Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Can when and how we mix have an impact on an emulsion?

In this post, Weekend Wonderings, Melinda says: I had something interesting happen when I used BTMS 25 in my lotion. In my first batch of lotion this week, I accidentally let the temperature to both water and oil get down to 45˚C. When I added the water to the oil, it immediately thickened up to a cool whip consistency. I stick blended, then added preservative and FO. 

In my subsequent batches, I mixed water to oil at the proper temperature. I find it interesting that all have the exact same ingredients and percentages yet the first emulsion seems thicker and waxier while the others feel more water-based if I could use that term. Do you think that the mix at improper temp will effect the overall integrity of the product?

I promise we'll get to the answer to your question eventually, but I need to beg your indulgence to write about something that might not seem related for a bit...

I had a great time teaching my conditioner class at Windy Point Soap in Calgary, but for some strange reason the leave in - which I've made and taught more than a hundred times, not exaggerating, I swear - separated for two of the three groups. We were using the same ingredients I use at home, but no luck. They started the recipe again, and one of the two groups separated again! ARGH! What the heck was going on?

There was one difference that I didn't think would be a big deal: We were using stick blenders. At home and when I teach at Voyageur Soap & Candle, we use hand mixers. As a non-soaper, I rarely use a stick blender. Because I wanted to make whipped butter when I started this amazing adventure, I bought a Black & Decker hand mixer with a whisk attachment and that type of appliance is what I continue to use for almost every product I make.

It's all about shear! A stick blender is a "high shear" mixer, one that "disperses, or transports, one phase or ingredient (liquid, solid, gas) into a main continuous phase (liquid), with which it would normally be immiscible." (Wikipedia). The water part of our emulsions are considered the external or continuous phase of the product, so a high shear mixer would mix the oil and water to create an emulsion. (When it brings liquid and liquid together, it's an emulsion. Solid into liquid is a suspension.)

Related post: The Bancroft rule

If we consider that the shear rate of our mixture is defined as the "relative motion between adjacent layers of a moving liquid", then something that is high shear will brings those layers together quicker than something that is low shear. A high shear mixer will disperse one phase of our recipe into a phase into which it wouldn't normally avoid mixing. High shear mixers spin quick in the middle than the outsides, and this difference creates the high shear. Immersion or stick blenders and food processors are high shear mixers.

For something like gums or polymers, we want low shear mixers, which are designed to move the ingredients around with a low amount of energy. Gums and polymers are called non-Newtonian fluids, meaning they change in viscosity according to shear. Ketchup is a great example of this: It's thick and sticky and won't move until you hit the bottle, then it turns liquid and flows!

I like hand mixers, which are also low shear mixers, and most of my recipes are mixed with one of these.

Don't worry...I'm almost at the main point of all of this...

In my instructions for the class, I didn't say how long the participants should mix their conditioners, and it was such a chaotic and fun class, I didn't get around to some of the tables to give them the information that they should mix for a few minutes, then stop and do something else as the product cooled to the point when they could add their preservative and fragrance/essential oils. So they stick blended the product for quite some time, which lead to the emulsion failing!

How interesting is that? (Well, I find it interesting!)

To return to the original question, "Do you think that the mix at improper temp will effect the overall integrity of the product?"

Totally! How and when we mix can have a huge impact on what we make! I tested this out a few years ago by making two lotions, one mixed with the hand mixer beater attachment, the other with the whisk. The latter was a whippy, fluffy, mousse-like concoction compared to the regular lotion kind of consistency with the beater.

Certain emulsifiers demand specific types of mixing. Simulgreen 18-2 and Montanov 68 need us to use a stick blender to start, then a hand mixer (lower shear) when they start to cool down. Olivem 1000 is very sensitive to mixing, too.

I will be writing about Simulgreen 18-2 soon! There are just so many things to write about and not enough time!!! 

Having said all of this, the data sheets for Incroquat BTMS-50 note that we want to add the water and oil phases together at 75˚C to 80˚C, so for the best results, this is what we should be doing. So the official answer is yes, mixing them together at a low temperature may result in a less than optimal product. (Who among us is always perfect when we make products, right?)

I know, I know, I do go on about things that I think are interesting, so if you've skipped to the bottom to see the short answer it is this - yes, I think mixing at improper temperatures can have an impact on the integrity of the product.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can I use Sepimax ZEN to thicken a facial cleanser so I can include dermabrasion crystals?

In this post, Modifying the facial cleanser even more with hydrolyzed proteins, Jamil asked:  Could I substitute Sepimax ZEN for the Crothix in the cleanser for oily skin recipe and then add dermabrasion crystals to make it a scrub? If so at what Percentage? The crystals did not stay suspended with Crothix. 

Yes! Sepimax ZEN can handle electrolytes and surfactants, so you can totally turn a facial cleanser recipe into a gel using this ingredient! And it's super easy to do!

What I would do with this recipe is take out the Crothix at 2%, and substitute 2% to 3% Sepimax ZEN into it at the end. I've used a titch less water than the original recipe - it was 51.5% and now it's 48.5% - as I'm adding 3% ZEN. If you find this too thick, try 2% ZEN.

ZEN doesn't play well with hydrolyzed proteins or cationic polymers like polyquaternium 7, but we can include them here because we're using 3% ZEN and any loss of viscosity is kinda okay. If you want it thicker, take those out and you'll have quite a thick gel.

15% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
15% DLS
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
3% glycerin
3% cationic polymer - I like polyquat 7
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

48.5% distilled water

3% Sepimax ZEN

Weigh the surfactant phase of the product into a container and mix. I suggest using a fork and mixing so you don't get a ton of bubbles. It's not the end of the world if it gets bubbly, but you'll have to wait a few days for the bubbles to go down.

When the product is uniform, add the water, then mix again until it is blended. Again, try to avoid too many bubbles.

Sprinkle the Sepimax ZEN over the top of the surfactant in the container and leave it for 8 hours. I really mean this. Walk away, and don't even look at it until 8 hours or more have passed! Yes, I know it's hard to do that, but it's the best way for the product to thicken up!

If you want to add dermabrasion crystals to it, please don't go over the suggested usage rate to start. The ones I have say 1% to 10% so stay within those boundaries until you see how your skin reacts to them.

Related posts:
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part one)
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part two)

If you'd like to see more posts about using Sepimax ZEN, check out my e-zine on the topic - Gels, Gels, Gels! - or keep watching this space for more!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can I use BTMS-25 in a solid conditioner? Why isn't my BTMS melting?

In the post, Solid conditioner bar: The recipe, Christine asked: I made your conditioner bar that included everything except for the dimethicone. Turned out wonderful! I love it--but pricey because of the BTMS 50. Instead of using 60%, I was thinking of using 30% BTMS 50 and 40% BTMS 25. I've read your blog about substituting BTMS 25 for BTMS 50, but wasn't sure how to translate that into this recipe. I imagine you'll suggest I experiment with it....but, before I do, do you have feedback about this? Thanks in advance!

Ah, you know me too well. Of course I'll suggest you experiment as that's the fun part of all of this, but I'm happy to share my thoughts as well.

I love love love conditioners bars, and I'm glad you're enjoying them, too! It is a pricey recipe, but it lasts forever! And you can totally use Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225 for some or all the Incroquat BTMS-50. I like to use a little Incroquat CR in mine, but I can't find it anywhere to purchase any more! Eek!

How to substitute it? In this case, just use it instead of Incroquat BTMS-50. As we aren't worrying about BTMS-25 being a poor emulsifier, you can substitute as much as you want in the solid conditioner recipe without a problem. Make a note, though, that BTMS-25 contains cetearyl alcohol, which can be waxier feeling than cetyl alcohol.

In the same post, Jill said: I have made this conditioner several times and am having one problem with it. Even in a double boiler with the hot water high on the sides, the liquid never seems to totally melt and be clear. There is a white skin on the top. And this white, cooled product adheres to the sides of the pot and the spoon. Do I scrape that into the mold on top of the liquid part? Am I just not waiting long enough... i.e. will it eventually melt to be clear if I wait long enough? 

I have this problem when my workshop is cold - it's unheated, so that happens a lot in the winter - so only the bits under the water in the double boiler will melt. Definitely scrape off the sides and make sure it all melts. It should be completely clear when you take it out of the double boiler, so it really is about having enough water in there and waiting. I hate waiting! I'm the queen of impatience, but it is important to have it all melted before removing it and adding the the cool down phase.

You can see this problem in my visual tutorial for making conditioner bars, and I said this: This is what it will look like when it has melted. You'll notice the white around the sides of the Pyrex jug. This the stuff that has re-hardened because my workshop was a little cool last week. You can scrape it off the sides and add it to the Pyrex jug if you're going to continue heating it.

Do you have any thoughts to share about making solid or liquid condtioners? Share your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can we make hydrolyzed silk at home? How can I harden foaming bath butter?

In this post, Better living through chemistry: Hydrolyzed proteins, Nancy asks: Is it possible to hydrolyze tussah silk at home? I have the silk fibers and put them in my sodium hydroxide lye solution when making soap. They dissolve. How is silk hydrolyzed? Heat and an acid?? Do you have any ideas? 

The short answer is I have no idea. I found this post on eHow called How to make hydrolyzed silk protein, but I can't vouch for it. If you try it, could you come back and share your thoughts?

If you want to learn a bit more about hydrolyzed proteins, check out my article in Handmade magazine on the topic. If you want to learn even more about hydrolyzed proteins, click here for an epic article on ResearchGate.

In this post, What the heck is this and what can I do with it? Foaming bath butter, Jessica asks: So I have this product as well. I will be damned if i cant find a way to HARDEN it. Using it as a frosting is great....if you add M&P. I don't want to, I would like it to whip but then get rock hard...any other way? I tried baking soda, cream of tartar, arrowroot. I'm almost thinking what would happen if i added extra stearic acid since that is what it can be made with?

You know I'm going to suggest that you try it and see what happens, right? Did you? What were the results?

Let's review foaming bath butter for a moment. The ingredients are Aqua, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA.EDTA

What we have is a paste that is made with surfactants - the sodium cocoyl isethionate and disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate - with some humectants - sorbitol and glycerin - with water, salt, preservative, and a chelating ingredient. It is less solid that the most refined shea butter I've ever used, and was easy to get out of the container with a spoon. You can add up to 5% oils by weight to the product.

In theory, I would suggest using an oil soluble thickener, like stearic acid or glycol distearate, rather than a water soluble ingredient like baking soda, cream of tartar, or arrowroot powder as those things will dissolve too easily. You could also add more SCI to the mix, which would make it harder.

Where to start? I'd try something like 5% stearic acid or glycol distearate at first. You'll have to melt it to get it to incorporate, so heat it in a Pyrex jug in a double boiler, add to the foaming bath butter, whip it, and see what happens. Then come back and let us know what you think!

Does anyone have a suggestion for Jessica? What have you done in this situation? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Is anyone using Spectrastat G2?

In this post, A bunch of comments I missed in March, Kathrine asks: I was curious if you had any insight on the efficacy of using Caprylhydroxamic Acid (and) Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glycerin as a preservative. I haven't been able to find a lot of information on it, other than the suppliers who swear by it of course. They claim that it is "a complete broad-spectrum preservative-free preservation system in a wide variety of bath, body and skin care products, such as creams, lotions, shower gels and color cosmetics, especially those products desiring a “paraben free” or “preservative free” claim. It may be used in emulsion, anhydrous and surfactant systems, even with a neutral pH." 

Caprylhydroxamic acid (and) Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glycerin is a complete broad-spectrum preservative-free preservation system that answers the call for paraben free formulating needs. Featuring Caprylhydroxamic acid (CHA), an amino acid derived from coconut oil, which some consider to be an ideal organic acid because it proves effective even at a neutral pH. This preservation system contains no biocides or traditional preservatives, such as parabens.

It uses instead ingredients that are multi-functional, possessing excellent efficacy as fungistatic and biostatic agents, making it appealing to formulators who desire to create personal care products that can carry a paraben-free or preservative-free claim. The combination of the effective preservation ability of glyceryl caprylate, and the anti-fungal activity of CHA provides excellent results and can completely preserve both emulsions and surfactant systems. Caprylhydroxamic acid (and) Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glycerin is non-toxic, globally acceptable, and compatible with most cosmetic ingredients."

Usage rate is 1-1.2% 

They make some nice claims, but there has to be a reason very few people are using it. I am hoping that your amazing chemistry knowledge can shed some light on it for me. Thank you so much in advance!

I did some searching and this one is called Spectrastat G2, and I found this post from Chemist's Corner, which may help. Someone commented that they used it and stopped because of cost. The company notes that a product could be called "preservative free" if used, which is one of my huge pet peeves about products as this isn't true. You're using something that is a preservative in the product. It might not be a traditional one, like parabens, but it's still a preservative. Ahem...I digress...

There's some information on the caprylhydroxamic acid in this article, and I found this datasheet about it.

Are you using this preservative? Can you share your thoughts? Where did you buy it so I can get some to try? Any information you can share with us, lovely readers, will be greatly appreciated!

Monday, June 19, 2017

My new e-zine: Formulating with botanical extracts, part one

I wanted to share with you my new e-zine, Formulating with botanical extracts, part one. I'm sharing what I know about various extracts, including goji berry, willow bark, pumpkin seed, and more, including a ton of brand new recipes, including a few for a clay mask and a liquid blend you could add to it, as well as information on how to make gels to mix with it. I'm quite excited about all of this, as you can tell by all the exclamation marks!!!

Click here for the table of contents. 

The e-zines are issued once a month on my Patreon feed to subscribers at the $10 level. If you want to learn more all the subscriptions, click here and check it out! (As a note, all $10 subscribers get a 5% discount at Lotioncrafter until the end of the year! Woo! Thanks, Jen!)

Don't forget, you can always find links to my e-zines and e-books on the e-zines and e-books section of this blog!

As an aside, while the 100% of the proceeds from my e-books from anywhere you purchase them go to the youth programs Raymond and I run, the proceeds from the e-zines and from Patreon go to me and my family.

Weekday Wonderings: Altering the oils in a lotion bar? Creating a scrub bar?

In this post, Lotion bars, asks: BoCron asks: I'm excited to make my first lotion bar. I'm trying to get something like the Lush Buffy bar. I love how it moisturizes but not how it smells. I was going to try 33% beeswax, 33% shea butter, 33% coconut oil and 1% fragrance. From what I'm learning, the coconut oil is considered more drying. Should I replace it partially with another oil? Like meadowfoam oil or similar?

The short answer is that use what you like. Coconut oil as used in soap making is a very different creature than coconut oil used in body care products, so I would suggest trying it to see what you think and making great notes about it. You could use all coconut oil, all meadowfoam seed oil, or a combination of the two.

Can I make a suggestion? Once you have made a few lotion bars and want to experiment a bit, consider using babassu oil. It has the same consistency as coconut oil and both melt at lower than skin temperature, but it has a dry, silky kind of skin feel. I love the stuff! And no, I don't get kickbacks from the Babassu Oil Advisory Board...yet. :-)

An aside...I'm a huge fan of learning what each oil brings to our products, and the best way to do that is to try them on your skin and see what you think.

When I run my classes, I like to have what I call an oil bar so participants can try each oil to see what descriptors they would use for it. I might think something feels light and non-greasy while someone else might consider the same oil medium weight and greasy, so it's really about what you like.

Having said this, I consider meadowfoam seed oil to be a very light oil that feels non-greasy on the skin. Using that instead of coconut oil will be quite a big difference in your product in terms of skin feel, how it rubs on your skin, and consistency of the bar.

Can I make a suggestion to all of you lovely beginners? Just try it. Make a small batch - you can make something as small as 10 grams beeswax, 10 grams shea butter, 10 grams oil of choice, and 0.3 grams (0.3 ml is okay here) and see what you think about it. How does it feel on your skin? How does it harden as a lotion bar? What do you want to see in the next bar? Something more glidy, less greasy, less heavy, and so on. Keep great notes! 

Check out this post in the beginners' section of the blog about lotion bars. I've linked to so many recipes and posts on the blog in it, so you'll have all kinds of ideas by the time you're finished reading. And check out this section of the blog on oils. I have a quick comparison chart you can use and fill in with your own experiences and opinions.

Okay, back to the topic at hand, looking at the Buffy bar (Canadian site) I see they're using cocoa butter, shea butter, exfoliants, and fragrance. If you want to make something similar with exfoliants, I have a few on this blog, to which I'll link in a minute. This seems to be a harder bar, so you might want to try something without beeswax - like their recipe - and use cocoa butter as the solid butter with a liquid oil and no beeswax. If the shea butter is refined or ultra refined, it may be very soft - the stuff I use is - so you could try a combination of 50% cocoa butter and 50% refined or ultra refined shea butter and see what you think.

Recipes for exfoliating lotion bars:
BTMS-50 in a scrub bar (so many links in this one!) 
Solid scrub bar (a little more complicated than a lotion bar)
Body scrub bar with stearic acid

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A point of interest: Solubilizers aren't emulsifiers...

At least once a week I have someone stop by the blog to ask why the product they're trying to make with polysorbate 80 is separating. Upon further investigation, it turns out they are trying to use a solubilizer - mostly polysorbate 80 - as an emulsifier.

Polysorbate 20 and 80, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, Caprol Micro Express, Cromollient SCE, and caprylyl/capryl glucoside are intended to solubilize small amounts of oils - essential oils, fragrance oils, tiny amounts of carrier oils - into water based products. They aren't intended to be an emulsifier for a 20% oil serum or a 50% oil moisturizer. They are solubilizers that allow you to add a bit of something that wouldn't normally mix with water into water. They aren't full blown emulsifiers that allow you to make a quick lotion or moisturizer.

Having said this, you can combine solubilizers with other things by using the HLB system to create emulsifiers, but you need to have that combination to make it work. On its own, polysorbate 80 isn't an emulsifier, it's a solubilizer. 

There are emulsifiers that you can use cold to create quick lotions, like Aristoflex AVC, Emulthix/RM-2051, Sucragel AOF, and Sepiplus 400, and more, if you don't want to heat and hold or spend loads of time in the workshop. I encourage you to take a look at those as you might find what you're looking for there!

I have a bunch of cold emulsifiers I'll be sharing with you soon as I've been having great fun with them! 

Weekend Wonderings: Adding sodium chloride to a shampoo? Ingredients for oily hair?

In this post, Conditioning shampoo bars for oily hair, Tracey asked: I'm curious if anyone knows how to go about adding sodium chloride to a shampoo bar? I happened to see Lush does this with one of their bars and my daughter has very oily hair. I've made a few different oily hair shampoos that I learned from right here, and they work for a while then I have to change it for her as it seems to stop working. Sometimes she'll add magnesium to her hair while shampooing and that helps also. As I know we can thicken with the salt curve our normal shampoos and other surfactant products I'm just curious how we may go about adding a lot of salt to liquid shampoo or to a shampoo bar & if anyone's tried this? 

The Barclay Nicholses are a very oily family, so we're always eager to try new things to get another few hours of out of a washing, but I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the idea of using sodium chloride or normal table salt for oily hair. I have, however, heard of using magnesium!

The salt curve is a way to thicken surfactant mixes - like shampoos - with salt. It does this in two ways. The first - the electrolyte increases the size of the micelles in the surfactants, so the viscosity increases. The second - the electrolytes compete with the surfactants for water, so as we add more salt, we fool the product into thinking we've increased the concentration of the surfactants, which will increase viscosity.

When we add salt to the mixture, there is a distinct curve (pictured to the left). As we gradually increase the salt, it will thicken nicely and stay that way. But if we add too much salt, we eventually start to thin it out back to the watery state. This is one of the reasons we add it slowly - as you can see, the difference between 3% and 3.5% is huge! This is due to the imbalance of charges between the various ingredients in your creation.

And this is the problem: If you want to make a liquid shampoo with salt and you want it to be thicker than water, you will max out at 3.5%. Maybe that's all you need? If you want to add it to your shampoo bars, start at 3% in a small batch and see what you think.

Another ingredient to consider is MSM (aka DSMO2, methylsulfone, methylsulfonylmethane, and dimethyl sulfone) at 5% in a shampoo for very oily hair. I've used it - you'll see that recipe coming soon - and I love it! It'll mess with the viscosity of your liquid shampoo, but try it anyway and see what you think.

I don't often give beauty tips around here as I'm lucky if I can remember to brush my teeth in the morning some days, but allow me to share with you what we do around here for our oily hair issues...

  • Choose surfactants that work well for oily hair, like C14-16 olefin sulfonate or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS). (I also like the LSB blend from Voyageur Soap & Candle, which is SLSa and DLS. Very very bubbly!) 
  • When using a conditioner, don't condition the scalp. 
  • Stay away from oils and other oily things in conditioners, leave in conditioners, and after washing treatments. 
  • When conditioning, take out anything that might be considered oil soluble as well, like cetyl alcohol or stearic acid, and stay away from things like butters. 
  • You can use silicones, like cyclomethicone or dimethicone, in small amounts, like 2%. 
  • Consider adding something to your shampoo to help remove more oil, like a titch of a citrus essential oil or d-Limonene at something like 0.5%. 
  • Try using a clarifying shampoo every now and then - maybe once a week or every two weeks - that doesn't contain conditioners or silicones. 
Having said this, consider that the reason the shampoo might stop working is that it isn't completely removing the oils from her scalp and hair and it takes time for that titch of oil left behind each time to build up. I used to get so excited to find a new shampoo in the shop - something that was usually "oily roots, dry ends" - that worked for a week or two before I felt greasy before my hair had dried. When I switched to making my own shampoo, I used a clarifying shampoo - one without conditioner, oils, or other ingredients of that nature - and it was awesome! I have found that I can use one of my conditioning shampoo bars for weeks on end, but then I might need a clarifying shampoo to do a bit more oil stripping. (I don't use any styling products or appliances on my hair, so the clarifying is just about getting rid of sebum and dirt.) Perhaps alternating between a conditioning shampoo and a clarifying one might be an idea? 

*Please note: I provide these links to suppliers to help you, my lovely readers. I receive nothing if you click through and they aren't affiliate links. I do like Voyageur Soap & Candle and think they're a lovely supplier of our products, but I receive nothing from them for anything other than teaching classes. 

Let us know if any of this works for you! Do you have any oily hair tips or tricks or modifications to recipes you'd like to share? Comment below!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: How to use a solubilizer or Natrasorb Bath in a bath bomb?

I'm still working through all your comments and messages, so here are a few more...

In this post, Back to Basics: Bath bombs, Vintage Blue asked: I have to say after trying so many recipe I absolutely love yours. Now I'd hate to mess with perfection but I gotta ask. If I wanted to add poly to this to help disperse the oils a bit more how do it calculate for that? And then if I wanted to add powdered milk, how do I adjust for that?

Vintage Blue wrote again after I answered the previous question: When adding the Natrasorb am I calculating 3% of the powdered ingredients or 3% of the entire recipe?

Thank you very much for your kind words about the recipe. I really like it, but I must warn those of you who live in more arid climates that this recipe is designed for where I live in British Columbia as it's really humid here. If you find these won't stick together, try a few spritzes of alcohol or witch hazel to bind them without setting off the fizz.

I don't recommend using milk in products like this as they are unpreserved and can go off in a matter of days. (Believe me, I know this from personal experience, and it smells just awful!!!) As using polysorbate in this, you could substitute it for a titch of the oils - ideally, we use polysorbates at 1:1 at least - and use it that way. 

For instance, I use 13 grams of oil in my recipe, so I would add about 13 grams of polysorbate 80 (possibly more, it's a try and see what works kind of situation), 13 grams of PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, or more than 13 grams caprylyl/capryl glucoside (ECOcert, green solubilizer, but super sticky, so make a small batch to see what you think first). 

So my recipe would look like this...

120 grams sodium bicarbonate
60 grams citric acid
13 grams carrier oil
13 grams solubilizer
4 grams fragrance oil
Titch of colour of some sort (I use LabColours liquid, a few drops)
Spritz of witch hazel or alcohol to bind it. 

Mix the powdered parts together very well and make sure there aren't any big hunks of baking soda or citric acid in the mix. Add your oil and fragrance oil and drip the colour into the oils. Mix really well - it might fizz a bit. This is normal. Press into the moulds very hard - pack a layer as hard as you can, then pack the next layer, until you've reached the top - and wait at least 45 minutes before removing. If you live in a high humidity area, wait longer.

I think I should have this recipe in percentages so it's easier to make changes, so let's do that now. 

I have a total of 210 grams in this recipe at the moment. Let's divide each ingredient by 210 to get our percentage...

120 grams sodium bicarbonate/210 grams = 57.1% sodium bicarbonate
60 grams citric acid/210 grams = 28.6% citric acid
13 grams carrier oil/210 grams = 6.2% carrier oil
13 grams solubilizer/210 grams = 6.2% carrier oil
4 grams fragrance oil/210 grams = 2% fragrance oil

So the new recipe looks like this when I round up or down

57% sodium bicarbonate
29% citric acid
6% carrier oil of choice
6% solubilizer
2% fragrance oil
Titch of colour of some sort
Spritz of witch hazel or alcohol, if necessary

Or you could consider using something like Natrasorb Bath, and ingredient that absorbs oils and helps them disperse in water. I've written about this ingredient quite a few times, so doing a quick search will result in some of my experiments and favourite recipes! Let me know how it turns out!

Natrasorb Bath (INCI: Tapioca starch) isn't the kind of tapioca starch you can buy from a regular store. It's modified so it can hold a ton of oils - carrier oils and fragrance or essential oils - in a powdered state. It's hydrophilic - meaning it likes water - and it can absorb oils easily. When you're making something like bath salts or bath bombs, Natrasorb Bath will help fix the fragrance to make it last longer.

Do not confuse it with Natrasorb HFB (INCI Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate (and) Acrylates Copolymer (and) Magnesium Carbonate), which serves the same function. 

It's quite a fascinating process to see the way it absorbs oils! I measure out between 3% to 5% for my bath bombs and after adding up to 5% fragrance oil, it looks as if nothing had happened, except this really fluffy white powder now smells really great! I love to use it in my dry shampoo at 3% to 1% fragrance oil to make my hair smell nicer. You can use it up to 100% in any product. (Although at 100%, isn't it just a bag of Natrasorb?)

Let's say we're using the recipe above, how would we include the Natrasorb Bath? 

In this case, we are using it at 5% of the total recipe because that's what it calls for, so let's take out that solubilizer and replace it with Natrasorb Bath. We have 1% left over - we used 6% solubilizer, so there's 1% left over - so let's add that back to the sodium bicarbonate and have 58% of that now. 

58% sodium bicarbonate
29% citric acid
6% carrier oil of choice
5% Natrasorb bath
2% fragrance oil
Titch of colour of some sort
Spritz of witch hazel or alcohol, if necessary

1. Mix the powdered parts together very well and make sure there aren't any big hunks of baking soda or citric acid in the mix. 

2. Into a separate container, add the oil, Natrasorb Bath, and fragrance oil and mix it well together. 

3. Add the Natrasorb powders into the bath bomb mixture, add your colour, then mix well until uniform. It might fizz a bit thanks to the liquid colour. This is normal. 

Press into the moulds very hard - pack a layer as hard as you can, then pack the next layer, until you've reached the top - and wait between 45 minutes for a small one (15 to 30 grams) up to overnight for larger ones. If you live in a high humidity area, wait longer.

As an aside, always make a sacrificial bath bomb, one that you can open or unmold to see if it works. The hope is that it makes it through the painful unmoulding process, but it's okay if it doesn't. If it ends up in pieces, make a fizzing bath salt from it! I generally use 100 grams of Epsom or fine sea salts with to every 50 grams of bath bomb I mess up, and it makes a lovely bath time treat! 

Weekend Wonderings: How to include an oil soluble ingredient in a surfactant based product, like a shampoo?

In this post, Creating a daily use shampoo, longqtruong asks, You have dimethicone in your daily shampoo formula which is not water soluble. Do we need a solubilizer or emulsion system to make this work?

The short answer is probably not. The longer answer is as follows...

You're right: The forms of dimethicone I've been using in my products aren't water soluble - there are some like PEG-8 dimethicone or amodimethicone which are - but I'm including them in my shampoo without an emulsifier or solubilizer. This is because surfactants - the foamy, bubbly, lathery kind - are surfactants or surface active agents that have some emulsifying power in them.

I've been playing with water soluble dimethicones and I'm very excited about them! There'll be lots more about them shortly...

Surfactants have a hydrophilic (or water-loving) head and a lipophilic (or fat-loving) tail. The hydrophilic head clings onto watery stuff - say the water phase of our lotion - and the lipophilic tail creates a ball around the oily stuff - the oil phase of our lotion.

The bubbly surfactants we use work the same way. They surround the sebum on our scalp or body and put it in a little micelle to be washed away. (Check out this post on how shampoo works to learn more.)

They can do the same thing with an oil soluble ingredient like dimethicone or olive oil, for example. But some surfactants are better as this than others. If you look at the surfactant comparison chart, you'll see that C14-16 olefin sulfonate is a good emulsifier, while disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS) isn't.

So the longer answer is that if you're using a surfactant that acts as a good emulsifier or solubilizer, like C14-16 olefin sulfonate, you don't need to add anything else if you want to use 2% dimethicone or 3% carrier oil, for intance. If you're using a surfactant that doesn't work well, then you might want to use a solubilizer like PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate 80, or caprylyl/capryl glucoside to the mix, keeping in mind that these ingredients can suppress foam and lather.

Better yet, if you want to add some moisturizing to the mix, consider using a water soluble dimethicone, like those I mentioned above, or a water soluble oil, like Olivem 300 (INCI: Olive oil PEG-7 esters)* so you don't have to add a solubilizer to the mix.

Or you could try something like glycol distearate, which works as an emollient, thickener, and pearlizer, like you see in this recipe or in this recipe. 

*You can find Olivem 300 at Lotioncrafter (USA) or Windy Point Soap (Canada). I provide this information as a help to you, my lovely reader. I receive nothing for sharing this information and these aren't affiliate links. Just want you to know that...

Related posts:
Adding oils to a body wash
Modifying a body wash with oils
Formulating for dry skin: Basic recipe with oils

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Analyzing Juice Beauty's Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation

On the wonderful Facebook page run by SciBabe there has been a lively discussion about a bottle of Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation. SciBabe saw the bottle had separated while shopping in a cosmetic store, and a discussion ensued about this brand and its Creative Director of Make-up, Gwyneth Paltrow.

As an aside, this is a foundation I made that you can try making at home if you click here and check out the post! 

Let's take a look at the list of ingredients and what each brings to the mix. If you'd like a more detailed explanation of the ingredient, click on the link in the name to see a post from this blog. I have linked to other references and shops where you can find these ingredients as I find them.

Please note, none of these links are affiliate links. I receive nothing from no one if you click through. I provide them so you can learn more, not to make money. 

Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Juice)*, Carthamnus Tinctorius (Organic Safflower Oil)*, Organic Glycerin*, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Coconut Alkanes, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Plant Derived), Gluconolactone (Plant Derived), Cetearyl Olivate (Plant Derived), Sorbitan Olivate (Plant Derived), Sodium Benzoate, Decyl Glucoside (Plant Derived), Silica, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Bicarbonate, Citrus Limonum Leaf Cell Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Seed Oil), Vitis Vinifera (Organic Grape Seed Oil)*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Argania Spinosa (Argan Shell Powder), Rosa Gallica (Rose Flower Powder). May Contan: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

*Certified organic ingredient

Aloe vera: A wonderful hydrator and film former that contains a lot of electrolytes, which can mess with an emulsion or surfactant mix (like shampoo or body wash). It's water soluble and considered to be water in a recipe.

Safflower oil: A light and greasy feeling high linoleic fatty acid oil that contains 3640 to 4140 ppm phytosterols - the unsaponifiable bits that act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories - and around 460 ppm tocopherols, like Vitamin E that act as anti-oxidants. I have read it can have a shelf life of up to two years, but I cannot imagine how this could be given it has such large amounts of linoleic fatty acid, so I'd suggest that it has a shelf life of about 6 to 9 months. (I will be writing more about this oil shortly...)

You can get high oleic safflower oil that will have a longer shelf life than the conventional safflower oil with more linoleic acid. (Oleic acid has one double bond, which means it lasts longer than something like linoleic acid with two double bonds.) If you'd like to learn more about this, please read this post on fatty acids.

Safflower oil references:
This chart
This page
This page
This abstract
This paper
This paper

Glycerin: A humectant that draws water from the atmosphere to our skin to restore normal hydration in the stratum corneum, increased skin elasticity, and improved barrier recovery. It's water soluble and generally used at around 3% as it can get sticky at higher levels.

Potassium Cetyl Phosphate: This is an anionic or negatively charged oil-in-water emulsifier used to bring oil and water together. (Click here for more about the process of emulsification.) (Reference,

Sorbitan Sesquioleate: A sorbitan based emulsifier that contans about 70% oleic acid with the rest composed of stearic acid and linoleic acid.(Reference) This emulsifier is emerging as a contact allergen. (Reference)

Coconut Alkanes: An emollient ingredient used as a substitute for silicones, like cyclomethicone or dimethicone. These ingredients generally feel quite light and add slip and glide to a product. It may not help with the soaping effect the way dimethicone does. This ingredient is "obtained from the complete reduction and hydrogenation of a mixture of fatty acids derived from..." coconut oil.  (Reference and another reference.) These ingredients generally feel quite light and add slip and glide to a product.

Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Plant Derived): This is a medium weight, high spreading ester derived from coconuts. I quite like it as an emollient ingredient as as substitute for any other oil as it has a less greasy feeling. Oil soluble.

Gluconolactone (Plant Derived): Can be found in combination with sodium benzoate, used as a chelating and sequestering ingredient to create a broad spectrum, ECOcert preservative. (See it here at Lotioncrafter). In this combination, it's used at 0.75% to 2%. I've used it in the form of NataPres. (Click to see that link).

Cetearyl Olivate (Plant Derived): This is found in Olivem 1000 as an emulsifier combined with sorbitan olivate. It's a liquid crystal emulsifier that offers a lighter feel than something like Polawax. It's generally combined with cetearyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate, carbomer, or xanthan gum for stability. Use at up to 8% in an oil in water lotion.

Sorbitan Olivate (Plant Derived): As noted, this is found in Olivem 1000 with cetearyl olivate.

Quick aside: They didn't include cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, carbomer, or xanthan gum in this recipe for stability. A few of those things would fit into this company's belief system, right?

Sodium Benzoate: This is an organic acid used as an anti-fungal and bacteriostatic preservative. (Bacteriostatic ingredients mess with bacteria's metabolism, but they don't kill them.) As mentioned above, it can be combined with gluconolactone. Water soluble.

I'm a bit confused about how this ingredient is considered green and natural these days. Back in the 90s, it was the enemy, a horrible chemical preservative that should be avoided. I'm not sure how it's now considered awesome. I have no problems with it, just weirded out that it's all okay now. 

Decyl Glucoside (Plant Derived): This is a foamy, bubbly, lathery surfactant with an alkaline pH (higher than 8) that we use in things like shampoo, facial cleansers, and bubble baths. I'm a little confused why I'm seeing it here because this isn't a cleanser. Water soluble.

Silica: A powder used in make-up and colour cosmetics because it offers a silky, smooth feeling when applied. There are many variations on it - I've written about Ronaspheres before - and I'm not sure which one this could be. Disperses in oils. (Reference at Making Cosmetics and this one at Cosmetics Info)

Hydroxyethylcellulose: A non-ionic or neutrally charged thickener. Generally used at low levels, like 0.1% to 3%. Water soluble.

Sodium Bicarbonate: Baking soda. It has a pH of over 8, so it's alkaline. I have no idea why it is used in this product. Water soluble.

Citrus Limonum Leaf Cell Extract: This is lemon leaf extract. As with any botanical ingredient, it contins a lot of interesting components, but I can't find a specific cosmetic ingredient that fits this name. (Check out this study on the cool stuff this plant contains!)

Is this the "juice" part of the Juice Beauty product? If so, it's pretty far down the list! 

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Seed Oil): A light, greasy feeling oil full of lovely linoleic acid. It has a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months in this form. You can find a high oleic version that will have a longer shelf life. Oil soluble.

Vitis Vinifera (Organic Grape Seed Oil)*: A light, non-greasy feeling oil full of linoleic acid with a short shelf life of about 3 months. Oil soluble.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E): An anti-oxidant that can extend the shelf life of oils in a lotion. Used as low as 0.05% when using something like T-50. Oil soluble.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C): Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is an oil soluble Vitamin C used to promote a more even skin tone. The suggested usage rate is 0.5% to 2%, but you can go as high as 10%, if you wished.

I used it in this recipe, if you're interested in trying it. You'll see it in many many products in the near future...

Argania Spinosa (Argan Shell Powder): An abrasive powder from the ground shells of the argan nut. (Reference, reference, reference.) I think it might be in here as a colourant because I have no idea why a physical exfoliant would be in a leave on product like.
I have no idea what this is doing in this product, to be honest.

Rosa Gallica (Rose Flower Powder): A fine powder that acts as an exfoliant or colourant.  (Reference, reference that it is used as a colourant).

As an aside, I think these are the PHYTO-PIGMENTS in the name of the product! A-ha! Sorry, just got a little excited there! 

May Contain:
Titanium Dioxide: A very white powder used in cosmetics to make products opaque or white. I used it a lot in my mineral make-up to make eye shadows stay on longer and look more pastel, for sample. I also use it in lipsticks to make the product more of a lipstick with a deeper colour than a lip balm might be. And it can be used as a physical sunscreen blocker.

Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499): These ingredients are used as colourants and come in earthy tones like brown, red, yellow, and so on. I use them as the base of a colour cosmetic - for instance, if I want to make a brown eye shadow, I'd start with a brown iron oxide then add mica for shimmer and to alter the colour slightly - and they're very concentrated. They'd be used in this produt to make it into a coloured foundation.

What kind of product do we have here? We have an oil in water lotion that contains four different emulsifiers - sorbitan olivate, cetearyl olivate, potassium cetyl phosphate, and sorbitan sesquioleate - and two preservatives - sodium benzoate and gluconolactone. It contains some oils with very short shelf lives - sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed - along with a silicone substitute and ester for emolliency. It contains some colours, botanical and iron oxides, which makes it a colour cosmetic.

What's the point of all of this? There were a few things that came up in the discussion - that separation is normal, that having to shake a bottle because the colours have fallen to the bottom is normal, that shaking a serum is normal - and a few things that bugged me while reading more about this product. That's what this next section is about....

In the conversation on the SciBabe Facebook page, people were saying it's normal to have the colours fall to the bottom of a serum that contains colourants, that it's usual to shake them before using.

A few thoughts, if you will indulge me...There isn't a definition for the word serum. It could be an all oil product, an oil and silicone product, a silicone product, a water based product, an oil in water lotion, and so on. We can't say that all sera have problem x or that it's normal for a serum to have problem x because there's not a single definition about what a serum might be. I make an anhydrous or all oil serum that most certainly wouldn't suspend iron oxides and other colourants, but my silicone serum most certainly should.

In this case, it's an oil in water lotion, which we've demonstrated because it contains water, oils, and four emulsifiers. They call it a serum, which is fine as there's no definition for that word.

An ideal colour cosmetic should have the ingredients in it to keep the pigments suspended or the colours won't be properly distributed when applied to your skin. I have never witnessed a foundation in a store for sale that had its pigments on the bottom of the bottle, and I have never had a sales person tell me to shake the bottle for that reason. The only bottles I've seen with pigments on the bottom were old ones that should have been thrown away. I realize that I am only one person and my experiences aren't the same as data, but I'm very confused by the idea that natural, organic, or expensive colour products should be shaken to redistribute the pigmetns based on my experiences, readings, and studies.

Having said this, the hydroxyethylcellulose should help to thicken the product so it can suspend the pigments.

If the pigments aren't suspended in the lotion, then they will fall to the bottom. This isn't separation.

Separation occurs when the oil phase and the water phase of a lotion separate and stop being emulsified. This isn't a good thing as the preservative could partition into one section or another and this leaves the product susceptible to contamination. A well designed product with adequate levels of emulsifiers shouldn't result in separation.

Related post: Why did my lotion fail?

It was suggested many times during the discussion that it's normal for natural or organic lotions to separate. It's not normal for any lotion to separate. If it separates, it's a failure.

I make natural, green, ECOcert lotions with Ritamulse SCGSimulgreen 18-2, and Montanov 68 all the time, and they don't fail because they are made properly. So being "natural" or "organic" doesn't mean the products are poorly formulated or manufactured.

Even if separation of a natural or organic product was normal, this product contains four different emulsifiers, so it wasn't intended to separate.

One of the reasons given by someone was that perhaps it's hard to formulate a product that won't separate when they have a strict brand standard that disallows so many ingredients. I disagree because not only do they have many good emulsifiers at their disposal, they included four of them in this product.

I can't stress this enough: The ingredient list tells the tale of a product that was intended to be a non-separating oil-in-water lotion that included a thickener so the pigments would stay suspended. It isn't safe to use if the product has separated. 

I have to address this "Full Unacceptable List" in the Clean Beauty section of their site. If you can read this tiny picture, you'll notice that "tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate" is on the list of terrible ingredients, but didn't we just review it in this product?

On this same list, they don't allow a lot of esters - very light, generally non-greasy oil type ingredients - like my favourites isopropyl myristate and cetearyl ethylhexanoate, but they're using coco caprylate/caprate in this product. It's another ester. It isn't natural, it didn't come out of the coconut in that form, so why is one allow, but not the other?

What about using polyglycerol-4-laurate - which is allowed and found in this product - and polyglycerol-4-isostearate? Why is one okay and the other not?

Why do I care so much? Because I get really annoyed by companies who use fear mongering to market their products. (Plus, it's interesting to analyze products to learn more about how we can formulate at home.)

On their site, they claim "our skin can absorb up to 60% of what is placed on it..." This is a ridiculous claim and has been disputed time and time again - one example here - but the myth persists because fearmongering is a great way to get you to buy something.

As an aside, I guess this could be interpreted that maybe 0% or 10% or 20% is absorbed because they use "up to 60%" in that quote, so it could be accurate. 
Consider this quote from the Simpsons...
"To protect Mother Earth, each copy contains a percentage of recycled material." 
"And what percent is that?"
"Zero. Zero's a percent."
I say this an awful lot every day...

If this statistic is true, then I'd be 60% composed of twill, cotton, body wash, lotion, chocolate, and a lot of chips. Our skin is designed to keep things out, and healthy skin does this very well.

If you wish to discuss this point, please don't use the example of patches containing nicotine, estrogen, or other medications as those things took years to figure out and perfect. It's not as simple as rubbing a cigarette on your arm to get your nic fix. 

Here's my final thought, for now: If you like this product and want to use it, that's great! My goal isn't to slag this company or its products. And my goal isn't to make you feel stupid about liking the company or buying something from them. My goal for this blog and for this post is always to share information with people who love making bath & body products as much as I do. I hope this blog is a safe space where we can discuss things, learn more, and make mistakes together.

Okay, I'm done for a bit. I'd love to hear your thoughts below! (Remember to keep the discourse at a level you'd be proud for your parents, grandparents, or children to read.)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Question from Patreon: Why do my Dead Sea salts get wet?

On my Patreon feed, Joanne asked: Why do my Dead Sea bath salts get wet when I add essential or fragrance oils? But the store Dead Sea salts with essential or fragrance oils stays dry? 

Good question, and one that I had to learn the hard way! Dead Sea salts  (DSS) are hygroscopic or behave as a humectant, drawing water from the atmosphere to itself. That's great when you want extra hydration for your skin in the bath, but not so great when you forget to completely seal that 10 kg bag you have in your workshop.

The problem isn't about using fragrance or essential oils: It's all about the amount of DSS used and how they are stored. All the products I looked at in a Google search were quite well sealed with zip lock type tops or in jars with screw on lids. I couldn't see any ingredient lists other than "Maris sal", which means sea salt, so it could be all DSS or a combination or none, theoretically.

When it comes to using these salts, please keep them at less than 10% of your total salt amount and you should be okay. Seal your products well. (A cellophane bag with a twist tie or ribbon would not be considered "sealed well".)  As usual, your mileage may vary as it is dependent upon the amount of humidity in your environment. I live in a very humid place, so people in more arid parts of the world may have no problems at all with higher amounts.

*How did I learn the hard way? I made emulsified salt scrubs during the height of a very humid summer using only Dead Sea salts and ended up with a solid rock of a product in the container. 

If you're interested in learning more about the salts we use, please check this article I wrote for Handmade magazine about salts!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Question from Patreon: Why don't we adapt a recipe when we use a powdered versus liquid ingredient?

Yesterday's question relates well to the one posted posed on Patreon by Omitade:  I have a very basic question, probably answered somewhere. I recently purchased Panthenol Liquid and what I realized is that I don't really understand how the recipe changes when you use liquid or dry ingredient of the same thing.  I make a lotion with 2% dl-panthenol and up to this point, I have used the dry ingredient. Now that I have the liquid, is it the same amount? In my brain that doesn't seem right but it could be.

Great question, and no, it hasn't been asked or answered!

This may get a little long, but I promise we'll get somewhere in the end, unlike most of the stories I tell...

Let's say you have a container of salt and a container of brine. The container of salt crystals contains 100% salt. The brine contains 20% salt. If a recipe calls for 20 grams salt, you could either add 20 grams of the salt crystals or 100 grams of brine to get 20 grams of salt. In this example, the liquid has less salt in it than the crystal form, so we'd have to alter our recipe to ensure we're getting the concentration we want for the salt.

Let's say we have a container of salt and a container of salt dissolved in water. Each contain 100% salt, one in crystal form and one in liquid form. (Just go along with this for a few moments to make this example work...) If we require 20 grams of salt in a product, we could add 20 grams of each and achieve the same result - 20 grams of salt in a product.

Is this is the same for something like panthenol?

In powdered dl-panthenol, you may have 50% d-panthenol and 50% l-panthenol. If you add 10 grams of this to a product, you will have 10 grams dl-panthenol - 5 grams d-panthenol and 5 grams l-panthenol.

In liquid panthenol, you may have up to 99% d-panthenol. So if you add 10 grams to a product, you have at least 9.9 grams d-panthenol in a product.

So the short answer so far is that if you have 100% concentrated powder and almost 100% concentrated liquid, you will have the same amount of panthenol in a product. 

As an aside, this is why we measure our ingredients by weight. 15 ml powdered panthenol may or may not the same as 15 ml liquid panthenol, but we know 15 grams of powdered panthenol should be the same as 15 grams liquid panthenol (assuming the liquid is 99% to 100% panthenol). Also remember that powdered things come as crystals and they can take up more space depending upon their shape. Compare the volume of different salts like table, fine sea, Epsom, kosher, and others to the weight to see this in action! 

Here's the problem with this example...The powdered panthenol comes as dl-panthenol. Only the d-panthenol is converted into Vitamin B5, which means using 2% powdered panthenol means you're getting 1% Vitamin B5 on your skin or hair. When it comes to things like reducing inflammation and increasing wound healing, we want the d-panthenol. When it comes to your hair, improving structure or making it more shiny, the l-panthenol works well for those purposes, as well as offering moisturizing to hair and skin.

If your goal is to add the wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties to a product, you'll have to double the amount of powder to get the same results as the liquid. If your goal is to improve hair structure and make it shinier or moisturize your skin or hair, then use the same as the liquid.

When using the liquid panthenol, check the concentration of your product. I've seen concentrations of 50%, 75%, 80%, and 99% in liquid versions, so you'd have to alter your recipe accordingly. I use 99% strength panthenol, so if you buy the 50% strength, you'd have to use double what I suggest in my recipes.

To summarize: If the concentration of the liquid and the powder are the same, and the chemical make-up of the ingredient is the same, you'd use the same amount of each by weight. If there is a difference in concentration, you'll have to compensate by using more or less. 

DeWolf Chemical
Making Cosmetics