Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Experiments in the workshop: Leave in conditioner with kera straightening and lycopene bioferment

I love leave in conditioners! They offer so much wonderful awesomeness to your hair with low levels of ingredients.

Where to start making a leave in conditioner? As usual, think about your goals? What do you want in this product? That answer will help you move in the right direction!

I have oily, frizzy hair that tangles easily, so I want something that will offer conditioning, de-frizzing, and detangling. The first ingredient I'll use is Incroquat BTMS-50 at 2%. I don't need much as I'm not planning on adding any oils to the mix, but I need enough to emulsify the silicones. I'm using dimethicone and cyclomethicone 2% each because I want something to help de-frizz my hair and keep it smoother looking. I want to add cetrimonium chloride at 2% because I want something to help with detangling my hair. Incroquat BTMS-50 is a good detangler on its own, but I need just a little more as I really do tangle quite a lot!

Those are the basic ingredients I want to include in this recipe, but there are more things I can add to the mix for other reasons. For instance, I like to add panthenol to anything for my hair as it offers great hydrating without too much frizzing. It also makes our hair more pliable and makes it look thicker.

I'm including volumizing complex at 3%, an ingredient which I received from the Formulator Sample Shop. The INCI is Water & Rice Amino Acids & Lactobacillus/Date Fruit Ferment Extract & Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Difluorethyl PEG Phosphate. The rice amino acids will work like hydrolyzed proteins as film formers and moisturizers with the smaller form being able to penetrate our hair shaft, and the polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy difluorethyl PEG phosphate "is said to bind to the hair, giving it bounce and volume". It's recommended for curly and wavy hair. If you don't have this, leave it out and increase the water amount by 3%.

I'm including a cationic polymer - in this case, polyquat 44 at 0.5% - to offer a titch more conditioning without the weight of the cetyl alcohol we find in the Incroquat BTMS-50. You can use any cationic polymer here, including polyquat 7 (use at 2% in the heated water phase) or honeyquat (use at 2% in the cool down phase).

I've been telling you all about lycopene bioferment this week, so I should include it in this product. It works as an anti-oxidant that might protect the disulphide bonds in our hair from breakage. Seems like a good application to me! I'm adding it at 3% in the cool down phase. (I'm not sure if it is heat sensitive, so I'm putting it in the cool down phase to be on the safe side!)

I've also been telling you about kera straightening and curl, so I'm including that at 2% in the cool down phase, again because I'm not sure if it is heat sensitive or not.

LYCOPENE & KERA STRAIGHTENING LEAVE IN CONDITIONER
HEATED WATER PHASE
80% distilled water
0.5% polyquat 44

HEATED OIL PHASE
2% Incroquat BTMS-50
2% cetrimonium chloride

COOL DOWN PHASE
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
2% panthenol
3% volumizing complex
2% kera straightening & curl
3% lycopene bioferment
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (preservative)

Use the general instructions for making a conditioner. I recommend you put this in a spray bottle for ease of application!

What do you do if you don't have these ingredients? Figure out what the most important ingredients are in this product. For a leave in conditioner, you definitely need the conditioning agent - that would be the Incroquat BTMS-50 - with water and preservative. If you are interested in reducing frizz, then you want to include the dimethicone and cyclomethicone. If you don't want to use silicones, then use a silicone alternative or an oil, although they really won't work as well as dimethicone, unfortunately. If you are interesting in moisturizing with more oils, you could add up to 4% in the heated oil phase in this recipe if you aren't using the silicones. If you are using the silicones, you could add another 2% oils in the heated oil phase to this product.

For every ingredient you leave out, add a similar amount to the distilled water. If you leave out the volumizing complex at 3%, add 3% to the water amount. This is so the recipe always adds up to 100%.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ingredient: Kera straightening and curls

I'm planning to share a recipe with you that contains this ingredient kera straightening and curls (INCI: Hydrolyzed Keratin & Trametes Versicolor Extract), so it seemed like a good idea to take a look at it!

We're all familiar with keratin - it's the protein we find in our hair, skin, and nails. The hydrolyzation of it means that it is made more water soluble and slightly positively charged so we can use it in our products. When we use a protein in a product, we are looking for it to do a few things, including film form, moisturize, and condition our hair. We are using the keratin here to add some strength to our hair and help it remain pliable.

Trametes versicolor is a type of mushroom that is being used in this application as it contains an enzyme called laccase. It is claimed that this "enzyme is capable of annealing disulphide bonds which help enhance hair strength" (Annealing is when a heat treatment alters the structure of a material.) You might remember from the post on lycopene that disulphide bonds give hair its shape,  so strengthening those bonds means we are less likely to see breakage or weakness at those points.

I'm afraid I can't find much about this trametes versicolor in all my searches. It sounds very interesting, which is why I used it in my products. 

I've been using the kera straightening and curls at up to 10% in my cool down phase. It's recommended for use in leave in conditioners and other products you might use while drying, straightening, or curling your hair with heated devices.

References:
Wikpedia entry on trametes versicolor
Wikipedia entry on laccase
Entry on Formulator Sample Shop
Active concepts data bulletin

As usual, please note that although Formulator Sample Shop has sent me free things, I have not been compensated to try the ingredients or write about them on the blog. My opinion is solely my own. Whether I like the ingredient or not is up to me! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Want to learn more chemistry?

If you want to know more about chemistry, I cannot suggest enough  that you hie thyself to your local retailer of books and pick up this gorgeous and giant tome, Molecules, by Theodore Grey, and his other book, Elements (which also comes in calendar form, something I also received for Christmas!). I was surprised to see how much chemistry was in the first few pages of the book. Yeah, I know, it's a book about molecules, what did I expect? But aren't books intended for the general public simplified? Apparently not! I didn't expect to be reading about orbitals!

If you want more chemistry, check the books by Joe Schwarcz. I didn't realize he had a new one out called Is that a Fact? He's a chemistry professor from McGill University in Canada - the Harvard of the North!* - who writes awesome books that are intended for the general public. If you've ever wanted to know about why pigs can find truffles and how explosives work, he's the writer for you!

To quote Lisa Simpson: "The something of the something isn't really the anything of the anything." (From the episode Moneybart.) I disagree with her as McGill is awesome, but I thought I'd throw in this quote anyway! 

Ingredient: Lycopene bioferment

I'm extremely fortunate to receive awesome free stuff from the Formulator Sample Shop*, but I can't just use an ingredient without doing some research, so let's take a look at what I've learned about lycopene bioferment.

Lycopene is a tetraterpene, a carotene, and a major pigment in tomatoes. It is a strong anti-oxidant that scavenges free radicals in our bodies, hair, and skin. (It's a stronger anti-oxidant than Vitamin E.) One study (2) "Lycopene has suitable characteristics to be used successfully in the prevention of cutaneous damage by free radicals. Its antioxidant ability is probably due to its high reductive power."

One study (1) found that: "Our results suggest that topical lycopene is able to exert its protective effects against acute UVB-induced photodamage." Meaning that it might be good to use when we are going into the sun. "Topical application of lycopene is a convenient way to restore antioxidants depleted from the skin by UV radiation and achieve protection against premature aging and cancer."

Another study (3) found "a significant correlation was obtained between the skin roughness and the lycopene concentration (R = 0.843). These findings indicate that higher levels of antioxidants in the skin effectively lead to lower levels of skin roughness..." Application of lycopene might help our skin feel nice. And this study (4) also showed that lycopene could penetrate our skin when incorporated into a microemulsion, so it is a very active ingredient in our products.

The version I have suggests its usage in hair care products, which is how I've been using it. The argument is this: Cysteine is an amino acid found in our hair strands, and each of these amino acids contains a sulfhydryl group that "links together with a sulfhydryl group in an adjacent cysteine to form disulfide bonds and create a molecule referred to as cystine. Disulfide bonds give hair its shape." Oxidation of these sulfhydryl groups weakens the individual fibres, so we want to avoid this oxidation to protect the disulfide bonds. "Once in the hair fiber, lycopene can protect cysteine from excess oxidation." So the gist is this - the lycopene is an anti-oxidant that prevents the oxidation of cysteine, which can protect the disulfide bonds that give our hair its shape. This is especially important for curly hairs because the kink is where our hair is the weakest!

The version I'm using is a bioferment extract - INCI: Lactobacillus/Lycopene Ferment Extract - meaning that it has been fermented by adding lactobacillus and letting it sit for a bit to make the active ingredients more available for our usage. Lycopene is normally oil soluble, but this version is water soluble. Its suggested usage is 1% to 5% in skin and hair care products, and I've been using it in the cool down phase. It is described as a hair and skin conditioner.

Join me shortly when I use this awesome ingredient in a hair conditioner!

References:
Evaluation of the stability...
Botanicals in skin care products
(1) Nutrition & Cancer. 2003, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p181-187. 7p.
(2) Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology. Jan2004, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p52-55. 4p (Abstract can be found here.)
(3) European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics Volume 69, Issue 3, August 2008, Pages 943–947 (Abstract can be found here)
(4) Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Volume 99, Issue 3, pages 1346–1357, March 2010 (Abstract can be found here)
Formulator Sample Shop data sheet
Wikipedia entry on cysteine
Wikipedia entry on lycopene
Poucher's Perfumes, Cosmetics & Soaps, 10th edition


*I've said this many times before, but I need to say it again. I get awesome free stuff from the Formulator Sample Shop, but I have not been compensated to write posts about the ingredients. My opinion of the ingredient - good or bad - is mine and mine alone. If you don't see a disclaimer like this on a post, it means I have purchased the ingredient with my wages.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Question: How do I colour my products?

I'm a big fan of having highly coloured products, as you can plainly see. The easiest way to get those colours is from LabColours (link to Voyageur Soap & Candle, but available elsewhere), which are suitable for melt & pour soaps, surfactant mixes and yes, even our lotions. (Although I don't know how I'd feel about using a purple lotion!)

As a note, Brambleberry also sells the LabColours, as well as ones that are specialized for bath bombs so they don't set off the fizz and ones that are specialized for CP soap

Can you use food colouring in our products? Yes and no. (Sorry for the ambiguous answer!) You can use it, but it might not be the best idea as food colouring isn't approved for cosmetic usage, and you also have to use a heck of a lot to make the colour show up. Food colouring can go off in something like a bath bomb creating strange and funky colours, so try it out and let it sit for a few weeks before deciding to use that colouring in a huge batch you're giving next Christmas!

I have used icing colours from the cake decorating store in my products, and they worked well. I didn't have any weird reactions from the bath bombs, bubble bath, or body wash made with it. They were gel icing colours, and they didn't set off the fizz of the bath bombs, which was pretty awesome. And they were great for creating black in an anise scented bubble bath!

What about micas? Sure, you can use micas in your products. They will show up all lovely and shiny and very pretty. I don't suggest using things like iron oxides, ultramarines, or other pigments of that nature as they can have some chemical reactions with our ingredients and create some horrible horrible smells!

We've made some lovely shimmering bubble bath using micas for some children and they loved it, so I can say this was a rousing success! And people like to add micas to lotions to offer a little shine and glimmer.

Make sure that any colourant you are using in a product is suitable for that product. Some of our colours say they aren't lip safe, so keep those out of lip balms and lipsticks.

You can get cosmetic safe glitter as well, which is a great addition to things like bath bombs or fizzing bath salts!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A few random thoughts about measuring...

How to measure small amounts? There are a few hints I can share with you about this!

Get a small scale, like the one you see in the picture. This is a jeweller's scale. I purchased it in one of those places that smells a bit like incense and skunks, if you get my meaning, but you can also find small scales at our suppliers, in a jewellery shop, or in a hardware store as an epoxy scale. These are invaluable, especially when you're measuring extracts or cosmeceuticals!

When you use a larger scale for small amounts, don't tare it or make it zero. Put your container on the scale and measure the amount. (Say it's a Pyrex jug and weighs 100 grams, let the scale register that.) Then count up from that 100 with your small amount. The reason for this is that some scales - the Escali I love included - don't do well with small numbers. If you start at 0 and want to get to 3, it might mismeasure.

If you're measuring small amounts and some sticks to the side of the container? I always leave a bit of the heated water amount out of the recipe to dissolve powdered things and dilute sticky things. Get some very small spatulae as well to help you scrape out anything that might get left behind! If this is a huge problem - meaning, you leave behind way too much - then consider doing what I suggest above and putting the ingredient right into the container.

Remember to measure by weight, not by volume. Measure using grams or weighed ounces, not millilitres and volume ounces, as weight is much more accurate, which means you can make the same product over and over again and have the same outcome and it means you know the chemistry of your product will work. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of shea butter, is that before or after melting? Will 3 tablespoons of Polawax be enough for a cup of lotion? Who knows? It's just easier to work with weighed measurements on a scale. Besides, you won't have all those horrible cleaning of cups and spoons afterwards! Bonus!

Just a few thoughts for the day...

Keep the suggestions coming!

I can't write this blog without your wonderful suggestions and input, so I wanted to remind you that I'm always looking for ideas for the one ingredient, five or ten products series and want to hear what you have to suggest for the what do you want to know? post! If you have a few thoughts, why don't you visit those posts and make a few suggestions for ingredients or other things? I'd love to hear from you!

Remember, there are no stupid questions, except the ones that go unasked!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!

If you're part of the Commonwealth or former parts of the Commonwealth, you know what I'm talking about when I say Happy Boxing Day! This is our Black Friday, the day all the stuff goes on sale and we go nuts buying big ticket items. Or, if you're like me, you stay home and play with all your Christmas presents! I'm planning on staying home and cuddling a small dog while I eat diabetic chocolates (in moderation!) and play video games. I do love the holidays for lounging about in my pyjamas and spending time with my family.

Hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a lovely day! I know we did!

Experiments in the workshop: Updating the 3-in-1 shampoo with lupine amino acids

Raymond really likes his 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, and body wash product that I originally made for him for his after swim shower, and I thought I'd make more for daily life without the swimming ingredients.

I kept the ingredients relatively the same - I liked the surfactant mix I used and I liked the other hydrating ingredients - but I thought I'd switch out the proteins. I've made this twice recently, once with pisum sativum peptide and this week with lupine amino acids.

3-IN-1 SHAMPOO CONDITIONER AND BODY WASH WITH LUPINE AMINO ACIDS
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
15% ACI
15% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
15% water
10% rosemary hydrosol
10% witch hazel
10% aloe vera
0.5% polyquat 44
2% cetrimonium chloride
3% glycerin
2% lupine amino acids
2% PEG-7 olivate
2% dimethicone
2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (preservative)
1.5% liquid white willow bark extract

Mix the surfactants and water in a suitably large container and mix well with a fork until it is all gooey and not looking like water with some stuff in it. (Try not to get too many bubbles in the mix, as it can take days for it to come out!) Mix all the rest of the ingredients. If you want this to be thicker, you can add 1% Crothix, then mix well. Add another if it needs it, mix well, and so on until you reach no more than 5% Crothix. If it is still too runny, you can put it in a pump bottle to make it easier to use.

My version with white chocolate fragrance oil took 3% Crothix, while the vanilla oak fragranced version only took 1.5%. Fragrances can affect the viscosity and clarity of your surfactant based products, which is why I make the suggestion to use the fragrance first, then the Crothix!

The colour difference between this version and the one at the top of the post is that this one has powdered white willow bark in it at 0.5% and it is a very brown colour. This is the reason for using a liquid extract - it's clear, so it makes for clearer and less coloured products.

Feel free to add a colour to your product if you want to try to cover up the brown-ness of it. I use LabColours, and I suggest that you get a dye or colour that works with cosmetics as opposed to using food colouring, which isn't approved for use on your body.

What did we think of it? My husband didn't notice a difference between the first version with oat protein, the second version with pisum sativum protein, and the third version with lupine amino acids. He's very attentive and knows what I'm looking for in a review of the product, but said he didn't notice a real difference. (I think the moral of that story is that you can use any protein you want for film forming and moisturizing in a rinse off product like this.) He really likes the product, but didn't think it was more or less moisturizing than the other versions. He thinks it's a very hydrating body wash - his skin doesn't feel tight or dry after using it - and he wants me to make more of it!

What can you do if you don't have the ingredients I list here? What are the odds you'd have all these ingredients, eh? I encourage you to take a look at the original post for this body wash and see why I'm using what I'm using and what you could use instead. The main ingredients are the surfactants - those are the bubbly, foamy, and lathery ingredients - and you can feel free to change them if you want. I chose these because ACI offers what is called an elegant and conditioned skin feel and C14-16 olefin sulfonate is good for oily skin and hair, which is what my husband has. If you wanted to make this for dry skin and hair, you could leave out the C14-16 olefin sulfonate all together and add more water to the mix, or choose another surfactant that works for your hair and skin type. I chose the hydrosols as being good for oily skin and hair, but you could alter that to be rose hydrosol or another one suitable for dry skin and hair.

Join me tomorrow as we have more fun formulating!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone from the Barclay Nichols's household! We hope you're enjoying this morning with your family and friends! May your day be merry with loads of love, giggles, and loudly sung songs!

Thank you so much for supporting our youth programs this year by donating funds for the e-books! Your generosity enabled us to provide at least two programs to Chilliwack and Yarrow youth and children per week, which consisted of crafts, board & card games, video games, Japanese pop culture, and role playing games! You've made it possible for us to continue this program, which has been running since 2005, for another year. We cannot thank you enough. (We'll try, but we know it isn't enough.) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

And thank you so much for supporting this blog through the year by reading, commenting, and asking questions. I think a blog is only as good as its readers, and I hope I have reached - or exceeded - your expectations this year. You inspire me to research, read, and play in the workshop so I can offer you the best of what I have in me, and I thank you for that.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Foaming bath butter: Let's make a walnut shell scrub!

I still have some foaming bath butter in my workshop, so I thought I'd make a hydrating and moisturizing scrub for the winter months.

I find foaming bath butter on its own makes my skin feel a bit tight after using, so I wanted to add some moisturizing ingredients. I thought I'd add some oil - baobab oil because it was at hand and is a thicker oil than something like soy bean oil - and some protein - I chose lupine amino acids because it was close at hand and feels really nice. I added glycerin because it's a fantastic humectant that draws water to your skin from the atmosphere, it's inexpensive, and it doesn't wash off your skin when you rinse off the scrub. I've added polyquat 7 to offer skin conditioning and moisturizing. You could use another cationic polymer, like honeyquat, or leave it out if you don't have it.

I wanted a scrub, but some of the sugar in the previous recipe dissolved, which made it feel a little stickier than I would like, so I thought I'd use walnut shells in this recipe. You can use any exfoliant you'd like in this recipe, from seeds to shells to sugar or salt.

FOAMING BATH BUTTER WITH GROUND WALNUT SHELLS
57% foaming bath butter
5% lupine protein or another hydrolyzed protein
5% baobab oil
3% glycerin
3% polyquat 7 or another cationic polymer
2% fragrance oil (I used Yuzu here!)
25% walnut shells

Add the foaming bath butter and all the ingredients, except the walnut shells, into a container and whip until it looks like frosting. Add the walnut shells. Mix. Package. Rejoice.

I tried using 12% walnut shells and found it wasn't scrubby enough, so I upped it to 25% and really liked that. You might want to try with a lower amount and work your way up.

What can you do if you don't have all these ingredients? First, figure out which ingredients are essential. In this case, it's the foaming bath butter and the scrubbies. If you don't have either of those, you can't make this recipe.

I think the other two major ingredients here are the oil for moisturizing and the humectant for hydrating. I definitely suggest you add those ingredients as they will make a huge difference for such a small inclusion. If you don't want to use the protein or cationic polymer, but aren't sure how to modify this recipe, then check out this recipe - basic recipe for a foaming bath butter with oils!

Join me on Boxing Day to play with the lupine amino acids in a 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, and body wash recipe!

Related posts:
Physical exfoliants, part one
Physical exfoliants, part two
Why did I buy this? Foaming bath butter! 
Let's make a foaming bath butter white chocolate sugar scrub!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What do you want to know? A few random things...

I was looking throught some posts on the blog and realized I hadn't answered some of the questions you had posed earlier this year in the what interests you? post! Let's get to a few of the quicker to answer ones in this post!

Sue asked: Sometimes I notice that ingredients found in the cool down phase you sometimes add into the heated water phase (hydrolysed oats comes to mind), and wondering why?

The main reason for this discrepancy is that I might have found out some new information that changed my mind about where to put this ingredient. For instance, I started out putting hydrolyzed proteins into the cool down phase, but found out that they should go into the heated water phase, so I changed it. You'll see this change around 2010 or so. I am trying to go back and alter the older recipes with new information, but that takes time and I often don't have those spare moments. There's no down side to putting the protein in the cool down phase, so it's not urgent that I change it. 

You might also see this with cetrimonium chloride. That stuff gets around in my recipes! It should be added in the heated oil phase with the Incroquat BTMS-50, but sometimes it ends up in the heated water phase or the cool down phase. I have found that putting it in the heated oil phase results in a thinner product than if I include it in the cool down phase, but that's the only down side in putting it with the heat. You can use it in the phase of your choice. 

The main place that I need to correct this is with honeyquatIt must be put into the cool down phase as it smells just awful when heated. I often put something like this - if you're substituting polyquat 7 with honeyquat, make sure you put it in the cool down phase - but I might have forgotten in the past. 

The TL;DR* version of this answer is that I either made a mistake or I have new information. 

Related posts: 

Quite a few of you asked for new deodorant recipes or deodorant recipes with probiotics in them. I'm not making any more deodorants. I don't feel I have anything to add to the recipes I've already posted, and it is very hard to get sodium stearate these days. I'm not a fan of the baking soda-lotion bar recipes as they can be too alkaline for some skin types. 

Quite a few of you asked about making a Vitamin C serum. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it would appear on other blogs and websites. You can't just add Vitamin C to some stuff in a jar and make one. Vitamin C is notoriously unstable stuff and should be contained in an airless pump bottle once you've made the product. You'll want to use the oil soluble kind, the Vitamin C ester, like this one you can find at Lotioncrafter. If you want a recipe, I've heard this one from Lotioncrafter is really good.

Someone asked if I sell my products...no. Although I think they're pretty awesome, there are a few good reasons why I don't sell. The first is that I don't have time. I've decided to commit myself to teaching how to make products in real life and on the blog, and I've decided to commit myself to my youth programs. The second is that I am a terrible saleswoman! I worked for a short period of time at a clothing store in my adolescence and I told people things looked awful and suggested other stores. I quickly realized that selling is not my thing! And the third is that I like making changes to the products every time I make them, and I couldn't do that if I were to sell my products. 

*TL;DR means too long; didn't read! I use this a lot in daily life lately. That might be a bad sign...

Ingredient: Lupine amino acids

I received some lupine amino acids from the Formulator Sample Shop*, so I thought I'd play around with them for a bit. But you know me...I can't just use something, I have to research it, so let's take a look at this ingredient!

Lupine amino acids are - wait for it - amino acids from white lupine plants, the seeds of which are a kind of legume. This is important as there have been some notes about reactions by people who have a peanut allergy. Better to stay away from this protein or amino acid if you have any concerns.

It can help reduce transepidermal water loss by film forming, and it may be able to penetrate your skin to moisturize from within the stratum corneum. (Their molecular weight is 300 to 1200 daltons, and compounds of 500 daltons or less can penetrate your skin.) It definitely film forms on your skin, like the other proteins.

Lupine amino acids are used the way we would use any hydrolyzed protein - add them to the heated water phase of your product at 1% to 10%. They are water and ethanol soluble, but not oil soluble.

I have found the lupine amino acids are drier, silkier, and more powdery feeling than some of the other proteins I've used. When I compared it to hydrolyzed oat protein, the lupine amino acids felt less sticky. When I compared it to the pisum sativum peptides, it felt more powdery. I've tried lupine amino acids in both hair care and skin care products and liked them in both applications. They felt nice in the toner I made with them - as I noted, it felt a little less sticky than the usual version with oat protein.

Join me over the next few days as we make things with lupine amino acids!

I have spent just about the entire time I've been writing this post singing "Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the night. Soon every lupin in the land will be in his mighty hand..."If you want to know why I'm doing this, click here for the YouTube video. 

References:
Cosmetic Ingredient Review safety assessment (blue)
Cosmetic Ingredient Review safety assessment (green)
The 500 dalton rule for skin penetration of chemical compounds

*As a note, the Formulator Sample Shop has very kindly given me many free ingredients. I am not compensated for writing about them or using them in my products, and any opinions I offer are my own!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Oils: Baobab oil

I admit that I'm a bit of an oil junkie. When I see a new one at Voyageur Soap & Candle, I have to buy it and try it in my products. This week's new purchase is baobab seed oil. This cold pressed oil is compared to avocado oil, although I find it is more viscous with a silkier and drier feel than avocado oil. (If you're familiar with kukui nut oil, I find that it is similar to that oil in silkiness.) This is a very thick oil, thanks to the palmitic acid we find in it at 18 to 30%, which is an awful lot for a liquid oil. (Compare this to avocado's 10% or sweet almond oil's 2% to 6%.) It also contains 2% to 9% stearic acid, 30% to 42% oleic acid, 20% to 35% linoleic acid, and 1% to 3% linolenic acid.

Baobab oil (INCI: Adanasonia digitata oil) contains quite a lot of unsaponifiables* at 2.8% to 3.8%, and that's where we find our lovely phytosterols! Phytosterols can be converted into cholecalciferol and Vitamin D, and they offer anti-inflammatory and skin barrier mechanism repair properties to our skin. Baobab oil contains 3457 ppm phytosterols, with the main ones being ß-sitosterol at 75%, avenasterol at up to 13%, and campesterol at 6%. You'll also find quite a lot of squalene in this oil, which penetrates our skin quickly and offers great moisturizing.

*Unsaponifiable matter is the part of the oil that won't turn to soap when you saponify it. 

Baobab oil contains some Vitamins, with Vitamin E being found at 678 ppm. It contains Vitamin A in the form of ß-carotene. I have seen it said that it contains Vitamin D, but I wasn't able to confirm this. I've also seen it said that it contains Vitamin F, which isn't a Vitamin but the essential fatty acids of omega-3 (linolenic fatty acid) and omega-6 (linoleic fatty acid). It contains polyphenols in the form of catechins, which might be why it feels a bit drier than other oils.

As I mentioned above, it's a thick oil with a specific density of 0.937 g/ml. (Water is 1 g/ml.) If you are wishing to soap with this, check with your specific supplier of baobab oil because I've seen all kinds of saponification values and iodine values for this oil and I would hate to give you the wrong information for the oil you have in your workshop.

So what do we have here? We have a drier, silkier feeling oil that is quite viscous and might be described as medium to heavy in weight. It contains a lot of wonderful phytosterols and vitamins, including Vitamin E and Vitamin A, and squalene.

How to use baobab oil? Anywhere you might use any other oil. Use it anhydrous products (those without water) or those with water like lotions, conditioners, and so on. It's not an inexpensive oil - 125 ml or 4.2 ounces is $11.40 at Voyageur Soap & Candle or $13.50 for 4 ounces from From Nature with Love (not affiliated with either company, just offering examples), so you might want to reserve it for things where the oils really make a huge difference, like a facial moisturizer or lotion with fewer oils.

Summary of baobab oil
INCI: Adansonia digitata seed oil
Palmitic acid: 18% to 30%
Stearic acid: 2% to 9%
Oleic acid: 30% to 42%
Linoleic acid: 20% to 35%
Linolenic acid: 1% to 3%

References:
An updated view of Adansonia digitata: A commercially important African tree
Baobab (book)
Baobab phytochemistry (paper)
Baobab fruit company data bulletin

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at another ingredient, lupine amino acids!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Experiments in the workshop: Extra hydrating body wash

This time of year is heck on my skin as I tend to wear capri pants and shorts all year 'round, even in wet and cold weather. (It's too warm inside buildings and I'm only outside a very short period of time as I go from car to office and back!) As a result, I want to add moisturizing to every thing I make for the winter months. Today's product is an extra hydrating body wash with ACI and polyglucose/lactylate blend surfactants. I based the recipe on this body wash recipe with a few changes to it.

EXTRA HYDRATING BODY WASH
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% ACI
20% polyglucose/lactylate blend
1.5% water
14% aloe vera
11% chamomile hydrosol
10% myristamine oxide
5% glycerin
2% lupine amino acids
3% polyquat 7
2% panthenol (liquid)
5% white willow bark liquid extract
5% yerba santa glycoprotein
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (white chocolate - yum!)
(additional) up to 5% Crothix

Combine all the surfacants into a container and mix well. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, taking care not to create too many bubbles. Let come to room temperature and check the viscosity. If it isn't thick enough, add 1% Crothix. Mix well. Add another 1% Crothix at a time and mix after each inclusion up to 5% Crothix.

I chose ACI as the liquid version of SCI, which makes it easier to mix with the other liquid surfactants. The skin feel is described as elegant and conditioned, which sound like great features for a body wash. It's not an inexpensive surfactant, so I'm using it at 10%. If you wanted to use another surfactant here, any of them would do, just add a little more water soluble oil to offer more moisturizing.

I chose the polyglucose/lactylate blend because it's a mild cleanser that offers a nice moisturized skin feel after rinsing. It is way too moisturizing for my oily skin on my face, but my body skin enjoys it greatly.

I'm adding cocamidopropyl betaine to the mix to increase mildness and viscosity of the body wash. Having said this, I used 3% Crothix to thicken it and it was still not thick enough to put into something like a tottle bottle, hence the pump!

I wasn't paying full attention and added way too much myristamine oxide! (Darn you, awesome music! I just had to sing along, didn't I?) I wanted 5% and ended up with 10%. If you make this recipe at home, feel free to scale this back to 5% and add 5% more to the water phase. If you don't have this ingredient, you could use a water soluble ester like PEG-7 olivate or water soluble shea in its place.

I used lupine protein in this product because I had it at hand and thought it would be a neat inclusion in the body wash. You can substitute any protein you have at home at the same amount. (I would generally use hydrolyzed oat protein here for the film forming properties.)

I used the yerba santa glycoprotein here for extra moisturizing. It is a water soluble extract used at 1% to 5% to offer moisturizing and hydrating to our skin. It contains polysaccharides, like aloe vera, that moisturize our skin. It contains glycoproteins that also help with moisturizing our skin. I've seen versions that contain tannins, so this might be an astringent extract, too. It has been used traditionally for respiratory ailments and as a cough medicine. It apparently has a nice flavour, but I'm not trying it to find out!

What did I think of it? I really liked this recipe! The lather from anything with ACI is always lovely, but this body wash felt moisturizing from the moment I put it on my skin. It scrubbed up well and rinsed off even better. No feelings of tightness or dryness at all. My skin feels like I've put some oil on it, but I haven't! Pretty awesome, indeed!

What can you do if you don't have these ingredients? The most important parts of this recipe are choosing your surfactants wisely, adding a water soluble oil or ester, adding glycerin, and including a protein. If you had to strip it to the bare bones, I'd make sure I had the surfactants, the myristamine oxide or another water soluble oil, the glycerin, and at least 5% protein. The rest is lovely, but optional!

Can you use a regular oil in place of the water soluble oil? Yes and no. If you use the surfactants I suggest, you should be able to add about 3% oil to the mix and not see it float to the top. If you use other surfactants, check the surfactant chart to see if the ones you've chosen are good emulsifiers. If you are using ones that aren't great emulsifiers or if you want more oils, you have to add a solubilizer to the mix - something like polysorbate 80, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, to name a few - at about equal amounts. Having said this, these ingredients will reduce the foam and lather of the product. ACI has great foam, so you should be okay, but this isn't a guarantee for all surfactants.

Join me tomorrow more fun formulating!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: Is emulsification always immediate?

In this post, Weekday Wonderings: Figuring out the melting point, Melanie asks: Will emulsification always be immediate? I made your "pirate" beard conditioner last night and at first when i just poured it and and stirred it looked emulsified though yellowish. Then oil drops started forming. It wasn't until I blended it with the hand mixer for 5 minutes that it looked really white and seemed stable. Is that normal?

How quickly the product emulsifies will depend on a few things, but the main thing is the type of emulsifier. I have found that emulsifications made with Polawax will emulsify immediately, while Ritamulse SCG can take up to a few minutes to look proper.

It can also be a function of the heat of the product. If the temperatures are around 60˚C, I have found that even with Polawax, it can take a few seconds of mixing before it looks emulsified.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Experiments in the workshop: Using kokum butter in an emulsified scrub

With the cold winter weather here and promising to get colder, I thought I'd make an emulsified sugar scrub with watermelon seed oil. It's a good choice as it contains a lot of linoleic acid, which will help speed up skin's barrier repair mechanisms. Let's take a look at how I modified one of my favourite recipes!

First things first - what's the difference between an emulsified scrub and a non-emulsified scrub? In an emulsified scrub, we add an emulsifier like Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, Polawax, e-wax, Ritamulse SCG, and so on, to create a product that will turn to lotion when the water in your shower or tub touches it. It rinses off cleaner than an oil based scrub, and it is thicker in the container. I decided to use Incroquat BTMS-50 because I wanted the conditioning properties as well as the emulsifying properties of this positively charged ingredient.

I'm also adding a fatty alcohol because it will increase the slip and glide of the product and increase the emolliency of the product. Someone asked me the other day if we could leave it out - sure, just increase the amount of cocoa or shea butter to keep the same thickness. I really like cetyl alcohol as it's an inexpensive ingredient - no more than $5 a pound - versus $14 a pound for cocoa butter or more for mango and shea. It also offers a lovely skin feel that I really like.

Normally, I'd use 10% cocoa butter in the recipe, but I'm completely out in the workshop - how did that happen? - so I decided to use kokum butter (INCI: Garcinia indica).

This butter has a much high melting point than other butters - 38˚C to 40˚C - and will make your lotions or other creations much thicker than with other butters. The fatty acid profile is similar to the other butters - 5 to 8% palmitic acid (C16), 40 to 45% stearic acid (C18), 40 to 50% oleic acid (C18:1), and 2 to 4% linoleic acid (C18:2) - but it is considered an astringent butter, on par with mango butter. Its shelf life is listed as between 1 to 2 years.

As you can see, it's harder than cocoa butter so it will make the scrub stiffer. To compensate, I thought I'd use shea butter as it's softer and slightly greasier.

EMULSIFIED SUGAR SCRUB WITH WATERMELON SEED OIL AND KOKUM BUTTER
10% Incroquat BTMS-50
10% cetyl alcohol
10% kokum
10% shea butter
56% watermelon seed oil
1% Phenonip
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance oil

Heat all the ingredients except the Vitamin E and fragrance oil in a container until all the ingredients are liquid. Put into the fridge or freezer to cool. You'll know it's time to take it out when the mix is solid-ish but not completely solid. You want to be able to to mix it. Add the Vitamin E and fragrance or essential oils. Add up to 140 grams of sugar for every 100 grams of scrub and mix until it is fluffy. Put into containers. Rejoice!

What did we think of this recipe? It was definitely stiffer than my usual recipe - I think 5% kokum would have worked here - and it was a little harder to get out of the container, but not so hard that I had to use my nails or something. Just less whippy than the version with cocoa butter and harder than the version with black cocoa butter.

It feels lovely going on. Quite easy to spread on my skin and easy to use as a scrub. It rinsed clean with little to no effort, and felt lovely after I dried off. It didn't feel heavy on my skin, and I could feel it a few hours later as a thin layer of oil, which is a nice thing.

Raymond reports that he felt it cut down on the itchiness he's been experiencing in the evenings! Woo! Goal accomplished!

It reminded me of a version I made with sunflower oil - greasy, but not too greasy. Greasy in a good way. And light. Easy to apply, easy to rinse, with a light oil layer left behind. Lovely! All in all, I'd make this one again!

What do you do if you don't have all the ingredients for this recipe? Modify it with one of the variations you see below!

Related posts:
Formulating with soy bean oil - includes recipe for sugar scrub!
Formulating for dry skin
Formulating for other skin types - sugar scrubs!
Emulsified scrub with Ritamulse SCG
Black cocoa emulsified scrub
Question: How do you know what and when to substitute? (All about emulsifiers and scrubs)
Experiments in the workshop - golden shea sugar scrub
Using behenyl alcohol in sugar scrubs
Experiments in the workshop - using behenyl alcohol in the Ritamulse SCG sugar scrub
Pumpkin seed oil: Making an emulsified scrub
Oil or emulsified scrub?

Join me for more fun formulating tomorrow!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Last minute Christmas present idea: Oil based scrubs

I hate it when I hear "last minute" on the 18th of December. I've barely started shopping or crafting, and you're calling it last minute? But I thought it might grab your attention, so I used it in the subject line of this post. For shame, Susan! There'll be coal in my stocking this year!

If you're in need of a crafty gift and have little time to shop for supplies or make it, consider the oil based scrub! It takes maybe 20 minutes to make - not including the hemming and hawing you'll do in choosing oils - and it feels so fabulous and luxurious on your skin.

IN THE TUB SCRUB
96% liquid oil of choice (or combination of oils)
2% fragrance or essential oil
1% Vitamin E (optional)
1% Phenonip, Optiphen, or Liquipar Oil preservative

Mix your oils together well. Into a clean jar add 100% salt. Pour the oils over top, mix, and you've got yourself a lovely scrub! This will need to be mixed every time you use it as the oils migrate to the top of the jar. (Buy a few little spatulae from your local supply store, like Voyageur, to ensure you aren't contaminating it!) If you are using this in the tub, please buy some plastic jars - glass and slippery surfaces aren't a winning combination (unlike alcohol and night swimming, according to Lenny from the Simpsons!)

If you want to make a completely saturated oil scrub that won't need much stirring, you can put salt up to the top of the jar, then pour your oil over it. Let it sit overnight and see how much oil comes to the top. If it doesn't rise up and form a layer (or at least a significant layer), you have a saturated oil based scrub that won't need much stirring. It will feel drier than a scrub that has more oil available to it.

If you don't have preservative, package your product with a little spoon or spatula and indicate to the giver that they are never to put their wet hands into the jar!

You can choose any assortment of exfoliants for this application, but I recommend salt or sugar. (Physical exfoliant posts, part one and part two.) They're both inexpensive and they work well. You need a lot of exfoliants for this product - at least 100 grams for a 4 ounce or 125 ml jar - and that gets expensive when you're using something like apricot shells or loofah.

You can choose any assortment of oils for this application. Take a look at the links below to see some variations on the scrub recipe. If you want to use thicker oils, like babassu or coconut oil, go for it! Try it at 10% to see how you like it!

In the pictures, the top one is an oil based scrub with all oils. The second picture is the manicure scrub that contains lanolin and lecithin, and is much thicker. 

Related posts:
Back to basics: Oil based scrubs
Body scrubs, oil based
One ingredient, ten products: Sunflower oil - oil based scrubs
Chemistry of our nails: Oil based scrubs
Facial scrubs: Creating the base of the oil based scrub
Facial scrubs: Oily or acne prone skin
Facial scrubs: Dry and normal skin
Facial scrubs: Adding essential oils to an oil based scrub
Facial scrubs: Adding exfoliants to the oil based scrub
Facial scrubs: Adding an oil based extract

Ingredient: Watermelon seed oil

Watermelon seed oil (INCI Citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seed oil) is a pale yellow, light to medium weight, slightly greasy feeling oil that comes from the watermelon seed. The version I have is cold expeller pressed, but you can find solvent extracted versions.

It contains 11% palmitic acid (C16), 10% stearic acid (C18:0), 15% oleic acid (C18:1), and 63% linoleic acid (C18:2).

It has low tocopherol or Vitamin E content at 63 ppm (solvent) or 73 ppm (expeller), but high phytosterol amounts at 8140 ppm, with the main one being stigmasterol. (It has 1.5% unsaponifiables, which is where we find the phytosterols.) It has an iodine value of 115 to 125 and a saponification value of 190 to 198, although I saw it listed at 183, so please check with your supplier before soaping with it. Its specific gravity is 0.85. It contains lycopene, which is a very powerful anti-oxidant.

I've seen it listed as having a two year shelf life or "stable", but with high unsaturated fatty acids and low Vitamin E, I'm a little dubious about this. It does have lycopene, which is a better anti-oxidant than tocopherols, but I couldn't find how much. In my workshop, I'm considering it to have a six month shelf life until I see something more solid.

I've seen this oil called a cleansing oil because it can dissolve sebum, but I've been unable to confirm this property. I've also seen water melon oil listed as a non-greasy oil. If we consider soy bean oil or sunflower oil as very greasy oils, and hazelnut oil or macadamia nut oil as non-greasy feeling oils, I would say this is not as non-greasy as hazelnut oil but not as greasy as soy bean oil - let's call it "slightly greasy". I thought it felt like it formed a nice moisturizing layer on my skin that was still there an hour later. I definitely wouldn't describe it as "sinking in" to my skin. (Please share your thoughts about the greasiness level!)

This is a more expensive oil - I've seen it for $12.50 for 2 ounces at the Formulator Sample Shop, $9.05 for 1 ounce at the Garden of Wisdom. It is suggested to use it at 1% to 10% in your products, but it is safe to use neat at 100%. I'd say it has a shelf life of 6 months, but your mileage may vary.

References:
Antioxidant and cytotoxic effects of seed oils from edible fruits
Characterization of crude watermelon seed oil by two different extractions
Phytosterols and steryl esters in diverse Curcubita, Cucumis and Citrullus seed oils
Extraction and determination of physico-chemical properties of watermelon seed oil...
Book: Lipid Handbook

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at using this interesting oil in an emulsified sugar scrub!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What do you want to know? Which products are worth making at home?

In the What do you want to know post, J asked: I always wonder which products it's worth making. I know that there's plenty of fun to be had from pottering around being crafty, but I suppose I'd like to know which things I can make that will save me money/be better quality than shop bought/be better for me than shop bought/etc. I worry that I'd buy a load of ingredients and end up spending a fortune making so-so stuff.

I can say without fear of contradiction that everything I make is nicer than what I would buy in the store. I use more active ingredients - for instance, aloe vera at 10% instead of 0.5% - and the products are customized for my hair, skin, and climate. I make everything my family uses except for toothpaste, anti-perspirant, and mascara. I make a cleaning spray for the kitchen and bathroom that is better than any commercial product I've used.

But "nice" is a relative term and what I think is awesome might not be what you think is awesome. So let's take a look at cost as a determining factor.

You will spend more money on ingredients as you figure out how to make recipes and make mistakes and as you figure out which ones you love and which ones you don't. You will buy way too much of some things - my weakness is oils! - and you will spend money on shipping that you realize could be bought from a more local retailer. But over time, you will get to the point where you have a roster of products you make regularly and well and I think you save tons of money at that point.

Let's take a look at making a 100 gram bottle of conditioner. I like to make conditioners with 7% Incroquat BTMS-50 at $0.073 per gram, this works out to about ¢51. I include 2 grams of cetrimonium chloride, which at ¢3.4 means I'm using ¢6.8 worth in this product. I like to include 2 grams of oat protein (¢12), 2 grams panthenol (¢11), 3 grams coconut oil (¢3), 2 grams dimethicone (¢9), 2 grams cyclomethicone (¢7), and 0.5 grams liquid Germall Plus (¢6).

So a 100 gram bottle of conditioner works out to $1.06, not including the bottle. Normally I'd buy a 250 ml or 8 ounce bottle of conditioner, so this recipe would be $2.63, which I think is quite the bargain for something filled with great stuff my hair likes. If I throw in the cost of the bottle - about ¢88 - then I'm looking at $3.51 for a bottle of great conditioner. Compare this with just about any conditioner and you'll see you're saving a bunch of cash! I find that I use way less of my conditioner than I would a store bought version, so I'm saving even more! On the "is it good for my hair" front - I am getting more conditioner per ml than I would with a store bought one, and I've added cetrimonium chloride to increase the detangling properties.

When I used store bought products, I would have to get my husband or mother to brush my hair after the shower because it was so tangly. Now? I have the odd tangle at the ends, but it generally brushes through easily. My conditioner is soooo much better than store bought! 

I could extend this recipe to a lotion made with Incroquat BTMS-50 easily. I would use a little less BTMS-50 and add some oils to the mix - this could vary between ¢10 to ¢15 for coconut oil to something like $1.25 for argan oil, for example - and you're still below $2.00 for a good lotion. (See the related links section to see more about lotions.)

And when it comes to facial care products, you save a fortune! Have you seen how much a 50 ml of moisturizer can cost???

In all honesty, I can't think of a product that would be more expensive to make than it would be to buy, but that depends upon your tastes. I have never bought hair care products from a salon - I've always been a drug store girl - and I have never bought expensive lotions or potions. (Heck, I didn't use lotions until I started making them!)

If you're interested in this topic, I really encourage you to check out the related links below and check out the comments that others make. I think the general consensus is that we save money making really awesome products!

*All the prices are based on what I buy in smaller amounts from my favourite retailers, but I didn't include shipping and taxes to make the calculations easier. I think you could add 10% to 15% to my estimated costs for those. Besides, I tend to drive down to Voyageur Soap & Candle to get what I want! Yeah, I know that I use gas to get down there, I tend to do a whole bunch of stuff in Langley when I go. 

Related posts:
Substitutions: Formulating on a budget
Question: What is the cheapest lotion you could make?
Is it cheaper to make your own products? Part one
Is it cheaper to make your own products? Part two

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A few thoughts for a slightly chilly Tuesday...

I hope you're all having a wonderful week! I'm off work until January 5th, so I spent yesterday in the workshop making all kinds of lovely things with all kinds of lovely ingredients. You'll see those posts in the next little while!

If you're looking for a last minute crafting idea, why not make a water based fragrance spray? They're super easy - 1% to 3% fragrance or essential oil to 1% to 3% solubilizer like PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or polysorbate 20 - with 0.5% to 1% preservative of choice and water to make up 100%. Bottle and rejoice! They're super easy!

These are ones we made in our craft group. Don't forget to give the fragrance spray a great name and label! 

I read this on the BBC this morning and thought it was interesting. Ever wonder why orange juice tastes so bad after brushing your teeth? I always thought it was thanks to the evil mint flavour, but it's thanks to the SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate)! "Detergent molecules like SLS have chemical properties that let them elbow their way into bubbles of fat molecules and disperse them...But the membranes of our biological cells are also made of fats. The current theory is that SLS somehow tampers with the membranes of the taste cells on our tongue...So when you drink orange juice under the influence of SLS, you taste none of its sweetness and its tartness comes across as bitter." Neat stuff, eh? You gotta love chemistry!

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Andrea for her kind donation of many many many bottles and jars to my youth programs. You've made it possible for us to make tons of bath & body things we wouldn't have been able to make, like the fragrance sprays above. The new year will bring much bathing, showering, washing, and smelling fun to the youth in my programs!

As a note, all the proceeds from the e-books I offer on this blog go directly to the youth in the youth programs my husband and I offer at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Chilliwack and the Yarrow Community Hall in Yarrow, B.C. If you want to learn more, click here!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekday Wonderings: Heating and holding? Figuring out the melting point? Pouring oil into water - how fast?

In this post, If you're new to lotion making, Heidi L asks: I can't mentally get past this one super basic concept... I understand the idea of heat and hold, I get the mechanics of double boilers. But how on earth do I control the temperatures of the water and oil phases? You list the minimum temp, but what is the max each phase can get before we start to see degradation of the beneficial properties of our ingredients? (I do of course realize that will vary based on exactly which ingredients I choose, but I'm hoping for a basic rule of thumb). I think you may have said 85 degrees somewhere, but does that apply to both phases? Then, I know the two phases need to be about the same temp when we combine them, but how close is close enough? I keep imagining having these 2 pots constantly on and off the heat, in and out of the water baths, stove on, stove off, as I frantically try to achieve and maintain a specific even temperature for 2 pots simultaneously. I can't help but imagine this horribly comical juggling act! Is there a trick to it, or is the reality of it just not as difficult as this frantic scenario I've built in my head?

It really isn't that difficult! If you're using a double boiler, the temperatures will increase slowly so you can monitor is quite easily. Just get yourself two nice candy thermometers and check on them from time to time.

Norm MacDonald had a bit where he explained why he always had little dogs. If they wanted to kill you, it would take them all night to try to bite through your jugular vein. When you woke up you could just shake them off with "Get off me, weiner dog!" I think of using a double boiler this way, although with less yelling about weiner dogs. (Okay, being honest here, slightly less yelling about weiner dogs. They are fun creatures!) The double boiler rises in temperature slowly enough that you can keep an eye on it for temperature. If it gets too hot, you just turn down the temperature on the element or the plug and it goes down.

This is why I don't suggest using microwave ovens. A few seconds too long and the metaphorical weiner dog has bitten through your vein and you're spewing blood everywhere! (Okay, you get the picture. No need for more gore, eh? This isn't the Walking Dead, after all!)

In all my years of making stuff, I've never had an oil get anywhere near a smoking temperature, let alone too hot to use in a lotion. I think the highest has been 80˚C. I wouldn't want anything to get over 85˚C because that's pretty high and can hurt you if you spill it. (I have no evidence I can point to for this number, but I remember seeing it somewhere and it makes sense to me. It's surprisingly hard to get your phases this high in a double boiler!)

As for how close the two phases should be - I would say no more than 10˚C apart, but I prefer 5˚C. So if you have your water phase at 75˚C, get your oil phase to 70˚C.

Another comment from Heidi L from the same post: One more question. I currently make an oil based body butter. Basic recipe is more or less: 50% butters, 25% coconut oil, 25% liquid oil. Any thoughts on how I'd determine the specific melting point for the finished product? I originally thought I could take the temp at which each ingredient liquifies and the % of the total solution and come up with a simple formula, but the liquid oil does not seem to have a temp at which it becomes solid available from reliable sources. When I plug in the figure I've gotten from the sources I have been able to find and then do the logical math, the calculation I come up with is clearly inaccurate. Thoughts?

There is no easy way to figure out the melting point of a product other than watching when it melts. We can't figure it out because of confounding factors like the amount of oleic acid in the product. Check out this post for more information on that!

In the same post, Jay Sy asks: When you are adding the water phase to the oil phase, are you blending the oil phase and slowly pouring the water phase into the mix? Or are you literally just pouring the water phase into the oil phase, inserting the stick blender, and then blending away?

I just pour the oil phase into the water phase and start mixing then. I don't worry about how fast or slow I'm adding the oil - I just pour and then mix. Part of that is so I can see the awesome power of emulsification in action; the other part is that I am very klutzy and if I try to do more than one thing at a time, I will make a horrible mess. Mixing and pouring will not work for me!

Join me tomorrow when I share the first of some of my exciting experiments from the workshop with you! Woo!