Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some articles I read this week: Fruit oils and SPF, medical vs.cosmetic claims, formaldehyde donors

I thought this article on fruit oils and SPF was an interesting read. They won't let me quote sections, so I took a picture of the warning. Please don't think that using fruit oils can work as an effective sunscreen!

There's an interesting article about claims at Cosmetics Design and the difference between cosmetic and medical claims.

If you want an all natural sunscreen, why not consider hippo sweat? (I really hope this is an April Fool's in July article!)

I thought this was a great article on The important of formaldehyde donors in personal care products at Cosmetics & Toiletries. Regardless of your position on the topic, I encourage you to give it a read!

And I loved this Pinterest page with Canadian problems! (The smell of burnt toast terrifies Canadians!)

More later this week...I've been studying for an exam and running around offer groups to kids! Not much time for much else!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Please please please please don't make your own sunscreen

I can't believe how many things I'm seeing on things like SnapGuide or Instructables or in my favourite forum about making sunscreens. All I can say is please don't. There is no guarantee that these products work, and you're risking short and long term damage for yourself and the people you love. I know we want to save money or have more "natural" products, but the reality is that the reason sunscreens have drug identification numbers (in Canada at least) is that they have to undergo a ton of rigourous screening tests to make sure they work. Adding zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to shea butter or Vaseline or something else doesn't make it a sunscreen. There are so many factors that go into make an effective sunscreen that the textbook I have on the topic runs more than 500 pages. 

There is no argument I haven't heard before about why you want to make your own sunscreen, so I'll ask you not to make one. There is absolutely nothing you can say that will make it okay for you to make something that could be quite dangerous to someone. Sunscreen makes my skin break out so badly and my skin is red all summer long because of the irritation, yet I still use it. I have the skill and knowledge to make something that might resemble sunscreen, yet I would not think of doing it, even though it would save my family a ton of money. You have so many products containing so many different types of physical and chemical sunscreens with so many different types of bases - anhydrous, fancy moisturizers, basic lotions - that there is something you will be able to use. You will have to invest some time and money to find a product that your skin likes - I've been searching for years - but you will find something.

What I find funny is that the recipes I'm seeing are using mineral oil and Vaseline as the base, which are not exactly "natural" to some people. (I think they are - after all, dinosaurs were natural, right?) 

Related posts:

Friday, July 26, 2013

A couple of chemistry myths making the rounds...

Baking soda and oil will not create a soap. There is a fascinating process called saponification during which oils and a very alkaline thing like sodium or potassium hydroxide are mixed together to create a soap. We can't extrapolate this to mean that every alkaline and every oil will mix to create a soap. Lye works because it's very alkaline - over 13 - and baking soda is pH 8 to 9.

Try this at home! Dissolve some baking soda in a small amount of water. (Acid and base reactions require water to create an aqueous solution.) Then add it - let's say 1 tsp - to something like 1 tbsp oil. Mix and mix and mix. You will not get soap. You could do equal amounts of 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp oil and you won't see a soap. (The same thing with boric acid - it's an acid, so it's not going to create a soap on its own.) If this were the case, why wouldn't we just throw some baking soda into our batch of oily dishes and create our own dishwashing liquid? It would be so much easier, cheaper, and better for the environment.

You cannot saponify the oils in your hair with baking soda. The pH of baking soda isn't great enough to create a soap. If you don't believe me, try the experiment above. It's okay if you like washing your hair with baking soda, but this is not the mechanism by which it might be working for you.

Alkaline + acid = doesn't always mean reaching pH 7 or neutral. This rarely the case. If you have something that is pH 14 (like lye) and pH 5, you aren't going to get to pH 7 or a neutral state. It depends on the pH and concentration of the acid and the pH and concentration of the base.

If you combine a strong acid and a strong base in equal amounts, you'll get a pH around 7. If you combine a strong acid and a weak base in equal amounts, you'll get a pH in the acidic range (and one that might not change at all, depending upon how weak your base). If you combine a strong base and a weak acid in equal amounts, you'll get a pH in the alkaline range (if it changes at all). If you combine a weak base and a weak acid, you'll have to do some work to see what you get. This is called a neutralization reaction, but it doesn't mean the end result is pH 7.

Besides, neutralizing something to pH 7 isn't a good thing. Let's say you have just enough of an alkaline thing and just enough of an acidic thing to get you to pH 7, is that really the best thing for that body part? If your skin is intended to be pH 4.5 to 5.5, neutralizing it to 7 is going to cause you great pain and misery. If your hair is intended to be pH 3.5 to 6, getting it to 7 is going to cause all kinds of cuticle lifting and damage.

The CEO of my pharmacy wrote an article in his company coupon book/newsletter a few weeks ago in which he stated that we could tell shampoo was toxic because it makes our eyes water. This is silly! The reason our eyes water near shampoo is because they have a pH of about 7.4 and body wash, facial cleanser, shampoo, and so on are around pH 4.5 to 6, which means they aren't similar pH levels. If we put coffee, baking soda, or orange juice in our eyes - natural and non-toxic things - you'll experience eye watering. If you get sand or an eyelash in your eye, we'll have watery eyes because of irritation.

And I'm sure you've seen the alkaline water stuff around. (I'm not linking to it because I don't want to give it more promotion.) Everything they say is pretty much untrue. Think about this - if you have gastric acid in your stomach (pH 1.5 to 3.5, so it could be considered a strong acid at 1.5 - reference) and you add weakly alkaline water to it, what's going to happen? (Strong acid plus weak base equals acidic pH levels.) Will the pH of your stomach change? And how can it possibly get to any other part of your body when it hasn't changed your stomach pH by a tiny bit? There's nothing of this alkaline water left mere seconds after you ingest it! And don't get me started on the idea of microclustering!

I'm not saying you need to take a degree in chemistry, but a little good and correct knowledge can be a powerful thing when you're assessing claims about products or processes! Do you have a question about a chemistry claim? Send it to me!

Related posts:
Chemistry Thursday: Let's take a look at pH
Chemistry Thursday: How to measure pH
pH (general)
pH and our skin care products
An aside: pH and lotions
A few thoughts for the day: ...pH of our bodies
pH and bath products

Related links:
Neutralization reactions (Wikipedia)
Neutralization reactions (Elmhurst University)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A thought on beachy or salt hair sprays

I love the way my hair looks after a day at the beach, all wild and untamed and not frizzy (for some strange reason!), but please note that these salt sprays increase the friction between your hair strands, which can lead to irreversible damage! The salt coats your hair, which makes the strands rub against each other more. More friction, more damage. If you want to use a spray like this, don't make it a regular thing and use lots of conditioner when washing and styling your hair.

Also note, there is no significant difference between using sea salt or table salt in a product like this. I've seen people saying that sea salt contains fewer chemicals than table salt. It doesn't. (

"All salt, whether labelled table salt or sea salt, comes from a salted body of water—namely, an ocean or salt-water lake.  Some salt makers use water or deposits from today’s oceans; others use deposits evaporated from oceans in previous geological eras. In other words, all salt is “sea” salt." (

I'm writing this post in response to the many many salt spray recipes I'm seeing lately. Always consider the reliability and level of expertise of the recipe and tutorial writer before trying something you find online. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My new SnapGuide - making a lip shimmer or coloured lip balm

I've been meaning to make some mineral make-up visual guides, so here is the first one! Want to learn more? Click on the MMU label or look under the links to lists on the right hand side of the blog. 

Making a Japanese themed body wash - other ingredients

When making just about anything with surfactants, you want to think about adding other things like moisturizers, humectants, skin conditioners, and so on because when they're alone, surfactants can feel a bit drying, no matter how gentle or mild they may be.

If you have no idea what's going on, please check out part one and part two of making a Japanese themed body wash! I'm calling it Japanese themed because it contains bamboo, willow bark, and seaweed extract. You can modify it to include any ingredients you wish! 

In this product, I'm including these ingredients for these reasons. (Click on each ingredient to learn a lot more!)

Aloe vera: Moisturizing. The electrolytes in aloe vera also help thicken my product.

Glyceryl cocoate: A non-ionic, low ethoxylated monoglyceride that can behave as an emulsifier, emollient, foamer, and skin conditioner in our products. It is a thickening polymer, meaning it will thicken your surfactant mix when used with anionic surfactants. It is emollient, which means it will reduce skin irritation from other surfactants, and will re-fatten your skin when you are bathing or shampooing. It can make the foam feel slippery, which is a nice thing in a body wash.

Myristamine oxide: A cleansing agent, emulsifier, hair conditioner, emollient, foam stabilizer, viscosity booster, and foam booster. Used at 5% to 20% in the heated water phase.

Glycerin: A humectant and bubble booster!

Hydrolyzed oat protein: Humectant and film former.

Chamomile hydrosol: I'm using it here for its anti-inflammatory properties. I used the hydrosol in this case to get the benefits without discolouring my product.

Water soluble shea butter: It's a PEG ester that works as an emollient, anti-irritant, and possible thickener for the product.

Bull kelp bioferment: A film former and oil free emollient that works like a protein to moisturize your skin. (This one had no smell!) If you don't have this, you can use more hydrolyzed protein.

Willow bark extract (liquid): I love this ingredient for the anti-inflammatory properties offered by the salicylic acid. I would normally use the powder at 0.5% in the cool down phase, but I used the liquid because it is standardized to 10% saliyclic acid, which means I have more control over it, and because it wouldn't discolour my product.

Honeyquat: A cationic polymer that behaves as a skin conditioner and humectant.

Biowater bamboo extract (INCI: Lactobacillus/Arundinaria Gigantea Ferment Filtrate). A liquid that offers moisturizing and conditioning to our skin, it is supposed to offer increased hydration of our skin. It can be used at 2% to 5% in the cool down phase of the product.

Liquid Germall Plus: Preservative. I use it at 0.5%, the maximum suggested rate, because I never know what people might do to a product after it leaves my hands!

Panthenol: A vitamin and humectant. It offers anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties. (Read more here.)

Fragrance oil: Because I like to smell pretty!

Why didn't I include water in this product? I forgot. I was so into adding all these new things that I didn't leave room for it. If you don't have all these lovely ingredients, leave that thing out and add a similar percent in water. Don't have aloe vera? Add 10% water in its place. Don't have chamomile hydrosol? Add 9% water in its place. And so on.

If you don't have something, check out its purpose and see what you could use instead. If you want a humectant but don't have glycerin, think about another one (look in the humectants section of the blog). If you want a cationic polymer but don't have honeyquat, choose another one and use it at the suggested usage rate.

I really encourage you to read this series on creating a surfactant based facial cleanser as it goes into mucher greater detail about why I'm including these things I'm including.

Part one - surfactants, water, and preservatives
Part two - humectants and exfoliants
Part three - increasing mildness and rinseability
Part four - thickening

Join me later this week for some ideas on how to substitute some ingredients for others!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was sent the bull kelp bioferment, biowater bamboo extract, and willow bark extract for free by the Formulator Sample Shop. I was not paid to talk about them, and I made it clear to the shop that I would give my honest opinion about the ingredients. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making a Japanese themed body wash - surfactants

Why did I choose the surfactants I did for my Japanese themed body wash? Always ask yourself about your goal and skin feel preferences to determine which ingredients you'll use. I like to use at least two anionic (negatively charged) surfactants and one amphoteric (could be negative, could be positive) surfactant in my products because that kind of combination makes the product milder and thicker. I like to choose surfactants that offer gentle to mild cleansing, good lather, good foam, and ones that might be nice for oily skin.


12% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% ACI
6% polyglucose/lactylate blend
12% C14-16 olefin sulfonate

ACI (or ammonium cocoyl isethionate): Isethionates are considered exceptionally mild for skin, hair, and eyes, and are particularly tolerant to hard water. They leave behind a great skin feel - usually described as "silky" - and create really lovely foam, bubbles, and lather. ACI is substantive to skin, so it offers not only gentle cleansing and a creamy after feel, but it will offer some conditioning. Oily skin will benefit from the moisturizing without oils, while the dry type will appreciate the lack of tightness. Because it's a liquid, you can create clear surfactant mixes and don't need to worry about all that melting (although you'll still want to include the cocamidopropyl betaine for thickening and increased mildness). I'm using the liquid ACI instead of powdered SCI because it's easier to incorporate into my products.

C14-16 olefin sulfonate (aka Bioterge AS-40): The alkyl sulfonates are fantastic cleansers for oily to very oily hair and skin. They can be made much less irritating by including an anti-irritant like Crothix or glycol distearate (EZ Pearl) or by combining surfactants. I like a combination of BSB, Amphosol CG (cocamidopropyl betaine), and Bioterge AS-40 for body washes and shampoos. They are great additions to a bubble bath because they have great flash foam - the initial cascade of bubbles when you add it to the water. And they are great for hand washes because of that flash foam! They're great emulsifiers. So if you wish to include some oils in your surfactant mixture - essential or fragrance oils or a light oil like sunflower - you can do so up to about 2% to 3% without adding solubilizers like polysorbate 20 or polysorbate 80

Polyglucose/lactylate blend: A very very mild cleanser that offers moisturizing, a reduced feeling of tackiness, and a boost to the conditioning power of your product. It contains decyl glucoside, a very mild non-ionic cleanser that works well as both a primary or secondary surfactant as it is a good foamer, with an alkaline pH that can improve the cationic conditioning in your products and stabilize foam. Sodium lauroyl lactylate is considered an ultramild cleanser that is substantive to our skin and plays well with cationic polymers like polyquat 7 or honeyquat. It reduces feelings of tackiness. It is an emulsifier and moisturizer, so you should be able to add small amounts of oils - like fragrance or light carrier oils - without fear of separation.

Cocamidopropyl betaine: An amphoteric surfactant, it's never used alone in a formulation; you'll always use it as a secondary surfactant. It offers great foam stabilizing and a reduction in the irritant level of the anionic surfactants. It offers a great flash foam and some humectant properties. Because it behaves as a cationic in our products - because our pH should be below 7 - we find an increase in moisturization of our hair or skin and some anti-static properties. CAPB is a great thickener for alkyl sulfates (like SLS) or alkyl ether sulfates (like SLeS and ALeS). I always include it in every product for its ability to increase mildness and reduce irritation.

What does each ingredient bring to the mix?

  • ACI brings lovely lather, foam, and bubbles and an elegant, conditioned skin feel. 
  • C14-16 olefin sulfonate is good for oily skin and brings flash foam and lather to the mix. It also acts as an emulsifier for my fragrance/essential oils and emollients. 
  • Polyglucose/lactylate brings a very mild cleanser that offers foaming and foam stabilization as well as compatibility with cationic polymers and emulsification. 
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine offers foam stabilization and mildness, as well as some thickening. 

If I were to substitute one of these surfactants for another, I'd think about what the surfactant brought to the mix and what I could use instead.

If you have dry skin, you could substitute C14-16 olefin sulfonate for a surfactant that worked better with dry skin. C14-16 olefin sulfonate brings flash foam and lather as well as emulsification. We can get the foam and lather, and a lovely skin feel, from ACI and the emulsification from the polyglucose/lactylate blend, which means we could just up those other two things and get rid of the 12% C14-16 olefin sulfonate.

If you don't have polyglucose/lactylate, we could find another surfactant that offers the same qualities - mild cleansing with foaming and foam stabilization with emulsification - and substitute it. From the surfactant chart, I can see that SLeS, cocamidopropyl betaine, DLS mild, and the taurates are very gentle or very mild cleansers. SMC or SMO taurate offers the foam and lather we want, and it's good for normal to dry skin. This sounds like a great choice! It doesn't offer the emulsification, but if I'm leaving in C14-16 olefin sulfonate, we already have it there.

I never bother adding a solubilizer to emulsify my fragrance or essential oils as surfactants are, by definition, emulsifiers. I've never made a surfactant blend that didn't handle up to 3% oils, and I've found adding things like polysorbate 20 or 80 only makes the product less foamy and lathery. 

You might also want to consider how the surfactants thicken. This body wash is quite watery compared to my other ones, and that's because this blend doesn't really like to thicken with Crothix as much as something like SLeS, cocamidopropyl betaine, and C14-16 olefin sulfonate would thicken. Some will thicken with the inclusion of salt and some won't. (Lots of posts in this section on thickening surfactants). This is something to consider if it's an issue to you. I'm not really that picky about the viscosity as I don't sell my products, but a tiny change can make a huge difference!

I definitely recommend that you use at least two anionic surfactants to create a blend you like and the amphoteric surfactant. If you use a blend like BSB or baby blend or something else, you can just use one anionic and one amphoteric surfactant. But don't get too dependent upon blends! When your supplier stops carrying them, you're in trouble and will have to reformulate all your products. (I found this out with Bioterge 804 and LSB when Voyageur Soap & Candle stopped carrying them!) Choose the surfactants you use based on the qualities you want. You will have to play around with them to see which ones you like best.

If you're buying surfactants, I suggest getting small amounts of a few of them to play around with different combinations. You don't need much - get 250 ml or so of each one and make some products like shampoo or body wash or facial cleanser to see which ones you like the best. You might find you like different blends for different products.

As a note, every surfactant will cause irritation at some level, but some are higher than others. It is folly to say, as I saw in a recent flyer for my pharmacy, that this irritation of our eyes or skin indicates it is toxic. This isn't the case. Is baking soda toxic? Is milk toxic? If I put either in my eye, I'll be irritated. (Please don't try this at home!) Irritation isn't about toxicity, it's about pH and other components. So make sure you check to see the safe as used data about your chosen surfactant. 

As another note, when we talk about active ingredients in a product, we mean how much of the ingredient is what it says it is. Let's take C14-16 olefin sulfonate. If you look at the data bulletin for this ingredient, called Bioterge AS-40 by Stepan, you'll see it is 39.1% active. This means that 100 grams of Bioterge AS-40 contains 39.1 grams of C14-16 olefin sulfonate, the rest being water and possibly preservative. If you see that you can use up to 10% active ingredients before seeing eye and skin irritation, you know this means the active ingredient C14-16 olefin sulfonate can be used at up to 10%.. If you add 10 grams into your product, this means we have 3.91 grams of active ingredients. 20 grams - 7.82 grams active ingredients. 25 grams - 9.775 grams active ingredient. We can include 25 grams Bioterge AS-40 in our products and get slightly less than 10% active ingredient. All my recipes are written about the bottle of product - in this body wash, we're using 12% Bioterge AS-40, not 12% C14-16 olefin sulfonate - not about the active ingredient level.

If you want to learn more about surfactants, I encourage you to check out the surfactants section of the blog for more information. 

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at some other ingredients we can include in our body wash!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Making a Japanese themed body wash...

My husband loves all things Japanese (hence the Genshiken youth group he runs for the "society for the study of modern visual culture" at the library where they watch anime and read manga and discuss both for hours!) and I thought I'd make him a Japanese themed body wash with ingredients that remind me of Japan. (I mentioned the product in this post. We won't be including the activated charcoal!) The Formulator Sample Shop was kind enough to send me a few ingredients with which to play, so I thought I'd try a few of those things in this product.

Please note, I am not affiliated with any supplier or manufacturer. Sometimes I am sent things by suppliers for free, but I have made it clear to those suppliers that I will give my completely honest opinion about those ingredients. I am not paid by anyone to say anything on this blog! 

I also wanted something really moisturizing for the summer months as I'm showering every morning at the gym, running through the water park fully clothed with the youth group, and going to the lake regularly, and my skin is feeling really trashed. (I don't mind applying a light moisturizer afterwards, but I always forget!)

I based this recipe on my favourite body wash with esters recipe, but made tons of changes because...well, I felt like it. I don't recommend making tons of changes but I've made these over time, but didn't update the blog with them. I've added the bull kelp and biowater bamboo to this product for the first time. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.

12% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% ACI
6% polyglucose/lactylate blend
12% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
10% aloe vera
5% glyceryl cocoate
5% myristamine oxide
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed oat protein
9% chamomile hydrosol
5% water soluble shea butter
5% bull kelp bioferment

5% willow bark extract
3% Honeyquat
2.5% biowater bamboo extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil

At the end, after fragrance and coming to room temperature - 1% to 5% Crothix

Heat all the heated water phase ingredients together and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Remove from the heat and let cool to 45˚C before adding the cool down phase. Mix it all together and let sit until it comes to room temperature. Add up to 1% liquid Crothix, stir, and see if you like the viscosity. If you do, bottle the product and rejoice. If not, add another 0.5% liquid Crothix and stir. Continue at up to 5% liquid Crothix.

As a note, with these ingredients and Yuzu or Sweet Meyer Lemon fragrance oil from Brambleberry, at 5% liquid Crothix, this product is still quite liquidy. I would say on par with pouring a light "maple" type syrup out of the bottle.

I am having a love affair with this body wash! As I mentioned before, I have been making variations on this one for a while now, but this is the most moisturizing one I've made so far! The Crothix and emollients help, but I'm surprised at the difference a bit of the bull kelp bioferment has made!

So why did I use these ingredients? And can you make alterations if you don't have them? If you can't wait for the rest of these posts this week, check out the recipes in the surfactant based products section of the blog or the links below! Join me tomorrow for more fun with body washes!

Related sections:
Surfactant based products (not shampoo) - recipe section

Related posts:
Formulating for dry skin: Creating a body wash from scratch (part 1)
Formulating for dry skin: Creating a body wash from scratch (part 2)
Formulating for dry skin: What else could we include in our body wash?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Aloe butter and preservatives, preserving fresh face masks, and heating evening primrose oil

Is there anybody out there? I know you're visiting the blog based on my stats, but the comments section is bare and my inbox is lonely and bored! I have a few sections that want your input - Formulating Friday, collecting your favourite recipes, forgotten threads - and I haven't heard from the people who won books either! I can see you're visiting - okay, the people who subscribe for e-mail posts aren't visiting - but you aren't sharing! My classes end in two weeks, and I'd love to have some stuff to respond to by then, so drop me a line, ask a question, send me a recipe to troubleshoot!

I know, I know, I'm normally really busy, and this week isn't really that different, but I'm looking at the month of August when my classes end and thinking that I could get some inspiration from what you write! 

In this post, When should you use a preservative?, Luisa asks: I am wondering if aloe butter - aloe and coconut oil - would be water or oil? I was wondering about adding it to my body butters, but now I'm not sure if that would require a preservative. The jar says it has a one year shelf life, but lists no ingredients other than aloe and coconut oil.

If your body butter contains no water - it's an anhydrous product - then you don't need to add a preservative. If your body butter contains water, you should be adding a preservative, but you don't need to add extra. Either way, you're probably good. (And I'm so glad you're thinking about preservatives! Yay!)

Here's the thing - most, if not all, of the ingredients we buy that contain water contain a preservative. Manufacturers will add the preservative before the product leaves their possession. The information can be found in the data bulletin or from our suppliers. Here are a few examples of what you should see at your suppliers' shops...

Watermelon Extract (Formulator Sample Shop) - contains Leuicidal
Apple Extract (Lotioncrafter) - contains Leuicidal
Honeyquat data bulletin - notes it is "paraben free", but doesn't give us details of the preservatives

Just about everything we buy as an ingredient containing water with an acidic pH should have a preservative in it. Ask your supplier if you want more information on their specific products.

In a related topic, there isn't enough preservative in each of the ingredients to preserve the entire product. Check out this post for more on that topic!

Related posts:
Preservatives section of the blog
Why do we need preservatives in products containing water?

In the same post, Tina asks, If I make a face mask/ scrub with ground almonds, oats, lavender flowers, and honey (no water in sight), do I need a preservative? If I don't use one, how long would you estimate it would be good for both in and out of the refrigerator? (I realize you can only give a big estimate). If you were to add a preservative, which would you recommend and how long would that extend the shelf life if not refrigerated?

I'm so glad you're thinking about using preservatives in your products! However, I don't think this product should be made for more than a one time usage before disposal as it will be too difficult to preserve. Make enough for one usage, then throw the rest away. There are just too many things in there that could go bad. Botanical ingredients are notoriously hard to preserve, and your product is filled with things that could easily go bad.

So the short answer is...I would make it for a one time usage and throw it away. I don't think it's a good idea to put it in the fridge.

You do have water in your product - from the flowers and from the honey. This is one of the reasons botanicals are so hard to preserve - we don't know exactly what might be in some of these flowers, nuts, buds, leaves, so it's hard to know how much water they contain. But they do contain water, even if they have been left out to dry for quite some times.

As for honey, it also contains water. A lot of people think honey can preserve products, but it can only really preserve itself, and it can't do that if it's waterered down or has other things in it.

Strawberry extract is an ingredient we get from our suppliers. It is sterilized and standardized and sold to us in the best condition...yet it is really hard to preserve once water is added to it! I've mentioned this before, but I've had trouble preserving it, even with 1% Germaben II. Even something that is well processed can be hard to preserve! 

Related posts on honey:
Honey: Nature's tastiest humectant?
Honey: Using it in our products
Honey: Some studies I found

Related posts:
Weekend Wonderings: Preserving fresh fruit in products
Infusions, teas, and using vinegar to preserve things

In this post on evening primrose oil, TC asks, In my search to finding out the shelf life of EPO, I came across a supplier website which stated that EPO should be added during the cool down phase. I suspect they must have nutrition preservation in mind? I'm just now a little confused, as I'd like to retain the benefits of the oil, but want to make sure I'm doing the right thing with heating and holding. Especially so, with this particular oil as i'll be using it for my children who have eczema. 

As I mention in this post and this post, our oils aren't affected by heating and holding because their smoke points are so much higher than the 70˚C at which we hold them.

From this post: There is no chemical difference between what we call exotic oils and carrier oils. They both contain fatty acids, phytosterols, polyphenols, and all kinds of vitamins and minerals. The concept of one oil being a carrier oil and another being an exotic oil has no basis in chemistry - it's a designation we've given the oils based on availability and cost. Wheat germ oil might or might not be an exotic oil depending upon the section of the store your supplier puts it in and how common it might be in your part of the world. Don't get me wrong...there are differences between something like borage oil and sunflower oil (for instance) - borage feels drier, it contains GLA, it has a different fatty acid make up - but they aren't so different that we have to treat borage with great delicacy and sunflower oil with reckless abandon!

Join me next weekend for more Weekend Wonderings! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Canadian Association of Professional Soap and Cosmetic Crafters - upcoming conference and I'm offering a workshop there!!!

The Canadian Association of Professional Soap & Cosmetic Crafters is brand new, and it's waiting for people like us to join! Lindalu is organizing a conference for March 2014 in Banff, and I've been invited to lead a workshop in shampoo and conditioners. (I'm so excited!) Voyageur Soap & Candle are on board - and we all know how much I love them - as are some Canadian soap makers.

Check out this organization! And consider visiting Banff in March! It's going to be great fun!

Voyageur Soap & Candle is carrying my e-books!

I'm so excited that Voyageur Soap & Candle is carrying my e-books to help me raise money for our Rated T for Teen youth programs held at the Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries! As you may or may not know, every penny raised from these e-books that you get from me, Lotioncrafter, or Voyageur Soap & Candle goes directly to the youth in our programs to pay for supplies for the groups so no one is ever left out because they can't afford something!

I cannot thank you enough for all your wonderful support! Because you've donated to our programs, we are able to offer more programs every year. Right now we are offering quite a number of groups - weekly craft group for teens, biweekly craft group for tweens, Genshiken twice a month, Games Night once a month, and video games group once a month. (Look to the right hand side of the page to see the schedule!)

We've added two groups for the summer - rhythm video games night in July and social games card & board game night in August. And we're still offering craft group, games night, and video games group in Yarrow. The library supports us as they can - and we are so grateful for that! - but just about everything else comes from you!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fomulating Friday: Introduction - let's troubleshoot!

I posted this question last week in this postWhat are you working on right now? What are you researching or making in the workshop? What barriers are you facing in making your product? What information do you need or supplies or help? 

And you answered! So here's the plan...Each week I'll choose a comment and we'll troubleshoot the product together! We'll figure out what the product is, what it requires, what we can add, what each ingredient brings to the mix, what process we should follow, and so on. If it's your product we're making, it's your job to make the product and report back!

Please note, we are not duplicating products and we will not be creating a formula for you. We are helping to create something interesting and new or to help you figure out where you went wrong. Please do a search on the blog to see if we've already made a product like this - for instance, a body butter with lots of glide and low greasiness or a body wash with lots of moisturizers.

Your recipe can be one you've tried or one you're developing. If you have tried it, please provide us with the full recipe and process. The recipe has to be a safe one - it must contain preservatives if it contains water and the ingredients must be used at safe levels - or we won't consider it. You have to know your ingredients. If you send in a recipe that contains a non-emulsifier, like beeswax, or not enough of a pretty common emulsifier, like Polawax, we won't consider it. (We need to know that you've put some effort into the recipe and have reached an impass, and we'll know that if you've written something that should work but doesn't.)

Anyone can send in a recipe for consideration - newbie, veteran, business owner, homecrafter, and so on. Be aware that any recipe derived through this process will be posted on this blog, and I consider it public knowledge that can be shared freely through the blog, a downloadable PDF, posts I might make on a forum, and so on. It is completely available to anyone who wants it. If you want to make it and sell it, that's great, but please don't try patenting it or doing something that would take it away from the people who helped you. That just seems ungrateful and mean.

This means we can't troubleshoot a recipe that belongs to someone else, something you found on a forum or a blog or a supplier's or manufacturer's site because we want the final recipe to be in the public domain, and that person might not want to give up their rights to it. Feel free to use any of my recipes as a starting point for this process. 

We will do our best to stick to ingredients that we can find easily, but there may be things you need to order. You agree that you might need to spend a bit of money - not a ton, but you might have to invest in new ingredients plus shipping. If you live somewhere where ordering and shipping is hard, please let me know so we don't waste your time by suggesting you get some exotic ester when it's hard to get basic oils!

So what do I want from recipe submitters?
1. Information on the product you want to create. Is it a lotion, anhydrous thing, foaming product? Be very specific about what you think it should be and your end goals.
2. Be clear about what you want this product to feel like - silky, glidy, sticky, tenacious, very foamy, low lather, etc.
3. The recipe you've developed. If you've already made this recipe, please include the exact process. If it's theoretical, include exact ingredients. It must be in percentage format. Include every single thing you can think of because everything is important.
4. The final result, if you've tried it. Include things like "it separated" or "it doesn't foam" etc.

What you agree to do after we review it...
1. Make the product according to the recipe in a timely manner. We get that you might not be able to get the ingredients for a while because of shipping and such, but it would be nice to see the product made within four weeks of posting the final recipe. If you can't do this, let us know and we'll see if we can figure something out!
2. Take notes and pictures and send those in with your review.

Hi Susan! I really want to make a creamy facial exfoliating cleanser but I can't seem to make this one work! I want it to be a lotion based product with no foaming that contains physical exfoliants. I'd like something with loads of slip and glide that can be rinsed off and leave behind a slightly oily feeling.

20% water
20% aloe vera

7% rice bran oil
8% sunflower
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM
5% Polawax

0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Process: Heated and held...Heated and held...mixed...bottled when it was warm/room temperature/etc.
To get ingredients, I have to send away, which could take as long as 8 weeks. I live in Europe, so it's hard to get some surfactants...Here's a picture of what it looked like!

And so on...

Please note, we can only work on - at most - 52 recipes a year, so not everyone will get a chance. This doesn't mean I won't look at your recipe, but it might end up in another section of the blog or I might just answer it as I see it. I will be choosing the recipes based on interest, uniqueness, and challenge level. Recipes I haven't done before on the blog will also go to the top of the list.

I see this series as the experienced crafters' version of Newbie Tuesday. We're here to help you brainstorm new ideas, possible ingredients, different processeds or methods - in general, we're your external brain to help you think about stuff that might not have occurred to you yet! I can't wait to see what you send in! This'll be fun!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fragrance oils and our products!

One of the things we don't seem to think about a lot is the impact of our fragrance oils on our product. As much as people want to have natural this or organic that, I've read that the number one reason someone chooses a product is the fragrance. (Looking for the reference! I know I have it around here somewhere!)

These body washes are one of the reasons to give your products time. These are the same uncoloured body wash with one small difference - the fragrance oil. The one on the left contains Yuzu fragrance oil, the one on the right contains Sweet Meyer Lemon (both from Brambleberry). The one on the left is the original colour, but cloudy. The colour change was obvious on day two, but a few weeks later, it's really really pink (and very nice, I might add).

I've written about this topic before, but I think it's an important one - things that seem so little, like adding a fragrance oil, can result in big changes, and we need to give our products time to morph! This blue raspberry body wash was a lovely turquoise blue for the first few weeks, then it became a seaweed kinda green, which wasn't as lovely.

Vanilla can really discolour our products, hence the need for non-discolouring vanilla or vanilla stabilizer. I make really lovely bath bomb cupcakes (original recipe by Anne-Marie of the Soap Queen blog), but they can get a horrible brown ring under the icing if I use vanilla or vanilla based fragrance oils. Using some stabilizer with something that might contain vanilla - for instance, Cream Cheese Frosting or Clementine Cupcake - means we won't get that horrible brown ring! Vanilla can colour your lotions, too. If you see something with a slightly brown tone, you've probably used something with vanilla. Don't worry - the product is fine, it's just a bit beige.

Related posts about fragrances:
Surfactants and fragrances: Clarity
Surfactants and fragrances: Viscosity

Related posts:
Give it time
A few thoughts about starting a business
Would you start a bakery with a Duncan Hines mix?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I want your contributions!

As I mentioned in this post on Ritamulse SCG, I've written my 2000th post! To celebrate, I thought I'd put together a PDF of my favourite recipes for free download. But then I started thinking...wouldn't it be cooler to put together a PDF of your favourite recipes from the blog? You already know which ones I like!

So here's what I'm asking you to do...Send me your favourite recipe from this blog with the recipe you actually used. (If you have a link to the original and a photo of a version you've made, all the better!) Tell me what you like about the recipe, why you wanted to make it, what you thought of it, and so on.

I want to include at least ten recipes in the PDF, and it would be nice if I had a bit of everything - hair care, lotion, anhydrous products, and so on. If your recipe makes it into the PDF, you'll get your name and formula in print and I'll send you your choice of e-book as a thanks!

If you could e-mail me your recipe (and pictures, if you have them), it would be easier to flag it for cutting and pasting. (I'm at!) Let's say the cut off date is August 16th to give those of you who might be on holidays a chance! I can't wait to see what you send!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: What are surfactants?

Let's start this series on surfactants! You'll want to bookmark the surfactants section of the blog and download the comparison charts. I encourage you to follow the links on this page as I've written quite a lot on surfactants and these are summaries of those posts.

What are surfactants? First, a definition (from Wikipedia): Surfactants are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading, and lower the interfacial tension between two liquids. (In other words, a surfactant makes it possible to mix oil and water or for lathery things to remove oil or dirt from your skin or clothes.)

Surfactants have a hydrophilic (or water-loving) head and a lipophilic (or fat-loving) tail. The hydrophilic head clings onto watery stuff - say the water phase of our lotion - and the lipophilic tail creates a ball around the oily stuff - the oil phase of our lotion.

For the purposes of these posts, my focus will be the lathery, foamy types of surfactants or surfactants that exhibit detergency - meaning something that wets and solubilizes oils, soils, and proteins, and removes them from surfaces, clothes, and people. They tend to be bubbly, foamy, and lathery.

Basic, general informationAll detergents will irritate our skin, no matter how mild they are. (Yes, even cold process soap because the very nature of putting a detergent-y surfactant of our skin means we are removing oils, and our skin doesn't like that! Heck, even water can irritate some skin types!) Our goal is to find surfactants that are less irritating to our skin or scalp and include ingredients in our products that will increase mildness.

Every liquid surfactant contains water, which means it will contain - at the very least - the surfactant, water, and preservative. If you read a data bulletin or a suppliers' write up on a surfactant, it should tell you the active amount of surfactant in the bottle.

For instance, if you click on this data bulletin for Bioterge AS-40 (C14-16 olefin sulfonate), you can see that it contains 39.1% active ingredients. If the safe as used rate for this surfactant is "safe as used" for rinse off products, meaning you could make a product with 100% this ingredient and be safe. The eye and skin irritation level is at 10% active ingredient - meaning you have 10% in your rinse off product. If you use 25% in your product, you would have less than 10% (25 grams of product x 0.38 = 9.75 grams of active C14-16 olefin sulfonate).

As a note, the reason this surfactant could irritate your eyes or skin is because it's alkaline with a pH of 8.5. Our eyes are pH 7.2, meaning something that isn't around that neutral pH is going to bother them. Our skin has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 or so, meaning it's acidic. This doesn't mean the surfactant is harsh or bad for us, it means that our skin and eyes like things that match their pH levels. 

If you're interested in knowing the "safe as used" rates for various ingredients, click here!

It's safe to assume that most - if not all - are considered mild cleansers when it comes to personal care products. I'll be using a scale that's a little annoying - sorry, but they all want to be considered "mild cleansers", so we need to re-define the word! Think of it on a scale from 1 to 3 (but I hate using numbers, so you won't see "1" or "3" in my posts!)
  • Gentle or very mild - this surfactant is unlikely to cause skin irritation when used at the suggested amount or lower. It is unlikely to bother your eyes as well.
  • Mild - this surfactant is unlikely to cause skin irritation when used at the suggested amount or lower, but don't get it in your eyes. It could cause irritation for people with very sensitive skin.
  • Not so mild - this surfactant may cause mild skin irritation when used at the suggested amount or lower, and it may cause eye irritation. It could cause irritation for people with sensitive to normal skin. The only one that falls definitely in this category is SLS.
Part of what we'll be doing in this Newbie Tuesday series is figuring out which surfactants work best for you - your skin or hair type, your skin sensitivity, your formulating level, your philosophy about formulating, and so on. This is where the surfactants section of the blog comes in handy! You will want to get those charts and keep them handy!

How to interpret surfactant names? One of the things I see a lot is the idea of something being bad for you because it has a long name you can't understand. Here's your chance to learn what those names mean! (Again, check out the longer version of this post for more information.)

Name: Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
The sodium is the cationic or positively charged ion.
The C14-C16 indicates the type of fatty acid used in the surfactant (C14 - myristic, c16 - stearic).
The olefin indicates it is a straight chain organic molecule (click here if you are dying to learn more!) It is an unsaturated alkene, a straight chain with at least one double bond. (You might remember the whole unsaturated-double bond thing from the oils and butters.)
The sulfonate part indicates it was created through a process of sulfonation, but the sulfur is directly linked to a carbon molecule.

C14-16 olefin sulfonate could be derived from coconuts or shea butter or anything else that contains C14 and C16 fatty acids.

Your homework for next week is to take a look at the long forms of these summarized posts, and download and take a look at the charts. I really want you to visit your favourite supplier and see what surfactants they carry because there's no point in falling in love with using SCI if you can't get it in your part of the world!

See you next week when we take a look at a few surfactants in depth. 

Newbie Tuesday: Let's look at surfactants!

You commented, and I heard. Let's take a look at surfactants so we can learn how to modify shampoo, facial cleansers, body washes, and pretty much anything else that might be foamy or lathery. I think what we'll do is spend some time with the surfactants so you can eventually choose the ones you like, then we can make some products with general formulas and you can modify them to include the surfactants you like.

Here's what I see as the general schedule (which I'm sure will change a lot!). Please let me know what you think!

July 16th: Introduction - what are surfactants?
July 23rd: Closer look at a few surfactants
July 30th: Closer look at a few more surfactants

In August, we'll take a look at what products we want to make and which surfactants you might like to buy to give you time to put in your orders for some product making in September.

Let's start in a few minutes with the introduction to surfactants!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Forgotten threads...

I admit that I get distracted by passing bumblebees sometimes, and there are series or posts on the blog that I promised but never finished. Part of that is that I didn't get around to making the recipes or giving made recipes to testers, or I made them and didn't like them, or I made them and my testers didn't get back to me or I -- awesome, I love this song! Wait, what was I talking about? Game of Thrones? It's awesome! Hodor! What? 

I think you get the idea of how my brain works. I buy ingredients and forget I bought them, so I end up with three jars of PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, or I have a plan to make something, but then I get my hair caught in a drill and need a good conditioner, and so on. As I write this, I have three other "create post" tabs open as I think of something to add to one while I'm writing another. I can't multitask - read this then this and tell me if multi-tasking exists, and, if it does, if it's a good thing - but I can enjoy a good game of thought pinball where one idea begets another! 

So I've been going through old posts and discovered three series I didn't finish...
  • Creating lotion based facial scrubs (physical and chemical)
  • Comparing esters, oils, and silicones
  • Creating lotions with lanolin
  • Making a daily conditioner from Friday
So my plan is to finish these things over the summer and get those posts to you! If you find something that wasn't finished, let me know! A comment or e-mail with the link would be great. I've been doing searches and scanning the posts, but there's a lot to search through and any help you can offer would be - you've had enough bacon, Blondie! Raymond, you're not helping giving her my last popsicle! What was I saying? 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reading data bulletins

I think it's important that we know how our ingredients work, so I thought I'd take a look at how to interpret a data bulletin.

What is a data bulletin? It's a document produced by the supplier of an ingredient that gives you all kinds of information, such as the INCI name as well as properties such as solubility, pH, boiling and melting points, density, and so on. You can get these documents from the manufacturers directly on their web sites or when you get samples, or your suppliers. Some of these are short and straightforward, while others contain a lot of marketing data. There isn't one specific format they follow, but they should contain information like solubility, pH, suggested uses, and so on.

As a note, it's getting harder to get permission to go to a manufacturers' website if you aren't a large company. I was on Croda for years, only to be thrown off and told that they hadn't changed anything. I was promised access, but never received it. This is one of the reasons I'm using Rita Corp products more often now. I don't like the idea that manufacturers won't give us access to very basic information like this. 

Let's use this data bulletin on sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate from Stepan as an example data bulletin. (It's easy to access Stepan's information, which is awesome!)

You should see the name they give the product, the CAS registry number, and the INCI name at the top. This thing about applications gives you a general idea on how to use the ingredient. This paragraph can be really long - pages and pages - if they really want to sell you on it!

The CAS registry is the number given to the ingredient by the American Chemical Society so it's easy to define what it is and learn more about it. It's like the ISBN number on a book - it identifies this thing as being unique and easy to find. (Want to learn more? Click here!) To be honest, I've never used this for anything, not even to find something. 

This next part contains all the stuff you might need to know about the ingredient. What it looks like - clear liquid - what the active amount might be - 39.1% - the pH, the viscosity, the freezing and boiling point, and so on. (As a note, 25˚C is considered the default temperature for most ingredients.)

What I can learn from this is that this product is a clear liquid with an alkaline pH (8.5) with 39.1% active ingredient that might cloud up if I store it at 7˚C or lower.

Related posts:
Titer points
Weekend Wonderings:...solidification points of solid surfactants
Importance of temperature - an example

The data bulletin should contain information on safety - biodegradability, toxicity and usage, and storage of the product. These tend to terrify me, but they have to be overly cautious to warn people to be careful with everything! You can get more information on these things in the MSDS.

This section on clearances should tell you information you'll need to sell products containing Bioterge AS-40.

This section tells you about the physical things you might need to know quickly. From this I can figure out how the product should look when I buy it and how it will thicken with salt (a normal way of thickening surfactants).

I have to admit I'm not sure why the pH above is listed as 8.5 and the pH listed here is 6.0 to 7.0. I have always thought it was that the pH out of the bottle would be 6.0 to 7.0 and the pH at the top is about 10% C14-16 olefin sulfonate in water, but that doesn't make sense to me now. I have to do some research and get back to you on that. The reported pH for this product - C14-16 olefin sulfonate - is 6.0 to 7.0 everywhere, so that's what I go with! 

Data bulletins might contain study results, recipe ideas, suggestions for formulation, photos, and much more. This is a pretty basic one, which made it a great one to review, but they can have many many pages, like this one about Honeyquat (12 pages) that seems more like a marketing brochure than data bulletin, or this one about Incroquat BTMS-50 (19 pages).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Molecular changes in lotion, beeswax as an emulsifier, and why I don't make CP soap

Someone asked what I was studying in school - chemistry! I'm an addict, I admit it. (Hey, I love chemistry so much, I married a man named Nichols!) My exam went well. I can't believe there are only three more weeks! What will I do to fill my time? Maybe I'll actually relax for a bit come August. Nah, I don't think that's possible!

In this post, A slightly more in depth look at emulsification, Rachel asks: My question is regarding the molecular change from oil to lotion after emulsification. Do oils exhibit the same beneficial properties post emulsification?

Yes, the oils will still have all those lovely qualities we want, such as the type of fatty acid, the phystosterols, the polyphenols, and more because there isn't a molecular change when water and oil come together in a lotion. (Interesting question!) All those things remain the same!

In this post, Beeswax is not an emulsifier, Anita writes: I just made a cream using beeswax with oils and coconut milk no water. I ran out of my emulsify wax. I did not add borax. I'll see how it holds so far 24 hrs it's nice and creamy. If it holds, the key will be using less liquid has possible to keep a firm cream.

Beeswax isn't an emulsifier. To be an emulsifier, something has to have a hydrophilic (water loving) head and a lipophilic (fat loving) tail, which we call a surfactant. Surfactants are polar molecules, meaning they have a more positive charge at one end and a more negative charge at the other. Beeswax is not a polar molecule and it isn't a surfactant: Therefore, it's not an emulsifier

There are polar molecules that aren't surfactants - too many to mention, but water and alcohol are two - so being polar doesn't make an ingredient an emulsifier! But a molecule has to be polar to be a surfactant. 

The true test of an emulsifier is that it it should stand up over a long period of time. Emulsifications are unstable, and they will all break eventually, but that breaking point can be measured in years and decades, not days. I can get anything to emulsify if I apply enough heat and mixing to it, but the test is how it stands up six months, a year, two years later. Even the most poorly written lotion recipe can emulsify when you add enough heat and mixing. The true test comes when it's at room temperature for a period of time.

Those of you using beeswax as an emulsifier, please try this. Find a nice stable place at room temperature. Put your lotion there and leave it there for six months. Is it still emulsified? (And you can't use lecithin, lanolin, or borax in your recipe.)

Your lotion should look creamy and white or yellow-y white or brown-y white. (The oils you use can make it tinged slightly. This is just fine.) To your left you'll see a good example of this. This is a well made, stable lotion. I could have this for the next ten years and know that despite the hideous stench from rancidity, it will be emulsified. I had a good chemical emulsifier - Ritamulse SCG - that I used at proper levels. I heated and held, and I mixed well. Those three factors will lead to a great lotion!

A poorly emulsified lotion will look like it has little grits in it or might look lumpy. (Click here for a picture...) It might look watery with some whitish oils in it, or it might break into oil and water on your skin. You should never have to shake a lotion before using and there should never be a layer of water at the bottom. Any of these conditions are epic lotion fails. (When lotions go wrong!)

Related posts:
When lotions go wrong! 
When lotions go wrong - an example! 

I think this will be the last time I address this issue. I've written enough on this topic. Beeswax is no more an emulsifier than rice bran oil, aloe vera, or a pulverized version of my favourite CD. If you like it, use it.

Related posts:
Where's the emulsifier? Play along! 
A slightly more in depth look at emulsification

In this post, Jodi asked: I have just started learning about making soap and noticed in an older blog you say that you do not make soap. Why?

I just haven't had time. I am fascinated by the chemistry of saponification, but when I get into the workshop, I have seven million things I want to make and another 7 million I have to make, and in the end, I get very little done! Making CP soap is on my list, but my list gets bigger every time I see a new ingredient in the shops! Instead, I support local soapers in the Fraser Valley!

Isn't this soap gorgeous? Thanks, Corry!

Join me tomorrow for more!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Short hair still needs conditioner!

There is an epidemic of hair cutting going on around me right now, and it's freaking me out! Okay, I admit I have issues - the idea of a hair cut just sends shivers through me to the point that I can't watch movies with hair cutting or head shaving in it (ick!) - but I encourage you to really think through something that's going to remove years of growth in a few minutes! (And why does every person I know who has cut their hair short think their hair grows faster than normal? Almost every last one has said this to me!) Okay, back to the topic...

Short haired people - those with slightly over the shoulder or high length hair - still need conditioner. In fact, you probably need it more than those of us with waist length hair. What's your daily routine? I wash my hair every second or third day and let it air dry. A lot of my short haired people wash every day, style with heat by straightening or drying, and use a lot of colours, permanent and temporary. You have to treat your hair with love to prevent it looking like straw!

There are three main ways we damage our hair - subjecting it to too much friction or too much tension or changing the chemistry of our hair.

Mechanical damage, like blow drying, curling, and straightening, are all really quick ways to damage your hair. You're breaking chemical bonds in your hair and could be removing the water inside your hair strand leaving it dry and brittle.

Chemically processed hair - that which has been dyed, bleached, permed, or straightened - is affected more by grooming damage than virgin hair, meaning there's more impact on your hair when you dry, straighten, or curl it, and it can even break off at the weak points. Processed hair tends to be more hydrophilic than virgin hair, so it wants to attract water. This is normally a good thing - water equals moisture - but this can lead to the cuticles lifting, which causes more mechanical damage. We know conditioning is a huge part of keeping our hair in good condition, but when our hair is hydrophilic our lovely oils, silicones, and conditioning agents aren't attracted to our hair and won't stay there as they're looking for a hydrophobic surface. So it's harder to repair the damage we've caused!

And don't think that using henna or temporary dyes helps you avoid dye damage. In fact, they might be a little worse because they swell the hair strand by depositing colour on the strand, instead of in the strand, and this increases friction! 

How does conditioner work to minimize damage? Cationic quaternary compounds increase the lubricity, static control, and combability (is that a word?) of your hair. It's always a good thing to have extra moisturization in your hair, increasing the water content on the hair fibre. By increasing the lubricity, you're reducing the force required to comb your hair, meaning fewer breakages and less static electricity on the surface. As well, by using something that coats your hair strand, you're keeping the precious water from inside from boiling out when you use something like a curling or straigthening iron. It makes hair more supple and able to withstand these constant assaults against it.

Our goal is to have hair in good condition, meaning hair that is easy to comb (relatively speaking), it's free of fly-aways, and it's lustrous and manageable, meaning it feels nice to the touch and generally does what you want it to do. The easiest way to do this is to condition condition condition!

What conditioners should you use? I have more conditioner recipes than you could imagine in the hair care section of the blog, and there will be one you are sure to like. You don't need something heavy - a leave in conditioner will do for some - and you don't necessarily need something containing tons of oils. Oh heck, join me tomorrow as well take a look at some good daily conditioners!