Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Titer points!

The recent cold snap we've been enjoying in southwestern  B.C. had me thinking a lot about the effects of cold on our products, especially given that most of the ingredients in my workshop have either frozen or become so cold they won't pour out of the bottles. I got to thinking about why oils cloud when they get cold, so here's your chemistry lesson for the day! 

The titer point for fats is the temperature at which said fat will solidify. Our oils and butters all have titer points, which is considered the "temperature at which the lowest melting material becomes hazy". Our oils and butters are not composed of just one fatty acid - they tend to have quite a few, so it's important to know which of the fatty acids will solidify or melt first. "As a product is cooled, often there will be a cloudiness that forms as the least soluble material begins to crystallize. This cloudiness is called the cloud point or titer point..." (If you want more in-depth information on this topic, visit Melt Point vs. Titer Point on Cosmetics & Toiletries.) This titer point is the point at which our oils will go cloudy when you've stored them in a cool place or put them in the fridge or freezer.

If an animal fat solidifies at higher than 40˚C, it's a tallow. If it solidifies at lower than 40˚C, it's a grease. With non-animal fats, anything with a titer point over 40.5˚C is a fat and anything under 40.5˚C is an oil. Butters are over 20˚C but under 40.5˚C.

So why do we care? There are a few reasons - we can figure out if a product will melt on our skin on contact, we can figure out how cool we have to make a product before it solidifies, and we can figure out just by looking at the titer point if a fat is a liquid or solid.

Side question: Does it help to make our oils and other ingredients cool or frozen? Yes. It slows down rancidity, so our oils stay better longer. (Chemical reactions tend to speed up when we apply heat. When we apply cold, they tend to slow down.) If we put our oils in a cool, dark place - and I'm sure you've seen that recommendation a hundred times before - we can retard rancidity better than if we put them on a high, sunny shelf! We also slow down the growth of any possible bacteria or other nasties.

Click here for the primer on rancidity and here for the mechanisms of rancidity

If you've been storing your oils and butters in a cool, dark, or frozen place, you can heat them up slowly in a double boiler until you see you've passed the cloud point.

So now you know all about the fun of titer points. Let's take a look at iodine values tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some thoughts about selling bath & body products...

As you know by now, I don't sell my products. It's not that I lack faith in what I make - I know my products are well formulated, well preserved, and contain ingredients that offer great skin feel - but I simply don't have time, I suck at sales, I hate being on a deadline, and I like to change my recipes when I get new ingredients.

Disclaimer: I actually do sell products from time to time, but it's to cover the costs of sharing what I've made with someone. For instance, I might make more conditioner than I would normally make and accept money to cover the costs of my extra ingredients and packaging. 

It seems like the moment someone picks up a new craft, they want to sell it (and people seem to consider you a freak if you don't want to sell!). I see a lot of products for sale on-line that worry me: When I see a lotion with 25% e-wax or see a scrub with real avocado as the first ingredient without preservatives, I know that seller doesn't really know what she's doing. I will never forget the post on a forum (that shall remain nameless) where the poster put up a recipe for a lip balm containing Vaseline, lime juice, and sugar with the comment, "I guess I sell lip balms now!" (If you don't know why this is a bad idea, you're really not ready to sell!)

Learning how to make really awesome bath and body products takes time. You need time to see if the product remains emulsified, if the colour stays true, if the fragrance morphs, if the bubble bath maintains its viscosity, and if the product will hold up in bathrooms, warm cars, and cold basements. If you haven't tested your products under a variety of conditions for at least a year, I would ask you to consider waiting before you sell.

I consider myself an experienced formulator and creator, but I made huge mistakes the first Christmas for which I made bath & body products. I used a ton of dead sea salts, and my bath salts became bags of cement. I forgot to use Vitamin E in my lotions, which meant their shelf life was maybe 6 months. I used short shelf life oils, like grapeseed oil, in my bath bombs, and they were rancid within weeks. 

It takes time to learn your chosen art and become a true crafter. It's appealing to think of casting off the shackles of the work-a-day world and be your own boss, but there are so many factors to consider. Can you explain every ingredient and why you're using it? Have you created any of your own recipes? Can you tweak recipes as per customer requests, and do you even want to get into that whole custom making thing? Do you have any idea how to price what you're making? Do you have a brand identity that sets you apart from your competitors?

If you're considering selling your products, there are a few things to take into account.

1. Do you need to register your products or get approval of some kind from a governmental agency?
Health Canada requires that you submit information to them if you are selling, and most other countries have these kinds of reporting requirements. I understand the EU regulations are particularly difficult.

Click here for the Health Canada guide.

2. Do you need a business licence, tax registration, inspection of your home, and so on?
I know my workshop wouldn't pass an inspection with our local authorities. It's clean, but there's no way to sterilize wooden surfaces, and it would cost a fortune to install surfaces that would meet the stringent requirements. (Although I am planning on re-surfacing the floor and counter tops in the new year!)

3. Do you have insurance?
This is a big one. It's not easy to get insurance for bath & body products at a really reasonable rate because there is always the possibility someone will sue you! Talk to your local soapmakers' guild to see about coverage.

4. Are you labelling your products correctly? 
In parts of the world, INCI names are required; in others, not. Are you putting the ingredients in the right order?

5. How are you going to sell your product? On-line, at markets, through word of mouth, through house parties?
Everyone and their dog has an Etsy site, and there's no way to know which shops are good and which are scary! How will you define yourself? Do you have a branding idea? What will you use for marketing tools?

As an aside, if you're going to have a blog, have a blog, and update it regularly! You don't have to write every day - I recognize people have lives and no one's as obsessive/compulsive as I can be - but write a few times a week to get readers to remember to come to your site. It's frustrating to return to a blog two weeks later and see the same post you saw last time! Give people something to read and enjoy, and give them a reason to come back! 

6. How will you test your products?
Find a lab near you and get them to do some challenge testing on your products to ensure your preservative will stand the test of time. (And no, I don't know of any I could recommend.)

If you are ready to sell, there are agencies that can help you draft up your business plan and help you get started. Your town probably has a Chamber of Commerce or a Downtown Business Association and they can point you in the right direction. Look for small business agencies or local charitable or networking to help you learn the ropes, make connections, and promote your business. You might be able to get grants and financial support if you fit into certain categories, so look into that! (If you've been on EI in Canada in the last three years, you might be eligible for a small business grant!) And remember - making money takes money. If you don't have the right equipment and right supplies, you're going to be scraping by every month.

If you're doing some on-line buying for the holidays, consider a few things...
1. Does the seller call his/her products "chemical free"? If so, they really don't understand chemistry. 
2. Does the seller use approved preservatives in products with water? If not, then run away now! 
3. Has the seller listed all of the ingredients by their proper name? If not, then go to another store. (If there isn't a list of ingredients and your seller has a good reputation, write to them for more information. Some locations don't require retailers to list all the ingredients, and they're just following those rules!)

And a note to sellers in markets - Please be sensitive about scents. I love fragrance and essential oils, but when your stall smells so strongly of patchouli that I start coughing and have to leave that aisle of the market, you're not doing yourself or your fellow vendors any favours! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Men's products: 3-in-1 products wrap up

So we've taken a look at a few versions of a 3-in-1 product. So you aren't out there buying a ton of ingredients, check out the surfactant posts or the chart to see which ones will work best for your needs.

Here's the basic skeleton of the recipe I've been using for the last few days...

water to 100%
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
15% a surfactant
15% another surfactant
10% aloe vera
3% cationic polymer of choice
2% hydrolyzed protein of choice
3% glycerin or other humectant
up to 5% water soluble oil or moisturizing ingredient

4% dimethicone
2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
Crothix (as needed)

As I mentioned in the first post on this topic, you can play around with a variety of ingredients and surfactants in this product, but the cationic polymer is not optional if you want to have something conditioning for your hair. And I definitely recommend some kind of moisturizing ingredient. There are tons to choose from - water soluble esters, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, cocamide DEA, myristamine oxide, glycol distearate, and more - and you want this in the product to give you that hydrating action!

Join me tomorrow for some thoughts on selling your products before we get into our Christmas crafting!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Men's products: Another idea for a 3-in-1 product

Let's re-build this 3-in-1 product from scratch to see how we can obtain the same goals with completely different ingredients!

Let's take a look at our surfactants first, because this is the place I start every surfactant based product. I always want to include cocamidopropyl betaine at 10% or higher, and I think I'll use polyglucose/lactylate blend for someone with dry skin (I find this surfactant too much for my oily hair and skin). Let's use that at 15% and throw in some SMC Taurate at 15% as well.

I know I want some aloe vera in there - 10% for thickening and moisturizing - and I think I'll go with a little chamomile hydrosol at 10% to reduce irritation and soothe skin.

I know I need to use some conditioners - let's go with 3% polyquat 7 and 4% dimethicone in the cool down phase - and I want some humectants, so I'll use 3% glycerin as well. I need my hydrolyzed protein and panthenol, so I'll use those at 2% each. And I want to include something moisturizing, but what to pick? I love myristamine oxide, but it's hard to find, so I think I'll go with PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate (if you don't have this, you can use cocamide DEA or an oil soluble ester or two).

Let's put this together!

ANOTHER VERSION OF A 3-IN-1 PRODUCT (for dry hair and skin)
22.5% water
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
15% SMC or SMO taurate
15% polyglucose/lactylate blend
10% aloe vera
10% chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed protein
3% polyquat 7
3% glycerin
3% PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate

4% dimethicone
2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
Crothix (see note below!)

Use the instructions from yesterday's product!

Join me tomorrow for more fun with multifunctional products!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sponsored by readers like you - Christmas cards.

We had great fun last night making Christmas cards at the library. I worried we'd have a low turn-out due to the ice and snow, but we had 23 youth in the meeting room making all kinds of lovely cards! We also had fun in Yarrow on Tuesday making cards, and on Monday at the Ed Centre making mineral make-up (it was adorable seeing the boys making eye shadows for their girlfriends!)

If you'd like to make your own lovely snowglobe card, click here for the template

As you know, our youth programs are sponsored by readers like you. When you contribute to our groups by buying either the Back to Basics or Hair Care: Shampoos & Conditioners e-books, you contribute to four different programs at three different locations (Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries, and the Ed Centre alternative school). We're scheduling our programming for the winter and spring seasons so far, and we have so much fun planned for the future! Making scarves with fleece, sushi making, more mineral make-up, hair and skin care products, polymer clay, and so much more! My favourite group of the year is coming up - the Christmas extravaganza! Three hours of crafting Christmas presents and decorations chosen by the youth. This year Yarrow will see some super happy fun soap, beeswax candles, and jewellery making, while Chilliwack has yet to choose! (If you want to know more about our programs, click here!)

As a note, if you've already donated to the programs and have the books, but want to gift someone else, make a donation and note that you want to send a copy to a friend!

And the third book is coming out shortly - I'm just finding it really hard not to make the lotion book 400 pages!

The 1000th post! Let's celebrate!

Happy 1000th post! To celebrate, I've put together a PDF of my ten favourite recipes, those recipes I simply can't live without, as a thank you to my lovely readers.

I started this blog in late February 2009 with the goal of sharing some of the information I had gathered and a few of my favourite recipes, and your encouragement and enthusiasm has turned this into a daily thing for me. Every morning I wake up, make a lovely pot of tea, and sit down in front of Glinda (yes, my MacBook Pro has a name!), and read your e-mails and comments. They spur me on to research new things or run into the workshop to try something new, and I thank you for it!

Click here for the download - Swift's Favourite Recipes. (This will have a permanent home in the downloads section to the right!)

Again, thank you for your support and enthusiasm!

Men's products: Recipes for a 3-in-1 body wash & shampoo

Yesterday we established our goals and ingredients for making a 3-in-1 body wash with a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, so let's take a look at different ingredient combinations!

I've chosen SCI as the basis for this product. If you have dry hair, consider using SCI with stearic acid. If you have oily hair, consider using SCI without stearic acid (usually the granules). If you don't have SCI, check out tomorrow's post for a variation without SCI! And take a look at yesterday's post to figure out which surfactant you want to add!

43% water
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% SCI
15% C14-16 olefin sulfonate or other surfactant for your hair/skin type
10% aloe vera
3% glycerin
2% cetrimonium chloride (optional)
0.5% polyquat 44
2% hydrolyzed protein
4% PEG-7 olivate or other water soluble oil

3% honeyquat
4% dimethicone
2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

up to 2% Crothix (do not add until the mixture has cooled - see disclaimer below)

Weigh out the SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine and melt them in a double boiler with the SCI until the noodles or granules have melted. Now add the rest of the heated phase and heat until it is very liquidy and melty.

When the mixture reaches 45˚C, add the cool down phase. After adding your fragrance, mix it well and let it sit until it has completely cooled down so you can check the viscosity.

If you like the viscosity, pour it into a bottle and rejoice. If you find this is too thin, add up to 1% Crothix and mix well. If you like it, stop adding Crothix. If it's still too thin - which can happen with vanilla based fragrance oils - then add up to 1% more Crothix. That should be enough! If it isn't, keep adding liquid Crothix 0.5% at a time until it reaches the consistency you like.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with 3-in-1 products (which, by the way, can be used as just a body wash or just a 2-in-1 or just a shampoo after which you might use conditioner).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Men's products: Formulating a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo, and conditioner

Patrick asked in this postDumb question, tho, would there be a way to change up the shampoo/conditioner and/or the body wash, to make it an all in one wash that can be used on both hair and body parts?

It's not a dumb question! It's a great one! And the answer is yes (with a sort of, kinda, mostly attached to it). If you take a look at how to make a body wash and take a look at how to formulate a shampoo, you'll see the ingredients are fairly similar. We have ingredients for moisturizing, conditioning, and cleansing in both products, but we'll have to choose our surfactants carefully to meet the needs of both your hair and skin type. Fortunately, most people with oily hair tend to have oily skin and most people with dry hair tend to have dry skin, so if your skin and hair types are similar, we can make a great product. 

But what about the conditioning part? We can include a ton of lovely conditioners in the form of cationic polymers and dimethicone in our body wash and shampoo, and we can increase it slightly to ensure the conditioners will stay behind on your hair. The sort of part comes in here - if your hair is slightly longer or dry, you might want more conditioning. As someone with really long hair, married to a man with long (to the middle of his back) hair, this recipe will not be conditioning enough for someone who might have dry hair or tangles. But if you're someone with short hair in fairly good condition, then this could be a great product choice! 

So let's take a look at how we could formulate such a thing! 

Consider your surfactants first. I'd use 40% to 50%, and I'd choose gentle and mild surfactants. I definitely want my 10% - 15% cocamidopropyl betaine in there to increase the mildness and thicken the product. I'd go with SCI (with or without stearic acid) as it feels lovely and creamy on your skin and hair, but you can choose any of the surfactants that work well with your hair or skin type. I'll use 10% SCI because I love the creamy feeling and moisturizing after feel of the product. And finally, I'll choose something C14-16 olefin sulfonate or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS mild) for oily hair and skin or something like SMC Taurate (or SMO Taurate) or polyglucose/lactylate blend for dry skin at 15%. 

Okay, so we've chosen our surfactants. Let's add about 10% aloe vera to the mix. This will increase the moisturizing and will thicken our surfactant mixture nicely. If you don't have aloe vera, or don't want to use it, you can leave it out, but ensure you thicken the product properly when you're done. 

What else do we want? Conditioning agents. This is where the cationic polymers come in! You can choose from a variety of cationic polymers, such as polyquat 7, honeyquat, polyquat 44, polyquat 4, or polyquat 10. Since polyquat 44 is my new Saturday night thing, I'm going to include it at 0.5% in the heated water phase, and I'm going to throw in some honeyquat at 3% in my cool down phase to act as both a conditioning agent and a humectant. You can use 3% polyquat 7 or 0.5% polyquat 4 if you like - it's up to you. But you will want a cationic polymer in this product to make your hair feel nice. 

We also want to add dimethicone at about 4% to the mix. This will act as a nice moisturizer and conditioning agent. And we can add up to 2% cetrimonium chloride to the product to act as a detangler and softener. 

Humectants! I mentioned I'm using honeyquat at 3% in the cool down phase, but I'm also including glycerin at 3% in the heated water phase to act as a bubble enhancer and humectant. This will offer moisturizing to our hair and skin. Aloe vera also acts as a humectant. I'm also adding 2% panthenol in my cool down phase as this is a great addition for hair and skin. 

I'm adding my hydrolyzed protein at 2% in the heated water phase as well. If you have dry hair and skin, consider using silk or Phytokeratin. If you have frizzy hair, consider using oat protein as it won't penetrate the hair strand. 

How can we add moisturizers to the mix? If you have dry hair, consider adding some water soluble esters to the mix. PEG-7 olivate is a lovely inclusion in a shampoo or body wash. If you have oily hair, this might be too much for your hair type, but give it a try if you like. There are many different water soluble oils to consider - I just like PEG-7 olivate and have a ton of it in my workshop. Cromollient SCE is another good choice at 3% (here's a recipe for a shampoo containing this ingredient). And myristamine oxide is a great moisturizing ingredient, as is PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate. (Here's a recipe containing both these ingredients in a body wash, which has become my favourite one!) 

Oh, and you could use glycol distearate at 2% in the heated phase to increase the moisturization and pearlize the final product. 

As an aside, I've been experimenting with Caprol Micro Express in my body and hair care products. It can be used as a solubilizer for oils in body sprays or primarily water based products, but it can behave as a water soluble oil as well. I'm enjoying at 3% in my toner right now, and I'm find it to be a nice addition to a body wash at 3% to 5% (I haven't decided which I like more yet). If you have this available, you can try it in this recipe. 

Okay, so we might take some time choosing our moisturizing ingredients...hmm, perhaps we need a few posts on this topic! Let's continue this tomorrow with a few recipe ideas! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

31 days until Christmas!

To celebrate the coming holiday season, I have decreed December shall be the month of tutorials, recipes, and gift ideas. So I pose this question to you - what interests you? What do you want to make?

Do you have a new oil or exotic ingredient you'd like to use or do you want to see some variations on some of the oldies and/or goodies? Do you want some ideas on kits you can put together or stand alone products? Are you a newbie who needs some directions to recipes you can make for the first time, or are you an experienced bath & body creator who wants more ideas for products?

I'll still be offering helpful hints, chemistry fun, and whatever else pops into my head, but I love knowing what you want to see next.

Let me know in the comments! (Tomorrow's supposed to be a snow day, so I have some time to do some writing and experimenting in the workshop, so get those comments in as soon as you can!)

Blondie update!

Thank you so much for the suggestions to help my beloved Blondie dog! Not a cough at all last night, and I managed to get a full night's sleep (as did she)! As such, my mind is working well and I'm feeling like I have finally shaken this horrible flu with its aches and pains!

Your thought for the day: Arrested Development, Firefly, and Wonderfalls were all cancelled well before their time, but MuchMusic is airing a show called "Pants Off, Dance Off". This was my first thought upon waking. Perhaps I did need more sleep?

Men's products: Body wash

If you've read this blog for more than 5 minutes, you'll know how much I love body washes! I have a number of different recipes (which you'll see as a list below) and I think it's safe to say this is my favourite product to tweak! The only real difference I've been able to find between men's and women's body washes is the fragrance! They both contain surfactants, moisturizers, humectants, preservatives, and fragrance. There's really nothing special about that "hydrating" body wash when it's compared to a "moisturizing" body wash.

Your basic body wash is a mix of gentle surfactants (about 40% to 50% of the total recipe), water, preservative, and fragrance. (Click on the link to find out more about why I'm using the various ingredients I've used.)

37.5% water
15% cocamidopropyl betaine
15% second surfactant
15% third surfactant
5% aloe vera
3% glycerin
2% cromoist or other hydrolyzed protein

2% panthenol
3% cationic polymer
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix
0.5% preservative
Colouring, if wanted

Here's the surfactant chart to choose your surfactants or you can check out the various posts in the surfactants section of the blog. 

In a container, mix the surfactants together well, then add the water. (You can heat the water slightly to make it easier to mix). When the surfactants are mixed together, add the rest of the ingredients - EXCEPT THE CROTHIX - and blend well. Try not to get a ton of bubbles at the top. Let it rest until the mixture is clear of the bubbles and check the viscosity. If you are happy with it, bottle it! If you want it thicker, start at 0.5% liquid Crothix and stir well, ensuring you have blended it completely. If you still want it thicker, add another 0.5% Crothix. You can go up to 2% Crothix if you wish.

If you want to tweak the body wash, here's a list of the various versions I've made so far...
So let's say you want to make a product that will work as a body wash and 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, something you can take to the gym or beach in one handy bottle. Can we do that? Yes, we can! Join me tomorrow to tweak our body wash to become a moisturizing, conditioning, shampooing power house of fun! 

As a bit of fun, I thought I'd link this great Old Spice Body Wash commercial to this post. Watch it, then this one, then this one with Grover, my favourite monster! He's so cute! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Query: Does anyone know how to soothe a coughing dog?

I love my little Blondie dog, but she's keeping me up all night and that's not a good thing for someone who is still recovering from the flu! (If I don't get 8 hours of good quality sleep, I'm cranky at the best of the times. But 6 hours when I'm still feeling really achy and sore? Eek!)

Does anyone have any ideas how to help a coughing dog? The humidity is incredibly low right now (20%) and it's incredibly cold (-10˚C) and windy. She can't go outside as often as she would like because of the horrible wind and our bedroom is very cold (we don't have any heating in the room and the windows aren't as well sealed as they could be. It was about 55˚F or 13˚C last night!). I'm fairly sure this is the cause of the problem as it happens every time we get very dry weather.

We have bowls of water scattered all around the house, and I've been giving her spoonfuls of honey - my logic is that her throat is dry and a humectant would be helpful - and I did try a little glycerin with her yesterday, but if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears! I'm exhausted and feel so badly for the tiny dog who can't stop coughing!

Thanks so much for the suggestions! We've had the humidifier on all day and she's doing well. The only coughing we've heard is when she comes in from the very chilly outdoors and when one of us comes back into the house and she is overcome by joy (much like when we laugh until we cough). We have the  space heater on in our room as well, so I think we might all get a little sleep tonight! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your suggestions (and Blondie barks her thanks as well!). 

Men's products: Scented body sprays

If you believe the ads, choosing the right body spray can cause women to become hopelessly enamoured by you or improve your career, so this might be the most important product you've ever made!

If you're looking for an anhydrous product that will also moisturize your skin, I'd suggest starting with this body oil with esters recipe. I love this recipe - it feels really silky and sinks in very well. It's suitable for all parts of your body, including your face as the ingredients are all non-comedogenic. And if you include the C12-15 alkyl benzoate, you'll have a fragrance fixative as well, so the fragrance will remain all day long (and into the morning, because I can smell it on my pillow in the morning when I use my hand lotion!)

30% cetearyl ethylhexanoate
23% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
45% capric/caprylic triglycerides
1% to 2% fragrance oil (I used white tea & ginger!)

Get a spray bottle. Add all the ingredients. Use. Rejoice.

If you don't have all these fancy esters, then consider making an oil based body spray (click the link for ideas on modifying this product).

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!

If you're looking for a water based fragrance spray, this one is a good place to start and it's super easy!

1% fragrance oil
1% polysorbate 20
97.5% water
0.5% to 1% preservative

Note: Because you're using polysorbate 20, paraben based preservatives are not appropriate in this mixture as non-ionic ingredients can de-activate them.

Mix the fragrance oil and polysorbate 20 together. Pour into a bottle. Add the water and preservative and rejoice!

If you want to make the fragrance stick around longer, consider adding some dipropylene glycol at up to 2%! It'll act as a humectant and a fragrance fixative!

Join me tomorrow for fun making body washes!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Did you know November 19th was International Men's Day?

I didn't, so this series on men is just a coincidence! 

It was lovely to see all the dads come out to make chocolate with their kids on Saturday in Yarrow (which was also National Child Day), and I'm so happy to see so many men turning to DIY bath & body products, as evidenced by the comments and e-mails I've been receiving about this series. I love seeing the boys and young men in my craft group enjoying making their own products! It's time men did more crafting!

To learn more about this great day, check out the wikipedia entry!

Men's products: Pre-shave formula idea from Dave!

Dave has been sending me great ideas for men's products, and here's one he suggests!

75.6% grapeseed oil
2% jojoba oil
15% capric/caprylic triglycerides or fractionated coconut oil
4% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
1% cyclomethicone
1% fragrance
0.1% grapefruit essential oil
1.3% clove bud essential oil

You don't need to heat this or use preservatives as it's an anhydrous mixture. Just pour it all into the bottle of your choice and you're done!

I'd include up to 1% Vitamin E in this recipe as the grapeseed oil has a really short shelf life! (Although part of me wonders if you want clove bud essential oil on your face? I've been using it in a pain relief balm at 0.5% and it really stays on your hands!) Feel free to change the essential oils for a fragrance of your choice, or just leave it unscented.

Instructions for use...
  1. First wet face and beard with warm water. This saturates the skin and opens pores allowing the oil to begin good absorption. 
  2. Then rub in oil until it's completely absorbed. 
  3. Last use a hot towel or steam and hydrate skin until it is supple and pliable. 
  4. Lather up and shave as usual. 
So there you go! I think this would work well as a women's product, although I'm a little leery about including that much clove bud oil!

Join me tomorrow for body sprays!

It's beginning to look a lot like winter!

I might live in Canada, but snow in the south-western portion of B.C. is pretty uncommon. Okay, not as rare as snow in California, for instance, but we don't get a lot of it - maybe a few weeks a year, and it generally turns to slush when the rain starts again. Apparently we're in for a lot of snow this winter, thanks to the El Nina weather system thingie coming our way!

I love snow. I'm a winter baby, and I love this time of year with all the carolling and cheap excuses to wear jingle bells as jewellery, but I also love the lack of humidity! (We're normally around 70% and we're at 24% this morning). It means I can add some humectants to my conditioners and still enjoy fairly straight hair for a few weeks! Yay! So if you're a normally frizzy type, this is your time to add a little glycerin or honeyquat to your products without fear of looking like a fashion don't from the 1980s! And if you're suffering from the dreaded static cling - I get my hair caught in various doors, laptops, and other closing things - then remember to add a little extra conditioning agent like Incroquat CR or cetrimonium chloride to reduce the fly-aways!

And this is the time of year to ramp up the barrier ingredients or barrier repair ingredients in your products. Consider increasing the occlusives - cocoa butter, dimethicone, and allantoin - in your products Adding some oils high in linoleic or gamma-linoleic acid will repair the damage and dryness faster than oils high in oleic acid. So consider using some great oils like sunflower, soybean, wheat germ, or sesame oil in place of olive or macadamia nut oil this time of year!

And moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Your hair, your hands, your face, your skin - all are vulnerable to the drying effects of wind chapping, heat in the house, cold in the outdoors, and all that sweating you do wearing your winter clothing in the mall while trying to find the perfect present!

Here's a previous post on modifying your products for winter!

African hair types - check out this great blog!

Yolanda let me know about this great blog, The Natural Haven, for women with African hair types. She has a lovely writing style, and she bases her posts on scientific research. She does a great deal of work to dispel myths and educate on styling products and techniques! If you have this hair type or just want to learn more, I definitely recommend a visit to this site! (And make sure you bookmark it, as you'll want to keep reading where you left off!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Men's products: Formulating a drier feeling lotion with esters

Esters are a quick and easy way to reduce the feeling of greasiness in our lotions. Most of them spread very well - better than oils - and will feel lighter on our skin. So let's take a look at which ones we can use in an after shave moisturizer for men!

There are three esters I love in my products - ethylhexyl palmitate, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, and C12-15 alkyl benzoate. All of them are considered non-comedogenic and light, and each will impart less greasiness than a similar weight oil. C12-15 alkyl benzoate offers occlusion without heaviness, whereas cetearyl ethylhexanoate can help reduce transepidermal water loss, something that can be increased by nicks and cuts after shaving. You can substitute the ethylhexyl palmitate for dimethicone, if you're not a fan of the silicones, or use it at up to 5% to increase the silky feeling of the lotion. I'm not using it in this recipe because I'm looking for the barrier protecting and repairing qualities of the C12-15 alkyl benzoate and cetearyl ethylhexanoate, but you can use it in place of either one.

IPM or IPP is a great choice in a non-greasy after shave lotion as it reduces the feeling of greasiness even further, but if you have issues with pimples or acne, leave it out. I'd use it at 2% in a non-after shave product in the oil phase.

So let's take a look at putting together a light feeling lotion with esters! You'll notice I increased the esters or oil phase by 10% - I did this because I want maximum protection for after shaved skin and because it will feel quite light with 20% esters.

51% water
10% aloe vera (optional)
2% sodium lactate or sodium PCA
2% polyquat 7 (or 2% honeyquat in the cool down phase)
0.5% allantoin
2% hydrolyzed protein

10% cetearyl ethylhexanoate
10% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
3% cetyl alcohol
6% BTMS-50

2% dimethicone
0.5% salicylic acid or white willow bark
0.5% to 1% preservative
0.5% fragrance (if you're using it just as an after shave)

Use the general lotion making instructions for this product.

If you want this to feel even lighter, consider removing the cetyl alcohol (and increasing the water amount) or replacing it with cetyl esters. You can make this thicker by adding stearic acid in the place of the cetyl alcohol. 

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating a pre-shave product for men or women! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Question: How do you know when to add an ingredient?

In this post, still learning asks: Wonderful site! I've been looking to understand phases in a hair conditioner and just in general. I know oils goes in the oil phase and water in the water phase. Yet, I have seen other ingredients in each phase. How do you know what goes where? Thanks.

If you're making lotions, shampoos, conditioners, or any other bath and body products, the way to know what goes where depends upon two things - the solubility of the ingredient and how sensitive it is to heat. (I generally put that information into the posts on the ingredient! If I haven't, I really should!)

The heated phase of any product should be heated and held for 20 minutes at 70˚C. The cool down phase starts at between 45˚C to 50˚C. So if something can handle 70˚C or over or quite clearly needs to be melted - like SCI, our emulsifiers, beeswax - then we know we have to put them in the heated phase of something. The oil phase should contain all the things that are oil soluble - oils, butters, waxes, emulsifiers, thickeners, and so on. The water phase should contain all the things that are water soluble - water, hydrosols, proteins, and so on. Both phases should only contain those things that can handle 70˚C or higher.

Here's an example with conditioner. If we want to add BTMS-50, we know it must be melted and it is oil soluble, so it goes in the heated oil phase. If we want to add aloe vera, we know it's water soluble and can be heated, so it goes into the heated water phase.

But let's say you want to add honeyquat to the mix. I know it's water soluble, but it's heat sensitive, so I will put this in the cool down phase. What about polyquat 7? There aren't any disclaimers about heat with this ingredient, and I know it's water soluble, so I can add it to the heated water phase or cool down phase. If I want to add dimethicone or cyclomethicone, I know both are oil soluble but I'll add them to the cool down phase because they're heat sensitive.

What happens if you include something in the heated phase that should be in the cool down phase? A lot of things! You might inactivate the ingredient, it could give off a horrible smell (like honeyquat, for instance), it could destroy the emulsion, or you could change the skin feel of the product. The most likely outcome is that you will inactivate the ingredient - this is most common with preservatives and extracts - or, as you would find with a fragrance, it'll be gone by the time you combine the two phases.

What happens if you including something in the cool down phase that should be in the heated phase? This one's a lot tougher to answer because it could have no impact at all, it could ruin an emulsion, or it could have weird side effects you didn't expect. For instance, in this intense conditioner with all my conditioning agents, if you add the cetrimonium chloride to the heated phase (I generally put it in with the water), you get a stable emulsion. If you add it in the cool down phase, you might see some separation. If I add a ton of cold aloe vera to a lotion, it might mess with the emulsion. On the other hand, I have added polyquat 7 to the heated and cool down phases of my products with no effect.

What do you do with something that might have a temperature of 60˚C or falls between the heated and cool down phase? For the most part, throw that into the cool down phase, or watch that thermometer for the right moment (I generally put those in the cool down phase to make life easier).

So what you want to know about every ingredient is the solubility - oil or water soluble - and what temperature it can take! That will determine which of the three phases you would include your ingredient!

Hope this answers your question (and I love your name - we're all still learning no matter how much we think we know)!

Men's products: Formulating a drier feeling, light lotion

So let's say you made yesterday's recipe, but still consider it too greasy or heavy for your tastes. It's easy to make a very light feeling, dry lotion by taking out a few things or adding a few things. If you leave out the thickener - stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, cetyl esters, or cetearyl alcohol - you'll have a thinner lotion. If you leave out the butter and substitute more oils, you'll have a thinner lotion. If you substitute esters for all the oils, you'll have a much thinner lotion that gives you more time to rub it in but it will feel very light.

Let's make an after shave type lotion filled with all kinds of things to soothe irritated skin and moisturize (although it's really a facial moisturizer). We'll base this recipe on my cationic moisturizer recipe, which you can find here. (I've already made up an after shave moisturizer recipe in this post, but I thought I'd make another!) You can use this as a moisturizer on all parts of your body - it's not intended just for the face, but it is thin enough to use on your face and I'm leaving out ingredients that might feel very heavy or might be comedogenic.

77.5% water (you can replace 10% to all of the water with hydrosols or aloe vera)
2-5% humectant of choice
0.5% allantoin
2% hydrolyzed protein

8% oils
4% BTMS-50
2% cetyl alcohol

0.5% to 1% preservative
2% panthenol
0.5% extract
0.5% another extract

So what would we include for men's skin? To be honest, it won't be that different from formulating a product for women.

We could include white willow bark or salicylic acid as an exfoliant, and use sodium lactate or sodium PCA as our humectant that will also offer some help with possible acne or blackheads. I like to add a cationic polymer to the mix because it offers moisturizing and conditioning, so polyquat 7 or honeyquat at 3% would be a welcome addition. We can use glycerin in this recipe, but it can feel a bit sticky at 3%, so try this recipe with it before you go using all kinds of exotic and expensive ingredients! I know I mentioned above that leaving out the thickener will create a thinner lotion, but I like the moisturizing of the cetyl alcohol, so I'm including it here.

As a note, IPM is considered comedogenic, so you don't normally want to include that in a facial moisturizer. IPP is a better choice if you want to add an ester at 2%! If you want to use esters, C12-15 alkyl benzoate is considered non-comedogenic and has decent spreadability, and cetearyl ethylhexanoate has been shown in studies to help prevent transepidermal water loss from wounds, which is a great addition in an after shaving product!

And don't forget those barrier ingredients. I'm including 0.5% allantoin here, and you could add 2% dimethicone if you wanted. Cocoa butter is right out because it's very comedogenic, but if your skin can handle it, up to 5% would make a nice barrier cream for the outdoors!

Oh, and our oils. We'll choose some non-greasy oils - I think I'll go with borage oil in this recipe as it contains a lot of gamma linoleic acid, which is fantastic for helping with skin's barrier repair. You can choose any oil you like, but I'd suggest using less greasy feeling, high linoleic or gamma linoleic acid oils to feel light and help with your skin's barrier repair.

So let's put this all together - first, the recipe with oils and tomorrow with esters!

63% water
10% aloe vera (optional)
2% sodium lactate or sodium PCA
2% polyquat 7 (or 2% honeyquat in the cool down phase)
0.5% allantoin
2% hydrolyzed protein

10% borage oil
3% cetyl alcohol
4% BTMS-50

2% dimethicone
0.5% salicylic acid or white willow bark
0.5% to 1% preservative
0.5% fragrance (if you're using it just as an after shave)

Use the general lotion making instructions for this product.

When I make after shave moisturizers, I like to package it in an aluminum pump bottle to look very manly. I labelled my last batch with pictures of Godzilla to make it feel more masculine, and I used a very light fragrance (Green Bamboo for some, Wasabi from Brambleberry for others). I quite liked it, but for some reason I didn't take any pictures!

Join me tomorrow for making an after shave recipe with esters!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Men's products: Formulating a drier feeling lotion

As I mentioned the other day, it seems like the men who contact me want drier feeling lotions - but then again, so do a lot of women. I tend towards the greasier side of the the lotion spectrum, so let's take a look at a few ingredients and tweaks we can make to create a drier feeling lotion.

Let's start with our emulsifier. Incroquat BTMS-50 should be your first choice in emulsifiers for drier feeling lotions. It has what's called a "powdery" feeling on your skin, and it'll condition as well, so that's a bonus. It can also act as the conditioning and moisturizing ingredient in oil-free moisturizers. Polawax, e-wax, and most of the combinations we can use in the HLB system will all feel much greasier than BTMS-50.

We should also consider the oils we're using to make our lotions feel more powdery or dry. You'll want some drier feeling or astringent oils, like hazelnut, macadamia nut, or grapeseed oils. If you want something light, consider fractionated coconut oil - it's not low on the greasiness scale, but it rubs in well and will feel very light on your skin. Or consider the exotic oils. Most of them contain a lot of tannins and will feel dry, like evening primrose, borage, cranberry, pomegranate, and so on. They're more expensive than regular oils, but you won't need much.

You'll want to choose mango butter or kokum butter, as both are considered astringent, although they'll both feel greasier than any oil you choose.

And you'll want to consider some esters. 2% IPP or IPM can make a world of difference in your lotion - it's considered an ester that makes other oils and esters feel less greasy. You can go as high as 5% in your lotions, but I would find that way too non-greasy for my tastes!

Or consider some esters. Cetearyl ethylhexanoate, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, and ethylhexyl palmitate are all considered low greasiness esters. And they all feel very light, which is a bonus.

Click here to see the list of oils, butters, and esters.

If you're looking to create a barrier, consider using dimethicone or allantoin instead of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter, although lovely, will add major greasiness to your product. Consider using 2% dimethicone as the barrier ingredient and 2% cyclomethicone to offer a more powdery feeling to your product. Using 0.5% to 1% allantoin in your heated water phase can add a huge amount of barrier power to your product, but make sure you dissolve it well!

We need a humectant here. I'm going to use honeyquat at 3% to offer some conditioning and humectant properties, but you could use 2% sodium lactate or 2% sodium PCA. I wouldn't use glycerin here as it could make it feel a little sticky, and we're trying to make something that feels lovely and powdery, not sticky. If you want to use sodium lactate or sodium PCA, add it in the water phase and ignore the part about the honeyquat in the cool down phase. Add 1% more water to the mix to compensate.

Finally, I'm going to add cetyl alcohol to this lotion to give it some glide without tons of greasiness. If you wanted to make this into a cream, you could use stearic acid to give it more body. If you wanted to make this a lighter lotion, I'd suggest using cetyl esters, but don't use vanilla fragrances with it! You could also use cetearyl alcohol, but it will feel more occlusive and a little more waxy.

So let's put this all together to make a drier feeling lotion. First, as per Frank's request in this post, we'll look at a basic lotion, then a lotion with some modifications!

72% water
2% to 3% humectant (sodium lactate will feel drier than glycerin, but you can use that here, too)

3% cetyl alcohol
10% oils
5% butter (optional, just increase oils to 15% total)

0.5% to 1% fragrance oil (optional)
0.5% to 1% preservative

For this recipe, make sure you choose the drier feeling oils and butters I mention above.

Follow the basic lotion making instructions for this recipe.

55.5% water
0.5% allantoin
10% aloe vera or other hydrosol (optional)

6% Incroquat BTMS-50
3% cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, or cetyl esters
5% mango or kokum butter
10% macadamia nut, hazelnut, grapeseed oils or other exotic oils of choice
2% IPM or IPP

2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
0.5% to 1% preservative
0.5% to 1% fragrance or essential oils
3% honeyquat
1% Vitamin E (anti-oxidant, optional)

Follow the basic lotion making instructions for this recipe.

This should make a medium weight lotion that feels dry, depending upon the thickener you use. As a note, you can take your favourite lotion recipe and substitute the suggestions I've made here rather than trying a new lotion recipe from scratch!

Let's take a look at making a lighter and drier feeling, quickly sink-in-able lotion tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Men's skin!

The chemistry of men's skin is just slightly different enough to be interesting and relevant when we're making products for men. (Click here to see an overview of our skin's chemistry.)

Men's skin tends to be thicker than women's skin and they experience more gradual thinning of the skin over their lifetime, whereas women's skin thins quickly after menopause. Men have about 20% more elastin and collagen than women, and they have less subcutaneous fat than women (they tend to gain fat under their muscle, which explains why they don't tend to get cellulite). Because the ratio of skin collagen to skin thickness is higher, they seem to age less quickly than women. Men's skin is more resistant to sun exposure, but you still need to use sunscreen!

And because they tend to have higher levels of sebum over their lifetimes, they are more prone to acne and pimples, larger pores, and blackheads. (Although this sebum production drops after 40, like it does with women, men tend to have higher sebum production at all ages). This might sound like a hardship, but oily skin tends to experience aging slower than dry skin, so again they appear to age more slowly than women!

Men tend to sweat more than women, which can increase the hydration of the skin, but it can also encourage skin cells to remain on the skin instead of shedding.

So when we're formulating for men's skin, we'll want to lean towards ingredients for oily skin and hair. (This isn't to say that all men have oily skin and hair, but if you don't know his skin or hair type, oily is your best bet!) Surfactants like C14-16 olefin sulfonate and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS mild) are good choices for gentle removal of sebum.

Men will likely want to exfoliate their skin more to help with the removal of skin cells and reduce acne (when skin cells don't desquamate, they can build up and cause more pimple problems). This can be done with a poofy scrubby thing in the shower or by using ingredients like salicylic acid, white willow bark, or AHAs. You don't want to go overboard with the exfoliation - scrubbing skin until it's stingy and pink is a bad idea - but you will want to do it regularly.

And finally, consider the impact of shaving on a man's face. Men's faces tend to be dehydrated because of all that shaving and they can experience increased transepidermal water loss because of the nicks and cuts daily shaving can cause. Although an astringent after shave splash - much like a toner - might feel good, using ingredients that will last longer on the face is a better idea. Humectants and cationic polymers are your friend in this situation! And an after shave lotion is an even better idea, and one filled with oils with loads of linoleic acid or gamma linoleic acid, like sunflower, soy bean, borage, or evening primrose oil will help increase skin's barrier repair abilities.

Join me tomorrow as we formulate a drier feeling lotion especially for men!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Manly products for manly men - an overview

My dad was a manly man. He liked manly things like plumbing and/or pipefitting, hockey, drinking alcoholic beverages, and bubble baths. Whaaaaaat? Yep, almost every man I know enjoys a good bubble bath from time to time, and why shouldn't they? It's an enjoyable experience!

I didn't get to share any of the products I make with my dad as he died 9 years ago, but I do get to share my products with my husband, my best friend's husband, and other men in my life. So let's take a look at what differentiates a manly product from a non-manly product.

In commercial products it's about the name and fragrance choice and calling things other things to make it more manly. Apparently men have "man-hides" instead of skin, use pouffy scrubby things called "detailers", and they "hydrate" rather than moisturize their skin.

Creating products for men isn't really all that different than creating products for women. Men tend to like drier feeling lotions, like "hand cream that won't make you break out if you accidentally touch your face or cause you to wreck from the steering wheel slip" (love that comment, Patrick!), and they tend to like multifunctional products, like 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner or 2-in-1 body wash and shampoo products. I've heard from men they want more products for shaving, and they want things that don't sound girly.

Here are a few ideas for products men might like to use...
So let's see how we can modify a few of our products for manly men who want manly products over the next few days! But first, let's take a short look at the differences between men's and women's skin!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Question: Can I make up batches of product and scent it later?

An e-mail question came in asking this question...Can I make up batches of lotion and scent them later? What about things like body wash?

The answer to this is simple. Yes.

I'll make up a large batch of lotion with all the ingredients, except the fragrance oils, and store them in a clean ice cream container with a tight lid. When I'm in the mood for smelling more like Christmas than a cupcake, I remove the amount I want (generally 125 ml) and add the correct amount of fragrance (I like to use around 1% but you can go slightly higher or lower). I mix it with my stick blender, then funnel or pipe into my bottle. Ta-da!

As an aside, I was watching something on the Food Network the other day and thought to myself, "Hey, I could use the stick blender for cooking!" That's when you know you make more lotions than cakes! 

I do the same thing with bubble bath and body wash. I make up big batches with all the ingredients and store them in clean ice cream containers with tight lids. I take out the amount I want (generally 250 ml) and add my colour and fragrance. I mix it well, then funnel into my bottle.

I do this with conditioner, liquid conditioner, shampoo, and so on. Please only use clean bottles, jars, or containers to store larger batches of products. I like to put them in a box titled "Finished Products", which I store in a cool, dark place. Ensure you have added everything - preservatives are vital! - before storing. The only ingredient left out should be your fragrance oil.

Make sure your containers are clean - I get mine from Voyageur, and they have never been used to store ice cream - and make sure the lids are tight. If you are planning to store something, make sure that anything with oils contain some nice anti-oxidants to keep the oils from going rancid. (Here's more information on anti-oxidants.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question: How to convert recipes from percentages to weight

Here's an e-mail question I received from JC:
I don't know anything about chemistry, so I don't understand the % you put for each ingredient. I'm used to read cooking recipes, where they tell you 1 teaspoon of this, 1 cup of that, but I don't know how I would measure the % of the ingredients in your formulations. Maybe you have a blog post explaining this but I haven't found it yet, so can you enlighten me about how should I measure the ingredients for a formulation?  Do I use a scale? a measuring cup? How do the % translate into miligrams, grams, ounces or whatever measurement system is the appropriate one?

All the recipes on my blog are in percentages and they should add up to 100% (although there are some differences in the amount of preservative used). The easiest way to convert the recipe is to think of the percentage sign as the word "grams". So if you see 70% water, you'd use 70 grams of water. 15% oil would become 15 grams of oil and so on. The recipe will total 100 grams of product.

But let's say you want to make a really large batch of lotion to give as Christmas presents. Substitute the percentage sign with grams, then multiply by how much you want to make. If you want 500 grams of lotion, you'd see the 70% water as 70 grams of water x 5 for 350 grams of water. 15% oil would be 15 grams x 5 for 75 grams of water. And so on. You'd have 500 grams of product.

You can do the same thing for weighed ounces, but it really is a pain in the bum. The easiest way is to convert the percentage sign to ounces, move the decimal one space to the left, and use that. So if you have 70% water, you'd convert that to 70 ounces, then move the decimal over once space to the left and call it 7 ounces. The recipe will total 10 ounces of product. (But this is a way more complicated way to do it!) You can multiply the ounces by the amount of product you want to make.

Why do we weigh all our recipes? For accuracy. Using cups and teaspoons aren't accurate, so we might end up with more or less emulsifying wax than we need, which can result in an epic lotion fail or end up with more beeswax than we want in a lotion bar, leading to drag on our skin. It makes it easier to replicate that awesome recipe you made last time, as well. 

Here's an excerpt from a previous post I wrote on weight vs volume! 
Pure water at 4 Celsius is our baseline for specific gravity and everything else is compared to it. Water weighs 1000 grams per litre - 1 kg per litre - or 1 gram per millilitre. If something is listed as being less than 1, it weighs less than water per gram. If something is more than 1, it weighs more than water per gram.

So if we see cetrimonium chloride listed as having a specific gravity of 0.93, we know this means it weighs 0.93 grams per 1 cc or 1 ml. Let's say we want 5% cetrimonium chloride in our conditioner. If we're making a 100 ml batch and add 5 ml, we'd only have 4.65% cetrimonium chloride. Not the biggest deal in the world. If you wanted to make 1 litre of conditioner and added 50 ml, you'd only have 46.5 grams of cetac or 4.65%.

Liquid Germall Plus has a specific gravity of 1.15 to 1.25. If you want 0.5% in a lotion and add it in volume at 0.5 ml to a 100 ml batch of lotion, you might have 0.575 to 0.625 ml preservative, which is above the 0.5% recommended!

What kind of scale should you get? I use an Escali scale like the one above (although mine is a boring silver colour), one that can measure down to 1 gram. You definitely want to go digital.

If you are using a lot of extracts, want to make mineral make-up, or want to be really accurate, you can get digital scales that register to 0.1 grams. I use an epoxy weighing scale I bought at the hardware store because it's sealed and has a nice little cover that closes up to make it portable. (The last one I had wasn't sealed and I'm a bit of a klutz, so I ended up shorting it out because so much goo got under the weighing plate!) I find it works well for weighing my extracts, preservatives, proteins, panthenol, and anything else I'm adding at less than 3%.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A hearty welcome to the men!

I've noticed quite a few men are frequenting the site, writing comments or sending me e-mails. And to you, I issue a hearty welcome! (And apparently I think a picture of my husband wearing a Viking helmet will manly up the place...)

I've noticed quite a few boys joining my craft group for projects other than chocolate making (they tend to come in droves when there might be sugar about), and this makes me very happy indeed!

Cooking, baking, sewing, dancing, and singing are perceived as being for the girls until you get paid for it, then you're a chef, fashion designer, or rock star and it's very manly and there's generally lots of swearing involved. (Although you haven't been in my workshop on a Monday morning when my back is hurting and I have to pull out the box of waxes and solid things! So many swears!)

So I welcome you, gentlemen, to the amazing world of cosmetic chemistry, a world where science and art meet to create amazing lotions, potions, and lathery concoctions! I will warn you as I do everyone else - this is an addictive hobby!

Aesthetics of cosmetic products

The first impression we get of a cosmetic product is with our eyes (especially on-line!). As Mr. Burns says, "You see with your eyes, not with your hands," so a pretty product is one to which we're attracted. I know consumers say they want green, organic, preservative free, and fragrance free products, but the main reasons we buy cosmetic products are threefold - packaging, scent, and what the product says about us.

Which would you rather have? The one on the left or the one on the right? As you've no doubt guessed, the one on the left is the unpackaged finished product, but they are the same thing. It's all about presentation and perception.

Think about the language we use to describe our products. "Whipped cupcake scented shea butter" versus "Shea butter with cupcake fragrance". The word "whipped" always sounds so lovely. (I think it's the same with words like "wild" or "roasted" in food - don't those make you think of something hearty and yummy?)

Compare the two hand soaps I made a little while ago. One of them just screams, "I am moisturizing and emollient and lovely for your hands," and the other one says, "I am a hand cleanser." Using a pearlizer conveys a real sense of being more moisturizing. Think about any dry hair shampoo or moisturizing body wash you've used - odds are pretty good it contained a pearlizer. Just 2% glycol distearate in a product can increase the moisturizing and increase our perception that it moisturizes!

We don't really need thickeners in our surfactant based products - they're there to make the product flow better and make it stay on our hands or poofy scrubby things when we're bathing - but they add to the aesthetics of the product. A thin product would make us think it's not working well, whereas a thick, viscous product makes us think of

I asked my husband this question and he said that a thin product would make him think it had fallen apart whereas a thick product would make him think it was more moisturizing. If he couldn't get it out of the container because it was so viscous, he wouldn't think "well, that's not going to work because I can't get it out of the container", he'd think "that must be the most moisturizing product ever! I must use it now!"

Just a few thoughts for a day when my brain isn't working well thanks to the wonders of decongestants and painkillers! (Avoid this flu! It is pure evil!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas in Swift's workshop!

All this reading about things that might irritate, hurt, maim, or kill you, I'm feeling like I need a break from the maligned ingredients series. I need something wonderfully uplifting, so for me that means Christmas! And I realize this is early, but nothing annoys me more than to see holiday related tutorials showing up a few days before or even the day of said holiday! I need time to get supplies and motivation! 

I'm a Christmas baby (my birthday's December 21st) and nothing gets me happier than the sight of a glass of egg nog and some Christmas pudding with custard. (I'm lactose intolerant, so drinking egg nog is right out, even with Ultra Lactaid. And don't suggest soy nog - it's an abomination! I'll just enjoy my egg nog tea for now!)

And I love making Christmas presents of all kinds, but I'll focus on my Christmas toiletries!

So what am I making this year? Here are a few of my favourite bar recipes...

Black cocoa butter scrub bars! I am in love with this stuff. The bars melt more quickly than those made with regular cocoa butter, but they look like giant chocolates. I'm melting a little regular cocoa butter over top as a drizzle, and I'm packaging them in cellophane bags with a label stating DO NOT EAT!

I'm also making shaving bars for both my male and female friends. I love these things!

Foot scrub bars with some nice minty foot salts and a lotion bar for an adorable foot care kit!

I love bars because we don't have to worry about packaging all that much. We can use cellophane bags and cute twist ties or ribbon with a nice label and we're done! Here are some ideas for non-container packaging.

I like to use Chinese take out boxes a lot. My husband asked me why women seem to like these boxes - they're cute is really the only answer I can give! 

Here's a post from last year on Christmas presents you might like to make. I love the sushi candles, and don't forget how lovely a heated flax bag can be (and how easy to make) when coupled with a few other bath & body products! And here are a few ideas for Christmas jewellery and beaded snowflakes.

42 days until Christmas!