An emulsifier is needed to create the bond between an oily and an aqueous component (emulsion). The lipophilic or hydrophilic part of the emulsifier determines which type of emulsion is formed by the emulsifier. If the lipophilic portion predominates, the emulsifier tends to dissolve in the oil phase (W/O emulsifier), if the hydrophilic portion predominates, the emulsifier will dissolve in the water phase (O/W emulsifier).



In order to determine the ratio between the hydrophilic and hydrophilic portion, a formula was developed that assigns emulsifiers an HLB value (HLB: hydrophilic-lipohilic balance) between 1 and 20. Emulsifiers with a low HLB value (<10) are generally good W/O emulsifiers, emulsifiers with a higher HLB value (>10) serve as O/W emulsifier. An emulsifier with an HLB value around 10 can in principle form O/W or W/O emulsions.



Each emulsifier has specific properties that ultimately lead to emulsions that differ in their consistency and skin feel. Some emulsifiers form emulsions which are strongly film-forming and nurishing, others form lighter and matt emulsions. It has even been observed that one emulsifier can form different emulsions depending on the temperature to which it is heated. Therefore, the following graph only serves as an orientation guide and shows the optimum range of application of emulsifiers along the fat phase level used.




Optimal use of emulsifiers depending in the fat phase


BergaMuls® ET 1



  • INCI: Beta-Glucan And Pectin
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: 60 °C
  • Fat phase: 10-40 %
  • Dosage: 1,5-5 %
  • Use: Light, non-greasy creams, lotions, fluids.


BergaMuls ET 1 is a vegetable emulsifier and has very good emulsifying and thickening properties. One advantage of this emulsifier is that it can be processed both hot and cold, emulsifying and thickening in a single step. It produces light emulsions that are non-greasy and quickly absorbed. The easy processability makes it a suitable emulsifier for beginners. A further advantage is that BergaMuls ET 1 can be used in a pH spectrum from 4 – 9 and thus completely covers the pH range used in cosmetics.



Dermofeel® PGPR



  • INCI: Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate
  • HLB-value: 3,5
  • Function: W/O emulsifier
  • Temperature: 75-80 °C
  • Fat phase: 25-40 %
  • Dosage: 2-5 %
  • Use: Sun care, face and body, care creams and lotions, cold and hot application possible.


Dermofeel® PGPR is a very skin friendly emulsifier which produces pure white, refatting and flowable emulsions. As a W/O emulsifier, it produces emulsions with a higher fat content and lower viscosity than O/W emulsifiers. However, they are also quickly absorbed and leave a pleasant and soft skin feeling without leaving a greasy film. The emulsifier is also suitable for the production of cold stirred emulsions.





  • INCI: Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate
  • HLB-value: 12
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: 15-40 °C
  • Fat phase: 15-40%
  • Dosage: 2-4 %
  • Use: Skin and body care creams, for a soft skin feeling.


Emulsan II is a purely vegetable-based and well-tolerated emulsifier. It is very popular in the production of emulsions and is also known under the brand name TEGO® Care PS. However, its consistency-giving properties do not last very long, so emulsan should always be combined with consistency-giving emulsifiers if a thicker consistency is desired. Emulsan can be used for dry and sensitive as well as oily and impure skin. The emulsifier produces non-heavy emulsions and is particularly suitable for the production of rich creams with a low water content (similar to lamecreme).


Glyceryl Stearate SE



  • INCI: Glyceryl Stearate SE
  • HLB-value: 12
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: 65-85 °C
  • Fat phase: 20-40 %
  • Dosage: 4-5 %
  • Effect: Light, moisturizing creams.


Glyceryl Stearate SE is an environmentally friendly and self-emulsifying (this is what the addition SE means) O/W emulsifier. Emulsions with Glyceryl Stearate SE are a bit thin at the beginning, but will thicken after a few hours. A disadvantage is that the emulsifier is pH-sensitive and requires a pH range between 7 and 8. Therefore, the emulsifier can be combined with other emulsifiers like emulsan or lamecreme in order to produce pH-neutral emulsions (pH value between 5 and 6). Glyceryl Stearate SE is particularly suitable for light lotions with a fat phase content of 20% and emulsions / creams in the fat phase range of 25 – 40%. It produces formulations with a light consistency which feel soft and moisturizing, are quickly absorbed by the skin and do not leave a greasy film.


Imwitor 375



  • INCI: Glyceryl Citrate/Lactate/Linoleate/Oleate
  • HLB-value: 11
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: > 80 °C
  • Fat phase: 18-50 %
  • Dosage: 0,5-3 %
  • Use: Highly humidifying fluids and emulsions.


The emulsifier is soluble in fat, but is also very well dispersable in water. The emulsifier can therefore be processed both cold and hot. Due to the unsaturated fatty acids of the emulsifier, antioxidants should be added. Imwitor® 375 works best in the pH range of 4 – 7 and produces pleasantly light emulsions while leaving a protective and velvety skin feeling. It is similar to lecithin in its feel and properties.





  • INCI: Glyceryl Stearate
  • HLB-value: 8
  • Function: O/W emulsifiers
  • Temperature: 65 °C
  • Fat phase: 30-45 %
  • Dosage: 4-6 %
  • Use: Somewhat richer skin and body care creams and butters, for a soft skin feeling.


Lamecreme is a mixed emulsifier consisting of an emulator (glyceryl stearate citrate) and a consistency enhancer (glycerol monostearate). Therefore the addition of a consistency enhancer is not necessary. Due to the easy processing the emulsifier is especially suitable for beginners. Emulsions with lamecreme provide a pleasant, soft skin feeling and are quickly absorbed. Creams with this emulsifier become a little bit more fatty and shine on the skin, therefore lamecreme is well suited for dry skin and produces rich night creams. It is also suitable as co-emulsifier for mature and normal skin. Since lamecream is film-forming on the skin, the emulsifier is less suitable for oily skin.


Lysolecithin (Lecithin)



  • INCI: Lysolecithin
  • HLB-value: 9
  • Function: O/W emulgator
  • Temperature: > 70 °C
  • Fat phase: 18-30 %
  • Dosage: 1-5 % (in Badeprodukten 10 %)
  • Use: Light, non-greasy creams and fluids.


Lysolecithin is mainly used for the production of bath oils. But also emulsions benefit from lysolecithin because they are absorbed faster into the skin and leave a pleasant skin feeling. Furthermore, lysolecithin formulations with waxes (like beeswax) remove the “waxy” character. Moreover, the emulsifier is easy to handle and not pH-sensitive. It can be dissolved in the warm water phase as well as in the fat phase. In the case of emulsions, it is advisable to let them rest for 24 hours and stir them well again the next day.

Lysolecithin has also proved its worth in hair care. In shampoos, hair fluids, conditioners and shower gels it is a nurishing, refatting and conditioning additive.



Montanov 68



  • INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Cetearyl Glucoside
  • HLB-value: 9-11
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperatue: 75-80 °C
  • Fat phase: 25-40 %
  • Dosage: 4-5 %
  • Use: Rich, moisturizing creams with a light character.


Montanov TM 68 is an O/W emulsifier consisting of approx. 77 % cetearyl alcohol (a mixture of cetyl and cetearyl alcohol and approx. 23 % cetearyl glucosides). It is very well tolerated, non-comedogenic and self-emulsifying. It does not require any further stabilizers such as gel formers or fatty alcohol. However, it is still recommended to add a knife point of Xanthan transparent. Montanov™ 68 prefers high speed stirring, e.g. with a hand blender. The emulsifier produces rich creams which still have a light and creamy character. Emulsions with Montanov 68 are quickly absorbed by the skin, are very caring and leave a moisturized, soft skin feeling without greasy shine.


Montanov L



  • INCI: C14-22 Alcohols (and) C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside
  • HLB-value: 10
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: 75-80 °C
  • Fat phase: 10-30 %
  • Dosage: 2-4 %
  • Use: Light, moisturizing lotions and fuids.


Montanov™ L is a self-emulsifying O/W emulsifier made of glucose and fatty alcohols. The emulsifier is especially suitable for light lotions, moisturizing fluids or sprayable products with a high water phase. It also forms pure white emulsions with a light texture and does not leave an oily film on the skin. Therefore, it is very suitable for the production of cleansing products (which can be combined with other ingredients such as alumina) or light emulsions for oily skin (but can also be used for any other skin type). The emulsifier can also be used for hair care.




Olivem 900



  • INCI: Sorbitan Olivate Wax
  • HLB-value: 5
  • Function: W/O emulsifier
  • Temperature: 80 °C
  • Fat phase: > 50 %
  • Dosage: 7 -13 %
  • Use: Rich, moisturizing creams.


Olivem® 900 is a W/O emulsifier used in creams, lotions, oil gels and in decorative cosmetics. The emulsifier is quickly absorbed into the skin and leaves a soft and non-greasy skin feeling. Skin care products containing this emulsifier almost have no sticky effect even with a high lipid phase content. As Olivem® 900 is a W/O emulsifier it is a good and vegetable based alternative to lanolin or wool wax alcohol. The emulsifier should be dissolved in the fat phase and the water phase should be worked into the fat phase sip by sip after the previous sip has been emulsified.


Phospholipon 80H (Hydrated Lecithin)



  • INCI: Hydrogenated Lecithin
  • Function: O/W emulsifier
  • Temperature: 80 °C
  • Fat phase: 18-35 %
  • Dosage: 1-3 %
  • Use: Non-greasy, protective, matting creams.


Phospholipon® 80H is a natural emulsifier based on soybean oil. The fine powder is mainly used as an emulsifier, but can also be considered as a skin-caring active ingredient. The emulsifier is suitable for fluids, lotions and creams up to a 35 % fat phase. It protects and regenerates the skin barrier without being very greasy. Additionally, the emulsifier also facilitates the transport of active agents into the skin.


Woolwax Alcohol



  • INCI: Lanolin Alcohol
  • HLB-value: 4
  • Function: W/O emulsifier
  • Temperature: 55-65 °C
  • Dosage: 0,5-5 %
  • Use: Rich, fatty creams.


Woolwax alcohol is a W/O emulsifier and is well suited for dry and sensitive skin. It is the unsaponifiable component of wool wax. That means that this part cannot be used for soap production. The emulsifier makes the skin soft and smooth and reduces the viscosity of cosmetic products. Furthermore, the emulsifier can be used in hair care products where it has hair conditioning and antistatic effects. Due to its ability to bind 6 times its own weight in water, the emulsifier is also suitable for the production of rich wind and weather creams. Compared to lanolin wool wax alcohol sticks less and lies lighter on the skin.
Woolwax alcohol keeps to thickens slightly within the first 24 hours.






  • INCI: Cetearyl Wheat Straw Glycosedes(and) Cetearyl Alcohol
  • HLB-value: 8
  • Function: O/W emulsions
  • Temperature: 70 °C
  • Fat phase: 20-40 %
  • Dosage: 3-5 %
  • Use: Light, non-greasy, matting creams.


Xyliance is a self-emulsifying O/W emulsifier that does not require co-emulsifiers or stabilizers such as gel formers. It forms stable O/W emulsions, even at low application concentrations and high oil content. Xyliance is unfortunately no longer available free of palm oil. The emulsifier forms light creams which are quickly absorbed into the skin and do not leave an oily skin feeling. The emulsifier is therefore very suitable for oily, blemished skin. With the water being stored and later released into the skin, Xyliance is not that suitable for dry skin since it does not immediately moisturize it. By combining this emulsifier with lysolecithin or glycerin the produced creams are easier to apply and also give a “moister” skin feeling. Due to its pH insensitivity and its broad lipid phase tolerance the emulsifier is very versatile and popular.

Quellen: Elsässer, S. (2008). Körperpflegekunde und Kosmetik: Ein Lehrbuch für die PTA-Ausbildung und die Beratung in der Apothekenpraxis (1. Aufl.). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.