Monday, November 7, 2011

Question: When making stuff, how do you know what to do? (Part 2 of 2).

Let's continue to take a look at how we might modify a template recipe to come up with what we really really want! (Click here for yesterday's post!)

What is my goal with this product? I want to make a nice glidy body butter for the upcoming dry winter months in the Fraser Valley. I want something occlusive because I don't tend to wear long sleeved shirts or sweaters ever, so I need something that will stay on my skin during the day. (Allantoindimethicone, or cocoa butter are all FDA approved occlusive ingredients!) I want to add some humectants to the mix because I want to draw water to my skin and there's enough in the atmosphere to create some moisturization without adding more oils (so I think I might add both glycerin and sodium lactate). I can pick oils and butters based on my skin type, what I can afford, what I've already purchased, and the skin feel I like.

Now that I have my goals and I know my recipe, I need to choose my ingredients. Learning what your ingredients are, how they feel on your skin, how they interact in your products, and the percentages at which you can use them is a vital process that will make your formulating time much more fun!

When I choose my ingredients, I need to know which ingredients will fit into the product, where I can get the ingredients or if I have them in my workshop, and the safe usage levels. Most importantly, I need to think about the skin feel of the product. (If you're selling products, you'll have to consider the cost of your ingredients, but I'm not worried about that now!)

I want something occlusive, so I could choose dimethicone, allantoin, or cocoa butter as my approved occlusive ingredient. Dimethicone would be a great choice because it would increase the slip and glide of my product and reduce the feeling of tackiness that could be caused by other ingredients. Allantoin might be a good choice because it causes rapid cell regeneration and proliferation, and is approved to temporarily prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked, or windburned skin by speeding up the natural processes of the skin and increasing the water content. Cocoa butter is also approved, but I don't think it's the butter I want in this product. It will make the product thicker and less glidy, although I could use it at a lower level, say 5%. In the end, I think I'll go with up to 3% dimethicone in my cool down phase and 0.5% allantoin in the heated water phase.

How did I know to go with up to 0.5% allantoin? (Which I think was the original question!) If you look at the safe as used list, you'll see we can use up to 2% allantoin in a product. But then I take a look at its water solubility and realize it is 0.5% at 25˚C, which means we can dissolve 0.5 grams of allantoin in 100 grams of water at 25˚C. If we add more than 0.5 grams per 100 grams of water, we will see precipitate form at the bottom of our container, which isn't very pleasant. (Allantoin precipitate can feel like shards!) We can use up to 2% in our creations and be safe, but we want to use 0.5% or less to prevent little bits from being in our product.

How do I know to go with 5% or less dimethicone? If you look at the safe as used list, you can see we can use dimethicone at up to 80% in hair care products or up to 24% in make-up, so let's say we can use up to 24% dimethicone in a leave on product safely. But I don't really want to use 24% dimethicone in my products. I want to leave room for other oils, like evening primrose oil for the GLA or sesame oil or rice bran oil for the lovely balance of oleic and linoleic acids, so I know I won't be using more than 10% (because that's how much oil I want to use in my product). I know that I like dimethicone at 2% to 3% in my products, so that's what I'll add to the cool down stage of the product.

How do I know I don't want to include cocoa butter? Because I've tried making a body butter with all cocoa butter before, and I didn't think it was glidy enough. I could try it again and add a more glidy fatty alcohol - cocoa butter and behenyl alcohol or cocoa butter and cetyl esters would be more glidy than cetyl alcohol - and I could try a version with more cyclomethicone and more dimethicone in it or I could use very greasy oils, but really, I just want to make a body butter in the limited time I have, so I'm not in the mood for experimenting! I know these things because I've tried it before and didn't like it!

What about my other ingredients? How do I choose those?

Humectants: I do like a good humectant, so I'm going to include both sodium lactate (or sodium PCA) and glycerin in my product. I know I can't use sodium lactate or sodium PCA at more than 3% as it might make me sun sensitive, so I'll use it at 2.5% and glycerin at around 3%. This means I have to remove 3.5% water to make up for this inclusion. I could have included 3% honeyquat in the cool down phase as both a humectant and a skin conditioner. I could have included Hydrovance at up to 20% in the cool down phase as a humectant, but it has the potential to create pH drift, and I didn't want to mess around with this product.
Decided...2.5% sodium lactate or sodium PCA and 3% glycerin in my heated water phase.

Oils: (Click here to see all the posts on emollients.) I'll choose those based on the time of year and weight. During the winter, I like to have a blend of linoleic acid and oleic acid, so I'll choose something of medium weight like rice bran oil or sesame oil. I'm out of rice bran oil, so I'll go with sesame seed oil. I would love to choose evening primrose oil - the GLA is great for helping speed up skin's barrier when damaged - but I don't have any in the house. I do like a good ester, but I want something with polyphenols and phytosterols to help heal and soothe my skin!

STOP THAT! STOP THAT! We're not allowed to make claims of a medical nature about our products, and I've just claimed that certain oils contain chemicals that might heal and/or soothe our skin, which are considered medical claims. To make these kind of statements, I'd would have to undergo extensive testing of my products. Since I can't afford testing as I don't sell my products, I'll have to re-word that last sentence. I'm not going to do that now because I think you get the general idea, but this is why we don't make our own eczema creams, dandruff shampoos, sunscreens, and so on. (We can't prove our products will work as treatment for those conditions, and anecdotes aren't data!) 

Here's a sample recipe I might make after all this thinking...

55% water
2.5% sodium lactate or sodium PCA
3% glycerin
0.5% allantoin

7% sesame seed oil (not the roasted kind!) 
15% shea butter (or butter of choice)
7% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol

0.5 to 1% preservative
3% dimethicone
1% fragrance or essential oil blend

There are a few ways you can learn how to modify your products, but the answer is really about experimenting. As you can see from above, I was able to gather information about my ingredients easily, but it really came down to what skin feel I might like. This is why I encourage people to stop reading and get making. We can plan and plan and plan, but if we don't actually make the product, we have no idea if the product feels nice or works well.

Try new ingredients, take many many notes, get your friends to give their completely honest opinion, and keep trying new things. You are going to make things you hate, but that's not a waste - it's only a waste if you make something you hate and don't remember not to make it again!

Here are a few links that might interest you...
How to research ingredients?
Keeping your notes in order.

Let's get back to the experimenting! 


Anonymous said...

could you make this with cetyl alcohol or btms as the emulsifier?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. You can use another all in one emulsifier or one you've created with the HLB system, but you'll have to make a few changes. Cetyl alcohol isn't an emulsifier, so you can't use that alone.

Anonymous said...

Just had a very good laugh at your "Stop that" comments and the photo of the military guy. Keep up the good sense of humour! Rachel.

KMY said...

I just noticed the "safe as used" list embedded in paragraph 6 -- very useful and helpful! Thanks so much!