Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quick post: National Craft Month is almost over!

When March ends, so does National Craft month, and I'm holding a little contest to celebrate! (Check out the full details in this post!)

Send me a picture of your craft with a bit of information - for instance, is this your first time with this product, this recipe, this craft? - and I'll enter you in a draw to win a copy of the e-book of your choice! I'll be posting the pictures throughout the month and so you can share your experiences with others on the blog! Newbies, veterans, and everyone in between is welcome to participate. I will ask you to keep the projects limited to bath & body products as that's what this blog is about, but if you have something that is tangentially associated with cosmetics, we'll include that too. (I'm thinking about make-up bags, make-up brush holders, cute boxes you've made to give away your products.)

E-mail Susan at with the subject line National Craft Month! Please sign off with the name you want me to use on the blog (first names only) and location (if you wish) and pictures of your craft. There is no limit to how many times you can enter! You have until midnight PST March 31st to enter, and there will be multiple prizes. I'll post the winners the weekend of April 3rd. I can't wait to see what you make!

I realize I said to keep the crafts bath & body related, then I go and put a picture of my husband sewing and a charm I made with metal...Silly Swift! 

Weekend Wonderings: Where to get reputable information?

In this post, Much maligned ingredients: Propylene glycol, Katt asks: Recently I was in a soap group on Facebook and a woman asked me if i used propylene glycol.  At the time I had no clue what it was 'til I looked it up on your site. Besides the fact I don't use petroleum derived ingredients, I don't see what's so bad about it. So I asked her. She went off about how it caused cancer and all sorts of stuff, so I did some research and found a site called ATSDR, which stands for Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. They say all it can cause is skin irritation depending on the person. So my question is - is this a reputable site to get info from? It seems legit and basically coincides with what you say (I tend to trust what you say a lot). I just wanted to make sure I understand all ingredients before I use them and need to know a good site to get info from, not a bunch of people who bad mouth products because they don't like them. 

The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry is a "federal public health registry of the US Department of Health and Human Services". They are reputable. (Here's their take on propylene glycol!)

It's hard to know where to get information. I trust my textbooks and the studies I find through EBSCO host. I like Cosmetics Info, Paula's ChoiceChemist's Corner, and Joe Schwarcz (see his Facebook page!), to name a few.

I don't trust sites like the EWG, Skin Deep, Natural News, Food Babe, The Suzuki Foundation, and their like because they don't seem to get it right when it comes to chemistry. They rely upon studies conducted by labs no one has heard of and they don't share their data.

It's interesting how much misinformation there is out there about food and cosmetics, both relating to chemistry. The concerns about propylene glycol - it's in anti-freeze - reminds me of the Food Babe's crusade against the chemical azodicarbonamide in Subway bread, calling it the "yoga mat chemical".  You can't say that because something is in one thing, it's bad if it's in another. Water can be used to flush toilets and clean filthy vehicles, but this doesn't mean water is bad for us. 

Although I'm really flattered that you trust me, I encourage you to do your own searches to make decisions about your ingredient choices. (Shocking as it might be, I have been known to be wrong at times!) Find reputable sites and consult those regularly. If something doesn't make sense, consult another site or book to see if this is a widely held position.

Related posts:
Where do I get my information?
How do I research ingredients and make decisions about my ingredients?
How to research ingredients?
What constitutes evidence?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A few notes for the day...

I had great fun at Voyageur Soap & Candle to teaching a hair care class yesterday! If you're interested in taking a class with me or in learning anything to do with bath & body products, including cold process soap, check out their spring class schedule to see when you can attend!

This is what we made yesterday in the hair care products class! So much stuff! 

Just a quick note about conditioner recipes on this blog...they are all pH balanced. You don't need to make the conditioners more acidic. Just leave them be and use them the way you made them. Some could be as high as 6.0, but that's fine. As long as they are on the acidic side of things, you're just fine. Please don't go altering the recipes with vinegar or citric acid when you don't have a pH meter. Just leave them be!

I'm off to have a quiet day. It's been a crazy week and it looks like it'll be crazier as spring break is starting up in our town, and we have a few activities we're doing with the kids, like going to Granville Island tomorrow, making sushi on Thursday, and playing video games on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Weekday Wonderings: Can you add glycerin to an anhydrous bar?

In this post, How to make a longer lasting lotion?, Susanna Originals asks: Can you use glycerine in an anhydrous recipe? For instance, if you were making a body bar could you replace 2 or 3% of the oil with glycerine?

The short answer is no. The long answer?

As I note in this post, we can mix water soluble things with water soluble things and oil soluble things with oil soluble things. We can only mix a water soluble thing with an oil soluble thing if we have an emulsifier. Glycerin is a water soluble ingredient and a body bar - which I'm guessing is a lotion bar of some kind - is anhydrous, so the two can't be used together without some kind of emulsifier. 

If you wanted to add glycerin to a lotion bar, you would need an emulsifier, like Polawax, Incroquat BTMS-50, Ritamulse SCG, and so on. You can see an example of a bar like this in my pumpkin seed oil body scrub bar. Because I have included Ritamulse SCG, I can include water soluble ingredients like a hydrolyzed protein or glycerin

You might see people adding water soluble ingredients to anhydrous products without an emulsifier. For instance, adding honey to a lip balm. I added sodium lactate to this lip balm a few years ago. How? I used lecithin, which can emulsify small amounts of water soluble ingredients into things like a lip balm or a lotion bar. 

Related posts:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekday Wonderings: How to make a longer lasting lotion?

In this post, More information on calculations, Chris B from the Dish asks: I was just wondering what oils/butters you recommend adding to a lotion to make the lotion last longer on the skin? I have tried many of your formulas (love a few of them) but after about two hours, the moisturizing effect is gone and my legs are flaky again. Are there any oils in particular I should be using?

I think there are loads of different opinions on this - and I would encourage you, my lovely readers, to share your thoughts in the comments - but I don't think it's about the type of oils. I think it's about the combination of occlusive ingredients and humectants rather than the oils.

There's a difference between moisturization and hydration. Moisturizing is about creating an occlusive barrier to keep the water we have in our skin in our skin and preventing transepidermal water loss. Hydrating is about binding water to something like a humectant and keeping it on our skin. (Check out this post for way more details!) When we combine the two, we can make something seriously awesome for dry skin!

For dry skin, we want to bring water to the skin, which is why something like an anhydrous or without-water whipped butter, lotion bar, or oils only balm will do nothing for your skin type. We want to use oil-in-water lotions to bring moisturization and hydration to your skin!

If I want to make something for dry skin, I think about adding a humectant like glycerin, sodium lactate, and so on, and an occlusive ingredient to trap in that moisture. So I'd want to make something with cocoa butter, allantoin, or dimethicone - the three approved occlusive ingredients - and a lovely humectant.

Also consider the viscosity of the product you're making. If you make a light lotion, it'll offer less moisturizing than a body butter because the product isn't as thick!

So what would I suggest? I'd make something filled with humectants - say 3% glycerin and 2% sodium lactate or 3% glycerin, 2% honeyquat, and 2% propylene glycol, for example, - that had some great occlusive ingredients - let's say 10% cocoa butter, 2% dimethicone (cool down), and 0.5% allantoin - combined with some oils that offer great barrier repair properties - anything with linoleic acid, like soy bean oil, rice bran oil, or pumpkin seed oil, to name a few. (You could also try anything with gamma linoleic acid, like evening primrose or borage oil.) I'd add ingredients like panthenol - humectant and wound healer - and perhaps a hydrolyzed protein to offer some film forming.

This body butter with a few substitutions would be very nice, but then again, any of the recipes on this blog using those ingredients would be very nice! (As an aside, the body butter the way I made it stays greasy on my legs well into the next day if I apply it night! It's not too greasy, just enough that I know it's there!)

Related posts:
What is dry skin?
Impaired skin barrier repair mechanisms
Lower hydration levels
What ingredients could we use for dry skin? (Part one)
What ingredients could we use for dry skin? (Part two)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Do we need to use Vitamin E? Is the preservative and fragrance part of the 100%?

In this post, Lotions: A basic recipe, Helga asks: 1) does lotion need vitamin E? 2) is the percentage of preservative and fragrance based on the absolute total produced with those included or of the foundation of the recipe without those? 

I include Vitamin E for two reasons. The first is because it's lovely for your skin. Vitamin E moisturizes and softens skin well. The second is because it acts like an anti-oxidant. But only certain types behave as anti-oxidants. For instance, I use this T-50 anti-oxidant tocopherol blend from Voyageur Soap & Candle as an anti-oxidant. For this ingredient, I could use it as low as 0.05% to retard rancidity in the oils. (Tocopherol acetate is used for moisturizing, not as an anti-oxidant.)

So to answer the question - no, your lotion doesn't need Vitamin E, but it's a nice addition to either soften skin or retard rancidity in your oils.

The second question is one I've seen around quite a bit lately. Every ingredient in a lotion is to be part of the 100% total. So if we have a recipe that looks like this...

70.5% water
15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus'll notice the preservative and fragrance oil/essential oil are in the the 100% total of the recipe. There's no reason to add either of these things on top of the 100%; they are included.

71.5% water
15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Let's say you want to add essential oil at 1% to the second version of this lotion. How do we do that and keep it at 100%? You would remove 1% from the water phase - making it 70.5% water - and add your essential oil at 1% to keep the total at 100%.

To summarize this question: You include every ingredient you are using in the 100%.

Related posts:
Adding and removing from the water amount

Side note: I thought I'd share this lip gloss recipe from Adventures with the Sage with you! Someone asked about lip gloss the other day, and I thought this looked like a nice one!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It's been a long week!

It's been a very long week with loads of activity and not much time to think about anything, let alone write. Sorry for the lack of posts!

Happy Pi Day! Today is 3.14/15, so I encourage you to celebrate by measuring some circles and eating a tart or two. Quiche counts!

Like this shirt? Find this and more at Mental Floss's shirt store! (Note: I don't have an affiliation with them and don't get any money if you click through. I just like their shirts!) 

Check out this post on Beauty Brains about Lush's self-preserving products and water activity. Very interesting!

Are you interested in taking a class at Voyageur Soap & Candle with me? If so, registration is open and the first class is on Saturday, March 21st when we'll have some fun with hair care products! While there, check out the awesome classes Tawnee is teaching, including cold process soap making, men's products, green cleaning products, and mommy & me products, to name a few. She's an incredible teacher!

A quick note about the e-books: If you donate for an e-book, you will get it within a few minutes to few hours of the email arriving in my inbox. (The delay is because I need to be somewhere with wifi or at home!) If you don't get it in a few hours, check your spam inbox as it seems to be ending up there. Please write to me if you don't get it within 24 hours. There are the odd times I can't send things right away - for instance, when I'm on holidays in America where it costs a fortune to send and receive email on my smart phone - but I'll post that information on the blog when I'm away.

A reminder about the National Craft Month contest! Click here to learn more! Look forward to seeing a few of the entries in the next few days!

I'm having a really tired day today, so it looks like instead of reviewing your comments, I'll be lying on the couch playing Animal Crossing. I'll get to some of your questions in tomorrow's Weekend Wonderings!

What are you making this weekend? 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Why use three surfactant blends in products?

In this post, Surfactants: A conditioning shampoo with SCI for normal to oily hair, Fatima asks: Can you tell me why another surfactant is needed? Wouldn't this work perfectly fine with just the two?

Great question! We use different surfactants blended together because each brings something different to the mix.

Take a look at decyl glucoside for a moment. It has good foam, but isn't known for its lather or bubbles. This wouldn't be a great addition to a bubble bath, but it might be good for a low lathering cleanser.

Let's take a look at disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS). It has good foam and good detergency, and it's great for oily skin and hair.

If you take a look at this surfactant chart, you can see that something like C14-16 olefin sulfonate brings good lather, great flash foam, and good bubbles to the mix. It is good for oily hair as it removes sebum gently, and it's a good emulsifier. This would be a good inclusion for a shampoo, body wash, or facial cleanser for oily hair or skin.

If we wanted to make a bubble bath, we would be looking for ingredients that have great flash foam, great bubbles, and great lather. If we chose decyl glucoside as the only surfactant, we'd only have good foam. If we chose only DLS as the only surfactant, we'd only have good foam. So we would have a pretty lousy bubble bath. Instead, we'd want to use the C14-16 olefin sulfonate because it offers good lather, great flash foam, and good bubbles. We could combine it with SCI or ACI because both are known to have great foam, good bubbles, and good lather. This would bring us a great product that is better than the surfactants alone.

Let's say we wanted to create a facial wash. We don't necessarily want something that foams, lathers, or bubbles like crazy on our face. We generally want something that cleans well but gently. We want something that would be good for our skin type, so let's take a look at dry skin. For dry skin, we want to use something that is very mild and doesn't strip out a ton of oils. We would choose gentle to mild surfactants that are good for dry skin in very low levels. My first thought is the polyglucose/lactylate blend. It is a very gentle cleanser that offers great cleansing properties and a moisturized after feel. I think I'll add cocamidopropyl betaine as that surfactant will increase the mildness of the product and increase the viscosity. I might include some SMC or SMO taurate as it's also great for dry skin, and it works well in combination with cocamidopropyl betaine to increase viscosity.

Why use three different surfactants in this recipe? Because they each have something to offer to the product. The SMC or SMO taurate and cocamidopropyl betaine combination will bring mild cleansing and viscosity while the polyglucose/lactylate brings more gentle cleansing and a moisturized after feel. You could use two of three surfactants and have something nice, but I think using all three together offers something that is more special.

I could make my facial cleanser in a different way using different surfactants based on skin type, desired qualities - gentle cleansing, loads of foam and lather, conditioned skin feel, etc. - using different surfactants. What would happen if I used decyl glucoside, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, and SMC taurate together? What could I expect from the lather, foam, and bubbles? Would I have to alter the pH? What skin type would use this product? Think about those questions when you're buying your surfactants or planning to make something.

To get back to the original question - why use three surfactants in this shampoo?

53% water
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% SCI (without stearic acid)
5% surfactant of choice (SLeS, SMC Taurate, a blend, and so on)
10% aloe vera
2% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed protein

3% cationic polymer like honeyquat or polyquat 7
2% dimethicone
2% panthenol
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% to 2% fragrance or essential oils
(up to 2% Crothix - when cooled down - optional)

I love SCI so very much. It makes my hair feel so conditioned after using it. But I can't use it huge amounts because it's a solid found in prills or pellets, and if I put in too much, it'll precipitate out. So I look to another surfactant to offer great cleansing as well, something like SLeS, SMC taurate, DLS, and so on. If I added SMC taurate, I'll be adding something that is great for thickening and dry to normal hair type. And I add cocamidopropyl betaine to the mix, I'll make it even gentler and help thicken the product well.

I guess I could use two surfactants - let's say SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine - but then I'd be losing the awesome power of the third surfactant. I could use just SMC taurate and cocamidopropyl betaine, but then I'd be losing the great bubbles, great lather, great foam, and elegant skin feel SCI brings to the party. By using three surfactants together, I'm bringing a few different awesome qualities to the product.

I feel like I've gone on too long here. The short answer is that by combining three surfactants I can create something that has the qualities I seek better than using one or two surfactants. Did I answer your question? I hope so!