Friday, July 30, 2010

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!


p said...

I searched for a general post on lecithin, and on lanolin, but no luck! Did I just miss it, or can I hope for such a post in the future? :)

In your Lotion Bar for Cuticle Care, you suggest lecithin &/ lanolin. Are they pretty similar in this recipe (and in general)? Is lanolin rich in phospholipids, too? (I've seen lanolin described as a useful co-emulsifier - is this why?)


p said...

Um, sorry, I'm an idiot - maybe "join me tomorrow as we take a look at lecithin in more detail" means a lecithin post is on the way! Duh. :)

SarahB said...

You are right, this is a great choice for a beginner, its very easy. I did this as a first recipe. The whole idea of solid bars instead of creams is new to me - it helped when I put it in chapstick containers. Thank you!