How Are Emulsifiers Used in Skin Care?

How Are Emulsifiers Used in Skin Care?

Emulsifiers are agents that hold ingredients together in a mixture. They are found in a variety of applications ranging from food to skin care. Whether it be a moisturizer cream or sunscreen, emulsifiers are a crucial ingredient in many skin care products. They work to hold the mixture of ingredients together while also initiating a reaction between the product and a user’s skin.

Learn more about emulsifiers in skin care products, how they’re used and what benefits they can provide for manufacturers and consumers.

What Are Emulsifiers?

Emulsifiers are molecular agents that allow liquids that normally wouldn’t mix properly to combine, creating an emulsion. The most common emulsion in skin care is oil and water. When oil and water are combined without an emulsifier, they separate into different layers. If you shake the container, the two ingredients will try to mix but instead form visible droplets that eventually pool together into separate layers again.

Water and oil can’t bond on a molecular level, which is where emulsifiers become a valuable ingredient for manufacturers. Emulsifier molecules have water- and oil-soluble ends, allowing them to bond with both oil and water ingredients. When water and oil are mixed with an emulsifier, they can combine permanently without separation. While there are many types of emulsions, consider how you might use these common skin care and cosmetic emulsions in your products:

  • Oil in water (O/W): In these emulsions, a small amount of oil is mixed into a large amount of water.
  • Water in oil (W/O): Water in oil emulsions are the opposite. These are mixtures including small amounts of water with large amounts of oil.
  • Water in silicon (W/Si): Water in silicon emulsions have similar compositions to W/O emulsions, with small amounts of water in large amounts of silicon.

Because water and oil are so common in skin care products, emulsifiers are often necessary to hold the ingredients together and create a stable mixture. If you need emulsifiers for your skin care products, consider ordering from Acme-Hardesty.

What Emulsifiers Are Used in Skin Care?

What Emulsifiers Are Used in Skin Care?

There are a variety of different types of emulsifiers in skin care products. Depending on their molecular electrical charge, they may have different strengths or react differently with various skin types. Understanding the different emulsifier charges can help you better understand how the ingredients work in your products and how they may affect the consumers’ skin. Here’s a closer look at the three categories of skin care emulsifiers you may use in your company’s skin care products:

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1. Non-Ionic Emulsifiers

Non-ionic emulsifiers have a neutral charge. These emulsifiers are known to irritate the skin the least when used in skin care products. They’re also commonly used in combination with one of the other types of emulsifiers as a way to dilute the mixture’s strength, reducing the potential effects they could have on sensitive skin. Common non-ionic emulsifiers include glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol and ceteareth-20.

2. Cationic Emulsifiers

Cationic emulsifiers are positively charged. Cationic emulsifiers can bind with keratin on the outer layer of the skin. This can help a product work with the skin, though the ability to bind to the skin can also cause irritation. Sensitive skin cells are more prone to experiencing negative effects from these types of emulsifiers. Two of the most common cationic emulsifiers include behentrimonium methosulphate and benzalkonium chloride.

3. Anionic Emulsifiers

Anionic emulsifiers are negatively charged. These emulsifiers tend to be most irritating to the skin. While less harsh versions of these emulsifiers have been developed, they’re most commonly combined with non-ionic emulsifiers to create a milder product. The most common anionic emulsifier is sodium lauryl sulfate.

Natural vs. Conventional Emulsifiers

Many of the emulsifiers prone to causing skin irritation are known as conventional or traditional emulsifiers. Conventional emulsifiers are typically synthetic or chemical, which is why they’re known to cause irritation. While many people may not experience any effects from conventional emulsifiers, people with sensitive skin may experience serious reactions. Luckily, natural emulsifiers are also an option. 

Natural emulsifiers contain natural ingredients. They’re derived from plants and fruits rather than being the result of an artificial chemical reaction. They are extracted and processed out of the fats and oils from plants like coconut and palms. Because natural emulsifiers are free from artificial colors, fragrances and other chemical preservatives, they’re great for consumers with sensitive or delicate skin. Natural emulsifiers are less likely to cause damage, breakouts, rashes or inflammation.

Skin care products made with natural emulsifiers typically contain two or more emulsifiers to ensure the emulsion remains mixed for an extended period of time. The addition of multiple emulsifiers also usually gives these skin care products a smooth, velvety texture.

Conventional emulsifiers are more commonly found in products because they’re typically more cost-effective, though consumers with sensitive skin may be more likely to look for natural emulsifiers. Whether you’re looking for natural or conventional emulsifiers, Acme-Hardesty can supply you with either or both.

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Benefits of Emulsifiers in Skin Care

Emulsifiers are extremely beneficial when used in skin care products. From stabilizing the product mixture to helping deep skin layers get vitamins and antioxidants, they can do a lot. Learn more about a few benefits of skin care emulsifiers below.

1. Emulsifiers Combine Unlike Ingredients

Emulsifiers allow unlike ingredients to combine in skin care products. This feature is extremely beneficial, as it lets you add different ingredients to the same product. Without emulsifiers, many skin care products like moisturizers and lotions would look and feel extremely different and be much more difficult to manufacture. When ingredients like oil and water work together, the product becomes more beneficial, making them more worthwhile.

2. Emulsifiers Aid in Product Absorption

Emulsifiers are known to enhance the absorption of ingredients in a product. When the skin can successfully absorb a product with the help of emulsifiers, the benefits of that product are much more significant because it can penetrate more layers of skin. The product’s active ingredients can then impact those deeper levels, working more thoroughly in the skin.

3. Emulsifiers Deliver Valuable Ingredients to Deep Skin Layers

Emulsifiers are commonly used to carry valuable ingredients, like vitamins and antioxidants, to deep skin layers that would otherwise fail to receive nourishment. When deep skin layers receive the necessary nourishment, it promotes better health for the entire skin barrier. Emulsifiers help make this deep-skin nourishment possible by carrying those antioxidants and vitamins and with their ability to aid in product absorption. Emulsifiers can help you include those valuable ingredients in your skin products.

Purchase Emulsifiers from Acme-Hardesty

Purchase Emulsifiers from Acme-Hardesty

Emulsifiers are a necessary ingredient in many moisturizing products like lotions and creams. At Acme-Hardesty, we’re proud to offer both natural and traditional lines of emulsifiers. With our lines of EnMulse™ traditional emulsifiers and Gale & Cosm natural emulsifiers, you’ll have a range of options to make your skin care products homogenous and effective. Both lines of our emulsifiers are made up of environmentally friendly and renewable resources so you can feel confident about the ingredients in your products.

Ranging from water-soluble to water-dispersible emulsifiers and beyond, Acme-Hardesty can help you find the right emulsifier for your products. Contact us to learn more about our products or for help placing an order.