Just like for many other things, we tend to like and forget certain formulation technologies. Let’s focus on the example of cerates.
This term comes from the Latin word ceratus: according to Cerbelaud, cerates are compositions based on waxes and oils. They are different from pomades in that they usually do not contain animal fats, and from ointments because they do not contain resins. Some of them are more widely known than others, like the Galien cerate. If they were initially unstable, they became the basic formula of products known as Cold Cream. One of their characteristics was that they were more or less thick, or even solid, because most were based on solid waxes. They can also be quite oily and tacky. Plenty of formulas are based on the Cold Cream concept. Some of them are worth more attention than others, such as liquid wax cerates.
Just like there are many vegetable oils, there are several varieties of liquid waxes, but also soft waxes, the best-known being lanolin, without a doubt. But we won’t be dealing with this here. One liquid wax is more singular than others, which explains why it is so widely used in cosmetics: jojoba oil. Although the term “oil” is used in its vernacular name, it is not an oil like common vegetable oils. Indeed, from a chemical standpoint, if vegetable oils are mostly glycerol triesters, jojoba oil is a waxy ester obtained from the esterification of a fatty acid and fatty alcohol. Consequently, this molecule has very different stereochemical and organoleptic properties. Its properties are completely different from those of common oils, and even from a few more exotic oils. Jojoba oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil) is the fixed oil expressed or extracted from the seeds of the desert shrub known as jojoba or Simmondsia chinensis, a plant of the Buxaceae family.
This golden yellow liquid offers outstanding emollient and skin surface distribution properties. The wax is contained in the plant’s seeds, where it represents about 52% to 65% of the seeds’ weight.
It is mainly composed of high-MW esters and, to a lesser extent, of free acids, free alcohol, and hydrocarbons: docosenyl eicosenoate, or “erucyl jojobenoate”, eicosenyl eicosenoate, or “jojobenyl jojobenoate”, eicosenyl docosenoate, or “jojobenyl erucate”, docosyl docosanoate, eicosyl oleate, and docosyl oleate. Small triglyceride esters can also be found in this shrub. Starting from the 1970s, jojoba’s composition made it a substitute for spermaceti, although the latter was gradually replaced with solid esters, like cetyl palmitate. Since then, it has been used to obtain many derivatives and has become much popular in the cosmetics industry.
Liquid wax cerates can be derived from this ingredient. As I was recently doing some bibliographical research, I found another type of formulation which existed at some point, but which I believe is no longer used. It was the 1970s, and all the references mentioned in the patent refer to a series of patents published at the same time. Patents FR2509988B1 and US4437895A describe the same sort of preparation using the title “Mixture of vegetable oils based on jojoba oil and cosmetic compositions comprising the mixture”. It is specified that the mixture is stable to oxidation. This claim – stabilizes unstable oils – is interesting, but it may not be the most relevant. Indeed, beyond their surprising stabilization properties, these products represented a family of cosmetics with a strong emollient power due to a strong jojoba oil concentration. Cerates were classified in the family of oily creams, but these formulas were not really oily. Given jojoba oil’s characteristics, they were more like liquid, oily creams with a non-oily skin feel: a sort of contradictory matrix in the cosmetic world! Jojoba oil was combined with honey for its moisturizing properties.
Although the following has not been evidenced, this formulation structure is likely to have been used in a pretty successful Lancôme product in the early 1980s, NUTRIBEL: “a nourishing, moisturizing liquid cream”, the ad read.
Nutribel remained available for a few years, before being completed with sorts of oily serums and disappearing for range management, commercial reasons. Maybe it was reused for other brands in the group, but there is no trace or evidence of it. The trademark was registered in March 1984 for 40 years.
Be it as it may, at that time, this formula represented a most interesting, original formulation structure. We cannot but encourage formulators to try and replicate this outstanding product, by offering a high-performance alternative to products mainly based on water.
There is another way to design liquid cerates. This is what we call wax milks. They are microemulsions of waxes obtained by the formulation of concentrated solutions of waxes obtained by a suitable formulation and an efficient means of dispersion such as high pressures or ultrasound. They are particularly suitable for the formulation of products for which it is desired to obtain the film-forming effect of the wax without a thickening effect. Relatively little used, for example in the formulation of mascara in the 90s.
Water (Aqua), Diglycol/CHDM/Isophtalates/Sip Copolymer, Carnauba Wax (Carnauba), Alcohol Denatured, Propylene glycol, PEG Glyceryl Stearate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Simethicone, Sodium Hydroxyde, Silica, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Methylparaben.
 Cerbelaud – Formulaire de Parfumerie – Part II – 66