Microemulsions are interesting formulations for cosmeceutical applications due to their good appearance, high solubilization power, thermodynamic stability, and enhancement of skin penetration. In addition, they can spontaneously form when suitable types and amounts of components are simply mixed. In this study, the phase behavior of the nonionic systems with various parameters was studied by construction of phase diagrams using titration method. Natural oils, i.e., coconut oil (CO), rice bran oil (RBO), and palm oil (PO), were analyzed for their fatty acid compositions and then mixed with blends of nonionic surfactants (Tween80: Span80) and water or mixtures of water and a cosolvent, propylene glycol (PG), to find the microemulsion regions. Subsequently, some microemulsions were selected for physical characterization. The largest microemulsion regions which were obtained from CO, RBO, and PO covered the sizes of 11.65, 9.84, and 9.24 %, respectively. The surfactant mixture at weight ratio of 1:1 was the most suitable for CO and PO, but for RBO, it was 2:1. PG could increase the microemulsion regions of PO from 9.24 to 15.33 %, depending on PG concentrations. Hence, the sizes of the microemulsion regions were related to oil types, surfactant mixtures, and ratios between water and PG. The studied microemulsions were water-in-oil (w/o) type, and their internal droplets were in the nanosize range. They exhibited Newtonian flow behavior and their mean viscosity values were from 247.53 to 690.35 cP which were correlated with the types and concentrations of the components in the formulations. In conclusion, natural oils could form w/o microemulsions with nonionic surfactants. The microemulsion formation and characteristics were related to many parameters of the components.
Keywords: Cosolvent; Fatty acid; HLB; Microemulsion; Natural oil; Nonionic surfactant.