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Predictive Cosmetic Formulation via HLD-NAC: From Triphasic Emulsions to Single-phase Emulsions

Sander van Loon & Alejandro Gutierrez & Sander van Loon – Jun 6, 2018

Co-Authors: Alejandro Gutierrez, Ana Hijano Predictive Cosmetic Formulation via HLD-NAC

While selecting surfactants in the cosmetic industry, the most commonly used methods include:

 − The “trial and error” approach, which is still the most common method. A variety of surfactants are screened, at different concentrations, without using any predictions. This is obviously time-consuming.

 − HLB values - which are sometimes given for surfactants, but these values are mainly applicable for EO-based surfactants and do not give good practical guidance. Furthermore, for bio-based surfactants, the HLB approach is usually not applicable.

Fortunately, we now have a new approach: HLD-NAC (Hydrophilic Lipophilic Difference - Net Average Curvature). It a powerful and reliable method for effective surfactant selection and formulation of emulsions in various the fields including cosmetics and personal care industry.

The beauty of this approach relies on its versatility: all kinds of oils can be characterized by EACN values, as can surfactants by their Cc values. This allows for accurate ingredient matching, resulting in more stable emulsions with lower amounts of surfactants and energy input to produce them.

Let's understand how this theory can help in formulating triphasic & single-phase emulsions...

Applying HLD-NAC for Triphasic and Single-phase Emulsion Formulations


The formulation of regular triphasic formulations is usually done by combining liquids of different densities that are immiscible. However, this method often involves the use of organosilicon or fluorinated liquids which are not always desired in cosmetic and personal care products.

The HLD-NAC can be used to characterize (bio-based) surfactants and oils which then can be used to formulate, among others, the type III emulsions. Indeed, Type III emulsions are triphasic systems that are formed at HLD = 0 at low surfactant concentration. Furthermore, at HLD = 0, an ultralow interfacial tension is reached, therefore a triphasic emulsion will be able to boost cleaning performance (not only appearance). Adding a higher amount of surfactant(s), the middle phase can be increased up to a single-phase system.

Once the EACN of the oil (or oil blend) to be used in the tri-phase formulation is determined, it is possible to select a (blend of) surfactant(s) with the appropriate Cc value to reach HLD=0 and obtain a type III emulsion, i.e. tri-phase product. From that point, all other types of emulsions can be formulated, as seen below:

Applying HLD-NAC for the Formulation of Triphasic and Single-phase Emulsions
Applying HLD-NAC for the Formulation of Triphasic and Single-phase Emulsions


 » Continue reading and explore a practical example where HLD-NAC technique has been applied to develop a micro-emulsion-based makeup remover in which HLD is 0!

2 Comments on "Predictive Cosmetic Formulation via HLD-NAC: From Triphasic Emulsions to Single-phase Emulsions"
Sander van L Sep 7, 2018
Well, the Emperor is wearing predictive data! With the obtained data of oils and surfactants, you can start predictive formulating and thus move away from the classical trial-and-error. Of course, we need to dress up the Emperor with more data to make it further applicable, hence this article to stimulate this direction!
Titus S Jun 14, 2018
Sorry, would say 'Emperor is naked' 'As seen in the practical example of a triphasic cleaner, HLD-NAC is a beautiful and versatile method, providing predictive formulation parameters.' cannot see the clothes. Besides 3 HLD values given, I do not see any predictive. What was presented is doing scans by changing salinity and adding glycol. This strictly follows the empirical formulation of a 'microemulsion'.

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