The influence of co-surfactants on lamellar liquid crystal structures formed in creams

Delaram Ahmadi, Najet Mahmoudi, Richard K. Heenan, David J. Barlow*, M. Jayne Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


It is well-established that oil-in-water creams can be stabilised through the formation of lamellar liquid crystal structures in the continuous phase, achieved by adding (emulsifier) mixtures comprising surfactant(s) combined (of necessity) with one or more co-surfactants. There is little molecular-level understanding, however, of how the microstructure of a cream is modulated by changes in co-surfactant and of the ramifications of such changes on cream properties. We investigate here the molecular architectures of oil-free, ternary formulations of water and emulsifiers comprising sodium dodecyl sulfate and one or both of the co-surfactants hexadecanol and octadecanol, using microscopy, small-angle and wide-angle X-ray scattering and small-angle neutron scattering. We then deploy these techniques to determine how the structures of the systems change when liquid paraffin oil is added to convert them to creams, and establish how the structure, rheology, and stability of the creams is modified by changing the co-surfactant. The ternary systems and their corresponding creams are shown to contain co-surfactant lamellae that are subtly different and exhibit different thermotropic behaviours. The lamellae within the creams and the layers surrounding their oil droplets are shown to vary with co-surfactant chain length. Those containing a single fatty alcohol co-surfactant are found to contain crystallites, and by comparison with the cream containing both alcohols suffer adverse changes in their rheology and stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number864
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Colloidal systems
  • Creams
  • Liquid crystalline structures
  • Small-angle neutron scattering
  • Soft matter


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