Monday, December 17, 2012

Question: Is it okay to use small amounts of lots of oils.

In this post, Art asked: In order to make a whipped body butter, I have been reading up about the benefits of lots of different oils. I have come up with a recipe that includes four different types of butters (avocado, mango, shea, and aloe) and about 7 different types of oils (olive, sweet almond, coconut, argan, meadowfoam, macadamia nut, and castor), plus extracts! Because the recipe includes many different types of butters and oils, I will have to use each in fairly small quantities. My question is, how small a percentage is too small for the benefits of a certain oil to be cancelled out (if that's possible)? Is there any kind of scientific/chemical drawback to using so many different types of oils? Or does it make a better whipped butter for the skin to include a little bit of everything?

This question comes up a lot, so let me give you the short and long answers...

The short answer: There isn't any drawback to using so many oils and they won't cancel each other out, but it just doesn't seem like we get all the benefits of an oil if we're using tiny amounts of a bunch of oils. Check the suggested usage rates for each oil, but in general consider that less than 5% probably isn't that helpful. I generally choose one oil and one butter for a project, then branch out to see what would complement or supplement them.

The explanation of the long answer and the process of choosing oils: When I'm making a product, I can often times get so caught up in the chemistry of the oils and what they bring to the product that I fail to ask myself the question - what is the goal of this product? I find asking myself a few questions will help me narrow down what I want to use quite quickly...
  • Why did you pick the oils you did? 
  • What does each of them bring to the mix? 
  • What are the suggested usage rates? 
  • What is the skin feel of each oil? 
  • What is the climate and skin type of the user?
  • Do the properties that interest you overlap with another oil or ingredient? 
  • What is the end goal of this product? 
Once you've asked yourself these questions, it might be easier to figure out how to use a lot of one oil instead of tiny amounts of lots of different oils.

You don't have to answer all these questions, but I do suggest you consider them! 

As a note, all of the oils and butters we use should help moisturize your skin, and they will all behave kind of occlusively, meaning they will form a barrier on your skin to protect it from the outside world. You can slather on Crisco, mineral oil, or the fanciest oils you can buy in the exotic section of our suppliers and they will do those things for you. What we're trying to do here to choose oils that have good phytosterols, polyphenols, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other features that will bring all kinds of awesome properties to the product.

If you want to be able to compare these things, please visit the emollients section of the blog or download the oils, butters, or exotic oils comparison charts found in that section or in my e-books! If you want a handy dandy reference to the chemistry of oils, click here for the oil chemistry PDF. 

If we consider a whipped butter might have 80% butter and 20% oil, consider that the butter will most likely be the main thing we feel in the product, so I would start choosing my ingredients from there.

Let's say I wanted to make something with shea butter. Shea butter contains 3 to 7% palmitic acid (C16), 35 to 45% stearic acid (C18), 40 to 55% oleic acid (C18:1), and 3 to 8% linoleic acid (C18:2). It also contains some nice polyphenols and phytosterols that will offer anti-oxidizing and moisturizing properties. I know that a butter made with shea butter will be more whippy and soft than one made with mango or cocoa butter. And I know it will feel more greasy. So I'll see what oils will make this feel less greasy - if that's what I want!

You have seven oils in mind - let's take a look at how a few of them might feel or perform with shea butter.

Olive oil: A medium to heavy weight oil that brings some great moisturizing and softening properties. It contains 55 to 83% oleic acid (C18:1), 4 to 21% linoleic acid (C18:2), 1% linolenic acid (C18:3), 10.5% palmitic acid (C16), and 2.6% stearic acid (C18), It has great phytosterols, which would be great for reducing redness or inflammation, and squalene, which is fanastic for softening and soothing chapped or cracked skin. Combine this with shea butter and you'll have a greasy feeling whipped butter that offers moisturizing, softening, and soothing of chapped or cracked skin that may help with redness and inflammation. It will hae a lot of oleic and stearic acid, with up to 29% linoleic acid and very little linolenic acid. Your product could have a shelf life of up to one year.

Sweet almond oil: A light oil that contains 3 to 9% palmitic acid (C16), 2% palmitoleic acid (C16:1), 3% stearic acid (C18), 60 to 78% oleic acid (C18:1), 10 to 30% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 2% linolenic acid (C18:3). It contains 164 ppm tocopherol and about 58.1 ppm cholesterol. Combine this with shea butter and you'll have a greasy feeling whipped butter with lots of oleic acid, up to 38% linoleic acid, and 2% linolenic acid that will have a shelf life of one year.

Macadamia nut oil: A light, not so greasy feeling oil with 8.9% palmitic acid (C16), 18.7 to 22.6% palmitoleic acid (C16:1), 2.9% stearic acid (C18), 58.4% and higher oleic acid (C18:1), and 1.8% linoleic acid (C18:2). (Palmitoleic acid offers some wound healing properties, which is a nice feature.) It also contains some good levels of phytosterols and squalene. Combine this with shea butter and you'll have a less greasy feeling whipped butter with lots of oleic acid and very little lineoleic or linolenic fatty acids. It will have a shelf life of a year.

Just looking at a combination of one oil with shea butter tells us that there will be a lot of oleic acid in the product - which is great for moisturizing and cell regeneration. This fatty acid offers some anti-inflammatory properties and can help soften our skin.

If we combined two of these oils together at 10% each would that be a good choice? Sure! A lot of our oils have a suggested usage rate of 5% or higher, so we should be getting the lovely qualities we seek for our products if we use them at 10%.

Are we getting all that we could in a product by using these oils? Mostly. I admit I'm obsessed with using something with linoleic acid in every product because I love the barrier repair functions of this fatty acid, but you don't have to be!

Are we getting the skin feel we wish using these oils? If you want a greasy feeling product, you'll want to go with olive oil or sweet almond oil and shea butter. If you want a less greasy feeling product - but still greasy feeling - you'll want to use macadamia nut oil and shea butter. If you want a far less greasy feeling product, then turn to mango butter!

A few more thoughts for this product:

  • You mention you might like to use avocado butter. Why the butter and not the oil?
  • Check what butter is with your aloe butter. It could be coconut oil or shea butter.
  • At what temperature will this product be used and stored? Coconut oil melts at 76˚F or 24.4˚C, which can be room temperature in some offices and homes, and is an easy temperature to reach in the summer in most places. 

Have you tried this recipe yet? If not, why not? I think we learn about our oils and butters best by using them and testing the skin feel. One of the first recipes I tried was a cocoa butter whipped butter with mostly cocoa butter and a few oils. It whipped well, but went hard as a rock pretty quickly. I learned that cocoa butter needed to be mixed with something like shea butter to be less hard and it helped me figure out what I liked in a body butter!

If you get stuck on what oil to use, create a chart, then get into your workshop and see how they feel on your skin. We could spend weeks gathering information on oils and butters, but if you hate the way they feel on your skin, what is the point?

BUT BUT BUT...Please don't get bogged down by the different oils you could use! You can make amazing products with one oil and one butter! You don't have to know the fatty acid profile of this or phytosterol content of that to make something that feels great! When I started I had a bottle of olive oil, sweet almond oil, and grapeseed oil. I soon figured out that I hated grapeseed oil - it goes rancid quite quickly (3 months) and it feels quite dry - and that sweet almond oil and olive oil kind of fit into the same fatty acid profile. If I didn't write the blog, I'd probably only have a few oils in the workshop with a couple of exotic ones like kukui or evening primrose thrown in for good measure. Many of them fit into the same fatty acid profile or property profile, and we don't need to have all of them in one product to make something awesome!

If you've zoned out and just scrolled to the end, I suggest you confine your choices to one or two butters and one or two oils...Wow, you can tell I'm on holiday time, eh?


Lise M Andersen said...

It is a bit of a puzzle putting together the absolutely PERFECT formula. I also used to try and pack as many actives and oils and 'goodies' into every single whipped butter recipe, but have over time found it more effective to choose a few oils/butters that complement each other and 'keep it simple' - much as you suggest Susan. Some of the best whipped butter-and-oil formulas are the the ones where every ingredient is allowed to 'shine'.

Anonymous said...

Susan, thanks so much! Your post is exactly the reason I asked you and not a different blogger, I knew you would cover every possible detail and have science to back you up.

Because I read your blog quite often, I do ask myself those questions when making any product. The problem is I just have a heard time picking one oil over the other, so I just add a little of everything. But I felt like I over did it this time, so I thought I would put the question to the expert. :-)

I did in fact try the recipe and it turned out well. It was not as thick as some other whipped butters I've made in the past but will do just fine for the winter months. I am already thinking of some changes. For example, I probably won't use Aloe Butter next time, just Aloe extract, as the butter I used was made with coconut oil - so I essentially had coconut oil twice - which affected the viscosity of it. I've also narrowed it down to only 3 oils and one extract. I have very dry skin, especially during the winter, so my goal is to maximize moisture (but don't really want the greasy feeling).

Thanks again for this post. Extremely informative. I'm going to make a chart of oils that will help me narrow my oil and butter selections to no more than 3 oils per recipe.


melian1 said...

i love how your blogs are packed with information! hurray for vacation times!!!

what is coconut butter?
what is the difference between coconut butter and coconut oil? coconut oil is firm/hard like a butter.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lise! This is why I tell people to stop reading and start making because - as you no doubt know - it's all about the skin feel!

Hi Art! I'm glad I could be of service. Have you ever made a lotion? The reason I suggest this is that the goal of an anhydrous product is to trap in moisture. If you don't have much moisture on your skin, there's nothing to trap. If you make a lotion, go nuts with the humectants! And if you're using something anhydrous, make sure you are dampening your skin before using to have something to trap!

Hi melian! I meant coconut oil! Thanks for the catch!

Anonymous said...

Susan, I have made a lotion (and body butter). I use this hand lotion recipe ( slightly modified as a body lotion and then I put the whipped body butter over it. I've definitely noticed a difference. And it's really awesome to make and use my own lotion and body butter. Thanks for all the recipes and instruction.


Michele Clarke said...

In the lines of skin care. I have super sensitive skin. It started after having my son. I never had issues before. It's how I started formulating my own lotions.

With that said I have Keratosis pilaris on my arms. Just a few but so painful. I use a sugar scrub daily. However my lotions don't seem to keep it away.

I also have eczema. The Shea whipped butter with Avocado helps immensely but it doesn't help the Keratosis Pilaris. What to do?

I use Dr bronnor's baby mild soap diluted or shea butter bars with the lotions.

I use sunflower oil and avocado(winter), shea butter, green tea, carrot extract(hair) & Phenonip Preservative. I use Bramble Berry's FO but barely use 1%.

My hair and skin HATES Aloe. It's drying in liquid and gel form. I itch from it too. I think I have a wheat allergy so use Oat E in my conditioner with panthenol, cyclo/dimeth.

catherine said...

hi michele. i had kp too! also started shortly after childbirth! i discovered bha body lotion from *Totally* worked. After maybe 6 months of using bha lotion (and other paulaschoice products) my kp was completely gone. And still is except in times of extreme stress...but now it always goes away after a few weeks. But wow paulaschoice gets expensive!

then i discovered this blog and learned i could make my own bha lotion and other non-irritating products! To make a bha lotion incorporate 2% salicylic acid into your favorite lotion recipe. Since sal acid is alcohol-soluble i dissolve it in propanediol, an ecocert glycol...let me know if you want recipe...

Michele Clarke said...

Yes Catherine I would like to see it. From the few items you mentioned I don't have them in stock. I do have white willow bark

catherine said...

Hi Michele and everyone. Here's my most recent salicylic acid lotion recipe:

water phase:
65% water
1% vanilla extract (alcohol free)

alcohol phase:
11.9% propanediol (Naturemulse at Ingrediens to Die For)
2.1% salicylic acid

oil phase:
4% btms25 (from lotioncrafter)
2% cetyl alcohol
6% soy/palm oil blend (ok, it's crisco shortening :)
4% canola oil
3% olive oil

1% optiphen plus preservative

FYI the ph of this recipe is 4 (paulaschoice recos ph 3-4 for proper exfoliation). I like that I didn't have to adjust the ph of this recipe with citric acid/etc. But you should always check/adjust the ph of your own lotion because it probably varies depending on what brand of ingredients, etc.

Michele, I haven't used willow bark extract but if you made a lotion with an amount of willow extract equivalent to 2% salicylic acid and made sure your lotion had a ph 3-4 that would probably be a great bha lotion.

Also, I just checked the ph of this recipe lotion (which I made maybe in October/November) and the ph is still 4. That's great news because that means there's been no ph drift, which Swift has discussed can happen with aha/bha lotions.

Re ingredients, if you don't have naturemulse propanediol you can substitute butylene glycol or propylene glycol, or ethanol (but I don't like ethanol for myself...too drying).

Hope this helps!

cuindalight said...

Hi Susan..

Is there a way for me to establish whether an oil is more susceptible of being comedogenic - via the oil "profile"? It seems to me from all the descriptions, if it has higher oleic - then perhaps breakouts are more common. Linoleic generally shorter shelf life, but better.

By researching and reading, you can get a lot of varying experiences from people using oils and perhaps you do just have to try them as we are all a bit different. PLUS, I also find the comedogenic scales out there vary - so it is hard to establish a real rule on this, drives me nuts. I have about 20 sites bookmarked. This acne mantra site is rather interesting - but not sure where the info is coming from.

Another thought was using a questionable oil at 1-3%. But then again, is 1-3% worth it? You say it is generally best to keep oils at around 5 and up to get the benefits. The lowest I have gone is around 4%, which is probably because I have a smaller oil phase. But I have read the comedogenicity is substantially reduced below 3%.

Anyway, FCO and sunflower (your recommendation) is no problem and have used it for a light summer lotion at 10% oil phase - 5 each, with BTMS 50.

Tamanu, argan, and sesame seem get some rave reviews, but there are a few reports where it can aggravate the skin breaking out. I made a face cream with these and just testing. I love Tamanu and argan, their properties and feel. But I may have gone to high (see below).

Avocado seems fine - my newest finding - but then again, very high in Oleic, so why do I feel that may be problematic. Cranberry, Acai, meadow foam also seem ok.

We know about grapeseed and hazelnut, but they also get mixed reviews as does Macademia nut. Even jojoba is iffy.

My story - I am an adult - 40's, still prone to break outs at times. I use toners and gels and have no problems with FCO or sunflower. I do like the drier oils but have only tried mac nut, sesame, tamanu and argan thus far. I like them but am thinking they still may be too heavy. I want a winter cream. I made a 22% oil recipe with 2 oils each. Test 1: argan/tamanu and test 2 tamanu/sesame, with tamanu at 12% and the balance at 10%.

So now thinking I will reduce the percentage of these in a sunflower/fco base, so I can get some goodies. Like:

15% base
FCO 10% (no goodies)
Sunflower 5% ( I think it may be too greasy otherwise)
Tamanu 3%
Argan or another "try-it" oil at 2-3%

I usually use BTMS 50 for the face, maybe could try Ritamulse as i like it for scrubs and reduces the greasy feeling. I haven't bought IPM yet, which would allow me to use more Sunflower anti-acne properties. And I guess my new area would be esters.

My main question:

Do you have any suggestions for this lower percentage idea as well as understanding the components in a oil profile better for this specific purpose?

Thanks for any tips. Your site is wonderful and have learned so much! I hope you have time to respond.

Thanks s.

Juanita Miglio said...

Where would I look or research to find properties and oil comparison chart (yours) information for oils that you don't have in your PDFs?
Where did you do your research?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Juanita. Have you looked at the emollients section of the blog? I have many more oils listed there that aren't in the comparison charts. If what interests you isn't there, my next suggestion is to Google and see what you find!

As I mention in this post you can find in the FAQ, I use many textbooks as well as journal databases to find more information.

Juanita Miglio said...

This is GREAT thank you so much! :)