Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Duplicating products: A few thoughts on differences between our products and commercial products

When you're duplicating products, you'll soon come to realize that the commercial products contain a lot more water and a lot more mineral oil than we generally use in our products at home. One of the reasons for using a lot more water is cost. Water is fairly inexpensive compared to oils, butters, surfactants, and everything else. You'll see a lot of thickeners in lotions - cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, and so on - to make the product thicker without using a lot of oils and butters.

The reason for mineral oil is cost and consistency. It's inexpensive and every bottle is the same. With something like sunflower oil, you might find this bottle has more oleic acid and this one has more linoleic acid. You might find this bottle is thicker than the last one. When formulating thousands, if not millions, of bottles a year, consistency is vital. When we're making our products at home, a few bottles at a time and we aren't worried if this one is slightly thicker or yellower or greasier than the last batch.

When you look at surfactant based products, you're likely to find a lower concentration of the surfactants in the products and more foam boosters, like cocamide DEA. When I make anything with surfactants, I generally go with a 40% surfactant amount (lower for facial cleansers as I really don't want to have a foamy face!) because that level makes it very concentrated and I use less. Not really the goal with commercial products.

Feel free to add the oils you like to the product. If a duplicate calls for apricot kernel oil and you don't have any, use another light, slightly greasy oil. If a duplicate calls for olive oil and you think it's too greasy, try avocado oil. Or use an ester. Or use a butter. The point of learning how to duplicate is to make the product suit your needs, for skin feel and for what you have in the house. This is why learning as much as you can about our ingredients will benefit you greatly (especially financially, which is always a bonus!)

And feel free to modify the water phase to include our lovely hydrosols, witch hazel, aloe vera, or other infusions. Because I'm trying to duplicate the product as closely as I can, I don't include these hydrosols and extracts in the recipe, but you can use them at home.

All right! Let's get to more duplicating!

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