How to Work with Sucragel

MAKING OILY GELS

The Sucragel range of liquid emulsifiers is a group of products that allow you to make many different cosmetic products at room temperature; from oil in water emulsion, to oily gels.  I would say they are first and foremost an oil thickener and are an easy option for making rinse off oily gels.  These gels make for a luxurious product for cleansing as they have high viscosity but turn from oil into milk when rinsed with water.

Although you can make the products at room temperature, you can also heat it to 80c which means you can melt any kind of butters or waxes and include them.  Adding waxes or butters will not change the viscosity of the finished product, which is an interesting feature of this emulsifier.  The different Sucragels are given in the following chart.

NameINCITypical Use RateNotes
Sucragel AOFPrunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil & Glycerin & Aqua & Sucrose LaurateOily Gel - 20-25%
O/W Emulsions -
100% natural. Only to be used with vegetal oils and butters. Can be heated to 80c and pH 4-8.
Sucragel AOF BioGlycerin & Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil & Sucrose Laurate & Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water20-25% - Oily Gel
5-10 - O/W emulsions
100% natural and COSMOS Organic certified. Only for vegetable oils and butters. Use up to 80c and pH 4-8.
Sucragel AP V2Glycerin, Aqua, Sucrose LaurateOily Gel - 10-15%
OW emulsions - 4-6%
100% natural. Doesn't contain any oil so less is needed in comparison to the other Sucragels.
Sucragel XLGlycerin & Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride & Aqua & Sucrose Laurate & Sucrose StearateOily Gel - 20-25%
O/W emulsions - 5-10%
100% natural. Can work with vegetable oils. Works at pH 4-8. Can be used at up to 80c. Contains sucrose stearate which helps with heat stability.
Sucragel CFGlycerin & Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides & Aqua & Sucrose LaurateOily Gel - 20-25
O/W Emulsion 5-10%
100% natural. Can be used with any oils including Silicones, sun filters, butters, waxes, esters, synthetic oils. Can be used up to 80c and pH 4-8

As you can see, they are all natural so you can have a 100% natural product with Sucragel.  The use rate of them is the same except the AP V2 which can be used at between 10-15%.  Sucragel AOF Bio is over 90% organic.

I would say that probably the biggest challenge when working with Sucragel is when it comes to making small sample batches.  The manufacturer gives detailed advice on how to make oily gels using an overhead stirrer which is great if you have one. But, if you are just starting out with formulating, you may not have an overhead stirrer and a good one is pretty costly; I can’t think of a cheap substitute for a propeller mixer, that allows for you to have your hands free whilst the stirring is happening. Also, when using an overhead stirrer you generally need to make larger batches, which can be a problem if you have limited amounts of raw materials.

So, how do you make small batches of Sucragel by hand?

Luckily there is a way to work with it without any machinery and I have managed to make small 100g batches that have been perfectly stable.  At this point, I want to give kudos to Duncan who suggested hand stirring using a spatula. The first time I tried I was a bit excitable. I didn’t take my time and added too much oil which didn’t work.  When I attempted it again, I paced myself and added the oils to the Sucragel slowly, a drop at a time, stirring well in-between drops. This worked well.  Since then, I have made many oil gels in the same way, and I have always been successful.

The example I am showing you is with Sucragel AP V2. You will see that I used only 15% and the remainder 85% is liquid oils.

It doesn’t matter what Sucragel you use, they all require the same technique and I have made gels with Sucragel AOF/AOF Bio and Sucragel XL in exactly the same way.  The only difference is that your ratios of Sucragel to oil will be different.  With the other Sucragels, you would need to use a ratio of between 25/75 to 20/80 Sucragel to oil.

Adding Other Ingredients

It is advisable to add an antioxidant to extend the shelf life of your oils.  Add this to your oil phase.  If you want to add fragrance, add them to the oil phase too.  If you have any sold matter i.e. exfoliants, powders, it is better to add them when you have finished making the gel as you want them to be suspended.

Adding High Levels of Butter and Wax

So far, I have successfully added a small amount (up to 15%) of butters to my oil phase and still cold processed Sucragel.   When doing this I melted them down with the oils.  This can work well,  but it depends on the butters you use and the overall gelling point of the oil phase.  However, depending on how hard your butters are, you may need to melt them down with the oils and also heat the Sucragel to the same level.  If you are hot processing your Sucragel then add your fragrance/essential oils when the gel is made and is cool (40c or under.)

How to Make Your Oil-Gel

What you will need

  • A spatula – It is better to use one that has a soft rubber head.  But if not, whatever comes to hand (ignore my images  below, I used a wooden one as I couldn’t find my usual small plastic one.  It is not advisable to use wood when making cosmetics as it is very absorbent and will trap germs.)
  • Two glass beakers or pyrex glass jugs – one for the oil and one for the Sucragel

The Formula

Common NameINCIPercentageQuantity
Sucragel AP V2Glycerin, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate1515g
Grape Seed OilVitus vinifera (Grape) seed oil5050g
Plum Kernel Oil Prunus Domestica (Plum) Seed Oil3535g

Method

  1. Shake the Sucragel in its container and weigh the desired amount into your beaker.
  2. Weigh your oils into your other beaker and set aside.  If you are using some butters you can melt them with the other oils.  (Depending on the amount of butter, you may need to melt them with the oils and bring Sucragel to the same temperature, but this is not always necessary.)
  3. Drop a small amount of oil into the Sucragel and mix well
  4. Add small amounts, no more than a few ml/g at a time.
  5. As the viscosity increases, you can add up to 5ml gradually, very gradually.

Measure out the Sucragel into one beaker and the oils in another.


Put a few drops of oil into the Sucragel and stir well, until it is blended.


Keep adding the oils to the Sucragel, in small amounts, stirring after each inclusion, ensuring it is blended before you add more oil. You can see from this image that I only use drops. As you add the oils the Sucragel will thicken gradually.


Out of interest, I weighed how much oil I poured at a time and it was between 1.5 and 2.5g. So only very small amounts.


This is what it will look like when I finished adding all the oils. It looks opaque but it isn’t.


You can see that it is a thick, hazy, translucent gel.

It is a long process, however, it is better to add a small amount every time rather than rushing it.  Although I have generally done this by eye, for the purpose of this tutorial, I weight what I did on a few occasions and can say I added anywhere near 1.5 and 2.5 grams at a time, gradually increasing to about 5g toward the end.

But if you are just starting to use this emulsifier, it’s better to stick to including just 1.5-2.5g. You will get good results this way. As you become used to the material you will get a feel for when you can increase the amount of oil you add.

It is very important to stir well with each inclusion of oil and you will notice that as you go it thickens more and more until it reaches its final viscosity.

To start, I would suggest you use just one oil.  Don’t bother with using anything else, as when you make your first batch you are just getting an idea about how to process it correctly.

As you can see, it is quite easy to make an oily gel by hand with Sucragel, you just need the right technique and patience. In the next few weeks, I will show you how to make some very colourful and 100% natural cleansers, scrubs and masks so stay tuned!

Rebecca x