Multiple Emulsions: Applications in Cosmetics

Aug 1, 2008 | Contact Author | By: Bhushan P. Sonchal, Shrinivas C. Kothekar and Shamim A. Momin, Institute of Chemical Technology, University of Mumbai
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Title: Multiple Emulsions: Applications in Cosmetics
multiple emulsionsx w/o/w emulsionsx o/w/o emulsionsx emulsifiersx
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Keywords: multiple emulsions | w/o/w emulsions | o/w/o emulsions | emulsifiers

Abstract: Multiple emulsions and factors affecting their preparation are discussed in this article that also lists the advantages of each of the two main types—w/o/w and o/w/o—and gives examples of each in cosmetic formulations.

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Multiple emulsions1 are complex systems in which the drops of the dispersed phase themselves contain even smaller dispersed droplets that normally consist of a liquid that is miscible, and in most cases identical, with the continuous phase. They are, therefore, emulsions of emulsions. In cosmetics, these systems can prevent degradation of an active ingredient and release it at a controlled rate. This article reviews the different techniques for preparing multiple emulsions. These techniques are more complicated than for simple oil-in-water (o/w) or water-in-oil (w/o) emulsions, but may be worth the extra effort for formulators wishing to protect and deliver sensitive actives.

In multiple emulsions, the internal and external phases are alike and an intermediate phase separates the two like phases. The intermediate phase is immiscible with the two like phases. For example, in water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) multiple emulsions, a w/o emulsion is dispersed in a water-continuous phase. An emulsifier is present to stabilize the emulsions and various ionic and nonionic surfactants are available for this purpose. Lipophilic (oil-soluble, low HLB) surfactants are used to stabilize w/o emulsions, whereas hydrophilic (water-soluble, high HLB) surfactants are used to stabilize o/w systems.

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Table 1. Suitable emulsifiers

 Table 1. Suitable emulsifiers 

Cosmetics Using W/O/W Multiple Emulsions

 Cosmetics Using W/O/W Multiple Emulsions

Figure 1. Effect of dispersed

Figure 1. Effect of dispersed 

Figure 2. Effect of homogenization

Figure 2. Effect of homogenization  

Cleansing cream

Cleansing cream 

massage cream

massage cream 

Formula 3. Nourishing cream for dry skin

Formula 3. Nourishing cream for dry skin 

Formula 4. Moisturizing cream

Formula 4. Moisturizing cream 

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