Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Testing skin feel of our oils

Last week we decided we would get to know our oils a little better by testing them neat on our skin and writing down the results. This week, let's do it!

Before we start, prepare a little chart for yourself that outlines the name of the oil, the colour, the viscosity (very light, light, medium, and heavy), the skin feel, and your thoughts. Include other information you think might be valuable such as the reason you might want to include it - full of polyphenols! - or not include it - too expensive!!! - and the name of your supplier. Write down whatever information you think would be helpful for future reference. I like to put in my research or notes I've learned about the oil.

If I can make a suggestion, start with either a really dry oil or a really greasy oil so you have some kind of benchmark. I'd choose sunflower or soy bean oil as the really greasy standards or grapeseed, hazelnut, or macadamia nut oil as my dry standards. That way you can say "greasier than sunflower oil" or "greasier than hazelnut" in your notes.

Click here for a Word doc I've created as a sample chart. It isn't that exciting, but it's a start! And click here for the emollients page of the blog! 

Here's an example of how my chart might look...and note, I would be writing this by hand in the workshop, so if you plan to use the chart above, make sure you put in a bunch of spaces before printing it!

Why bother with this information? What's the point?

Name of the oil: You want to know what you're using, right? The INCI name is the name given to the oil that you will see on cosmetic labels. If you plan to sell your products - but don't for quite some time! - you need to use this name on your labels.

Colour might not seem like such an important thing, but if you wanted to make a really white balm like this one, fractionated coconut oil really is the only choice if you aren't planning to use esters.

Viscosity means how thick the oil is, and you want to know whether it'll pour out of the bottle like water - like fractionated coconut oil - maple syrup, or liquid wax!

Skin feel? Isn't that the reason we're all here today? Pour a little into your hand or into a small shot glass (or even smaller cup) and stick your finger into it. How does it feel when you put your finger into the container? How does it feel when you spread it on the back of your hand? How about on your arm? How long can you spend rubbing it in? Does it start to feel sticky as you rub it in or does it feel like it's being absorbed? How does it feel 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes later? Does it feel like you have something on your skin or does it feel it has disappeared? Does it feel occlusive - like it has formed a layer on your skin - or absorbed?

I realize this seems obvious, but don't pour a ton of oils into the sample cup because you'll be throwing it away! 

Other thoughts are important. This is where I put my research, costs, supplier, and anything else that doesn't fit into the other categories. Consider writing something about how that oil compares to another one that seems similar. Compare the lighter oils to other ones, especially sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oils to see if you notice a huge difference. And consider the smell. (I can't stand earthy things, so something like unrefined hemp seed oil really offends my nose!) If you might be using this in something unscented, this is a really important consideration.

As a quick note, if you notice that there are things floating in my pictures of oils, it's because they have been in the fridge or my unheated workshop, and it's been hovering around 0˚C lately. This clouding is called the titer point, the point at which fatty acids will solidify. If you find your oils doing this, you need to heat them slowly until they become liquid again. Shaking them isn't enough. You might be able to leave them at room temperature and see them come together again, but I really recommend heating them to room temperature. Surfactants also have this problem. 

We're all set for testing. Grab a pen, print off the chart (or make your own), get out the shot glasses, and get ready to cover yourself in oil! Choose two of the lighter oils - my suggestion is to try sunflower or soy bean against hazelnut, grapeseed, or macadamia nut oil. Pour each into a shot glass - label them if necessary - and write down your first thoughts about viscosity and colour.

A few questions you might ask yourself...
  • How did it pour from the container? 
  • How does the viscosity compare to water? To each other?
  • How clear is the oil? What colour is it? 
  • Is there a smell to the oil? Is it pleasant? Nutty? Earthy? Sweet? 
Now try them on your skin. Dip your finger into the cup and spread it on the back of your hand or arm.

A few questions to consider...
  • Does it feel greasy? Does it feel dry?
  • How well can you rub it on the back of your hand?
  • After a few seconds of rubbing, does it feel sticky? Greasy?
  • Does it feel like it creates a coating on your skin or does it feel like it sinks in?
  • After 10 minutes, what does your skin feel like? How about 30 minutes?
  • Does your skin look shiny? If you've applied it on your nails, does it look shiny or matte?
  • And anything else that might be meaningful to you. 
If you're really daring, take a lick of your skin and see how the oil tastes. I know this sounds weird, but if you want to include it in a product for your face - lip balm, lotion bar, moisturizer - this is relevant. I remember thinking olive oil had tons of great qualities for a lip product without thinking how it would taste. One word - ick!

If you stick to the list of oils from last week's post, they are all edible. If in doubt, ask your local supplier!

And finally, stop by the post about that oil in the emollients section of the blog and see what it has to offer you by way of interesting vitamins, polyphenols, phytosterols, fatty acids, and everything else awesome!

For your butters, you can try to spread shea or mango butter on your skin and see what you think of it. For cocoa butter, this might prove a bit painful. Melt a bit - 5 to 10 grams - in a microwave safe container for a few seconds or heat in your double boiler until liquid. Let it sit on the counter until it is cool enough and starting to harden. Try a bit on your skin and see what you think!

When you've accumulated information on at least three oils, I'd love it if you made a comment to share your thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers here, and the more we share, the more we learn! I can't wait to see what you think!

Join us next week to compare some thoughts about our oils before moving on to making a body oil!


Marjo said...

I have another thing to test for! .. Looks. I feel like a shiny christmass ornament when i use triglycerides. Just bought crambe seed oil and thats shiny too so will reserve those for hair

scent of a woman said...

I was wondering if you can give a break down on perfumers alcohol, I am very much interested in fragrances and I wanted to know what is your take on them.


Ged said...

Susan, this is a great exercise for non-newbies as well! We often reach for our "favourite" or "just because they're there" oils, but this helps to actually set down the properties and benefits of the oils in a form that we can refer to over and over. Thanks for it - I'm definitely going to take some time to do the exercise!

Anne-Marie said...

What a great idea! It gives you a better feel of the oils you are soaping and crafting with and what will work better for your own skin. =)

Ged said...

I 'm really sorry to be off-topic, but does anyone know what's happening with The Dish? I'm suffering severe withdrawal symptoms....
And Happy Easter to all!

Minnie said...

Hi Susan,

I just loved this exercise!

Ok, I only had time to try two oils this week, but I will be continuing over the next month.

I started with the light oils.

My first thoughts:
Grapeseed Oil - very lite feeling on my skin, very silky.
Apricot Kernel Oil - light feeling on my skin. Not as silky as the Grapeseed Oil.

My thoughts about these oils:
Grapeseed Oil - It was quick to absorb into my skin. After 5 minutes my hands were silky soft. Within 15 minutes it was totally absorbed into my skin. I love this oil! It was silky on my skin. Vitamin E, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory is great. No moisturizing barrier. No taste (yes I did). Smell wasn't bad, almost nonexistent. Shelf life 3-6 months is a negative. Would I use it? Maybe, the short shelf life would stop me.

Apricot Kernel Oil - It was quick to absorb into my skin. After 5 minutes it was slightly greasy, not silky. After 10 minutes not completely absorbed into my skin, nice layer of oil on my skin. At 30 minutes, it still felt silky on my skin with a nice thin layer of oil on my skin. Smell was nonexistent, no taste. Vitamin E, anti-itching, anti-inflammatory, great. Shelf life 12 months. Would I use it? Yes.

I can't wait to continue on!

Carol Holmes said...

i tested, Sweet Almond Oil,Borage oil,Camelia Oil,Pomegranate Oil and Sesame Oil. I found the Sweet Almond and Pomegranate absorbed the quickest. For me,the Camelia and Sesame felt heavier than the other 3. The Sweet Almond and Borage felt the lightest on my skin. I wouldn't say any of them felt greasy. For my nose I can't say I noticed any fragrance from any of the 5 I tested. I tested the 5 on both arms and I must say my arms feel,soft silky and moisturized. I think I'll use these 5 to make a body oil. What do you think? I love this exercise, really makes you stop and think about the supplies we use.

Alexis said...

I haven't made one of these list and recently bought some new oils to try out. So I thought I'd play along!

I'm beginning to wonder if the supplier I bought apricot kernel oil and sweet almond oil from mislabeled them. The apricot kernel oil really sat on my skin and had great slip. Isn't sweet almond oil supposed to have those qualities more than apricot kernel oil? The sweet almond oil seemed dry in comparison.

My list is a work in progress (obviously). I put it in an excel doc then uploaded it to google drive for sharing, but my descriptions may not be how others would prefer to describe these oils.


On a more depressing note, I looked up some old receipts to figure out the age of some oils I forgot about in my frig. My organic borage oil was 23 months old - bummer, but at least I used about 3/4 of it. Even worse - I had paid $10.50 for a 4 oz. bottle of it, and today that supplier sells 4 oz. for $29.95. Ouch! Good thing non-organic is cheaper.

Christopher said...

Hi Susan,
So I haven’t been able to test out 3 oils, but I did test Hazelnut oil! Below are my thoughts.

I was surprised how thin it was, it poured almost like water. I expected it to be thicker and more gel like.

The color of the oil was clear, maybe with a hint of yellow.

The oil spread easily and did not feel sticky, tacky or greasy. It sank into the skin (i.e. not occlusive) after a couple of minutes and left a slight shine. Liberal application however took longer time to absorb.

I found that it had no significant smell or taste. Several of my family members however said it smelled like pears.

Contains a bunch of skin loving goodies, which is great!

I’ve seen that Hazelnut oil is recommended for acne-prone skin, here and other places, but there’s conflicting information on this. Some recommend it, while others urge us with acne to avoid it because of the high percentage of oleic acid.

I bought the oil at Garden of Wisdom for $9,35 for 4. Fl. Oz. That’s pretty cheap in my opinion!

Andrea said...

I tried out shea butter, fractionated coconut oil and argan oil last weekend. Here is what I thought of them.

I adore the shea butter. I took a little piece and held it in my hand to warm it and then rubbed it into my hands and it was dreamy. It smells pleasant but it was not overwhelming. It did feel greasy for a while but I wanted a good moisturizer for my hands at bed time and this was perfect.

The fractionated coconut oil was not what I was expecting. It felt like it was going to be greasy but then almost as soon as I rubbed it on my hands, it was gone! I didn't find there was a scent to it so I tried adding some lavender and sweet orange EO and it so nice and delicate. I used it on my daughter's legs after her bath - she has a little bit of ezcema - and she said it felt nice and not to "grabby" on her skin.

The argan has a lovely nutty fragrance but was hard to get out of the bottle. I had to turn it upside down for awhile and then let it drip into my hand. It isn't a very thick oil so it may have been the container that was causing problems. It spread easily on my hands but didn't absorb very much. I rubbed it into my cuticles and onto my elbows. After about 15 minutes, they still felt a little greasy but not unpleasant. I meant to try some on the ends of my hair but forgot.

I also have Mango butter but didn't get to try it out yet.

Andrea said...

Hello Susan,

This is wonderful and very timely for me. I've been reading your blog for some time but just recently tried my hand at making lotion. I made two different lotions. The first lotion I made included neem oil for my feet. I liked the feel of it and the sheen it left on my skin, but don't care much for the smell of the neem. Although I used essential oils in the lotion, the smell of the neem is still really prominent. So I set out to make a lotion with the same feel and sheen provided by the neem but without neem and it's characteristic smell. The second lotion seemed dryer and didn't provide the sheen I liked from the first lotion. This exercise will help me to understand which oils I can use to recreate the feel and look of the neem lotion without the smell. Thanks for this wonderful blog. I've learned so much from it.

KP said...

I don't know if it breaks etiquette to post on something from several years ago, I hope I'm not being rude when I say this is the most incredible exercise and blog. Thank you so much for everything you put into sharing with everyone.

I was in an accident a year ago, and haven't been able to work. My skin started to freak out because of all the hospital cleansers. I've had a hard time finding things that don't make me itch, but aren't going to cost an arm and a leg either! I've started making soap as both something to keep me engaged - and something that I hope will eventually help me make some money. I'm loving it!

But I've still been struggling with my skin.. I purchased several oils and tried this experiment and was completely shocked by what I discovered! It was nearly opposite of what I expected.

Macadamia, I could hardly stand. I kept wanting to wipe my fingers off. I felt oily. I'm thinking it might make a great bath oil in a bath melt, mixed with something to emulsify, polysorbate or something? Avocado and Jojoba sank right into my skin almost immediately. It nearly disappeared! Coconut oil smelt delicious and absorbed, though not as fast as Avocado. But I'd be afraid to use it on my face or chest or in the shower or bath because it solidifies. Sweet almond didn't leave me feeling as oily as Macadamia, but I'd put it at a second. Maybe that would be a brilliant scrub? If it was blended with an oil with a longer lasting slip I can see why it would be a light massage oil. Rice Bran seemed like an almost perfect middle ground between avocado and almond. Babassu and Meadowfoam tripped me out the most. They had the slick spreading of almond or Macadamia, but not nearly the oily feeling, much more silky. Meadowfoam didn't leave the shine like Babassu. Macadamia and coconut smell awesome, Babassu and Meadowfoam feel awesome. Avocado, Rice Bran, and Jojoba are the middle sweet spot without leaving shine but don't spread as well as Babassu and Meadowfoam.

Rosehip oil was heaven over my scarring, a little really goes a long way. It's viscous nearly like castor oil but not sticky. It is bright orange though, so there is that against it.. But it really relieved the tight, pulling feeling of the skin.

Shea butter I'm not sure how I feel. I LOVE the creamy decadent feeling, but it felt a little heavy maybe? Like a skin over my skin until it finally absorbed in. But it also eased the itching I feel after showers! I'd like to figure out some middle ground for it.

I feel like I could cry. I'm slowly going to work my way through your blog. I hope you don't mind me starting several years after these posts?

I've babbled on, but thank you so much.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi KP! There's no such thing as an old post on this blog, so share your thoughts with us! Thank you for your kind words!