Creating Stellar Scrubs with Emulsification
Scrubby, sometimes bubbly, and always deliciously exfoliating and moisturizing!
When you think of a good way to exfoliate your skin, you likely think of a scrub. Scrubs can contain many different exfoliants; sugar, salt, apricot kernels and jojoba beads are among the most popular. This product can be customized with rich oils, moisturizing butters and enticing fragrances to really make them stand out! Another way to make a next-level scrub is use the emulsification process. Let’s channel our inner Bill Nye and dive into the science behind these fabulous scrubs!
Emulsification is defined as the process of mixing two or more immiscible liquid (that is, two liquids that won’t mix together and stay together, such as oil and water) to make a cohesive product; this is done using an emulsifier. These emulsifying agents work because they contain both hydrophilic (water attracted) and hydrophobic (water repulsive) components. The most common emulsifier used in scrubs is emulsifying wax, or e-wax which contains properties that can attract both oil and water for example. Because emulsifiers trap oil with water, this allows the oil to penetrate the skin to add moisture.
Picture a standard sugar scrub; think of how it looks and feels. A standard scrub is typically made of an exfoliant, carrier oil and fragrance, a simple yet effective recipe. While easy to produce and great for removing dead skin, standard scrubs can be messy, leaving an oily or greasy residue on your skin and bath tub. The scrub will also separate over time, requiring a quick stir before use.
Emulsified scrubs share many characteristics with the traditional scrub, with one noticeable difference; consistency. Emulsified scrubs are, very simply put, a lotion and scrub combined.
These luxurious scrubs are very moisturizing, and have a creamy, thick texture that does not separate or leave a “greasy” coating on skin or other surfaces; in fact, they are oftentimes preferred over standard scrubs because of how cleanly they wash off. By adding an emulsifier (such as emulsifying wax) to your recipe, you can create an amazing product with many opportunities for customization.
Before You Begin
Formulating an emulsified scrub can be a bit tricky. It is best to start out with a standard, tried-and-tested recipe until you are more familiar with the emulsification process, and how your ingredients will behave during it. Remember to ask the basic questions that you would ask for each product:
- What is my vision for the finished product?
- Is sustainability or environmental responsibility a factor?
- Who am I marketing this to?
Answering these questions will help you begin the process of formulating and eventually producing a product that both you and your customers will love!
As you formulate, keep in mind that both standard and emulsified scrubs should contain an effective preservative to protect your product and customer from the unwanted microbes that can form with exposure to water. And, as always, make sure to provide a compliant label on your products. For more information on cosmetic labeling guidelines, visit the HSCG How-To Library article "How to Correctly Label Cosmetics".
Today’s customers are constantly looking for new and wonderful ways to pamper themselves. Adding an emulsified scrub to your lineup is a great way to provide a beneficial product experience for your buyer, and a great add-on sale for your business.
This article was researched and written by Sara Wagner, the HSCG Member Services Director.