I fought with Ecomulse over a week ago and we were not on speaking terms that first day. It was my own fault, but now I’m almost glad I did! LOL! While I will continue to tweak the recipe to prevent some of the stickiness, it’s turned out to be kind of a nice surprise!
Ecomulse (aka Natramulse aka Ritamulse) is a self-emulsifier based on the acyl lactylate system which is supposed to be very good for moisturizing skin and hair. Its also said to be an “excellent viscosity enhancer” and stabilizer.
I’ve used Ecomulse before to make skin and hair creams. It does leave a soft, talc like feeling on the skin, just like the manufacturer says. But I’ve never used it by itself to make a lotion-like final product. The earlier Ecomulse formulations also included either cetyl alcohol (fatty alcohol) or behenyl alcohol (fatty alcohol/co-emulsifier).
In comparison, another emulsifier I always reach for, BTMS, works like a charm both by itself and with other thickeners. And BTMS can work at what I would consider low percentages. But what about Ecomulse? I realized I had never used it by itself in any formulation just to see what type of emulsion it would make.
Since Ecomulse is supposed to be a self-emulsifier, I wanted to test if it was going to form a stable emulsion without the addition of a fatty alcohol (thickener).
A long time ago, I noticed that Ecomulse seems to perform better in recipes with a higher percentage of oils. In other words, the higher my oil portion was, the better and quicker Ecomulse worked to form the emulsion. I’m not sure if that means Ecomulse is an oil-loving ingredient (lipophilic) or not.
The only problem with ECOMulse — and I knew this problem before making this — is that its a little pH sensitive! Ok. It’s ALOT pH sensitive! Your final product has to be between 5 and 7.5, and acidic ingredients should be added after the emulsion has formed. I guess I should stay way from using Aloe Vera juice, instead of water, as the base huh? That’s never been a problem. This was initially supposed to be a skin lotion so I wasn’t going to add anything to lower the pH anyway.
I have used Ecomulse at 4% along with Cetyl alcohol before. And since BTMS works well at 4%, and even the finicky Polawax works at 6% and above, I decided to use Ecomulse at 6%. I figured, hey, if the drama queen Polawax can work at 6%, why not Ecomulse? Right? Right?!
Test #1 Basic outline of the lotion:
2% Naturesilk (1,3 Propanediol; Ecocert approved)
1% Allantoin (SKIP! DON’T use allantoin in hair)
2% Sodium lactate (Use Glycerin. DON’T use Sodium lactate in hair. I don’t do this anymore!)
I heated and held both Phases for 20 minutes and mixed with a mixer like I’ve done a thousand times before.
Everything will work out fine, right? Right??
Uh…. no. Ecomulse did not form a stable emulsion by itself at ~6% (or 6.3%). I have a suspicion that Ecomulse loves oil. My oil percentage, though, was very low at 9%. I didn’t want to use a lot of oils for this mix.
But guess what? At Lotioncrafter.com, the place where I bought Ecomulse, the recommended usage rate is 2 to 10%. However, they have a note which I clearly either overlooked or just didn’t remember.
They state that the TYPICAL usage rate for Ecomulse is 8%. At least EIGHT percent. Not 6, or 6.3, or 4, or whatever. Whenever the wholesaler has special notes like that, it usually means they tested it and you should do as they recommend.
However, I couldn’t go back and I didn’t want to waste my ingredients. I had this weird thing where it looked like it WANTED to form an emulsion, but the small amount of oils start to separate out.
What do I do!? What do I DO!? The first thing I tried was to go to my Mr. FixIt, Structure XL. Whenever I had any problems with an emulsion (like using too little Polawax when I first got started experimenting with it), I would grab the Structure XL. It worked like a charm too.
I added 1 tsp of Structure XL. The Ecomulse emulsion started to come together just a tiny bit. But it wasn’t working fully.
While it was still looking all funky, I added:
+ 0.2% Xanthan gum dissolved in Naturesilk (for easy incorporation into mix)
It immediately started to come together. Xanthan gum worked well for this purpose.
But what the heck did I just create? I used it on my skin and hated it. It didn’t soak in immediately. I literally had white cream on my skin which sat and sat until it felt like soaking in. And this was as I was trying desperately to rub it in.
I was disappointed, but still wanted to use it!
I tried it on my hair. I hadn’t washed my hair in over a week. But I started applying it to my dry, frizzy, unwashed curls and doing 2 strand twists to set it. Low and behold, those curls had clumped like… whuuuut… and I was shocked for real. When I undid the twists after it felt dried, the curl definition was very obvious.
That night, I tied a satin scarf around it. When I woke up, the curls were still there. True enough, I stayed at home that 1st day but my hair will either puff up or not, regardless of whether my schedule is hectic or not.
On the 2nd morning, I woke up and my curls were still pretty well defined (if only a tiny bit fuzzy). By the 3rd day, most of the curls were still there. This is not usual for my delicate 4b, wiry/cotton candy (lol!) hair.
I have also tried it on wet hair, and I don’t like it. Unlike when my hair is dry, I can’t tell how much I’m using when my hair is wet. So when it dried, it was kinda hard like nothing was on it. Moving on!
I think its the Xanthan gum which is defining the curls, while the shea butter and
sodium lactate glycerin are helping to keep it moisturized long enough so that it doesn’t frizz out after 1 day.
SO I plan to experiment with these percentages sometime in the future to see if I can make the mix a little differently and get similar or better results.