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Say No to Emulsifiers


What Are Emulsifiers?

Emulsifiers are used to help mix oil and water in skincare. Emulsifiers are needed, otherwise products like creams and moisturizers would be unusable. All emulsifiers have a similar structure. They have a lipophilic part, which combines with oil, and a hydrophilic part, which combines with water. Their properties are also determined by a positive or negative charge. Anionic emulsifiers are negatively charged which leads them to potentially harm sensitive skin, disrupting the skin barrier. Cationic emulsifiers can bind to keratin in the outer layer of the skin and cause irritation. Emulsifiers with no charge are less irritating, but can also lead to the loss of moisture in the skin. Some non-ionic emulsifiers include cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid, glyceryl stearate and ceteareth-20.


Emulsifiers are the most harmful to those with dry and sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and acne. Your skin will react with the chemicals and lead to itchiness, redness, or inflammation. If you continuously moisturize but still struggle with dry skin, your skincare products may use emulsifiers which reduce the skin's ability to hold moisture. Emulsifiers penetrate the skin and remove natural protective substances, like lipids, when coming in contact with water. This is called the wash-out effect. The skin then becomes more permeable to harmful environmental factors, like pollution. The nutrients that are essential to a healthy skin barrier get washed away. 


Types of Emulsions

There are two main types of emulsions. The first is an oil in water emulsion (O/W) and the second is a water in oil emulsion (W/O).


Check your skincare ingredients for the most common emulsifiers:

  • Emulsifying wax
  • Polysorbate
  • Stearate
  • Steareth
  • Cetearyl
  • Ceteareth

What are the alternatives to regular emulsifiers?

Phospholipids (from soy) are similar in structure to skin cell’s membranes! They can work like emulsifiers helping mix oil and water.

Soy phospholipids have a hydrophilic head and two lipophilic tails. This enables them to hold water while possessing a natural liking to the skin’s cell structure. They can organize themselves into bilayers which are structures similar to skin. Due to this ability, phospholipids are a major component of the cell membrane. Their main function is to build new bilayers around the cells. 

Under certain conditions using our technology phospholipids will produce liposomes, tiny bubbles that include bioactive water soluble ingredients inside.

Phospholipids, being very similar in structure to our own cell’s membranes, have qualities that help restore weakened barrier properties of the outer layer of the skin. They are also hygroscopic, meaning they attract water from the air and can hold water in places where it is needed the most, thus increasing hydration.


During the cream manufacturing process, phospholipids can form liposomes. Liposomes were discovered to be an effective substitute for chemical emulsifiers. The structure of these liposomes is similar to the natural structure of the cell membrane, which allows for a seamless transport of skin related nutrients. Liposomes can become part of the skin’s barrier and release water-soluble ingredients deep into the layers of the skin  helping to protect and restore the skin’s lipid barrier.

This graph shows how the liposomes become part of the skin cell by releasing bioactives:

All Arboretum products are free of chemical emulsifiers, which are largely unregulated and can irritate your skin. Instead, we use liposome-forming phospholipids from soy that help rebuild your skin barrier and release active ingredients deep into the layers of your skin. These liposomes deliver essential fatty acids that reduce overproduction of oil and prevent acne.

People with lipid barrier problems will especially benefit from using products without emulsifiers:

-mature skin losing hydration and prone to wrinkles

-rosacea /sensitive skin

-skin prone to acne

 The result will be healthy, glowing skin in just a few days!


Our products are free from:

  • Parabens - lead to hormonal disruption
  • Fragrances - the #1 cause of irritation to the skin
  • Mineral oils - can clog pores
  • Emulsifiers - weaken the skin barrier
  • Amines - linked to carcinogens 
  • Silicones - trap oil/dirt and increase likelihood of breakouts 

Email for more information on our products.


Resources For The Article: Resource 1, Resource 2, Resource 3


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