Before starting to formulate your own skincare, it is useful to understand basic concept and principle in skincare formulation. We will keep it short and simple to avoid any confusion.

Differences between emulsifier and solubiliser

Emulsifier and Solubiliser are surfactant group in organic chemistry.

Solubiliser mostly used to solubilise insoluble materials. For instances, toner with essential oil. You can add solubiliser into toner formulation. 

Emulsifier is used to mix oil and water phase. Most commonly found in your moisturiser where it contains mixture of oil and water.

pH adjuster

You can use pH adjuster to adjust pH of your end products. 

  1. To lower pH, use citric acid. Combine 30% citric acid with 70% water. Heat to 70 degree.
  2. To increase pH, use tromethamine or trietholamine. Use the same method as above.

Differences between preservatives and antioxidants

Remember that preservatives and antioxidants are different. 

Preservatives use in water based products because water is a medium growth of bacteria, mould or yeast.

Antioxidants use in oil based products or anhydrous to prevent oil going rancid.

Cheatsheet in Formulating Skincare

Category: Cheatsheet



  • Tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Rosemary extracts


  • Glycerin
  • Propanediol
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Panthenol
  • Butylene glycol
  • Propylene glycol


  • Niacinamide
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Sodium PCA
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Retinol
  • Glycolic Acid


  • All water based products need preservatives to prevent bacteria growth
  • All oil based products (anhydrous) need antioxidant to prevent oil going rancid
  • Humectant is moisturising agents to retain moisture on your skin