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A natural approach to personal care formulation


In today’s world, cosmetic formulators are regularly being asked to create new and exciting products while using the same old ingredients over and over again. This can be very challenging on the natural front considering that today’s consumers have unprecedented access to information through many different social media outlets and basic word of mouth.

Consumers are becoming self-educated about the ingredients which comprise many of the products they buy, to include both cosmetics and personal care items. Consumers are attracted to phrases and claims like; ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘responsibly sourced’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’, ‘vegan’, but still, most importantly – ‘effective’.

Waxes are well positioned to introduce highly effective sensory and functional benefits to formulations alongside an attractive natural ingredient story. There is a wide variety of natural waxes that offer a range of different properties to enhance skin-feel, binding, and moisturizing benefits among many other attributes.

For example, a vegetable wax obtained from the fruit of the Myrica pubescens is commonly known as Laurel Wax SP-9001. The wax is water extracted and greenish-white in color. It is a low melting range, hard wax with a high saponification value, and has the feel of soap when handled. It is useful in the development of natural cosmetics and personal care products. In skin care applications, Lauren Wax contributes to a glossy, rich, creamy feel and is considered quite stable.

Strahl & Pitsch (S&P) has specialized in the sourcing, refining, and production of natural waxes since 1904. This experience, knowledge, and market insight places S&P in a unique position to offer appropriate and effective raw materials to formulators looking to meet current customer demands. Three topics which have produced much interest lately are; mitigating syneresis (oil bleeding), creating natural gels, and replacing petrolatum with a natural alternative.

Mitigating syneresis (oil bleeding) and creating natural gels

A common challenge facing formulators is mitigating syneresis and creating natural gels. Syneresis, or oil bleeding, is defined as the expulsion or separation of a liquid/oil from a gel, stick, cream, or lotion. For cosmetic formulators, they can make it difficult to formulate some products for warm climates and it dramatically reduces a product’s sensory and visual appeal.

Creating natural gels is also a topic that is of great interest to many formulators. Consumers are always looking for natural variants of products that are generally viewed as being predominantly synthetic, but natural gels can be difficult to formulate because existing natural gellants can often prove unstable and present compatibility issues.

To support formulators with a natural solution to these efforts, S&P recommends SP-9002 Genuine Rice Bran Wax. SP-9002 is a light yellow, hard, natural wax with a high melt point, which is often compared to carnauba wax. SP-9002 is an exceptional binder of oils and has proven useful in combining with and stabilizing oils in both anhydrous and emulsion systems. SP-9002 is obtained through the cold press de-waxing of rice oil, not from the hydrogenation of rice oil. This process and the further refining at S&P is what distinguishes it from the competition. Hydrogenation is viewed less favorably than cold press de-waxing because it involves a chemical process that requires a catalyst to convert oil into a waxy substance. This type of process detracts from the appeal of a product, especially when marketing to producers of natural cosmetics and personal care items.

Genuine Rice Bran Wax is seen as particularly effective in reducing syneresis in lipstick and other oil-based systems, especially in warm climates. Syneresis is clearly evident by a simple visual inspection. For example, a stick with visible oil beads is suffering syneresis. A simple yet profoundly effective solution to this phenomenon is a modest inclusion of Genuine Rice Bran Wax. S&P recommends inclusion rates between 0.5%-10% depending on the severity of the problem. Aside from combating syneresis, Genuine Rice Bran Wax can also act as a standalone gellant. With as little as 1.5% a formulator can create a stable gel that is both natural and plant derived.

Replacing petrolatum

Another challenge facing formulators is replacing petrolatum with a functionally equivalent product of natural origin. In the past, consumers may have been agreeable to a noticeable drop in performance when using natural replacements. This is becoming less common. People want natural products to perform at an equal level to synthetics and petroleum-based products.

To support the industry and customers, Strahl & Pitsch produces a line of natural Wax Jellies. These are proprietary formulated products using all natural waxes and oil expertly blended together to create effective and stable petrolatum offsets. All of the materials used in manufacturing Natural Wax Jelly are food grade, therefore there are no issues regarding safety. Natural Wax Jelly can be used as a base for lip balms, pomades, in creams and lotion, etc. Natural Wax Jelly can be used wherever petrolatum is used as a direct replacement. To satisfy as many customer bases as possible, S&P produces several variants to include; a ‘lite’ formula, several regular formulas to mimic true petrolatum, a vegan formula and a formula made with 95% organic ingredients. This raw material gives a formulator much flexibility and confidence when formulating natural products.

Formulation examples

Following are three examples of formulations which show how natural wax ingredients can be incorporated into systems to mitigate syneresis (Formulations 1), to create natural gels (Formulation 2) and to replace petrolatum (Formulation 3).

These formulations also demonstrate that the ingredients are compatible with a wide range of natural and synthetic ingredients.

Formulation 1: Light Massage Gel

Genuine Rice Bran Wax SP-9002 is a superior gelling natural wax, far better than the traditional waxes including Carnauba and Candelilla Waxes. With nominal rates of inclusion below five percent, a substantial gel can be created in anhygrous formulations, as demonstrated in the massage gel formula. With such low rates of use, Genuine Rice Bran Wax can also be a successful tool to mitigate syneresis, a common problem in lipstick stability. Genuine Rice Bran Wax is an excellent wax for use in cosmetics. It is a hard, non-tacky, high melt point natural wax which is used in this formulation to retain fragrance.

Also featured in the formulation is Purester 24 (INCI Name Laurel laurate). Puresters are vegetable derived esters for cosmetic & personal care use. They are produced from naturally derived fatty alcohol and fatty alcohol feedstocks and they can cover a range of melting points. Benefits of Puresters include enhanced emulsion stability; good chemical and thermal stability; a talc-powder (silicone-like) after-feel in some applications; excellent film-former (increases substantivity); reduces the greasy feel of oil systems; improves payoff characteristics in sticks (lipstick, AP, etc.).

Formulation 1: Light Massage Gel



Canola Oil


Lexfeel Natural


12-Hydroxystearic Acid


Purester-24 (S&P)


SP-9002 Genuine Rice Bran Wax


Polyglyceryl-8 Decabehenate/Decacaprate


Mixing Procedure

Combine ingredients, melt the whole mixture and fully mix

When thoroughly homogenized, pour and allow to cool down

Formulation 2: Liquid Lipstick

The formulation includes Natural Wax Jelly which is a formulated product using all natural waxes. Also included is Purester 24 (Lauryl laurate) and PE Wax 400, a Polyethylene Wax which offers a distinct, sharp melt point and consistent high quality. It is highly compatible with most cosmetic ingredients and is effective at low levels of 2%-10% inclusion.

PE Wax 400 builds strong structural stability and increased viscosity through its strong, oil-binding properties, creating gloss, durability, and plasticity.

Formulation 2: Liquid Lipstick #160304B



Triisostearyl Citrate


Covapate Red Pigment Paste


Natural Wax Jelly (SP-511)


Vitamin E acetate


Purester 24-Lauryl Laurate (S&P-PE24)


Mineral Oil (Drakeol 85)


Indian Summer Pigment Powder


Polyethylene Wax 400 (S&P-PE 400)


Mixing Procedure

Melt SP-511, triisostearyl citrate, mineral oil to 80-85°C

  • Add PE 24 and PE 400, let them melt
  • Add vitamin E

Add covapate pigment paste and pigment powder and mix/homogenize as it cools to around 65°C until everything is a uniform color

Formulation 3: Natural Hair Pomade

This formulation features a vegan version of the Natural Wax Jelly and Grapefruit Oil.

Formulation 3: Natural Hair Pomade #SP-110-HC




Natural Wax Jelly (SP-507)


Lanolin Wax


Coconut Oil (S&P)


Gum Rosin (S&P)


LIPEX 8600

(Shea Butter)-(AAK)


Jojoba Oil-(Columbus Oil)


Tocopheryl Acetate

(JEEN International)



Grapefruit Oil (S&P) 341028


Mixing Procedure

Carefully weigh and combine ingredients of Phase A, heat mixture until all waxes are melted

  • Mix well, cool down to 75°C
  • Carefully weigh and add Grapefruit Oil

Pour at 75°C in appropriate container


Natural cosmetic and personal care products are much in demand at present and will be for the foreseeable future. The demand is only likely to increase. Along with natural ingredients, consumers now require high efficacy and luxurious sensory qualities, and this in turn demands ingredients produced specifically for this task.

Strahl & Pitsch’s range of natural waxes can impart superior skin-feel, stability, hold, and durability to a huge number of natural formulations, and as shown in this article, can offer effective alternatives to petrolatum as well as producing natural gels.