Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning to formulate: A few small changes to consider...

As you've seen over the last two days, making some small changes in the water, cool down, and oil phases can make a big difference to our products. So let's take a look at a few other small changes we could make.

Using beeswax will make your product feel a little waxier, but used in small amounts, it can make your lotions more tenacious and less susceptible to rinsing off when washing. I like to add 2% to 3% beeswax in my day time hand lotion, and I find it stays on well after washing. It doesn't make it feel super waxy or greasy. I like to include beeswax in my scrub bars because it seems to keep the oils and butters on my skin longer. Include it at 2% to 3% by either adding to the oil phase or substituting for another oil.

I generally add my fragrance oils at 1% to my products in the cool down phase, but there are some fragrances that are really strong and should be added at 0.5% and others that are quite weak and should be added at 1.5%. You'll have to play with your fragrances to get to know which ones will be overpowering and which ones are wimpy. And different products need different fragrancing levels. For instance, for a bubble bath I might use 1.5% to 2% because you're using a tiny bit of product in a lot of water. For leave on products, like lotions or lotion bars or anything that might stay on your skin or hair, I rarely go over 1.5%. For rinse off or bath products, I might go as high as 2%, depending upon the nature of the product. In general, I find 1% for a fragrance oil works best.

For essential oils, consult your safe usage rates. Every essential oil is different, and you'll want to make sure the products aren't being used by pregnant or nursing women, kids, or the infirm. I know everyone sees essential oils as natural and therefore better, they offer effects (unlike fragrance oils) that you must know before using. For instance, the citrus essential oils can make us sun sensitive, so making an orange or mandarin or lemon essential oil lip balm is probably a bad idea for the summer. So please learn more about essential oils before including them in everything.

Chelating ingredients like EDTA can help retard rancidity in our products and act as an auxiliary preservative in our products. Adding just 0.2% in the water phase can make a huge difference!

Anti-oxidants like Vitamin E can be added to our products at 0.5% to 1% in the cool down phase to help retard rancidity. We can use it as low as 0.05%, but who has a scale that can measure that low? So 0.5% is more than enough to help keep our oils nicer longer, plus it can have a moisturizing and softening effect on our skin, so that's a bonus.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at light lotions and moisturizers, two products in which small changes can result in great products!


Topcat said...

Thanks for your guidelines!

Katherine said...

Do you have any suggestions for where to find usage rated of essential oils in percentages?

I have aromatherapy books that tell what oils should be avoided for certain conditions, but the usage rates are given as X number of drops per Y tsp of carrier oil. I much prefer to deal with percentages.

Thanks! Your blog is so helpful.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Katherine! I don't have any resources like that, unfortunately, but I'm sure I can find some. I'll do some research tomorrow morning when I have more time.