Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Substitutions: Playing around with a basic recipe

As I mentioned in yesterday's post on substitutions, I simply can't make a substitutions list because substituting one ingredient for another is a matter of personal preference and context. There are some ingredients you can't leave out - for instance, you must have an emulsifier in a lotion and no water containing product should ever not have a preservative - and there are some that are optional - we don't have to have cetyl alcohol or stearic acid in every single lotion!

Learning what each ingredient brings to the recipe means you can have a field day substituting things all over the place! You've probably noticed that my basic lotion recipes contain generic terms like oils, butters, emulsifiers, and preservatives. This is because the basic chemistry of a lotion requires you to have certain ingredients, like water and emulsifiers, but you can mix and match what you want in the product. If you like a drier feeling lotion, then use BTMS-50 as your emulsifier, and mango butter and hazelnut oil as your emollients. If you like a greasier feeling lotion, then use Polawax as the emulsifier, and cocoa butter and soy bean oil as your emollients. If you have BTMS-50 but don't like a dry feeling lotion, choose babassu oil and soy bean oil or cocoa butter and sunflower or another greasier feeling butter and greasier feeling oil to compensate for the powderiness of BTMS-50. And so on.

But how do you know what kind of lotion you like? Know your ingredients, and spend lots of time in your workshop! (Look to your right - there's a whole bunch of information on ingredients there!) Everyone thinks they want a drier feeling lotion, but you're probably comparing the idea of greasy vs. non-greasy with lotions you've purchased in shops. Homemade lotions are almost always less greasy than store bought products! (Click here for my post on greasiness in lotions!)

I really recommend reading the modifying lotions with ingredients you have - part 1 and part 2 - and how to tweak that amazing recipe before continuing on with this post if you aren't that familiar with the idea of substituting ingredients. I can wait. I need another cup of tea, anyway. Welcome back! Okay, so now that you get an idea of how to substitute, let's have some fun with a recipe.

BASIC, SLIGHTLY MODIFIED LOTION RECIPE (from this post)

HEATED WATER PHASE
67% water
2% humectant

HEATED OIL PHASE
15% oil
5% butter
3% fatty alcohol or fatty acid
6% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)

COOL DOWN PHASE
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

What can you do with this recipe? Well, just about anything as it's a generic recipe and you can fill in the blanks! What oil you like? Which butter do you prefer? Do you want to use stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, or cetyl esters? Do you want a powdery skin feel or a greasy skin feel?

BASIC, SLIGHTLY MODIFIED LOTION RECIPE WITH MINIMALLY PROCESSED INGREDIENTS
HEATED WATER PHASE
67% water
2% honey

HEATED OIL PHASE
15% oils - 7.5% avocado oil, 7.5% hemp seed oil
5% butters - cocoa butter
3% stearic acid
6% emulsifier - Polawax

COOL DOWN PHASE
0.5% preservative
1% essential oil - lavender

How do you think this lotion might feel as you rub it on your skin? How will it feel after a few minutes? Do you think it has some kind of staying power or will it feel like it's been absorbed quickly? What kind of thickness can you expect?

As a note, our skin doesn't really absorb the oils - the fatty acid molecules are far too large to pass through our skin's barrier - but it might feel like it's all disappeared. It's a figure of speech, not a biological process.

Let's try another one.

BASIC, SLIGHTLY MODIFIED LOTION RECIPE WITH SILICONES & ESTERS
HEATED WATER PHASE
67% water
2% sodium lactate

HEATED OIL PHASE
5% fractionated coconut oil
6% cetearyl ethylhexanoate
5% babassu oil
3% cetyl alcohol
6% Incroquat BTMS-50

COOL DOWN PHASE
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
1% fragrance oil
0.5% preservative

How do you think this lotion might feel as you rub it on your skin? How will it feel after a few minutes? Do you think it has some kind of staying power or will it feel like it's been absorbed quickly? What kind of thickness can you expect?

Take this basic recipe and play around with it a bit to find some combinations you like, then go make it! See how you like it, and whether or not you'd do it again!

Related posts:
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Any and all the ingredients posts (look to the right for the list!)

3 comments:

Debbie said...

Thank you Susan! I am so new to formulating that I don't have enough experience yet to often know what to substitute when I don't have everything I need, but my monthly Visa statement tells me to TRY!!! These two posts with all of the links are incredibly helpful and will give me plenty of ideas to work with.

Anonymous said...

So, if oils do not penetrate our skin and hair strand it realy doen't matter which oils to use, does it? Can one add wax to a leave in conditioner?
Thanks,
Rosi

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. I've written up the answer to your comment in the post entitled what oils are good for your hair? to keep everything organized!