Sunday, September 1, 2013

Before you write to me, please read this!

If you're new to the blog, welcome! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and stay a while! I thought I'd offer you a little tour of what we have to offer 'round here...

Please note, I love hearing from you. I love hearing about your successes, seeing pictures of your products, and learning more about what hints and tips you have to share. If you want to write to me, you can reach me at Unfortunately, I generally only have time to respond to e-mails on the weekends, so if you can't wait, you might want to take a look around the blog to see if I offer that information elsewhere.

Look to your right and find the the links to lists. This is where you'll find information about ingredients and recipes on a specific topic, like emollients, where you can find all the information on oils, butters, and esters, or hair care, where you can find all the information I have on hair care products.

As well, check out the new section Newbie links! Check in both of those locations for the most asked questions! 

If you have a question about hair care products, check that section first. If you have a question about surfactants, please check that section first. If you have a question about preservatives, please check that section first. And so on. If you have a question about lotions, there isn't a section yet, but you'll probably find it in the FAQ or during a search.

Look to your right and down a bit! You'll see the bath & body guides to ingredients. This is where you'll find individual listings for ingredients in alphabetical order. Click on them to find out more about the ingredient.

If you don't see what you want there, take a look at the links to lists section for the section that might fit. If you want to learn more about rice bran oil, look to the emollients - oils, butters & esters section. If you are interested in witch hazel or aloe vera, you'll find it on that list or you can consult the extracts section. Want to know more about glycerin? Look for the humectants section. And so on.

Look down again, below the ingredients section, to the labels. I've tried to label posts with information like "lotions" or "surfactants" so you can see a grouping of posts that might interest you.

If you're new to making products, newbies is the place to start! 

Finally, look to the right to see to the superior search for the blog. I know the blog is huge, but it really is an awesome search engine. Heck, I use it instead of the one built into the blog manager that only I get to see because this new search function really is fantastic.

I hope this little tour has offered you a little more information on what you might find on the blog. If you have a basic question or need a basic recipe, please do a quick search or check out the highlighted sections for it. I have a lot of hair care recipes in the hair care section, and if you look for the label "lotion", you'll find a ton of recipes.

PLEASE DO NOT WRITE TO ME TO ASK ME TO DUPLICATE A PRODUCT FOR YOU. I think I've made it really clear that I won't do that any more. I think I've offered many resources on the blog for you to figure out how to make that product you really love, and the process of making the product and tweaking will help you learn more than you thought possible about product formulation!

If you're still curious about why I don't like to duplicate products, click here.

If you want to know my perspective on all natural products, please read this post. I don't hate natural products - I just don't know what that phrase means! And please don't write to me about things you've seen on EWG or Skin Deep because I don't consider them reputable sources. I'm happy to see the links for studies you've found, especially if I'm wrong! This blog is all about accuracy and information, so please let me know when you find something that contradicts what I've written, preferably backed up with some links or I would hate to be giving out incorrect information!

I'm sorry, but I don't have time to consult with your business, even if you want to offer me money. Between my family life, work, school, the youth programs, and my so-called social life, I don't have time to breathe, let alone think! I really appreciate the honour of being asked and that you think that highly of my knowledge, but I don't have time. (Click here for a complete post on this topic.) I do have time for your questions and celebrations, but please don't ask me to formulate or duplicate a product for you.

Before you write to me to ask me to help you duplicate a product, consult for your business, or send you an e-book for free, please stop for a moment. I know you think that your request is exceptional, but it's not. Please don't ask me because then I'll have to say no, and before I know it, you're calling me "putrid" or making it sound like I'm really mean. If you don't ask me, you don't put me on the spot and you don't end up hating me for saying "no" to something I told you I'd have to say "no" to doing. 

If you've read this and done all those things, and you still can't find what you want, please write to me or comment somewhere. (No comment is too old - I get notifications for all of them.) I will do my best to answer as soon as I can.

If you are writing to me for help on a recipe, please include your recipe and creation process. If you don't share this information, I can't provide help. I do not have time to e-mail you for this information, so please provide all you can in your initial e-mail.

And there are no old posts! I'm notified about every single comment - including all that spam lately! - and I will respond to your comment as I would any other comment. Please subscribe or link back to the place where you commented so you can see that I responded.

If you want to write to me, please do! I love hearing your stories, seeing pictures, helping you formulate, and generally hearing what's happening in the rest of the world. Please don't ask me to send you basic recipes - please do a search or look for a label - and please don't ask me to consult for your company for free. Anything else - write to me at and share your thoughts!


Margaret said...

Wow I love your blog, I've been reading for he past two hours going from page to page and drinking all the information you provide us all with.

I am very new to blogging and not sure yet how I add myself to blogs or how people add themselves to mine, I Thank you so much for such amazing reading and valuable information, sharing what your learning is a GOOD thing.

Take care and I look forward to reading much more of your blogging...Margaret x

Poppy Fields said...

I CANNOT thank you enough for this blog and for the metric TON of information you have shared so freely and generously here. I am currently a mixture of stunned and excited :) If you ever compile an MMU e-book, I'll be _first in line_.

You get bonus points for being a fellow Canuckian ;) If I lived any closer, I'd be begging a spot in your youth groups, even though I exceed the age range by a good many years!

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

Helena Jewell-White said...

I, too , love your blog. It has helped me to discover a whole new aspect and adventure to life, as I enter my 80th yr, I am loving the products I can make, and share.
I have a question, I would appreciate having an explanation to.
When calculating the amount of emulsion to add, I have read it is calculated on the whole amount of the finished product, whereas in the book I have downloaded from you, it say the emulsion should be a percentage of the oil in the recipe.
Which is a better way, or does it really matter. I have calculated both ways, and yours is the greater, which I would think is necessary to have sufficient thickening take place.

I would really appreciate having this clarified.

Thanks Happy Holidays, and thanks for your dedication to our wonderful world of Healthy Skin Care.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Helena! If you use the oil phase as the way of calculating the emulsifier, you'll end up with a different number for each lotion you make. If you make a cream with 30% oils, you should have more emulsifier than if you're making a moisturizer with 10% oils. If you make a body butter with 40% oils, you should have more emulsifier than if a lotion with 25% oils.

I've been trying to figure out the other way one might figure out an emulsifier...but I can't. My recipes are calculated so the total is 100%, which means the emulsifier would be the same every time. But my recipes are all different with different amounts of oil and water!

Can you please share this concept with me? It's quite the head scratcher!

Piep said...

Whoa! Just landed on your blog after a search for a lipstick base and followed a link to the waxes post ( The post is good, but what hooked me instantly, was your beautiful reply to the "common sense tells me a load of bull and studies are stupid" comment.

Bookmarked you and will be back often.

Angenita (already having a girl crush!)

Mabel said...

I am connected to your blog only till today & I have to say, it's just like a treasure from Heaven to me!

You are not just convinced by what others said or even reports, you write the comments from your own studies & experiences!

Doing all these & writing actually kills tons of energy & time, really thanks a lot for bring all these to us.

Big Big THANKS!!!

Sandra said...

Just wanted to say I love love love your blog it's got a wealth of info. I was wondering what your thoughts are on canola oil in lotion products. Is it considered a light, medium, heavy oil? I use it in my cold process soaps & ti really ups the conditiong properties.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You know, I really need to print all these comments out and look at them when I'm having a lousy day! You are just awesome!

Hi Mabel. I wouldn't call it killing time - it's a wonderful way to spend my time! But it does take time, which is why you'll see weeks where I don't post every day, generally because work gets hectic or I have things to get ready for craft group!

Hi Sandra. I don't know much about canola oil, but I think I'd like to learn more! There are many products derived from rapeseed oil, but we don't see much about canola oil in our products (which isn't the same as rapeseed, but is a relative of it.) It has a nice fatty acid profile - 4% palmitic acid, 2% stearic acid, 61% oleic acid, and 21% linoleic acid. I'm going to look into the phytosterols and such in the near future. I would consider it a light to medium oil like sunflower oil. I'd love to know more about it - can you share any information?

Sharvo said...

I just throw the odd mask together now and then but THIS sounds like FUN. I'm happy to watch over your shoulder for now.

You mention having rosacea ... any comments on DSM's Regu-cea? For the past couple days I've been trying a commercial cream with it that had some discernable (not miracle) effect.


The lyf so short the crafte so long to lerne. (Chaucer)

VickiPS said...

Susan, I'm totally loving your blog. I find your enthusiasm for the topic so infectious, and I admire your critical and rational approach: they sit so well with my own attitude to learning something new. It's great to be able to share my own excitement at discovering a whole new area of learning. Thank you so much for the generosity with which you share your hard-won expertise and your willingness to learn from others. My hat is off to you!

bodyworkerart said...

Thank you very much for your generosity in sharing the magical world of fragrances. I'm still doing my research and tonight have been studying the whole solubilizer thing; and if you please, I have a question.

Let's say I may making up a hypothetical formula of a mix of distilled water and (Everclear or 94 proof Vodka or such) alcoholo and my proportions within this (1 OZ total formula) are

2/3 alcohol, 1/3 water with this EO fragrant concoction i.e., 20 drops sandalwood; 20 cedarwood; 12 bergamot; 1 Carapan Plateau; and 5 drops of Cypress...then my question is how much solubilizer (solubilizer 30?) do I put into this mix in order to force everything to blend and stay blended? Also, finally at one point do I add the solubilizer? At the end? Or to the blend of alcohol and water at the very beginning even before I add my EO?

Sorry it's such a long question Catherine.
Thanks again for sharing the love!
(Steve O.)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Steve! If you do a search for "solubilizer" on the blog, you'll see a bunch of posts I wrote about using solubilizer s for fragrance. As well, take a look at the ingredient posts for the polysorbates. Also, pop into the emollient section and look at the esters, specifically Cromollient!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Steve. I decided to make your question a Weekend Wondering for Sunday, February 17th, so look for it then. <a href=">Weekend Wonderings: Solubilizers</a>. Let us know how the product turns out!

Kat Vance said...

Hope this is not a duplicate post - my first try doesn't seem to have shown up!

Thanks so much for your time and generosity in this blog. I have honestly tried to research this Q and not waste your time, but so far...not enough info :)

I want to use powdered mango extract in an emulsified cream. I have read of the issues with strawberry extract. Does this apply to all fruit extracts? Or do they react individually?
Are there ways to deal with the preservation challenges? More amounts, more kinds... or is it just not worth it because the shelf life will be so shortened no matter what?

thanks again!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kat. Great question. I've answered in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answer - yes, it's worth it. No, they aren't all the same. Yes, preserve it better. (Sorry to sound short! I figured I'd give you the summary and send you to the post I just wrote!)

Danuta Kildan said...

Every day I come and spend a lot of time on your blog. It is so educational. Thank you very much for it. Everything you say makes sense, it is logical. English is my second language and I have some difficulties to express my gratitude for the knowledge you share with us. Thank you :))

Jing Yi Kenny Tan said...

I've been searchin on your blog for a lip gloss recipe & I can't find any! Did you try out any lip gloss formula?

Have you worked with Versagel for a lip gloss recipe? :D thanks in advance!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jing! No, I've never worked with Versagel, and no, I've never made a liquid lip gloss you can find on the blog.

Danuta Kildan said...

Dear Susan I daily follow your blog, for sometime I can not use the search bar, every time i put the word in it, it takes me to the newbie page, Am i doing something wrong?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Danuta. I have no idea what is happening for you! Someone else complained about the search, and I have no control over that as it's a Google thing. I will, however, see what I can figure out this weekend.

What browser and operating system are you using? I figure this is important stuff to know!

Ged said...

Hi Susan
I'm also having problems with the new Search bar (using Firefox browser and Windws 7 OS) It, basically, doesn't search! I've searched for terms that I KNOW are in your blog and it sends me back to your FAQ page of September 1 every time! Any chance of getting the old search bar back? That was an awesomw tool!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

There's nothing I can do about the search engine. Sorry. It seems to work for some people and not for others, and there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason for it. I have written to Blogger because it's something happening on their end. Again, I'm sorry.

Danuta Kildan said...

Unfortunately it stopped working. I was looking for a place to click to get home on your blog, it is not there. Blog looks good though:)
Have a Happy Holidays Susan, and Happy New Year:))

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I'm upset because everything's messed up now with the new layout and the search engine still isn't working and I can't go back to the previous template. So it's all screwed up. There's nothing I can do about it, and I'm stuck here because it's too much work to move to another service or platform. I'm trying to write another book, but the search engine has stopped working for me too, and finding things is a massive amount of work. Everyone's complaining about the lack of search engine all over the blog, and it's bringing me down because I can't do anything about it, but it's all I'm hearing about. No matter how many times I write about it, I still hear complaints about it. I'm sorry, but there is nothing I can do but complain regularly to Google, which I am doing. If we could lay off the search engine talk, that would be great as I'm doing all I can...

Katie said...

Hello! Just came across your blog of wonderment! Interested in lipstick bases. My head is spinning from all this info, but am completely fascinated by your hard work and willingness to share, research and motivate. Thanks much!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Katie. If you do a search for lipstick, you'll find all kinds of wonderful recipes and posts!

Ljubica said...

Dear Susan,

I have been following your blog for a while and I absolutely adore it! I love your "no nonsense" approach while providing scientific background to every claim.

I finished my BSc in pharmacy and my masters in cosmetology, but your blog gave me the necessary confidence to start creating my own cosmetic label. Thank you so much for all the information you provide us with!

All the best,

Cindy Dy said...

You made some good points there. I did a search on the matter and found the majority of people will consent with your blog.


firedancer said...

please point me to the correct area in your blog -for combining water and a small amount of fragrance oil. thus making a thin water based spray that has fragrance. I realize that I must emulsify the water and oil, but I am really not sure how to go about it. Most articles (and products) are geared towards making lotions. I am not making a lotion, just a simple fragranced water spray. I have tried ETOH as an emulsifier, with less than favorable results as the oil does eventually separate and floats to the top. I am using a ratio of about .50 oz FO to about 8 oz water. If you have an article broaching this subject, I would love to read it on how to combine oil to water completely???? IF there is a specific product or chemical compound that I can obtain that will accomplish this, I would be sooo happy! thanks Ruthie

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi firedancer. Have you done a search for "fragrance spray" on the blog? I can assure you that such a search will uncover many many links to a fragrance spray on the blog!

Susan L said...

Hi Susan,
I make your Basic First Lotion regularly and both my husband and I love it. Because it takes as much time to make a single recipe as it does to make two times the recipe, I'd like to make more at one time. My question is this: Can I make and store the lotion in bulk (sterilized mason jar) without fragrance, keeping all the other percentages the same as if I had added the fragrance? I would then weigh out and add the correct percentage of fragrance, whip it and put it in a tottle. This way I could vary the fragrances more regularly and provide a more "manly" fragrance for my husband.
Thanks in advance!
Susan L

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Susan! The answer to your question can be found in the frequently asked questions section of the blog!

firedancer said...

Firedancer here, have another question, wanting to make a good bar soap for acne prone skin, read your info about linolic acids, which sound exactly like the properties I want to use. My question, and hoping I am not stepping outside your area of expertise, is does the reaction from saponification reduce the benefits of the linolic oils?

firedancer said...

By the rock!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi firedancer. Sorry, this is out of my area of expertise! (And thanks for the "you rock!" I like to think I do!)

petalsnest said...

I found your wonderful blog while searching about oils and their benefits for the skin. Thank you for making such detailed and informative post!
I am trying to figure out how natural oils penetrate through the layers of the skin. As we know, they are "frieds" with the 1st lipid layer but the next ones are all hydrophilic so how natural oils go through them is still a mystery for me. I know that emulsions are responsible for this but when using pure natural oils we don't put any emulsifying agent...
Could you explain in a post about this?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi petalsnest! Have you taken a look through the skin chemistry posts section? You might find the answer to your question there.

Cassie said...

Hello Susan! I'm glad I found your blog, it's a veritable mine of information. Thank you for sharing all this with everybody!

T. Wallace said...

Susan, I just want to echo the other comments: THANK YOU for your blog & all of your work! I'm just learning about creating bath & body products & your blog is easily the best-researched. It is so great that you present the facts & science! Thank you!

Nurse Mi'el said...

Hi Susan,

Quick suggestion, as I just read your guidelines/rules for contacting you, and I don't feel I need to pile on your already full inbox with such a suggestion/request.

Consider making the whole e-book collection available at whatever [discounted?] rate you consider fair? My understanding is if you want Book A, you donate $20, Book B, another $24, Book C, $28 and so on...

No sob story, I'm just a regular college student and thus, can't afford all the separate e-books. I pay enough for books I don't even want, trust me.

Also, I keep posting under my same name [Nurse Mi'el], but I would like to be entered to win whatever e-books you're offering without making public my personal contact information (I forget where I saw the part about giveaways), so I'll include my email in this one post and simply continue using my 'Nurse Mi'el' tag for all other comments.

If you'd kindly allow me to enter to win what I'm sure are fantastic e-books:

Okay, simpler, but hopefully still protected: throwaway ? 774 ? at ? g ? mail

Phew. Thank you for your consideration. Sorry for being difficult! :x

~STRIKE~'throwaway' ie.toss something | then the numbers 774 | at, the symbol, as I'm at a server, of course | no surprise, it's google's mail service.~/STRIKE~

(It's not really a throwaway so I don't want robots/spiders/crawlers/other digital bug-like names to catch it. I just started it with that intention.. a few years ago.)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nurse Mi'el! I'm not offering e-books at this time as I'm asking people to share to make this community better, not so they can get something. I will be offering them again in the future, I'm sure. And when I do, I respond to people in the relevant comment section so they can write to me privately so they don't have to post an email address.

I do not wish to offer the books combined together in a discounted fashion for a few reasons. The first is that this wouldn't be fair to the people who ordered the e-books the day they came out - and there were so many! The second is that the goal is to raise money for my youth programs.

I have so many recipes on the blog you could try, you don't need to get the e-books if you can't afford them. I encourage you to check out the specific sections for recipes, or check out the newbie section for starter recipes.

Was there something you were seeking specifically?

ShellyIsAFrog said...

My post is simply a "Thank You" for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm...and making learning FUN!!! I will be learning forever, and that's ok. I need something to get me through the night, right? My favorite word is "Chartreuse". It was the first word my oldest son said.

Emer said...

Hi Susan,

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the information you have put out here, I've spent hours reading it already but haven't even scratched the surface!

I've recently decided to make my own skincare instead of buying it and my first few attempts have not been that great (had no idea about the HLB system and thought any emulsifier will do -.-) but now that I've found your blog I think that will change!

Really looking forward to trying your recipes! Going to start off by ordering some BTMS-50 - from what I've read so far it looks like its the best all rounder and can emulsify pretty much anything from face cream to hair conditioner :D

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge :)

Best Wishes,

PS. If I happen to make a really great cream I'll share the recipe somewhere on your blog!


Hello. I just wanted say thank you gor this website and all your information it provides and to apologize for writing and requesting things you have listed above as things you are not willing to do. I got lost in so many posts on here and I am just now reading this one. Anyways have a good day and thank you so much for all your hard work 😊

Salina said...

Hello, I'm new to this and not sure where to start. I can't even download anything. Am I doing something wrong?

korganfamily said...

Hi Susan,
WOW! You are such a wealth of information! I am really enjoying reading your blog - but I can't for the life of me find the table of contents. I have great fun wandering around, but about 45 min of reading interesting and tangential information to what I was first looking for, I realize I have forgotten my original question...but am now really excited about something new! Can you tell me where to find the table of contents? I have tried on both safari and chrome but your webpage doesn't show up any differently on these two browsers.
Second question (and my apologies because I am fairly certain you have already answered but I haven't found it yet): I am having a hard time finding/getting BTMS ___ in France. When I do find places to buy it, it costs $20 for the item and $60 for the shipping. Could you direct me to your post about comparative emulsifiers and what I can use instead? I am a complete newbie but REALLY want to make my own conditioner.
Andrea Balan

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Salina. I'm afraid I dont know what you mean by not being able to download anything. This is a blog, and you can do searches, go to the right hand sides for links, or just read the posts and hit "older posts" when you get to the bottom.

Hi korganfamily! This is the tour of the blog, and if you read it, you'll see where things are located. Otherwise, look to the right hand side of the blog for links to various pages of interest. (I have pictures of what the right hand side of the blog looks like in this post.) Or do a search for what interests you.

Have you looked at the FAQ on the blog? I've got so much information there and in the newbies section about this topic. The short answer is that there really is not substitute for BTMS-50 or 25 as the emulsifier has to be positively charged. To learn more, go to the hair care section of the blog, which is linked on the right hand side of the blog.

Have fun formulating!

MissMame13 said...

Your blog is exactly what I've been searching for. Whenever I want to master a new culinary technique I go straight to Alton Brown because I need to understand the science behind it. I'm relatively new to making my own products and I'm so excited to have found you! You're the Alton Brown of self care products! And you're using your amazing talents to fund a cause I'd be proud to help promote.

I read your comment that you should print some of these comments for when you have a crappy day and I agree. You are an amazing human being and I appreciate you for all of the joy and love (and science!!!) 😍 you send out into the universe. The world needs more of all of that.

Thank you ❤