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?)


Anonymous said...

In your post where you compare to opening a bakery only knowing to use a cake mix from a box, an anonymous reader left the following comment:
"Well said.
For goodness sakes, you write blogs, give out recipes, collate e-books...
How much more flaming help does a person need?
Perhaps you should actually make their products for them. For free, of course!!!"

It's very valid for this new post on the subject. ;)

melian1 said...

i agree with anonymous (both of them). such a request is unreasonable.

d.anaya said...

Just so there is some clarity what types of questions are considered business questions?

Is asking about the properties of an ingredient that someone wants to use in their formulas a business question?

Asking about duplicating a recipe that a company makes, is that a business question?

I've seen several posts about you not being able to help with business questions but I'm not sure what type of questions are being asked of you. I think if it was clear which types of questions were not allowed then maybe people would not ask them anymore. Are you able to give clarity to this problem?

Thank you for all you do, it's wonderful.

Anonymous said...

"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?)"

I am a business owner and agree 100%. If I didn't know every little detail, then I honestly don't think I should sell my products. I spent years researching, learning, and experimenting BEFORE I started my business.

Your blogs and e-books are wonderful in every aspect, but no one should think they can read them and then all of a sudden have everything they need to start their own business. These are your recipes based on YOUR hard work and research.

Mychelle said...

Buffy! I knew you were a Buffy fan by the references to Mr. Pointy and such. I'm in my fifth pass through the series and finally have my Dad hooked. He's on Season 4 right now. Love me some Buffy! We're doing a Supernatural Swap over on the Dish and Buffy is my character. That's my contribution today. :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi d.anaya! Things like asking me to formulate a recipe is a business question. Asking me to duplicate a recipe - I think I've said I won't do that any more, so it's not a business question but it's something I don't want to do. Asking about an ingredient or a process, that's not a business question.

I'm getting requests to consult for businesses or work over a recipe or create something from scratch - those are business questions. Asking me why olive oil is awesome is just a question!

Hi Anonymous and melian1! Thank you for your support. I really appreciate it! I don't want to come across as mean, but I don't think it's fair to ask me to work for free for a business - I have so many demands upon my time, and I have to protect the little I have for the blog!

Hi Mychelle! And I'm a serious Whedon fanatic! I've seen Buffy and Angel more times than I can count, and I love Firefly and Dollhouse, too. I can always find a quote for any situation from any of those shows (and the Simpsons). I'm getting the kids in my youth programs interested in the show as well! Woo!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - I'm Anonymous #2 (the business owner) :) I want to apologize... I should have said hello! I was so quick to type to let you know that your post was well stated. (Customers do the same to me, from asking what percentages in my formulas, to how to start a business.)

I also wanted to compliment you. Between my business and spending time with my family, I barely have a free moment to myself, so I give you so much credit for taking the time to even write your blog!

Take care :)

DuhBe said...

Another Whedon fan here :-)

As a business owner selling her own formulas - I totally agree with this post! I'm always amazed at how many people sell formulas they didn't create or even bother to modify themselves - but it happens all the time. (and to clarify - I stand on the shoulders of giants who I learned from, but never sell a recipe directly copied from someone else) If you're not going to put your own personal touch on your creations, then why should anybody buy it? But then from what I've seen, karma kinda takes care of that issue anyway and the people who are not original don't go very far.

Katie said...

Anyone who truly reads this blog should not need any more help from you to formulate anything! You've given us all the tools to break down ingredient lists, substitute ingredients from our own stash, as well as the formulas for determining HLB should we choose to go down that road! My guess is those requests are coming in from people too lazy to read and experiement, which likely means they are too lazy to run a successful business!
You might just want to put a BOLD notice on the side of your blog stating clearly that you are not available for any business consultations and you don't offer any free services other than what is written in your blog.

Organa said...

Hello Susan I think your post really interesting, do not think I should give formulas for free to anyone, I think you should lock your formulas and give access only to whomever you want, I think I might leave the ingredients and their components, that way nobody can copy your products at least in the percentage of each, unless you wanted it.
You are the best for me.

Anastasia said...

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!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anastasia. I just posted an article answering your question, which you can find here. The short answer? It's a personal preference thing.

Anonymous said...


I have been reading your blog for about a year. I've not ever posted a comment before so here goes.

The information that you share is priceless for those of us (me) that do not have 'science' brains. You make it easy to understand.

For those that are asking you to go above and beyond is shirking their duty to their own product. How can anyone call a product their own if they do not do due dilegence?

Stand your ground proudly. You have done your due dilegence. It is time for them to do their's!

Peace be with you!


Welly said...

Hi Susan,

Not sure this is an appropriate question.. I would love to learn more on cosmetic science. But i have to do it online since I am on the other side of the hemisphere. Can you recommend any good learning source? Do you thing it is necessary to go for formal learning compared to trial and error? I do intend to eventually create a range of products on my own. Thank you so much for your input..

Anonymous said...

I have found your blog very, very, helpful, thank you. I am wondering if you can help me with this question please? Can I use rice bran wax successfully as an emulsifier in my skin care products, facial and body creams and lotions, instead of other emulsifying waxes that you have mentioned?
If so would it be at the same pecentages or would it alter?
Thanking You In Advance.

Maitri said...

Hello and thank you for all that you do!

I have 3 batches of lotion under my belt using your Basic Lotion Formula ™ and your Basic Lotionmaking 101 pdf (thank you for those, by the way!). My question is about adding the extra water that you say boils off during the heating phase.

This is my most recent formula:

12 2-oz bottle recipe, goal was 25 oz total

17.5 oz distilled water
3.75 oz sunflower oil
1.25 oz shea butter
0.75 oz stearic acid
1.25 oz emulsifying wax
0.25 oz fragrance
1.875 oz Germall

I added 19 oz of distilled water instead of the 17.5 in the recipe. Unfortunately I only wound up with approximately 21 ounces of lotion total.

Is there a general rule of thumb as far as how much extra distilled water I should add, in order to get my desired amount of lotion?

Thank you in advance!

SamanthaG said...

I just want to say that I just discovered your site & I love it! I've been thinking about making my own hair oils but just have not gotten around to getting the ingredients & making them. I basically was just going to add some oils together (lol). Now I'm going to actually read your site & get some good tips. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bilalahmad Shafiq said...

The best thing is that you formulate own recipe according to locally available chemicals and stick what you want to make and what kind of...may be you will make better product with low cost...thats what i do..a little struggle and more you learn. And at last never cheat others recipes...

Bilalahmad Shafiq said...

I have also seen too many comments like....can i mix ...can i used ....can i use other one instead of it ..can i mix in heat phase or cool down phase...whatever ever...why not you peoples first try to do your homework you do more homework you will learn more...prefer to learn more yourself, instead of asking others.

Susan Flynn said...

Susan, I wonder if you can provide your thoughts on pH drift when incorporating zinc oxide into a cream. I love zinc oxide for the benefits that it provides to my reactive skin, eg. reducing redness, shrinking pores, healing blemishes, etc. I have a cream I've been trying to perfect and I would like to use a preservative system such as Silverion or a potassium sorbate / leucidal liquid blend, but I need to keep the pH low to make sure these are effective. I've noticed that after I add the zinc oxide, the pH starts to go up > 7. I am concerned my preservative won't be effective. The zinc oxide makes the cream very thick and after mixing it in, it cools rapidly. I add citric acid to get the pH below 6, but it seems the citric acid doesn't dissolve as nicely as I would like. Should I add the citric acid before adding the zinc oxide to lower the pH to 4 to account for the drift I am seeing? This is my recipe (this is just for personal use, I am not a business and I don't ever plan to be):

Oil Phase
18% Jojoba Oil
5% Polawax
2% Stearic Acid

Water Phase
62% Witch Hazel (contains 14% alcohol)
8% Aloe Vera gel (no preservatives)

Preservatives .3% - 3% (depending on preservative choice)
Preservative option 1: 3.9% Potassium Sorbate, 2% Leucidal Liquid
Preservative option 2: .3% Silverion 2400

.3% Citric Acid (or more if needed)
1% Vitamin E
1% Essential Oils

10% zinc oxide

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Susan. I know about pH drift with hydrovance, but I've never experienced it with zinc oxide. I recommend mixing the citric acid with a little heated water and adding it to the product that way. I never add powders undissolved! As a note, using things like witch hazel, hydrosols, aloe vera, and such can mess with the pH of things. This is one of the reasons I don't go over 10% to 20% with these ingredients. You should add the citric acid at the end of the process when all the ingredients are added.

Quick question: How are you testing your pH?

Susan Flynn said...

Thank you! For the above recipe which I created on 7.15, I used pH test strips - so not that accurate. I tested before adding the zinc oxide and the color seemed to match around 6, then after adding the zinc oxide, and it was definitely higher and seemed to match over 7. I since decided to splurge and buy an digital pH meter and am super excited about it. I saved a little bit of my product before adding the zinc oxide and I just re-tested: 4.7 before zinc oxide and 6.9 with zinc oxide. When I made the product, I wanted to thoroughly mix the zinc oxide in so I used my standing mixer for 15 minutes. I'm not sure I trust this batch with Silverion at this pH but it is just for me so I guess I'll watch it for awhile. It gives me an excuse to make another batch and follow your advice on dissolving the citric acid in water! One other observation, this is the first time I've tried Silverion and I think it made the cream feel thicker or maybe less glide-y on my skin.

Nurse Mi'el said...

I've browsed the site for a couple hours now, but this is the first time I've come across Questions I've seen this week.

Awesome idea, should be very effective (if people find it) and is very kind of you to answer any emails to begin with after providing such a vast database.

Just suggesting that you make these page(s) more visible to cut down your inbox size. Unless they've been clearly displayed and I just wasn't paying attention. This felt like the right page to comment on about...this page... so I admittedly typed this without reviewing the many pages I've previously visited.

As always, thank you again and again.

Bye, Nurse Mi'el

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nurse Mi'el. Thanks for the suggestion! Yes, this page is linked in the right hand column of the blog for everyone to see.

I'm not sure I get what you're saying about this being the first time you've seen "questions I've seen this week". Do you mean this is the first time you've seen me answer questions from my readers? I do that weekly and regularly. It's one of the best parts of having a blog and it gives me inspiration to write more!

true2me said...

Hi Susan,
I have read your vast amounts of posts on products and am very grateful for your time and dedication. I experiment with products myself and have never really attempted to put the ingredients to percentages. If that makes sense. Do you have an e-book or post on how to take the ingredients and break them down by the cups or ounces into percentages and vice versa?

Thanks for all you do

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi true2me! I don't have such a thing as percentages are done by weight, not by volume. You'd have to see how much 1 cup of x ingredient weighs, then the next one and the next one, then figure out how to make that product by weight.