Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are you really sensitive to that ingredient?

When we start making our products, we tend to have some preconceived notions we've developed after using commercial products all our lives. I preferred unscented Dove's Sensitive Skin body wash because everything else made me break out. I have no idea what was in that or what was missing from it, but for some reason I was convinced that I couldn't have fragrances. And if you've read this blog for more than five minutes, you know that I love my fragrance oils, so that was such a misconception! It turns out I can use up to 2% of a variety of fragrance oils in my products - both rinse off and leave on - without problem. It was a pleasure to be wrong about being able to use fragrances - I smell like Clementine Cupcake most of the time these days!

Where did you get the idea that you could over condition your hair and end up with build up? Where did you get the idea that using any proteins in your hair care products could end up with over proteined hair that was crunchy? (Something I have never heard of and doesn't seem to have any validity in my textbooks or other literature.) Why do you think you can't use fragrances? And why do you think that you can use essential oils but not fragrance oils? What is a greasy feeling lotion to you? Be open to the idea that you could have a misconception about what you like or can handle and really question where this idea came from and whether or not it's valid.

I'm not trying to negate your experiences with ingredients or imply that allergies or sensitivities aren't something to concern yourself with, but when you are using 1% to 2% of an ingredient like a fragrance or protein or silicone, it's very difficult to come to the conclusion that it was that tiny amount of one ingredient instead of another one. Commercial products use so little of various ingredients - for instance, look for where aloe vera lands on a list of ingredients in a shampoo and conditioner and I can assure you it's not in the "lots of ingredients" part of the list, near the water - that it would be surprising if you knew it was there at all. Yet I see people time and time again say that they can't use proteins in their products because they get over proteined from products that might have 1% protein at most! (I think my issue with fragrance came from the fact that other body washes I had tried contained a lot of SLS or not so mild detergents, which my sensitive skin doesn't like, and nothing to do with the fragrance. But the fragrance was an easy target!)

And consider the interaction of ingredients. If you're making a body wash with loads of glycerin or other humectants, they can behave as mildness enhancers so you'll get a milder body wash with 3% glycerin than you would without it!

I guess the point of this post is to always reconsider what you think is true and right. That's not to say that you're wrong - it could turn out that you really are scent sensitive or that fragrances don't agree with your skin - but it could be that you really can handle something you thought you couldn't!

I have never heard of over proteined hair, and if you have any good information about it - I mean information from a textbook or scholarly publication - please forward it to me because I have searched until my eyes were blurry and have not found this concern, yet I see it constantly on hair related forums! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Formulating for dry skin: Lower hydration levels

In an ideal world, we'd all live in climates with 40% to 60% humidity and a lot of cases of dry skin would go away. (And in that same ideal world, chocolate would be calorie free and people would treat intellectual pursuits the way they do sports, but I digress...) But we don't, so we need to turn humectants and other moisturizers to help our dry skin feel more hydrated.

Our natural moisturizing factor contains amino acids (40%), sodium PCA (12%), lactate (12%), urea (7%), ions (18.5%), sugars (like glycerol - 8.5%), and a few other things. We want to draw water to our skin from the atmosphere, so we want to use humectants like sodium lactate, sodium PCA, glycerin, panthenol, honeyquat, and so on in our products.

If you're heard the claim that using glycerin in a dry climate can draw water from your skin, click here to see the research I've done on the topic. My conclusion: Use glycerin with an occlusive ingredient for awesome moisturizing action.  

Also think about the stratum corneum lipids found between our skin cells. This is where the lovely linoleic acid containing oils can help our skin's dryness levels.

The water soluble natural moisturizing factor is found inside the corneocytes; the lipid soluble stratum corneum lipids are found outside the corneocytes. (I really recommend reading the series on skin chemistry from start to finish if this interests you!) 

What can we do to increase hydration levels in our skin?

1. Live in a more humid climate, or create one with a humidifier. (I'm currently using a lovely one by Sunbeam, a cool mist humidifier that can run for something like 30 hours before it needs refilling. I bought it for about $25 from London Drugs, so it's an affordable one!)

2. Add humectants into your products and add an occlusive ingredient to make sure you trap that water against your skin. And definitely re-apply those products regularly throughout the day.

3. Use only really mild cleansers for our skin and moisturize after cleansing. Ensure our products are pH balanced for skin (for instance, no using really alkaline surfactants like decyl glucoside without modifying the pH) and increase the mildness of those products.

Join me for a little more information about humectants tomorrow before we get into a series of formulating and modifying products for dry skin.

Related posts:
Question: What's the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?
Skin chemistry & types section of the blog
Better crafting through chemistry: Humectants

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Formulating for dry skin: Impaired skin barrier ingredients

As the goal of this blog is to set you on fire rather than handing you matches, I thought we'd take some time to look at the ingredients that might benefit dry to really dry skin. 

What do we know about dry to really dry skin? We know that really dry skin probably has an impaired skin barrier, lower natural moisturizing factor, and lower hydration levels in our stratum corneum.

If you have an impaired skin barrier, you're probably experiencing increased transepidermal water loss. When the climate is dry, TEWL increases. When we have too little water in our skin - we want 10% to 20% or so - TEWL increases. When there's damage to our skin - sunburn, burns in general, wounds - TEWL increases. In short, anything that assaults or insults our skin increases TEWL.


What can we do to reduce TEWL? We can stay away from things that damage our skin, like too much sun or wind exposure, extremes in temperatures, or really scratchy sweaters. We can live in a humid climate or have a humidifier in the house (40% to 60% humidity is ideal). And we can make lovely creations that will trap water into our skin or add more when needed.

We want to increase our skin's barrier repair mechanisms and protect it from further damage. We do this by using occlusive ingredients to protect our skin and fatty acids like linoleic acid and gamma linoleic acid (GLA) to speed up the repair process.

OCCLUSIVES
All of our emollients - oils, butters, and esters - will trap water on our skin and keep the world out, but there are three ingredients specifically approved by the FDA for this purpose - dimethicone, allantoin, and cocoa butter.

Each of these can be used in an emulsified product, like a lotion or body butter. Use up to 5% dimethicone in the cool down phase, up to 2% allantoin in the heated water phase or cool down phase (I prefer the heated water phase), and up to whatever level you like for cocoa butter in the heated oil phase - but you have to be careful when thinking of including them in other products.

Dimethicone can be used in anhydrous or emulsified products, but you can't use it in a water based product like a toner without some kind of emulsification. Same with cocoa butter - use in anhydrous products, but not in toners or water based products. Allantoin can be used in water based or emulsified products, but you can't use it in an oil based product because it won't dissolve and gritty feeling allantoin is just awful!

So if you want to add some occlusion to your toner, consider using up to 2% allantoin in the heated water or cool down phase. (I don't go over 0.5% but you can go as high as 2%). If you want to add occlusion to your whipped butter without thickening it too much or want some occlusion in a lotion bar, think about using 2% dimethicone. If you want to make your lotion bar a little bit harder, consider up to 10% cocoa butter in that product. And so on.

EMOLLIENTS
We really want to include some nice emollients that will help repair our skin's repair mechanism do its job, so you want to look for oils that contain linoleic acid or gamma linoleic acid, like soybean oil and rice bran oil (linoleic acid) or evening primrose and borage oil (GLA). Look for higher levels of phytosterols, which can soften skin and reduce transepidermal water loss. Oleic acid is a good fatty acid for softening and moisturizing skin, but it isn't going to give you the skin barrier repair mechanism speed up that you'll get from the other fatty acids.

My first choice for dry skin would be soybean oil. It's filled with Vitamin E, phytosterols, and linoleic acid. It's inexpensive - one of the most inexpensive oils, in fact - and it's easy to find. The one down side is that it is a little on the greasy side. Rice bran oil, sesame seed oil, and sunflower oil are also great choices. If you want something a little less greasy, you could go for an oil like evening primrose or borage oil, both of which are definitely less greasy, but they are much more expensive than the usual carrier oils. If you want a less greasy carrier oil, you're in a bit of a bind because most of them contain more oleic acid than linoleic acid. My suggestion is to make your products less greasy using something like IPM at up to 5% in the heated oil phase or use an emulsifier like BTMS-50 rather than give up the awesome power of the linoleic or gamma linoleic acid.

You don't really want to use anhydrous products, like lotion bars or whipped butters, on really dry skin. WHAT? DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT? Follow along with me for a moment...

Yes, they moisturize - oleic acid is a great fatty acid for softening our skin and linoleic acid is good for speeding up skin's barrier mechanisms - but if you don't have a lot of water in your skin, what is the anhydrous product trapping? Anhydrous products can prevent further transepidermal water loss and they can soften skin and help repair the barrier mechanisms of our skin, but they aren't going to trap in water if there's none there. This is why you want to apply a body oil, anhydrous body butter, lotion bar, whipped butter, balm, anhydrous facial serum, and so on onto dry skin after making it damp. This gives the product something to trap against our skin! (Generally you'd take a bath or wash your face to get your skin damp, but spraying it with water - or something like a toner - works just as well!)

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at how we can increase the hydration of our stratum corneum in dry skin!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Formulating for dry skin: What is dry skin?

What does it mean to have dry skin? What might be causing it? What ingredients could you use in your products to help with this issue? Let's take a look at these questions before we enjoy a few days of formulating for this skin type!

What does it mean to have dry skin? (Original post from March 17, 2010 can be found here.) If you have dry skin, you know it can be a pain in the bum (or the arm or the face...choose your body part). What contributes to dry skin? The ability of our stratum corneum to maintain skin hydration! Low levels of stratum corneum lipids, natural moisturizing factors, sebum, hyaluronic acid, and aquaporins all contribute to dry skin.

Click here for an updated overview of your skin. Click here for the skin chemistry & types section of the blog for more about the biology of our skin. 

How is dry skin defined? It is when your skin is a dull colour (gray to white) with a rough texture and an elevated number of ridges. When the equilibrium of the stratum corneum is out of whack, the skin's ability to maintain hydration is decreased, and skin is more susceptible to environmental factors because the skin barrier is impaired. Trans-epidermal water loss increases. Desquamation is abnormal, with skin coming off in sheets instead of cell by cell, so your skin looks rough and dry, and you get that white or ashy look.

Dry skin could be genetic, or it could be the result of over exposure to UV radiation, solvents, chlorine, detergents, or excessive amounts of water, all of which can lead to a disturbance in the stratum corneum lipids. This means water can escape faster through your skin, leading to a reduction in hydration. The ceramides in your skin are also messed up, which reduces the barrier properties. The increase in TEWL and the reduction in barrier properties means your skin will get drier and drier until the situation is improved!

If these things weren't bad enough, the reduction in your skin's natural moisturizing factor makes the situation even worse! NMF is derived from filaggrin: The degradation of this protein makes it possible for our outer skin layers to maintain an adequate water supply in dry or arid environments. When we're in a low humidity environment, the NMF production increases. If it doesn't, our skin gets drier. If your skin is already too dry and poorly hydrated, the NMF fails to increase in arid environments, which only increases the level of dryness!

Hyaluronic acid is found in the middle spinous layer of our skin, not in the stratum corneum or stratum granulosum. Its role in skin hydration is not completely known, but it is a very powerful humectant that can bind a thousand times its weight in water and it does help our skin in retaining said water for hydration. Older and dry skin is characterized by lower levels of HA. (And as a note, so far studies are showing that topical application of HA won't penetrate your skin to increase the amount in the stratum spinosum, although it will make your stratum corneum feel nicer.)

And we come to aquaporins. Our epidermis contains aquaglyceroporins (AQP3), which are proteins embedded in our skin's cell membranes that allow for the transport of water and glycerin into our skin. AQP3 is thought to enhance trans-epidermal water permeability to protect the stratum corneum from water evaporating through the skin and/or to spread water throughout the layer of the keratinocytes.

Mice deficient in AQP3 show reduced stratum corneum hydration, impaired skin barrier recovery, delayed wound healing, altered skin elasticity, and reduced glycerol in the stratum corneum due to the impaired glycerol and water transport to the epidermis. In short, an impairment in AQP3 leads to a reduction in the water holding capacity of our skin.

When our skin has been exposed to too much sun, we find decreased water permeability in cells, impaired cell migration (meaning new cells aren't moving to the stratum corneum), and delayed wound healing, all thanks to impairment in the AQP3.

Click here for more information on AQP3. 

Dry skin also sees an increase in pH, which is not a good thing. Various proteases involved in the desquamation process don't work well when the pH is increased, so we see less turnover of the top layer of cells! As well, our skin is less resistant to chemical and microbial attack.

How can we treat dry skin with our lovely creations? As always, we need to use mild cleansers with very mild detergents. As much as I love surfactants, they can remove the stratum corneum lipids and reduce the NMF from our skin. Luckily, most surfactants are mild, and there are tons of ways to increase mildness in those types of products.

Because the skin's barrier mechanisms are probably impaired, we want to use a lot of lovely oils with good fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides or glycerol, those things that make up the stratum corneum lipids. You'll want to apply these lovely lotions two to three times a day and especially after bathing to trap in the moisture.

If you are suffering from dry skin thanks to too much sun exposure (current or past), you likely have an impaired skin barrier, lower NMF, and lower hyaluronic acid levels. Unfortunately, adding HA to your creations isn't going to change this as it won't penetrate to the stratum spinosum level, which is where you really need it. There have been a few studies indicating that oral glucosamine supplements might help reduce the possible wrinkling, but not the hydration levels of your skin. Avoid the sun - that just seems obvious! - and use sunscreen to avoid further photo-damage.

More about photodamage here...

Remember glycerin is your friend, as are the lower molecular weight hydrolyzed proteins, like silk or Phytokeratin, that penetrate your skin. Both of these ingredients will offer tons of moisturizing without oils.

When you are formulating mineral make-up for dry skin, make sure to include humectants like allantoin or silk powder to ensure you have a moisturizing ingredient, even in powdery formulas. Magnesium myristate treated sericite mica will offer moisturizing - it's a better choice than untreated sericite mica.

I really encourage you to read this paper "The Clinical Effects of Moisturizers" regardless of your skin type. It's just fascinating and goes into great detail about how these things work on our skin. I'll be referencing it quite a bit in the next few days. I also encourage you to read this paper, "Skin Hydration: A review on its molecular mechanisms" as it's also a fascinating read into how our skin works! 

Related posts:
Working with your skin type - examples

BODY WASHES

FACIAL CLEANSERS
Formulating for dry skin: Facial cleansers
Formulating a creamy foamer facial cleanser (adapted for dry skin at the bottom of the post)

FACIAL PRODUCTS
Making a toner for dry, rosacea prone skin
Making a toner for dry, resistant or wrinkled skin
Formulating facial moisturizers for dry skin
Formulating facial moisturizers for dry, wrinkled skin
Facial serum for dry skin
Formulating with sea buckthorn oil: A facial serum
Esters: Making a dry skin facial serum
Esters: Formulating with Super Sterol in a serum

BODY CARE PRODUCTS
Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrub for dry skin
Formulating anhydrous products for your skin type
Formulating with oils - very itchy skin spray
Formulating with oils - whipped butters for itchy skin
Formulating with oils - whipped butters for other skin types
Formulating with oils - lotion bars for very dry feet
Formulating with oils - winter facial lotion bars
Formulating with oils - very itchy skin body butter
Formulating with oils - hand lotion for dry skin
Formulating with oils - hand lotion for dry skin (less greasy)
Comfrey root extract - formulating a body butter for dry, bruised skin
Dry skin body lotion with chamomile extract & hydrosol

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Humectants: Panthenol - a closer look

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm a fan of panthenol and use it in many different products. We see it a lot in hair care products, but I think it has a place in skin care products, especially those for dry or wounded skin. Allow me to share...

D-panthenol is the alcoholic analogue of pantothenic acid, or Vitamin B5. (Remember, alcohol doesn't mean the stuff we drink, it's an organic chemistry functional group. Look at those OH or hydroxyl groups!) "Animals require pantothenic acid to synthesize coenzyme-A (CoA), as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats." (Wikipedia) What we purchase at our suppliers is D-panthenol or DL-panthenol (DL-panthenol tends to be what we see in powdered form). It is well absorbed by our skin and rapidly converted to Vitamin B5 in our body. Pantothenic acid "appears to be essential to normal epithelial function..." (page 428, this paper)

It is water and alcohol soluble, but practically insoluble in fats, so we will be using this in water based or emulsified products, and not in anhydrous products. The suggested usage is 1% to 5% and you'll be using it in the cool down phase (liquid) or heated water phase (powder). It is approved by the FDA at 2% to be in anti-itching and wound healing products, although you can't make that claim. It is considered atoxic, meaning there should be no side effects from using it as it is something our body produces. It is also considered a penetration enhancer.

What are the claims about D-panthenol?
  • Improves stratum corneum hydration
  • Reduces redness and inflammation
  • Increases wound healing by stimulating skin epithelialization
  • Improves skin barrier mechanism repair
  • Mitigates itching and soothes irritation
  • Behaves as a humectant
Wow! That's one heck of a list for an ingredient that we use at 2% to 5% in the heated phase (powder) or the cool down phase (liquid) of our water based or emulsified products!

IMPROVING THE HYDRATION OF OUR STRATUM CORNEUM
Panthenol improves the hydration of our stratum corneum by behaving as a humectant (page 31, this paper, or p 428, this paper), so it draws water from the atmosophere to our skin. This increases skin's elasticity and softness. This means our skin will feel less dry and we'll see less cracking or flaking. One study reported that treatment with a panthenol ointment for 7 days improved the stratum corneum's hydration and reduced transepidermal water loss (page 679, this paper)

REDUCES REDNESS AND INFLAMMATION
Although an experiment using 4.2% panthenol ointment did not protect against inflammation and redness from sun exposure (p. 429, this paper), it has been demonstrated that it can be used in after sun formulations to relieve redness and inflammation (page 333, Barel Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, 3rd edtion). It can be used to alleviate dry or inflamed skin caused by SLS induced irritation (in experiments) and for people who have to wash their hands very frequently, and it can be used in advance to reduce future irritation and reduce injury to skin's barrier mechanisms (p 430, this paper)

In our hair, as little as 2% in an aqueous solution has shown an increase of up to 10% in the diameter of our hair (Handbook, 3rd edition, page 113).

INCREASING THE SPEED OF WOUND HEALING BY EPITHELIALIZATION
Studies have shown that 2% to 5% panthenol ointment can increase the healing of wounds caused by skin transplants or scar treatment, diaper rash, and leg ulcers (page 429 to 430, this paper). Panthenol has been shown to activate fibroblast proliferation, which is a major part of wound healing. (It's suggested that we keep wounds moist!)

For more information on wound healing, click here for Anthony Dweck's paper on the topic

IMPROVING SKIN'S BARRIER REPAIR MECHANISMS
"In sodium lauryl-sulphate-induced irritated skin, panthenol has been found to promote skin barrier repair and SC (stratum corneum) hydration." (page 678, this paper)

I feel satisfied seeing all the science behind these claims, but there's one small drawback. Most of these results have been found while using an ointment or water-in-oil product. We make oil-in-water products, so we aren't going to see the same results. One study showed a reduction in absorption of panthenol when it was administered to the skin in olive oil, which showed you that the type of product in which you add the panthenol is just as important as the panthenol itself. So you might want to consider using the higher amount of panthenol - 5% - rather than lower levels in oil-in-water emulsions or any other product (say a cleanser or toner).

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at some other benefits of using humectants!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Humectants: Questions, questions, questions!

In this post about humectants, there have been quite a few comments I thought I would share with you, my wonderful readers! And since I'm currently planning a series on creating products for dry skin that relies heavily on the usage of humectants, this seems like a great way to start a series on those ingredients!

seventh77 asked: Hi! Do you ever use both sodium PCA and sodium lactate together in one formula, or would you advise against that?

Hi seventh77! No, I don't tend to use them together. Why? I'm not really sure. I think they would make a good combination used at something like 2% each in the water phase of a product. I think the main reason I don't use both together is that I can't find sodium PCA locally, and it costs a lot more. (Sodium lactate at Voyageur is $5.95 for 8 ounces. Sodium PCA at Personal Formulator is $5.65 for 4 ounces and I have to have it shipped to me.) In fact, there's an ingredient called Lactil you can get containing sodium lactate, sodium PCA, glycine, fructose, urea, niacinamide, inositol, sodium benzoate, and lactic acid, which clearly combines a ton of different humectants into one ingredient, so it doesn't appear there's any reason not to use them together.

Anyone have a reason why we shouldn't use these two humectants together? I'm open to suggestions!

In another comment, seventh77 asked: Also, I'm a little confused on the actual differences between sodium PCA and sodium lactate. In one of your posts you mentioned sodium lactate being a sun sensitizer at above 3% while sodium PCA is not; but are there any other differences? I stumbled across a site saying that sodium lactate is more powerful than sodium PCA and that it retains more water than sodium PCA. Is this true? Also, what are the specific qualities each imparts to a formula? I've read that sodium lactate improves slip.

I've never noticed sodium lactate adding a slip to a product - normally something that adds slip is either oily or alkaline in nature. Sodium lactate has a pH of about 7 (neutral, like water), and it isn't an oil, so I'm not sure why it would add any slip. It is used as a bar hardener for soap and syndet bars, but won't do anything for the thickness of your lotions.

The ability of humectants to bind water can depend upon the humidity levels. Take a look at this chart, which shows that PCA has better binding abilities at 52% and over or 31%, but sodium lactate is better at 50%. I'm not sure how much I trust this chart as it appears that glycerin isn't that great compared to just about everything else, but we know it's a good humectant.

Having said this, there are reasons to use our ingredients other than their moisture binding abilities, something we'll see tomorrow with my updated post on panthenol and the other posts I've written for this week. Sodium lactate can be a used to create a pH buffer with lactic acid and it can help with acne, something PCA doesn't offer.


Alexis asked: Hi Susan,You once posted a scale of hygroscopic abilities for humectants (sodium PCA > sodium lactate > glycerin > sorbitol). Can you also rank humectants on a scale of "tenacity"? I know glyercin is the most "sticky" and, conversely that sodium PCA and sodium lactate wash off easily. What about the others like sorbitol, panthenol, honeyquat, condition-eze, hydrovance? Is there a place on the MSDS where I would find this info? Many thanks!

I find the MSDS for an ingredient is generally pretty useless when you want information of this nature - it's better at telling you how to handle it and what to do if you eat, drink, or put it in your eyes.  What you want is the data bulletin. Unfortunately, we don't tend to get much information other than "it's better than glycerin at moisture binding" for most products. This could provide enough information for you to make a decision about using humectant in general, but I can't provide more information than a theoretical glycerin > everything else.

For instance, Hydrovance claims that it absorbed 82% of its weight in water versus glycerin at 24%, but that doesn't tell us about the humidity level where this experiment might have taken place, which is something really vital for humectants. For Honeyquat, they claim that it "demonstrates a marked moisture uptake ability when compared to glycerin" in hair and "Moisture uptake studies (s)how that it has twice the moisturizing ability of glycerin". (click here for the data bulletin - notice all the typos! Seriously? No one proofread this?)

Join me tomorrow as we take another look at panthenol!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some thoughts on contamination and packaging

I've seen quite a few people lately talking about how they aren't sure why their products went off given that they are almost obsessive about cleanliness, and I think part of the problem might be the open mouthed containers they are using. (Find the discussion in this recent post on cetyl alcohol as well as on the Dish forum.)

Give some serious thought to the containers you are planning to use with your products. The less access to the air for your product, the lower the chance of contamination. A bottle with a disc cap or turret cap is less likely to get tons of air exposure than a jar, so the bottle with the disc cap is less likely to experience contamination. You can be as obsessively clean as you want with your utensils and work containers, but if you don't put your products into a really clean container that has low access to the air around us, contamination is a strong possibility.

As an aside, if you doubt the power of exposure to air, think about how yeast gets into some breads - from the air! Alton Brown - all hail Alton Brown! - tells us more about the yeast in the air in this clip on how to make sourdough bread starter! Click here for sock puppet hilarity! 

Don't get me wrong - I love jars. It's bad enough we have to worry about the air - and is the air in your bathroom the cleanest in the house? - but we have to think about what our end user is going to do with our products! Will they leave the lid off or cap it when they're done in the shower? (This was one of the reasons my mom wouldn't let me have "expensive" hair care products as a teenager. I kinda had a problem with tidiness and putting caps on things!) Will they stick wet hands or less-than-clean utensils into the jar? 

You don't need to clean containers you've received from your supplier. If you've kept them in a bag in a fairly dust free location, they are clean. Don't waste your time and energy on cleaning an already clean container!

And a final note, when creating products, use distilled water. Don't use water from the tap as you don't know what metals or bacteria might be found in our local water supply. You might have the best water in the world - Chilliwack had that designation one year - but that doesn't mean that there aren't bacteria or other beasties that could contaminate our products! And the metals can speed up rancidity through auto-oxidation (click here for rancidity post). 

Related posts: 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More about cetyl alcohol...

There's been a very active discussion at this post on cetyl alcohol. Neither cetyl alcohol nor stearic acid are considered emulsifiers in any way. They are considered to be oil soluble ingredients, like our oils or butters. They have a required HLB value, meaning they have a value that helps you figure out how to emulsify them into your products. If you want to make something - let's say an "oil free lotion" with water, cetyl alcohol, and preservatives, you will need an emulsifier to make the water and cetyl alcohol combine into one phase instead of separating into two different phases of oil and water.

As an aside, do you notice that OH at the end of the carbon chain in cetyl alcohol? This is how we know it's an alcohol! It isn't called an alcohol because it's a watery substance that makes it easier to talk to the opposite sex - it's called an alcohol because it has that hydroxyl group at the end of the chain! 

So if you want to make something like the Giovanni Leave In Conditioner - click here for the attempted duplication - you'll have to find an emulsifier you like so the cetyl alcohol isn't just floating on top of the water phase in the bottle. Cetyl alcohol behaves like our oil soluble ingredients, meaning it won't create a homogeneous product without an emulsifier. (If this product isn't separating on you, they aren't giving us an accurate ingredient list.) And when we consider that to call something a conditioner we need to use a positively charged emulsifier, we might want to choose a positively charged emulsifier that will offer substantivity. I wonder which one that might be....

(Hint: Look in the hair care section for the topic of substantivity!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shrinky Dinks are awesome! (And they didn't attack my hair this time!)

Hey everyone! It's been a crazy few weeks around here - it's Spring Break right now for the kids and I've had another math midterm - and I hope things will get back to normal this weekend so I can start making, researching, and posting again! I miss you! I am trying to get to your emails and comments, but I get very little time at the laptop in the mornings - I wake up 6 and I'm out the door at 7! I'll do my best to answer what I can this weekend. You might see your email as a blog post as it might be something that will interest everyone!

I thought I'd post some pictures from our latest adventure at craft group - Shrinky Dinks! These are templates I've put together for the kids over the last few years. As you can see, the Pokemon and Mario templates are very popular! (I just finished my Mario related bracelet with the addition of Shy Guy!) If you are interested in my template pages - I think there's about 10 different ones with the Nintendo things, sushi, cute pandas, and more! - let me know, and I shall link them to this post.

Here's a post on making tags for your pets out of Shrinky Dinks. The concept is the same for making non-pet tag related items!

If you need a tutorial on how to make these into jewellery, click here for the jewellery making post with links and a hand out!

If you want to read the post about how Shrinky Dinks hurt my hair so you can get the reference to the subject line, click here. It's a cautionary tale about why you should tie your hair back when crafting!

And yes, Sherlock - the BBC show - is very popular with my youth groups! Click here to see pictures of otters that look like Benedict Cumberbatch

Monday, March 19, 2012

Would you start a bakery using a Duncan Hines recipe?

As I stood making cupcakes this morning - it's National Social Worker appreciation day this week some time, and my team at work decided we would send some treats over to our local social workers to appreciate them - I figured out the perfect metaphor for an issue that has been bothering me...

I'm always perplexed by requests I get from people saying something like this..."I'm developing a line of skin care products and I want you to help me do it as I've never made anything before." I find this confusing. Would you decide to start a clothing line having never cut out a pattern or threaded a needle? Would you decide to start a woodworking company having never owned a hammer or cut a piece of wood? So why would you start a skin care line when you've never made so much as a lotion bar or body butter? It would be like starting a bakery when you've only ever made cupcakes from a boxed recipe! 

You're just asking for trouble when you don't know what you're doing and have to rely upon the free advice of people like me to make your business successful. There's a reason this is called a craft - we're craftspeople who have worked hard to hone our skills, and there's much more to making products than just making a recipe in your workshop. You have to learn what information you can trust, which suppliers you can rely on, which recipes work the best in your climate, which containers look awesome and keep your products safe, and so on. To think that you can just follow a recipe and start selling it a few weeks later is simply ridiculous: I would argue you need at least a year just to test the stability of your products, let alone all the time you need to perfect your recipes.

Please don't be offended when I write back to you with the comment that I don't help businesses for free. I don't help businesses for money, either. I don't have time to help your business succeed. I wish you all the best, but it's not fair to ask me to give you my time for free so you can make a profit. 

Terry Pratchett wrote, "Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." Resolve to be on fire instead of begging for a match! 

As a note, it's National Community Social Service Workers' Day on November 6th, so I guess we do get a celebration as well! 

Look for more posts later this week - it's so busy around here, and now it's Spring Break, so it's even busier! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Questions I've seen this week on cetyl alcohol

Let's take a look at a few questions that ended up in the comment box this week!

Kari posed this question in this post on cetyl alcohol: Hi! I recently bought your e-books from Lotion Crafter and had a question about adding Cetyl Alcohol to the conditioner when there isn't a lot of oil. Is it possible to use it when you have only a very small amount of oil? I've tried adding it, and it ends up gritty in the formula.

I'm not sure why it would end up gritty because you can add quite a bit of cetyl alcohol to a conditioner without problem because the BTMS-25 or BTMS-50 acts as an emulsifier for any fatty ingredients - like cetyl alcohol - in the product. With 4% BTMS-25 or BTMS-50, you can add up to about 10% in the heated oil phase without any problems. Having said this, I'm really not sure about the grittiness you're feeling.

Has anyone else had problems with grittiness and cetyl alcohol?

Anonymous asked in the same post: I have some ingredients around, and I want to make a leave in conditioner, with a lotion consistency. I was wondering if it is possible to do this using ONLY cetyl alcohol as the primary emulsifier? Would it even work, and would it have enough slip? I do have BTMS, but was just wanting to experiment without it.

No, for two reasons. Cetyl alcohol is not an emulsifier, so you'd end up with your oil phase floating on top of your water phase. And two, it isn't positively charged, so you wouldn't have a conditioner at all. Cetyl alcohol on its own doesn't do much for your hair - it might moisturize it as it is a nice emollient on its own - and you really need the cationic quaternary compound like BTMS-50, BTMS-25, Incroquat CR, cetrimonium bromide, and so on to behave as the conditioning agent and the emulsifier!

Happy Pi day!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We've just enjoyed Mole Day (Commonwealth date, 6-02 or February 6th), and now it's Pi Day! (March 14. 3-14. Get it? The first numbers of pi!) In honour of this day, may I suggest you find the circumference of something? (That's 2 ∏ r, in case you've forgotten!) I'm thinking my family might enjoy a coconut cream pie before my math exam at 7 pm tonight!

Want to learn more about Pi Day? Check out the Wikipedia link on the topic and meet the creator, Larry Shaw. He looks awesome!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choosing a moisturizer recipe!

Click here for the original post from March 4, 2011...

The first step in making a moisturizer is to learn your skin type. Some of us can't stand any oils on our skin and some of us can slather on shea butter and still feel like we need a little more moisturizing. I recommend your first stop should be in the skin chemistry & types section of this blog. Figure out what your skin needs and then choose your ingredients accordingly.

The second thing is to decide on a recipe. My standard recipe is an 80% water recipe, but you can have a higher or lower water phase depending upon your needs. I find the 80% water recipe allows me to have a nice oil phase (or oil free phase, depending on the recipe) and a nice water phase. If you have very dry skin or want a night cream, you could go down to a 70% water recipe. (The recipe I'll be using as a starting point contains 88.5% water, but we're going to play with it quite a bit.)

When choosing your oil based ingredients, consult a list of comedogenic or acnegenic oils and butters (this seems like a good list). Using a non-comedogenic oil doesn't mean you won't break out: It just means it's less likely to clog your pores. Take these ratings with a grain of salt. As I mention in the post on comedogenicity, most of these ratings are based on rabbit ear tests, so their effect on human skin can be quite different. So you really need to figure out what works for you, and that will take time and patience. Yes, you're going to use a lot of ingredients - known by some as "wasting" our ingredients - as you try to figure out what your skin likes and what you can afford to make.

Here are a few recipes to consider as we learn to formulate moisturizers...

Swift's 80% water moisturizer (basic recipe)
Formulating moisturizers in general
Formulating moisturizers for dry skin
Formulating moisturizers for wrinkled skin
Formulating moisturizers for oily skin
Silicone based moisturizers
Facial moisturizer with hemp seed oil
Facial moisturizer with sea buckthorn oil
Facial moisturizer with sunflower oil
Oil free facial moisturizer
Another formulating moisturizer post with ideas for additives
Formulating a moisturizer with additives (part two)
Leave-in conditioners become moisturizers (moisturizers with BTMS-50)

As a note, there's no reason that a very light lotion can't be used as an eye cream! 

Click here for the next post I wrote last year about making moisturizers...
Click here for a post on using cosmeceuticals in a moisturizer for dry skin...

Why neglect yourself?

I regularly see people asking if it's okay to use a failed lotion or a product without preservatives and they justify it by saying, "Well, it's just for me". Aren't you worth a good lotion, a product that is well preserved, or a product that has a ton of great stuff in it? Isn't that why we get into making our products, so we can make something lovely and decadent or decadent and affordable? Why don't you think you're worth it? 

An aside...I think the keeping of failed lotions is more about not wanting to waste ingredients. It's too late. Throw it away and chalk it up to experience so you don't make another failed lotion! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What have we learned so far about making products for our skin?

So let's see what we've learned so far about our skin and how to make products for it! 

Our skin is made up of many layers, and the uppermost one is the stratum corneum. Moisturizing is all about preventing transepidermal water loss by trapping water against our skin through emollients. Hydrating is all about bringing water to our skin by attracting it through humectants. And occlusives make sure that these good things stay near our skin so we can be moisturized and hydrated. So when we create a moisturizing ingredient, we want something that will form an occlusive barrier between our skin and the world to keep the moisture in and the world and its nasty wind, cold, rain, snow, and sun out!

Humectants draw water from the atmosphere to our skin and help moisturize. When we attract water to our skin from the atmosphere or apply lotions containing water to our skin, the water dissolves the molecules found in the natural moisturizing factor or NMF, and they act as humectants in our skin drawing water from the atmosphere. (The major components of this NMF is sodium lactate, urea, and pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (or sodium PCA), all great humectants.) We've also learned that there is the potential for some humectants to draw water out of the skin if conditions get very dry. But we've also learned that using occlusive ingredients will prevent this potential from becoming a reality.

So we want to make our products with three main goals in mind...
1. Drawing water to our skin (humectants);
2. Creating a barrier so the water can't get out (occlusives); and
3. Using emollients to make our skin feel smooth and lovely (emollients).

I use these three concept in every lotion I make. I generally have a humectant in the water or cool down phase, and emollients and occlusives in the oil phase or cool down phase (in the case of silicones). If you take a look at anything other than the basic recipes, you'll see I always have humectants, occlusive, and emollients in my products.

Related posts:
An updated overview of our skin
What are penetration enhancers?
What's the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?
Does glycerin pull water out of our skin when the humidity is low?
Skin chemistry and types section of the blog

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And this is why we need time to see what happens with our products......

This product was originally aqua coloured, and now it's an opaque green with a slightly brown tinge that you can't see in the picture. We made this Blue Raspberry fragranced body wash at the end of November with the plan of giving it out at Christmas...and by then, it had morphed into this green colour. It's no big deal for me as it still feels and smells lovely, but if you're someone who is selling a product or making something that has to be a certain colour for an event - a birthday, a wedding, and so on - this would be a catastrophe.

Fragrances and essential aren't the inert ingredients we think they are, and they can have an impact on the colour of your product. Vanilla can turn your product a browny colour (and if you've ever made bath bombs with a vanilla-y fragrance, you'll know what I mean!), and citrus fragrances can turn your product more orange than you'd intended.

This is one of the reasons you really need time if you're considering selling your products. Take a least a year to see how the products change with various fragrances or ingredients, how the preservative stands up, if you need more anti-oxidants or need to change your oils, and so on. (The other reason you need time is to learn your craft. Don't base your entire business on a recipe you didn't create yourself or one that you can't modify very easily! If you don't know how to do that, don't think about selling, please!)

Related posts:
Surfactants - fragrance and clarity
Surfactants - fragrance and viscosity
Surfactants and essential oils
Colouring surfactant mixes

Question: How do I figure out the volume of a recipe?

Let's say you want to make some conditioner, and you want 4 bottles of 8 ounces (about 240 ml) each. How do we figure it out from a recipe based on percentages or weight?

The short answer is that you make a 100 gram batch of the stuff, figure out the volume of it, then multiply that to get what you want. Or make a ton of it, bottle some for your friends, and keep the rest for yourself. (This is generally what I do!)

The long answer is almost the same in that it's hard to figure out what volume you'll see from a product based on a weighed recipe, and that's thanks to specific gravity. Pure water at 4 Celsius is our baseline for specific gravity and everything else is compared to it. Water weighs 1000 grams per litre - 1 kg per litre - or 1 gram per millilitre. So a teaspoon or 5 ml of water weighs 5 grams. A tablespoon or 15 ml of water weighs 15 grams. A cup of water at 250 ml weighs 250 grams.

If something is listed as being less than 1, it weighs less than water per gram. If something is more than 1, it weighs more than water per gram. If something has a specific gravity of 1.03, it means it weighs 1.03 grams for every 1 millilitre or 1030 grams per litre.

So if we see cetrimonium chloride listed as having a specific gravity of 0.93, we know this means it weighs 0.93 grams per 1 cc or 1 ml (or 930 grams per litre). Liquid Germall Plus has a specific gravity of 1.15 to 1.25. If you want 0.5% in a lotion and add it in volume at 0.5 ml to a 100 ml batch of lotion, you might have 0.575 to 0.625 ml preservative, which is above the 0.5% recommended!

A lot of oils have a specific gravity of 0.91 to about 0.95. So adding 1 cc or 1 ml safflower oil (specific gravity 0.90) would only add 0.9 grams of oil to your lotion. If you're making a 100 ml batch and you're wanting 10% oil in the product, using 10 ml of oil will leave you with 9 grams of oil, not 10. Take this even higher to a 1000 ml or 1 litre batch (multiplying your recipe by 10) and you'll have 90 grams of oil instead of 100! This can throw your emulsification out of whack and will deprive you of 10 grams of lovely oil!

How do we use this information to figure out the volume of our recipes? Figure that something that is loaded with water - this min-maxed toner, for instance - is going to be close to 100 ml for a 100 gram recipe thanks to the high level of water and other liquid ingredients that are close to water and very few powdered ingredients. If you take a look at this leave in conditioner - is going to be close to 100 ml for a 100 gram recipe because most of the ingredients are around the same specific gravity as water. If you take a look at this body butter, you can see there's about 60% stuff that is around the specific gravity of water, and about 40% stuff that isn't. As a rough estimate, when making this product I would guess that a 100 gram batch will get me 60 to 70 grams of product. If I wanted to make a 4 ounce/120 ml jar, I'd make 200 grams of product and accept that I'd have a little left over. (This is why I buy small jars, so there's no waste! They also make awesome stocking stuffers or random gifts!) When you get into trying to figure the volume of anhydrous products, it's really hard to figure out how to translate the weight to volume!

When all is said and done, it is really just simpler to make the product and measure the volume for future reference. Make more than you think you'll need if you're making a big batch for a special occasion and store the extra in your finished products box for future enjoyment.

If you don't have a storage area for all your finished products, get one! It's fantastic to go into the box and find extra shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and everything else that you can use or give to people as gifts or as examples of your awesomeness!

Related posts:
Weight vs. volume

Friday, March 9, 2012

Question: What's the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?

What's the difference between moisturizing our skin and hydrating it? Are these fancy marketing terms or is there some difference between the two concepts? Let's review what we need for a moisturizing product...

Occlusives create a hydrophobic (water hating) barrier to reduce water loss from the skin, creating a barrier to reduce transepidermal water loss (or TEWL). There are three approved barrier ingredients recognized by the FDA - dimethicone, cocoa butter, and allantoin. There are other ingredients that can be occlusive, like our butters, oils, and esters, but they aren't approved barrier ingredients.

Emollients, which include oils, butters, and esters, "enhance the flexibility and smoothness of skin and provide a secondary soothing effect to the skin and mucous membranes" (Cosmetic Dermatology: Practices and Procedures).

Humectants attract and hold moisture, facilitating hydration. Hydration is defined as an adequate measure of water in our skin - anywhere between 20% to 30% in our stratum corneum, or top layer of skin. (There seems to be a debate about how much moisture should be in our stratum corneum. So far the lowest amount I've seen has been 10%, but most papers are saying around 20%, so I'll go with the majority here.)

Let's recap: Humectants draw water from the atmosphere and bind it, and the occlusives keep the water from the lotion or the atmosphere trapped in your skin by creating a barrier. The emollients make our skin feel nice and smooth. Ideally we combine all three to create an awesome product that draws water to your skin, traps it in, and makes our skin feel smooth and elastic.

The job of a moisturizer is to prevent transepidermal water loss, "which facilitates the body's own barrier repair mechanisms" (Lippincott's Primary Care Dermatology, p. 30). In other words, we use a moisturizer to take the place of our skin's barrier mechanisms while they repair themselves. We can add things that might help speed up this process - for instance, using something like evening primrose oil or borage oil, both of which are high in GLA, or sunflower, soybean, or rice bran oil, all of which are high in linoleic acid, and various additives - but the whole goal is to great a barrier between our skin and the world so we don't lose more moisture.

What kinds of products could be considered moisturizers? Anything that creates the barrier between our skin and the world. Slather on some mineral oil or olive oil and you've created that barrier. A fancy lotion with all kinds of extracts and exotic oils creates that barrier. A lotion bar, a whipped butter, a balm, a lotion, a cream, a body butter, a creme, and so on - anything that creates a barrier between you and the world counts as a moisturizer. You don't necessarily need to have an emollient or oil in the product, which means my min-maxed toner containing 0.5% allantoin could be considered a moisturizer because it creates that barrier between my face and the very chapping wind!

If we can make a moisturizer by slathering 100% mineral oil all over our skin, what's the point of making an exotic lotion filled with fancy ingredients like evening primrose oil, green tea extract, aloe vera and lavender hydrosol, shea butter, and sodium PCA lotion? Because creating a moisturizing product isn't just about creating a barrier. We can include ingredients for their benefits, like smoothing our skin, making it feel more flexible, speeding up barrier repair, reducing inflammation, and so on. Something like evening primrose oil is filled with gamma-linoleic acid, which can behave as an anti-inflammatory and barrier repair helper, as well as phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and other things good for your skin. Green tea extract contains polyphenols and anti-oxidants. Aloe vera can offer soothing to damages skin, and lavender hydrosol might help soothe wind chapped or sunburned skin. Shea butter creates a nice barrier, but it also includes fatty acids that soften our skin, and sodium PCA is a great humectant that draws water to our skin.

On a final note, what's the difference between moisturizing and hydrating? Moisturizing is about creating an occlusive barrier to keep the water we have in our skin in our skin and preventing transepidermal water loss. Hydrating is about binding water to something like a humectant and keeping it on our skin. The ideal way to do this is to create an awesome product with humectants, proteins, or other moisture binding ingredient with an occlusive ingredient and some great emollients!

As an aside, if you have really dry skin and wonder why that lotion bar isn't helping your skin get any less dry, it's because you aren't adding any moisture to the equation. The lotion bar or whipped butter or balm is creating an occlusive barrier so you don't lose any more water, but it isn't adding moisture to your skin. To resolve this problem, apply the anhydrous product over damp skin to create a layer of moisture upon which you can apply your product!

Related posts:
Humectants
Occlusion
Emollients (a whole section of the blog)
Chemistry of our skin: An updated overview

Related reading:
Skin hydration: A review on its molecular mechanisms (great paper!)
Glycerin and the skin (another great paper!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Measuring in percentages, converting to weight

I thought I'd bring this up again as I've had a few questions about this topic this week!  

You'll note that just about every recipe on this blog is measured in percentages that convert into weight. This is because it's more accurate than measuring 1 spoonful of this or 5 ml of that ingredient, which means that we can ensure we have the right amount of everything in our products. If we use a teaspoon of emulsifier, something that comes in pellet form oftentimes, we might be using a heaping teaspoon this time and a scant teaspoon next time, and that might throw the recipe out of whack.

To convert something to weight, just remove the % sign and replace it with the word "grams" and you'll have a recipe that will make 100 grams of something. If you want a 500 gram batch, then multiply everything by 5. If you want an 800 gram batch, then multiply everything by 8. If you want a 200 gram batch, multiply everything by 2. And so on.

If you must do everything in weighed ounces, this gets a little trickier. I would convert the % sign into ounces, then make everything into a decimal, otherwise you're going to get 100 ounces of stuff, which is a lot! For instance 6% emulsifier, would become 0.6 ounces emulsifier, 10% oil would become 1.0 ounces of oil, and so on. It'll make up about a 10 ounces by weight batch of product.

Want more helpful hints? Look to your right to the frequently asked questions section for many many more! 

Related posts:
How to convert to weight from percentages?
Weight vs. volume
How to calculate percentages

Why is everyone so concerned about build up of products on hair?

It seems that every hair based community I visit and all the blogs touting the no shampoo, baking soda, or conditioner washing programs talk about avoiding build up...but what exactly is build up?

Some of this is originally from this post on build up from May 22, 2010...
Build-up doesn't have a specific definition, but it's understood to be when our hair has a sticky, gummy, or coated feeling. It is also generally understood to take more than one usage of the ingredient or product to cause build-up, although it can happen (theoretically) with one washing. Anything that is substantive to our hair has the potential to cause build-up - which is why we use them - meaning cationic quaternary compounds (like BTMS or cetrimonium bromide), silicones (like dimethicone and amodimethicone), and cationic polymers (like polyquat 7 or honeyquat)

What causes build-up? Some ingredients we use can cause build-up, and this isn't helped by the water we use to bathe. One of the main culprits in the feeling of build-up is calcium in our water. It can make hair feel dull and rough. This is one of the reasons we see EDTA in commercial shampoo: EDTA is a chelating ingredient that binds to ions in hard water (sodium, calcium, and other metallic elements) and keeps it from depositing on our hair and scalp. We can include EDTA in our shampoo at up to 0.20%.

Cationic quaternary compounds like BTMS or cetrimonium bromide can potentially leave build-up on our hair if we are using too much, for instance, using intense conditioners as every day or leave in conditioners, and this is increased by the usage of fatty alcohols, like cetyl alcohol or cetearyl alcohol, in said conditioners as they can increase substantivity and conditioning (note: substantivity and conditioning are good things that can be bad if they lead to build up).

We use cationic quaternary compounds because they offer conditioning properties - reduced friction, static, and impact of combing forces, and improved lubricity. The problem arises when we can't remove the conditioner from our hair when we wash it, generally because we aren't using a well formulated, mild, surfactant based cleanser.

Cationic polymers can build up on our hair over time, but if we use a good surfactant based cleanser, they'll be rinsed out during the next washing. If we're using the cationic polymers in a shampoo, they can form a negatively charged complex with excess surfactant that will resist removal. This is one of the reasons we use the surfactant levels we do in a conditioning shampoo - too much excess surfactant can cause this problem - and the reason we don't use a ton of cationic polymers! This negatively charged complex increases with SLS, for some reason, which is another reason to formulate with more gentle surfactants. (Polyquats 6, 7, 10, 11, and 16 are more likely to resist removal than the other polyquats.)

Silicones can build up on your hair if you are using a lot of it in a few different products. The worst culprit is amodimethicone as it is more substantive to your hair than dimethicone or cyclomethicone. Using 2% dimethicone in a shampoo, then 2% in a conditioner is unlikely to cause build-up, and you really have to be using a lot to get any sort of true build-up from silicones. (And remember, 2% cetrimonium chloride gets rid of silicones - even a lot of them!)

This is a pretty important aside - you cannot get build up if you aren't using a product. For instance, let's say I use 5 grams of my anti-frizz spray on Monday. I have 100 grams of product, and 20 grams of this is dimethicone. Using 5% of this product means I get 1 gram of dimethicone on my hair. If we tested my hair on Tuesday, you'd see I have slightly less than 1 gram of dimethicone on my hair. If you tested my hair on Wednesday, you'd see that I have less than 1 gram of dimethicone on my hair strands. If I don't wash my hair or put any extra products on it, I will never have more than the original 1 gram of dimethicone in my hair. Walking around, going to work, teaching craft groups, eating food, and so on will not make me have more than 1 gram of dimethicone in my hair. The only way to get more dimethicone in my hair is to add it to my hair via a product. The dimethicone can't replicate on its own and cause more build up on my hair! So you aren't going to get build up over time unless you use a product containing an ingredient that could potentially build up on your hair.

The more damaged your hair, the more potential build-up of the conditioning agents - damaged hair has a higher negative charge, and we know the more negatively charged your hair, the more conditioner is deposited. You want more deposition, but you also need to remove the conditioning agents when cleansing your hair the next time. If you're using intense conditioners or tons of styling products regularly, make sure you also use a clarifying shampoo (no conditioning agents or silicone) and include some cetrimonium chloride in your creations!

A final aside...I recognize that my personal experiences don't constitute data, but I have been using conditioner with at least 7% BTMS-50, 2% cationic polymer, and 2% dimethicone; a leave in conditioner with at least 2% BTMS-50, 1% Incroquat CR, and 2% dimethicone; and an anti-frizz spray with 10% dimethicone for the past six years. I have never seen anything on my hair that remotely resembles the definition of build up. My friends and family all use my products and not one of them reports that they are suffering from build up on their hair. (My mom and best friend use a lot of silicone based styling products, too.) My products have much higher levels of conditioning agents, cationic polymers, and silicones than store bought products, and you would think that we'd all be experiencing build up, especially in a town with hard water, but nope, none. Build up really isn't as common a phenomenon as people would have you think...

Related posts: