Monday, August 27, 2012

Any suggestions for food in the Port Angeles and Seattle area?

We're off on a camping trip tomorrow, so I turn to you for ideas for interesting meals!

We'll be cooking at the camp site, so suggestions for places to get good produce and things like cheese and bacon in the Port Angeles area would be most welcome. And if you have a suggestion for great restaurant food in that area or Seattle, please share!

In fact, if you have suggestions for north of Seattle to the border, please share as we do like day trips for lunch! I know there are great places to eat in Bellingham we haven't discovered yet!

I would love to find a place offering chicken & waffles - not spicy as I'm a total spice wuss (I use extra mild salsa as the mild stuff is a bit too hot!) - and other comfort type foods. Hot dog places would be good, as well as fish tacos. (Raymond makes awesome fish tacos, but I'm craving them today!) Stand up, sit down, take out, food carts - we don't care where we go, we just like good food!

We live near good Chinese, Indian, and Japanese places, so we thought we'd try something completely different!

And for no reason, here is a picture of the extra mild peach salsa we made on the weekend! Yum!

I'm teaching a few classes in Chilliwack...

I thought I'd share this with anyone interested in attending a class with me in Chilliwack through the Chilliwack Arts Council!

Sunday, October 28th from 10 to 12pm - Bath products: Bath salts, bombs, and oils.
Sunday, November 4th from 10 to 12 pm - Balms, butters & lotion bars
Sunday, November 18th from 10 am to 12 pm - Exfoliating scrubs & body oils
Sunday, November 25th from 10 am to 12 pm - Lotions & body butters!

For all four classes it's $60 for members, $80 for non-members, or $20 per class. You'll go home with at least one of each of the products in question and recipe packages.

If you're interested, click here to learn more about how to register! If there's enough interest, I'll offer more groups in 2013, including hair care products and mineral make-up. I'm so excited - this is the first time I'll be able to build upon what we learned the week before, and I think it's going to be great fun!

If you are interested in attending, but can't come to these classes at these times, what would work for you? I can't do Tuesday or Thursday nights as those are youth program days, but I could do Saturdays - when we don't have Rated T for Teen - or Sunday later in the day. (Please only make the suggestion about changing the time if you truly want to come.)

Did I mention how excited I am about these groups?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Question: How to weigh feather light things?

In this post, Julie asks: Speaking of difficulty weighing things, I'd love for you to cover this....Feather-light ingredients. I can't figure out how to weigh my Silk Peptide. I don't see how it could be by weight since it is so light. At 3% in a recipe I needed 5 grams of it. When I weighed it on my scale it filled an entire ounce measuring cup, which didn't seem right to me. I contacted the supplier to ask about it, and they weren't really sure how to weigh it. They just told me 5 grams would be equivalent to .18oz. So I ended up using 1 teaspoon (.18oz x 6 tsp in an ounce = 1.08tsp) since that seemed much more like 3% in a 6oz recipe. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to weigh ingredients like Silk Peptide that are super light. I can't think of any others off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are plenty of others. Thanks!

I have that trouble with Natrabath - the stuff weighs so little, and I end up with a quarter cup for 10 grams or so! - but I weigh it like my other ingredients. If you have trouble measuring things, put your jug on the scale and count up from that number. For instance, if I put my 2 cup Pyrex jug on the scale, it'll be about 670 grams. Start there. If I want 5 grams, I'd just count to 675 grams and be done with it! I rarely start at 0 when I have small amounts to weigh.

Water is 1:1 - 1 ml of water weighs 1 gram - this is called its specific gravity. If you are using 1 tsp or 5 ml of silk in your product, you're assuming that it has the same volume as it does weight. This is highly unlikely. If you were using sunflower oil, adding 1 ml means you're adding 0.9 grams as the specific gravity of this oil is 0.9. Some things are lower than one, some are higher than one, but very few things are 1:1 for volume and weight.

As an aside, 1.08 ounce is 5 grams, but that doesn't mean that it is 1.08 ounces in volume. This gets confusing for me because we use millilitres and grams, which are clearly different words for different things, whereas Americans use ounces for volume and weight and don't often specify which they are using. Cooking shows can get very annoying very quickly for me! I like the way Alton Brown started saying "by weight" after the word ounces! But then again, I like everything about that man!

Powdered things - especially very light powdered things - can be a pain to measure, but we have to do it by weight or we're not getting what we want in our products. I suggest getting a smaller scale or doing the thing I suggest above, which is to weigh the entire product and add to that number.

Any other suggestions?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dear Swift: Am I cheating on my books by buying an e-reader?

I bought a Kobo yesterday - it's white and lilac, and it currently holds five books - but I feel like I'm cheating on my books. I love books! I love the feel of the paper, the sound of cracking a new book open, the ability to dog ear them so I can share a passage or thought with Raymond, the smell when you go into a used bookstore. I love standing in front of my bookcase trying to decide what book will be next in the rotation. (I have a stack of books beside my bed. The current one is on the top, then I put what I'm going to read next in order. Sometimes a book moves up, sometimes it moves down, but nothing overtakes the current book!) I love looking at the covers and reading the synopsis even when I'm half way through. I love my books, and I feel like I'm abandoning them for something shiny and new.

But my eye sight is getting so bad that I can't read novel sized books any more. (And even the trade paper backs are a bit difficult!) And with the muscle spasm headaches moving into my cheeks, I can't wear glasses without pain. I miss my reading so much - I generally read an hour or two before bed, and I'm lucky if I can read for 20 minutes! - and it's such a part of who I am, so I did the math and realized it's easier to get a Kobo than a pair of glasses I won't be able to wear!

If you're in Canada and in the market for one, check out Future Shop as they are $10 cheaper than Chapters/Indigo/Coles. 

Is it weird that I started looking for patterns for a case before I opened the box? Yep, everything is an opportunity for crafting! Nevertheless, I think I'll make an envelope case for it so I have somewhere to store it when I fall asleep at night. I generally tuck my book, book light, and glasses under the pillow, but it might get scratched. (Sometimes I tuck the book under the dog sleeping in between our pillows, and she doesn't like that much!) I think I might find an hold hard cover book and hollow it out to become a case! (I have a great book called Susan Lends A Helping Hand, with a young girl looking frazzled as she tries to mow a lawn, but it's just a bit too small!)

I don't know if I'm going to have 3,000 books on my Kobo - yep, it can hold that much! - but I do like the idea of having my textbooks on it so I can study when I have a few free minutes between clients or before the youth programs. And it'll be far less heavy than the 1,000 page monstrosity I had last school year for math! And it'll be great for camping or travelling as well! I'm getting okay with this - I'm not cheating on my books! Am I?

If you own something like this, did you know you can load my e-books on to it? (Look to your right to see the list!) Drag and drop onto your e-reader in whatever operating system you're using (I'm using Lion on my Mac), and you have a book on your e-reader! 

Question: Can we use regular e-wax in a conditioner?

In this post on Rita BTMS-225, Julie asks: Can you use regular e wax in a conditioner? I'd love to try one just to try it, but I don't want to have to buy a different emulsifier I probably wouldn't use much. 

The short answer is no, you can't use regular e-wax in a conditioner. And here's why...

Conditioners contain cationic or positively charged ingredients like cetrimonium bromide, Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225 or Incroquat BTMS-25, Incroquat CR, cetrimonium chloride, and cationic polymers. They adsorb to our hair strand, which is what conditioning means.

Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair. It's different from absorption in that it doesn't penetrate, it just sits on top of the hair fibre. This is called substantivity. Substantivity is defined as "an adsorption phenomenon by which materials that have opposing charges or like composition are more readily adsorbed onto or attracted to its surface and, once there, resistant to subsequent rinse-off." In other words, a material that is positively charged - like our cationic ingredients - will be attracted to the surface of our hair, which is negatively charged.Click here for more information on substantivity and adsorption!

E-wax, Polawax, and other HLB based emulsifiers are non-ionic, meaning they have no charge. This means they won't adsorb to our hair strand. Something like Ritamulse SCG has an anionic or negative charge, which means it won't adsorb to your hair strand. (It's advised not to use Ritamulse SCG with cationic or positively charged ingredients...) None of these things can behave as a conditioning agent for your hair. They might make it feel more moisturized, but you aren't getting true conditioning from them.

For a while there, people wanted to make hair lotions, which were exactly like body or hand lotions intended for your hair. Those products were made with non-ionic emulsifiers, so they were moisturizers, not conditioners. There's really no point to these products - get a conditioning agent in there and enjoy the conditioning it offers! 

So there's the long answer - you can't use e-wax as the main ingredient in a conditioner because, by definition, a conditioner must contain something that adsorbs to your hair strand and a non-ionic or anionic ingredient doesn't offer substantivity due to its charge.

Go buy some BTMS-50 or BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225 or something similar and make a conditioner. I promise that you will never go back to store bought products again! In the end, it's a lot cheaper! I buy a pound of Incroquat BTMS-50 every year for about $30 and make all the conditioners used by my mom, my husband, my best friend, and me and believe me when I say that's a bargain and a half!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why you don't want to mix too much when using foamy & lathery surfactants!

When you're making things like bubble bath, body wash, or shampoo, I encourage you to mix the product gently to avoid bubbles. Why? Because THIS happens! Two weeks later, and it still isn't clear! And I didn't think I mixed it THAT much!

When we mix too much, we get bubbles. Not a bad thing in theory, but in practice it means our product doesn't become clear and it fools us into thinking we have more product than we do as the bubbles increase the volume. Most times, the bubbles will float to the top of the product and become clear over time, but here's a bottle that didn't do that!

A study from Japan suggests that mixing in a zig zag motion with a fork is the most effective way to combine all our ingredients, so this is how I choose to mix my products. I'm not sure what happened here - I couldn't find my favourite big fork, so I used a wooden spoon, which I think is the issue - but I know I wouldn't want to give this to someone like my mom, who is very visual!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Give it time...

This week someone told me I was rude when I asked her if she felt she was ready to sell a lotion she had made for what sounded like the first time. I don't think I was rude, but even if I was, I think it is a question that should he addressed by anyone running a business.

Time is the essence when creating products. I made a beautiful turquoise body wash that became a mossy sea turtle green over six weeks thanks to the fragrance I chose. I've made fluffy sugar scrubs and thinnish lotions that become too thick to get out of the bottle after a few days. I've made lovely vanilla smelling lotions using cetyl esters that turned chemically smelling and green tea lotions that turned browny green. And don't get me started on my cupcake bath bombs made with vanilla fragrances that turned brown brown brown! In every case, if I hadn't waited to see how the product stood up over time, I'd have given a really ugly product to someone I liked and/or loved!

Ugly products aren't as concerning as unpreserved or underpreserved products, those with short lived oils, or those that separate. And this is why we need to give our products time. Lotions and products with butters can take a few days to reach final viscosity as the various fatty acids solidify. You need time to see how the products stand up in different temperatures and humidities. There are so many factors to consider and you can't do that in one or two days or even one or two weeks!

Maybe I was rude by asking the writer of a comment to think seriously about whether she was ready to sell the product, but if I prevented her from selling a product that was ill conceived, underpreserved or unpreserved, or just plain bad, then I guess I've done my job.

I'll finish off this post with a picture if a very fat hedgehog I met a few weeks ago. Is there anything as cute as a chubby hedgehog?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a thick cream!

If you've never made a product before, welcome to Newbie Tuesday! If this is your third product from the Newbie Tuesday series, then get ready for more fun! You learned how to make lotion and body butter earlier this year, and making a cream is much like making those two products!

If you need some information on what supplies and ingredients you'll need, click here for the first post on making creams! (And click on the label "newbie" to see the other 12 posts on making your first lotion or body butter!)

If this is your first time making a lotion, please follow the instructions below! (If you need some idea on what equipment and supplies you might need, click here!) And when you're done, please e-mail me at or comment below to share your adventures and photos with everyone for next week and the week after! (Everyone who comments or e-mails about their adventures in product making will get their name entered to win one of my e-books!)

59% water
3% glycerin or other humectant of choice

15% oils
10% butters
7% Polawax or BTMS-50 (8% e-wax NF)
3% stearic acid

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

Note: Check your preservative's suggested usage rate to ensure you're putting it in the right phase. Most will go into the cool down phase, but some won't! (Click here for the list.) 

You can do this! It's not rocket science - it's cosmetic science, which much more awesome and useful in your daily life! You will not pre-suck! (We define this in craft group as saying you suck before you've even started so when you fail, you can say "I told you so", and not lose face. Or saying "I'm not good at this new thing", and you won't be, because it's something new and we're not going to be perfect the first time out!)

Just about an hour, you can say you've made a cream and have something to show for your hard work and research. (Take a picture of it and send it to me at so I can see what you've made! I'm quite excited by all of this!)

Ensure that your space is clean and tidy. Make sure all your containers, utensils, and everything else have been cleaned well. (Click here for related link.) Get a jar (or two) ready for your lotion. (You don't need to clean your jar. If you bought it from your supplier, then it's assumed to be clean!)

This recipe will make a little under a 4 ounce jar of cream - I got a little more than 3/4 of a jar out of this recipe.

First, turn on your double boiler apparatus (or turn on the burner on the stove) and get the water in the double boiler warming. I'm not sure of the exact amount of water you should add to your specific double boiler: Add enough that the tops of containers aren't covered by the water and it won't spill into the containers if the water accidentally starts boiling. I generally find that getting the water half way to 3/4 of the way up the side of my Pyrex jug should take me through to the end of the heating and holding phase. You can boil up the water in a kettle or pot before using it in the double boiler, if you like.

Next, get your supplies and equipment ready. You'll be using a scale for all the measuring, so make sure it has a prominent place on the counter top. You need two heat proof containers (Pyrex jugs, for instance) - one for the heated water phase, one for the heated oil phase. And you'll need a spoon for each container because you won't be able to resist having a stir as they heat!

Have your notebook beside you with the recipe printed in quite large font and a pen or pencil at the ready. Writing notes is vital to make sure you know what you did this time and what to do (or not to do) next time!

Put your Pyrex jug on the scale. Now weigh out your heated water phase
into your heatproof container.

Weigh your container - hit tare on the scale (zero out the number) so you can get the "before" weight of your heated water phase. (We need this number to know how much water evaporates during the heated water phase so we can compensate for it before we combine the two phases). Now put this container into your double boiler.

Put the second Pyrex jug on the scale. Weigh out everything from the heated oil phase - your oil, butter, emulsifier, and stearic - into the jug, then put the jug into the double boiler.

I forgot to take a picture of this container on the scale, but this is what your heated oil phase will look like - some oils with the pellets of emulsifier and flakes of stearic acid sinking to the bottom or maybe floating around the top. Depending upon the butter you use, it may or may not be showing as large chunks in the container.

Monitor your containers. Use your thermometer regularly. (If you're using glass containers, try not to let the thermometer hit the floor of the container or you'll be taking its temperature, not your product!)

When the temperature of both phases reaches 70˚C or 158˚F, start your timer for 20 minutes. The containers should heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C or 158˚F. (The temperature might fluctuate and get up as high as 85˚C. That's okay, as long as the temperatures of both containers are over 70˚C and relatively the same when you combine them.)

In the meantime, while you're waiting for the heat and hold phase to come to an end, you can fill up a kettle or another container for heating water and heat some water. You'll add some of this to the heated water phase just before your combine the two to ensure you have a water phase of 70%.

If you haven't written any notes yet, write them now! What oil did you use? Which butter? Did you go a little over the suggested amount for anything? How long did it take for the phases to get to 70˚C? And so on. Also while you're waiting, put away the things you don't need and get out those things you do need like your jar, a spoon to get the product into the jar, perhaps a label, and definitely your cool down phase ingredients. Check on the water in your double boiler and make sure you have enough so you won't run dry before the 20 minutes is up. Maybe do a little air guitar, or check your e-mail on your smart phone. Twenty minutes isn't that long, but it might feel that way when you're excited to see your lotion finish!

When you've heated and held both phases at 70˚C/158˚F for 20 minutes, remove just the water container from the heat and measure it. How much water did you lose? Add up to the amount you should have had originally. Let's say you measured 500 grams for your container and water phase - if your container now reads 475, add 25 grams from the water you boiled up separately. (It is okay if the water in the kettle is a little hotter than the water phase, as long as it doesn't make the water phase 85˚C or 100˚C while your oil phase is around 70˚C. This is unlikely to happen with so little water and your water phase being over 70˚C, so don't worry!)

Add the oil phase to the water phase and watch the emulsification happen. Isn't it awesome? The way the everything the oil touches turns into milky white without you having to do anything! This is chemical emulsification and it's awesome! (I remember the first time I saw emulsification - I was so excited! I love it when the kids in my craft group see it for the first time - it really is quite awesome!)

This is the part of lotion making where we mix. I like to use my hand mixer on setting 1 or 2 using the beater attachment and mix for a few minutes - maybe 4 minutes or so? Then I set it aside and let it cool down. Put a thermometer in the container and wait a bit. The temperature of the room is important here. If you have an unheated workshop like mine, it can take a really short period of time to cool down - maybe 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a warm room, it might take longer. Some people use an ice bath to cool it down. I guess you could do that if you really wanted it to cool down quickly - I've never tried it because it never seems to take very long to cool in my house!

And yes, it's okay to have a stir with a clean spoon while you're waiting for it to cool down. See how the viscosity changes as the product gets closer to 45˚C. It can take up to three days for a lotion to come to its final viscosity, so don't worry that you are currently seeing something with the consistency of slightly thickened milk!

When the product reaches 45˚C or 113˚F, add your cool down ingredients. In this lotion, that would be your fragrance/essential oil and preservative (I use liquid Germall Plus, which goes into the cool down phase. Your preservative may vary. Check before you start making the lotion!) Mix again. Maybe 2 or 3 minutes? Now leave it alone. You're done. We're just waiting for it to get cool enough to bottle.

If you're going to put this in a jar, you can do that right away and let the product cool in the jar. Do not put the lid on the product - we don't want condensation! Cover the jar(s) with a paper towel until cooled. (I do not suggest putting this into a bottle as it simply won't come out!)

Put a clean cloth or paper towel over the top of the container, and let it cool down to where the jug isn't warm to the touch any more (room temperature - around 20˚C or 68˚F). You really don't want to put this product into anything other than a jar as it isn't meant for pumping or pouring - this is a scoopin' lotion!

Get a clean spoon and spoon it into the jar. Bang the jar now and then to make sure you're getting it all into the container. Close jar. You're done.

And now you're done! Rejoice! Do a happy dance to celebrate the making of the lotion! You've done it!

The next part of lotion making? Making cute labels. Marching around the house with the jar in your hand saying, "I made cream! I made cream!" E-mailing your friends and family (and tutor - and telling them tales with attached pictures! And generally rejoicing in the fact that you set out to accomplish something and did it! You're walking on sunshine, and don't it feel good? Indeed!

Please write your comments in the section below to inspire others to give it a try! Next week's Newbie Tuesday post will be the troubleshooting and sharing part of the process, so please e-mail me ( or comment below and let me know how it went for you. I want others to learn from your experiences, but I also need to know if this tutorial was helpful! If you encounter a problem - like a lotion fail, for instance - please write out your recipe and process, letting me know about any changes (for instance, type of oil and butter), so we can trouble shoot it next week! Please send pictures and let me know if it's okay to use your experience and photos in the post next week. (And let me know what screen name you want!)

Congratulations! You did it! Now use it all up very quickly so you have a cheap excuse to make those tweaks and changes you think would make this product even more awesome!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Experiments with Rita BTMS-225: My normal rinse off conditioner

I've been playing with Rita BTMS-225, a new conditioning emulsifier carried by Voyageur Soap & Candle. What do I think of it?

In this post, Mychelle shared her experiences with Rita 225...I've been using the Rita BTMS 225 for a couple of months now and I really like it. As I predominantly used BTMS-25 from Lotioncrafter before, that's what I'm comparing it too. The Rita 225 does make much thicker emulsions IME. I was using 7% BTMS-25 before and had to take it down to 3% with the 225 so I wouldn't end up with paste. I'm also finding it a little more emollient than the product I was using. At first I thought it might be my imagination, but I believe it to be a touch heavier on my hair. All that said, I am loving this product and hope to keep using it. I like that I get the same results with less (though I don't know why), that it conditions very well, and it's been very easy to work with. I can't wait to hear more about your experiments with it Susan!

I'm having the same experiences as Mychelle. I have found that my products are much thicker with Rita BTMS-225 than Incroquat BTMS-50, and I think the reason why is the difference in the fatty alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol tends to make products feel thicker and waxier.

Incroquat BTMS-50 INCI Behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol.
Rita BTMS-225 INCI Behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetearyl alcohol

What do I think about it as a conditioner? I made up a batch of my normal conditioner and made one change - the Rita BTMS-225 for BTMS-50. Even with the cetrimonium chloride - which tends to thin out an emulsified product - it was very very thick!

7% Rita BTMS-225
2% cetrimonium chloride

81.5% water
2% hydrolyzed oat protein

2% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance oil (oatmeal, milk & honey)
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Weigh the oil phase in a heat proof container - like a Pyrex jug - and place into the double boiler. Heat to 70C and hold for 20 minutes. Do the same for the water phase. (Before putting in the double boiler, measure your entire water phase including the container so you can replace the water that evaporates during the heat and hold!)

Remove the water phase from the double boiler and weigh it after the heat and hold. Add enough water to get to the weight before heating. (I boil some water at the start of the heat and hold in a kettle and add that to the water phase. It shouldn't be boiling!) Add the oil phase to the water phase and mix well. When the combined phases reach 40˚C add the cool down phase and mix well. Let cool, then bottle.

I found the Rita BTMS-225 takes a long time to melt - perhaps because the cetearyl alcohol can have a higher melting point than cetyl alcohol - but it blended very nicely and it emulsified really well. The final product is really thick. It's on par with my intense conditioner with coconut oil for thickness.

On my hair, it felt a bit waxy, but the end result was pretty darn good considering that it was very humid the other day and was humid this morning and I didn't have a ton of frizzies. My hair seemed easier to brush, as well. It wasn't as slippery in the tub as my normal conditioner is, which is a bonus when you're a clumsy person like me!

Final decision? I really like it! What will I do differently? I'm going to try this with cetrimonium bromide next, and maybe a titch of behenyl alcohol to make it more powdery!

Oh, and it worked really well as a shaving product - more about that tomorrow.

I gave a bottle of it to my best friend and I'm waiting to hear what she thinks!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Question: How to measure small amounts of preservative?

In this post, Ellbie asks:  Can you at some time during this Newbie series talk about a good technique for weighing your preservative? Specifically Germall Plus liquid. I have the dangest time trying to figure an accurate means of weighing this viscous liquid out. I am a tween (not really a newbie and with enough knowledge to be dangerous). THANKS! 

Great question! This is one of those things that drives even the most experienced formulators crazy! Small amounts are the bane of my existence, so I bought myself this adorable little scale from a jewellery shop. It weighs down to 0.1 gram, so I can use it for things like extracts, colours in mineral make-up, and preservatives.

Melian1 commented: I found a lovely little scale that weighs to .01 gram at tkb. in case anyone already has got the scale to 1 gram and wants to make those tiny batches. it is called the "awesome" scale. (Click here for the product at TKB Trading!

I've found when weighing tiny amounts, especially on my 1-gram weighing scale that if i put a drop in, pick the container up and place it back down, it will give me a better reading. In a thread some time back on the dish, Ande (of Brambleberry) or Jen (Lotioncrafter) - not sure which - explained why that works better than just continuing to drip stuff in, because you can get 2 or 3 grams (or more) of stuff in that way before it goes up to the next gram. Anyway, by lifting and then setting it back down, it works.

I have two thoughts - one, I generally suggest making a batch of 200 grams so you can use 1 gram of liquid Germall Plus or two, get a smaller scale and weigh it out that way. In the case of the 200 gram batch and a scale that weighs to 1 gram, weigh your entire container and product because most scales have trouble going from 0 to 1, and you could have 5 in there before you know it.

What suggestions do you have for weighing small amounts? Share your thoughts!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Question: Are silicones healthy for our hair or skin?

Laura wrote in this postHi! I found ur blog just yesterday but i'm falling in love! My question is... are silicones really sure and healthy for our hair? This is what i know: silicones occludes skin pores and cuticular layer of our hair, and don't let him repair from the inside... isn't real? And, also, is a petrol product, right? Sorry for bad english -.- Hope you'll answer me :D Laura

Let's take a look at your question. What are we talking about when we talk about silicones? In general, we talk about dimethicone and cyclomethicone

Are silicones healthy for hair or skin? Let's take a look at some stuff about silicones before we make a decision about healthy or not healthy. 

What do silicones do for our hair and skin? Dimethicone is considered an occlusive ingredient, approved as same by the FDA. We use occlusive ingredients to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from our skin. (From Wikipedia: TEWL is defined as the measurement of the quantity of water that passes from inside a body through the epidermal layer - skin - to the surrounding atmosphere via diffusion and evaporation processes.) We want to trap in that water and prevent it from evaporating from our skin, and protect our skin from further damage while it repairs itself from physical assaults of the day. So dimethicone can create an occlusive barrier on our skin or hair, which is a good thing as it prevents loss of water from our skin and prevents water from entering our hair shaft. 

I don't know where the idea that our skin can't heal from the inside when the top layer is occluded might come from, but in fact, the skin has more opportunity to repair itself when it isn't losing water. Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Allantoin and cocoa butter are the other approved occlusive ingredients, and I can't imagine anyone saying those aren't good for your skin. I think it's said about silicones because they are synthetic ingredients.

As an aside, our skin doesn't need to "breathe", which is one of the reasons people don't like occlusive ingredients. Transepidermal water loss is kind of like breathing - water diffuses to the outside world from our skin - but we want to stop this from happening. So if someone likens an ingredient to being plastic wrap that won't let our skin breathe - a statement I saw recently - they don't really know what they are saying. Ignore them, and look for a more knowledgeable web site. 

If you have frizzy hair - like I do - having a silicone coat my hair shaft is a good thing because it means that water can't enter my hair strand and make it swell. When hair swells, it creates more friction with other hair strands, and friction is one of the main ways to damage your hair. If I can prevent my hair strand from swelling with moisture, I can prevent a lot of damage. 

Silicones aren't derived from petroleum - they're derived from sand. They can't be derived from petroleum because they are silicon and petroleum products are hydrocarbons, so they aren't even remotely related in chemistry terms. 

Are silicones healthy for us? Silicones appear to have many benefits for our skin and hair, so I think the short answer is "yes", they are just fine.

If you look at this study, they note: "Occlusion of the skin is a risk factor for development of irritant contact dermatitis. Occlusion may, however, have a positive effect on skin healing. No consensus on the effect of occlusion has been reached." In this study, the occlusive ingredient was nitrile glove material, so they really mean occlusion! The conclusion? "Occlusion of healthy skin did not significantly influence skin barrier function, ceramide profile or the ceramide/cholesterol ratio." In other words, healthy skin isn't hurt by occluding the skin with a glove like material. So it's unlikely that healthy skin is hurt by occluding the skin with silicones.

Related posts:
Skin chemistry section of the blog

Friday, August 17, 2012

Questions I've seen this week: Cetyl esters or alcohol,

In this post, Anastasia writes, When you have time for a question (totally for my own info!), I am having trouble understanding the difference between cetyl esters and cetyl alcohol. When would I use one over the other? Thanks!

In this post on formulating and using thickeners, I take a look at what each fatty alcohol, ester, or acid brings to the product. Cetyl esters tend to be lighter and glidier than cetyl alcohol, but they don't seem to play well with vanilla based ingredients. Which one you want to use depends upon your personal taste. As you can see from the recipe in the link, using cetyl alcohol will create a thicker product that has slip and glide, whereas cetyl esters will create a thinner product with slip and glide.

I have cetyl esters in my workshop, but I tend to reach for the cetyl alcohol just about every time (although behenyl alcohol is appearing more and more in my products because it's awesome!). It really is about the skin feel you prefer.

In this post on substituting ingredients in emulsified sugar scrubs, Bajan Lily writes Lovely post as always. I was just wondering why you used the polawax at 10% instead of at 25% of the oil phase? Does it matter in this product or is that level more relevant for creams and lotions?

The emulsifier is essential for this product, but you can play with the levels. We aren't using it at 25% of the oil phase because the product is pretty much all oil phase and 25% Polawax or e-wax in this product feels just awful. (Yep, I tried it! It was horrible!)

The really short answer is that I've tried many different levels of emulsifier, and it seems like 10% is the ideal amount. Anything over that and it feels kinda waxy. Anything under that and it doesn't seem like it rinses off well.

The rule of thumb when using Polawax is that we use it at 25% of the oil phase. So in a lotion with a 30% oil phase, we'd use it at 7.5%. Click here for more information on this rule of thumb! 

Related posts:
Better crafting through chemistry: Cetyl alcohol
Esters: Cetyl esters
Learning to formulate: More fun with thickeners
Using Polawax in your creations

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I really can't help you...

As I will have time in the coming months, I'm pleased to note that I am now able to offer paid consultations for businesses. If this interests you, please email me at for details.

I have made it very clear that I will not help you duplicate any products, so please don't ask. I'm going to say no, then you'll get offended that I said no, then I'll feel bad. Do us both a favour and don't pose the question in the first place. The point of this blog is to offer what I can so you can learn about the ingredients and the process so you can make your own things at home, and my hope is that you can figure out that duplicate product on your own.

As an aside, I ask you to consider the idea of selling a product you didn't formulate. I wrote a post about this in which I related it to opening a bakery with a Duncan Hines cake mix. You need to know your ingredients and how to make every product, how to modify it, and why you're using each ingredient. I don't sell my products, but I would think it would be wise to know everything you sell inside and out. (Those of you who sell, am I wrong here?)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fragrances - weather, temperature, and seasons

Do you change your fragrances with the seasons? Do you have a favourite for summer, winter, fall, or spring?

My all time favourite is - wait for it - Clementine Cupcake from Brambleberry (surprise! surprise!) but I also have room for Jewelled Citrus, Yuzy, and Hello Sweet Thang (also Brambleberry), and Lemon Curd, which kinda surprises me because I wouldn't call myself a fan of lemon, but there it is! Something about citrus says, "Wakey-wakey!" and I can't take a morning shower without that fragrance wafting through the bathroom from my body wash or scrubs. But I rarely use any of these in lotions or other leave on products.

But it's almost time for a change...fall is almost upon us, and my thoughts turn to other fragrances like egg nog, oatmeal milk & honey, and orange spice. (Am I the only one who thinks oatmeal milk & honey smells like marzipan? Yum!)

Do you have fragrances you only use in certain products? Are there fragrances you love in a soap or shampoo but hate in a lotion or leave in conditioner? Do some fragrances remind you of certain seasons or weather? What's your favourite and why? Share so others might learn about your favourites!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why did I buy that? Rita BTMS-225

I'm an ingredient junkie, so you know that when Voyageur Soap & Candle brought in Rita BTMS-225, I had to have it. What's it all about and how do we use it?

The INCI for BTMS-225 is Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol. It's a hair and skin conditioner as well as a complete emulsifier. If you're wondering where you've heard behentrimonium methosulfate before, it's the BTMS in Incroquat BTMS-50 or Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225. It's a cationic quaternary compound that we can use as a hair conditioner in our products.

If this last sentence made no sense, please check out this post - conditioner: what's that then? 

Just add 1% to 10% to water with an appropriate amount of preservative and you've got yourself a nice conditioner. (We always want to include awesome hair friendly goodies to a product, but it is nice to know that we can use just it and water for something great!) I'd suggest starting off with about 5% - which will give you 1.25% behentrimonium methosulfate - and work your way to up 10%, if you wish. (We tend to use a lot more conditioner than we need!) We don't need to include a fatty alcohol to increase the substantivity of the conditioner as we have cetearyl alcohol in the product already, but you can include cetyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, or more cetearyl alcohol if you want more moisturizing without adding oils.

You can use it as an emulsifier for lotions as well, and it offers a non-greasy feel to the product, much like Incroquat BTMS-50. I couldn't find a suggested usage rate, but I'm thinking that 5% might be a good place to start for 20% oils. It might feel a little waxier than using something like Ritamulse SCG because it contains cetearyl alcohol, which has slightly more waxier feeling than the other fatty alcohols.

Mychelle noted that she has been using it in emulsions and it makes the lotion rather thick, so perhaps she can share a bit more information with us? (Sorry, I can't find the comment as a reference!) 

It can emulsify silicones, although I couldn't get much information on this topic. Having said this, I haven't found an emulsifier yet that can't emulsify silicones, so I don't consider this to be a unique thing this ingredient offers.

Why use this instead of Incroquat BTMS-50?
1. Croda doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for the homecrafter - for instance, not allowing us to look at their data bulletins, recipes, or data sheets on their website - so finding alternatives for their ingredients isn't a bad idea.
2. Incroquat BTMS-50 contains butylene glycol, which is a humectant, which can be an issue for those of us with frizzy hair. Rita BTMS-225 does not.
3. It's cheaper than Incroquat BTMS-50. BTMS-225 is $19.85 per pound, whereas BTMS-50 is $29.75 per pound. (If you need to double the amount to get the same amount of behentrimonium methosulfate, it's not going to save you much money.)

One of the down sides of BTMS-225 is that it has 25% behentrimonium methosulfate as the active ingredient (the listing on Special4Chem says 20%, so we might have to split the difference) instead of 50% in BTMS-50. So you might need to use more to get the same results from your conditioner.

As a side note...If you're someone who wants more hydration for your hair, you will want to include a humectant in your conditioner. Glycerin is a good choice, as is honeyquat and panthenol. Don't both with sodium lactate as it'll just get washed off when you rinse.

Rita BTMS-225 comes in a flake format. Use it at 1% to 10% in the heated oil phase of your product. (You can use it at more than that, but this is the suggested usage range.) It should have a shelf life of up to two years.

If you're using it as a substitute for BTMS-50 in a hair conditioner, you'll have to use double the amount you'd use in your recipe to get the same amount of behentrimonium methosulfate. If you're using it as an emulsifier, I'm not sure what to suggest - try 5% for 20% oils and see how it works for you.

Please note: I am not in any way affiliated with Voyageur Soap & Candle. I am writing this post because I bought a new ingredient and I'm excited about it, not because they have paid me to do so. In fact, they probably don't know I'm writing this post! As an aside, they are very supportive of my youth programs, offering me big discounts and donations, which is simply awesome! 

Related posts:
All of the why did I buy that? posts!
Hair care section of the blog

Friday, August 10, 2012

Substitutions: Modifying lotions with what you have in your workshop

Let's take a look at modifying my six ingredient lotion with shea, soy bean, and sesame oil. (Click on the link if you want to see why I used each ingredient as this post doesn't need to be any longer!)

39.5% water
20% aloe vera
3% glycerin

10% refined shea butter
10% soy bean oil
10% sesame oil
6% BTMS-50

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (Clementine Cupcake)

Use the general lotion making instructions with this recipe.

First, take a look at each ingredient and see what it brings to the party.

Water: It's the water part of the oil-in-water lotion.

Aloe vera: Great for damaged skin. Offers more moisturizing.

Glycerin: Our humectant. Humectants draw water from the atmosphere to our skin, making our product more hydrating.

Shea butter, soybean oil, and sesame oil: Our oils and butter or emollient part of the product. (Click here to see the various oils, butters, and ester listings!)

Incroquat BTMS-50: The emulsifier. It makes lotions feel more powdery than those made with Polawax or emulsifying wax.

Liquid Germall Plus: The preservative.

Let's say you don't have any BTMS-50 - but you do have Polawax and Ritamulse SCG. What changes would we have to make?

For Polawax, it's advised to use it at 25% of the oil phase (click here). We have an oil phase of 30% - 10% each of shea, sesame, and soybean oil - so we would want to use Polawax at 7.5% (1/4 of 30 = 7.5). So we'd have to increase the emulsifier to 7.5% and remove 1.5% from the water phase.

38% water

10% shea butter
10% sesame oil
10% soy bean oil
7.5% Polawax

For e-wax NF, generally we use it at 25% of the oil phase plus 1%, which works out to 8.5% in the oil phase. We need to remove another 1% from the water phase.

37% water

10% shea butter
10% sesame oil
10% soy bean oil
8.5% e-wax NF

For Ritamulse SCG, I have found that using it at 8% makes for a stable product. I've tried it at lower levels - 6% - and I had lotion fails. So we need to remove 2% from the water phase.

37.5% water

10% shea butter
10% sesame oil
10% soy bean oil
8% Ritamulse SCG

Let's say that you hate the stickiness of glycerin and want to use sodium lactate instead. The recommended amount is 2.5%, so we have to add 0.5% back into the water amount.

40% water
2.5% sodium lactate

That was easy, eh?

Let's say you want to use only Ecocert ingredients in this lotion. This means we can use Ritamulse SCG, but we'll have to find a different preservative. We could use Advanced Aloe Leucidal at 2% to 4% in the cool down phase. If we use this at the maximum 4%, we'd have to remove 3.5% from the water amount.

36% water

4% Advanced Aloe Leucidal

Why am I using 4% in the cool down phase? Because I always use the maximum preservative allowed in a general recipe like this. I don't know what you are going to use in the recipe when you make it at home, and you could be using ingredients that are hard to preserve like teas or infusions, honey, and other botanicals. To be on the safe side, I always include the maximum amount. 

If you wanted to use an Ecocert humectant, you could consider using Zemea propanediol, which is a substitute for propylene glycol. (I haven't written about this yet, but I have tried it a few times. I haven't noticed a big difference between using it and glycerin, to be honest.) You could use honey, but I'm always wary of making that suggestion because it's hard to preserve.

You already know that you can switch our butters and oils for other butters and oils, so let's alter those to be mango butter, wheat germ oil, and grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil has a three month shelf life, which means this now has a three months shelf life instead of the original one year shelf life. one year shelf life to 3 months maximum.

36% water
20% aloe vera
3% Zemea propanediol

10% mango butter
10% grapeseed oil
10% wheat germ oil
8% Ritamulse SCG

4% Aloe advanced Leucidal
up to 1% essential oil

Note: The aloe vera I suggest is a liquid, not a gel. 

When you know your ingredients, it's so much easier to substitute on the fly! There'll be more on this topic in the near future! Do you have a suggestion for something we could play with in another post?

If you don't know why I remove water from the water phase when I alter the amount of other ingredients, I encourage you to read this post on the water phase. The short answer is that when we add anything to a lotion, we remove some of the water as that is the most easily changed thing in the recipe. We want the recipes to total up to 100% - click here - as it's easier to see what's going into a lotion and ensure we have the right amount of things we need in it. 

Related posts:
Question: How do you know how and what to substitute?
Substitutions: Reading INCI names
Substitutions: Figuring out what's important in a conditioner
Substitutions - all 17 posts

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Emulsifiers: What's a complete or all-in-one emulsifier?

I found a comment from someone who was having trouble with lotion separation. In the message, she notes that she is using the base emulsifier from Aromantic in the UK. This is not a complete emulsifier - it's glyceryl monostearate, a low HLB emulsifier that must be coupled with a high HLB emulsifier to create a complete emulsifier. The supplier recommends that you combine it with cetyl alcohol to create a complete emulsifier, but cetyl alcohol is not a high HLB emulsifier - it's a fatty alcohol, which means it's part of the oil phase. (Click here to learn more about the HLB system we can use to make our own emulsifiers). You won't be able to make a proper, stable emulsifier using glyceryl monostearate and cetyl alcohol.

You might be able to make an emulsification by sheer force (mechanical emulsification) or by heating and holding it (heat emulsification), but these are both unstable forms of emulsification. When we use proper emulsifiers, we create a chemical emulsification, which is the most stable version of all. Think of salad dressing - we create a mechanical emulsification by shaking the bottle. I know there are some of you who will swear by this product and have had great success, but what you've made isn't a chemical emulsion and it's not stable. We can't argue with the laws of chemistry! 

If you want to use something like this glyceryl monostearate (HLB value 3.8), you'll have to combine it with a high HLB emulsifier like ceteareth-20 (HLB value 15.2) or polysorbate 80 (HLB value 15) to create a lovely emulsifier. (Click on the links below to learn how to do this!)

Related posts:
HLB system: The start of the series
HLB system: A demonstration (part 1)
HLB system: A demonstration (part 2)

What does it mean to have a complete or all-in-one emulsifier? It means that the emulsifier does not require anything else to emulsify your product. Something like Polawax, Incroquat BTMS-50, Sucragel AOF, Ritamulse SCG, or emulsifying wax would be considered complete emulsification systems. You can use these at the suggested usage rates in your products without having to add anything else for awesome emulsions.

Check the INCI name of the product you're thinking of purchasing. If you see something that says emulsifying wax NF, then you're getting emulsifying wax NF. If you see something that only has one ingredient - let's say something like glyceryl monstearate or ceteareth-20 or polysorbate 80 - you aren't getting a complete emulsifier. You're getting something that has to be combined with something else to create an emulsion. There's nothing wrong with these ingredients, except they won't create a lotion for you.

Related posts:
Emulsifiers - check to see what you're getting! 
INCI names (part one)
INCI names (part two)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What the heck is a "micellar solution"?

I know what a micellar solution is - "A micellar solution consists of a dispersion of micelles in a solvent (most usually water)" (from Wikipedia) - but I don't know why these words are being used to sell skin cleansers. As I mentioned the other day, I had occasion to visit a well known Canadian drug store chain to see if I could find some answers about my annoying messy mascara problem. I stumbled upon a few cleansers calling themselves "micellar solutions" or something similar. So what's the deal with these?


LaRoche's Physiological Micellar solution: Water (Aqua), Hexylene Glycol, Poloxamer 184, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Dihydrocholeth 30, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Parfum/Fragrance.

Vichy Normaderm Micellar Solution: Aqua, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Poloxamer 188, Zinc PCA, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Chloride, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Disodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Citric Acid, Dihydrocholeth-30, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide.

This company notes that micelles "micro-encapsulate dirt on skin's surface and lift it up without rubbing, thereby maintaining skin's physiological balance."

As an aside, a poloxamer is "Poloxamers are nonionic triblock copolymers composed of a central hydrophobic chain of polyoxypropylene (poly(propylene oxide)) flanked by two hydrophilic chains of polyoxyethylene (poly(ethylene oxide))....Because of their amphiphilic structure, the polymers have surfactant properties that make them useful in industrial applications. Among other things, they can be used to increase the water solubility of hydrophobic, oily substances or otherwise increase the miscibility of two substances with different hydrophobicities." In other words, they are surfactants. In the case of the Vichy product that contains it, it works to remove sebum from our skin by making the oil on our skin more water soluble. Zinc PCA "inhibits sebum secretion and body odours". It's not part of the micellar cleaning as it's more about inhibiting oil production during the day. 

What I have seen thus far indicates that they generally contain water, a bunch of humectants, and a very mild surfactant. Bioderma uses cetrimonium bromide, a cationic quaternary compound that is generally used as a hair conditioner that could offer mild cleansing, possibly as a conditioning agent and surfactant, and polysorbate 20, a solubilizer and surfactant to actually remove the soils. (Polysorbate 20 is not a lathering or foamy surfactant, but it's still a surfactant.) LaRoche uses disodium cocoamphodiacetate, a very mild foaming and lathering amphoteric surfactant, as does the Vichy product. 

So far I think a micelle cleanser is a very mild cleanser containing non-ionic or amphoteric surfactants and a lot of humectants that doesn't need to be rinsed off after cleansing. The reason for the non-rinsing is the small amount of surfactants in the products. Skin should feel very hydrated thanks to all those humectants. 

The Vichy one notes that "thanks to its micellar technology combined with Zinc PCA, an antibacterial agent, it removes makeup, sebum and impurities without rubbing or rinsing the skin, while gently purifying it. Easy to use and extremely practical...
1- Cleanses all impurities. 
2- Balances skin’s pH.
3- Purifies the skin without the need to rinse" (From this blog.) 

BeautyGeeks has an article on the topic - click here - in which they note...
In simple-ish terms, a micelle is a type of molecule cluster. One end of each molecule loves water (hydrophilic); the other hates it (hydrophobic). In a water solution, they group to form a spherical shape with a water-loving exterior and a water-hating interior. When gently applied to a surface — the skin, let’s say — the micelle spheres split open against that surface. When the application pressure lifts, the molecule cluster closes up again, and in the process grabs whatever isn’t water from that surface. Essentially, micelles are kind of like mute Pac-Man types that wokka-wokka-wokka-wokka up all the makeup and dirt off your face in a jiffy.

I keep seeing the idea that the micelles "gobble up" grease or dirt from our skin. Is this valid? If you read how a shampoo works to remove the dirt from you hair, you'll see this sentence..."Micellular solubilization mechanism: The soils are solubilized into the micelles and washed away (this is dependent upon micelle concentration)." How is this different from what they are advertising and how is this different from other cleansers that aren't advertised as being micellar solutions? I think the key differences are the low amount of surfactants and the fact that you don't rinse it off. (To be honest, I don't know if I'd feel comfortable not rinsing those micelles from skin if they're full of dirt and grease from my skin.) If I made a cleanser with a ton of humectants and 5% disodium cocamphodiacetate, would I have a micellar solution?

Consider this when you want something that isn't rinsed off your skin - that tight feeling you get after washing might be caused by a failure to rinse the surfactants off your skin well. (Click here for a longer post on the topic.) 

All the ones I've seen have been incredibly expensive - $60 for the Bioderma one in my local shop - and I wonder if they are worth it. I'd love to hear from readers like you how they work and what you think of them. As you can tell, I'm curious about these products! As a final note, none of the ones I've listed above contain a broad spectrum preservative, which I find quite interesting! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Get ready to make a cream

So what's the difference between a lotion and a cream? Or a body butter and a cream? Nothing, to be honest. It's just another name we give to a product that is generally thicker than a lotion and it tends to be found in a jar.

Here's the plan...We'll make this on August 21st, which gives you two weeks to get your supplies together. If that isn't enough time, you can always make the cream when they arrive - it's not like I'll take this post down and you'll be forever haunted by the fact that your supplies came in on the 22nd! This week, we'll take a look at the recipe, equipment, and supplies for making a cream. Next week on August 14th we can answer any questions you might have, and look at some possible substitutions based on your input. On August 21st, we'll make a cream together and on August 28th and September 2nd we'll share our thoughts and photos!

If you participated in the previous Newbie Tuesday posts, this'll all be familiar to you! If you didn't, scroll down to see those posts in order.

What other products would you like to see for newbie Tuesday? Let me know! 

59% water
3% glycerin or other humectant of choice

15% oils
10% butters
7% Polawax or BTMS-50 (8% e-wax NF)
3% stearic acid

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

  • a scale that can weigh 1 gram (available at supply stores or places like London Drugs in the culinary aisle)
  • 2 heat proof containers - one for your oil phase, one for your water phase - Pyrex jugs are good for this purpose, and a 2 - two cup Pyrex jugs would be ideal. 
  • a double boiler (make one up on the stove with a pot with warm water)
  • a thermometer (a candy thermometer works really well here)
  • spoons (metal ones...)
  • mixer (with beater attachments) or a stick blender
  • a notebook and pen/pencil. Print out the lotion recipe and make extensive notes while you craft!
  • an oil - at least 100 grams. I'm going to suggest a low cost oil like olive, sunflower, rice bran, or soybean oil. If I had my way, we'd all be using soybean oil, but I know some of you will to use what they have in the workshop. Feel free to get something from the grocery store instead of sending away for something. (I'd get two oils - one that's described as less greasy and one that's normal greasiness). Click here for more information on oils.
  • a butter - at least 100 grams, although again, get more if you think you might like to make a whipped butter, lotion bar, or other anhydrous product in the near future. Any butter will do for a cream, but I generally suggest shea, mango, or cocoa butter as they are cheaper. Shea and cocoa butter will feel greasier than mango, and anything made with cocoa butter is going to be thicker than one made with shea. (Click here for more information on butters.)
  • a humectant. You can use glycerin, sodium lactate (at 2.5%), sodium PCA (at 2.5%), honeyquat (3% in the cool down phase), and so on. (Click here for more information on humectants.)
  • an emulsifier - at least 50 grams. I'm going to suggest one of two emulsifiers - Polawax (not e-wax, but actual Polawax as it's less faily than e-wax and it's the same around the world) or Incroquat BTMS-50. If you can't get either of these for whatever reason, then use something else, but this series will be tailored to these emulsifiers. 
  • cetyl alcohol - at least 25 grams. Yes, this is a tiny amount, but it really does make a difference to the product. We aren't using it in this product, but if you wanted to make another lotion or body butter, you really want to have this. 
  • stearic acid - at least 25 grams. This is an essential ingredient for a cream, in my humble opinion.  
  • a preservative. I like liquid Germall Plus, but you can choose whichever one you want with two things in mind - preservatives are never optional, and Optiphen can curdle a lotion if you don't follow the procedure just right! 
  • distilled water - it's about $2 for 4 litres where I live (a gallon), and you don't want to be using tap water. 
  • a container of some kind - creams really are better in a jar, I think, so I suggest you get a jar or two for this product. Splurge and get a really lovely frosted one instead of using a Mason jar! 
  • a fragrance or essential oil - I know this isn't essential, but isn't the point of making our own products to create things that we can't get anywhere else. I know I'm not the only one who wants cupcake scented shampoo! Start small - consider that a 30 gram or 1 ounce container of fragrance can scent up to 3000 grams or 6.6 pounds of products!  
Questions, comments, suggestions? Write 'em down and share them in this post!

Related posts:
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make lotion
Newbie Tuesday: An update
Newbie Tuesday: A little more information about lotion making
Newbie Tuesday: It's time to make lotion! 
Newbie Tuesday: Are you a newbie who made lotion?
Newbie Tuesday: You made lotion!
Newbie Tuesday: Next week's project - body butter
Newbie Tuesday: It's time to make body butter! 
Newbie Tuesday: You made body butter!

Learning to formulate: Modifying creams

Monday, August 6, 2012

The bracelet of awesomeness and a glass bok choy made me think...

We stopped at Denny's the other morning for breakfast, and our waitress had a lovely bracelet, which I admired. It was a stretchy bracelet her mother sent her from the Philippines. I loved the green glass bead that looks like bok choy, and the tiger bead that looks slightly vicious and bite-y. She took my hand and put it on my wrist. "Take it." I balked - I can't take her lovely bracelet from her mother! "It looks nicer on you."

There was a little of that back and forth - "no, I couldn't take your bracelet" and "you really should take it" dance - but in the end, I accepted it. I thanked her profusely, then told her we'd be making something similar in my craft group that afternoon. When I arrived at my Yarrow craft group, I showed them the bracelet and encouraged them to make something with the elastic cord I had and to make something colourful and wacky! (These are just some of the bracelets the kids made...)

I think a lot about kindness, generosity, and gratitude. So much of my life and so much of what I want to teach the kids are based on these simple, yet easily forgotten, concepts.

People ask me why I give away so much for free, and the answer is simple - I learned how to make bath & body products thanks to the kindness of others, and I feel I should pay it forward. Isaac Newton said something to the effect that "if I have seen further than others, it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants". We can interpret this to mean that he was able to do what he did because of all the work by those who came before us. None of us is an island - you learned what you know because someone took the time to share with you.

I encourage you to consider how you can give back to those who have given to you. Teach a class, share a recipe, show someone how to make something awesome, or spend some time with someone who really wants to learn. Talk to your local school, community centre, or library to see if you can offer a class to kids, youth, or adults. It is great fun to instruct, and you'd be sharing something really valuable that might spark that enthusiasm in one of the participants.

Receiving a bracelet from a stranger might not seem like much to some, but Glenda's generosity reminded me why I do what I do at home, at work, at the groups, and on this blog. I really do have a great life, eh?