Friday, June 24, 2011

Why did I buy that? Banana fruit extract

I love bananas! They feel like a very silly fruit, all yellow and bendy, and they taste great. With high levels of potassium and Vitamin A, I try to eat one every single day! I've been playing around with powdered banana fruit extract lately, so I thought I'd share my thoughts!

Banana fruit extract (INCI Musa sapientum (banana) fruit extract) comes in a powdered form that is water soluble, so we'll want to add it at up to 0.5% in the cool down phase of our product. (I like to dissolve my extract in a little warm water before adding it to most of my products!) I've seen the same write up at far too many different suppliers, so I think it's important to quote what they're saying.

"Banana fruit powder extract is rich in potassium and Vitamin A. In formulations it has proven to be great for dry skin, and contains no known substance to aggravate or irritate the skin. Some users have used banana fruit extract by itself as a rich, moisturizing facial mask. The recommended usage rate should not exceed 0.5% of the weight of the final product."

What does this mean? Potassium is found in our stratum corneum in our natural moisturizing factor and it has has been found to reduce irritation to our skin when studied in Dead Sea Salts, so it could help reduce irritation to our skin.

Vitamin A is an oil soluble molecule that can improve skin barrier function, increase cell proliferation, increase thickening of the skin, and increase collagen production. It can also help increase skin's water retention, and it may be effective in preventing, retarding, or restoring changes associated with the aging process. It is also effective in wound healing. It is the most abundant vitamin in our skin (in the form of ester retinyl palmitate), which is hydrolyzed to form Vitamin A, which is then oxidized to produce retinoic acid (the active form).

I'm not sure about the sentence about containing no known substance to aggravate or irritate the skin. This is a bizarre thing to say in a world in which people have reactions to water, and it seems like everyone has some kind of allergy, sensitivity, or aversion to one ingredient or another. We know that too much Vitamin A can irritate our skin, and there's no evidence that other ingredients in bananas won't aggravate skin. But let's not dwell on this aspect.

Bananas themselves contain inulin, a polysaccharide that can behave as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and surfactant. (It's also a source of fibre you can find in those powdered Crystal Light beverages I like so much!) I don't know if you'll find it in this extract, but you can find it in bananas!

I've been playing with banana extract in my toners and I think I like it. I've been adding it at 0.5% in the cool down phase (dissolved with a little warm water, then added, although you could just add it directly to a toner), and I think it's making the toner a little more moisturizing. I hate to be so non-specific about it, but I put so much stuff into my toners it's sometimes hard to figure out what is causing what sensation. (Which is why I say to start simple, then add things.) I should play with this in the future with just some aloe vera, hydrosols, witch hazel, and preservative to see how it feels. I don't have dry skin, but I want moisturizing in that product!

Join me tomorrow for more fun with fruit extracts!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why did I buy that? Malic acid

Malic acid (aka hydroxybutanedioic acid) is an interesting ingredient. It's considered an alpha hydroxy acid found in things like apples and grapes. It was first isolated in apple juice, and we find a lot of it in unripe fruits, which is what gives those fruits the tartness we associate with lack of ripeness.

Alpha hydroxy acids are found in three categories according to the number of hydroxy groups. AHAs like glycolic acid are monocarboxylic acids, AHAs like malic and tartaric acid are dicarboxylic acids, and AHAs like citric acid are tricarboxylic acids. All three groups will behave like AHAs - making skin seem smoother, reducing the look of fine lines, possibly making pores seem smaller - but the latter two groups tend to be quite harsh on our skin, leading to side effects like rashes or sensitivity.

Most malic acid is derived from apples, so it's likely we'll find some AHA qualities in apple extracts (see yesterday's post). The pH of malic acid can vary between 3.0 and 5.0, so it would be useful as a pH adjuster in place of citric acid.

How do we use it? As a pH adjuster and nothing else. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review has determined that malic acid is only safe as a pH adjuster, and that there is "insufficient data to support other uses", such as use as an AHA. It is considered "safe with qualifications", and as such, we shouldn't be using malic acid in our products as anything but a pH adjuster. (If you'd like to see the official reports, click here (PubMed) or click here (CosmeticsInfo.Org) for more information.)

Join me tomorrow for more fun with fruit extracts - banana!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why did I buy that fruit extract? Apple!

How many cliches do we have about apples and health? An apple a day can keep the doctor away. Powersauce helps you unleash the power of apples!* Umm, okay, that's all I can think of at the moment, but you have to admit, there are few things that seem as wholesome as apples.

We can find three different versions of apple extract for our cosmetic formulating - the powder, the distillate, and the oil. I've found very little about the oil, so we'll concentrate on the powder and the distillate (hydrosol) for now, both of which are water soluble.

Apples and their peels contain a ton of polyphenols - quercetin, epicatechin, procyanidin, chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid, gallic acid, malic acid, catechins - but it's hard to know what's in the extract without specific information from the manufacturers (click here for a great study).

Quercetin is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and (possible) anti-viral found in a number of different fruits and vegetables - apples, tea, onion, citrus, tomato, broccoli, cherry, raspberry, cranberry, sea buckthorn, gingko biloba, olive oil, St John's Wort, mango, and grapeseed oil.

Procyanidins are part of the proanthocyanidins group, and occur as esters of gallic acid in green and black tea, grapes, and apples. They are quite unstable, reacting chemically in acid or base solutions, reacting thermally, and oxidizing easily. They are considered to have anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-HIV properties, as well as anti-oxidizing through free radical scavenging.

Chlorogenic acid acts as a low level anti-viral and anti-fungal addition to our creations. It offers anti-bacterial properties, which is one of the reasons it is suggested for acne related products. It's a good anti-inflammatory. And, of course, it is a great anti-oxidant.

Catechins are a type of flavonoid, also called condensed tannins. They offer anti-oxidizing features - they have been shown to be more effective than BHT, which is incredibly effective - as well as anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.

Apples contain Vitamin C, which is a great anti-oxidant, and it behaves as an free radical scavenger, astringent, and exfoliant. A 100 gram apple has about 6 grams, but I'm not sure how much would be found in the powder or the distillate. 

It's hard to know how much of anything is in the powdered extract, so I suggest you ask your supplier for their data sheets as we can't get information from manufacturers easily any more. There are some claims that has some salicylic acid like properties for acne, and I've seen claims that it can help with stretch marks. I've been able to confirm that it is an exfoliating ingredient - thanks to the malic acid - which means you don't want to combine it with other exfoliating extracts like papaya or white willow bark - but I can't confirm the anti-stretch mark properties. We can see that any apple extract will be filled with anti-oxidant and free radical scavenging properties and will likely have some anti-inflammatory properties. 

I've been using the apple fruit distillate from Lotioncrafters for a while now, and I love the smell of it! It's a steam distilled water that can be used at 5% to 100% in your products (it's preserved, so you can use it in a spritzer for a lovely apple-y fragrance). There are no claims for this specific product, other than the wonderful fragrance of apples. It has a pH of 5.0.

I think this would be a great addition to a facial product for someone with oily skin. Combine it with something like honeysuckle extract at 0.5% and rosemary extract or hydrosol and you've got yourself an anti-oily party going on! (I'll be writing up more recipe ideas for these extracts when I reach the end of the series in about a week! Look for more ideas then!) As with other powdered extracts, you'll want to use apple extract in the cool down phase at 0.5%. I'd suggest dissolving it in a little warm (45˚C to 50˚C) water before adding it to your product.

As a side note, there is a cosmeceutical on the market called PhytoCellTec Malus Domestica, which is an anti-aging product derived from apples. "PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica is a liposomal active ingredient based on stem cells from the Uttwiler Sp├Ątlauber apple." To learn more, please click here or here. I understand you can buy it at LotionCrafter!

And finally, you can find out more information about the apple seed oil here (a short summary). Sounds interesting.

*I keep thinking about Homer's Powersauce bars and how they contain 6 types of apples! When you put the apples in bar form, you unleash their power! "Oh, this just in...Powersauce is amazing!" 

Join me tomorrow for an aside on malic acid before we take a look at banana extract!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why did I buy that fruit extract? Strawberry

Happy first day of summer! I guess there's no better way to celebrate summer than to talk about fruit! Fruit extracts offer so much to our products - phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins, flavonoids, and anti-oxidants - and they sound lovely on a label! Just think about it for a moment. Peaches and cream, raspberries & apricot, strawberry kiwi - don't these sound just lovely! So I thought I'd take a look at some of the extracts - fruit and otherwise - you've suggested in the why did I buy that? post

When you're using fruit extracts - and, indeed, most extracts - you'll be adding them to the cool down phase at around 0.5%. For something like a shampoo, lotion, or other thick product, I like to pour a little heated water at 45˚C to 50˚C (the temperature of our cool down phase)  - not much, maybe 5 to 10 ml - into the powdered extract and mix until it dissolves. Then I add it to the product and mix well. If I'm adding it to something like a mister or toner - something that's pretty much all water - I don't bother dissolving it!

Here's a blast from the past (March 10, 2010) with a post on strawberries!

Strawberries are outstanding! We have local strawberries every year, and I can't help but buy a basket at the farm drive-throughs to be eaten the moment I get home (although not this year! SIGH!) And I love strawberry extract (INCI: Fragaria vesca (strawberry) fruit extract), which we can find in a powdered and liquid form (the liquid generally contains water or a humectant and the powder).

This extract is recommended for oily skin to help with sebum production and large pores. It is an astringent powder, thanks to the hydroxybenzoic acid gallic acid, a great wound and burn healer as well as an astringent. Chlorogenic acid is recommended for acne prone skin as it offers anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidizing properties.

The phytosterol kaempferol offers amazing anti-oxidizing and free radical scavenging properties, as well as anti-inflammatory help for reddened skin, an increase in skin's barrier protection abilities, a reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a reduction in itching and dry skin, and help improving the quality of weather damaged skin.

Strawberry extract contains Vitamin C, a great anti-oxidizing and chelating ingredient.

One of the main features of strawberry extract is the ellagic acid, which you might remember from pomegranate and borage oil and mango butter. It is being used as a post-sun exposure ingredient to prevent freckling and spots that might arise after UV exposure. It appears ellagic acid is a tyrosine inhibitor (tyrosine plays a role in melanin synthesis or melanogenesis). It can also reduce the destruction of collagen and act as an anti-inflammatory. One bonus is ellagic acid can help regenerate skin cells, which may lead to thickened skin, which can help reduce the look of aging.

Strawberries contain anthocyanidins and anthocyanins (not to be confused with proanthocyanidins and procyanadins from green tea extract), which are water soluble flavonoids that give colour and protection to plants. (They are anthocyanins when they contain a glucose molecule, anthocyanidins when they don't.) They are very good anti-oxidants, scavenging those free radicals that lead to rancidity and spoilage. The colour is dependent upon pH - when the solution is below ph 3 (very acidic), the colour is red. At neutral pH (7), they show violet, and above pH 11 (very basic) they show blue. (They can be used to determine pH level at home!) Strawberries contain between 15 to 20 mg of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins in 100 grams of fruit.

So what does this all mean for us when we use strawberry extract? We can use it at up to 0.5% in water containing creations when we dissolve it in warm water and add it to the cool down phase for some great anti-oxidant, astringent, and anti-bacterial features. A huge down side for strawberry extract - it is really hard to preserve.

POINT OF INTEREST! I'm a good preserver: I have had the odd batch of product go off after a long period of time, but strawberry extract is a mould magnet! I can make a toner with strawberry extract today and two weeks from now it will start to grow ick (and you know there's ick in there long before I can see it!), so I suggest that you use strawberry extract only in products you can refrigerate or use in a really short period of time. You can try using two preservatives together to keep it nicer longer (for instance 1% Germaben II and 0.5% Germall Plus) but it is an extract that doesn't play well with water. And don't even think about using it in a clay mask unless you make it every single time! Clay is a great breeding ground for ick, and combined with strawberry extract it will go bad very very quickly no matter how well you preserve it.

Is it worth it given all these problems? I say, yes! Strawberry extract not only has great label appeal - everyone loves strawberries! - but it's a great inclusion in facial cleansers or toners meant for oily, large pored, or acne prone skin. It's probably not the best ingredient for newbies who are unsure about their ability to preserve, but if you're a confident formulator, you can work with strawberry powder in your products. I personally wouldn't use it in a lotion as there are too many things that can go wrong. Stick to toners, sprays, cleansers, and surfactant mixtures with strawberry extract. Or consider using it in a gel toner just for a change from the liquid stuff!

Are you working with strawberry extract? What do you find works for you? Share your thoughts!

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with fruit extracts! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Junk Science

I followed a link from the Dish to a blog post at Dot & Lil's blog and arrived at this article by Joseph Schwarcz in the Financial Times written for Junk Science week called "That Lipstick on his collar is safe", which is Dr Joe's response to the Dirty Looks book (which I haven't read, for obvious reasons, but probably should because forewarned is forearmed). Makes for interesting reading!

Why did I buy that again? Cetearyl ethylhexanoate, decyl glucoside, phytokeratin, and esters

In the why did I buy that post (either this one or the other), I've noticed requests for ingredients for which I've already written posts. So here are a few posts you might have missed...

Decyl glucoside (click, and scroll down a bit) is a very mild non-ionic cleanser that works well as both a primary or secondary surfactant as it is a good foamer. It has an alkaline pH - 7 to 9.5 - so you'll have to bring your pH down with citric acid or another acidic ingredient to ensure it reaches the right pH for skin and hair. (Another data sheet states the pH is 11.5! EEK!) It is about 48% to 52% active ingredients in the surfactant, and the suggested use is 4% to 40%. This is a great ingredient for a conditioning shampoo or body wash as it improves the cationic conditioning in your products, as well as offer foam stabilization.

Click here for more information on how to adjust the pH in your products. 

A few recipes with decyl glucoside...
Philosophy's Purity Made Simple Cleanser
Creating cleansing wipes

Phytokeratin is a proprietary blend of soy, corn, and wheat proteins designed to be the best of all worlds. It has elements with low molecular weight for penetrating skin and hair, and it offers substantivity and film forming through the higher molecular weight molecules. As with other proteins, it is water, glycerin, and alcohol soluble, so this is for products containing water - anhydrous products are right out! Include any proteins in your cool down phase at 1 to 5%. (Having said this, LabRat suggested putting in the heat and hold phase, so I'm going to suggest that as well.) Click on the link to learn more and see some sample recipes!

AquaEm is very much like Caprol Micro Express, and you can use it in the same way, as a solubilizer for oils into water soluble products.

I'm not sure why you bought rooibos tea for your products, but it is lovely to drink. (I'm currently enjoying a pot of praline champagne rooibos tea and it's very tasty!) I don't suggest using it in your products - please read this post - as it is really hard to preserve teas and infusions!

And Jackie asked about esters! If you click here and scroll down, you'll see all the posts on esters from this blog. Or you can click here to get to the start at the beginning of the series and click "newer post" to continue.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with why-did-I-buy-that ingredients!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm back (in Pog form)!*

This has been one annoying cold. I lie down and I think, hey, I'm feeling good, let's go do somewhere or do something! Then I sit up and a few minutes later I'm feeling quite tired. I don't think it's a cold, though. I have some congestion, but it's mostly just exhaustion, headache, backache, muscle ache, generally achiness, and so on, so I think it might be something else. But I've been sitting up for quite a few hours now - yay! - and I've written some posts you'll see during the week from the why did I buy that series - mostly about fruit extracts (thanks for the suggestion, Lise!) but there'll be other topics! I'm hoping to get back to the Iron Chemist series after my holidays in early July when I'm planning some serious workshop time! So yay to feeling better! But I think I'll have a lie down now. Don't want to do too much in one day!

*Simpsons reference. Milhouse tells Bart that Alf is back "in Pog form", said Pogs purchased with money Milhouse made by selling Bart's soul to the Comic Book Guy. When I'm sick, I watch episode after episode of the Simpsons to make myself feel better. Warning: There will be quite a few Simpsons references in the coming days! 

Why did I buy that again? SCS-CAB blend - recipe ideas!

I love working with surfactants and I thought I'd offer a few recipes in which you could include SCS-CAB blend. I haven't made these actual creations myself as I don't have any SCS-CAB blend and using SCS and CAB in a recipe won't have the same effect, but I have no hesitation in sharing them and assuring you they will work!

A bubble bath would be a fine thing with SCS-CAB blend because we'd normally use some kind of primary surfactant that likes to foam with cocamidopropyl betaine for thickening and increase mildness. (To see more about creating bubble baths, click here.)

26.5% water
10% aloe vera
30% cocamidopropyl betaine
22% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
6% BSB (a surfactant blend)
1% glycerin
0.5% to 1% preservative
2% fragrance oil
up to 2% Crothix (read notes below)
Colouring, if desired

If you're using SCS-CAB blend, you could substitute it for the C14-16 olefin sulfonate and cocamidopropyl betaine at 40%, and increase the water amount by 12% or increase the other surfactant amount by 12%. You could use 5% cocamide DEA instead of the BSB for foam boosting, or use 5% SCI to thicken the product and make it more opaque!

If you want to leave out the aloe vera, feel free to do so. I add it because it increases viscosity of the product, meaning I need to use less Crothix. 

Mix your surfactants together until well blended, then add the water and blend well. Add the glycerin, preservative, fragrance oil, and colouring and blend well (but don't be overly zealous in your mixing, as we don't want to generate a ton of bubbles). Let it rest for a bit - say an hour or so - and check the viscosity. If you are happy with it, bottle and label it. If you aren't happy with it, then add 1% liquid Crothix and stir well. If you still aren't happy with it, add another 0.5% Crothix. You can go up to 2% Crothix, but ensure you stir very well in between additions.

If you wanted to try something different, how about this foaming scrub with SCI? I've been using this a lot lately and really loving it! I'm substituting the SCS-CAB blend for the cocamide DEA and cocamidopropyl betaine, but you could substitute any surfactant blend with the the SCS-CAB and see how it works out!

32% SCI
21.9% SCS-CAB blend
8.7% polyglucose/lactylate blend
8.7% glycerin
4.5% Cromollient SCE

2.5% glycol distearate
4.5% cetyl alcohol
8.7% soy bean oil

2.6% myristamine oxide
4.4% polyquat 7
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil

Weigh the heated surfactant phase into a heatproof container and put into the double boiler. Melt until it is kinda liquidy but mixes well. Also weigh the heated oil phase into a heatproof container and put into the double boiler. Melt until it is liquid.

Add the two phases together and mix well. You can add the myristamine oxide and polyquat 7 at any point, but wait until you reach 45˚C before adding the fragrance and preservative.

Mix this very well with a hand mixer - beaters, not whisks! - until it is fluffy. Add some exfoliants if you want. I added about 50% sugar and I really like it!

I call this a possibly foaming bath butter because I have no idea what that product feels like, but that's what it seems like to me. It's foamy and fluffy and feels very nice on my skin when I've used it in the shower. If you don't have the Cromollient SCE or myristamine oxide, don't worry - you can use some other water soluble esters, if you want, or increase your liquid surfactant amount.

body wash would also be a great product in which to include SCS-CAB blend. I have a number of body washes on this can find one hereanother one with SCI here, and another one with water soluble oils here. Substitute the cocamidopropyl betaine amount and all or a bit of one surfactant with the SCS-CAB blend. 

Want more ideas? Considering using it in a facial cleanser or a shampoo as well! (Do a search - upper left hand corner of the screen - or click on the hair care link to the right for recipes!) 

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with new ingredients!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This is why we don't get to have nice things

The Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup. Cue the riots. Cue the idiots standing in front of a flaming car throwing horns while their friend takes a picture with his smart phone. Cue the tipped over port-a-potties and destruction of the windows and looting at The Bay on the corner of Georgia and Granville. And we wonder why the Vancouver police tell us to stay away from the downtown core on New Year's Eve or Canada Day. World class city? We wish. I'm so ashamed of us.

No post today!

I hate colds! I turn into a grumpy, whiny, snivelling mess unfit for human consumption! For this reason, I shall likely be post-less for the next few days.

I realize this last month or so has been really chaotic, but it's almost back to normal. If you, my wonderful readers, can indulge me for another week or so, I'll be back with new posts on "why did I buy that" ingredients, experiments from the workshop, duplications, and Iron Chemist challenges (and, I'm hoping, two new e-books!) Feel free to make suggestions for ingredients or posts - inspiration is always a good thing! And thank you for your continued support of this blog and of our youth programs!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why did I buy that? SCS-CAB blend (sodium coco sulfate - cocamidopropyl betaine blend)

Tara suggested the SCS-CAB surfactant blend as one of those why did I buy that ingredients (if you'd like to make a suggestion, please click on the link and leave a comment there!)

SCS-CAB blend is a surfactant blend of sodium coco sulfate and cocamidopropyl betaine (about 34% to 37% surfactants). It has a pH of about 6.0 to 7.5 (great range for making products) and the suggested use is at about 10% to 40% in our shampoos, body washes, and other lathery products.

Sodium coco sulfate is related to the most hated of surfactants - sodium lauryl sulfate - with some differences. Whereas SLS is derived from lauryl alcohol (from coconuts), SCS is derived from coconuts (hence the "coco" part of the name), but contains a number of different fatty alcohols in the mix, like lauryl, cetyl, and stearyl alcohols.

Because of these extra fatty alcohols and because of the increased molecular weight, SCS is more hydrophobic and less water soluble than SLS, so it feels more moisturizing and conditioning on our skin (the way SCI feels). It's a great foamer in hard water and boosts the foam of other surfactants. It's easy to thicken with salt and things like Crothix.

SCS has a Green Star Rating of 58 (rounded from 57.7%), which is a measure of renewable resource content in an ingredient.

When we find SCS in the flake or noodle format (I have the noodle format), it is considered a good thickener and pearlizer for our products. The pH ranges between 9.5 to 12.0, so make sure you test the pH if you're using this as a substitute for SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate), which has a pH that ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 or so.

I've seen SCS used as a substitute for the SLSa and SCI in shampoo bars. If you're planning to do this - and I do plan to do it in the near future just out of curiosity - test the pH when you're still in the melty gloppy stage of the product. If you need to increase or decrease the pH of the product, please consult this post for more information.

The SCS in this product is found in liquid form (because it's in a liquid medium - water) and is combined with cocamidopropyl betaine. When SCS is combined with cocamidopropyl betaine, our products should have increased clarity, mildness, and foam volume, as well as some thickening.

So what should we expect out of this surfactant blend? We should expect a really great foamer that will also boost the foam of other surfactants, increased mildness, some possible thickening of the product, and a mild detergent. If you're using this blend, you will not need to worry about the pH level as it ranges between 6.0 and 7.5, which is where we want it to be.

Where can you use this surfactant blend? Wherever you want! It would work in any body washes, shampoos, bubble baths, and other surfactanty products you like! I think it would be especially nice combined with SCI to create a very conditioning and moisturizing body wash, or combined with something like polyglucoside/lactylate blend to create a really really moisturizing product (probably too moisturizing in a facial cleanser or shampoo for us oily girls!)

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with SCS-CAB blend!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A thought on shelf life while watching Extreme Couponing

For some reason, I can't stop watching the show Extreme Couponing on TLC, despite the fact that we can't really do that in Canada as we don't get double or triple coupon days around here and stacking is almost impossible when you only get one version of a coupon...but I digress. It seems to me to be socially acceptable version of hoarding coupled with our strong desire for a bargain, both of which are fascinating to me. (If I had that much fabric or shea butter, I'm sure I'd get labelled a hoarder and my friends, co-workers, and family would set up an intervention! But have that much soup, and you're considered well prepared for the inevitable zombie apocalypse!)

What really strikes me about this program is how the people boast with pride that they have enough body wash or deodorant to last forty years! Every bath and body product has a shelf life determined by the life of the oils or butters (generally no more than 2 years for butters, about a year for oils), surfactants (2 years), and preservatives (again, about 2 years). I know you can open a body wash and enjoy its fruity scent five years later, but there are things in there that won't be working so well, like the preservatives. Once you've opened it, you've broken that seal and you could be asking for a world of ick! So please, make sure you're checking the best before labels on your products instead of hoarding them for the time when the zombies rule the earth and we have to hide in our basement bunkers hoping we won't get bitten! (And really, are you that worried about having moisturized skin when your brains might be the main course at an all you can eat undead buffet?*)

For more information on shelf life of our products, may I suggest these posts?
Determining the shelf life of your product
Shelf lives of our products (part 1)
Shelf lives of our products (part 2)
How do anti-oxidants affect the shelf lives of our products?
Or any of the emollient posts, which should have the shelf life of each oil and butter in each individual post.

*Can you tell what nightmares I had last night?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm mobile!

I'm trying out the mobile version of the site to save bandwidth for those of you who might be surfing the 'net on a handheld device. What do you think? If you hate it, let me know and I'll change it back! I'm also trying mobile blogging. Again, if this is irritating, let me know!

Update: Since people seem to hate this, I've turned it off! Thanks for your suggestions! 

Why did I buy that? Ferulic acid - some recipe ideas

You might remember we took a look at ferulic acid, one of those ingredients we buy but never remember to use, but we didn't get around to making a lovely facial recipe with it. So let's take a look at a few products.

Ferulic acid is purported to be good for helping age spots, reducing wind and sun damage, moisturizing our skin, and behaving as an anti-oxidant. So it's a natural ingredient in toners or moisturizers, or even hand and body lotions. We use it at 0.5% to 1% in the heated water phase of our products, and it works synergistically with other anti-oxidants to offer more anti-oxidizing power from both.

I love toners (to read more about how much and why I love them, click here) and ferulic acid would be a great inclusion in a product of this nature. Since I don't use moisturizers - my skin is far too oily - I load my toner up with moisturizers, humectants, and other cosmeceuticals to make my skin feel awesome all day long! I'm going to modify my min-maxed toner to include some ferulic acid, but you could take any toner recipe you like, add 0.5% to 1% in the heated water phase, and have yourself an anti-oxidizing, moisturizing toner! (Click here for a min-maxed toner with cosmeceuticals!)

Click here for some information on modifying a toner for your skin type and the basics of making a toner. 

10.5% water
30% witch hazel
25% lavender hydrosol
10% aloe vera liquid
5% liquid green tea extract
2% sodium lactate
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% salicylic acid
0.5% allantoin
1% ferulic acid

3% Caprol Micro Express or another water soluble ester
5% Mutifruit BSC
2% panthenol
3% honeyquat
0.5% chamomile extract
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)

Weigh the heated ingredients into a Pyrex jug and put into the double boiler. Let heat until it reaches 70˚C. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down to 45˚C to 50˚C, then add the cool down phase. Allow to cool down completely, then bottle.

You can put the powdered extracts into a little container, then add a little of the heated phase (when it reaches 45˚ to 50˚C) to it and mix well. Add to the cool down phase with the other ingredients.

Salicylic acid doesn't dissolve well in cold water, but does all right in heated water. If you have sensitive skin, consider removing this ingredient or the Multifruit BSC as the two ingredients together can be quite powerful. Try 1% Multifruit and 0.5% salicylic acid if you want to use the two together.

You don't have to make a complicated toner to make a nice toner. If you want to use something like witch hazel, aloe vera, water, and ferulic acid at 1%, go for it! I use all these ingredients because I don't use moisturizer on my very oily, rosacea prone skin and I'm trying to get all the goodness I'd get in a moisturizer in this product! If you plan to use a moisturizer after washing, then make a really basic toner (if you want one at all) and save the fancy ingredients for your moisturizer! 

If you want to use ferulic acid in a moisturizer, add it at 0.5% to 1% in the heated water phase and remove 0.5% to 1% water from the recipe. Here's a list of all the moisturizers you will find on the blog (and click "newer post" at the bottom of the page to see a few more!) Choose one and add your ferulic acid to one of them.

Remember, when we add any ingredient to our recipe, we generally take the percentage out of the water phase. In this case, when we add 1% ferulic acid to the recipe, we remove 1% water from the recipe to keep the final percentage at 100%. 

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with new ingredients!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The great conditioner experiment

As you might know by now, my husband and I have long hair (and if you didn't know, you can tell by the picture to your left), which was one of the reasons I started making my own products. We both have very oily hair, and I couldn't find anything but oily roots, dry ends type products that left us feeling slightly greasy even when we washed that morning.

I love my shampoo bar for oily hair, and I love the conditioner bar, but this time of year I find a need a little more conditioning in the form of my intense liquid conditioner with all the swimming, sun exposure, and running around I'm doing. But when I add more conditioner to my hair, it gets greasier quicker. (Click here for more information on how much conditioner to use and how long to leave it in!) So I thought I'd try a little experiment to see how much conditioner my hair really needs!


73.5% water
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% cetrimonium chloride

7% Incroquat BTMS
3% Incroquat CR
4% cetrimonium bromide
4% ethylhexyl palmitate

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% cationic polymer
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

I'm diluting my conditioner and making notes of how my hair feels!

Experiment one: I added 50 grams of distilled water with 0.25 grams of liquid Germall Plus to 100 grams of product (distilled water!!!) and I've used that for three washings so far with about 3 washings left. Which means I'm using about 25 grams of conditioner per wash. I'm happy with this so far. My hair is soft, shiny, defrizzed, and detangled. It's very watery, so I've taken to just squishing the bottle over my head and running it through my hair with my fingers, with an extra amount on the ends. I've managed to get three days between washings, so that's a fine thing indeed!

If I wanted to keep this version the way it is and wanted to figure out the percentages, I would divide every ingredient by 150 and get the percentage that way. So this version has 4.67% BTMS, 2% Incroquat CR, and 2.67% cetrimonium bromide and ethylhexyl palmitate respectively.

Next experiment, adding 75 grams of distilled water and 0.37 grams of preservative to the product and seeing how that works!

Two new elements!

Two new elements have been added to the periodic table at 114 and 116, and they are - as yet - unnamed! I would like to suggest that one of them have the symbol E as it would make Periodic Table Scrabble much more fun (right now, we only have Er as an option) so I'm suggesting Embiggenium for one of them. And we don't have an A on its own (which means I can't spell Susan - Sulphur, uranium, sulphur...nothing!), so what about Awesomium? For the other one, I'm thinking Blondiedogium has an adorable ring to it or perhaps Frinkium (glavin!)

As an aside, I do think some of the comments below the story are sad and alarming. Like this one, "I'd call them ivory-tower-elitism to reflect that ordinary, hockey-watching, Tim Hortons Canadians don't really care." You're wrong! We do care! Idiot...

If you get a chance, I really encourage you to download the podcast for The Infinite Monkey Cage (Stephen Fry is on this week!!!). The fact that this radio show appears on a Monday afternoon in the UK shows me that people are interested in science!

If you had all the power, what would you call the new elements?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blast from the past: Adapting your products for summer

One of the things I think is great about making our products is the ability to modify our products not only to our personal preferences but to the weather, season, and specific climate in which we live. (I've long thought this should be a selling point for our products - specially formulated for your town or region!) I have my rainy day conditioner (fewer humectants, more silicones), which I alternate with the arid conditioner (more humectants, slightly fewer silicones). I have camping lotions (thinner and filled with humectants) and around the house in the winter lotions (much thicker and filled with everything in the workshop!) Let's take a look at how we might re-formulate a beloved product for the season! 

Let's re-formulate our body butter to make a very moisturizing, less occlusive, more soothing moisturizer suitable for making our sun parched skin happy during the summer months! We're not changing the purpose of the body butter - to moisturize our skin and make it feel good - but we will switch out a few ingredients to maximize its benefits for this time of year.

So what am I changing?

Water: I'm removing the water entirely and replacing all of it with half aloe vera, half lavender or rose hydrosol. Feel free to use all hydrosol or aloe vera here. Aloe vera is great for sun or wind chapped skin, and lavender or rose hydrosol will soothe inflamed skin. Feel free to use the hydrosols of your choice or just use all water. It's up to you...I'm also removing 5% of the water phase to increase my hydrolyzed proteins (2%) and humectants (3%).

Humectants: I want more of them, but I don't want to increase the sodium lactate above 2% as it can be sun sensitizing at 3%. So I'm including 3% humectant or cationic polymer.

Oils: Normally I'd use fractionated coconut oil (very light), sunflower (light), rice bran (medium), and olive oil (heavy) as my oils. I'm taking out the rice bran and sunflower oils for the summer. I like the olive oil in the summer as it's a humectant, so I'm going to with 3% olive oil, 7% fractionated coconut oil. You might prefer to go with all light oils to make it feel less heavy on your skin. If you want, try a few esters to make it even lighter!  

Butters: Aloe and shea all the way! I love aloe butter - again, for me in the summer, the more the better - and shea is a wonderful moisturizing butter. It's a little heavy, but it's so moisturizing, I don't mind. You can use any butters you is always nice.

Hydrolyzed proteins: I love oat protein, but the others will do the same job of film forming.

The rest of the ingredients are pretty much the same as I want the IPM to offer a less greasy feeling, I need the emulsifiers and thickeners to do their job, and the preservative is always essential!

SUMMER MODIFIED BODY BUTTER (the changes are listed in green)
55% aloe vera and/or hydrosols
2% sodium lactate
3% cationic polymer (condition-eze 7, honeyquat) or other humectant (glycerin, hydrovance, propylene glycol)
2% hydrolyzed protein of choice

10% oils (3% olive oil, 7% fractionated coconut oil)
15% butter of choice
6% BTMS, Polawax OR Emulsifying wax NF
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

0.5 to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil blend
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone

1. Weigh out your water phase in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

2. Weigh out your oil phase in a heat proof container and put into your double boiler.

3. When both containers have reached 70C, weigh out your water again (and add more hot water to compensate for any evaporation), then add it to your oil container.

4. Blend with a hand mixer or stick blender for at least 3 minutes. Repeat this process as often as you would like until the temperature reaches 45C.

5. Let cool to 45C, then add your cool down phase ingredients. Mix well with your hand mixer or stick blender, then let cool.

6. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature (a few hours), spoon into a jar and let set before using.

Feel free to modify your creations to fit the weather! Have a good summer...I'm going to get into my air conditioned car to drive to my poorly air conditioned office and think about vegging on the couch at home in our air conditioned room! (Yes, I'm not very environmentally friendly during the summer, but it's not very Swift friendly!)

I think I've said it before (yep, I have!) but it bears repeating - you can use any oil and butter combination you want in a lotion as long as you check your emulsifier amount (or re-calculate the HLB value).

Here's an exercise to consider - visit a few sites or scour your files and write down your favourite lotion recipes or ones you want to try. Make up a chart with each ingredient listed - water, humectant, oils, butters, and so on - and see what the differences might be. I think you'll be surprised at how similar the recipes are: A lot of the changes are suggestions in which oils or butters to use, which additives to include, and how to mix it, for instance, making it very fluffy. (Here are a few ideas for substitutions in your lotions and creams...)

Here's an example chart with the three lotions I've made. It's easy to see where I made changes and what the differences are, especially with the oils and butters. I use charts like this to see what ingredients bring what to the party. I can see quite clearly in the non-greasy formula why it's a non-greasy formula - BTMS instead of polawax, no dimethicone, very dry butters and oils - and I can play with those ingredients if I want it a bit greasier.

Making charts can be quite useful to see what ingredients you might want to include in your workshop. If you have only one recipe calling for Hydrovance, check to see what you could substitute so you don't have to order that ingredient for one product.

Let's take a look at how I could have formulated the summer lotion differently while achieving my goals...My goals were including oils good for during and post-sun exposure, reducing ingredients that could make you sun sensitive, reducing the feeling of oiliness, and increasing barrier protection without being too heavy. I need an oil, a humectant, a greasiness reducer, and a barrier ingredient.

For the oils, sesame and wheat germ looked nice - high levels of phytosterols and Vitamin E, so let's use those at 10% each. For the humectant, I can't use sodium lactate or sodium PCA, so I think I'll use Hydrovance at 3%. For the film former, I'll try honeyquat. And for reducing greasiness, I'll try 3% Dry-flo in the water phase.

62% water
3% Hydrovance
2% honeyquat - humectant, conditioner, and film former
20% oils - 10% sea buckthorn, 10% rice bran oil
6% emulsifier - Polawax or BTMS or other emulsifier
3% cetyl alcohol
3% Dry-flo - to reduce greasiness without using IPM
0.5% preservative
0.5% fragrance oil

Take a look at the oil phase - we only have 23.5% oils (oils, cetyl alcohol, fragrance oil), which means we need 1/4 the amount of emulsifying wax. 1/4 of 24% is 6%, so we have the right amount. But I need more water to make up 100% - I only have 94% so far - so I'll add 6% to the water phase, for a total water amount of 62%.

This lotion will feel different from the summer time lotion I posted the other day, but it achieves our goals...success!


Let's say you're looking for an "all natural" lotion. What exactly does this mean? You cannot have a 100% natural lotion because everything we use has been processed in some way. So perhaps we can define it as a lotion created using minimally processed ingredients? I have to use preservative, emulsifier, and thickeners, so right there we have at least 10% of our recipe that is processed. But we can have some fun with the other 90%!

My goals remain the same for a summer time lotion - to include oils good for during and post-sun exposure, reducing ingredients that could make you sun sensitive, reducing the feeling of oiliness, and increasing barrier protection without being too heavy. I need an oil, a humectant, a greasiness reducer, and a barrier ingredient.

We can use honey as a humectant, include aloe and hydrosols in our water phase, and use our oils. Because I don't have silicones as a barrier ingredient and honeyquat or hydrolyzed proteins as film formers, I'm going to include cocoa butter and allantoin as barrier ingredients.

I think I'll include witch hazel in this lotion as is good for sprains and bruises and insect bites. It's astringent, so it will act as the ingredient to make the lotion less greasy, in the place of IPM or Dry-flo. I could choose drier oils or butters, but I like the ones I have so I'll reduce the greasiness elsewhere.

In the water phase, I can substitute many things for the water. I'll have 10% witch hazel to reduce the greasiness, 10% aloe vera for sun exposure, and 10% hydrosol - chamomile is nice - to help with soothing. I could use apple cider vinegar or other liquids, but I don't have any in the house and this will be a nice combination.

42.5% water
10% aloe vera
10% witch hazel
10% chamomile hydrosol
3% honey
0.5% allantoin

15% oils - 7.5% sesame oil, 7.5% wheat germ oil
5% cocoa butter
3% cetyl alcohol

0.5% preservative
0.5% fragrance or essential oils

Let's check out our oils phase - 23%, so we need about 6% emulsifier, so no changes there. We have upped the water phase because we took out other ingredients, so we're using a total of 72.5% water in this lotion. This would have been a lighter lotion than the other versions, but we've added the butter back to the mix, so we should see some thickening there. And we've achieved our goals yet again - we have a lotion with some sun exposure ingredients (the oils, aloe, butter), a humectant (honey), and a barrier ingredient (cocoa butter, allantoin) that shouldn't be too greasy (witch hazel).

Join me tomorrow for fun more fun from the past! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blast from the past: What do we need in a lotion?

If we're going to rejoice in the past, I thought this post needed repeating! If you are new to making lotions, please read this post as it covers all the different components you require to make an emulsified product stay emulsified and safe! This post is permanently housed in the frequently asked questions section of the blog - look to your right! And I'm sorry it's a day late. I didn't hit "publish" - I hit save! 

WHAT DO WE NEED IN A LOTION? (Original post can be found here!)
I'm really excited to see all the tutorials popping up around the 'net for bath and body products - one day we'll all be making our own stuff and the giant corporations will fall (insert evil genius laugh here) and we'll all have lovely skin and shiny hair and overly white teeth that blind anyone passing by, but that's because we can't make our own toothpaste yet - but as with anything that's getting popular, you'll find some great tutorials and some not-so-great tutorials. So here's my short guide to figuring out if you've found a recipe you'll be adding to your regular collection or one you'll be cursing as a waste of supplies.

For a lotion, you must have an emulsifier and it should be done at the proper ratio. If you see a recipe that contains less than 25% of the oil phase in emulsifier, it may not work. So if you have 20% oils and you have less than 5% emulsifiers, it may not work. Similarly, if you see a recipe that has 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup emulsifier, you know there's way too much emulsifier and will feel pretty waxy.

Acceptable emulsifiers are emulsifying wax, Polawax, BTMS, and things like Natramulse, Sugarmulse, and combinations like glycol distearate and ceteareth-20 (check out the HLB system information for more). Unacceptable emulsifiers are beeswax (without borax), paraffin wax, or no emulsifiers at all. Beeswax with borax can act as a water in oil emulsifier; beeswax on its own will not act as an emulsifier.

If you have no emulsifier a lotion will emulsify for a short period of time thanks to the concepts of heat and mechanical emulsification. Heat something up or mix something well enough and you'll see some emulsification. This will separate in a short period of time, leaving with you with a mess of honey and water and oil and other lovely things you've wasted on a poorly designed lotion recipe.

If you see a lip balm recipe with anything water soluble - glycerin, honey, water soluble oils, stevia in glycerin - this will separate out eventually. I know it's a lovely idea to sweeten our lip balms with honey, but they simply won't stay together and the water soluble stuff will bubble up and taste really awful. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...

A good recipe will be done in weight measurements, not volume. (See this post for reasons why.) A quick summary: Weight measurements are more accurate. It's hard to figure out 1 tablespoon of a pastille type ingredient like BTMS or emulsifying wax. You will see mineral make-up recipes in volume measurements - that's understandable due to small amounts, and you can convert the recipe on your own - but all other recipes should be done in weighted measurements. And preferably in grams.

If you want to convert a recipe in percentages to weight, just convert the percentages to grams. So if you have 10% sweet almond oil, just call that 10 grams. This will give you a 100 gram batch. Then you can multiply by any number to get a larger batch. If you want to make a ton of conditioner, multiply each ingredient by 10 so you can make 1000 grams or 1 kilogram of conditioner. (So 7% BTMS becomes 70 grams of BTMS. And 2% hydrolyzed protein becomes 20 grams and so on.) Most scales have a gram setting on them and it's a lot easier to work with grams than ounces! The metric system rules! 

Anything with water must contain a preservative. GSE is not a preservative (click the link for more information). If you're making the product for yourself as a tester, use a preservative. What if you love it? What if you make a large batch and want to keep it? Don't you deserve a well preserved product? Preservatives aren't that expensive and are well worth the cost! If a recipe you think you'll love doesn't contain a preservative, add your own at the rate you know will work!

I don't get this logic - I'm only making it for myself, so I don't need a preservative. So you don't deserve a product free of bacterial, fungal, and yeast contamination? Is your skin or hair less worthy of protection? Please always use a preservative. 

Follow good manufacturing procedures for lotion recipes. There are reasons we do these things, and to not do them is to invite contamination and epic lotion fail.

If you find a tutorial that violates these rules, ignore it. You will find another lotion recipe somewhere on the 'net that fulfills your needs.

If you really want to try it because it has some lovely ingredient in it - say, sweet almond oil - remember that you can take a recipe you know and love (or one you know that works) and substitute sweet almond oil for any oil in the recipe. You've learned enough about modifying recipes to know that you can easily substitute one ingredient for a similar ingredient, right?

Remember what I was saying about names of products? Sure the Aloe & Oat Hydrating Conditioner sounds lovely but it can easily be altered to be a Lavender & Silk Hydrating Conditioner or a Rosemary & Wheat Hydrating Conditioner or even a Chamomile & Green Tea Moisturizing Conditioner when you know your ingredients. 

If you still want to try that recipe you've found but have doubts about, then you can modify it! Figure out the heated water, heated oil, and cool down phases. Adjust the emulsifier. Add some preservative. Follow good manufacturing processes. But honestly, if you can do this, you should be formulating your own recipes!

There are some recipes out there that can't be saved, and there are so many great ones out there. If you find one that doesn't work, figure out what appealed to you and find a recipe that you know will work!

If you want to know more about formulating lotions, please check out these posts from the learning to formulate series - post 1 (summary) and post 2 (more stuff). And check out those in between as well!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's your favourite summer fragrance?

It's just about summer time (well, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) and a young woman's thoughts turn to what fragrances she should choose for her seasonal products!

I'm a foodie, and I generally use things like Cream Cheese Frosting and Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (reminds me of marzipan), but in the summer months I switch to more fruity fragrances like Hello Sweet Thang, Lemon Curd, and Jewelled Citrus. But lately, I've been enjoying Yuzu, Wasabi, and White Tea & Ginger as they're fruity with real high notes. I'm also finding the Clementine Cupcake is a good, year 'round fragrance that always reminds me of cupcakes!

Do you switch your fragrances with the seasons? Which ones just scream "It's summer!" to you?

Blast from the past: Summer product ideas

We had our first taste of summer 'round these parts this week, so I thought I'd resurrect a few posts dealing with product creation for the warmer months!

If you're travelling, you'll want to make a few bars for easier packing! I never leave the house without a shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, or foot scrub bar. I don't have to shave my legs (I know, envy me) but I like to bring along a shaving bar if I'm doing a lot of swimming! (If the idea of a shaving bar is weird to you, then try a shaving lotion!)

There are many ways you can adapt your products for summer fun. You can add more aloe for apres sun soothing, you can increase the humectants to draw more moisture to your skin, and you can change your oils to increase the linoleic acid oils to help with any barrier damage you might incur! I know I always need products for my feet - a foot lotion, a more intense foot cream, and modified body butter that becomes a foot cream - thanks to my habit of never wearing socks in the summer! And I know I need some serious exfoliation this time of year, and nothing works better for me than an emulsified sugar scrub in a zingy summer scent (Jewelled Citrus and Hello Sweet Thang are always favourites, although I'm really enjoying Melissa's Froot Loops blend - 1 part lemon curd, 1 part cream cheese frosting!)

I love my summer lotions to be light, although sometimes I need something a little more intense, like a body butter, for after swimming and camping fun!
I need my summer time fun aloe cooling spray to keep me cool, and I need an apres sun exposure aloe spray for my friends who don't seem to realize sunscreen is essential (or you can turn this into a gel)! (The summer time fun aloe cooling spray also works to take smells out of shoes - or at least make them smell minty - and it's great for spraying on really warm feet!)

If you're a sewer,  you could make a few cool ties, a sunglass or dual layer sunglass case, and a headband to keep your hair out of your eyes! And if you like food and eating it outside with friends, try making a shrimp boil! These are a summer staple around our house once corn season starts!


You probably change your fragrances for the summer months, so why not tweak your ingredients to suit the climate? (In fact, you probably already do this in adding humectants and the like, so think of it as a possible selling feature if you're in business!) I'm not a fan of hot weather, humid or not, so I like to re-formulate my products to maximize my cooling and moisturizing.

What are my summer needs? I don't really get out into the sun that much as Raymond has vitiligo and we have to be very careful with his sun exposure (although we do use more than our fair share of sun screen!) I don't tan - I go straight to burn, so I want something to soothe my skin when I have been silly enough to spend time outside without sun screen. (In my defence, I am an outreach family counsellor, so I go to people's homes and other places all day long. I might end up going for a long walk and my sun screen might not be effective a few hours after application. I do need to be more vigilant, but I never know what's going to happen!) I get warm very quickly, so I want to feel as cool as possible. And my hair gets very oily very quickly, so I want maximum degreasing power in my shampoo! Keeping these needs in mind, how can I modify my products for maximum summer awesomeness?

Hair products: I notice my hair gets oilier faster in the summer months so I modify my shampoo bars for maximum degreasing. I switch to all DLS mild and Bioterge 804 and leave out the Amphosol CG, and switch from cocoa butter to orange butter for its wonderful degreasing properties. For the conditioner, I skip the intense conditioning - only on the ends - and go for more detangling properties. (I usually have to keep my hair up in the summer, and it gets really really tangled!)

If you're the swimming type, you might find your hair is drier than normal. Tweak your favourite conditioner by adding more BTMS and cetyl alcohol or add more oils.

Body products...
Oil choices: I switch out to lighter oils that are very moisturizing or good for post-sun exposure. I also use a lot more olive oil in the summer - I like the resemblance to human sebum, but the humectant-y qualities are a big bonus! For my summer sugar scrub, I like to go from about half sunflower, half olive oil to about 90% olive oil, again for the moisture retention.

Butter choices: I like to use a lot of aloe butter in my summer body butter. And I generally use fewer butters in my day time moisturizing lotions so they're less occlusive.

Hydrosols (scroll down a bit if you click the link): I like to switch a lot of my water portion to aloe or lavender for anti-inflammation, cell regeneration, and soothing. Oh, and Voyageur just came out with a few more hydrosols - peppermint, chamomile, and rosemary - so you know I'm going to use the peppermint in my new summer cooling spray! The chamomile will be great combined with the lavender in a toner, and the rosemary will offer extra goodness to a liquid shampoo or conditioner!

Humectants (here and here): I live in a humid area, so the more humectants, the better. For moisturizing lotions or sprays, I go for maximum humectancy! I go nuts combining various humectants - hydrovance, honeyquat, glycerin, and sodium lactate in this spray, condition-eze 7, cromoist, and propylene glycol in another. Go wild with humectants! (But remember that over 3% sodium lactate can make you sun sensitive, so it's always a good idea to stay at 2% or lower!)

Hydrolyzed proteins: I like my hydrolyzed proteins, and I include them in everything to begin with, but in the summer I use them as film formers and moisturizers in place of heavier, more occlusive oils or butters. My summer spray uses the proteins in place of oils and I find it very moisturizing.

Body wash: I like to increase the conditioning agents in my body wash to act as a moisturizer throughout the day. So I'll include up to 5% condition-eze 7 or honeyquat, and I increase the proteins in it to about 4%.

For a light lotion suitable for summer, please check this post from April 6: Make a light lotion.

Join me tomorrow for another blast from the past! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blast from the past: Photoaging

PHOTOAGED SKIN (original post found here!)

How do we define aging skin? It is skin that has...
  • dermal and epidermal atrophy (sagging, wrinkling, coarseness)
  • reduction in amount of collagen
  • hyperkeratosis (thickening of the stratum corneum)
  • reduced number of melanocytes, Langerhans cells, and fibroblasts
  • shortening of the telomeres on our chromosomes
  • reduction in sebum production
What causes aging? There's the natural deterioration of our bodies as we age - it's theorized this has to do with the shortening of the telomeres on our chromosomes (the specialized structures that shield the end of our chromosomes), but there's nothing we can do about that! It's a genetic thing, and it's the stuff of science fiction that we can play with those telomeres to extend our lives or our appearance. We can control the effects of the external world on the aging process, so let's take a look at our exposure to various chemicals and the sun and how it affects our skin.

Photo-aging is defined as aging due to exposure to the sun. UVA light (longer wavelength, 320 to 340 nm) penetrates deeper into our skin to mess with the keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts (these are cells that give skin its strength and resilience). It also acts to generate reactive oxygen species in our skin (like the superoxide anion, hydroxyl radicals, and peroxides), which can provoke DNA damage. UVA produces long term actinic damage (the photo-chemical effects of exposure to the sun) and melanin formation or tanning.

UVB light (a shorter wavelength, 280 to 320 nm) can also generate reactive oxygen species, and can damage DNA directly. It contributes to immunosuppressive, mutagenic, and carcinogenic effects of sunlight. UVB light is the main cause of acute sun burn and sun tanning effects - UVA light makes up about 15% to 24% of these effects.

Reactive oxygen species lead to the depletion of skin's natural anti-oxidant system, which causes oxidative stress, which can lead to tissue damage.

Too much sunlight can also result in an inflammatory response, either by sunburn or through overexposure. Inflammation can result in a sunburn - redness, swelling, and pain - or in the break down of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Once these are broken down through inflammation, it's really hard to build them back up.

All three can be maintained by use of topical retinoids. Collagen can be maintained by Vitamin C (oral or topical), or copper peptide. Oral glucosamine may help maintain our levels of hyaluronic acid. But nothing can rebuild lost elastin, oral or topical.

Sunburns are particularly awful for our skin. Sunburn is defined as chronic inflammation with the release of proteolytic enzymes of the inflammatory system that disrupts the dermal matrix (collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid). The redness, or erythema, is produced by the inflammation.

How do you know if Mr. Sun is the culprit in your skin concerns? Here are a few symptoms (other than a deep sunburn)...
  • actinic keratosis - thick or scaly patches on your skin
  • solar elastosis - vertical creases, deep wrinkles, or loose and sagging skin (thanks to the breakdown of collagen and elastin)
  • yellowing of your skin
  • senile purpura (age spots)
  • solar comedones - small cysts on our skin (treat with acne related products)
  • broken blood vessels - like those found in rosacea type skin
  • extreme dryness, roughness, or laxity of the skin
  • fine or coarse wrinkles (not really all that helpful 'cause we all get these!)
How can we treat aging or wrinkled skin?

Moisturize! Use those oils, butters, humectants, and cationic ingredients to make your skin feel well hydrated and smooth. Our sebum production drops after about age 50, and is almost down to nothing by age 70. Moisturize often and well!

Use surface smoothing agents like quaternary compounds, hydrolyzed proteins, and silicones to treat skin roughness.

Retinoids, topical and oral, can help reverse fine wrinkles, skin pigmentation issues, and rough skin surfaces. But there are lots of lovely side effects to topical retinoids that almost everyone will see such as inflammation, scaling, and redness. (I used prescription Retin-A for quite a few years to help with acne, and it ruined my skin permanently! Not that this will happen to you!)

Alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (also known as salicylic acid), which will remove superficial layers of skin to exfoliate. You can also use light exfoliation to accomplish this goal.

Although some studies show that topical anti-oxidants aren't as effective as taking oral anti-oxidants (specifically Vitamin C), we can use Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, and the plant anti-oxidants, specifically green tea polyphenols, soy isoflavones like genistein and daidzein, pomegranate oil or extract tannins, and resveratrol in grape seeds. (Click here - emollients - to see more about polyphenols and phytosterols!) 

UV protection is essential! Use at least 15 to 20 SPF every single day! (Read yesterday's post - click older post at the bottom of this one - to learn more!)

Want to know more about the chemistry of our skin and the various skin types, then click here! This is a permanent link at the right hand side of the page under "links to lists". 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blast from the past: Sunscreens

Since my week isn't getting any less busy and I won't have time to write any really original posts, do any experimenting in the workshop, or enjoy some research, I thought I'd do a week of blast from the past posts, those posts that you might not have seen because they're so far back on the blog! Today's selection? Sunscreens! What they are, why we use them, and why we shouldn't make our own! 

WHAT DOES SPF MEAN? (Originally found here...)

What is sun protection factor or SPF? How is it defined? SPF is defined as...
the dose of UV radiation required to produce 1 minimal erythema dose (MED) on protected skin after the application of 2 mg/cm2 of produce divided by the UV radiation to produce 1 MED on unprotected skin.
In other words, it's how much of this stuff you need to use to protect your skin from a dose of radiation that would affect unprotected skin. The higher the number, the more protection you should get. (Sort of...see the post below on sunscreens!) 

"Water resistant" sun screen must maintain its SPF after immersion in water for 40 minutes. "Very water resistant" sunscreen must maintain its SPF after immersion in water for 80 minutes.

Broad spectrum or full coverage sunscreen will protect against both UVB and UVA rays.

So why do we care about sunscreen? Because it is one of the key things you can do every single day to slow down the photo-aging process (join me tomorrow for that topic...)

And please don't make your own. There are so many factors that go into making sunscreen and we can't test it to make sure it is effective! (If you are interested in learning more, this is a great PDF on the topic. So much to think about!)

WHAT EXACTLY IS SUNSCREEN? (Original found here)

Yep, it's that time of year again (at least in the Northern Hemisphere)! It's time to buy buckets of sunscreen and make sure Mr. Sun doesn't make us all red and unhappy! We definitely need to be wearing sunscreen!

There are two types of sunscreen ingredients - physical blockers and chemical blockers. The physical blockers are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both of which work by preventing the sun's rays from reaching our skin by reflecting and dispersing them. The chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultra-violet rays and keep them from penetrating the skin. They are great at blocking about 95% of the UVB rays, but very little UVA. The degree of absorption depends on the type and concentration of chemical sunscreen. Ideally, you'd have a combination of the two in your sunscreen.

To get maximum sunscreen-age, apply it about 15 to 30 minutes before going into the sun so it can penetrate the keratinous layer of your skin. Re-apply it regularly every 2 to 4 hours, and especially if you've been swimming or sweating a lot.

The physical sunscreens are unlikely to cause a reaction on our skin - any reaction you might have is thanks to the other ingredients in the sunscreen - so if you have sensitive skin, stick with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and be okay with looking a little ghostly (I like this on my face, not so much on my legs!) These sunscreens might feel a little draggy, but it's a small price to pay to avoid sunburns!

If you're out in the sun - meaning, if you ever go outside - don't forget to protect your nose and lips. Your nose gets the most sun exposure, so sunscreen it well. And our lips can be protected with as little as your lipstick on a cloudy day, or with a water resistant sunscreen or lip balm during a sunny day.

Don't forget to get a good pair of UV blocking sunglasses. They'll protect your retinas and they'll make you squint less - and less squinting means fewer wrinkles, so you're looking good as well as feeling good!

How does SPF work? It's all about you! Let's say you burn after 10 minutes in the sun. SPF 15 will get you 150 minutes in the sun. SPF 30 will get you 300 minutes in the sun. But you have to re-apply after about 2 hours with a non-water resistant sunscreen anyway, so what's the point if you take 20 minutes to burn and you have to re-apply it after about 120 minutes? Because SPF 15 will block out about 93% of the UV rays, and SPF 30 will block out about 97%. For very fair skinned people, going from SPF 30 to 50 might get them another 1% coverage. Might not be a big deal for someone who has dark skin, but if you're like my husband (more below), that 1% could mean the difference between a slight reddening of his skin and a burn.

So how do we make our own? We don't.

As you may or may not know, my husband has vitiligo, a condition that leaves him without melanin in big patches in his skin and hair. (This is what they say Michael Jackson had, the condition that was making him white. As Raymond is already quite fair skinned, you don't notice it much.) So we buy sunscreen by the bucketload in the summer to ensure he isn't at risk for burning, which can happen in a few minutes for him. If I could make sunscreen that I could guarantee would work for him, I'd make it. But there are so many factors that go into ensuring a sunscreen works, I don't feel confident that it will prevent him from agonizing pain.

If you're considering making your own sunscreen, there is a lot of chemistry to know. You have to worry not only about the pH of a sunscreen but the emulsification of our lotion when making a sunscreen. As well, how do you know how effective your chosen sunscreen might be? Only by going into the sun and seeing if it works, and anecdotal evidence is not data - it might have been a cloudier than normal day, you might have been under a tree, you might have really sun resistant skin that doesn't burn for 30 minutes or more! If you have a fair skinned friend, she might burn in 10 minutes, and the product that works well for you might mean sunburn for her! 

There are so many scary things out there on the 'net about sunscreen, and I won't give them any validity by putting them into this post. The way I see it? Sunscreens block out the sun's rays. Sun makes me burn. Anything that prevents unnecessary pain today and wrinkling tomorrow works for me. (Click here for a post on pigmented skin through sun exposure and here for a post on photo-aging.)

Yes, I know anecdotes aren't data and this last paragraph is my opinion, but I really haven't found any valid studies showing that sunscreen causes more harm than good. 

If you're worried about sunscreens, then don't use them. Or choose sunscreens containing only certain ingredients, but not others. I hope I've shown you why we shouldn't make our own...

If you want to try a zinc oxide cream - very nice if you've had a little too much fun in the sun - may I suggest this recipe from Voyageur? I've used it for soothing various problems and I like it! I did tweak mine to include 10% aloe vera - good for post sun exposure - and added 2% hydrolyzed protein to the heated water phase and 2% panthenol to the cool down phase. Feel free to switch the stearic acid for cetyl alcohol for a slightly less thick but more glide-y product. And switch the oils if you wish

Want to know more about the ingredients in sunscreen? Then click here for zinc oxide and click here for titanium dioxide. And click here for a post on micronized ingredients (it's kinda long with lots of studies and links, so I thought it wiser to link to it than copy it here!).