Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekend wonderings: Have a question?

As I plan to make this a regular thing, I'm wondering what has you wondering? When you're making a lotion, when you're creating a conditioner, when you're whipping that shea butter, what dances through your brain? What has you stumped? I will continue to check out your comments and e-mail messages, but I would love to hear other things that you've always wondered but haven't asked. Remember, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask!

Confused as to why I have a picture of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama to illustrate this post? One, I like chemistry! Two, I like Futurama. Three, because I quoted his comment about stupid questions in this post I wrote previously


Michele Clarke said...

ooo I just emailed you about Pomade.

I learned this week at 4% is not the same as 2% this oil and 2% that oil. I completely forgot when I rebatched my conditioner with one oil it was the lighter one and left the heavier one out.

I wonder what I can purchase next to try. I like to buy an ingredient I would use in more than one type of product.

I wonder am I ready to handle lye and try soap. I already sit and wait 20mins during the holding process. ha

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Michele! I saw your email - I'm pondering it! As for what you can purchase to try next...what products would you like to me? Hair care? Body care? Lathery and foamy or moisturizing and oily? I have a ton of ingredient ideas...but I need to know what you're going to make! Or want to try!

I think I need to make soap this year! I keep saying I'm going to do it, then I never do! It needs to go on the list...

Leila Wood said...

I have made several small batches of hair serum, dimethicone and cyclomethicone based. I add about 2-3% argan oil,.5% vitamin E, .5% rosemary extract, and 1-2% Co2 extracts. The additives separate out of the hair serum...annoying! I look at the ingredient lists of hair serums sold at hair salons and I don't know what their trick is to keep them from separating. I understand there is an HLB system for silicones too but I am struggling to figure it out for my formulas. Any Ideas?

sue said...

I love your blog. I know you hear that alot but as telepathy doesn't work 100% of the time, thought I'd say it out loud!
I was stupid yesterday and ignore that stingytinglyburn INSIDE my rubber glove when making I have a vampire-like mark on my hand....making soap is safe if you are careful. I was SO in love with the olive oil soap I made at the start I used it for everything and I found it didnt make good shampoo (suprise suprise!) but I did discover it makes a decent lather if agitated against something....rub it against a hairy man or a sponge...whichever is convenient.

So...the real question.....HOW do you decide what to make?! I have such trouble/fun deciding on colours fragrance additives that half the session could disa ppear. How do your readers balance creative/efficiency

Ghislaine Bérubé said...

Looove your extremely informative blog. I make a hair conditioner using Elements b&b flakes which contain cetearyl alcohol, PEG40 castor oil and stearalkonium chloride. I added 1% panthenol, 1%cyclomethicone and 1% avocado oil. It leaves my hair incredibly soft but has no body. What can i add to keep the body in my hair? Thanks

sara said...


I'm stumped by a recent (and shocking) discovery whilst using Ecomulse in your under eye lotion formula. I've had a number of issues with Ecomulse (overcoming waxiness, cottage cheese-y emulsions etc.) and when I came across a blog that suggested heating and holding the water and oil phases TOGETHER (gasp!!), I figured what the heck, I'll give it a try. worked! I've not had a creamier final product using Ecomulse before, although I'm still trying to overcome the waxiness. Is there some reason why heating and holding the water/oil phases separately is necessary? Might this emulsion eventually break because of the phases being heated together?

Thanks Susan!

Angela said...

Hi Susan,

I have to say first that I'm in love with your blog and you've helped me so much in my potion creations so thank you!

I wanted to ask you about this kit here:

and if you thought that buying and using this type of kit was beneficial for a soap/lotion/shampoo/conditioner test rather than send the product to a lab to be tested. I think that it could save me some money as I would like to sell some of my products at some point at the farmers market but don't really have the money at this point to pay to test every recipe in a lab. Or should I just wait and save up for the lab test and not waste my money on this.

Thanks, Angela :0)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Leila Wood and Sara! I've answered your questions in today's Weekend Wonderings!

Hi Michele! The pomade is at the top of my to do list, but I have to run out today and enjoy video game club then my best friend's birthday, then tomorrow it's more birthday fun and studying for my physics exam. But you are next!!!

Sue and Ghislane...I hope to get to your questions soon. The short answer is I make what I feel like...but that's a terrible response. And Ghislane - I wonder if you are using too many oils. My hair is very fluffy, but a little too much of any oil based thing drags it down!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ghislane! You can find your questions in the Weekend Wonderings for Sunday, February 24th!

Amanda said...

Hi Susan! I LOVE your blog! I always come away feeling so inspired. And a heck of a lot smarter.

I have been wondering about tear free baby shampoo/body wash. I love making stuff for myself, but I'm still stuck buying for my toddler. All of my favorites for him seem to center around decyl glucoside, but I'm a bit nervous about dealing with the pH issue. Are there any similarly mild alternatives? Is there any way to test its tear free status besides rubbing it in my own eyes? Do you have any recipes you would be willing to share? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Unknown said...

Susan I am not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question.I was reviewing the file you have Introductions to lotion/cream recipes, which I am so anxious to try. I finally got the BTMS but it is the 25% will it work for the recipes you have posted? OMG I hope so since I bought it specifically for this and did not realize there are various percentages available. If not what do you suggest?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Angela! Thanks for the question about testing kits. I like them, but I thought I'd put the question to the readers of the blog for more information! Check it out on Monday, March 4th in this post - Question for you: What do you think about testing kits?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Amanda and Unknown! I've answered your questions in Sunday, March 3rd's Weekend Wonderings. Look for them there!

Mychelle said...

Hey Susan! I have a question about making larger batches of our products. I've been playing with 1000-2000 gram batches of my favorite formulas lately, and the big batches don't cooperate as well! Several batches of my shampoo bars came out far softer and needed a much longer cure, even though I made sure to cook the heck out of them, and my conditioner (which I ph adjust with lactic acid) was far more temperamental about its' ph than my usual 500 gram batch. In theory a large batch should behave the same as a small batch as we're only adjusting ratios, right? Do some ingredients (like glycerin or acid) have a bigger impact in a bigger batch? Maybe it's just a me issue. :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Mychelle. The short answer is that it isn't you! The longer answer is today's Weekend Wondering!

Carol said...

Hi Susan, I would really enjoy meeting you for coffee to discuss bath & body stuff.
Carol Holmes

Simone said...

Hi Susan,
I was wondering if you or any of your 'followers' have used a product called SINODOR®, made by Givaudan
INCI Name: Citronellyl Methylcrotonate. It is supposed to neutralise odours of the base product.
Effective at neutralizing a wide range of odours while having no discernible odour itself. Effective for body odour control and for environmental odours neutralizers (tobacco, cooking). Sinodor® can be incorporated into any formulation to reduce base malodours.
I have issues with the fragrances of Chamomile and Witchhazel and some oils. My husband says that some ("a lot") of the products I make have a chemical smell to them (unrefined Shea butter, being one of the culprits) rather than a fragrance. Need I say that I am only making for my family at present, until I get this perfume issue sorted.
I have tried to find suppliers but it appears to be only sold by a company in England, Adina Cosmetic Ingredients.
I hope someone can shed some light on this subject for me.

Marjo said...

Hi susan! Love the series! I make the dimethicone cyclomethicone serum too and was wondering if there is a way to add polyquat to it (since that is water soluble?) i use regular dimethicone (i think not watersoluble)

Anonymous said...

How about making a neutralizing shampoo, how is it different/similar from other shampoos.

Love said...

Hey Susan, I have a question:

I know that heating and holding is very important but how can I control that the heat won't go above 70C?

On my stove, which is a generic stove, there are 3 different settings (1, 2 and 3). The problem however is that there's no way of knowing how hot each of the settings are.

Ani_B said...

Hi Susan! This one's related to our heated water phases; When compensating for evaporation, do we need to compensate for any of the goodies (panthenol, glycerine, aloe, etc.) added to the heated water phase as well? Or are we just losing water? I've assumed the former, but thought I'd ask. Thanks! Anitra

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Carol! I love talking bath & body products, but I don't have time to breathe these days. Perhaps in the summer?

Hi Simone! I haven't used this product, but I've included it in today's Weekend Wonderings to see if anyone else can offer some advice. Question for you - why not use fragrance or essential oils to cover the scent?

Hi Ani B! Your question is a Weekend Wondering. Short answer - don't worry about it!

Hi Marjo! And your question is also Weekend Wondering. The short answer - you need an emulsifier. And which polyquat do you want to use?

Hi Rosi! What do you mean by neutralizing shampoo? Is it this kind of product? Reading a little bit about it, it says you want a neutralizing shampoo to be around pH 5, so I'm wondering how this would differ from the other shampoos we would make. We could easily reduce the pH of any of the shampoos we make to 5 with a little citric acid. Can you clarify because I think we should do this!

Hi Love! We'll be looking at your question in tomorrow's Weekend Wonderings (Monday).

Olympia Tsimplostefanaki said...

Dear Susan I admire your work!In my search for new things to learn about cosmetic formulation I came across the term multiple lotions (water in oil in water -wow- and owo). The book said we first create a w/o primary emulsion, next water ans hydrophilic emulsifier are combined with the primary emulsion at room temperature. It is supposed to have less greasy feel and ellegant appearance. Have you ever heard about this? Is it worth to give it a try?

tr3kkie9rl said...

Hi there! I've been following your blog (off and on, when I have time) for a while now. I have ventured into mineral makeup and am hooked. I was using a powder type foundation that I make totally from scratch, but I found that it dried my skin too much by pulling oils out of my skin, so I started mixing up a very basic cream foundation. I mix my powder with olive oil and/or grapeseed oil, depending on my skin at the time, and also add some anti-chafing powder gel, which is silicone based, for feel. (Monistat Soothing Care Powder Gel - makeup artists' secret, it works great as a primer lol). The problem I've found is that while I love the adjustable coverage factor, and the way it feels, it doesn't stay put as well as I'd like it to. Rubs off on my fingers, clothing, etc... ick. What could I add (preferably something that won't involve oil/water phases and cooking stuff - I'm not there yet!) to give it some adhesion? The powder base is very simple: cornstarch, kaolin clay, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, iron oxides, and a tiny bit of sericite mica for shimmer. That's it. If I absolutely have to start cooking I guess I could go there, I just don't feel ready to do that yet... and I have 2 kids, a full time job, sing in 2 bands, run a record label so... time is a factor too.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Olympia! Can you send me some resources on this or links or something so I can read more? Is this about a specific emulsifier or about a process? I wonder because it sounds a bit like phase inversion? (Creating products: Combining the two phases. I'm very interested to learn more.

I have some great cosmetic chemistry texts and I can go through those, but I won't have time for serious research for the next few weeks as we go into finals. I will put this on my to research list for then!

Hi tr3kki3girl! Wow! I thought I was busy! I'm wondering what you could tweak in your original powder recipe that would make it adhere more or not pull oils out of your skin. Have you seen the recipes I've created for dry skin? Have you seen the ingredient lists I have for mineral make-up? I don't encourage you to add anything to a commerical product as it could compromise the preservative. If you really want to do this, check out the MMU or mineral make-up section of the blog and see what ingredients might work for you!

And I use zinc oxide cream I make myself as my primer. I love it! I think it's on the blog somewhere...

Olympia Tsimplostefanaki said...

thank you for the reply!I foundthe term of multiple emulsions in a 900 page textbook about cosmetic chemistry. I would try and e-mail it to you, along with the page that all is analysed!Thans again!

Carol Holmes said...

I'm feeling ready to make my first lotion. I'm using the Basic First Lotion recipe. My question - If I'm using BTMS 50 which already has cetyl alchohol in it would I then have to adjust the 3% cetyl alchohol in the recipe? thanks Carol

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Olympia! Which book and which page. I think we have the same book!

Hi Carol! The answer is - it depends. I find BTMS-50 creates a thicker lotion at the same usage as Polawax, so it depends on the other ingredients and the skin feel you like. If you want a thicker lotion, leave the cetyl alcohol in. I think I'd try it with all the ingredients relatively the same for the first time - sub the BTMS-50 and leave in the cetyl alcohol - then decide on what tweaks you want to make next. Great question. It'll be a Weekend Wondering next week!

Ghislaine Bérubé said...

Damn, I love this blog! I want to formulate an anhydrous salve for cracked feet using salisylic acid and imidazolidinyl urea. I can dissolve the salysilic acid in isopropyl alcohol and the urea in warmed glycerin but I'm worried about the glycerin and it attracting moisture from the air. Is there a better solvant to keep my formula totally water free? Thank you so much. Ghislaine

7slaper said...

Hi Susan,

My weekend wondering is about surfactants, to be precise the "clouding" point of liquid surfs. (like the titer point of oils)

Let's say I buy liquid DLS (INCI Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, aqua) with a concentration of 65%. It is clear as water.
I ran out of the liquid, so decided to make it myself: 65% powdered DLS in water.
When heated the solution was clear; cooled down to room temp (20°C): clear as well, but afer a few days it became cloudy and after two weeks it looked like a bottle of milk!
Dissappointment all over. :(

I tried this with other surfs 1oo, like SLS for a household product.
Results are the same. I thik only the 5% solution is still clear after some months.

You are the surf guru Susan; Any ideas why this happens?

The main goal for this experiment was to make the surfactant mix part for a shampoo base, to which I only needed to add goodies, colour and frangrance when I get a request for a certain type of shampoo.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this subject.

Corry (aka eucalypta)

Olympia Tsimplostefanaki said...

hi there again!its the book Handbook of cosmetic science and technology, page 541

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Olympia. I have that book and I'll take a look at it in a few weeks. (I am madly studying for physics, but I hav two weeks in between classes from the 28th to May 6th when I'll have time to do more research!)

Hi 7slaper! I'll be addressing your comment in today's Weekend Wonderings! The short answer? The solidification point for a solid is lower than that for a liquid, so you have to check in which state the surfactant is in at the temperature at which you're storing it!

Hi Ghislaine! Look for my thoughts in Sunday, April 14th's Weekend Wonderings!

Chris said...

What exactly is the reason why products containing water need to be preserved? Or more specifically: What is it about water that makes it attractive for bacteria and all the other nasties?

Simone said...

Hi Susan,
So glad that you are better. I realised that I am addicted to your blog when I found myself checking first thing each morning to see how many hours had passed since your last entry.

I have a question regarding non oily Vitamin E cream.
I have just had an operation on my eye lid and the surgeon said to apply Vitamin E to the healed cut, he forgot to add the 'cream' part so I tried pure Vitamin E but it made my eye very "scratchy" and uncomfortable. I have searched your blog for eye creams/gels etc but the ones I found were for below the eye not the actual lid.
My question is: Can I make a petroleum gel style of ointment that would deliver the Vitamin E but not melt into my eye?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chris. I answered your question in this Weekend Wondering.

Hi Simone. You can use a lot of different things near your eye, but you will have to test what works and I'm loathe to make suggestions for such a sensitive area. You could try making a gel type thing using cera bellina (do a search on the blog for it, there are quite a few recipes) or 92% castor oil and 8% beeswax together, whipped. I've used both on my eyes. Your experience may vary, so use with caution.

Anonymous said...

First of all thanks so much for posting all the info and answering question, researching and formulating with us for free you are a very kind person. My comment is althought we can add as much and whatever we want in our lotion i haven't got a lotion that looks as uniform and smooth as the ones commercially made. I've been making leave in conditioner for a year and it always have very tiny particles that looks like it has not been mixed/blended in together, weather i add more or less emulsifier it does not have a nice consistency. Is it always like that, does it happen with anybody else? I use BTMS 25, one oil, Cetac, cetearyl, water and preservative.
Thanks again

Simone said...

Thanks Susan,
I am going to try the cera bellina first. Will let you know how it works for me.
and as Rosi said May 6:
First of all thanks so much for posting all the info and answering question, researching and formulating with us for free you are a very kind person.

Simone said...

Hi Susan,
I must have missed your post 26th April which includes an Anhydrous Eye Shadow Primer. Do you think I could use this base for the Vitamin E cream that I need to use for the scar on my eyelid? If I substitute Vitamin E for the some of the oils. I appreciate your opinion and realise it is just that, an opinion, but you have so much more experience than many of us who read your blog.
The doctor said nothing oily which kind of narrows it down. I still have to research your blog for the Cera Belina.
Thanks again,

Liz said...

Hi Susan,
First off I have to say your blog is so informative- you are my bath and body hero! And I have a question for you, with summer coming up I wanted to make a sunless tanning lotion. I bought some Dihydroxyacetone and Erythrulose from Making Cosmetics. It says not to use alpha-hydroxy acids with the dihydroxyacetone but the "final product should be in the pH range between 3.5 and 5". I'm trying to figure out what to use to lower the ph. White vinegar? I don't really want to smell like that if possible. Thanks so much with sharing your knowledge so freely with us!

Yvonne said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks so much for all your wisdom and spending so much of your time to help others. I have a question about fragrance oils. I have so many of them which I don't use up before the year is up as I only make products for myself (the supplier told me they are only good for 1 year). Could I freeze them like I do my carrier oils?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi & Simone! I've answered your questions in yesterday's Weekend Wonderings. The short answers - I think you have a lotion fail and I don't feel comfortable suggesting thing that you could put near your eye, but...

Hi Liz & Yvonne! I've answered your questions in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answers - citric acid and yes.

Topher said...

Hey Susan.

I made this recipe (link at bottom) recently, but did not include CoQ10 or 3 different oils. Instead I just used rice bran oil as the sole oil.

After 24 hours however the serum started to separate. This is an anhydrous product so I thought that wasn't supposed to happen.

Any idea what went wrong?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Topher! Without your complete recipe and process, I can't do anything other than make wild guesses. This isn't my recipe, so my suggestion is to ask the writer of the recipe for help. This isn't a recipe I would make or use, so I can't really comment about it. Definitely go back to the source!

IrishMolly said...

Two questions:
- I had sent you an email a week ago about a leave in spray, I have tried more tweaks since then and am really stuck. Do you have any ideas or advice to suggest? Any help would be appreciated. I have looked and tried Special Chem 4 Cosmetics formulas as well with no luck.

- Question Two SCI with stearic acid. I cannot find a USA Supplier that sells SCI with stearic acid. I was able to find SCI with out stearic acid and it is amazing but I am having the worst problems hardening shampoo bars. I am up to 8% stearic acid and they are still loosing their hardness after one use. I looked up the MSDS on the companies that make SCI with Stearic Acid and one has 60% actives, less than 10% coconut oil and more than 25% Stearic Acid. Why do the amounts not add up to 100%? Another is Geropon® AS-200 Flake that has Sodium Cocoisethionate 60%, Coconut Acid 10% and Stearic Acid 25%. Tauranol® I-78/80 has 20% Stearic Acid with 65% actives. Jordapon CI-65 has 24-28% free fatty acid, 64-68% Active content and 2% Water content.
Should I be adding something like 20-25% Stearic Acid for the SCI Baby Foam active surfactant level of 84%? How can I break down the formula when it does not add to 100%? I have tried up to 8% Stearic Acid and it still melts in the shower. I use up to 51% powder to try to remove as much moisture as I can - 26% SCI and 25% SLSa. 11% Cocamidopropyl Betaine, 15% Polyglucose/Lactylate Blend, 4% DEA, 8% Stearic Acid, 3% BTMS, 2% oil, 2% protein. Cool Down - 2% Panthenol, 2% EO, and .5 Germall Plus plus citric acid for ph adjustment as needed. Any Suggestions on bar hardness? Should I up the Powder Surfactants, lower the liquid surfactants? Add 10-20% Stearic Acid? Thanks!

I just found this article

The finished sodium cocoyl isethionate has an approximate formula composition of:
75 % SCI
12 % Stearic Acid
8 % Coconut Fatty Acid
3 % Sodium Isethionate
2 % Miscellaneous

I would add up to 12% stearic acid? If my product has 84% actives does that mean that I add 16%? Or ? I am so lost I think I need another cuppa coffee. I have the tools but I feel as though I am missing something huge. I Apologize if its right in front of me

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Irish Molly. I haven't had time to look at your e-mail and really give it some thought as I've been really busy, something I mentioned on the blog last weekend. I'm pleased with my chemistry exam, but I wanted an A+! I just have to work harder next time!

As for hardening your shampoo bars, I don't think SCI with stearic acid is going to help you. The first thing I'd try is increasing the powdered surfactants by quite a bit. Take a look at this formula and see what changes you could make to decrease the liquids. You really don't need that quantity of liquid surfactants as you already have tons with the SLSa and SCI.

In your e-mail, it sounded like you hadn't seen the posts I've done on solid shampoo bars. I have quite a few of them, including a visual tutorial in the hair care section of the blog. Take a look!

7slaper said...

Hi Susan,

Firstly, congratulations on your A for the chem. test! I bet that you will acchieve the so much wanted A+ the next time and many times afterwards. :)

What I've been meaning to ask you for a long time is why you don't make syndet soapbars.
Oké, solid shampoos are a kind of syndet soap bars of course, but you know what I mean. The Dove-like all-purpose "washing tablets", but better of course.
I'm a CP soap maker and love it to formulate and be creative at the same time. But there are drawbacks as well.
I think syndet soapbars may offer advantages , there is a lot of room to play with the formulas to suit the needs of the individual.
So that's what I'm busy with at the moment.
I started out with making my own MP soap and used that knowledge as my base to formulate from. Having a go with making foaming bath butter from scratch also helps.
Anyway I wondered....

Something else: why are people making solid perfume, as a variant on the lotion bar? Because it is an easy way?Most people I know don't like a "fat" product for applying a bit of scent to their body.
So I thought that the deo-stick formula (sodium stearate-propylene glycol etc.)might be a good alternative.
What are your thoughts on that? Any reason not to do that?
A.t.m. I'm tweaking a menthol stick formula (cooling when applied to the forehead, or when you suffer from a headache (no claims of course).)

Regarding the food-looking soaps photo's, I'll mail you some.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Topher said...

Hey Susan!

Do you happen to know any basic recipes for roll-on deodorants/antiperspirants?


7slaper said...


The search-function is your friend. :)

If you search for "deodorant" on the blog, you'll find several!

Topher said...

@ 7slaper:

Those recipes are for deodorant sticks. I'm looking for a recipe for a roll-on deodorant.

Faith said...

Hi Susan,

I absolutely love your blog! Thank you for your sharing your wealth of knowledge. I was wondering if you can freeze hydrovance?


Toph said...

Hey Susan!

I want to create a 2% salicylic acid toner without alcohol. I noticed that in you're toner recipes you do not use alcohol, yet the SA is completely dissolved. How do you do this?


IrishMolly said...

Hi Swift,

I was wondering something I am making a face cream and my skin really likes coconut oil but it does not absorb very quickly, I was wondering if I pair it with another oil that does absorb quicker into my skin if everything would absorb quicker or would it make the other oil absorb slower, or would it meet somewhere in the middle, I guess to sum it up, when combining 2 or more oils what happens with the absorption, does it go with the quickest absorbing or the slowest, what exactly happens in the process of combining and what happens with the efficacy rate of thee singular oil when combined (Example: combining avocado and coconut oil would they lose anything as far as their benefits when put together)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi 7slaper! Thanks for the gorgeous pictures! You are simply amazing! I do make body syndet bars and, in fact, use my shampoo bars as body wash bars at the gym. I think part of the reason I don't make them exclusively as body bars is that the shampoo bars work well for both purposes for me with oily hair and skin!

As for the perfume stick as a lotion bar, I find it's really easy to make and the ingredients are easy to find. I'm not the biggest fan of having greasiness on my skin, but I don't mind it. I think a deodorant bar type thing would be great, although I personally can't stand the dry feeling we get from a sodium stearate bar anywhere other than under my arms. But I think it's a great idea!

Hi Topher. No. I have never thought of making one. I think you'd want to make something like a gel? Look for the posts I've written on gels and Amaze XT as starting points.

Hi Faith! The short answer is yes! I've used your question in Saturday's Weekend Wonderings!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Topher and Irish Molly! I've answered your questions in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answers are...well, they're still too long, so please visit the linked post! Thanks for the great questions!

Tina Lee said...

Hi Swift. I was wondering about the foaming hand wash recipes using castile soap that have been floating around on the internet. Here is one of them from

Distilled, purified, or filtered water
Castile soap, or your favorite natural soap (2-3 tablespoons)
5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops tea tree oil
1/2 teaspoon moisturizing oil, optional (vitamin E, almond oil, or vegetable glycerin)
Empty, clean foaming soap dispense

I know from reading your blog that when making this recipe you would need to add a preservative because of the water and use something like polysorbate 20/80 for the oils. My question is - would adding tea tree essential oil be enough for the soap to be anti-bacterial?

Rolanda said...

I have a weekend wondering about sunflower oil. The lotion making 101 guide indicated that sunflower oil is high in linoleic acid. However, most of the vendors I have contacted sell a sunflower oil that has been processed to have about 60% oleic acid and 10% linoleic acid. Do you know of any vendor that sells unrefined sunflower oil or one that hasn't been processed to increase the oleic acid?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tina Lee! Great comment. I've used it in today's Weekend Wonderings! The short answers are that I wouldn't bother with an emulsifier as soap is a decent enough emulsifier for 1% oil, and tea tree oil isn't an acceptable anti-bacterial as a preservative, and 0.05% isn't enough of anything to work well!

Hi Rolanda. Our vendors tend to sell high oleic sunflower oil because it lasts longer. Check out the FAQ for a list of suppliers in your part of the world who might sell the non-high oleic stuff!

More Weekend Wonderings coming tomorrow!

Oh, Irish Molly. How are you doing on your product? Can you send me your total recipe with all the versions you might have tried, specific ingredient information and recipe, and process as it this might be a good idea for the Formulating Friday series! Email me!

Newbie said...

Hey Susan,

How do you get the ingredients after weighing them into the boiler? I know it's quite obvious if there's a decent amount of the ingredient, but what about when there's almost nothing? I had this problem today when I was trying to create a body butter with 0,5% liquid germall plus which corresponded to 0,25g which basically was gone after I poured it into the shot glas!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Newbie. I'm not sure what you're asking, to be honest. Are you asking what to do with a small amount of an ingredient when you've poured it into a container (like the liquid Germall Plus, to which I say "woo!" and congratulate you for using preservatives!)? How to get it out of the container?

7slaper said...

I think newbie has a problem measuring very small amounts of a liquid. She is afraid that most of it will stick to the sides of the container, so that she'll end up with too little or even none of it iin the product.
Aka known as the problem of accuracy when making (too) small batches.

My advice: Pour the stuff directly in the batch - drops-wise. :)

Chris said...

Have you ever worked with Hydroxyethylcellulose? I tried to make a 1% solution but the powder didn't dissolve. Any idea why? The instruction says to use room temperature water and I did. It also said that it would take 1 hour to turn into a gel, but it didn't.

7slaper said...

Hi Chris,
as a matter of fact: I'm busy playing around with HEC, HPMC, PNC and other gel-formers at this very moment.

I see your problem!
It takes a lot more then one hour when your keeping the water + HEC batch at room temperature.

To avoid clump-forming you agitate the room temperature water with a fork and slowly pour the HEC into the vortex.
When you're done, the mix is ready to be heated - keep stirring with a fork!
Gel wil form quickly.
Bubble forming is hard to avoid, but they will dissapear eventually.

Btw I find that 1% doesn't give much of a gel; it is very thin, a bit like the consistency of Panthenol or Germall Plus.

(I don't know what you're making, with the 1% solution, perhaps it'll be perfect for the purpose.)

Chris said...

Hi 7slaper,

It's funny that it didn't dissolve the first time, because when I tried to make another batch it did dissolve in under an hour. Just shows you that I wasn't stirring enough the first time. :P

And you are correct,the 1 % was a little bit thin, so I might increase it to 1,5 or 2.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge! :D

Anonymous said...

In a lotion bar we do not have to add preservative, is it still the same if i substitute some of the wax with ewax, cetyl or BTMS still without water of course. Because i did substituted some of the beeswax for some ewax and i liked it very much, just dont know if i need preservative.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. The short answer is that you don't need to worry about preservatives. The long answer can be found intoday's Weekend Wonderings. Thanks for another great question!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!

I have been reading your blog for months and i think i have gone through everything at least twice, and some articles many times!
Thanks for giving us so much information! It is very kind of you.

I was wondering the other day whether you ever make face masks or treatments. I know you make scrubs, but i'm wondering if you've ever experimented with a gel mask, or clay mask that is less scrubby and more of a leave on for 10-15 min then wash off kind of thing?

I'm on a mission to formulate something lovely for my sensitive skin and just thought i'd see if you have any insight into this kind of thing.

Thank you!


ORE Estudio said...

Hi Susan, I can´t thank you enough for the great work you do for helping small entrepreneurs like me. I know you invest A LOT of time helping people and you can’t put a price on it. Thank you. My question is which PH meter would you recommend? I´m over using PH strips, they are so inaccurate. Why don´t I do the research myself? well, I live in a country where ingredients and equipment are VERY hard or very often, impossible to find, so I have to invest my very few and hard worked for dollars (buy food or buy supplies level) in purchasing online from the US or other online suppliers and then have them (very costly) shipped back to my impoverished country. If I make a bad decision I cannot return the item, neither get my money back. So, I would you (or any of the other readers here) give me your top choices for a PH meter so I can narrow my choices? Thanks in advance.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ORE! Check out this post for a few ideas.

Valerie said...

HI Susan, I looked around the site and couldn't find the info I needed about measuring Ph and have a question for you. Are there guidelines on to dilute (with distilled water) a sample of a product before testing to get ph test accurate results - like shampoo, lotion etc. I have ph tested my liquid soaps in the past and was instructed to dilute appropriately before testing to get accurate results. Any advice is appreciated! I have made a powdered foaming exfoliating cleanser that I would like to ph test. I have a digital reader and a know how to calibrate it using the solutions. Also, I would love to post this recipe for feedback and suggestions on how to improve it. Thanks! Val

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Valerie! Sorry for the delay in responding. I have a post going up on Monday, September 11, 2017 on the topic. Thanks for your patience.

If you want to post a formula, you can share it here or email it to me!

Doo said...

Hi Susan!

I finished the powdery-feel lotion using Mango butter, Fractionated coconut oil, BTM50, IPM as listed and also tried the substitution of IPM for fractionated coconut oil. My next step I subbed the water with aloe. I'm still not getting the quick absorption rate I had hoped. My skin is slippery but I would love it to sink in and dry a bit quicker. Unfortunately I am allergic to PG or I would add that. I am not sure what ratio to go to next to speed up that ab rate. I like going as natural as possible and would rather keep the fractionated coconut oil if possible. Any advice is welcome while I tinker! Thank you!

Thank you!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Doo! I'm afraid I don't understand what you're trying to do here. Can you please provide the formula you used - the exact one, not the one on which it is based - in percentages? And can I ask you a completely genuine question? You're using a lot of non-natural ingredients now, so I'm wondering where that line you draw about natural vs non-natural might be for you?

Have you thought about using propanediol 1,3 as the humectant and penetration enhancer?