V-E and M-F - The Emulsifier Twins

To claim that any cream is 100% organic is not true, and it's most often because of the emulsifiers. I have as yet to see a 'properly organic' emulsifier. Properly organic? Well, there are a couple of 'officially qualified organic' emulsifiers on the market that I have been using for years, but they still aren't 'properly organic'.

Curious? Then please join me on a trip into the world of 'almost organic' and meet the most reliable twins I have ever worked with.

Almost is Almost Good Enough

The 2 emulsifiers we are looking at today are 100% safe and edible, but they are not quite organic. What does this mean? That they 'qualify to be used as non-organic raw material in organic ice cream and skin care products'

Organic ice cream and skin care? Yup. Stick with me and all shall be revealed.

Meet The Twins

Emulsifier V-E and M-F work as a team. They look pretty close to identical (a cream-colored grainy powder), but one is water-based and the other is oil-based. When combined in a formula, they provide hold and texture to creams and lotions. They always deliver. They have never failed me – not even the time I got them mixed up (which will be covered in an upcoming post).

Oil Phase and Water Phase Explained

With almost every cream or lotion, there is an oil phase and a water phase. Each are treated/heated separately, then mixed together to create the (hopefully) perfect texture.

V-E and M-F are Scandinavian Born

The twins originated in the Scandinavian food industry; they were developed to provide texture to vegan ice cream (now you know why). V-E and M-F are ideal for creating a light texture with good 'hold'.

V-E loves Oil

V-E (INCI: Glyceryl stearate) is oil-based and made from the mono and diglycerides of fatty acids from palm kernel oil.

My supplier informs me their V-E comes from a sustainable source where the producers are members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil.

Using V-E is easy: it is added to the formula as part of the oil phase and dissolves right into the oils and fats without a care in the world.

M-F Loves Water 

M-F (INCI: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) is water-based and made from either rapeseed or palm oil and lactic acid. My supplier says the lactic acid is produced by 'non-gmo bacterial fermentation of sugar beets', and the palm oil is 'from a sustainable source'.

Using M-F is easy too: it is added to the formula as part of the water phase. M-F happily disappears into the liquid, waiting patiently to make texture magic when it is united with its 'twin'.


If you are interested in making your own cosmetics, I can recommend starting with this emulsifying pair. They are easy to work with, inexpensive and stable as all get-out. Find them at (Danish) Urtegaarden or here at (British) Aromantic.

Want to Know more?

Read more about emulsifiers and what they do here.

What's Next

Stay tuned for a photo-documentary of what happened the time I got these 2 mixed up.


Rikke said…
Hej Lise

Det var meget opløftende at høre, at V-E og M-F er lavet af "BÆREDYGTIGE palmer". Jeg var ikke klar over, at de fandtes! Jeg har faktisk gået og truet med at spørge dig om et tip til at omkomponere min opskrift på ansigtscreme med V-E og M-F. Jeg vil gerne reducere olieindholdet og ved ikke rigtig, hvad jeg skal gøre i forhold til indholdet af emulgatoerne.

God weekend! Kh Rikke
LisaLise said…
hej Rikke,
Du kan sagtens reducere olieindholdet på din creme med V-E og M-F. Jeg har haft held med at få en emulsion til at hænge sammen og blive helt fint helt ned til 7% olie. Det er en af tingene jeg gerne vil prøve en gang.. se hvor langt ned man kan gå med olieindholdet og det hele hænger sammen endnu.. V-E og M-F syntes at kunne ta' hvad som helst man byder på. Kør du bare løs!
María said…
Hi Lise,

MF emulsifier is a "soap", that's why it is water soluble. I do not use it but I use instead in combination with VE a little sodium stearate (a soap made with 100% stearic acid, not superfatted). This combination, in addition with cetyl alcohol and a little xantham gum, allows me to make fluid creams quite stables in time. I've tried these proportions, with these results:
-4% VE + 1%sodium stearate > texture as a mousse not compact, very airy but not quite stable, not good for travelling (lots of movement makes it separate)
-3% VE + 1% sodium stearate > ídem, but more fluid
-4% VE + 2% cetyl alcohol > compact texture, stable
-4% VE + 1,5% cetyl alcohol + 0,5% sodium stearate > compacto but light, ideal for a pot
-3% VE + 0,5% cetyl alcohol + 0,5 %sodium stearate > a little more fluid than the one before and also light, good for a pot or a pump bottle (if very cold weather it'll compact more); stable.
-3% VE + 0,5% cetyl alcohol + 0,5% sodium stearate + 0,3% xanthan gum > fluid, light, ideal for pump or a serum, good spreading, stable.
Normally I test my creams for 3 months, but some of them have stayed like that for longer.
Hope this helps :)
LisaLise said…
HI María! As usual, fascinating and interesting input. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm curious about the xanthan amount you are including, as I have also tried several emulsifier combos without the best of luck. :)
María said…
Hi Lise.
I've tried up to 1% of xantham gum in a cream but I don't like at all the texture, it's like too mucilage (I don't know how to explain this). It's like if the cream was mad with a very strong mucilage, like mucus. For my taste, and also for stability purposes, I find that up to 0,5% of xanthan gum is enough, it gives a good spreading without being too mucilaginous (I think this word may not be correct..)
The results may be similar if using guar gum but I have not tested it myself :)
LisaLise said…
Hi María - I know what you mean about the mucilage-like quality xanthan can give. I've never really liked it in my creams or lotions. It's great in gel-based products though! As for guar - this is one that can be applied in a number of different ways. It's a great natural hair conditioner and as such, great to add in hair products overall. Be careful though - a little goes a very long way!
Anonymous said…
This is SO helpful, thank you very much!