Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Is there a general rule about increasing/decreasing beeswax in lotion bars?

In this post on lotion bars, Tina asks: I'm trying to figure out if there's a general rule for tweaking the basic recipe (33/33/33/1 -beeswax/butter/oil/fragrance). You said that, for example, with cocoa butter, you'd use less beeswax. So if I use beeswax at 25%, what's the rule for altering the butter and oil? Does that now available 8% (freed up by reducing the beeswax by 8%) get split between the oil and butter equally, resulting in 25/37/37/1 ? Or does that 8% get added to the oil, resulting in 25/33/41/1 ? I'm looking for a general rule about what ingredients should be increased when the beeswax is decreased. I hope this question makes sense, I just realized it's midnight and I'm a bit sleepy! I got completely absorbed (again) by your blog this evening :)

Unfortunately, there isn't a rule about how to alter the beeswax and butter: It's all about how you want it to look and feel when it has hardened. For instance, I have found that I generally do 28% to 30% beeswax to 28% to 30% mango butter, but that's only my experience with the ingredients I get from my local suppliers. I find 33% shea butter to 33% beewax works best, but that's only if it's refined or ultra refined shea butter.

That's the thing about our ingredients: Because so many of them are botanical in nature, we can get differences between batches. I can get a batch of refined shea butter that feels quite squishy to the touch and other times can be a little harder. Switch to a less refined shea butter, and you're likely to see bigger differences between batches. I found this golden shea butter to be quite dry feeling and crumbly, almost like mango butter!

As a note, this is one of the reasons the big companies tend to use things like mineral oil. They can guarantee each batch of mineral oil will be the same every time they order it. You can't guarantee that with something like sunflower oil or mango butter. 

So if you have 28% beeswax to 28% mango butter, what do we do with the left over 44%? You generally add that much in oil. So I would have a recipe that 28% mango butter, 28% beeswax, 42% liquid oil, 1% fragrance or essential oil, and 1% Vitamin E (optional). However - and you know there's always a however - if you have a mango butter that is a little softer than the last batch, you might need to add a little more beeswax. I've found that what I can do is take a bit of my batch and put it in some kind of small mold and put it into the freezer. Take it out, and see if it's the hardness and skin feel you want. If you like it, then pour it into the molds or tins or containers. If you don't, then modify it by adding more of something to make it harder or softer.

So the short answer to your question, Tina, is that there isn't a general rule about how to modify your lotion bars, except that the left over amount can be added in liquid oils. Keep really great records when you're modifying these recipes so you can make that awesome thing again!

Related posts:
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make lotion bars! 

If you want to learn more about lotion bars, here are a few post ideas...
Back to basics: The basic recipe
Back to basics: Lotion bars - tweaking the waxes
Back to basics: Lotion bars - tweaking the butters and oils
Back to basics: Lotion bars - let's get complicated
Back to basics: Lotion bars - wrap up and link-o-rama
The chemistry of our nails: Lotion bar with lecithin and lanolin

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Learning to make substitutions for ingredients and using decyl glucoside as a surfactant

I have to ask this question as well - if you are a beginner, why are you trying to make products from scratch? I've been getting quite a few e-mails and comments from people who are creating their own recipes and wondering why they won't work. Please please please find a tried and true recipe that has worked for others and try that if you want to make a product of that nature. I get that you don't want to spend money on ingredients, but it's the only way you will learn (and it might turn out you really love what you've made)! And I get that you want to customize your own products, but if you don't know what each ingredient brings to the party, how can you know how to switch it for another ingredient or leave it out?

When I do my lotion making and anhydrous product classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle, we always play at the oil bar, which is a table of every oil in the shop, so we can figure out what each brings to the mix. We can figure out which ones are dry or greasy, light or heavy, clear or coloured, and make decisions about which we want to use in specific applications. By learning about our ingredients, we can learn how to substitute one for another in our products. This is one of the reasons we did the newbie series - learning about the skin feel of our oils.

Everyone seems to want to substitute any surfactant with decyl glucoside, but it's not as easy as doing a 1-to-1 substitution. Decyl glucoside has a higher pH, is thinner, and doesn't thicken with salt. If you are eliminating SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine for decyl glucoside, you're completely changing the recipe. You'll have a higher pH, much lower viscosity, a less mild cleanser, and the inability to thicken with salt. Those are huge differences, and you'll be making something that isn't at all like the product I had in mind. If you're making a bubble bath with this ingredient, you'll end up with fewer bubbles, less foam, and less lather than the original ingredients I use.

When I make products with surfactants, you'll probably notice I will use two or three different surfactants in a product. This is because each ingredient brings something different to the mix, and generally increases mildness and viscosity of the product. For instance, cocamidopropyl betaine is something we use as a secondary surfactant, something we add to increase viscosity and increase mildness. It increases our foam and lather and reduces irritation. To take this ingredient out of the mix means you are creating a product that will be more irritating and less mild, which is a pretty big deal.

I'm not sure why everyone wants to use decyl glucoside - I guess because it's an Ecocert ingredient, but that doesn't mean it's better or more gentle for your hair or skin than a non-Ecocert ingredient. Being Ecocert is about how the ingredient is made, not how it will behave on your hair or skin.

I think we're in need of a few posts on this ingredient. Look for that soon! 

Related post:
Surfactants section of the blog
Why doesn't my hair feel nice when I use decyl glucoside?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday Wonderings: Why won't my hair feel nice and the shampoo thicken when I use glucosides?

In this post, It's not easy to being green, Sandra asks: I made a shampoo recently that became an epic fail. It is extremely thin, makes my hair feel like straw when I wash it (it's really nice afterwards when it dries but I need loads of conditioner to get the straw feeling away) and it has separated in the bottle.

This is what I used:

Water 53,3% 
Coco glucoside 17,5% 
Lauryl Glucoside 17,5%
Guar gum 5 %
D-panthenol 2%
Hydrolized oat protein 2% 
Optiphen 1.2% 
Polyquat-7 1% 
Salt 0,3 %
Citric acid 0,2%

It seems as if the guar gum is all settled on the bottle of the jar and I have to shake it alot before I use it. I don't wanna use silicones or any quaterniums over 7, nothing really that would leave a film on my hair - but I'm desperate to make the shampoo feel soft and glidy when I use it. Do you know any other alternatives? And should I use an emulsifyer? I see alot of people using salt as thickening agents in their shampoos too, but it didn't have any effect what so ever on the density, even after I upped the salt and guar gum percentage to 2% and 10%..

As I mentioned in the original post, glucosides generally have a higher pH - 8 or higher - in the alkaline range. We know that using alkaline ingredients on our hair can lead to damage and cuticle lifting and that horrible feeling of your hair being stripped and tangled, so we need to bring down the pH quite substantially to use it. In my experience, in 100 grams of shampoo using 0.2 grams of citric acid brings the pH down by about 1 pH. But that's only my experience with that one product. If you aren't testing the pH of the product with a meter, how do you know where you started and where you will finish. Let's say that 0.2 grams brings the pH down by 1 pH every time, if you start with a pH of 10, you're only down to 9 with that 0.2 grams. If you start with a pH of 8, you'll get it down to 7, which is still not acidic enough. You really want to invest in a pH meter if you're going to be using loads of glucosides or other ingredients not in the acidic range.

Secondly, as I note in the surfactant comparison chart, glucosides don't thicken using salt. (This concept is called the salt curve, and you don't want to use salt at over 3% as makes the product thinner after that.) Guar gum is used in the pH range of 5 to 7, so if you don't have that pH down enough, it won't work.

So, to sum it up...for the product to feel good and for the guar gum to thicken it, the measured pH should be acidic from 5 to 6. To do this, you need a pH meter to measure where the product starts and how it changes with the addition of 0.2% citric acid.

May I ask a follow up question? Why not using any quats over 7? Honeyquat is polyquat 50 and it is derived from honey, so you know it has to be good. The number at the end of the polyquaternium nmae only indicates what it is derived from, and they are in no particular order. And why no film forming? Loads of things form films - panthenol, aloe vera, allantoin, any oils or butters, and so on - and it's good to trap moisture into your hair so you don't get too dry!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Game of Thrones themed products

In this post, I'm still around, Royce poses this question: I'm a Game of Thrones geek myself, and also a home-brewer. A few weeks ago I created a new beer recipe that was my interpretation of what would be brewed at the wall for Jon Snow and the rest of the Night's Watch. It was a porter-like beer with debittered roasted wheat and dried tangerine peel, since those exotic kind of ingredients might find their way up to the wall along side fresh recruits. Maybe you're not a geeky as me, but if you were to craft a Game of Thrones inspired skin care product, what would it be? What lotion would Daenerys use? What shampoo would Sansa use?

You insult me, ser! "Maybe you're not as geeky as me..." I am the mother of geeks! (And your beer sounds awesome!)

I have made some Game of Thrones related crafts, like my A Song of Ice and Fire eye shadows - my favourite is still Winter is Coming - and my bracelet, which you can see above. This lip balm is called Hodor, but it can be used as a perfume stick for the Odour of Hodor.

So what kind of products would our favourite characters use? I thnk Daenerys might enjoy a mare's milk bath or anything with tons of sunscreen, which she could share with the Martell family in Dorne. Margery and Ser Loras might like some floral scented perfume sticks or fragrance sprays to remind them of their home in Highgarden. Brienne might enjoy something that helps with the chafing that must be happening with all that heavy armour. Jon Snow and his brothers in the Night's Watch might like some intense conditioner with coconut oil and a facial moisturizer with all three occlusive ingredients - dimethicone, cocoa butter, and allantoin - to protect their faces from the wind and snow beyond or at the Wall. Arya might not appreciate the offer of a degreasing shampoo and detangling conditioner after a long day of riding with the Hound, but I think her sister, Sansa, would love some really bubbly bubble bath and fairy dust. I think little Shereen Baratheon could benefit from a softening lotion with loads of shea butter and Vitamin E to help her with that greyscale. And little Rickon might enjoy Rickon's Smashed Walnut Exfoliating Scrub after a long day of walking or being carried by Osha.

What products could you see your favourite show's characters enjoying? I've been thinking about all kinds of products characters from Buffy or Firefly might enjoy! Share your thoughts! 

As much as I love the show, I have to admit that I haven't been able to watch the last five episodes of last season. I've read the books. I surf the 'net. I know what's coming and I haven't been ready to face it! So today I gathered up some lemon cookies and (root) beer and I'm spending the day with Raymond watching the rest of season 3. I will try not to weep like a little girl!  Greywind!

As an aside, you're interested in some Game of Thrones themed music, check out Blind Guardian's album At the Edge of Time for War of the Thrones and Voice in the Dark. Other bands have related songs, like Hammerfall, but these two are my favourites! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Check out my new video on how to make conditioners on YouTube!

I've created a video on how to make a rinse off conditioner that I've just posted on YouTube! I've chosen to focus on the process as opposed to the actual recipe so you can choose any recipe you wish, but I'm using this recipe for making a liquid conditioner with coconut oil. I hope you find it useful!

As a note, you don't see me on this video as I'm wearing my trashed-in-the-workshop-only tank top and didn't wash my hair that morning, so all you see is my hands and sometimes my stomach in that terrible shirt! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blackberry seed oil

Blackberries are one of those berries that you can only really seem to get from picking them fresh from the bush yourself. We have so many bushes growing around our house, but they seem to be filled with thorns intent on protecting those luscious berries from my grasp! But I shall endure the pokes and stings to get my berries!

Blackberry seed oil (INCI: Rubus Fruticosus (blackberry) seed oil or Rubus Villosus (blackberry) seed oil) has an interesting fatty acid make up with around 3% in palmitic acid (C16:0), around 2% in stearic acid (C18:0), 14% to 17% in oleic acid (C18:1), a whopping 61% to 70% linoleic acid (C18:1), and around 17% in linolenic acid (C18:3). All this linoleic acid means it can oxidize quickly and has a shelf life of 6 months, possibly up to 9 months. It would be great for skin that needs some help repairing skin's barrier mechanisms thanks to all that linoleic acid!

Blackberry seed oil has some great levels of tocopherols (Vitamin E) at 1639 ppm, which is why it might have a slightly longer shelf life than all that linoleic and linolenic acid might indicate. It has tons of phytosterols at 4037 ppm. (Remember that phytosterols do all kinds of great things for your skin. Click here to read more.) It contains about 170 ppm squalene, which will penetrate the skin to offer moisturizing and softening.  It contains some polyphenols in the form of ellagic acid (see the post on raspberry oil for more on this...) and

In all the listings about blackberry seed oil, I see things about it having high levels of Vitamin C. Unfortunately, I couldn't confirm this with any studies I could find. This doesn't mean it isn't true, it just means none of the studies or information I found mentioned the Vitamin C levels of this oil. It does contains carotenoids at 33 ppm, which is evident by the yellow colour of the oil.

What do I think of this oil?

I would consider this to be an exotic oil based on the cost. The Formulator Sample Shop offers it at $9.00 for 80 ml, Lotioncrafter at $6.75 for 30 ml, and From Nature With Love at $10.01 for 15 ml. Gracefruit in the UK offers it for 4 pounds for 30 ml.

Summary for blackberry seed oil:
INCI: Rubus Fruticosus (blackberry) seed oil or Rubus Villosus (blackberry) seed oil
Suggested usage: 1% to 5%
Shelf life: 6 months to 9 months
Tocopherols: 1639 ppm
Phytosterols: 4037 ppm
Free fatty acids (FFA): 3.5%
HLB: 7


References for the fruit oil series:
Table 4.1, this textbook
Value-adding factors in cold pressed edible seed oils and flours
Journal of Food Lipids. Mar2009, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p33-49. 17p. 4 Charts.
Food Chemistry. Aug2011, Vol. 127 Issue 4, p1848-1855. 8p.
This study

As a note, I was given this blackberry seed oil to play with by the Formulator Sample Shop. They gave me the oils for free and I have been playing with them in the workshop. I am not paid for my opinion and they were advised that I would be sharing my opinion, good or bad, on my blog. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blueberry seed oil

Blueberries are my favourite fruit - I can eat them by the handful in the summer until my tongue and lips are purple and we freeze over 20 pounds to make sure I can make it through the year! It's also gained a reputation as a superfood, something filled with anti-oxidants. Does it stand up to the hype?

Blueberry seed oil (INCI: Vaccinium corymbosum (blueberry) seed oil) contains some interesting compounds and fatty acids! It has 1% to 5% palmitic acid (C16:0) and 1% to 3% stearic acid (C18:0), around 12% to 22% oleic acid (C18:1), 43% to 53% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 29% to 32% linolenic acid (C18:3). It has a shelf life of 6 months to a year - I wasn't able to confirm this, but it seems more likely with all that oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids that it will be more like 6 months.

Blueberry oil contains quite a lot of phytosterols - 580 mg per 100 grams or 5800 ppm - which behave as anti-inflammatories, help our skin repair after damage, reduce trans epidermal water loss, and offer moisturizing. This is a ton of phytosterols, and is amongst the highest of the oils. (Higher than soybean oil, which is considered to have a lot of them, but not as high as sesame oil, which is really high.) It also contains about 110 ppm tocopherols, which isn't very high. The anti-oxidizing power of this oil comes from the polyphenolic compounds like anthocyanins. And check out the squalene in this oil! With 1781 ppm, it's got quite a lot, which might help chapped and cracked skin, prevent UV damage to skin, and offer cell regenerating properties.

Blueberry oil has about 1.3 ppm carotenoids, which isn't very high, and we can see that from the very light colour of the oil. (Raspberries have 230 ppm and we see that in the yellow colour of the oil.)

How does it feel and appear? I thought it felt like a very light oil going on - I'd compare it to being slightly heavier than fractionated coconut oil or more on par with our esters - but it was a little draggy on my skin. I expected it to feel like the other light oils, so it'd go on quite smoothly, but I found it seemed to sink in really quickly but was a little harder to apply. Weird. An hour later, it feels like the oil has been absorbed quite well with no greasy after feel. There is no odour, unfortunately.

I'd consider blueberry seed oil an exotic oil due to its price, which varies from supplier to supplier quite a bit. Formulator Sample Shop carries it for $9.00 for 2 ounces. Lotioncrafter has it for $5.95 per ounce. From Nature with Love carries it for $16.25 for 1/2 ounce.

Summary of blueberry seed oil:
INCI: Vaccinium corymbosum (blueberry) seed oil
Suggested usage rate: 1% to 10%
Shelf life: 6 months, possibly up to a year
Tocopherols: 110 ppm
Phytosterols: 5800 ppm
Squalene: 1781 ppm
HLB: 7

References for the fruit oil series:
Table 4.1, this textbook
Value-adding factors in cold pressed edible seed oils and flours
Journal of Food Lipids. Mar2009, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p33-49. 17p. 4 Charts.
Food Chemistry. Aug2011, Vol. 127 Issue 4, p1848-1855. 8p.

As a note, I was given this blueberry seed oil to play with by the Formulator Sample Shop. They gave me the oils for free and I have been playing with them in the workshop. I am not paid for my opinion and they were advised that I would be sharing my opinion, good or bad, on my blog. I also received a small sample of it from Suds & Scents