Sunday, May 6, 2012

Query: Why are you trying to make recipes from scratch?

I'm all about making recipes from scratch, coming up with a goal and making something awesome that fulfills those requirements...but I'd like to suggest to novice bath & body creators that you spend some time with well tested recipes. We were all newbies once - I spent hours and hours reading recipes, comparing them with others I might have found, researching ingredients, and creating products in my workshops to learn - but we have to learn to walk before we go leaping over tall buildings in a single bound.

My suggestion is this - find a recipe you really like for the product you might like (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and so on) and make it. Figure out what each ingredient brings to the product, and figure out which ones you could leave out, which ones you could alter, and what you could include. Make that version. Switch up the ingredients again and again and again. Continue until you can quite literally break down any recipe you see for that product and explain what each ingredient does. Then create your own recipe from scratch. As you can imagine, you aren't going to make your first lotion on Saturday then create a recipe from scratch by Sunday - like anything in life, it takes time to get good at it, but it's so worth it!

I remember finding this really cool recipe for a foot lotion on the Dish. After I'd made it quite a few times, I decided to modify it. I sat for hours one morning at my local coffee shop trying to figure out what an alteration in the oil and butter would do do the product. I worked on different combinations - avocado oil and mango butter would feel drier while sunflower oil and shea butter would be greasier - until I found something I liked. When I tried it, it did what I expected! (I went with soy bean oil and mango with some IPM). It was such a lovely experience because that's when I knew that I knew my stuff!

I can make pretty much any recipe I want, but I still have a few recipes I found on my early days on Dish that I make the way the recipe writer intended. I love the body mousse with about 6 ingredients and nothing excessively fancy: Why mess with perfection? And I still use recipes from other people because it's nice to get out of my little box of preferred ingredients and try other things! 

My suggestion is this - if you've never made a product before, find a recipe with great feedback and make it. If you like it, make it like that again. If you don't, figure out what each ingredient brings to the product and modify it. But start with a recipe. It really is so much easier than re-inventing the proverbial wheel every single time you have an idea!


Aine said...

Good advice. Thank you.

Lila McGrew said...

Why am I making recipes from scratch? I have chemical and fragrance sensitivities, a good friend and niece with severe celiac disease and a father allergic to nuts.

Thankfully, I live in BrambleBerry's home town and their retail store holds classes for making all sorts of products. I first took a class on making natural household cleaning products. I liked it so much I took a soap making class and the rest is history.

In the last 2 years, like you, I have spent countless hours researching the raw ingredients for soaps, scrubs, lotion, conditioner, shampoo and now deodorant. I love soap and have made liquid and cream varieties in addition to cold and hot process bar soap.

Some of my early experiments didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped. Friends and family have graciously evaluated many of them while I perfected my recipes and technique. It's been fun and rewarding.