Sunday, February 28, 2010

Liquorice root extract

Liquorice root (or licorice root, if you're American - INCI: Glycrrhiza glabra) is supposed to work as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-irritant, demulcent, skin whitening, and wound healing ingredient when applied topically. Let's take a look at what gives liquorice its awesome qualities.

Liquorice root contains amino acids, flavonoids, phytosterols like ß-sitosterol and stigmasterol, coumarins, chalcones, polysaccharides, glucides, and triterpenes. Although these are all great to have in our creations, it's the glycyrrhizic acid and flavonoids that mostly give liquorice its wonderful features.

Glycyrrhizic acid is a triterpene with many awesome qualities. It is a decongestant and sweetener considered strong than sugar. What appeals to us as bath and body product makers is the anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, analgesic, anti-pyretic (anti-fever), and anti-viral features that makes this a powerful healing agent for skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis. Glycyrrhizic acid and its derivatives show anti-inflammatory benefits than those achieved by hydrocortisone. Liquorice root extracts should be standardized to include no less than 4% glycyrrhizic acid. This triterpene is the reason for the possibly toxic effects of ingesting too much liquorice - it can be toxic at high doses, so stick to de-glycyrrhized liquorice like the Allsorts in the picture above. (It is a good expectorant and laxative, so you get an idea of what the path to toxicity looks like!)

The isoflavone glabridin has been found to work very effectively as an anti-inflammatory ingredient at 0.5% in a water solution. Studies have been conducted for this isoflavone and acne, thanks to the anti-bacterial potential, and reduction of oil production. It is showing great promise in helping reduce sebum production and decrease acne outbreaks.

Liquorice root contains the compound anethole, an aromatic unsaturated ether that is more soluble in alcohol than water. It's found in anise and fennel, and offers the liquorice-y taste we like! It has the ability to spontaneously form micro-emulsions, called the "ouzo effect" that gives alcohol drinks a cloudy appearance. It offers anti-microbial features to our products and is showing promise as an insecticide. (There are studies showing essential oils or extracts containing this aromatic compound may be effective as bug sprays to repel mosquitoes and flies. Nothing firm yet, but it is an interesting thought - campgrounds and beaches reeking of liquorice with no bugs to be found!)

Asparagine shows up at 2% to 4% in liquorice root (also found in comfrey root), an amino acid that offers moisturizing and soothing of skin. The polysaccharides (also found in cucumber, aloe vera, ginseng, and horsetail root) offer moisturizing and emolliency through the formation of a light gel layer on our skin. The coumarins in liquorice root offer anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing redness and possible UV protection. The other flavonoids offer anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory benefits. The phytosterols can help with weather damaged skin, a reduction in inflammation, and help with repairing the skin's barrier protection. Lignans behave as anti-oxidants and phytoestrogens in our body.

So does liquorice root extract deserve a place in our workshops and formulations? I think the answer is yes! We can use it at up to 1% (the level generally regarded as safe) in our creations, but I'd start at 0.5% and work your way up to see how your skin likes it. (Although it offers anti-irritancy features, it can - ironically- cause an allergic reaction). It offers great anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-redness features for any product. And it might have the added benefit of offering protection from biting insects who want to ruin summer time fun!

If you are formulating for skin lightening, it is suggested to have at least 0.5% in your product. As liquorice extract contains about 0.35% to 0.4% glabridin, this would require a little more than 1%, which is higher than the recommended amount. So I'm not going to offer any suggestions for this, other than possibly sourcing out pure glabridin.

As I have not formulated with this extract, I can't offer any recipes, but if you are interested in using it, try it in a toner to see what your skin thinks about liquorice!

Ginseng extract

Ginseng or Panax ginseng is an extract that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, but it hasn't been studied very well for cosmetic use. It is reported to be an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-tumour ingredient that stimulates collagen production and wound healing, as well as increase protein synthesis. How does it do all of these wonderful things?

Note: Siberian ginseng is from a completely different plant, so the information contained in this post has nothing to do with it!

Ginseng is considered by herbalists to be an adaptogen - "an agent that allows the body to counter adverse physical, chemical or biological stressors by raising non-specific resistance towards stress, allowing the organism to adapt to stressful circumstances".

The main active ingredients in ginseng are ginsenosides, polysaccharides, and saponins.

The ginsenosides in ginseng are triterpenoid saponins, meaning they are natural foamers when added to water. Panaxytriol is the most studied of these saponins, and it is showing promise for anti-tumour properties in cancer prone mice, probably through the reduction in free radicals. Some saponins are toxic to cold-blooded animals, and they can enhance penetration of larger molecules like protein into the skin. Ginseng saponins are used in cough medicines as expectorants.

The polysaccharides in ginseng behave the same way they work in aloe vera and cucumber extract - they are hydrating, emollient, anti-inflammatory, and create a barrier on our skin, thanks to the wonders of gelling. They are used in cold medications as demulcents - agents that form a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation.

So can ginseng does what it claims? Sort of. There haven't been a lot of studies about the cosmetic application of ginseng, so a lot of the information simply isn't there. The saponins are good anti-oxidants, and the polysaccharides provide emollience, hydration, and anti-inflammation properties. It could help with increased penetration of active ingredients we put into our products.

As I've never used ginseng, I can't comment on how it feels or works in a product. Use it at the rates suggested by your supplier.

Join me tomorrow for fun with liquorice extract.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy birthday to the blog!

It was one year ago today that I started writing daily posts on this blog with an emphasis on the chemistry and formulating of bath and body products! And to celebrate...we're having ribs! (Okay, they're virtual ribs for you, but look at that wonderful rub and the smoking know they're going to be tasty!)

Since then I married the most wonderful man in the world (the one making the ribs!), have written 571 posts (including this one, for a total of 585 so far), made litre after litre of lotions, hair care products, facial care products, and body washes, and made stacks of containers of mineral make-up products stretching from floor to ceiling. I've taught more classes than I can count (and am, in fact, planning to spend the day at Rated T for Teen playing Rock Band at the library!) and I've learned more than I could have imagined.

Every celebration needs cake, but cupcakes are so much cuter!

Melt & pour cupcakes with surfactant based icing.

Melt & pour cupcake soap (stamped technique)

So we have the food, but what's a celebration without presents? Now I know my adorable Blondie dog would ask for bacon, but that's not really a bath & body kind of thing, so how about a few downloads? (She does, however, love butter, but again, not so much a bath & body kind of thing!)

Polyphenols - information about the polyphenols we find in extracts and oils!

Rosemary extract - information about the various extracts, as well as formulating ideas and recipes for hair and skin care products!

Green tea extract, camellia oil, and green tea butter - information about these ingredients along with recipes for hair and skin care products!

Thank you, my wonderful readers, for all your questions, feedback, and challenges. Thank you for encouraging me and encouraging each other to try new things, formulate awesome creations, and learn more about the ingredients we use and the products we make so we can become even more incredible bath & body makers. It has been a wonderful year!

Horsetail extract

Horsetail extract (INCI: Equisetum arvense extract) is extracted from the horsetail plant - if you live in North America or Europe, you've no doubt seen these in your neighbourhood. If you've ever touched one, you'll know they have a kind of almost dry feeling on the stalks. This is the thanks to the silica that abounds in these plants - composing up to 7% of the plans content - and it has been used traditionally as a scouring pad for tin and polishing wood. So how does this stuff work in cosmetic products?

Horsetail extract is recommended as an astringent and anti-oxidant that offers increased wound healing, improved circulation, and retention of connective tissue like collagen and elastin.

The main component of horsetail extract is silica, making up 5% to 7% of the extract. This is believed to help improve nail and hair quality, and help retain collagen and elastin.

Horsetail extract also contains an unique mixed-linkage glucan (which can be called ß-glucan or beta-glucan, which is also found in oats), a polysaccharide that forms a thin gel like layer that offers hydration, emolliency, and anti-inflammatory features like those found in aloe vera.

It contains a ton of lovely flavonoids - the rutin derived isoquercetine and equisetrine are chelators and excellent anti-oxidants that offer circulation enhancing and possible UV protecting properties. Quercetin offers excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant features. And kampferol and its glucosides offer great anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing properties to your products.

It contains two acids - malic acid and oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can be a mild irritant to skin and a poisonous ingredient if ingested. It really doesn't offer much to the mix in our products. Malic acid, on the other hand, acts like an AHA with four carbon chains.

It contains some great phenolic acids. Caffeic acid is a great anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protectant ingredient. p-coumaric acid offers anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and UV protection qualities as well. Ferulic acid is an anti-oxidizing polyphenol that can help soften and moisturize skin, helps with light or weather damaged skin. It can penetrate your skin to offer help with age spots.

Horsetail contains a lot of Vitamin C, which offers chelating and anti-oxidizing qualities to our products. And it contains phytosterols like cholesterol, isofucosterol, and campesterol, all of which are excellent anti-inflammatories, that offer a reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), an increase in skin's barrier repair abilities, and help with weathered skin (sun, cold, wind).

I've never formulated with horsetail extract before, so I can only suggest you follow your suppliers' recommendations for usage. (In fact, I can't find it at any of my local suppliers' or the ones on the 'net that make me drool and wish I lived in the States for cheaper shipping rates!)

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with ginseng extract.

Friday, February 26, 2010

E-mail question: Thickening surfactant systems

In this post, Naomi writes...If I don't have Crothix, could I substitute stearic acid? or Cetyl Alcohol? or another thickener - like Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose? So, you add in Crothix for thickening purposes? What do you suggest as possible substitutes?

No, you can't use stearic acid or cetyl alcohol. They will eventually separate out and leave a gooey white mess at the bottom as they are not water soluble. So you'll want to use something water soluble like glycol distearate or PEG-150 distearate. Crothix was developed specifically to thicken surfactant blends, and it works really well (sometimes too well, creating Jell-O like substances! I suggest using the liquid because it's easier to control than the pastilles!)

You can use hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. As I've used this and wasn't really happy with it - it precipitated to the bottom, so I know I've done something wrong - I'd suggest consulting your supplier to find out how to use it. You can get pre-blended mixtures of this stuff (click here for more information from the Personal Formulator), which you would add at 5% in your surfactant mixture.

You could use something like carbomer for making gels. Here's a post I wrote on the topic a a while ago. Or you could thicken it up with some water soluble oils - they won't thicken as well as the other things I've mentioned, but they will increase the viscosity. Or you could use oils with polysorbate 80 in a surfactant mixture (like this body wash recipe here). Again, this won't thicken as much as the other suggestions, but it will thicken it up slightly.

You can also use salt to increase the viscosity of any anionic surfactant blend - this is called the salt curve. This is a tricky business and easy to mess up. Just add salt a bit at a time until it reaches the thickness you like. (Look for a post on this topic tomorrow morning...)

You can increase the viscosity of your surfactant mixtures by adding an amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine (I include this in all my recipes to increase mildness and add thickening). You can also make a thicker surfactant blend by reducing the water and increasing the surfactants. This will be more concentrated, and you'll need less. And you can use thicker surfactants. A mixture of something like SLeS, Plantapon, and cocamidopropyl betaine will be quite liquidy, while a mixture of something like BSB, LSB, and cocamidopropyl betaine will be quite thick.

You can also thicken your mixtures by including something like cocoamide DEA (I've been playing with this, and a post on this topic is coming shortly. See the picture to right - yeah, it's not pretty, but I stink at taking pictures!)

And finally, you can thicken your surfactant mixtures by choosing your essential or fragrance oils wisely. (Click here for a post on this topic). I have found that using a 2% mixture of half lavender, half rosemary thickens my bubble bath enough that I don't need to include any thickeners. Citrus based essential or fragrance oils work really well for thickening.

As a note, I'll be taking a closer look at surfactants in March, so keep a look out for that!

Alpha-hydroxy acids

Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs come in many forms, but we are probably most familiar with the glycolic (this lovely molecule), lactic, and citric acid versions of this water soluble carboxylic acid.

I'm sure you've read a million times how fantastic AHAs are for our skin, but how do they work? The official statement is they induce epidermal effects through corneoctye disadhesion, operating by disrupting the ionic bonds between the cells so they can slough off and expose newer and lovelier cells underneath the stratum corneum, or top layer of cells. They also work as an anti-oxidant and can relieve post sun redness. All of these things make fine lines and wrinkles appear less obvious, reduce redness and inflammation, and expose new, shiny skin to the world.

AHAs work by penetrating our skin through the stratum corneum to the stratum granulosum. It acts as an exfoliant on the top layer of our skin by disrupting the bonding between the cells and allowing them to slough off, revealing those new and lovely cells I spoke of earlier.

With salicylic acid or BHA, this sloughing off of the skin occurs at the stratum corneum layer: With AHA, this happens at the stratum granulosum level, with the cells being pushed up, as it were, to reveal new skin.

AHA is considered stronger than BHA as it works from the lower to the upper levels of our skin, but this can work against us if too much of the stratum corneum is exposed. This can increase transepidermal water loss, so you will want to add extra humectants and occlusion ingredients to any lotions including AHA. This can also lead to thinning of the stratum corneum, so you will want to make sure if you are using AHA products, you're keeping your skin well protected. Always use a sunscreen if you are using AHAs in your products because AHAs can make you sun sensitive (even if you're using it in night cream, as taking the moisturizer off won't necessarily make you less sun sensitive!). And note that because AHAs actually penetrate our skin, they will bring other active ingredients with them, which means some extracts and other wonderful things will be more effective as they penetrate the skin.

In one study, a lotion with 12% lactic acid increased the appearance of rough skin, increased exfoliation, and increased skin hydration by 33%. In another study, a 10% glycolic acid cream showed the exposed skin had a pinkish colouration with a shiny smooth surface.

How much AHA should you use? It is considered safe to use them at up to 10% of your product in the heated water phase, but you will need to adjust the pH with a buffer to a reasonable level if you're using that much! The ideal pH for AHA products is 3.5 to 4.0, so you really do want to make sure you have a pH meter or good pH testing strips nearby! I'd start low - say 1% or 2% - and work up if your skin doesn't mind it.

You can get AHAs in some extracts - anything containing rosmarinic acid like rosemary or comfrey or anything containing cinnamic acid like cucumber or shea butter - or you can buy AHA botanical water soluble extracts under names like Phytofruit or Multifruit. The combined extracts are easier to use - they tend to have better pH stability than raw extracts and some come with buffers built in - so just follow your supplier's instructions on when to include them.

As a note, if you are using something like rosemary as an AHA containing extract, you don't have to worry about balancing the pH. That's only for the raw ingredients like citric, lactic, or glycolic acids.

Try a toner or cleanser recipe to see how your skin likes the AHAs you are including - they're easier than lotions to make and you can use them almost immediately - and to see at what level you should include them. With the Phytofruit, for instance, I use 5% in a toner. If you are using the botanical extracts, try at 0.5% and see how your skin reacts.

Join me tomorrow for fun with horsetail extract - it contains some great natural AHAs!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MSM (aka dimethyl sulfone)

MSM (aka DSMO2, methylsulfone, methylsulfonylmethane, and dimethyl sulfone) is an ingredient that we see in various moisturizers, but what does it do?

Sulphur (or sulfur) is an element found in every cell of our body and we need it to live. It is considered an anti-parasitic, anti-itching, blood vessel dilating, anti-oxidizing element when used cosmetically. Its main use is in the treatment of acne or really oily skin. It can reduce sebum production and is keratolytic (exfoliating) at 3 to 10%. It's used in the treatment of dandruff in the same way. It can be quite irritating to skin, and it may actually aggravate oil production, so use with caution. It is oil soluble and can be used to 10%, although this can be irritating to most skin types.

Sulphur is also used for collagen synthesis, so it keeps collagen fibres bouncy and elastic, which encourages skin pliability and elasticity. It helps with wounded or damaged skin repair. And it helps with wound healing. When we have a scar, it can be caused by excessive cross linking patterns of collagen, and sulphur can help make that cross linking pliable and less scar-like.

As a teenager, I had this weird concoction for my acne treatment consisting of sulphur that I had to mix in two phases before using. It reeked of sulphur and it dried out my skin, but it worked!

Some of the worst stenches are caused by sulphur, found as thiols and sulphides in fruits and vegetables. (The brassica family of vegetables contains a lot of sulphur, and I won't eat a single one of them - cabbages, broccoli, mustard!)

So back to MSM. MSM is considered to have many of the cosmetic qualities of sulphur - it offers a reduction in oiliness, can help with scar and collagen flexibility, and increase blood flow. In addition, it is supposed to help with inflammation, helping with the treatment of aches and pains. It is used in arthritis related creams and ointments and hair care products intended for dandruff or oil control.

Does it stand up to scrutiny? Yes, and no. It can aggravate sebum production in products, so keep it below 5% in hair and skin care products intended for this purpose. Although studies are showing promise for MSM taken internally, there have been few studies on topically applied MSM. Initial results are showing it can increase circulation and there are self-reports that it offers pain relief, but we may need more research to say anything definitive about MSM.

It is hygroscopic - meaning it is a humectant - and we buy it in a white powdery form that is water soluble, so it is easier and less stinky to use than sulphur powder. We add it in the heated water phase of our lotions and other creations so it will dissolve properly. When added to lotions and other emulsified things, it can cool down and leave shards behind that are most unpleasant on the skin if not properly dissolved (it's a lot like allantoin in that way). Start at 1% and see how you like it in your products - you can use it up to 5% for products intended for oily hair or skin related products, up to 10% for pain relief.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with alpha hydroxy acids, then fun with horsetail extract - filled to the brim with MSM, alpha hydroxy acids, silica, and more!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

White willow bark extract: Formulating skin cleansing products

I do love body wash, and I know I've already tweaked this recipe a thousand times, but let's take a look at including white willow bark extract in our body wash! Why would we want to use it here? It works well for oily skin, acne prone skin, and aging skin to reveal new and lovely cells on the top layer...but it may actually work well for keratosis pilaris, those little bumps you get on the back of your arms and legs.

I'm not a doctor, so anything that looks like I'm making a health related claim is merely a suggestion, not a claim or cure! There is no guarantee that any of the recipes or suggestions I post on this site will work for your specific ailment.

About 40% of the adult population and 50% to 80% of the adolescent population has this condition. The body produces too much keratin, so it surrounds the hair follicle and entraps it in the pore. This causes hyperkeratinization (too much keratin), which forms those hard little bumps in the skin. It is worse in the winter months, due to low humidity. Those little bumps can contain ingrown hairs because they can't grow up and out of the pore. There is no cure, just some things to soothe or improve skin texture.

BHA (also known as salicylic acid) and exfoliation, as well as moisturization, are recommended for this condition. Coconut oil has also been suggested as a good moisturizing ingredient. (This will not emulsify well in a body wash, so I'm thinking a nice oil based scrub, emulsified sugar scrub, or a scrub bar would be the best way to use this oil. Or just keep it in your apres bath or shower body lotion!)

So what is our goal? To include exfoliating and moisturizing ingredients in our body wash. We are definitely going to include 0.5% to 1% white willow bark to start (you can increase this to 2% when you see how you tolerate it). And using a poofy thingie in the shower will increase that exfoliation. (You could even add some exfoliating beads in clay or jojoba form and suspend it by making a gel!) So now we need to get some moisturizing in there.

We can add moisturizing to a body wash a few different ways. We can include lovely conditioning agents like condition-eze 7 or honeyquat, we can include hydrolyzed proteins like cromoist or hydrolyzed silk proteins, and we can include oils, either water soluble or emulsified with something like polysorbate 80. I always include panthenol in my body wash at 2% as a film former, humectant, and skin healing ingredient. And I'm going to be using hydrovance in this recipe as urea can be good for this condition, so let's use it as an active ingredient and a humectant! (We're not removing the glycerin as a humectant as it is a very good one and because it helps our bubbles be more bubbly!)

Or we can add oils. You can add oils and emulsifiers to make a moisturizing body wash. You can use water soluble oils at up to 3%. You can add a thickener like EZ Pearl to refat the surfactant mixture, or you can do what I'm going to do in this recipe, which is add 1% Crothix (or thereabouts) to thicken the body wash, which also offers moisturizing and anti-irritating. Remember when you add oils or re-fattening ingredients, you'll find less lather. But we'll just encourage everyone to use the scrubby poofy thing in the shower to make it more foamy!

So we have our ingredients - let's make a nice moisturizing and exfoliating body wash!

16% water
10% aloe vera
10% chamomile hydrosol (or other hydrosol, or water)
15% coco betaine
15% Amphosol CG
15% BSB or LSB or mild enough for babies cleanser
3% glycerin
3% honeyquat or polyquat 7
2% hydrolyzed protein
3% hydrovance
3% water soluble oil - I'm using PEG-7 olivate

2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% preservative
1% white willow bark

1% Crothix.

Heat all the ingredients and mix well. When the mixture reaches 45˚C, add the cool down phase ingredients. Dissolve the white willow bark in a little warm water before adding. Mix well again. Let sit overnight to reach room temperature and to let the bubbles rise to the surface. Add 1% Crothix if you need more thickness. It shouldn't require 2%, but if you are using a fragrance oil that reduces the viscosity, add it 1% at a time until you get the viscosity you like.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with MSM!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

White willow bark extract: Formulating hair care products

White willow bark is an excellent inclusion in a hair care product for someone with really oily hair or a dandruff prone scalp. The salicylic acid helps exfoliate the scalp, and the tannins are astringent - a winning combination.

We've taken a look at using rosemary extract in hair care products - do the same thing for white willow bark. Dissolve it in warm water and use in the cool down phase (or if you're using the liquid extract, just add it - it doesn't need dissolving). For someone with really oily hair or scalp - almost an excessive amount - consider adding it at 1% in one of the products and see how they like it before adding it to every product.

The point of a leave in conditioner is to offer conditioning and moisturizing to both your hair and scalp, with some detangling thrown in to help with combing. Include white willow bark extract at 0.5% in the cool down phase to help with really oily or dandruff-y scalps.

Here's a quick recipe for a scalp refresher for someone with dreads or a particularly dry scalp. I've added the minty ingredients for a slight tingle and cooling sensation - if you don't want that tingle, then use non-minty essential oils and hydrosols.

53% distilled water
20% aloe vera
20% peppermint hydrosol (or other hydrosol of choice)
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin

2% panthenol
0.5% preservative
0.5% peppermint essential oil
0.5% spearmint essential oil
0.5% white willow bark
0.5% rosemary extract

Package in a spray bottle!

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with white willow bark extract in body cleansing products!

Mineral make-up: Craft group eye shadow from Alyssa, Christy, Julie & Emily

You might remember Alyssa as the amazing colour blender who created the ever so lovely and shiny cappuccino from the posts on brown eye shadows. Well, she's back, and as usual she has created something pretty awesome she called the Rainbow Explosion! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture from her, so I suggest trying this yourself and see the amazing green with pink highlights you get from this one. (I'm illustrating this with Christy's Mermaid's Tale - I don't have the recipe for this one! I need to ask her for it next week!)

3 scoops of base
2 scoops apple green pop mica
2 scoops strawberry pop mica
2 scoops lemon drop pop mica
2 scoops grape pop mica
2 scoops tangerine mica
2 scoops light blue or periwinkle pop

I also want to show you the amazing colours created by Julie and Emily - but the pictures didn't turn out (not my fault - too much reflection on the containers!) So I'll bug them to bring them on Thursday so I can get a few snaps!

We're having a super happy fun Thursday craft group making blushes, glitter powder, lip shimmers, and finishing powders, so look for those posts starting this Friday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

White willow bark extract: Formulating facial products

White willow bark extract is a great inclusion in products where you want the awesome power of salicylic acid - so let's take a look at using white willow bark extract in facial products.

Salicylic acid is recommended for oily skin, acne or blackhead prone skin, and red or inflamed skin. Since I have all of those, I use white willow bark extract quite a bit.

I like to use it in a toner, moisturizer, and cleanser. I add 0.5% white willow bark to the cool down phase of my product - after dissolving it in some warm water. You can go as high as 1.0%, but it can make you sun sensitive and red, so start low and move your way up as you determine how you like it. And start by using it in one product before including it in every facial product you use. I started by using it in my toner, then moved on to including it in my cleanser. I have since started including it in my night-time moisturizer as I don't want to get too sun sensitive.

Let's see how this works in a facial cleanser, specifically a very oily skin foaming facial cleanser (click here for that recipe, or click here for a version for less oily skin). White willow bark is especially good for people with really oily hair or skin, so it is a fabulous inclusion for facial products.

51% water
10% aloe vera
10% hydrosol of choice
2% honeyquat
3% PEG 7 olivate (water soluble olive oil)
10% SMC Taurate (liquid)
8% Amphosol CG (coco betaine)
3% hydrolyzed protein
2% panthenol
0.5% preservative (Liquid Germall Plus)
1% fragrance or essential oil (optional)
0.5% white willow bark extract

Mix together. Package in foamy bottle. Rejoice.

For very oily skin, consider using rosemary as your hydrosol. For normal to oily skin, lavender or orange blossom is very nice. For dry skin, add up to 3% water soluble oil and consider using a hydrosol good for dry skin.

For all skin types, feel free to change the SMC Taurate surfactant for another surfactant your skin likes - do not change the coco betaine as it thickens the mixture slightly and creates a milder cleanser than just the SMC Taurate or other surfactant alone.

And consider using other extracts. Rosemary would be great for oily skin, cucumber for oily or green tea for all skin types, or chamomile for skin that needs some serious soothing.

Consider using white willow bark in shaving products, like shaving lotion, a post-shaving lotion or spray, a shaving bar, or a beard conditioner. It will help prevent ingrown hairs as well as help with redness and inflammation. (In the shaving bar, just dissolve the extract into the panthenol and hydrolyzed protein. If you're using liquid extract, then you can just add it to the cool down phase).

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with white willow bark in hair care products!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

White willow bark extract

White willow bark (INCI: Salix alba extract) is a water soluble extract with a two year shelf life. It is an astringent extract - thanks to all those lovely tannins - with anti-inflammatory, anti-reddening, and anti-septic qualities.

The main features of white willow bark extract are the salicylic acid and the salicin, a phenolic glucoside. Salicylic acid, as we saw yesterday, offers keratolytic (exfoliating), anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and analgesic properties. Salicin is processed by our body to become salicylic acid, so it is the precursor to all those lovely qualities. We can use white willow bark as a substitute for BHA or salicylic acid in our creations. It is good for oil control products as well.

White willow bark also contains tannins, specifically gallotannins like those found in green tea. This means white willow bark will be a more astringent extract than something like chamomile extract. These tannins have been shown to be excellent anti-oxidants and good anti-inflammatories, offering some post-sun exposure protection and anti-reddening features.

White willow bark extract would be a fabulous inclusion in any products where you want the awesome power of salicylic acid to reduce redness and exfoliate your skin.

As a caution, because it is sloughing off the top layer of your skin, white willow bark and salicylic acid can make you sun sensitive, so you might want to re-consider it in something you might use in the summer. And if someone is allergic to salicylic acid or aspirin, there is a chance they will react adversely to the use of white willow bark. And whatever you do, don't use another extract that offers exfoliation or salicylic acid - there's an example of too much of a good thing!

As a note, you can find powdered white willow bark extract (usage at 0.1 to 1%) or liquid white willow bark extract (2.5% to 5%). Both are soluble in water and should be added to the cool down phase of your product.

Join me tomorrow for some super formulating fun with white willow extract!

Mineral make-up: Craft group eye shadow from Claire

Claire always comes up with some interesting combinations of colours. This one is a very nice pink, suitable for any occasion. And, yes, I admit, I am terrible at taking pictures, especially under the yellow lights of the library meeting room, and I know this picture does not do her beautiful creation justice. Sorry!

5 scoops sunpearl siliver
1 scoop black satin mica
3 scoops base
3 scoops ruby mica
This is a really lovely pink, suitable for a sweep of colour and sparkle or as a highlighter.

Join me tomorrow for the awesome Rainbow Explosion created by Alyssa.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mineral make-up: Craft group eye shadow from Keira

Today's eye shadow comes to us courtesy of Keira. She's chosen a very minimalist approach to this colour, but it looks just lovely (I wore a variation of this yesterday with lime green!)

2 scoops yellow iron oxide
4 scoops creamsicle mica
6 scoops FD&C lake yellow #5
2 scoops of base

This is a great alternative to the A-OK (aka Big Bird) colour we created using the pop micas last year. And it's less sparkly, which surprises me from a teenager. It's a beautiful yellow that can act as a highlight, a sweep, or a lid colour. Try it with a lime green and you have a combination that I love!

Join me tomorrow for the minimalistic stylings of Claire with Midnight Star.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Salicylic acid or beta-hydroxy acid

Sorry, the post for formulating with chrysanthemum extract got lost somewhere, and I don't have time to re-write it this morning (craft group went late, and I didn't get to sleep until MIDNIGHT! Woo! I'm such a party animal). So here's a post on one of my favourite ingredients, salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid (also known as B-hydroxy acid or BHA) is an orthohydroxybenzoic acid and the only BHA currently available to us to include in our creations. It is approved by the FDA at up to 2% in acne medications, but how does it really work?

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (exfoliant), anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-itching ingredient we can add as a powder or as part of an extract like willow bark. It works by getting inside the sebaceous unit or pore of our skin and solubilizes the oils and other things inside it, so it's great for blackhead prone skin. It reduces the adhesion between the cells and encourages them to slough off, revealing nice, new skin cells. It works from the stratum corneum of our skin and works its way down to the lower layers.

Salicylic acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it is great for any water based creation you might be making to help with inflammation, such as post sun exposure or wind chapping.

Salicylic acid helps our skin shed more readily, open clogged pores, and neutralize bacteria. It is used at 0.5 to 3% in acne related products, like cleansers, toners, and moisturizers. It can help with photodamaged skin thanks to its exfoliating qualities. It is a great inclusion in hair care products intended for dandruff prone hair. And it's a fantastic addition to something like an after shave lotion or tonic to reduce redness and inflammation, and prevent ingrown hairs.

Finally, salicylic acid helps with oil control, so it is good for products for people with really oily skin - hair care, facial care, and skin cleansers and moisturizers.

Start using salicylic acid at 1% for sensitive skin, 2% for normal skin, to see how you react. As salicylic acid is readily absorbed by our skin, it will boost the efficacy of the other fancy ingredients in your lotions and potions. So keep a record of how your skin reacts to it - it might love it, it might get irritated. And because it has an acidic pH, you might want to test your product to ensure it's in the right range if you're using a lot of it.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because tomorrow we're taking a look at willow bark extract and it contains a ton of salicylic acid!

As a note...Salicylic acid doesn't dissolve well in water, so you'll need to use an alcohol or a glycol like propylene glycol or butylene glycol, to dissolve it. You can use 20% ethanol - denatured alcohol or just some good ol' vodka or another less smelly alcohol - to dissolve 0.5% salicylic acid.

If you'd like to learn more about salicylic acid, check out this post on ULProspector for more information. 

Here are a few resources on how to dissolve 

Mineral make-up: Craft group eye shadows from Ariana

Okay, so I brag about them like they were my own, but the girls of my craft group came up with some amazing colour blends that I simply had to share with you! Apparently I cannot take a picture to save my life, so please excuse the awfulness you see before you (the pictures not the recipes!). The pictures really do not do them justice. We had not one but two lovely blues, a whole host of pinks and purples, and the rainbow explosion, which turned out pretty amazing.

Let's start with a triumvirate of awesomeness from Ariana. (Look for posts from Alyssa, Claire, Keira, and Christy in the next few days...) You'll notice she makes good use of the iron oxides or pigments as a base for the eye shadow, then builds the sparkle from there with the micas.

7 scoops periwinkle blue mica
a titch blue iron oxide (a titch is generally less than 1/4 of a little white scoop)
7 scoops base
1 black satin mica
1 scoop sunpearl silver
1 scoop violet mica

SUN PURPLE by Ariana
2 scoops Imperial red sparkle mica
3 scoops shimmering fuscia
3 scoops base
2 scoops honeydew oxide
2 scoops majestic red mica
1 scoop sparkle blue mica
3 scoops ultramarine pink
1 scoop violet mica

1 scoop burgundy iron oxide
3 scoops honeydew iron oxide
2 scoops brown iron oxide
4 scoops base
5 scoops manganese violet
5 scoops FD&C lake yellow #5
3 scoops petal pink mica
1 scoop sunpearl gold

Absolutely beautiful! I've never really considered using blue on my green eyes, but I'll be making the Midnight Blue this weekend (it reminds me of my old Nissan 200SX - loved that car!) and using it in combination with a little silver. And I can never have enough purples and browns!

Join me tomorrow for the minimalist Creamsicle Swirl courtesy of Keira!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mineral make-up: Eyeshadows from my craft group

It's time for more mineral make-up fun with the eyeshadows created by the amazing colour blenders in my Chilliwack craft group! These are from the last class - I'll be posting more in the next few days! All of these start off with the basic eye shadow base. Most of these are very shiny in nature, so you can de-shine them down a bit by adding some iron oxides in place of the micas (for instance, using the ultramarine purple or manganese violet instead of a purple mica, and so on).

As a quick note, there were other lovely recipes, but I either don't have all the details (for instance, I know there's tangerine pop in one of them, but how much?) or I don't have a good picture (sorry, that's my fault! I'll put it on super macro tonight!)

2 scoops manganese violet
8 scoops red mica
1 scoop base
3 scoops lemon pop
4 scoops tangerine pop
If you want this to be a little less sheer, add up to 3 more scoops of base.

5 scoops base
2 scoops patagonian purple mica
2 scoops manganese violet
1 scoop strawberry pop mica
3 scoops carmine red mica
3 scoops lemon drop pop
2 scoops shimmering fuschia mica
1 scoop tangerine pop mica
3 scoops raspberry pop mica

ROSEBUD by Ceiliceh
5 scoops raspberry pop mica
2 scoops strawberry pop mica
1 scoop black satin mica
2 large scoops (1 cc) eye shadow base
2 small scoops eye shadow base

2 scoops base
2 scoops raspberry pop mica
1 scoop blueberry pop mica

GIRLY PINK by Claire (sorry, no picture!)
5 scoops coral shimmer mica
1 scoop white mica, satin finish
2 large scoops (1 cc) eye shadow base

Aren't they lovely? Join me over the next few days to see what the girls will make next!

Want to be part of our groups? Check out our schedule on the right hand side bar --->
Want to donate to our groups? Check out this post!

Chrysanthemum or feverfew extract

Chrysanthemum extract (also known as feverfew, INCI: Chrysanthemum parthenium flower extract) is considered to be a good anti-inflammatory, astringent, analgesic, and anti-septic (anti-fungal and anti-microbial). It contains tannins, sesquiterpenoids, flavonoids, and more!

Camphor contains tannins, specifically gallic acid, which act as good anti-oxidants and wound and burn healers. It contains luteolin (which you might remember from honeysuckle and chamomile extracts), which is a very powerful anti-inflammatory - as powerful as some over the counter anti-inflammatories - and free radical scavenger.

Chrystanthemum contains a good amount of camphor, a monoterpene ketone used as an analgesic. Camphor is readily absorbed through the skin, offering a cooling sensation and local anaestheic. It can reduce the presence of mites on the skin, and is used in cosmetics as a plasticizer for things like nail polish. It can be a skin irritant, so try it first to see how your skin reacts.

But it's not all hearts and flowers when it comes to this extract. It can contain a sesquiterpene lactone called parthenolide. It is an anti-cell proliferative and anti-inflammatory. It is removed from most extracts as it can be very irritating to the skin, but ironically it is a good anti-inflammatory that inhibits prostaglandin production. The seeds of the chrysanthemum plan contain something called pyrethrin, which is used as an insecticide and lice treatment. As our extracts are from the flower, we shouldn't find much of this in the powdered extract. As a result, you might see this extract listed as not being for people with rosacea or potential allergic reactions. (On the other hand, I have seen this listed as being great for rosacea...) Try it out before throwing some into all your products!

Because this is a good anti-fungal, burn and/or wound healer, and anti-inflammatory, it's a great addition to many products where you might want some healing (not a claim...) or help with muscle pain.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating a salve with chrysanthemum extract.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comfrey root extract: Formulating fun!

Comfrey root extract is an awesome inclusion in products intended for damaged skin. I like to use comfrey root extract in foot care products - foot lotion or foot cream or thicker foot cream - and I like to use it in the form of comfrey oil in anhydrous lotion bars (substitute 5% to 10% comfrey oil for another oil in your recipe). Try it in a toner or facial moisturizer for oily skin (or skin that could use a little AHA-like help from the rosmarinic acid).

Comfrey root is known for helping wounds, burns, and bruises by increasing the ability of skin to heal more quickly and for increasing circulation. I found it very helpful when formulating a body butter to help with an injury I incurred in 2008.

Okay, short story - I fell down a flight of metal stairs on a B.C. ferry while en route to plan my wedding. The wedding was postponed until 2009, and I have a bump on my bum that will be there forever. The moral of the story - if you are going to fall down a flight of stairs, break some bones. They mend faster than soft tissue injuries and you'll have a cool cast your friends can sign...

I had a bruise from half way up my thigh to above my waist, and my skin was getting really really dry. So I formulated what I called my "bruise lotion" (not making any claims, it's what just worked for me!) to help moisturize the area, and, I hoped, increase the circulation to help the bruise go away and make me feel better generally. I modified my favourite body butter recipe - click here for some variations - to include ingredients that would help with circulation, inflammation, serious dryness, and generally feeling good on my skin. I included more humectants because it is very humid where I live and I thought it would help with moisturization. I used shea butter because it is healing and feels really moisturizing on my skin, and I like olive oil for the oleic acid, soybean oil for the linoleic acid, and both for the high levels of phytosterols and Vitamin E. And I am using aloe vera for the hydrating, moisturizing, and anti-inflaming properties because I can use all the anti-inflammation I can get in this recipe!

25% aloe vera liquid
22% lavender or chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed protein
2.5% sodium lactate
3% glycerin

15% shea butter
5% olive oil
5% soybean oil
6% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

2% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
0.5% preservative
0.5% comfrey root extract
0.5% chamomile extract
0.5% cinnamon essential oil
0.5% clove essential oil
0.5% camphor essential oil
0.5% ginger essential oil

You'll notice all those essential oils in there. I chose them for the tingling properties they offer to increase circulation. Feel free to leave them out or use other essential oils you like for the same properties.

Join me tomorrow for fun with chrysanthemum or feverfew extract!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The great (medical) Botox experiment - day 5

Well, I'm on day 5 of the great Botox experiment to rid my head of pain, and it seems to be working well. I have a little pain around my right ear, but I think that's because my lymph glands have swollen up and are putting pressure on the area. My eye brows still move - although I really have to think about it to get them to shift, and I'm not using them spontaneously when I talk. I wonder if I will become completely frozen by the end of the week? (It can take up to 1 week for the Botox to work completely, according to my neurologist!) Part of me thinks it would be funny to not be able to move my forehead for three months; the other part doesn't want to be a zombie faced weirdo who can't express herself.

The whole Botox thing for pain is interesting because it doesn't freeze your muscles, it relaxes them, hence the usage in this context. So far, I'm liking the pain relief. I'm getting the other side done shortly, so I guess that's when my ability to speak with my eye brows is over, eh?

As another aside, I am using "eh" a lot. It's funny because I use it all the time, but I only really notice it when I'm in England or the States! I best be off now - I just bought a double double (tea) and have a lie down on the Chesterfield for a while I listened to my newly purchased album of Rush's greatest hits. (When we came back through the border from North Dakota, the first thing I asked the woman at the Manitoban tourist information office was "Where's the nearest Timmy's?" and she knew the exact route!

Comfrey root

Comfrey extract can be derived from the roots, leaves, or entire plant, and we can find it at our suppliers in the form of a powder, an oil, or a liquid extract. I'll be concentrating on the powder, but some of this applies to the oil as well.

Comfrey has been used in many forms as a traditional medicine for inflammation, cuts and bruises, and skin soothing - does it live up to those expectations?

There are different levels of polyphenols and other wonderful ingredients in the root, leaf, or entire plant. For instance, the leaves contain about 13,000 ppm allantoin, whereas the root contains 6,000 to 8,000 ppm.

In comfrey we find all kinds of great polyphenols. Caffeic acid is one of the most effective anti-oxidants, and it offers anti-viral and good anti-inflammatory properties. Chlorogenic acid is anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-oxidizing. Rosmarinic acid is a good anti-inflammatory, it can behave like AHA on our skin, penetrating to help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and it can reduce sebum production.

Comfrey contains a ton of phytosterols, like ß-sitosterol and stigmasterol, found mostly in the oil. These phytosterols are great anti-inflammatories offering an increase in skin's barrier repair abilities and a reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), as well as a reduction in itchiness and redness. (Click to read more about phytosterols).

It also contains a ton of catechins, those wonderful condensed tannins that offer serious anti-oxidizing abilities as well as astringency to our creations. They are considered anti-septic, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal. They are also considered to be good for sun or post-sun exposure products.

We find two amino acids in comfrey - asparagine and GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid). Asparagine offers moisturizing and soothing to the mix, while GABA offers anti-varicose and anti-water retaining features. It has been advertised as helping reduce fine lines in our skin.

We also find carotenes at the rate of 6,300 ppm in the plant. Carotenes can be converted to Vitamin A if our body requires it; if not, it's just a great anti-oxidant that roams our skin scavenging free radicals. (This is what gives the oil its yellow-y colour.) It can protect us against sun exposure if we pre-treat our skin before going outside.

And finally, we have allantoin (click here for the longer post). Allantoin used at 0.3% to 0.5% can stimulate skin cell proliferation, so it's a great exfoliant, and it can soften skin cells. It is approved by the FDA to treat weather damaged skin and is considered an anti-irritant. This is one of the main ingredients offering the anti-inflammatory and soothing claims of comfrey root.

Comfrey is poisonous if eaten, so restrict the awesome power of this extract to external use only (although you do have to eat quite a lot of it, more than you'd put in a lotion or other product!) And I have noticed personally that if I use an anhydrous stick creation (using comfrey oil) on an open wound, it stings, but I haven't noticed this if I use it in water based or lotion-y creations.

So how do we get comfrey root into our creations? We can use it at 0.5% (or the suppliers' suggested rate) in the cool down phase by dissolving it in warm water, or we can use the oil in our anhydrous or emulsified products in our oil phase. It is good for all skin types, but it is slightly astringent, so it might bother really dry skin. It's fantastic for wind chapped, cold burned, or sun burned skin, so you can include it in a summer or winter spray, facial moisturizer, or body lotion.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with comfrey extract!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Grapeseed extract: Formulating hair care products

Grapeseed extract can reduce cell proliferation and there's some talk it could help with hair growth (although I'm always dubious about claims like that). It would make a great addition to a shampoo or conditioner intended for dandruff prone hair!

I'm thinking of including a little rosemary extract to the mix as well. (Click here for ideas on including rosemary extract in hair care products!) Since we've just done a liquid shampoo, let's take a look at using grapeseed extract in solid shampoo and conditioner bars!

30% SCI flakes
30% SLSa
13.5% DLS mild
10% Bioterge 804
3% cetyl alcohol
3% Incroquat BTMS
2% orange butter
2% Incroquat CR

1% hydrolyzed oat protein
1% panthenol
1% dimethicone
2% oily hair blend - equal parts rosemary, sage, cedarwood, and key lime
0.5% grapeseed extract
0.5% rosemary extract
0.5% to 1% preservative - I use liquid Germall Plus

Click the link above for a visual tutorial and instructions for the shampoo bar. As a suggestion, combine the oat protein, panthenol, and preservative in a small container and use this to dissolve the extracts. Add those to the cool down phase of the shampoo bar.

In the conditioner bars, add 0.5% grape seed extract and 0.5% rosemary extract to the watery parts of the cool down phase (panthenol, cetrimonium chloride, 0.5% preservative) to dissolve, then add to the liquidy phase as normal. (Note: I am including 0.5% to 1% preservative in both these recipes because of the botanical nature of the extracts!)

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with comfrey root.

Question: What exactly is an extract?

In a comment in this post, p asks...Really enjoying your discussion of extracts! Maybe you mentioned this earlier, but is there a standard definition of what an extract is? Are they typically water-extracts by infusion (hot water or cold?), then dehydrated into a powder (under low pressure so no heat applied?)? Or similar with alcohol instead of water? Or are they dehydrated hydrosols? So many ways to get the goodies out of plants and then remove the solvent! Is green tea extract, in particular, just powdered green tea, i.e. matcha? So not really an extract at all? So confused!

It is a confusing topic, and the answer is there really isn't a definition of what constitutes an extract. You'll see witch hazel extract, hydrosol, liquid, and juice, but they can all be the same thing.

The definition I have seen most is an extract is generally a distillation of the good things inside a botanical thing. (Wow, that was clear!) So for instance, say you buy some strawberry extract. It would be a powdered version full of polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and so on in a purified and water soluble form. It could also come in a liquid form - water, glycerin, propylene glycol, or alcohol - and generally contains a preservative. They can be extracted in different ways, and it depends on whether the extracted stuff is heat sensitive, soluble in water or alcohol, and so on.

When it comes to things we see in our kitchen - rosemary, sage, green tea - the extracts differ in that they have been deodorized and standardized in some way. Green tea extract might contain 10% caffeine or rosemary 5% rosmarinic acid. (Always check to see what the standard is for the extract you are purchasing to make sure it contains the good stuff you want!) Adding a powdered extract is a way of guaranteeing you have the good stuff you want in the products you make.

In theory, you could brew up a pot of green tea or get the rosemary out of your pantry, but they would contribute smell and might cause spoilage. The extracts make it easier to add these great botanical ingredients to your products - if you added papaya to a toner, you'd have a horrible microbial infested mess in a week or less (even with preservatives). I mean, think about how long a crushed up apple would last on your counter! Instead, add some powdered papaya extract to a toner, and you have yourself a lovely creation suitable for normal to oily skin types.

And no, I don't know how some companies - not mentioning any names - can put "fresh" fruit into their products without spoilage or preservation (for the anhydrous products). I suspect extracts are the magic ingredient...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! If you're in love, think of today as an occasion to show your partner how much you appreciate being part of his or her life. If you're single this Valentine's Day, think of it as the day before some awesome half price chocolate sales! If you're indifferent, then happy Sunday!

Grapeseed extract

There is an extract called grape seed extract that is actually derived from a pine tree. We're discussing grapeseed extract (no space between the two words), which is derived from the seeds of grapes.

Grapeseed extract is a great way to get the goodness of grapeseed oil (and more!) into our products without worrying about the potentially short shelf life. It is considered one of the highest sources of polyphenols (along with green tea extract), and it contains all kinds of wonderful things for our skin. It is considered an astringent ingredient - thanks to all those tannins - so it is more suitable for normal to oily skin, but that doesn't mean our dry skinned sisters can't benefit from it!

It contains both Vitamin C and Vitamin E, both of which are fantastic anti-oxidants and free radical scavengers. It also contains proanthocyanidins and procyanidins (which we remember from green tea!). Proanthocyanidins play a role in the stabilization and maintenance of elastin in our skin, and procyanidins play a role in the stabilization and maintenance of collagen in our skin, so you've got a great combination of ingredients to help with flexibility and appearance of your skin! Proanthocyanidins are great anti-oxidants - better than Vitamin C and Vitamin E - and great anti-inflammatories. Procyanidins are anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidizing ingredients.

It also contains quercetin - a good anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral - and apigenin - a very powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory that offers exfoliating properties. And again we find epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg, found in green tea), an anti-inflammatory that provides protection from photo-damage, an anti-bacterial, and a phenomenol anti-oxidant.

The big deal about grapeseed extract has to be the resveratrol, a polyphenolic phytoalexin found in grapes as a defence against predators. Resveratrol is a very good anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger. It is a great anti-inflammatory, and it can inhibit cell growth. It is advertised as reducing the signs of aging, and it does this by ameliorating the effects of UVB caused skin damage! In fact, the studies are so promising, it's being included in tons of sun and post-sun products! It is also showing promise as a wound healer, and works as an anti-fungal and anti-viral.

Grapeseed extract has been reported to help with hair growth by entering the hair follicle cells and inspiring dormant ones to start a'growin'! This has been studied, but it seems there's still more work to be done before it can be said adding grapeseed extract will give you a full head of luxurious hair! There are, however, good studies showing this extract is better at inhibiting lipid peroxidation (a type of oxidation) than green tea polyphenols, so we could consider it a better anti-oxidant than green tea!

Because grapeseed extract can reduce cell proliferation, this might be a good inclusion in a lotion for someone with psoriasis or dandruff, both of which suffer from too many cells!

As with other extracts, you can use this at 0.5% by dissolving it full in warm water and adding it during the cool down phase. It's not suitable for anhydrous creations, but great in anything with water. Because this is an exfoliating and astringent extract, do not go over 0.5% and do not combine it with other exfoliating ingredients or extracts.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with grapeseed extract!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday ramblings...

My mom visited my blog the other day and said, "It's all about chemistry!" So this is a picture for my mom, a picture of her only daughter trying to put five D cell batteries in her mouth, and, surprisingly, only managing three! I feel so bad for my mom at times - she's such an introvert, very quiet and thoughtful - and she ended up with a noisy extrovert in the house who does stuff like put batteries in her mouth or breaking out into song while Christmas shopping.

So, two points of interest today...On Friday (February 12), I had 100 units of botox injected into various places on my head to help with the six month long muscle spasm related headache. It is the most bizarre feeling - I can feel it getting more difficult to move my eye brows, and I know it's going to get harder every day! - but the pain in my head (and especially my neck) has been reduced dramatically over night.

As a disclaimer, I am completely against cosmetic enhancements that reduce one's ability to express oneself through facial expressions, so I find this whole process more than a little amusing. I'm more than a little worried I'll end up like Nicole Kidman, all frozen faced and expressionless. I tend to be quite animated (when I'm not sleepy), and my eyebrows for indicating my mood, my weirdness level, and so on. So I kind of consider this one big science project - I'll let you know what happens next!

And the Olympics (TM, R, (C), and so on) began last night. (I live about 100 km east of Vancouver, so I guess I'm paying for part of it, eh?) I admit I have not been a big supporter of the Games and the impact it is having on government services and budget, and I'm not really a supporter of sports (where's the huge intellectual Olympic games?)...but it was a lovely opening ceremony. A lot of us hoped the final torch bearer would be a hologram of Terry Fox, but I'm glad it was The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

So there's a Saturday morning rambling for you. We're holding Rated T for Teen video game club at Yarrow today, so I guess I should go get ready, eh?

Honeysuckle extract: Ultra mega formulating fun!

I love honeysuckle extract in anything I'm going to use on my face. I have acne prone skin, pale with a tendency to get very red, and I find it offers great anti-inflammation properties for me. Try it in a toner at 0.5% in the cool down phase after dissolving it in a little warm water. I like it in my mineral make-up products as well - try 0.5% in a finishing powder or foundation (at the same rate as allantoin). And it's nice in a facial cleanser (I like to combine it with chamomile for super mega anti-inflammatory awesomeness!)

I will refer you to the post on with formulating green tea - just substitute the words "honeysuckle extract" for "green tea extract".

Honeysuckle extract is a great addition to a shaving lotion or after shave lotion or spray. It soothes irritated skin, reduces redness, and offers a ton of anti-oxidants. Let's take a look at a shaving lotion.

What do we want in a shaving lotion? We want something that works when we're shaving, so we need lots of slip and glide. We want something that conditions, soothes, and reduces inflammation. We want a product that will rinse off but leave behind ingredients that will continue to soothe and reduce inflammation but offer moisturizing all day long.

First ingredient - Incroquat BTMS. Yes, it can feel drier as an emulsifier, but we'll compensate with a lot of slippery oils and other glidy ingredients. It is substantive, meaning it will form a thin layer on your skin and stay there, offering moisturizing throughout the day. To make it more substantive and offer more glide, I'll include some cetyl alcohol to the mix.

Oils - we want something glidy that offers great skin barrier repair protection and wound healing. I originally had jojoba and shea oil in here, but let's take a look at other oils. Jojoba is a good choice as it penetrates skin through the hair follicles, offering moisturizing and softening. It creates a non-occlusive layer on your skin, which is a great thing for post-shaved skin!

Hempseed oil would be a lovely choice in this recipe as the GLA it contains offers skin barrier repair, anti-itching, and moisturizing benefits, but it has a short shelf life. Avocado oil offers help with skin damage, skin protection, and skin regeneration. It's easily absorbed, so it will offer excellent moisturizing. But it might be a bit heavy here combined with the jojoba oil, so let's consider a few lighter oils. Soybean oil is filled with great anti-inflammatories (the phytosterols) and Vitamin E, to offer softening and moisturizing. It offers a lot of linoleic acid, which is great for skin barrier repair, and polyphenols with great anti-oxidizing potential. It's considered a light, slippery oil, so it would be a great addition to this lotion.

So let's go with jojoba oil and soy bean oil.

What about our extracts? Honeysuckle extract seems like a natural inclusions as it is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-redness ingredient. Chamomile would be a good addition as it is a fantastic anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredient. And what about rosemary? It is a good anti-inflammatory that offers analgesic properties. I am thinking of using powdered honeysuckle extract and chamomile and rosemary as either an extract or a hydrosol. I think I'll go with chamomile extract and rosemary hydrosol in this mixture. I'll replace 10% of the water amount with rosemary extract (and increase the original aloe vera content from 5% to 10%).

As with any lotion, I would like to include some hydrolyzed proteins and amino acids. I'm using Phytokeratin because it has both low and high molecular weight proteins - the low ones will penetrate the skin, the higher ones will form an occlusive film on your skin. And I'm adding 1% silk amino acids because I want increased slip and glide in the recipe, and they will penetrate the skin for internal moisturizing. And I have to have panthenol in anything that might be used on damaged skin.

What about our humectants? Since we will be rinsing off this product, sodium lactate and sodium PCA are poor choices. Including something like honeyquat will offer a humectant and a conditioner, so let's try that at 3% in this mix. (Another cationic polymer like polyquat 7 will work well here, too).

Finally, other additions. I'm thinking I'd like to include 2% dimethicone to this recipe because I need more occlusion and slip. And 2% cyclomethicone will help with slip and glide as well.

Okay! Let's formulate! Because the soy bean oil has a 6 to 12 month shelf life, I'd call this a 6 month shelf life product.

54.5% water
10% aloe vera
10% rosemary hydrosol
2% Phytokeratin
1% silk amino acids
3% honeyquat (or other cationic polymer)

3% Incroquat BTMS-50
2% cetyl alcohol
2% jojoba oil
3% soy bean oil

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
0.5% honeysuckle extract
0.5% chamomile extract
0.5% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% Vitamin E

Considering using this combination in something like an after-shave lotion or after shave spray!

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with grapeseed extract!