Saturday, July 31, 2010

The chemistry of our nails: Lecithin

So what's the deal with lecithin? Lecithin is a yellowy substance filled to the brim with various phospholipids or phosphatides, generally extract from eggs or soy beans, although its found in all plants and animals.

The soy and the egg lecithin do differ a little. The soy has a fatty acid profile of 20% palmitic acid (C16), 4.3% stearic acid (C18), 11.4% linoleic acid (C18:1), 56.6% linolenic acid (C18:2), and about 7% linolenic acid (C18:3). The egg lecithin contains 30% palmitic acid (C16), 15.9% stearic acid (C18), 26.4% oleic acid (C18:1), 16.2% linoleic acid (C18:2), and no linolenic acid. It does, however, contain arachadonic acid at about 6%. Both of these contain little to no Vitamin E, but they contain B vitamins (choline, Vitamin B8), and they contain 60% to 70% phospholipids (made up of the fatty acids listed above). Most of what we find on our suppliers' shelves is the soy version of lecithin, but if you're vegan or have any restrictions on your diet, ask before buying.

Choline has been shown to increase skin hydration, so it can act as a humectant to bring water our skin. In one study, the application of lecithin to skin increased water retention by 40% and it lasted about 2.5 hours! Another ingredient in lecithin - inositol - has been shown to decrease trans-epidermal water loss in  animal studies. It's also been shown to increase moisture retention in our hair. And it's an anti-oxidant - it's three great things in one!

Lecithin is considered a great moisturizer with those high levels of oleic and linoleic acids, which will moisturize and help restore a damaged skin barrier. The stearic acid is also very moisturizing!

Lecithin can act as an anti-oxidant in our products, scavenging to prevent lipolytic rancidity at 0.01% to 0.25%. It can help boost the efficacy of Vitamin E and Vitamin C as anti-oxidants (science isn't really sure why this is...)

Lecithin can be used in myriad ways in our formulating. It can be used in balms to act as a moisturizer, emollient, and protector. It can be used as a co-emulsifier in the HLB system (check with your supplier as it could have an HLB of 4 or 7, depending on how it is processed). It can be used wet oxides for mineral make-up if you want to press your eye shadows!

When it comes to nail care, lecithin is a Viking! It works well at low levels to moisturize our nails and help return some of those phosopholipids to dry and brittle nails!

One of the down sides of lecithin can be the smell. It can get a fishy odour at around 49˚C and will smoke at 70˚C, so you want to melt this stuff in a double boiler, not the microwave where you can't judge the temperature. You only want to heat lecithin slightly - never ever take it to the heat and hold stage or you'll get a horrible stench, so add it as you're about to take your oil phase out of the double boiler and mix it well.

The lecithin I purchased from Aquarius is a sticky brown liquid that I can add at room temperature to various anhydrous products. (It's really inexpensive - $4.00 for 250 ml or 8 ounces). And you can include it in any of your products as up to 10% as an oil. (You can use more, but it does have kind of earthy scent that might annoy some people). It is oil soluble, so you won't be putting this into any of your toners or skin refreshers!

Join me tomorrow for fun with lanolin!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Question: Can we use oils from the grocery store in our creations?

Madeaj asks in this postI have a question about oils. I see oils in the supermarket. My local has sesame (not toasted;-), macadamia nut, sunflower (storebrand for frying), walnut, grapeseed, coconut oil and of course olive oil. Are these the same oil used in cosmetic products or is there a difference? I usually cook with olive oil and I only use one source extra virgin olive oil because I prefer the taste to blended. Should I use light olive oil because it has a lighter smell? Is the sunflower oil (ingredient lists only pure sunflower oil) in the big bottle for frying the same as the kind used for cosmetics?

Thanks Susan. Because of you, I am trying a lot of new things and my internal product junky is going crazy with all the things I WANT to buy. :-)

Sorry about the enabling! It's not that I want you to become addicted, it's just nice to have company in my little obsessions!

There are different grades of oil - food grade and cosmetic grade being two of them. The ones in the grocery store are food grade quality, which should be higher than cosmetic grade. And a lot of the cosmetic grade oils are standardized to be a specific SAP value or meet a specific fatty acid profile and so on, whereas food grade doesn't necessarily do that.

I've found that carrier oils tend to be less expensive at my local suppliers, but that isn't always the case, especially with something like olive oil that tends to go on sale regularly or coconut oil if you have some great Indian markets nearby. Oils at the health food store are more expensive still - check out the prices on cocoa butter if you want a shock! - but if you're impatient and can't wait for the mail or make a trip to a local supplier, it's a great option.

As for choosing an olive oil, it's up to you what kind you want to use. I use pomace because it doesn't smell very strong and it's inexpensive, but there's no reason to not use extra virgin if you like it. As much as I love toasted sesame oil, that would be an interesting but not something you want to try fragrance! (I'll stick to putting it in my instant noodles and hot & sour soup!)

I started off using grapeseed, sunflower, and olive oils from my local mega-mart, and I was pleased with them (well, not the grapeseed as it has a really short shelf life and my stuff went rancid quickly, but that wasn't because it was a grocery store oil). The oils should be of higher quality when it comes to cooking, but they might not have the same fatty acid profile as some of the cosmetic grade oils.

The chemistry of our nails: Some ideas for anhydrous products

Let's start out with some bad news. You cannot make your nails grow faster by using cosmetic products. (You can make them grow faster by living in a warmer climate, using them by doing things like typing, and by being younger.) You can, however, make your nails more flexible by keeping them hydrated - and thus less likely to break - and protect them by using things like lotions, balms, and so on that will retain the water and phospholipids. (Painting them or using nail hardeners and nail strengthening polishes work well for protecting our nails!)

Here's the good news. We can make all kinds of lovely creations to help our nails stay healthy!

As I mentioned yesterday, the flexibility of our nails is thanks to phospholipids, found in nice quantities in lecithin and soy bean oil. These oils should be the base for any product we're using to help our nails, including anhydrous balms and lotions.

When making an oil based product for our nails, our first oils of choice should be lecithin, and soy bean oil, both of which are high in phospholipids. Hazelnut oil and jojoba (the cloudy kind, not the highly refined kind) also contain phospholipids. Evening primrose and borage oil may contain phospholipids, as does cocoa butter - but these are at lower levels like 0.5% to 1% compared to the 60% to 70% found in lecithin. Mango butter contains about 0.11% to 0.8% and shea contains little to no phospholipids, depending on how it's processed.

Keeping this in mind, we could make a very nice lotion bar, whipped butter, or balm for cuticle care!

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils. 

LOTION BAR FOR CUTICLE CARE (based on this recipe)
28% beeswax
30% mango butter
40% oils - combination of soy bean oil and hazelnut (you can use 10% lecithin and/or lanolin here)
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil

Melt everything except the Vitamin E and fragrance or essential oil in a heat proof container in a double boiler. When the ingredients have melted, remove from the heat and add the Vitamin E and fragrance oil. Pour into mold or container and let set. Rejoice.

The nice thing about using a lotion bar for cuticle care is the ease of use and the beeswax. The wax helps make it more water repellant, ensuring it will stay on longer when you're washing your hands.

You could take this recipe and make it a balm (like this recipe) using mango butter and soy bean or hazelnut oil.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at lecithin in further detail!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shrinky Dinks may be harmful to your hair!

Today was an accident prone day, the kind of day when I should really stay home because I'm a serious menace to anyone who might come near me. I'm not really sure why I have these days, when I drop my iPod touch on concrete, walk into closed doors, or spill Slurpees all over the counter at the gas station. It was craft class day at the library, and that's not a great day to be a walking cautionary example!

We made Shrinky Dink jewellery with the tweens and teens in two different groups. I managed to drop pretty much every split ring I picked up and couldn't seem to make a pair of earrings without one of them ending up on the floor. But that's not the story...

We were using the Dremel sander to make pins and stud earrings...and a ringlet of my hair became tangled in the machine and twisted my hair up to about my ear! (My hair is waist length, so I had about 24 inches wrapped around the shaft of the machine!) It took about 5 minutes to get it untangled and Raymond finally had to trim off the end to extract it! What I ended up with was something akin to a dreadlock, and I was convinced the only way to fix it would be to cut it. EEEK! (I also managed to cut my hand and crack the corner of my nail at the same time. I did mention I was accident prone today, right?)

When I came home, I immediately went into the bathroom and sprayed my do-it-yourself-by-accident dreadlock with my favourite leave in conditioner (Wedding Cake scented) and muttered a little prayer to the Gods of Hair that it would work. I left it for a minute or so, then brought out the brush. It took a little more work than normal, but I'm pleased to say I managed to save my hair!

What did I learn today? I really should have my hair up when crafting, but I've been suffering from horrible muscle spasm based headaches for just about a year now and I can't put my hair in a ponytail or bun without causing some serious no muscle relaxant can help and even Botox is kinda ineffectual type of head pain. So what I really learned is that cetrimonium chloride can handle the knottiest tangles!

For some reason, cetrimonium chloride is getting a bad name right now. Whole Foods won't allow it in their products and the Swedish department of the environment (can't remember the name - I did mention I have a wicked headache, right?) seems to have issues with quaternary compounds and the environment. But I have to say, after today's experiences, cetrimonium chloride could punch me awake every morning square in the face and steal the spare change out of my car and it'd still be welcome in my home!

The chemistry of our nails

The normal nail contains four major parts - the nail plate, which is the visible external part of the nail; the nail matrix, which is the living part of the nail at the root; the lunula (or half-moon) that is the visible front part of the nail matrix; and the eponychium (or cuticle) that forms a protective seal. (There are a few other parts, and you can see them here if you click on my lovingly hand drawn picture of the nail.) This picture leaves out the onychodermal band, which is that band of skin that helps attach the nail to the nail bed at the top of your finger. And the paronychium, which is the skin around the nail.

Much like our hair, our nails are dead by the time they leave the nail matrix, and the nucleus of the cells are completely gone by the time our nails reach the tip of our fingers. They're made up mostly of a type of keratin called "hard keratin" and contain more sulphur than the keratin found in our skin. Nails may contain small amounts of calcium, iron, and zinc. The shape and strength of our nails are determined by the length, size, and thickness of the matrix, while your fingertip shape determines the shape of the nail plate. If the tips of your fingers are rounded, you'll have more rounded nails; if they're square, your nails will take on a less rounded, more square appearance.

The flexibility of our nails is all thanks to phospholipids, which make up a major component of the cell membranes in our body. Phospholipids are partially permeable, and water can pass through our nails far more readily than our skin - you may have noticed this after a bath or washing dishes when your nails swell up and feel a lot softer than normal. Cleaning agents - like dishwashing liquid, bleach, and ammonia - can cause them to become dry and brittle as you remove the protective phospholipids and lose water.

Phospholipids are natural surfactants and emulsifiers consisting of an alcohol (like glycerin), one or two molecules of a fatty acid, and a phosphoric acid compound. Lecithin was the first identified phospholipid and the main source of it is from soybeans or egg yolks. Lecithin contains about 60% to 70% phospholipids. Lecithin softens and refattens the skin, offering a non-greasy, long lasting skin feel.

There is no growth cycle for our nails in that they grow continuously  - about 3 mm per month as long as the nail matrix is undamaged. Our toe nails grow about 40% as fast, about 1.2 to 1.5 mm per month. (A finger nail takes about 4 to 6 months to grow from the nail matrix to the tip of your finger. Toenails can take between 12 and 18 months). Growth is influenced by the weather and season - they accelerate in warm temperatures, slow when it's cold - and age, growing faster in the young. Using your nails doing something like typing can accelerate the growth, and our nails always grow faster on our dominant hand. 

Two of the main enemies of your nails are exposure to water and using them as tools to pry open things or remove nails from wood with your bare hands (yes, I'm guilty of this one). Water is both a friend and an enemy to nails. They contain about 7% to 12% water (compared to 15% to 25% in our stratum corneum) and, as we know, they are highly permeable to water. Too little hydration results in dry brittle nails; too much results in soft, opaque nails that bend easily.

The normal nail is described as being hard, flexible, and elastic, which gives good resistance to microtraumas (those white spots you get on your nails - they're caused by little bumps into things, not by a lack of calcium). This might seem like a weird description - how can nails be hard and flexible at the same time? If you can accidentally bang your fingertip into the wall and feel as if your nail has bent backwards, yet you don't have any breaks - well, that's the only way to describe it. If it shatters, your nail is dry. If it bends and stays there, your nail is too hydrated.

I'm fortunate in that I have incredibly strong nails that I cut when I feel like it or when they're getting annoying (which is right about this time because typing gets irritating). Everyone asks me what I do to keep them strong. Nothing. I rarely paint them, I don't get manicures, I use them as tools, especially when I'm crafting. (I polished my nails for years and used whatever was inexpensive to remove the polish, and my nails stayed strong.) I was born with the genes necessary to give me strong nails. I do have a few suggestions though...
  • Don't file your nails - this weakens the edges and gives them a chance to develop what I call cricks or little ragged bits that catch on everything. I only file my nails when they get one of those little cricks. Be happy with your natural shape! 
  • Don't bite your nails - again, this weakens the edges. 
  • Don't clean or use gloves if you must - protect your nails from water and from cleaning products. 
  • Stay away from acrylic nails - the adhesives used can lead to brittleness of your natural nails (if you're getting tips painted on) or the acrylics used in sculpted nails can lead to softness as accumulated liquids cannot evaporate. On top of all of this, the adhesion of the artificial nail is stronger than that of the nail bed to the onychodermal band, and it can pull that from the nail plate. 
Join me tomorrow as we delve into the exciting world of nail care products! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Body wash with esters

I'm finally getting around to playing with my esters and other light oils from the Personal Formulator, so I thought I'd share another recipe with you using those ingredients! (If you want to see the balm with esters, click here. I'm really loving the light, non-greasy feeling of these ingredients!)

This is a basic body wash type recipe for oily skin, but I've used PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate and myristamine oxide.

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is a non-ionic, low ethoxylated monoglyceride that can behave as an emulsifier, emollient, foamer, and skin conditioner in our products. It is a thickening polymer, meaning it will thicken your surfactant mix when used with anionic surfactants. It is emollient, which means it will reduce skin irritation from other surfactants, and will re-fatten your skin when you are bathing or shampooing. It can make the foam feel slippery, which is a nice thing in a body wash. It's not really a detergent type surfactant - you'd never use it as the primary or even co-surfactant because it's meant to boost the qualities of your surfactant mix. Use it at 2% to 10% in cleansers and shampoos.

Myristamine Oxide is a cleansing agent, emulsifier, hair conditioner, emollient, foam stabilizer, viscosity booster, and foam booster. I wanted to play with this in body washes to see what conditioning it offers. Use at 5 to 20%.

So here's the recipe! I've included 0.5% white willow bark to help with the keratosis pilaris my husband and I are both enjoying this summer. This does make it a kind of swampy green colour - it's not very pretty, but it feels lovely. (Here's another version of this body wash with white willow bark). If you don't colour it, it will end up a brownish colour!

12% cocamidopropyl betaine
16% BSB
12% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
30% warm distilled water
10% aloe vera liquid
5% PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate
5% myristamine oxide
3% polyquat 7
3% glycerin
2% cromoist
2% panthenol
0.5% preservative (liquid Germall Plus)
0.5% white willow bark
up to 2% Crothix

Mix the surfactants together well, then add the rest of the ingredients (except the panthenol, preservative, and white willow bark) and continue to mix. Try not to get too many bubbles. Heat a little water and dissolve the white willow bark into it. Add the panthenol, white willow bark, and preservative. Mix again.

If you don't have BSB concentrate, use another surfactant you like, preferably something mild as we're going for extreme mildness in this body wash. You can use a baby type blend, decyl glucoside, or any other surfactant you really like. If you want to modify this for dry skin, switch out the C14-16 olefine sulfonate for SMC or SMO taurate or another mild surfactant.

The funny thing about this recipe is the lack of viscosity. Normally this recipe would be quite thick - between the BSB concentrate (very thick) and the aloe (electrolytes help thicken) and the PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate - and a lower concentration of water - but I chose to add a very thinning fragrance oil (Pearberry) and I had to use 5% Crothix to make it sufficiently viscous for my body wash preferences! But the Crothix acts as a re-fattener of our skin and decreases irritation, so it's all good. This is one of those situations where the unintended consequences of an ingredient works for me (see this post) as I've increased the Crothix so much, it creates a really mild cleanser that allows the esters to stay on my skin!

Well, I best be off to take a shower - I'm really loving this body wash!!!

Back to basics: Wrap up and link-o-rama

I hope you've enjoyed this series of posts on anhydrous products. These recipes are great for beginners or those who wish to avoid using preservatives. And if you're a veteran, why not try your hand at these products again? I know I've been reminded of how decadent a rich, whipped butter can feel or how nice an oil based spray can feel on my slightly damp skin after showering.

Links to anhydrous products...
Whipped butters (aka anhydrous body butters)
Lotion bars - all the links
Balms - choosing your oils and butters
Balms - a new recipe idea
Balms - tweaking the new recipe idea
Balms - let's get complicated
Bath bombs
Bath melts
Dispersing bath oils
Oil based body sprays
Oil based body sprays with exotic oils
Solid scrub bars
Oil based scrubs
Modifying the oil based scrub

And a few informational posts...
An aside on melting butters
Using essential oils
Link to oil and butter link-o-rama

If you've caught the formulating bug, why not try making a lotion? You've already purchased oils and butters, all you need now is an emulsifier, a preservative, perhaps a thickener and a humectant, and before you know it, you'll have a body butter or cream you love! Here's my link to my introduction to lotion making, although I must warn you again that this is such an addictive hobby!  (Please click here for my link on how to tell if you've found a good recipe.) And here's my link to a PDF on lotion making!

Join me tomorrow for a short series on the chemistry of our nails!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Using the unintended effects of your ingredients

I've been giving a lot of thought to the down side of certain ingredients, especially in surfactant mixes. Oils can reduce your foam and lather and Crothix might thicken your mixtures and offer anti-irritancy, but it can start decreasing foam at around 5%.

So let's say you want to make a nice facial cleanser without a lot of foam and lather, which is easier to rinse and less likely to get in your eyes. Make up your usual facial cleanser recipe and add at least 5% oils - this will reduce the foam and lather and moisturize at the same time. If you're an oily skinned girl and don't want to add an oil, add 5% or more Crothix to suppress the foam and give you oil free moisturizing! (You'll want to use a surfactant mix of 25% or less or you'll get a Jell-O facial moisturizer!)

You can do the same with any of the pearlizers like glycol distearate as well, but they can coagulate at the bottom of the bottle if you go over 5% or use a very thin surfactant mix.

Or take the dry feeling of BTMS as an emulsifier. If you're like me, you like a little greasiness to your body and hand lotions, but BTMS is a great inclusion in a facial moisturizer where you want to reduce the greasy feeling and possible shine on your face. We can use all kinds of things to reduce the greasiness - IPM, mango butter, various oils - and what could be considered annoying - the feeling of extreme dryness - will feel great in other applications.

Why have I illustrated this with a body wash? For one, I'm talking about surfactants. And two, this colour isn't as pretty as it looks in the picture. It's more of a swamp green because I added 0.5% white willow bark to the mix, which adds brownness, and I tried to cover it up with green (because it's Pearberry scented). That was a bad I put it in a frosted bottle so it would be less ugly. It's still not the prettiest body wash I've made, but I like the active ingredient, so I'll keep it. (I realize an opaque malibu or tottle would have been the best choice, but I'm out of the 8 ounce ones!) So there's an unintended side effect of using white willow bark - I could make my body wash brown and scent with something like vanilla, cake, or oatmeal, milk & honey.

Back to basics: Modifying the oil based scrub

We can all use a little exfoliation, so it doesn't hurt to have a few different scrub recipes lying around the house. The scrub bar is great for throwing into a make-up bag for travelling and the oil based one is great for bath time exfoliation and moisturization, but we can always use more scrubby whippy fun!

This recipe is rated E+ for everyone - beginners who are a little more adventurous, those who don't wish to use preservatives, and those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils. 

If you enjoyed the whipped butter post, you might want to consider turning it into a scrub, which is pretty simple. You can add pumice (for feet), jojoba or clay beads, sugar or salt, walnut shells or apricot scrubby things, or even different kinds of seeds! Add between 30 to 100% of these scrubby ingredients to your previously made whipped butter. (So if you have 100 grams of whipped butter, add 30 to 100 grams of the scrubby ingredients.) How much you add is all about personal choice. I like something really scrubby for my feet; not so much for my face.

For your feet, I'd suggest 100% pumice or salt, or a mixture of both. For your face - if you can tolerate all that oil! - you'd want a very light exfoliant like clay or jojoba beads at 30 to 50%. For your body, 100% salt or sugar or a mixture of the two would be great, remembering that salt can sting wounds and newly shaven skin. 

Before using shells of any sort, try them out in a small amount. I have found they are very very scrubby and can be very uncomfortable for some people (like me). You can also get loofah bits and use those. I have found they aren't scrubby enough. (Yes, I'm a difficult woman. There, I've finally said it out loud!)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE: In the shower or bath, rub on your chosen body part and rinse. If you are using this on your feet, don't use it in the shower as you might fall down and hurt yourself very badly and even die. Should you choose to ignore this last sentence, the court will note that I advised you not to do it, so it's not my fault.

If you liked the more liquidy balm recipe, you can easily turn this into a scrub by adding up to 100% exfoliants to your balm and using it in the tub, shower, or sink. 

Try a combination of the two - 10% butter of some sort, 87% oil of your choice, 2% fragrance oil, 1% Vitamin E. Heat and hold your oil and butter until melted. Then add 80 to 100% your weight of oils, etc., in salt. Now add your fragrance or essential oil and the Vitamin E. Pour into a jar and let set. This is going to be a bit thicker than your oil only scrub, more scoopable. You can even put it into the fridge or freezer to get a little solid - before adding the exfoliants - then whip the heck out of it to get a whippier scrub (then add the exfoliants). 

If you use something like cocoa butter, this will be a harder scrub. Use something like babassu and it will melt on contact. Your choice of butter will determine the consistency of your product. 

POINT OF INTEREST! As this product will come into contact with water, do not use a metal container to package it. It will rust and make your product and your shower shelf or tub side go all weird and brown. 

SECOND POINT OF INTEREST! I would include 1% Phenonip or other preservative suitable for oil based products in any ingredient that might have contact with water because where we find water, we find the potential for contamination. Just add it 

Join me tomorrow for fun a wrap-up of the back to basics series and a link-o-rama!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Question: Do you think fries with gravy weird?

On our honeymoon last year, I made a faux pas in Montana by asking for brown gravy with my fries. The cashier gave me the kind of look normally reserved for questions like, "Hello. I'm a stranger. Would your children like some candy? I assure you it's not poisoned in any way", and she recoiled in disgust. We asked one of the other employees about fries and gravy, and one of them mentioned she'd seen it in a movie once (there are movies with fries and gravy in them? Sounds like a summer blockbuster to me!).

In the end, we chose fry sauce - BBQ sauce and mayonnaise - and I had some nacho cheese for dippin'. We've had fry sauce before - in Idaho and Utah it was ketchup and mayonnaise, and in Spokane we were offered tartar sauce. I've seen other variations of fry sauce on "Drive-Ins, Diners & Dives" and the topic comes up today because the host seems stunned by the idea of chips and gravy! As if BBQ sauce and mayonnaise is normal but gravy - blech?

We have this all the time in Canada - sometimes with cheese curds and we call it poutine (this originates in Quebec, but it's national now), and I never thought the idea of chips and gravy was odd until last year. I admit I'm confused because it seems so obvious - potatoes and gravy are pretty much a staple in Canada, the UK, and the States. So the potatoes are in a different shape...why is this such a strange concept?

So I ask you, my wonderful readers, my question is - do you have chips and gravy (or fries and gravy) in your region of the world? Do you consider it strange? (It is very tasty and I encourage you to try it some time. But warning - once you taste it, you can't untaste it, and if your part of the world thinks it odd, then you'll never be able to have it outside of the home!)

And as a quick note, I'm a dipper, not a pour-er. I dip my chips into whatever sauce is offered (with the exception of poutine as it's got to be on top to be proper poutine) as I can't stand my food to touch. So those who are making the crispy chip argument - I'm with you on that! I like a really crisp chip that I can dip! (My mom makes the best chips in the universe...I never dip them into gravy or any other sauce. They're perfect the way they are!)

Back to basics: Oil based scrubs

I do love my manicure scrub - and yes, I have made more since the original post, but I keep forgetting to take pictures! (Click on the link to see my manicure scrub idea...)

The basic idea behind an oil based scrub is to combine some oils together, add a generous helping of salt as the exfoliant, then add some fragrance or essential oils that will make you smell nice. Pretty simple concept, yet you'll see these for $40 through some mall kiosks and multi-level party-holding companies. Let's make our own for very little money, eh?

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

97% liquid oil of choice
2% fragrance or essential oil
1% Vitamin E (optional)

Mix your oils together well. Into a clean jar at 100% salt. Pour the oils over top, mix, and you've got yourself a lovely scrub! This will need to be mixed every time you use it as the oils migrate to the top of the jar. (Buy a few little spatulae from your local supply store, like Voyageur, to ensure you aren't contaminating it!) If you are using this in the tub, please buy some plastic jars - glass and slippery surfaces aren't a winning combination (unlike alcohol and night swimming, according to Lenny!)

If you want to make a completely saturated oil scrub that won't need much stirring, you can put salt up to the top of the jar, then pour your oil over it. Let it sit overnight and see how much oil comes to the top. If it doesn't rise up and form a layer (or at least a significant layer), you have a saturated oil based scrub that won't need much stirring. It will feel drier than a scrub that has more oil available to it.

The great thing about a basic recipe like this is how easy it is to make. Combine oils, stir, add salt, done. The hard part is in choosing your oils for the application.

If you want something very light, then you'd want to choose very light oils like sunflower, soy bean, apricot kernel, sweet almond, and fractionated coconut oil. If you want a heavier scrub, then you could choose the medium to heavier oils like avocado, rice bran, olive oil, and so on.

If you prefer a drier feeling product, then avocado, hazelnut, borage, evening primrose, and macadamia nut oils are your friends. If you prefer a greasier feeling product, then sunflower, soybean, apricot kernel, sweet almond, fractionated coconut, olive oil, and rice bran oil are good choices. (There are other choices, these are just a sampling).

I like to choose a light and a medium to heavy oil for scrubs. Generally I'll go with soybean or sunflower as my light choices, rice bran or olive oil as my medium to heavy choices. This is a great place to throw in a little exotic oil at 10% like sea buckthorn or pomegranate or borage oil if you want some of their great benefits.

You can use salt, sugar, clay or jojoba beads, and all manner of scrubby things. I have found the three things I like best are salt, sugar, and pumice. Pumice is great for my feet, but not for my face - far too scrubby. I find the jojoba and clay beads just aren't scrubby enough for my tastes, but you may like them, and they come in a variety of colours that will look lovely in the container.

I'd recommend using fine sea salt or fine Epsom salts. Although coarser salts can look pretty cool, they don't feel all that nice when you're using it on your body. And fine Dead Sea salts are great, but as they are a humectant, mix them in with at least 50% of another salt or could get a gloppy mess or a little rock of salts in the middle of your lovely scrub. And remember that salt can sting open wounds or chapped areas, so keep this away from newly shaved legs or really trashed feet. Instead, choose sugar...

I find plain, everyday white sugar is a great choice. Brown sugar is a good humectant, meaning it will clump up, and I've found things like plantation sugar tends to have really big crystals that can hurt a little. But use what you want - just make sure it's mixable once it ends up in the oil!

POINT OF INTEREST! Do not package these in tin containers. Although they do not contain water, they will be in a watery environment and you may be putting your hands into them when they are wet. They will rust and make a horrible ring on your shower shelf or tub side and may ruin the product!

ANOTHER POINT OF INTEREST! Although you can make these without preservatives, I would suggest using 1% Phenonip in this product (or another preservative suitable for oil based products) because you will be putting wet hands into this product and water can equal contamination. Remove 1% of the oils to compensate for the addition of the 1% preservative. Liquid Germall Plus and Germaben II are not options for preserving this product.

Join me tomorrow for some fun modifications of these oil based scrubs!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back to basics: Solid scrub bars

If you can make a lotion bar or bath melt, you can make a solid scrub bar.

This recipe is rated E+ for everyone - beginners who are a little more adventurous, those who don't wish to use preservatives, and those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils. 

50% cocoa butter
20% mango, shea or other butter
3% cetyl alcohol
4% Incroquat BTMS or Incroquat CR
2% wax of choice - beeswax, soy wax, etc. For candellia wax, please use 1% as it is very hard.
3% sodium lactate
12% oils
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance oil
1% Vitamin E (if you are using oils with less than 6 months' shelf life)

Add up to 100% sugar, salt, beads, seeds, loofah, and so on. It really is your preference. If you are using sugar, you may need to add more than 100% because the sugar will melt into the warm oils - if you can stand the waiting, let it cool a bit before adding the sugar. You can add the salt right away into the hot oils. It will melt slightly, but not enough to be concering. Clay and jojoba beads will melt in the hot oils so you will need to let the mixture cool a lot - they really aren't a great choice here because you'll have to wait so long, the bar might actually solidify while you're waiting for the right temperature. Personally, I'd leave those for oil based or emulsified scrubs.

As an aside...the amazing Apres Glow Bar on the Dish uses baking soda. You can try this - add 80% exfoliant with 20% baking soda. It feels really nice.

Melt everything except the silicones, fragrance oil, and Vitamin E in a heat proof container in a double boiler until all the ingredients are well melted. Remove from the heat and add the silicones, fragrance oil, and Vitamin E. Add your exfoliant and mix well. Then pour into a mold and put in the fridge or freezer until set. Let sit for 24 hours before using.

A couple of notes...
  • If you are going to add colours to this, make sure they are oil soluble - water soluble colours are going to sit there in tiny droplets and look really weird.
  • The sodium lactate is in this bar as a hardener, not as a humectant, as it will wash off when rinsed. 
  • If you don't like silicones, then replace the dimethicone and cyclomethicone with equal amounts oils.
  • If you don't have Incroquat BTMS or Incroquat CR, you can use e-wax or Polawax in its place. It's there because we want an emulsifier and a conditioning emulsifier does two great jobs in one! 
The key to making this recipe your own is how you choose your butters and oils (click here for the posts on butters and oils). I definitely suggest having a cocoa butter base for this scrub because it is simply too soft if you use all mango or shea butter. You could use one of the butters that equals cocoa butter in hardness - illipe, sal or kokum butter - as your base butter, then tweak the other butter to be mango, shea, or any other butter you like.

I like to use a combination of sunflower, olive oil, and rice bran oils in this bar. All of these oils are light, inexpensive, with shelf lives of 6 or more months, which is always a great bonus.
  • The sunflower oil offers lots of linoleic acid and a ton of phytosterols to help with inflammation with great levels of Vitamin E. 
  • The rice bran oil offers a balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid, which is a great moisturizing fatty acid, as well as Vitamin E, Vitamin B, and squalene. The ferulic acid in rice bran oil is great for moisturizing and weather damaged skin. 
  • And olive oil contains a lot of oleic acid, which is a great moisturizer, as well as squalene, for more moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is fantastic for sun exposed skin, which is what I need at this time of year. 
You can use one or various oils in your 12% oils in this recipe. I just like playing with oils!

Here are a few ideas for modifying the solid scrub bar, but I really encourage you to read up on the various oils and butters and come up with some combinations you really love!
And if you want to get a little more adventurous, why not try making an emulsified scrub? Click here for the dry skin version, here for the oily skin version.

Join me tomorrow for fun with oil based sugar and salt scrubs.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back to basics: Oil based body sprays - using exotic oils

Oil based sprays are a great way to play with exotic oils to see how you like the feeling of them on your skin. Most of these oils are expensive, so using them at 10% to 20% in a body spray with a carrier oil you already know and like gives you a chance to see if they live up to their promises.

Let's say I wanted to make an oil based moisturizer for my slightly sunburned shoulders. I might choose a light carrier oil - something like soybean oil, which contains a ton of great phytosterols and linoleic acid - and add my exotic oil to that at 10% to 20% (depending upon suggested usage). Pomegranate oil contains a ton of phytosterols that can reduce redness, inflammation, and itchiness as well as gallic acid, which can behave as a wound healer and cell regenerator. Or I might choose to use 10% sea buckthorn oil, which is showing great promise in treated burned skin. 

Although these oils tend to have long shelf lives, I like to include Vitamin E for the effects it has on my skin. You can leave it out if you want. 

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

88% carrier oil
10% exotic oil
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% Vitamin E

Weigh each ingredient into a container, then pour into a mister bottle. Use. Rejoice.

As I've mentioned before, my husband gets very itchy legs and I've created this oil based spray in mind to help soothe the itchiness and possibly help heal his wounds. (Click if you want to see why I'm using each oil...) I'm not suggesting this recipe will help with bug bites, but it will help with itchiness caused by dry or damaged skin.

30% macadamia nut oil
25% soy bean oil
10% sea buckthorn oil
10% pomegranate oil
20% evening primrose oil
2% IPM
2% dimethicone
1% Vitamin E

Mix the oils together. Bottle in a spray bottle. You can add up to 1% fragrance oil and remove 1% of one of the oils. The Vitamin E is optional, but will increase the shelf life of your product.

If you like the idea of making an oil based moisturizer with exotic oils, then why not consider making a facial serum? Here's one for oily skin and another for dry skin.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating solid scrub bars.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Back to basics: Oil based body sprays

Oil based body moisturizers are best used after showering or cleansing as they can trap the water against your skin for maximum emolliency. Think of them as lotions without water, like a liquid lotion bar. As they are oil based, we won't use a preservative or other water based ingredients in our mix.

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

If you're planning to get dressed after using this oil spray, you'll want to choose oils that are non-staining to clothes and other fabrics, so your choices are pretty much sesame oil or fractionated coconut oil.

Using all sesame oil will result in a medium weight body oil that feels a little greasy (in a good way). Using all fractionated coconut oil will result in a very light weight body oil that sinks in quickly but will be less moisturizing. Feel free to combine the two in whatever ratio you want. You could combine oils - sunflower, sesame, fractionated coconut oil, and shea oil would be great - with your Vitamin E and fragrance or essential oils to create a wonderful, customized oil blend that your skin loves!

98.5% light to medium oil
1% fragrance oil
0.5% Vitamin E

Get a spray bottle. Weigh the ingredients into the bottle. Label, use. Rejoice!

You could add a few things to this recipe - 10% IPM will help the oils sink in quicker and feel less greasy as will adding 10% cyclomethicone. 10% dimethicone will help create an occlusive barrier that will help trap in moisture further. You could try shea oil or rice bran oil (these are NOT non-staining) if you want something a little heavier on your skin.

If you wanted to create a drier feeling oil based body spray, then IPM is your friend. It is a light feeling ester that will help decrease the feeling of greasiness in any product while offering some emolliency. After some tinkering, I came up with this recipe that feels very moisturizing but far less greasy than the basic body oil spray recipe.

66% sesame or fractionated coconut oil - I used 33% of each
33% IPM
1% fragrance or essential oil

Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well. You're done.

This is a perfect opportunity to play with some exotic oils, so join me tomorrow for more fun with oil based body sprays!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back to basics: Dispersing bath oils

A dispersing bath oil is a liquid version of the bath melt - you bottle it, and add it to your bath as you need it. We add the emulsifier to the oils to help them disperse through the water, rather than floating in a greasy mess on top of the water. There are a few different types of solubilizing type emulsifiers you could use for this recipe - Cromollient, polysorbate 80, or other liquid emulsifiers - but I'm choosing polysorbate 80 as it's inexpensive and easy for me to find at my local suppliers.

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

78% oils of choice
20% polysorbate 80 (emulsifier)
2% fragrance or essential oil

Mix your oils together, add the polysorbate 80. Add 2% fragrance or essential oil. If you are using oils with a 6 month or less shelf life, please add 0.5% to 1% Vitamin E to the bath oil.

Your oil choices will depend upon what kinds of oils you have and like in your workshop. This blend is a combination of avocado oil (dryish feeling), sesame oil (medium weight, greasy, non-staining to fabrics), and olive oil (medium to heavy weight, greasy) because those are the oils I had and I liked the idea of having a heavy weight, moisturizing bath oil with a vanilla scent. These oils have nice long shelf lives, so the bath oil should be good for up to 9 months or so.

18% avocado oil
30% sesame oil
30% olive oil
20% polysorbate 80
2% vanilla fragrance oil

Mix the oils together, add the polysorbate 80 and fragrance oil. Pour into bottle. Rejoice!

Bath oils offer a great chance to play with some awesome fragrance or essential oils. Try citrus for an uplifting bath, lavender and rosemary for calming and relaxing, cream cheese frosting or pink sugar fragrance oils for a really girly bath, and so on! Mint is not a good choice for in-the-bath products - the tingle is great for some products, but not for a soaking blend!

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating oil based body sprays!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to basics: Bath melts

If you have some butters around and still have some supplies left over from making bath bombs, why not try making some bath melts? These are like bath bombs in that they contain the citric acid and baking soda necessary to make them break apart (with little to no fizzing), but they contain the butters to offer moisturizing loveliness in the tub.

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

1 part citric acid
2 parts cocoa or shea butter
3 parts baking soda

16% citric acid
32% cocoa or shea or mango butter
48% baking soda
1 to 2% fragrance oil

Note: The cocoa butter melts will be harder than the mango or shea butter melts. 

Melt the cocoa or shea butter in a heat proof container in a double boiler until liquid. Remove from the double boiler, then add the baking soda and citric acid and stir well. Add oil soluble colouring* (for instance, powdered chocolate colouring or micas), and fragrance oil. Pour into molds and let set. If you can set them in the fridge, all the better: They'll be harder sooner, and, if you're using all cocoa butter, they will get a lovely shine that makes them look even more chocolate-y.

*Water soluble colourings simply won't work in a bath melt! It will turn into little balls of goop and look just terrible! And do not use ultramarine colours - they will give off the most horrible stench! 

These won't really emulsify in the tub well, so you might want to add a light emulsifier like polysorbate 20, polysorbate 80, cromollient SCE, or another high HLB emulsifier to help the oils disperse through the bathtub.

16% citric acid
32% cocoa or shea or mango butter
45% baking soda
5% liquid emulsifier (like polysorbate 80) or e-wax or Polawax
1 to 2% fragrance oil

You definitely want to make small bath melts - silicone ice cube trays to the rescue - as anything over about 30 grams can take forever to melt in a bath! And it's fun to give someone a variety pack with different, yet complementary, fragrances they can mix and match in the tub.

Join me tomorrow for fun with bath oil recipes!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back to basics: Bath bombs

Bath bombs seem like a really simple concept - a little citric acid, a little baking soda, some fragrance oil, and you have a wonderful acid-base reaction in the tub that brings happiness to the bather. But they can cause such headaches to even the most seasoned bath and body creator!

As a point of interest, this is where my bath and body creation journey began. I found a recipe for bath bombs on the 'net. I made them and they worked. Yay! This is a picture of the first batch. The second time - they worked. Huzzah! The third time - nope. Nothing. Just wet, goopy stuff in my hands. I went on a search to find out why, found the Dish forum, and the rest is history. Thank you, failed bath bombs for leading me to this wonderful hobby/obsession!

This recipe is rated E for everyone, but is especially fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who don't have a scale. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oil. I suggest using an oil with a 6 month or greater life span. 

120 grams baking soda
60 grams citric acid
13 grams oil of choice
4 grams fragrance oil

I've deleted the volume measurements for this recipe. I don't want to encourage you to use volume measurements for bath & body products as it's a highly inaccurate way to make things!

You'll notice I have a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to citric acid. Some people like a 3:1 ratio. You might also see bath bomb recipes with cornstarch - I find they make the water too soft. These are both personal preferences. 

Mix the powdered parts together very well and make sure there aren't any big hunks of baking soda or citric acid in the mix. Add your oil and fragrance oil and drip the colour into the oils. Mix really well - it might fizz a bit. This is normal. Press into the moulds very hard - pack a layer as hard as you can, then pack the next layer, until you've reached the top - and wait at least 45 minutes before removing. If you live in a high humidity area, wait longer.

We don't use water in a bath bomb - this can set them off fizzing before they hit the bath tub and that's a bad thing. But sometimes you can't help it! Between the water based colourants (like Labcolours or food colouring) and the water in the atmosphere (humidity), some water will get near your bath bombs. Some people use witch hazel to keep their bath bombs together; I use the oils and fragrance oil to keep my bath bombs packed tightly. Again, this is a personal preference.

I like to use silicone ice cube trays as my moulds as they make the bath bombs easier to remove. This does mean I end up making very small ones and I don't have a huge selection of shapes, but it does mean I experience fewer failed bath bombs even in my high humidity climate. You can also use good plastic chocolate moulds, but never ever use them for food again. Those little hearts in the picture above are from a chocolate mould, whereas the suns, flowers, and pineapples are from ice cube trays. Summer is the best time of year to find these trays, although you can find them at Ikea all year round.

A variation: Sometimes I'll put dried flower petals in the bottom the molds - rose or lavender are nice - and press the bath bomb mixture into them. It looks pretty.

Another variation: Sometimes I put my fragrance oil into 3% Natrabath and mix it well before adding it to the bath bomb mixture. It can help if you're finding you have too much liquid in the mix, and it helps disperse the fragrance through the bath.

Which oil to choose? I like to use a light oil that has a long shelf life like sunflower or soy bean oil (I usually choose soy bean oil as it has a long shelf life and is inexpensive). You can use one of the butters as well - they tend to make your bath bombs harder and they have nice long shelf lives.

What's the problem with high humidity? It can set the fizzing of the bath bomb off before its time, while they are sitting in their moulds! I had this happen when it was 88% humidity in the house. Or they can become all warty and weird! This is why humidity is not our friend, and why we don't include things like olive oil or glycerin - they are humectants, and draw water from the atmosphere to our bath bombs!

I've found another trick to making bath bombs in high humidity areas - the bath cupcake! Observe its cuteness. Awwww! But it also holds a great secret. The cupcake liner and icing hide possible wartiness caused by high humidity so all mistakes are under a layer of adorableness!

So if you're having trouble with your bath bombs, why not try making bath cupcakes? Using the same recipe, just get a small cupcake pan and line them with some lovely and colourful cupcake cups? While you're letting them sit for about 45 minutes, prepare a batch of Royal Icing (use the type with meringue powder and add a titch - up to 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar for extra stiffness). Pipe it on to your cupcake (I like to use a 1M piping tip - I used a smaller one in this picture and I think it's too busy) and you have yourself an adorable bath bomb that not only hides any problems but makes your giftee go all squee on you! You can scent and colour the royal icing, but I like to leave it plain because the sugariness smells delightful!

The Soap Queen (aka Anne-Marie from Brambleberry) has posted another video tutorial on making these adorable cupcakes! Talk about awesome or what?

A few points of interest...
  • If you use a vanilla based fragrance oil, it can turn your bath bombs a brownish colour. If you simply must use that fragrance oil either use a vanilla stabilizer or make your bath bombs brown. 
  • If you have the choice between powdered citric acid and granular citric acid, go for the powdered: It's easier to use. 
  • If you have the choice between anhydrous and hydrous citric acid, go with the anhydrous. 
  • And if you have the choice of baking sodas, I find there really is a difference in using Arm & Hammer Baking soda over the house brands. The house brands tend to be a little coarser for some reason. 
  • Package these in a cute little cellophane bag with a ribbon or a lovely little box. You can mix and match colours and complementary fragrances. 
  • Store in an airtight container - not a plastic storage or sandwich bag or you will lose your scent - so you don't lose the fragrance or have your oils go rancid on you. A big glass container is a great storage device! 
Join me tomorrow for more fun with basics as we make bath melts.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back to basics: Balms - let's get complicated

I liked my complicated lotion bar so much, I thought I'd see if I could turn it into a balm-like product with a more whippy consistency. I did this by adding more liquids and reducing the solids.

20.3% beeswax
4.1% cetyl esters
24.4% shea butter
22.8% cetearyl ethylhexanoate
1.6% isopropyl palmitate
13% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
9% capric/caprylic triglycerides
1.6% dimethicone
1.6% cyclomethicone
1.6% fragrance oil

Heat everything but the dimethicone, cyclomethicone, and fragrance oil in a heatproof container in a double boiler. When it has melted, add the silicones and fragrance oil. This balm has a scoopable consistency, so you can wait until it has cooled to put it into jars or tins or you can pour it when it is still warm.

I am having a love affair with this balm. It goes on very nice, is easy to rub into my hands and finger nails - I've decided this is a cuticle balm - and smells nice (I used key lime essential oil, and it smells lovely!). Because most of these oils are esters, there's a less greasy feeling about the product.

You can use esters in the form of isopropyl myristate (IPM) to reduce the feeling of greasiness in your anhydrous products - we generally use it at 2% to 5%, but you can go higher if you want - and you can use less greasy oils in your products.

If you wanted to replicate this balm without buying a ton of esters, you could try this, a modification of the lotion bar we used in the let's get complicated lotion bar recipe to get a similar feeling and the same consistency!

20% beeswax
4% cetyl alcohol
25% shea butter
43% fractionated coconut oil
2% IPM
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% fragrance oils

Join me tomorrow for fun with bath bombs!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Question: Melting points of butters?

p asks in this post: I'm really confused about one thing, though - the melting point of stearic acid is pretty high, 69 C, or so. So how can the melting point of a butter that contains stearic acid be lower than 69 C? Cocoa butter is about a third stearic acid and its melting point is 38 C. Voyageur lists the melting point of shea, which is almost half stearic acid, as 29 to 32 C (and this jibes with my experience of it melting in my pocket!). Deeply confused, help!! :)

What a fantastic question!

Here's a link on this topic at Springerlink (which means you really can't read it all without paying for it, so I'll summarize it). The article states that the melting point of oils and butters containing a mixture of fatty acids have unpredictable melting points but the presence of oleic acid in the butters reduces the melting point of a butter containing palmitic and stearic acid.

If you take something like shea butter that contains about 45% stearic acid (at 69˚C) and include about half oleic acid (13˚C), the melting point will be lower than the stearic acid alone (although we can't predict what that melting point might be). Cocoa butter with 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid, and 1/3 palmitic acid (62.9˚C) will have a higher melting point (38˚C) than the 45%-45% shea butter.

The melting points of our fatty acids increase with the increase in their molecular weights and saturation, so palmitic and stearic acid have higher melting points than oleic and linoleic acid (-5˚C). A combination of unsaturated, lower molecular weight fatty acids and saturated, higher molecular weight fatty acids will produce a butter with an unpredictable melting point - one with a higher melting point than the unsaturated fatty acids but lower than the saturated fatty acids.

Thanks again for the great question!

Back to basics: Balms - tweaking the new recipe idea.

As we know, a balm is a product intended to help with a condition of some sort intended to be rubbed in, so we need to modify these recipes to help with some condition. What condition could we choose here? How about sun exposure?

Let's say you've been in the sun a little too long and forgot to re-apply your sun screen. (Yep, that was me on our camping trip! I applied it twice during our visit to the beach, but I guess my shoulders are just too accustomed to being hidden under layers of fabric!) I'll want to use ingredients that offer anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits.  Olive oil is a great oil for post-sun exposure and anti-inflammation, so let's include that. Ideally, I'd include aloe, but I can't use that in an anhydrous product, so that's out. But wait! I have aloe oil and aloe butter (with coconut oil) so I could use either as the oil in this recipe. I think I'll go with the aloe and coconut oil as it will offer additional anti-inflammatory properties. I think I'll go with mango butter in this application as it offers some good anti-inflammatory properties as well - plus, it's a little drier with these greasy oils.

What essential oils could I include for soothing and anti-inflammatory properties? Lavender would be a great inclusion and I have a ton of it in the house but there's one small problem...I can't handle the smell of it on my skin (it's fine in a rinse off product), so that won't work. Chamomile is also suggested, but it tends to be kinda expensive. So for the purposes of this balm, let's pretend that I can use lavender essential oil on my skin...

20% beeswax
25% mango butter
30% olive oil
19% aloe butter (made with coconut oil)
5% cetyl alcohol
1% lavender essential oil

This will be quite a heavy feeling balm courtesy of the olive oil (medium to heavy), coconut oil (heavy) and the mango butter (heavy). You can adjust the balm to feel lighter by using lighter oils. 

If I wanted to use fancier oils and butters here, I think babassu would feel just lovely and would offer moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter contains allantoin, which would help with healing and occlusive, and pomegranate oil could offer increased burn and wound healing. The Vitamin E and phytosterol levels of sea buckthorn would make this a great addition to a post-sun exposure balm! And I could use my aloe oil here at up to 10%!

20% beeswax
25% shea butter
19% babassu oil
10% pomegranate oil
10% sea buckthorn oil
10% aloe oil
5% cetyl alcohol
1% lavender essential oil

This balm will feel much lighter than the balm above thanks to the lighter feeling oils. It will not feel as greasy as these oils - apart from the aloe oil - are a lot drier than the shea butter. If you wanted to use mango, you would get quite a dry feeling balm! 

You could adapt these recipes to use the essential oil blend I mentioned in the first post on balms to include 3% menthol, 0.5% cinnamon, 0.5% ginger, 0.5% clove, and 1% eucalyptus to create a sore muscle blend or the 3% menthol, 1% eucalyptus, and 1% camphor blend to make a Vicks type blend for your feet or sinuses. 

As usual, I'm just a girl who likes to play in the workshop, so join me tomorrow for a more complicated balm!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back to basics: Balms - a new recipe idea

We've turned our whipped butters and lotion bars into balms by using specific essential oils and using specific oils and butters (click here and here). Let's take a look at creating balms that are really softer versions of lotion bars that we'll store in jars or tins. (Because there's no water in this balm, you can use those adorable little tins you keep wanting to use from your local supplier!)

I found that I like a balm with the consistency of Vaseline or Vicks, something I can scoop out of a container that will melt on contact with my skin. I find about 20% beeswax gives me that consistency. I like to use about 20% to 30% butter for this recipe as well - it gives it a certain stiffness without being a lotion bar. The rest of the ingredients should be oil soluble liquids.

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

20% beeswax or soy wax
25% shea or mango butter
54% liquid oil
1% fragrance or essential oil

Weigh the wax, butter, and oil in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Melt until the solids are liquid. Remove and let cool to 45˚C before adding your fragrance or essential oil. Pour into your container or let sit in the Pyrex jug until cooled, then spoon into your container. Rejoice.

If you want to use cocoa butter, you'll want to reduce the beeswax to about 15% and up the liquid oil amount by 5%. If you want to use oils with a 6 months or less shelf life, add up to 1% Vitamin E.

Although I really like the basic balm recipe, you know I can't help doing a little experimenting. So I added some cetyl alcohol to see if it would stiffen up my balm and add some creaminess. It did, and it felt very nice on my skin, very glidy. You could do this with stearic acid as well - it'll be a little stiffer with some creaminess, but it'll be a little less glidy on your skin.

20% beeswax
25% shea butter
49% oil
5% cetyl alcohol
1% fragrance oil

As with the whipped butter and lotion bar recipes, if you choose drier oils and butters, you'll have a drier feeling product. You can add esters - like IPM at 2% - to reduce the greasy feeling you get from this product. But let's be honest here - it's an oil based product, so you're not going to make the greasy feeling go away.

As we know, a balm is a product intended to be rubbed into the skin to help treat a specific condition. So let's take a look at a few specific conditions tomorrow and tweak this recipe further!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A note on essential oils

As I've mentioned, I'm not an expert on essential oils - I've done some reading, but I'm not what you'd call knowledgeable on the topic - so I recommend whenever you're using essential oils, please read up on said oil before using it. A lot of people start off by using essential oils as we would fragrance oils at something like 1% or more in our creations, not realizing or thinking they could be quite potent at that percentage.

Mich always reminds us to check the safety of the essential oil before using it on pregnant or nursing women or on children, and I think this is very good advice.

Also, check for photo-sensitivity of the essential oil. A lot of the citrus based oils can make you more photo-sensitive, which can lead to sun burns! Although I love key lime essential oil, I won't use it in something like a body lotion, just in case the user might end up in the summer sun! So before you use orange, tangerine, bergamot, lime or key lime, grapefruit, or other citrus essential oils, check up on the safety regulations of said oil!

And consider where the user of your product might end up using your product and stay within the recommended amounts! A few examples for you...

I once had the brilliant idea for a Vicks like bath bomb - think about that for a moment...menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor in your bath water near tender mucous membranes. (Not one of my more brilliant ideas - I blame the NyQuiladas!)

This same blend was responsible for a tingling bum in a foot lotion - a lot of people curl their feet up when they're sitting down at the computer, and going over the 3% menthol amount can produce tingles in other locations!

Cinnamon, ginger, and clove in a sore muscle blend feel warm and tingly on your shoulders, but the massager really needs to wash her hands after application lest she touches her face or eyes at some point. Same goes for peppermint hand lotion at more than 2%.

Essential oils should be treated with respect and caution when we are formulating lest we induce tingly bums or burning eyes. Read up on your chosen essential oils and use them at recommended levels in your products at all times!