Duplicating Products: Step four – Figure out how much of each ingredient to use


1. Get the complete ingredient list.

2. Look at what each ingredient brings to the product.

3. Figure out what’s really important and what’s there for label appeal.

4. Figure out how much of each ingredient to use.

5. Create a starting recipe in percentages.

6. Make the recipe, then tweak it to get the skin feel and viscosity you want.

STEP FOUR: Figure out how much you could use of each ingredient.

The goal in this step is to figure out the minimum or maximum of each ingredient in the product based on its place in the list, reason for using it, and suggested usage rate.

Looking at our ingredient list for the Noxzema Classic Clean, let’s figure out what we definitely won’t be using.

Water, Stearic Acid, Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean), Propylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed)Oil (Linseed), Fragrance, Triethanolamine, Camphor, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Eugenol, Carbomer, Linalool, Calcium Hydroxide, Menthol, Gelatin, Limonene, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamal

We decided yesterday that we would leave out the eugenol, linalool, geraniol, benzyl benzoate as they are fragrance ingredients and we don’t necessarily need them. I have a few other thoughts, but let’s work through the list to see what those excluded ingredients might be.

The next step is to consider the suggested usage rate for each ingredient. We might see stearic acid as the second thing on the list, but if the suggested usage rate is up to 3%, then I shouldn’t use more than that. It could be that more than that makes the product awful or it could be the safe as used rate for rinse off or leave on products. (This isn’t the case. It’s just an example…)

When looking at the ingredient list, remember that ingredients are listed in quantity order. So water is used the most, stearic acid the second, soy bean oil the third, and so on. So I know that if I have 5% stearic acid, I won’t have more than 5% linseed oil as it comes later in the list. I’m fairly sure that we wouldn’t use more than 1% camphor in a facial product, I could start my 1% list there and assume everything after that is used at 1% or less. I could use TEA at more than 1% and there could be more than 1% fragrance, so I think camphor will be my cut off point.

So here are my thoughts about the possible ingredient usage in the duplicated product.

Water: Used in the heated water phase at up to 100%. We figure out the water amount last as it’s the part we can play with the most.

Stearic acid: Used in the heated oil phase. I know it’s used at 2:1 with the TEA to create an emulsifier. In the formulas I have been studying, as little as 3% stearic and 1.5% TEA can be used to emulsify up to 46% oils! Wow! I’ve also seen suggestions that we should use more stearic acid than TEA as we want non-saponified stearic acid to thicken and moisturize in the product. One formula I saw used 12% stearic acid with 1.5% TEA. 3% stearic acid would react with 1.5% TEA to create triethanolamine stearate, the emulsifier, leaving 9% stearic acid as the thickener and emollient. As Noxzema Classic Clean is really thick, I think having more stearic acid is better, so I’ll use something like 3% for the emulsifier, and up to 9% more as the thickener. So let’s say I’m using this at 12%.

Soybean oil: Used in the heated oil phase, could be used up to 100%, but that’s ridiculous. I’m making an oil-in-water lotion, which means I need to keep the oil phase at below 49%. Considering that it’s the third ingredient on the list, and considering that stearic acid could be as high as 12% and propylene glycol as high as 10%, I think I’ll consider using soy bean oil at no more than 12% but no less than 5%.

Propylene glycol: Used in the heated water phase, it could be used at 1% to 100%. I’m not going to use it at more than 50% as we need room for the water in the heated water phase, but I could use it at 5% to 10%.

Cetyl alcohol: Used in the heated oil phase, I know it’ll be used at less than 50% because we are making an oil-in-water lotion so the oil phase has to be 49% or lower. I also know that I’m not using my stearic at more than 12% and the propylene glycol at more than 10%, so I will be using it at 10% or less. It could be used as a main emollient as it’s considered “oil free” and it’s a great thickener, so I know I’ll be using it at more than 1%. I generally use 3% to 5% in a lotion to thicken and moisturize, so I feel confident in saying it’ll be around that amount.

Linseed oil: Used in the heated oil phase, it could be used at up to 100%, but we know it isn’t.  Consider that our cetyl alcohol could be used up to 10% and our TEA, the next ingredient on the list, is used at around 1% to 3%, we could use it up to 10%. Ideally when I’m duplicating, I would try to get everything as it is in the original, but I have no idea where to get linseed oil at this time, so I have to substitute it with another less greasy oil, like hazlenut or macadamia nut oil in its place. It could be used at up to 10%.

Triethanolamine (TEA): Used in the heated water phase, use at half the amount of the stearic acid to create an emulsifier. If I use 3% stearic acid, I need to use 1.5% TEA. However, I think I’ll use this to neutralize the carbomer as well, so I need to use it in a 4:3 ratio of carbomer to TEA, so I’ll have to add a little more when I figure out the carbomer amount.

Carbomer: This is generally used at up to 2% in gels, but at 0.5% to 1% in a lotion in its own phase to be wetted with water.

Calcium hydroxyide: Used to neutralize the carbomer? I think I’d like to add bit more TEA to the mix and use that to neutralize it as I don’t know where to get this ingredient. So I’m leaving this out, and using more TEA.

Gelatin will offer some moisturizing and gellified skin feel. Is this essential? I’m really not sure, honestly. I think the carbomer will give us a cushiony lotion feeling. And if I leave it out, the product would be vegan, so that’s a bonus. Let’s try a version or two without it and see if we get what we want.

Menthol: Used in the heated oil phase, used at no more than 3%. We know it can’t be higher than 1% as it’s near the end of the list, but even 1% seems really high.

Camphor: Used in the cool down phase at no more than 1%.

Eucalyptus: Used in the cool down phase at no more than 1%.

For these three, I’m thinking a titch will do it. Maybe 0.1% for each and see what happens?

Limonene: It has to be listed on the label when used at more than 0.01%, so we know it’s at a higher level that that in the product. As this is a grease remover, it might be a good idea to include it in an oily lotion like this. I’m thinking a small amount, though. 0.1% to start?

Preservative: Used in the cool down phase.  Yeah, I know the pH will be at 8 or so, but I like to know there’s protection against contamination in there if we get water in the container. I know I can use liquid Germall Plus in a range of pH levels, so I’ll add that to the product at 0.5%. Suttocide A is the only other broad spectrum preservative you could use at a higher pH level.

Whew, we reached the end! I’m excited that we have a sense now of how we can create a recipe from this list of ingredients. We know we’re creating an oil-in-water lotion that has less than 49% oils with a preservative that can handle up to pH 8 or 9. We know that it’s really thick from seeing the original product in the container, and we know we want to include a few of those essential oils, but not too much.

Join me tomorrow as we create a few recipes from this information!