Saturday, September 17, 2011

Creating products: Choosing your recipe

Choosing which recipe to make can often be the hardest part of creating products. I can spend hours in the workshop looking at my ingredients, thinking about what I could make with those lovely new esters or surfactants, doing an inventory of what I need to make for my personal needs or for gift giving, and before I know it, it's time to go to work! So I always try to have an idea of what I want to make before I get into the workshop! 

What are you going to make? Are you in the mood to play with surfactants or do you want to make a lotion? Do you want a hand, foot, or body lotion? Do you want a thick, buttery cream or a light moisturizer?

What kind of lotion do you want to make? Click here for a post on that topic
How do you define a lotion, body butter, cream, or moisturizer? Click here for more! 

Let's say you've finally decided that you want a thick, greasy body butter to fight your dry, flaky elbow skin - where do you find a recipe and how do you know that it's a recipe that will work?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I'd like to suggest that you might find some recipes you might like on this blog. I think I've created for almost every type of product - except for a successful eye cream, CP soap, and a bubble bar - and I hope they can be considered good recipes. For instance, here's my basic body butter recipe that we can modify like silly to suit your needs and your supplies. 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs offering recipes for bath and body products. Some are good, some are great, and some scare me. Take everything you see with a grain of salt and ask yourself a few questions before spending your time and supplies to make that recipe. 

How can you tell if you have found a good recipe? Click here for my checklist

If you're an experienced bath and body crafter, you could create your own recipe! Here's a link to the start of the learning to formulate lotions series with a ton of links to help you out. If you're a newbie, here's a post on why I don't think you should formulate your own recipes until you have more experience. 

Your supplier is always a good resource for recipes. My favourite recipes tend to come form Lotioncrafter, The Herbarie, and Voyageur Soap & Candle. I also like the Majestic Mountain Sage blog and The Soap Queen blog for ideas. 

One of the down sides of using suppliers' recipes is that they often use ingredients we don't have at home. What can you do? Substitute your ingredients for the suggested ones! (Click here for the posts on substitutions.) This is one of the reasons I harp on and on and on about knowing your ingredients. You don't have to buy a ton of new oils to create that body butter recipe! You can use what you have and still make something great! (Here's an example of how to modify a lotion with ingredients you have on hand.) 

Learn your INCI names (click here and here)! Many suppliers will change the name of their ingredients to reflect the philosophy for their company, and the easiest way to waste money is to order the same ingredient from two or three different suppliers and not realize you've done it! (And yes, there might be a test so study hard!) 

I've tried to organize information on ingredients on this blog by category. So click here for the emollients, here for the extracts, here for surfactants, and here for preservatives. (Look to your right for the permanent links!) As well, you can find information on various ingredients on the right hand side of the blog. 

When you're crafting, make notes. Make lots of notes. Make more notes than you think you need, then write some more. For products that might be affected by heat or humidity, write the temperature and weather. Write down the type of mixer you used - hand mixer with whisks, hand mixer with beater, Kitchenaid, stick blender, spoon, and so on. Write down everything you think might be relevant. 

The way to successfully tweak a product is to make many many many notes so you know what you want to do next time. Get a fantastic notebook or binder for the workshop (you don't want to be jabbing away at an iPod touch or iPad or other computery thing when you're covered in oils and other liquids) and create a file on your computer for all those observations you'll be making when things are bubbling and mixing. If you know what you did right or wrong this time, it makes it easier to create an awesome product next time! 

To sum it all up...
1. Choose a recipe you know works well from someone you trust.
2. Substitute those ingredients you don't have with those you do. 
3. Make lots and lots of notes! 

Join me tomorrow for some thoughts on measuring our ingredients. 

1 comment:

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Welcome back Susan! I hope you feel better. It's good to see you on the blog again :-)

I drink an 8 oz. glass of orange juice (fresh squeezed by me) or some other raw juice every morning to keep my digestive tract clear and healthy. Since 80% or more of our good health begins there I pay special attention to it. This has worked for me for years :-)