Friday, February 28, 2014

Some updates on the blog!

Thanks for your feedback in the What interests you? and Still collecting your thoughts posts! (Keep it coming!) You've given me so much to try out and research - it's so freakin' exciting!!! I hope I didn't scare any of you by saying I wasn't inspired, but I guess I was getting a little tired of the same old, same old and needed to take a break to think about where the blog was going next.

I should give you a little context. It felt like most of my mail or comments were questions that had been addressed in the FAQ, newbie, or other section of the blog, and I was starting to feel that the only value I had was to write about the same few topics over and over again, which is less exciting than it sounds. Don't get me wrong! I love writing the newbie series and I love the more advanced stuff, but if one more person asks me to create a conditioner recipe for them because they can't find them on the blog, I might just delete the entire hair care section because no one is using it! (Kidding!)

On top of this, I'm being inundated by spammers. If I receive 10 comments on the blog, 8 of them are spam from some growth hormone company or something similarly irritating. I know this is the problem with having a blog - I had a website for years that had to shut down the forum and comments because of the spam and pornographic images, so I'm not a newb at this whole thing - but it's pretty irritating. I don't to remove the ability to post anonymously because some of my most prolific and interesting commenters do it as anonymous, but it is starting to look like the only option.

So picture me checking my mail, all excited to see what might arrive, only to see message after message from "anonymous" about improving the length of things or reducing the girth of other things or being asked for the third time how to make a lotion when there are links all over the blog to that topic.  Couple all of this with yet another cold and some ongoing stomach problems - most likely a medication related ulcer - and you have the recipe for a grumpy Swift! I've always said that I'll write the blog as long as I'm having fun, and the fun was draining out of this experience. Hitting the "spam" button for half an hour a day isn't my idea of a party, and I had to find the spark again, to find the fun in this experience.

Which leads me to your comments! I'm so excited about your feedback! It shows that there is some value in this blog beyond repeating the process of making a lotion or telling people that beeswax isn't an emulsifer. Your lovely comments show me that you're curious about how our products work, how they can be created, and how to make things in your own workshop. I want to hear from you! I want to hear about your successes and failures. I want to see pictures of your products. I want to hear what you're thinking and what you're making. I want you to tell me when I'm wrong. I want to know you're making amazing products with the recipes I create. I want to know your tweaks or changes. I want to have loads of interaction with you, my wonderful readers, because that really is the only reason for doing all of this!

But please understand that I don't have time to create something from scratch for you. (I've created so many recipes I can't even count them, so the odds are pretty great I've got what you want! If I haven't, you should be able to find the information you need to make the product...except for cold process soap. I still haven't made that!) I don't have time to make a recipe up for your business that you want to use to make money. If it's on the blog and easy to find - for instance, it's in the newbie or FAQ sections - I won't answer your question. (Sending it to me two or three times only means you're going to the end of the pile of stuff I have to wade through because it really feels like you're tugging on my sleeve demanding attention and that's really irritating.) Please understand I only have so much time for the blog, and it seems like I spend most of that time hitting the "spam" button when I read comments or answering questions that have been asked and answered many many times and would be easy to find with a quick search or visit to one of the sections. I know it's frustrating I won't answer your question, but the ten minutes I spend on your e-mail is ten minutes during which I'm not researching or writing.

The point of this blog is to teach you how to fish, not to hand them out willy nilly. I've left you bread crumbs all over this blog to help you find what you want - I've created labels, I've created sections, I've added two search bars - and it's up to you to wander down that trail to see where it leads. This isn't a hobby for sissies! Failure to engage your curiosity will have you making epic failures or boring products with boring ingredients. A search for one thing will often lead to another path opening as you learn about some awesome ingredient or fun new recipe. In short, me handing you information isn't fun for me and teaches you nothing, so let's put an end to it. I want to hear from you, but I'd like to know you've tried to look for things on your own first!

Thanks for listening to my rant! I'm starting on your comments on Sunday and will be working through them. Please note, I'm working through them as I have time, so please don't be offended if you were the first commenter but you see someone else's comment being answered first. Some of what you want to know requires me to order supplies, get into the workshop, send samples to my testers, and wait. Other things require a lot of research and time, while others are quickly answered. I will do my very best to get to each and every comment written as my time permits. Like I said, I think I have enough for a year's worth of posts! Thank you!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Still collecting your thoughts....

Please keep those thoughts and ideas coming! I'm getting great ideas for research and experimentation from you! I'm reading your comments and already my brain is swirling with ideas and my notebook pages are being filled at an alarming rate! So much awesome! Such inspiration! 

If you live in Metro Vancouver or Fraser Valley, check out these classes I'm teaching at Voyageur. 
Let me know if you have suggestions for other classes or other feedback! 

Finally...Go Team Canada! Gold for the women's and men's hockey teams! Woo! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What interests you?

I thought I'd re-post this post asking for your input because I really do want to know what you want to know! I'm finding it a little hard to be inspired lately as it seems like I'm not sure what you want to learn, so please visit that post or comment on this one so I can plan for the future. I like to have a list of things I can research or I can experiment with in the workshop, and your input is essential. Right now I only have a few things on the list, and I can't get to any of them as I'm waiting for supplies and such.

I really need some ideas for Newbie Tuesday. I see you're interested in hair care - specifically conditioners, it seems - but I'm not sure what I could write about that I haven't covered in the hair care section. Can you shed some light on this for me? I'd really like to have a series we're working on weekly!

I do have some posts on liquid crystal emulsifiers coming shortly, but I'm waiting on my testers' opinions as well as the test of time to see how stable they might be.

I can't wait to see what you say!

As an aside, the bread in the picture is called Chop Suey bread found at a bakery on Pender Island, B.C. It's absolutely lovely! Well worth the incredibly steep ferry rates from Vancouver! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Making a coconut oil liquid conditioner

This dry winter weather is wreaking havoc on my hair, making the ends all hard and brittle, so I thought I'd make myself a little conditioner with coconut oil. But the winter hair custard I made a few weeks ago is quite high in coconut oil - 10% - and it's causing my hair to be greasy by the end of the day. Can I make something that offers as much moisturizing without as much oiliness?

7% BTMS-50
5% coconut oil
2% cetrimonium chloride

73.5% water
2% hydrolyzed protein - I used keratin hydrolysate

2% panthenol
2% cationic polymer - I used quaternized rice
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Use the basic conditioner making instructions for this product.

Why am I using the ingredients I've chosen in this recipe? Check out this post on the basic recipes for conditioner to learn more about using Incroquat BTMS-50 or other cationic quaternary compounds. Yes, you can substitute other quats, like Rita BTMS-225 or Incroquat BTMS-25, but remember to increase the amount you're using to ensure you get a good emulsification.

In this recipe, I chose to use keratin hydrolysate, a hydrolyzed protein I received from the Formulator Sample Shop*. I like to use hydrolyzed proteins that form a film on my hair or skin instead of penetrating it, so I generally choose things like oat protein or keratin. If you want something to penetrate your hair strand and moisturize from the inside out, you will want to choose a hydrolyzed protein that can penetrate the hair strand, like hydrolyzed silk protein. It is suggested to use the keratin hydrolysate at 1% to 5% in the heated water phase of the product, so I chose to use 2%, because this is what I generally use.

I had originally wanted to use honeyquat as my cationic polymer, but I was out, so I chose to use quaternized rice, a sample of which I received from the Formulator Sample Shop*. This product is like the other cationic polymers we use, which is to say they are positively charged and will adsorb to our hair strand to create a nice film that will repel other hair, keep our hair less tangled, and will smooth the cuticle down. Quaternized rice is suggested at 1% to 10% in the cool down phase.

If you don't like silicones, then take a look at the silicone alternatives you could use instead.

A note on humectants: I don't tend to use a lot of humectants as I have frizzy hair that gets quite huge and hard to tame when I add things like glycerin or honey and such into my conditioners. If you want more hydration in your product, think about adding 2% to 5% in the heated water phase and removing 2% to 5% from the water amount.

So what do I think of it? I like it! I find it is moisturizing enough for my hair so the ends don't get too crinkly and hard, and my hair can make it two days without washing. I wouldn't recommend oily haired girls get this on your scalp as it won't make your greasy hair very happy, and I recommend that dry haired girls really consider using the humectants as noted above. But it's a great conditioner that smells absolutely like white chocolate (my favourite fragrance oil).

*Please note that I have been given quite a few free samples from the Formulator Sample Shop. I have made it clear to them that I will share my honest opinion with you, my wonderful readers. 

Related posts:
Some oils can penetrate your hair! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Can free fatty acids penetrate our skin?

We've established that studies have shown that some oils can penetrate the upper layers of our stratum corneum and that this can be a good thing because it means those oils can help improve the barrier lipids we find in the stratum corneum. So let's take a moment to see if fatty acids we find in our oils can penetrate our skin and, if they do, what effect they might have on our skin.

What are free fatty acids? They are fatty acids that aren't attached to the glycerol backbone of the triglyceride, so they're just floating around in the oils. One of the benefits of refining oils is the removal of these free fatty acids, so we end up with a tiny amount - something like 0.05% - in our oils. (Reference and reference) It's a good thing to remove them as they can contribute to "pro-oxidant" behaviour like our oils going rancid more quickly.

Check out this study on whether or not free fatty acids can penetrate our skin. The conclusion they reached was that lauric acid (C12) and oleic acid (C18:1) could penetrate the skin, with lauric acid shown to accumulate in the dermis. The authors put forth that adding lauric acid might help with penetration of fatty acids. Capric (C10) and linoleic acids (C18:2) penetrated, but not as much as the other fatty acids. This book notes that medium chain length (like capric or caprylic acids), saturated fatty acids, and unsaturated fatty acids are the most effective at penetration.

Here are some pictures of that penetration. Kinda interesting....

How do the fatty acids penetrate our skin? This book puts forth the idea that oleic acid (C18:1) disrupts the packed structure of the intercellular lipids in our stratum corneum because it has a kinked structure thanks to that cis double bond, so it's more effective at penetrating our skin than stearic acid (C18), a saturated fatty acid that doesn't have that double bond so it lines up in a straight chain.

Do we want fatty acids to penetrate our skin? Is there value in it? In this study. they noted that although capric acid (C10) penetrated the skin, it didn't cause re-arrangement of lipids. And in this book, it is noted that oleic acid may penetrate the stratum corneum, but doesn't mix with the lipids. If something penetrates but doesn't have an impact, do we care? (Just a thought...)

Here's the abstract of a study that just came out. It's quite interesting and raises a ton of questions for me. (Experimental Dermatology. Jan2014, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p39-44. 10p.) (If you want to see the whole thing, click here...)

Plant-derived oils consisting of triglycerides and small amounts of free fatty acids (FFAs) are commonly used in skincare regimens. FFAs are known to disrupt skin barrier function. The objective of this study was to mechanistically study the effects of FFAs, triglycerides and their mixtures on skin barrier function. The effects of oleic acid (OA), glyceryl trioleate (GT) and OA/GT mixtures on skin barrier were assessed in vivo through measurement of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and fluorescein dye penetration before and after a single application. OA's effects on stratum corneum (SC) lipid order in vivo were measured with infrared spectroscopy through application of perdeuterated OA (OA-d34). Studies of the interaction of OA and GT with skin lipids included imaging the distribution of OA-d34 and GT ex vivo with IR microspectroscopy and thermodynamic analysis of mixtures in aqueous monolayers. The oil mixtures increased both TEWL and fluorescein penetration 24 h after a single application in an OA dose-dependent manner, with the highest increase from treatment with pure OA. OA-d34 penetrated into skin and disordered SC lipids. Furthermore, the ex vivo IR imaging studies showed that OA-d34 permeated to the dermal/epidermal junction while GT remained in the SC. The monolayer experiments showed preferential interspecies interactions between OA and SC lipids, while the mixing between GT and SC lipids was not thermodynamically preferred. The FFA component of plant oils may disrupt skin barrier function. The affinity between plant oil components and SC lipids likely determines the extent of their penetration and clinically measurable effects on skin barrier functions.

Okay, so what this is saying is that free fatty acids, like those we might find in our plant derived oils might actually disrupt skin barrier function? ("The oil mixtures increased both TEWL..." and "The FFA component of plant oils may disrupt barrier function.") Are we making things worse by applying plant derived oils to our skin? I'm worried most by these sentences - "FFAs are known to disrupt skin barrier function..." and "The FFA component of plant oils may disrupt skin barrier function."

I did some searches and wasn't able to find anything about free fatty acids disrupting skin barrier function other than a few "it is known" kind of things, which is frustrating because you'd think something that is known would be more easily findable, but it is something to think about. I found a reference in this book on page 233 that if we add only one type or two types of of lipids found in our skin (cholesterol, free fatty acids, or ceramides) it "impedes or rather than facilitates barrier recovery". If we add all three, we see "normalized rates of barrier recovery".

So how do I interpret this? What I see this saying is that free fatty acids, like oleic acid, could have a negative impact on our skin by disrupting barrier function that could increase transepidermal water loss. However, refining those oils should bring us down to 0.05% free fatty acids, which is a really tiny amount in our oils, so I think we're just fine given that we are using so many things that will have a positive impact on skin's barrier functions, but that's only my interpretation and opinion, and I'll keep on looking for more information.

As a P.S....This study does shed light on a question posed by Sarah in which she reports that someone out there is saying that refined oils are not good for lotion making or unsafe. In fact, I think this study might show the opposite, that refined oils are the ones that are safest because they have fewer free fatty acids and will go rancid slower than refined oils.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Plant extracts vs. oils. Extending the shelf life of an oil.

We have a ton of comments from the last few weeks, so let's get started! The series on oils generated loads of great comments, so let's take a look at those...

In the post Can oils penetrate our hair? Anastasia asks, Plant extracts vs oils: why would you choose one over another?

For the most part, plant extracts are water soluble - like powdered chamomile, for instance - while oils are oil soluble, so there will be certain applications that are obvious for one or the other. I think about using something like water soluble calendula extract instead of calendula oil. I use the w/s calendula in things like toners or facial cleansers that tend to be all water soluble ingredients and the oil when I'm making lotions. But sometimes I don't want to spend the limited oil phase I have in a product on an oil soluble extract, so I'll use the water soluble version instead.

If you are talking about oil soluble plant extracts, like this mallow extract, then you'd use this because you can't find mallow oil.

If you are talking about something like olive oil unsaponifiables or oil soluble evening primrose flower extract, you'd use those to get concentrated extracts of things we like - like the phytosterols from olive oil - but want in much larger quantities than we'd find in an oil. Those extracts will have a specific amount of something - let's say they guarantee to have 10% phytosterols - that can't be guaranteed in an oil.

Extracts tend to be more expensive than oil and they contain tons of different things that wouldn't be in extracts, like the fatty acids and triglycerides in large quantities, polyphenols, phytosterols, vitamins, and so on. Oils are generally easier to find, and they offer more than just the active ingredients to a products, like skin feel or glide.

What do you think? Share your thoughts!

In this post, Tuesday Wonderings, Sandra asks: On my first supply order I bought a big bottle (1 l) grapeseed oil and 500ml of hemp seed oil. I wasn't aware of the short life span of these oils, and now I have poured 1% vitamin E into them and put them inside the fridge. I just wonder if there is anything I could formulate in order to extend the shelf life of the oils, maybe if I turn them into a solid product of some sort? Do you have any good recipes or tips? I happen to carry Optiphen by the way, in case that would help. I'd just hate to think that both bottles will go to waste if I don't use them up soon.

Adding an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E is a great idea, as is putting it in the fridge. You can also freeze your oils, which will stop the process as of the day it enters the freezer. I can't think of anything you could make with your product that would extend the life.

Related posts:
Heating, holding, freezing, and thawing our oils

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Wonderings: Substitutions for comedogenic ingredients? And share your knowledge about Vitamin C esters!

In this post on oil free moisturizers, Elysia asks: Cetyl Alcohol is moderately comedogenic and the key ingredient in Germall - Propylene Glycol - is extremely comedogenic. Do you have suggestions for a acne-safe alternatives to these ingredients?I have very sensitive, acne-prone skin so I have to be really careful with what I put on my skin.

Is cetyl alcohol that comedogenic? I ask the question because there is some debate about whether the comedogenicity scale is valid for a number of reasons. (Click here for that post...This study shows cetyl alcohol as a 2, which is mildly comedogenic, and propylene glycol as a 0, which would be non-comedogenic. 

How to substitute something less comedogenic in a recipe? I guess the answer to that is to choose a few things that might be a good substitute - behenyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid to name a few possibilities - and look up the comedogenicity ratings at a site you trust. Then use that instead. But remember, there can be interactions between ingredients that make things more or less comedogenic, so think about that as well. Or just make the product see how your skin reacts. It's amazing what some people can handle - like shea butter neat on the face - and what others can't.

As an aside, consider this when asking about something like liquid Germall Plus - how much propylene glycol do you find in 0.5 grams of this ingredient? Then consider how much you will on your skin. 5 ml or 1 teaspoon? Less or more? If we said you used 5 grams per application, then you're using 0.025 grams of liquid Germall Plus on your skin per application, which means a tiny bit of propylene glycol reaches your skin. If we were dealing with a comedogenic ingredient, would this be enough to bother your skin? I don't know the answer to that question, but it is one to consider when choosing ingredients.

In the post on Vitamin C, Nicole asks: In trying to chose which ester to use in a lotion that I am creating to (hopefully) help with hyperpigmentation, I came across some information that said that the oil soluble esters display greater antioxidant activity and can more easily penetrate the skin. Thoughts? Also, I found a supplier that sells "Ethyl Ascorbic Acid", described as water and oil soluble and as "working on all three levels of skin lightening". I have not been able to find much information on this ester. So apart from the solubility questions, are all esters created equal? Or do some offer better activity in terms of oxidative stress or melanin inhibition, for example?

I'm not an expert on Vitamin C, so I'm throwing this one out to you, my wonderful readers. Can any of you offer some advice or share your experiences with Nicole?

I'm still catching up on your comments and e-mail, so join me tomorrow for more interesting stuff! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Quick point of interest...

Raymond and I have been away since last Wednesday, so it'll take me some time to get through your messages and comments. I'm off work a few more days, which means I'll have some time Tuesday and Wednesday to do what I can. (Although I need some serious workshop time as well!)

I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but sending me the same e-mail over and over again or posting the same comment in different sections of the blog isn't going to make me answer your question quicker. I answer e-mail and comments in the order they were received, and I generally don't have time to respond until the rare evening I have off or the weekend.

Please don't think me unfriendly! I love receiving email from you, hearing your thoughts and questions, hearing about your successes and failures, and generally hearing your feedback on the blog or your products, so keep them coming! Just please understand that I can only do what I can do in the time I have.

If you are a business, please note that I do not have time to consult for you, paid or unpaid. But thank you for thinking of me: It's quite the compliment.

If you have written to me and haven't received an answer, please be patient. While you're waiting, why not check out some of the areas of the blog that might contain the answer to your question? The FAQ contains the most frequently asked questions, and I think you'd be surprised what you'll find in there, like questions about measuring, heating and holding, working with recipes, and so on. The hair care section contains tons of recipes for pretty much any shampoo or conditioner you could want to make, including instructions on how to do it. And the newbie section contains all kinds of starter recipes and tutorials.

I better get my bag unpacked and clothes in the laundry so I can get on with my day! I'm all nicely rested after five days on Pender Island surrounded by amazing scenery, great food, and my wonderful husband!

Is there a reason to use expensive oils in our products?

I think we've established over the last week that some oils can penetrate our skin to offer an improvement to skin's barrier lipids, that polyphenols can penetrate our skin to behave as anti-oxidants, and that phytosterols probably don't penetrate our skin, but it's okay because they help our skin by increasing its barrier properties. So let's get back to Rosi's original question - is there any reason to use expensive oils in our products?

I think we need to do a bit more defining! (Yeah, I know, I'm a babbler. You ask me the time, I tell you how to build a clock, but it's not an easy question!) What is an expensive oil? I think it can be defined as an oil that costs more than our carrier oils. For instance, I pay $5.25 for 16.9 ounces/500 ml for soy bean oil and $7.50 for 60 ml/2 ounces of evening primrose oil, so it's safe to say that evening primrose oil could be considered an expensive oil. But there are good reasons for using each of these oils.

Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linoleic acid, which is great for improving skin's barrier repair mechanisms and reducing transepidermal water loss. It contains some nice polyphenols and phytosterols, but not a lot of Vitamin E.

Soybean oil contains a lot of linoleic acid, which is great for improving skin's barrier repair mechanisms. It contains a lot of phytosterols, which will help with inflammation, loads of polyphenols, and loads of Vitamin E, which is a great skin softener.

But for all of that, soybean oil can feel really greasy on our skin while evening primrose oil can feel dry. If you hate the skin feel of soybean oil, all the awesome-ness it offers is irrelevant.

We could do comparisons for tons of different oils and in the end, it comes down to what qualities you want in your product and what skin feel you want. I think the key is knowing your ingredients - knowing what they contain and knowing how they feel - so you can make educated decisions.

When researching your oils and butters, don't believe the hype. I can't count how many websites I came upon touting this oil or that one as the ultimate oil for all your problems, when the reality is that each oil offers something different to the formulator. As awesome as evening primrose might be, I can find really good arguments for using pumpkin seed oil, rice bran oil, pomegranate oil, and so on.

I know I harp on about it, but take some time to get to know the skin feel of your oils. (Click here for the series on this topic.) Spend some time in your workshop getting to know them! You won't regret spending the time on oils and butters because they are such an essential part of products from lotions to conditioners to anhydrous products.

To finally answer the question "is there a reason to use expensive oils in our products?" Yes, I think there is. And there are reasons not to use expensive oils, too. That's the very vague short answer. For the long answer, check out the posts from the last week!

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Can polyphenols found in oils penetrate our skin?

Polyphenols are found in our oils in three major ways - flavonoids, lignans, and tannins. They are the structural backbone for most anti-oxidants found in plants. Flavonoids behave as anti-oxidants on our skin and in our bodies by scavenging the free radicals produced at our cell membranes. It is thought (meaning there aren't enough studies or nothing conclusive) the flavonoids offer anti-inflammatory benefits by inhibiting pro-inflammation mediators in our bodies, such as prostaglandins. Some flavonoids have anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-reddening qualities.

Related posts:
Polyphenols: An overview
Polyphenols: A closer look

Synopsis of a study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Oct2013, Vol. 35 Issue 5, p491-501. 11p.

Objective: Polyphenols are natural antioxidants, which can inhibit oxidative chain reactions in human skin and prevent therefore some skin diseases and premature ageing. A prerequisite of this behaviour is their permeation through the skin barrier, in particular the stratum corneum (SC). In this study, we investigated the skin permeation kinetic of polyphenols, incorporated to semisolid emulsions, and the release of polyphenols from the emulsions.

Methods: Mixtures of model substances, consisting of catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), resveratrol, quercetin, rutin and protocatechuic acid (PCA), were formulated into o/w emulsions with different oil phase content. The in vitro experiments were carried out in Franz-type diffusion cells by means of ex vivo pig skin and a cellulose membrane.

Results: The increased oil content in the emulsion led to a significant decrease in initial release coefficients (Kr), diffusion coefficients within the formulation (Dv) and skin permeation coefficients (Kp), respectively. The study considered the dependence of Kr on molecular weight and lipophilicity of polyphenolics. For both more hydrophilic and more lipophilic substance groups, the values for Kr were inverse proportional to molecular weight. For catechin, quercetin, rutin, resveratrol and PCA, a good correlation between Kp and Kr parameters was obtained. The most permeable substance was PCA (Kp = 1.2·10−3 cm h−1), and the least permeable was quercetin (Kp = 1.5·10−5 cm h−1).

Conclusion: All substances could pass the SC barrier and were found mostly in the epidermis and dermis, confirming the potential of polyphenols as anti-ageing active cosmetic ingredients.

From another study (Citation: Skin Pharmacology & Physiology. Nov2009, Vol. 22 Issue 6, p299-304. 6p) the conclusion was that "it can be concluded that EGCG and quercetin from green tea and G. biloba extracts vehiculated in cosmetic formulations presented good skin penetration and retention, which can favor their skin effects". In other words, ECGC and quercetin penetrate the skin.

Wow! In other words, polyphenols like catechin, EGCG, resveratrol, quercetin, rutin, and PCA in lotions permeated our skin! Once in, they can behave as anti-oxidants that scavenge free radicals!

So it's safe to say that the polyphenols we find in our oils can penetrate our skin and work from the inside as anti-oxidants.

Join me tomorrow as we review what we've learned this week and what it all means!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can phytosterols found in oils penetrate our skin?

Our oils contain more than just triglycerides - they contain phytosterols that can offer some great properties to our products!

Phytosterols are are plant based sterols like cholesterol that give structure to the plant's cell membrane (the way cholesterol does for our cells). Phytosterols can be converted into Vitamin D and cholecalciferol, both of which have wonderful effects on our skin. You'll find the sterols in the unsaponifiable portion of the oils in fats - the part that won't turn to soap when you add a base to them.

Phytosterols aid in helping our skin's barrier mechanisms recover by penetrating into the skin, rather than occluding the skin, and our body will synthesize some of these phytosterols as it would cholesterol. And it can help cholesterol absorb better when we apply it! As our skin consists of about 25% cholesterol, adding an oil high in phytosterols can go a long way in helping damaged skin recover from the abuses we put it through every day (but don't go claiming you're healing anything!)

If we take a look at the lipids in our stratum corneum, we see they contain about 40% to 50% ceramides, 20% to 25% cholesterol, 15% to 25% fatty acids (those with C16 to C30 chain lengths, with C24 to C28 being the most common), and 5% to 10% cholesterol sulfate. So adding oils with phytosterols

Can phytosterols penetrate our skin? If you take a look at p 225 of Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics, it says that whether or not phytosterols can penetrate our skin has not been "fully studied", meaning that we don't really know much. I've done more searches than I can count, and there's not much out there on this topic.

Having said this, we do know that phytosterols can do some great stuff just being on the surface of our skin. From the abstract of a study, "the sites treated with a formulation containing phytosterols showed an appreciable recovery of barrier function compared to those treated with a vehicle control without soy phytosterols."

So although we don't know if phytosterols can penetrate our skin, we know there are great things they can do being on top of our skin and forming a layer!

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at polyphenols! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can oils penetrate our skin?

Now that we've taken a look at the fatty acids and triglycerides we find in oils, let's see whether or not those things might penetrate our skin!

From this article: Skin Research & Technology. Aug2012, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p364-369. 5p. (Click here for the entire text)

Abstract: The aim of this study was the investigation of the penetration behaviour of four vegetable oils and of paraffin oil into the stratum corneum by laser scanning microscopy. In addition, the occlusion capacity of these substances was assessed by transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements. Petrolatum served as a positive control for skin occlusion. The study was conducted in vivo and included six healthy volunteers.

Results: Paraffin oil, as well as the vegetable oils, penetrated only into the first upper layers of the stratum corneum. TEWL measurements indicated that the application of the vegetable oils (except jojoba oil) as well as paraffin oil, led to a similar occlusion of the skin surface. The most effective occlusion was found for petrolatum.

Conclusion: For the investigated oils, a deeper penetration than into the first upper layers of the stratum corneum could be excluded. The decreased TEWL values indicate that the application of the oils leads to a semi-occlusion of the skin surface as it is intended by the use of oils to retain moisture in skin.

If you take a look through the study, you'll see that they used jojoba, soybean, avocado, almond, and mineral oils as well as petroleum. Soybean and almond oil penetreated the deepest, while jojoba, avocado, and paraffin oil penetrated only the first layers of our skin. (The overall penetration of our skin was quite low, only the top layers of our stratum corneum.) Interestingly, all the oils except jojoba oil reduced transepidermal water loss (TEWL) because of occlusion.

Let's take a look at another study and see what it says...

Citation: Journal of Dermatological Science. May2008, Vol. 50 Issue 2, p135-142. 8p.

Summary: Background: Topical application of oils and oil-based formulations is common practice in skin care for both adults and infants. Only limited knowledge however is available regarding skin penetration and occlusive potential of oils and common methods for measuring skin moisturization fall short when it comes to the moisturizing effect of oils. 

Objective: In this study we used in vivo confocal Raman microspectroscopy to test the efficacy of paraffin oil (mineral oil) and two vegetable oils in terms of skin penetration and occlusion. Petrolatum was used as a positive control. 

Methods: The products were applied topically on the forearms of nine volunteers and seven infants and Raman spectra were acquired before and at 30 and 90min following application. Depth concentration profiles for lipid and water were calculated from the Raman spectra. Skin occlusion was assessed from the amount of stratum corneum (SC) swelling measured from the water concentration profiles. 

Results: The paraffin oil and the vegetable oils penetrate the top layers of the SC with similar concentration profiles, a result that was confirmed both for adult and infant skin. The three oils tested demonstrated modest SC swelling (10–20%) compared to moderate swelling (40–60%) for petrolatum. 

Conclusion: These data indicate that there is no statistical difference between the paraffin oil and vegetable oils in terms of skin penetration and skin occlusion. The results for petrolatum show that in vivo confocal Raman microspectroscopy is sensitive and specific enough to measure both lipid uptake and skin occlusion events following topical application.

Again we see a result that says that the oils penetrate the top layers of the stratum corneum.

And from this book (page 261) we see that lanolin is able to penetrate the upper or superficial layers.

So I think it's safe to say that oils can penetrate the top layers of our stratum corneum...but does that mean anything? It's one thing to say that an oil can penetrate into our stratum corneum, but what does it do there? Are there any benefits to having an oil penetrate our skin?

Sure there are! The oils can help improve the barrier lipids found in our stratum corneum! They make up about 15% of the dry weight of the stratum corneum, and contain about 40% to 50% ceramides, 20% to 25% cholesterol, 15% to 25% fatty acids (those with C16 to C30 chain lengths, with C24 to C28 being the most common), and 5% to 10% cholesterol sulfate. The lipids are arranged in a highly organized lamellar arrangement (fine layers alternating between different materials) with small amounts of water present. This is considered to be a very effective barrier to trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Water trying to escape the through the stratum corneum would have to navigate a complicated maze through the bilayer and the corneocytes to get to the surface of your skin - so the lipids and corneocytes make this a much harder task!

Let's take a look at phytosterols and polyphenols tomorrow! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oil chemistry review: Triglycerides and fatty acids

What do we find in our oils? We find triglycerides, polyphenols, phytosterols, vitamins, minerals, and more! Let's take a look at these things one by one...

What are triglycerides? This beautiful molecule to the left is a triglyceride (castor oil to be exact). It is a molecule with a glycerol (or glycerine) backbone and three fatty acids attached to it. If you look at this molecule - around the middle, before the OH bonds - you'll see a double line. This is a double bond, which means this is an unsaturated molecule.

In a saturated triglyceride, the carbons are single bonded, which are hard to break. They are stable over long periods of time because there isn't going to be oxidation. Most of these are buttery fats like coconut oil, babassu oil, palm oil, and animal oils. Oils like beeswax and candelilla wax are also saturated (yep, I don't think of beeswax as an oil either, but it fits the description!) Jojoba is another saturated triglyceride, which explains its long shelf life.

In an unsaturated triglyceride, these double bonds can be broken easily and oxidation occurs. The more double bonds, the more potential for oxidation. This explains the shelf life of something like grapeseed oil. It has 3 double bonds in the chain (it is a C18:3 triglyceride, meaning is has 18 carbon bonds and 3 double bonds), which means it has three places where the bonds can be broken and the oxidation can occur!

Attached to that glycerol/glycerin backbone you see the fatty acids.

Which fatty acids might we find in our oils? When you look at the code after the name of the fatty acid, this is how to translate it...The C means the number of carbons in the chain, the number is the number of carbons and the number after the colon - if there is one - is the number of double bonds in the chain. If there is no colon, it means there are no double bonds, and that indicates a saturated fatty acid. If there is a number after the colon, it means this is an unsaturated fatty acid with 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 double bonds, depending on the number. So oleic acid (C18:1) is an unsaturated fatty acid that has one double bond.
  • caprylic acid (C8)
  • capric acid (C10)
  • lauric acid (C12)
  • myristic acid (C14)
  • palmitic acid (C16)
  • stearic acid (C18:0)
  • oleic acid (C18:1)
  • linoleic acid (C18:2)
  • linolenic acid (C18:3)
  • arachadonic (C20:4)
Those interesting shapes are due to the double bonds. Fatty acids that contain no double bonds are found in a straight chain. Those with a double bond will have a kink or a bend, and the more double bonds, the more kinks or bends.

So an saturated fatty acid is one that has no double bonds and lies straight. It should have a longer shelf life than an unsaturated fatty acid with double bonds that doesn't lie straight. The more saturated the fatty acids, the stiffer the product tends to be. For instance, coconut oil is filled with saturated fatty acids while olive oil has really low levels. We'd expect the coconut oil to be a stiffer or more solid product than the olive oil (which it is).

Related posts (and I really encourage you to check these out for this series...)
Fatty acids
Hydrogenation and fatty acid shapes
Cis and trans fats

Join me tomorrow as we review polyphenols and phytosterols!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Question: Is there any point in using expensive oils in our products? And a quick review of our skin

In this post, Simplifying a recipe: The oil phase of a body butter, Rosi asked: We know that not many ingredients will penetrate our hair, coconut oil has an affinity for hair. Now, what about our skin does oil penetrate our skin and does it benefits our skin?

To which I answered: 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!)

Then Rosi asked: So, there is no reason to add expensive oils to our creations since it won't penetrate neither the hair nor the skin?

I started answering this question and then I realized that we needed to review and learn a bunch of stuff to be able to answer this question. What is an oil? What's in an oil that could penetrate our skin? Why can some things penetrate our skin and others can't? What does it mean to talk about "skin"? And so on! (How exciting!)

May I suggest a few posts on skin biology and chemistry from the skin chemistry and types section of the blog before we move on to tomorrow's post on oil chemistry?

Chemistry of our skin: A revised overview
Chemistry of our skin: Stratum corneum lipids
Chemistry of our skin: Transepidermal water loss (TEWL)

These will give you a nice idea of the stuff we'll be discussing over the next week or so!

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at some things we can find in our oils like triglycerides and fatty acids!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Do we need to add a preservative if we add e-wax to a lotion bar? Is it safe to use refined oils in our products?

In the Weekend Wonderings: Have a question? post, Rosi asks: In a lotion bar we do not have to add preservative, is it still the same if I substitute some of the wax with ewax, cetyl or BTMS still without water, of course. Because I did substitute some of the beeswax for some ewax and I liked it very much, just don't know if I need preservative.

Nope, no preservative required unless you plan to use this lotion bar in the shower or tub. E-wax, cetyl alcohol, and BTMS are oil soluble ingredients, so they don't need to be preserved in any way.

In this post, I'd love to hear from you!, Sarah asks: I have been using refined oils in my lotions (for both face and body) and I had no problems with them, they work pretty good for me. I came across an article though that said refined oils are not good for lotion making. Is this information correct? I used pure but refined olive oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil. Are they safe to use? I also make myself a grapeseed oil sugar scrub and it has worked so well for me, even if is refined. What are your thoughts on the safety of using refined oils in such products?

What does it mean if an oil is refined? It means that the oil has gone through a process that removes odours, impurities, waxes or esters, and other unstable compounds, and it might add anti-oxidants like BHT. The intention is to create a more uniform product that will have a longer shelf life. With this information, it seems strange to think that using a refined oil - an oil with things removed - would be unsafe for someone. In fact, my thought would be that it would be safer to use an oil that has things removed because it's less likely to go rancid in a short period of time or have unstable things in it.

I've never heard this idea before, and I can't find studies or articles that say it is or is not a bad idea to use refined oils in our products. In fact, in all my years of making lotions, participating in forums, talking to other formulators, and doing my research, I have never seen this idea put forth. Our suppliers sell all kinds of wonderful refined oils that are approved as cosmetic grade. I've seen what I think might be thousands of successful lotions in my workshop, in classes, and on line using refined oils. I think when I put all these things together, all I can say that I cannot think of a reason to say that it's unsafe or unstable to use refined oils in our lotions.

BTW: Can you send me a link to the article? I think it's a very strange position to take, and I wonder about the motivation of the writer. Do they work for a company that sells unrefined oils or a product that contains it?

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Texture and feeling of whipped mango butter?

In this post Formulating with mango butter, Lisa asks: I made this whipped mango butter, as described here using Shea for my second soft butter, and it turned out very stiff. I like a rich cream (I usually use shea) but this was very hard. I'm wondering if I whipped for too long? I whipped until it was the texture of cold butter..

Mango butter has a dry crumbly feeling that will translate into a whipped butter product as a dry, stiff, crumbly feeling more like whipped butter that has to be removed with a fingernail instead of a smooth feeling that can be removed with fingers. Depending upon how much you use, you will get more of a crumbly or stiff texture than a smooth texture. Try reducing the mango butter to see if you like it, or re-melt this and add more shea or liquid oil to the mix.

If you want to know how the product will feel when whipped, consider your butter when at room temperature. Cocoa butter is very stiff and rigid, and will feel the same even when whipped. Mango butter is dry feeling and crumbly and will feel that way when whipped. Shea butter can be quite crumbly and dry feeling when it is unrefined or less refined and greasier and slicker when refined or ultra refined. Get to know the skin feel of your oils and butters and you can kind of predict the finished product. (Check out the posts on this topic in the newbie section of the blog!)

And yes, I said you could re-melt it and whip it again! Anhydrous products can be re-melted and cooled again if we aren't completely pleased with the final product. (We can't reheat water based products because we could compromise the integrity of the preservative. We don't need to use preservatives in non-water containing products!) You don't need to heat it to boiling - melting it enough to be able to whip it will be enough!