What is Xyliance?
Xyliance is a plant-based emulsifier used in all sorts of skincare formulations to achieve a silky and fluffy feel without being greasy or soapy. It is Ecocert organic certified, vegan, and GMO-Free. On top of that, it is also biodegradable and non-ethoxylated (PEG free). Under the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), Xyliance is known as Cetearyl Wheat Straw Glucosides (and) Cetearyl Alcohol. It is derived from wheat straw and palm or rapeseed oil.
Physical Properties of Xyliance
Xyliance is sold in the form of solid flakes. The flakes have a waxy texture and come in a variety of colors. They can range from white, to ivory, to offwhite or beige, to yellow. When added to lotions, creams, and serums, it will not change the final color. As it is odorless, it will not affect the final scent of the product. It melts at 70º C or 158º F. Because it is only soluble in oil, it is primarily used for oil in water emulsions. This also means it prefers products with an oil concentration of 20% to 45%. It should be added during the heated oil phase.
Chemical Properties of Xyliance
Xyliance belongs to a group of chemicals known as the APGs – alkyl polyglycosides. Here, alkyl refers to a side chain of single-bonded carbons that branch off of the main molecule. IN this case, the main molecule is a sugar – glucose, to be precise. The molecule then has the overall shape of a sugar “head” and fatty alcohol “tail,” similar to the overall appearance of fatty acids. APGs are non-ionic (uncharged) surfactants commonly found in detergents, cosmetics, and cleaning products. Surfactants or emulsifiers are substances that help to mix oil and water into one solution by binding both to water and oils. APGs are preferred because they are biodegradable and safe for sensitive skin.
Every APG has two parts. The first is a sugar that creates the hydrophilic or water-loving end. In Xyliance, this is the cetearyl glucosides. Note here that sugar does not refer to table sugar, but a water-soluble carbohydrate. While glucose and other sugars are edible, Xyliance is NOT meant to be ingested The second part is an alkyl group of variable length that constitutes the hydrophobic or water-fearing end. Xyliance’s hydrophobic group is cetearyl alcohol. The sugar is attracted to the water, while the alcohol is attracted to the oil. This means that the emulsifier acts as a kind of bridge between the two, allowing them to mix. Without an emulsifier, oil and water will not mix. Instead, they will separate, with oil floating to the top as it is the less dense of the two.
Manufacturing of Xyliance
Xyliance is naturally derived from plants and can be used in organic or all-natural cosmetic products as it is Ecocert certified organic. After it switched manufacturers in 2015, it is no longer available in a palm oil free form. The glucosides or sugars (xylose) are derived from wheat. The alcohol, on the other hand, is derived from rapeseed or palm oil. APGs are manufactured by combining a sugar with a fatty alcohol at high temperature in the presence of an acid catalyst.
Usage of Xyliance
Xyliance is a hot-process emulsifier, meaning it must be added to the mixture during the heated oil phase, usually at a temperature of around 75º C or 167º F. It prefers high oil concentrations of 25% to 40% and is best for medium and high viscosity products. Do not add salts to formulations containing Xyliance as this will cause them to separate and break down. In most cosmetics, Xyliance is used at a rate of 3.5% to 8%. Preferred for its bright white and exceptionally smooth emulsions, it also results in smoother skin and a fresh feel without the soapiness of other emulsifiers. Not only can it emulsify vegetable oils, it can also emulsify silicon and other synthetic oils as well as work in anhydrous (those without water) formulations. Note that formulations containing silicon or other synthetics are not biodegradable or natural. Finally, it is extremely versatile and functions well in a wide range of pH values – 2.0 to 12.0.
Substitutes for Xyliance
One popular substitute for Xyliance is ECOmulse (INCI: Glyceryl stearate (and) cetearyl alcohol (and) sodium stearoyl lactylate). This emulsifier also meets Ecocert standards and is completely derived from plants. While it is meant for oil-in-water emulsions like Xyliance, the pH range at which it works is much more narrow. If the final pH is outside of the range of 5.0 to 7.5, the emulsion will fail and separate. Use it in a concentration of two to ten percent, and be careful to check how the amount used will affect the viscosity of the final product. Olivem 1000 (INCI: Cetearyl Olivate (and) Sorbitan Olivate) is also an Ecocert certified organic ingredient and is derived naturally from olives. At lower concentrations, some formulations may require a second emulsifier to fully mix. For thicker products, gelling agents may need to be added as it is less viscous than other emulsifiers. Use it in a concentration of two to eight percent. Emulsifying Wax NF (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60) is a blend of fatty acids and detergents that are derived from soybeans. Not all manufacturers have it available in a GMO-free form. Some people are also concerned about the risk of cross-contamination with petroleum products, depending on the manufacturer and production location. It is very stable and should be used at a concentration of 3% to 10%.
Safety and Storage of Xyliance
Store Xyliance in a cool, dark place in a sealed container away from direct sunlight. If properly stored, it will keep for up to a year. In the event that it is ingested, do not attempt to induce vomiting. Instead, call your local poison control center for instructions. Though it is a wax, it may form dust. These clouds of dust are combustible. Avoid their formation as clouds of fine dust can explode in the presence of an ignition source. Keep away from open flames.
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