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!)


Sally said...

Great info, thank you so much for your ideas and this information!

Dave said...

on the subject of substitutions, i have been reading up about different emulsifiers for lotion. Based on your background this may be a silly question. But from everything ive read it appears i can make a lotion and use soap to emulsify it. However im not finding a lot of info on what percentage of soap will emulsify a lotion.
"Total oil weight
100 g
Water as percent of oil weight
300 %
Super Fat/Discount
90 %

Water 300 g
Lye - 1.559 g

Oil/Fat Grams
1 Coconut Oil/ 50 g
2 Cocoa Butter / 5 g
3 Grapeseed Oil / 4 g
4 Shea Butter / 5 g
5 Rice Bran Oil / 15 g
6 Soybean Oil / 15 g
7 Beeswax / 3 g
8 Stearic Acid / 3 g"

Am i crazy to think this recipe will yield a stable emulsion?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Dave. I wouldn't try this. You won't get a lotion out of this - you might get a soap, but not a lotion. This is what they mean by using a soap as an emulsifier.

Dave said...

well the lotion came out pretty well.
check out this photo of it

Dave said...

here is a video also

Sally said...

Susan, you asked "Question: Is there an interest in doing more substitution posts?"

Yes, I would absolutely love this!

Thanks again for all the information you provide

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi David. Thanks for sharing. How does it feel? Does it leave a white residue? If you get water on it, what happens? What's the pH?

That lotion doesn't look stable: There's some coalescing going on, which spells big trouble. Let us know how it looks in 4 weeks, then 6 months - I'm intrigued.

Dave said...

There is no white residue. no ph tester here so ill get back to you on that. there is 2 distinct phases however one is a cream consistency and the other is a very light sprayable lotion. both feel amazing. really nice and light and very silky afterfeel. i believe the cream is formed by actual emulsion with soap while the sprayable lotion is emulsified by the mono? Di? Tri? -glycerides that are the result of incomplete saponification. From what i have read as well the soap molecules simply help wash out when you shower so i believe its an all natural lotion and it washes out well. i want zo play with the water ratio and lye amounts to get a more consistent formula for the lotion and cream still.