosmetics

Omya Kinetik uses high-quality natural emulsifiers to enhance the stability of all personal care products. Our clean beauty formulations are sophisticated and effective. Learn more about how to choose the right natural cosmetics for your brand with Omya Kinetik’s consultative support. Contact us at (732) 335-5775 for more information.