Thursday, April 30, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Panthenol

Humectant, emollient, moisturizer - is there anything panthenol can't do?

Panthenol is an alcohol that is processed by our body to become pantothenic acid - a water soluble vitamin, Vitamin B - a major constituent of our hair. This is why you see it in most hair care products, and why an entire hair care line is named after it!

Panthenol for hair care products is a fantastic addition at 2% to 5%. It builds a thin moisture film on the surface of your hair (film former) and makes it shine without oil or greasiness. In addition, it can penetrate the cuticle of your hair and brings moisture to the cortex! This means you get good manageability and pliability of your hair, and it is better able to cope with brushing, wind, and other non-hair friendly things. Finally, it could give your hair more body! Studies have shown that 2% left on for 2 minutes can actually swell the hair shaft, making it seem thicker! (So use it up to 5% in your conditioner or leave in conditioner!)

For your body care products, panthenol is a must have, again at 2% to 5%. It penetrates deep into the epidermis to bring water into the stratum corneum, and can retain water in the skin. (It's a humectant - that's what it does!) Unlike some humectants, it will not leave a sticky feeling to your products. Studies have shown that not only is it moisturizing, but it can actually heal inflammation, sunburns, and wounds at 5% in a lotion by up to 30% quicker than a lotion without panthenol. And it's good for people with sensitive skin and babies!

It is very soluble in water, soluble in alcohol and glycerin, and not at all in oils. It's not sticky, so you can use it as a humectant, although I'd use it in conjunction with another humectant because panthenol gets a little expensive! So you're going to add this to your cool down phase at 2 to 5% for maximum awesomeness.

Panthenol comes in the D and L format - d for the right handed molecule, l for the left handed molecule - but our bodies only process the D form. You can get it in powdered or liquid form. I prefer the liquid form because it's easy to add in the cooling down stage, but the powdered stuff works just as well (add to the water stage). (The powdered form is a salt form of panthenol designed for easy solubility.)

Let's get formulating with panthenol (although if you've read any of my hair care posts, you know I include it in everything!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How do you know your ingredients are safe?

You put what in my ice cream?

When deciding what ingredients to use, always consider the source of your information. You can see from the post on "all natural", that often times these things are opinion, not fact, based. I like to consider the studies I'm reading before making up my mind on safety.

An aside, I believe we should be free to make up our minds to include any ingredient we want in our products and we don't need to justify ourselves. We make choices based on lifestyle, belief systems, and loveliness, and they're all valid choices. It's only when we start making false claims about ingredients that I get annoyed...

I received a comment asking about the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and the EWG. I admit I'm not a fan of this site. Its goal seems to be to cause fear and concern in those who read it. It seems to be a source of great misinformation, and I don't rely upon it for data.

Consider their rating of olive oil as "1", meaning low hazard. The database notes "broad systemic effects" on organ system toxicity at moderate doses, and for cancer "one or more in vitro tests [were] inconclusive, but [showed] potentially positive mutation results".

Or look at the rating of stearic acid as "2 to 3", meaning low to moderate hazard. The first two studies are from 1961: Have they been replicated? It's bad because it causes brain and nervous system effects at low doses in animals, causes respiratory effects in low doses, causes endocrine disruption at high doses, and positive mutation results for cancer.

And don't get me started on jojoba oil!

There are no definition for these phrases. What is a low or moderate dose? What is a "respiratory effect"? How much irritation qualifies as "skin irritation"? What is a "positive mutation result" for cancer? Which animals were used in the tests? (Guinea pigs are 5 000 times more sensitive to some ingredients than a human would be...) And I find it funny that every single ingredient I chose to look up - synthetic and natural - had exactly the same problems.

(As a note...water is just fine for you. I guess they didn't consider the respiratory effects of inhaling large doses, eh? Or the skin responses to soaking for extended periods of time in moderate to high quantities.)

Most of their sources from RTECS, the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (for more information, click to read the wiki page), which is compiled "from the open scientific literature without reference to the validity or usefulness of the studies reported." So you could publish a study with results that are completely out there, and you'd get quoted in this database.

If you want some good scientific information, visit Ben Goldacre's Bad Science or The Beauty Brains (for specific information on cosmetic products and ingredients).

I posted the picture above because I'm lactose intolerant and diabetic. For me, ice cream would be considered 10 - a massive, scary, alarming safety hazard - causing gastric and intestinal distress and increased blood sugar, which can lead to blindness, neuropathy, and cardiac damage. For Raymond, it's a cool chocolate-y treat on a summer's day.

Mineral make-up - Part 11: Using blue iron oxide to make purple

Beware the iron oxide - as you can see from this container, it will get all over the place and make your hands messy!

Blue iron oxide isn't all about the blues - if you are considering the undertones of your eye shadows, then you'll want to consider making purples or other dark colours with blue iron oxide.

PURPLE-BLUEY EYE SHADOW - a shiny eye shadow with purple highlights
1/4 tsp violet mica
1 scoop blue iron oxide
1/4 tsp base

So let's make a shiny eye shadow with purple AND blue highlights

PURPLE HAZE EYE SHADOW - a shiny eye shadow with purple and blue highlights
2 scoops violet mica
2 titches blue mica (or 1/2 small white scoop)
1 titch blue iron oxide (1/4 small white scoop)
1/4 tsp base

or, to take out the fractions...

1/4 tsp violet mica (8 scoops)
1/16 tsp blue mica (2 scoops)
1 scoop blue iron oxide (0.15 cc or 1/32 tsp)
1/4 tsp base

How do these differ? We've added our blue mica to give us the blue highlights.

You could modify the purple-bluey eye shadow with
  • silver mica - more sparkle
  • white mica - lighter colour, more sparkle
  • gold mica - more sparkle, with gold highlights
I know I've posted this before in the using ultramarine purple as your base, but I thought it fit nicely with this topic!

DEEP VIOLET EYE SHADOW - a very basic, not shiny colour
3/8 tsp base
1/8 tsp ultramarine purple
1 scoop of blue iron oxide (optional)

If you leave the blue iron oxide out, you'll have a very matte, purple colour. Adding the blue iron oxide gives the eye shadow a little depth, making it a darker violet. Feel free to add up to 1/8 tsp of various micas to see what colours you can create!

Join me next week to learn all about the awesome power of ultramarine blue!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do you want to see PDFs of these posts?

A random picture for a random post. My beautiful future husband being adored by two cuties!

A happy Tuesday to everyone! I am counting down the days to my wedding - 19 days to go - and I'm extremely excited! (May 16th!)

I have figured out how to put things in PDF form so they can be downloaded. I'm just wondering if there's any interest in re-doing some of these posts into that format? I know I am not a fan of having to copy and paste text from blogs into my files, but I don't want to convert everything only to find out there's no let me know which posts might interest you and I'll get working on them! (Anything from craft group will be done in the next week or so...)

And a massive thanks to those of you reading the blog! It's such a joy to get up in the morning and see the comments and e-mails. Keep writing them and I'll keep reading them! I love to hear your ideas - I only have my own chemistry obsessed brain to create new ideas for posts, and that could devolve into all kinds of science-y madness, so hearing what you want to read keeps this blog on the good side of sane!

Hydrovance in toners and sprays

So let's play with some Hydrovance. I'm including it in a few recipes to take the place of other humectants, specifically the summer cooling spray and apres sun spray because sodium lactate might make us sun sensitive. (Although I still include sodium lactate because I love the fact it's in my skin naturally!)

30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
25% water
10% aloe vera liquid
2% hydrovance (in place of the sodium lactate)
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)

For instructions, please check out the Make Your Own Toner post.

30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
20% water
10% aloe vera liquid
5% hydrovance
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)
1% peppermint essential oil
1% polysorbate 20
(these are new additions to get the feeling of cooling from the peppermint, the polysorbate 20 will emulsify it)

20% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
20% water
20% aloe vera liquid
5% hydrovance
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)
1% lavender essential oil
1% polysorbate 20
(these are new additions to get the soothing lavender essential oil in the mixture; poly 20 to emulsify)

Have fun formulating with Hydrovance!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jewellery making handouts from class

This is my new favourite bracelet - please excuse the terrible picture as photography is not one of my strengths! Of course, it's chemistry based. The large charm is hydrogen cyanide; the smaller crystals are oxygen with double bonds. Yeah, I get my inspiration from all kinds of places!

I'm posting the handouts from class here so you can make jewellery at home!

My new thing is playing with crystals - WARNING: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE - and connectors. To make a bracelet like mine above, you'll want to learn how to make charms with eye pins, which is in the basics hand out!

Better crafting through chemistry: Hydrovance

Hydrovance by National Starch (INCI: hydroxyethyl urea) is a moisturizing agent that can be added to your lotions and water based products at 1 to 20%. It's hygroscopic, meaning it draws water from the atmosphere (to your skin), so we treat it as a humectant. (In studies conducted by the company, Hydrovance absorbed 82% of its weight in water, compared to glycerin at 24%. As this was a study conducted by the company, always take the results with a grain of salt.)

Having said this, urea is a very effective humectant. It is actually found in our skin, where it takes in water, creates a solution, then acts as a humectant in the strateum corneum of our skin! (Learn more about skin chemistry in this post!)

Water soluble with a ph of 6.5 to 8.5, it comes in a liquid you can add to the cool down phase of your creation or integrate it cold to things like surfactant systems. Hydrovance can experience some pH drift (the pH of your creation changes), so if you are using this regularly, you might want to invest in some pH strips or a pH tester (if you're itching to buy me a wedding present, I would love one of these!) to check that your products aren't getting out of the pH range you want in a product. (This is a great link from Lotioncrafter about preventing pH drift by Hydrovance!) 

So what does this all mean to us? It means we can substitute Hydrovance for any product containing a humectant like glycerin, propylene glycol, honey, and the like (I wouldn't substitute it for olive oil in a recipe as the oil is both your emollient and your humectant, and you want it in a lotion). Why would we use Hydrovance over those other products? It could be a better humectant than the others, it is thinner and more spreadable than glycerin, and doesn't leave behind a sticky residue.

I like to use hydrovance in body sprays and very light lotions to keep the stickiness of glycerin out. I would normally use sodium lactate in this capacity, but sodium lactate can be sun sensitizing, which is the last thing you want for a summer cooling spray or an apres sun spray! So let's do some substituting!

From my post "Create a toner!"

Lavender & Chamomile Toner
30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
25% water
10% aloe vera liquid
2% hydrovance (was sodium lactate)
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)

Please visit the post "Create your own toner" for the instructions!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Condition-eze 7 (Polyquat 7)

Isn't it beautiful? This is the polyquat 7 molecule. The N+ group is what makes this a cationic - the nitrogen makes all the difference!

Polyquat 7 (or Condition-eze 7, as the ISP product is known) is a cationic quaternary polymer that can be used in hair care and body care products to impart conditioning and moisturizing. (Please visit the honeyquat post to learn more about polymers and compounds.) Like Honeyquat, it is positively charged and is substantive, meaning it will adsorb to your hair or skin. It is water soluble and can be added to surfactant, conditioning, and lotion systems at up to 5% (I like to use it at 3%). It is a humectant, meaning it draws water from the atmosphere to your body or hair, so it can take the place of glycerin and it isn't as sticky, and it is a moisture binder. It is a viscous liquid that comes in a bottle and is water soluble.

I'm personally a big fan of this product, and love to add it to pretty much everything! So why use this instead of honeyquat? Because people like me can't get honeyquat as easily as we can Condition-eze 7 (I have to order honeyquat from the States, which means lengthy delays, increased shipping charges, and duties, which can add up to more than 75% of the order price!)

You would use polyquat 7 the way you use honeyquat, by adding it at up to 5% in your surfactant systems - for instance, body washes where the conditioning acts as a moisturizer and humectant, or in a hair product to make a "2 in 1" shampoo with conditioning agents - or by adding it in a lotion to work as a humectant. (Click here to read the honeyquat posts for skin care and hair care products.)

If you add polyquat 7 to any mixture, remember that it is cationic, so please consider this when using Tinosan as your preservative.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Honeyquat in hair care products

Honeyquat was made for hair care products - literally! - so including it in a conditioner is a wonderful and good thing. It offers good wet combing and conditioning, and helps with anti-static control.

Let's take a look at a conditioner we made in the conditioning post....

OILY HAIR CONDITIONER - defrizzing, conditioning, moisturizing without oils7% BTMS
2% cetyl alcohol
.5% preservative
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% panthenol
2% cetrimonium chloride (optional)
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance or essential oils
3% honeyquatwater up to 100%

Weigh the BTMS and cetyl alcohol in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler. Weigh the water and put into a double boiler. Heat and hold until the the BTMS has melted and the water has reached 70C. Mix together with a hand mixer or stick blender, then let cool to 45C. When the mixture has reached 45C, add the protein, panthenol, cetac, cyclomethicone, dimethicone, preservative, honeyquat, and fragrance. Mix again. Let cool, then bottle.

You've added another conditioning agent to this wonderful conditioner, so you're going to get more conditioning and better wet combing.

As a note, you can leave out the cetrimonium chloride - add 2% water - if you don't have it or if you are using honeyquat as they kind of serve the same purpose (although the cetrimonium chloride is a better detangler!)

LEAVE IN CONDITIONER (original found in this post...check it out for details on ingredients)
2% Incroquat BTMS
2% honeyquat2% cetrimonium chloride (optional)
4% glycerin
1% aloe vera
1% hydrolyzed protein (I use oat protein)
1% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance oil
.5% to 1% preservative (I use liquid germall plus)
water to 100%

Weigh the BTMS, cetac, glycerin, aloe vera, and water into a heat proof container and put into a double boiler until the ingredients melt. Mix well and leave to stand until the temperature reaches 45C, mixing occasionally. Add the hydrolyzed protein, panthenol, cyclomethicone, dimethicone, fragrance oil, and preservative at this time, and mix well. When the mixture is at room temperature, bottle in a spray bottle.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Honeyquat in skin care products

Now you know everything there is to know about do we incorporate it into our products?

Honeyquat is best used at 5% or lower in your creations, although I do prefer 2 to 3%. You can include it in body washes and toners (see below), and lotions. Adding it to your creations offers you a humectant, moisturizer, emollient, and film former all in one.

BODY WASH WITH HONEYQUAT (click here for the post on body wash)
37.5% water
15% Amphosol CG (coco betaine)
15% Amphosol AS-40 or SLeS
15% BSB or LSB
5% aloe vera
3% glycerin
3% honeyquat (was polyquat 7)
2% cromoist or other hydrolyzed protein
2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix
0.5% preservative
Colouring, if wanted

You'll notice we kept the glycerin in this recipe, even though we're using honeyquat as both the humectant and the conditioner. That's because glycerin makes our bubbles bigger and last longer, so we want both in this recipe. Plus, humectants are good for surfactant systems. It makes them clearer, and it allows them to get to lower temperatures without freezing (humectants are anti-freeze for water!) so it's a good thing to have many of them in there! Again, humectants can interfere a bit with your lather, but it's worth it for the extra conditioning you'll feel!

TONER WITH HONEYQUAT (click here for the original toner post)
Turns out I already included honeyquat in the original recipe. What's the purpose? It's going to moisturize, condition, and soothe your skin.

You can put honeyquat into your lotions during the cool down phase at up to 5% (again, I like 2 to 3%). But remember, it is a cationic, so if you include it with Tinosan, this preservative won't work well.

Here's a sample recipe from the post on facial moisturizers, but you can modify any recipe you have to include it. Please visit the moisturizer link if you want the directions.

WATER PHASE - you can use 80% water if you don't have the hydrosols and aloe vera
45% water (reduced to allow for 3% honeyquat)
15% aloe vera
15% hydrosol of choice (I'm using lavender hydrosol)
2% humectant of choice (I'm using sodium lactate)

8% oils - I'm going to use hempseed, macadamia nut, and jojoba for my dry-ish, acne prone skin
4% emulsifier - Polawax, e-wax or BTMS
2% thickener - cetyl alcohol for the glide

0.5% to 1% preservative
2% hydrolyzed oat protein
2% panthenol
0.5% chamomile extract (for soothing)
0.5% honeysuckle extract (for acne)
3% honeyquat
**If you are using oils with less than a 9 month shelf life, please add 1% Vitamin E to your cool down phase!**

Let's turn to honeyquat in hair care products tomorrow!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Honeyquat

So what exactly is honeyquat and how do you use it?

Honeyquat is a cationic quaternary polymer - meaning it is a positively charged conditioning agent. It is different than the Incroquat BTMS that we have been using in hair care products in that it is a polymer and not a cationic compound, like the BTMS. The INCI is hydroxypropyltrimonium honey.

A polymer is "Any of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule." From Whereas a compound is something produced or created by combining two or more ingredients. A compound would be heterogeneous - not completely uniform, like a rocky road bar - and a polymer is homogeneous - where you can't tell each part from another. So our polymers are homogeneous and uniform; the BTMS, for instance, is a compound made up of various ingredients to make a product.

As a cationic quat, it is substantive. This means it is positively charged and binds to our negatively charged hair and skin to offer conditioning and moisturizing. And it's a humectant, and we can't get enough of those! And it's kinda cool that it's derived from honey yet isn't sticky. (Is it a better humectant than glycerin? The brochure claims it is - but take that with a grain of salt as with any company led studies.)

If we use honeyquat on our hair, it will adsorb to the hair and it will penetrate the hair shaft for more conditioning. It offers better wet combing and conditioning, as well as the reduction of static build-up on dry hair.

If we use it on our skin, it increases the moisture uptake ability - how much moisture our skin can handle - and leaves us feeling more moisturized and conditioned. It is suitable for leave on and rinse off products.

Honeyquat is a viscous liquid you'll get in a bottle. It's water soluble, not oil soluble, so you can include it in any of your water based creations. (Meaning anhydrous creations like lotion bars are not a suitable application for honeyquat!) It's suitable for surfactant systems as it won't reduce the lather and doesn't rinse off, so it's a great choice for hand lotions and other creations that might be washed off during the day. You can use it up to 5% in the cooling phase of your creations.

To summarize...Honeyquat is a water soluble cationic polymer that should be added to the cool down phase of your creation. It acts as a humectant and moisture binder. It can be used in skin and hair care products to increase conditioning and substantivity.

Join me tomorrow to learn how to use honeyquat in your creations!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mineral make up - Part 10: Using blue iron oxide to make blue

This is the blue iron oxide on paper. Behold its mighty power to colour everything it sees, including your hands! So be sparing with it in your eye shadows!

As you saw in the last post on MMU, you can use base and micas to get a nice, translucent, shiny blue. But perhaps you're not a shiny girl and you want something with a little more depth. This is where our blue iron oxide comes to visit! Blue iron oxide reminds me of the black iron oxides (see more in this post on the topic) - it adds a lot of depth to a colour and makes it darker, taking something to the "more blue" aspect of the colour.

Blue iron oxide is incredibly powerful and a small titch is enough to colour quite a lot of base. Try this recipe to see the awesome power of blue iron oxide!

What's a titch? I consider it to be about 1/4 of our tiny white scoops, which would be about 0.035 cc. Since we have nothing that small, I usually measure it with the handle end of the spoon. I know it's not accurate - this from the "let's measure everything with a scale, including butter in the icing for our cupcakes!" girl - but it's the only way to add tiny amounts!

3/4 tsp eye shadow base (if you don't know what this means, please visit the intro to MMU)
1 scoop (0.15 cc) blue iron oxide
Put into a small bag and squish until it is well blended. Use a Q-tip to see if you like it.

This is a great starting point for making other eye shadows, or you can use it alone as a base.

If you'd like it a little darker try...
3/4 tsp eye shadow base
2 scoops blue iron oxide

You can use either of these as the base for your eye shadows. (The recipes below use the word "base" to mean the untinted base...)

ARCTIC BLUE EYE SHADOW (made with blue iron oxide)
3/4 tsp base
2 scoops sunpearl silver or arctic silver or white mica (satin)
1 scoop blue iron oxide
or the base you made above with 2 scoops silver mica

You'll remember this one from the last post. This time we're making it with blue iron oxide and adding the micas later to give it the shine. The difference between these two recipes is the blue iron oxide - instead of getting our colour from periwinkle blue mica, we're getting it from the blue iron oxide, then adding the mica for the shine.

PERIWINKLE BLUE EYE SHADOW (made with blue iron oxide)
1/4 tsp parts periwinkle blue mica
1/2 scoop blue iron oxide
1/4 tsp eye shadow base
or the base you made above with 1/4 tsp periwinkle blue mica

Again, you'll remember this eye shadow from the last post. It is a variation that will be a deeper blue than the periwinkle blue sheen, with an opaque base instead of a transparent base.

Behold the awesome power of blue iron oxide! A small titch can transform any sheen into an eye shadow. Join me next week to learn more about using blue iron oxides to create purples!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Occlusion

What the heck is occlusion? This is the way we prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from our skin. (From Wikipedia: TEWL is defined as the measurement of the quantity of water that passes from inside a body through the epidermal layer - skin - to the surrounding atmosphere via diffusion and evaporation processes.) We want to trap in that water and prevent it from evaporating from our skin, and protect our skin from further damage while it repairs itself from physical assaults of the day.

All the things from yesterday's post that offer emolliency - oils, butters, cationic compounds and polymers, proteins - will help trap in the moisture, and the do to the double duty of making our skin feel softer. But there are other ingredients we can use to occlude our skin. These are called barrier ingredients, because they set up a barrier between your skin and the outside world.

Cocoa, shea, mango, and other butters are great barrier ingredients, protecting your skin from TEWL and from further damage from the outside world. Each butter has its own benefits, but the key is that they stay on the skin. (For more on butters, please check out my post on this topic!)

Allantoin is another great barrier ingredient found in aloe vera and comfrey oil. You can also buy this in a white powder you can add to your products. It can help increase the water content of the stratum corneum (and this is always a good thing!) It can promote cell proliferation and wound healing. It's soothing to skin and is anti-irritant.

You can add it as aloe vera liquid, gel, or powder, or you can use comfrey oil (but do not use this on broken skin!) to get these great benefits. You can use aloe vera to your heart's content at whatever quantities you want, but I'd keep the comfrey oil below 2%. And allantoin (the powder) can be added to your lotions at up to 2% in the cooling phase. Allantoin is water soluble, so if it is not dissolved properly, it can get gritty, but this is a fantastic addition to products intended to keep out the cold, wind, and sun.

Dimethicone is another recognized barrier ingredient. It's a silicone that offers a soft, silky feel to your products. It is oil soluble, so it's not suitable for things like toners or sprays, but you can use it in small quantities in surfactant systems like shampoos. You can get water soluble dimethicone for things like toners! Use this at up to 5% (although I prefer no more than 3%) in your creations to for both the silky feeling and the occlusion properties.

Silicones act as emollients, film formers, and barrier ingredients! All around awesome!

Waxes are great occlusive ingredients, and adding beeswax and other waxes to your lotions creates a more occlusive lotion than one without. This is the way lip balms work - they trap in the moisture on your lips to moisturize.

If you're looking a really occlusive product, look no further than the humble lotion bar. Filled with occlusive oils, butters, and waxes, you can make it really awesome by adding a little dimethicone and some aloe oil (allantoin will not dissolve in the oils, so use aloe or comfrey oil instead).

Now that you know all about the three factors for great skin care products, join me on Thursday to take a closer look at honeyquat - a cationic polymer that acts as both a humectant and an emollient!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Emollients

Isn't this a beautiful molecule? It's castor oil! This is a triglyceride - three fatty acids connected to a backbone of glycerol (glycerin) - the 3 oxygen atoms at the top. The zig zaggy lines indicate a carbon molecule and the OH are the hydroxyl groups we saw in yesterday's post. Finally, the double lines in the middle of the zig zaggy bit are double bonds - this is what makes this unsaturated. Those double bonds can be broken and we get rancidity!

What the heck are emollients? They are the ingredients we add to our creations to offer soothing and moisturizing to our skin. Emolliency is a vital part of our skin's needs: Adding emollient ingredients can help us immediately relieve some of the discomfort of dry skin and helps plasticize the skin. So we want emollient ingredients in everything we make!

There are many emollient ingredients you can choose - oils & butters, proteins, hydrosols - so let's take a look at a few of those.

Vegetable triglycerides, or as we know them oils and butters, are the main ingredients used in lotions to soothe and moisturize our skin. There are some down sides to using vegetable oils. They are unsaturated, which means they are prone to rancidity, and they can impart a greasy feel to our creations. Most vegetable oil molecules are quite large, which makes them harder to emulsify than something like mineral oil. But they offer so many benefits in the form of the unsaponifiables - sterols, vitamins, minerals, and so on that will not saponify (yield fatty soap in the presence of caustic ingredients like sodium hydroxide) - that we want them in our lotions! Different oils offer different benefits - longer shelf life, more minerals, some lovely vitamins - so you can choose your oils and butters to suit your needs.

Please visit these posts for more detailed information...
Anti-oxidants (to retard rancidity)

Hydrolyzed proteins like oat, wheat, corn, silk, and soy proteins are film formers and emollients. They contain oligosaccharides (long chains of glucose) and amino acids. They are water soluble, thus not appropriate for oil only creations.

They work on your skin by penetrating the outer layers of the stratum corneum and function as moisturizers. They also work as irritant mitigators in anionic surfactant mixtures, so they are a great addition to any body or facial cleansers. In hair care products, they can penetrate the cuticle into the cortex and help reduce cortex damage.

They also help you retain moisture in your skin or hair, meaning they do have some humectant qualities.

I'm planning to go into more detail about hydrolyzed proteins in the near future, so look for it!

Cationic quaternary compounds are great emollients to add to your creations. They are substantive - these ingredients are positively charged, so they are attracted to the negative charges of your skin and hair, where they will be deposited and remain on your skin or hair. The fats in this molecule are the moisturizing ingredients, and offer emolliency (moisturizing and soothing) of your skin and hair.

Cationic polymers (like honeyquat, condition-eze 7 or polyquat 7) are also emollients to add to your creations. Again, they are substantive like the quaternary compounds, but they do not contain the fats the compounds contain so they as moisturizing something like Incroquat BTMS. The substantivity they offer makes a huge difference for cleansers or toners, because you are adding a component of moisturizing to an otherwise non-moisturizing product.

So there you have a few ideas of why we add these ingredients to our products. So let's move on to the last piece of the skin pleasing puzzle - occlusion.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Humectants

If you'd like to know more about humectants, check out the humectants section of the blog where I go into far more detail than you see in this one post! 

Everybody doesn't like something, but everyone likes humectants - if they know what they are! Check out this lovely urea molecule - carbon (grey), nitrogen (blue), hydrogen (white), and oxygen (red), all coming together to make your skin feel lovely!

NOTE: You don't need to be a science geek (like me!) or a chemistry fan to enjoy this post. I put these little molecules on the site because they're so pretty!

Humectants are incredible things, and one of the essential components of skin moisturization (the others being emolliency and occlusiveness. Check out yesterday's post on your skin for more information).

I know I've written about humectants before (Humectants are a girl's best friend!) but I wanted to go more in depth with the topic. I mean, aren't you curious how these things work?

Humectants are hygroscopic, meaning they draw water from the atmosphere to an object. (Think about those packages of silica you get in every container shouting DO NOT EAT! These are humectants - we call them dessicants. They keep the food stuffs and computer components moisture free by drawing water to the little packet and away from the stuff you want to eat or use!)

They are hygroscopic because of the hydroxyl groups attached to the chain. This is a glycerin molecule - the hydroxyl groups are the OH groups representing bonded hydrogen and oxygen atoms. You might recognize OH from alcohol - the majority of humectants are poly-alcohols or polyols. The strength of the humectant is dependent upon on the ratio of hydroxyl groups to the carbon atoms. Glycerine has three carbons and three hydroxyl groups - a very nice ratio indeed!

Glycerin is the most common humectant you'll see for homemade bath & body products. We seem to use it in everything! It's a poly-alcohol or polyol, as indicated by the three hydroxyl (OH) groups on the molecule! It's an organic humectant - no, not organic as in certified, but organic in that it is made up of all "organic" molecules (as opposed to inorganic molecules, like rocks). It helps make bigger bubbles in our surfactant mixes, makes them a little more viscous, and it's inexpensive. It has a great ratio of hydroxyl groups to carbons (3:3), so it's very very effective as a humectant. Glycerin has been shown to accelerate the recovery of barrier function following damage to skin, and like the other humectants, it acts as an anti-freeze for the water in our products, lowering the freezing point and keeping surfactant mixes clear.

Glycerin does not wash off after hand washing, so it's a great addition to hand lotions and surfactant mixtures.

So if glycerin is so awesome a humectant, why would we consider other ones? Our bodies actually contain urea, sodium lactate, and sodium PCA, and each has a benefit. When we are considering the feeling of the lotion or creation, we have to consider that glycerin can be sticky at times, can make our creations more viscous (and we might not want that), and it can begin to draw water out of our skin in arid conditions.

I do love sodium lactate! It's inexpensive, easy to use, and doesn't leave any sticky residue in your products. It's a metal-organic humectant (the Na - sodium - is the metal part), as opposed to a poly-alcohol, like glycerin. It is found in our skin's natural moisturizing factor, and it's a very effective humectant. How effective? Very effective.

It has been found to improve the barrier properties of our skin (in studies, there is a decrease in the trans epidermal water loss, which is a good thing), it is believed to stimulate ceramide synthesis in the skin, and it increases the plasticity of our skin. It also acts as a mild AHA, which can help reduce "the look of fine lines and wrinkles".

It has a really high water holding capacity (meaning it's a very effective humectant), and it is about 1.5 times more effective in this department than glycerin.

So why not use it in everything? It can help treat acne and "signs of aging", and it's a very effective humectant. On the down side, it can make your skin sun sensitive, it can increase the rate of cell exfoliation (which is both good and bad), and it loses its efficacy when you've washed the area in question. So for something like a hand lotion, you're going to lose your humectant after the first hand washing! So great for body butters, foot lotions, moisturizers, toners, and other leave on products - not so great for products like body washes, hand lotions, or surfactant systems where you are going to be washing it away.

SODIUM PCA (salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid)
Again, this is found in your skin and it is a very effective humectant. Like sodium lactate, it is a metal-organic humectant (look at the Na or sodium atom) and it is 1.5 times more effective than glycerin and twice as effective as propylene glycol at drawing in water. It isn't sticky like glycerin, and it won't change the viscosity of your creations.

Again, why aren't we using this in everything? It's more expensive than all the other humectants (relatively speaking - it's about double the price of sodium lactate) and it can be washed off. So hand lotions and surfactant mixes are right out!

All these humectants are good at 1 to 5% in body care products and 2 to 5% in hair care products.

Because glycerin doesn't wash off, it should be your first choice in humectants for body washes, facial washes, shampoos, and hand lotions. Because they do wash off and you'll lose your humectant-y benefits, save the sodium lactate and sodium PCA for toners, body lotions, and anything that will stay on during the day. (It's great in hair care products, but not shampoos!)

Having said all of this, you can use whatever humectant you want in what you want - if you love glycerin, then use it in everything! If you want to use glycerin in lotions, use it! (I love it in lotions and body butters and creams and everything else!)

Click here for a really great brochure on formulating with glycerin and propylene glycol! 

We're going to be looking at urea in our Hydrovance post - coming up shortly - so let's move on to occlusive ingredients!

UPDATE: If you're worried about humectants drawing water from your skin in low humidity climates, worry no more! Check out this post - can glycerin draw water from your skin in low humidity climates?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Your skin

I have a whole series of ingredients planned out for the next few weeks...but then I realized that I'd left out two important our skin works and what it needs! So please join me for the next four days as I take a closer look at your skin, and the three things it needs to be healthy (and how we can achieve these goals!) I know it helped me to understand how to choose ingredients for different products, and it is really interesting. (Yeah, I know, I'm a geek!)

Healthy skin contains about 10% water. The water influences elasticity, tensile strength, barrier characteristics, and appearance of your skin. If you have less than 10% water in your skin, you're too dry and need to get some water in there somehow. You can live in a more humid climate (apparently 60% is ideal, so come visit me in B.C. some time!), drink more water, prevent further damage, or draw or apply water to your skin.

Our stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) contains a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of its own. It is a complex mixture of water soluble compounds, such as amino acids, organic acids, urea, and inorganic ions. This NMF makes up about 10% of the stratum corneum. And the major components of this NMF is sodium lactate, urea, and pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (or sodium PCA). When we absorb water from the atmosphere (or lotions!), this water dissolves these molecules and they act as humectants in our skin drawing water from the atmosphere. But when we live in arid climates, or we have done some kind of damage to our skin, the NMF is compromised and isn't keeping us moisturized. This is where we use our lotions or bath & body products with humectants to help protect and repair the damage.

But water alone isn't going to help it. It evaporates too quickly to really make a huge difference. And this is where our oils and other ingredients come in.

We need three things to moisturize our stratum corneum...

1. Occlusion: We need to reduce the water loss (trans epidermal water loss or TEWL) from our skin. So we use oils, film formers, and other ingredients to trap the water in or on our skin.

2. Humectancy: Humectants will help retain water in the skin and will draw water from the atmosphere.

3. Emolliency: We add moisturizing ingredients so we aren't bothered by the rough, dry skin, and to keep it from being further damaged.

So how do our products work with these three goals in mind?

Our mild cleansers - facial products, body washes, and soaps - work to cleanse without causing damage. If we add some film formers (proteins, cationic quats), emollients, or humectants to the mix, then we can moisturize and, possibly, occlude as well.

For something like a bath bomb, adding oils to the mixture will offer us the emolliency and occlusion characteristics.

In a lotion, although we go on and on about the cool oils and butters we can use, the real purpose of these ingredients is to form an occlusive barrier and add emolliency. We want the butters and oils to trap the water in so it can do its job of hydrating our skin. (This is not to say that the oils and butters don't have benefits of their own, but these are just the basics!)

This isn't to say we shouldn't consider other factors - pretty fragrances, nice tinglies from mint essential oils, the silky smoothness of a good body butter, the viscosity of our surfactant mixtures, and so on - but if we keep these three goals in mind, it's easier to choose our ingredients and make awesome products!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Better crafting through chemistry: Know your ingredients

I know, you're itching to tweak some of the products you've tried already, so let's take a closer look at some of the products available to home crafters. I've offered you an overview of various ingredients - surfactants, oils, butters, exotic oils, humectants, preservatives, and anti-oxidants - but I'd like to take a closer look at some of the speciality ingredients you can add to your creations.

I'm hoping to offer an in depth look at a number of my favourite ingredients with recipes and tweaks included. You don't have to use these ingredients to make awesome products, but it's always nice to know you have options!

Look forward to these products in the coming weeks....
  • honeyquat
  • condition-eze 7 (polyquat)
  • sodium lactate
  • water soluble oils
  • silicones
  • gels
  • hair styling ingredients like fixate g-100
  • panthenol
  • hydrolyzed proteins
  • and more...
If there's an ingredient you'd like to see featured here, just let me know!

If you want to go a'searching for information on your ingredients, the manufacturers' websites are a great place to start. Look for data sheets or product bulletins to learn more about the chemical composition, studies, and sample recipes for your products. You'll have to register for each company, but it's worth the time.

Some of the larger manufacturers are
Let's kick things off with one of my favourite cationic quaternary polymers - honeyquat!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"All natural" - let's take a look, shall we?

So I return from my craft group tonight to see someone has decided to use my blog as an advertising venue. Yeah, I'm not a fan of that idea. I've made a conscious decision not to have any advertising on my site - how can you trust me when I'm promoting a certain company or certain products? Plus, I find all of that advertising stuff on the sides of pages really really annoying!

I found this post on the comments section for the intense conditioner post from this morning...

Exposure to sun and other harmful chemicals may cause hair and skin damage. It is best to use a product that is 100% organic for it can penetrate to the follicle to balance, correct and restore your hair and skin's youth and vitality.

I'd like to recommend "Appreciation" Pre-Shampoo Treatment, it contains pure jojoba oil that comes from a bean grown in Mexico. You'll gonna love it :D

And the person who posted it is the seller of these items.

I tried to check out the ingredients list for this product...I couldn't find one. It appears to contains 100% jojoba oil for $25.00. No preservatives - you don't need one for anhydrous (without water) products, and jojoba has a nice long shelf life, so you don't need to include Vitamin E. So why not make your own?

100 grams jojoba oil
125 ml (4 oz) bottle
Put the jojoba oil in the bottle. Use before washing as a pre-treatment.

Heck, let's make the Hair, Body, and Bath Treatment....
100 grams sesame oil
125 ml (4 oz) bottle
Put the sesame oil in the bottle. Use for hair and body as you wish.

This same person is advocating 100% organic products. You could do this with anhydrous products, but there are no well tested, effective natural preservatives. So anything with water would have to be unpreserved. And you know how I feel about preservatives!

I do think it's interesting that this same person is using silicones in the conditioner and copolymer resins in a styling spray. I like both these ingredients, but I can't think of any way to interpret "organic" to include either of these ingredients. You could call them natural as they do come from natural sources, but by that definition, my computer is all natural, my car is all natural, and my toaster is all natural. I couldn't find the ingredients in the other products, so I'll leave this here. I will say a final thing...if you are considering selling your products, please do not make medical or healing claims for your products.

I read the site again this morning...did you know you can style your hair without chemicals? (Considering that everything in life is composed of chemicals - water, grass, your children, my dog - this is an amazing feat. The Royal Academy of Science is offering $1,000,000 to anyone who can prove they can make something without chemicals!) I think she missed an adjective there!

As a note to people who might consider posting ads on my site in the future - it's $1000 for each comment. I get to review your products. And I get to tell people how to make them. And I get to mock you in public. You've been warned...

Intense hair conditioner

What's the difference between an intense conditioner and a regular conditioner? An intense conditioner should have more conditioning agents, more oils, and less water.

Click here for the regular conditioner recipe...

So how will we change our recipe? We're going to add Incroquat CR, which is a great softening and detangler, upping the the oils for more moisturizing; and upping the cetyl alcohol to match the amount of cationic quats. If you have honeyquat, use that as your humectant, and you'll have not one, not two, but three cationic quats, which are our conditioning agents. And if you have cetrimonium chloride, you can add that at 2% for FOUR cationic quats! This is going to very intense...don't use it more than once a week, unless you have seriously dry hair. (I have very oily hair, and I have to wash the very next day if I use this conditioner. But my hair feels lovely...and it's worth it!)

INTENSE CONDITIONER RECIPE - intense conditioning with loads of hair loving oils!
7% Incroquat BTMS
3% Incroquat CR (detangling, softening)
8% hair loving oils - coconut, camellia, sea buckthorn
3% cetyl alcohol (synergistic effect with the cationic quats)
2% panthenol
2% humectant - honeyquat, glycerin, sodium lactate
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% hydrolyzed protein
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
67.5% water
(optional: 2% cetrimonium chloride - add to the oils phase, remove 2% in the water phase)
If you don't like silicones, then add 4% more water to this recipe or add more light weight oils.

Weigh out the BTMS, CR, oils, and cetyl alcohol in a heat proof container, then put into a double boiler. Weigh out the water and humectant in a heat proof container, and put that into the double boiler. Heat and hold at 70C for 20 minutes. Pour the contents of one container into the other, and mix well with a hand mixer or stick blender. When the temperature reaches below 45C, add the silicones, protein, essential or fragrance oil, and preservative. Spoon into a jar and let cool with the lid off so we don't get condensation.

At 100 grams, this will make more than a 2 oz jar but less than a 4 oz jar (60 ml and 120 ml!)

Rejoice and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mineral make up- Part 9: Blue sheens

I am going to be honest...I'm not a fan of blue. When someone mentions blue, I think of the girls in my high school who wore tons of blue eye shadow right up to their eye brows, and it makes me cringe. I think there are far too many matte blues out there and too few subtle, slightly sparkly blues. So I offer a few to you here...

(This week we're looking at blue sheens, next week blue iron oxide, and the following week ultramarine blue.)

All of these eye shadows are going to be very sparkly and light. Like the green or silver sheen, they are meant as a sweep over your eyes or as a highlighter.

ARCTIC BLUE SHEEN (very sheer, very sparkly)
1 part periwinkle blue mica
1 part one of arctic silver mica (blue tinted), fine white mica (satin) or fine white mica (matte)
1 part base (use the eye shadow base for a pale colour, the light blue matte base for a slightly deeper colour)

If you use the arctic silver mica, you will get a white with a blue tinge, which goes well with the periwinkle blue. If you use the satin mica, you'll have white and it's a little less blue, so compensate with a bit more periwinkle blue if you want it bluer. If you use the matte mica, you'll have a less shiny eye shadow. Try all three versions to see what you like!

This will give you a very icy blue colour that is great for highlighting or using as a sheen.

1 part periwinkle blue mica
3 parts base

This will give you a very periwinkle-y blue colour that is suitable for a sheen. (That's the mica in the picture above.)

MAGIC MAUVE SHEEN (again, kinda sparkly)
2 parts base

Magic mauve is a lighter colour with a purple-y blue tinge. If you want more mauve, add more mica, up to 3 parts mica to 2 parts base.

Tune in next Wednesday for formulating fun with blue iron oxide!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Coconut oil and hair products

Yeah, I know these aren't coconuts...but coconuts aren't that pretty! So enjoy some pineapple shaped bath bombs instead!

One of my favourite sites - The Beauty Brains - weighs in on coconut oil. Visit the post on their site to learn more! (To summarize: coconut oil will penetrate the hair's cortex because it's similar to our hair oils!)

So what does this mean for your hair care products? Add some coconut oil! It's inexpensive, it's easy to find in grocery stores and suppliers' shops, and because it's a saturated fat, it won't go rancid quickly.

If you look at the conditioner post from early March, you'll notice there's room for some oils in there.

DRY HAIR CONDITIONER - moisturizing and conditioning on an intense level
.5% preservative
2% silk - she loves this stuff
2% panthenol
6% oils - try coconut oil here!
2% cetyl alcohol - can't get enough moisture for her
2% honeyquat or glycerin - again, humectants are good for dry hair
2% dimethicone - extra conditioning, soft feeling
1% fragrance or essential oils
water to 100%

Or you could add 3% if you want fewer oils, or try 3% coconut oil, 3% other hair loving oils!

I just realized we haven't made an intense conditioner yet! Join me Thursday for that tutorial!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lotions: Is it a good recipe?

Are you making a table of treats or a tableau of terror? How to pick a good recipe?

By now you have either tried a lotion or are itching to try one. You've probably done some searches on the Intertron for recipes, and you've got a binder (or bookmark file in your browser) filled with all kinds of fantastic ideas you can't wait to try!!! (As a note, don't bookmark - print or PDF it. Often times the recipes go away, and you're frustrated by not having them any more!) So how do you know a recipe is a good one? How do you know which ones to try and which ones to ignore? And how do you come up with your own recipe for a lotion?

You know the basics - a lotion requires water, oil, emulsifier, and preservative. If a lotion lacks one of these ingredients, it won't work. (Okay, to be picky, if it doesn't have a preservative the lotion will emulsify, but you will be producing a lotion that is unprotected, and we all know what that means! No preservatives, icky lotion! Okay, it's not very catchy, but you get the general idea...)

If you see a recipe with beeswax as the emulsifier, don't bother trying it...UNLESS it has borax as well. Beeswax and borax combine to become an emulsifier for water in oil lotions (like cold cream, with more oil than water). I've never tried this, but I've read enough to know it can work. Beeswax is NOT a substitute for emulsifying wax (or e-wax, as it's colloquially named.) I know some people want to use it because they want their lotions to be all natural - but it won't emulsify.

If you see a recipe with the emulsifier comprising substantially less than 25% of the oil phase, don't bother. It won't emulsify. (If it's a little off - say 4% emulsifier for 25% oils, it could still work. But if it's 1% for 25% oils, it won't work. If you want to try the recipe anyway, go ahead - you know how much emulsifier to use, right? Modify it!)

If you see a recipe with no preservative - add it. Preservatives are essential for lotion making. I know we would love to be able to use all natural ingredients for an all natural lotion, but the plague and typhoid are all natural too, and those are not bonuses for the users of your lotion! (Although it would make an interesting B movie!)

If you see a recipe with ingredients you don't have (or can't get), remember you can modify them. Break the ingredients down into the essentials - water, oil, emulsifier, preservative, humectant, and the like. If a recipe calls for tamarind seed extract, look it up and substitute something else (it's a water soluble humectant, so you can substitute glycerin, propylene glycol, sodium lactate, etc.) If it calls for a specific oil, check out the oil chart and see what you can use instead - sunflower oil for sweet almond or apricot kernel oil, olive oil for avocado oil, and so on.

So where can you get some awesome recipes to try? Here are a few of my favourite places...

Voyageur Soap & Candle has some great recipes you will love for all categories of body care - bath products, hair products, and body care products, like lotions and scrubs. They also have a great newsletter section with a fantastic recipe package (Safari users can't download this! Although I am given to understand they are not anti-Mac!)

Lotioncrafter's formulary is incredible, but some of them require very specific ingredients. Remember to refer to your reference charts to see what you can substitute if you can't order the supplies! (If you can order the supplies, I envy you...)

The Herbarie is a great site filled with amazing formulae you can make (and you can make them! Remember - show no fear, give it a shot, take one for the team, and so on!)

And of course, check out the Soap Dish (link under my favourites to the right). But please don't just come to take recipes - join in and share your knowledge. We were all beginners once, and when you learn all you can, you can give back to this amazing community!

Happy formulating!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Choosing the perfect fragrance for your creations

One of my new Saturday night things...Black Amber Lavender (a Brambleberry fragrance, available from if you're in Canada!)

I'm a fragrance junkie! I love thinking about what scents I'll include in my creations, and sometimes I'll separate a larger batch so I can play with 3 or 4 scents.

So what kind of fragrance person are you? Are you, like me, a foodie? An earthy person, like my best friend? Do you like florals or citrus? You don't have to fit into a certain category, but it does give you an idea of what to look for when you're seeking new fragrance oils.

Consider your product before choosing a fragrance oil. Is this a leave on product like a lotion or scrub, something you'll be smelling all day? A rinse off product, like a shampoo or body wash? Or a soaking product, like a bath salt or bubble bath? Some scents you want around for a while; some you just want to huff out of the bottle...I mean, enjoy for a short period of time.

Take Jewelled Citrus from Brambleberry. This is one of my regular scents, and I always make up at least one sugar scrub and one body wash for a first-thing-in-the-morning-why-am-I-awake? pick me up. Or Lemon Curd from Nature's Natural Solutions. Both of these are essential for my morning shower, but I don't know if having them on my skin all day would work for me.

For something I'm going to be smelling all day, like a leave in conditioner or a body lotion, I want to choose something not so strong with some good low notes to it, like oatmeal, milk & honey (which has quite the marzipan-y aspect to it, something I love!!!) Something vanilla-y is always good for something you're going to smell all day. (My new favourite hand lotion fragrance is a blend created by Wanda we're calling key lime pie - 3 parts key lime, 1 part vanilla! Gorgeous!)

I love Wedding Cake from Aquarius - I think this might be my signature scent, all icing sugar and vanilla - and it's one I can put in anything leave on or rinse off. (Every time I use this scent, my lovely Blondie dog insists on licking my arm until it's gone. I guess it tastes good as well!)

Having said all of this, if you want to have a chocolate coconut hair conditioner, then make it! If you want a fruity foot lotion, go for it! Really there are only three rules in fragrancing your creations - how much to use, polar vs. non-polar (for surfactant based systems), and water based vs. oil based fragrances.

Of course, you have to consider who is going to be using your products and what kind of product you've made. If you have a scent sensitive friend, then using 0.5% of a light fragrance oil - clover & aloe or rice, flower & shea - might be a fine idea (if you're going to use scents in the first place). If you have someone (like me) who really likes scents, then 1% in a leave on product and 2% in a soaking product is just fine.

This is really only relevant for surfactant systems. If you're picky about having a clear body wash or bubble bath, then choose only polar fragrances. If you don't care, choose what you like! (Please see my post from March 6, 2009, for more information!)

I have only found water based fragrance oils at Voyageur Soap & Candle, but they are very useful. If you are using them in a perfume spray, you don't need to worry about emulsifying the fragrance oil with poly 20 (often a 1:1 ratio, but could be more!) And you don't need to worry about polar vs. non-polar with water based fragrances. If you are going to be making tons of perfume or pet sprays or want to ensure your surfactant systems are clear, then water based fragrances might be for you. Otherwise, just emulsify your fragrance oils with polysorbate 20 and accept the possible cloudiness!

So go, play with fragrance!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Keep your scrubs and lotions longer with anti-oxidants!

Yesterday we talked about preservatives, now let's talk about anti-oxidants.

So what's the purpose of anti-oxidants, other than the skin care benefits? They retard rancidity in your oils!

Why do oils go rancid and what the heck does "rancid" mean?

Oils are really triglycerides, which is to say they are long chains of carbons and hydrogens connected to a glycerol backbone (check out the link on wikipedia for some great pictures!) In saturated fats, the carbons are SINGLE bonded, which are pretty hard to break, so they stay stable for long periods of time (coconut, palm, and animal fats). In unsaturated fats, the ones we use in our creations, there are double bonds along the chain, and it's easier for these bonds to break and allow oxidation. The more double bonds, the more oxidation can occur, and the faster the oils can go rancid. (Rancidity means the triglyceride is oxidized and goes off!) This is why some of the oils have shorter shelf lives than others (consider grapeseed oil vs. squalane - the "ane" in squalane indicates it has only single bonds, so its bonds are less easily broken and the oil isn't oxidized as quickly - or fractionated coconut oil).

So what can we do? This is where the anti-oxidants come into use in our creations.

The anti-oxidant is what its name implies - it keeps the oils from going rancid by preventing oxidation. Oils will eventually go rancid; our goal is to put that date off into the distant future.

Vitamin E is a very powerful anti-oxidant. It is readily available, and easy to use. You add it at 0.5% to 1% of your total weight. You can get various kinds of Vitamin E - Covi-ox T-50 (meaning it is 50% Vitamin E, 50% other things) or MTS-50 Anti-oxidant blend (again, 50% Vitamin E) are the most common. The higher the percentage of Vitamin E, the less you have to use (and the more it costs!) Try to get at least the 50% Vitamin E.

BHT is a food grade anti-oxidant that is becoming easier to find. I have not used this product, but I understand it is very effective. (Link to the Herbarie...)

Rosemary extract can be a very effective anti-oxidant, but again, I've never used it so I can't comment on its efficacy. (Link to the Herbarie...)

In my humble opinion, Vitamin E really is your best choice for anti-oxidizing properties. It's not that expensive, it's easy to find, and it adds some nice skin-loving qualities to your lotions and creations. Why would you choose another anti-oxidant? Cost: BHT is about 1/4 the price of Vitamin E (although rosemary extract is almost double the price of Vitamin E), so if you are making giant batches, BHT is probably more cost effective. But considering how wonderful Vitamin E is as both an anti-oxidant and a skin loving ingredient, it seems the best choice.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Please note that I have an entire section of this blog devoted to preservatives, which lists all kinds of different ones, what goes into a preservative, and a downloadable comparison chart, to name a few things. Before commenting, please consider looking at that section as I think the question you have may be answered there. 

What's a preservative? What's an anti-oxidant? And what's the difference between the two?

A preservative is an ingredient we add to our creations to keep bacteria, yeast, and mold out of our water based body care products; they are considered anti-microbials.

An anti-oxidant protects oils and butters from rancidity (okay, to be honest, oils and butters will go rancid one day, but we are trying to push that "best before" date back with anti-oxidants). Anti-oxidants ARE NOT preservatives! They do not prevent bacteria, yeast, or mold from entering our creations. But they are still essential in that they prolong the shelf life of anything we make.

Let's talk about preservatives today...I know some people aren't fans of preservatives and want to leave them out, but I consider them essential. In my craft groups, no one leaves without a preservative in the products because I have no idea what they are going to do with the products once they leave!

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that grapefruit seed extract (aka GSE) IS NOT a preservative. Studies have shown the only preserving power it has comes from the preservative used to preserve the GSE. It can be, however, a good anti-oxidant.

Preservatives are generally added to the cool down phase of your creation at 0.1 to 1.5%, depending upon the preservative. Any product containing water, or those that might come into contact with water (like scrubs), should be preserved. (Lotion bars and other anhydrous products that won't come into contact with water do not need to be preserved...but you should add an anti-oxidant!)

How do you choose what kind of preservative is right for you?

Well, that's hard question to answer! A lot of people shy away from parabens, which means Phenonip and Germaben II are right out. Some people worry about how the preservative will impact their emulsification, which means Optiphen probably isn't your first choice. And some worry that they aren't preserving well enough, so a broad spectrum preservative like Germall Plus, Germaben II, or Optiphen are the best choices. You may have to play around to see how the preservative you choose works with your creations. My recipes are based upon liquid Germall Plus or Germaben II (when you see it say 0.5 to 1% preservative, I'm trying to take the difference in uses into account!)

Please note, I have updated posts on all of these preservatives and more, which can be found here, under the permanent link for preservatives

Liquid Germall Plus (Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate) should be used at 0.1% to 0.5%. It is a liquid, and is added to the cool down phase of your lotion or surfactant creation. It is what's known as a broad spectrum antimicrobial preservative. I have chosen this one because it is readily available, it is used in smaller quantities, and it isn't super expensive. It is more stable than some of the other preservatives, and it can be used in just about anything, except for anhydrous (without water) products like sugar or salt scrubs (since Diazolidinyl urea is not soluble in oils, products that contain this ingredient should not be used in products that do not contain water.)

Note, I posted previously that liquid Germall Plus could not be used with creations with more than 25% oils. I was wrong. It just can't be used with things that do not contain water!

Phenonip is a great all around preservative. As it is oil soluble, it is not suitable for all water creations (like toners), but it is my personal choice for sugar or salt scrubs without water. It can be added to the oils phase of your creations. Again, it is used at 0.5% to 1% of the total weight of your recipes. It does contain parabens, which some people don't like. (Link to Brambleberry's listing on Phenonip here...)

Germaben II, used at up to 1%. It is good for hard to preserve recipes that contain extracts (like our toner) or those that are to be sprayed (I have no idea why this might be). It does contain parabens and urea, which some people don't like.

Optiphen, used at 0.75% to 1.5%, is a paraben and urea free preservative used in the cool down stage (although it can be added to the oil phase, it can de-stabilize emulsions, so you're better off adding it to the cool down stage). It does not offer broad spectrum protection. Not suitable for water only products - use Optiphen ND for these applications - and not suitable for oil only products! The note about the de-stabilization of emulsions is important - many people report frustration with this preservative for conditioners and lotions. Probably not the best choice for a beginner or someone who gets frustrated easily, like me! (Link to Optiphen at Voyageur here...)

Suttocide A, used at 0.4% to 1%. Not a broad spectrum preservative - better with bacteria and mold than yeast. It is a great preservative to use in conjunction with others for hard to preserve formulae. It can actually help gel your polymers (like Ultrez 21) as it has a high pH level.

Tinosan SDC, used at 0.1% to 0.5%, is a paraben free preservative based on citric acid and silver nitrate. Good for various applications, although there might be some problems with cationics (BTMS, for instance, so don't use it in conditioners or lotions where BTMS is the emulsifier). Can be used as a deodorant active in deodorants. (Link to Tinosan at Voyageur here...) Which gives me an idea for some experimentation when I get back from my honeymoon in June!

Which one is right for you? Well, that's really a personal choice based on your feelings about parabens and urea. I've chosen liquid Germall Plus as my preferred preservative because it offers broad spectrum protection, it's easy to find within driving distance, it has worked well for me in the past, and it works well with every product I might make (except for sugar scrubs, so this is where the Phenonip comes in!)

Tune in tomorrow for anti-oxidant fun (if there is such a thing!)

Before you post a comment, please check out the preservatives section of the blog as it contains a ton of information on specific preservatives as well as the components of them and the chemistry behind how they work. I won't be answering any questions about specific preservatives or directing you to read about those preservatives in this post any more because I've linked to this section twice, and encourage you to read the detailed posts and ask your questions there where it's more relevant and can help more people. Thank you!