Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Some rambling thoughts for the day...

I haven't written much lately, and that's mainly because I'm in research mode. I remember Evelyn Lau saying that writing is 80% researching and thinking and 20% writing, and I think I'm in my 80% phase. I've been reading and researching new ingredients, checking out studies, reviewing things I find on-line, and designing new recipes for those fleeting moments I get to spend in the workshop. Although I've had time to make things, I've been making things I desperately need, like conditioner and face wash, things I've shared with you in the past. For those of you worried that I'm not here much, know that I am working on new things, but they aren't quite ready yet!

I have to ask you this question - why are you trying to make recipes from scratch? I address this question to the newbies amongst us. I think it's wonderful that you want to make something your own, but I ask you consider this...would you make a cake from scratch without ever having made a cake or without knowledge of what a cake should look or taste like? If you have an idea for a lotion you'd like to make with sweet almond oil and shea butter, find a recipe that has generic entries like "oil" and "butter" - like this newbie recipe I designed - and try that out. Do everything exactly as it is written - cut no corners! - and see what happens. If you like this recipe, then make it again and again and again. If you think it needs tweaking, get online and look into how you could tweak it with different ingredients. But don't start off thinking that you will make a recipe from scratch with adequate amounts of thickeners and emulsifiers and oils and so the first time you make a lotion (or conditioner or other product) because it's highly unlikely to work. I don't mean to be a downer, but making bath & body products is a craft and it takes time to learn how to do it. You can't design and sew a dress perfectly the first time you sit in front of a sewing machine, and you can't design a complicated product like a lotion from scratch and expect it to work. Find a recipe that has some reviews on it and try that!

I'm not saying that you can't eventually create your own recipes, but it will only end in tears if you begin your formulating career this way. I'm not saying this to keep you from being creative; I'm sharing this because I want you to have good experiences that encourage you to continue making awesome products. If you fail the first time out, you're not likely to want to keep going!

Related posts:
Newbie section of the blog
How do tell if it's a good recipe?

I have to say how much I love this foaming rice facial wash and how long it lasted! I made 100 grams in May, and I'm just running out. Those foamer bottles have a way of stretching out our products so we're only using a titch every time! Here's a version I made with foaming silk surfactant and here's a version I made with foaming oat surfactant.

As an aside, if you're looking for suppliers for bath & body products, look no further than the section about this topic in the frequently asked questions section of this blog. Readers like you have made suggestions about your favourite and least favourite suppliers (with explanations). You know which ones I like the best - remember, I'm not paid by anyone, these are my honest opinions - but it's nice to know what else is out there. Feel free to add your favourite suppliers to the list!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Wonderings: What's the difference between BTMS-25 and BTMS-50?

In this post on turning conditioner bars into shaving bars, Melanie asks, What is the difference in usage between BTMS and BTMS-50? I see that BTMS-50 includes Butylene Glycol, but how do I choose between these two when making a shaving bar? (or anything else for that matter)

From this post, how to use BTMS-25 in place of BTMS-50:

What's the difference between BTMS-25 and BTMS-50? 
Incroquat BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol. It has 50% behentrimonium methosulfate, the active ingredient for conditioning our hair, the cationic quaternary compound. It contains cetyl alcohol to boost the substantivity of the conditioner, and butylene glycol as a humectant.

BTMS-25 (sometimes found as Rita BTMS-225) is Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol. It has 25% behentrimonium methosulfate. It contains cetearyl alcohol to boost the substantivity of the conditioner. It does not contain a humectant. The cetearyl alcohol may feel a little waxier to some people.

How to use BTMS-25 in a conditioner recipe that calls for BTMS-50?
If your goal is to get the same amount of behentrimonium methosulfate in the product, then it seems logical to suggest that you would want to use double the amount of BTMS-25. A recipe that calls for 8% BTMS-50 would require 16% BTMS-25...but I think you'd end up with something with a balm consistency instead of a liquid conditioner, so I'm not totally comfortable recommending this. Instead, I recommend making the recipe how it is written, and seeing how you like it.

The short answer that in a liquid conditioner, I recommend substituting BTMS-25 for BTMS-50 at equal amounts and see how you like it. I know this contradicts what I said in a previous post, but I've learned more about our ingredients in the last few years and I've heard from readers who have successfully made products with BTMS-25, so I feel more comfortable suggesting a straight 1:1 substitution. As for the amount of cetyl alcohol, you can reduce it by half or leave it the same. It's up to your hair type. This really is a situation in which you'll have to do some experimenting to see what works best for you!

To answer your question, in the case of a shaving bar or conditioner bar, you can use either version. If you use the BTMS-25, you'll get something a little more waxy feeling thanks to the cetearyl alcohol. If you use the BTMS-50, you'll get something a little slicker feeling thanks to the cetyl alcohol. In a shaving bar, the difference will be minor.

Related posts:
What's the difference on my hair between BTMS-50 and BTMS-25?
BTMS-25 and products not emulsifying
Substituting BTMS-25 for BTMS-50 in lotion recipes
How much cetyl alcohol to use with BTMS-25?
Substitutions: What to do when you can't wait to create! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Have you thought about making mineral make-up or nail polish? Why not give it a try!

As I try to catch up on all the e-mail and comments, I thought I'd share a few pictures from my craft group this Thursday. I was thrilled to see that the mineral make-up group had almost as many boys as girls! (Hey, they have mothers and girlfriends, you know!)

How to make a nail polish? It's unbelievably easy! We mixed up to 5 small scoops of your favourite mica (0.15 cc per small scoop, so a total of 0.75 cc) with 5 ml of clear nail polish. (We used this suspending nail polish base from Voyageur Soap & Candle.) Mix well in a small plastic shot glass, then pour into the adorable little bottle with a steady hand or a tiny funnel. (Again, we used these adorable 5 ml bottles from Voyageur Soap & Candle.) Make sure you add two little metal ball bearings to the bottles to make it easier to shake. And you're done! We made almost a hundred in Thursday night's group!

Want some recipes? Check out the fantastic set at Voyageur Soap & Candle or check out the search I did on Soap Queen for a few. Anne-Marie has a tutorial for making a matte polish, another for making a scented nail polish, and a video tutorial

You can take your favourite eye shadow blend of micas and use those in your eye shadows. Just don't add the eye shadow base to it and you can add it to the polish!

Did you know that your homemade custom blends are called "franken" polishes? And did you know that if you want to make something matte or more pastel, you can add white polish? If you want to make something darker, you can add black polish to the mix! Give it a try! 

If you're interested in learning more about mineral make-up, check out the section on the blog devoted to this topic. (You can find all the sections on the right hand side of the blog!) I'd love to see what you make!

All of the micas I use in these pictures are from Voyageur Soap & Candle. That lovely blue in picture two is called Mermaid Cove, but I can't find it on their site. And I suggest getting yourself the drama queen mica if you want to make some really awesome reds.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Wonderings: Can we substitute one water soluble ester for another in a deodorant? Why do I have less volume than I expected?

In this post on making deodorants, Alaska asks:  I looked up Herbarie and was wondering if the AquaEm or Cromollient SCE would work in place of the water soluble esters? Thanks! 

In the original recipe, I'm suggesting cyclomethicone - an oil soluble silicone - or Crodomol PMP - a water soluble ester. So yes, we can substitute one water soluble ester for another.

First, check the INCI name of the ingredient you've found at the Herbarie. I don't think it's proper name is AquaEm. If we look, its INCI is PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides (and) Polyglyceryl 6 Dioleate, an ester with a proper name of Caprol Micro Express. (Okay, it's mostly Caprol Micro Express or CME. Close enough for our purposes!)

Can you use Cromollient SCE or Caprol Micro Express as a water soluble emollient in this recipe? Yes, you can. Is it a good idea? Yes, because both bring a lovely emolliency to the product. CME isn't a sticky feeling ingredient, so that's a great addition to a deodorant. And Cromollient SCE is a mildness enhancer, which is a great addition as well.

So the final answer to your question is yes, you could substitute either of those water soluble esters for the original water soluble ester.

In this post, How do I modify a recipe when I add or substract something? madux asks: I have trouble getting specific amount in my shampoo recipe, i wanted to get 250 ml but ended with about 220 ml of shampoo. I wonder if that is because of the powdered ingredients... Could you explain to me why that happened and how to fix it?

This is due to the density of your ingredients. Density is measured by is the idea that 1 gram of water is 1 ml. This makes it easy to figure out how much water you have when you have 1 gram or how much 1 ml of water will weigh. Here's the thing, though. Not everything is 1 ml = 1 gram. For instance, glycerin is heavier than water, while oils and essential oils are lighter.

If we have 100 grams of water, it will measure 100 ml. If we have 90 grams of oil, it might measure 100 ml. If we have 80 to 90 grams of essential oils, they might measure 100 ml. If we have 100 grams of glycerin, it'll be less than 100 ml. Every ingredient has a different weight to volume ratio. So it's easy to see that volume and weight don't measure up together.

This is, as I've mentioned many times before, we don't use volume measurements because using 5 ml of something like glycerin isn't the same as using 5 grams of glycerin. If we do everything by weighted measurements, we know we're actually getting 5% of something and 10% of something else. The original commenter didn't do this, 

In your recipe, you have glycerin and cocamidopropyl betaine and a lot of other ingredients that are quite thick, meaning that 1 gram of that ingredient isn't going to measure out to 1 ml. Because of this, you'll have a lower volume than you expected.

*Thanks, p, for the catch! I always get this backwards!!!

Related posts:
How do I figure out the volume of a recipe?
Weight vs. volume

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thanks to everyone who donated!

A big, massive, huge, gigantic thank you to all of you who have donated to support to the free youth programs my husband run at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Chilliwack and Yarrow Community Hall in Yarrow, B.C. (in the Fraser Valley). I wanted to share a few pictures with you so you know what your money supports!

William created this draw string bag in group two weeks ago and embroidered it last week. He plans to bring it to all the groups and continue to decorate it with that week's project. The picture below is of Austyn's adorable embroidered octopus!

We have sewing machines now! We have three for the group and access to two more! That's all thanks to your wonderful support! 

Every penny you donate for an e-book goes to support the programs you see on the right hand side of the page. We have at least one program a week and they are all free. If you're interested in learning more, check out the side bar with the e-books listed for more information.

As a side note, the programs are officially nine years old today! We started with games night in October 2005, added craft group in summer 2006, added Genshiken in the summer of 2007, and added video games group in the spring 2008. The new Dungeons & Dragons programs have been running since the start of this year.

Thank you so much for all your support!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Learning this one weird thing will save you money and keep you from ordering too many supplies

It's true, I tells ya! Learning how to read INCI names will save you time and money on supplies!

Sorry for the click-bait name, but I had to get your attention somehow, didn't I?

INCI stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, which sets out how our ingredients should be named on products or through suppliers. The INCI should be the same for products all around the world, and the intention is to make it clear what we are getting in our products.

A few examples...
Water - INCI Water (Aqua)
Vitamin E - INCI Tocopherol
Shea butter - INCI Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
Jojoba oil - INCI Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil

It's a good thing to know the INCI names of the ingredients so you aren't buying the same product through different suppliers. For instance, the INCI name for Croda's Incroquat BTMS-25 is the same as Rita BTMS-225 - both are behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetearyl alcohol. This isn't to say they are the same product: You might have 25% behentrimonium methosulfate in one and 50% in the other, but at least you know they have the same ingredients. (As an aside, both BTMS-25 and BTMS-225 are listed as having 25% behentrimonium methosulfate.)

Anyone selling a cosmetic product should be using the INCI names. If someone is selling a product with tea tree essential oil, they should be listing it as Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil not tea tree essential oil. Some people might list things like this to make it easier to read - olive oil (Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil) - and others might just use the INCI name.

Check out the Cosmetics Info site for more information on INCI names. 

Using INCI names when you're shopping for supplies can prevent you from buying the same thing two or three times at different suppliers. Incroquat BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol regardless of what your supplier calls it. If you see the INCI of Cetearyl Alcohol (and) PEG-40 Castor Oil (and) Stearalkonium Chloride, you have Incroquat CR. If you see an INCI of Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-3 Distearoylamidoethylmonium Methosulfate, Polysorbate 60, you have Incroquat OSC (one step conditioner). And if you see an INCI of Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol, you have BTMS-25 with 25% active BTMS, no humectant, and poor emulsification abilities compared to BTMS-50. And any of these could be called a conditioning emulsifier, emulsifying conditioner, concentrated conditioner, a cream rinse concentrate, or something else - so check before you buy! (And if all these names looked confusing to you, then think of how annoyed you'll get scrolling down the screen trying to figure out the differences!)

If you don't live in North America, there might be different names for your products - let's say Amphosol CG for cocamidopropyl betaine - but the INCI should remain the same. So don't go looking for Hydrovance, look for INCI hydroxyethyl urea. Surfactants can be really difficult to find under the same brand name from supplier to supplier, let alone country to country, so learning that DLS mild has an INCI of disodium laureth sulfosuccinate or Steol 230-CS is actually sodium laureth sulfate (or sulphate) makes it easier to find what you want! I've tried to include the INCI information for every product I review unless it's really obvious like stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, oil, butter, and some humectant names (in other words, the INCI tends to be the name of the product).

Note: Outside of America, sulfate can be spelled sulphate and aluminum can be spelled aluminium. In Canada, we use both spellings of each word! 

I know it's not easy to remember all of these things, but it's worth it. (Believe me, I don't remember even a tenth of our INCI names!) Make up a chart for the products in a searchable form on the computer and update it when you learn something new. I'm all for being loyal to our favourite suppliers, but sometimes you need faster service or a closer location to make body wash before you run out and have to go Wal-Mart to use something inferior to what you create in the workshop! If you know the INCI of your product, you won't end up ordering the wrong product. (If the supplier doesn't give you the INCI give that supplier a miss or ask them before spending a ton of money, if you have no other choice! They should have them easily available on their ordering sheet or the data bulletin for the product.)

As I mentioned above, a lot of suppliers will change the name of the ingredient they carry to represent their company or their core values. We have a lot of confusion about "conditioning emulsifier" and it helps to know the proper name of the ingredient so you aren't reliant upon one supplier.

Let's say you're interested in Coco SilkyCleanse from the Herbarie or Creations from Eden. Knowing that the INCI for this ingredient is disodium cocoamphodiacetate means I can go to the Personal Formulator or Of A Simple Nature (UK) and buy it there!

I try to use the INCI for ingredients like surfactants and esters because it makes it easier to find these ingredients in your local suppliers' stores, but sometimes they are simply too long to type!

One of the problems with surfactants is that suppliers like to sell blends of surfactants, which means you're reliant upon them for that specific combination. (My guru, LabRat, always said don't get reliant upon blends because if they run out or stop carrying it, you'll have to reformulate. This happened to me with Bioterge 804!) For instance, I love to use BSB and LSB from Voyageur (those are also the names Stepan gives them) and I can't find those combinations anywhere else. When you see BSB on this blog, you can substitute it for a different blend, generally ones that are considered "baby blends" like the Baby Blend Concentrate from the Herbarie. When you see LSB on the blog, substitute it for your favourite surfactant or the surfactants found in the INCI name.

BSB is INCI: PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Quaternium-15.
LSB is INCI: Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

It gets worse with emulsifying wax. I use Polawax, which is listed as emulsifying wax NF (the ingredients are a trade secret) and you'll see emulsifying wax NF listed for a number of different products. Before you invest in an emulsifying wax NF or something listed as an emulsifier, read the INCI. For instance, Aromantic (UK) has a product called "Emulsifying Wax Natural" that contains Glyceryl monostearate and cetyl alcohol, which is not emulsifying wax NF. There are a number of different ways to make emulsifying wax NF, and you'll want to check the INCI so you can ensure you'll get the same product again.

If you are looking for Ritamulse SCG (INCI: Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate), you'll want to look for NatraMulse at the Herbarie and Creations from Eden and ECOmulse at Lotioncrafter. (This, by the way, is an emulsifier approved for organic products, and something I hope to play with over my Christmas break from work!)

In the original post on this topic, DuhBe noted she keeps a spreadsheet of her ingredients with the INCI names on it so she can compare prices between suppliers. I think this is a good way of keeping track of what you're buying and what you want. I can't think of a better way to do this, other than memorizing every ingredient or only referring to said ingredient by the INCI name (which is what I did - I refuse to call it Amphosol AS-40 any more as it's really C14-16 olefin sulfonate, but I don't expect you to be as chemistry obsessed as I am!)

Ideally, I would include the various names for each ingredient in every post, but I simply don't have the knowledge of names outside of North America and I don't have the time doing a search of every supplier for that information.

As usual, the naming of these suppliers should not constitute an endorsement by me of these companies. I use them as examples of where I found these specific ingredients.

As a secondary note, if your supplier is advertising that the ingredient you're about to purchase contains "no chemicals" or was created "without chemicals", you're dealing with someone who doesn't know his/her business very well. Run away now.

If your supplier doesn't list the INCI, ask them for it. It's something that should be standard on every suppliers' website. If they don't know it, refuse to give it to you, or don't bother responding to your e-mail, find another supplier (if possible).

And finally a note to suppliers - for the love of all that is good and holy, could you please learn to type and/or proofread your sites? In going through a few of them, I was shocked to see so many poorly spelled ingredient names. Not only is it annoying to those of us obsessed with correct grammar and spelling, it makes it really hard to do a search for an ingredient when you've spelled it wrong!

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A few thoughts for the first Sunday in October...

If you've received any e-books lately, you'll have received the charts to go with it. But I'm afraid I left out page one on the oil comparison chart! I'm not sure how that happened, but I'd hate for you not to get that information, so please download the revised version now!

Thanks to my lovely readers who wrote reviews this week. I'm not feeling great today - I have a cold thanks to the kids in my groups - so I'll have to update the page with the winners tomorrow morning. Sorry for the delay!

A thought for you: I've been getting a lot of mail lately about growing hair or eyelashes quicker. (I understand there might be prescription things that can do this, but not cosmetic things.) I'm sorry, but there really isn't a way to force your hair to grow. You can do things to make your hair less likely to break, like conditioning it, not using alkaline products, combing it less, pulling on it less when you put your hair up, and so on, but you can't make it grow faster. If this were possible, wouldn't all the giant cosmetic companies be selling products to make your hair and eye lashes grow? There's something very appealing about the whole "one simple trick for losing weight" or "here's what those fat cats don't want you to know" that sucks us into these kinds of claims, but if you think about it for a bit, wouldn't someone be making major money off of this by now? Just a thought for the day...

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Question: Why don't we use coconut oil in sugar scrubs?

It's been a crazy time around the Barclay-Nichols household this week, and I haven't found a good chunk of time to sit down and write a blog post. And the busy will continue for a while as I'm teaching a class at Voyageur Soap & Candle on Saturday, so I won't get time to do more writing until Sunday! Argh! Oh well, it's that time of year, eh? 

As a secondary note, it looks like Blogger has been messing about with the search again, so when you look for something, it brings up all the posts for that entire month instead of just the one you want. I can't control this - sorry. I can't even find a place to write to them to tell them it's annoying. 

Note: The search is working again! Yay! 

In this post on heatproofing emulsified sugar scrubs, eyeluvmakeup asks: So if it's regular body scrub, why does it matter if the coconut oil melts since you would want and oil based scrub, regular scrub that is?

To give a bit of context, I had suggested this: This is why I discourage you from using coconut oil as the major oil in an anhydrous product like a sugar scrub, whipped butter, lip balm, or lotion bar. It melts at 76˚F or 24˚C, which is easy to reach in a bathroom, hot car, or pocket in the spring and fall months, and very easy to reach in the summer anywhere. The same suggestion goes for babassu oil, which has a melting point of 24˚C or 76˚F.

If we're heatproofing a sugar scrub, using coconut oil means we'll have a melted mess when the temperature gets a little high. We want our scrub to be solid-ish and fluffy. Using coconut or babassu oil means that it could be more liquidy and runny. If you like your scrubs that way, then use coconut or babassu oil. But if you want to have a fluffy emulsified scrub that won't melt in the heat, then you'll definitely want to stay away from the low melting point solid oils. (The oil to the left here is an oil based scrub that is liquid. Compare this to the emulsified scrub picture higher up this post.)