How To Solubilize Fragrances & Essential Oils For Beauty Products
Solubilize? Like, with a solubilizer? What is that, and what does it actually mean?
A solubilizer is an ingredient capable of making fragrance or essential oils dissolvable in water! This is achieved by mixing your fragrance or essential oil with a solubilizer at the correct ratio.
This all happens before you add your fragrance or essential oils to water or any of our pre made skin and hair care bases.
There are a lot of reasons to use solubilizers in your skincare and haircare products. We'll break down all the benefits plus a few of the most common types!
On top of getting oil to mix with water, solubilization has a few additional benefits for your formulas:
- Solubilized fragrances are more stable, and less likely to separate from your base.
- Solubilized fragrances & essential oils are more potent, so you can use less!
- They are less likely to oxidize (change colors) or degrade in your product over time so your product will look and smell freshly made for longer.
- Most importantly, they make it possible to add fragrance or essential oils to our bases without compromising their thickness, aka: viscosity!
types of solubilizers
- Polysorbate 20 is a standard in the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries, derived from natural and synthetic origins. This ingredient has been used for decades; with regularly updated safety studies dating back to the 1980’s. Generally a ratio of 1:1 (polysorbate 20 : fragrance/essential oil) is all you’ll need which makes it a very cost-effective option.
- Biosolv natural oil solubilizer is an all-natural surfactant blend. Its a vegan, gluten-free, PEG-free and non-GMO solubilizer optimized for essential oils and natural fragrance oils, and complies with natural product requirements.
- Organic propanediol So this is technically a solvent, but adding this to your solubilizer/fragrance mixture at an equal ratio with your fragrance further stabilizes your solubilized fragrance and essential oil for better clarity in finished products (eg: shampoos, shower gels, body sprays, toners, etc!)
how to solubilize oil in fragrance
Solubilization is fairly simple. It means mixing your fragance or essential oil with your selected solubilizer in a separate container prior to adding to your base. The real key is: the ratio.
The most important part of proper solubilization is finding the appropriate ratio of solubilizer to fragrance/essential oil.
The correct ratio is generally always within the range of 1:1 to 5:1 (solubilizer : fragrance/essential oil) and can change depending on the solubilizer and fragrance/essential oil.
You will know you have achieved a correct ratio when your mix is clear.
It may take some experimenting to get the ratio correct but below are some general tips to help cut out some of the guesswork.
- Citrus oils are generally more difficult to solubilize so a higher ratio (3:1 or higher) is a good starting point with citrusy fragrances and citrus essential oils.
- Non-polar oils like coconut oil are harder to solubilize and could require a 5:1 ratio while still not resulting in a clear, finished product. So try to avoid this as a carrier.
- A solubilizer-solvent combination helps reduce the necessary ratio of solubilizer : fragrance/essential oil.
adding to your base
Once you have a clear blend of solubilizer and fragrance/essential oil (and solvent), it is ready to add to your base.
Whether your base is water (to make a body spray), or one of our pre made bases, it is always best practice to slowly pour your mixture into your base while stirring the base.
Here are some tips to help attain a stable, clear, finished product:
- You will notice cloudiness in your base when you are adding your blend, be sure not to add faster than you can disperse this cloud into your base with gentle stirring.
- If your solution turns milky, you will need to start over with a slightly higher ratio of solubilizer : fragrance/essential oil.
- Stirring gently will help to reduce bubble formation, which could affect the perception of clarity in your final product.