Emulsified Sugar Scrub, emulsifier (& Olivem) questions

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Feb 11, 2018
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Hi there, everyone! My name is Stacie, and I've been a lurker for quite a while now. My daughter and I love crafting together, so we make bath and body products for ourselves and friends (mainly bath bombs, shower fizzies, and sugar scrubs). We've tried the regular "oily" scrubs as well as the thicker foaming bath soap sugar scrubs, but now we'd like to attempt emulsified sugar scrubs, as we'd like to give these out as holiday gifts this year. We've found some base recipes we would like to try to tweak, but before I finish purchasing all of the products that I don't already have, I wanted to see if I could get some input on a couple things--mainly, which emulsifier we should use.

When my daughter and I make products for ourselves and our family/friends, we prefer to stay as natural and chemical free as possible (I say "as possible," because we do add a preservative like Optiphan or Phenonip, and we've used the foaming bath soap). To that end, I have been searching for the most natural emulsifier to use for an emulsified sugar scrub. So far, I haven't learned of anything totally natural. The closest I've found is Olivem. Only downside to that product is the price. Holy moly--expensive! We live in the same town as Brambleberry, so they tend to be my supplier for most things, since I can go in to pick up my stuff and save on shipping. That said, I'm open to trying a different supplier if there's anywhere that sells it for cheaper?

For those who have used Olivem in a sugar scrub, I'd love to hear your feedback on the product. Do you feel it's worth the price? Does it give a thicker feel to the scrub or any stickiness or drag? Do you add a co-emulsifier?

For those who haven't used Olivem, is there another natural alternative to use as an emulsifier that I haven't heard of/thought of?

Thanks for any help and input you're able to give!
Sugar scrubs are still a wash-off product like soap and I would not waste money on Olivem as the emulsifier. I find any emulsifier will work. Not sure which Olivem you are looking to use but they are all quite pricey. You can always add in some olive oil if you want the olive aspect to the scrub. I do like a few of the Olivem emulsifiers in lotions that are a leave on product. For scrubs I like the Soft and Silky from WSP, Polawax, Emulsifying wax NF or this one https://tinyurl.com/y8g5c3o7. I do not like BTMS 50 because of the fishy odor especially if you accidentally overheat it
cmzaha, I agree--seems awfully expensive to use for a product that we rinse off! That said, I really do want a more natural and preferably vegetable-based emulsifier, that's why I'm even considering it.

shunt2011, thank you for your input! I'll go look that one up right now. :)
cmzaha, I agree--seems awfully expensive to use for a product that we rinse off! That said, I really do want a more natural and preferably vegetable-based emulsifier, that's why I'm even considering it. ...:)

Hey DM ...I'm a little late to the party but - I struggled with the same issue recently. I am trying NatureMulse/ECOMulse/RitaMusle (these are trade names for INCI: Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) in my scrub:
these are ECOCERT compliant - and priced right. Lotion Crafter sells a pound for $5.50 ...if you need links let me know. This emulsifier also makes a lovely lotion or cream...I don't 'fully' emulsify my scrub, so enough is left behind leaving your skin feeling like you already applied body cream. But my shower is not slippery!
How do you not "fully" emulsify. I am in my research portion of study to create emulsified sugar scrub but I do not want it to be basically sugar lotion and I also dont want oily sugar either. I am looking for a happy medium. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
A sugar scrub with an emulsifier in it is not a lotion. It is a firm-ish paste. It is more correctly called an "emulsifying" scrub not an "emulsified" scrub. An emulsifier allows fats and water to mix. An emulsifying scrub as it comes in the jar does not contain any water, so it can't be emulsfied by definition. Only after you put the scrub on your face and add water, can it become emulsified.

You can add more emulsifier to the scrub or you can add less. More emulsifier = cleaner rinsing and less fat left behind. Less emulsifier = More fat will be left on your skin. That's what Eden is talking about -- using a little less emulsifier than is needed for a clean rinse-off so there's a bit of fat left behind. You adjust the % of emulsifier in proportion of to the fat to get the right skin feel.

There are other threads on SMF where we've discussed this at length. Here's one: