oleic acid, which, in this case, comes from olive oil. It seems that what you'll find at your supplier is OlivEm 300, a brand name for the product from B&T in Italy. It's a polyethylene glycol ester, which means it's considered a surfactant with a hydrophilic head and lipophilic tail.
PEG-7 olivate is an odourless and clear to pale yellow ingredient with a pH of 5 to 7, an HLB of 11, and a shelf life of three years. It's soluble in water and alcohol and dispersible in oils. It can be used as a light solubilizer for other ingredients like essential or fragrance oils, and it plays well with gels! Although it's a light feeling ester, it isn't a non-greasy one like cetearyl ethylhexanoate or IPP, and won't reduce the feeling of greasiness in your products. (If you use PEG-7 olivate instead of olive oil in your creations, it will feel lighter and less greasy than the same product with olive oil, but it doesn't feel less greasy on its own.)
I am a huge fan of this ester because you can use it in just about everything! It's used as an emollient, lubricant, anti-irritant, solubilizer, and thickener. It won't reduce foaming in your lathery surfactant products, and it will offer slightly creamier feeling suds, emolliency, and "oil free" moisturizing. It also acts as a thickener, although the thickening I've experienced has been very minor and I wouldn't consider it a true thickener like Crothix or glycol distearate. In my experience, it will thicken water based products, like toners or make-up removers slightly. And as an anti-irritant, it will increase the mildness of your foamy surfactants to make for a more gentle facial or body cleanser.
PEG-7 olivate is a fantastic inclusion in hair care products - shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, styling gels - as an "oil free" moisturizer. You can use it in your cleansers as an additional cleansing ingredient - it's safe for your eyes! - and you can use it in toners or water based body sprays to increase the emolliency.
You can use this in a moisturizer as your oil portion to create an "oil free" moisturizer.
You're probably wondering why I keep putting "oil free" in quotation marks. No, it's not "use quotation marks randomly day" - although there really should be a day for that! - it's because it's not really an oil but our bodies react to the esters as if they were oil. People with oily skin and hair generally tolerate esters better than oils and are less likely to feel more greasy as they would with regular, non-esterified oils. Don't you love the word "esterified"?
Is it really water soluble olive oil? No. Unfortunately, we lose all those lovely phytosterols and polyphenols that make olive oil such a great oil, but we do get the benefits of oleic acid in a water soluble form. Oleic acid tends to be very moisturizing, softening, and regenerating to our skin. It offers some anti-inflammatory properties and can mimic our natural sebum. We'll get these features in PEG-7 olivate, which means we can make a toner or body wash more moisturizing!
If you can't wait until tomorrow to start formulating with this ester, check out this recipe from the Herbarie for the Fruit & Flowers Make-up Remover! This is an amazing recipe, and my favourite for make-up removal products. You can leave out the calendula extract - it's nice and soothing, but if you don't have it, it won't ruin the product to exclude it. Try this recipe. You will never buy another make-up remover!
Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with PEG-7 olivate in toners and facial products!