Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Learning about oils & butters - introduction

Don't underestimate the value of skin feel in your products. You can make the very bestest, seriously kicking bum kind of product filled with the very best cosmeceuticals, extracts, oils, and hydrosols, but if you hate the feel of it, you've wasted your time. When it comes to making lotions, whipped butters, lotion bars, and anything else with oils and butters, choosing the right combination can mean the difference between "meh" and "OH MY GOD!"

What do I mean by skin feel? It is, quite literally, the feeling of the product on your skin. How the product goes on your skin, how it feels going on and staying on your skin, how long it feels like it's there. Does it feel greasy or dry feeling? Does it feel occlusive, too heavy, too light? How long does it feel like it stays on your skin? Does it feel like it sinks in or stays on the surface of your skin? And so on. 

It's hard to know what skin feel you prefer when you're starting out in the fabulous world of making your own bath & body products, but for the most part I hear people say they want non-greasy or dry feeling products. If your main experience with bath & body products has been through store bought ones, then you have a different definition of greasiness than those of us who know what handmade can feel like. Almost as a rule, the greasiest product I can make you will feel substantially less greasy than store bought products, and that's generally because most store bought products use some mineral oil or petroleum in them, and those ingredients are greasier feeling than just about any of our oils.

What we'll be doing over the next few weeks is learning about our oils and butters by applying them to your skin neat and adding them to some anhydrous products - a whipped butter, a lotion bar, a body oil, a balm, and an oil based body scrub bar. We'll try a few versions of each so you can see what each ingredient brings to the party and how each oil feels on your skin.

How will we do this? I'm suggesting you buy at least one butter - preferably two - and a few oils to try out. Some of the oils will be grocery store ones, and others might be from our suppliers' more exotic selection. Your job will be to investigate the oils that sound interesting to you in the emollients section of the blog and decide what you want. I suggest getting a few, if your budget will stretch that far, but only small amounts, no more than 4 ounces of each oil. I suggest getting at least one light to medium oil, one medium to heavy oil, one that is considered to be less greasy, and one that is normal greasiness. If your budget will stretch that far, I really suggest getting fractionated coconut oil as it's a less greasy feeling very very light feeling oil that can be used in pretty much anything you want to make. (And it's non-staining for fabrics and sheets, which is a great choice for things like massage or body oils!) If you aren't sure what to get, I suggest choosing from these oils...

Light feeling oils 
  • sweet almond oil
  • apricot kernel oil
  • sunflower oil
  • soy bean oil 
  • grapeseed (less greasy)
  • hazelnut (less greasy)
  • macadamia nut (less greasy)
Medium to heavy oils
  • sesame seed oil (light to medium, not the roasted kind!)
  • rice bran oil (light to medium)
  • olive oil (medium to heavy)
  • avocado oil (medium to heavy)
Light, less greasy feeling oils
  • grapeseed
  • hazelnut oil
  • macadamia nut oil
If you're going to the grocery store, grapeseed, olive oil, and sunflower oil will be easy to find and great choices. Note that grapeseed oil has a three month life span, so store it in the fridge or cool, dark place and make sure you note the date you opened the bottle somewhere really visible. (Click here for more about grapeseed oil and shelf life.) You don't need to order a lot - 4 ounces should be enough for our projects, but you can get as much as you like if you really like the oil. Just make sure you store it properly so you can use it for other projects to come!

As for butters, shea butter will probably be the most functional for all the products, cocoa butter will bring the most hardness and occlusion to your bars, and mango butter will be a good in between butter that offers more dryness/less greasiness than the other two. For whipped butters, shea will be the best choice. For balms and lotion bars, pick the one you like best. For whipped butters, we'll want to use 70 to 80 grams of butters (2.5 ounces by weight?), for the balm and lotion bar we'll want to have somewhere around 60 grams (2 ounces), so 4 ounces isn't enough. I recommend at least 8 ounces (250 grams) because you will want to make more once you've tried each project!

I don't suggest getting coconut oil or palm kernel oil because there really isn't a place for these solid oils in the products we'll be making over the next few weeks. I know coconut oil; is really popular right now, but it melts at 76˚F, which is too low for it to be the main oil in anything as we approach spring and summer! 

Our first product will be a body oil because you can get all the ingredients you want at the supermarket, so we don't have to wait to place an order that might take a bit of time. We'll be making that on April 2nd!

  • oils
  • bottle (at least one plastic bottle)
  • label
  • rubbing alcohol (to spray the bottle to put the label on)
  • funnel
  • container and spoon for the oil
Yep, it really is that simple!

If you want to play along for the entire series, I suggest ordering the following...

  • bottles - for body oil 
  • jars - for whipped butter and balm 
  • (optional) deodorant tubes - for lotion bars
  • oils (at least 4)
  • butters (1, possibly 2)
  • fragrance or essential oils (a small bottle will be sufficient)
  • (optional for scrub bars) about 1 ounce or 30 grams of emulsifying wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, Ritamulse SCG, Ritamulse BTMS-225, or any other emulsifier that looks good to you.  
  • oils
  • butters
  • labels
  • rubbing alcohol (to spray on your containers)
  • paper towels
  • double boiler* or microwave
  • digital scale that measures to 1 gram (at least)
  • Pyrex or heatproof jugs or glassware
  • spoons
  • mixer (ideally a hand mixer with whisks)
  • (optional for whipped butters) piping bags
  • (optional for whipped butters) 1M icing tip
  • (optional for lotion bars) mold for lotion bars and scrub bar
The double boiler can be a pot put on top of another pot on the stove top. You don't need to buy anything fancy.

Related posts:
Creating products - obtaining supplies
Creating products - equipment (part 1)
Creating products - equipment (part 2)
FAQ - scroll down to the "suppliers" section for suppliers near you

Here's the schedule I have in mind for this series. Those of you who simply can't wait are free to run ahead, just come back and share your thoughts with the group! For next week, consider testing the oils on your skin and keeping a record of what you think about them. Every week will start with questions, comments, and shared stories about the project from the week before. Then we'll get into the next product.

March 26th - Testing the oils and butters on our skin neat to see what we think of each of them.
April 2nd - Creating a body oil.
April 9th - Questions and answers about creating body oils.
April 16th - Making a whipped butter!
April 23rd - Questions and answers about creating whipped butters.
April 30th - Making lotion bars.
May 7th - Questions and answers about creating lotion bars.
May 14th - Making balms!
May 21st - Questions and answers about making balms.
May 28th - Making solid scrub bars!
June 4th - Questions and answers about making solid scrub bars!

So join me next Tuesday, March 26th for some serious fun testing and reviewing each oil we've bought! 


Lucy Townsend said...

Hey, looking forward to this:-) I bought some almond oil from the supermarket, is this the same as sweet almond oil?

catherine said...

hi. thanks for this post. even though it's been discussed before it's nice to have the oils summarized in one post, esp the light/heavy oils listed. :)

melian1 said...

i noticed that under "necessary equipment" you did not list a scale for weighing ingredients. do you not consider a scale to be a necessary thing?

Minnie said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog and have been blog stalking! I've learned so much already! I'm so excited to begin this series, even more exciting I have almost everything I need! WOOT WOOT!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lucy. I don't know. Check what you have and compare the Latin names! There are so many things it could be!

Hi Melian! Thanks! When writing this post, I was interrupted by texts, people, and everything else, and I knew I hadn't created a complete list! I consider a scale THE MOST ESSENTIAL THING EVER!!!

Carol Holmes said...

I''m so excited to get started. I've got lots of supplies already and have made a body butter and oily skin facial serum from your recipes, but as a newbie I just jumped in head first so I'm so happy to get some hand holding in this series.

Aljonor said...

I am going to follow and join in.

Thanks Susan.

Karen said...

Hi there! On your April 23 q&a, could you provide some tips on what ingredients would help anhydrous products stand up well in the heat? Not using coconut oil is already a great tip and helps me because I use a lot of it in everything!

Andrea said...

Thank you for these posts! I read your blog every day and can't believe how much I have learned! I am really looking forward to actually trying out some of your recipes instead of just reading about them.

Miri Pardo said...

I just bought some moringa (?) oil and am waiting for it to arrive. So far, grapeseed and sunflower, as well as jojoba (I know it is really a wax) are my favorites!

Made some whipped shea butter--can't wait for the lesson. I used shea and sunflower oil, as well as essential oils. Next time I will add some arrowroot to stablize.

Question: how do you get it into the container? Pipe it in ?