Sunday, June 30, 2013

A thought for the day: If there's a reason you can't use an ingredient...

I see e-mail messages and comments all the time asking how to substitute something in a recipe because someone has an allergy or are vegan or have a special need or political belief that means they can't use an ingredient, and my suggestion is to learn what the ingredient brings to the product and learn what will happen if you leave it out or find a substitute. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if you have a special need, you have to figure out how to work around it and do some experimenting in your workshop. The more you learn, the more awesome your products will be, so it's win-win!

For instance, let's say you're vegan and you can't use beeswax, ask yourself what the beeswax brings to the party and look to leave it out or find a substitute. For a lotion bar, it makes the product hard and stiff. Could you use another ingredient to do that? Perhaps you could up the cocoa butter? Could you substitute another wax at the same ratio?

In this hand lotion, what does beeswax bring to the party? I used it to create a more tenacious lotion that will resist hand washing. If you left it out, what would be the result? Could you use something else? And how would you compensate for the 2% difference?

If you can't use a specific ingredient due to an allergy, you can figure out what the ingredient brings to the party and leave it out or substitute as well. If you can't have oat protein, figure out why I included it in the recipe and find something else. If it's a film former, consider another protein or aloe vera or something that offers film forming. If it's a humectant, then consider using glycerin or another humectant. If it's for the label appeal, leave it out! (I never use things for label appeal because I don't sell my products, but it's a good question nevertheless!)

Look at the description of what the ingredient brings to the mix and see what you can use instead. For something emollient, you can substitute just about any other oil. For an emulsifier, you'll have to make changes according to the suggested usage rates, incompatabilities, restrictions, oil phase rates, skin feel, and so on. For surfactants, consider how you might thicken it if it doesn't respond to salt or Crothix or other ingredients of that nature.

Think about this one: If you don't want to use silicones but still want the anti-frizz control, what could you use?

Every change you make will cause a change in the skin feel and could change the viscosity, smell, texture, and everything else. You might make a change that doesn't work or feels just awful, but I think this is necessary to figure out what not to make and what doesn't work! (Take lots and lots of notes!) You can still make lovely things that fit into your lifestyle, health needs, or political beliefs. It just takes a bit more work...but it's worth it!

Question: Is there an interest in doing more substitution posts? I'm a little wary about things relating to allergies or skin conditions as I worry things could be made worse, but we could take a look at doing some other substitutions? 

I honestly think you should ask yourself why every ingredient is being used in every recipe because it helps to know what the product should be when you're done and it means we aren't beholden to using what the recipe creator thinks we should use - important when you're looking at recipes from suppliers' sites and they're promoting the ingredient of the week. Knowing what each ingredient brings to a formula is a huge part of going from being a dabbler in bath & body products to being a formulator of them! (If you ever want to go into business, you really need to know why you're doing what you're doing!)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Decyl glucoside in laundry detergents and greasiness of coconut oil in lotions with a quick note about e-mail

In this post on decyl glucoside, Mandy asks: Does anyone know if there is a powdered form of decyl glucoside? Or, is there another powdered surfactant that would work well as a laundry detergent? 

I wouldn't take the chance, to be honest. I know a few people who have ruined their very expensive machines by making homemade laundry detergent, so I'm loathe to make any suggestions for anything other than stuff that is indicated for your specific machine. (I've written more about this topic in this post - Ramblings: Making your own detergents...Make the recipes from the other blogs at your own risk.)

In this Weekend Wonderings post, p asks: Do you have any idea why is it that coconut oil alone feels greasier than coconut oil in a lotion? I've noticed this as well, and for a while I attributed it simply to quantity. I.e. even if you're trying to use very little straight coconut oil, you still will probably end up getting more coconut oil on your skin than if you use a coconut oil lotion... but really that doesn't seem right to me.

Oils on their own will always feel more greasy than in a lotion for a few reasons. The first is sheer quantity, which you note. If you put 5 grams of coconut oil on your skin, you're using 100% or 5 grams of coconut oil. If you put 5 grams of lotion with 10% coconut oil on your skin, you're putting 0.5 grams coconut oil on your skin, which will feel much less greasy just because there's less. 

Secondly, in lotions we can modify the skin feel by including water, water substitutes, emulsifiers, fatty alcohols and acids, oils, esters, and just about everything else. Adding something as simple as 2% IPM can reduce greasiness or adding 2% cyclomethicone can increase a feeling of powderiness. Choosing your emulsifier will alter the skin feel as well - Incroquat BTMS-50 and Ritamulse SCG will produce a drier feeling lotion, while Polawax and e-wax NF will produce a slightly greasier feeling lotion. 

I do a lot of work on creating drier feeling lotions in the products for men section of the blog, if you're interested in learning more! 

If you're curious, try mixing a bit of coconut oil with a drier feeling oil and see the difference. Take 10 grams of coconut oil and add 1 gram hazelnut, macadamia nut, grapeseed, borage, evening primrose, or pomegranate oil and see how it feels. Or try an ester with it - say 1 gram IPM, IPP, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, or ethyhexyl palmitate - or cyclomethicone. Now add a bit more and see what it feels like. If you keep going and end up with 10% coconut oil to 90% other oil, you can see how the interaction between two oils change with the percentages. 

Want to get to know your oils and butters better? Check out the recent Newbie Tuesday series

As a quick note, I have something like 2390 unread e-mail messages right now, and I'm working hard to get through them, but I can't promise I'll be able to get to your question any time soon. I really recommend doing a search for what interests you rather than waiting for me to respond as you might be waiting a very long time. I'm doing what I can, but between life, school, work, youth programs, time at the gym, and the attempt at having what might be considered a social life, I'm finding it hard to spend the time I'd like to answer messages. (When I get computer time, the blog has to come first!) This isn't to say that I won't answer e-mail - I love receiving your messages! - but I can only do what I can, and every day I'm falling further behind. I really encourage you to read the FAQ and do a search to see if I've addressed your question in the past. (I have almost 2000 posts on the blog! Can you believe it?) I find it easier to get to the comments than e-mail (not sure why), so posting one on a related topic will probably get a response from me sooner than an e-mail. 

Please don't ask me to duplicate products - I've said it many many times, but it's simply no fun for me and I think I've offered enough information for you to figure it out. 

Join me tomorrow for more commenty fun! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Chemistry Friday: Why do we care about mixing and solubility?

I've shown you this picture many times before, but I present it again as an illustration for this post!

Both bottles contain the same liquid - my toner recipe - but I added a ton of extracts to bottle 2. When I made the product and added the extracts at cool down (below 45˚C), it looked great. But when it cooled to room temperature (around 20˚C or 70˚F-ish), I saw this mass of stuff at the bottom of the mister. That's a precipitate! And as I mentioned in part one of this post - why don't oil and water mix? - it's all about the solubility.

There are a few reasons we care about solubility...
  • We don't want to use more ingredient than will be soluble in our product and end up with precipitate. 
  • We want to know with which solvents - oil or water - our ingredients will work and into which phase we should add them. 
  • We want to know how temperature affects solubility and homogeneity of our products, for instance, with lotions being emulsified well. 
  • We also like to know why the world works the way it does, and why oil and water won't mix without an emulsifier! 
If you read a data bulletin or listing at a supplier for an ingredient, you'll see a list of things with which it will mix and with which it won't. You might see listings for water, alcohol, perhaps other polar solvents, and oil.

In this data bulletin for Amaze XT, it reports that "AMAZE XT polymer is soluble in water and ethanol (< 30%)." What this means is that the ingredient is water and alcohol soluble. 

Or look at this data bulletin for Cosmocil CQ, which notes its solubility as "Soluble in water, ethanol, glycerine and propylene glycol. Insoluble in hydrocarbons, vegetable and animal oils, and aromatic solvents." Again, this ingredient is water soluble. 

You might also see the solubility for an ingredient listed (although I couldn't find a single example for this post!). For instance, many of my powdered extracts are listed (somewhere!) at 0.5% at 25˚C in water. Which means that I can use 0.5 grams of something like rosemary extract in 100 grams of water and it will stay dissolved at 25˚C. If I use more, it will likely sink to the bottom as a precipitate.

The suggested usage rate of an ingredient could be based upon the solubility or it could be based on another thing, such as safe as used rates, tested rates of efficacy, or even how badly something might smell in a product. Always stay in the suggested usage range of your ingredient! 

You know what I noticed in researching this post? Very few suppliers have suggested usage information and solubility on their pages. They don't mention if the ingredient is heat sensitive or not, so we're left trying to figure out how to use the ingredient. That seems ridiculous to me! 

Solubility tends to go up as temperature goes up for liquids and solids. When I mixed in 1 gram or 1% powdered extract into the toner at 45˚C (cool down), it dissolved nicely, but when the mixture reached room temperature, the extract precipitated or solidified out of the mixture. If I heat it up again, it will return to its lovely dissolved state. There isn't a rule for how much more you can incorporate into a product at a higher temperature - those solubilities are figured out experimentally.

As an aside, it tends to go up for gases in lower temperatures. That's why we put pop in the fridge! The solubility of carbon dioxide goes up as the temperature goes down, so cold pop is fizzier than warm pop!

And as a further aside, this is why we wash our hands, clothes, dishes, and stuff in warmer water because it means the solubility of the stuff on the plates, clothes, and hands increases and washing becomes easier!

Allantoin has a solubility of 0.57 g/100 mL (25 °C) or 4.0 g/100 mL (75 °C). This means I can get 4.0 grams of allantoin to dissolve in 100 ml of 75˚C water (a little warmer than our heated water phase), but only 0.57 grams will remain dissolved at room temperature. So 3.43 grams of allantoin will end up at the bottom of the container as a precipitate. And allantoin can be like little shards on your skin! 

If you see something listed as mixing in water and having a solubility in water of 1% at 25˚C, you know you should only use maximum 1 gram in 100 grams of product in the water phase. If you see something listed as having a solubility of 10% in oil, you know that you should use maximum 10 grams in 100 grams of product and it should go into the oil phase. How to know if it should go into the heated or cool down phase? Check out this post on that topic, as well as this post on how to know how much to add (that is about solubility and safe usage rates). That depends upon heat sensitivity, not solubility.

What does this mean for adding a bit of this and a bit of that? Will the solubility of one ingredient affect another? Possibly. Again, these things are determined experimentally, so you might have to play around to figure out if using MSM with allantoin will change the solubility of one or the other. It probably won't, but if you include things with a common ion, it can change the solubility big time! 

Things that look mixed well at higher temperatures might fall apart at lower temperatures because the solubility of solids and liquids tend to be higher when the temperature is warmer. This is really evident in lotions - something that looked well emulsified at 70˚C or 45˚C has separated by room temperature. It's amazing what heat and mixing can do - it can make water and oil stay emulsified without emulsifiers for a short period of time, but that mixture won't be stable once we get to room temperature!

This is why heating and holding is so vital! If you can get everything to the right temperature and mix it well, the chemical emulsification doesn't have to do as much work because its solubility in water is higher. If we get it right, it means it will stay stable when it cools down when the solubility goes to a lower percentage.

Isn't chemistry awesome? Join me tomorrow for more fun with stuff and things and...I have no idea what I'm going to write about tomorrow, so we'll both be surprised, eh?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I've written up a new SnapGuide - making soy wax tarts!

Can you tell I'm off work for the week? I've created a new SnapGuide visual tutorial on making soy candle wax tarts! I starting making these when my massage therapist mentioned how much she loved the idea but hated the fragrance choices, and I was so happy to see Voyageur Soap & Candle had the plastic containers for them! I know I don't write about candle making often - if ever? - but I do love soy wax, and can't wait to pair these with other bath and body things for Christmas, birthday, and random gifting!

Let me know what you think!

A few notes...

You would use this with an oil and tart burner, as you might find here. Some people plug them in, others use one with a candle at the bottom. Either way, the goal is to have it melt slowly to release a wonderful fragrance.

And check out these great tutorials if you want to take your wax tart making to a higher level!

You can always rely upon Anne-Marie from the Soap Queen blog to make something lovely. It appears her tarts are larger and beautifully coloured! Click here for the tutorial!

And check out this tutorial from Rustic Escentuals using little plastic cups for the molds. What a great idea!

When good products go wrong!

I'm enjoying some holiday time workshop fun this week, and I have all kinds of fun new ingredients and products to share with you, but I had to share this product! 

I had this idea to make a Japanese themed body wash with bamboo, sake, willow, and green tea, scented with Bramble Darry's amazing Yuzu fragrance oil. The body wash went well - more on that in a few days - but what happened next produced a product that no one would want or "accept as a gift".*

I bought some activated charcoal from Voyageur Soap and Candle and thought it could make an interesting addition to the body wash. I figured 5% would be a good start. 

It was a terrible idea! It looks like the kind of tar from which creatures emerge fully formed in particularly creepy horror movies! And this is 100 grams body wash diluted with another 200 grams distilled water! But being the loving husband he is, Raymond wanted to try it in a foamer bottle. (It's very very thin!) He tried it and said he liked it. He's generally very blunt about my products - at my request! - and he said it felt nice. (The picture is pre-rinsing!) 

If you want to try it, maybe start at 0.5%? Anyone have any suggestions for its usage? Other than to make stuff for small boys who might think asphalt coloured bubble bath looks cool? It does go on that black, but rinses clean. I wouldn't dry off with a light coloured towel, though. 

*Quote from the Simpsons. Marge, about Homer's inventions. "No one would buy these, or accept them as gifts!" 

Chemistry Thursday: Why oil and water don't mix or more on solublity

Mixing two things is all about solubility. If we say that something is water soluble, it means that it will mix or dissolve in water. If we say something is oil soluble, it means it will mix or dissolve in oil. If we try to mix an oil soluble thing in water, it will not mix, and we say it is immiscible. Why don't oil and water mix?

Solute: The thing that is dissolved. It can be a solid, liquid, or gas. We'll only be discussing solids and liquids as gases aren't really used that much in homecrafting cosmetic chemistry. 

Solvent: The liquid into which that thing is dissolved. It could be water, alcohol, oil, and so on. A gas or solid could be the solvent, but we won't be addressing this on this blog. 

Soluble: When the solute dissolves or mixes easily into the solvent. There is a limit as to how much will mix in the solvent, and that's called solubility. Solubility is dependent upon temperature and amount. We can increase solubility by increasing the amount, but when the temperature goes down, the solubility will also decrease (most of the time). 

Insoluble: When the solute won't dissolve or mix easily into a solvent. 

Precipitate: The solid left over when something dissolves. It can also mean a solid that forms in a mixture when we've used too much of it. (See the picture of toner with the layer of stuff at the bottom!)

Miscible: Micibility is defined as "the property of liquids to mix in all proportions, forming a homogeneous solution." If we say aloe vera is miscible in water, we are saying that it will mix in water. If we say something is immiscible, it means it won't mix in the solvent. So oil is immiscible in water. 

Salt: A salt is a compound created from a metal - like sodium or calcium - and a non-metal - like sulfur or chlorine - creating an ionic bond. 

Polar: When a molecule has one end that is more negatively charged and one end that is more positively charged. This is a result of the electronegativity of the atoms involved in the bonding. The larger the difference between the electronegativities of the atoms, the more polar the molecule. If the polarization gets too much, it becomes an ionic bond.

Ionic bonding: Ionic bonds are between a positively charged metal atom and a negatively charged non-metal atom. (These are salts!) It's easier to break an ionic bond than a covalent bond. 

Covalent bonding: Covalent bonds are those between non-metal atoms, like oxygen or nitrogen or carbon. They are about sharing electrons, and they are much harder to break than ionic bonds. They can be polar bonds or non-polar bonds. Molecules are about the covalent bonding.

Water is covalently bonded, meaning that the oxygen and hydrogen are sharing electrons. It is considered the universal solvent because so many things will dissolve in it. It's polar, meaning that it has a slightly negative end (the oxygen atom) and a slightly positive end (the hydrogen atom). When we put something like a salt into water, it dissolves. How? 

When we add a salt to water, it ionizes, meaning it breaks into its positively charged metal ions (Na+) and negatively charged non-metal ions (Cl-), and those ions are hydrated or surrounded by water. The sodium cations and chlorine anions stop being a salt, meaning the ionic bond is broken, and they float around separately in the water. (Water in which a salt has been dissolved is an electrolyte - it conducts electricity because of those charges!)

Click here for a cool video on salts dissolving in water! (I can't seem to embed video. Weird!)

When we add a covalently bonded thing to water, it can still dissolve, but it does it in a different way. Sugar is a decently sized covalently bonded molecule. When we add it to water, the sugar molecule doesn't ionize or split into ions - it remains as a sugar molecule. Clumps of molecules dissolve - consider the sugar cube - but the molecules remain as sugar molecules. They don't ionize. They aren't considered electrolytes because they don't conduct electricity.

If you want to get into more detail, check out this video!

Salts ionize and molecules don't, but they can both dissolve in water. Why doesn't oil, a molecule, want to dissolve in water?

As I mentioned, water is a polar molecule, with a slightly more positive end and a slightly more negative end. Something like sugar has polar features as well - we can see this with all those OH bonds (O being slightly more negative, H being slightly more positive), so it is attracted to the negative and positive sides of the water molecule.

There are forces that hold our atoms and molecules together - ionic and covalent bonding, for instance - and there are forces of attraction between those molecules, ions, and atoms. If the attraction between the solute and the solvent - say, salt and water - is stronger than the attraction between the solute - like clumps of salt - then the mixing will happen. If the attraction between the solute and solvent - say, oil and water - isn't stronger than the attraction the solute has for itself and the solvent has for itself, then the mixing won't happen.

In the case of oil and water, oil isn't polar. It's non-polar, meaning it has no electrical charge and it isn't an electrolyte. It is more attracted to itself than it is to the water. So it won't mix. Because oil is lighter than water - remember the idea of specific gravity? - it floats on top of it.

So why do we care about solubility and mixing? Because it affects just about everything we do in cosmetic chemistry! From using emulsifiers to make oil and water mix to dissolving extracts to mixing a lotion while warm, it's all about the solubility of ingredients and how to bring them together in a stable way! Join me tomorrow for more fun with chemistry when we look at how this applies to what we make! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Correction: Some oils can penetrate your hair!

In the post on hygral fatigue and coconut oil, I stated that oils can't penetrate our hair shaft. I was wrong! Some oils can penetrate our hair shaft - it's all about the size and type of molecules in the oil.

When I was thinking about oils penetrating the hair shaft, for some reason I thought about it penetrating all the way to the medulla, which they do not, instead penetrating through the cuticle and outer cortex of the hair strand. I opined that I thought smaller molecules and things other than fatty acids in the oil might penetrate, which was on the way to correct, but not far enough! What's totally embarassing is that I quoted not one but two studies on the original post that demonstrated coconut oil could penetrate our hair shaft, and for some reason, I blanked on it! 

This study shows that coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft, but mineral oil and sunflower oil can't. (I encourage you to read page 11 to learn more about how our hair is damaged.) They concluded that coconut oil is better as a pre-wash than a post-wash oil. Interestingly, the study noted that post-wash application of coconut oil was less effective at reducing water retention in the hair shaft because the oil only formed a coating without penetrating. (Point of interest: The Swift quoted in this study isn't me. I wish it were!) But they also noted that a coating on the hair strand can prevent water retention.

Check out this study that showed that tripalmitin, found in hydrogenated palm oil, could penetrate the cuticle and outer cortex of damaged hair!

This study showed that hydrogenated palm oil was an effective conditioning agent for repair of damaged hair because it inhibits water-induced swelling of damaged hair. To understand the functional mechanism of hydrogenated palm oil, we conducted TOF-SIMS analysis of the penetration of this oil into damaged hair. TOF-SIMS analysis revealed that tripalmitin, a constituent of hydrogenated palm oil, penetrated into the cuticle and the outer cortex of damaged hair. This is considered as the mechanism responsible for inhibition of hair swelling by hydrogenated palm oil.

Reference: Kojima, T., Tsuji, S., Niwa, M., Saito, K., Matsushita, Y., & Fukushima, K. (2012). Distribution Analysis of Triglyceride Having Repair Effect on Damaged Human Hair by TOF-SIMS. International Journal Of Polymer Analysis & Characterization, 17(1), 21-28. doi:10.1080/1023666X.2012.638435

In this study below, it's noted that there seems to be an inverse correlation between the amount of oil found on the surface of the hair and its ability to penetrate the hair shaft. Mineral oil leaves more of a film while coconut oil doesn't. I was interested in this study as they mention olive oil, but they don't mention whether it was absorbed or not - they imply it, but don't state it completely.

In this work we have explored capillary adhesion between hair fibers treated with different types of oils. With coconut, olive, and sunflower oils the capillary adhesion was found to decrease with time, but not with mineral oil. Application of heat reduced the capillary adhesion further for coconut and sunflower oils. Again, this was not observed with mineral oil. Based on an earlier study, where coconut oil was found to penetrate hair while mineral oil was unable to do so, it was hypothesized that the reduction in capillary adhesion resulted from the penetration of oil into the fiber, leaving a thinner oil film on the surface....As the oil is absorbed into the hair, the film thins with time and application of heat, and the scale structure reappears...The agreement between the two methods supports the concept that the reduction in capillary adhesion between hair fibers is most likely because of thinning of oil films by absorption of oil into the hair.

Investigation of penetration abilities of various oils into human hair fibers (K. Keis*, D. Persaud*, Y. K. Kamath* and A. S. Rele)

I really enjoyed this next summary of a study done to investigate why some oils penetrate and others don't. In general, it's all about the type of fatty acids.

In this communication, penetration of vegetable oils into hair fibers has been investigated by the TOF-SIMS (Time-Of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) method. In earlier work [1], the method was found suitable to study the penetration of coconut and mineral oils into human hair. Therefore, the study has been extended to a group of vegetable oils with different types of unsaturation in the fatty acid components. Different patterns of penetration have been observed for oils of different molecular structure. The general pattern which emerges from this study is that polyunsaturated oils do not penetrate at all, or do so only sparingly into the structure of hair. Most of these molecules seem to penetrate only into the cuticular region of the hair fiber. Oils with polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to have difficulty in penetrating hair. It is possible that these molecules do not fit into the fiber’s cell membrane complexes, which are known to be the diffusion pathways in the keratin fiber. On the other hand, monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil, with more compact molecular structure seem to penet- rate readily into the hair fiber.

Reference: Mapping penetration of cosmetic compounds into hair fibers using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) S. B. Hornby*, Y. Appa*, S. Ruetsch and Y. Kamath

Here's a summary of a study that everyone has quoted all over the 'net (J Cosmet Sci. 2001 May-Jun;52(3):169-84) As a note, if you do a search for this summary, you'll see it quoted as being about coconut oil, mineral oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. The study is about coconut oil and mineral oil only. I think the confusion comes out of this post on the Beauty Brains where they acknowledge they were extrapolating to help their readers understand other oils that will penetrate hair. I also have to point out they use the term hygric fatigue, which is the only place I have ever seen it! (Click here for the actual study.) And they also say that coconut oil is polar, which is the first and only time I have seen this stated. But this explains why people are saying coconut oil is polar - everyone is quoting this study! As a note, it isn't just about the size of the molecules - coconut oil may penetrate due to the affinity of it for the proteins.

An attempt has been made to show the difference in the penetrability of coconut oil and mineral oil in human hair....The results show that coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft while mineral oil does not. The difference may be due to the polarity of the coconut oil compared to the nonpolar nature of the mineral oil. The affinity of the penetrant to the protein seems to be the cause for this difference in their behavior. This study also indicates that the swelling of hair is limited by the presence oil. Since the process of swelling and deswelling of hair is one of the causes of hair damage by hygral fatigue, coconut oil, which is a better penetrant than mineral oil, may provide better protection from damage by hygral fatigue.

Monounsaturated oils are those with at least one double bond, like oleic acidPolyunsaturated fatty acids are those with at least two double bonds, like linoleic, linolenic, gamma-linolenic acid, and so on.  You can see from the picture, that some fatty acids lie straight - like palmitic (C16) and stearic (C18) - while the more unsaturated fatty acids have kinks in them. This is likely due to the trans or cis configuration of the fatty acid.

We've learned that some oils can penetrate the hair strand, depending upon the fatty acid size and saturation. The smaller the fatty acids, the more likely it is to penetrate the cuticle and outer cortex of our hair. Polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to have trouble penetrating the hair. If we extrapolate this, it means that we want to use oils with shorter fatty acids and high levels of saturation. This means oils like coconut oil, palm oil, or fractionated coconut oil. But coconut oil might also be able to penetrate the hair strand thanks to its affinity for our hair's protein.

Oils that contain a lot of longer fatty acids and lower levels of saturation like sunflower or soy bean oil will still coat your hair shaft, but they won't penetrate the strand. (This isn't a bad thing as having a coating on your hair will still reduce water retention in your hair strand.) I haven't been able to confirm anything about olive oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil, although I have read in a few places that jojoba oil's fatty acids are just too big. (The study above that notes, "On the other hand, monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil, with more compact molecular structure seem to penetrate readily into the hair fiber" says "seems".)

We've learned we should be using penetrating oils works best as a pre-wash instead of a post-wash for maximum water retention prevention.

Want to know more about oils? Click the links above!

And this is why I love science! I learn something new every day! And thanks to my readers for sending along studies and other pieces of great information to me so I could do more research. (What to do if you think I'm wrong? Check out this post!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why our hair turns gray!

I'm writing this post a little later than I expected, but did you know they've figured out why our hair turns gray? (Following up from this post!) 

"Going gray is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles. The hydrogen peroxide ends up blocking the normal production of melanin, our hair's natural pigment. Melanin is the pigment responsible for hair color, as well as skin color, and eye colour."  (Read more here...) 

"[P]eople's hair goes gray because of massive oxidative stress caused by a build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles. This causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out. The researchers found that this massive build up of hydrogen peroxide can be reversed with a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase. The research team developed this new proprietary treatment." (Read more here...) 

So we're self-bleaching? That last sentence is why we're hearing so much about this four years after the initial study. My husband has vitiligo, and apparently this proprietary treatment will be appropriate for him. 

I've decided to cultivate my gray hair rather than dying for three reasons: One, I seriously don't have the time or money to dye my hair every six weeks. Two, I don't want to damage my hair more than necessary. And three, I want to have waist length white hair like my former boss, Mrs. Edwards, who looked like an Ice Queen! I realize this might also make the kids on my block think I'm a creepy witch lady, but either way - result! 

What are you doing with your gray hair? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hygral fatigue and coconut oil (heavily edited)

Someone mentioned the concept of hygral fatigue in a comment the other day, and I thought I'd share what I've learned! It's a term used to describe the constant swelling and contracting of the hair shaft by water caused washing too frequently (or possibly absorbing water from the atmosphere).

Point of interest: I've amended this post like silly to reflect the studies I've been reading over the last few days. The information might seem a bit disjointed because I wanted to amend it as soon as I can. I'll edit for readability later this week. 

It seems to me that a lot of the information on the 'net about hygral fatigue and oils good for our hair is based on one study - this one - that has been referenced by many many sites I've read. I think the references you see on most sites are references to a blog post by the Beauty Brains rather than the actual study. The Beauty Brains wrote a post on the study, then added an amendment to note that they were discussing oils based on another study, not this one. This study only looked at mineral oil and coconut oil. The Beauty Brains mention meadowfoam seed, olive, sunflower, avocado, and jojoba oil, but amend their post to note these other oils are from a different study, not the one linked above. I'm also basing this belief of this study being the basis for these blog posts because there are two things in it I've never seen before - the idea of coconut oil being polar and the mention of the term "hygral fatigue". 

There's no doubt that water in the hair shaft might not be our friend - swelling causes friction and friction causes damage - and there's no doubt that our hair can stretch up to 30% when wet, so we must be very careful when brushing or combing in that state, but I have never seen the term "hygral fatigue" used in a textbook, paper, or study or by a cosmetic chemist. In all the years I've been studying hair care stuff, I saw it the first time this week by a commenter writing about the Curly Girl technique.

Correction: I found it in this study, the only place I've seen this term.

The cure for hygral fatigue seems to be pre-washing or post-washing with coconut or mineral oil, both of which are touted as being polar. Part of this is true. If you coat your hair in any oil, you'll keep out water as it forms an occlusive layer. This coating feature is not unique to coconut oil - any oil can perform this function - and these oils aren't polar.

This is one of the reasons those of us with frizzy hair concerns use cyclomethicone and dimethicone - they keep the water out and keep our hair smooth. It's also the reason they're used as heat protecting products - they keep the water we have in our hair from escaping! 

Coconut oil is not a polar oil. No natural oils are polar. (I will be writing more about this later this week...) Mineral oil isn't polar. To be polar, a molecule has one end that is more negatively charged and one end that is more positively charged. This is a result of the electronegativity of the atoms involved in the bonding. The larger the difference between the electronegativities of the atoms, the more polar the molecule. If the polarization gets too much, it becomes an ionic bond. Coconut oil and other oils, are considered non-polar.

Polar things tend to mix with polar things, which means a polar coconut oil should be able to mix with water without the help of an emulsifier. It doesn't. (This isn't coconut oil - I think it's sunflower, but the point remains the same!)

Edited to add: I know that study says coconut oil is polar, but I'm confused by this. Oils are generally held as being non-polar, so calling this oil polar is very strange. I realize Yahoo answers isn't a scholarly resource, but here's a description why coconut oil isn't polar, which I quote to demonstrate that the non-polarity of coconut oil is an accepted thing. Here's a site from Elmhurst University about the non-polarity of oils. But then I found this study that said, "Coconut oil has shorter alkyl side chains than SBO and therefore has a higher polarity and lower molar volume." But this is a comparison with soy bean oil, so it's more polar than soy bean oil...but what does that mean? The thing is that polarity is a continuum, not an either/or situation. So it can be more polar than soy bean oil, but not be considered polar. Then I found this review about coconut oil that stated that, "Medium chain triglycerides are widely used in the flavor industries as they are more polar and therefore more hydrophilic and can dissolve a variety of polar substances that are insoluble in conventional fats and oils." But this is about the triglycerides, not coconut oil. I'm investigating this further...

Edited: I really recommend you check out this post for the studies I've found about oils and hair penetration.

It appears that coconut oil can penetrate the hair strand into the outer cortex! See the studies and the conclusions in this post for more information. Its fatty acids seem to have an affinity for the protein on our strands. This study is the one everyone quotes, which notes...
coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft. Mineral oil, being a hydrocarbon, has no affinity for proteins and therefore is not able to penetrate and yield better results. In the case of sunflower oil, although it is a triglyceride of linoleic acid, because of its bulky structure due to the presence of double bonds, it does not penetrate the fiber, consequently resulting in no favorable impact on protein loss.

(Summary can be found here...)

Mineral oil was found to not penetrate the hair strand in quite a few studies. Having said that, we don't need an oil to penetrate our hair strand to be awesome. A coating of oil - or silicone, or other hydrophobic thing - can reduce water retention and friction.

Related posts:
Weekend Wonderings: Oils good for our hair?
Coconut oil in hair products (with leave in conditioner recipe)
Conditioners: Adding oils - coconut oil (with various recipes)
Coconut oil? Coconut oil! 
Question: What oils are good for your hair?

If you want something to penetrate your hair strand, oils aren't necessarily the right ingredient, especially if you want moisturizing. (Coconut oil, yes. Unconfirmed for the rest.) You'd want to turn to ingredients like hydrolyzed proteins - silk or wheat to penetrate the hair shaft, oat to coat it - or humectants. If you want to coat your hair strand, any oil or butter you might like to use will work, as will silicones and some esters.

As an aside, there is a difference between moisturizing and hydrating. Moisturizing is about preventing water loss, which means you want to use emollients, like oils, butters, silicones, and esters. Hydrating is about maintaining an adequate level of water in our skin and hair, so you want to use humectants. Conditioning is about preventing friction damage, so you want to use conditioners for that. 

To summarize...
  • Hygral fatigue isn't a cosmetic chemistry thing - I've only seen it the once in that oft quoted study.  
  • Coconut, mineral, and avocado oils aren't polar.
  • Coconut oil can penetrate your hair strand, but mineral oil can't. I haven't found anything confirming that avocado or olive oil can penetrate your hair strand, although it seems like the monounsaturated fatty acids, like oleic acid, might. 
  • Every oil will form a coating on your hair, which will keep water out. 
  • Water penetrating your hair strand isn't always a bad thing, depending upon hair type. 
I'm writing this post because I want to create discussion - respectful discussion. There's something about discussions about hair and hair care that seems to bring out the worst in us, and it's not necessary.  If you wish to comment, please post your name somewhere in the post and be civil. I will delete any anonymous posts. (Sign off with a "Bye, (name)" if you don't have a Google account.) If we want to share information and learn, the best way to do that is to be civil because the moment someone is called "ignorant", they stop listening. If you would be embarassed to see a teenager you care about writing what you've just written, you haven't been civil. If you have links on this topic, please share.

I found a great trove of information at Ktani's Hair Sense on the topic. I really recommend you wander over there and take a look! And check out this post she wrote on Hair Protein Loss and Coconut Oil, Hygral Fatigue and Mineral Oil. Bookmark this page! I love her use of references in her posts and her willingness to question everything! Awesome awesome blog. (Why don't I have this on my blog roll? Well, I do now!)

I need to point out that I am no expert on African hair - everything I know I have learned from my textbooks - so I do not write this to act as if I am. (Although this topic of hygral fatigue isn't just about African hair types, most of the resources I found were for this hair type.) I know there are issues with breakage for the African hair type - click here for a very interesting read - and I, unfortunately, don't have any solutions. I'm also not an expert on curly hair, another hair type that I've seen associated with hygral fatigue. I write this post because it was interesting to me!

And thanks to the people who shared their thoughts and resources with me. I'm always about the learning, and I've learned a lot the last few days. As you can see, I'm still waiting for more information to come in! 

Related posts:
The chemistry of our hair: Overview
The chemistry of our hair: Medulla and cortex
The chemistry of our hair: Cuticle
Definition of good condition
Quick summary about damage
African hair types
Some interesting things I found about African hair types
Chemistry of our hair: Straight, curly, and frizzy hair! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Using salicylic acid without alcohol and making a face cream absorb better

In the Weekend Wondering post, Topher asks: I want to create a 2% salicylic acid toner without alcohol. I noticed that in your toner recipes you do not use alcohol, yet the SA is completely dissolved. How do you do this? 

To be honest, I use white willow bark most of the time because I don't like having to use alcohol to dissolve salicylic acid. (Nothing against alcohol, but my skin doesn't like it.) And to be more honest, it can precipitate out over time, but I'm not that worried about it because I can shake it up and use it that way. (One of the bonuses of not making products for sale!)

Having said this, we can dissolve it in other alcohols, like the polyalcohols we find as glycerin. (Many of our humectants are polyalcohols.) Salicylic acid dissolves better in warmer water, but it can precipitate when the toner cools down, so it's not as sure a method as using alcohols.

If you're referring to this toner (Min-maxing your toner), you can see I'm using an emulsifier in the form of Caprol Micro Express, which helped the salicylic acid remain suspended instead of precipitating. 

This is a great chart on how we can dissolve salicylic acid with other things. Emulsifiers, polyalcohols, and alcohols all increase the solubility of salicylic acid in water. Also check out this link on using these methods to dissolve it. 

In the same Weekend Wondering post, Irish Molly asks: 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)

When asking this question, there are a few things we can consider. Do we want to increase the possibility of absorption or create the sensation of absorption?

We can use things called penetration enhancers to alter the nature of the stratum corneum and allow things to be absorbed that wouldn't normally be absorbed. For instance, adding something like propylene glycol or SLS to a product will "...reversibly decrease the barrier resistance of the stratum corneum and allow drugs to penetrate more readily to the viable tissues and the systemic circulation." (Read the linked post for more on this topic...) But how do we know how much we've increased the permeability and such? It seems easier to work on the idea of creating the sensation of absorption.

Most of the stuff we put on our skin isn't absorbed - the molecules are too big and our skin is way too good at protecting us from the outside world - and we generally have to make an effort for it to be absorbed. Instead, what we seek is the sensation we call absorption, which seems to be the idea that a product feels less greasy a few minutes after application and eventually seems to disappear. We can attain this sensation this by adding things that make the product feel less greasy. An easy way to do this is to make an anhydrous product into a lotion, so you'd incorporate the coconut oil into your face cream and it will feel less greasy than it does on its own. Any oil on its own will always feel more greasy than using it in a lotion.

When making a lotion or an anhydrous product, you could combine it with a less greasy feeling oil, like hazelnut oil or macadamia nut oil, or you could use an ester like isopropyl myristate (IPM) or isopropyl palmitate (IPP) (both of which are penetration enhancers as well). In a lotion, consider using astringent feeling butters - like mango butter - or astringent feeling liquids - like witch hazel, aloe vera, and some hydrosols. And finally, consider using a drier feeling emulsifier like Incroquat BTMS-50 or Ritamulse SCG instead of e-wax or Polawax.

Coconut oil is never going to feel non-greasy because it is a greasy feeling oil. You could also substitute something like fractionated coconut oil for it, which is a very light feeling, dry-ish feeling oil. But having said this, the feeling of greasiness on your skin doesn't mean you aren't getting the goodness from it. It is still offering emolliency, occlusion, and a reduction in transepidermal water loss, as well as all those lovely polyphenols!

Combining the oils will not negate the awesome power of another oil, so you can create any combinations you wish and still get the things you like about each. And you can't increase or decrease the absorption of another oil by combining them as they really aren't absorbing into your skin, but you can increase the sensation of absorption as I note above. (There are exceptions, as there always are...)

Related posts:
Astringents - are they moisturizing?
Let's talk about drier feeling oils
Products for men (an emphasis on drier and more powdery feeling products)

Have a question? Comment on a post or visit the Weekend Wonderings post and ask away!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Product contamination and jars, cetyl alcohol and substantivity, and freezing our ingredients

In this post on how much cetyl alcohol to add to BTMS-25, Rosi asks: Will our leave in conditioner get contaminated if we keep sticking our hand into it and applying to hair?

Maybe. I'm always apprehensive about sticking my hand or fingers into any of my products because you never know what is lurking on even recently washed hands. As this post on preservatives and packaging notes, the packaging you choose can make a huge difference in contamination of your products. A more closed system, like a pump bottle, experiences less contamination than a product with a screw cap. If you can use a pump bottle, I suggest using that. Or use a smaller jar.

In the same post, Paradisi asks: Will cetyl increase the substantivity of the other ingredients, or only those already substantive? Why, or why not? And is the cetyl:btms-25 1:1 ratio a rule of thumb, or a necessary balance set out somewhere?

Cetyl only increases the substantivity of positively charged (cationic) ingredients. Non-ionic and anionic (negatively charged) ingredients cannot be substantive. So it can't help something become cationic or positively charged.

The rule of thumb is to add equal amounts of cationic quaternary compounds and fatty alcohols to help boost substantivity. In 1 gram of BTMS-25, we find 0.25 grams or 25% behentrimonium methosulfate. So we add 0.25 grams cetyl alcohol for a 1:1 ratio of behentrimonium methosulfate to cetyl alcohol. If we have 4 grams of BTMS-25, we find 1 gram of behentrimonium methosulfate, to which we could add 1 gram cetyl alcohol.

It's a rule of thumb - adding more doesn't increase the substantivity, but it can't hurt your hair. Fatty alcohols can be very nice oil-free moisturizers for your hair, so those of us who want more emolliency in our product might want to use more than the 1:1 ratio. It also thickens up a product and offers slip and glide.

Having said this, you don't have to use any fatty alcohols with your conditioners. I don't. I find they make my hair feel oilier more quickly. And, most of the cationic quaternary compounds you find will already have a fatty alcohol included - cetyl, cetearyl, or behenyl alcohols - so you don't have to add one.

Related posts:
Fun with chemistry: Anionic, non-ionic, and cationic

In the Weekend Wonderings post, Faith asks: I was wondering if you can freeze hydrovance?

Yes! We can freeze many, if not most, of our ingredients. Make sure your cap is on tight and make sure you leave some room in the bottle for the expansion of water. With something like an oil, we aren't worried about the frozen oils expanding. With water, we are worried. I would make sure you had quite a bit of room in the bottle - say an 1/8 or so of the liquid removed - so the liquid can expand without breaking the bottle. Don't freeze anything in a glass bottle - put it in plastic.

In the grand scheme of things, freezing isn't the enemy of our ingredients - we worry more about heat than cold. Just remember to warm the ingredient up slowly when you bring it out of the freezer by leaving it at room temperature rather than throwing it into the double boiler or microwave. And remember that you might still experience cloudiness with oils and surfactants (thanks to the titer points), so you'll want to warm them up slowly after they come to room temperature to make sure they are well mixed.

This bottle of LSB is supposed to be clear, but it was in the cold for quite some time, and it needs to be warmed up well to reintegrate! This is what I mean by cloud or titer points!

As an aside, "unthaw" isn't a word. Technically, it would mean to freeze something. The word you're looking for is "thaw" when you remove something from the freezer to defrost. This isn't directed at the writer of the question or anyone in particular...just something that bugs me! 

Related post:
Heating, holding, freezing, and thawing ingredients
Chemistry: Titer points
The importance of temperature - an example
Points of interest relating to cold on a snowy Friday

Join me tomorrow for more Weekend Wonderings! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Making deodorants - links and a few thoughts

It's funny that this really hasn't come up much in the last few years, but there seems to be an interest in making our own deodorants again.

Deodorants: An aside (the introduction and definition post)
Deodorants: A recipe with alcohol and propylene glycol
Tinosan SCD: Deodorant and preservative
Deodorants: A recipe with glycerin and water
Deodorants: A recipe with dipropylene glycol and witch hazel
Deodorants: A few thoughts on additions
Deodorants: If you want to make a lotion bar deodorant...
Duplicating products: The Healthy Deodorant

A few thoughts...
  • Baking soda is alkaline and can really irritate your arm pits. I know it's natural, but that doesn't mean your skin will love it. Some people can use it, some can't. I encourage you to try this only when you might have a chance to wash it off because you don't want to be irritated all day! 
  • Consider using something other than an essential oil as your fragrance. Again, people think that natural = safe, but there are properties these oils have that aren't great in high doses or must be avoided by pregnant or nursing women. Check out every essential oil before you use it! Peppermint at 1% feels awesome, but it's not so great on your face or at 5%. (Tea tree oil might be a good choice.)
  • I buy my containers at Voyageur Soap & Candle, where they are called oval stick containers, but you should be able to find them easily in suppliers near you. I buy the little ones for my tester sizes, but I've come to love them for lotion bars as well. I really don't need huge quantities of things, and these little deodorant tubes are perfect for throwing into a purse or gym bag. I also like the 75 gram containers from Aquarius Aroma & Soap. You can use lip balm containers for testers, but they might be too small for actual deodorants. 
  • If you're planning to use Tinosan, make sure you are using opaque containers. It doesn't like light. And you can't use baking soda with it as it likes to be at a pH of 7. 
  • I have a hard time finding sodium stearate these days. You can't use magnesium stearate or glycol distearate or anything else called stearate in its place. They aren't necessarily the same thing just because it says "stearate" in the name. Soapgoods in Georgia, USA, seem to have it, but I've heard they won't ship out of country, plus I've never used them, so I don't feel comfortable recommending them. If you have a suggestion, please provide a link in the comments so others might visit that site! 
Can I be completely honest? I don't use a homemade deodorant because I'm an anti-perspirant girl. I like the not sweating thing, and I find that merely covering up odours doesn't work for me. I found lotion bar deodorants were very greasy and slippery, a feeling not enhanced by sweating, and the glycerin version was sticky. I had good results with the propylene glycol version, but I loved my modified version with esters you can find on the dipropylene glycol and witch hazel version page. The Tinosan worked well to help reduce smelliness...but in the end, I really like not sweating, which is too bad because I really liked smelling of cupcakes all day long! (This is only my opinion! Lots of people like lotion type deodorant bars! As with anything, start with a small batch so you can tweak to find the skin feel you like!)

As an aside, if you are looking for an anti-perspirant, may I suggest Secret's cocoa butter one? It goes on dry and it smells absolutely like cocoa butter, a scent that seems to get stronger the more I work out! I haven't been asked or paid to say this - it really does smell lovely! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A few thoughts for June 20th, including those about making summer products, learning more about sunscreens, not making sunscreens, considering allergens, regulating the cosmetics industry, and pictures of chemical bonds!

The summer solstice will be upon us around 8:04 pm PST tonight - 1:04 am UTC - so I thought it apt to share some of my summer thoughts on this fine Thursday morning! (Want to know more about this year's summer solstice? Click here for a great guide from EarthSky!)

Please please please do not make your own sunscreen. There are two very good reasons - they are much harder to make than you can possibly imagine (I have an entire textbook on the topic) and you have no way of knowing that it works, which could lead to injuring people you love. There are no reasons you can give me that justify making a sunscreen. None.

Raymond has vitiligo, which means he has large sections of his skin that have no pigment. (It's what they said Michael Jackson had.) We use a lot of sunscreen over the summer, despite the fact that we stay out of the sun as much as possible, and that isn't cheap. I have access to every ingredient I'd need to make a sunscreen, but I wouldn't consider making one because I have no way of knowing the product worked without putting his health in jeopardy.

Every time I write this post, someone comments that they have a good reason for making a sunscreen. (Click here for that post!) You cannot give me a good reason for making sunscreen I haven't heard before. If you are looking for a blessing to make a sunscreen, you won't find it here because it is a dangerous endeavour that can leave people you love burned, hurting, and sad. If you choose to do this, please don't tell me about it.

Sunscreen information post: What does SPF mean? and What exactly is sunscreen?

Think about how you could adapt your products for the summer months! It's great fun to see how you could make it more moisturizing, less occlusive, more hygroscopic, less heavy, and so on! I love making a cooling spray with various hydrosols and peppermint essential oil (use this recipe and use something other than Hydrovance if you don't have it)

Summer product post: Products that might be great for summer fun and adapting your products for summer.

When did we start using "that" instead of "who" for people? I really hate hearing "the boy that had..." or "the woman that was..." It's WHO! "That" is for objects, not people. Or perhaps it's a sign that we are seeing other people as objects?

A few thoughts on allergens...Just because something might be an allergen, it doesn't mean you can't use it! You don't need to avoid milk or peanuts because I'm lactose intolerant or my neighbour has a peanut allergy. The potential to be an allergen means nothing to someone who isn't allergic to it. Same with potentially irritating ingredients. I have really sensitive facial skin and just about everything makes me break out, but this doesn't mean you must avoid shea butter because my skin hates it! Just about every ingredient we use has the potential to be an allergen or an irritant, so if we avoided everything with that possible designation, we'd be able to use water and...I think that's it!

I still hate the use of the word "grow" in the active sense. You cannot grow your business. You can nurture it, help it along, encourage it...but you cannot make it grow. Growing is a passive idea, and you can't force it along.

Where did we get this idea that the cosmetic industry is unregulated? At least once a week, I see someone commenting that companies can put what they want in cosmetic products because they're unregulated. A simple Google search will show you the regulatory agencies your country of choice for cosmetics. In America, it falls under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and is regulated by the FDA. In Canada, it falls under the purview of Health Canada. It isn't hard to find out which agency regulates it in your part of the world...why does this myth persist?

We are not using the word "learnings" any time soon! I was at a meeting with some managerial types at work, and they wanted to talk about what we had learned from the experience. "What are the learnings?" a few of them asked repeatedly. Learnings? Learnings? No. This not becoming a word. We are not using "learnings" to mean "what things did we learn?" No. I will not permit this.

I think I just hate management speak. We use far too much business jargon in our every day lives. Dante wrote there was a special ring of hell for people who use language to obscure rather than illuminate. Is it full yet?

And, finally, check out these first ever photographs of chemical bonds forming! Freakin' amazing!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


This week has seen an almost doubling of the readers, which has me really confused as there isn't one obvious referring source. I haven't seen an increase in email or comments, so these stats were a little surprising, but the last three days have been really busy. So if you have a moment, could you let me know where you heard about the blog, with a link, if possible, so I can pay the site a visit?

To increase your interest, I'll give away the e-book of your choice to a random commenter. As usual, please sign off with at least your first name! Otherwise, how will I know you're the person who won? I'll draw for the name on June 28th! 

I'm on holiday time as of Sunday for more than a week, so I'm eagerly awaiting my workshop time! And I'll have some time to look at all those emails piling up! Your somewhat random picture of the day are these colourful test tubes from chemistry lab today. I really do love that pink! 

Question: How much cetyl alcohol to use with BTMS-25?

In this post, Substituting: What to do when you can't wait to create!, there seems to be some confusion about how to use cetyl alcohol with BTMS-25.

Why add a fatty alcohol to a conditioner? They can boost the substantivity of the cationic quaternary compound, which means more conditioning awesomeness for our hair! Fatty alcohols increase the substantivity of the conditioner by adsorbing to the hair fibre as well and encouraging more adsorption by the quaternary compound. Fatty alcohols can also act as oil free moisturizers. To increase this conditioning power, we add equal amounts of cetyl alcohol to match the amount of behentrimonium methosulfate (BTMS) we are using.

If we are using BTMS-25, there is 25% behentrimonium methosulfate in the product, hence the name BTMS-25. We would add cetyl alcohol at 25% or 1/4 the amount of BTMS-25 we are using.

If you have 4 grams of BTMS-25, you have 1 gram of BTMS. Add cetyl alcohol at an equal amount to the BTMS, or 1 gram.

If you have 8 grams of BTMS-25, you have 2 grams of BTMS. Add cetyl alcohol at an equal amount to that BTMS, or 2 grams.

Multiply the amount of BTMS-25 you are using by 0.25 to get the amount of BTMS in this ingredient. Or divide by 4. Whichever way you choose, you need to figure out the BTMS in the BTMS-25 to figure out how much cetyl alcohol to add.

If we have BTMS-50, this means we have 50% behentrimonium methosulfate or BTMS in the product. So if we have 4 grams of BTMS-50, we have 2 grams of BTMS in the product. If we add cetyl alcohol at equal amounts as the BTMS, we would add 2 grams to the product.

Multiply the amount of BTMS-50 you have by 0.5 or divide by 2 to find out how much BTMS is in this ingredient. Add the same amount of cetyl alcohol by weight.

If we have BTMS-225, which has anywhere between 20% to 25% behentrimonium methosulfate, you would want to use 0.8 grams to 1 gram cetyl alcohol if you are using 4 grams. Multiply by 0.20 or 0.25 to find the amount. (I'd go with the 0.20 figure as it's better to have slightly too much than not enough in this case!) Or divide by 5.

After writing all of this, I think the issue might be the name of the product - BTMS-25 or BTMS-50 - might be confused with the name of the cationic ingredient, behentrimonium methosulfate or BTMS? It really is very important to read the end bit of the ingredient - BTMS-25, BTMS-50, BTMS-225 - because these tell you how much BTMS or behentrimonium methosulfate you'll find in the product.

Related posts:
What's an INCI name?
Reading INCI names (about BTMS)
Adding slip to conditioners with fatty alcohols