Monday, January 20, 2014

Simplifying a recipe: The oil phase of a body butter

How many times have you encountered a recipe that sounds amazing, only to find out that you're missing a few of the ingredients? You aren't really sure why you need those ingredients, but you really want to make the awesome sounding lotion without having to wait the two to six weeks it'll take to get the supplies. What can you do?

You can simplify the recipe. This is where knowing your ingredients and what they do in a recipe comes in really really handy. Figuring out what is important and why it's there is the first step to being able to really tweak your own recipes.

If you joined me on Friday, we took a really simplified view of just substituting one oil for another. In today's blog post (and the next few days' posts), we're taking a look at how to really makeover this recipe so you can learn to tweak! 

Let's take a look at Thursday's body butter.

38% distilled water
10% chamomile hydrosol
5% water soluble calendula extract
2% glycerin
2% multigrain complex (hydrolysed protein)
2% sodium lactate
0.5% allantoin

13% shea butter
8% pumpkin seed oil
5% Lotionpro 165
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
2% panthenol
2% quaternized rice (cationic polymer)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (or preservative of choice at suggested usage rates)

We can strip this recipe down to its base components and come up with a basic body butter recipe with Lotionpro 165 like this one...

64.5% distilled water

15% butter
12% oils
5% Lotionpro 165
3% cetyl alcohol

0.5% preservative

Start by asking yourself about the product. What is it? What does it do? What is essential in it? This is a body butter.

Is it really a body butter? Well, there's the problem. There isn't a definition for what "body butter" means. It can mean a thick cream, a really thick cream, a lotion with some stuff in it, and an anhydrous or non-water containing product. We see this product has a heated water phase and a heated oil phase, so we know it's an emulsified body butter, like a lotion. What makes it a body butter? Generally, this means that it is a thicker, richer feeling cream, not a thin or milky lotion. So this should be an emulsified oil-in-water product that contains some things to make it thicker and richer.

What's essential in this product? It's an oil-in-water body butter, so it needs to have some oil, some water, an emulsifier, and a preservative. Those are the basics for a lotion. For a body butter, we want something that will make it thicker, which means we want either a butter or a thickener, like a fatty alcohol or fatty acid. We see shea butter in the product, which is probably the thing that makes it thicker and richer feeling. We also see cetyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol we can add to our lotions to make them feel thicker. Plus, it's a nice emollient.

Please stop for a second and click on this link for the emollients' section of the blog. I would normally manually link each and every emollient about which I write in the post, but honestly, it's a lot of work. So I'm going to ask you to open the emollients' section in a new tab and refer to that. Thanks! This means I've saved enough time to write another post today! Plus, it means you can look at the oils you have at home instead of following the links to the ones I think are important. 

Emollients! They're important in our lotions because they're the thing that makes it feel creamy or rich or oily or dry or everything else. What emollients do we have in this product? We have pumpkin seed oil, a light feeling oil with a greasy feeling; shea butter, a greasy feeling butter that thickens the product at the level at which it's being used as well as offering some serious emolliency; cetyl alcohol, a thickener that offers slip and glide; IPM, an ester that offers a dry feeling emolliency that also reduces the feeling of greasiness of other ingredients; cyclomethicone, a silicone that offers slip and glide with some powdery after feel; and dimethicone, a silicone that offers moisturizing as well as approved barrier protection.

We have six different emollients here. Do we need all six? Well, yes, I would argue that each brings something different to the party, but you can make all kinds of variations. I wouldn't suggest removing the cetyl alcohol because it thickens the product and makes it more of a body butter than a cream, and I wouldn't suggest removing the shea butter because that's what makes it a body butter...but you can exchange them for other fatty alcohols and butters. (More shortly...)

You can substitute all the oils, esters, and silicones for one or more oils, esters, and silicones you like. You could use just pumpkin seed oil for all of it, or all dimethicone, or all IPM, and so on. You'll get a different skin feel if you use all hazelnut oil - light and dry feeling - or all fractionated coconut oil - very light and slightly drier than pumpkin seed oil - or all olive oil - much heavier and greasier feeling, and there might be a slightly green tinge to the product, depending upon how virgin the olive oil might be.

Let's pause for a second and think about this. When you see that amazing recipe that contains oils you don't have, you can substitute them for what you have. You will change the skin feel and maybe the colour and viscosity, but you can still make that product without messing with the emulsification.

Okay, let's think about the butter for a second. Using mango butter may result in a drier and slightly stiffer feeling butter. Using cocoa butter may result in a stiffer and slightly drier feeling product. Using babassu oil may result in a lighter, less greasy feeling product. Using kokum butter may result in a stiffer and slightly drier feeling product with a beige tinges. As with the oils, you can substitute the butter you have for the one I suggest without messing with the chemistry of the lotion. Again, you may change the skin feel, colour, and viscosity, but the lotion will still work.

What about these different fatty alcohols? We use cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, and/or behenyl alcohol to create a nicely thickened product with some slip and glide, and that's why cetyl alcohol is found in this recipe.

As a side note, Lotionpro 165 is often used with cetyl, cetearyl, or stearyl alcohol to enhance stability, so it's something you don't want to take out entirely.

Finally, what about the emulsifier? It's a harder thing to substitute one emulsifier for another, but it can be done. First, ask yourself about the limitations of using a certain emulsifier. For instance, we know that Sucragel AOF doesn't play nice with esters, so make sure you're using vegetable or seed oils with it. We know that some emulsifiers don't play nice with silicones, so make sure you aren't using a silicone hating emulsifier if you're planning to substitute all of the pumpkin seed oil with cyclomethicone.

We also know there are some usage rules with different emulsifiers. If you had Polawax, remember that you want to use 25% of the oil phase. If you have a 30% oil phase, it means you want to use 7.5% Polawax in this recipe and 8.5% e-wax NF, which we generally use at 1% more than Polawax. (Remove the 2.5% or 3.5% difference from the water amount, leaving you with 62% or 61% distilled water.) This is going to create a very thick product compared to the Lotionpro 165 version, so keep that in mind. If you have Incroquat BTMS-50, 7.5% is going to be a lot of that ingredient, so keep it around 5%

So what do we know? We know we can use pretty much any oil soluble ingredient we want in a recipe. (Yeah, that's oversimplified, but we really can do a ton of tweaking!) You can make this recipe exactly the way I created it on Thursday or you could use your favourite butter and oil. There are so many possibilities, I could write an entire year's worth of posts just changing one little thing or another about this recipe! (I'm really not joking...)

If learning how to tweak recipes in a serious way sounds interesting, I suggest clicking this link to the introduction of the learning to formulate series and learning more! Just click "newer post" when you get to the end of each post to see the entire series! 

Join me tomorrow for something completely different!


bene59 said...

It's super blog!

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
We know that not many ingredients will penetrate our hair, coconut oil has an afinity for hair. Now, what about our skin does oil penetrate our skin and does it benefits our skin?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. No, it won't penetrate our skin because the fatty acids are just too large. (As a note, very few oils penetrate our skin as the fatty acids are just too large!)

As for our skin, click here to learn more about coconut oil.

Anonymous said...

so, there is no reason to add expensive oils to our creations since it won't penetrate neither the hair nor the skin. Hope you're having a wonderful New Year!

zoe said...

Hi there- Your blog is fantastic! So, I'm trying to make a light, instantly absorbing, water-free face moisturizer. What is the absolute driest oil there is? And is corn starch good for making it feel drier? Do you think tea tree oil would provide this? Trying to go completely chemical free.
Thanks so much!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Zoe. You can't go chemical free - I think you mean synthetic free? - because the word "chemical" means something composed of elements and everything on the earth is composed of elements. Okay, with that out of the way...

You can't make anything that will instantly absorb out of oils - we've just enjoyed a series on oils penetrating our skin - or something that feels dry on our skin because oils are inherently greasy. You can make something that feels drier by choosing drier oils like hazelnut, macadamia nut, grapeseed (which I don't recommend due to the short shelf life), or evening primrose, to name a few.

Check out the emollients section of the blog for more information on our oils.

You really don't want to add corn starch to a liquid oil product as it won't stay suspended and will sink to the bottom. It's more appropriate for something whipped or more solid.

Tea tree oil will bring nothing to the equation when it comes to making an oil combination feel drier. Plus, do you want that smell on your face all day?

Why not a water based or water containing product? It seems like your goals and your ingredients aren't a good fit, whereas a lotion would be a better choice it seems.

Anonymous said...

Hello Susan,
I bought 5 pounds of lotionpro 165 and i made a lotion but i did not like it. The consistency was like mashed potato you coild see the very fine grains, moreover even adding fragrance i could still smell its own smell. I really regret buying it, its not my favorite. Any way it's part of learning process.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi! That's really too bad. Can you increase the amount of fragrance? And the consistency sounds really weird, almost like a lotion fail. Can you use it in a scrub bar or jarred scrub?