Sunday, July 29, 2012

A mascara update and a rant about cosmetic sales people

Thanks to everyone who made suggestions helping me not get mascara all over my eye lids! I tried a few things, but nothing seemed to work. I tried putting the mascara in the fridge - this kind of worked, but it still remained really wet. I've tried a ton of different brands. I even tried looking for a shield I could use, but no one carried it in town. But I think I've found something that works...

Earlier this week, I bought a new mascara and applied it in the car with reckless abandon (I was parked!). I didn't get it all over my eye lids. I was wearing mascara I had applied that morning, and I wondered if that was the answer. Perhaps my eye lashes are a bit weirdly shaped, and having the other mascara in it helped them be in a different shape, one that was more conducive to not having black all over my eye lids. I think that's the answer because I only get the mascara on my eye lids in two specific places, both of which are where my eye lashes curve up a little.

The last few days I've tried using a white/clear mascara first, then I apply the black when that dries. Bingo! Is that the answer? I've had three days of awesome success with this method, so I'm calling this my new way of applying mascara.

Thank you so much for all your help to find a solution to this problem! I wore white eyeshadow yesterday and no black marks at all! (As an aside, I don't have a problem with the eye shadow or mascara smudging through the day, just when I'm applying it in the morning!)

As an aside, searching for answers led me to talk to make-up ladies in various shops around town...and I really am astonished by the lack of information and the spreading of misinformation that is going on at the make-up counter.

I visited a well known Canadian drug store chain to ask if the clerk if she had any ideas about the mascara problems. She came to the conclusion that my skin was too oily and that I needed to change my entire skin care regimen. She's not wrong about my skin - I swear I'm oilier than when I was a teenager some days - but I don't think that's the issue. I wash my face before applying my mascara, and I make a point of going over my eyes with the foam before rinsing. (The joys of pH balancing a cleanser!) She introduced me to a skin care line that was only available by prescription until recently,   and suggested that I use this. (The skin care line is also apparently 200 years old. Prescriptions from 200 years ago tended to be for a course of leeches, a good bleeding, or snake oil...) She recommended a cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer despite the fact that I told I made my own products and really couldn't use moisturizer.

An aside...apparently you can't mix and match skin care lines. It will cause break outs. And other bad things. She couldn't explain why this would happen, but it happens. It happened to her. There's no valid reason why this should happen from a biological or chemical perspective, but it's something I've heard so many times...sigh...

I took a look at the ingredients in the skin care line she suggested. The sensitive and acne prone skin moisturizer contains shea butter. A good ingredient and a good moisturizer, but very comedogenic. The oil free moisturizer contains fractionated coconut oil as the second ingredient (INCI: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride). As I read the ingredients, I grew more and more frustrated. Why is this called organic when it contains dimethicone? (Love silicones, but I don't consider them organic!) What in the name of all that is good and holy is a micelle cleanser? (More soon...)

"If my husband and best friend knew you were standing so close to me as I read ingredients off these boxes, they'd consider you very brave." I said to her, half jokingly, hoping she would leave me alone. She didn't. She wanted to tell me all about this skin care line and the other one, making claims that it would cure eczema (which I didn't bring up) and other skin problems. She told me they didn't contain parabens, but she didn't know what parabens are and why I'd want to avoid them. I finally said - very nicely, I hope - that it was unlikely that I would be buying anything and she might want to help another customer.

I won't forget the time I went to the Vichy consultant and asked her to take a closer look at my skin with her magnifying machine. I had been spending money on Vichy products for the past year, and I was curious to see what she'd say.
"Oh no, you have so many skin problems," she exclaimed, "but Vichy products will make it better!" "But I've been using your products for the last year."
"Which ones?" I showed her the line. It was the acne prevention line. "You don't have acne, so these products are all wrong for you! You should be using the anti-aging line." (I was about 23 at the time. A few months later I would start the Retin-A for acne). And so on...

Another time, a clerk in the same store told us to use a night cream at night and a day cream during the day because your skin is biologically different at night...how is it different? She couldn't tell me. But it is.


I know I should be nicer to make-up counter clerks, but I get so frustrated about the misinformation they're spreading! Even before I started being Swift, obsessive chemistry girl, I had to know why and how things worked, and I ask a lot of questions. If you don't know, say you don't know. Don't tell me things like my skin is different at night or I should use shea butter on acne prone skin. How does a normal, non-chemistry obsessed person get good information? 

Thus endeth the rant...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heat isn't a bad thing (except for me in the summer! I'm melting!)

Something strange has happened in the last year...people are worried about destroying oils and butters with heat. I think it's something to think about, but it's really not an issue for the oils and butters we use. 

If you're in doubt, look up the smoke point of the oil or the fatty acid.  You will be surprised by how high we can heat them. Macadamia nut oil can handle up to 389˚F or 199˚C, soybean oil to about 450˚F or 232˚C (depending upon the level of refinement), and avocado oil a whopping 520˚F or 271˚C. Even hemp seed oil, which is considered to be one of the more fragile oils due to its short shelf life, can handle up to 330˚F or 165˚C. The more refined the oil, the more heat it can handle. If we're heating and holding at 70˚C/158˚F, you can see that we're not even getting close to the smoke points of our oils.  

When it comes to our butters, feel free to heat shea butter with reckless abandon! The temperatures we use aren't going to destroy it! Same goes for mango and cocoa butter! 

Just make sure you're putting your low melting point oils away during the summer. My virgin coconut oil is melting in the workshop, so I've stowed it safely away in the freezer! 

A supplier is saying that you don't heat shea butter as it will ruin its goodness. I can't quantify what goodness means, so it's hard to know what goodness is being destroyed, but I can assure you that you are likely to have more trouble in our products when you don't heat the shea butter than when you do. (When it calls for heating...)

Related posts: 

External references: 
Cooking oil smoke points (Good Eats fan page)
Smoke points of various fats (Cooking for Engineers). In Fahrenheit or Celcius

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ignore the previous post!

If you subscribe by e-mail, you might have seen a post called "how much are you getting of each ingredient per application?" I've removed it because it wasn't ready for prime time yet. It's something that was going through my head, and I thought I would write it up and put a random date on it to remind me to work on it further in the future! I have a lot of those floating around my files, and most of them will see the light of day after a little polishing.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of the bracelet I made. I'm trying to use up a lot of my beads, and as a Viking girl, I can wear huge pieces of jewellery! In answer to the first question you'll have - yes, it weighs a bit, but there's a lot of acrylic on there. I'm planning a pink one next! It has no relevance to this topic - I'm jus really happy with it!

Chemistry of oils: Triglycerides and fatty acids

If you're new to chemistry, I encourage you to read this post on molecules and this one on covalent bonding. These are modifications of posts I've written in the past with more chemistry information and more asides! 

TRIGLYCERIDES! 
This beautiful molecule to the left is a triglyceride (castor oil, to be exact). It is a molecule with a glycerol or glycerin backbone and three fatty acids attached to it. If you look at this molecule - around the middle, before the OH bonds - you'll see a double line. This is a double bond, which means this is an unsaturated molecule.

Yes, this is the glycerin we know and love as a humectant in our product. 

In a saturated triglyceride, the carbon chains are single bonded, which are hard to break. They are stable over long periods of time because it's hard for an oxygen to insert itself into the chain in the place where the bond is broken.

When a molecule has double bonds, that double bond can be broken and the fatty acid now reacts chemically with oxygen to produce all kinds of molecules we don't want in our lotions that have horrible smells. This is called oxidation

We use some saturated triglycerides in our products, like coconut oil, babassu oil, palm oil, animal oils, and all our butters. We also use them in the form of waxes, like beeswax or candelilla wax, and in some of our more exotic oils, like jojoba oil (which is, technically, a liquid wax). The more saturated the triglyceride, the longer the shelf life. The less saturated the triglyceride, the shorter the shelf life.

The picture above is of lauric acid, which is the main fatty acid found in coconut oil. Notice there are no double or triple bonds in the carbon chain. This means that that this fatty acid is saturated. Put three saturated fatty acids on a glycerin backbone and you have a saturated triglyceride or saturated oil.

You can tell a single bond by the name "-ane". Squalane, for example, contains only single bonds, which means it is more resistant to rancidity. "-ene" means there are double bonds in the molecule. And "-yne" means triple bonds! These are going to have shorter shelf lives!

In an unsaturated triglyceride, these double bonds can be broken easily and oxidation occurs. The more double bonds, the more potential for oxidation. This explains the shelf life of something like grapeseed oil. It has 3 double bonds in the chain (it is a C18:3 triglyceride, meaning is has 18 carbon bonds and 3 double bonds), which means it has three places where the bonds can be broken and the oxidation can occur!

FATTY ACIDS! 
If you're a lotion maker, you're familiar with stearic acid as a thickener. Stearic acid is a C18 fatty acid, which means it contains a chain of 18 carbon atoms connected together without any double bonds, so it's called a long chain saturated fatty acid without any double bonds. If we put three of these fatty acids together with a glycerol molecule, we'd have a saturated glyceride, and one with a great shelf life!

When we see something called a C18 fatty acid, this means that it has 18 carbons on a chain before we get to that oxygen and hydroxide at the end of the molecule. If we look at this picture, we know it's a C18:1, meaning it has 18 carbons in the chain and one double bond (oleic acid). C18:2 means it has 18 carbons in the chain and two double bonds (linoleic acid). A C18:3 chain has 18 carbons in the chain and three double bonds (gamma linoleic acid). A C18 chain is called stearic acid. A C18:1 chain is oleic acid. And C18:2 is linoleic acid.

But it's fairly uncommon for an oil to have three of the same fatty acids. They tend to have at least 2 different kinds, and sometimes three, as you'll see below with sunflower and olive oil.

In the picture to the left, the three fatty acids attached to the glycerol backbone are different. One is a single bonded fatty acid, one has 1 set of double bonds, and the other has three sets of double bonds! In most oils, you could see three of the same fatty acids attached to that glycerine backbone, or, like this picture, you'll see one or two different ones. This one has one stearic acid, one oleic acid, and one linoleic acid. These fatty acids can have differing carbon lengths and different types of bonding. They can have different configurations - cis or trans fats, I know you've heard of those! - that determine if the oil is a liquid or a solid.

For instance, it looks like this triglyceride is composed of a C16 chain, a C18:1 chain, and a C18:3 chain. I know C16 is palmitic acid. C18:1 is called oleic acid. And C18:3 is linolenic acid. This could be a corn, cottonseed, or palm oil molecule. The polyunsaturated chain (the C18:3 or gamma linolenic fatty acid has more than 1 double bond, which means it is unsaturated, and because there's more than 1, it's called polyunsaturated!) can go rancid quite easily!

What this means in terms of making lotions or other creations is this molecule has THREE double bonds on that last fatty acid, so it may go rancid more quickly than something like olive oil below. (I honestly can't think of something off the top of my head with triple bonds, so it's not really an issue. But we do see three double bonds in gamma linoleic acid!)

Olive oil has between 55 and 85% oleic acid, 4.6% linoleic acid, 6.9% palmitic acid, and 2.3% stearic acid. In this sample molecule, we see a triglyceride with an oleic fatty acid (C18:1 - 1 double bond), linoleic acid (C18:2 - 2 double bonds), and palmitic acid (C16 - no double bonds). If oleic acid makes up the bulk of the fatty acids with its 1 double bond, we are going to see an oil that is less likely to go rancid than one that is filled with linoleic acid (2 double bonds).

Most of the oils we use are "class 5: plant derived products, C18, unsaturated" meaning they contain 18 carbon atoms in those long chains. How do we interpret this sentence? This means that our oils are plant based and contain mostly (if not all) C18 fatty acids. (Some of our oils have more than 18 carbon molecules - like meadowfoam (C20:1) and jojoba - but what's really important is the number of double or triple bonds when it comes to rancidity.)

Sweet almond oil is a C18:1 triglyceride, meaning it has 18 carbon molecules and 1 double bond. Other C18:1 oils are olive oil, hazelnut oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter. So we know these oils are going to last longer than the C18:2 oils like soybean, sunflower, safflower, and wheat germ. And these oils will last longer than the C18:3 oils like grapeseed and borage.

When it comes to determining shelf life of grapeseed oil - 'cause that was the question that started all of this - consider the fatty acids. Grape seed oil is a light oil containing 7% palmitic acid (C16), 4% stearic acid (C18), 16% oleic acid (C18:1), and 72% linoleic acid (C18:2). It contains very low levels of Vitamin E (265 ppm). It has about 11% saturated fatty acids and 89% unsaturated fatty acids. One of the fatty acids - oleic acid - has one double bond that can be broken, but the majority of this oil contains linoleic acid, which has two double bonds that can be broken. We can predict that this will have a shorter shelf life than an oil that is mainly oleic acid (like olive oil). We can add anti-oxidants to the mix to increase the shelf life and retard rancidity.

How can something like soy bean oil contain a ton of those unsaturated fatty acids - about 53% linoleic acid and 29% oleic acid, for a total of 82% unsaturated fatty acids - and stay good for up to a year? It's thanks to the high levels of Vitamin E found in this oil, about 700 ppm. The Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that will retard the rate of rancidity.

Have we answered the question - is it possible for grapeseed oil to have a one year shelf life? I think we have. No, it is not possible for grapeseed oil to have a one year shelf life when used normally.

Related posts:
Hydrogenation and fatty acid shapes
Cis and trans configurations
Rancidity
Mechanisms of rancidity
An in depth look at anti-oxidants

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Question: How can grapeseed oil have a one year shelf life?

Julie wrote this great comment in this post, and I had to address it! (I'm editing a bit for length...definitely visit the post to see the conversation in full!) Hi Susan! I looked at my Crafter's Choice Grape Seed Oil I purchased from WSP about 2 months ago. It says on the bottle it is good for 1 year, until next spring. How is this possible? I asked a WSP representative about it...Cayla (the representative): I'm not sure where you heard three month shelf life... Here are our instructions. Short Term Storage: Air tight container. Dark location. Cool room temperature. Long Term Storage. Removing air from storage container will delay oxidation and rancidity (may need to place in a smaller container). Refrigeration can extend shelf life. Best Used By: One year from date of purchase.What do you make of this? I also have a bottle of Grape Seed Oil from the grocery store with a use by date of March 2014. The bottle says "Grape Seed Oil is an excellent source of Vitamin E (25% of the recommended daily intake) and contains antioxidants"

The short answer? Oils kept in a cool, dark place, the fridge, or the freezer will have a longer shelf life than one that is left in the bright sunlight in a warm place. So you could say that grapeseed oil kept under optimum conditions in which rancidity is retarded will have a longer life span than one kept in average conditions.

The long answer? They are technically correct - if you put most things in the fridge, you'll extend the shelf life - but there's no way you're going to get that kind of shelf life when grapeseed oil is used in our products! Your lotions, conditioners, balms, and whipped butters are going to be subjected to humid bathrooms, warm cars, and toasty purses. When your oil is subjected to the temperature of normal life, the rate of reaction will speed up, meaning there are more opportunities to have the oil go rancid.

I think this kind of claimed shelf life is disingenuous because it isn't going to have a shelf life of a year in our products. The shelf life listed really should be the average shelf life, not one under ideal conditions. I don't think grapeseed oil purchased today and kept in a cool, dark place will still be good by April 2013. We can't always detect rancidity - our oils are going rancid every single day, but it's only when it reaches a point where we can smell it that we call it rancid. Everything I've read says grapeseed oil has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months and that it doesn't contain a lot of Vitamin E, and I trust those scholarly resources more than I trust a supplier reading from a data sheet. (I will post some scholarly links over the next few days so you can look them up yourself!)

Don't get me wrong, I love my suppliers, but I've seen a lot of misinformation passed along from data sheets. I don't expect them to know everything, but I do expect the information provided to me should be accurate. When you find a great supplier, treat her like gold!

I love this question so much, we're going to do a few posts reviewing the topics of oils, shelf lives, rancidity, and retarding rancidity as part of our Chemistry Thursday series (although we won't wait until Thursday - I'll start tomorrow!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Question: What am I doing wrong?

I've started wearing eye shadow more frequently, but I seem to be unable to apply mascara without getting it all over my eyelids! I've tried a few different brands - L'Oreal telescoping (lengthening), LashBlast (volumizing), New York Colour City Curls (curling), Big Curls Don't Cry (waterproof, curling), and Maybelline Great Lash (volumizing), to name a few - and I end up with it all over my newly applied eye shadow. In the recent past, I might have this happen occasionally, especially when I was rushed, but this is happening every single morning! I put on one, maybe two coats, and it doesn't seen to matter which type of mascara I use - I'm trying to hide the black spots with a darker eye shadow I use as eye liner. (Yesterday, I removed my eye shadow to start again, and the second attempt was even worse!)

I've noticed these mascaras are wet for a really long time, much longer than they should be (I can apply it, put on my jewellery, and my lashes are still wet when I start getting dressed.) I've also noticed the brushes are plastic, not the hair type brushes.

I've replaced all my mascaras over the last few weeks, so I have no old ones as comparison. (And they'd be dried out from last year, any way!) So I turn to you, my lovely readers. Are you noticing this problem? I've asked a few friends if they've experiencing this issue, and they tell me I'm not alone. (I can assure you I'm not some kind of idiot who can't apply make-up!) Any ideas or suggestions for me? I'm really frustrated!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm not dead yet! I think I'm getting better!

We followed up the well attended mineral make-up group last Thursday - 41 kids, which is a record! - with 19 kids at the Yarrow groups happily making bubble bath and fragrance sprays yesterday. (That's also a record!) I'm preparing for the tween and teen groups tomorrow in which we'll be enjoying polymer clay!

As I lie here on my couch under the cooling blowiness of the air conditioner, eating milk chocolate chips from my husband's secret stash of baking supplies and debating if I want to watch Masterchef or a documentary on geometry, it occurs to me that I'm not really getting into Craft Wars on TLC. I don't know if it's Tori Spelling - a love of Beverly Hills 90210 is my secret shame, but Donna Martin was my least favourite character - or the format of the show, but I'm just not loving it. The crafters complained about having to sew because it wasn't really their thing, but they could build a freakin' playhouse? That isn't crafting! That's building a freakin' playhouse!

Summer isn't really my thing. We're experiencing a boom year for mosquitoes, and I am like sugar to them. I was bitten repeatedly while sitting inside a coffee shop this morning! I have a bite right beside my right eye. Considering that I swell up dramatically when bitten, tomorrow could be an interesting day for seeing!

I'm working on posts for later this week, bringing back the newbie and chemistry posts, as well as more substitution posts, so look for those in the next few days! In the meantime, here's a cute picture of my dog!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Question: How do you know how and what to substitute?

I get a lot of e-mails asking me to natural up my products, and I thought I'd go over how we can figure out what each ingredient brings to the party so you can make substitutions with the ingredients you prefer. Let's try an easy one first - my favourite emulsified sugar scrub with Ritamulse SCG.

What kind of product is this? This sugar scrub is an anhydrous product, or a product that doesn't contain water. It will be near water, though, and people might put their wet hands into it. Right away we know two things - we must have a preservative in this as people will be putting their hands into it and that we should probably use an anti-oxidant to retard rancidity of the oils.

What is the normal shelf life of this product? I'm using two oils with long shelf lives - shea oil can have up to two years, and rice bran oil has about a year. So my normal shelf life should be a year.

As an aside, knowing your ingredients and how to substitute them is vital when you're reading recipes from our suppliers' sites. You can find some fantastic recipes in those formularies, but oftentimes you'll see ingredients that you'll have to buy before you can make it. Learn your ingredients and what each one brings to the skin feel of the product, and you can save yourself some serious money and time! 

EMULSIFIED SUGAR SCRUB WITH RITAMULSE SCG
10% Ritamulse SCG
10% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid (5% cetyl and 5% stearic is very nice)
20% cocoa butter (or other really hard butter)
56% oil - I used shea oil and rice bran oil
1% Phenonip

COOL DOWN PHASE
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch

Ritamulse SCG: This is our emulsifier. We need an emulsifier to be able to call this an emulsified scrub! We include the emulsifier in the product to turn the scrub into a lotion that stays on our skin when we rinse it.

Cetyl alcohol: A fatty alcohol that will thicken the product and give it slip and glide.

Stearic acid: A fatty acid that will thicken the product quite a bit and keep it stiff even in hotter weather.

Cocoa butter: An emollient for our skin. It provides an occlusive layer on our skin to reduce transepidermal water loss.

Oil: An emollient to provide moisturizing for our skin.
Shea oil: An oily version of shea butter.
Rice Bran oil: An oil with a balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Phenonip: Our preservative. It works well with anhydrous products.

Vitamin E: An anti-oxidant that will retard the rancidity of the oils.

So let's say you go into your workshop and find avocado butter, sesame seed oil, fractionated coconut oil, Polawax, and cetearyl alcohol. Or you find aloe butter (coconut oil based), shea butter, olive oil, BTMS-50, and cetyl ester. Can you make some substitutions? Of course you can!

This is starting to feel a bit like an episode of Chopped! In your basket you'll find glycerin, soy bean oil, peppermint essential oil, and powdered chamomile extract. You have thirty minutes to create a product. (But we need to heat and hold, oh mighty Ted!) 

We could make a recipe that looks like this...

EMULSIFIED SUGAR SCRUB WITH SUBSTITUTIONS (POLAWAX)
10% Polawax 
10% cetearyl alcohol
20% avocado butter
56% oil - sesame seed & fractionated coconut oil (20% FCO, 36% sesame seed oil)
1% Phenonip

COOL DOWN PHASE
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch 

This product will be less stiff than the original product as the avocado butter is softer than cocoa butter, but it'll feel a little more waxy thanks to the cetearyl alcohol. The Polawax will make it feel slightly greasier than the original.

EMULSIFIED SUGAR SCRUB WITH SUBSTITUTIONS (BTMS-50) 
10% BTMS-50
10% cetyl esters
10% aloe butter
10% shea butter
56% olive oil
1% Phenonip

COOL DOWN PHASE
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch 

The product will be much softer than the original and will feel way less greasy than the Polawax version and slightly less greasy than the Ritamulse SCG.

Remember that every change you make changes the skin feel and shelf life of the product. If I use olive oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, fractionated coconut oil, or shea oil, I should have a life span of 1 year for this product, slightly more if I add the Vitamin E. If I used grapeseed oil, I'd have a life span of 3 months. Hemp seed oil will give us about 6 months. The limiting factor for the shelf life for this product is probably the oil as the butters, fatty alcohols, fatty acids, emulsifiers, and esters generally have a shelf life of about a two years.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at making more substitutions in our products! In the meantime, I suggest taking a stroll through the emollients section and reading about one or two oils, just so you get to know them! (My personal favourites are rice bran oil, fractionated coconut oil, and soy bean oil.) I'm not saying there'll be a test...but you never know!

Related posts:
Adding preservatives to anhydrous products
How do I know into which phase I should add I an ingredient?
Can we substitute one oil for another?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A few quick note about formulating or tweaking recipes!

I'm getting a lot of people lately wanting to make products for the first time from a recipe they've created. They're writing to me to help them write it, figure out ratios, and so on. If you're new to making bath & body products, please choose a recipe from a reputable site and try that first. It takes a while to learn how to make recipes from scratch, and my suggestion is to find some recipe you like, try them, then make some tweaks until you feel comfortable making those substitutions. Only then are you ready to write your own recipes.

If you find a recipe you like that has an oil or ingredient you don't have, learn about that ingredient to see if you can leave it out. You can substitute oils for other oils, for the most part, and butters for other butters.

I suggest reading the learning to formulate series if you really want to make products of your own. And if you've never made anything, check out the newbies link below or come back in a week or two when we start the newbies posts again!

Related post:
Why are you trying to make your own recipes when you're a newbie?
The newbie Tuesday series...
Learning to formulate series...
Frequently asked questions section

Secondly, it's feeling a little insulting when you find a recipe on another site and ask me to help you make it work after it fails for you. I realize I might seem a little petty of me because I know I'm not your only blog, that you'll visit other blogs and sites you like, but when you write to me and ask, "I love this recipe, but I don't have these ingredients, so can you rewrite it for the ingredients I have?" I feel a bit irked. I'm not sure why - I think it's probably because I don't have a lot of time to answer e-mails, and it feels like you should be writing to the person who wrote the recipe instead of me. If you do have a non-blog recipe you want to tweak or need help figuring out, please consult the appropriate sections of the blog for more information. I'm sure you can find what you want there? I don't mind answering a question like - why didn't this work? or what did I do wrong? - but to send me a recipe and ask me to analyze it and rewrite it, I just don't have the time...

I suggest you write to the person who wrote that recipe and ask them for help. You'll get help and you'll be letting them know that their recipe isn't working well. They need to know this to alter it on their blog or site! The same goes for ingredients. If you need information on an ingredient, the best person to ask is your supplier. They sold it to you - they should have more information on the product that you can access.

Thirdly, if you want to alter one of my recipes to be more natural, please note that I can't help you as I'm not a natural formulator. Natural is a subjective thing, and as we've seen from recent posts, there's no agreement on what would qualify as "natural". I can tweak it for one person, and have ten people ask me to tweak it another way. I simply don't have time!

I say it all the time - learn about your ingredients so you can learn how to tweak your products! - and I'm saying it again. I really recommend that you spend the time figuring out which ingredients fit into your philosophy, then figure out how to tweak the products you can make.

For instance, if you want to use Ritamulse SCG instead of Polawax, learn what the differences are, the rates of usage, the skin feel, the ingredients you can't use with it, and so on. If you really want to be natural or green or Ecocert, it's up to you to learn what ingredients you can and can't use.

When I started this blog, people were always asking me how to replace this ingredient or leave out that one - generally silicones - and I tried so hard to accommodate every perspective. I don't have time to do that any more - heck, I barely have time to get into the workshop these days - so I'm putting the onus upon you to create a solid philosophy built upon good information, then learn about the ingredients you can and can't use. You need to figure out what ingredients you will use in your products and how to switch them out for ones you won't. If you don't like sodium lactate, find out what it brings to the product - it's a humectant and a bar hardener - and figure out what you can use in its place.

If you want to put liquid soap in my shampoo recipes, I'll advise you against it - read this post - and I'm not going to modify it to help you make what I think is a bad choice. If you want to leave out the preservative in something, please don't ask me how you'd alter the product because that's also a bad choice. 

The whole point of this blog is to help you learn how to make products. A huge part of that comes from you - spending time reading and experimenting, talking to people, listening to ideas, and so on - and I can't do that work for you. I don't have time to do it, and I don't have the inclination. I learned so much from LabRat on the Dish forum - he wouldn't give me a fish, he wanted me to learn myself. Oh, he gave me a rod and some bait from time to time, he recommended great fishing holes, but he wouldn't come with me. I had to learn for myself. And, although I cursed him almost every single day, I learned far more than I would have had he handed me the fish. (Okay, analogy over!)

Instead of asking if you can use olive oil in place of the hazelnut oil in a recipe, why not get into the workshop and try it! You'll learn so much more than just listening to my opinion. You'll get a different viscosity of the lotion, a different skin feel from the oils and possibly hygroscopicity, a different way it pumps through a bottle, a different colour, a different smell, and so on. The best way to learn is by reading a bit, then trying your idea. It's amazing how much you'll discover in a few hours in the workshop! And making mistakes is a great idea to learn what not to do!

(You can substitute one oil for another oil quite easily. Check out the frequently asked questions for more information on substitutions!)

I think I've told this story but bear with me...When I was first learning to make products, I wanted to turn everything into bars. I had my shampoo bar, my conditioner bar, my scrub bar - now I just needed a body wash bar. I thought of every ingredient I could use to make a body wash bar while taking a shower, and I triumphantly declared my recipe to Raymond...who said, "Isn't that just soap?" D'oh! I'm not sure how this fits into this post, but it was what sparked the idea! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mineral make-up page added!

Since I'm going to be writing a few posts on mineral make-up, I thought it was time to give it its own section on the blog! You can find all the posts on mineral make-up in a section I called...wait for it...mineral make-up! (I know! I'm so creative!)

In this section you'll find recipes for bases, eye shadows, blushes, foundations, and more! I'll be writing a little more on lip shimmers tomorrow!

Mineral make-up: Fun with eye shadows!

We had our biggest craft group ever yesterday! 41 kids came to learn how to make mineral make-up, including eye shadows, lip balms, and finishing powders with some henna tattoos on the side. It was great fun, and over the last few weeks, I've been learning new things to keep them interested. (And this is all thanks to you, my wonderful readers, as you donate to our youth programs! You are so lovely!

If you look to your left, you'll see the mineral make-up being used as nail polish. I learned how to do this from Writing Beauty blog. The video is well done and the process is easy to follow. Anne-Marie also covered it on her Soap Queen Blog! I used Joe Quick Dry top coat from Superstore ($3.33 if you buy 3, $4 if you don't), and it seems to be working quite well.

And yes, those are my real nails. I have really long, strong hair, and I don't have to shave my legs. Hate me now. I can take it! 

If you're going to make some eyeshadow, you'll need an eye shadow base. I use the regular base when I'm making eye shadows that are more matte and the alternate base when I'm making eye shadows that are more shiny or glittery, or when I'm using those colour shifting or iridescent colours.

I'm obsessed with Game of Thrones right now. I've just finished watching the series, and I'm getting ready to read the books. I've created a few colours to go with the show. Ice was created by Melissa, one of the wonderful girls from the group, but it's hard to see in the picture because it's a shiny white with blue hints of glitter. Melissa also created Fire, which is a glittery copper colour. Winterfell is silver/grey with a hint of pink/red to represent blood. Winter is Coming (that's the nail polish colour), which is a variation of Winterfell to which I added some white Winterfell and it's a silver with a hint of pink/red to represent blood. And finally, Draconis is a green with gold flecks. I can't really wear the Fire as it doesn't suit me, but I'm loving the rest of them!

ICE
2 scoops base
1 scoop iridescent violet
2 scoops sunpearl siliver
2 scoops blue crystal glitter
½ scoop superstar blue mica

FIRE
2 scoops base
1 scoop petal pink
1 scoop cappuccino mica
1 scoop drama queen mica
1 scoop copper penny mica
2 scoops sunpearl gold
2 scoops sunpeal copper
1 scoop glitz & glamour mica
½ scoop heavy metal gold mica

WINTERFELL 
2 scoops base
2 scoops silver mist mica
1 scoop drama queen mica

WINTER IS COMING
1 scoop Winterfell
1 scoop white mica, pearly finish

DRACONIS
2 scoops base
2 scoops heavy metal gold mica
5 scoops blue lagoon mica
2 scoops sparkle gold

I always think of this girl on Pender Island who sells knitted items with the names of TV shows she was watching as she made the hat, scarf, or pair of socks. One of the items I loved, a toque that unfortunately didn't fit me, was named Michael Jackson, after the interview with Martin Bashir. I've been considering doing that with my various bath & body products, but they'd all be called something to do with Iron Maiden or Blind Guardian songs, which would get a little repetitive over a short period of time. Or The Infinite Monkey Cage, my favourite podcast ever! 

I'm having a love affair with this blue lagoon mica from Voyageur. It doesn't suit me as an eye shadow, but I used it as a nail polish and love it. It's the same colour as my mom's car! I made up an eye shadow I called 80s Girl that consisted of 3 scoops of this mica and 2 scoops base and it's simply gorgeous!

As an aside, the Pop micas we used to use aren't being sold by TKB trading any more, so most of the micas we use now are from Voyageur Soap & Candle now. This means we have to recreate various colours and accept that we won't be able to make others. (If you can get yourself some orange or yellow, snap them up because these aren't easy colours to find!) This is one of the reasons we can't get too reliant upon one supplier - if they don't like Drama Queen or Glitz & Glamour, they're gone and we can't make what we love! This is especially concerning if you sell your make-up. This is one of the reasons I tend to make my colours with iron oxides or ultramarines as a base, then I add the micas as a slight colour changer with some glitter.

Here's my tutorial on how to make eye shadow. If you ever debated about making mineral make-up, stop debating and get doing! And here's a laugh for your morning - Makeup for men! (Glitter's for little girls!)

Join me tomorrow for some information on making lip balms and lip shimmers!

Related posts:
Mineral make-up: Eye shadows from my craft group: Alyssa
Mineral make-up: Eye shadows from my craft group: Claire

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer products: Aloe vera apres sun spray

I love my summer cooling spray. It keeps me sane over the warmer months, and makes me smell like a minty Life Saver! Let's take a look at the basic recipe, then see if we can make it more awesome!

SUPER EXTRA ALOE-Y APRES SUN SPRAY
WATER PHASE
90.5% aloe vera liquid
2% sodium lactate

COOL DOWN PHASE
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% preservative (I use Liquid Germall Plus)

Heat and hold the water phase for 20 minutes at 70C. (You can heat and hold this in a container with a very small opening so you don't lose a lot to condensation!) Remove from your double boiler and allow to cool to 45C. Then add the cool down phase, including the essential oils, if you wish. Package in a spray bottle and use as needed. (Keep it in the fridge if you want an extra cooling sensation).

As an aside, please don't interpret the concept of apres sun as meaning I'm making a claim. I'm not! I swear!

You don't have to use all aloe vera in this recipe if you're wanting a more cooling spray. In general, I like to use about 20% aloe vera, 20% witch hazel, 10% peppermint hydrosol, and 10% lavender or chamomile hydrosol, with 30% water for a cooling spray 'cause the aloe can get a bit sticky feeling. If you want something that has more aloe, then go with the recipe's suggested levels.

You can add all kinds of interesting extracts in the cool down phase. Some good choices would be chamomile extract for soothing and reducing redness, liquorice root for increasing wound healing and reducing inflammation, strawberry extract as it is showing promise in reducing freckling after sun exposure, and green tea extract for increasing the anti-oxidizing effects.

I'm using honeyquat in this recipe for both its humectant properties and moisturizing, but you could use another cationic polymer like polyquat 7 or polyquat 44, if you wish. Choose any hydrolyzed protein you like - I like oat protein, but you might like something else - or leave it out.

I love this spray and keep it and the cooling spray in my purse, car, or emergency stuff kit all year 'round. I don't tend to use the stuff with peppermint on newly sunburned skin, so I make this to be very similar to the cooling spray and leave out the peppermint essential oil!

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New things to look for on the blog in the next few weeks!

I hope those of you getting too much heat are cooling down and those of you in less warmer climates are getting a bit more sun as we enter my least favourite season! I'm working on a few things for the blog that you'll see in the next few weeks. I'm open to suggestions for all sorts of ideas, so please share them with me!

Newbie Tuesday is coming back. I think the first few products will be hair related - conditioner, shampoo, and so on - and I'm trying to get a video I made edited in time for next week. (I don't think that's going to happen, but I can dream!)

Chemistry Thursday is also coming back in the next few weeks. Are there any topics that really interest you or should I continue explaining the basics?

I'm hoping to resurrect Iron Chemist on Sundays - I'll start with the lanolin challenge that I didn't complete early last year - which should be great fun considering all the new ingredients I have!

And I'm bringing the Why the heck did I buy that? series back. If you have some questions about ingredients you've bought, share your thoughts! I'll be taking ingredients from the comments in this linked post, so click there and comment. (I've already written down the ones suggested in the past, so you don't need to post those again!) Please look at the links on the right, the bath & body guides to ingredients, to see if I've already covered your ingredient. I won't be covering surfactants, emollients, extracts, cosmeceuticals, or preservatives that have already been covered. Please click on those sections to see if I've already written about that ingredient.

In the next few weeks, look for posts on mineral make-up - mostly eyeshadows, but some lip colours - and more lotions with my new emulsifiers!

Summer products: Cooling spray

I love my cooling spray and think it essential for these warmer months. I always include a titch of peppermint essential oil as it's a thermoreceptor agonist that makes our skin feel a bit colder, which is a good thing in the hot summer weather.


SUMMER COOLING SPRAY
30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
20% water
10% aloe vera liquid
5% combination of humectants
3% honeyquat
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)

COOL DOWN PHASE
2% panthenol
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)
1% peppermint essential oil
1% polysorbate 20

For this spray, I like to use 2% sodium lactate and 3% sodium PCA as my humectants. You could use glycerin or propanediol or any other humectant you like. I've chosen mine as they don't feel sticky on my skin. When solubilizing the peppermint essential oil, I've found that a 1:1 ratio of polysorbate 20 to peppermint works well. You could choose another solubilizer - caprylyl/capryl glucoside, Cromollient SCE, Caprol Micro Express, and so on - for this spray. I'd choose something that doesn't feel sticky. (The nice thing about Caprol Micro Express is that it offers moisturizing as well as solubilizing.)

I've included the various hydrosols and witch hazel to offer more cooling - in the case of peppermint hydrosol and witch hazel - and to offer moisturizing and soothing of annoyed summer skin. And feel free to replace the witch hazel and/or lavender hydrosol with water or other hydrosols. I'm using 10% peppermint hydrosol, 10% chamomile hydrosol, and 10% lavender hydrosol with 30% witch hazel, 10% aloe vera, and 15% distilled water. Or feel free to leave out all the hydrosols and stuff and just use distilled water.

I've added the honeyquat to offer conditioning to my skin, but again, it isn't essential in the recipe for cooling. Feel free to replace the honeyquat with another cationic polymer - like polyquat 7 - or leave it out and add 5% to the water amount. I like Cromoist - hydrolyzed oat protein - but you could use any other hydrolyzed protein you wish. I've included the protein to offer film forming and moisturizing in this product.

You could make this product with 1% peppermint essential oil, 1% solubilizer, 0.5% to 2% preservative, and up to 100% water and have a perfectly good cooling spray. I've added the other ingredients to offer my skin a bit of moisturizing, some soothing from possible over sun exposure, and film forming to prevent some transepidermal water loss.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating summer products!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Discussion: Who do you trust?

My dad was having problems of a manly nature, and he wasn't sure if he should have surgery on his prostate or not. He consulted his family doctor. He consulted a urologist. He consulted the doctor on the ward in the hospital. He talked to my mom and me. In the end, he made his decision to have the operation based on the wise words of Roy at the key shop. (And yes, the phrase "Roy at the key shop said..." is well used in my household.)

Which leads me to the question - Who do you trust? Where do you get the information you need to make decisions?

As an aside...where did the idea that data for studies are faked so regularly that we shouldn't trust studies arise? Where did we get the idea that studies are done by large corporations who will fudge their results to match their corporate agenda? And why do we think these things, but trust large organizations like EWG, their studies, and their Skin Deep website not to fudge data or skew findings to match their corporate agenda? And where did we get the idea that science = bad, our common sense or gut instinct = good? Just a few things to ponder for a sunny Monday morning... 

There's a great book I recommend frequently called Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me). They bring up the idea of cognitive dissonance, the idea that we can't hold two opposing ideas in our heads so we work to get rid of one of those thoughts. Let's say I make a mistake. This goes against the idea that I'm a good person, so I strive to make the thought go away. It's easier to make the "I made a mistake" thought go away than the "I'm a good person" thought, so I strive to minimize the mistake instead of owning up to it. We use a lot of techniques to avoid admitting we made a mistake - we blame other people, we blame the information upon which we made the decision, we use distancing language, (mistakes were made versus I made a mistake), and so on. The desire to reduce our responsibility for the mistake is pretty strong.

The more we buy into a concept, the harder it is to change our minds because we can't have two opposing thoughts in our heads. For instance, you think you're a good person making good lotions. You don't use preservatives, so when someone tells you the lotion has gone bad, you blame them for not doing something right because "it's never done this before!" You want to make lotions, but you can't find an emulsifier that fits into your philosophy - for instance, being vegan or all natural - so you find a way to make it fit into your philosophy because you really really want a lotion in your catalogue. This is one of the reasons I say not to argue with zealots: If they have to defend their positions against your arguments, they will solidify them further. Plant a seed and let them come to the conclusions themselves.

One of the reasons I tell parents never ban their children from seeing bad boyfriends/girlfriends because you turn them into Romeo and Juliet, with one partner working really hard to find the good things in the partner to prove their parents wrong! Just plant the seed and let them come to their own conclusions. (If the child is in severe danger from a partner, then all bets are off! Intervene!) 

The reason for posing this question? I'm seeing this a lot lately around the idea of making our own sunscreen. I continue to get e-mails from people who want to make their own, and when I advise them against it, they quote the EWG studies, they justify it by saying they won't use it on anyone else, they tell me that they're copying a store bought product which we know works, they say I've been bought by the corporations and my word isn't good any more, and so on. There's no point in arguing with someone who really wants to do this - he isn't looking for information on why they shouldn't do it, he is looking to confirm his reasoning and feel good about making the decision to make something that others have said could be dangerous. (I've given up on this topic, to be honest. If you want to make a sunscreen, make a sunscreen and enjoy it. I don't have the energy to argue any more.)

When it comes to making your own products, these are the questions that interest me and ones that I think we should ask ourselves - Who do you trust? Why do you trust them? Where do you get your information? Which books are high on your reference list? If you trust your gut instinct or common sense over science, how did you decide this was a better way to get information than reading studies? If a friend tells you something, are you more likely to believe it than if you saw it on TV? And what about bloggers and forums and websites? Why is one book/blog/website/friend/mentor more trustworthy than another?

And yes, I realize this might seem like a weird post for a bath & body products blog, but I am a family counsellor and my husband a now-graduated psych student, and we talk a lot about these topics. Plus, I thought it would be neat if you, my wonderful readers, shared your favourite links so we can have more information! 

Edited to add: Here's an interesting article on distrust of science and its association with political beliefs. It's interesting to see a decline in trusting science since the 1970s! I really encourage you to take a look at it - fascinating stuff!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nifty geeky things we can use in bath & body products!

sfs asked in this postSusan, please, I MUST have that Han Solo mold!! What is the name of the comic shop?

I bought this at Central City Comics in Surrey, B.C., but I don't think they do online sales. I found it at Amazon - don't get it from amazon.ca because they are charging $29 for something that should be $9 - and Think Geek (who have a ton of other wonderful ice cube molds and have started offering delivery by post instead of UPS, so I can buy from them again!) They also have a wide range of other Star Wars and other science fiction things, like Batman, the Aliens head, and so on.

Here are a few other molds I think we must have in our workshops!

The pi mold!  Because nothing's sweeter than pi! This is already on my Christmas list!

Raymond and I were just joking around that we should have an Euler's number - e - ice cube tray because it's a natural number. And I think this is the moment where I am completely outed as a geek, if I haven't been already!

And look for video game related ice cube trays. We have this awesome space invader silicone tray I found at a local kitchen shop. This is a chocolate decoration on a cupcake from National Games Day!


The Ninjabread men! I have these cookie cutters and they are awesome! You don't feel bad biting off their heads!

The all edges Brownie pan is awesome! We've owned this for a few years now, and it makes the bestest Brownies. Just remember that if you're using a Betty Crocker type mix, you will want two boxes and bake for 45 minutes!


You know your workshop isn't complete without these scientific cookie cutters! I have the flask already - as part of the Wilton Hallowe'en set I bought at Michael's - but I think I need this to make cookies that we might eat in the workshop.

Okay, I admit, I can't find a use for this in my workshop. Perhaps I could shape some melt & pour soap?

If you ever want to buy me a present, this molecular gastronomy kit would be ideal. Although I have a lot of these ingredients in my workshop, I could use a set for the kitchen!

I'm going to stop now, as it seems I'm just putting together my birthday/Christmas wish list! 

As a note, I have not been compensated in any way to write about these products. I was just killing time while Raymond made French toast this morning, and I remembered that we can order from Think Geek now because they are using the post instead of UPS to send us our orders! Yay!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Question: Why can't we make claims about our products?

In an e-mail, Linda writes: I have been reading your blog in the past few days and find it extremely informative, helpful and generous.  I am currently reading through your e-book on formulating and creating lotions and came across a part where you specifically said not to make any claims for the finished products and this seems to be a consistent message on your blog.  Please elaborate on this point and explain this reasoning.

If you make a medical claim for your cosmetic product, it turns it into a drug, and you have to go through a whole battery of tests to make sure it actually works in that capacity. You can get in huge trouble claiming that your product soothes, cures, fixes, eliminates, or generally makes better a problem you might have.

If you claim your lotion moisturizes your skin, that's a cosmetic claim, and that's fine. But if you claim that your lotion will heal eczema, that's a medical claim. If you want to say your body wash cleans your skin or makes you feel more hydrated, that's fine. If you claim it will soothe itchiness, you can't do that.

I know, I know, there's some woman at your local market who makes a sunscreen or a balm that she claims cures eczema or a bug repellant spray. She's breaking the law. Don't bother trying to convince her that she can't make those claims - she won't listen to you, and your day will be ruined as you clench your teeth to avoid yelling at her! Just walk away and hope that no one gets hurts by her claims. (I say this after attending our Party in the Park last night and having to endure the Kapangi water people, who sell their alkaline water that will prevent cancer. What the heck is a micro-cluster of water? It's nothing, that's what? ARGH! Walk away, Susan. Walk away!)

How do we know what is a cosmetic and what is a drug? The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics by their intended use, as "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance"  The FD&C Act defines drugs, in part, by their intended use, as "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" and "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals"

A few examples from Health Canada...Antidandruff shampoos are drugs since they correct an abnormal physical state of dandruff production, while regular shampoos are cosmetics. Antiperspirants modify the organic function of sweat production and are therefore considered drugs. Deodorants only mask odours and are therefore cosmetics.

If you want to use a nail polish to make your nails look pretty, that's a cosmetic. If you want to make a nail polish that claims to heal split nails and awful cuticles, that's a drug.

This is what the FDA has to say: What about therapeutic claims? Promoting a product with claims that it treats or prevents disease or otherwise affects the structure or any function of the body will cause the product to be considered a drug under the FD&C Act, section 201(g).

This is one of the reasons we don't make sunscreens around here - they're drugs, not cosmetics! 

If you want to say that your lotion moisturizes your skin, that's fine. If you claim that it will soothe dry and itchy skin, that's a drug claim. If you want to claim that women report their skin appeared younger or that they felt younger after using your product, that's fine, but you can't say that women looked younger after using your product. It's a very fine line that a lot of products skirt at their peril, and there are penalties for making these claims.

If you want to sell your products, you will want to make sure you make the cosmetic labelling laws in your country your new favourite book!

Yep, my anti-itch lotion above would violate the rules, but I'm only making it for my husband and named it that so he'd know which one contained the ingredients I hope will reduce his itchiness. If I were to give this to anyone else, I wouldn't call it that! Calling my lotion an "anti-itch lotion" makes it a drug! And my "possibly a dandruff shampoo" definitely falls into the realm of drug...but again, that was labelled that way for a friend so he'd know which of the many shampoos I'd made him contained ingredients that might be helpful for dandruff. I would never sell either of these products with these labels! 

Related posts and links:
Guide to Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling (Health Canada)
Labelling cosmetics (specifically about claims) from Health Canada
Mandatory labelling for cosmetics in Canada (Health Canada)
FDA Cosmetic Labelling guide (USA)
FDA Cosmetic Labelling & Claims
FDA: Is it a cosmetic, a drug, or both? (Or is it soap?)