Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Modifying your products for winter!

Happy first day of December! (And happy birthday to my mom!) I know it isn't winter until December 21 - coincidentally, my birthday - but December always feels like winter to me!

The wonderful thing about making our own products is the ability to adapt our recipes to any situation...in this case, the harshness of winter!

During the winter, the proportion of our ceramide 1 linoleate (acylceramide) decreases, and this can lead to dry and itchy skin. We're exposed to the elements outside, which can lead to very dry skin, wind chapping, and serious loss of moisture. Inside, heat can lead to loss of moisture and dryness. In short, the winter is filled with all kinds of elements that want to reduce the moisture, damage the outer layers causing itching and dryness, and inflame our skin!

In lotions and body butters, we can use oils filled with linoleic acid to restore our skin's barrier function, decrease the itching and dryness, and increase the moisture in our skin. Oils with oleic acid will be absorbed quickly, increasing the moisturization of our skin and reducing the transepidermal water loss. Oils filled with gamma linoleic acid will help restore the barrier function of our skin quicker than those with linoleic acid and helps with inflammation, so throwing a bit of borage or evening primrose in a lotion is a great thing!

Butters and other occlusive ingredients will also prevent a serious loss of water from our skin. Ideally we'd fill our products with those barrier ingredients approved by the FDA - cocoa butter, dimethicone, and allantoin - to offer protection before the damage is done. And we'll want to add as many humectants as we can to draw water from the atmosphere to our skin!

To see how I've modified my body butter to include a lot of the stuff above, please click here...

In surfactant-y products, like body wash, I like to increase a cationic polymer like Condition-eze 7 or Honeyquat to 5% and increase the hydrolyzed proteins to 3% to maximize the film forming and conditioning ingredients. I also include an ester like PEG-7 olivate at up to 5% to increase the moisturizing qualities of the body wash - it won't reduce the lather by that much. You could add up to 3% oil with 3% polysorbate 80 to add moisturization to a body wash - but it will reduce the lather more than using a water soluble oil. (But you're getting some awesome moisturization, so it's worth it!)

In other products, like toner, I like to add a little allantoin at 0.5%, add a little water soluble oil at 1 to 2%, and add a cationic polymer like Honeyquat at up to 2% to increase the humectanty qualities.

And don't forget your hair! Adding oils or using an intense conditioner can help you battle the drying nature of the elements and all those hair styling products you're using to look awesome at those holiday parties! Adding a little coconut oil to a conditioner will help moisturize from within, and adding a little more hydrolyzed protein will help with film forming on the hair strands. Also consider using a leave in conditioner if you've never used one before - the fewer tangles in your hair, the less chance for breakage.

Have fun modifying your products to protect you from the harshness of winter. Although if you're currently enjoying the run up to summer in the Southern hemisphere, you might want to check out some ideas for modifying your products for the summer!

Join me tomorrow for fun with fractionated coconut oil!

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