An emulsifier is the ingredient used in lotions and creams, lipsticks, balms, etc that combine water and oil. As you know water and oil are not soluble (will not mix on their own). I know you all remember those science fairs with the jugs of oil and water to demonstrate that oil and water do not mix. Well the ingredients that make your lotions and creams possible are emulsifiers.
Emulsifiers enable the oil and water to stay together enabling your oils to be surrounded by water, thus creating a cream. To make an emulsion you need to divide your recipe into two phases, the oil and water phase. Place all ingredients in their respective phases and heat each phase. Depending on if you are doing a oil in water or a water in oil emulsion, you will had the second phase slowly to the first while continuously mixing.
If you mess up one of part ( temperature, emulsifier,mixing) of the process, your emulsion will not work.
Here are some Emulsifiers, but every provider will have their own list/names and descriptions.
- Candilla Wax
- Polowax - Emulsifying Wax NF
- Acacia gum
- Jojoba Esters
Some give your products different feels/benefits, but it depends on what your looking for. For example I read that if you want your lotion to have that greasy feel use beeswax, but if not you should use Polowax.
You can also use co-emulsifiers to make your formulation more stable.
Examples ( but there are plenty more)
- Borax w/ Beeswax
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Cetearyl Alcohol