September 22, 2020

Cosmetic product formulation that empowers you to create your own #haircare and #skicare products

BTMS-50 vs BTMS-25: Which one?

4 min read
btms-50 vs btms-25

A visitor to, Tiffany, posted a question on the BTMS ingredients page about using btms-50.  For those who don’t already know, there are two types of BTMS.

BTMS-25 is a self-emulsifier and cationic conditioning ingredient which makes oil and water stay together.  It forms a nice, conditioning cream which is safe to use even in leave-in conditioners.

BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol.  BTMS-25 is Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol.

What BTMS-25 has is 25% conditioner (behentrimonium methosulfate) and a 75% mix of thickener/moisturizer with cetyl+stearyl alcohols.  It’s actually dispersible in hot water making it easy to use in “one pot” formulations.

BTMS-50 has 50% behentrimonium methosulfate, which in theory is supposed to make it more conditioning.

Tiffany got the BTMS-50 by accident, but was complaining that it left a white residue in her hair.  She wanted to know whether she was using too much BTMS-50 or whether the BTMS-50 itself is the problem.

I haven’t used BTMS-50 before because the regular BTMS works so well.  Feel free to comment at the end of this post to share your experiences with it.

My first question to her was what percentage of BTMS-50 did she use?  If you’re making a leave-in conditioner, in 8 ounces, as little as 2tsp of BTMS-25 seems to get the job done. That’s about 3%.

BTMS-50 contains less fatty alcohols and more conditioning substance than BTMS-25 does.  But I cannot tell you which one will be better for you or which one will feel better in your hair.  That would depend too much on the other ingredients you’ve included in you DIY mix.

BTMS-25 doesn’t contain a built in petroleum based humectant like BTMS-50 does.  I have no problem with that because I use additional humectants I like better anyway.

Either way, I have never had a problem with BTMS-25 in anything I use.  Its the most stable emulsifier I’ve worked with so far regardless of pH or any additives I add.

And BTMS is one diverse ingredient!  Its used to make leave-in conditioners, rinse-out conditioners, detanglers, moisturizing creams, cream rinses, skin lotions, skin creams, deep conditioners, and even deodorants/antiperspirants.  If you don’t have a problem with silicones, it can also emulsifier silicone-heavy emulsions too.

My advice is to experiment with BTMS-50 by making 2 ounce testers with various percentages of BTMS50 until you find something which works well for you.

Maybe start with super, super simple emulsions measured in volume:

(2oz total)

BTMS-50 2% (0.04oz = about 1/4 teaspoon)
Water 80% (1.6oz)
Any oil 18% (0.36oz = about 2 teaspoons)

See where you are with this one. Is it too thick?  Is it too watery? Is it perfect?  If you like it, then you’ve found your basic formula.

Then test:

(2oz total)

BTMS-50 4% (0.08oz = about 1/2 teaspoon)
Water 70% (1.4oz)
Any oil 26% (0.5oz = 1TBSP)

See where you are with this one. Is it too thick?  I it too watery? Is it perfect?  If you like it, then you’ve found your basic formula.

BTMS-50 by itself may not be thick enough for you. So move on to testing it with Cetyl alcohol.

(2oz total)

BTMS-50 2% (0.04oz = about 1/4 teaspoon)
Cetyl alcohol 1% (0.02oz = about 1/8 teaspoon)
Water  79% (1.58oz… just use 1.5oz)
Any oil 18% (0.36oz = about 2 teaspoons)


Is it too thick?  Is it too watery? Is it perfect?  If you like it, then you’ve found your basic formula.

The best way for me to gauge what I like is by testing, testing, testing. And come at it with a plan so you won’t waste ingredients.  Keep a scrap of paper and a pen next to you to write down what you just added AS YOU’RE DOING IT so the notes will be accurate.

Happy experimenting!

13 thoughts on “BTMS-50 vs BTMS-25: Which one?

  1. Hi there, that means I can still use your formulas above with BTMS25 it will just be less rich in a way, however if I added silk / wheat protein anyways, will still be good right?

  2. Hello! Question: Can Cetyl alcohol be used with BTMS 225? I use BTMS 50 in my lotions and hair products, but they’re so much nicer with Cetyl alcohol. Lotions seem .. I don’t know, maybe fluffier? Lighter? Silkier? Something, but I really like what it contributes.

    1. Cetyl alcohol is a thickening ingredient. If you use butter as a replacement, you have to take into consideration whether the viscosity of your product will be affected by heat. Some harder butters are more heat resistant. But if you don’t want to worry about whether the product will turn more liquid in hotter weather, stick to using a traditional thickening ingredient (like cetyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol etc) that’s more resistant to temperature changes.

  3. How do you come up with your percentages ? I am making hair products @ home from scratch using btms 25 and still do not know how to get the perfect percentages
    when the product is made and the oil + water phase are mixed together at the top of the product it leaves a bubbly texture meaning it didn’t mix well and I am assuming its due to my math. please help. thank you.

    1. If you’re having trouble mixing the water and oil phases, that usually means the temperatures are too different OR that the oils and waters aren’t hot enough. I usually heat ingredients for a full 25 minutes on low-medium heat if I’m heating them in glass containers. For stainless steel containers, you may be able to get away with 15 minutes of heating.

      When it comes to BTMS (BTMS-25 and BTMS-50) I try to use no less than 4% of the total size. Over many years of testing, I’ve found that at least 4% of your total product size will work well.

      First you must start off when how big a batch you want to make. Since I don’t manufacture products for sale, I usually make enough for myself or 1 or 2 relatives. For that, I stick to the regular 8 ounce size.

      An 8 ounce product is about 227 grams. Let’s say you want to use BTMS-25 at 4%.
      4% is 0.04. So 4% of 227 grams is:
      0.04 x 227 = 9.08 grams

      So for an 8 ounce batch of product, you’ll use AT LEAST 9.08 grams of BTMS-25 or BTMS-50.

      For a 16 ounce batch of product, that’s about 454 grams.
      4% is 0.04. So 4% of 454 grams is:
      0.04 x 454 = 18.16 grams

      So for a 16 ounce batch of product, you’ll use AT LEAST 18.16 grams of BTMS-25 or BTMS-50.

      And so on.

      I say “AT LEAST” because you may want to use 5% or 6% of BTMS. You can do that. Simply adjust the calculation.

      5% is 0.05. So 5% of 227 grams is:
      0.05 x 227 = 11.35 grams

      For an 8 ounce product with 5% BTMS, you’ll add 11.35 grams of BTMS to the ingredients and melt.

      If you want to use a higher percentage, adjust accordingly. I wouldn’t use over 6% of BTMS though. I don’t notice any improved conditioning at percentages higher than 6%, so it’s like wasting ingredients, in my opinion.

  4. Hi, I feel blessed to have found this article! I’m trying my hand at DIY products! If I were to make a hair butter consisting of raw butters n carrier oils only, could I just use a Beeswax and not have to use an Emulsifier? Also, what percentage of the Beeswax should I use for my total batch?

    If when using an Emulsifier like BTMS 25 for water/butter/oil hair products, could I add marshmallow root to my boiling water and strain it, of course so that it could be my thickener instead of using Cetyl alcoho?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my questions!

    1. Hi! If you’re making an anhydrous (oils+butter only) mix, you don’t have to use an emulsifier. That’s fine. The product may feel heavy on the hair or skin though without any esters or other oil-soluble additives that help give a silkiness to your final butter. Try adding 3-5% Oliwax in place of some of your butters. Or try using 4% Caprylic Capric Triglycerides (CCT) in place of some of your oils? CCT helps make an anhydrous mix feel less ‘greasy’ and more ’emollient’.

      If you want to mix water and oils, and keep them mixed, you must use an emulsifier. Just making sure you know but beeswax is not an emulsifier.

      Marshmallow root will not thicken a cream the way a real thickener (like Cetyl alcohol) will. You don’t necessarily have to use cetyl alcohol either. There are many thickeners available. Instead of cetyl, you can use a 2nd emulsifier (like OliveM 1000 or Creammaker Moringa) to thicken the cream too.

      You can also use a hard butter like Kokum butter to thicken. However, you may have to be careful of temperature changes if you’re using a hard butter to thicken anything. Butters have a temperature at which point they melt. So if your cream gets too hot it could lose viscosity (lose thickness).

      If you don’t want to use a separate ingredient like cetyl alcohol as a thickener, increase the amount of BTMS. You can also use xanthan gum mixed with glycerin to thicken the mix. Xanthan gum, however, can give it a “stringy” consistency when you apply it to the hair.

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