Study shows Triumfetta cordifolia gum has potential as a sustainable emulsion stabiliser

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

The best results were seen for cocoglyceride oil (Image: Getty)
The best results were seen for cocoglyceride oil (Image: Getty)

Related tags Cosmetics Cosmetic science Formulation Research and development Sustainability Natural ingredients

Research showed that the multi-purpose plant, which grows in tropical Africa, shows promise as a bio-emulsifier and stabiliser for oil-based cosmetics.

The cosmetics industry is always searching for sustainable ingredients that can be used to efficiently stabilise emulsions or colloidal dispersions that are thermodynamically unstable, due to their high surface energy.

Yet finding ingredients that are both effective and eco-friendly is never an easy task.

Surfactants are often used to stabilise the water/oil interface in many oil-in-water formulations, but these aren’t always highly effective to obtain a stable emulsion. Plus, they can sometimes be controversial in terms of their origin and environmental impact, too.

Investigating the nature of the 'fatty phase'

A study undertaken by French and Cameroon-based researchers investigated whether natural gum from the Triumfetta cordifolia ​(T. cordifolia) tree could be used as a sustainable emulsifier and stabiliser for oil-in-water emulsions.

The study also aimed to pay special attention to how the nature of the 'fatty phase' could affect this potential, so the researchers could better perceive the changes due to the specific nature of oil.

Oil can be difficult to formulate with as factors such as polarity, viscosity and density can all affect the properties of emulsions and their stability during storage.

To investigate, the team prepared simple oil-in-water emulsions textured and stabilised only by T. cordifolia gum using three oils with different compositions, interfacial tensions and polarities.

The emulsions were prepared at room temperature using a rotor–stator mixer. Then the mixtures were characterised using optical microscopy, laser granulometry, rheology, pH and stability monitoring over time.

A highly promising new bio-sourced emulsifier/stabiliser

The results revealed that T. cordifolia gum can efficiently stabilise oil-in-water emulsions. The oil with lower interfacial tension led to fine and well-dispersed droplets and exhibited high stability over time.

The research teams said the result was even more impressive “as the stabilisation of the emulsion results from the action of a very low concentration of T. cordifolia gum (only 0.2% w/w) compared to other natural gums, such as acacia gums, which need concentrations of more than 12% w/w.”

The best results were seen for cocoglyceride oil – due to its stronger effect of lowering interfacial tension – thus acting as a co-emulsifier.

Overall, the researchers concluded that T. cordifolia gum is indeed a highly promising new bio-sourced and eco-friendly emulsifier/stabiliser for many potential applications, including cosmetics. Plus, it appears to be efficient even at very low concentrations (0.2% w/w) for the preparation and stabilisation of different oil-in-water emulsions.

Source: MDPI/ Polymers 2023/The Special Issue Polymers for Beauty and Health

“Triumfetta cordifolia Gum as a Promising Bio-Ingredient to Stabilise Emulsions with Potentials in Cosmetics”

Authors: Michèle N. Fanwa​; Catherine Malhiac​; Nicolas Hucher​; Arnaud M. Y. Cheumani​; Maurice K. Ndikontar​; Michel Grisel

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