Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Join me on social media while we're travelling

Hi everyone! I'm off to Windy Point Soap in Calgary to teach some classes, and posting here can be difficult as the Blogger app crashes constantly and I can't post pictures when I use it in Safari on mobile.

I'll be able to send out your e-book and e-zine purchases when I get notification as we should have cell coverage for most of the trip. It might not be immediate, but it shouldn't be more than a few hours  (except when I'm sleeping or teaching).

In the meantime...

follow me on Twitter @SwiftCraftyM

follow me on Instagram @swiftcraftymonkey

or check out my SwiftCraftyMonkey Facebook page.

Wow, I never go anywhere, and this year we're travelling every other month or so! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Woo! Check out the schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle!

The class schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle is up for anyone who wants to take classes with me in Surrey, B.C. in October.

We'll be doing the day long classes of lotion making, facial care products, and eco skin care, as well as a few new half day classes, like those to make these adorable foaming bubble bath ice cream scoops. (This one is vanilla mint from Voyageur, and it smells as lovely as it looks!) many announcements this week, eh?

I'm teaching at Windy Point Soap in Calgary this weekend!

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
For those who are new to making a lotion, the first half hour of the class will cover basic lotion making concepts.  From there, the class will learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. (The class will be customized to the particular interests of the participants.)

For more information, visit Windy Point Soap to learn more about the classes!

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A few thoughts for the day on Honeyquat, alcohol, and solubilizers

For a while there, it seemed like honeyquat smelled like dead plastic fish and I couldn't use it in anything, even things that had loads of fragrance in it. I'm happy to report that the version I have from Lotioncrafter smells like...well, nothing, which is a good thing.

When it comes to using alcohol in our products, they are not all the same. Look at this comparison between the denatured alcohol I get from Voyageur Soap & Candle and 40% vodka I bought at the liquor store. On the left we have the denatured alcohol, which has very easily dissolved 6% salicylic acid, whereas 6% has barely dissolved in the vodka. 

Salicylic acid is soluble at about 14% in pure ethanol and 0.5% in 20% alcohol. So at 40% alcohol in the vodka, we can dissolve about 1% salicylic acid. In the denatured stuff I bought - 85.5% Ethyl Alcohol, 13.7% Methanol, 0.85% Ethyl Acetate - I can easily get 6% or more. 

If you see a body wash, facial cleanser, or shampoo formula that contains surfactants - the foamy, bubbly, lathery kind - and they suggest adding a solubilizer like polysorbate 20 or caprylyl/capryl glucoside with your fragrance or essential oil, you can leave it out. Surfactants are good emulsifiers of oils, and 1% will be easily incorporated. You can leave it in, too, but solublizers can suppress foam and lather. 

Please also note that you can't use solubilizers to incorporate small amounts of water into oil. They can incorporate small amounts of oil into water, not the other way around. Our solubilizers are what are called high HLB emulsifiers, and they are water soluble. You can't use them to incorporate a bit of oil into a lotion bar, for instance. 

What does this mean? It means that I can use polysorbate 20 or 80, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil - to name a few - to incorporate a bit of oil into a product - say 3% oil into a toner - but I can't use it to incorporate water into something oily. I can't use it to get some glycerin into a lip balm or honey into a whipped butter. 

Just a few thoughts for the day...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Wondering: What is the "dump and heat" method for creating lotions?

In the September Q&A on Patreon, Allison asked: I recently read an article on the blog for Majestic Mountain Sage where they advocate what they refer to as a "dump and heat" method for creating lotions, creams, or conditioners.  I have read quite a bit about creating emulsions and have never seen any instructions that suggest all ingredients can be dumped together and put in the microwave!  An author of the blog suggests that dumping ingredients together creates more stable emulsions, and that also, should one choose to formulate with phases, that emulsifiers belong in the heated water phase.  This goes against anything I have read, and I'm wondering...have you heard of "dumping and heating" and is there even any science to support this method?  Thank you!  

There are a few things to unpack in this question, so bear with me as I go through it concept by concept.

It seems they are only looking at the idea of emulsifying wax, which is one specific product they carry with an INCI of Cetearyl alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20. This wouldn't apply to any other emulsifier unless indicated in the data bulletin that this is the best way to use it. As it is, this method isn't advised for emulsifying wax.

I'm not sure why they're saying this should go into the water phase as we should "Treat it like the other water soluble items in your mixture." Emulsifying wax isn't water soluble - it has a hydrophilic or water loving head and a hydrophobic or water hating tail, which is how it works as an emulsifier. It connects to water at one end, oil at the other, and it creates these lovely micelles that hold the oil in little bubbles floating around in the water. I honestly I have no idea why they would suggest this. I have seen it suggested for some emulsifiers - I just wrote about adding stearamidopropyl dimethylamine to the water phase as it's more water soluble at the higher pH at which it normally exists - but never for emulsifying wax or Polawax.

Now the second part of this - why do we heat and hold the phases separately?

For an emulsification to work, we need three things - heat, mixing, and chemistry in the form of the emulsifier.

We need to use the right all-in-one emulsifier for our product - for instance, we can't use Ritamulse SCG for something with a larger than 25% oil phase - and we need to use the right amount.

We have to heat our ingredients up to the right temperature. For Polawax, it's suggested we heat to 70˚C, while the new conditioner I'm using Varisoft EQ65 wants to be heated to 75˚C. It's all about getting all the ingredients melted properly. Something like stearic acid has a melting point of 69˚C, so we heat our products to above that to ensure it'll be completely liquid.

I have to stop here and beg you not to use a microwave to heat up your ingredients for a number of reasons. One, we use a double boiler because it heats our ingredients slowly so they won't burn. Two, because the oil phase in a microwave can heat up super quickly and burn you. To your left, exhibit A. This container was in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds for the last burst, and this happened. This could have seriously burned quite a few of us as we gathered around the table.

We heat and hold separately because we're trying to make it easier for the ingredients to come together. The best way I heard it described is like this: Oil and water don't want to mix, and we're forcing them to come together by heating and mixing and using an emulsifier. If we heat and hold all the ingredients together, our emulsifier is trying to create an emulsion at lower temperatures as everything heats up, which means it has to work pretty hard to create an emulsion that's kinda weak and inefficient. You're also asking the other things that we need for a lotion - the mixing and the chemistry - to do more far more work, and this can lead to fails.

You may have to add more emulsifier than necessary or you might have to mix longer to get that lotion to stay together. By keeping them separate and mixing them together when they reach their suggested heating point of - for instance - 70˚C, we're creating the ideal circumstance in which an emulsion can happen, which means awesome lotions!

Why heat? Chemical reactions generally speed up when heated. (Think of how much easier it is to get sugar to melt in a hot cup of tea versus a cup of ice water.)

Chemical reactions also require a certain amount of energy to happen, and in the case of a lotion, the energy is the heat that's applied. Think of something like deep frying chips in a pan. If we heat the oil to 200˚F and add the potatoes, nothing happens. If we heat it to 350˚F, we get lovely crisp chips. I know lotion making isn't like making chips, but the concept is the same: If we wait until the optimal moment to combine our ingredients, we get a better result.

There's also the theory of phase inversion, which is all about the getting the temperature to a certain point so the emulsifiers create a water-in-oil lotion first, then cool down to make an oil-in-water lotion, which makes the lotion more stable. (I'll refer you to the post for more information there.)

Related post: Why do we heat and hold separately?

So the short answer is that yes, I have heard of this technique, it's not advised as it can lead to using more emulsifier than you need and unstable lotions. I know some people have had great successes with it, but it's not something I'd recommend when making a lotion in two phases is barely more work than this method.

I have to add one more thing. The author of the linked post states, "Almost each time I hear of someone having trouble with lotions I find they use the phases method for heating and mixing." Again, I'm baffled. I would argue that at least 50% of the lotion fails I hear about are those in which there was no heating and holding.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Does "safe for colour treated hair" mean anything?

In September's Q&A on Patreon, Doris asked: Does "safe for color-treated hair" on shampoos have any real meaning?  Are there any common surfactants or other ingredients we might use that would not be safe for color-treated hair?  I assume by "safe" they mean the ingredients are less likely to fade or change the color (or maybe it's just an advertising gimmick), but I'm planning to ask some friends to try out my shampoo and conditioner and don't know what to say if they ask about this. 

The short answer is that if you formulate mild shampoos with gentle to mild surfactants and ensure the pH is below 6, you can be assured your product is colour safe.

Almost all the surfactants we use in our products are considered gentle to mild. Some of my favourites - sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI), which I use for shampoo bars to create big, fluffy, "elegant" foam and lather; C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40), which is great for oily skin and hair; SMC taurate, which is great for dry to normal hair and skin; and foaming silk, oat, amaranth, and other proteins, which are super mild and great for really dry hair or any skin type.

Sodium lauryl sulfate isn't considered mild, so if you're looking to make something colour safe, this is the one to avoid. Some people avoid sodium laureth sulfate, but it's considered mild, and is good for all hair and skin types.

Choosing the right surfactants is vital, but there are two other things to consider - incorporating mildness and ensuring the product has the right pH.

One of the reasons you'll always see a amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, or disodium cocoamphodiacetate in my products is that they bring mildness to the product. I generally add around 10% to thicken and increase mildness. (I leave it out when I want to make a clarifying shampoo for my really oily hair.)

Ensuring the shampoo or conditioner has the right pH is vital. An alkaline product with a pH of 8 or higher can lead to some serious damage as the cuticle won't lay flat, and this leads to dull looking hair that tangles easily. When hair tangles too much, it can strip the cuticle from the hair, leaving it weak.

This is the reason that most people can't use CP soap as a shampoo as the alkaline pH can really damage our hair. 

We want a pH of 6 or lower, and, as you'll see with the new conditioners I'm using like stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and Varisoft EQ65, we have to alter the pH to make sure they are positively charged and conditioning to our hair. If you're using something like decyl glucoside, which can have a pH as high as 11, or sodium lauryl sarcosinate, you have to ensure your pH gets down below 6 by adding citric acid or another acid to the mix.

I have been playing with at least 10 new surfactants and quite a number of new conditioners, which I'll be sharing with you soon. I'm so excited about this!!! 

Related posts:
pH of shampoo
pH of conditioner
Adjusting the pH of our products

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Comment catchup: Spectrastat G2 and bath bombs

In this post on Spectrastat G2, Ally D shared, So far I have had success with this in my shampoos. However, at 1% usage (recommended usage is 1-1.2%) it curdled my lotion emulsion! I was very disappointed to say the least. I may try to pre-mix it with a bit of the emulsion and then add it in that way to see if it helps.

I'm sorry you've had this experience. I know very little about this preservative beyond reading about it - I have a sample, and I will be trying it out shortly - but I'll post what I can about it as I find out more.

As a note, Lotioncrafter is now carrying this preservative as Caprylhydroxamic Acid GCG™.

In this post, Is guar gum a good thickener for bath bombs?, Elyse asks: I want to make bath bombs but instead of oil I want to use a surfactant like coco glucoside. Considering coco glucoside is about 50% water will I need to preserve the bath bombs? 

Surfactants contain water, which will set off the fizz in your bath bombs, so be cautious about adding a liquid like this to your mixture. Check out more about this topic in this recent post.

In this post on bath bombs, Amy said: Soo.. has anyone ever had theirs explode in a glass container? I've heard of this happening to multiple people.

Dear God, no! It sounds like something set off the fizz early and the container was too tight, so the gases couldn't escape and it blew off. Please please please don't store anything in glass containers, especially if you're in a bathroom. Naked people and bare feet plus glass equals awfulness!

I'm still working my way through the comments. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Experiments in the workshop: Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine conditioner test

When I find a new ingredient, I do a search of all the materials on my computer or iPad, then I look for prototype formulas to give me an idea of what I can do with this thing. In this case, I was looking for more information about stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, a conditioner we met yesterday.

I found this formula - Shiny locks intensive conditioner - so I tried it with a few small changes. I find it wise to make the first batch as close to or completely as written as this will give me a sense of what success should look like. If I go messing with it before I've even tried it, then I'll never know when it's right.

84.5% distilled water
2% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
0.3% citric acid
0.5% panthenol (powder)
3% cetrimonium chloride

7% cetearyl alcohol
2% cyclomethicone
0.2% dimethicone

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (I used guava fig from Windy Point Soap*)

1. Heat heated water phase to 65˚C.
2. Heat oil phase to 65˚C.
3. Add the oil phase to the water phase using a high shear mixer, like an immersion blender. I used the MiniPro Mixer from Lotioncrafter* for the small batch, but used my Braun stick blender for larger batches.
4. Cool to 40˚C and add the cool down phase with high shear mixing.

This is a fairly weird looking product so far. Look how clear and foamy it is! It will eventually cool down to become an opaque and thicker product by the next day.

Don't forget to always test and adjust the pH. In the case of this formula, the pH was around 7. (I say around 7 at this point as my pH meter wasn't working, so I had to rely on pH strips.)

When I fixed up my meter and bought a new one, it registered pH 6.89 in a 10% solution in distilled water. It has to get down to 4.5 to 5 to actually be a conditioner, so I started adding drops of a 50/50 solution of citric acid and distilled water.

To make this, measure out 50% distilled water and add 50% citric acid. Store it in a plastic bottle of some sort. Mine has a disc cap so I can add it drop by drop to a product. 

I added 3 drops of this 50/50 solution, and it dropped down to pH 3.07. Holy cow! This is why I make the 10% solution, so when I do something like this and add too much, it works as my test case.

Into the entire container - 390 grams now - I added 0.04 grams citric acid, mixed, and it measured pH 4.84. Success! Considering I already had 0.3% in the heated water phase, this means that I only needed 0.01% more to bring it down to the pH level I wanted. That's not much, but it made such a difference!

What do I think about this formula? I really like this ingredient. My hair was really wavy the day I washed it, and even the next day, but on day three, it was looking a little straw like. As with the ICE Restore cold process conditioner, I do miss the humectants I'd normally find in Incroquat BTMS-50.

Weirdly, I took very few pictures of this formula as I was making and bottling it. It's all gone now - it's the second from the left bottle - because I liked it so much! 

What will I do differently next time? I think I'll add a few of my favourite ingredients, like proteins, and a bit more silicone. Join me on Monday as we take a look at that formula! Oh, and I think I'll make a version with some lovely Monoi de Tahiti (infused coconut oil), too.

As a note, I'm providing these links to you in this post to provide you with information. They are not affiliate links and I get nothing if you buy something from these suppliers. If you're looking for stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, I bought mine from Making Cosmetics*

I'm teaching at Windy Point September 23rd & 24th

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Advanced lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
Join this advanced lotion making class to learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. We will have a few formulas to follow, but we'll be adjusting it as per the interests of those attending. This is truly an improv type class! (I'm so excited about this!!!)

Please note for this class you will be expected to know how to interpret a formula in percentages, scale a formula up and down, use a digital scale, and understand the concept of emulsification, how to heat and hold, and the differences between a preservative and anti-oxidant and when to use each as there will be no time to cover these concepts during the class. Ideally, you will have made many lotions at home and wish to attend this class to understand how to alter your existing formulas, learn new formulas, or learn how to use new emulsifiers.

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe is speaking at the Canadian conference!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe Schwarcz, chemistry professor and science educator from McGill University, is the keynote speaker at the Handcrafted Bath & Body Guild and Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference held in Toronto, Ontario, on June 8th to 10th, 2018. I'm so excited right now... Give me a minute.

Why am I so excited? Dr Joe is an amazing speaker and his knowledge of chemistry is unparalleled. You don't have to be a chemistry expert to enjoy his work: He writes for everyone, and makes it easy to understand. He writes and speaks on interesting topics - here's an article on paraben phobia, here's another one on the benefits of tea - so we'll all want to learn chemistry. We are so lucky to have him at the conference!

I can't believe I'll be leading a workshop at the same event at which Dr Joe Schwarcz is the keynote and Dr Kevin Dunn is teaching. I think I might fangirl myself silly!

If you want to know more about the conference, click here for my post on the topic.

For more on Dr Joe...
Follow him on Facebook.
Check out his newspaper column, The Right Chemistry, from the Montreal Gazette. This is a great one on parabens.
Check out his radio show as a podcast, The Dr Joe Show!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why did I buy that again? Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine

I've had requests to formulate with this ingredient for years, but we can't get it in Canada, so I didn't order it. During our weeks of being snowed in earlier this year, I went on a spending spree for loads of ingredients I've always wanted to try, and this was at the top of the list. Let's take a look at this cationic emulsifier, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine!

What is this? It's a cationic or postively charged emulsifier that brings together water and oil to make an emulsion. It's positively charged, so we use it in conditioners to detangle, moisturize, condition, increase shine, and more.

What does it mean to condition our hair? A cationic quaternary compound or a positively charged compound adsorbs to the surface of your hair. This adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair in a process called substantivity. Our hair is negatively charged, so a positively charged ingredient will be attracted to the surface of our hair. Using a positively charged ingredient means our cuticle will lay down properly after washing, so our hair is less likely to tangle and more likely to shine.

Related posts:
Conditioner: What's that then? 
Adsorbing and substantivity!
"Good condition"
Virgin hair
Quick summary of damaged hair

Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine is an amine with fatty chains added that becomes more cationic or positively charged when we reduce the pH. It's a good conditioner that prevents static, and will increase viscosity. It won't build up on hair, and it's said to help remove build up  It can be used with cetrimonium chloride, another cationic ingredient, to become a good emulsifier. It's also used with behentrimonium chloride, a cationic ingredient that's a very close relative of behentrimonium methosulfate, the cationic ingredient in Incroquat BTMS-25 or BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225.

This ingredient works well with negatively charged surfactants, like those bubbly, lathery, foamy ones we use in shampoos, as it doesn't depress the foam or lather.

The version I have has a four year shelf life. We add it to the hot water phase because it's initially water soluble at the high pH level of around pH 10 to 12.

We have to alter the pH of this product with something like citric acid or lactic acid. As the pH decreases, the product becomes more cationic or positively charged, and it becomes more attracted to our hair making it a better conditioner. If you're using citric acid, you'll want a 5.88: 1 ratio (5.88 grams of SD to 1 gram of citric acid) or 3.7:1 ratio with lactic acid. The viscosity of the product can be different based on the acid you use. You're shooting for pH 4.5 to 5 as that's when it forms a cationic salt and becomes a proper conditioner. (It becomes a tertiary amine salt at this point.)

Related post: How to alter pH in our products

It works best when combined with a fatty alcohol, like cetyl alcohol or cetaryl alcohol, as this will boost the substantivity of your cationic ingredient to make it more conditioning. (I've found it used with stearyl alcohol, but I've never found this ingredient at any of our suppliers.) These also moisturize hair and increase the viscosity of the product.

How do we use it? Add it to the heated water phase of the product along with the acid you're using to decrease the pH. I've found I use about 1.1% to 1.2% citric acid to 5% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine to gett to pH 4.8 or so, but you'll have to see what your measurements might be and adjust your acid levels accordingly. Use your fatty alcohol in the oil phase of your product at anywhere from 1% to 7%, depending on how thick you want the product to be.

I'll be sharing some of the formulas I've been working on for ages with you tomorrow and next week. 

As a note, I purchased mine from Making Cosmetics*. If you're using another version, please check what they suggest for usage rates and such as it may vary from supplier to supplier.

Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology
Chemists' Corner forum
Huntsman brochure
Liquid Detergents

Join me tomorrow for an awesome formula for a conditioner using this ingredient!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: How can I make a lotion feel silkier?

In this post, Recipes from the conference: Rosehip & calendula moisturizer, rahaf mohammed asked: How can I make the final texture of the cream of the body to be soft and silk and have no greasy effect I use emulsifying wax with Stearic Acid and oils. I make it but the final result of the cream was not moisturizing it was only for minutes with a trace of oils. I want to make cream from scratch but its texture is silky and beautiful as a cream that we see in stores with a beautiful texture. 

The formula in question is this one, the rosehip & calendula moisturizer that uses Simulgreen 18-2 as the emulsifier. It's a light, non-greasy lotion that should sink in quickly.

46% distilled water
10% hyaluronic acid gel (0.1% HA LMW)
3% propanediol 1,3
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
1% sodium lactate (powder)
2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein
2% panthenol (powder)
0.5% allantoin

10% squalane
5% rosehip seed oil
4% Simulgreen 18-2
2% behenyl alcohol
1% Sepilift DPHP

5% Antarcticine
2% Regu-scence
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Everything in this formula is designed to be light and non-greasy feeling, including the emulsifier.

In your formula, you're using emulsifying wax with stearic acid. Emulsifying wax offers a medium greasy and waxy kind of feel, compared to the less greasy, almost powdery feeling of Simulgreen 18-2.

I've used behenyl alcohol to give it a powdery, non-greasy feeling. You're using stearic acid, which is waxy and draggy.

When you change the ingredients, you change the skin feel. If you made this using emulsifying wax and cetyl alcohol, it'll be a little slicker with more glide. Use cetearyl alcohol and you'll have a slick, waxiness. Use behenyl alcohol and you'll get that powdery feeling. And so on.

I chose squalane as it sinks in quickly and feels light, and non-greasy. If I chose to use olive oil, it'll feel heavier and thicker.

I always say in any lotion formula I create, you can change the oil for the oil, butter for a butter, oil for a butter, or butter for an oil without wrecking the chemistry of the product. But you'll radically alter the skin feel of a lotion if you substitute cocoa butter for babassu or shea butter for fractionated coconut oil. It's not a bad thing, but you can't expect alter things like that and not change the way it feels.

To return to your question - what can you do to make the product silkier?
  • Choose a different emulsifier. Using something like Simulgreen 18-2 or Montanov 68 will make a silkier feeling product than Polawax or emulsifying wax. Simulsol 165/Lotionpro™ 165 makes a lotion feel lighter. 
  • Choose a different thickener. Stearic acid is a terrible choice as it's waxy and draggy. Instead, choose one of the fatty alcohols I list above 
  • Choose different oils. Choose ones that are non-greasy and light versus those that are thicker, and heavier. (Check out the emollients section to see what oils you might like.) Consider using silicones, like dimethicone or some of the new ones I'll be sharing more about soon. I bet one of the ingredients in your favourite store bought brand contains it! 
  • Add some occlusive ingredients. If you want something to stay on the skin for a bit, add a bit of cocoa butter or other butter, dimethicone, or allantoin to keep that feeling going for a while. 
For a few more ideas, check out the men's section for ideas on how to make a lotion less greasy feeling or search for "less greasy" on the blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to test pH of our products and more (updated for 2017)

In this post, Weekend Wonderings: Have a question?, Valerie asked: Are there guidelines on to dilute (with distilled water) a sample of a product before testing to get ph test accurate results - like shampoo, lotion etc. I have pH tested my liquid soaps in the past and was instructed to dilute appropriately before testing to get accurate results. Any advice is appreciated! I have made a powdered foaming exfoliating cleanser that I would like to pH test. I have a digital reader and a know how to calibrate it using the solutions. Also, I would love to post this recipe for feedback and suggestions on how to improve it.

I've been using the method put forth by Kenna of Modern Soapmaking. "I’m aiming for a 1% soap solution, meaning 1% of the solution is soap and 99% of the solution is distilled water. To make it easy, I weighed approximately 1 gram of soap and 99 grams of distilled water..."

If you're using distilled water - which should have a pH of 7 or neutral - then the only change to the water is the thing you want to measure. So using as little as 1% should be enough to alter the pH enough to be measured. I generally use 10% as I usually have my 1 gram scale handy versus my tinier scale, so I use 10 grams product to 90 grams distilled water. 

Why do we have to dilute our products? It's obvious in the case of a shampoo bar or solid soap, but this is important for anything that's thicker than water as the electrodes aren't equipped to measure pH in viscous materials, like lotions. It won't give you an accurate measurement if you just dip it into the lotion or shampoo. Dilute it and you're good! 

How to calibrate your machine? You'll have to read the specifics from the manual, but the ones I've used suggest we should have liquids for pH 4 and 7 and, if possible, 10. I push the button, and place it in the pH 7 liquid until it notes it's done there, hit save, then put it in the pH 4 liquid, and do the same thing. It's calibrated! 

Where do I get my calibration fluids? I get mine from either Lotioncrafter or at my local hydroponics store. 

Those of you who have been here for a while may have noticed that I'm using a different pH meter. My old one, a Jenco Vision Plus 630, which I loved so much, needed a new electrode, and I couldn't figure out where to buy it. I bought a new one from Amazon last month - Hydrofarm HM Digital HMDPH200 Waterproof PH and Temperature Meter - and I'm really happy with it so far. (Not an affiliate link, just sharing information.)

As a quick note, if you're a soap maker or want to be one, consider supporting Kenna of Modern Soapmaking on Patreon. She's the one who turned me onto it, and I can never thank her enough. I'm embarassed to realize that I haven't been supporting her, and I made that right today! I met her earlier this year at the conference, and she's such a great person! 

Related posts:
Let's take a look at what pH means!
pH of our skin's acid mantle
pH of our bodies

What pH should lotions be?
Another look at the pH of our lotions
pH of shampoo
pH of conditioners

Adjusting pH of our products
An example of me adjusting pH in our products

Calibrating my pH meter
What pH meters are good?
Equipment for measuring pH

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Is emulsifying wax part of the oil phase?

In this post, How can you tell it's a good recipe?, Connie asked, I am confused, however, about the percent of emulsifier relates to total percent. I understand that amount of emulsifying wax is 25% of % of oils. But isn't the emulsifying wax considered part of oil phase? When I add that in, isn't it going to change all my percents? I may be overthinking this. :/ 

Emulsifying wax is incorporated in the heated part of the oil phase, but it's not part of the "oil phase" or the oil soluble ingredients that need to be emulsified into the product. We need to know the total of the oil soluble ingredients in a lotion to figure out how much emulsifier we need to use.

Calculate everything that has to be emulsified in your formula. This includes things that might be in the cool down phase.

10% cocoa butter
10% rice bran oil
3% cetyl alcohol
1% beeswax
2% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (oil soluble Vitamin C)
1% tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E, oil soluble)
1% fragrance oil

We have a total of 28% oils in the formula. If we are using Polawax as the emulsifier, we'd want to use 25% of the total amount in emulsifier. So 28/4 = 7%. So we're using 7% Polawax in this formula.

10% cocoa butter
10% rice bran oil
7% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol
1% beeswax

2% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
1% tocopherol acetate
1% fragrance oil

Please note, only Polawax has the 25% rule of thumb. Emulsifying wax is 25% plus 1% - so in this formula we'd be using 8% non-Polawax emulsifying wax. And other emulsifiers have other rules, so you have to figure out what you have and what that one requires.

The rest of the formula would be the distilled water and preservative, so something like 0.5% liquid Germall Plus, and 65.5% distilled water for a total of 100%. We don't figure out the water amount until the rest of the ingredients are in place. The water amount is whatever is left over.

You may see formulas that note "water q.s" and this means "water to 100%". I tried that for a while, but people got annoyed with me, so I figure it out now.

Related posts:
Polawax versus other emulsifying waxes

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Why don't we measure by volume? and more!

In this post, Creating products: A moment or two about recipes, Caroline said, I like using weight measurement for recipes because it is so much easier to measure than worrying about cups/teaspoons, etc. and also find it more convenient. However, there are a lot of recipes out there that don't use weight. This one particular recipe did use the 1/3 rule in that it asked for 1/4 cup shea butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles. I decided to weigh them and found that the shea butter weighed 44 gr, the coconut oil 54 gr and the beeswax (I used freshly grated, packed) 18 gr. So obviously, for a more accurate recipe, weight does make a difference since the density of the ingredients has a bearing on the end result. Is this correct or am I missing something?

You are completely correct! If you were to make the recipe you mention as a lotion bar, you'd have a sloppy mess as you only have 15.5% beeswax to harden the bar, versus the 30% we'd normally use.

To see what I did here - 44 grams shea butter + 54 grams cocont oil + 18 grams beeswax = 116 grams. I divided each thing by 116 grams to get the percentage. 18 grams beeswax/116 grams total = 15.5% rounded down slightly. Check out this post on how to figure out the percentages. 

This is how I generally explain it. If I say to use 1/4 cup cocoa butter, is that before or after I've melted it? Is that cocoa butter in pastilles, shards, or almost a fine powder? Measuring by volume is completely inaccurate for bath & body products and leads to ruined products. Instead, I suggest using 10 grams cocoa butter, and it doesn't matter what shape the ingredient might be as it'll always be 10 grams of cocoa butter.

As well, if you're doing things by weight, you use fewer containers and utensils as you're measuring straight into the container, rather than using 1/4 cup this and 1/3 cup that and all those teaspoons. So using the scale = less messy clean up after formulating fun! Woo!

What do you do if you find a recipe you're dying to make in volume measurements? Leave it alone. Find another recipe. I know, this isn't the answer we want, but it'll lead to far less heartache and far fewer wasted ingredients. If you find a lotion that has the preservatives in teaspoons, how do you know if you have enough in there? You don't, and neither does the person writing the recipe. There are so many good formulas out there written by volume that you can walk away from the ones that aren't done properly. (Check out this post on figuring out if this is a good recipe for not!)

Learn how to substitute one oil for another - there are very few situations in which you can't trade one liquid oil for another liquid oil in a formula - and one butter for another and use a formula you already know works with the oil you like.

There's one exception to this rule and that's all about mineral make-up and things like colourants or dyes. Oftentimes, we're using such tiny quantities that they can't be measured with even a tiny tiny scale that measures to 0.01 grams. So we use scoops and spoons and drops.

Related posts:
Everything you might need to know about formulas, including measuring by weight
Weight vs. volume
Specific density

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekday Wondering: Why isn't my product spraying properly? revisited

In this post, Why isn't my toner spraying properly? we had a discussion about using misters to dispense toners.

I think one of the problems is that the tube to the mister might not be wide enough if you're using powdered botanical extracts that might precipitate a bit and spray poorly. We want something with a thicker tube for the spray, like this trigger mister you see on the right hand side of the picture.

It's like using treatment pumps for thicker lotions. An 80% water lotion will pump nicely, but don't try it with a body butter or even a hand lotion with butters.

I know most of you aren't as fortunate as I am to be able to visit your favourite supplier and try out different misters and pumps, so ask your supplier what they recommend. For instance, if you're looking at something for a 2 ounce or 60 ml bottle, odds are very good they're thinner tubes than something for a 2 or 4 ounce HDPE bottle, the like ones in the picture above. Tell your supplier what you're using them for, and listen to what she recommends.

For instance, at Voyageur Soap & Candle, you can find this trigger mister as 24-410, which you can see has a thicker tube than the 24-410 fine spray mister.  The trigger one would be a far better choice for something that contains powdered extracts.

Do you have any suggestions about mister sprays? Share your thoughts!

Weekend Wonderings: What kind of colourants would we use for shampoo or conditioner or liquid soap?

In this post, Can I use BTMS-25 in a solid conditioner?, Baby Kat asks: Very interesting point. So far, I have always used btms 50 and it works well for me. I wanted to ask, what kind of colorants would you recommend to add to shampoo/conditioner/liquid soap? I find it more appealing when the color of the product goes along with the scent. (I.e. yellow for lemon, etc). I have tried micas but I don't find them ideal. Thanks!

If you have something that contains water, like a lotion, body wash, soap, and so on, you can use water soluble colourants from our suppliers, like LabColours.

I use LabColours (link to Voyageur Soap & Candle) and this version works for alkaline and acidic products. (I'm also having a love affair with these neon colourants. Look at this soap!)

I know Brambleberry has different LabColours for different pH levels, so check to make sure you're getting the ones you want. 

Check the pH on the product in which you're using your colours first. If you're creating a lotion, it should be in the acidic range of pH 6.9 or lower, so no worries.

For surfactant based products, like bubble baths or body washes, you should be in the acidic range, too. Although, if you're using something like decyl glucoside or some of the newer surfactants, you may be in the alkaline or over pH 8 range, so make sure you test it first (and bring the pH down, as per this post).

If you're making liquid soap, you're definitely in the over pH 8 or alkaline range, so you'll need to use something that works with alkaline products.

Lovely readers, what colourants do you use in your products? Share your thoughts and your links in the comments!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Update on comments...

I'm working my way through the comments. I think I'm up to September 1st - woo! - so please bear with me as it takes quite some time to answer what you've asked in a thoughtful way. As you can see, one question can lead to a post, and I find myself re-visiting old posts and re-researching some of the information to share more with you.

Could you please please please find a suitable post in which you ask your question? Asking about a preservative in a post about conditioners means no one will see what you've written except you, which means I'm doing a lot of work that no one will see again. If you want to ask a question about liquid Germall Plus, please do a search and put it in a post about liquid Germall Plus. I know this seems like a bit more work than choosing the latest post, but it really will help out other readers and make it easier for me to answer you.

And can you come back and respond to my comments if I've responded to yours? I know I'm a few months overdue, but there are some to which I've responded a few minutes later, and I never hear anything again. This is especially frustrating if I've spent time helping you out and...nothing. It takes a lot of time to respond to comments - which is one of the reasons I get backlogged like this - and it's all pointless if you don't see it. There's the ability to get notifications to comments on the thread, so you'll see my responses if turn that on.

I'm always happy to see your comments, reports on formulas, and more, so please keep them coming! It's unfortunate that I have to have the older posts monitored for spam, and that problem is only getting worse, but know that I do read and post everything you write (providing it's not spam or really mean to me).

Weekend Wonderings: Making clay masks and using essential oils in facial products

In this question, Newbie Tuesday: Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser, Jessica asks: I am actually working on something at home and I have pink french clay and I want to make some sort of scrub for the face. Most of the websites that I can buy the clay from just suggest mixing with water and adding to the face but i would like to add more than just water to my product. I was wondering if I could add essential oil or some hydrolyzed proteins or some tea tree oil.

Clay is incredibly hard to preserve, so it's always best to make a clay mask just before using it by adding it to a small bit of lotion or a toner or something similar. In my recent botanical extract (part one) e-zine, I made a bunch of these by creating the clay portion, then adding a gel or toner to it before applying to my face. Add your hydrolyzed proteins, hydrosols, and other water soluble ingredients to the toner or gel, and add powdered botanicals to the dry clay mask portion.

If you want to add clay to a product that you'll preserve, please use a really strong, broad spectrum preservative designed for hard to preserve products, like Phenonip or Germaben II at 1%, and only keep it for a week or so. After that, you're asking for contamination.

As a note, this is red reef clay from Windy Point Soap in Alberta. It's a type of kaolin clay. It's an awesome burgundy colour, but note that a little goes a long way. Make sure you do a patch test before doing a full, thick facial mask. 

As an aside, please think twice before adding essential oils to your facial products. I know they can offer some pretty awesome properties, but they also add a fragrance that is pretty hard to wash off when you're sick of it. I know lavender seems lovely at first, but picture wearing it all day just under your nose. If you wish to use EOs this way, please start with 0.05% or 0.1% and see what you think.

Clays can be great fun in our products, but always remember they don't preserve well. Keep you, your family and friends, and your potential customers safe by keeping them separate until used, preserving the product well, and doing patch tests for those clays that might seem a little darker.

You have so many to choose from, and they're so inexpensive when compared to other ingredients. As someone with oily, sensitive skin, I like white and red reef kaolin, pink clay, and glacial clay. Buy a few and see what you like best! Remember to keep great notes!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I'm presenting at the HBBG & HSCG conference in Toronto in June 2018

The excitement just doesn't stop around here lately! I'm so excited to be presenting at the 2018 conference held by the Handmade Bath & Body Guild and Handmade Soap and Cosmetics Guild in Toronto. I'll be leading two workshops - cold process emulsifiers, kindly sponsored by Windy Point Soap, and hair care products, kindly sponsored by Voyageur Soap & Candle. This is going to be awesome!

I understand Kevin Dunn of Scientific Soapmaking and Ariane Arsenault will be there, along with Lela Barker, Charlene Simon, and Kerri Mixon. Health Canada will be attending, too.

If you've never been to a conference before, I encourage you to consider it. I know it isn't cheap when you factor in the conference cost, hotel, food, flight, and so on, but it's so wonderful to be surrounded by people who don't glaze over when you start talking about the skin feel of different emulsifiers or the virtues of different preservatives. We had a blast in Banff in 2015, and we had so much fun earlier this year in Las Vegas hanging out with Jen from Lotioncrafter

Think of the awesome karaoke fun we'll have when everyone's a few drinks into the night. (I call dibs on "The Final Countdown"!) And Raymond has offered to run a Dungeons & Dragons night as well as do fun things with the spouses and partners who aren't all about the formulating.

If you have a business, I think you can write it off, which is a bonus. But that's not important now...

Weekday Wonderings: Liquid Germall Plus, and a thought about contamination

In this post, Preservatives: Phenoxyethanol, Paola asked: Quick question Re: Liquid Germal Plus... It's my favourite preservative to use...however, I'm a little worried about using it because there are articles out there saying it's not the healthiest preservative out there...BUT it preserves my products like no other. Are there any skin care brands who use LGP to preserve their products? Or is it more seen in the DIY realm ?

Yes, I've seen many companies using the combination of propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate that we find in Liquid Germall Plus. (Here's an example and here's another one. A quick search will turn up many more.)

I guess my question is why do people think it's not "healthy". What does "healthy" mean? I'm not trying to be insulting or sarcastic by putting quotation marks around the word. I really don't know what that could mean. I'm guessing there's something in there people don't like, but that doesn't mean the ingredient is unhealthy.

Liquid Germall Plus has a long history of keeping our products safe from contamination, which keeps me and the people who use my products happy and well. I see some preservatives being advertised as "natural" that aren't holding up so well over the long term or in tests. But everyone has to make that decision for themselves. I like liquid Germall Plus and happily recommend it to anyone who wants to make products.

As an aside, I saw a blog writer stating that products will go bad eventually no matter what we do. This isn't true. If you start clean, use ingredients from reputable suppliers, follow good manufacturing processes, use clean containers for our products, and use a good, broad spectrum preservative suitable for the product at the suggested usage rate, there's no reason a product should go bad. I have lotions which stink up the room with their gross rancidity because they're so old that have no evidence of contamination. Please start clean and you'll end up clean!

As it's taking me quite a long time to get to comments, remember that you can find out so much information by doing a search on the blog or by visiting one of the sections of the blog, like the preservatives section. There are comparison charts that will help get you on your way much quicker than waiting for me to respond. 

Weekday Wonderings: Can we make a shampoo bar without cocamidopropyl betaine?

In this post on shampoo bars, Bella asked: Is it ok to make a syndet shampoo bar without cocamidopropyl betaine? Everyone makes it seem like an impossibility, but there is a company that makes them and they are sellilng very well and I don't see that ingredient in their product. The company is Ethique, here is the ingredients: Sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium coco-sulfate, decyl glucoside, stearic acid, Cocos nucifera (coconut) butter, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, vegetable glycerine, coco caprylate, cetearyl alcohol, coconut milk powder, Mentha piperita (peppermint oil), copper chlorophyll, lactic acid. I read that cocamidopropyl betaine some people are very sensitive to, so I was hoping to do without it. It is also really hard to find in small amounts to buy. Is using decyl glucoside enough to make the bar less irritating?

Yes, we can completely make a shampoo bar without cocamidopropyl betaine, but there are so many reasons to use it. Here are two...

1. It helps melt sodium cocoyl isethionate well. SCI can be a bit of a pain to melt, especially if you're dealing with noodles or flakes, and cocamidopropyl betaine gets that process going faster.

2. Cocamidpropyl betaine makes surfactant blends milder, which means less irritation.

Decyl glucoside isn't the mild surfactant everyone seems to think it is. It's nice and all, but it can have a super high pH - we're talking as high as 11, which is terrible for hair - and very few people think about reducing that to an acidic pH. You'll notice in the ingredient list you mention, there's some lactic acid there, perhaps to reduce the pH. In fact, the alkyl glucosides, of which decyl glucoside is one, was declared the allergen of this year because of all the contact dermatitis they think it's causing. If you plan to use it, please make sure you reduce the pH to a more hair friendly level of 4.5 to 6-ish.

If you don't want to or can't use cocamidopropyl betaine, consider one of the other amphoteric secondary surfactants like disodium cocoamphodiacetate, sodium cocoamphoacetate, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, or sodium lauroamphoacetate. All of them will increase the mildness of the product.

I've been working with all kinds of surfactants over the last 18 months, and I'm so excited to be able to share more about them in the next month or so! 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Why do my salts turn to mush when I use urea?

In this post, Why do my Dead Sea salts get wet?, C commented: Something similar happens to me every time a make my foot bath salts, the whole mixture turns into wet mush. I use urea and ordinary coarse sea salt and some essential oils. I store the foot bath salt in a airtight container with the lid tightly on. This doesn't happen to the individual substances on their own or if I mix the essential oils with the sea salt. Only when they are all mixed together. 

Urea is a humectant, something that draws water from the atmosphere to our skin. The urea in your product is drawing water from the air to the product, causing the salts to dissolve. (Read more about urea in this post.)