Better crafting through chemistry: Esters & water soluble oils - PEG-7 olivate

There are two ways to make water soluble oils - you can mix an oil with an emulsifier (usually polysorbate 80) to make an oil water soluble or you can esterify them (okay, you can't personally esterify them as you probably don't have the equipment at home, but oils can be esterified to make them more water soluble). Today we'll take a look at esters of vegetable oils, specifically PEG-7 olivate or water soluble olive oil.

PEG-7 Olivate (or olive oil PEG-7 esters) is a non-ionic, water soluble ester. It is actually a surface active agent or surfactant (but not a foamy, lathery one). It can behave as an emulsifier with an HLB of 11, so it can be put into water without the need for an emulsifier. It's an emollient, moisturizer, film former, and irritation mitigator in surfactant systems. In short, it can do all the things we've come to expect from an ester.

It's a solubilizer, which is why it is such an awesome ingredient for a water based, non-surfactant (the foamy kind) make-up remover like the amazingly wonderful Fruit & Flowers Make-Up Remover at the Herbarie. (For the love of all that is good, please try this recipe if you're in the market for a make-up remover! It's great. You can leave out the calendula if you don't have it.) How does the PEG-7 olivate work in this recipe? It's a solubilizer and emulsifier, so it is going to act as an emulsifier with the oils and waters on your face and in your make up to remove it. And it's non-sticky and only slightly greasy, so you don't need to wash it off.

This would be a great ingredient in a toner to give you some olive oil-y moisturizing without the need to turn it into a lotion. I'd add it at 4% in a toner and remove an equal amount of water. You can add it to your body washes or shampoos at up to 4% without a reduction in foam or lather, and it would offer the re-fatting or moisturizing properties to mitigate irritation and offer some conditioning. Again up to 4% works well. Or add it to a facial cleanser at up to 4% for the make-up removing, cleansing, and moisturizing qualities.

Wow, I'm obsessed with using it at 4%, eh? This just seems to be the optimal amount. You could use 2 to 4%, but 4% is the point where it won't interfere with foam, acts as a solubilizer and co-emulsifier, and it's an easy amount to remember. I'd suggest the usage at 1 to 5%.

For those of us who have oily skin, this kind of ingredient is a blessing! We can get all the goodness of olive oil without the fatty acids that might make us break out. We can get the phytosterols, the "it's like human sebum" goodness, and the moisturizing properties without fewer chances for break out. Woo hoo!

Oh, and because you don't have the fatty acids found in olive oil, it won't go rancid on you. It has a shelf life of 3 years (although I have seen a few thing on the 'net indicating it never goes rancid, everything will oxidize eventually. But 3 years? That's a long shelf life!)

This ingredient plays well with gels, so you can make a gel based moisturizer or gel based eye moisturizer with it. Ah heck, let's do some playing!

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Make up your gel - you might want to reduce the recipe if you're making an under eye gel because you are going to have 10 years' worth!

Point of interest - this is the equivalent of the 242 grams water, 3 grams Ultrez 20, 4 grams lye, preservative in previous posts...I finally got around to changing it to a percentage recipe!

96.7% water or hydrosol

1.2% Ultrez 20 or ETD 2020 (1.6% for a thicker gel)

1.6% lye solution, 18% to neutralize

0.5% preservative (if you're using Liquid Germall Plus, otherwise use the recommended amounts)

Measure out your water. Add the Ultrez 20 or ETD2020 flakes. Stir to make sure the powder gets wet. Wait 3 to 10 minutes, then add the 18% lye solution to neutralize the gel. Stir very well with a big fork. It's gel!!!


80% gel mixture

10% aloe vera or hydrosol

4% olive oil esters

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2% hydrolyzed protein

2% panthenol

2% cationic polymer (honequat or condition-eze 7) - this is the humectant because sodium lactate might mess with gelling and glycerin will be a little sticky

0.5% extract (optional)

(We aren't including preservative as it is in the gel...)

Add the ingredients in order and mix well. Dissolve the extract in aloe vera or hydrosol before including in the mix.

Feel free to play with this recipe to include your favourite extracts, botanicals, and the like. I wouldn't include a ton of oil based ingredients - like essential oils - because gels don't tend to play well with oils and the olive oil esters can only emulsify so much! I'd keep it at 0.5% to 1% essential oil, and mix it with the olive oil esters before adding. (It will act like polysorbate 20 to emulsify the essential oils in this mixture.)

You can include AHA, BHA, or salicylic acid in this recipe, but please consult my posts and the links for how to formulate safely with these ingredients.

If you want an under eye gel, you could use this same recipe but use the thicker gel. Again, feel free to play with the ingredients.

As we're about to enter summer - yes, we do get summer in Canada, and it can get to 35C where I live near Vancouver!!! - join me tomorrow for another oil free moisturizer idea.

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