Design Your Perfect Texture in Three Easy Steps

23. February 2022

The use of cosmetics should be an experience thanks to an exciting texture and pleasant sensory properties. In the jungle of raw materials, it is up to the formulator to combine the right ingredients, such as actives, fragrances, emollients and oils. One important constituent with an elementary role that ensures versatility and stability is a must: the emulsifier!

Water and oil are immiscible, so emulsifiers are needed to formulate a stable emulsion. In formulations, they have the following functions:

Reducing  the surface tension of immiscible liquids

Establishing a connection between non-polar oil droplets and polar water droplets

Formation of a barrier between separated oil or water droplets (for improved stability)

Emulsifiers come in many different shapes (and colours). They differ in size, charge, HLB (read more about the HLB value here on Wikipedia) and dosage form.

The classification of the emulsifiers (and surface-active substances) according to their charge provides orientation. This results in four types that are used in diverse products in the cosmetics industry:

  • Anionic (negative charge, e.g. citric acid ester or sulphate) surface-active substances are mainly used in emulsions and rinse-off products

  • Cationic (positive charge, e.g. with QUATs); the solution for conditioned hair

  • Non-ionic (no charge, e.g. fatty alcohol, fatty acid esters or PEGs), very wide areas of application as emulsions for rinse-off, micellar water or perfume

  • Amphoteric (negative and positive charges, e.g. CAPB) surfactants are often used in rinse-off, hair care or toiletry products

Design Your Perfect Texture in Three Easy Steps

Lay the foundation for your texture, sensory and emulsion system (O/W or W/O) with the help of the HLB value. This ranges from 0 to 20 and describes how lipophilic or hydrophilic an emulsifier (or surfactant) is. A low value corresponds to greater lipophilicity and indicates use in W/O emulsions. Products with a higher HLB value (> 10) are more suitable for O/W emulsions.

Robust, reliable, renewable: The natural classic for your emulsionsThe fast & light natural emulsifierNaturally soft emulsifier, for a perpetual caress
TexturesLight lotions, silky creams, rich buttersSprayable, fluid & creamy textures (does not build viscosity on its own)Milky, fluid, creamy to balmy textures (does not build viscosity on its own)
SensoryMedium rich, smooth & soft, film-formingFeather-light, refreshing skin feel, easy pick up, no soapingSoft, smooth & velvety: non-oily, light, non-waxy, non-sticky after-feel
SustainabilityVegan, Natural & RSPO MB certified, biodegradable, safe aquatic toxicity profileVegan, natural, sunflower based, biodegradable, safe aquatic toxicity profile, enables energy saving concepts (time & electricity)Vegan, natural, corn based, enables energy saving concepts (time & electricity)
INCIGlyceryl Stearate CitrateGlyceryl Citrate/Lactate/Linoleate/OleatePolyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate
HLB*10 – 1210 – 124
Size of oil phase10 – 40 %

15 – 30 % without stabilizing agents

5 – 35 %

5 – 20 % without stabilizing agents

15 – 50 %

20 – 40 % without wax

ProcessHot & low-heatCold & hotCold & hot W/O emulsifier
ApplicationsSkin, Sun, Color, Hair, BabySkin, Sun, Color, Hair, BabySkin, Sun, Color, Baby
Anything else …?Known for its robust nature, offering enhanced stabilityWorks great in anhydrous concepts as mild solubilizer or for instant emulsification in waterOriginated from the sweet world of chocolates; trusted nutrition and pharma ingredient; also used as wetting agent in color care concepts

*HLB estimated or calculated

The combination of ionic O/W main emulsifiers and non-ionic co-emulsifiers can increase the stability of an emulsion, since the usually smaller co-emulsifier molecules can “squeeze” in between the main emulsifiers at the surface and thus occupy it even more densely. The confluence (aggregation or coalescence) of oil droplets can be prevented. Some co-emulsifiers also increase viscosity or create a richer feel (“body”).

                     IMWITOR® 491 (Glyceryl Stearate, ≥ 90% monoester content, 100% natural based)
                  IMWITOR® 900 K (Glyceryl Stearate, 40 – 55% monoester content, 100% natural based)
                                                                  IMWITOR® 948 (Glyceryl Oleate, 100% natural based, Made to order)
                                                                     IMWITOR® GMIS (Glyceryl Isostearate, 100% natural based)
IMWITOR® PG3 DIS (Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, 100% natural based)

With texturizers, sensorial modifiers and multifunctionals, you can fine-tune the final texture, the sensory qualities and other benefits.

The addition of starch, for example, gives an emulsion a powdery touch. Our products such as SOFTISAN® 649 and SOFTISAN® conditionHAIR give the skin moisture, care and protection.


Gelling agents (e.g. Xanthan Gum)
Solid lipids or fatty alcoholWax
Starches (e.g. Zea Mays Starch)
SOFTISAN® 649 and/ or SOFTISAN® conditionHAIR to form a protective film and moisturize the skin
Zinc Sulphate

Mix & match!

In just three simple steps you can create your perfect texture. Challenge us and we will certainly find the right combination for your signature texture!

You don’t just want to read about it, but want to experience the products and textures?

Please visit us at the in-cosmetics in Paris from April 5th to 7th at stand D108 and experience the Touching Technologies and many exciting textures and sensors at our Formulation Bar.

Is being active your thing?

Register for the Formulation Lab® and let IMWITOR® 375 inspire you live in three very different concepts. (in-cosmetics Global – Session Details – Formulate fast, light & natural O/W emulsions with sustainable solution – 6th Apr).

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Insa Waller

Insa Waller has a background in cosmetic chemistry and marketing. Before joining IOI, she gained experience in B2C product development (skin care) and production. After a position as sales manager (german-speaking countries), Insa moved to the CARE Studio, IOI Oleo's in-house showroom and application lab in Hamburg, as an application engineer. Since graduating with a degree in marketing, she also works as technical marketing. Insa has a passion for cosmetics, fashion and trends and enjoys going for a run.