Emollients are interesting compounds.
I use them a lot in my formulas, because they can radically help to improve the appearance of our skin.
They are often referred to as a protectors, because they lie on top of the skin shielding it from environmental harm.
They allow our skin, to rebuild its natural barrier function over time.
So they are excellent for dry skin, because they completely block moisture loss, and don’t cause allergies or irritation.
The molecules are large and don’t penetrate easily, which is why, they make our skin feel lovely and soft.
Natural emollients such as jojoba, Squalane and Sunflower oil, are rich in fatty acids that protect our skin.
These fatty materials are found naturally in our barrier, which is why you will find them in all my formulations for dry skin.
There are many emollients that are either completely synthetic, or don’t come from natural sources.
Silicones cyclomethicone, dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane, are the most commonly used in personal care products.
They work by imparting a nice silky feel on the skin, and help with slip and glide, and are often referred to as breathable barriers, because they leave a protective film on the skins surface.
Silicones are less likely to cause a reaction, making them a great addition for a sensitive, inflamed skin.
Because they have such a nice texture, they have replaced many of the more traditional emollients that were thick and fat.
Examples of silicones are Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone silicone compounds.
I prefer not to use silicones in my formulas, because they are biologically inert, preferring to use a natural silicone made from olive oil.
Polymers: These are a relatively new synthetic Silicone, which work as fantastic spreading agents.
They are used to create a nice texture in skin care products, and help deliver performance cosmetic ingredients effectively.
Lanolin: This is an ingredient that whether purified or not, I choose to avoid in my formulas.
Why? Because the questions has to be asked, do my clients really need to be smearing their body with something that has come into contact with sheep dip?
Especially when you consider all the lovely natural substitutes available.
This article killing you softly the dangers of lanolin, gives a good insight into why you should avoid this ingredient in your products.
Mineral oil: Emulsifiers to avoid, are the ones that have a mineral oil base.
Polyethylene glycol ether is usually combined with paraffin, this could include trideceth -3, -6, 10, tricetheareth, WHICH are petro-chemical based.
Mineral oil, works by trapping water in the top layers of the skin, whilst creating a protective barrier, thus helping to keep skin plump and moist and invading bacteria out.
This is a subject I discuss in greater detail, in the chapter on occlusive ingredients, which you can read all about here.