Monday, September 26, 2016

My latest e-zine is for sale

My latest e-zine, Gels: Ooey Gooey Fun! is now for sale in the e-books and e-zine section of the blog. I'm so excited to share my love of carbomers, gels, and thickeners with you in this 34 page e-book packed to the rafters with new recipes with new ingredients, like Sepimax ZEN and EMT 10 as well as carbomer in the form of Ultrez 20. Learn to make eye gels, facial cleansers, moisturizers, body washes, toners, spot treatments, after shaves, and more. As I promise on the cover, it's ooey gooey fun!

As a note, I'm teaching a class on this topic at Voyageur Soap & Candle on November 5th at 9:30! It should be great fun as we make after shave, toner, cleanser, and eye gels in this quick 3 hour class!

If you're interested in receiving my monthly e-zine when it comes out, check out my Patreon page for more information. 

As a note, all the money raised by the sale of these e-zines goes directly to me and my family. The proceeds from the e-books still goes 100% to the youth programs my husband and I run called Rated T for Teen. Just wanted to make that distinction. 

And you can continue to get issue 1 of the e-zine, Summer Products, though the same link on the blog. 

Thank you for all your kind and continued support of the blog, the youth programs, and me! 

Newbie Tuesday: Facial cleansers - submit your recipes!

Hi everyone! For those of you playing along at home, I'd really like to see your facial cleanser recipes as we make them. I know some of you have made huge changes - like Anna who used decyl glucoside and SCI! - and it would be awesome to see what you're doing so others can follow along!

If you've made some changes to two recipes from last week - the base recipe and the modified recipes with humectants and cationic polymers - or any future recipes, please share them and your opinions on what you've made with your fellow learners! Why keep that information to yourself when you could share with someone else who's as passionate about bath & body products as you are?

If you want to send along pictures - which would be awesome! - please send them to with the recipe! Or post the recipes here or in other related posts, and I'll put together a round up in the near future!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Did you make facial cleanser? What did you think? (part three)

In this post, Additions to the base recipe, Cath said: I made the cleanser for dry skin as per the percentages advised but with surfactants available in Australia (maybe my research skills are poor but I simply could not locate exactly what was named on the list). The basic recipe was a nice viscosity after adding thickener. Application was enjoyable with a perfect amount of foamy lather, no eye irritation on removal of eye makeup and washed off easily. After my face had dried, I felt my skin would benefit from moisturising as it felt a tad dry. 

Version 2 of this recipe was to increase Glycerine to 10% and add Aloe Vera Gel at 5%. This recipe felt different on application in that the product felt like it had "body" even though the viscosity appeared only slightly thicker than Version 1. Once again there was no eye irritation and the product washed off very well. My skin felt soft and slightly more hydrated. I have been oil cleansing for some time which may cloud my feelings on this cleanser somewhat. I will attempt a Version 3 with the addition of Polyquat 7 to see if I can detect any difference.

Gah, you're all running ahead, ruining the surprise for Tuesday! Just kidding! I'm glad to see you're trying new things with the recipes to see what works for you. Reading stuff on a page is a good thing, but trying these things at home to see what you think is most important!

What you've done with the glycerin and aloe vera gel increases the mildness of the product, and increase the hydration it can offer. I'll be going into greater detail on Tuesday about this topic, but this is a great change to the recipe, which you've demonstrated by having your skin feel more hydrated!

Cath, I'd love to know what surfactants you used! Do you mind sharing? I want to get a range of recipes for this cleanser that everyone can try! And did you try the polyquat 7?

And in this post, Did you make a facial cleanser (part one)? Anna said: Thank you for a great tutorial and all the inspiration you give in your blog! I made a facial cleanser for oily skin but since I don't have some of the suggested ingredients, I've had to improvise! In my experience, it's been difficult to find ingredients that aren't possible to market as "natural" in Sweden and Europe. I can't get Crothix and the substitute I got (EasyMix Silk) only made clumps and did not thicken well. So I formulated my cleanser to go in a foamer bottle. I'm also envious of the person who only has small foamer bottles because I can only find large ones that look ridiculous with the tiny amounts of product I make! The surfactants I have to play with are cocamidopropyl betaine, decyl glucoside, plantapon LGC, powdered DLS, sodium C14/C16 olefin sulphonate, and SCI. 

I've made three different facial cleansers. All of them contained 77.5% water, 15% surfactants, 3% polyquat 7, 2% hydrolyzed oat protein, 2 % panthenol, and 0.5% Liquid Germall plus. In the first I tried to combine 5% cocamidopropyl betaine with 10% SCI but the SCI precipitated on the second day and clogged the foaming mechanism. Before that it was lovely! In the second version I combined 5% cocamidopropyl betaine with 5% decyl glucoside and 5% sodium c14/C16 olefin sulphonate and adjusted the pH (because I have a pH-meter!). This version was nice although maybe not as cleansing as I need it to be. The third version included 5% cocamidopropyl betaine, 2.5% decyl glucoside, 2.5% SCI, and 5% sodium c14/C16 olefin sulphonate. I still had to adjust the pH with this small proportion of decyl glucoside. This is my favourite version so far! It's a bit creamier than the second version thanks to the SCI, and a litte bit more cleansing. I still have a little problem with skin tightness after washing even though I included moisturizing ingredients. But I love using it and knowing that I made it myself! 

Wow, great changes, Anna! This last combination sounds amazing! We'll be talking about moisturizing ingredients this Tuesday, but I encourage you to check out last week's post on using humectants, like glycerin, and cationic polymers, like polyquat 7 or honeyquat. These can go quite a long way for hydrating and conditioning your skin!

So what can you do if you don't have the surfactants I use in this series? Improvise! Check out this section about surfactants, or look at the comparison chart (scroll to the bottom after clicking). There are so many lovely surfactants with which you can play; I've chosen the most common and easily available ones to me in North America but there are so many nice ones!

I'll be collecting information on the surfactants you're using so I can make some suggestions for how to use them in future products, so please let me know if you're making these changes!

If you'd like to play along with this facial products series to make cleanser, please check out these posts!
If you'd like to play along at home, check out these posts for this facial cleanser series!

Newbie Tuesday: We're making facial products! 
Shopping list
Equipment list
Let's start making facial cleansers! - Your skin type
Surfactants - what are they?
Meet the surfactants
pH of our surfactants
Facial products - the base recipe

Friday, September 23, 2016

Newbie Tuesday: Did you make facial cleanser? What did you think? (part two)

Let's take a look at a few more comments about the facial cleansers you made last week based on this recipe or this recipe. (If you missed part one of these comments, please click here and see what your fellow readers are saying!) And look for part three shortly, too!

Susan writes: Thank you for the Face Cleanser recipes - I made the recipe for Dry/Sensitive skin. I live in Calgary, so not only am I in a dry climate, but I have dry skin also, so double parched here!
Here is my feedback on the basic recipe (no additives):

How does it feel on your skin? - I really liked how mild it felt. I used it to remove my makeup at the end of the day, and there was no irritation around the eyes, which is really important since I don't like to have to use an eye makeup remover AND a facial cleanser. 

Was the product too thick or too thin? - I found it a bit thick, but that is because my scale jumped from 0 to 2 when adding the Crothix. (time for a new scale!) so I was at the max right away. I will probably put only 1 % in the next batch. 

How was the lather, the foam, the bubbles? - Perfect, actually. I don't like a lot of bubbles on my face. I found it to be a nice, rich, creamy lather, without many bubbles.

How well did it rinse off? I used warm water to cleanse with, and it rinsed off quite well. With the reduced Crothix next batch, it will probably rinse even better!

Skin feel after rinsing off? - Skin felt clean, and smooth. Not tight, but feeling like I will need a moisturizer to follow. 

I have been using Cetaphil in the past because it is mild and rinses off clean. I think this will be a great replacement. I love how easily my makeup rinses off, with no racoon eyes left behind :). Looking forward to adjusting it a bit with some additives!

Susan added this the next day: I modified the recipe for dry skin, and liking the results. To the surfactant phase, I added 3% Polyquat 7 and increased glycerin to 4%. I reduced Crothix to 1%. I like the soft, clean feeling on my face, not dry or tight. I am thinking this is going to be my new favourite facial cleanser! 

Thanks so much for such a detailed comment, Susan! I'm excited that you like it! 

*A quick point of interest if you're using one of these kinds of digital scales and want to measure small amounts. These aren't great for amounts of 5 grams or lower. If you don't want to buy a smaller scale, like this one, my suggestion is to put your container on the scale and just count up the few grams you need.

Stephanie shared her experiences with us in this post: I ended up using a different surfactant for part of mine because of availability issues. Here's what my recipe looked like:

Facial Cleanser 
15g LSB 
5g SLSa
10g cocamidopropyl betaine
5g glycerin
0.5g liquid Germall Plus

10g Aloe Vera liquid 
51.5g distilled water
3g Hydrolyzed oat protein 
.5g Silk peptides
.5g Helichrysum and lavender essential oils

No crothix was necessary, I was happy with the texture of the overall product. I know you don't like essential oils around your face, but helichrysum is alleged to be good for aging skin and lavender is that catch all oil that's good for everything. And they smell nice together, which is the awesome thing. I also made a bottle of this with petitgrain essential oil for my daughter who likes mild citrus and floral scents and she loves it so far! Very gentle, no residue afterwards, but your skin doesn't feel dried out and itchy.

I love your customization of this recipe! (And you're running ahead of us by adding aloe vera!) Isn't this why we're making our own things? I'm curious, though...what kind of SLSa did you use? I ask because the powder thickens beautifully for a few days, and then it can end up as concrete afterwards. 

Julie wrote: I made the facial cleanser for normal skin identical to your recipe and added the polyquat 7 at 3%. The consistency was good the first day then it seemed to have become more liquid the second day. It is normal or am I imagining things? I did not add crotihx just to see what I would get without it. In a pump bottle and distributing in small quantity for the face, I like the consistency. The feeling was nice on my face. My skin felt clean afterward and did not feel tight, but looked a little dry. A little moisturizer was all I needed. I can't wait to try the toner! I was also curious and used the cleanser as a shampoo. I really like the feeling and it rinsed off well. For a shampoo, I would make it thicker so it would not run down between my fingers before I have time to apply it. But otherwise, it was much better than my last try at making shampoo. I really enjoy the newbie series!

Thanks for your thoughts Julie! You're not imagining things: Often times the consistency of our products can changer over the first 48 hours. For surfactant based products, I find the product needs to be at room temperature - which can take a bit if I've had a heated phase - and all the ingredients need to be included before I can see what the consistency might be. Fragrances can change the viscosity dramatically, and often I will fragrance the product today and check it for viscosity tomorrow or even the next day. 

Carol observed: I've modified the dry/sensitive formula by adding the 3% polyquat 7. I'm not noticing a huge difference from the preview I left after the first basic formula. My face feels clean but I find it still needs something more for conditioning/hydrating. I'll be following it up with a great toner and moisturizer so maybe the face wash does not need to be so moisturizing?

Thanks for trying both versions, Carol! I think it's a good idea to have the facial cleanser more moisturizing so skin doesn't feel tight or dry, but you bring up a good point about considering what the next product you use might be. If you're using a toner and/or moisturizer afterwards, then we can save the expensive ingredients for those leave on products and just go for cleansing and hydrating for the face wash.

To reflect on the comments...
If the product is too thick, leave out the Crothix. If it's still too thick, take out some of the thicker surfactant and replace it with water. LSB is a really thick surfactant, as are BSB and disodium laureth sulfoacetate, so you could remove 5% of one of those and add 5% instead and see where you are. In Stephanie's case above, it could be thanks to the aloe vera, which contains electrolytes which can thicken a product. (She's running ahead a few days here, so we'll discuss this more in detail shortly...)

I have a little video about viscosity you can find on my YouTube channel! 

If you don't like this as a facial cleanser, think of using it as a shampoo like Julie did, a body wash, or even a bubble bath. There are tiny differences between each of these products, and one that doesn't work to make your facial skin feel great may make your hair feel amazing!

And we will be designing the next aspect of the recipe with the thought of what products we might use next after cleaning our skin - like a toner, moisturizer, serum, etc. - 

So what do we do from here? We modify the recipe, of course! I'll continue to collect and share your ideas about the facial cleansers you've made and post ideas on how we can modify that original base next Tuesday! Join me tomorrow for more comments! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Newbie Tuesday: Did you make facial cleanser? What did you think? (Part one)

Last week, we made a facial cleanser, then modified it by adding humectants and cationic polymers. This week, we're talking about our recipes and how we could modify them to be more awesome for our skin type.

Please join the conversation by commenting here, on the other posts, or by emailing me at

Carol Ann commented: I made the cleanser for dry/sensitive skin using the 2% crothix because I like a thicker cleanser. It was a nice clear product. There was minimal lather, I could tell it was there but no large bubbles. It rinsed off easily. I waited a few minutes before using my toner to see how my skin felt - it definitely needs some conditioning ingredients added. I think this is a great start and I will continue to build on this base recipe. 

Conditioning ingredients, even at small amounts, make such a big difference! Oftentimes we think that we need huge amounts of something to have an impact; with something like a humectant or cationic polymer - like those we included in the recipe on Wednesday - can make such a difference at 2% to 5%. We'll be taking a look at adding a few other ingredients next week, like aloe vera or witch hazel, both of which offer hydration and moisturizing.

As an aside, if you want more bubbles, add a bit more SLeS. That recipe uses 5% SLeS, but you could go higher, if you wanted.

Pat commented: Thank you Susan for all the great info on creating a Facial cleanser. I have normal skin type and formulated my wash with 40% surfactants, including: Cocamide DEA, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine along with distilled water and Aloe Vera gel juice, Glycerin, preservative and White Grapefruit E-oil. The wash came out very clear and just the right viscosity without having to add Crothix, a dime size of the soft foam was all that was needed to cleanse and hydrate my skin, it felt literally "PERFECT"!! I did not apply moisturizer for the day for testing purposes and now just found out that I can use half the amount of moisturizer afterwards, so very happy thanks to you :) :) :)

Pat followed up with this: To answer your question on "How I feel about my facial cleanser a few days later" is that it still feels great after the cleansing and takes my make-up off with ease also...It's very nice and cost effective too..

Woo! This is what we want to hear! An ideal cleanser should leave your skin feeling fresh, moisturized, and hydrated. Aloe vera is a great addition to a cleanser - we'll be getting to it shortly!

Brynna commented, Made my cleanser today, though I think I made some errors with my ordering. I wound up with straight up Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate in my normal skin kit rather than LSB, so I hope that shouldn't be too much of a problem. I also only have tiny little foamer bottles, so I had to use two for 100g. I think my measuring out could stand to be a bit more accurate, so today I'll be ordering some scale calibration weights and reading up on chemistry measuring best practices. Too early to wash my face yet, but it felt like a lovely thick foam on my hands, and it will be interesting using a foaming facewash again.

The LSB is a combination of sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSA) and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, so having DLS on its own isn't a bad thing. The difference will be the viscosity of the product. LSB is really thick - super mega thick - so using only DLS will result in a thinner product. DLS is still really thick, but not nearly as thick as LSB. Just remember to use less Crothix!

Brynna continued the next day: I like it. A big change from the face wash I have been using (SpectroJel), which I had always rubbed in with a dry face. Doesn't work so well with this! Now that I have this figured out, it still seems a little thick with 1.2 g Crothix in. I think tomorrow I'll try the batch with the cationic polymer, and reduce the Crothix a bit. So far it seems to be treating my skin well. I do an oil cleanse before my other cleanser, and this seemed to take that all off without leaving me dry or with residue. And armed with some knowledge looking at the SpectroJel ingredient list, how is this a cleanser? Nothing in there that I can identify as a surfactant. I see myself reading a lot of labels and trying to puzzle things out in the future.

And it begins...First you start looking at the labels in your bathroom. Then in other people's bathrooms. Then the shops. Then it gets to the point where going to the drug store takes you hours as you stop to look at every label! Mwa ha ha! One of us! One of us!

Ahem...back to the task at hand.

The other day we talked a bit about surfactants, which are surface active agents. There are a few in the SpectroJel product - sorbitan oleate and polysorbate 20 - which allow oil and water to mix. Which means it can mix with the sebum on your face and remove it. The cetyl alcohol moisturizes without oils. (This was my favourite cleanser before I started making my own products. If you're interested in taking a look at a potential duplication for the SpectroJel, take a look at this one I tried a few years ago...)

Join me tomorrow as we look at a few more comments and modify the recipe accordingly!

If you'd like to play along, check out these posts for this facial cleanser series!
Newbie Tuesday: We're making facial products! 
Shopping list
Equipment list
Let's start making facial cleansers! - Your skin type
Surfactants - what are they?
Meet your surfactants
pH of our surfactants
Facial products - the base recipe

Please share your thoughts in this post as we move towards making more facial cleanser recipes adjusted for specific skin types. I would also love to see pictures of what you're making as we could use those to illustrate these posts so others can see what's possible! You'll have to e-mail me your pictures to

Saturday, September 17, 2016

My classes at Voyageur & Newbie Tuesday facial cleansers

Hi everyone! If you're playing along with the Newbie Tuesday facial cleansers group, don't forget to check in with us to share which recipe you used and what you thought of it. We'll be looking at various ways to modify the product this upcoming Tuesday, then making more versions the week after next! Please visit that post or this one on modifications with cationic polymers to make your comments!

And a reminder that I'm offering classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle this season! I think I have some space left in the new gels class (November 9th), Advanced Lotion Making (October 22nd), and Formulating Hair Products (December 3rd). And we're talking about offering other classes, like easy Christmas gifts and advanced advanced lotion making. If you have any suggestions, please comment below or e-mail me!

I better run! There's fun to be had today in the lotion making 101 class!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: Are companies hiding preservatives in other ingredients?

Thanks for joining me again today as we continue to look at Dedra's question about a product she wants to buy.

I also read on another site some time back that many companies "hide" the fact that their products have preservatives in aloe gel. The article said that aloe gel cannot be produced without using a preservative, therefore any product that has aloe gel likely already has enough preservative and you may not need to add additional preservatives due to this. Could it be that they are getting their aloe gel from a supplier who already is using a preservative, therefore they do not have to use any additional preservatives? Or, because there is no water in their product, perhaps they don't need a preservative??? But I thought if a product has aloe, you HAD to have a preservative??? 

The short answer to this question is this - if you have a product in which you are using water or water soluble ingredients, you must use a broad spectrum preservative. If you have a product that will come in contact with water, like a sugar scrub, you need a preservative.

This product contains's part of the other ingredients, like the aloe vera gel and witch hazel extract. In fact, these ingredients need more preserving because botanical ingredients can go bad faster and create more contamination than something we'd think of as synthetic, like propylene glycol.

So how do companies get away with not declaring preservatives? 

There are a few differents ways I have seen:
  • Put it in another ingredient. (See below...) 
  • Use something you can call "parfum", like this preservative, Naticide
  • Add a bunch of alcohol to it. I have seen it said that 20% to 25% alcohol could preserve a lotion. We see this quite a bit with the organic or natural products, like Dr Bronner. 
  • Leave it out and risk problems in the future. (This happens far more often than we think!) 
If we go back to the ingredient list, we see something interesting...

Aloe barbadensis (aloe) gel*, Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract*, Zinc oxide, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil*†, Sage extract (neutral cane alcohol*, Salvia officianalis*), Glyceryl stearate, Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Cetearyl alcohol, Citric acid, Sodium stearoyl lactylate, Glycine max (soy lecithin)*, essential oil of: Aniba rosaeodora (rosewood).

There's one ingredient that confuses me in this list. It's the aloe gel. If we are talking about the liquid that comes from the aloe leaf, that isn't referred to as aloe vera gel in cosmetic products. The proper INCI for aloe vera gel is Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract or Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, not Aloe barbadensis (aloe) gel. When I look for the INCI of aloe vera gel, I get those two INCI names over and over again. 


Having said this, I have a feeling that this might be aloe vera gel - the juice turned into a gel by adding a carbomer. 

When I look for the INCI for aloe vera gel, I get this (from Voyageur Soap & Candle)
INCI: Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract (and) Aqua (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross-Polymer (and) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Alcohol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Magnesium Nitrate, Magnesium Chloride, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

These aloe vera gels are aloe vera thickened with a carbomer or gelling agent - for instance, Ultrez 20 from Voyageur and just plan carbomer from Oshun - with a preservative in it.

If this is what the company is using, then there's a preservative in the mix there. Is it enough to preserve the entire product? No, it isn't.

So to answer the question - could the company be hiding the preservative in aloe vera gel? This is most definitely possible! I can't say for sure as I don't know their recipes or practices, but it is definitely possible. It could also be a part of the witch hazel extract.

Having said that, there definitely needs to be a preservative in this product as it contains water. 

Could this product be "naturally preserved"? Sure, there are preservatives that are ECOcert or greener than others, but I don't see those in the list of ingredients. They could be in the aloe vera gel or the witch hazel as well.

Having said that, here's no definition for the word "natural", so I can say anything is natural. I could use liquid Germall Plus, which I don't consider natural in any way, in a product and call it natural. When I've seen a label declare that dimethicone is natural because it's "derived from sand", I've seen it all.

Why blueberries for a picture? I was looking for something natural and I came upon this picture. I like blueberries - they're my favourite fruit! - and thought it would look nice. 

As an aside...I am wondering if the witch hazel extract contains a bunch of alcohol, because that's a way to preserve an oil-in-water lotion. I've seen it said that you need 20% to 25% alcohol to preserve. I wouldn't try it, but others would.

After writing all of this, I have a few questions myself...
  • Why is there baking soda in a lotion? I'm guessing it's for the idea that this is an underarm lotion and it might help with odour? It's feels like a strange inclusion.
  • Also, what's up with all that zinc oxide? That's a lot. If we figure they are using 6% to 8% Ritamulse SCG in this product - that's the emulsifier here - and coconut oil is the only oil in here, then they have to be using at least 6% zinc oxide here. I make a lotion with 20% and it makes it very thick and white. I don't expect it to be that extreme, but it would definitely leave some white behind. 
  • Is the product very thick and white? With this emulsifier, a solid oil, and zinc oxide, that's the only conclusion I could reach. I would think it would have a slightly gritty feeling from the zinc oxide and baking soda. 
I hope I've answered your questions, Dedra! Thanks for the inspiration!