This is my experience of doing the final project of my Diploma of Organic Skincare Formulation with Formula Botanica. It’s a two year course, but you can do it in one year, if you can spend more time on studying than I did. I dedicated one full day to practicing formulating and spend some more time during the week and weekends for studying. In case you missed the first part, you can find it here.
I knew pretty quickly what my final project was going to be, but I didn’t have my formulation skills yet. I spent most of the beginning of this year practising how to make emulsions. They’re actually not hard, but there are a few things you need to know and it took me a while to figure it out.
My top tips for creating stable emulsions
1. Always add a gum to your formulation – it helps bind the emulsion and prevents it from separating
2. Get an electric baby bottle warmer – seriously, I can’t stress enough how much easier formulating became after I started using one of those baby bottle warmers to warm my water and oil phases in
3. Use a mini-mixer – yes, you can create emulsions without it, but I found I had less emulsions breaking (separating) when I used a mixer
4. Forget cold ice bath – just pop it in the fridge for 5 minutes
From my notes
8/4/22: Started final project by testing different emulsifiers. Not only did I want to find out what the different emulsifiers we have available here in NZ are like, but I also wanted to see if any of them would work by hand stirring only. Formulation was the same for each: 25% oil, 5% emulsifier. I posted the results of this experimentation on my blog: https://inmysoappot.co.nz/2022/04/10/testing-emulsifiers/ The only two emulsifiers that remained stable after a week were Emulgade PL68/50 and Montanov 202. Montanov 202 has a very high melting point and needed to reach 80ºC to work properly. Olivem 1000, Plantasens HE20 and Naturemuls all showed separation after a few days. My favourite emulsifier from both feel and to work with is Emulgade PL68/50
15/4/22: Repeated the tests using the little Norpro mini-mixer from Amazon. Again, Emulgade PL68/50 and Montanov 202 showed the best results. I then tested the remaining three with xanthan gum as an emulsion stabiliser. In addition to the 25% oil and 5% emulsifier, I added 5% glycerine and 0.2% gum. All three remained stable with the added xanthan gum.
22/4/22: I decided to focus on Olivem 1000 as it is the most commonly available and cheapest emulsifier. This time I tested Olivem 1000 with different gums. I tested the same basic formula (25% oils, 5% emulsifier, 5% glycerine, 0.2% gum) with xanthan, guar, siligel and solagum. Both xanthan and solagum had a slight slimy feel to it, but guar gum and siligel didn’t. Guar gum is easily available in NZ, but Siligel I have to order from the USA.
6/5/22 Decided to go with Emulgade PL68/50 for my final project, because I prefer the feel of this one for a hand cream, instead of Olivem 1000, which has a lighter lotion feel like to it. Starting to research into oils. Testing oil percentages and with or without a butter. Testing 20% , 25% and 30% oil, and 20% oil + 5% butter and 25% oil + 5% butter. Each with 5% emulsifier. Using sweet almond oil and shea butter.
Observations: the more oil, the thicker and richer the cream. Butters make it thicker still. For this formulation, I will start with the maximum: 25% oil + 5% butter. I may adjust if it ends up too greasy feeling.
20/5/22 Final ‘basic’ formulation: 25% oil, 5% butter, 5% emulsifier. Must research into which oils and butters, as well as additives. Requirements: hydrating, conditioning, emollient, soothing and calming, and without leaving skin feeling greasy.