A Quick Guide to Butter Pearls and Liquid Oil Ratios

Today we are getting acquainted with a new-to-me fatty thickener: C10-18 Triglycerides, sold as “Butter Pearls” by Simply Ingredients (gifted). I love fatty thickeners and use them in all kinds of formulations, and I’m super excited to have a new one in my repertoire! Simply Ingredients says you can “turn any oil into a balm with just 20% Butter Pearls melted into your favorite oil”—and that definitely got me excited to get to know these little white beads a bit better 😄

Getting to know Butter Pearls

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Butter pearls are a blend of palmitic and stearic acids—roughly 75/25. This ingredient is made from inedible leftovers from the making of olive oil, making it a lovely up-cycled ingredient that reduces waste. Like all fatty thickeners, Butter Pearls are super versatile. In my research I found C10-18 Triglycerides in ingredient lists for cleansers, creamy colour cosmetics, lotions, moisturizers, and more.

I structured this experiment differently than I’ve done in previous “quick guide” experiments. My earlier experiments were structured around ratios, making the percentages a bit odd (1:8 = 11.1111111%). I’ve structured this experiment around percentages as that’s how I formulate, and it’s about time my quick guides caught up 😄

I’ve made seven different mixtures of butter pearls and safflower oil: 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, and 40% butter pearls, with safflower oil taking us up to 100%. I melted each mixture together in a water bath and stirred the mixtures while they cooled. I then left them overnight before trying them out. I looked at the viscosity/hardness and then spread each mixture on my skin to see what the skin feel, slip, melt speed, and general use experience was like. I did this a couple times, over a couple days, to be sure I was getting a good feel for what was going on. Here’s what I learned.

The Ratios

2% C10-18 Triglycerides + 98% safflower oil

This mixture is visibly hazy. It is more viscous than straight safflower oil, but definitely still liquid. Lovely rich skin feel, with great slip. After sitting for 3 days the haze of the C10-18 Triglycerides is starting to settle out, leaving a clear layer on the surface of the mixture, indicating that this isn’t going to work well to add just a wee bit of viscosity to very fluid formulations (at least not on its own).

5% C10-18 Triglycerides + 95% safflower oil

Very soft solid when left on its own, but liquifies when stirred about. Oil-gel-like. Soft, scoopable, rich, silky. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth. Melts quickly but maintains structure well—it doesn’t start immediately running down my leg as it softens. This would probably be fully liquid in 25°C+ temperatures.

10% C10-18 Triglycerides + 90% safflower oil

Somewhere between very thick liquid and very soft solid; it could tip one way or the other depending on ambient temperature. Does not liquify quickly, requiring a few seconds of massage into the skin before melting. Rich, creamy, slippy skin feel. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth.

15% C10-18 Triglycerides + 85% safflower oil

Soft solid; I can run my finger through it in a very rich, indulgent way—like extra thick custard. Nice glide on the skin, slow to melt. Rich, creamy, buttery. A bit white on rub-in. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth.

20% C10-18 Triglycerides + 80% safflower oil

Soft solid; you can press a finger into this mixture and it’ll leave a dent behind. Scoops, spreads, and massages into the skin well. Definite rich, creamy, buttery feel. Good playtime, though not long enough for a massage product. Slight powdery skin feel. A bit white on rub-in. Satiny, non-greasy skin appearance.

30% C10-18 Triglycerides + 70% safflower oil

Dry, fluffy, crumbly, malleable, and creamy. You can smoosh a chunk of this between the fingers and it feels both buttery and a bit dry/powdery. Rubs into the skin relatively easily, though with a noticeable whiteness—almost like lather. Some creamy-tackiness left on the skin—reminiscent of shea butter. Satiny skin appearance; does not look or feel greasy.

40% C10-18 Triglycerides + 60% safflower oil

Hard, dry, and crumbly. A chunk of this mixture will just sit on your skin without melting. That chunk can be pressed into the skin and massaged in, though it’s pretty slow moving. The skin feel is stiff yet creamy, leaning towards powdery. Leaves the skin looking satiny, not greasy.

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Lessons Learned

  • C10-18 Triglycerides hardens products in a way that softens quickly, but is slow to fully melt/liquify; the products keep their structure to a degree as they’re applied.
  • Post-testing, my skin was left feeling conditioned and protected, even after washing my hands.
  • Compared the cetyl alcohol, C10-18 Triglycerides melt much more slowly and add more richness.
  • Compared to stearic acid, C10-18 Triglycerides create formulations with better slip.
  • Compared the cetearyl alcohol, C10-18 Triglycerides thickens similarly, but C10-18 Triglycerides is more creamy/butter while cetearyl alcohol is more slippy/oily
  • A potential substitution for C10-18 Triglycerides would be a blend of cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid.
  • C10-18 Triglycerides would be a great addition to anything you want to feel rich and creamy—I’m especially thinking lipsticks and vegan lip balms!
  • C10-18 Triglycerides is to stearic acid as cetearyl alcohol is to cetyl alcohol

Observations Chart

Hard? Solid? Melt speed Sticky? Slip
2% No No Immediate No Excellent
5% No Barely Medium No Excellent
10% No Barely Medium No Excellent, rich
15% No Soft solid Medium Not really—more rich & creamy Good
20% No Soft solid Slow Not really—more rich & creamy Good
30% Yes Yes Very Slow Not really—more rich & creamy Slow, slightly powdery finish
40% Yes Yes Very slow A little; tacky/creamy Slow, slightly powdery finish

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