Saturday, January 9, 2010

Formulating with oils - winter facial lotion bars

Okay, so you're going skiing (or you're running for the bus in Calgary!) You want something heavy duty to protect your skin from the elements. What might you choose for a heavy duty winter facial lotion bar?

A basic lotion bar has the following formula
33% beeswax
33% butter
33% oil
1% fragrance or essential oil

If you are new to lotion bars, please consult this post.

What are we looking for in this product? In a lot of ways, a lotion bar for the face is just a serum in stick format (click to see the dry skin serum or oily skin serum). We want something that is easy to use and won't make us break out. We want ingredients that will protect our skin from the elements, reduce redness and inflammation, increase moisturization, and help with weather induced skin damage, specifically wind and cold chapping. And we want something light - we don't want serious greasiness on our faces.

What are our goals for this product?
  • Low comedogenicity
  • Protection from the elements (occlusion)
  • Repair of weather induced damage
  • Reduction of redness and inflammation
  • Not too greasy feeling
It is hard to find a butter for a lotion bar for the face. Cocoa butter is occlusive, but it has a potential comedogenicity rating of 4 (very high). Some people can be highly sensitive to shea butter and others love it. Mango butter is astringent, which is a good thing, and its comedogenicity rating is low. The tannins in the mango butter will make it feel drier on our skin, mangiferin is a great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient, and caffeic acid is one of the strongest anti-oxidants available to us as well as being anti-inflammatory.

So this looks like the right butter for this project. (You could also try aloe butter, which is generally a blend of shea butter and aloe or coconut oil and aloe. Coconut oil is very comedogenic, so that might not be a good choice.)

During the winter we want higher levels of linoleic and GLA acids and lower levels of oleic acid. So we'll want to choose an oil with very high levels of linoleic acid - grapeseed, hempseed, soybean, sunflower, or wheat germ oil.

Hempseed has lots of linoleic acid and contains about 5% GLA, but it has a very short shelf life. Grapeseed also has a lot, but the shelf life is very short as well. So let's take a look at the other oils.

Wheat germ oil has a longer shelf life - 6 months, and does contain 2540 ppm Vitamin E, the highest of all the carrier oils. It contains squalene, which offers support to weather damaged skin and regenerates cells. It has a high level of phytosterols - about 5% of the oil - so you'll get that great anti-inflammatory, anti-reddening, and anti-itching properties. Seems like a good choice - but it's a FIVE on the comedogenicity scale and can be irritating to some people.

Sunflower oil has a longer shelf life - 6 months - and has lots of linoleic acid to help with skin barrier repair and increase in water retention. It has lots of Vitamin E - 500 to 1500 ppm - and a lot of phytosterols that will help with anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties. The caffeic acid is also a very powerful anti-oxidant. It is considered non-comedogenic.

Soybean oil has the longest shelf life - 1 year - and, again, has a lot of linoleic acid for our skin. It contains about 700 ppm Vitamin E, and some great phytosterols at about the same level as sunflower oil. It does contain some nice polyphenols for anti-oxiding and free radical scavenging properties. It is about a 3 on the comedgenicity scale.

Fractionated coconut oil has a very long shelf life - 2 years - and it is very moisturizing and softening. It is considered a 2 on the comedogenicity scale, but that is likely inaccurate as it is considered "oil free". It doesn't have all the lovely polyphenols and phytosterols and tocopherols, but it is moisturizing and light. We can always make up those things in our butter or exotic oil.

You know, I always forget about squalane for the face. It penetrates the skin quickly, offering moisturizing and softening to all skin types, but is especially good for really chapped or cracked skin. This would be a great choice for a facial product!

If you're like me and you have very sensitive skin, sunflower oil, fractionated coconut oil, and squalane is probably the best way to go. If you don't or you don't mind the shorter shelf lives, then these are all good choices.

Borage oil is always a good choice for winter facial products thanks to the abundance of GLA, and the ferulic acid that soothes and moisturizes skin, repairs light and weather induced skin damage, and reduces itching and inflammation. It's not really high in Vitamin E, but we have some from the sunflower oil, so 400 ppm is not bad. It's a dry feeling oil, so it will help temper the oiliness of the sunflower oil.

Evening primrose would be nice for all that GLA as well as the gallic acid that is a wound and burn healer. It's a dry oil, but can product breakouts in some people, so it's not necessarily the best choice.

Pomegranate oil is a dry, light oil containing punicic acid that can help repair sun or weather damaged skin. The phytosterols are high, so they will help with the inflammation and itching that occurs in winter. The gallic acid is a wound and burn healer.

Rosehip oil would be a good choice as a dry, light oil with a ton of carotenoids to offer anti-oxidizing properties. It can help with UV damaged skin and increased skin barrier repair. But it's considered irritating to sensitive skin, and can aggravate acne.

Sea buckthorn might be an awesome choice, although it's kinda low in linoleic acid at only 12%. It does contain a ton of Vitamin E, though, and lots of phytosterols to act as an anti-inflammatory to help with itching and redness. Palmitoleic acid does help heal wounds and scratches, which is a good thing.

Since I think I'll go with the fractionated coconut oil, I have to make up all the goodies in the exotic oil and butter. Mango butter offers a lot of anti-oxidants, but no linoleic acid. The fractionated coconut oil also offers no linoleic acid. If I choose sea buckthorn at 10%, then borage oil at 10%, I will get a nice combination of GLA, linoleic, and palmitoleic acids with high phytosterols and Vitamin E. As for occlusion, I am getting it from the mango butter - not the highest occlusive ingredient, but enough for a facial application.

So my lotion bar looks like this...
28% beeswax
33% mango butter
10% borage oil
10% sea buckthorn oil
18% fractionated coconut oil
1% essential oil

I have reduced the beeswax as I find it too draggy for my facial skin, so I'll reduce it. I'd suggest putting this into a deodorant tube so you can apply it easily when you're outdoors!

As a quick note, if you make a facial lotion bar you like, consider it as a concealer stick! Check out the post on this topic here.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with oils - body butters!


Apryl said...

Is beeswax comedogenic? I have very dry skin and was using a body butter I made with shea, coconut, glycerine, jojoba, almond and a little hydrolyzed silk on my face. It felt good and moisturized, but after a week (your recommended trial period) I'm breaking out in clogged pores. . .Don't have any preservatives or emulsifiers at this point, so I think I'll try a lotion bar with beeswax, shea, and jojoba? Unless shea clogs pores?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Here's a reference page for comedogenicity and here's another one from Soapnuts. If you look at this list, coconut is listed as high, while sweet almond and jojoba are listed as low. Shea tends to make a lot of people break out. And beeswax is listed in some places as a 0-2, meaning it could be comedogenic, might not be.

Here's a post I wrote on this topic. As you can see, a lot of this information comes from rabbit ear tests, which means it makes rabbits break out but might not make humans react.

It depends on your skin type. If you have oily skin, putting oils on your face of any kind might make you break out. Most butters will make people break out as they are very intense oils. If this is the case, you could try making a serum with oils that don't make you break out.

Sometimes things that aren't comedogenic to some people can bother us, so even if you choose oils that don't clog pores, you can still get blackheads or pimples. So it's really a lot of trial and error to see what your body likes.

Crystal said...

hi! this is very helpful, thank you! I had a question, is there an alternative to beeswax for something like this?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Crystal. I've written a post on waxes, and it might give you some ideas on what to use instead of beeswax. You'll have to experiment to see what is too hard or too soft for any recipe in which you substitute the wax.

Anonymous said...

thanks for all this great info!

Stacy said...

Hi Susan,
Are you using a refined Sea Buckthorn Oil? If not are you open to mentioning your SB oil supplier?

I love this oil and have been using it in lotions, but the oil I have is so "strong" it's leaving an orange/yellow tint to my skin even at 2%. I've tried this oil at 10% and eventually ended up working my way down to 2%.

Lastly, would using an oil at just 2% even be beneficial to our skin?

livemaryle said...

Hi Susan,

I'm trying to make a lotion/cream/butter that helps soothe psoriasis and I'm stumped as to which combo of oils would work. I've tried multiple recipes, but most of my lotions separate after a week, probably because of the water I'm adding. Could you give me some tips or link me to something that could help with psoriasis? Winter is making my loved one's psoriasis worse. Thank you so much for your time!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi livemaryle! I'm not comfortable making suggestions about how to treat an illness. I suggest a visit to the Emollients section of the blog to see the listings of the oils and butters we could use. As for separation, if you're adding water to oils, it will separate. You need to use an emulsifier. Do a search for lotions on this blog to see the many many recipes I have for those products. (Note: Beeswax is NOT an emulsifier!)

Kim Hu Jong said...

Hello. Thank you for the great recipe.
Can I try 33% beeswax and 66% of oil like olive oil, grapeseed oil or jojoba oil? I dont want to use butter(or solid oil) for my lotion bars.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kim. No, it won't be stiff enough. You could try other things like stearic acid.

Kim Hu Jong said...

Oh i didnt know that. Maybe i will add shea butter. Thanks a lot for the tip, Susan.