Updated: Aug 7
From ancient times the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Japanese geishas and other cultures used cleansing oils to cleanse, protect and comfort skin. Oils such as olive, castor, coconut, jojoba, sweet almond and many others were used to keep their skin nourished, healthy and clean.
Adding an oil-based formula to your skincare regime or cleansing your face with oil may seem illogical especially if you have oily skin. It is our goal is to get rid of the grease and stickiness and not add more. This would have been true but fortunately, with the development of emulsions, these problems have been solved.
Emulsifiers in skincare allow the water and oil-based ingredients to mix and stay in a uniform product. They also increase the penetration of lipids into the skin without making it greasy.
Oleogels (or oil gels) are using innovative skincare ingredients very different from the standard emulsifiers, gelling agents and surfactants allowing us to create inventive products with amazing sensory finishes.
Read on to find out how you can make a variety of trendy skincare products using one star ingredient - Sucragel.
Oleogels are modified oils with extremely versatile properties offering endless possibilities, that one could create hundreds of formulations varying in viscosity from a light serum to a traditional highly gel structure product. When emulsifiers/oil gelling agents are added to these oil-based products, they would emulsify the oil as it comes in contact with water. It either breaks into very fine droplets or makes a milky emulsion by application of water, these products are easily rinsed-off and leave a lovely, smooth, non-greasy and hydrated skin feel.
In recent years oleogels have acquired much importance in the cosmetic industry. The viscosity and consistency depend on the materials you can source and the type of product you want to create.
If you are an organic or natural skincare formulator you shouldn't miss a chance to make oleogels, since they offer limitless possibilities, from formulating scrubs and body washes to gentle and light gel-to-milk cleansers.
10 reasons why you should start formulating oleogels:
Enjoy the benefits of the most fascinating exotic organic and natural oils without any greasy and sticky skin feel.
Oleogel products become self-emulsifying when coming in contact with the water.
High formulation versatility. Oleogels can be used as face cleansers, gel masks, face scrubs, body scrubs, and shower gels.
You can formulate trending gel to milk cleansers.
The oil gelling agents and emulsifiers used in the formulation of oleogels are cost-effective.
Oleogels provide a wide range of rheological profiles.
Oleogels can be self-preserving (if you don’t add water-containing ingredients).
Oleogels are very gentle on the skin which is ideal for removing excess dirt, oil, and makeup without destroying the skin barrier.
Oleogels are easy to formulate and inherit long-term stability when formulated properly.
By including pigments it is also possible to prepare products like lip gloss, mascara, and eye shadows.
FORMULATING OLEOGELS WITH SUCRAGEL
Sucragel is a natural emulsifier that can also be used as a gelling agent. Sucragel acts as an emulsifier at 5-10% and at 20-25% it creates oil gels. It is an easily accessible option for making oleogels.
There are different Sucragel grades available on the market, although it doesn't matter what Sucragel you use, they all require the same technique just the ratio of Sucragel to oil differs.
easy to get
based on innovative sucrose or sugar chemistry
can be used for cold-process methods
perfect for achieving a range of different product viscosities
great for different types of products
great for boosting the hydration factors of the skin and retaining the moisture within the skin
INCI: Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate, Sucrose Stearate
ORIGIN: 100% natural
USAGE: as low as 15% results in high viscosity oily gels.
It has an inbuilt stabilizer (sucrose stearate) which reduces the processing time by eliminating the need for any additional stabilizing agents. Best to formulate clear gel to milk skincare products.
INCI: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate
ORIGIN: 100% natural
USAGE: Creates thick, transparent, rich gels for vegetable oil-based cosmetic formulations.
As it does not contain any inbuilt heat stabilizer, it should be added to the product.
Sucragel® AOF BIO
INCI: Glycerin (and) Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil (and) Sucrose Laurate (and) Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water.
ORIGIN: 100% natural, 92% organically certified
USAGE: Sucragel® AOF BIO is a liquid that acts as a natural oil thickening agent and cold process emulsifier. It is mainly used to formulate cleansers, make-up removers, spa products, creams and lotions, and baby products. Stability additive is needed.
SUCRAGEL® AP V2
INCI: Glycerin, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate
ORIGIN: 100% natural
USAGE: Cost-effective, does not contain any oil, the perfect ingredient to formulate exfoliating scrubs, masks, clear gel-to-milk cleansers and massage gels.
INCI: Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate
ORIGIN: 100% natural
USAGE: Perfect for use in clear gel-to-milk cleansers, exfoliating scrubs, massage gels and masks. You will need a stabilizer.
HOW TO WORK WITH SUCRAGEL
SUCRAGEL formulating procedure breakdown:
Prepare and sterilize your workspace and equipment
Weigh the desired amount of Sucragel into your beaker.
Blend Sucragel until it becomes slightly thicker and opaque. Start with a lower RPM and a propeller mixer.
Weigh your oils in another beaker. If you are using any kind of butter you can melt them along with the oils.
Normally we would add a smaller phase into the larger phase but we don't do that with Sucragel. In this case, we add the large oil phase of the formulation to the smaller percentage of Sucragel bit by bit.
Keep on adding a small amount of oil into the Sucragel and mix well after each addition, look for the gloss before adding more oil.
If the product looks separated or curdled, keep stirring until it turns glossy.
As the viscosity increases, you can then add a bit higher amounts of oil, but still very gradually.
An airless pump dispenser would be the best fit for storing, as oleogels are sensitive to humidity and can start to emulsify if they come in contact with moisture.
#1: I’m a beginner and I don't have an overhead stirrer to mix Sucragel. What can I use instead?
A mini propeller mixer can be used for making small batches of products. An electric hand mixer would also do the trick for small batches. I do not recommend using a hand whisk, your hand would hurt too much :), although it is doable for very small batches.
#2: How long should the stirring process last?
I would say the whole making of oleogel should be at least 30 minutes, preferably 40 and more, but the process length will depend on the size of your batch.
#3: How can I reduce the viscosity of my oily gel?
Add a higher amount of Sucragel. Unlike "regular" emulsifiers, Sucragel will form a thicker gel when used at a lower %. You can also either add glycerin or water, but adding water will probably result in an opaque final product.
#4: My oleogel has separated. Why and what can I do about it?
The most common cause of gel separation is an inappropriate method of manufacture (speed of mixing, time of mixing and not adding the oil very gradually). You can use a pipette for help if you're working with small batches.
If your oleogel has separated I got some awesome news - you CAN FIX IT! Wait until the mixture completely separates out, pour out the oil phase that has separated and repeat the process once more with the same materials (oil and Sucragel) used in the failed batch.
#5: What's the difference between Sapogel and Sucragel? What are other alternatives for making oleogels?
Sapogel is slightly less shear-thinning than Sucragel and is ideal for gelling polar oils. You could also try Dermofeel G5O for making your oleogels. Sucrose Stearate can be used to make an oleogel from scratch. Explore your favorite suppliers and search for alternatives.
I hope this blog has helped you to gain an understanding of how easy it is to make oily gels if formulated in the correct way. Although it can be tricky to handle Sucragel in the start, once you master how to process them it's super easy. It might take a couple of tries to get there but once you reach that level you can formulate a vast range of innovative, trendy and fascinating cosmetic products.
UPGRADE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
If you would love to gain expertise to create anhydrous products that are safe and stable and knowledge about layering and designing your anhydrous product from scratch you are invited to read more about my e-book Formulating waterless: Professional approach to developing safe & trouble-free anhydrous products that sell.
In there you'll also find an easy, eye-catching BUBBLE GUM oil to milk cleanser made with Sucragel AOF with boosted thermal stability that you can customize on your own.
Have fun & remember - when in lab, NOTE! ;)
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