In partnership with Bioaktive
Emulsions play an essential role in the production of lotions and creams in the cosmetics industry. However, with complexity around using emulsifiers, supplemental products to ensure stability and, among other factors, the need for heating, homogenization and cooling, the traditional production process remains ineffective, costly and environmentally unfriendly.
In comparison, more optimised products have evolved featuring new technologies, such as emulsion concentrates like HydraMaxx. These products can reduce time and costs, help mitigate unnecessary complexity and are highly scalable.
Many products, including foods, drugs, and personal care products are emulsion-based. In general, emulsions are dispersions of two (or more) immiscible liquids. Emulsification is the “process” of making a metastable mixture of two such immiscible materials, like water and oil, which under normal conditions eventually separate into two phases in equilibrium.
A prime example is mayonnaise, which is an emulsion of water-based materials, with oil that is blended into a semi-solid emulsion form. A number of emulsion systems are found in nature and our bodies; bile acid acts as an emulsifier to help digestion and absorption of fat by the formation of finely dispersed emulsion droplets, and lipoprotein forms an emulsion to deliver and metabolise fat in the body.
In cosmetics and personal care, emulsions allow formulators to create a lotion or cream that contains both an oil and a water phase, combining lipid-based emollients with the moisturising components of a formulation. The two main functions of products created from emulsion are those that are used to moisturise, nourish and protect the skin, and those used to deliver active ingredients or other components.
In addition, utilising the nonequilibrium state of the emulsion can create sophisticated tactile sensations which are one of the important properties of these products. However, if the emulsion is at a nonequilibrium state, there is pressure on the two phases to separate: oil does not want to hang out with water and water is not fond of oil. They want to be separated and achieve this equilibrium. Thus, it is always a challenge to obtain a practically stable emulsion on a large scale with minimised cost.
During the process of emulsification, an emulsifier must be employed. Typically, this is a surfactant used for the sake of forming the emulsion. Its main purpose is to surround its hydrophobic or hydrophilic side with either oil or water so that they can trap stabilised droplets inside without repelling and separating. The direction of the emulsifier depends on if it is oil in water or water in oil emulsion.
It can often be a very redundant process to formulate and produce an emulsion in a traditional way. First, a suitable emulsifier needs to be selected, typically from a library of such products. The characteristics of an emulsifier are often expressed by the Hydrophilic Lipophilic Balance (HLB) number.
The HLB number is an index of the affinity of a surfactant toward a solvent; for example, a high HLB number indicates that the surfactant is more compatible with water (water soluble). Only the right amount of emulsifier can ensure good coverage and long-term stability of the product.
Selecting the right emulsifier typically means research and lab scale experimentation to get an end product that has the best overall performance. It also means having a broad variety of emulsifiers on hand to select from.
To further ensure stability, thickeners and stabilisers need to be selected, which adds to this complexity and to the catalogue of materials that a supplier needs to keep on hand. During the production, other factors need to be considered, including preservatives, pH, electrolytes and interfacial energy.
Apart from the cost of selecting and maintaining all the factors which determine the quality of the final product, the traditional production process itself involves high shear mixing under a high temperature around 167°F/75°C.
Then the product needs to be cooled in a controlled environment. This process can be time consuming, costly and environmentally unfriendly. This traditional method of production demands a high development time, production time, and production cost.
It can waste a lot of resources especially when a company has several emulsion-based products, each with a different oil to water ratio, but a similar production process that requires an excessive amount of energy.
New technologies have lead to immense optimization in the process of emulsion production. Emulsion concentrates can simplify redundant processes into a simple base product that can be readily applied to all kinds of emulsion manufacturing. “Instead of having to go through all the steps of looking for the right formulation of emulsifiers and stabilisers, emulsion concentrates are more cost effective and energy effective”, says Robin Willmann from BioAktive, one of the first companies to offer such an emulsion concentrate product.
HydraMaxx, the company’s featured emulsion concentrate, is based completely on natural, plant based, raw materials and is cold process, meaning that it requires no heating, cooling or homogenisation.
Instead of producing an emulsion from scratch, formulators that use HydraMaxx only need to add water as well as their actives, or fragrances, stir at room temperature and the emulsion builds up to a final form.
The amount of water added affects the viscosity of the emulsion, which you can customise for the application you need. Mr. Willmann describes the product as “simple, scalable, effective, and flexible”.
Users of HydraMaxx can modify, add and create their own product by adding additional ingredients into it.
Emulsion concentrates like HydraMaxx can save companies a significant amount of time and money as well as simplify the production process.
This concentrate simplifies every stage in the lifecycle, from product development, to testing to manufacturing and works for brands as well as contract manufacturers. Companies can start with small batches to test various formulas, then quickly and easily scale up to a production level. It saves time not having to adjust for the best formula and pick the right emulsifiers and reduces the complexity of having many emulsifiers and stabilisers in the lab.
During the manufacturing stage, instead of purchasing chemicals from several suppliers, HydraMaxx has everything in one product, thus greatly reducing transaction and storage costs. Moreover, the whole process does not require heat source. Although it can be heated up to 80°C as well, it can be processed under room temperature.
This greatly reduces energy consumption and thus energy cost that is required in traditional manufacturing process. This is something many of BioAktive’s customers like in that it can help reduce their carbon footprint. Standing from the view of customers of the final product, HydraMaxx also allows consumer centric modifications, which can even be done on-site.
Due to its scalable nature, companies can modify their product very easily according to the needs of the customers by adjusting the ingredients after adding water to the concentrate. This also opens the door to personalised skin care products.
This Article was written by Zixuan (Alicia) Wang, Marketing Associate BioAktive Specialty Products. For any information or to contact BioAktive, please email firstname.lastname@example.org