Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preservatives: Geogard Ultra

Geogard Ultra is an interesting broad spectrum preservative in that it contains no parabens or formaldehyde releasers, and it depends upon sodium benzoate - an organic acid - as the main preservative. It comes in a white powder format and the INCI is D-Glucono-1,5-lactone (aka gluconolactone, 70% to 80%) and sodium benzoate (22% to 28%).

We know sodium benzoate is bacteriostatic, which means it limits the growth of bacteria by messing with its metabolism and it's a fungicide. The gluconolactone is added to be a chelating and sequestering ingredient (like EDTA), a free radical scavenger, and a moisturizer that is on par with about 2% glycerin. It might also be good as an AHA substitute! The concept behind this preservative is called "hurdle technology" (look for more about this in an hour or so).

It's water soluble, so it's suitable for products that don't contain oil, and it can be used in the heated water phase or at the cool down phase, although you have to "make a solution" to include it at the end (it's a powder and needs to be dissolved). It's soluble in water, propylene glycol, glycerin, and mineral oil, and insoluble in vegetable oils, ethanol, and dimethicone. Use it at 0.75% to 2% in products with a pH of 3 to 7.

Usage of Geogard Ultra:
INCI: D-Glucono-1,5,-lactone and sodium benzoate.
Usage: 0.75% to 2% in water containing products. Not suitable for anhydrous products.
Add to any phase of your product.
Suggested pH level is 3 to 7.

Just in case you're not a regular reader of the comments, please take note of what melian has to say!

swift, some time ago tildy of southern soapers posted this information about geogard ultra:
"Be sure to use it at the higher usage levels. I had it in testing for 18 mos and not only does it have a narrower pH range than Lonza states, but long term, it is not robust... especially for any products you will be sticking your hands in repeatedly. I also checked with a few of the contract manufacturers I do business with, and they concurred with my testing results also.

Just make sure that whatever your technical data sheet actually says on the pH range that you reduce that range by 1/2 of a pH level on both upper and lower limits.

If you use it, plan to do microbiology on a 1 to 3 month interval for about 12 to 18 prior to selling. My batches for serums, lotions, and body creams saw preservative failure in the 9 mos to 18 mos time ranges.

Southern Soapers started to bring this in. We were certified and inspected to carry it, had pails ordered and paid for. That is when our final tests came back.. and we then decided NOT to bring this in."

To interpret this, so you'd want to use it at pH 3.5 to 6.5, and you want to get your products tested if you are serious about this preservative.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Preservatives: Liquipar Optima

Liquipar Optima is a liquid, broad spectrum preservative that look at a lot like Liqupar PE at first glance, but when we take a look at the INCI, we can see there's an difference in the percentages and the inclusion of methylparaben! The INCI is phenoxyethanol (66% to 74%), methylparaben (14% to 16%), isopropylparaben (5% to 7%), isobutylparaben (3.5% to 5.5%), and butylparaben (3.5% to 5.5%). It contains parabens and it not a formaldehyde donor.

Why add the methylparaben? We know that when we make the paraben chain longer, the water solubility decreases. Methylparaben is the most water soluble of all the parabens, so we can use this in a wider variety of products that might not include a lot of oils and still have it work well.

Like the other Liquipar preservatives, this one isn't so heat sensitive and can be added to your oil including creations when the temperature is under 80˚C, so you can add it pre- or post-emulsion, or even in the cool down phase. It's best for products with a pH of 3 to 8, and it's suggested you use it at 0.5% to 1%. Its water solubility is low, so you'll want to reserve this preservative for products that contain oils, fatty acids, or fatty alcohols, or use propylene glycol or glycerin to dissolve the preservative before using.

Summary of Liquipar Optima:
INCI: Phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben.
Usage at 0.5% to 1% when the creation is below 80˚C.
Not suitable for water only creations.
Good products with a pH of 3 to 8.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Preservatives: Liquipar PE

Liquipar PE is like Liquipar oil with some phenoxyethanol thrown in to help with the anti-bacterial properties. The INCI is phenoxyethanol (65% to 70%), isopropylparaben (11% to 13%), isobutylparaben (9% to 11%), and butylparaben (9% to 11%). It is a broad spectrum preservative that will fight bacteria, yeast, molds, and other fungi. It is a not a formaldehyde donor.

It's not that water soluble, so it's not suitable for products like toners or shampoos and body washes as it needs some oil to work well, but it does dissolve well in glycerin, so that's a way to get into to products like those. It works with products with a pH range of 3 to 8, so if you're using alkaline ingredients, you'll want to reduce the pH with something like citric acid. The suggested usage is at 0.4% to 1.0% and it can be added at any point below 80˚C. If you want to make a cold product with it - say, if you're using Sucragel as the emulsifier or you're making a cold surfactant mix - add it early to the process to ensure it is mixed in well.

Summary of Liquipar PE:
INCI:  Phenoxyethanol , isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, and butylparaben.
Usage 0.4% to 1.0% at any stage of your creation.
Mostly oil soluble, but can be mixed with glycerin to include it in low oil products.
Suitable for pH levels of 3 to 8.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Preservatives: Liquipar oil

Liquipar oil is a liquid preservative that's all about the parabens, with an INCI of isopropylparaben (40%), isobutylparaben (30%), and butylparaben (30%) As we know the parabens are great fungal, yeast, and mould fighters, but often need help in the bacteria fighting department, so the manufacturers (ISP) recommend you add some Germall II (phenoxyethanol) at 0.1% and EDTA at 0.2% to create a broad spectrum preservative. It is not a formaldehyde donor.

As we know, the water solubility of the parabens decreases as we increase the chain length of the paraben, so this will be a great ingredient for anhydrous products as it's not that water soluble. You can use it in emulsified products or products containing oils, but only water based products are not an option (like toners or body washes without oils).

It's an effective preservative for products in the pH range of 3 to 8, and it can be added when your product reaches below 80˚C, which means it can be added to the heated oil phase of your product or the cool down phase.

If you want to use this product, I'd definitely include another preservative with better bacteria fighting powers, like Germall II (as suggested, although I've never seen it in our suppliers' shops!), Liquid Germall Plus, Suttocide A, or any of the Optiphen preservatives. (In all honesty, though, you'd probably be better off just buying Liquipar PE as it that contains the phenoxyethanol that helps fight bacteria! More about that tomorrow!)

Summary of Liquipar oil:
INCI:  Isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, and butylparaben.
Usage at 0.4% to 0.8% when the product is below 80˚C.
Suitable for products containing oils. Not suitable for water only creations.
Good for products with a pH of 3 to 8.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Second e-book to raise money for my groups - Hair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners

Thank you to everyone who bought the e-book, Back to Basics, to help me raise money for my youth groups! I hope you're enjoying the book, and I'd love to hear your suggestions for future books, including ways I could improve the e-books (like making them a smaller file size - which I've done with the new one, more pictures, fewer pictures, different sections, and so on!)

In response to your e-mails and comments, I present to you the second of the e-books I'm putting together entitled Hair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners. This one's even longer - 194 pages (56,305 words!) and contains more recipes for shampoo and conditioners than I can count! I've included all the information from the blog about the chemistry of our hair, surfactants, cationic ingredients, and every other ingredient you'll find in our hair care products.

I wasn't, however, able to include the surfactant chart in the e-book as it was being really annoying about the formatting, so here's the link to that free download. 

If you want to take a peek at the Table of Contents, click on the link!

I'm asking for a $25 donation for the e-book. Every penny of your donation goes to the Rated T for Teen youth groups we run at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Chilliwack. (For more information on our groups, click here.)

If you click on this link to my new website, you'll see all the e-books there! The new system we have on the new website means you will get the e-book sent to you right away and you'll be able to download it from that link if you lose it, your computer crashes, or you accidentally delete it. Pretty awesome, eh???

Thanks so much for supporting our youth groups. Your donations helped us purchase chocolate making supplies for the alternative education centre craft group, a few replacement chocolate moulds that were broken in the process of removing said chocolates, and some scrapbooking paper so we could make some adorable packages suitable for gift giving. And your donations helped us buy Rock Band 3 and the keyboard for the Rockin' Out with the Girls for Friday and the Rated T for Teen video game group and Hallowe'en party on Saturday. Your donations will buy yet more chocolate for the Chilliwack group on Thursday night!

In short, your donations made our groups even more awesome than they were before, and I cannot thank you enough! Have I mentioned I love the readers of this blog?

Aviva Community voting - round 2 started Monday, October 25th!

You might remember I entered our Rated T for Teen youth groups into the Aviva Community Fund, and that we came in around 18th or 19th (we were tied) in the last round. There are two more rounds in which we could make it to the top 10, and we need your help to make it to the semi-finals! Please vote for our groups to help us get the funding we can use to continue our groups and add new ones (like the all girls' Rock Band day and our pregnant and parenting teen activity group).

You can vote once per day until Friday, November 5th! When you sign up, you'll have 10 votes, so please consider using them to support our groups!

For more information on my youth groups, click here.
For more information on how you can donate to our groups through the purchase of my e-book, click here.
For more information on how you can donate to our groups through the purchase of my new e-book, click here. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the groups! We really appreciate it, and I know the youth are excited about all the help we're receiving from the amazing readers of this blog!

Preservatives: Optiphen Plus

Optiphen Plus is a liquid broad spectrum preservative with an INCI of Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid. (It differs slightly from Optiphen with the inclusion of the sorbic acid.) As it isn't heat sensitive, we can include it in our water based creations at 80˚C or lower in the water phase of our process. It is not a formaldehyde donor.

We know phenoxyethanol is a good bacteria and yeast killer, while caprylyl glycol is a good bacteriostatic and bactericide, so why include sorbic acid?

Sorbic acid is one of the organic acids, and it can be found paired with a calcium, magnesium, or sodium salt to help increase its solubility. It's a good fungal, mould, and yeast inhibitor at pH 6.0 or less, and it's an okay bactericide. It's generally found in food stuffs at 0.01% to 0.1%.

By combining these three preservatives, we have a great bacteria, yeast, mould, and fungal killing combination suitable for water containing products. I'm not sure if this version of Optiphen can curdle or destabilize your emulsions as I've never used it, so please report on your experiences in the comments!

The one down side of using Optiphen Plus is the limited pH range of the product. It works best at pH 6.0 or lower, which means you will need to test your products to ensure they are in the right range. For instance, if you're using decyl glucoside with a pH that can range from 7.5 to 11 as your primary surfactant, you'll need to get that pH down substantially to play well with Optiphen Plus.

Summary of Optiphen Plus
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid
Usage at 0.75% to 1.5% in the heated water phase of your product.
Not suitable for anhydrous products.
Good for products with a pH of 6.0 or under

For the data sheet, click here. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preservatives: Optiphen ND or Rokonsal ND

Optiphen ND is a liquid broad spectrum preservative with the INCI Phenoxyethanol (79% to 81%), Benzoic Acid (11.5% to 12.5%) Dehydroacetic Acid (7.7% to 8.5%). It is suitable for products containing water and can be added at any point in the product making process as it isn't heat sensitive. It is best used with products with a pH under 6.0. It's paraben free and isn't a formaldehyde donor.

We know benzoic acid has moderate bactericidal activity and great fungicidal activity, and we know that phenoxyethanol has great bacteria and yeast killing abilities, but we don't know anything about dehydroacetic acid. What does it do?

Dehydroacetic acid is one of our organic acids. It has great fungicial properties but low bactericidal properties, so it's a good addition to this mix to make it a broad spectrum preservative. Unfortunately, it tends to work very poorly when included at a pH of 5.0, and it can be inactivated easily by cationics, non-ionics, and proteins.

Summary of Optiphen ND:
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Benzoic Acid (and) Dehydroacetic Acid.
Usage at 0.2% to 1.2% in any phase of your creation.
Suitable for creations containing water. Not suitable for anhydrous products.
May not be suitable for products that include cationic polymers or quaternary compounds.
Best used in products with a pH lower than 6.0.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Preservatives: Optiphen

Optiphen is a liquid preservative appropriate for fighting bacteria and yeast in our products (I can't find any information on its efficacy against mould). Its INCI is Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol. We know phenoxyethanol is a very effective against bacteria and yeast, but what about caprylyl glycol? It is paraben free and is not a formaldehyde donor.

Caprylyl glycol (aka 1,2-octanediol) is a good bacteriostatic ingredient (meaning it limits the growth of the bacteria but doesn't kill it) and bactericide, but it isn't very effective against yeast or fungi. Which means we really don't have a fungal killer in this preservative.

Its suggested use is at 0.75% to 1.5% in the cool down phase of our product (best below 37.5˚C or 100˚F). It is water soluble, so it's not suitable for anhydrous products or things like sugar scrubs that do not contain water. It's best in products with a pH of 6.0.

Some people report Optiphen can de-stabilize their emulsions, and apparently adding it to the really cool down phase of your product can help eliminate this problem. I've never used this preservative as it's hard to find locally, so I can't report on my experiences.

Kuldip notes in this postAdd optiphen at about 45-55°C, the trick is to keep mixing until cool. Usually adding optiphen to a cationic emulsion the product sometime thins out and will eventually thicken as it cools. Without looking at the ingredients you are working with hard to predict if the preservative is even compatible with the emulsion.

Summary of Optiphen:
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol
Usage: 0.75% to 1.5% in the cool down phase of your water based creations. 
Suitable for water based creations. 
No pH restrictions for this preservative.

READ THE UPDATED POST ON OPTIPHEN as it appears that it is suitable for anhydrous products as well. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Preservatives: Phenonip

Phenonip is a liquid, broad spectrum preservative with an INCI of INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Isobutylparaben (click here for links on parabens). It can be used at 0.25% to 1.0% in all your creations, including anhydrous ones because some of these parabens are oil soluble! With all these parabens, it is considered a very powerful preservative, so it's suitable for those creations that might contain a ton of botanical or natural ingredients, like extracts or hydrosols. It's paraben based and it is not a formaldehyde donor.

It's suggested that we use Phenonip in the heated phase of our creations as it dissolves around 60˚C to 70˚C. If you are making a lotion, it's suggested to divide the product up between the water and oil phases. If you want to use it in a cold product, heat up some propylene glycol or glycerin and add the Phenonip to that before adding it to your product. If you want to use it in a surfactant mix - say, a shampoo bar or body wash - then add it to the heated surfactant phase.

Phenonip is inactivated by some non-ionic ingredients, such as polysorbate 80 (at 5%, Phenonip is completely inactivated by polysorbate 80), and slightly by polysorbate 20 and 80 at 2.5%. It doesn't do well with ceteareth-20 - it's inactivated by 5% - but it is not affected by cetearyl alcohol. (I'll have a post on preservatives and non-ionic ingredients shortly...)

I like to use Phenonip in my emulsified scrubs, oil based scrubs, lotion bars, scrub bars, shampoo, and conditioner bars.

Summary of Phenonip:
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Isobutylparaben
Usage: In the heated phase of your product. Divide into the oil and water phases in lotions.
Suitable for all products, including anhydrous products.
Suitable for pH ranges of 3.0 to 8.0, so pretty much all of our products.

For the data sheet, click here. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Preservatives: Germaben II

Germaben II is a liquid broad spectrum preservative that should be used at 0.5% to 1% in the cool down phase of your watery creations. The INCI is Propylene Glycol (56%), Diazolidinyl Urea (30%), Methylparaben (11%), and Propylparaben (3%), which means it is a formaldehye releaser that contains parabens.

Because it contains three different preserving chemicals, it is suggested for use as a preservative for products that are hard to preserve, like those containing a lot of botanicals or proteins, like a toner or lotion with a lot of extracts and hydrosols. (I like it for things like strawberry extract that are very hard to preserve!)

Although the manufacturer notes it can be added to your products at emulsification temperatures - up to 80˚C - it's best used in your cool down phase at less than 60˚C.

Summary of Germaben II: 
INCI: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben.
Usage: 0.5% to 1% in the cool down phase of your creation
Water soluble, so it's not suitable for anhydrous creations
pH range: 3.0 to 7.5

Friday, October 22, 2010

Preservatives: Liquid Germall Plus

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that my preservative of choice is liquid Germall Plus. It contains propylene glycol (60%), diazolidinyl urea (39.6%), and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (0.6%). It's a broad spectrum liquid preservative that should be used at 0.1% to 0.5% in the cool down phase of your products. It's suitable for all but anhydrous products - the diazolidinyl urea is water soluble, so it's not suitable for all oil creations like scrubs or lotion bars.

It is a formaldehyde releaser, thanks to the diazolidinyl urea, but it is paraben free. It's suitable for all pH ranges we encounter in our products, but it isn't approved for aerosol use or oral use because of the IPBC. (This does not include misters like body sprays or toners, but pressurized aerosols). We use it in the cool down phase of our products as the diazolidinyl urea is not heat stable. Use it at 0.1% to 0.5% at temperatures lower than 50˚C.

This is my personal preference when it comes to preservatives as it's inexpensive, easy to use in the cool down phase of my products, and it doesn't mess with the emulsions or stability of the products. I've tried it in pretty much every product I make except for anhydrous scrub bars, and I've never had trouble with contamination.

Summary of liquid Germall Plus. 
INCI: Propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.
Usage: 0.1% to 0.5% in the cool down phase of your creations.
Water soluble - not suitable for anhydrous products.
Suitable for all pH ranges.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Preservatives: What's coming up!

Some of you are so eager to learn more about various preservatives, that you're jumping ahead and asking questions about posts that haven't been written yet! I like to establish the components of the various ingredients - in this case, what we find in our preservatives and how they work - then go into the ingredients themselves. Now that we've covered most of the most popular components of the preservatives and how they work, I'll be starting a series on the specific preservatives starting tomorrow.

Here's the schedule...
October 22 - Liquid Germall Plus
October 23 - Germaben II
October 24 - Phenonip
October 25 - Optiphen
October 26 - Optiphen ND
October 27 - Optiphen Plus
October 28 - Liquipar
October 29 - Liquipar PE
October 30 - Liquipar Optima
October 31 - Geogard Ultra
November 1 - Suttocide A
November 2 - Cosmocil CQ

E-book to raise money for my youth groups

A huge thank you for purchasing the e-book as a way of supporting my youth groups! If you don't know about it, here's a quick synopsis...

It's a 122 page e-book entitled Back to Basics: Anhydrous Products. The book includes over 50 recipes and explanations for making lotion bars, whipped butters, balms, oil based scrubs, bath melts, bath oils, oil based sprays, solid scrubs, and facial sera, as well as all the carrier oil, exotic oil, and butter profiles, and everything I've gathered about the chemistry of our oils including fatty acids, mechanisms of rancidity, phytosterols, and polyphenols. Click here to see the table of contents.

I'm asking for a $20 donation for the book through Paypal or Hyperwallet (you can reach me at If you click on the little button below, I'll send you a copy of the book by e-mail.

A quick note: It might take me a few hours to send you out the book 'cause I sometimes leave the house for work or my youth groups and I can't check my e-mail or send out attachments until I get back to my laptop.  

What does your donation do for our youth groups? Last week $20 bought all the veggies, drinks, and treats for games night. This week $20 bought almost 4 kilograms of white chocolate for our craft group in Yarrow and $20 will buy supplies to make memory wire bracelets, including the memory wire and beads. Yep, $20 can go a long way, and every penny helps! Thanks again for your support!

Preservatives: Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC)

Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC) is a non-formaldehyde releasing chemical based on iodine. It is effective against fungus and bacteria and can be combined with diazolidinyl urea or parabens to create a broad spectrum preservative.

The Cosmetics Ingredient Review Panel notes it is safe to use at levels equal to or below 0.1% and the EU allows it at up to 0.02% in rinse off products and 0.01% in leave on products. It is not approved for oral hygiene or lip care products, and it is not approved for aerosols (which explains why we're not supposed to use liquid Germall Plus in aerosols as IPBC is one of the preservatives in LGP! We can, however, use it in a mister.)

Out of all the preservatives I've reviewed, the only one I can find that contains IPBC is liquid Germall Plus.

Preservatives: Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is a phenolic compound with an alcohol functional group that we find in quite a few preservatives. It is not a formaldehyde releaser.

It has good activity against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria as well as yeast, and is generally paired up with another preservative - a quaternium, benzoic acid, or parabens to increase the fungal fighting abilities. It is compatible with non-ionic ingredients and proteins.

With an effective pH range of 3 to 8.5, it's suitable for all our products, and it can be added to any phase of our product creation as it is stable in higher temperatures. Interestingly enough, phenoxyethanol can be used as a fragrance fixative, so adding it to our products will help extend the life span of our products as well as the life span of our lovely scents!

You can find phenoxyethanol in Optiphen (combined with capryl glycol), Optiphen ND (combined with benzoic acid and dehydroacetic acid), Phenonip (parabens), Liquipar Optima (parabens), and Liquipar PE (parabens).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update on the Aviva competition!

An update on the Aviva Community Fund competition. We didn't make it into the top 10 last round - we were number 19, which is still awesome, but not enough for the top 10 - so we're on to the second round as of October 25th. If you voted for us before, please consider voting again. We'll each have 10 votes, and you can vote once a day. If the 142 people who supported our group use up all of their votes, we'll make it into the top 10 this time!

A huge thank you to all of you who took a time out of your day to support our groups! 

I hate to ask you to vote again as it seems like we just went through this process, but imagine what $25,000 could do for our youth groups! I'll remind you again on the 25th, but for now, here's the link to our youth groups (listed under Rated T for Teen). If you haven't registered, please consider signing up to be a supporter of our group - it takes a few minutes, and you're doing something really awesome for the youth of Chilliwack and Yarrow!

Preservatives: Imidiazolidinyl and diazolidinyl urea

Imidiazolidinyl urea is one of the most common preservatives, found as Germall 115 (a powder). Created through a chemical reaction of allantoin and formaldehyde in the presence of a sodium hydroxide solution, it's then neutralized with hydrochloric acid and evaporated.

It's a good anti-bacterial preservative that isn't great with fungus, so it is generally combined with other preservatives that fight fungus better, like the parabens. In fact, using imidiazolidinyl urea with parabens potentiates or increases the effect of both preservatives! With a pH of 4 to 9, it's appropriate for pretty much any product we make, except for completely anhydrous products as it isn't soluble in oils. It's not heat stable, so it must be added to the cool down phase of our products.

Imidiazolidinyl urea is approved at up to 0.6% in the EU and 0.3% in Japan.

Diazolidinyl urea is a relative of imidiazolidinyl urea (found as Germall II) and is created in the same way with allantoin as a starting point. It is water soluble with low oil solubility, and is also a good anti-bacterial but weak fungal preservative, so it must also be combined with another preservative for broad spectrum protection. Its pH is also 4 to 9, so it's compatible with just about any product we make (except for anhydrous products as it's not oil soluble), and it should be added to the cool down phase of our products because it's not heat stable.

For a PDF on the toxicity of imidiazolidinyl urea, please click here.

Both ureas are considered low formaldehyde releasers. Diazolidinyl urea can be found in Liquid Germall Plus and Germaben II.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Preservatives: Parabens

Yesterday we took a look at organic acids, including benzoic acid. This is the category under which parabens fall, as they are para-hydroxybenzoic acids. There are five parabens we find in cosmetic products - methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben - and two isomers - isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben - and the position of the functional group determines the anti-microbial activity and solubility.

The solubility in water decreases and the preserving activity increases as the chain length of the paraben increases. So methylparaben is very water soluble but not so great a preservative, and butylparaben is more oil soluble and a fantastic preservative. They tend to be more about the fungus fighting powers than the bacterial fighting powers and they are more effective against Gram positive bacteria than Gram negative bacteria.

A quick chemistry lesson here: Meth- means 1, eth- means 2, prop- means 3, and butyl- means 4. If you look at the picture of methylparaben, you'll see there's 1 CH2 at the end of the chain. If you look at the picture of propylparaben, you'll see there are 3 carbons in that chain. With the heptylparaben, there should be 7 carbons on the chain. So when we talk about the chain length increasing, this is what we mean! 

Parabens are incompatible with some proteins, and it's recommended that parabens be combined with other preservatives that have better bacteria fighting abilities. They are stable to heat, but best when added to the cool down phase at lower than 60˚C.

Parabens can be inactivated by non-ionic surfactants, methylcellulose, gelatin, PEG emulsifiers, and proteins, as well as the fatty acid esters of sucrose. This means that non-ionic surfactants that are based on the addition of ethylene or propylene oxide to fatty acids, fatty alcohols, esters, and polyglycols might make our preservative fail to work. Polysorbate 80 is one of the worst culprits for inactivating parabens, possibly due to the formation of complexes through hydrogen bonding. And what about emulsifying wax? Yep, there could be a problem there as it's an ethoxylated emulsifier!

But there's a way out of this problem - the addition of anionic or quaternary compounds to our products can help prevent the inactivation. So adding something like polyquat 7 or using BTMS as the emulsifier should keep our preservative working in a lotion, and it won't be a problem for surfactant mixes as long as you include an anionic surfactant in the product!

The other way out of paraben inactivation is that very few of the preservatives we buy contain only parabens. Of all the ones I've looked at so far, only Liquipar Oil contains only parabens. The rest contain a imidiazolidinyl urea or diazolidinyl urea,  phenoxyethanol, or iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, which will help boost

Parabens do exist in nature, found in Japanese honeysuckle and blueberries, but neither of these are suitable replacements for synethetic parabens found in our preservatives. (There are tests on Japanese honeysuckle as a naturally occurring preservative, but they aren't looking that great!) Check out this link by Anthony Dweck on naturally occurring parabens for more information!

So what's with the safety of parabens? Do they cause cancer? I'm not getting involved in this debate, but I will offer you some information I found on the FDA and American Cancer Society websites.

FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. (Click for the link here.)

But so far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer. There are also many other compounds in the environment that mimic naturally-produced estrogen. The bottom line is that larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on breast cancer risk. (Click for link here.)

For more information, please click for a great PDF on this topic!

Join me tomorrow as we delve into the world of preservatives by taking a look at the urea based preservatives!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preservatives: Water activity and sugar/salt scrubs

p wrote this really great comment in this post (it's really long, so I'd encourage you to read the entire thing in the post as I'm editing it slightly for space): I'm in the minority here, leaving my sugar scrubs unpreserved...My reasoning is that any water introduced to the product will dissolve sugar until it reaches its saturation point. So the question is, is room temperature water saturated with sugar a hospitable environment for beasties? 

I've done a bit of homework on this, and the answer seems to be no... From what I understand, the key measurement here is the "water activity" of a solution, the amount of water available to bacteria and mold. The water activity (aw) of pure water is 1. Every beastie is different, but most bacteria need an aw > 0.9 to grow, and most yeasts need an aw > 0.8. From what I've been able to find, the aw of a saturated room temp sugar solution is 0.83, enough to prohibit the growth of bacteria! Mold is borderline, but from what I understand, the molds that have an aw of around 0.8 don't thrive in an a solution with an aw of 0.83 - they can survive for a time, but their numbers dwindle over time. The aw of a saturated salt solution is even better - 0.75, so there shouldn't be any issue with beasties there!

So as far as I can tell, if the water introduced to the product isn't so abundant that it dissolves all the sugar or salt, then the water should be saturated with sugar and salt! So no beastie proliferation! Incidentally, this water activity stuff seems to be a lot of the reason that honey is awesomely self-preserving - it's aw is down around 0.6!

Wow, great research, p! And thanks for sharing it with us! 

Water activity is a really important part of preserving our products, and it's one of the reasons we don't need to preserve our anhydrous products that don't make their way into the bath or shower. So let's take a look at it a little further (although p has done some great research there!) 

Water activity is defined as the water requirements for survival or growth of microorganisms. But water activity is not the same as the amount of water in a product. In some cases, the water is bound to other molecules (say, Epsom salts) and isn't free for usage by the microbes. In other cases, the water is bound by humectants like sorbitol or glycerin (anywhere from 10% to 20% will bind water). So water activity is actually a measure of the amount of free (unbound or active) water molecules present in our products. Water activity increases or decreases with with increases or decreases in pressure and temperature. pH also plays a role. 

When we dissolve a solute like salt or sugar into water, the amount of water available to our beasties decreases so we say the water activity is reduced. Reduce it enough, and you've got an environment inhospitable to microbes. If the microbes don't have enough water, they die or go into a dormant state. (Remember the post the other day on osmosis? This is how salt or sugar kills them!) 

So, it looks like that not using a preservative in your sugar or salt scrub will work with two disclaimers... 

Disclaimer one: There are some microbes that can live in really hostile environments - like the xerophilic fungus (0.61 to 0.99) or the osmophilic yeasts (0.65 to 0.81) - and there are some, mostly yeasts, that will go into a dormant state waiting for water to come their way and bring them back to life. Add a little unbound water to the mix (let's say you have wet hands and leave a puddle in the top of the product), and you've got yourself a fungal party! 

Disclaimer two: How do we figure out how much water is bound in our products and how much isn't? There's a lengthy formula that takes into account the water in the product, the partial pressure of the water vapour above the surface of the product, the relative humidity, and temperature, and by figuring all of that out, we can figure out the water activity of the product at that moment. 

If I take a look my sugar scrubs, I use about 140% sugar to 100% oils, which means I'm well above the numbers for killing bacteria and yeast. So should I use a preservative in my salt or sugar scrub? I'm still firmly on the side of "yes", because I'm always worried about what the end user will do with the product, but there is some evidence here that you could use lower levels of preservatives or possibly none. (Please do not take this that I am endorsing not using preservatives in scrubs!)

Thanks for the question, research, and work you put into your comment, p! It's definitely food for thought! 

If you'd like to learn more about water activity, here are a few links:
Water activity (really interesting site). 
Water activity theory (from

Preservatives: Organic acids & sodium benzoate

One of the classes of preservatives we use in our products is the organic acids, their salts and esters. This group includes benzoic acid, carbamates (like iodopropyl butylcarbamate), and variations on salicylic acid and sorbic acid.

The organic acids have moderate bacterial activity and great fungicidal activity. The acids have low water solubility, which is why we generally see them used as a salt or ester. They are best used in products with a pH of 2 to 6, and they can be incompatible with cationic and some non-ionic surfactants.

Sodium benzoate, a salt of benzoic acid, was the first chemical preservative allowed by the FDA for food products. It converts to benzoic acid, which is a good anti-microbial and fungicidal preservative, when it's in an acidic mixture. (Benzoic acid isn't very water soluble, so we use the sodium benzoate in water so it will dissolve and become benzoic acid.)

Sodium benzoate is bacteriostatic, which means it limits the growth of bacteria by messing with its metabolism, but doesn't kill it. It is also a recognized fungicidal ingredient.

The main problem in using sodium benzoate in our products is the pH level - sodium benzoate works best at pH 5 or less (possibly 6 or less), which means its use is limited to products more acidic products like toners or moisturizers with AHA or salicylic acid. You definitely want to own a pH meter if you're using this as your main preservative! Sodium benzoate is approved for us at up to 0.1% for food products and up to 1.0% for cosmetic and medicinal products. You don't want to use this with Vitamin C as studies have shown that together they can form benzene, which is carcinogenic. Geogard Ultra contains sodium benzoate as its preservative.

Sorbic acid is one of the organic acids, and it can be found paired with a calcium, magnesium, or sodium salt to help increase its solubility (see potassium sorbate below). It's about three times more soluble in oil than in water. It's a good fungal, mould, and yeast inhibitor at pH 6.0 or less, and it's an okay bactericide. Its optimal range is at pH 2 to 6, and it's considered ineffective at pH 7. It can be slightly inactivated by non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 20 and 80 (more about this in the near future). It's generally found in food stuffs at 0.01% to 0.1%. The maximum allowable for cosmetic use in the US is 0.89%. We find this in Optiphen Plus.

If you neutralize potassium hydroxide with sorbic acid, you get  potassium sorbate. It's more water soluble than sorbic acid, but you have to use about 25% more to get the same effect. It's effective against yeasts, fungi, and molds, but isn't great for bacteria, although it has some effect. Interestingly enough, the lower the pH, the less we need to use of this preservative (it's best at pH 6 or lower). It's water soluble, so you'd use it in the water phases of our products, and it's not suitable for anhydrous products. The maximum allowable for cosmetic use in the US is 0.39%.

All of these organic acids work best when the pH of a product is 6 or less, and some are completely useless at above 7. Since most of the products we make are acidic (a shampoo should be at 6.5 or less, for instance), they can be appropriate for cosmetic usage. Having said this, most of these are only okay bactericidal preservatives and will, ideally, be used in combination with a preservative that excels with bacteria.

Join me tomorrow for more information on parabens!

Preservatives: Formaldehyde donors

Preservatives come in two main groups - the formaldehyde donors and the non-formaldehyde donors. Formaldehyde donors include DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidiazolidinyl urea, and quaternium 15. Non-formaldehyde donors include everything else like phenoxyethanol and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.

The formaldehyde donors are more water soluble than oil soluble, and work by decomposing slowly over the life span of our products to provide preserving powers. In general, the formaldehyde release increases with the pH of the product, as well as the temperature and length of time the product has been stored.

It's hard to make generalizations about the non-formaldehyde donors other than the fact that they don't donate formaldehyde.

Want to know more about the safety and regulations around formaldehyde donors? Then check out the Cosmetics Ingredient Review information here.

Join me in about an hour to take a look at organic acids we find in our preservatives.

A quick note: I'm getting confusing information about whether the parabens are formaldehyde donors or not! In the Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology (second edition) it notes (page 433 and on page 126 in the third edition) that "Preservatives can be divided into two groups, namely formaldehyde donors and those that cannot produce formaldehyde. The former group includes DMDM hyantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidiazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, and the parabens." It goes on to say on page 510, "Although formaldehyde has been one of the most popular and effective preservative, its use has declined as other compounds have come to the fore. Examples include methyl and propyl parabens, DMDM hyantoin, quaternium 15, imidiazolidinyl urea and others." So according to the Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, parabens are formaldehyde donors.

But then I read in the Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair (page 198), "Among the commonly used preservatives that do not release formaldehyde are parabens..." I've checked other textbooks, including Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles & Practice, Hair in Toxicology, and The Principles & Practice of Contact and Occcupational Dermatology in Asia, and they all state that the parabens are NOT formaldehyde donors. So I'm going with this information - parabens are not considered formaldehyde donors.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Question: Why are we using preservatives in salt or sugar scrubs?

In this post, Sarah asks: One thing I'd like to know is the specifics as to why we preserve anhydrous sugar and salt scrubs - I've had so many discussions with regards this (I say we should, to be safe) and would like it clarified if poss.! I know you've touched on it before but could you do it again please?!!

To which I answered: We preserve sugar and salt scrubs because you never know how the end user will contaminate the product. I give my friends and family a little spatula to use with my manicure scrub to keep their wet and icky hands out of it, but you know they're dipping their fingers in there every once in a while and leaving behind beasties! And I know that I dip my wet hands into my sugar scrub in the shower all the time - I do dry them off, but there's water everywhere and some of it is bound to get into the jar! I know some people think salt or sugar should preserve the product, but I don't trust it. I'd rather use 0.5% to 1% of a nice oil soluble preservative and ensure we won't be seeing mould growing on the top of the container any time soon!

To which Sarah answered: Thanks, Susan, my thoughts exactly but how do we explain to people that sugar and salt won't necessarily prevent contamination? 'Experts' have stated that the amount of water entering the product is negligible and will be contained within the salt and sugar content, and won't be a problem, but how do we know for sure? I always use a small amount of preservative, as I don't want to take any risks.

Let's first take a look at osmosis, which is all about the movement of water molecules from an area with a high concentration of something to an area with a low concentration of something. If we put bacteria into a glass of water with some salt, the bacteria will move the water with the salt into it, which will cause it to shrivel up and die. (Fluid leaves the bacteria causing the cell wall to contract, which causes the cell membrane to separate from the cell wall in a process called plasmolysis.) This is how preserving with sugar or salt works for our food products. It moves the water out and salt into the bacteria and they die.

Here's a nice animation about how this works! And to learn more about osmosis, click here

What we're creating with a salt or sugar scrub is a hypertonic solution where the salt level is higher on the outside of the cell than the inside. Water comes out of the bacteria and they die. 

But wait! All of this is talk about water and we're making anhydrous scrubs! Ah, yes, but we're introducing water into the mix and that's where the problem arises. We're adding a lot more than we think when we dip wet hands into the product or when hygroscopic materials - like sugar or Dead Sea Salts or olive oil - draw water to our product. We're adding water into the product with things like Epsom salts, which have water molecules bound to the magnesium sulphate, or proteins or cationic polymers or some emulsifiers! And we're adding water by merely having them in our shower area - open it for a second or two in a warm, foggy bathroom and you'll find a little H2O in your product. Even though we're calling them anhydrous scrubs, there's little bits of water scattered throughout the product. 

A note on hygroscopic ingredients: Once a sufficient amount of water is introduced into our product, the bacteria that has managed to live in our products will get enough moisture to start replicating. Or the yeast will come out of their dormant state and start fermenting the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. In both cases, they'll multiply as long as the water holds out. 

How much salt or sugar do we need to preserve our specific scrub? I saw one statistic saying 20% sucrose is enough, but I can't confirm that without a ton of testing, and I haven't been able to find a recommended salt amount. I'm sure I could do more searching and find some kind of information, but considering it takes about 3 seconds to add 1% Phenonip to my scrubs, I think I'll go make some breakfast instead. 

Preservatives: How the heck do they work?

So now that I've sold you on the need for preservatives, how exactly do they work?

Preservatives inactivate the microorganisms in our products in a few different ways, but the primary way is to cause them cause some kind of chemical disruption that leads to death. They leak their internal fluids, they can't maintain pH, their cell walls break open, and so on.

But once the preservative has been used to attack a little beastie, it's used up and can't fight anything else. This is one of the reasons we need to preserve our products at a proper level and why we want to start with as little contamination as possible in our workshop, our ingredients, our equipment, and our packaging!

Preservatives tend to live in the water phase of our products to fight any contamination that might show up in our creations because that's where the beasties live. (They can migrate into the oil phase to fight beasties there, but most our problems are in the water phase!)

We can improve the efficacy of our preservatives by adding propylene glycol, ethanol (alcohol), or glycerine - not only do we get the lovely hygroscopic properties of one of these humectants, but we improve their evil fighting powers! (I do love my double duty ingredients!) Adding a chelating ingredient like citric acid or EDTA to quaterniums, parabens, phenolics, sorbic acid and imidazolidinyl urea also boosts their beastie fighting power!

And there are some ingredients that will interfere with preservatives or inactivate them completely. I'll be writing more about this in the near future, but non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 80, pigments like ultramarine blue, and thickeners like cellulose derivatives and guar gum are the top ingredients that might interfere with your preservatives! Each preservative type has something that interferes with it and something that can boost it, and it's valuable to know what affects what!

The ideal preservative will be a broad spectrum preservative, meaning it kills off bacteria, mould, yeast, and other fungi. The preservatives we buy are called synergistic preservatives, which are combinations of preservatives intended to eliminate all the various contaminants we could see in our products.

If you take a look at something like Phenonip (INCI: phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, and propylparaben), you'll see more than one preserving ingredient in the mix. Parabens don't tend to be very good individually, but in combination you've got yourself an awesome broad spectrum preservative.

Or take a look at Liquid Germall Plus (INCI: Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate). Diazolidinyl urea on its own is great against bacteria but weak against fungi, while iodopropynyl butylcarbamate is great against yeasts and moulds, so the combination of the two creates a broad spectrum preservative that is slightly boosted by the inclusion of the propylene glycol.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at the various chemicals we find in our preservatives!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Preservatives: Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is NOT a preservative

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is derived from the seed and pulp of grapefruits, and it may contain many lovely things - anti-oxidants, flavonoids, Vitamin C, citric acid, phytosterols, and tocopherols - but it is NOT a preservative. It may behave as an anti-oxidant in our products, but it will not keep the beasties out of your lotions and other creations.

Study after study has shown that the preserving power of GSE comes from the preservatives added to the product. Various studies have shown GSE contains benzethonium chloride, benzalkonium chloride, triclosan, and various parabens, and these are what offer the bacteria, fungus, yeast, and mould fighting powers attributed to GSE.

Here are a few studies that might interest you. I could post more, but I think these really do make the point pretty well.
Identification of benzethonium chloride in grapefruit seed extracts.
More information on benzethonium chloride in GSE. 
Aspects of the antimicrobial efficacy of GSE and its relation to preservative substances contained. 

Preservatives: What can get into our creations!

We use our preservatives to prevent little beasties from growing in our lotions...but what kinds of beasties want to live in our products?

Gram positive bacteria: These are bacteria that turn dark blue or purple when Gram stained in the lab. They lack the outer membrane of the gram negative bacteria. This family includes staphylococcus, enterococcus, listeria, and clostridium. Most of the bacteria that cause problems in humans are gram positive. (Want to know more? Click here!)

Gram negative bacteria: These are bacteria that turn red or pink when Gram stained in the lab. They have the outer membrane the gram positive bacteria lack. This family includes E. coli, salmonella, enterobacteria, pseudomonas, helicobacter pylori, and gonorrhoea.

Fungus: Yes, there just might be a fungus among us! Fungi like penicillium and microsporium can be found in contaminated products, as well as yeast in the form of Candida albicans, which can cause yeast infections and thrush. And mold, which isn't always bad if you like a little blue cheese now and again, can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions.

When these little beasties get into our products, they can cause all kinds of problems with the product itself - off smells, destabilization of our emulsions, an increase in rancidity - as well as to the health of the end user. Contaminated products can cause skin infections, allergic reactions, and worse.

Take a look at this recall information from a large company (and this is just one of hundreds I could have posted here...)

Arbonne International has issued a voluntary recall on one lot of its Seasource Detox Spa® Foaming Sea Salt Scrub. The recalled products were manufactured by a third party and distributed nationwide through Arbonne Independent Consultants....This voluntary recall was initiated by Arbonne as a result of discovering the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in the recalled lot. No other lots are affected. The organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa may cause dermatitis, soft tissue infections, bacteremia, and a variety of system infections, particularly with users who are immunosuppressed. Because the Foaming Sea Salt Scrub is used to exfoliate the skin’s surface, there is a possibility that inadvertent introduction of the tainted product directly into any skin abrasions could result in infection.

Wow! Preservative free ain't looking so good now, is it?

So how do we avoid contamination? We use good manufacturing practices like heating and holding our products, and we use broad spectrum preservatives that will keep the beasties out and the goodness of our creations longer!

Want to see some mouldy lotion? Click here to see Anne-Marie of the Soap Queen blog's experiences with a contaminated lotion

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at how preservatives work before we get into the specific preservatives themselves!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Introduction to preservatives!

Since writing this post, I have developed an entire section of the blog devoted to the individual preservatives, along with comparison charts and information on why we might like to use them. As much as I like this post, I think the preservatives section of the blog offers much more information. And I think you'll like the charts, too! May I encourage you to check out that section after reading this post to learn more about the myriad choices you have when it comes to preserving your products? 

Preservatives are essential to our products - they prolong the shelf life by keeping our products free from contamination and help retard rancidity in our oils (click here for information on microbial rancidity) - and I hope this series on preservatives will either strengthen your conviction to use preservatives or change your mind about being preservative free!

So why use a preservative in your product? Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in our products, which can cause separation of our emulsions, speed up rancidity of our oils and butters, and cause weird smells. Contaminated products aren't pretty and they're dangerous. There are countless reports of unpreserved lotions causing contact dermatitis, rashes, and worse.

When should you use a preservative? If you make a product with water, you need a preservative. Anhydrous products don't need preserving, although products that might come into contact with water, like scrubs or in shower lotion bars, require preservatives.

The beasties in our products grow before we know it. By the time you see the pink or green tinge in your lotion, it's way too late - you've been contaminated for days, if not longer. Keeping your products in the fridge isn't an option - leave it out for a few hours while you're taking a bath or cleaning the house and you've got a ton of contamination.

Think of it this way. If you made a cup of tea today and left it on the counter, would you feel comfortable drinking it in two days or seven days? Would you feel comfortable putting it in the fridge and drinking it a week from now? If you said no, then why would a lotion be different? If you won't drink it, why would you bathe in it?

If you still aren't convinced, please take a look at this video - The Importance of Preservatives - detailing what happens to an unpreserved lotion in 7 days. Or take a look at Anne-Marie's experiences with a mouldy lotion on her Soap Queen blog!

Join me tomorrow as we delve deeper into the world of preservatives with a look at what beasties can grow in our lotions! (It won't be too graphic, I promise!)

Please note, I will be going into detail about the components of preservatives as well as the most common preservatives we find on our suppliers' shelves, but you'll have to be patient as there's a lot to cover! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Packaging and preserving

I've written a lot about packaging in the past, but I'd like to share with you a study I read recently on the value of packaging and preservation.

When we're packaging our products, we need to think of the end user, how she will treat the product once it reaches her house or car. We need to consider how she might contaminate the product, especially those found in jars or screw top containers.

This study used poorly and well preserved products to maximize the contamination of the products. The chart on page two of the PDF should make you shudder. The contamination of both the unpreserved lotion and shampoo on day one found levels too numerous to count!

This study tested the contamination of shampoo with three different caps - the screw cap, the flip top, and the slit cap (or disc cap). The screw cap containers had the most contamination (29%) followed by the slit cap (21%) and the flip top (0%).

The study also tested contamination of lotions with three different caps - the screw cap, the flip cap and pump. The screw cap tested very poorly (79%), the flip cap tested poorly as well (39%), and while the pump tested the lowest (10%).

So what does this mean for us? It means we need to preserve our products well with a good and reliable preservative, add an anti-oxidant to retard rancidity, and follow good manufacturing practices like heating and holding for everything we make. And it means we need to choose our packaging well. Leave the screw caps for maple syrup and other cooking goodies, and go with the disc cap, flip top, or pump every time. Malibus might be a good choice - they didn't study those - as it's unlikely your end user will leave it open for the beasties to feast!

And this brings me to jars! I love jars for my body butters, intense conditioners, scrubs. and whipped butters, but there's a good chance the end user - which is mostly me and my friends - will contaminate it somehow. Good instructions on your jars - wash hands before using, do not let water drip into the scrub, do not let the dog lick it - can help ensure your end user is using the product the right way. But let's be honest, there have been times when you want to slather on a little body butter before going to bed and you haven't washed your hands in a few hours...what do you do there? Good preserving won't wash away all your sins, but it will certainly ensure you see numbers that aren't too numerous to count when it comes to contaminant counts!

Packaging links...
Choosing the right container for your product. 
Alternatives to bottles.
Non-container options and labelling.

Join me tomorrow for more about preservatives!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

E-book to raise funds for my groups!

As you may know by now, I'm trying to raise funds for my youth groups (click to find out more). You've all been voting for the Aviva Community Fund, and I thank you so much for it.

As part two of my fundraising plan, I've put together a 122 page e-book entitled Back to Basics: Anhydrous Products. The book includes over 50 recipes and explanations for making lotion bars, whipped butters, balms, oil based scrubs, bath melts, bath oils, oil based sprays, solid scrubs, and facial sera, as well as all the carrier oil, exotic oil, and butter profiles and everything I've gathered about the chemistry of our oils including fatty acids, mechanisms of rancidity, phytosterols, and polyphenols.

I'm asking for a $20 donation for the book through Paypal or Hyperwallet (you can reach me at If you've previously donated $20 or more, I've sent you an e-mail to see if you'd like a copy as a thank you for your past support (but if you want to donate again, we'd be so grateful!). If you click on the little button below, I'll send you a copy of the book by e-mail.

A quick note: It might take me a few hours to send you out the book 'cause I sometimes leave the house for work or my youth groups and I can't check my e-mail or send out attachments until I get to my home computer. I'll try to figure something out a little quicker for the next book. 

Click here to see the table of contents.

If you click on this link to my new website, you'll see all the e-books there! The new system we have on the new website means you will get the e-book sent to you right away and you'll be able to download it from that link if you lose it, your computer crashes, or you accidentally delete it. Pretty awesome, eh???

What does your donation do for our youth groups? $20 can buy two boxes of glue sticks or 10 pairs of scissors. $20 can buy 3.5 metres of twill for making messenger bags, purses, and pencil cases. $20 can buy 6 pounds of melt & pour soap or a bottle each of the ingredients for body wash, bubble bath, shampoo, and facial wash (yes, I get good discounts for the groups)! $20 can buy all the veggies and fruit we have at games night and video game club. $20 can buy a ton of polymer clay or 3 packages of Shrinky Dinks if I use my coupons at Michael's. $20 can buy 3.5 kilograms of chocolate for the Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Valentine's chocolate making groups (although we generally need about 7). $20 can buy 15 canvas bags or up to 8 shirts for stencilling class.

In short, we can make $20 go a long long way! Every penny helps!

Experiments in the workshop: Hand soap with polyquats and glycol distearate

Nothing says creamy and moisturizing like an opaque product, so I think I'll modify yesterday's recipe to include glycol distearate as a pearlizer and moisturizer.

I'm going to be honest - I find using glycol distearate a pain in the bum to use as you have to make sure it melts, but if I have to melt my SCI (without stearic this time because I couldn't bend down to get the SCI with stearic from the box due to my sore back) then I might as well melt the glycol distearate at the same time.

For my surfactants, I'm sticking with SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine, but I thought I'd include the polyglucose/lactylate blend as it will boost the conditioning power of the polyquats and increase the feeling of moisturization after rinsing. I've reduced the amount of surfactant I'm using because I want it to rinse cleaner, so I'm using about 31% surfactants instead of yesterday's 40%.

I've decided to keep the PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate as I like the moisturizing feeling, but I've switched the polyquat 7 to honeyquat (in the cool down phase) at 3% because I though it could work double duty as a humectant and conditioning agent (and I can call it "orange and honey hand cleanser", which sounds really nice).

I've decided to use orange hydrosol - I like this stuff and it sounds nice in the title - and keep the aloe vera at 10%. For the fragrance, I'm going with white tea & ginger as it is a light airy scent that won't be too cloying on my hands.

10% cocamidopropyl betaine
11% polyglucose/lactylate blend
10% SCI without stearic acid
2% glycol distearate

33.5% water
10% aloe vera
10% orange hydrosol
3% PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate
3% glycerin

3% honeyquat
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance
Crothix (optional)

Weigh the first heated phase into heatproof container and heat in your double boiler until the SCI and glycol distearate has melted. Weigh the second heated phase into a heatproof container and heat until the SCI has melted in the other container. Remove both from the heat and add the second heated phase slowly, stirring as you go, until it is well incorporated. You may want to heat it a little longer to ensure it is well incorporated.

When the temperature reaches 45˚C to 50˚C, add the cool down phase BUT DON'T ADD THE CROTHIX! (Read more about Crothix here if you've never used it before.) I didn't need Crothix in mine, but that will vary given the modifications to ingredients and fragrance you choose. 

When the mixture has reached room temperature or has sat for at least four hours, test the viscosity. Add 1% Crothix, and mix very well. If you want it a bit thicker, add another 0.5% and stir well. Repeat until you get the viscosity you want.

So what do I think? I really like this version, and my mom put the Jergens away and left this one on the counter, so I think it's a keeper! (She approves of the colour and appearance - yay!) It feels more moisturizing than yesterday's, although that could be a result of my brain telling me it is more moisturizing because of the pearlized appearance. It rinses cleanly and the fragrance is at just the right level. Yep, I like this one!

A note on the fragrance: If you want to reduce it to 0.5% or use essential oils, have at it! One of my friends who is slightly scent sensitive felt it was too strong, whereas my non-scent sensitive and scent loving friends think it's great, so consider that when you're making a hand soap. I know the stuff at my local sushi place is very strongly scented, and I can smell it on my hands when I'm trying to enjoy the Las Vegas roll (a decadent deep fried Dynamite Roll with cream cheese and unagi sauce on top).  I've mentioned it to the owner's wife a few times, then she berated her husband for his poor soap choices, so I felt pretty bad about that!

The one down side of reducing the fragrance is that SCI smells very soapy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is definitely there...

Join me tomorrow for the start of a series on preservatives and preserving our products. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Experiments in the workshop: Hand soap with polyquats

I've always thought about making a liquid hand soap - I don't make CP soap, so I don't make liquid soap - but I thought I could make a nice syndet one out of my lovely surfactants, some moisturizing ingredients, and my polyquats.

What's the goal of a hand soap? We want something that cleanses (duh!), we want something that moisturizes, and something that doesn't get extraordinarily foamy and lathery.

I'll start with my surfactants. When I want something creamy, I go for SCI first. It feels creamy and luxurious on your skin, and it will help thicken the mix. I'm using SCI with stearic to increase the moisturizing in this product. I'll use my cocamidopropyl betaine as a co-surfactant to thicken and to increase mildness. And I think I'll try using ammonium laureth sulfate (ALeS - I buy it as Steol CA-230) because it is considered a mild cleanser that thickens well with salts and has stable foam in hard water, which what we have in the Fraser Valley.

As usual, feel free to play with the surfactants in this mix. If you don't have SCI with stearic, use SCI without stearic. If you don't have ALeS, try another mild surfactant you like. But don't switch out the cocamidopropyl betaine - it's essential for increasing mildness and thickening the product! 

Okay, so now I need to incorporate some moisturizing ingredients. I want to add something to this mix to make it feel more emollient, so my first choice here is PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, which will help thicken the hand soap and re-fatten skin. I'll add some glycerin as it is a great humectant that won't be washed off when I rinse my hands.

And, as the point of this post is to use polyquats, I'll choose a polyquat that suits my needs. I think I'll go with polyquat 7 as that's one I use quite a lot and a titch of polyquat 44, as I've not used this before in a non-hair cleansing product. (I could add up to 0.3% Tinosan into this soap as a preservative and anti-bacterial, but it doesn't play well with cationic ingredients and I really want to include my polyquats in here!)

I'm including lavender hydrosol because I like using it, and I'm including 10% aloe vera to help thicken the mixture and moisturize my skin.

I'm thinking about my fragrance in advance. What would make for a nice hand soap fragrance? I think I want something light and airy, something that won't stay on my hands for ages, so I'm thinking about using a green tea fragrance oil as it won't be too much if it doesn't wash off completely and it goes nicely with the green colour I'd like to use to fit in with the bathroom decor!

20% cocamidopropyl betaine
15% ALeS
5% SCI with stearic acid

39.5% water
3% PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate
3% polyquat 7
1% polyquat 44
3% glycerin
10% aloe vera
10% lavender hydrosol

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance
up to 2% Crothix (optional)

Weigh the ALeS, SCI, and cocamidopropyl betaine into a heatproof container and heat until the SCI has melted. Weigh the second heated phase into a heatproof container and heat until the SCI has melted in the other container. Remove both from the heat and add the second heated phase slowly, stirring as you go, until it is well incorporated. You may want to heat it a little longer to ensure it is well incorporated.

When the temperature reaches 45˚C to 50˚C, add the cool down phase BUT DON'T ADD THE CROTHIX! (Read more about Crothix here if you've never used it before.)

When the mixture has reached room temperature or has sat for at least four hours, test the viscosity. Add 1% Crothix, and mix very well. If you want it a bit thicker, add another 0.5% and stir well. Repeat until you get the viscosity you want.

So what do I think? I should have added 1% Crothix, but ended up with 2% after a slip of my hand! It's too thick with that much Crothix, but it does feel nice. It lathers well and it doesn't leave behind too much fragrance. My hands don't feel too moisturized but they don't feel too stiff and dry either. This definitely needs to be packaged in a pump bottle - I put it into a disc cap bottle so I wouldn't waste a more expensive pump bottle if it was awful - and I need to use less next time as I had quite the lather going on! (I've since moved it to a pump bottle because I like it! Hence the picture above.)

I consider this a success!

A note: My mom is apprehensive about using it because she thinks the colour makes it look like dishwashing liquid. She is very sensitive to the aesthetics of things (like my products), so if you want to make this soap in that kind of colour scheme, I'd suggest using a frosted bottle or some kind of fancy container that matches your bathroom. This really is a good topic for a post...

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating another moisturizing hand soap with emollients and polyquats!