emuslifiers in DIY cosmetics
Skin Beauty DIY Cosmetics

Is Lecithin The Best Emulsifier For DIY Lotions?

I will always remember the first time when I tried to make a body lotion at home. With all the luxurious ingredients in place, my goal was to mix coconut butter with Vitamin E, essential oils, and water. But why when I blended all these together with a kitchen mixer, the oil was still floating on the top? I probably forgot that it’s difficult to get a creamy mixture without adding a drop of good emulsifier that can help my additives befriend each other.

No matter the state of my mix, it also didn’t last long. Because the essential oils and water were not absorbed by the coconut oil, mold appeared on the top of my lotion shortly. Sadly, I had to throw this substance into the trash bin.

Today, many people like me want to make their own cosmetics at home. I believe that they can learn a lot from my personal mistake. Therefore, the aim of this post is to explain how to use emulsifiers in DIY cosmetics, and what type of emulsifiers are best for our creations.

Why do we use emulsifiers?

You don’t need to be great at chemistry in order to understand why emulsifiers are an essential additive in the making of cosmetics. Still, before we understand cosmetics, let’s start with understanding cooking, one of our main lifestyle hobbies. In fact, we use emulsifiers to help us cook a delicious dish every day.

Emulsifiers help us to make chocolate, mayonnaise, and every single yummy dip that we can think of. In the creation of these products, we use natural and chemically processed emulsifiers (powders). A well-known culinary emulsifier derives from egg yolks, a very famous additive for homemade mayonnaise and dips.

Now let’s think of emulsifiers as what holds the ingredients of our food together. Similar to mayonnaise, many facial creams and body lotions are made of exactly the same additive, which is acting as the “glue” and natural blender of many ingredients together.

emulsifiers in mayonnaise
Mayonnaise dip for chips (Photo by K8 on Unsplash)

Emulsifiers in cosmetics

Cosmetic products usually come in the form of emulsions. From the name, it is obvious that emulsifier is one of the main ingredients in cosmetic products in this form, too. Similar to mayonnaise, the form of most body lotions is a homogeneous and creamy substance with a pleasant smell.

Still ,can we use the same culinary emulsifiers in cosmetics, too?

This question is not so difficult to answer. Obviously, cosmetics have different purposes than culinary products, and as such, they need different additives for their creation.

Many different forms of emulsifiers for cosmetics are extant on the market today. However, one of the most efficient and popular emulsifiers you can purchase for your in-home-made goodies is dissoluble lecithin powder. Now, let’s focus more on what exactly Lecithin for cosmetics’ making does to homogenize our creative mixtures.

Lecithin is found in egg yolks, sunflower seeds, and soy. Cooking oil in itself contains a lot of Lecithin, too. For ages, lecithin has been used as the main emulsifier in many professional cosmetic lines. This is because the molecules of this ingredient love both water and oil, thus mixing well with both, and helping water and oil to mix with each other.

Due to advances in science, we can easily find lecithin dissoluble powder or hydrolyzed lecithin liquid on the market for cosmetics ingredients. Lecithin emulsifiers are also quite inexpensive, compared to other ingredients for DIY cosmetics. This being the case, many people have started to use lecithin (especially powder), as the main “glue” holding ingredients in their in-home cosmetic creations.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of Lecithin emulsions?

Benefits of Lecithin

Lecithin is one of our skins’ natural ingredients but each skin type will contain it in very different amounts. Therefore, depending on what type of skin we have, we often want to add to our natural reserve of lecithin, so as to make our skin look better. Except for good looks boosts, lecithin is also known for its ability to protect our skin from external factors.

Lecithin contains linoleic acid, also known as a type of Omega 6 fatty acids. According to science, the skin sebum of people prone to acne contains less linoleic acid and more natural oil. American Academy of dermatology even claims that the low level of linoleic acid is responsible for the fast development of acne on our skin.

In this sense, lecithin as an emulsifier may prove to reduce the acne on our skin. However, let’s don’t forget that this emulsifier is just a small portion of each cosmetic product. This being the case, the amount and type of all the cosmetic additives, mixed together, will determine the final result and effects of cosmetic products on our individual skin.

Due to its specific molecular structure, lecithin has shown the ability to benefit the water retention in our skin cells. Therefore, this emulsifier is widely used in products aiming to moisturize and hydrate our skin.

Lecithin emulsifier
Homemade cosmetics (Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash)

Drawbacks of Lecithin emulsifier

Ready to use Lecithin for DIY cosmetics may have negative effects on our skin. There are cases when people develop allergies from this additive.

Evidence shows that hydrolyzed (liquid) Lecithin is a better emulsifier than powder lecithin. This is due to the fact that powder lecithin may not be absorbed well by our skin, depending on the type of our skin. In many cases, lecithin may not be able to pass through the epidermis (top) layer of the skin, especially true with some brands of powdered emulsifiers.

Due to its inability to fully penetrate the epidermis, lecithin may be useful as a moisturizer, giving the ultimate polished look on our face and body. In addition, we may ingest lecithin supplements, which are well known to benefit our skin condition in many positive ways.

What amount of emulsifier do I need for my cosmetics?

A rule of thumb is that our product should not contain more than 5% lecithin. This means that if we are preparing a body lotion bottle of 200 ml, about 10ml of lecithin (maximum) will be good enough to blend and stabilize our ingredients into a creamy substance.

The total weight of all cosmetic ingredients should be the main factor determining what amount of emulsifier we will need to add to our DIY lotion. During the process of emulsion, when ingredients are mixed together, the oil and water will slowly blend into a creamy substance. This means that the bleeding process may be slow, requiring an electric kitchen blender at top speed.

Cosmetic products without good emulsifiers tend to develop mold over time. Therefore using emulsifiers as lecithin, and choosing the right brands, is essential for the making of long-lasting DIY lotions, too.

Good to remember

Making DIY cosmetics at home not always goes exactly by the book. In order to achieve better blends, people rely on emulsifiers such as lecithin, which is an inexpensive and effective cosmetic additive. There are DIY recipes containing lecithin but at the end of the day, it is up to us and our own experience to decide how to use it.

Used correctly, lecithin may help for acne reduction, skin hydration, and protection. A homemade body lotion to keep our skin moisturized and protected is what we all want, isn’t it?

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