Haircare products have been evolving for centuries. We rely on up-to-date technology and science to produce quality creams, shampoos, and conditioners that we use daily. These emulsions have applications in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agriculture, and more. With many applications, emulsification technology varies, and the systems are complex. Did you know the emulsion’s effectiveness is directly influenced by the mixing method? Many of us know that the ingredient list matters, but the blending method is also essential.
Salons can pedal brand names, but if the emulsions don’t provide beneficial results, they aren’t worth the resources. Research suggests ultrasound technology will lead the way and even offer a healthy future for our planet. To understand mixing technology, we must start with what an emulsion is.
Identifying An Emulsion
Shampoos, moisturizers, and other liquid haircare products fall under emulsions. An emulsion typically consists of water, oil, and an emulsifying agent that binds the mixture together. Oil and water alone don’t create a uniform mixture.
If you’ve seen a child’s oil and water in a bottle science experiment, you know the two remain separated. You can shake the bottle vigorously to blend the two, but the oil droplets merely change sizes and then settle on top of the water. A thoroughly combined emulsion requires a chemically binding agent(emulsifier) and proper mixing. You can identify a quality emulsion with your eyes alone, and scientists can analyze quality through the term stability. An emulsion’s stability(ES) is the ability to remain constant over time without ingredient separation. Environmental stressors weaken stability. Exposure to stressors like hot or cold temperatures breaks down a mixture, so long-term stability is valuable. Our products must remain stable in our salons or on the shelves of our clients’ homes.
Active Ingredients In Emulsions
Not only do we desire shelf-life consistency, but we also desire the full potential of any bioactive ingredients within the product. A bioactive ingredient is an element from a living organism that promotes good health when used or consumed. When these ingredients are extracted, they must be preserved within a mixture to be helpful. This preservation is also called encapsulation. Without being adequately encapsulated within an emulsion, ingredients such as rosemary or peppermint extracts can vaporize over time. Why purchase a product with active natural ingredients if they haphazardly lose their magic?
Companies can promote emulsions with natural extractions, but you won’t see the effectiveness of these ingredients if they aren’t appropriately handled. We must select companies that provide up-to-date science and proven research. The importance of mixing doesn’t just apply to color treatments, but it also applies to all haircare products we use and promote. There are critical chemical reactions that take place during emulsification. It is a very delicate process, so the method of machinery used must be selected with care.
Some common blending methods are high-pressure homogenizers, microfluidizers, shear mixers, and colloidal mills. High-pressure homogenizers use narrow pathways and valves to force mixtures together. Microfluidizers use pumps and pressure changes to emulsify. Both require large amounts of energy to run the equipment. Shear mixers and colloidal mills use blades and drums of rotating discs to blend materials at high speeds. All of these methods produce an emulsion, but high-intensity ultrasound mixing technology is proving to be the most advantageous.
Studies found emulsions formed through ultrasonic waves are more stable than those mixed by other popular methods. High-intensity ultrasound(HIU) is considered environmentally safe and easy to operate. Ultrasonic waves combine ingredients so well that trials have obtained smaller emulsion particles than other methods.
How Does Ultrasound Work
Ultrasound uses electrical pulses & vibrations to create high-amplitude sounds. Humans can’t hear the high-amplitude sound waves, but the physical effects are seen on the surface of liquids. Ultrasonic machines create ripples and bubbles. The rise and fall of air bubbles created by sound waves is called acoustic cavitation. The cavitation bubbles are a catalyst for chemical changes between each particle within a liquid mixture. The physical properties of the mixture change, and new bonds form.
Using sound waves to disperse particles into a mixture requires less energy consumption than other industrial mixing devices. Current technology operates through large pressurized and moving components. Ultrasound uses electrical pulses, crystals, and sensors to detect vibrations. Without the need for large moving devices, ultrasonic mixing equipment is safer and easier to maintain over time.
Stronger Emulsifying Agents
High-intensity ultrasound research improves our understanding of emulsifying ingredients, and the HIU equipment is beneficial when paired with complex emulsifiers. Emulsifiers aid ingredient absorption, blending, and chemical binding within an emulsion. Proteins and polysaccharides are popular emulsifiers. Food proteins like those found in soy, wheat, and rice form a film-like membrane around oil droplets. They are easily absorbed but lack strong stability. Environmental stressors like temperature and ph negatively affect the emulsion stability.
Polysaccharides are carbohydrates with sugar components like starches, natural gums, and glycogen. These emulsifiers aid in thickening and support a gell-like structure. Polysaccharides help an emulsion remain stable at various ph levels from 3-9, but they don’t break down in water easily. A modified combination of proteins and polysaccharides has proven to strengthen the emulsification process. Scientists have found:
“Protein-polysaccharide complex stabilized emulsions produced by high intensity ultrasound(HIU) showed better stability against environmental stresses than the emulsions stabilized by individual components. Moreover, several studies showed that HIU homogenizers were more energy efficient than high pressure homogenizers and microfluidizers.”
Quality emulsions empower hair specialists and yield salon success. We must be selective in our haircare production methods. If we want effective emulsions, the blending process must be taken seriously. Ultrasonic waves have produced results that may change the future of the hair industry. These devices are effective and eco-friendly. Ultrasonic blending consumes less electrical energy and produces smaller emulsion droplets than pressurized mechanical devices. More emulsification research is crucial to large-scale industrial applications. Our clients and revenue depend on us to stay informed. Invest in quality emulsions and consult with hair professionals about new product innovations.