Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creating products: Assembling your ingredients - obtaining supplies

The second step in creating products is to assemble and weigh your ingredients into the proper containers. Let's take a look at obtaining our ingredients in this post.

Where can you buy ingredients? At a bath & body product retailer, of course!

I'm fortunate in that I have three retailers within driving distance - Suds & Scents, Aquarius Aroma & Soap, and Voyageur Soap & Candle - and another with overnight delivery by post - Soapcraft. If you can, I really recommend having a supplier you can visit in person. I know this isn't possible for some of you, but if you have the choice between mail order and saving a few dollars or getting to know your local retailer and spending slightly more, I'd go with the local retailer every time. It's not just about supporting your local, but you'll have someone with whom you can discuss new ingredients and recipes and someone who can offer advice on that recipe that tanked. (And let's be honest, most of the people in your life will get that glazed look when you start going on about cationic polymers or fatty alcohols, but you can always count on your local supplier to get just as excited as you are!)

If you aren't sure where to find ingredients, check out the these posts with the information kindly provided by readers like you! (Look under frequently asked questions on the right hand side of the page for permanent linkage.)

Where to get supplies in Asia?
Where to get supplies in America? 
Where to get supplies in Australia/New Zealand?
Where to get supplies in Canada? 
Where to get supplies in Europe? 

What ingredients should you consider as a newbie bath & body products crafter? If you want to make lotions, I recommend getting the following...
  • an emulsifier - an easy to use, all in one emulsifier, like Polawax or e-wax (although I recommend Polawax as it tends to be more forgiving than any of the e-waxes. I hate to recommend it as I'm mad at Croda, but it really is good for beginners). If you think you'll be making hair care products, BTMS-50 is a good choice as well (but it does make for a drier feeling lotion and some of us - including me - aren't big fans of that!) 
  • a thickener - something like cetyl alcohol or stearic acid. These aren't expensive ingredients, so if you want to buy a little of each, that's not a bad thing. (I think each of them is about $6 a pound? I do know they are often the least expensive ingredients we use!) 
  • a broad spectrum preservative - this is not optional. I won't go into my preservatives speech here, but if I suspect any of you are leaving out the preservative, you will hear it yet again! 
  • a humectant - glycerin is a great choice as it's inexpensive and effective, but there are others like sodium lactate, sodium PCA, and honeyquat. 
  • an anti-oxidant - something like Vitamin E or ROE (rosemary oleo extract). This is kind of optional as you won't be making huge batches of product that will sit around for up to a year. 
  • a few oils and a butter - click here for some of my recommendations or click here for the listing for all the oils I've reviewed
  • bottles and jars - you will need these for packaging your products. You can't re-use containers because the oils might go rancid, so you'll want to order a few bottles (maybe some with pumps, some with disc caps, some with turret caps - the choices are endless!) and jars to ensure you have a lovely, clean environment for your amazing creations! 
Warning: Looking at packaging can be addictive. You will spend hours pondering how your creation would look in a cosmo oval or boston round, pump vs. disc cap, clear vs. coloured, and frosted vs. clear. Seriously consider the cost of shipping if you're ordering packaging from far away sites. Bottles generally come in huge containers, and I have found that you can spend up to the cost of the packaging on the postage or delivery costs! So beware! 

You can go out and buy extracts and proteins and silicones and all kinds of wonderful ingredients, but these are the basics for a lotion.

So you've got your ingredients - now what? Join me tomorrow for more on assembling your ingredients for product creation! Any suggestions to add to this post? Please comment and share your experiences and thoughts!


melian1 said...

"most of the people in your life will get that glazed look when you start going on about cationic polymers or fatty alcohols" -- oh how true!! except in my case, it is ALL the people in my life get glazed looks! lol

Lise M Andersen said...

I utterly and totally agree with melian1!! So hard to find fellow enthusiasts! (and why it is such a pleasure to read your blog Susan!)

Anonymous said...

If you live near a Container Store, they have a lot of good bottle options for cheap.

Leman said...

Hi everyone,

I am having difficulty finding the exact polawax Susan uses in her recipes in the UK. Can anyone please tell me from the link below if the one from gracefruit is the same one as Susan's please?
If not, does anyone know any suppliers in the UK that might have it?

Also, can anyone find BTMS-50 in UK or Europe?


Nedeia said...

@Leman - I have used gracefruit's polawax. I have no idea if there are different polawaxes on the market :)> So far, it has served me well, and I always used it with cetyl alcohol or stearic acid. No separating lotion so far, but I have only used it for a month or so.

I haven't seen BTMS-50 in the UK either, so if you ladies know where to buy it from, give it a shout!

Leman said...


Thanks for the reply. Susan seem to always use polawax with cetyl or cetearyl alcohol so it must be the same. I'll go and order some!

Nedeia said...

@Leman, it could be the same product, yes ... On another forum, it was mentioned that polawax could be a bit unstable, so cetyl or cetylic alcohols should be used with it. I have both, but I have never tried cetylic (both from gracefruit)

Good luck with the order!

Dawn said...

Your recipes are the best! I've used others, but yours seem to work best with no fails every time. Thank you! Keep writing, I'm learning so much!

Fran said...

Then when u have figured out what to put your product in, what labels do u recommend and that are versatile. What kind do u use?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I've written about e-wax NF today - check it out here.

Hi Nedeia! I'm not sure why someone would say Polawax is unstable because it's quite the opposite. We spend a little more on Polawax because it is known to be quite stable. It's been around for years and years and years (I can't remember how long, but at least 50) and it's worth the extra to get that stability. (I'm still annoyed with Croda, but they make good ingredients!) We use it with cetyl alcohol or stearic acid to thicken the product, not to stabilize Polawax.

Hi Fran! As for labels, here's a post with some downloadable labels and two posts on label making. The aesthetics of our products and label making: an example. I'll be going into more about label making in this series of posts!