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Polar vs. Non Polar Oils in Cosmetcs

Polar vs. Non Polar Oils in Cosmetcs


Polar vs. Non-Polar Oils in Cosmetics

Whether you’re a pro at making your own cosmetics or you’ve just started dabbling, at some point you’ll likely have questions about the ingredients you’re using. After all, every component will have its own effect on your custom blend, so it’s important to educate yourself about each ingredient. One example is the type of oil you use, and understanding the difference between polar and non-polar oils.  Read on to learn more about this topic.

Oils in Cosmetics

Before you can understand what polar vs. non-polar oils are and which one to use, it’s helpful to know what oil does to the cosmetic blends you make. First, it’s good to know that makeup and skin care formulas are often referred to as emulsions, as they’re the result of mixing two fluids that don’t normally combine to form a single solution. By contrast, they naturally create separate layers rather than blending in together.  Think: oil and water.

When you add an emulsifier to an emulsion, the liquids mix together better to become a uniform solution. 

There are many kind of emulsifiers, each requiring a different process or resulting in a different texture or viscosity.  So choosing an emulsifier is a topic for another blog post.  But, before you choose an emulsifier, one detail to note is whether the one you’re considering works best with polar vs. non-polar oils.

What Is the Polarity of Cosmetic Oils?

Before you choose whether to use polar oils or non-polar oils in your emulsions, you should learn what polarity is when it comes to these ingredients. After all, if you're not familiar with the concept of polarity, you might have some questions, such as "is skin polar or nonpolar?", and "are polar oils natural?" Also, "exactly what are polar oils?"

To start, polarity is the tendency for a compound or molecule to be either attracted to or repelled from another compound or molecule. Polar molecules are always looking for other polar molecules to bond with so they can become more balanced. On the other hand, non-polar molecules are already balanced. When there are polar and non-polar molecules in the same solution, they will naturally separate until you add an emulsifier.

Another detail to know is that water molecules are polar, as they have a mix of positive and negative charges. On the other hand, oils can be either polar or non-polar. To further complicate things, some polar oils have a higher oil polarity index than others. Not all oils are created equal.

This can make a big difference in the cosmetics you make, as the polarity of cosmetic oils can affect the stability and solubility of the solution. In general, the higher the oil polarity index, the harder it is to emulsify, or properly mix the ingredients together. Granted, some natural polar oils work very well with certain emulsifiers, so it may take some experimenting to find the ingredients that work best together.

Why the Oil You Use Matters

The reason you should know the difference between polar vs. non-polar oils is that the oil you use can make a big difference in the end result of your makeup. The oil polarity index can have an effect on everything from the viscosity, texture and appearance to the skin feel, shelf life and price of the product. So if you’ve ever made cosmetics or skincare products that felt thicker or runnier than you expected, or had a texture that just felt unappealing on your skin, the polarity of the cosmetic oils you used may have been to blame.

So, what are polar oils that you should know about? Some examples of polar oils include the following:

  • Avocado oil
  • Jojoba wax / Jojoba oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Castor oil
  • Grape seed oil

These polar oils are often considered good for cosmetics because they make products easy to spread and can help hydrate the skin and they produce a good skin feel overall. While each has its own specific benefits, you can typically experiment with these natural oils until you find the one that gets you the viscosity and texture you want for your makeup.

Some examples of non-polar oils include mineral oil, coconut oil and petroleum jelly. Non-polar oils are often best for moisturizing and conditioning, so they’re found in many top haircare and skincare products, including salves and body butters.

Now that you know the difference between polar vs. non-polar oils, it’s time to start experimenting to find the one that works best for your cosmetic products. We sell a variety of oils, including polar and non-polar, so feel free to browse our selection of oils today before you start making your own beauty products!

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