Monday, March 31, 2014

Raspberry oil!

I'm a big fan of being local - shopping at local stores, using local ingredients, supporting local crafters - and I was so excited to see raspberry oil on sale at some of our suppliers! I live in the Fraser Valley, and we're known for our berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and others - and it was exciting to see that a lot of this oil comes from Abbotsford, the town next to ours!

So what's the deal with this raspberry seed oil (INCI: Rubus ideaus (raspberry) seed oil)? It can be used at 1% to 10% in our products, has a saponification value of 191, and a peroxide value of 8.25 mg/kg. It contains about 2.7% palmitic acid (C16:)), 12% oleic acid (C18:1), 54% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 29% linolenic acid (C18:3). With all that linolenic acid with its three double bonds, this should be an oil with a short shelf life...but it isn't, thanks to a ton of Vitamin E in the form of various tocopherols with the equivalent of 97 mg per 100 grams of hexane extracted oil (970 ppm) and 61 mg per 100 grams in the cold pressed oil (610 ppm). When we include the tocotrienols - we find 2,133 ppm in this oil, which is freakin' amazing!

It also has about 3.5% phospholipids, which behave as anti-oxidants in the oil. It contains about 2.7% free fatty acids. It contains carotenoids at 23 mg per 100 grams (230 ppm). It contains great levels of phytosterols at 4220 ppm, which is higher than most of our carrier oils. Phytosterols, you might remember, are fantastic anti-inflammatories that can help with skin's barrier repair mechanisms, as well as increasing our skin's moisture levels. (I really encourage you to read the post on phystosterols to learn more!) It contains very litte squalene, at 84 ppm.

When it comes to the polyphenols in raspberry oil, we're talking mostly about ellagic acid and ellagitannins. A study found that using ellagic acid reduced the destruction of collagen and the inflammatory response, both of which are partially responsible for aging skin. It also shows promise in helping regenerate skin cells and helping to thicken skin. We're not saying raspberry oil will do all these great things, but it's nice to know there's a chance, eh?

It has about a six month shelf life, but it could be more thanks to the anti-oxidants found in it. 

Part of why it's growing in popularity right now is due to the fact that it might work as a sunscreen as it has some level of SPF. But as this article points out, there's no way to know how much SPF your product has and there are too many factors that go into determining the SPF of something, so you don't expect any kind of coverage from it. 

How does raspberry oil look and feel? It's a yellowy coloured oil that has a light feeling. It is slightly greasier than something like hazelnut or macadamia nut oil - I'd say it's on par with sweet almond or apricot kernel oil - and I think it goes on my skin very nicely. Not too draggy and not too greasy. It is less occlusive than something like mineral oil because it's a light oil. I think it would be very nice in just about anything you'd choose to include it in, 

I'd consider raspberry seed oil an exotic oil due to the price - at the Formulator Sample Shop it's $8.50 for 2 ounces, $7.75 for 2 ounces at Lotioncrafter, $11.67 for 1 ounce at From Nature With Love, and 7.30 pounds for 100 ml at Aromantic. I'd consider it a good substitute for something like rosehip oil or carrot tissue oil because of all the carotenoids, a good substitute for the higher linoleic acid oils like rice bran, sesame seed, or soy bean oil because of all of those lovely tocopherols, or a good substitute for a greasier feeling oil like those I just mentioned. It's a nice feeling oil on its own, so it'd be suitable for any anhydrous or water containing product. 

Join me in a few days as we do some formulating with this new oil. And join me tomorrow as we take a look at another berry oil, blueberry oil.

Summary of raspberry seed oil:
INCI: Rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed oil.
Suggested usage rate: 1% to 10%
Shelf life: 6 months, maybe one year
Vitamin E equivalent: 970 ppm
Carotenoids: 230 ppm
Phytosterols: 4220 ppm
HLB: 7

References for the fruit oil series:
Table 4.1, this textbook
Value-adding factors in cold pressed edible seed oils and flours
Journal of Food Lipids. Mar2009, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p33-49. 17p. 4 Charts.
Food Chemistry. Aug2011, Vol. 127 Issue 4, p1848-1855. 8p.

As a note, I was given a sample of this raspberry seed oil by the Formulator Sample Shop. The product was free, and I advised them that I would share my opinion, good or bad, on the blog. I was also given a sample of this product a few years ago by Tanna at Suds & Scents

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm still around, just really busy!

As is normal in my world, I've taken on more than I can handle and am having trouble getting posts written for the blog. I'm working in the facial products e-book, and this is taking up all my writing time. Plus, I need a good day or two in the workshop to try out some new recipes I've created and to play with new ingredients. Plus I've been booked every other Saturday with teaching classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle! This is a temporary glitch and should be resolved soon! 

In the meantime, let's all count down to the premiere of season 4 of Game of Thrones in 2 weeks! (Although I still have to see the last five episodes of last season. I know what's coming, and I'm too emotional to handle it some days!) HODOR! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reading ingredient lists: The 1% or miscellaneous category

I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at ingredient lists again for a moment to get an idea of where the miscellaneous category begins. 

When we're analyzing an ingredient list, it helps to know where the 1% section of the list comes in so we can figure out where they have used small amounts of something. For instance, when we see preservatives or fragrance, we know we're probably in the 1% zone, meaning that anything around those ingredients are likely to be used at 1% or lower. 

In this list, I know that methylparaben isn't used at more than 1%, so it's safe to say that everything after that will be at 1% or less (and I can confirm this knowing that we wouldn't use EDTA, propylparaben, or sodium hydroxide in a lotion at more than 1%). Does that mean that the stearic acid is used at more than 1%? We can't really be sure. We can use stearic acid at 1% or we could use it at 5% and use it safely at those levels. What about the imperata cylindrica root extract (cogon grass), which is supposed to be a good humectant? The Formulator Sample Shop recommends that it's used at 1% to 10% (link here), so it could be at 1% or higher or lower. Glyceryl stearate is generally used at 1% or higher, so in this case, we should think of the methylparaben as being the 1% or lower indicator just to make life easier. 

Why should we care about this? (Maybe you don't, and that's okay!) When I'm thinking about duplicating a product or trying for a similar skin feel as a commercial product, I need to know what's in there for functionality and what's in there for label appeal. 

There are safe usage levels for products and there are usage levels. The safe usage levels are there to let us know that anything higher than that level could cause issues like irritation or redness. The usage levels are there to let us know at what levels these ingredients should be used to have some kind of impact on your skin or your product. 

Take aloe vera for an example. The safe usage level is 100% as we can use it neat on our skin out of the bottle or from the plant. I generally use it at 10% because that's when it will have an impact on our skin, offering moisturizing and film forming as well as offering some thickening to the product thanks to the electrolytes. If I see it below the preservative or fragrance, I know it's at 1% or lower, and it's not very effective at that level. It's probably there for label appeal so the company can write "with aloe vera" in big letters on the front of the bottle.

Take a look at this ingredient list for St Ive's Naturally Indulgent Coconut Milk & Orchid Extract lotion. Take a look at the emollients in this product. The first liquid oil is caprylic/capric triglycerides or fractionated coconut oil, then mineral oil. Shea butter comes after urea, something we wouldn't use at more than 5% or so. The actual named ingredients on the bottle, the coconut milk and orchid extract, are near the bottom of the list. We see this a lot with our natural oils in products: You see the mineral oil and silicones near the top and the veggie or seed oils near the 1% cut off point. 

As an aside, this product advertises that it has 100% natural moisturizers. What does that mean? What does natural mean? What's a moisturizer? I've seen so many reviews from people saying they use this moisturizer because it's natural. Is it? Mineral oil comes from dead and decaying natural matter like dinosaurs and plants, so I guess we could call it natural, right?

The 1% cut off doesn't mean that anything under this point is insignificant! There are so many ingredients that work amazingly well at 0.5% - powdered extracts offer anti-oxdizing and anti-inflammatory properties, allantoin offers barrier protection and barrier repair as well as water holding properties, the cationic polymer polyquat 44 offers moisturizing and conditioning properties, and liquid Germall Plus offers preserving properties - so being under 1% doesn't mean the ingredient is ineffective. Citric acid at 0.2% can decrease the pH by 1 unit or more! EDTA binds metals at 0.1% And Vitamin E can offer huge anti-oxidizing properties at as little as 0.05%. 

As usual, it comes down to learning our ingredients. When you know what each ingredient brings to the party and how much of each one we must use to get the maximum benefits or effects. Yeah, I go on and on about this topic, but it's so important to know why we're using each ingredient and how to use it in a specific product. 

If you're curious, the ingredient list at the top about comes from Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream. I know they keep advertising "since 1851", but those ingredients are all 21st century! They advertise an ingredient called Antarcticine, which "a Glycoprotein extracted from microorganisms sourced from sea glaciers and notable for an ability to protect skin from cold temperatures", aka Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, which is marketed as nothing less than a miracle ingredient. It sounds like a very nice humectant and moisturizer to me, but miracle ingredient? I'll wait for the science...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: It's not easy being green...

I've seen quite a few comments and e-mails recently from people asking about making products with greener ingredients, like this one from Lucy: I STILL (!) haven't been able to make a shampoo with greenish ingredients that doesn't irritate my scalp. Tried the taurates/ isethionate but when I tried decyl & coco betaine...not cleansing can I try? I am thinking of buying next some coco glucoside, what could I combine this with in recipe? 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret...Being greener or Ecocert doesn't mean it's good for your skin. It might say something about how the ingredient was processed or where the ingredients come from, but it says nothing about how the ingredient will affect your skin. It might dry it out. It might irritate it. It might not moisturize well. It might not cleanse well. It might be completely awesome at all those things. We don't know until we try the ingredient in our products.

Let's say you make a green shampoo that contains decyl glucoside, water, and preservative. You can have something with a really high pH because decyl glucoside is generally over pH 8. You can have something that dries out your scalp and hair because you haven't included anything to increase the mildness, which is the key to making anything with surfactants.

Surfactants, by their very nature, are irritating to our skin. The goal when creating surfactant based products is to reduce the irritation to our skin by using milder cleansers, creating blends that enhance mildness, and adding ingredients like cationic polymers, proteins, or emollients.

When a surfactant comes into contact with our skin, it can bind to the surface and denature our skin's proteins. It can interact with the lipids on our skin and disrupt the organization of the stratum corneum lipids, which can lead to increased dryness and increased trans-epidermal water loss. Surfactants can remove the natural moisturizing factor in our skin, leading to a reduction in the ability of our skin to attract moisture from our environment. If they annoy our skin enough, the anti-inflammatory response can kick in leading to itching, drying, and redness. (This is one of the reasons you don't want to leave an anionic surfactant on your skin as a leave-on type of product!)

I'm going to leave you to read the rest of the post on increasing mildness before continuing on...go ahead...I'll wait. You might want to read the post on the chemistry of our skin as well. I encourage it...we've got time. Oh, you're back. Excellent!

So let's say we have a shampoo that looks like this (this is a made up recipe, untested, so try it at your own risk)....

40% decyl glucoside
preservative suitable for a shampoo
water to 100%

We have nothing in here to mitigate the irritation that the decyl glucoside might cause. We have no emollients, we have no cationic polymers, and we have no proteins. We have a high concentration of a mild surfactant, but it's still a high concentration with no mitigators. And we might have a high pH. So what can we do? We can add these various ingredients to the product or reduce the concentration of decyl glucoside.

We can add some emollient ingredients - say, something like coconut oil - but there's a problem...decyl glucoside isn't a great emulsifier, so you're going to end up with oil floating on the top of your product. You'll have to use something that is a good emulsifier or use a water soluble oil to get those emollients into the product.

We can add a cationic polymer, but I don't think there are any that are considered green. Maybe Honeyquat?

What about adding a protein? If you aren't using any other mildness increasers, you might want to consider using a protein like hydrolyzed oat protein or hydrolyzed silk protein at 5%. If you're using itin combination with other ingredients, then use as little as 2% in the heated water phase.

What about adding a humectant? Glycerin is a great choice here, and I'd encourage you to use it at up to 5%. However, if you have frizzy hair or hair that gets big when exposed to a lot of water, glycerin isn't necessarily your friend and might result in some slightly poofier hair than you expected.

And what about a thickener? Xanthan gum might thicken your mixture, but it doesn't do anything for incorporating mildness, so I'd suggest something like Crothix or Ritathix DOE, both of which will thicken the product and increase the mildness with their emolliency, but neither is Ecocert, so they don't fit the bill.

Consider adding another surfactant that can mitigate irritation, like cocamidopropyl betaine, which will also help to thicken the mixture. At a mere 10% this surfactant can turn your product from all right to freakin' awesome!

And we mustn't forget the importance of pH. If you have a pH over 7, your hair and scalp aren't going to be pleased with the product, so get the pH down with some acid. Citric acid is a good choice: Add it at 0.2% to your product to see a reduction down about 1 pH. Please don't do this, though, if you don't have a pH tester. I encourage you to get a testing meter if you plan to be using decyl glucoside 'cause you'll be doing a lot of pH altering with this ingredient.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: How do I research ingredients and make decisions about what ingredients to use?

In this post, Newbie links, Shawna asks: Is there a post on how/why you started making your own beauty products? If not I was just curious as to what started your journey. Just because... or did you want control over the ingredients in your skin care? I've noticed that you include some ingredients that are included in 'naughty/bad' lists out there. (As a newbie I have no idea what's hype and what's good information.) You seem to be well informed, educated, and logical, how do you decide/learn what products are safe to include? So overwhelmed and frustrated by all the contradicting views!

I find almost all of us start out on this journey of making our own bath and body products wanting to make something more natural, and a lot of us change our minds when we see that we can't get the skin feel we want using the narrow field of ingredients available with the descriptor "natural" attached to them. I didn't really get into it because I wanted to control the ingredients; I got into it because I wanted to control the product. I couldn't find a good greasy hair shampoo anywhere I went, so I had to make my own. I started off with a good recipe from the Dish forum and tinkered from there.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows that I have no idea what natural means and it frustrates me. Is stearic acid natural? It's found in our butters and oils as well as our own bodies. What about citric acid? It's found in our bodies as well as fruits and vegetables. What about glycerin? I'm seeing this one demonized, yet we find this in our body, in all our oils and butters, and as a by-product of soap making. What the heck could be more natural? Yet people shun these ingredients because they perceive they aren't. So I've given up on trying to find some kind of definition of natural...

I don't frequent sites like EWG, Skin Deep, The Suzuki Foundation, and so on because their opinions are rarely based on current studies or data. When I want information, I turn to the EBSCO search at my school or the library to find studies, or turn to my textbooks. I feel very comfortable using these peer reviewed resources to make decisions about what I'll use.

It's hard to avoid the hype, but I have a few rules about it. If someone uses the word "non-toxic" - run! They're implying everything else is toxic! If they use the words "chemical free" - run again! Everything on the earth is a chemical, so they have a very poor understanding of the topic. If they make claims to cure something, run away. And be cautious about the term "derived from..." because everything is derived from something, but it says nothing about the process or how far from the original ingredient it might be. (And I find natural products are filled with that term, but they really aren't that different from the "non-natural" products. Seriously. Go look at some labels...)

I was listening to CBC recently and an oncologist commented that we are so worried with not getting cancer that we obsess over minutiae and forget the big stuff like eating right, exercising, not smoking, getting enough sleep, maintaining a good body weight, and so on. I think of this when I think of our use of alcohol. There's a link between alcohol consumption and some cancers, but you don't see huge warning labels on the bottles or in the bathrooms of pubs. I don't understand how we can ignore something that has serious data behind it like this link, but we worry about parabens, the fear of which is based on one so-called study that has been discredited repeatedly. (Click here for more on that...) I'm not saying people shouldn't drink, but I don't understand how we can have a glass of wine with reckless abandon yet stress out about the possibility there might be propylene glycol in a lotion. 

As an aside, did you know that parabens occur naturally in various plants, including Japanese honeysuckle? If you see this listed on your product, be aware that it's a paraben! Not that we're scared of parabens, right?

But here's the great thing about making our own products - you can make whatever choices you want based on any reasons you want. If you want to avoid any oil costing more than $10 a litre, leave it out! If you want to avoid something because it doesn't seem natural to you, leave it out! If you want to include the most man made products ever, then do it! It's up to you. All I hope is that you're making those decisions based on your own thoughts after doing your own reading!

If you want to know more about my background, click here! It's an exciting read filled with pirates, monkeys, and advice on how to take a chemistry class! And if you're interested in learning more about researching ingredients, click here! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

What interests you? My background

The question was posed to me in the What interests you? post - what is your background? So I thought I'd take a moment to answer that as best I can...

I graduated from university with a degree in English and Canadian studies with the intention of teaching. It was the middle of the recession and no one was hiring, so I became a financial worker at the the income assistance department. I eventually became a social worker with the child protection department, but left for a while because it was an incredibly stressful job! After writing a book - and not getting paid for it - I returned to work as a family counsellor with community services, the best job ever and one I am in today. 

A few months after starting my job, my husband and I started a games night with a few kids at the library. I started connecting with kids on my caseload through crafting, and we decided to start this group at the library. I had practiced making bath bombs at home, but when we tried them at the library, we failed epically and embarassingly. I went home and did a search to figure out where I went wrong, and I found the Dish forum. (I was using hydrous citric acid and I wanted anhydrous citric acid!) I had no idea you could make all these bath and body products from scratch! 

I got up the courage to make a lotion and was completely mesmerized by the moment of emulsification. The success of that project spurred me to try making shampoo, then conditioner, then everything else (except soap). (As an aside, I haven't used any store bought products since 2007 with the exceptions of mascara, toothpaste, and deodorant! I make everything else!) 

I started on the first page of the archives of the Dish and read to the beginning of that section, then started in on the first page of the current section. I experimented along the way, then returned to those sections with new questions. I started reading textbooks on making products, but I soon realized my chemistry knowledge was lacking, so I registered for a grade 11 class at the local continuing education centre. I didn't take chemistry in high school. I started, but switched out for a German class because that seemed way more interesting, so this was all brand new for me. I finished that class in three months, then the grade 12 in two months. (A+ in both classes! Yay!) I re-did my math classes, then registered at the local university for chemistry classes. (I'm still taking classes, and loving them! Am I working towards a degree? It would be nice...) 

In the meantime, I started the blog. At first, it was a place to post things from craft group, but in March 2009 - National Craft Month - I decided to turn it into a blog for writing about bath and body products with my first post on toners. 

And here we are today. I'm afraid it's not that interesting, but I do hope it encourages those of you who are scared of chemistry and math to give science and math a chance. You don't need to be a whiz to convert recipes from percentages to weights, and you don't need to be in the lab testing everything with a precise scale to make a lotion. A little curiosity and a willingness to learn are what you need to make awesome bath & body products...and I know we all have that inside us! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A few thoughts for the day...

I'm still researching and thinking and experimenting in the workshop, so look for new posts starting this weekend! Between my third cold of the year, my lovely medication related stomach ulcer, teaching classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle, and youth program stuff, I haven't had time to sit at the computer and compose. Thanks for your patience! 

As a thought for the day...Think about the colour of your ingredients! This right yellow body custard is the result of 5% carrot tissue oil! It goes on colourlessly, but we were a little worried at first! It is very pretty, though. 

And this is why we don't measure by volume! Look at the difference in volume once the soy wax has melted! When you see something calling for 1/2 cup of something, is that before or after melting? Make it easier and just say x grams and you'll always have an accurate recipe! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why I'm all about evidence based information: This post on coconut oil from Salis Skincare

Why am I so obsessed with science? Why do I believe so much in posting references and studies for the things I write? Because without those things, we end up with posts like this one I found at Salis Skincare entitled Why I don't ever use coconut oil on my face. Allow me to quote,

Coconuts didn’t grow native to where my ancestors lived, or to where I lived now. So maybe coconut oil wasn’t the best option for me. It seemed to do really well for people who’s ancestry was from around the equator, but just not for any one that had European ancestry. I did more research and found that coconut oil has a larger molecular structure, and people that live around the equator have darker skin, and their thicker skin can handle and absorb coconut oil.  That’s why my skin couldn’t handle it!  I also looked at what grew naturally to Europeans, and I’ve found that many people of European descent do really well with sweet almond, olive, and apricot. My skin does really well with Jojoba oil that grows in the U.S. which is where I live.

The writer of the piece acknowledges that this theory has come out of her own head and she does offers no evidence for it.
  • What an interesting idea that foods local to you work best for addressing skin/health problems. It should be intuitive, but alas! I had to hear it from an expert. Thank you.
  • So what oils/products would I use being of multiple races? 
  • My ancestors are German on one parents side and English, Irish and Scottish on the other and i am currently living in New Zealand.
I really encourage you to read the comments. She is offering skin care advice based on the ethnic heritage of the commenters and offering medical advice about medications. She also states "What’s even worse is fractionated coconut oil (which makes it stay as a liquid) which is a refined oil, should never be used on the skin." As you saw a few weeks ago, it might be that unrefined oils with all those free fatty acids are worse for your skin.

What's the deal with coconut oil? It is considered comedogenic and acnegenic, which means it can cause the formation of comedones (blackheads) in a relatively short period of time and cause the formation of pimples in a short period of time. It has nothing to do with your ethnicity, but might have something to do with your skin type as people with dry or resistant skin types might find they have fewer problems using straight coconut oil than those with oily or acne prone skin types. It's probably not a great choice for most, if not all, skin types straight on the skin. If we compare the fatty acids found in coconut oil with those found in just about every liquid oil, you'll see that lauric acid and myristic acid are smaller than those found in liquid oils, like oleic and linoleic acids. As we saw in this post on oils penetrating our skin, if coconut oil does penetrate our skin, it'll only go down a few layers, which is more than enough for moisturizing.

Would using local oils mean you have fewer breakouts and pimples? I could try this idea by using something like cloudberry oil - biologically I'm a Viking - or using raspberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, blackberry seed oil, or meadowfoam seed oil because those grow near my house, and I could keep notes on whether I'd break out or not. But this would tell me nothing. It could be that I didn't break out because I have resistant skin, because these oils don't have something my skin hates or have something my skin loves, or because the weather changed, amongst a million other things. If I don't break out, does this mean that her theory is sound? Of course not. I'm only one person, and we would need a group of people in various locations from various ethnic backgrounds with various skin types to even begin to think about caling this a valid theory.

I can't say either way if her theory is sound. We are starting to learn more about eating local or seasonal foods and health, and there might be a shred of truth in there, but there's no way to know without the help of good ol' scientific methods.

So when someone asks me why I'm so obsessed with things like studies and references, I give you this. There is no evidence whatsoever for this theory - she admits she invented it while reading a book - but it's out there on the 'net with a big stamp of "this might be valid" on it. People are reading this and thinking that they should be using oils local to them to avoid acne, then getting worried when they try something local and it fails. What did they do wrong? Nothing. Because what she is saying is backed up by nothing except her own whimsy and wonderings, and that's not helpful when I'm trying to create products that will work well for my skin and hair.

As a final note, don't get me wrong - if you get an oil that claims to be non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic and mild and all of that and it causes you to break out, all the scientific studies in the world saying it's good for your skin doesn't matter. Trust your common sense and stop using something that is hurting you...but know that the reason it didn't work for you isn't because you're an Ethiopian living in Sweden who used the wrong region's oil. Know that it's because your skin didn't like it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What interests you? Can we make an anhydrous body butter that doesn't block pores?

In the What interests you? post, Lucy asks: Is it possible to make an anhydrous body butter type product but that does not block pores? Would sucragel work? 

Here's the question - what does it mean to block pores? I think a general idea is that something is in the pore of your skin keeping it from doing its normal skin things and could lead to a pimple or blackhead. Do anhydrous products - those made from oils and butters without water - block pores?

Let's take a moment to take a look at a few ideas about how our products work. There's nothing wrong with occlusion - a layer of something on your skin intended to prevent your skin from losing water, a process called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Occlusion is the reason we make our skin protecting products like balms, lotions, creams, butters, and so on. We want a layer of something nice on our skin to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. So if we want occlusion, why do some of us not get along with oils, especially on our faces?

I think what we're talking about here is comedogenicity, which means that an ingredient or product causes the formation of comedones (blackheads) in a relatively short period of time. Blackheads form when the outer layers of our skin do not shed properly and the hair follicle is blocked. The blackhead part comes from the oxidation of fatty acids on the surface in the skin.

So when it comes to the idea of blocking pores, what we're worried about is something entering our pore and causing problems, because we really don't care if something enters our pores and causes awesome things to happen, like cleansing. I'd like to re-define this question to be about the comedogenicity of certain ingredients and how that might affect our skin. Is that okay? (Yeah, I know, I'm picky about language!)

Here's the problem - there are a lot of questions about comedogenicity of ingredients, some arguing that the scale is pointless because (a) they were established by testing ingredients on rabbits' ears, which aren't the same as human skin and (b) they are only considering the ingredient in isolation, and don't take into consideration how ingredients interact in products. For instance, something like IPM is 3.6/4 when on its own and 1.3/4 when combined with mineral oil. Is an oil more or less comedogenic when combined with in a smaller quantity in water than when put into a butter? (The only way to know is to do some tests...)

As for using the emulsifier Sucragel AOF to make it less pore clogging, I'm sorry, I really have no idea. Sucragel can create oily gels when used with an anhydrous product, so it's worth a shot, but I've found those gels to feel a bit sticky when used as a leave on product.

To get back to the original question, yes, we can make loads of anhydrous products that don't block pores or aren't inherently comedogenic. They create an occlusive layer, which is something we want to keep our skin from losing moisture through transepidermal water loss. To see if you can use an anhydrous product without running the risk of breakint out, you will have to test each ingredient to see how your skin reacts. Yeah, I know that's not the answer anyone wants to hear because it takes effort and the risk of having horrible break outs for a bit, but I think everyone reading this blog can point to an ingredient that wasn't supposed to bother your skin that caused a huge break out on even the most resistant skin. (Shea butter is listed as 0, but even a tiny bit on my glove in the workshop can make me break out! I have a huge spot on my chin right now from the so-called non-comedogenic shea butter!)

Monday, March 3, 2014

What interests you? How do lotions stay white when using all those extracts?

In the Still collecting your thoughts! post, Carl asks: How can the producers of cosmetics (ex. lotions) add all the different plant extracts to their formulas and still keep the product white without using titanium dioxide?

Not all plant extracts are heavily coloured! Take a look at this container of green tea extract (oil soluble) from Brambleberry compared to the powdered green tea extract (water soluble) from Voyageur Soap & Candle. The green tea extract is completely clear while the powder is that oh-so-attractive green and brown colour. It could be that they are using clear or not very coloured extracts in their products.

There's also the question of how much to use. You've probably seen this with your lotions. If you make a lotion with loads of jojoba oil, you might see a yellowy tinge. Use it at 5%, and there's nothing but white. I wonder sometimes how much of a given thing the lotion makers really use, especially when we see it near the 1% mark. (Not that there's anything wrong with something being used at 1%. My powdered extracts work really well at 0.5%!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Substitutions for cetyl alcohol for acne prone skin? Do we need to buy a hand mixer for making products?

In this post, substituting one ingredient for another, Zink asks: I'm looking for a Cetyl alcohol alternative for use in a spot treatment/for cystic acne. So anything relatively inert would be good, suggestions?

Can I ask a question? Where did the idea that cetyl alcohol is incredibly comedogenic or bad for acne come from lately? I've never seen this referenced, and there have been at least three people on the blog or by e-mail asking this question in the last few weeks. 

Here's the thing about the comedogenicity scale. It was collected using rabbits' ears, not human skin (although that's changing), and it doesn't take into account the interactions with other ingredients or in other products. For instance, this list has isopropyl palmitate as being 5/5. On page 584 of my Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, the rating for isopropyl palmitate is 3/4 when on its own with a low of 1/4 when mixed with 25% petroleum. On that site and this site, cetyl alcohol is listed as 2/5, while my textbook notes the the mean score for cetyl alcohol is 1.3 =/- 0.5 out of 4. (Given the references used by that site, I'm going with my textbook as the numbers for comedogenicity in this post.) They list cocoa butter as 4/4, while my textbook notes that it can change with the batch of cocoa butter from 2.6 +/- 0.5 to 4 +/-

I'll be going into a bit more detail about comedogenicity on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that. If you're reading this post after March 2nd, 2014, hit "newer post" at the bottom of this post to get to it! 

What does the word "inert" mean? It means something that won't react with something else, but how are we to know what won't make someone's skin break out? For every person who reacts adversely using shea buter, there's someone who adores it and would kill you before giving it up! So how can we know what is inert? I think this is a question that can't be answered...sorry...

Will cetyl alcohol make your cystic acne worse? I'm not a doctor and I'm not familiar with your skin, so I won't be able to offer you more than some generic advice about making a product with cetyl alcohol. Is it comedogenic? It looks like it's a lot less comedogenic than these websites would have you believe. It's a major emollient in oil free moisturizers because it doesn't tend to make those who can't have oils react. It's inexpensive - something like $4 a pound - and it feels slippery and glidy on our skin. It's a great ingredient that I use to thicken my lotions, act as a glide and slip increaser, and as the main emolllient in my oil free moisturizers. I'm a big fan of it, but it doesn't mean your skin will like it!

I guess my other question is why use any oil soluble ingredients on acne prone skin? Why not consider making a toner or face wash or something else water based to deliver the ingredients you want? Oils are not the friend of acne prone skin - hence the reason for oil free products - but even emollients can cause problems. If you have dry, acne prone skin, there might be a need for a moisturizer, but otherwise, I guess I'm wondering what you want it to do that you couldn't get out of a gel or toner or other water based product? Just some food for thought...

In this post, Creating products: Equipment (part two), Newbie asks: Great blog! I'm a newbie who's thinking of starting to make my own cosmetics. I asked around and most recommendations were to get a stick blender - I'm interested in body butters though I might do more (shampoo and conditioner) if successful. You seem to favour a mixer but I'm wondering if it's necessary for a newbie who might only be dabbling. 

I use a mixer for a few reasons. The first being that I had a mixer when I started making products, so it made sense to use it. The second being that I really like the whisk attachment for making fluffier lotions or whipped butter. And the third being that I really hate cleaning stick blenders, but don't mind cleaning mixers. I have used both and I keep coming back to my mixer thanks to the ease of cleaning. I think - for the most part - there isn't a big difference in using a mixer versus a stick blender. 

There are some emulsifiers that suggest using different types of mixers, and we're wise to listen to those suggestions. For instance, Montanov 68 (aka Sugarmulse) wants us to use a stick blender, as does Sucragel AOF, so don't bother using a mixer for either of those. This has to do with the shear generated by a stick blender, which is a high shear. On the other hand, gums and gels like low shear, like that generated by our hand mixers (but you can often mix these by hand and get a good result). 

That's it for today's Weekend Wonderings! See you tomorrow when we start delving into those questions that interest you! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy National Craft Month!

Happy National Craft Month! I consider five years ago today to be the birth of this blog in this current incarnation, as one with a focus on bath and body products, as today is when I posted my first tutorial, this one on toners. (I did start the blog earlier in December 2008, but it was mostly for my craft group. March 1, 2009, was the day when I committed to post bath & body products every day!) I started it because I wanted to share my love of making bath and body products with the world, and I'm so glad you've been on this journey with me!

How can we celebrate this month? Share your favourite craft with someone you like. Share your favourite craft with someone you love. Post a tutorial on a forum or your blog. Post some pictures of what you've made to a forum or a blog. Learn something you've been meaning to learn (especially if you've already bought the supplies!). Use or wear something you've made at least once a day. In short, display your crafts to the world to show others how rewarding and fun it is to be a DIYer!

If you want to know more about the pendants above, they're made with pendants I found at the scrapbooking store for $0.60, scrapbooking paper, and Diamond Glaze. If you want to make your own, check out this tutorial you can find on Fusion Beads.

The Sn is the symbol for tin - my initials. Yep, I'm three kinds of metal. Sn for tin. Sb for antimony. And Ni for nickel. They make up my full name, Susan Barclay Nichols! Woo!