If being green in your manufacturing practice is of the utmost importance then you might want to try a cold process emulsifier. Cold process emulsifiers are normally liquid, water and oil soluble and can be used –obviously – without any heat.  This cuts processing time energy, both of which will have an impact on man power and the environment.   I don’t know about you but whenever I think I am going to spend some time in the lab with a liquid cold process emulsifier I always look forward to it. Normally they are really easy to use and are failsafe, providing of course, you follow the rules.  You do not have to weigh ingredients individually into separate containers and spend time heating.  When I am playing around formulating, I love to plan my formula, and then hit the tare on the scales.  Sometimes making a cream can take 5-10 minutes this way!

There are a fair few cold process emulsifiers on the market but many have their downfalls, some , particulary the natural ones, have no or virtually no consistency, then you have ones that are purported to be all in ones like Arisoflex AVC or Lecigel,  both being thickeners, emulsifiers and stabilisers – the downside is that they cannot tolerate electrolytes so are not suitable for some wonderful ingredients we know and love or preservatives that contain salts/sodium – something that needs to be considered if you want to go close to natural or claim to be paraben free.

I have wanted to try Heliogel for over a year and have used Lecigel on many occasion and also her more natural counterpart Ecogel but have been holding off on this one until today when I received my sample from Infinity Ingredients.

So what is Heliogel?

Heliogels INCI  is :  Sodium acrylates copolymer (and) Hydrogenated polyisobutene (and) Phospholipids (and) Polyglyceryl-10 stearate (and) Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil

Appearance – its a Beige/brown cream as you can see from the picture.



Lucus Meyer describe it as

”… a polymer with the emulsifying properties of sunflower phospholipids to obtain a self-emulsifying system.  With its multifunctional profile, Heliogel™ is an essential formulating partner which can successfully be used in all kinds of face and body care with a 3-in-1 action:

  • It thickens formulas from 0.5% Heliogel™ has an increasing thickening power depending on the percentage of use.

  • It emulsifies all types of oil phases and makes the obtaining of O/W gel-creams easier, without additional emulsifier or HLB calculation. It requires neither pre-dispersion nor neutralization and can be hot or cold processed. It is preferable to add Heliogel™ into the oil phase although it can be mixed directly with the aqueous phase under strong stirring.

  • It stabilizes emulsions from 0.2%. Moreover, sunflower phospholipids, naturally rich in essential fatty acids, restore the cutaneous balance and reduce TEWL thanks to their film-forming properties. They offer emollient and protection to the epidermis keeping the skin moisturized.’’

The manufacturer states that it is  stable over a wide range of pH.   It gelifies from pH 2 to 12 with an optimal viscosity between pH 4 and 8. It is also compatible with ethanol and with electrolytes.


Many of the ingredients would meet Ecocert standards however we have a problem when it comes to Sodium acrylates copolymer which is the sodium salt of Acrylic acid.  According to Wiki Acrylic acid is produced from propene which is a by product of ethylene and gasoline production.  As we know, gasoline is a mineral that is mined from the earth and then processed so to some it could be considered natural and to others (most people) not so much.  I would not consider this to be a sustainable product so if using sustainable ingredients or mineral derivatives is a no no for you then this product is probably is not for you.

Below are two formulas that I whipped up (in under 10 minutes I might add!)

Formula 1




Hydra Oxidant Post Shave Gel Cream with Pomegranate and HA

HA Sodium hyaluronate 0.1
DERMOSOFT OMP Methylpropanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenylpropanol 3
OIL HELIOGEL Sodium acrylates copolymer (and) Hydrogenated polyisobutene (and) Phospholipids (and) Polyglyceryl-10 stearate (and) Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil 3
POMEGRANATE CO2 EXTRACT Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Extract, and Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, 5
ROSEHIP FRUIT  CO2 EXTRACT Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, 5
Essential oil blend Lavender, parsley seed, amarys, orange 0.3

pH:  5.7


Notes: I added the water to the oil phase as it was just easier to get it out of the pot, I suppose if you like being frustrated and you want a fight between the spoon and container you could do it the other way round.  This thickened upon stirring almost instantly. I was not impressed with the smell – it is hard to describe politely but it is a sweet animistic type of smell.  I managed to mask it with some essential oils.  In hindsight I think this might have been due to the combination of the Heliogel and the natural smell of the Pomegranate seed extract.

Formula 2


Formula 2 on the right

Derma-cell Reboot with L-Arginine (FRAGRANCE FREE)

OIL HELIOGEL Sodium acrylates copolymer (and) Hydrogenated polyisobutene (and) Phospholipids (and) Polyglyceryl-10 stearate (and) Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil
GEOGUARD ECT Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Sorbic Acid 1

pH: 4.9


NOTE: This did not have the smell as I expect the preservative masked it. It smelt like the benzyl alcohol – marzipan/almond like so not unpleasant at all.

I was a bit worried when I combined the two phases as there was no thickening for about 20 seconds of rapid stirring and then over about a few minutes it thickened up. It then carried on thickening whilst resting so that it was, I would say pretty densely packed.


Ease of use – so easy you don’t feel like you are formulating!

How did it feel – It is light and easily absorbed, a joy to use and rather elegant.  It has a slight stickiness to it which dissipated over a few seconds.  All in all, it is something that should be kept in any self respecting formulators tool kit for ease of use, functionality and its compatibility with a number of essential ingredients.

I have used Ecogel to stabilise my natural creams in the past and I have been impressed by the skin feel and how it functioned as a stabiliser. I also worked with it as a stand-alone emulsifier and at the time I think it had separated and I was not sure about the skin feel. I gave up on it sadly, however, after having a chat with the guys over at Infinity Ingredients I decided to have another go at formulating with it.

So what is Ecogel exactly?

Lucas Meyer says’

‘Ecogel™ is the first natural gelling-emulsifying agent able to create light gel-creams. Ecogel™ is a patented optimized combination of natural origin ingredients derived from a sustainable green process: lysophospholipids, xanthan gum, sclerotium gum and pullulan. Ecogel™ is a polyvalent easy-to-use 3-in-1 lab partner thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying agent, highly compatible with electrolytes and surfactants. Its silicone-like feel offers innovative sensorial solutions to formulators.”

Ecogel’s INCI is Lysolecithin (and) Sclerotium gum (and) Xanthan gum (and) Pullulan

It has thickening properties thanks to the synergy between xanthan and sclerotium gums.  The emuslification comes from the lysolecithin and provides a high HLB which creates fine oil droplets and a  more stable emulsion.

According to the datasheet, it has the following qualities

  • Ecogel™ is stable within a wide range of pH, from 3 to 10.
  • Ecogel™ supports a high quantity of electrolytes (up to 2%).
  • Ecogel™ is compatible with surfactants. It is particularly interesting for use in shampoos and shower gels since it increases viscosity and improves sensorial properties.
  • Ecogel™ is compatible with most preservatives and additives.

So how does one work with Ecogel?


>0.3%: Skin feel enhancer

>1%: Stabilizer and viscosity adjuster for all kind of emulsion

>1.5-2%: a Main gelling and emulsifying agent for gel-creams

Ecogel needs to first be dispersed in the water phase and heated to 70-75c for around 20 minutes and stirred to allow for proper hydration. If there is an oil phase this needs to be heated to a similar temperature and added after the period of hydration at which point high shear or rapid stirring needs to happen for approximately 3-4 minutes and then it needs moderate stirring whilst it is cooling.

However, this is not always possible when handcrafting skincare.  Possibly you could use a soup maker type appliance which has an inbuilt stirrer and can provide a steady and consistent heat and stirring.

I tackled this a different way. I added the Ecogel and stick blended it. I then heated it with a double boiler and stirred intermittently whilst on the heat for 20 minutes to allow for the Ecogel to hydrate.  After 15 minutes I heated up the oil phase and then when hot I combined with Ecogel and stirred with the stick blender for a few minutes and then used an overhead stirrer slowly however this can be done by hand or with a stand mixer.

These are my creations:

Clearing Creme-Gel

The Formulation

INCI: Aqua, glycerin, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Squalane, sodium levulinate, sodium anisate, potassium sorbate, Helianthus annuus Seed Oil, Lysolecithin, Sclerotium Gum, Xanthan gum, Pullulan Rosmarinus officinalis Leaf Extract, Nigella Sativa (Black cumin) Seed Extract and, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract,  Curcuma Xanthorrhiza Root Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Calendula officinalis Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil and Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate, and Polyglyceryl-3 Palmitate, and Usnea Barbata (Lichen)Extract, Epilobium Fleischeri Extract, tocopherol acetate, citric acid

This has a total of about 5% oils including Co2 extracts.  You will note that I used  Dermosoft Eco which contains electrolytes but I expect that there is less than 1% of sodium levulinate and sodium anisate in there so we are probably within our 2% limit here.

As you can see, it looks like a cream but it is gel-like and light on the skin.  It has a nice consistency and leaves no greasy residue or tackiness. All in all, it has a pretty nice feel to it.

Hydrating HA Gel

The Formulation

INCI: Aqua, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lysolecithin (and) Sclerotium gum (and) Xanthan gum  (and) Pullulan, Methylpropanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenylpropanol, lactic acid

As you can see this one is clear, there are quite a few bubbles in it so I  will have to wait a few days for the bubbles to clear to get a better idea of its clarity.

Skin feel: it is a lovely thick gel, light, and firm without any residue or stickiness or sliminess.

Initially, I would say that Ecogel’s strength lies in its ability to hold small amounts (1-2%) of oils like essential oils.  I would say that it is perfect for making serums with lots of water-soluble extracts.  I would like to play around with this and add different gums like guar, carob or konjac to see how it can be improved or built upon.  I would also like to see how it fairs with fatty acids and butters.

The distributors of Ecogel in the UK are Infinity Ingredients.  You can get small quantities from www.aromantic.co.uk and www.theformulary.co.uk .

Origin: Central and South America
INCI: Pentaclethara macroloba (Pracaxi) Oil
Extraction Method: Expeller Pressed
Shelf Life: 18 Months
Saponification Value (mg KOH/g oil): 175 – 195
SAP Multiplier for NaOH: 0.132
SAP Multiplier for KOH: 0.185

Commonly referred to as ‘miracle oil’ Pracaxi, is an exciting oil with much potential  in skin care and medicinal uses.  It has a very high content of behenic and lignoceric acid, which help give it great moisturising properties.  It has anti-bacterial, anti fungal and anti microbial antiseptic and  anti hemorrhagic properties.  It is traditionally used for stretch marks as well as insect bites, sores, acne and hyperpigmentation brought about by hormonal changes.


Pracaxi oil is found in the regions from Nicaragua to Amazonia, including the Guyanas and some of the West Indies. It tends to grow to about 35m high and 1.3m in diameter and lives near rivers and in swampy areas.

The seeds of the tree are edible and also produce a cooking oil (owala oil), widely used in Africa.  Seeds contain 45-48% lipid, 27-28% protein and 45-48% carbohydrates. The bark is a source of tannins.

As a nitrogen fixing pioneer and has great potential for forest regeneration and reclamation of degraded lands.

The oil is extracted from the seeds of the tree and harvested from February to May each year.  It is not cultivated so the supply is limited to harvesting during its harvest season.  The pods of the tree are dried and boiled which releases the oil. About 35 fruits are needed to obtain one kilo of seeds.

Fatty Acid Composition

At 19%, pracachy oil has the highest known concentration of Behenic acid, this gives it excellent moisturizing properties . Studies have reported about the insecticidal ability of pracachy oil, specifically against the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is the carrier of yellow fever and dengue. Fractions isolated from the oil have important bioactive compounds with anti-hemorrhagic activity, which can be used in the treatment of snakebites, or possibly as a new drug for the treatment of other diseases.

Traditional uses

Traditionally the oil is used by Amazonian people to treat stretch marks on young adults and pregnant women.  The bark is ground up into a paste and used as a poultice to reduce the toxicity of snake, insect and scorpion bites.  Hair is also treated with praxaci oil to enhances shine and manageability, this is due in great part to the high levels of behenic acid found in the oil.   Most interestingly it has traditionally been used to treat bacterial skin infections.  Pracaxi oil has been called ‘miracle’ oil for its multitude of uses.


Antimicrobial activity of amazonian medicinal plants. Oliveira AA, Segovia JF, Sousa VY, Mata EC, Gonçalves MC, Bezerra RM, Junior PO, Kanzaki LI.‘Pentaclethra macroloba inhibited the growth of Klebsiella ozaenae and Acinetobacter bauman.

Antihemorrhagic, antinucleolytic and other antiophidian properties of the aqueous extract from Pentaclethra macroloba.Jocivânia O da Silva, Juliana S Coppede, Vanessa C Fernandes, Carolina D Sant’ana, Fábio K Ticli, Maurício V Mazzi, José R Giglio, Paulo S Pereira, Andreimar M Soares, Suely V Sampaio

Common Name: Sea Buckthorn berry oil

Botanical Name/INCI: Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil

Extraction Method: Cold Pressed

Shelf Life: 1-2 years

General Oil Specification: Carotenoids (400-500mg), Beta-carotene(15.70mg), Vitamin A (210-230 IU), Vitamin E (180-250mg), Vitamin K1 (170-200mg), Beta-sitosterol (provitamin D) (250-400mg), Iodine (70-80mcg), Calcium (5.4mcg), Iron (1.7mcg), Magnesium (1.6mcg), Phosphorous (6.5mcg), Zinc (1.5mcg).

Fatty Acid Profile: Lauric acid 0.12% , Myristic acid 1.51%, Palmatic acid 30.46%, Stearic acid 1.63%, Arachidic acid 0.53%, Behenic acid 0.18%, Lignoceric acid 0.16%, Palmitoleic acid 34.45%, Oleic acid 20.10%, Gadoleic acid 0.05%, Erucic acid 0.01%, Linoleic acid 5.83%, Alpha-linolenic acid 2.03%, Other acids 2.94%


Due to the deep red colour of this oil it is best used as part of a blend. There are no contra-indications to using neat it may cause colouration to the skin which may take a few days to disappear if used neat. Normally it is used in a blend up to 10% to avoid the colouration but receive the benefits of this amazing oil.

Sea Buckthorn is an amazing oil, its fruit is very citrusy and tart and contains on average 695mg per 100g of vitamin C, fifteen times the amount as oranges. It also contains vitamin E, carotenoids, omega oils 3,6,7 & 9, flavenoids (including quercetin) and minerals.

It is extremely rich in b-carotene which gives its colour. Plant carotenoids are rich in provitamin A which has a strong anti inflammatory effect on the skin. You can find it in MBotanicals Hydrating Beauty Balm.