Sunday, March 31, 2013

Portlandia: Mother's Son products

You know I had to include this video on the blog! I love Portlandia! "We can pickle that!"

Weekend Wonderings: Compensating for evaporation, adding water soluble ingredients to a serum, and citronellyl methylcrotonate.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE OTHER INGREDIENTS WHEN THEY EVAPORATE DURING HEAT AND HOLD?
In this Weekend Wonderings comment post, Anitra asks: This one's related to our heated water phases; When compensating for evaporation, do we need to compensate for any of the goodies (panthenol, glycerine, aloe, etc.) added to the heated water phase as well? Or are we just losing water? I've assumed the former, but thought I'd ask. 

In last weekend's Weekend Wonderings we took a look at compensating for evaporation, so your question is a logical extension of that! We are losing the water, for the most part. Some ingredients are quite volatile and will evaporate quite quickly - alcohol, for instance - but most will only lose the water and leave the solids behind. When we get something like aloe vera, we will lose some of the water, but the solids - polysaccharides, amino acids, and polyphenols - will be left behind.

Related posts:
Weekend Wonderings: Compensating for evaporation
Question: Compensation for evaporation
Surface area and our products

HOW CAN WE ADD WATER SOLUBLE INGREDIENTS TO A SILICONE SERUM?
In the same post, Marjo asks: I make the dimethicone cyclomethicone serum too and was wondering if there is a way to add polyquat to it (since that is water soluble?) I use regular dimethicone. 

To add water soluble ingredients to your serum, you'll need an emulsifier. You can turn it into a lotion type product by adding an appropriate emulsifier - for instance, BTMS-50 might be a good idea if it's a hair product - but it will change the nature and skin/hair feel. You could consider using an emulsifier made for silicones - Lotioncrafter Serum SE, for instance - which would keep the consistency as a serum.

I wasn't sure which polyquat you were referring to, so the information here is a bit generic. 

If this is for your hair, consider using two products. A leave in conditioner with the polyquat in it and a serum. In an ideal world, we be able to make multitaskers that were awesome, but I have found that using two separate products is easier to formulate and still makes my hair happy!

HAS ANYONE USED CITRONELLYL METHYLCROTONATE?
In the Weekend Wonderings comment post, Simone asks: Hi Susan. I was wondering if you or any of your 'followers' have used a product called SINODOR®, made by Givaudan. INCI Name: Citronellyl Methylcrotonate. It is supposed to neutralise odours of the base product...I have issues with the fragrances of Chamomile and Witchhazel and some oils. My husband says that some ("a lot") of the products I make have a chemical smell to them (unrefined Shea butter, being one of the culprits) rather than a fragrance. Need I say that I am only making for my family at present, until I get this perfume issue sorted.

I'm wondering why you don't just use a fragrance or essential oil in your products? I find a lot of what I make smells a bit earthy - which I hate! - but 1% fragrance or essential oil can make a huge difference. From what I can tell, this ingredient appears to be used in "natural" deodorants. I haven't tried it.

Has anyone tried this ingredient? Tell us what you think! 

Join me tomorrow for a special long weekend edition of Weekend Wonderings! And if you have a question, why not pop over to the Weekend Wonderings comment post and share your thoughts?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What do you think of this visual tutorial?

I found this thing called SnapGuide tonight, so I created a guide to making an emulsified sugar scrub.


I'll be posting more on my channel - which is under my name, Susan Barclay Nichols, not Swiftcraftymonkey - when I have time!

I only have the one guide so far, but I would love to hear your feedback and making other ones. What should I be including or leaving out? Would you like to see video? Is this even useful? (This one was built from pictures I had on hand. I will be taking pictures as I go for other guides.)

Thanks in advance for any and all feedback!

Sorry for the silence...

It has been one of those weeks! (Although I'm starting to think it might be one of those lifetimes...) I tripped on the stairs of my best friend's house, and my herniated disk has been causing me great pain all week. I guess I'm not a Viking (yet). I'm one of those porcelain Victorian dolls with one slightly askew cloudy blue eye who falls off her chair every time you look at her. I'm not dead - I'm getting better - but it does mean that I haven't been sitting much at the computer. (My iPad is great, but it is hard writing posts with links and pictures on it!) I hope to post one of my two Weekend Wonderings tomorrow, so keep your questions and thoughts coming. And please comment on the Newbie Tuesday post - the oils comparison is all about what you think!

Game of Thrones season 3 is 26 hours away! Squeeee!

And to those of you who are spamming me, I'll be writing reviews of the products you are promoting, which is what you want, right? (Sneak preview: They are awful! And very very expensive!)

Here are a few pictures of our recent craft group projects! The first picture - Shrinky Dinks keychains. The second - polymer clay jewellery. The third one - SUSHI! The fourth one - a really cool pendant one of the girls made for a friend.







Weekend Wonderings: Oils good for our hair, what does "neat" mean, and how do we stop whipped butters from melting in the heat?

What's up with the Dish? I have no idea. If you know, please post something here! 

WHICH OILS MIGHT BE GOOD FOR OUR HAIR?
In this post on which oils might be good for hair, Nancy writes: I have dry dry hair that is fine and fragile. I am trying to give up the expensive salon products and have embarked on a mission to make my own with varying degrees of success. The shampoo I think I have figured out but conditioner is stumping me. I have spent hours and hours researching ingredients to moisturize my hair. Humectants ultimately do not help in the low humidity of winter. I am adding oils (they vary - sweet almond is the best so far) to the commercial conditioner but my goal is to go commercial free. Any suggestions for what to add to my concoctions that will super moisturize hair?? I just do not want to spend tons of $ on stuff that is not going to work. I am able to load my hair up with oil - anti humectant oils - and they soak right in, apparently, because I am not oily. My hair is virgin, graying and longish.

When it comes to adding ingredients to commercial products, my general suggestion is to not to do it. Commercial products will contain only as much preservative as necessary, so adding something to the product - even a small amount like 5% - can throw the preservation system out of whack. If you really must do this, remove a small amount from the bottle and add the oil to that and use it just the once.

If I need some extra moisturizing for my hair, my first choice is always coconut oil. It has been extensively studied (click here for a summary), and it has shown an affinity for the proteins in our hair. I like to use it neat - which is to say, I put it in a Pyrex jug and melt it down, then I slather it on my hair and let it sit for a bit before washing - but some people love putting it into a conditioner. (I don't see a point in putting it in a shampoo. You're washing it out, and it's a pain to get an oil to work well in a surfactant mix. Save it for your pre-wash oiling or conditioner!) I've linked to many many recipes for conditioner at the end of this part of the post, and I suggest you try one of those!

You can use other oils - click here for the emollients section of the blog - but none of them will work the way coconut oil will. And for price, you can't beat coconut oil! I think it's about $5 a pound or so, which is an amazing price, and you can generally get it in your local megamart!

Some will argue for argan oil for your hair. It seems like a nice oil, filled with oleic and linoleic acid, but there doesn't appear to be anything that makes it better for our hair compared to sunflower, olive oil, avocado, and so on. There aren't any studies out about its affinity for hair, and that Moroccan oil product everyone loves is filled with silicones, which we know are awesome for defrizzing and smoothing hair.

I have heard your repeated requests for me to try this oil, but remember that just about everything I use on the blog is purchased by me with my own money. I really can't justify spending $15 for 4 ounces at the moment when there are other ingredients to buy, like activated charcoal and neon soap colourants! Sorry! 

Related posts:
Coconut oil
Conditioners: Adding oils to leave in conditioners
Conditioners: Adding oils to rinse off conditioners
Conditioners: Adding butters to intense conditioners
Conditioner: Adding oils - coconut oil
Coconut oil and hair products
Coconut oil and hair products (earlier version)
Shampoo: Creating conditioning shampoo bars for dry hair

WHAT DOES "NEAT" MEAN?
In this post on coconut oil, Leana asks: What is "neat"? I've seen it referred to in a couple of your posts, but I have no idea what it is.

"Neat" means undiluted. Some things can be used neat on our skin - our carrier oils, exotic oils, humectants, and so on - and some things can't be - essential oils, some extracts, cosmeceuticals. I try to indicate when something can be used neat on our skin - for instance, for the Newbie Tuesday series we're doing about the skin feel of carrier oils - and when they can't, usually when we're talking about essential oils.

HOW CAN I STOP A WHIPPED BUTTER FROM MELTING I THE HEAT?
In this post on coconut oil, Kari asks: I was just thinking the other day about ways to have a whipped butter without it melting in the summer. I'm in the southern part of the US, and during the summer it gets HOT. If I have the butter in my bag or car, it melts in minutes. Do you have any other suggestions of what combination or types of ingredients would help keep anhydrous butters from melting? Currently my anhydrous products have 60% butters, and 40% oils. I've tried 80% butters, 20% Oils and still melts quickly.

This is a tough question because it really is about experimenting with what works for you. Don't leave it in your car. If you have to do this for something like an outdoor market, keep it in a cooler or in a bag with some icea. And consider that some companies refuse to sell or transport whipped butters in the summer months because of this very problem.

The key is to increase the melting point of your product. This will require some experimenting on your part because you'll have to see how each ingredient alters the skin feel of the product. Adding a stiffer butter means the product might be harder to remove from the container, might not melt on contact with your skin, and might feel a bit more draggy.

Step one is to remove any oils or butters with low melting points. Coconut oil is right out as it melts around 76˚F (24˚C), so you'll have pools of oil in your car or home the moment the weather turns summer-y. Cocoa butter melts around 38˚C (100˚F), so that's not a bad choice, mango butter starts to melt around 34˚C to 38˚C, and shea butter varies depending on the level of refinement, but generally it's in the same range, from 34˚C to 38˚C. There are some exotic butters you could use as well, but I'd make sure you are in the 34˚C to 40˚C range.

The second thing is to introduce an ingredient that might make the product harder to melt. You can include beeswax - maybe up to 10%, although that might be a bit much? - or another wax. Or perhaps one of the fatty alcohols might be a good idea here. I did some experimenting a while ago, and I can suggest up to 10% cetyl alcohol might be a good inclusion. I found cetearyl alcohol to be a bit waxy feeling, but it would also be a great choice. Stearic acid is not a great choice - it's too draggy!

There are a few other ingredients that might help increase the melting point, but remember that each one will alter the skin feel of your product. Maybe cera bellina, which is a modified beeswax, or Lipidthix? These are just a few thoughts!

As an aside, I would never make a whipped butter with coconut oil. It melts far too easily and it won't keep its shape for long. I see people all over the 'net making whipped butters with coconut oil - please stop now. 

Related posts:
Question: The melting points of butters?
Back to basics: An aside on melting butters
Experiments in the workshop: Shea butter without butter - cetyl alcohol
Lipidthix - making a butter! 

Have a Weekend Wondering? Hop on over to this post and add your question to the list!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Tea Tree Oil Creamy Facial Cleanser & Make-up Remover

Richard Wright, spammer, posted a link to this product, Tea Tree Oil Creamy Facial Cleanser & Make-up Remover, so I thought I'd give him a little of the promotion he wanted. Let's take a look at this product.

For a mere $24.95 you get: Organic Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Organic Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, Distilled Water, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Essential Oil, Organic Melaleuca quinquenervia viridiflora (Niaouli) Essential Oil. (There is no listing for the size of this product.)

What you're buying are a few inexpensive oils - sunflower and castor oils - combined with water and glycerin. I think they're using lecithin as the emulsifier, and they've left out the preservatives, which we know is a bad thing!

You could easily make this product yourself by combining sunflower (or another light oil with lots of linoleic acid) and castor oil - let's say 45 grams of each - with 5 grams of lecithin and 5 grams of glycerin. You can add the tea tree oil at 1% to 2%. I would also add 1% Phenonip because we have added water to the product. How much would this cost? Hmm, maybe $1? Maybe $2 if we include the cost of the bottle.

POSSIBLE DUPLICATION FOR THIS CREAMY CLEANSER
43% sunflower or other high linoleic acid oil
44% castor oil
5% lecithin
5% glycerin
1% tea tree oil
1% oil soluble preservative

In a heatproof container, weigh the lecithin and glycerin together and mix well. Weigh the oils and preservative into the container and heat until about 45˚C in a double boiler. (Do not use a microwave for this as you cannot control the temperature properly.) Remove from the double boiler and add the tea tree oil. Let cool and bottle. Rejoice!

Have you used these products? What was your take on them? And they claim to be good for acne prone or oily skin. What was your reaction? (I can tell you that my acne prone skin would have a horrible reaction to adding this much oil to my face!)

Spammers: Do you want me to pick apart your product and help my readers make their own versions for a fraction of the cost? If so, continue to post your spam in the comments section of my posts!

Related posts:
Essential oils: Tea tree oil (part 1)
Essential oils: Tea tree oil (part 2)
Tea tree oil - adding it to cleansers and toners

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Testing skin feel of our oils

Last week we decided we would get to know our oils a little better by testing them neat on our skin and writing down the results. This week, let's do it!

Before we start, prepare a little chart for yourself that outlines the name of the oil, the colour, the viscosity (very light, light, medium, and heavy), the skin feel, and your thoughts. Include other information you think might be valuable such as the reason you might want to include it - full of polyphenols! - or not include it - too expensive!!! - and the name of your supplier. Write down whatever information you think would be helpful for future reference. I like to put in my research or notes I've learned about the oil.

If I can make a suggestion, start with either a really dry oil or a really greasy oil so you have some kind of benchmark. I'd choose sunflower or soy bean oil as the really greasy standards or grapeseed, hazelnut, or macadamia nut oil as my dry standards. That way you can say "greasier than sunflower oil" or "greasier than hazelnut" in your notes.

Click here for a Word doc I've created as a sample chart. It isn't that exciting, but it's a start! And click here for the emollients page of the blog! 

Here's an example of how my chart might look...and note, I would be writing this by hand in the workshop, so if you plan to use the chart above, make sure you put in a bunch of spaces before printing it!


Why bother with this information? What's the point?

Name of the oil: You want to know what you're using, right? The INCI name is the name given to the oil that you will see on cosmetic labels. If you plan to sell your products - but don't for quite some time! - you need to use this name on your labels.

Colour might not seem like such an important thing, but if you wanted to make a really white balm like this one, fractionated coconut oil really is the only choice if you aren't planning to use esters.

Viscosity means how thick the oil is, and you want to know whether it'll pour out of the bottle like water - like fractionated coconut oil - maple syrup, or liquid wax!

Skin feel? Isn't that the reason we're all here today? Pour a little into your hand or into a small shot glass (or even smaller cup) and stick your finger into it. How does it feel when you put your finger into the container? How does it feel when you spread it on the back of your hand? How about on your arm? How long can you spend rubbing it in? Does it start to feel sticky as you rub it in or does it feel like it's being absorbed? How does it feel 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes later? Does it feel like you have something on your skin or does it feel it has disappeared? Does it feel occlusive - like it has formed a layer on your skin - or absorbed?

I realize this seems obvious, but don't pour a ton of oils into the sample cup because you'll be throwing it away! 

Other thoughts are important. This is where I put my research, costs, supplier, and anything else that doesn't fit into the other categories. Consider writing something about how that oil compares to another one that seems similar. Compare the lighter oils to other ones, especially sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oils to see if you notice a huge difference. And consider the smell. (I can't stand earthy things, so something like unrefined hemp seed oil really offends my nose!) If you might be using this in something unscented, this is a really important consideration.

As a quick note, if you notice that there are things floating in my pictures of oils, it's because they have been in the fridge or my unheated workshop, and it's been hovering around 0˚C lately. This clouding is called the titer point, the point at which fatty acids will solidify. If you find your oils doing this, you need to heat them slowly until they become liquid again. Shaking them isn't enough. You might be able to leave them at room temperature and see them come together again, but I really recommend heating them to room temperature. Surfactants also have this problem. 

We're all set for testing. Grab a pen, print off the chart (or make your own), get out the shot glasses, and get ready to cover yourself in oil! Choose two of the lighter oils - my suggestion is to try sunflower or soy bean against hazelnut, grapeseed, or macadamia nut oil. Pour each into a shot glass - label them if necessary - and write down your first thoughts about viscosity and colour.

A few questions you might ask yourself...
  • How did it pour from the container? 
  • How does the viscosity compare to water? To each other?
  • How clear is the oil? What colour is it? 
  • Is there a smell to the oil? Is it pleasant? Nutty? Earthy? Sweet? 
Now try them on your skin. Dip your finger into the cup and spread it on the back of your hand or arm.

A few questions to consider...
  • Does it feel greasy? Does it feel dry?
  • How well can you rub it on the back of your hand?
  • After a few seconds of rubbing, does it feel sticky? Greasy?
  • Does it feel like it creates a coating on your skin or does it feel like it sinks in?
  • After 10 minutes, what does your skin feel like? How about 30 minutes?
  • Does your skin look shiny? If you've applied it on your nails, does it look shiny or matte?
  • And anything else that might be meaningful to you. 
If you're really daring, take a lick of your skin and see how the oil tastes. I know this sounds weird, but if you want to include it in a product for your face - lip balm, lotion bar, moisturizer - this is relevant. I remember thinking olive oil had tons of great qualities for a lip product without thinking how it would taste. One word - ick!

If you stick to the list of oils from last week's post, they are all edible. If in doubt, ask your local supplier!

And finally, stop by the post about that oil in the emollients section of the blog and see what it has to offer you by way of interesting vitamins, polyphenols, phytosterols, fatty acids, and everything else awesome!

For your butters, you can try to spread shea or mango butter on your skin and see what you think of it. For cocoa butter, this might prove a bit painful. Melt a bit - 5 to 10 grams - in a microwave safe container for a few seconds or heat in your double boiler until liquid. Let it sit on the counter until it is cool enough and starting to harden. Try a bit on your skin and see what you think!

When you've accumulated information on at least three oils, I'd love it if you made a comment to share your thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers here, and the more we share, the more we learn! I can't wait to see what you think!

Join us next week to compare some thoughts about our oils before moving on to making a body oil!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Compensation for evaporation, Polawax as a possible replacement for beeswax, and using Epsom salts in bath bombs

Have something you want to ask? Visit the Weekend Wondering comment post and ask away! 

COMPENSATION FOR EVAPORATION AFTER HEATING AND HOLDING
In an e-mail, Brittany asks: I've struggled with the heating of the water phase for a while now. You suggest to heat the water phase for 20 minutes, but to add more than the needed amount to account for evaporation. I find that after 20 minutes, most of my water is completely gone so I'm stuck with having to add more and reheat. This continues until I just end up adding the unsterilized amount I need to make up for evaporation. Any tricks to make this easier or am I just missing something?

I answer this question in great detail in this post - question: compensation for evaporation - but the basic idea is to heat and hold some water in a separate container and add it to the product after you remove the heated water phase from the double boiler. I measure out my heated water phase, weigh the entire container before heating, and add back what I lost at the end of the process. You can boil up some water and let it cool down to 70˚C to 80˚C as well. Please use distilled water for this process.

You don't want to add non-heated water to the heated water phase because it will mess with temperatures, which can lead to a serious lotion fail.

If you are losing all your water, something is happening that isn't quite right. Even making a 100 gram batch of lotion (say you have 60 grams of water) shouldn't result in losing all the water. Those Pyrex type jugs I have above will lose a lot more water than one that is partially covered - see this post for more information - so you might want to reconsider using another type of container. Perhaps putting a piece of plastic over the container to stop such huge amounts of evaporation would help?

As a quick note, I don't remember suggesting adding more water to the water phase at the start of the heating process. My suggestion has always been to add more similar temperature water at the end of the process. If you find a post where I suggest adding more, please let me know so I can correct that! 

Related posts:
Surface area and evaporation

CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE POLAWAX FOR BEESWAX?
In this post on emulsifying systems, Sera asks: I was wondering if you can use Polawax for a lip balm, instead of beeswax? I have Polawax at home but no beeswax and I really want to make a moisturizing lip balm. 

No. Emulsifying wax is not a wax - it is an emulsifier. Beeswax is what we would consider to be a traditional type of wax. The two are NOT interchangeable in any way. Adding it to a lip balm will make it taste weird, and it won't have any of the stiffness we come to associate with a lip balm.


Waxes are used to stiffen our products without making them too brittle, increase the melting temperature, and add structure to a product. Emulsifying waxes are used to bring water and oil together in a product to create emulsions. They are not even remotely close to each other in function. You can find beeswax in small white or yellow pellets, but this appearance is a coincidence.

Part of the confusion is the name - beeswax and e-wax do sound similar - but if you want to see if one can be used in place of the other, ask your self about the function of the ingredient. If I want to create a lotion, I need an emulsifier, therefore I should choose e-wax. If I want to create a lotion bar that is stiff and only melts on contact with my skin, then I want to use beeswax. We can use beeswax in our lotions to add a bit of drag and tenacity, but beeswax isn't an emulsifier.

Great question, Sera! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Related posts:
Question: Mixing oils and water
How do some people manage to get water soluble things into anhydrous products?

BATH BOMBS
In this post on bath bombs, Anonymous comments: Epsom salts?

I think this is in relation to the idea that one can put Epsom salts into a bath bomb. I haven't tried this. Have you? What were your results? I'd love to know what you thought of making and using a product like this!

Definitely don't put Dead Sea Salts into a bath bomb - they are very hygroscopic and will set off the fizz in your products while they are sitting waiting to be packaged!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekend wonderings: Preserving fresh fruit in products, measuring pH in a conditioner, and determining if an old oil is bad

PRESERVING FRESH FRUIT IN SUGAR SCRUBS
In this post about honeysuckle extract, Monique asks: Can you use this to preserve fresh puree fruits in sugar scrubs?

No. You can't use this type of powdered honeysuckle extract as a preservative. There is a type of honeysuckle extract that you might be able to use as a preservative, as we see in Natrapres preservative, but it isn't a broad spectrum preservative and it isn't suitable for preserving anhydrous products like sugar scrubs. (And I haven't really seen good results from anyone using it, to be honest.)

But which preservative to choose to preserve fresh fruit puree in a product is the least of our problems. You really shouldn't be adding anything with water to an anhydrous sugar scrub because any water soluble ingredients you add will dissolve the sugar and make a horrible mess in a jar. Secondly, you really shouldn't be using fruit puree in any product because the potential for contamination becomes almost a guarantee if you are keeping it for more than one application, especially if you're mixing that fruit puree with sugar!

Consider this: Mash a banana, mix it with some sugar, and leave it on the counter for a day. Watch what happens over those 24 hours. What happens after 48 hours? Fresh fruit puree may sound lovely in theory, but it starts to sound quite icky after even a day out of the fridge as it browns, gets mushier, and starts the rotting process. Which is one of the reasons powdered and liquid extracts exist. We want to have those lovely sounding fruits, veggies, flowers, and leaves in our products, but using the extracts means we get quality control for things like the amount of active ingredient, good preservation, and good solubility, things we don't get adding a mango to a lotion!

Related posts:
Answering comments: Salt or sugar in water based scrubs
Question: How does Lush use fresh fruit in their products? (part one)
Question: How does Lush use fresh fruit in their products? (part two)
Why can't we use tea in our products?

MEASURING pH IN CONDITIONERS
In this post on how to measure pH, Mya asks: I make my own conditioner. I have a pH meter that I bought from the Herbarie. Why is it that when I measure the pH of my product right after the emulsification process (after I am finished making it), the pH is lower than it is the next day? Usually, when I measure the pH the next day it is 0.20 to 0.50 higher. Do you know why this happens?

It is likely because your product is warm when you measure it, and it really should be at room temperature. The solubility of some of our ingredients rely upon room temperature or close to room temperature (20˚C to 25˚C), so a warm product isn't really the true measure of what it will become. Let it sit until it is at 20˚C to 25˚C before measuring it.

As a quick aside, it isn't a wise idea to stick your pH meter into your product the way I'm showing you above due to potential contamination of your entire product. I take pictures like this because it looks cool for the blog and it demonstrates my point. In the picture above, the red stuff is my pH 4 buffer. But I recommend you put a small sample of your product in a cup and measure it that way, then dispose of it. It's not that our meters are contaminated, but they might be and the fewer chances for contamination we have, the better.

Related posts:
Chemistry Thursday: How to test pH?

Chemistry of our skin: pH of our skin
Chemistry of our skin: pH and skin care products
An aside: pH of lotions
Adjusting the pH of our products


DETERMINING IF AN OLD OIL IS BAD
In this post on hemp seed oil, Nina asks: How you can tell when oil is bad? I have a bunch of oils that I bought three years ago - can I still use them for lotions? If not lotions, how about soap making? And, are they potentially dangerous to use if they are old? For what it's worth, they smell fine. Thanks!

Normally we can tell an oil is bad by the smell! But rancidity starts the day the oil is created, but we don't really notice the stench until it reaches critical mass and we have to throw that bottle out right that moment!

Every oil has a shelf life. Some can be up to a year - like soy bean or olive oil - and others are almost measured in weeks - like hempseed or grapeseed oil. There really aren't any natural oils that can go longer than a year, so I would be really apprehensive about using an oil that hasn't been in the freezer three years later. It might be that today they smell okay, but tomorrow they are horrible and you've wasted a lot of supplies creating a horrible product. (And when you heat them to make the product, you'll be speeding that rancidity up by just a litlte bit!) They aren't dangerous - they just smell really awful, and you wouldn't want that on your skin!

As for soap making, I don't make soap, so I can't comment, but I would think that an oil that isn't suitable for lotions would be a bad idea for soap as well.

So the short answer is that I wouldn't chance it. But it's really up to you to make that decision.

Related posts:
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity
Anti-oxidants

Have a question you want answered? Click here for the Weekend Wonderings comment post and let me know! You can leave questions anywhere on the blog, but I check there first every week!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A few thoughts about starting a business...

I was over at the Soap Queen's blog, and there was a very lively discussion about starting businesses. I saw a few things in the comments that got me thinking and I thought it might make for an interesting discussion here...

Experienced soap and bath and body makers will tell you not to run headlong into starting a business based on these crafts. The reason I tell potential businesses owners to give it time before selling products isn't because I'm jealous of you, I'm worried about competition (note: I don't sell my products), or I want to ruin your dreams. I worry that a newbie making a bad product will give handmade products a bad name. I worry that you won't use the proper preservative or get proper testing done and someone will get hurt and might sue you and ruin your life. I worry that you are entering a business you know little about, and you'll lose your money.

You have to take time to see how the product stands up over that time. You have to make mistakes and learn how to fix them. You have to learn which oils can be substituted for others so you don't have to have many different oils because you use 3% sweet almond oil in one product. You have to learn how to modify your products when your supplier is out of that thing or it's gone rancid. There is so much to learn, and I don't think you can do that in a few short months.

The idea of a craftsperson means that person has worked hard to obtain the skills they have and can be considered a master of that art. You don't become that after a few batches of lotion! 

I can't count how many people a week write to me and say that they are planning to start a "skin care line" or "hair care business" without having made a single product! I get that you have dreams, but shouldn't you see if you actually like making the products first? I tried selling my products for a very short period of time before I started the blog, and I didn't like it. I hated having to make the same products over and over again exactly the same way and I hated working on a deadline. (I realized that love making things for myself, writing the blog, and teaching classes, so it pushed me in that direction!) What if you start a business then hate what you do? There's a ton of money lost there!

If you want to start a business I won't stop you, but recognize that it isn't all hearts and flowers and the coolness of being an entrepeneur. Your very long hours will be filled with hard work. You will get disheartened when you get to the first farmers' market and no one buys a thing. You will get sad when you see your bank account in the red. You'll get upset when you see mould in your lotion or some weird pink discolouration in your scrub and have to throw it all out. Owning a business is a worth while thing, but why not start from a position of knowing how to face those inevitable mistakes or problems instead of floundering and losing money?

The reason experienced soap and bath and body makers are telling you to wait until you have more experience to open a business is because they've been there. They've lost sleep, time, money, and sanity with their businesses, and they are trying to help, not hinder. They want you to be successful and make tons of money and be happy! (They are offering you advice you would normally have to pay for, so take it!)

My dad always said to me that when I wanted to do something, I should find the smartest person in the room and pick their brains clean. That way I'd know as much as they did. It was about getting information but, more importantly, about learning what mistakes they had made so I could avoid them, too. When you shut down another person by calling them jealous or "haters", you're losing out on the opportunity to learn so much. Lose the defensiveness and let them mentor you so you can have the best business possible!

Thus endeth the rant...Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Learning about oils & butters - introduction

Don't underestimate the value of skin feel in your products. You can make the very bestest, seriously kicking bum kind of product filled with the very best cosmeceuticals, extracts, oils, and hydrosols, but if you hate the feel of it, you've wasted your time. When it comes to making lotions, whipped butters, lotion bars, and anything else with oils and butters, choosing the right combination can mean the difference between "meh" and "OH MY GOD!"

What do I mean by skin feel? It is, quite literally, the feeling of the product on your skin. How the product goes on your skin, how it feels going on and staying on your skin, how long it feels like it's there. Does it feel greasy or dry feeling? Does it feel occlusive, too heavy, too light? How long does it feel like it stays on your skin? Does it feel like it sinks in or stays on the surface of your skin? And so on. 

It's hard to know what skin feel you prefer when you're starting out in the fabulous world of making your own bath & body products, but for the most part I hear people say they want non-greasy or dry feeling products. If your main experience with bath & body products has been through store bought ones, then you have a different definition of greasiness than those of us who know what handmade can feel like. Almost as a rule, the greasiest product I can make you will feel substantially less greasy than store bought products, and that's generally because most store bought products use some mineral oil or petroleum in them, and those ingredients are greasier feeling than just about any of our oils.

What we'll be doing over the next few weeks is learning about our oils and butters by applying them to your skin neat and adding them to some anhydrous products - a whipped butter, a lotion bar, a body oil, a balm, and an oil based body scrub bar. We'll try a few versions of each so you can see what each ingredient brings to the party and how each oil feels on your skin.

How will we do this? I'm suggesting you buy at least one butter - preferably two - and a few oils to try out. Some of the oils will be grocery store ones, and others might be from our suppliers' more exotic selection. Your job will be to investigate the oils that sound interesting to you in the emollients section of the blog and decide what you want. I suggest getting a few, if your budget will stretch that far, but only small amounts, no more than 4 ounces of each oil. I suggest getting at least one light to medium oil, one medium to heavy oil, one that is considered to be less greasy, and one that is normal greasiness. If your budget will stretch that far, I really suggest getting fractionated coconut oil as it's a less greasy feeling very very light feeling oil that can be used in pretty much anything you want to make. (And it's non-staining for fabrics and sheets, which is a great choice for things like massage or body oils!) If you aren't sure what to get, I suggest choosing from these oils...

Light feeling oils 
  • sweet almond oil
  • apricot kernel oil
  • sunflower oil
  • soy bean oil 
  • grapeseed (less greasy)
  • hazelnut (less greasy)
  • macadamia nut (less greasy)
Medium to heavy oils
  • sesame seed oil (light to medium, not the roasted kind!)
  • rice bran oil (light to medium)
  • olive oil (medium to heavy)
  • avocado oil (medium to heavy)
Light, less greasy feeling oils
  • grapeseed
  • hazelnut oil
  • macadamia nut oil
If you're going to the grocery store, grapeseed, olive oil, and sunflower oil will be easy to find and great choices. Note that grapeseed oil has a three month life span, so store it in the fridge or cool, dark place and make sure you note the date you opened the bottle somewhere really visible. (Click here for more about grapeseed oil and shelf life.) You don't need to order a lot - 4 ounces should be enough for our projects, but you can get as much as you like if you really like the oil. Just make sure you store it properly so you can use it for other projects to come!

As for butters, shea butter will probably be the most functional for all the products, cocoa butter will bring the most hardness and occlusion to your bars, and mango butter will be a good in between butter that offers more dryness/less greasiness than the other two. For whipped butters, shea will be the best choice. For balms and lotion bars, pick the one you like best. For whipped butters, we'll want to use 70 to 80 grams of butters (2.5 ounces by weight?), for the balm and lotion bar we'll want to have somewhere around 60 grams (2 ounces), so 4 ounces isn't enough. I recommend at least 8 ounces (250 grams) because you will want to make more once you've tried each project!

I don't suggest getting coconut oil or palm kernel oil because there really isn't a place for these solid oils in the products we'll be making over the next few weeks. I know coconut oil; is really popular right now, but it melts at 76˚F, which is too low for it to be the main oil in anything as we approach spring and summer! 

Our first product will be a body oil because you can get all the ingredients you want at the supermarket, so we don't have to wait to place an order that might take a bit of time. We'll be making that on April 2nd!

SHOPPING LIST FOR MAKING A BODY OIL
  • oils
  • bottle (at least one plastic bottle)
  • label
  • rubbing alcohol (to spray the bottle to put the label on)
  • funnel
  • container and spoon for the oil
Yep, it really is that simple!

If you want to play along for the entire series, I suggest ordering the following...

SHOPPING LIST FOR THIS SERIES - FROM OUR SUPPLIERS
  • bottles - for body oil 
  • jars - for whipped butter and balm 
  • (optional) deodorant tubes - for lotion bars
  • oils (at least 4)
  • butters (1, possibly 2)
  • fragrance or essential oils (a small bottle will be sufficient)
  • (optional for scrub bars) about 1 ounce or 30 grams of emulsifying wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, Ritamulse SCG, Ritamulse BTMS-225, or any other emulsifier that looks good to you.  
SHOPPING LIST FOR THIS SERIES - THINGS YOU WILL FIND AT THE GROCERY OR HEALTH FOOD STORE
  • oils
  • butters
  • labels
  • rubbing alcohol (to spray on your containers)
  • paper towels
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT
  • double boiler* or microwave
  • digital scale that measures to 1 gram (at least)
  • Pyrex or heatproof jugs or glassware
  • spoons
  • mixer (ideally a hand mixer with whisks)
  • (optional for whipped butters) piping bags
  • (optional for whipped butters) 1M icing tip
  • (optional for lotion bars) mold for lotion bars and scrub bar
The double boiler can be a pot put on top of another pot on the stove top. You don't need to buy anything fancy.

Related posts:
Creating products - obtaining supplies
Creating products - equipment (part 1)
Creating products - equipment (part 2)
FAQ - scroll down to the "suppliers" section for suppliers near you

Here's the schedule I have in mind for this series. Those of you who simply can't wait are free to run ahead, just come back and share your thoughts with the group! For next week, consider testing the oils on your skin and keeping a record of what you think about them. Every week will start with questions, comments, and shared stories about the project from the week before. Then we'll get into the next product.

March 26th - Testing the oils and butters on our skin neat to see what we think of each of them.
April 2nd - Creating a body oil.
April 9th - Questions and answers about creating body oils.
April 16th - Making a whipped butter!
April 23rd - Questions and answers about creating whipped butters.
April 30th - Making lotion bars.
May 7th - Questions and answers about creating lotion bars.
May 14th - Making balms!
May 21st - Questions and answers about making balms.
May 28th - Making solid scrub bars!
June 4th - Questions and answers about making solid scrub bars!

So join me next Tuesday, March 26th for some serious fun testing and reviewing each oil we've bought! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Much maligned ingredients: Revisiting 1,4-dioxane

In this post, Anonymous asks about PEG-7 olivate: How is this in terms of non-toxic? Are there any concerns about health with this ingredient? I keep hearing some personal care products linked to a 1,4 dioxide carinogen for example.

I wrote a post about 1,4-dioxane in the much maligned ingredients series, but I'll write a little more today as I had a few thoughts I wanted to share. I will eventually answer these specific questions, but we need to know what 1,4-dioxane is, why we might find it in our products, and what evidence has been found about it before we can say if it's toxic or not.

What is 1,4-dioxane? From Wikipedia: "1,4-Dioxane...is a heterocyclic organic compound. It is a colorless liquid with a faint sweet odor similar to that of diethyl ether. It is classified as an ether."

As to its safety: Dioxane is classified by the IARC as a Group 2B carcinogen: possibly carcinogenic to humans because it is a known carcinogen in other animals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies dioxane as a probable human carcinogen (having observed an increased incidence of cancer in controlled animal studies, but not in epidemiological studies of workers using the compound), and a known irritant (with a no-observed-adverse-effects level of 400 milligrams per cubic meter) at concentrations significantly higher than those found in commercial products. Under Proposition 65, dioxane is classified in the U.S. state of California to cause cancer. (Again, Wikipedia)

As for California classifying it as a cause of cancer, it seems like they classify everything as causing cancer! Check out this comic then this one from Romantically Apocalyptic! Armageddon plus Hello Kitty equals hilarity! 

How the heck could 1,4-dioxane get into our products? Through the process of ethoxylation, which is done to increase the water solubility of our ingredients, like our emulsifiers. "Ethoxylation is an industrial process in which ethylene oxide is added to alcohols and phenols to give surfactants." In other words, without ethoxylation, emulsifying wax, Polawax, and other emulsifiers would just be fatty alcohols (like cetyl alcohol) that didn't mix with water. When something is ethoxylated, 1,4-dioxane can be produced as a side product.

When it comes to PEG type ingredients, they are ethoxylated to create a water soluble ester that might also work as an emulsifier. Ethylene oxide is added to a fatty acid or fatty acid alcohol, and in the end non-ionic surfactants are produced.

Let's pause for a second for an aside that will eventually make sense...There is an ad on TV I find really irritating lately. It says this: "Oat fibre has been shown to reduce cholesterol. Our product contains oat fibre."  The unspoken third sentence is that this product will help me reduce my cholesterol. But will it? Coming to erroneous conclusions is called a logical fallacy, specifically the if-then fallacy. We've all seen this kind of reasoning - I like musicals. "Cats" is a musical. I must like "Cats"! (I really didn't!) Why do I mention this in a post on 1,4-dioxane? Because I think we are labouring under a logical fallacy. "Ethoxylation creates 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-dioxane is a bad thing. Therefore, any product with ethoxylated ingredients is bad or toxic." It seems like a logical fallacy to me because there isn't any evidence that a small amount of this contaminant will have an impact on our health

When you read this sentence about a commitment made by a company - (they will) reduce 1,4-dioxane in all of its baby products to less than 4 parts per million (ppm) - do you think this is an accurate accompanying headline? "Johnson & Johnson Promises to Remove Carcinogens from Baby Products."


The dose makes the poison. "It means that a substance can produce the harmful effect associated with its toxic properties only if it reaches a susceptible biological system within the body in a high enough concentration (dose)." Everything can kill you at a high enough dose. To be a poison, it has to be used in the amount that wil kill you. 7.6 grams per kilogram on the skin will kill a rabbit (EPA document). If we extrapolated this to a human being's size, it's the equivalent of 380 grams (0.84 pounds) applied to the skin of someone weighing 55 kg (121 pounds). Using 3 mg in a

I don't encourage extrapolation of this kind as 4 to 5 castor seeds can kill a human, whereas it takes 80 to kill a duck. There are huge differences between what can kill a mouse and a guinea pig as well. But it serves the purpose of illustrating how a few milligrams on our skin isn't the huge deal some perceive it to be....and that my conclusion that ducks are evil is solidified further. 

From the EPA document: Dioxane has low acute toxicity. The liquid is painful and irritating to the eyes, irritating to the skin upon prolonged or repeated contact, and can be absorbed through the skin in toxic amounts...Death of a worker, probably attributable to one week’s inhalation exposure to about 1800 mg/m3 (500 ppm in air, which is roughly equivalent to 257 mg/kg over an 8-hour work day) has been reported. In that case, there was also the possibility of skin absorption since the dioxane was also used as a solvent to remove glue from hands (IARC 1976).

From the FDA (on cosmetics): FDA followed up with skin absorption studies, which showed that 1,4-dioxane can penetrate animal and human skin when applied in certain preparations, such as lotions. However, further research by FDA determined that 1,4-dioxane evaporates readily, further diminishing the already small amount available for skin absorption, even in products that remain on the skin for hours. (Robert L. Bronaugh, "Percutaneous Absorption of Cosmetic Ingredients," in Principles of Cosmetics for the Dermatologist, Philip Frost, M.D., and Steven Horwitz, M.D., Eds. St. Louis: The C.V. Mosby Company, 1982)

Again, you can see that there has to be quite a bit of 1,4-dioxane before we see some really awful results. A few milligrams found in a shampoo that you lather, rinse, and repeat is highly unlikely to have any effect on your health. Even ingredients left on your skin are unlikely to have any impact. (I say unlikely because I can't test this empirically. These conclusions are based upon the hours of research I've done on the topic reading well done studies and case reports by those more qualified than me.)

To answer the questions posed above: I wouldn't consider PEG-7 olivate to be a toxic ingredient, and I have never found anything about negative health effects that might arise from using it. There is the potential for 1,4-dioxane to remain in it after the ethoxylation process - as there is in any ethoxylated product - but after all the bad press about that compound, I would be shocked if the companies that made PEG-7 olivate hadn't removed every tiny bit that they could. And even if there is a bit left, it seems that there is consensus by reputable agencies and sources that there would need to be more than a titch to have an impact on health.

Please do not interpret this post as my encouragement to go out and slather yourself in 1,4-dioxane. It's a nasty customer that can do some serious damage to our health. My goal in this post is to get you to think about the conclusions to which we come and to give you another way to think about science, studies, claims, and our personal interpretation of those things. 

I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating. I have used all the ingredients about which I write on the blog. I share these products with people I love - my family, my friends, co-workers, and kids in my youth program. Would I share anything with them that I thought might cause harm? Would I suggest anything that I thought might cause you harm? 

If you want to comment on my post, play nicely. Use your name and avoid any attacks upon me or anyone else. Anything without a name will be deleted immediately. A friendly sign off is always welcomed. 

Further suggested reading: 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekend wonderings: Mixing gums, filling bottles, and "natural chemicals"

HIGH SHEAR AND GUAR GUM?
In this post on high shear, Lucy Townsend asks: If using guar gum in shampoo making and oils, I just mix with a spoon, would this be considered to be a "low shear" method? Am I using the correct method?

Are you using guar gum or cationic guar gum? They have similar names, but they aren't the same thing.

Guar gum is non-ionic, can be used at 0.3% to 5%, and works best in the pH range of 5 to 7. Cationic guar gum is cationic (positively charged), should be used at 0.2% to 1%, and works best in a pH range less than 7. They are both soluble in water and glycerin, and form gels. The instructions for the usage of each is slightly different, though.

My instructions for guar gum call for it to be sprinkled over room temperature water and left to sit for 15 minutes before being stick blended. (This would be considered a high shear way of mixing.)  My instructions for cationic guar gum is to sprinkle it in water and stir occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes until it is well hydrated. It doesn't say how to mix the product, only that it needs to be mixed. I've never bothered to use anything but a fork to stir my guar gum and I've used a fork and mixer for cationic guar gum mixes with great success for both. But is this is the right way to do it?

I checked with a few suppliers, and only Lotioncrafter offered instructions on how to use the cationic guar: "Add GuarCat™ to the vortex of well-agitated water and mix until dispersed. Adjust to pH 7.0 or less to remove the boron treatment and promote hydration of the polymer (citric acid can be used to adjust the pH as needed). Continue mixing for 15 minutes for full viscosity development." As you can see, they are recommending we use mixing stronger than using a spoon because of the words "well agitated". I'm not sure what equipment is necessary to well agitate the water, but I've used a hand mixer in the past and it seems like the water was well agitated there.

What is the right way to do it? I'm not sure. I don't have enough information. I'm gathering together what I have, but if using a spoon is working for you, then continue with that until we learn otherwise!

What do you suggest, my lovely readers? Do you have some links for me? I'd love to read more!

Related posts:
Anionic, cationic, and non-ionic?
Chemistry Thursday: Let's take a look at pH

A SIDE NOTE TO SUPPLIERS ABOUT PROVIDING US WITH MORE INFORMATION
A side note: Dear Suppliers: Could you please put the instructions on how to use your ingredients on the listing on your site? I don't need an essay, but something like this in the post somewhere would be nice. "This ingredient is water soluble, and can be used in the heated water phase of your products at up to x%. It can handle temperatures up to x˚C." It gets really frustrating to buy something from you and not have a quick reference on how to use it. I know it requires a bit more work from you, but it shows us that you know your ingredients!

And as another side note, if you want to know how to use an ingredient, check out Lotioncrafter. She has great write ups about her ingredients, and there are tons of data sheets available. Yes, Jen Welch carries my e-books and generates a lot of donations for me, so I am a bit biased about how great she is as a person, but the site is really well written and offers tons of information I have yet to see at any other supplier's sites. (If you have a favourite, well written site to which you refer regularly, post it in the comments and I'll check them out!)

FILLING BOTTLES
In this post, melian1 shares: If you're using weirdly shaped bottles, like tottles, put it into a Pyrex jug or cup to stabilize it. And I wanted to share how I cope with bottles that don't stand on their own. I have got a large tub left over from using lard to make soap with, and I filled it halfway with rice. I plunge the tubes or bottle partway into the rice (the tub will hold several), and it remains upright and easy to pour into. Anything that spills or dribbles, after the bottles are removed from the tub, I just take out the clumped rice and toss it. Between times, I keep the lid on it, and re-use the same rice over and over, just tossing what gets messy and re-filling as necessary.

Great idea! I'm going to try this next time. I have some sand in the house - we had it for our wedding - and I'll try that! Thanks for sharing!

IS MINERAL MAKE-UP NATURAL OR FULL OF CHEMICALS? 
In this post on creating mineral make-up, Anonymous asks: How natural are these ingredients? I'm not big on chemicals. Thanks. Then Patti G asks: I have a question on the comment above about the Natural chemicals. I have removed all store bought bad for you chemical products from our house and bodies. Are all these ingredients good for your body and health? Or are they like the store bought products? Thank you for all this Great information. Patti G

Nothing on this planet is "chemical free". Please see this post - chemicals are your friends - or this one - International Year of Chemistry - or this one - I'm chemical free - to see why it is impossible for anything to be chemical free. Chemicals are all around us. They make up our air, water, bodies, environment, and...well, everything. Anything composed of elements from the periodic table of elements is a chemical, which means that everything is a chemical. 

If you are committed to using or not using certain ingredients in products, it's up to you to do the work figuring out what you want to use and what you won't. It takes time and energy to find reputable sources who can offer good information you can trust, and it takes time and energy to find the products or ingredients you will use. There's a lot of misinformation floating around about ingredients, and sometimes it's hard to find a reputable source. (For instance, does SLS cause cancer? Read this Snopes entry to learn more!) 

Related posts: 

I'm not sure how to answer something asking me if the ingredients are "good for your body or health". There is an objective answer and a subjective answer. The objective answer is that all the ingredients I use on this blog are "generally recognized as safe" and have suggested usage limits. (Check out this link.) Cosmetics are regulated by a bunch of governmental agencies in just about every country on this planet, contrary to what some people might think. 

The subjective answer? Check out this post called Question: Are the ingredients I use on the blog safe? I use them on my husband, my mom, my best friends, and the kids in my youth programs - would I do that if they weren't safe? 

Every ingredient we use is "naturally derived" in that every ingredient we buy uses natural resources to make them. Our surfactants come from coconuts, palm kernel oil, sugar, and so on. Our emulsifiers come from things that contain fats, usually coconuts or palm kernel oil. Some things are derived from petrochemicals, but petrochemicals are natural ingredients, too. Calling something "derived from..." is technically true because everything we buy is derived from something in nature, but it might be miles and miles away from the original. Calling silicones "naturally derived" from sand might be accurate, but it isn't right. 

To answer the question, I have entries on each of the ingredients I use in my mineral make-up base and you could do a search or click on the section of the blog called mineral make-up on the right hand side of the blog. (Here are links to the ingredients in the eye shadow post - sericite mica, titanium dioxide, and Dry-Flo. It's up to you to read them and decide if you want to include them in your life!) 

I hope you don't feel I'm making fun of you, Anonymous and Patti G. When I first started making products, I wanted things that were "chemical free" and natural, but I soon learned that I was using the wrong language and was happy someone took the time to talk to me about these things. I quickly learned to love my synthetic and not-so-natural ingredients when I found out they weren't horrible and poisonous and dangerous! 

Have a weekend wondering? Visit this post and share your thoughts!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Magacamianussol?, new ingredients, and the importance of pH in a shampoo

Have a weekend wondering? Have a question for which you can't find an answer or something that's been bugging you for weeks? Visit this post and share your weekend wondering with us!

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT MAGACAMIANUSSOL MIGHT BE?
In this post, Lise asks: Have you ever come across this ingredient: Magacamianuss√∂l (from an ingredients list with purely INCI names). There is a make-up company advertising their stuff as 100% natural with this ingredient listed in almost every product. It's not often I hit a brick wall researching an ingredient but this is looking a lot like crocodile oil to me and I'd be thrilled to hear any input you may have on this.

I'm sorry to say, Lise, but I have no idea. If you do a Google search, you'll find only a handful of hits on this ingredient, and all but one of them are about this company, Benecos. (The other hit is this blog!) It is found in their blushes (like this one, Rose Mallow) and compact powders. I can't think of what it could be - I keep trying to figure out the word, but it doesn't appear to be English and the only German I can speak involves asking someone to help me because I have a turtle in my pants - so I wrote to the company to ask them about this ingredient. I'll report back as soon as I can!

Anyone know what this ingredient - magacamianuss√∂l - might be? Take a guess if you don't! 

On a totally unrelated note, you don't see much about Paris Hilton any more. I guess her space in the celebrity eco-system has been usurped by the Kardashians.

EXPERIMENTAL INGREDIENTS! 
In this post on Experiments in the workshop with a leave in conditioner, LaKenda asks: I have the volumizing complex but on thought to use it for fine hair (which I haven't formulated yet). Instead I have the curl complex which I have used to make a leave in conditioner and a styling cream. I also have the straightening complex and quite a few other items from them. I am a FSS junkie as you can see!. What other goodies did they send your way? I would love to see what you come up with.

I honestly love the volumizing complex! I was so upset that I spilled almost the entire bottle onto my bench and workshop floor when adding it to another container of leave in conditioner!

You'll see more experiments in the near future, but here are a few with which I've experimented already...
Cosmeceuticals: Revital-Eyes
Facial cleansers: Creating a low surfactant facial cleanser (honey matte)
Why did I buy that? Cera bellina - making an anhydrous eye gel (Phyto-oil)
Experiments in the workshop: Leave in conditioner with volumizing complex

For some reason, I can't find the toner we made with Party Face or liquid strawberry extract, but I've been loving those, and I've been playing with the liquid white willow bark, blemish balm complex, sebum control, pomegranate extract, and lemon extract. I tried the straightening & curl complex, but it didn't seem to make a difference because I don't heat treat my hair. My best friend has been testing it, but she isn't using it since she cut her hair very short, so I have it out for testing with others who have longer and heat treated hair.

Disclaimer: I hope I've made it clear, but I want to say this again - I received these samples from this supplier for free. I made them aware that I would be offering my honest opinion about the ingredients. I have not been compensated in any other way and I am not beholden to anyone. These are my opinions, and if I didn't like the product, I would say that I didn't like it. I am not compensated in any way for using or writing about the ingredients beyond getting free samples to play with in the workshop. 

Any suggestions for ingredients I should try? Make a comment!

pH AND SHAMPOO
In this post, rzonis writes: When formulating shampoos recently, I found that what I thought was the shampoo drying out my hair wasn't. It turns out that what I was feeling as dryness was actually my hair feeling rough because the (relatively) high pH of the shampoo was lifting the hair cuticles. I lowered the pH below 4.0 without changing any thing else in the formula, and the "dryness" I thought I was feeling went away completely.

Thank you so much for sharing! I don't think we can stress this enough - pH is really important when it comes to our hair products. Our hair prefers products that are pH 6.2 or lower (acidic) and virgin hair can be as low as pH 3.67. This is one of the reasons that CP soap doesn't make for a good shampoo - the pH is in the alkaline or over pH 8 range, and our hair really wants things to be lower than 6.2.

I've had quite a few people ask how to reduce the pH of their CP soap to make it into a shampoo, and the answer is that you can't. Its very nature is being alkaline, and to make it acidic would be to stop it from being CP soap and making it into something else.

Related posts:
Chemistry Thursday: How to measure pH?
Chemistry Thursday on Friday: Let's take a look at pH 
Chemistry of our hair: Virgin hair
Adjusting the pH of our products
A few thoughts about the pH of our skin
An aside: pH and lotions
Chemistry of our skin: pH and skin

And the reason for the Cinderella picture above? I thought the name of that ingredient reminded me of that song "Bippity Boppity Boo!"