Polybutene

What is it? Polybutene is a rich, non-drying emollient that is a fantastic lubricant and gloss-boosting ingredient. It’s vegan, stable, crystal clear, and doesn’t smell like anything.
INCI Polybutene
Appearance Crystal clear liquid. Viscosities of different polybutene products can vary; mine is from TKB Trading and it’s extremely thick.
Usage rate The CIR has not stated an upper allowable limit. Given how sticky polybutene is, the desired consistency of your final product will dictate how much you’ll want to use. I’ve used it at 20–70% in lip products.

Table 3 in the CIR Safety Assessment of Polyene Group as Used in Cosmetics lists “Frequency (2014) and concentration of use (2013) according to duraction and type of exposure for polyene ingredients”. A maximum concentration of 82.4% for leave-on products and 20% for rinse off is listed for polybutene (this lower rinse-off level is likely due to it being very difficult to rinse off). These numbers are not legal limits, but the range of concentrations observed in formulations containing polybutene.

“Repeated insult patch tests of 3.1–50% polybutene in formulations produced, at most, minimal irritation in a small percentage of the test population. The products testing produced no irritation or sensitization.” (Source: CIR Safety Assessment of Polyene Group as Used in Cosmetics)

Texture Glossy and sticky; imagine if honey was also water repellent!
Scent None
Absorbency Speed Extremely slow
Solubility Polybutene mixes well with Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, liquid oils, and esters.
Why do we use it in formulations? Polybutene adds gorgeous, cushiony richness to lip formulations, making them feel more expensive and substantial.
Do you need it? If you love formulating high-end lip products I’d say it’s a must. If not, you probably won’t miss it.
Refined or unrefined? Polybutene only exists as a refined product.
Strengths I love the expensive, substantial feel it adds to lip formulations.
Weaknesses I’ve only found it for sale at TKB Trading.

Even though the poybutene I have is very viscous, it doesn’t work for suspending ingredients like coloured micas, pigments, and dyes. They’ll settle out pretty quickly.

Alternatives & Substitutions You’ll need to begin by determining why polybutene is being called for in a formulation.

If it’s being used as a rich emollient in a skincare product, I think Lanolin, Brassica Campestris Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer, or Lecithin might work as an alternative.

Hydrogenated Polyisobutene is not a good alternative. Polybutene is quite different from Hydrogenated Polyisobutene—the primary ingredient in Versagel® ME 750. Straight Hydrogenated Polyisobutene is a much thinner liquid that doesn’t have the same tacky richness that polybutene does. The two ingredients are lovely when paired, but they aren’t interchangeable.

Versagel® ME 750 can work if you’re using polybutene to add richness to a lip oil formulation. Versagel® ME 750 isn’t as rich feeling as polybutene, but I have seen many lip oils that use Versagel® ME 750 for richness and structure, so it’s definitely possible! You may need to do some re-formulating rather than doing a straight one-for-one swap; you might consider adding some lanolin to get a bit of the tacky richness you’ll be missing from the polybutene.

How to Work with It Polybutene is really thick, slow-moving, and sticky, so be patient and be careful!

This ingredient can be hot or cold processed, though the data sheet from TKB recommends not heating it, and keeping it below 120°C if you do. It’s oil soluble, so whatever you’re making needs an oil phase.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, polybutene should last at least 3 years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Mix polybutene with a liquid oil you love to create a rich, shiny, long-wearing lip oil!

You can find polybutene in popular formulations like Pat McGrath Labs lipsticks, Tower 28 Beauty Jelly Lip Glosses, Sephora Lip Gloss, Jaclyn Hill’s Lip Oil, and Essence Cosmetic’s Lip Oil.

Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Polybutene

Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer

What is it? Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer is a film-former that brings waterproof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof characteristics to our formulations.

There are four products with this INCI on UL Prospector that are sold by Nouryon. TKB Trading sells Dermacryl® 79. I believe the one sold by Making Cosmetics is also Dermacryl® 79 (the other three are marketed for hair applications rather than skin/cosmetic applications).

INCI Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer
Appearance Fine white powder
Usage rate 0.5–10%, depending on usage. 1–10% is suggested for colour cosmetics, 0.5–3% for creams and lotions.
Texture Can make formulations tacky depending on usage level and overall formulation.
Scent Nothing noticeable
pH Not stated
Charge Anionic
Solubility Alcohol, isopropanol, and fatty alcohols. It is soluble in water with neutralization using a base; the manufacturer recommends triethanolamine (TEA), ammonium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide.
Why do we use it in formulations? We include Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer in formulations for improved wear-time and film-forming awesomeness.
Do you need it? No, but I highly recommend it if you are interested in making water or alcohol-based long-wearing cosmetics.
Refined or unrefined? Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer is excellent at making products long-wearing and waterproof.
Weaknesses It’s hard to find—I’ve only found it in the USA.
Alternatives & Substitutions I don’t know of anything that is available to home crafters. If you can access them, ingredients like Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Acrylates Copolymer, Ammonium Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, and Ammonium Acrylates Copolymer look promising—just be sure to research the specific product you’re looking at as the INCI won’t necessarily tell the entire story. The manufacturer should list waterproofing and film-forming properties in the product description. Nouryon’s entire “Dermacryl®” line is different waterproofing film-formers.

Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane (Flake Resin) and Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer (TKB Film Fix) are also great film formers, though you will likely need to re-formulate to create a high performing end product.

How to Work with It How you’ll want to incorporate Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer depends a lot on what else is in the formulation.

If your formulation contains quite a lot of high-proof alcohol, I find it mixes into that very easily when making small batches. I will pre-disperse the powdered Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer in another liquid that’s in the formulation (preferring something fatty or a humectant) and then add the alcohol and use my Micro Mini Mixer (Badger Paint Mixer) to combine.

If you wish to disperse the Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer in water, the water will need to be neutralized with a high pH ingredient. “The polymer becomes water soluble/dispersible by neutralizing the carboxyl groups with a suitable water soluble base, such as triethanolamine, 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol (AMP), ammonium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide” (Source: Nouryon data sheet for DERMACRYL 79). Making Cosmetics recommends including 0.5% triethanolamine (TEA) to neutralize 2% Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer. If the water is not appropriately/fully neutralized the Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer will not fully disperse/solubilize. Nouryon recommends 80–100% neutralization. “To simplify addition of DERMACRYL 79 polymer into the water phase, pre-slurry together the neutralizing agent, glycol or glycerin, and DERMACRYL 79 polymer” (Source).

You can find a lot more information on how to work with Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer here.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer should last at least 3 years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer is the film-former in LipSense lip colours that makes them very long-wearing and transfer-proof.
Recommended starter amount 50g (1.76oz)
Where to Buy it You can purchase Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer from TKB Trading and Making Cosmetics, both in the USA.

Some Formulations that Use Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer

Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer (TKB Film Fix)

What is it? Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer is a film former that imparts non-transfer and water-resistant properties to our cosmetics. The active ingredient is Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer in a base of isododecane. The volatile isododecane base means Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer dries down quickly, leaving a sturdy protective film.

Innospec and Shin-Etsu Silicones of America both manufacture a product with this INCI. The Innospec product is called Specsil K-50; the Shin-Etsu product is called KP-550. Both manufacturers state their product is 40% active (60% isododecane).

Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer does not appear to be as popular as Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane (Flake Resin) in commercial cosmetics. It seems to be primarily used in waterproof sunscreens, but I have found it in products like Revlon’s ColorStay Satin Ink Liquid Lipstick, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, Mented’s Lip Liners, and e.l.f. cosmetics’ 16hr Camo Concealer. I’ve noticed that most commercially available products that include Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer also include trimethylsiloxysilicate.

INCI Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer
Appearance Viscous clear liquid
Usage rate 0.5–10%

I have not found anything from Cosmetics Info/the CIR indicating that this is a safety-based limit; it appears to be more of an efficacy-based range.

Texture Clear viscous fluid
Scent Nothing much.
Solubility Oil, isododecane.
Why do we use it in formulations? Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer helps extend the wear time of our formulations by forming a durable, clear film that imparts water, wash-off, and transfer resistance.
Do you need it? I recommend it if you are interested in making long-wearing cosmetics.
Refined or unrefined? Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Effective, easy-to-use film former for imparting water and transfer resistance to cosmetic formulations.
Weaknesses Lack of global availability.
Alternatives & Substitutions A solution of Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane (Flake Resin) and isododecane would be a good place to start.
How to Work with It Include Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer in cosmetic formulations. It should not be heated much as isododecane is volatile and heat sensitive.

I recommend pairing Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer with other adhesion boosting ingredients like magnesium myristate and magnesium stearate for the best results.

Film-formers like Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer are broken down by oil—that’s why oil cleansers work so well to remove waterproof makeup! With that in mind, it’s not a good idea to put oil in formulations that rely on film-formers to perform well. The oil will diminish the effectiveness of the Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry,  Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer should last at least three years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Both Innospec and Shin-Etsu Silicones of America sell Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer in a variety of different bases/solvents, including dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, and butyl acetate. There are no entries on UL Prospector for Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer as a standalone ingredient.
Recommended starter amount 30mL (1fl oz)
Where to Buy it I have only found  Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer for sale to home crafters from TKB Trading.

Some Formulations that Use Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer (TKB Film Fix)

Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane (Flake Resin)

What is Flake Resin? Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane is a product made by Dow chemicals; they call it “DOWSIL™ MQ-1640 Flake Resin”. TKB Trading sells it as “Flake Resin”.

Dow describes this product as “a unique combination of MQ and T propyl silicone resin. This combination of resin technologies has been especially developed to provide both excellent transfer and wash resistance combined with a flexible film and comfort of wear in skin and cosmetics applications. Even with stretching and washing the film formed by this product remained smooth and undamaged. In sunscreens it enhanced the SPF wash off resistance.” (source)

You can find Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane in tons of different long-wearing cosmetic products where it improves wear time and rub-off resistance. Examples include Fenty’s Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer, Sephora’s Lip Last Matte Lipstick, ITEM Beauty’s Air Hug Clean Lightweight Full-Coverage Concealer, Kaja’s Don’t Settle Concealer, Tarte’s Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint, and KVD’s Cake Pencil Eyeliner.

Trimethylsiloxysilicate is also manufactured and sold as a stand-alone ingredient (DOWSIL™ MQ-1600 Solid Resin). Trimethylsiloxysilicate (without Polypropylsilsesquioxane) is very commonly used in long-wearing cosmetics for its film-forming and long-wearing properties. Examples include Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Shadow, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ DIPBROW™ Pomade, and NARS’ Powermatte Lip Pigment.

Both Trimethylsiloxysilicate and Polypropylsilsesquioxane are also available as components of other blended products. For instance, DOWSIL™ 593 Fluid is Dimethicone (and) Trimethylsiloxysilicate and DOWSIL™ 670 Fluid is Cyclopentasiloxane (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane, and Specsil K-75 is Isododecane (and) Trimethylsiloxysilicate.

Grant Industries Inc. manufactures several solutions of Trimethylsiloxysilicate and Polypropylsilsesquioxane in different solvents: isododecane (Granresin MQI-T50), cyclopentasiloxane (Granresin MQC-T50), and dimethicone (Granresin PHQ-Fluid).

INCI Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane
Appearance Dusty, translucent flakes/chunks
Usage rate 1–50% (though you shouldn’t need 50%!)
Texture The flakes are a bit tacky
Scent Nothing noticeable
Solubility Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane is soluble in quite a few different liquids including:

Different solvents perform differently; which one you choose will depend on your formulation needs. If you’re unsure, take a look at some commercially available formulations that are similar to what you are planning on making. In my research, I have found that isododecane and cyclomethicone + other cyclo-siloxanes are the most popular choices.

Why do we use Flake Resin in formulations? Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane improves the wear time and rub-off resistance of our formulations.
Do you need Flake Resin? If you want to make long-wearing cosmetics I highly recommend it.
Refined or unrefined? Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Fantastic film former, great rub-off and water resistance.
Weaknesses I think limited global availability is its biggest weakness. It’s also prone to tackiness if used at high concentrations.
Alternatives & Substitutions for Flake Resin You’ll need another excellent film-former; I’ve had good results with TKB Trading’s Film Fix.
How to Work with It You’ll need to dissolve the Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane in a suitable solvent before you can include it in your formulations. Which solvent you choose will depend on your formulation needs.

If you read through the reviews for Flake Resin on TKB Trading you’ll see most users prefer isododecane as their solvent of choice, and TKB Trading also recommends isododecane for the best performance. I have seen products for sale that use cyclomethicone as the solvent. I have yet to find any products for sale that use isopropyl myristate (IPM), C12-15 alkyl benzoate, or MCT as the solvent for Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane.

I make my own version of Grant Industries’ Granresin MQI-T50 by weighing equal parts isododecane and Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane into a bottle (50% isododecane, 50% flake resin) and work with that. A reviewer named “Astarie D.” on TKB shared that they use an 80/20 mix of Isododecane and flake resin. Remember that isododecane is volatile, so if that’s your solvent you need to be careful heating it.

Film-formers like Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane are broken down by oil—that’s why oil cleansers work so well to remove waterproof makeup! With that in mind, it’s not a good idea to put oil in formulations that rely on Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane performing well. The oil will diminish the effectiveness of the Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane.

For a great starter formulation, try TKB Trading’s free Liquid Lipstick project! It can also be adapted into eyeliners, cream eyeshadows, blushes, and more.

Luisa True Skincare also has a very helpful post on formulating and making liquid lipstick that you can find here. This formulation uses just trimethylsiloxysilicate but does mention polypropylsilsesquioxane as a potential ingredient to include.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks As wonderful as Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane is for improving the wear time of our cosmetics, it’s not the only ingredient you’ll need in formulation to ensure it is long-wearing. Just because something has excellent rub-off resistance when you scrub at it on your arm doesn’t mean it will wear well on your eyes or mouth for hours 😊 I have had great results pairing it with ingredients like magnesium stearate and magnesium myristate.
Recommended starter amount 30g (1.06oz)
Where to Buy it  TKB Trading sells it as “Flake Resin“. Making Cosmetics sells it as “Silicone Resin“.

Some Formulations that Use Trimethylsiloxysilicate (and) Polypropylsilsesquioxane (Flake Resin)

Polyamide-3

What is it? Polyamide-3 can be used to thicken oils (without adding opacity like waxes and fatty thickeners!), and because it’s also a great film-former it improves the wear time of our formulations. It is part of “a group of oil structuring polymers that create impressive films on the skin, lip and eyelash, delivering water and wear resistance benefits in colour cosmetic and sun care applications.” (source).

There are three different products with the INCI polyamide-3, all made by Croda as part of their OleoCraft™ line. I have found two available for sale to home crafters. TKB Trading’s Polyamide-3 (“Citrine Clear Wax”) is OleoCraft™ MP-30. I asked Making Cosmetics about their Polyamide-3 product and they told me it is “very similar to OleoCraft™ MP-32.”

Despite identical INCIs, these products perform slightly differently. Learn more with this super-helpful document!

INCI Polyamide-3
Appearance Clear, sticky, slightly yellow beads
Usage rate 1–30%
Texture Raw Polyamide-3 is firm and sticky
Scent Nothing noticeable
Approximate Melting Point MP-30 softens at 97°C (207°F), MP-32 softens at 99°C (210°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? I primarily use Polyamide-3 as a thickener/gelling agent for anhydrous formulations. If you want to add a bit of viscosity and gloss to an oil blend, Polyamide-3 is the ingredient for you! You can also create clear oil gels with Polyamide-3.

Polyamide-3 is also an effective film former and helps extend the wear time of colour cosmetics by reducing rub-off. Polyamide-3 “is an oil structuring polymer that creates impressive films on the skin, lip and eyelash, delivering water and wear resistance benefits across a variety of colour cosmetic and sun care applications.” (source)

Do you need it? No, but if you want to make gelled oil products and/or your own lip gloss base I haven’t found anything better!
Refined or unrefined? Polyamide-3 only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Polyamide-3 does some amazing things that can be hard to achieve! It gels/thickens oils while leaving them clear and it improves the wear time of colour cosmetics.
Weaknesses It’s difficult to source outside of the USA.
Alternatives & Substitutions I would start with a different Polyamide-3 product, though you may have to adjust the concentration to get the desired level of thickening.

As always, when making substitutions, it’s important to understand what an ingredient is bringing to a formulation, and why it was included. If polyamide-3 was included for thickening, you’ll need another thickener. If it was included for rub-off resistance/film-forming, you’ll need another ingredient that can do this job. Generally speaking, polyamide-3 will be fairly hard to substitute out if it’s being used to thicken/gel oils and keep them clear or if it’s being used to improve rub-off resistance in a formulation containing oils.

How to Work with It I find Polyamide-3 needs direct heat (not a water bath) to melt.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Polyamide-3 should last two or more years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Croda’s OleoCraft™ polymer line also includes OleoCraft™ LP-20 (INCI: Polyamide-8), which works with low to medium polarity oils. You cannot use this instead of Polyamide-3 without making some changes; it could potentially work if you shift the polarity balance of the oils in your formulation.
Recommended starter amount 50g (1.76oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. I have only found it for sale in the USA at TKB Trading and Making Cosmetics.

Some Formulations that Use Polyamide-3

TKB Mousse Medium

What is it? TKB Mousse Medium is a cosmetic base that is proprietary to TKB Trading that can be used to create all sorts of long-wearing cream and liquid cosmetics. It feels lovely on the skin, with great slip and enough “play time” to easily apply it before it dries down. Simply add your choice of pigments and other cosmetic additives to it to create a wide variety of cosmetic products!

If you compare the ingredient lists of many long-wearing cream and liquid cosmetic products for sale you’ll notice the base ingredients are pretty similar; the majority of the differences are in pigmentation level, pigmentation type, precise colour, and any small tweaks to make a product more suitable for the particular purpose (more moisturizing for lips, better oil resistance for eye primer, etc.). The base ingredients are usually pretty darn similar, and TKB Mousse Medium can be that base for you.

INCI Dimethicone (and) Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Isododecane, Aqua, PEG/PPG-20/20 Phenylisopropyl Caprylyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone (and) Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol.
Appearance Milky semi-viscous liquid
Usage rate 50–100% (though there’s room to play—experiment and have fun!)
Texture Smooth, slippy
Scent Faint, slightly chemically/makeup-y
Absorbency Speed Fast
Approximate Melting Point TKB Mousse Medium is liquid at room temperature (product should not be heated or frozen)
Solubility TKB Mousse Medium is compatible with water-soluble, oil-soluble, silicone-soluble, and insoluble ingredients.
Why do we use it in formulations? TKB Mousse Medium makes it really easy to create all kinds of cream and liquid cosmetics—eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, lipstick, lip tints, foundation, concealer, highlighter, and more!

I like to add other cosmetic ingredients to customize the performance of each formulation; for example, eyeliner has greater adhesion/wear challenges than blush does, so an eyeliner formulation using TKB Mousse Medium will contain additional ingredients to boost adhesion and wear time.

Do you need it? No, but if you love cream and liquid cosmetics I highly recommend it. It’s so easy to work with that it feels a bit like cheating (in the best way possible!).
Refined or unrefined? TKB Mousse Medium only exists as a refined product.
Strengths It’s a brilliant shortcut to formulating high-performance cream and liquid cosmetics.
Weaknesses TKB Mousse Medium is only available from TKB Trading in the USA; it is their proprietary formulation. They do ship internationally, but I know that can get expensive.
Alternatives & Substitutions You would have to formulate something comparable using similar ingredients. I worked on a similar formulation for quite a while before TKB released their Mousse Medium and it’s no small task! The initial ingredient outlay to start developing something like this would be around $100USD.
How to Work with It Just stir your additives into it until smooth. TKB Mousse Medium is designed to be cold-processed as it contains several volatile emollients.

TKB Mousse Medium is formulated to accommodate additions of 40–50% and is preserved with that in mind.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, TKB Mousse Medium should last at least two years when unopened. Opened packages of Mousse Medium should last a year.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Check out this helpful page from TKB Trading for ideas and tips on how to work with their Mousse Medium.
Recommended starter amount 2oz (57g)
Where to Buy it TKB Mousse Medium is only available from TKB Trading; it is their proprietary formulation.

Some Formulations that Use TKB Mousse Medium