Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Question: Why did you start making your own products?

Catherine asked the question in this post, and I thought I'd put it out to everyone here...How did you start making your own products?

I think I've told you this story before, so bear with me if you've heard it...I was teaching craft groups to youth in my community, and the bath bombs in our group failed. I wanted to know why, so I did a search and came upon the Dish forum. I found the answer to my question - I was using the wrong type of citric acid and it was too humid that day - and I found all kinds of recipes for making my own products! I was especially interested in the hair care products because I couldn't find anything in the shops for oily or greasy hair that wasn't oily roots/dry ends, which didn't work for me. (Look at your local drug store in the hair care aisle. I think the only product is Head & Shoulders!) I made a lotion, some hair stuff, and I was hooked.

When people hear that I make bath & body products, they automatically assume that I'm making "all natural" products, which seems to be the jumping off point for most of us as newbies. Funny enough, I was hooked by the chemistry almost immediately, and I never really set out to make things that were natural or organic...I wanted to use silicones and cationic quats and everything else I could find in my local suppliers.

My first products were bath salts, bath bombs, and melt & pour soap. I bought a hand mixer with whisks to make an awesome cocoa and mango whipped butter, then I tried hand lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. I spent a week in late summer reading the archives from the Dish forum - I would research a product, make it, write up my notes, then return to read more. I started in June and by October I was creating my own recipes. (My first one was a conditioner.)

How did you start? What was the first product you made? If you haven't made something and you're still in the reading phase, what's keeping you from making those products? What's your favourite product to make?

As a secondary question, should I bring back the Newbie Tuesday? 

Related posts:
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a lotion! 
Newbie Tuesday: A little more information on lotion making
Newbie Tuesday: It's time to make lotion! 
Newbie Tuesday: You made lotion! 
Newbie Tuesday: Next week's project
Newbie Tuesday: Tomorrow's project
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make body butter!
Newbie Tuesday: You made body butter! 

29 comments:

Lise M Andersen said...

First product: lip balm. I was 15 and had found a book on 'Make your own cosmetics'. I LOVED the smell of the beeswax and got hooked right then and there and started doing other products as well.

There was a huge long pause from this first period of kitchen cosmetics to when I picked it up again (read: moving to another country, learn new language, marry, work etc etc).

I got back into it in earnest when the cost of the super pricey 'natural' brands I was using got me curious enough to start researching the ingredients on the label. "What the heck in here is making this product so gosh darn expensive?"

Turned out I was paying an arm and a leg for mineral oil based products (and NOT plant-based as they advertised!).

That tipped the scales for me. I hate liars!

Sciarretta Farms said...

For me, I saw a random comment on a homeschooling forum about someone making their own soap, and I thought HOW COOL, and started researching. I found About.com's amazing soapmaking pages and started reading all the oil labels in my grocery store. I found palm, coconut and olive oil, and found lye in the automotive store (this was Norway) and soon made my first soap based on that using Soapcalc.

When we moved to the New Mexican desert, my skin was not happy, so I soon started making soap again and then other products. I try to stay as natural as possible while still being safe, not so much for myself anymore, but because my customers want that.

Sciarretta Farms said...

For me, I saw a random comment on a homeschooling forum about someone making their own soap, and I thought HOW COOL, and started researching. I found About.com's amazing soapmaking pages and started reading all the oil labels in my grocery store. I found palm, coconut and olive oil, and found lye in the automotive store (this was Norway) and soon made my first soap based on that using Soapcalc.

When we moved to the New Mexican desert, my skin was not happy, so I soon started making soap again and then other products. I try to stay as natural as possible while still being safe, not so much for myself anymore, but because my customers want that.

Sciarretta Farms said...

For me, I saw a random comment on a homeschooling forum about someone making their own soap, and I thought HOW COOL, and started researching. I found About.com's amazing soapmaking pages and started reading all the oil labels in my grocery store. I found palm, coconut and olive oil, and found lye in the automotive store (this was Norway) and soon made my first soap based on that using Soapcalc.

When we moved to the New Mexican desert, my skin was not happy, so I soon started making soap again and then other products. I try to stay as natural as possible while still being safe, not so much for myself anymore, but because my customers want that.

Sciarretta Farms said...

For me, I saw a random comment on a homeschooling forum about someone making their own soap, and I thought HOW COOL, and started researching. I found About.com's amazing soapmaking pages and started reading all the oil labels in my grocery store. I found palm, coconut and olive oil, and found lye in the automotive store (this was Norway) and soon made my first soap based on that using Soapcalc.

When we moved to the New Mexican desert, my skin was not happy, so I soon started making soap again and then other products. I try to stay as natural as possible while still being safe, not so much for myself anymore, but because my customers want that.

Sciarretta Farms said...

For me, I saw a random comment on a homeschooling forum about someone making their own soap, and I thought HOW COOL, and started researching. I found About.com's amazing soapmaking pages and started reading all the oil labels in my grocery store. I found palm, coconut and olive oil, and found lye in the automotive store (this was Norway) and soon made my first soap based on that using Soapcalc.

When we moved to the New Mexican desert, my skin was not happy, so I soon started making soap again and then other products. I try to stay as natural as possible while still being safe, not so much for myself anymore, but because my customers want that.

Nedeia said...

I have started to use handmade soap while I was pregnant (I was on my EWG phase, afraid of "toxic chemicals" and sh*t :) ). Then, after giving birth, I needed a diaper rash ointment, as the ones I have bought (emulsions packed with ZnO) weren't helpful. So, my first product was an anhydrous one - a mixture of beeswax, shea butter, sweet almond oil, argan oil and some other oils/butters). That healed my daughter in 2 days, after weeks of torture :)

At the same time I have started to make my own soap, which was incredibly cool :). Then I have continued with lip balms and body butters (anhydrous).

Just the next year, after starting to read more and more (different forums and blogs) I have started to rethink my position regarding EWG and I have stepped in the beautiful world of emulsions :). My first ever was a basic hand & body cream. And I have started to use reaqdy-made recipes, then I have started to tweak them a bit, and now I am making my own from scratch. Recently I have also started to make my own hair care products, starting from shared recipes and working my way trough , adapting to my own needs.

I would not do it otherwise :). Oh, well, if I could turn back time and erase my EWG period, that would be awesome. Lots of wasted time and energy believing all that crap :))

Sara @Osmosis said...

A friend was teaching me how to make bath bombs and I saw all the other fun things she kept in her bucket including empty lip balm tubes. I excitedly asked if we could make a lip balm. First try not so great, but I went home and found my own supplies and perfected my recipe. Next was anhydrous lotions... a simple 3 ingredient emulsion lotion and lots of fun playing. Life gets in the way of spending more time on it... been out of conditioner for a while now and finally made time last week to restock the deodorant... your welcome. :)

Mychelle said...

In early 1998 I picked up a book by Paula Begoun that sparked my interest in cosmetic ingredients. In O cutover of that year I saw a book by Janice Cox (Natural Beauty at Home - sweet but no preservatives; that sleeved me even then) at a used book store and was sold on the idea of making my own lip balm (being a lip balm fiend). I've been making products ever since! From there I entered the workd of emulsified products and never looked back, except to read every label at the drugstore). It was so much about natural, but my ingredients were simewhat limited for a ling time. I mostly made balms and simple emulsions for the next eleven years and then I found you and the Dish. You took my formulations to a whole other level, and opened the door to the world of hair products. I love formulating, creating, and using my own products (formulating is the most fun). I haven't bought a lotion in 14 years and I never will again. Thanks for opening up a whole world of ingredients to me! Adding, I've still never made a bath bomb or a bar of soap!

Mychelle said...

Typos! Not easy typing on the iPhone with a toddler on my arm. I really can spell! :)

Kirk said...

I actually kind of described it already in the thread on sun screens. I am allergic to one of the common ingredients in sun screen (or, more likely, a byproduct of the UV degradation of one of the common chemical sun screen agents). It get skin covered in lovely little itchy, blistery pustules, and if I get any near my eyes, they goop up and swell shut. It's pretty lovely, and it's always a roll of the dice when I use a chemical sunscreen as to whether I will react or not.

100% mineral sunscreens are the only thing that's absolutely safe for me to use, but many of those formulations are both pretty lousy, from a skin feel and usability standpoint, and pretty expensive.

A 100% mineral sunscreen seemed like a pretty simple beastie, so I decided to try making my own.

It's very effective, and I was hooked on the science of formulating, and the smoke and mirrors that exists in a lot of cosmetic marketing. So I started experimenting with other products.

Lip balms, lotions, a variety of anhydrous moisturizers, bath scrubs (which are _awesome_), scrub bars, and other goodies. And so it goes, always learning.

J said...

Yes! I say bring back Newbie Tuesday!

d.anaya said...

I fell in love with body butter but it was getting expensive so I looked into and found recipes on the net and made my own body butter and scrub and everyone liked it so I thought, "why not?". I love doing this.

TikiBarSoap said...

I bought a cold process shampoo bar at the farmers market last year, and after doing a bit of research plus a big push from my friend, who said "you are a chemist, you can make soap!" I decided to give it a go. I ordered some NaOH from amazon and then made a few batches of herb infused unscented soap for my first few batches. I was determined to keep my products "crunchy" and was not going to use any fragrance oils or preservatives or chemicals. Then I started getting requests for a "chai tea" scented soap or a "bubblegum" scented soap, so I read up and found that most fragrance oils are phthalate free, so I ordered some fragrance and some oxides and made some soap and sold it at a local craft fair (after getting insurance, of course!). I was hooked by this point, and started experimenting with other things, including lip balms, lotion bars, lotions (yes, with preservatives, lol), bath bombs, and facial masques. I, like Lisa, suppose I was drawn into the idea that I wanted to remove my dependency on Ulta and Sephora and Lush (yes, I used to shop at all 3 of these stores) and save some money on beauty products, while being able to use what I make and then sell my products to others who may also be spending an arm and leg at big name stores for mostly packaging. I have only been at it a year, but I have learned so much and there are so many new things I would like to try. I think one of the most important things I have learned so far is balancing my "crunchy" avoidance of unnecessary chemicals while making a product that works and uses the safest ingredients out there. Now I have a balance of about 1/2 essential oil and 1/2 fragrance oil soaps, and I offer both anhydrous products as well as lotions and scrubs that do contain a small amount of preservative. Next on the list is your syn-det. shampoo bar recipe, I am dying to try it!

Itunu said...

First product I made was actually a lotion (now, looking back, I made the most difficult thing first!). I did lots and lots of research - I practically read the whole of swift's website before making my lotion. I also read loads on thedishforum. What got me started - I have v v dry skin on my face and body and found it hard to find creams which are moisturising enough and are reasonably priced so my first goal was to save money and make something more occlusive but just as spreadable as body shop's hemp body butter. I reached my goal and because I'm so addicted to trying out new ingredients and can't resist tweaking, I'm now on my 17th version of a lotion. I also branched into lip balms, scrubs, surfactants and then finally CP and HP soap. I love creating new recipes for lotions, trying out new ingredients and my other passion is now making CP soap - I love the way you can make it look and the creativity. Swift - I'm so grateful to you for sharing your knowledge.

Littlebird said...

I started with hot process soap. I wanted to make handmade stocking stuffers for my family. I made that soap for 6mths-1yr and then tried CP and fell in love with swirling. Lotion bars and bath bombs were next, than shampoo and conditioner bars. Emulsifying scrubs, toners and lotions are the newest things I've tried, and love making.

Robert said...

I have been involved in the commercial manufacture of cosmetic products since 1981, the majority of my adult working life. I graduated in Biochemistry from university but I learned much practical experience from my (late) father who had a PHD in organic chemistry. He taught me about the method of scientific experimentation and ‘there is always another way never-give-up approach’.

After all these years I have maintained my enthusiasm about ingredients combining them in unique ways to make new products. The industry is constantly changing with new ingredients and trends. It takes constant studying and experimenting to keep up.

I really like this blog as it is very unique within the industry. There is so much to learn - nobody can possibly know it all. One topic leads to another topic. Thank-you Susan. Keep posting!

melian1 said...

i came in wanting to make a face cream that could help with my skin because i had a lot of weight to lose and knew i'd be getting mountain-sized wrinkles if i didn't do something to sorta help things along. so i started with face cream. then i went to lotion - i've never had a purchased lotion suit me and formulating one of my own has been incredible. from there i went to lotion bars, soap (it took me 2 years to get up enough bravery to attempt cp soap), and most recently body wash and shampoo.
i started with recipes found on the web, found the dish, and thru the dish found my way here. the rest is history.
i can't thank you enough, swift, for the information and help you provide.

Aljonor said...

I too was looking for hair products for my course hair and found none. I started my first concoction by using pure aloe vera from the leaf and then added jojoba oil and camellia oil. I liked the results but the process was too messy and I had to throw away the whole leaf after using 1/4 of it. So, I started to search the web and realize that I could make my own, but everyone was using commercial products and just added oil. I did not want to do that because it was not my own master-piece; so one night I stayed up determined to find assistance without going bankrupt.

I came across Susan's blog and bam! I am hooked. My first product was the hair conditioner. After one year, I have 5 beautiful products, which I love and am making body lotion. I don't purchase hair products and my hair is much better. I do want to make my own shampoo and will start very soon.

Anonymous said...

Yes please bring back Newbie Tuesday!

Nancy Liedel said...

I started messing around mixing my own eye color. Thought, "Hey, I can do this for a living." RIIGGHHHTTT! I knew 0. I have spent the last four years submerged in chemistry and creating products I believe it. I've put off my launch date so many times, I've stopped counting.

I'm finally very close. How do I know? I'm copywriting in my brains all day. When I've hit the, "Written word moment," I know I'm onto something.

The other reason, the reason for the bath and body, along with soaps is two-fold.

1. I have four, count em, FOUR special needs boys. Now one of them we adopted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and an addiction to cocaine so severe, he would not allow us to hold him for the first six months of his life. In all honesty, I wanted this child, but there was a little bit of, "Mother Theresa," syndrome going on too. I was not 100% altruistic. I'd like to say I was, but the thought of loving that boy, and being seen as someone who would love that boy, was part of the euation. I don't like to admit that, but I try to be transparent.

We used a lot of, "natural stuff," with him and I started wondering what really was in his stuff.

Then number one developed tourrette's and ADHD. Hoo-boy! Was it in the water? Probably. Years after we moved from that house we found out our well was in a dioxin plume leaked from a plant. Nice.

While we were living there, we had children. I got pregnant and with a hospital bill that rivals the national debt, we managed to have two babies. Mind you, we were not trying to get pregnant. I'd been told we could not have children by more than one doctor. They were premature. Because of this, we supplemented my mild with formula. I would not do that again. Now, one has Autism and the other Asperger's.

Careful with your, "Altruistic side." I've got a boatload of it and I would not trade them, but I have to work from home and I MUST stay busy because I have ADHD and MS. Mild MS. I have to be here when the kids get home. End of story. I have bad days and need to work around them. Most importantly, this little venture I've buried myself in has given me a measure of control over what goes on their bodies. I know how to read a patent now, how to check if a study is a good study, or crap and what is what, for the most part.

I've gone from barely passing High School and a disaster of a party in college, to a 48 year old woman with so much chemistry knowledge, I'm going back to school. At some point. This business needs to get off the ground first and I need to have more faith in Nancy. I second guess and question myself a lot.

This has taught me to be careful, follow through (ADHD makes finishing things hard. I've finished several courses with 100%, and read a lot of long books, studied my incis and learned to stay focused. I still drive people nuts when I talk. I'm all over the map).

Most importantly, this has given me a sense of control in a life that I can't predict, or control. I am stronger emotionally than ever, and have faith in me. Even if I do second guess and question. I'm always going to be anal about what I put out there. It's someone else's face. Those words are not mine. They are from a member of a forum I was on.

I love what I do and believe in it. I'm honestly happy in the moment. I'll take it. This has given me so much joy and happiness. I love formulating. I love this blog and i love you if you actually read all of this. I can be very long winded. ADHD. The gift that annoys others :)

catherine said...

wow what inspiring and interesting comments! nancy, i have a special needs son too, an 8 yr old w autism. This blog has been a great help to me in a way I hadn't thought to articulate until i read your post: It's great to either make your own body products and know what's in them, OR be able to read labels on store-bought products and actually know what you're reading and buy with confidence.

Between this blog and paula begoun's sites (cosmeticscop.com and beautypedia.com) I am so much more informed about skin products. And I only use this blog as a reference for recipes. THANKS THANKS THANKS Swift!

catherine said...

oops...in next to last sentence of my comment above i obviously meant "and i use only this blog as a reference for recipes." interesting how one transposed word makes all the difference...obviously i use this blog for more than just the recipes :)

TikiBarSoap said...

Oh Nancy, *hugs* I was not aware of your situation, but I think you are quite a strong woman, and I commend you for everything you are doing!

Lise M Andersen said...

Nancy- you go girl! I am so impressed at how you hold your life and family together. You are obviously making lemonade out of every lemon life has dealt you. How could you possibly fail with such a positive and constructive approach to life? I look forward to hearing mire about your business and your products. (and, I am still floating around on that big pink cloud) :)

Mychelle said...

Nancy you are always a joy and an inspiration. I love you attitude. I've been putting off my launch date for ten years. One of these days. Maybe. Someday. Maybe... If I could ever stick to a formula! :)

VickiPS said...

Hey Nancy! I was very interested to read your comments. I have a number of Touretters in my family, as well as several with ADHD and a couple with bipolar disorder (my elder daughter likes to call it "tic-tic-BOOM!") I eventually realised I probably have mild Tourette's myself, firstly because it's genetic and my elder daughter has it, but mainly because when she was diagnosed, I started looking at my own "nervous habits" and stopped counting when I got to 32+ tics. Anyway, TS has been no big deal: but with my younger girl, BPD and ADHD have been. She's now 33 going on 16, at least in terms of emotional maturity.

Anyway, back to the topic -- SOAP! I was fascinated for a long while with the process of soap making, and finally decided to take the plunge. Fun! That led on, via suppliers' teaching articles, to dabbling in lotions, which of course led me here! One of the incentives to get into lotion-making was that I really needed to be able to sell my products if I wanted to continue making them. However, here in Australia you have to be registered as a manufacturer of industrial chemicals if you want to sell handmade soap, and that costs around AUD$400 a year -- too much for me and many hobbyists. Selling lotions has no such restriction, luckily.

Olga Kiseleva said...

Hi, I've read almost all your posts and going to make something simple in the beginning. I wonder how to make foams or fix sprays for hair. Do you have any recipe for starting?

Danuta Kilar said...

I had done some cosmetics on base of lanolin, which was easy to get in pharmacy back home ; Poland. Everything I made was based on herbs I had pick up on fields. One day here (after developing so many allergies to commercial products) I found you blog and my cosmetic adventure started, I am making my bath and body products for over 3 years. I make soap, but my interest is in lotions, and hair products. Chemistry always interested me.
Nancy I am so moved by your story, I think you are very strong and creative person. You probably could teach others how to survive. Thank you Nancy for sharing. I can not express my gratitude for it:)