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Ingredient Truths: Keeping the Peace with Emulsifiers

by kelly / November, 4 2015 01:30

I think my title sounds like the name of a kids song - hmm, maybe it's time for a second career for me? Nah, then I'd have to give up sharing all these skin care truths.

Ok, so in keeping with our Ingredient Truths series, I'm going to take you behind how our products (and others) are formulated.  This week I'm talking about emulsifiers and how they keep all personal care, cosmetic and food products literally held together.


When Things Don't Mix

First up you need to know that when you mix some ingredients together they always don't stay connected. This is called an emulsion which means a combination of two or more liquids that are unmixable or unblendable. You know like when you hear the old saying like "oil and water" - meaning oh there is going to be some tension!

Why certain ingredients don't mix is due to their density and polarity. Yeah I'm throwing down a little chemistry knowledge!  For example in the case of oil and water, water molecules are more densely packed.  Have you ever tried the experiment of putting oil and water together in a cup? The water sinks to the bottom while the oil stays on top - that's due to density.

Polarity refers to the positive and negative charge of a substance, like a battery.  Again using oil and water - water is polar which means it is positively and negatively charged while oil is non-polar.  Polar molecules are attracted to polar molecules and non-polar to non-polar which again means they don't mix.


How Ingredients All Get Along

Ingredients need to get along and work in unison in order to make anything happen.  That's where emulsifiers or emulsifying agents come in.  They bring peace and harmony.

Emulsifiers or emulsifying agents are soluble in oil or any fat for that matter and water.  They allow fat to be evenly dispersed and stable in water.  Now I'm going to let the good people at The European Food Emulsifiers Manufacturers Association (EFEMA) explain how an emulsifier binds fat and water together:

"An emulsifier consists of a water-loving hydrophilic head and an oil-loving hydrophobic tail. The emulsifier positions itself at the oil/water or air/water interface and, by reducing the surface tension, has a stabilising effect on the emulsion. "


Emulsifiers in Products

The most relatable example of an emulsifier in an everyday product is egg yolk in mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil and water and an egg yolk is used as the emulsifier to bring it all together.

Examples of some emulsifiers in our products include:

You can find the full list of all the ingredients used in our products and their purpose here.


So the next time you hear that oil and water don't mix - tell everyone you have a solution to make it work!


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