HLB involves matching the oil and fatty components of your product with the appropriate emulsifier. Since oils and water do NOT mix, something is necessary in binding these ingredients. This is where emulsifiers come into play.

Oils, butters, and emulsifiers all have HLB values, and in order to keep the product stable, you have to use the correct amount of emulsifier relative to the oils used in your formula. The more oils you use, the more complicated the calculations become. So as you can see, it’s not just about adding the most nourishing oils and conditioning agents (which also act as emulsifiers) to your products. There’s just slightly more involved.

First, you have to factor in the percentage of the Oil Phase of your product formula (as there are typically three phases), and then calculate the composition of the oils in this phase in terms of their percentage. Then to calculate the required HLB of the Oil Phase, you’d have to multiply the percentage of each oil, expressed as a number, in the Oil Phase by its respective required HLB and sum those results. The sum of those results gives you the required HLB value for your entire formulation. Below, find an example of this breakdown.

Let’s say that your Oil Phase is approximately 30% of your total [hypothetical] product formula, and that 100% of your Oil phase consists of: 5% Avocado Oil, 10% Shea Butter, 5% Coconut Oil, and 10% Jojoba Oil(which equals the 30%).

The HLB values for these are:

· Avocado Oil: 7

· Shea Butter: 8

· Coconut Oil: 8

· Jojoba Oil: 6.5

Starting with the Avocado oil

If 30% = 100%

And 5% = X%

Then X = (100x5)/30%

X= 500/30

X= 16.67%

This percentage shows that avocado oil is 16.67% of the Oil Phase.

You continue to do the same for the remaining oils.

And 10% = X%

Then X = (100x10)/30

X= 1000/30

X = 33.33%

This shows that shea butter is 33.33% of the Oil Phase

And 5% = X%

Then X = (100x5)/30%

X= 500/30

X= 16.67%

This shows that coconut oil is 16.67% of the Oil Phase

And 10% = X%

Then X = (100x10)/30

X= 1000/30

X = 33.33%

This shows that jojoba oil is 33.33% of the Oil Phase

So we NOW know that:

Avocado Oil = 5% of the formula and 16.67% of the Oil Phase

Shea Butter = 10% of the formula and 33.33% of the Oil Phase

Coconut Oil = 5% of the formula and 16.67% of the Oil Phase

Jojoba Oil = 10% of the formula and 33.33% of the Oil Phase

Now we can calculate the HLB of the Oil Phase. To do this, you have to multiply each percentage by each required HLB value and sum the results.

(16.67%/100) x 7 = 1.1669

(33.33%/100) x 8 = 2.6664

(16.67%/100 x 8 = 1.3336

(33.33%/100 x 6.5 = 2.16645

The required HLB of the Oil Phase is the sum of all of these, which equals 7.33335. This means I have to find an emulsifier that matches this HLB (± 1)

One example of an emulsifier than can be used is Lecithin. While its HLB value can vary, some have a value of 7. This makes it somewhat simple, but (yes, there IS a but) because of the limited availability of many emulsifiers to those who are kitchen khemists, you may find that you have to combine multiple emulsifiers. I’ve read that combining a high and a low HLB emulsifier garners the most stable results.

This then results in more calculations….I know, I know.

We’ll leave it here for now since there is an emulsifier that fits within the range we’re seeking. It may not be this easy, though. Which is why many small, medium and larger business have laboratories help create the final products (w/their input, of course).

So again, as you can see…..it’s a bit more complicated. Still interesting, once you figure all the numbers out. ;)

If you want to spend the money, there are actually programs that remove all of the guesswork. So, you don’t necessarily have to do all of the calculations yourself. Thought I’d mention that. LOL!

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