Because were all about transparency here at The Naked Chemist

Occasionally, we like to go behind the scenes and get technical about ingredients.

Yesterday we discussed different cosmetic chemistry terms, for all those budding chemists.

Today for the purpose of this article, we are going back to basics,

To look at how some of your personal care products are formulated.

Oil in water cosmetic formulation

This is one of the most popular cosmetic formulations of skin care products.

They are water based, but contain oil based ingredients.

Typically these formulas are very hydrating and moisturising and can be readily absorbed into the skin, more than water in oil formulations.

Water Free Cosmetic Formulation

This is a cosmetic formulation that contains fats and oils but no water.

Body butter is a good example of such a product.

They are usually quite greasy to touch and sit on the skin for quite a long period of time, they are a great formula for dry skin types.

Water in Oil  Cosmetics.

These are oil based skin care products that also contain water.

They have limited moisturising properties and impart higher occlusive properties, as the ratio of oil to water increases in the mixture.

Oil Free Cosmetics

These formulations contain no oils but may contain modern ingredients, that impart oil like properties, such as silicones and modified lipids.

This group of formulas are either alcohol or water based, or a gel.

Multiple emulsions

In cosmetic chemistry, this is known as a controlled release deliver system,

Up until recently this has been used mostly in the pharmaceutical field, helping to extend a products shelf life and stability.

These delivery systems are now very popular in skin care, especially in anti aging formulas, delivering active ingredients over a longer time frame.


In essence, formulations utilising liposomes are a specialised polyphase or W/O/W emulsion, where phospholipids represent a major part of the oil phase.

Liposomes are best described as tiny spherical shaped, soluble capsules.

Their role is to carry the active part of the formulation and once applied to the skin, they deliver it to the lower layers of the epidermis.

The liposomal structure allows slow osmotic diffusion of water, or water soluble agents through the lipid membrane and onto the skin.

The use of liposomes in formulations was first introduced by the medical profession, as an effective vehicle for the delivery of drugs to targeted areas within the body.

The following article, does an excellent job of explaining liposomes and nanotechnology in greater detail.

Learn how to ....


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