Most of the time when I want to add an oil (liquid or solid) to my formulations I am forced to use an emulsifier to bind the oil and water. The result is a cream, which I really love as a moisturizer and even styler. For other products like the water-based leave-in conditioner (see video here) my preference is lower viscosity (think of it as thickness) but at the same time I would like the conditioner to have as much beneficial ingredients as possible.
Attempting to add an oil to my water based leave-in conditioner has always required an emulsifier, which in return increases the viscosity too much. To keep the conditioner as viscous as water, I discovered Shea Water Soluble also referred to as Shea Water Miscible or Shea Water Dispersible. This is Shea Butter that dissolves in water. The patented formulation is 50-50 water to Shea Butter.
Shea Butter Water Soluble’s ability to dissolve in water eliminates the need for an emulsifier when adding the butter to water-based mixes. Shea Butter Water Soluble can also be used in formulations for creams, conditioners, shampoos and lotions. In this case it would go into the water phase and not the oil phase. Suggested ratios for use are anywhere from 3-15% depending on preference. For my spray leave-in conditioners 3-5% is sufficient. If you love Shea Butter you’ll really love the difference the water soluble version makes in formulations you want to keep water-based.
Here’s some data on Shea Water Soluble:
Appearance: yellowish semi-viscous liquid
Odour: Very mild
Texture: Slightly oily, leaves a satin finish on skin
Saponification: 25% (meaning you can use up to 25 of SBWS when making soap)
Vulnerability: Extreme heat (same as Shea Butter)
None edible – Please don’t ingest it
Store in tightly sealed container away from heat or light
Shelf life: 2 years from production date
Other names: PEG-50 Shea Butter
I am yet to figure out the chemical structure of how exactly how they take an oil (non-polar) mix it with water (polar) without an emulsifier, then make the resulting product perfectly soluble in water.
From EWG’s Cosmetic Database:
About PEG-50 SHEA BUTTER: PEG-50 Shea Butter is a polyethylene glycol derivative of Butyrospermum Parkii (SheaButter) (q.v.) with an average of 50 moles of ethylene oxide. (This is still chemistry jargon to me at this point but I’ll figure it out eventually)
Chemistry name: Polyethylene Glycol 4000 Shea Butter; Polyoxyethtlene (50) Shea Butter
The Shea Butter Water Soluble in this video is from Lotion Crafter Store (shipping can be a little crazy unless you are buying a ton of ingredients). Below is a link from an amazon vendor option as well.