Saturday, January 5, 2013

Formulating on a budget: An introduction

Making your own bath and body products is not a cheap hobby when you start, but it does get less expensive as you learn what you like and don't like and eliminate some of the ingredients from your shelves. Let's spend a few days looking at formulating on a budget!

One of the first things you can do is learn about your ingredients. (Oh no, she's going on about this again!) When you know the proper names of our ingredients - the INCI names - it's easier to shop around for ingredients. Knowing that the conditioning emulsifier at one supplier is the same as emulsifier (conditioning blend) or emulsifying conditioning blend means you aren't beholden to that one supplier and can shop around for better prices or shipping rates. And it means we won't end up ordering the same ingredient three times!

Related posts:
What's an INCI name?
Reading INCI names - part 1
Reading INCI names - part 2
(Look to your right and see the links to lists or ingredient posts!)

When you're making a product for the first time, follow the recipe as closely as you can and don't make a huge batch. It might fail or you might not like it. Either way, stay in the 100 gram to 300 gram range for a first time product. If you love it, you can make it again. If you hate it, then you didn't use a lot of your stuff!

Related post: Making larger batches

If you're new to bath and body product making, please don't make up your own recipe. There might be things you want to include that aren't in the recipe you've chosen, but you really don't have enough knowledge to make tweaks to the product that you know will work. You need to make some recipes to learn the skin feel, the viscosity, the difficulty in making or preserving, and everything else that you need to know for future reference. So please please please don't make your own recipe from scratch. Find something tried and true and go with that. At the very least, you won't make something that fails!

On this blog, I have a lot of template recipes - ones that have generic ingredients that you can tweak. If you really have to include certain ingredients, choose a recipe like that and substitute what you want. 

Related post: How can you tell if a recipe is good?

Products that contain water will be cheaper to make than those that don't. Consider a whipped butter - for 100 grams we are using 80 grams of shea butter and 20 grams of oil - versus an oil-in-water body butter. For a thick lotion, we are using 60 grams of water and up to 25 grams of shea butter and oil. Distilled water costs about $2 for 4 litres (a gallon), so the bulk of the product is made up of this very inexpensive ingredient.  (If you're debating making lotion, consider that it is one of the less expensive products we can make!)

Related posts:
What is the cheapest lotion we can make?

Please don't re-use plastic packaging. It seems like a good idea, but you can never get them perfectly clean, which means that little bits of fragrance and oil get stuck in tiny little cracks and crevasses and nothing will ever be totally clean. I learned this lesson the hard way after a few of my lovely sugar scrubs started to smell awful within a few weeks. If you must use previously used container, consider using glass - jamming jars are always a good choice - but keep them out of the slippery tub area! If you are creating products that don't contain oil soluble ingredients - for instance, body wash or shampoo - you can re-use the container a few times.

Buy larger containers if you don't want to be recycling bottles every month. Now that I have a sugar scrub recipe I love, I make 16 ounce (500 ml) containers of it rather than 125 ml or 4 ounce containers. I've saved four bottles!

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at ingredients we can choose when formulating on a budget!


catherine said...

I love this topic! It's amazing to me what lovely lotions you can make for so little money! My favorite inexpensive oil is canola...makes really light and effective body lotion.

kerzuke said...

Hello Susan!

I know this is not related to exact post, but i have a question.

I have been experimenting with body washes and shampoos.

As a thickener i use Glucamate LT.

When i make body wash i let it sit few ours before i add thickener. Then i wait a little more and check the thickness and if im okay with i bottle it.

In my room there was about 8C and at first body wash was at good thickness but next day it was like a jelly. And sometimes when i bottle body wash then next day its more liquid.

Does really thickness depends so much on temperature? I mean if i let bottled body wash stay at 8 C and if it becomes like a jelly then it wont become liquid again when i put it in a warmer place.

Im so confused about it.

Do they (body washes bought from store) add some ingredient to body washes that they stay original whatever the temperature is?

I have tried to find some information about it but just cand find any.

Maybe you know the answer to that?

Thank you soooo much! :)

Patricia said...

I'd like to underscore the importance of not putting glass bottles in the shower. I did it for awhile--I thought, "Hey, I'm a grown up, I'll just be careful. And if it breaks I'll get out of the shower and clean it up without stepping anywhere near it. I've cleaned up plenty of broken glasses without getting cut."

Well, eventually I dropped the slippery glass bottle and it DID break. When it hit a glass shard bounced up and sliced my ankle, though my feet were nowhere near the place the bottle landed. I was shocked--how could I have been so stupid? It could have hit an artery!

Anyway, there you go. Don't do it.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Catherine! Canola is a good oil, isn't it? And it's Canadian, so I'm happy!

Hi Kerzuke! I suggest getting any surfactant mix to room temperature with the fragrance or essential oil you like before adding the thickening. I don't use Glucamate LT, but if it's anything like Crothix, you definitely want to make it today and let it rest until tomorrow at room temperature before thickening. My workshop has no heating, and I make a point of bringing everything into the house once it's made!

Thanks, Patricia! We can't underscore the need for safety enough!