Most problems with lotions can be narrowed down to a few possible problems:
- You didn’t use emulsifying wax—you cannot use beeswax, it won’t emulsify!
- You didn’t use a complete emulsifying wax. It is possible to purchase something called “emulsifying wax” that is just half of an emulsifying wax and requires co-emulsifiers to work. These so-called “emulsifying waxes” won’t work in my lotion recipes on their own.
- You didn’t whisk until the lotion was cool. Some emulsifying waxes require somewhat constant whisking until the lotion has cooled to maintain the emulsion.
- You added an ingredient that altered the pH of the solution enough to break the emulsion. Anything strongly acidic or basic can cause your emulsion to break.
- Everything didn’t melt together before you removed everything from the heat. This will usually look a bit like just-sour milk, with little solid whispy bits in it. You can often fix this by gently re-heating the mixture until everything has melted together, and then whisking as it cools.
- Some emulsifying waxes just need a few days to thicken up without high-shear blending. Polawax and Emulsifying Wax NF are the two I know of—lotions made with them (and without high-shear mixing) need three or so days to thicken to a lotion consistency, and are milky and thin until then.
- You altered the proportions of the recipe enough to break the recipe. Most e-waxes work with relatively specific oil to water ratios, and changing those ratios too much can break the emulsion. This can happen by attempting to convert a recipe written in weight to volume measurements.
- The preservative you added broke the emulsion. Optiphen Plus is is one preservative that can de-stabilize emulsions.
Posted in: Troubleshooting & Adjusting