Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where to get supplies in Canada!

I've tried to put a list together of my favourite suppliers in Canada (look to the right and possibly down for the short list), but I thought I'd add a little more information. Please add any I've left off the list: These are my favourite suppliers, but I know there are more out there! As with the others, this'll go into the frequently asked questions section for future reference.

Voyageur Soap & Candle (Surrey, B.C.) - I love this place! They have a retail outlet, so I can visit any time I realize I've forgotten something on my ever growing list of things to buy (which is constantly), and they donate tons of free ingredients and packaging to my youth groups, which is very kind and generous! At least 80% of the ingredients I use in the recipes on this blog come from Voyageur, and I get all of my surfactants (except SCI) from this store. They have amazing customer service, and they have some great recipes to get you started. I can't say enough about Voyageur - they're fantastic!

Aquarius Aroma & Scent (Mission, B.C.) - Monica's recently moved her shop into a new location on her property where you can browse for products and take classes, but she does ask that you make an appointment in advance. She is also a great supporter of my youth groups, giving me discounts and donating ingredients for the groups. This is only place I've been able to find SCI in Canada (Jordapon prilled, without stearic acid) and she has great mineral make-up supplies! She has great packaging - she has quite the eye for the wonderful and unusual bottles - and she has things like pipettes I can't get elsewhere. (Thanks for the correction, Monica!)

Suds & Scents (Abbotsford, B.C.) - Tanna has a great home shop that you can visit if you call in advance. She has a great selection of fragrances, mineral make-up, and other ingredients, and I love her cake fragrance oil! She is a soap maker, and she also supports my youth groups with discounts and free items (especially on mineral make-up ingredients, which can be quite pricey).

Soapcraft (Maple Ridge, B.C.) - Karen has the best shipping and delivery I've ever seen, with the products often coming before I get the invoice! (Overnight shipping for me - I'm about 100 km away from her shop.) She has a great selection of oils and butters, and she gets Brambleberry's fragrances so we don't have to order over the border. (She recently got Clementine Cupcake, my favourite fragrance ever!!!) Karen sends me all kinds of wonderful fragrance oils and other ingredients for my youth groups, and I go to her store first when I want to buy my butters, as she always has something new (like orange butter or green tea matcha butter). She has amazing prices on Incroquat BTMS and our silicones!

Creations from Eden (Edmonton, Alberta) - Randi is working hard to get those not found anywhere else ingredients into her shop - for instance, sodium stearate, GuarSilk, and disodium EDTA - and she brings in a lot of ingredients from the Herbarie and TKB Trading to save us the shipping and customs' costs. Her customer service is excellent, and she has loads of interesting oils and butters. Love this store!

Windy Point (Calgary, Alberta) - A new shop that carries a lot of our tried and true ingredients, such as BTMS-50, oils, and butters. I haven't ordered from them (yet), so I'd love to hear from you, my wonderful readers, about your experiences.

Update: I've ordered from Windy Point now and their ingredients and shipping is beyond compare! Holy cow! Five stars all the way! And Michele is working hard to get things unique to Canada like niacinamide and PEG-7 olivate (water soluble olive oil)!

Saraphina's Coastal Colours (B.C.) have some amazing looking micas! Check out the West Coast themed names as you drool over the pretty colours!

K&W Specialties (Ontario) have all kinds of amazing molds and other soap making things! Check them out!

Saffire Blue (Ontario) - Given the number of complaints you'll read below and given my own experience with the owners, I cannot in good conscience recommend this company in any way. There are so many companies with great feedback that I have decided to remove all but this reference to the company on this blog.

I know there are more great suppliers out there, so let's see your suggestions! As usual, please note any ingredients you've not found anywhere else and what the shipping is like (and if they have a retail store we can visit on our travels!). And feel free to share your thoughts on the suppliers I've listed here!

Where to get supplies in Asia?

All right, it's your turn, Asia! Where do you find your supplies? Which suppliers offer ingredients not found anywhere else, and what do you think of their service? Do they ship to other areas and are you happy with their prices? Share your suppliers with other readers of this blog!

As with the other posts, please look for this in the frequently asked questions section of the blog for future reference!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where to get supplies in Australia/New Zealand?

Given the incredible success of the post on where to get supplies in Europe, I thought I'd ask our readers from the lands down under to share their favourite suppliers in the comments section of this post! Please share your experiences with the supplier (good selection, shipping, and so on) and if they have some harder to find ingredients. I'll put a link to this post in the frequently asked questions section so you can find them easily! (And you can click on the link under the labels on suppliers to find these posts again!)

Please note: I would recommend against buying e-books from Marlene Daniels of Soapconscious for the time being as it has been demonstrated that she has plagiarized other writers' work, and is selling this information as her own. If you are interested in her lipstick book, for instance, you can find most of the writing and recipes free on my blog. If you want to know more, please click here. 

A few questions I've been asked this week

I had this great idea last night, but I don't have time to write it properly this morning and it's coming out as a jumbled mess (I hope to have it written for tomorrow morning, but it could be Friday), so I thought I'd dip into the comments and e-mails I've seen this week and try to answer a few questions! (And the picture of my dog attacking a Christmas penguin is completely unrelated to any of these questions. I just think she's cute!)

Thanks so much for all your input on LiisK's question on where to find supplies in Europe. I've added it to the frequently asked questions section (look to the right, you might have to scroll down a bit if this is the first or second entry on the page).

If you're interested in doing a search on this blog, look up, way up, to the left hand side of the page. You'll see a little search box there. It's not a great search, but it's a search nonetheless. And look at the right hand side of the page for the "labels" section. I've tried to update a lot of posts with appropriate labels, and this will give you some way of looking through a section for something that might interest you.

Someone asked in this postHave you tried making anything with the new ICE product? If so, would you say it is just as good as the heated way? If not, why? I am not sure if it would be right for every application but it does seem like it would be a time saver for a lot of recipes.

My answer: I haven't tried the new ICE product and I'm not really sure what it's about. The blurb on MakingCosmetics.com says "Mixture to create easily stable creams using no emulsifiers and no heating..." but they are using an emulsifier (high HLB ceteareth-20) so I think they're using the word emulsifier in a different way here. The fact sheet gives no more information than the page on which you can buy it, so I'm really not sure what it's about. I really should order some, but the old credit card is still smoking from my last spree, so it'll be a while before I can order it!

I have been experimenting with cold lotion making with Sucragel, but I can't quite get into the swing of making lotions cold. I know I heat and hold to help get rid of nasties and to reach the phase inversion temperature (critical micelle concentration) for my emulsifier, and making a lotion cold just feels...well, not right. I can't explain it any other way. I trust the heat and hold system so much, I find it hard to get away from doing it that way.

From many different people: I know I'm losing water when I heat and hold my lotions. What do I do to make up for the difference?

Here are my suggestions for compensating for evaporation.

From many different people: Can you help me duplicate product X?

I might, depending on the product and the difficulty of analyzing the ingredients! I am planning a series on learning to duplicate products in the next few weeks, so I do need some ideas of what you like.

If you really want me to take a look at a product, please send me the ingredient list and the link to where I might find this list, as it's a lot of work to do the search, especially if there are spelling mistakes or you haven't specified the exact product. I'm not promising I'll have the time to duplicate it, but if it takes my fancy, I might. And I don't want to replicate products from other homecrafters, so please only send along products from large companies!

From many different people: Where can I get ingredient X?

Please specify where you live! There was a time where I could figure out where you lived based on your e-mail account, but with everyone using gmail or hotmail or other types of -mail, I have no idea where you are. I don't need your exact address or even city, but giving me the country or region means I don't send you to a Canadian supplier when you live in New Zealand! (I do have my favourite Canadian suppliers listed to the right hand side of the blog, but if you're not in Canada, that probably doesn't help!)

From p in this postI'd also like to know more about research on the use of essential oils in skin care. I'm thinking of carrot seed for wrinkles, helichrysum for inflammation, rose geranium for sebum balancing, and lavender for a variety of things.

My answer: I am not an expert on essential oils and I haven't experimented with them much, but I am researching them and will share information as I find it. I do recommend finding someone who is an expert on the topic because there are so many things to take into consideration when using essential oils - is the person pregnant or lactating? is this for a rinse off or leave on product? will this make you sun sensitive? what's the safe usage amount? - that we might not think about when we want the function or fragrance of the oil in our product.

And finally, from Ms. Bumsqueek by e-mail: Do you just pick certain questions and post them when you think enough people will be interested?

My answer: Yes. If I am asked a question over and over again, I'll write it up as a post. If I see something interesting I've never seen before, something that makes me go hmm, or something that I have to research, I'll post it. It's a pretty random process and it's really about what takes my fancy that morning!

I do try to answer every e-mail and every post as soon as possible, but I might miss something in my excitement of seeing all the wonderful things you've written in the morning. And I do have to go to work and lead my youth groups, get into the workshop, and try to have some kind of family and social life, so I might not be have time to answer right away...but I will do my best.

As a final comment for this fairly random post, I'm able to see stats about who is visiting the blog (country or region, no specifics, so your privacy is protected) and which pages you read the most. The most popular posts I've written as judged by readers over the last year? Cucumber extract, followed by C12-15 alkyl benzoate, and the preservative chart download. I'm a little confused about the first two as I wouldn't have thought they'd be the mostest popular of all the posts, but I'm glad to see people are enjoying the preservative chart. The more we learn about preservatives and the more we share about what we've learned about preservatives, the more likely people are to use them and create safe products!

Join me tomorrow when I'm slightly more coherent for more fun with learning to formulate!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cosmeceuticals: A few more ideas for facial products

I hope you've enjoyed this series on cosmeceuticals. I am planning more in the future, but I need to do some more experimenting and we know these ingredients aren't cheap! So here are a few ideas on other ways to use them in our products.

If you liked yesterday's toner, why not consider making a gel out of it? I did that very thing with Amaze XT in this post, and I'm still loving this product! This would work as an under eye cream, thanks to the slight cooling effect.

I've put together a list of the moisturizer recipes you can find on the blog in this post, and you can play with your cosmeceuticals in any of these recipes.

What about using our cosmeceuticals in a facial serum? Well, you really can't. Most of these ingredients are water soluble and most sera are oil soluble, so they aren't compatible. (If you're interested in making a facial serum, click here for an ester based one, or click here for the dry skin version, or click here for an oily skin serum.) Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

Cosmeceuticals would be great inclusions in eye creams - click here to see my attempt at creating one (I liked it, but my mom thought it was too heavy) - and I'm thinking something like beta glucan or Pepha Tight might be nice to add.

Well, I need some workshop time. This stomach flu has kept me from playing with my products for quite a few weeks now and I need some experimenting time! Join me tomorrow for more on learning to formulate as we resume that series!

Where can you get supplies in Europe?

LiisK would like to know about suppliers in Europe. Can you suggest any? I've suggested both Of A Simple Nature and Fresholi, but there must be more. If you have a supplier that pleases you, could you put that information in a comment so we can come up with a list? Please include your experiences if you've ordered from them. And, as usual, if your comment is quite clearly spam I'm removing it. This is about sharing information, not advertising!

Kim created this great PDF for European suppliers! Download it and enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cosmeceuticals: More facial product ideas - toners

Although it sounds like a great idea to include our cosmeceuticals in rinse off products, like facial cleansers, most of them won't withstand the rinsing process (much like sodium lactate and sodium PCA). But you can include them in toners, which is a good thing for those of us who can't use anything but oil free products on our faces.

A lot of commercials would have us believe that toners are for toning our skin or returning it back to its original pH, but those aren't true. Toners don't tone - that is to say, they don't firm up our skin - they remove excess surfactant and offer some moisturizing. And they shouldn't be necessary to return your skin to your normal pH as you shouldn't be altering it if you're using a good facial cleanser at the right pH (6.0 to 6.5 or so). I use my toner as a light moisturizer for those days when my skin can't handle occlusion or oils. I fill it up with all kinds of film former and non-oily emollients, and I've been known to throw in an active or two to make it super moisturizing and awesome.

I have modified my toner in the past with all kinds of great ingredients - click here for the post on min-maxing your toner - and I did write a series last year on modifying toners for your skin type - click here for the first post and hit "newer post" at the bottom to see the other posts - so how you choose to modify your toner is up to you and your skin type.

Let's take a look at an example toner for someone with oily skin who doesn't want to use a moisturizer after cleansing.

Since my goal is to reduce oiliness with this toner, I'm thinking of using some of the same cosmeceuticals I used in yesterday's oil free moisturizer, which would include niacinamide (claims it can reduce sebum production and the size of our pores at 2%), MSM (claims it can reduce oiliness and reduce pores), and salicylic acid (encourages exfoliation at up to 2%). Feel free to include other cosmeceuticals you like at the suggested amount in the suggested phases. (Do not include another exfoliating cosmeceutical in this product because you might end up with too much desquamation!)

I'm using the recipe from the min-maxed toner post, but you can use any toner recipe you like and make these tweaks by removing the percentage from the water phase. (If I'm using 2% niacinamide, 2% MSM, and 2% salicylic acid, I need to remove 4% from the water phase as I already had 2% salicylic acid in this recipe.)


MIN-MAXED TONER WITH COSMECEUTICALS
HEATED PHASE
7.5% water
30% witch hazel
25% lavender hydrosol
10% aloe vera liquid
5% liquid green tea extract
2% sodium lactate
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin
2% niacinamide
2% MSM

COOL DOWN PHASE
3% Caprol Micro Express or another water soluble ester
5% Multifruit BSC
2% salicylic acid
2% panthenol
3% honeyquat
0.5% chamomile extract
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)

Looking at this recipe, you might be asking yourself why I combined two exfoliating ingredients - Multifruit BSC, a type of AHA, and salicylic acid - into this product. The answer is this...my skin can handle it. I started off using 1% salicylic acid and no Multifruit BSC. I upped it to 2% salicylic acid and used that for a while, then adding a bit of Multifruit BSC at a time. Now my skin really likes it and I'm pleased with it. I suggest you do the same thing if you're making this toner - try a little of this, then a little of that and see how your skin reacts. You can use white willow bark at 0.5% in the cool down phase in place of the salicylic acid, but it will give it a browner colour than you see in the pictures above (the one on the left has green tea and white willow bark, hence the darker colour).

You can substitute the hydrolyzed protein with beta glucan or sea kelp bioferment, if you have those on hand. You could use resveratrol at some amount in this toner (you'll have to dissolve in a bit of alcohol before adding) or grapeseed extract, although this will give it a browny-purple colour. (I definitely recommend an opaque bottle if you're using all these extracts so it doesn't look hideous in your bathroom!)

Join me tomorrow for some more ideas on formulating facial products with our cosmeceuticals!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Using cosmeceuticals in our facial products for oily skin

Oftentimes, oily skinned people sit on the sidelines wishing we could use some of these interesting and exotic cosmeceutical ingredients, knowing that we would break out almost immediately if we added extra oils to our skin. But we can use oil free type moisturizers, so let's take a look at how we can incorporate some of these amazing ingredients into our facial products. (Click here or here for more information and recipes for oil free moisturizers.)

We can use just about any of the cosmeceutical ingredients I've written about in this series of posts because very few of them are oil based. So you'll want to assess your skin's needs and include your ingredients accordingly. I find niacinamide fascinating for oily skin as it claims that it can reduce sebum production and the size of our pores at just 2% in our heated water phase. MSM may reduce oiliness and behave as a humectant at 1% in our heated water phase. If you're worried about aging skin, a little Matrixyl 3000 might help at up to 8% in our cool down phase (we'll use it at 3% to see how our skin likes it), and we can use other ingredients like Pepha-Tight at 3% in the cool down phase or sea kelp bioferment at 2% to 5% in the heated water phase or beta glucan at 2% to 10% in the heated water phase.

I'm going to go with 2% niacinamide, 1% MSM, 3% Matrixyl 3000, and beta glucan at 2% in this recipe, but you can choose any combination you wish. This means I need to remove 8% from my water phase. Feel free to add or remove your favourite or not-so-favourite ingredients from this product, but remember to modify your water phase accordingly!

MODIFIED CATIONIC OIL-FREE MOISTURIZER FOR ACNE PRONE OR ROSACEA TYPE SKIN WITH COSMECEUTICALS
WATER PHASE
10% aloe vera
10% hydrosol of choice
56% water
2% hydrolyzed protein (high molecular weight)
3% honeyquat or polyquat 7
2% sodium lactate or sodium PCA
0.5% allantoin
2% niacinamide
1% MSM
2% beta glucan

OIL PHASE
3% BTMS
2% cetyl alcohol

COOL DOWN PHASE
3% Matrixyl 3000
2% panthenol
0.5% -1% preservative

Use the basic lotion making instructions for this recipe.

There you have it! An oil free moisturizer chock full of beneficial goodness! Join me tomorrow for some ideas on how to use cosmeceuticals in other facial products!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

If you're new to lotion making: Which ingredients should you buy?

If you're new to lotion making, welcome! This is a most addictive hobby, and I must warn you in advance that you will find yourself thinking about what you can do to tweak that lotion while you're going to bed, sitting at a boring meeting, or in traffic. You'll find packaging in drug stores really interesting, and you'll start yelling things at the TV when you see some dubious claim being made for a moisturizer.

Okay, the liability waiver's out of the way, so let's get to some ideas for ingredients.

If you're new to lotion making, I think the basic ingredients required are a few oils and at least one butter, a thickener, an emulsifier, a humectant, and a preservative. Let's take a look at each of these ingredients.

I know I've mentioned it before (find the post here on choosing oils), but I'll repeat it again. For the most part, you can substitute one oil for another in any recipe you see. You don't need to have a ton of oils to make great recipes, but using a different oil will result in a different skin feel, which is okay because you're starting out and you want to try different recipes to see what you want in a lotion!

Choose a few you like and use those in your recipes. Consider what types of lotions you want to make (and I am warning you right now, you will want to branch out to make lotions for every part of your body!) and what skin feel you want. My favourites are fractionated coconut oil (very light), soybean (light), rice bran (medium), and olive oil (heavy), with a few others I might use for specific purposes like foot lotions or facial products.

When it comes to butters, I like to have some cocoa butter, mango butter, and shea butter on hand because they offer different qualities to my products. Cocoa butter is an approved occlusive, mango butter feels dry, and shea butter is greasy.  (I like greasy products, so that works for me.) Click here for all the posts on our emollients. 

I recommend getting a thickener, either stearic acid or cetyl alcohol, or both. They're not expensive - somewhere around $3.00 a pound - so you can have both on hand. Stearic makes thicker, draggier creams and cetyl makes thinner, glidier lotions. It's good to try both to see which one you prefer.

When it comes to emulsifiers, you have a few choices. If you're just starting out, I'd recommend Polawax or Incroquat BTMS-50 for good, low chance of failure type emulsifiers. Incroquat BTMS-50 is a good choice if you like drier feeling lotions and want to branch out into hair care products. Polawax is a great emulsifier that works really well at 25% your oil phase. (I have nothing against emulsifying wax NF, but I find suppliers carry all manner of things called emulsifying wax NF and when you're starting out, you want to use the most stable emulsifier you can find). If you're choosing something other than these two emulsifiers, see if they require a thickener or some other ingredient or process to remain stable.

We have many choices when it comes to humectants. I like both sodium lactate and glycerin for my products. Both are inexpensive and both are great humectants. I use sodium lactate when the stickiness of glycerin could be annoying and I use glycerin when I was a great humectant that won't make me sun sensitive. (And I combine the two in hand lotions because my skin is surprisingly dry right now!)

And we come to the preservatives. You can choose from many different preservatives, but check to make sure when you add it to the product (heated water, heated oil, or cool down phase) and ensure your recipe is compatible (for instance, not using positively charged ingredients like BTMS-50 with Tinosan).

As the addiction grows, you'll want to add other ingredients to the mix, but these are what I consider the essentials for lotion making. Oh, and don't forget to order a few bottles and jars! You'll need something to contain your lotions, and those re-used Mason jars aren't your best choice (plus fancy packaging makes the lotion look more awesome).

You'll find a few more hints and tricks in this post on basic lotion making

Using cosmeceuticals in our facial products

So you've found a few cosmeceuticals you like and you're wondering how you can incorporate them into a lovely facial product. For the most part, you'll want to stick to leave on products like lotions or toners because a lot of them are completely wasted in a cleaning product as they'll just wash off and you'll be left with no active ingredients. Remember that you don't want to combine a bunch of exfoliating ingredients in one product as it can be too much for even the most resistant skin and you want to check your pH when you're done (click here for more information on raising or lowering pH).

So let's take a few lovely cosmeceuticals and incorporate it them into a lotion. I'm not suggesting you use all these ingredients in one lotion, but you probably could. I've already incorporated beta glucan and niacinamide into this lotion, so let's tweak it a little further. As I noted in the original post, this will have less water than a normal moisturizer, so it might be more suitable as a night cream.

I'm including Pepha-Tight at 3% in the cool down phase and 5% Matrixyl 3000 in the cool down phase, so I'll have to remove 8% water to accomodate these changes. This will be a very thick night cream for dry skin. If you have normal skin, you'll want to play with the water amounts and perhaps use the more watery lotion found in this post (scroll down to the bottom for that recipe).

MODIFIED EVEN FURTHER FACIAL MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN
WATER PHASE
20% aloe vera
20% lavender hydrosol
18% water
3% glycerin
2% other humectant
2% hydrolyzed silk protein
2% niacinamide
2% beta glucan

OIL PHASE
12% oils
4% e-wax or Polawax
2% cetyl alcohol

COOL DOWN PHASE
0.5% to 1% preservative
2% panthenol
0.5% green tea extract
0.5% chamomile extract
1% Vitamin E
2% DMAE
3% Pepha-Tight
5% Matrixyl 3000

Follow the basic lotion making instructions for this recipe. 

Wow, this is a lotion chock full of amazing cosmeceuticals! If all of these ingredients do what they promise, we should have smoother, tighter, brighter, younger looking skin in a few weeks. (That sounded sarcastic...it wasn't intended to be.) Of course, we can't expect miracles like that, but a well created facial product with great anti-oxidants, humectants, and other ingredients that will moisturize and hydrate our skin is always a good thing.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating with our cosmeceuticals!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Question: How much conditioner to use and how long should we leave it on our hair?

Conditioners are fairly awesome creations, and I always say that once you make your own, you'll never go back to store or salon bought. But we tend to use too much and leave it on too long, so what are the recommendations about its usage?

How much conditioner should we be using per wash? I remember seeing a suggestion for "the size of a dime" on the back of a conditioner bottle (when I used to buy products, so things might have changed), but that wasn't enough for my waist length, frizzy, coarse hair. I find about 20 ml to 30 ml (about 2 tablespoons) is more than enough. If you're finding it hard to spread the conditioner on your hair, either consider making your conditioner thinner or leaving some water on your hair to help it spread better. If you're using half a 100 ml bottle every time you wash, you're using way too much.

These are general guidelines and I'm sure I'll see some comments from people who need to use 100 ml per wash, so keep in mind these are a starting point and your mileage may vary. Different hair types will require different amounts of conditioner, but if you have tons of white goop on your hair before rinsing, odds are its going down the drain and you're wasting money and product. We only need a thin coating on our hair for the conditioning agents and moisturizers to do their job. And do you really want a ton of build-up?

There's almost a sense of pride in needing to use more conditioner and more intense conditioners on our hair, as if using more means we have nicer, thicker, longer hair. There's no benefit to using more than we need. You spend all this time making an awesome product only to pour half of it down the drain!

So how long should we leave conditioner on our hair? We don't need to leave conditioner on for more than 2 to 3 minutes for it to do its job. The conditioning agent will adsorb to your hair strand pretty quickly, so anything longer than about 3 minutes is kinda pointless. Those instructions just make us think that an intense conditioner - one with more conditioning agents - is more effective than a regular conditioner. There's no difference in leaving it on for 2 minutes or 10 - you'll get the same conditioning level.

Where leaving it on for longer becomes relevant is with the oils. Oils can take some time to moisturize, and those that might penetrate the hair shaft can take a little longer. But half an hour is more than enough. You can put oil on your hair and go to sleep and find it feels great in the morning (after you've washed it out), but you will get the same effect with 30 minutes or so.

Terry O'Reilly notes in the radio program/podcast Age of Persuasion that the first conditioner that came out for consumer purchase (instead of salon use) told us to use it for 30 minutes. It wasn't necessary, but it's what we knew from the salon. And we see those kinds of instructions on conditioners - especially intense ones - today.

If you're interested in learning more about making your own hair care products, please click here to see the hair care products section of this blog.

Cosmeceuticals: A summary and links

So this kinda concludes our look at cosmeceuticals. There are just too many of them to research and review, but this doesn't mean you won't see more posts on them in the future...I just need to take a break for now and focus on how to use them in our products. (If you don't know what cosmeceuticals are, click here.) And yes, I will be covering ceramides in the very near future...there's just a lot to that topic!

Here's list of what we've covered over this series as well as a few others I've covered in the past...
Some thoughts about cosmeceuticals
Testing your lotions for pH

Alpha-hydroxy acids
Beta glucan
Coenzyme Q10
Copper peptide
DMAE
GABA
Hyaluronic acid
MSM
Matrixyl 3000
Multifruit BSC
Niacinamide
Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7
Pepha-Tight
Phytonadione
Resveratrol
Salicylic acid
Sea kelp bioferment

So join me over the next few days as we include these interesting ingredients in facial products!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Question: What do you want to see next?

I'm coming to the end of the cosmeceutical series in the next week or so and wondered what you'd like to see next. Do you want to see more formulating ideas on how to use them? Do you want to see more from the learning to formulate series so you can make your own lotions?

I've had a lot of questions about hair care products lately, and I wonder if you want to see more about that? I thought the hair care section of the blog was pretty extensive, but I'm happy to answer your questions and comments.

I am playing with a couple of new emulsifiers and will be writing about those shortly, but I wonder if you want to see more about the HLB system?

Don't be limited to the questions I've posed here! What's on your mind? What intrigues you? What questions do you have burning in your mind about processes, products, or ingredients? Post a comment here and I'll put it on my to do list!

And don't bother clicking on the picture...it doesn't give out coins or invincibility stars or suits that turn you into flying raccoons with fireballs. It doesn't even make noise!

Sponsored by readers like you: Melt & pour soap!

We've used 19 pounds of soap in the last week in two classes, and you know it was good clean fun! 42 tweens and teens now know how to make melt & pour soap, and I suspect there are some moms who will be given some of these treasures for Mother's Day in May (and, I hope, a few dads in June). We also made cute little boxes and labels for cellophane bags, and they were adorable!

Melt & pour soap is an awesome project for kids, and you probably have most of the supplies already. (Click here and scroll down for the instructions for this project, although the general rule is melt, scent at 2% to 3%, colour, pour, wait, unmold, rejoice.) This is a very popular class with the kids, and they'll make them until the soap runs out. If you can get it, I do suggest low sweat soap if you're working fast - if you heat the soap up too much, you will get sweaty soap. But not so much with the low sweat soap. I bought both white and clear and it worked really well. And I definitely suggest making some cute packaging to go with the soaps (it works to keep them from eating chocolate in that class, but not really a concern in this one!)

I like to use silicone ice cube trays and chocolate molds both at home and in the classes. You can make 15 to 30 gram soaps, which are great for guest soaps and it means the kids can melt & pour and take home in as short as a 1 hour class (and the two hour class can make two batches in the same mold).

The Soap Queen's melt & pour soap technique is a great way to make your soaps look awesome (click here for my results and the link to her blog) and I love her flexible soap recipe for making sushi soap (both rolls and nigiri)! Here's my take on the cupcake soap with my recipe for soap cupcake icing with SCI.  And finally, here's my post on liquid vs. solid dyes for melt & pour soap.

As you know, our youth groups are funded by readers like you who donate by buying the e-books, Back to BasicsHair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners, and Lotionmaking 101. If you'd like to learn more about our groups and what we do, please click here.


We're learning introductory quilting next week, and we have enough to buy a new sewing machine! It's a Janome and I have to buy a walking foot for it (they don't make machines with this attachment any more?) and it should be in my hands by early next week! Thank you so much, generous and kind readers!

Today's we're enjoying an afternoon with polymer clay! It should be great fun and I'll post the pictures in a few days! The kids make such amazing things with it!

Cosmeceutical: Matrixyl 3000

Matrixyl 3000 (INCI: Glycerin (and) Water (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Carbomer (and) Polysorbate 20 (and) Palmitoyl Oligopeptide (and) Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7) contains two matrikines - Pal-GHK and Pal-GQPR. It claims that it helps to "maintain skin's youthful appearance" by offering anti-wrinkling and lifting effects. So what the heck does this all mean?

Matrikines are "peptides liberated by partial proteolysis of extra cellular macromolecules which are able to regular cell activities...(such as) proliferation, migration, protease production, and apoptosis (cell death)". Huh? Let's try this again. Matrikine "is the term proposed for fragmented matrix peptides able to regulate cell activity" (Lotioncrafter). Okay, that's a bit easier to work with as a definition. In other words, they are fragmented peptides normally found in our skin that have some kind of effect on cells.

Okay, so what else do we see in Matrixyl 3000? We see glycerin and butylene glycol as humectants and solvents, water as a solvent, polysorbate 20 as an dispersent, and carbomer to make it into a gel. The two key ingredients are the palmitoyl oligopeptide (100 ppm palmitoyl GHK) and palmitoyl tetrapeptide (50 ppm palmitoyl GQPR). And these last two are the active ingredients that make this product appealing, if you read the pamphlets. (Note there's no preservative in this...interesting...)

Correction from Robin: Palmitoyl GHK lipodated tripeptide without complexation to copper.
Which means the GHK we find in Matrixyl 3000 isn't a copper peptide. So what does that mean? It means it's GHK not GHK-Cu, which is what I wrote about in this post

Is palmitoyl oligopeptide an effective ingredient for our skin? What about palmitoyl tetrapeptide? I haven't been able to find much, if anything, on either of these polypeptides, so my only suggestion is to read the data sheets and make your own decision. Our skin likes glycerin and other humectants - they will make our skin feel moister and seem smoother - so this looks like a good product to me.

Here are two data sheets on this product. This one's more of a brochure, whereas this one contains a lot of really good information on studies and such. The suggested usage is at 3% to 8% in our cool down phase, and you'll want to store this in the fridge (the recommendation is for below 4˚C or 39˚F). This isn't an inexpensive ingredient at about $24.50 for an ounce, and using it at 3% to 8% in our products means we'll be using 3 grams to 8 grams in a facial moisturizer, so you'll want to perfect your moisturizer recipe before adding it willy nilly to everything you make. (It's about $0.82 a gram, so 3 grams works out to about $2.45 and 8 grams is $6.53 - EEK! - and I'm not including taxes or shipping in the equation.) I don't think Will and Patrick will be making their inexpensive lotions by including this ingredient!

If you have a chance, click on the second link and ask yourself this question - is the person on the front of this brochure meant to be a man or a woman, and are they really meant to look that vampiric? Ask yourself a second question - what the heck does an androgenous swimming vampire have to do with Matrixyl 3000? And ask yourself a third question - why do I keep typing MST3K instead of Matrixyl 3000? I think the last question is the only one that can be answered...I need some Mystery Science Theater 3000 and this is my brain's way of telling me that I need to watch a classic episode with my husband tonight. We watched "Mitchell" last week and "Cave Dwellers" the week before, so it might be time for "Pod People" or "The Day the Earth Froze" (I love the SAMPO!). But I digress...

Join me tomorrow for more fun with cosmeceuticals.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cosmeceuticals: Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 (formerly known as palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 for some reason) is another polypeptide we can find as a cosmeceutical, although it seems the only place I've been able to find it is in Matrixyl 3000 as palmitoyl GQPR (glycine-glutamine-proline-arganine connected to palmitic acid). It's attached to the palmitic acid to make it more oil solubility and to increase the chances of skin penetration.

It can slow the production of excessive interleukins, a group of cytokines (which are secreted proteins or signalling molecules) that promote inflammation in our skin. We know inflammation isn't a great thing - it can lead to degradation of skin's elasticity - and it appears that this polypeptide can help reduce the production of these interleukins, at least inside our skin.

I couldn't find any good studies to show that this polypeptide does what it says it does, other than in documents I found from the company itself.

Join me tomorrow a look at Matrixyl 3000.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cosmeceutical: Copper peptide (GHK-Cu)

GHK is a tripeptide that has a strong affinity for copper, so it's often called copper peptide or GHK-Cu. It occurs naturally in our blood, urine, and saliva and it is used in our bodies as a wound healer, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory that can stimulate collagen and glycosaminoglycans (or GAGs), which bind water in the skin, increasing hydration.

Glycosaminoglycans  are required in our skin for normal collagen structure and function, but too much can lead to wrinkling in photo-damaged skin. Take a look at this adorable shar pei dog - click here and scroll down - for an example of what happens when we have too many glycosaminoglycans in our skin!

But we know that things are that are awesome in our skin don't necessarily do the same things when applied on our skin, so what's the deal with GHK? Studies have shown that application of 2% GHK on patients with diabetic ulcers can show increased wound healing of 60% to 98% and a reduction of infections (1984). Other studies have shown that application of GHK to aging skin can increase the synthesis of collagen in skin's fibroblasts (the structural frame work for animal tissues, critical in wound healing) better than Vitamin C or retinoic acid and can increase synthesis of decorin, a proteoglycan that binds water and regulates water movement in our skin as well as collagen synthesis and wound healing. It also stimulates the synthesis of metalloproteinases (enzymes that break down skin's proteins), which lead to the idea that it helps in skin restructuring and remodelling. In other words, this appears to be one heck of a peptide!

There are a lot of claims about this peptide, but I've only included the ones for which I've found good studies. There are claims that it can increase hair growth, but I haven't seen a lot of evidence for this.

You might find copper peptide listed as palmitoyl GHK or Cu-GHK or just copper peptide. It is listed in Matrixyl 3000 as palmitoyl oligopeptide and we find it there at 100 ppm.

It's suggested that we use copper peptide at about 0.1% in our products, but I'm not really sure in which phase we should use it. I've seen suggestions on how to add it to already made products, so I'm thinking the cool down phase might be a good place for it (click here for more information on when to include our ingredients). I've only seen this sold in one place and it was $10.50 for 2 ml, enough for 120 ml of lotion, so this is a very expensive inclusion as a cosmeceutical. We find this polypeptide in Matrixyl 3000 (more about this in two days), which might be a more economical ingredient for most of us.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with polypeptides!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Completely off topic: Some common grammatical mistakes that make my head hurt...

I get so frustrated and kinda sad when I see the really horrible spelling on various handmade product sites, and even sadder when I see the hard work that goes into creating a lovely label only to have a huge typo on it! I admit that I will often question the veracity of a really great article on a topic if when the writer doesn't know how to use its vs. it's. I think spell check has made us lazy because it won't pick up most of these problems because they are spelled correctly but not used correctly.

So I'm offering a few suggestions for those things that generally trip us up when it comes to spelling and grammar...

Its vs. it's - If you can break the word down into it is, it has, it was then it's the contraction and you want to write it's. If you want the possessive, as in "the dog enjoyed its bone" then you don't put the apostrophe in place. I know it's a bit confusing because the possessive generally has the apostrophe in place - Susan's purse, Raymond's gorgeous hair, 7 Sushi's awesome Las Vegas roll - but in this case, the apostrophe indicates the contraction (as we find in don't, won't, shouldn't, and so on). It takes a second to ask yourself if it's the contraction (it is, it has, it was) or the possessive (its bone) and you will make those of us who are grammar obsessed so grateful. If you're in doubt, then just write it is, it has, it was instead of the wrong its/it's!

You're vs. your - Again, think of the contraction. You're means you are or you were, whereas your is the possessive. If you are talking about someone's possession - your telephone, your great conditioner, your kettle has just boiled and is perfect for a cup of tea right about now - then we use your. If you're talking about someone being something like "you're so vain", "you're so pretty" or "you're so picky about language, Susan", then you want to use the contraction. So again, break it down and figure out if you want the contraction (you're) or the possessive (your).

If you're in doubt, double check your use of apostrophes. Using apostrophes when you see any "s" at the end of a word is called the "grocer's apostrophe" because grocers used to...well, take a look at the picture to the left. So ask yourself what the word owns. If you see something like this sign, you can see just by looking at it that the groceries, newspapers, ices, and requirements don't own a single thing and the apostrophes are put in the wrong place. (Ironically, we're not sure if it should be called the grocer's apostrophe (one grocer) or the grocers' apostrophe (many grocers).) So if you're writing about your lovely bath salts or lotions, there will be no apostrophe in either of these words before the apostrophe!

Irregardless - This is not a word. Regardless means without regard. "Ir" is a suffix we use to indicate without. So irregardless means without without regard. I think this mistake comes from words like irrelevant (not relevant), so we add to to the front because it actually does sound like a proper word. But it isn't. Please stop using it!

Myself - This is used more in speech, but the word you're looking for is me or I. I used to think people who used this in conversation were pretentious, but I'm starting to think we see it because people aren't sure where to use me or I. ("George sold a dog to Raymond and myself." See how silly it looks!)

You use me if you aren't the subject of the sentence, if you aren't combined with a verb. "I don't know what he sees in me." (The verb - sees - goes with he, not me). Use I when you are the subject of the sentence, and when you are combined with the verb. "I went to the store the other day." (The verb - went - goes with I.) "Raymond and I drove to Granville Island yesterday and bought some awesome sausages." (The verb - drove - goes with Raymond and I.) "You and I have a lot in common." (The verb - have - goes with you and I.)

Yes, I'm a grammar obsessed woman and I realize that some people will think me quite pedantic, arguing the English language needs to grow and people like me are stifling creativity and then point out that hey, wait, I make up words all the time - for instance, using the word bone-ular for pain I feel in my bones (no, this isn't muscular, it feels bone-ular) or creating my own adjectives by adding a -y at the end (lotion-y, comfort-y) - and that I use dashes and parentheses with reckless abandon and start sentences with conjunctions, so where do I get off on commenting on grammar? Well, before I mention that this was quite the run on sentence, I did spend five years of my life working on a degree in English and I used to spend far too much time reading grammar books and dictionaries before I caught the chemistry bug, so I think I might be able to make a case for being allowed to make a comment or two from time to time...but more importantly it's about presentation.

When people see these kind of typos on products or in write-ups on web sites, it might make them think twice about buying from you. I get so annoyed by poorly made signs and banners around my town ("Its the best deal in town!" - argh, I get frustrated even writing that sentence knowing it's wrong!) and I actually make a point of avoiding them as punishment. I know that might seem a little ridiculous, but when you're selling a product, you need to think about the image you're presenting, and poor spelling and grammar can undo a lot of what you are trying to accomplish.

Please note, I'm not holding myself up as the paragon of grammar and spelling, and I know I make mistakes all the time so please don't write to me to quote places where I might have made a typo so you can feel all superior to me, because this isn't written from a place of superiority. I'm not standing here saying I'm awesome and you're not. I'm trying to offer some genuine help for those of us who write blogs, tweets, or posts about our products, recipes, or businesses. I'm trying to offer a handy guide for  remembering those things that we often mess up when writing. Although, if you see some typos, let me know! 

Chemistry: Peptides

Many of our cosmeceuticals boast the inclusion of peptides, but what the heck are these things? Peptides "are short polymers of amino acids linked by peptide bonds" (from Wikipedia, picture to the left). Polypeptides are "single linear chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds", and are generally no more than 50 amino acids in length, although some would draw the line at 20 amino acids. A polymer is "a large molecule (macromolecule) composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds."

Okay, let's break this down a little further. Amino acids are organic molecules that contain an amine group (the nitrogen) and a carboxylic acid group (the carbon with the double bonds to oxygen) and a side chain (the R in the picture). Amino acids are critical to all forms of life as they are the building blocks for proteins and peptides.

A peptide bond is the covalent chemical bond (where the atoms share their electrons) between molecules when the carboxyl group of one molecule reacts with the amine group of the other, producing water in a condensation reaction.

A protein is a biochemical compound with one or more polypeptides. Proteins and polypeptides both contain peptide bonds, but polypeptides tend to be a nice linear chain of molecules while proteins are huge messes of folded molecules that can be massive!

In bath & body products we see proteins, amino acids, and polypeptides as active ingredients all the time, and I'm writing this post as a precursor to a few posts on various peptide and polypeptide cosmeceuticals. So a peptide is a short chain of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. The shortest one is a dipeptide with two repeating units, then we get a tripeptide, tetrapeptide, and so on - these are called polypeptides (poly meaning "more than one", which means by definition all of the peptides we see in our cosmeceuticals are polypeptides as they have at least two portions held together by the peptide bond). A protein consists of one or more polypeptides and tend to be quite messy.

Peptides tend to do well in acidic pH environments, which isn't an issue because how many of our products are alkaline? Everything we make - except CP soap - should have a pH of 7.0 (neutral) or lower anyway, so that works for us!

A lot of the peptides we use are found in our bodies and have very specific functions in a living creature, and a lot of them are not able to penetrate our skin in a way that is beneficial. Most of the polypeptides are modified to be more available for our skin, and you might see that your peptides are listed as being hydrolyzed or processed or enzymatically digested to be smaller and more able to penetrate our skin.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at a few cosmeceuticals that include peptides.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Marketplace: Lousy Labels

Marketplace (CBC TV, click here to see the episode) ran an episode on Friday night all about poor labelling and those companies that try to make us think they are green, natural, or organic. I thought this would be an interesting show because I am getting so sick and tired of seeing the word "natural" on every product from body care products to diapers to dog food to windshield washer (okay, that last one was a lie, but the rest of them are true).

Their expert is a woman whose claim to fame is that she is an "avid label reader" and the author of a book on living green, as opposed to a cosmetic chemist or someone who could actually pronounce the ingredients she was maligning. Instead of explaining why the product shouldn't be called green or natural, the expert made comments I thought she wasn't qualified to make like parabens being estrogenic or that siloxane (cyclomethicone) has been banned by Health Canada (which it most certainly has not!) If you're interested, click here and scroll down for Health Canada's take on parabens and silicones. 

I think the points they make on the show are great - yes, we need to read labels and yes, we need to be aware of the ingredients in products - but I thought the expert made comments that weren't factual, the show didn't actually give us some ideas of ingredients we should look out for in products, and we didn't get any real information as to why these products aren't considered green or natural. I thought the host's comments about putting the responsibility on the customer was valid, but I think we as consumers need to take some responsibility for learning a little more about the products we buy. 

I'm not saying that we need to spend every waking moment learning chemistry and researching ingredients - not mentioning any names around here! - but if living green or natural is so important to someone, I don't think it's asking much to learn a little more about what we're putting on and into our bodies or homes. I get so frustrated by the bastardization of the word natural and frustrated by all the false claims about being organic or green or "good for you", so I'm glad to see a show of this nature. But I wouldn't have learned a thing about how to analyze labels, watch for those products, and avoid paying a fortune for false claims, and that's what this show used to be about! 

I used to love this show but I was disappointed to see it now airs with commercial breaks (they used to keep it ad free so they could remain unbiased and unpressured) and I miss Wendy Mesley! 

Podcast: The Age of Persuasion

For those of you unfamiliar with The Age of Persuasion (CBC radio, link to podcasts here), I encourage you to click on the link and download at least the first two episodes of season 5 that aired recently. The first on green marketing is absolutely fascinating and a real eye opener for anyone seeking out greener or more natural products. The second is about luxury marketing and how products are placed in that market. Fascinating stuff!

I've always said that if I hadn't become a family counsellor, I'd have been in advertising and marketing because I'm fascinated by the psychology of commercials and product placement. If you are selling your products or just find marketing fascinating, I really recommend that you download this show weekly and have a listen!

Cosmeceuticals: Pepha-Tight

Pepha-Tight (INCI: Algae extract from Nannochloropsis oculata and pullulan) makes claims that it can protect human fibroblasts from oxidative stress, increase the formation of collagen in our skin, and promotes a long term tightening effect.

Nannochloropsis oculata is a phytoplankton that contains high levels of B12. It is fermented to produce more of the good stuff we want in a cosmeceutical (see below). Pullalen is a glucan gum produced by black yeast that behaves as a film former and binder and also provides a skin tightening effect which can lead to a smoother skin texture.

The main consistuents of the algae and pullalan are polysaccharides, amino acids, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B12. We know polysaccharides create a light film, help with inflammation, and offer skin soothing. We know Vitamin C is a proven anti-inflammatory that can stimulate collagen formation, lighten skin, treat hyperpigmentation, and heal wounds. And we know amino acids can film form and moisturizer without oils (take a look at our proteins like silk or oat proteins). Does this combination of phytoplankton and glucan gum make your skin feel tighter? Subjective reports indicate that it does in that women who use Pepha-Tight feel that their skin is tighter.

So does it work as it is claimed? It looks pretty good. The science is there for the components like polysaccharides, Vitamin C, amino acids, and Vitamin B12, and the subjective feeling of skin tightening is reported by people who use it, so it sounds good to me.

Pepha-Tight comes as a yellowy viscous liquid that is water soluble and should be used in the cool down phase as it's sensitive to heat. Its suggested usage is at 1% to 5%, and it can be used in water soluble or emulsified products. It is easily washed off, so keep it in your leave on products as opposed to your cleansers! When storing it, the suggestion is to keep it away from light and at temperatures between 10˚C to 25˚C. It has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 and works best in products with a pH range of 5 to 7, so you won't be using this in a moisturizer with AHAs any time soon.

Here are a few recipe ideas. This eye gel sounds interesting and wouldn't need many ingredients (you can substitute the Diocide for your preservative of choice and substitute the methyl gluceth-20 for any water soluble oil you wish. And here's a facial cream with this ingredient (for the love of all that is good, please don't write to me for ideas for substitutions for the various ingredients you don't have. I will be here all day!)

I won't be formulating with this ingredient any time soon. It's not that I have any issues with whether it works or not, but it goes for $15 to $18 for 30 ml (1 liquid ounce), and that's far too pricey for my tastes! You can take any water soluble product (like a toner) or emulsified product (like a moisturizer) and add it at 1% to 5% in the cool down phase - you don't need a special recipe for it.

And here are two data sheets on this topic - find them here and here.

I really encourage you to take a look at the first one because I can't quite figure out what this possibly female, possibly vampiric, swimmer on the cover has to do with a skin tightening active. My husband and I pondered about this a good long while this morning, so there's 10 minutes of my life I'm never getting back.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with cosmeceuticals!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chemistry: Polysaccharides

I need to break for an aside here on the chemistry of polysaccharides as this is coming up more and more as I research our cosmeceuticals.

What are polysaccharides? They are "polymeric carbohydrate structures formed of repeating units joined together by glycosidic bonds" (from Wikipedia). We can find quite basic ones like two monosaccharides like glucose and fructose joined together to make sucrose or D-galactose and D-glucose joined together to make lactose (the picture above and bane of my existence!). We can find more complicated ones like starch, glycogen, cellulose, xanthan gum, guar gum, hyaluronic acid, and so on. We find a lot of polysaccharides in bath and body ingredients, so it's useful to know what they do.

In general, we use ingredients with polysaccharides as healing, soothing, and skin protecting qualities as they reduce irritation and can create a barrier between our skin and the outside world.

Some polysaccharides are considered mucilagenous, meaning they contain mucilage. Mallow, liquorice, and aloe vera all contain mucilage and this gooey stuff can create a film on our skin to protect us while soothing and reducing inflammation. (As Alton Brown calls it in his episode on okra, it's SLIME!) We can make a form of hair gel by soaking flax seed because of this slime and you can find it in chia seeds and carageenan.

Some polysaccharides are starches - like tapicoa, corn, and arrowroot powders, to name a few. These starches can be used alone in products like dusting powders that can help absorb liquids and prevent chafing, or can be included in our products to bind and thicken, like Dry-Flo. In these cases, the polysaccharides offer the skin protecting, soothing, and healing qualities as well as adding thickness (and often increasing that dry feeling) to the products.

We also find polysaccharides like xanthan gum (picture to the left), guar gum, cationic guar gum, and cationic hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) that will thicken our products and offer that light film forming. These tend to be quite complicated molecules that can create a film on your skin and make things like lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and other water based products thicker.

And some are humectants, like hyaluronic acid (scroll down a bit after clicking). As a note, glycerin is not a polysaccharide, it's a glycerol.

So if you see that an ingredient like beta glucan or sea kelp bioferment contains polysaccharides, you can extrapolate that this will be an ingredient that offers film forming and skin soothing properties. It may or may not add thickness to the product and that's something to investigate when you are considering the viscosity of a product.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cosmeceuticals: Sea kelp bioferment

I've always loved the words "sea kelp" (say it fast) and even created a "therapeutic body wash" to go with the name. But what's the deal with sea kelp bioferment?

Sea kelp bioferment is derived from the fermentaiton of sea kelp using the bacteria Lactobacillus, which breaks down the cellular walls of the kelp, which should make the insides actually beneficial to our skin. (Remember that plants have really thick cell walls, and our bodies can't break those walls down, hence the eating of our vegetables equalling good fibre for our intestines.) The claims are made that this is a soothing and emollient ingredient that should offer some oil free moisturizer and film forming on our skin.

Sea kelp bioferment is found in one of the most expensive creams around, Creme de la Mer, which goes for something like $135 an ounce. (Joe Schwarcz has a great article about this cream and the attempts to recreate it in his book Science, Sense & Nonsense. You can read a bit of it here at Google Books.). And I think this has helped to create the idea that sea kelp bioferment is some mysterious ingredient that is worth a fortune. (I found it for $7.50 for an ounce at the Herbarie, and it's about the same at other suppliers.)

So does sea kelp bioferment live up to the expectations? If you're looking for a film former and oil free emollient it will do just that. It works a lot like our hydrolyzed proteins or aloe vera in that it offers great film forming and emolliency through the proteins and polysaccharides. Our hydrolyzed proteins are broken down to make them more suitable for our skin and the fermenting of the sea kelp does the same thing. So it will behave as a great emollient and film former.

Is it better than other, cheaper ingredients? It's hard to say. I wasn't able to find a lot of information about studies or research on this ingredient, so I can't give you an evidence based answer. It seems like it should work just as well as our hydrolyzed proteins for increasing moisture in our skin through film forming and emolliency, and it sounds like it would be a great inclusion in an oil free moisturizer to increase emolliency without increasing oil content. I think you could substitute this easily for any hydrolyzed protein you're using at the moment and get similar (or possibly better) skin feel.

As an aside, if you ask me if Creme de la Mer is worth $135 an ounce, I'd have to say no. Looking at the ingredient list, the first ingredient is the seaweed algae extract, then we find mineral oil, petroleum, and glycerin. There's nothing in there that is worth $135 an ounce - especially considering that we'd find that same ingredient list in a lot of drug store products - so don't believe the hype. I'm sure it's a fine product, but very few things in life are worth $135 an ounce! Okay, maybe my adorable puppy, but she works out to about $100 an ounce when I consider the grooming, feeding, vet bills, chewed socks and underpants, and toys. 

Sea kelp bioferment comes as a thickish yellow to amber coloured liquid that is water soluble and heat stable, so we can add it to our heated water phase at 2% to 5%. I've seen that some people find the smell a bit briny, but I've been assured this odour won't show up in the final product. (I've used unfermented sea kelp extract and I found it very briny. Even my Clementine Cupcake fragrance oil couldn't save it - I just had fishy orange cupcake scent! It did feel very nice on my skin, but I couldn't get past the odour!)

Join me tomorrow for more fun with cosmeceuticals!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sponsored by readers like you: Sushi making

This is the second of two sushi making classes we enjoyed with our youth group to celebrate World Culture Month (as if we need an excuse to make sushi), and I admit I'm a bit of an addict. Raymond taught the actual sushi making - kappa maki and a California cone - and I taught the candy sushi making - Rice Krispies squares with various gummies on top wrapped up with a fruit roll up or Fruit by the Foot piece (I didn't get pictures of those because I was too busy eating them). The nice thing about making sushi is that I get to eat the ones that aren't pretty enough for the kids to take home and share with their families! (I know, my life is so hard!)

As you know, our youth groups are funded by readers like you who donate by buying the e-books, Back to BasicsHair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners, and Lotionmaking 101. If you'd like to learn more about our groups and what we do, please click here.

I post these pictures here to thank you for all the support you've given our youth groups through your donations, as well as to encourage you to make these project for yourself or share it with people in your life (it is National Craft Month, after all). If you are interested in learning more about any of the projects we do, e-mail me or comment and I can send you the handouts we give to the kids who attend. I'm all about the sharing, after all!

Today, we're enjoying some melt & pour soap making with our special Spring Break tween group and the weekly teen group. I can't wait to see what they create (and I'll share it with you as well).