Friday, July 29, 2016

Why are cosmetics homogenised?

Most people are familiar with the term ‘homogenised’ milk, which basically means the milk has been mixed so that the fat is evenly dispersed through the bottle. When I was a child and the milk was delivered in glass bottles to our gates, there was only ever 1 type of milk- silver top. This had the cream settling on the top 1/6 of the bottle and it was always a battle as to who would get the ‘top of the milk’. In quality skin care the same process is used where by the fats /oils are mixed at high speeds with the water phase. Combined with a surfactant or emulsifier (which helps water and oil combine), the end product is a cream.  A homogeniser is more than just a mixer- think of your kitchen stick blender which whizzes things up and makes nice soups or puddings.
Homogenisers do way more than just blend everything together- they break down the individual particles into microscopic sizes and force them to mix and very high speeds (upwards of 30,000 RPM). The end results from a cosmetic cream point of view is a very smooth, fine cream or lotion which is completely homogenised. This is especially important if there are special active ingredients in the cream which need to be dispersed fully and evenly through the cream. Some products are vacuum homogenised which extracts out any surplus water, giving thicker more stable creams.

Here at From nature all the creams are homogenized at speeds varying from 10,000-3000 RPM depending on the type of product. This latest experiment involves just using a hard fat (illipe butter) and 2 softer oils (macadamia and hemp seed). the fats and oils are homogenised while still hot to give a consistent mix. The sample batch is left to cool to around 40 degrees and further high speed  homogenisation occurs. the idea is to create a whipped butter product which is entirely preservative and water free, but has a creamy melt on the skin texture. Other ingredients include a small amount of organic lavender oil to take away the oily smell (hempseed has a nutty aroma), coconut oil and olive ester to further aid in the smoothness.

Illipe butter, also called Beurre d’illpe is produced from the nuts of the Shorea stenoptera tree. It is a very hard butter, similar to cocoa butter and is used in lipsticks and rich cream products. it is in several of the products I make at From Nature. The fatty acid profile is palmitic acid 16.4%, stearic acid 43.5%, oleic acid 31%, linoleic acid 1.5%.

How to use a whipped body butter- many commercial body butters also contain water so they are a very thick cream. This whipped butter is slightly different in that it doesn't have water. It will sit on the surface of the skin first and then soak in over time so has a very protective and hydrating effect. The illipe butter also gives a barrier action so perfect for babies bottoms or where you need to protect the skin. In cold weather the butter will be quite firm. Best applied to the skin after showering when the skin is warm. it can also be used as a massage balm.