Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A few things for an overly warm July morning...

If you ever consider getting me a present - and why wouldn't you? - this periodic table of the elements blanket would be just perfect! How is this only $30? And if you're really in the mood to get me a present, consider this lovely atomic necklace! Yeah, I'm subtle! (ThinkGeek)

To everyone who keeps asking about hyaluronic acid sera, unfortunately, formulating with HA isn't in my future. It's really expensive stuff - $15 for 5 grams - so I haven't had a chance to play with it. I think I've mentioned this before, but I buy everything I play with from my wages (unless otherwise noted), so if I want hyaluronic acid, I have to buy it, and it's not something I can afford right now.

Having said that, I have so many interesting things I can play with, which you'll be seeing over the coming weeks! I have a four day weekend this weekend - thank you, BC Day! - so if the weather isn't super hot, I'll be able to get into the workshop and do some playing! Woo!

Check out this fantastic video about chemical reactions! I thought it was simply fascinating!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More questions about preservatives! Is citric acid a preservative? And how much preservative should I use?

There are loads of you with loads of questions about preservatives, so let's take a look at some of those comments now!

In this post, Question: Why would you leave preservatives out for sensitive skin?, Mariena asks: I use Phenonip in my lotions and emulsified scrubs and was wondering about the 0.5 to 1% usage rate. How do I know when to use just 0.5 and when to use 1.0% Perhaps in an anhydrous product, I could use 0.5 and in a lotion containing water, use 1%? What do you think?

When it comes to preservatives, I tend to err on the side of caution and use the maximum allowed because I can't be sterile in my workshop (but I do my best to be very clean). You'll notice in my recipes I always use the maximum allowed for Liquid Germall Plus because I don't know how you will make the products at home, and I'm hoping that using the maximum will cover you for all possible problems.

Having said this, like Liquid Germall Plus, Phenonip is a very good broad spectrum preservative, so it will do a great job at protecting your products at lower levels. If you're using hard to preserve ingredients - like our botanicals - then I'd go with the higher levels. If you aren't using a lot of botanical ingredients, then consider using a lower level. It really is up to your judgement how much you wish to use.

As an aside, you do not need to preserve products that are anhydrous - meaning they don't contain water - that won't be coming into contact with water. Products like whipped butters, lip balms, balms, sera, and so on don't need preservatives. You could use an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E to retard the rancidity of the oils, if you wish. Sugar and salt scrubs require preservatives because they are coming into contact with water when you put your wet hand into them when using them at the sink or in the tub or shower.

Related posts:
Preservatives section of the blog
Water activity and sugar or salt scrubs

In the same post, La Prairie Lady asks: I saw a lot of recipes with citric acid in water. that help ?? or just a light preservative for 1 month in the fridge.

Citric acid (or 2-hydroxy-1, 2, 3-propanetricarboxylic acid) is a chelating, anti-oxidizing, and pH altering ingredient that can bind metal ions, help prevent rancidity, and alter the pH of our lotions and surfactant mixtures. It is not a preservative that can prevent contamination from mold, yeast, and bacteria in our products. 

Rancidity is a natural process in which our oil based ingredients degrade over time by being exposed to heat, light, and oxygen. It is inevitable, and while we can add anti-oxidants to our products to slow down the process, but we can't stop it completely. Citric acid can behave as a water soluble anti-oxidant in our products.  

When citric acid is used as a chelating ingredient, it binds metal ions like calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, nickel, and cobalt to keep our products from experiencing auto-oxidation. By binding these metals, it also keeps surfactant mixes nice and clear, and it helps to boost the efficacy of your preservative.

As an aside, you may see citric acid listed as a "natural preservative" for foods. This does not mean it is an effective preservative for cosmetics, and it is not approved as a broad spectrum preservative for our products. You might see it in combination with other preservatives, but generally it's being used as a chelating or anti-oxidizing ingredient. 

If you're going to use a preservative, use it at the proper usage levels. As you can see from Liquid Germall Plus, the suggested usage rate ranges from 0.1% to 0.5%. Find something like this and use the lower level. If you use the lower level, you don't need to put it in the fridge - you can leave it out and use it like you would any other product. 

In this post, Formulating for your skin type: Emulsified scrubs for dry skin, Candice asks: When calculating the amount of preservative, should the weight of the sugar be included? If I make 100gr of scrub and add 140gr of sugar, do I include my preservative (1% optiphen in my case) as 1% of 240gr or 1% of 100% (only the emsulsion part, pre-sugar)?

You don't need to preserve the sugar or salt in a scrub, just the base of oils and other ingredients. 

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

One ingredient, five products: Cucumber extract - introduction

I was amazed to see that the most popular post on the blog this month was the post on cucumber extract. In light of that, it makes sense that we should take a closer look at this ingredient and formulate with it for a bit!

Cucumber extract (INCI: Cucumis sativa (cucumber) extract) can be found as a powdered extract or a liquid extract, but both are water soluble. The liquid extract may be found in water, glycerin, alcohol, or a combination of two or three of those. The general suggested usage of the powder is 0.5% to 1%, and the general suggested usage of the liquid can vary, so check with your supplier.

As a note, you can find cucumber seed oil at some suppliers, but it is incredibly expensive at around $10 or more per ounce (30 ml or 2 tbsp), so I haven't tried it. 

Cucumber is considered emollient, soothing, astringent, and hydrating. It's generally suggested for normal to oily skin because of the astringency. It's also considered an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant. We also find astringent and analgesic properties in cucumber. So let's take a look at cucumber to see if it can live up to all these expectations!

Cucumber extract contains tons of polysaccharides, polyphenols, glycosides, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, all of which offer awesome qualities to our products.

We find polysaccharides in aloe vera, too. They offer hydration, emolliency, and anti-inflammatory properties by creating a light gel barrier on the skin. In cucumber extract, they will behave the same way, offering an increase in hydration on the skin and moisturizing.

We find tons of polyphenols in cucumber in the form of gallic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and trans-cinnamic acid, amongst others. As we know, all of these are fabulous anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. Gallic acid also offers speedier wound and burn healing. Coumaric acid offers anti-bacterial and anti-fungal features, as well as possible UV protection. Caffeic acid offers fungicidal and post-sun exposure properties. Cinnamic acid good post-sun exposure and possible AHA-like properties. We also find p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which is very closely related to salicylic acid, and behaves like a very effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Cucumber extract contains triterpene glucosides called cucurbitacins. These are found in squashes like pumpkins and melons. These glucosides are amongst the most bitter substances found in the world, but they have been bred out of a lot of these fruits. Cucurbitacins are highly oxygenated triterpenoid compounds that might cause some sensitivity to some people. The one found most commonly in cucumbers is cucurbitacin C. It behaves as a very effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Is cucumber extract a good addition to our products? Does it live up to the claims? Yep, it does! Cucumber extract contains some awesome anti-inflammatory and analgesic ingredients, all of which will reduce redness and inflammation, so it can be considered soothing. It contains astringent ingredients, which will make our skin feel tightened after use. And it contains polysaccharides to create a light gel like layer on our skin that keeps water in and offers a lovely feeling of emolliency.

You'll want to use powdered cucumber extract at 0.5% to 1% in the cool down phase of your creations. Add a little warm water to a small container with your extract, let it dissolve, then add at 45˚C or lower (when you add your preservative or fragrance oil). If you are using the liquid extract, follow the suggested usage rate and add to the cool down phase of your product.

Please note, cucumber extract is water soluble, so you can't use it in oil soluble things like whipped butters, lotion bars, or balms. If you wish to get all the awesome power of cucumber in an anhydrous or non-water containing product, you should consider using cucumber seed oil. (Do a Google search to find a supplier near you.)

Are you worried if cucumber extract is safe for you? This recent review by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel notes that it is generally recognized as safe.* They also note that 5% extract in a product didn't result in sensitization or phototoxicity, which is higher than is found in commercial products and higher than what you'd find in our products, so it sounds like you'd have to use an awful lot before you'd get irritated!

*The term generally recognized as safe means "the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive." Eager to learn more? Check out the FDA FAQ on GRAS. 

Before you ask, yes, you can use fresh cucumbers for body care...but stick to using the slices on your eyes after a long night on the town! Including the pulp, seeds, or fresh, unpreserved juice in your creations can result in serious contamination, especially if you fail to use preservatives. If you are using fresh cucumber, consider the shelf life to be the same day. 

Why are you interested in this extract? What appeals to you? Let me know and that can shape the recipes we make with cucumber extract! Comment below!

And why am I only making five products with cucumber extract? Because...that's what I managed to make with this extract before the series started!

Join me tomorrow as we have fun formulating with cucumber extract!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Question: Why would you leave out preservatives for sensitive skin? What do I mean by "water"?

Sarah asks in this post, Lotions: Making a cream: I made an unscented cream yesterday for my friend with very sensitive skin. I left the cream in the bowl over night with a stainless steel spoon in it. Today I noticed on one side of the spoon the cream has been discoloured (purple in colour). From the beginning the cream smelt like metal (before discolouration), so I had to add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Whenever I use rose water in my formulas it always has a metallic smell.
The ingredients were: 
Rose water, 64%
Glycerine, 3%...
No water and preservative added because my friend has super sensitive skin.

I have two thoughts about this today...

1. Where did we get the idea that someone with sensitive skin shouldn't use preservatives? This implies somehow that preservatives are harsh ingredients that can hurt someone with sensitive skin instead of ingredients that can keep icky things out of a lotion that could hurt someone with sensitive skin. Exposing oneself to all the contaminants that can grow in a lotion is a bad idea for all skin types!

I notice in the unabridged recipe, Sarah is using grapefruit seed extract. Please note that this is NOT a preservative. It might act as an anti-oxidant in our products, which means it retards rancidity in our oils, but it is not a preservative. The only preserving power it might offer comes from the preservatives put into the GSE to keep it from going off.

I have to point something else out when it comes to not using preservatives - it doesn't take long for contamination to happen. You could have something growing in the product hours after you've made it. Keeping it in the fridge isn't going to stop the bacteria and other stuff from growing; it only slows it down. A lotion has maybe a few days in the fridge - certainly not a week or longer. And who wants to make lotion every other day?

Yes, I know I have said in the past that a lotion might be good for a week in the fridge, but I've learned a lot since then and now consider it good for only a few days. If you come across a mention where I say that it is good in the fridge for a week, please let me know and I'll correct it. As well, there's an e-book in it for you! 

If you've made lotion without preservative and it looks okay, remember that it only looks okay. You have no idea what is lurking below the surface of the product. My lotion in the container looked just fine until it grew the green stuff! Or you might have gotten lucky this time around. Or the preservatives in your water soluble ingredients - yep, just about everything that contains water is sold with preservatives! - might have been enough to keep the rest of the lotion preserved. But don't take those chances!

If you are making lotion, use preservatives! For using such a tiny bit - say 0.5% to 1%, check the suggested usage rate - you get so much protection for your products and your skin!

If you are giving away your product, I believe you have an obligation to let the giftee know what is in and what isn't in your product. If you aren't using preservatives, you have an obligation to let the person know that you aren't using one and what could grow in your product. I don't think it is fair or right to give something to someone when you are aware that there could be contamination in it. 

Related posts:
Preservatives section of the blog
What contaminants can get into our products?
How preservatives work
Why grapefruit seed extract (GSE) isn't a preservative
Choosing a preservative

As a side question, is this a common thought - that water isn't good for sensitive skin? I've never heard it before, so I thought I would put it out to you, my lovely readers. Have you heard of this before?

Related posts:
Skin chemistry and types
Sensitive or resistant skin type - acne type
Sensitive skin type - stinging
Sensitive skin type - allergic

2. What exactly do we consider water? We know that when we have water in a recipe, we have to use a suitable preservative because things can grow in our products, but what exactly do we consider water? "Water" in a recipe is anything that is water soluble. Something like the rose water and glycerin Sarah puts into her recipe is considered water. Any of our hydrosols, hydrolyzed proteins, cationic polymers, and anything else that is water soluble is considered water in our product.

Anything that is water soluble is considered "water". 

If you have rose water and glycerin, you have water in your lotion. In this case, you have 67% water in your product. When we have water in a lotion, you require a preservative, so take a look at the links above to find one that you like.

Related posts:
Learning to formulate: The water phase
Weekend Wonderings: Adding and removing from the water amount

As for why your lotion discoloured...there are a few reasons. One, the lotion could have reacted with the metallic spoon. Two, you could have contamination in your product, which, as I note, can start right away with lotions.

You mention in the original comment that your rose water had a metallic smell - I think you might have a problem there as rose water should smell faintly (or strongly) of roses. I would throw out that bottle and order another one. If this smell has happened more than once, consider ordering from a different supplier. And for the love of everything good and holy, please get yourself a good preservative and use it at the suggested usage rate so you don't have this kind of thing happening again!

Have a question? Want to suggest an ingredient for the one ingredient, ten posts series? Then make a comment! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil - the summary

What have we learned over the last little while about using sunflower oil in our products?

We've learned that sunflower oil contains linoleic acid, which helps repair skin's barrier mechanisms and helps prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL); oleic acid, which softens and moisturizes skin; and phytosterols, which reduce inflammation and itching as well as TEWL.We've learned sunflower oil feels light but a bit greasy, it has no taste or smell, and it is inexpensive.

Because it's an oil, it's oil soluble, which means it can be used in any anhydrous or non-water containing product, like a body oil, whipped butter, balm, or bath oil. It can be incorporated into an oil-in-water lotion or any other emulsified product using an emulsifier, like Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, and so on. You can't incorporate it into a water only product like a toner or cleanser unless you use some kind of solubilizer, like PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate 80, Caprol Micro Express, or caprylyl/capryl glucoside, to name a few.

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in body oils
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in blooming or dispersing bath oils
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in lotion bars
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in emulsified scrubs
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a zinc oxide cream
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a whipped butter
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in an oil based scrub
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a body butter

Monday, July 21, 2014

One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in solid perfume

As we saw on Friday, sunflower oil is a great addition to a lip balm. And it's a great addition to a solid perfume because it offers no odour and is light in colour and skin feel.

Solid perfumes are very basic in nature because the main goal is to keep them solid in all kinds of weather by putting together a wax, a butter, and an oil. It's effectively a lotion bar with a bit more oil to make it melt on your skin a little easier.

Sunflower oil is a great choice here because it's inexpensive, has no odour or taste, and will keep your bars a light colour, if that's what you want. It doesn't matter that it's greasy feeling because you're only putting a dab on your skin in strategic locations, so it won't end up on your hands.

Check out my SnapGuide visual tutorial for creating solid perfumes! 

30% beeswax
30% butter of choice
37% oil
3% fragrance or essential oils*

Before using any essential oils, check the safe usage rates. 3% is a lot, and I really recommend you use fragrance oils if you're new to bath and body stuff!

Heat all but the fragrance oils until the mixture has turned to liquid. Add the fragrance oils, then pour into your containers of choice. Let set until completely cooled. I like to put mine in the fridge or freezer until set. Label and rejoice!

Feel free to use any containers you like. Because they contain no water, you can use metal or plastic containers. I love lip balm tubes as they come in so many different sizes and looks, but you can use pots as well. There are so many cute containers for balms, lip balms, and solid perfumes, you might go a little crazy ordering them! (I felt a warning was needed!)

And don't forget to create some cute labels for these products with awesome names. That's one of the most fun bits about making bath & body products!

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in body oils
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in blooming or dispersing bath oils
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in lotion bars
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in emulsified scrubs
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a zinc oxide cream
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a whipped butter
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in an oil based scrub
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in a body butter
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in balms
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil in lip balms

Join me tomorrow as we wrap up this series and consider what we've learned! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Why can't I use Germaben II with an emulsifed scrub? Can I use the deodorant additive in a solid scrub bar?

In this post on making a black cocoa emulsified scrub, Sophia asks: Oh no, I can't use germaben II? I thought because there is e-wax in it I could use it? So what will happen? I watched a lady use it in her e-sugar scrub and it worked for her... now I'm worried! I had been using phenonip but Wholesale Supplies Plus ran out!

When you're considering what preservative to use, you'll want to know what type of product you have. An emulsified scrub is an anhydrous product, which means it doesn't contain water.

Take a look at the preservatives comparison chart. So what does Germaben II require to work? Most of the ingredients in Germaben II require water to dissolve, so it won't work in an emulsified scrub that contains no water. You need to find something that works with anhydrous products, like Liquipar Oil, Phenonip, or Optiphen.

I don't think it did work for the woman who made an emulsified sugar scrub because using a water soluble preservative in the anhydrous product is on par with using no preservative at all in the product. Again, Germaben II is a preservative that requires water to work, and without water, it's a fail.

Related posts:
Preservatives section of the blog
Preservatives: Choosing a preservative
Preservatives: Water activity and sugar scrubs

In this post, Road Trip Essentials: Scrub bars (part two) Honey Lady asks: I am wondering as I read this several years after it's been posted if I could make this with the Deodorant Additive available from Brambleberry? I use it in a deodorant soap I make, and like it. But I know several people who could use 1.) foot scrubs, AND 2.) deodorants for stinky toes!

The deodorant additive at Brambleberry has an INCI of Saccharomyces Ferment, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate. The last two things are preservatives, which we know work only in water soluble products, so we can conclude that this is a water soluble ingredient. Can we add it to a solid scrub bar? We can add it to an emulsified scrub bar because it contains an emulsifier that will allow us to add some water soluble ingredients. I regularly use water soluble sodium lactate as a bar hardener, and I occasionally throw in some proteins or other additives in the mix when I feel I need them.

As a secondary note, you can make a nice spray for stinky feet using a few ingredients! You could make it with 2% to 3% deodorant additive with maybe 1% peppermint essential oil, 0.5% to 2% preservative of choice, and water to make 100%.

Here's another idea! Note that pretty much all this stuff is optional because you can make a perfectly good spray with distilled water, preservative, peppermint essential oil, and the solubilizer for the oil. But I'm adding these things because they offer some great features for your feet! (Should those be feet-ures?) I'm adding the allantoin because it's good at skin softening and protecting, the peppermint hydrosol and peppermint essential oil because they're good at masking odours and increasing circulation, aloe vera to offer moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties,

67% distilled water
20% peppermint hydrosol
10% aloe vera
0.5% allantoin

1% polysorbate 20 or other solubilizer
1% peppermint essential oil
0.5% to 2% preservative

Mix the polysorbate 20 (or other solubilizer) with the peppermint essential oil. Put aside. In a heatproof container like a Pyrex jug, weigh out the the distilled water, peppermint hydrosol, aloe vera, and allantoin and put into a double boiler and heat until 70˚C. Hold at that temperature for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool to 45˚C before adding the cool down phase ingredients.

Add some of the deodorant additive 2% to 3% in the cool down phase and remove 2% to 3% from the water phase to keep the total at 100%. (I'm adding it in the cool down as I don't know if it's heat sensitive!)

And as a note, as I mention on the side bar of the blog, there are no old posts. I get notifications for every single comment, so the earliest post is as relevant as the newest one when it comes to getting my attention! 

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at using sunflower oil in solid perfumes before wrapping up the series on Tuesday.