Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: A bunch of comments I missed in March on hair styling products...

It seems like life is so busy lately with all the preparing I'm doing for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild's conference in May in Las Vegas where I'm presenting a workshop entitled Facial Moisturizers 101, and with writing my new e-book on using cosmeceuticals in facial products and so many other cool and awesome things as well as a bout of the stomach flu that left me low for a lot longer than I expected. I'm afraid I haven't had time to work on the blog, and I apologize for not writing more often. I am trying to get to your comments, but there's just so little time to do anything right now, so I'll ask for further patience from you. (I'm up to March 20th for shorter answers, and I'm working on a few that will become posts here shortly.) 

As a note, if the answer to your comment or e-mail is found in the FAQ or in the newbie section or found easily through a quick search, I won't be answering them. I'm afraid I don't have time to post lengthy answers or even links to the same ten questions I get every single day about things like where to get supplies, where I keep basic recipes for beginners, or information on ingredients I've written about at great length. I encourage you to take this tour of the blog to see where I keep information or how I categorize it as I know I have a lot of posts and some of them are very long! 

I know a lot of links to outside sources like studies or data sheets aren't working at the moment thanks to Dropbox's decision to stop offering public sharing without notice - yeah, they said they wrote to us, but it's funny that no one seemed to know this was coming - and we're working to get those things on Google Drive, but it's a huge process when I have 2700 posts, many of which have loads of links to all kinds of things I kept on Dropbox. You don't need to post a comment to say the links don't work. I appreciate it, but we're aware of most of them and we're getting there very slowly. It's an incredibly long and annoying process, and I resent Dropbox for doing this with no notice and no way to convert to being a paying customer to make life easier. Okay, rant over....

In this post, Gels: Ooey gooey fun! Jess asks: I have a question about gels. Does carbomer make a hair gel have medium or strong hold or do you need to add another ingredient for hold? 

A carbomer is just a gel without any hold. If you want to make a hair gel, you have to pick an ingredient that has hold, like PVP, AMP, or Fixate. If you do a search for "hair gel" on this blog or look in the hair care section, you'll see a few posts I've written on the topic, like this one

In this post on setting lotions, Annie commented: I'm trying to figure out how to formulate a setting lotion that won't be as harsh on my hair as the commercially available setting lotions (it seems like they all contain alcohol), but will still hold curls when I do vintage wet-set pin curls. It seems like a lot of people make a gel out of flax seeds and water and use that to set curls- do you think it would be possible to incorporate flaxseeds (and then strain it, obviously) into one of the possible recipes you posted, or would that be a bad idea? I can't find any commercial setting lotions with flaxseed, and I'm wondering if there is a reason- maybe it breaks down after a while, is more difficult to preserve, or doesn't work as well as other ingredients?

Things like flaxseed, teas, and botanical ingredients (like powders or spices) are notoriously hard to preserve, even with the best broad spectrum preservatives we have, like liquid Germall Plus. It might be easier to preserve these products with paraben based preservatives like Phenonip or Germaben II, but I find that often people who want to make things like flaxseed or chia seed gels are trying to avoid paraben or non-natural preservatives, and the ECOcert or green preservatives just simply aren't up for the challenge. (This isn't a slam against people who want to make these; just an observation based on comments and messages I see.) 

Check out this post on strawberry extract to see my experiences in preserving something botanical that's hard to preserve...

I think there are a few reasons we aren't seeing these ingredients in commercial products...
1. They are notoriously hard to preserve even for great preservers. 
2. Botanical ingredients can be different from batch to batch, meaning what worked this week doesn't work the next, and commercial entities can't work with that kind of variability when they're making enormous batches. (This is the reason they tend to prefer oils like mineral oil that are the same every time.) 
3. Compared to using things like Ultrez 20 or Sepimax ZEN as the gelling agent, and using things like Fixate, PVP, and AMP, flaxseed isn't very good at offering hold. 

So the short answer to this answer is that I wouldn't suggest using flaxseed gel at all, and I wouldn't suggest using it in any of my recipes. (I'm not even sure into which recipe one might add this...) If you want to create hold, consider getting a fixative that offers hold like PVP (from the Personal Formulator in the States, or check the suppliers' lists in the FAQ to find somewhere near you). 

Related posts:

I think that's it for today's comments. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! My goal is not to dissuade you from commenting by not being able to answer them all: My goal is to see more comments that inspire more posts, experiments with ingredients, experiments with products, and so on as well as to be able to spend more time on reading your feedback on recipes you've made and observations or opinions you want to share, rather than answering questions I've answered a hundred times in the last eight years. (Holy cow, has it been eight years???) 


Cynnara said...

In regards to the flaxseed setting lotion/gel- there are some products out there. Here's the link to a popular one sold online and at various stores. Hope it helps.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cynnara! This is a gel and it contains flaxseed oil, but this isn't a flaxseed gel. The flaxseed isn't creating the gel - that's the carbomer's role - and there's no more than 2% of that oil in this product based on its position in the ingredient list. Flaxseed gels are made using the fiber in flaxseed as the gelling agent. Flaxseed oil doesn't contain that fibre and wouldn't gel anything. In short, this product is a gel that's gelled using a carbomer and holds hair with the PVP, something I discuss in the post in the section on hold.

Thanks for sharing this link!