I’m often ask if I can use a different emulsifying wax than the one I used in a formulation. So, I decided to put six common emulsifiers to the test, using my Easy Emulsified Body Butter formulation (which uses Emulsifying Wax NF) as the sample formulation. Which emulsifiers work? How to do they change the formulation? Are any of them easier or harder to use? And—of course—which one created the best emulsified body butter?

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I tried 6 different emulsifying waxes. Here’s what happened.

The emulsifiers

The original formulation uses emulsifying wax NF, a very common emulsifier—that’s why I chose it! In this experiment I swapped it, one-for-one, with six different emulsifiers:

I chose these six because they’re the ones I’m asked about the most often, so I figure most makers should have at least one of these if they don’t have Emulsifying Wax NF.

The experiment

I made six 100g (3.5oz) batches of my Easy Emulsified Body Butter, simply swapping the Emulsifying Wax NF gram-for-gram with each of the test emulsifiers. To ensure I could tell each batch apart I included a wee bit of a different water soluble in each water phase (this also had the lovely side effect of creating a rainbow of emulsified body butters!).

  • Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate: Pink
  • Ritamulse SCG: Yellow
  • Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20: Orange
  • Olivem© 1000: Teal
  • BTMS-25: Blue
  • BTMS-50: Purple

I’m afraid there’s not much reason to the order of the rainbow, but it sure is pretty 😄

The results


The first differences I noticed was in the making: some mixtures thickened up much faster than others, making it more difficult to create a smooth final product that wasn’t also full of bubbles. The versions made with Olivem© 1000 and BTMS-25 thickened up the fastest; fast enough that I wouldn’t choose either for an emulsion this thick if I had other options. This faster thickening wouldn’t be an issue if the finished emulsion was thinner, but for this formulation it was rather stressful.

The Ritamulse SCG and BTMS-50 versions thickened at about the same rate as the original Emulsifying Wax NF version, and the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20 versions thickener more slowly than the original version. I was definitely a fan of the slower thickening—it was far easier to get a smooth finished product as the emulsion cooled more evenly.


Somewhat unsurprinsingly, soaping-prone Olivem© 1000 made for a rather soapy finished product. I was surprised to find that Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20 did too, though! It was nowhere near as soapy as the Olivem© 1000 version, but it definitely soaped.

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Skin feel

Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate

This is the first emulsifier I ever used to create emulsified body butters because it’s practically invisible in emulsions, and it doesn’t disappoint here. Soft, creamy, silky, gorgeous! Less waxy than the original version, too.

Ritamulse SCG

This version felt a wee bit drier/more powdery than the Emulsifying Wax NF original, which i liked. Soft, creamy, and lovely!

Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20

A bit more fluffy than all the other versions, and a bit less waxy.

Olivem© 1000

Similar skin feel to the Emulsifying Wax NF version, but with more bubbles as it thickened quickly, so the in-the-jar consistency is a bit more aerated.


Rich, smooth, and lastingly cushion-y in a way only cationic emulsions can be. Lovely! This one is also more aerated due to the fast thickening. No fishy scent from the BTMS.


Gorgeous! All the beautiful skin feel of the BTMS-25 version, but with less air in it. No fishy scent, either. Satiny, glossy, rich, indulgent.


I’d say the one with Olivem© 1000 is my least favourite due to how much it soaps, which is something this emulsifier is known for. I don’t hate it, but it’s not awesome.

Both the Olivem© 1000 and BTMS-25 versions were faster to thicken as they cooled, making them harder to work with than the original Emulsifying Wax NF version (and the other emulsifiers in this experiment). It’s not a total deal breaker, but it means I wouldn’t choose either of these first for this formulation. In a thinner emulsion this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

The BTMS-50 and Ritamulse SCG versions both moved at the same speed as the original, but I think both have better skin feels. Which one you’ll prefer will come down to how much you like cationic-ness in your skincare. I’m leaning towards the BTMS-50 version, but the Ritamulse SCG one is still gorgeous, and definitely my top natural pick.

I love how the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and Cetearyl Alcohol and Ceteareth-20 versions moved more slowly, but I think the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate felt better and soaped less than the Cetearyl Alcohol and Ceteareth-20 version.

Out of all seven emulsifiers (the six in this experiment and the Emulsifying Wax NF in the original), I’d probably choose BTMS-50 or Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate as my favourite (for this formulation, at least… though experience tells me I love these emulsifiers in all sorts of things!). I love the conditioning goodness of the BTMS-50, but I can’t deny the slower thickening and the pillowy softness of the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is divine.

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Gifting Disclosure

The Emulsifying Wax NF, BTMS-25, and BTMS-50 were gifted by YellowBee.
The Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20 was gifted by Formulator Sample Shop.
The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate was gifted by Mystic Moments.
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