Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Learning to formulate: What have we learned so far?

I thought I'd take a moment today to recap what we've learned so far about formulating and tweaking lotions.

I like to start by figuring out the goal of the lotion. What kind of lotion do I want to make for what skin type or body part?

Next, choose your recipe. If you want to choose from my basic recipes, you'll find I classify my lotions into four types: Creams or body butters have about 60% water, hand or body lotions have about 70% water, light lotions are about 80% water, and sprayable products or body milks have about 90% water. (Facial moisturizers fall into the 80% to 90% water range depending upon the skin type.)

Choose what you want in your oil phase. What skin feel and viscosity do you want? Do you want something occlusive with lots of butters and thickeners or something light? Do you want to include less greasy oils or esters? Have you increased the percentage of your oil phase? If so, do you need to increase your emulsifier?

Choose what you want in your water phase. Remember that any change in the amount of something in the lotion means you have to reduce the water amount to compensate (for instance, if you add 0.5% extract, you have to remove 0.5% to keep it at 100%). Do you want to add hydrosols, extracts, proteins, and other water soluble ingredients?

And choose what you want in your cool down phase. This is where we put anything that might be heat sensitive, water or oil soluble. (How do you know when to include an ingredient? Click here!)

You can choose your phases in whatever order you wish, but I find it's best to start with the oil phase because I might be increasing that and it's easier to modify the water phase after you've gone nuts with the emulsifier and other oil soluble ingredients.

Don't forget about those small changes you can make with your water and cool down phases and oil phases.

The key to all of this tweaking and formulating and playing is to know your ingredients. When you see a formulation on my blog and you want to eliminate something you don't want or add something you love, learn what that ingredient brings to the party. I really can't stress this enough - know your ingredients. (And no, I'm not asking you to be as obsessive as me!) If you're someone who has allergies or medical needs, is vegan or vegetarian, or wants to make more natural products, learning about our ingredients means that we can modify any recipe to suit our needs. My recipes reflect my preferences and what I can get locally from my suppliers (with a few exotic things thrown in). The point of learning to formulate is to create products based on your preferences, needs, and supplies.

And how do we know our ingredients? By reading about them and by playing with them. I might find the most amazing sounding ingredient, but if it costs $20 an ounce, that's probably right out. (If you want to learn more about ingredients on this blog, please check out the lists to the right. If you want to research more, here's a post on some of my favourite resources.) And don't stay in the reading and researching phase too long. Get into your workshop and start playing. Try some oils neat - if it's safe - to get a sense of the skin feel.

And keep in mind you can use these ideas for any oil based products or lotions, not just the ones you see on my blog! Tweaking is the key to finding the perfect product, and isn't that the point of making our own stuff? We want to find the perfect product for our skin type, climate, time of year, and preferences! And learning to formulate means you can do all of that!

I'll be getting into more modifications of other products shortly, but if you're interested in learning more about anhydrous products, may I suggest the Back to Basics series from last summer? Start here and work your way forward by hitting "newer post". Or consider ordering the Back to Basics e-book, which I've written as a fundraiser for my youth groups. Sorry for the shameless plug!

So let's take a look at a few more lotion recipes and answer a few nagging questions before we get into making moisturizers!

1 comment:

daniel said...

Awesome post! This is a really great "Where we've been so far" reminder. Greatful for your sharing.

This blog unequivocally is what gave me the self esteem and nudge to give a crack at lotions.

I love your blog :))))) Long live Swift!