All About That Base: A Guide

Precision is Key

When we compound a cream or gel, a lot of work goes into putting it together just right. The ingredients are weighed out to the thousandth of a gram, the particles are reduced to a fifth the diameter of a human hair, and the whole thing is mixed in a planetary rotation at 2000 rpm. But for all the work we put into making a cream, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective if we didn’t choose the right base.

Why does it Matter?

In compounding, the base is the actual cream or gel we put the active ingredients into. It’s the vehicle that holds the active ingredients together and the driver that gets them where they need to be in your body. But since the chemical structures of each ingredient differ, as does the intent of each cream, we have different bases for different purposes.

For example, men could absorb 2.73 times more testosterone using one base over another so we understand the importance of picking the right one. A pet owner may have trouble giving medication by mouth hence we can convert them to gel or a cream that can simply be applied on cat’s or dog’s ears. So what bases do we use, and how do we determine which one is right for you?

Below are factors we take into account when choosing a base.

1. The Active Ingredients

What we’re actually putting into the base- the active ingredients- play a decisive role in determining which base is best. Is there just one active ingredient, or are there multiple? Do the active ingredients have a high salt concentration? How high is the total concentration of the cream? Do the active ingredients get along, or will they need a little extra help staying together? All of these questions, plus a few more, need to be answered before deciding on a base.

2. The Intent of the Base

Not all bases are meant to accomplish the same purpose. Some creams, like pain creams, have active ingredients that need to be driven into the joint or muscle to be effective. Others, like facial creams, work by keeping the active ingredients just skin deep while the cream works on the affected area. Other bases assist in driving the drug into the bloodstream. To make the best compound possible, we are careful to pick just what is needed!

3. The Application Site

A base that works wonders when applied to the arm might not always be the ideal choice for a cream that is supposed to be applied vaginally. We have to take into consideration the application site and make sure that the base we use will be gentle, sturdy, and elegant enough for wherever it’s going.

4. Choosing the Right Base

Now that you know a little bit about how we choose a base, it might help to know what we’re choosing from. Here at Louisville Compounding Pharmacy, we stock well over a dozen different cream or gel bases, all with unique properties for a wide range of purposes.

Below are just some of the base choices we carry. You might recognize some of these examples in your own prescriptions!

-Anhydrous Lipoderm or Lipoderm

-Versa base

-HRT Base

-Pracasil-Plus (pentaclethra macroloba oil or Pracaxi oil)


-Atrevis (for Men)

-Phyto base (Plant sterols and phytosomes)