Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Using a water soluble preservative in anhydrous products, creating our own cleansing conditioner, and a foaming sugar scrub recipe.

In this post on Liquid Leucidal preservative, Julia asks: This is my preservative of choice! The problem I have run into: I would like to use it in my emulsified body scrub ( I LOVE the recipe on your blog!), problem is that leucidal liquid is water soluable. So technically it wont hold in the scrub mix, right? I was thinking of maybe adding a minimal amount of aloe as the waterphase. Still using 10% ewax and 10% stearic acid, will the preservative stay in the mix properly then? OR will the aloe dissolve the sugar?

First, thank you for your kind words about the sugar scrub recipe. (Which one did you make?) Second, I'm so excited you want to use preservatives to ensure you make a great product!

I find this is one of the biggest challenges I face - encouraging the use of preservatives in products that don't contain water but will be exposed to water. (Read more about why we use preservatives in sugar scrubs below...)

We really don't want to use any water soluble ingredients in our scrubs with sugar or salt because they will dissolve over time and we're left with a really weird and gross lump in our scrub. And a water soluble preservative will not work properly in an oil soluble product. What to do? I'm not really sure how to answer this. You really need a preservative in a product of this nature because you will be putting wet hands into the product and leaving it in a wet environment, and failing to preserve can result in so many types of ick, but your water soluble preservative isn't suitable for the product.

The only answer I can think of at the moment is that you need to use a preservative suitable for oil soluble products. If we take a look at the preservative comparison chart, you can see the only ones you could use contain parabens as they are oil soluble preservatives. My preferred preservative for my scrubs is Phenonip because it's easy to use, easy to find, inexpensive, and extensively studied for efficacy.

Whenever I write about parabens, people get upset and write me horrible messages that I'm encouraging people to use dangerous ingredients. I really encourage you to click on the link about parabens above as I have linked to various agencies, including the American Cancer Society, and read what they say. The original study on parabens in breast tissue was a poorly done study, and there are hundreds of papers written about it explaining why it was a poorly done study all over the 'net. Nevertheless, the myth still exists that parabens cause cancer. I encourage you to read more about this topic at Dr Joe's blog

You can get parabens in natural preservatives, but the studies aren't looking great about their efficacy. (Click here and click here for more information.) And does it really matter? A paraben is a paraben is a paraben regardless of the source because a molecule doesn't care where it comes from!

Related posts:
Preservative section of the blog
Preservatives: Water activity and sugar scrubs
Answering comments: Salt or sugar in water based scrubs
Preservatives: How the heck do they work?

Related recipes:
Christmas crafting idea: Exfoliating fun with sugar and salt scrubs (lots of recipe links)
Quick note on using water in salt or sugar scrubs (lots of recipe links)

Related site:
How to make an emulsified sugar scrub (by me, hosted on Snapguide)

In this post - Newbie Tuesday: Let's make conditioner! - Sarah G asks: I have been using a product called Wen. The directions say to not use shampoo just massage the Wen into your scalp and leave on for few minutes and rinse. It seems to working for me as my scalp isn't oily afterward and my hair is smooth and soft. I was wondering why this doesn't happen when I use homemade conditioner (my scalp ends up oily by the end of the day)? Is there an ingredient that I could add to my conditioner to duplicate this effect?

There is nothing unique about Wen conditioner. Honestly. It is a conditioner. They call it a cleansing conditioner and charge a fortune for it, but it really is just a regular old conditioner for which they charge an awful lot!

From this post on cleansing conditioners: How does a cleansing conditioner differ from a normal conditioner? It doesn't. For the most part, the cleansing conditioner contains the same ingredients as a normal conditioner, although I've seen a few with very low levels of foaming surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine. I have noticed that most of the conditioners with the word "cleansing" in the title tend to stay away from silicones, but that might be because those I've seen also bill themselves as natural or organic. I've also noticed that a lot of them contain mint, perhaps for the tingly feeling it can leave behind?

Let's look at the ingredients (more on each of them in this post, this is just a summary). Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Glycerin, Chamomile Extract, Cherry Bark Extract, Calendula Extract, Rosemary Extract, Behentrimonium Chloride, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Panthenol, Trimethylsilylamodimethicone, Hydrolyzed Whole Wheat Protein, PEG-60, Almond Glycerides, Menthol, Essential Oils, Citric Acid, Methylchoroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance

I see quite a few things here that will make your scalp and hair feel less oily. Emulsifying wax will help emulsify the oils and remove them. The extracts are all quite astringent, and there are no oils in the list. Think about that for a moment. This product is advertised to people with dry hair - why no oils? (See below for my thoughts...)

If you want to make a product like Wen, take a look at your recipe. (If you've included a lot of oils or emollients, there's your answer.) I would include some e-wax (2% in the heated oil phase), astringent ingredients like witch hazel, chamomile, calendula, and rosemary extracts. (See the extracts section for more information...) I'd throw in up to 2% peppermint essential oil (cool down phase) and maybe some peppermint hydrosol and/or rosemary hydrosol at up to 20% in the heated water phase. If you are including a fatty alcohol as an emollient and substantivity booster, add it at up to 1/2 the amount of Incroquat BTMS-50 or other conditioning agent. (If you are using 6%, then use 3% cetyl alcohol, for instance.) And don't include any oils, butters, or other emollients. I'd use maybe 3% to 4% BTMS-50 or other cationc quaternary compound, 1.5% to 2% cetyl alcohol, a bunch of extracts, glycerin at maybe up to 3%, protein at up to 2%, panthenol at up to 2%, and preservatives and see what you think.

Back to the oil thing for a second...I would classify Wen as a not very moisturizing, light conditioning conditioner with very few emollients and no oils. I think we put far too many oils in our products as homecrafters, and I think we use too much conditioner. You'd be amazed at really how little you need. I make an intense conditioner with 10% coconut oil because I need those oils for the ends of my hair, but I use it maybe once every two weeks and I know I won't make it to the end of the day without being really oily. That really is more than enough for oily, normal, and slightly dry hair.

Check out my great conditioner experiment - start and end posts and the post on modifying the recipe. I encourage you to try this at home by creating a recipe you water down over a period of a few weeks. It might surprise you as to how little you really need! 

Another suggestion - Don't put your conditioner on your scalp. I know this seems like a really basic idea, but you'll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make. I have incredibly oily hair, and it has made a massive difference in the frequency with which I wash my hair! (Sometimes I can go three days between washes!) I don't believe in that "don't condition above your ears" idea because that hair can be damaged easily and I want my hair to be really really long! Start by not rubbing conditioner into your scalp. (If you aren't using shampoo, you have to do this, but those of us who use shampoo don't need to do this!)

Point of Interest: This isn't a duplicating request, it's an analysis of a type of product. 

Related post:
Duplicating products: Cleansing conditioners

Someone requested this recipe. Here's the version with SCIClick here to find the version that might work with SCS-CAB blend. that post. I really like it, although it's hard to give up my sugar scrub. Use one of these physical exfoliants in it if you want some scrubbiness.

Related posts:
Facial exfoliants: Physical exfoliants (part one)
Facial exfoliants: Physical exfoliants (part two)
Facial exfoliants: Chemical exfoliants


Alexis said...

For the Preserving Anhydrous Products part of the post:

The company that makes Leucidal Liquid also makes an oil soluble preservative called PhytoCide Elderberry OS. I haven't used it yet, but it might be an option. One supplier states it can be used in scrubs.

There is also a preservative called VegeCide (INCI:Glyceryl Monocaprylate and Glyceryl Monoundecylenate). I have used this but not in scrubs! I have some parabens I want to use up first. The supplier states it's both water and oil soluble. They also state it can be used in scrubs. I've only used it in emulsions during the oil phase.

For the Cleansing Conditioner part of the post:

I used to use Wen. IMP, it is a little different from regular conditioners, store and salon bought. My understanding is Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is one of the "cleansers" in this product as suppliers state it removes build up.

A sample recipe using this product can be found here:

Sorry, I haven't tried this recipe; so I can't say if it's good or bad. I have done some experimenting with stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and had some emulsion stability issues, but at the time I wasn't holding properly after heating. I haven't tried my failed formulas yet with proper holding, but I'm considering that sample recipe with a little tweaking. ;-)

catherine said...

I got the Optiphen (just plain 'optiphen') from the herbarie bc it specifically states it's for anhydrous. But, per your preservative chart, is that not true?

Aljonor said...

Hey Susan:

this information was great! I too have dry hair and could not find the right shampoo; however I found a surfactant from makingcosmetics call Coco Glucose that I think works with dry scalp and hair. I have had some great results with using it. My itches are gone and the scalp is clear and clean. My hair is not dry . I heard of stearamidopropyl dimethlamine and see it in a lot in anti dandruff shampoos. If anyone tries it, let me know of the results.

Julia said...

Hi Susan!
I was thrilled to see that you posted my question about the Preservative.
This is the sugar scrub recipe that I used and love:
10% emulsifying wax
10% stearic acid
20% black cocoa butter
56% oil - I'm using soy bean oil here
1% Vitamin E
2%essential oil*
1% Phenonip
I just changed the oils to the ones I prefer :)
THank you for answering my question, and thank you Alexis for the preservatives that you suggested. Hopefully I can find a supplier in Canada.

Here is anothe related question:
I like to add 1% silk amino acids and 1% Oat Protein to my body butters and lotion bars. They seem to hold and not 'seep out'. But now that I think of it... since technically these proteins are watersoluable, dont I need a preservative? BUt also, I do know that there are minimal amounts of preservative in say silk already.
Let us know what you think :D
Thanks, Julia

Alexis said...

I tried the formula to the link I posted above.

All went well until it cooled down. Though it appears that I did get the ingredients to mix, there were little white bits floating after the foam subsided. I'm assuming the white bits were the stearamidopropyl dimethylamine since it's the oil soluble ingredient here. The amount of bits floating seems like it would be less than the amount of SD I added, but any real step in figuring that out would require me to strain the mix then measure, which is more than I want to do!

I've seen formulas like these before where an oil soluble ingredient is added to room temp water then heated, and I'm assuming that they're meant for processing in a homogenizer. I'm DIY and have never used one of those, nor do I think I could afford one.

I used an immersion blender, and a homogenizer it is not.

Moving forward, separate heated phases would be the next place to go. Also heating the ingredients as instructed went really well - @ 75C with light stirring, it became a homogeneous looking, clear liquid with a few bubbles on the surface. Another possibility is adding a gelling agent that works with cationic ingredients. Seems like there was one but I can't seem to find it now. Off the cuff I'm thinking the ones that work with shampoos and can be heated - perhaps ETD 2020.

Alexis said...

So I tried a few more things based on the formula I linked above.

I took two steps forward then a step back, but I'll post the simpler version first.

Treating stearamidopropyl dimethylamine (SD from here on out!) as a separate oil phase:


94.50% Water
0.80% Citric Acid WS
1.20% Crothix Pastilles

3.00% SD

0.50% Liquid Germall Plus

Heated the water phase to 85C as is recommended for peg-150 distearate or crothix pastilles. Waited to heat the oil phase. The crothix pastilles melted but were still a separate phase from the water.

I weighed the beaker and had lost 14.9g to evaporation. I've had some luck dissolving crothix in peg-7 olivate. I added 1g peg-7 olivate then 13.9g water to q.s. that beaker. Crothix dissolved with stirring but became quite foamy. Turned heat down and put oil phase beaker into the water bath. Held 20 min.

Poured water phase into oil phase and whisked with hand whisk. Not much happened. Noticed there were residual large-structure bubbles clinging inside the water phase beaker. Scooped them out and added to other beaker. Emulsion formed. Cooled the beaker by putting it in a cool water bath, mixing all the while.

Added germall plus and mixed some more. Consistency was like soft shaving cream or chantilly cream. pH was 4.83. Wrapped the beaker in a plastic bag to let it sit over night.

Next morning scooped some of it into a little plastic cup and washed my hair with it. Very cleansing, only lightly moisturizing. Was anti-static but did nothing for frizz.

Checked on the beaker at noon and the emulsion had separated.

Revised formula that failed would be:

92.50% Water
0.80% Citric Acid WS
1.20% Crothix Pastilles
2.00% Peg-7 Olivate

3.00% SD

0.50% Liquid Germall Plus

Other variation

82.70% Water
1.20% Crothix Pastilles
4.00% Peg-7 Olivate

0.60% Lactic Acid

3.00% SD
5.00% BTMS-Conditioning Emusifier
2.00% Oliwax

1.00% Bamboo Isoflavanes
0.50% Liquid Germall Plus

Very similar procedure as above. Exception is the water phase sat for about 2-3 hours @ room temp before I could begin heating, and I waited to add the lactic acid until the end which meant I was tweaking with the pH for a bit.

This is the version I did second after my first try. Remember I took 2 steps forward first!
Again like shaving cream only not quite as foamy.
Very cleansing, more moisturizing than the one without BTMS. Didn't do much for frizz.

I didn't use either one of these as a leave-in conditioner because both formulas were ever so slightly foamy with water.

This batch is still together, but it's viscosity has changed which has me worried. Did I find an ingredient that could cause an emulsion made by BTMS to break? Only time will tell!

Another idea might be to heat SD with the water as in the original formula and add that to an oil phase like BTMS. I'm waiting to see if the other emulsion breaks first.

Vidyut said...

To use a water based preservative in anhydrous products, would it be useful to add honey instead of water? Honey has good preservative properties of its own, counts as water phase and is less likely to dissolve sugar/salt than water because it is so saturated already. Would that allow a water based preservative to be used? Other things that come to mind are oils that inhibit microbial growth. May take some experimenting, but essential oils, neem oil come to mind.

Whether parabens are unfairly demonized or not, a lot of people preferring handcrafted products are unlikely to want one with a paraben in it. So, even if the studies explain how the parabens are safe (I confess I did not read), it would be an issue from a sales perspective.