Saturday, January 31, 2015

A few administrative things on the last Saturday in January

I've also been in bed this week with a horrible cold or a mild-to-medium flu, so I will do my best to respond to your messages and comments as I feel stronger. I am so sick of this cold/flu season! This is the second cold/flu I've had this year. I'm done now! (No, I didn't get a flu shot as every time I tried to get one - four times! - something went wrong. They were out, the person administering the shot was away, and so on! ARGH!)

I can't encourage you enough to check out the sections of the blog, like frequently asked questions section, emollientshair carecosmeceuticals, information for newbies, and so on when you are looking for information. If you'd like to know more about where I keep things on the blog, check out this little tour I created (permanently located on the right hand side of the blog for at least the last two years!). I don't mind answering the same questions over and over again, but it seems a pity to do so with the limited time I have every week to write! In all honesty, I'd much rather be writing about new ingredients and writing up new recipes or playing in the workshop than answering questions like where to find supplies, how to convert recipes, why we weigh our ingredients, and so on, but I take my lead from you, my wonderful readers. If this is how you would like me to concentrate my efforts, I shall do so!

If you're wondering why I have a picture of Blondie in a rain coat at the top of the post, it's because I'm "under the weather". Plus, she looks adorable! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Can we substitute one ingredient for another in a product? Lotion bars

If you're wondering if you can substitute one ingredient for another, check out first what the ingredients do in the product. What exactly does the ingredient do? Is it a surfactant, an emollient, a conditioning agent, an emulsifier, and so on? What does it bring to the product? What is its skin feel? Does it thin or thicken the product? Is it essential for the success of the product - for instance, is is the bubbly and lathery thing in a body wash or an emulsifier in a lotion - or is it a nice addition - for instance, a film former or humectant? Why exactly is the original ingredient in the recipe and what will substituting it for the one you have do to the end result?

Yep, it all comes back to knowing your ingredients! I know, I know, right? There's just no way to get around it! Learning about the ingredients you have - learning what they do, how they do it, what they feel like, and what they bring to the product - is the only way to get to the point where you can make substitutions or create your own recipes from scratch!

Let's say you want to substitute one oil for another in a lotion bar recipe.

33% beeswax
33% mango butter
33% soy bean oil
1% fragrance oil

If you wanted to use kukui nut oil instead, you might take a look at why the soy bean oil is in the recipe in the first place. A liquid oil is necessary in a lotion bar to keep it from being too hard. It will also contribute to the skin feel and greasiness level. Soy bean oil is a light and greasy feeling oil with a lot of Vitamin E and phytosterols. It will make the lotion bar feel medium to heavy greasiness. Kukui nut oil is a light and non-greasy feeling oil that has a very silky after feel with an unknown (to me) amount of Vitamin E and phytosterols. If I used this in the product, it means my product would feel less greasy and more silky. Can I substitute one for the other? Yes! We can almost always substitute one liquid oil for another liquid oil in our products!

The exception? If you're working with castor oil and beeswax together, there is a neat effect they have when they are together in something like a mock Vaseline or lipstick. The beeswax becomes more plastic when combined with castor oil. Don't make changes in these two products! 

Related posts:
Can we substitute one oil for another?

Let's say you want to substitute the mango butter for another hard butter, like coconut oil. Could we? What does the mango butter bring to the product? It has a high melting point, which means the product will stay solid, and it offers a dry, powdery feeling instead of a greasy one. Coconut oil has a low melting point, which means the product won't be solid any more when it reaches 24˚C or 76˚F, and it has a greasy skin feel. Can we substitute the coconut oil for the mango butter?

No. The mango butter has an important role here, to keep the bar more solid, so we can't substitute something that might melt at slightly above room temperature for it.

Could we substitute another high melting point butter for the mango butter? Yes! We could use cocoa, shea, kokum, and so on for it because they will maintain the shape of the lotion bar.

What about substituting one wax for another? Beeswax is a plasticizer and hardener, helping the bar keep its shape and stiffness. Could we use something like carnauba or candellia wax? Yes, but we would have to modify the amount we use as these other waxes make lotion bars much much harder. In general, we divide the amount of beeswax in half for the wax, then make up the rest with the butter and liquid oil. So we might use 16% candellia wax and 40% oil, 39% butter instead of 1/3 of each.

When we alter something, we will change the skin feel. Your bar with candellia wax, kukui nut oil, and shea butter will not feel even remotely like my bar with mango butter, beeswax, and soy bean oil, but we aren't altering the chemistry of anything when we make these substitutions. When we're making anhydrous products, changing the ingredients is about changing the viscosity, skin feel, stiffness, and so on, changes in physical sensations. When we make changes in things like lotions, we could be changing the chemistry of the product, so we have to give it a little more thought.*

*This isn't to say that you can't alter the type of oils or butters in a lotion. I can't think of a situation in which a lotion using an all-in-one emulsifier like Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, or Ritamulse SCG couldn't have the oils changed as long as the concentrations stayed the same. (So, not going over 25% oils for something like Ritamulse SCG.) What I mean is doing things like not including an emulsifier. We'll take a look at substituting things in a lotion next week! 

Related posts:
Substituting cetyl alcohol in a recipe
How do you know what to substitute?
Substitutions: Playing around with a recipe
Substituting one ingredient for another
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Substituting: Figuring out what's important in a conditioner. 
Substituting: Learning INCI names
Substituting: How to tweak that amazing sounding recipe!
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part one)
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part two)
Substitutions: What to do when you can't wait to create! 

Formulating on a budget: An introduction
Formulating on a budget: Buying ingredients
Formulating on a budget: A test recipe

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ingredient: Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is being used in cosmetic products as a moisture booster, preventer of moisture loss, humectant, and anti-inflammatory. It is an anionic polysaccharide that has great water binding activity that might work as an anti-wrinkle ingredient at low levels, like 0.1% to 2%.

Hyaluronic acid is found in the middle spinous layer of our skin, not in the stratum corneum or stratum granulosum. Its role in skin hydration is not completely known, but it is a very powerful humectant that can bind a thousand times its weight in water and it does help our skin in retaining said water for hydration. Older and dry skin is characterized by lower levels of HA, with 50 year old skin having about half the HA it had when younger. So far studies are showing that topical application of HA won't penetrate your skin to increase the amount in the stratum spinosum, although it will make your stratum corneum feel nicer. (The molecules are simply too big!)

If it doesn't penetrate through our skin, does it do it any good? Yes, it does. Studies are showing that the application of topical HA of various molecular weights can form films on the skin that will increase moisture, reduce moisture loss, speed up wound healing, reduce inflammation, and decrease the formation of age spots. It softens the skin and restores elasticity to skin, which can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

How do we use it? As usual, I recommend you use the suggestions from your specific supplier when figuring out how to use it as this ingredient comes in many different weights. The lower the molecular weight, the more chance there is that the HA will penetrate your skin, so check the listing from the supplier to see what the weight of the product is and how much to use. I cannot stress this enough. You can't assume that all hyaluronic acids are the same. You can find ultra low molecular weight, super low molecular weight, low molecular weight, and not listed molecular weight in powder form. You can also find it as a liquid with the HA in it as a percentage, for instance at 1% in the container, which means that bottle has 1% HA in it. (If you use 10% of that 1% liquid, you'd get 0.1% HA in your product.)

I'm using the low molecular weight or LMW hyaluronic acid from Lotioncrafter, and its recommended use is 0.01% to 2%. This post from Making Cosmetics notes that you don't want to go over 2% as it will clump because all the water is bound. And, in the research I've done, it doesn't seem like there's any point in using more than 2% as it doesn't offer more moisturizing or other benefit.

It's not an inexpensive ingredient - 10 grams will run you $15 to $25 depending on the weight - so you want to use as little as you need to get the maximum benefits. You can make up the gel from the recipe to which I've linked below, then use that gel in your products. For instance, if you wanted to use 0.1% in a product, you could add 0.1% HA into the product, or you could add 5 grams of the gel to the product. (10 grams has 0.2 grams HA, so 5 grams would have 0.1 grams HA.) Either way, you're getting 0.1% HA.

I made a gel using this recipe and found it a simple recipe to make. I sprinkled in the HA, mixed well by hand, then I left it for three hours and came back to a lovely looking gel! As you can see, it is completely clear, and doesn't feel sticky on skin.

I've been testing it over the last few weeks. So far the results are pretty awesome! My mother and best friend are using it under their night time moisturizer and both feel that their skin looks plumper and smoother. I've started using it at night on its own as I don't use a moisturizer, and I feel that my skin feels moister than it did before using it.

You can use it alone in a gel format, with other ingredients in a gel format, or you could add it to things like lotions, moisturizers, or any other water containing product.

Here's a recipe from for a serum that includes it. Here's a recipe from Lotioncrafter that also includes Vitamin C, Vitamin E, panthenol, and more, and a simpler recipe that contains HA and panthenol! As I'm still in the process of playing with this ingredient, I don't have my own recipes to share, but I can tell you that the gel I list above from Lotioncrafter feels just awesome!

Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, 3rd edition
This study (although they used human growth factor and don't indicate how much of what weight HA they used, so take it with a grain of salt)
This study, which is about reduction in facial seborrheic dermatitis
This study, which indicated it could be used for faster wound healing
Lotioncrafter posting
Factsheet from Making Cosmetics (they had a better one that I saved on my computer)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ingredient: Olive oil unsaponifiables

Olive oil unsaponifiables (INCI: Olea europaea (olive) oil unsaponifiables) are the unsaponifiable portion of olive oil that can be used in our products as an oil and ethanol soluble emollient, much in the way we'd use olive oil.  Use it the way you would any other oil, but especially where you want a light product, like in a facial moisturizer, light lotion, body milk, or sprayable lotion.

Quick aside: What's an unsaponifiable? It's the portion of an oil that fails to create a soap when it is mixed with lye. 

It's a much lighter oil than olive oil - I'd say it's on par with an ester or fractionated coconut oil and its specific gravity is 0.81 to 0.84. It has a very light and non-greasy skin feel. It contains 55% to 70% squalane, 15% to 25% squalene (a triterpenic compound), 10% to 15% glycolipids (a lipid with a carbohydrate attached, Wikipedia), and 1% to 7% phytosterols, primarily in the form of campesterol and stigmasterol. It contains Vitamin E at 70 to 130 ppm, but some can be fortified with extra tocopherols. It has a shelf life of at least one year, but it could be more.

This ingredient can go by the brand name Dermolene (data bulletin here, ignore the horrible spelling!), Insapolive, or Planell Oil. Some versions of this ingredient appear to be ECOcert - ask your supplier.

How do we use olive oil unsaponifiables? You can use this ingredient anywhere you'd use olive oil but want something ligher. You can use it in the place of fractionated coconut oil or esters, and it's suggested that we use it in anhydrous products as it is so moisturizing. Treat it like any other oil by using it at up to 10% in the heated oil phase of your product. (As an aside, you can use this neat, like any other oil.) You can use it in any product suitable for your skin or hair. It would be a great addition in place of an oil in your facial moisturizer or serum!

Where can you get this lovely ingredient? I was sent mine by the Formulator Sample Shop and I've found it at Lotioncrafter. In the UK, you can find it at Of A Simple Nature.

You can also find olive oil unsaponifiables in an ingredient called Oliwax, that is used as a rheology modifier (like we would use our thickeners, stearic acid or cetyl alcohol). This comes in white flakes and is used in anhydrous products and lotions to thicken them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How do I modify a recipe when I add or remove an ingredient?

Let's take a look today at altering recipes as there have been a lot of questions about this lately. (Original post can be found here...)

Let's say I have this recipe from this post:

69.5% water
15% oil
5% butter
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
6% Polawax
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Please use the general lotion making instructions for this recipe.

Let's say I wanted to add a few things to the recipe. I think it might be quite nice to have some glycerin, allantoin, hydrolyzed protein, and panthenol in the mix. How would I add them?

How do I know when to add an ingredient? If they are water soluble and can withstand heat, they would go into the heated water phase. If they are oil soluble and can withstand heat, they would go into the heated oil phase. If they are oil or water soluble and can't withstand heat, they would go into the cool down phase.

Glycerin, allantoin, and hydrolyzed protein are water soluble and can withstand heat, so they go into the heated water phase. Panthenol is water soluble and can't withstand heat, so it goes into the cool down phase.

How do I know how much to add to the mix? Check the suggested usage rate, which can be found at your supplier's website, and trial and error in your workshop. I could add tons of glycerin, but I think I'll go with 3% because I have found that anything over that tends to feel a bit sticky to me. I know that 0.5% allantoin is a good amount because I've used 1% and thought it was a bit gritty. I like to add hydrolyzed proteins at 2% (generally) because that seems to be a nice level that offers some film forming without potential stickiness. And I've read that panthenol is effective at 2%. I have found it can get a bit sticky above that level, so I'll keep it at 2%.

How do I add these ingredients? I would remove the amount of the ingredient from the water portion. So if I'm adding 3% glycerin + 0.5% allantoin + 2% hydrolyzed protein + 2% panthenol = 7.5% new ingredients. I will remove 7.5% from the water amount, leaving me with 61.5% water in this product.

62% water
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin

15% oil
5% butter
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
6% Polawax

2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall plus

If you wanted to remove or add something that is oil soluble, it gets more complicated. Because oil soluble things need to be emulsified, an increase or decrease in an oil soluble ingredients means an increase or decrease in the emulsifier. In this recipe, let's say you wanted to remove the butter. This means you are losing 5% oil in the recipe. You don't need as much emulsifier, so you could reduce the Polawax by 1.25%. You would then add 6.25% to the water phase.

All recipes should add up to 100% for ease of reading and formulating. So if you remove something, you have to make it up somewhere. We make it up in the water amount. Yes, this will change the viscosity, but that's the nature of changing a recipe!

Why did I reduce the Polawax by 1.25%? Because we use Polawax at 25% of the oil phase. Add up all the oil soluble ingredients and multiply by 0.25 to determine how much Polawax we would use. If you are using another emulsifier, you would have to do different calculations.

68.5% water
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin

15% oil
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
4.75% Polawax

2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall plus

I hope this exercise has given you an idea of how to modify your recipes. Please check out the related posts to which I link below if you want more information!

Related posts:
Back to the very basics: Defining our terms for lotions
How do I modify a recipe when I add or subtract an ingredient?
Learning how to read and convert a recipe
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a lotion!
Making your first lotion (PDF)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekday Wonderings: Can I include slippery elm or MSM in a leave in conditioner?

In this post, a very light leave in conditioner, Kelly asks: But in this conditioner could we add in slippery elm powder extract and msm powder? Slippery elm and marshmallow root are good to add slip to hair, saw some diy recipes on naturally curly of course they don't include the honeyquat, preservatives, etc. this question would also help possibly with making face cream with btms-50 and honeyquat. As a newbie I'm not totally clear on how to know what can go with cationics, or anionics.

In general, my first question would be why would you want to add those ingredients? What would they bring to a leave in conditioner? What would they bring to this leave in conditioner? Are these ingredients that work well when left on the hair and scalp or are they better as a rinse off product?

What does slippery elm bring to the party? Paula notes that "Plant that can be a good anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory. Its mucilage has soothing and emollient properties." (Paula's Choice) It gets a slimy consistency when added to water, so it will offer some slip to the product in a slimy way. I did a search and couldn't find the electrical charge for this ingredient, but I think it's safe to assume it's non-ionic, so it shouldn't have a problem with other ingredients.

What would MSM bring to the party? It offers a reduction in oiliness, can help with scar and collagen flexibility, and increase blood flow. In addition, it is supposed to help with inflammation, helping with the treatment of aches and pains. It is used in arthritis related creams and ointments and hair care products intended for dandruff or oil control. It is suggested to use it at less than 5%.

Could these two ingredients go into a leave in conditioner? Sure, why not? Neither seem like they will conflict with the electrical charge and they seem to have some quality that might be good in a hair care product.

What about using them in this product? This specific recipe is a very very light leave in conditioner that contains only water, a cationic polymer, preservative, and fragrance. It is intended to be a very very light conditioner, so I think adding all kinds of things to it is probably not a great idea because it defeats the purpose of a very light leave in conditioner. I would recommend using another leave in conditioner recipe - say, this one or this one - for the additions of these ingredients. Try with one ingredient for at least a week - take very good notes - before trying the other one. Only add one thing at a time so you know how you like that one thing!

You mention not knowing what goes with cationic or anionic ingredients. There really aren't any hard and fast rules, except check before adding something cationic to something anionic and vice versa. For instance, I can add honeyquat to an anionic shampoo without big problems, generally because I'm adding a small amount. Check the data bulletin or ingredient write up at this blog or your supplier if you're in doubt.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Do we need to make a complicated shampoo if we're using a nice conditioner?

An administrative thing: Subscribing to posts doesn't seem to work right now, so the easy solution is to make a comment and tick that you want to see follow up comments. Subscribing to the entire blog will not get you any of the comments. This only means you will get each day's post by email. As for what "following" is...I think you get updates somewhere when a new post is published? Not really sure about that...

In this post, what's important in a conditioner (part one), Bunny asks: Oh yes, wonderful! I was hoping there'd be a conditioner one after the shampoo one... But a question! How much redundancy... or... If you're going to make a lovely conditioner, is it necessary to put a bunch of conditioning type ingredients in your shampoo? Or can I make a real simple shampoo just for cleaning and make up for that in a really nice conditioner?

I would argue that yes, you want to make a nice shampoo to go with your nice conditioner, and here is my justification...If you've ever used soap*, a shampoo that wasn't well suited to your hair type, or a really cheap one you found in a motel room, you know that no amount of awesome conditioning power can make your hair feel lovely afterwards. You will rinse your hair of the lathery stuff and it feels dry and straw like and knotted and generally lousy. Even after using the bestest ever conditioner you've ever made, your hair still feels kinda hard. Now think about using a lovely shampoo then a conditioner. How does your hair feel?

The conditioning agents we add to the product will stay on your hair. You can tell because your hair feels more conditioned, meaning it might be more combable or might feel less knotted/tangled. If you have people in your life who use 2-in-1 shampoo products, they'll tell you that their hair feels conditioned afterwards. Some of us require more conditioning than a cationic polymer can offer in a shampoo, which is why we use a conditioner.

We also include those ingredients to increase the mildness of the shampoo. And we include some ingredients because it feels nice on our scalp our hair, the way we might add some glycerin to the mix to increase the bubbles and lather.

You don't have to use all the ingredients I do in my products - I use the ingredients I use because I've played with them and decided they bring something I like to the product or to my hair - so I encourage you to create a stripped down shampoo and try it. See what you think it missing from it and add it. It might be that you don't mind a product that doesn't contain those ingredients!

*I know that some of you like to use cold process soap as a shampoo. I'm not looking to start a debate here. Just using it as an example...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: How do I organize information on my ingredients?

Sorry for the break in posting and in responding to comments, but it's been a crazy week! I have a practicum student with me at work and I have more clients than normal, so when I get up I'm out the door and when I come home, I'm on the couch!

A quick note: To those of you who would like me to get rid of the CAPTCHA thing when you comment, sorry but no. I tried that once and I was inundated with spam! As it is, I have to filter through the spam every morning. I don't want to have to do even more of that! If it's any consolation, Blogger is making me do it every time I write a comment now!

Does anyone know where to get Sucragel AOF in the States or Canada? Comment below if you do! Thanks!

In this post, what do you want to know, Elisabeth asks: Sort of a meta question here, do you keep some kind of "cheat sheet" data base for all your ingredients and their interactions with each other, or do you have it all in your head? My problem number one is to keep myself organised in such a way that I can start up smoothly again after taking a break -- I didn't have time to make anything for five months, and by now I almost feel I have to start from scratch with a proper inventory and redoing research and so on. Some pointers in how you keep all your information together would be really helpful. As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge and inspiration.

Yeah, I kinda keep some things in my head, but I also find it useful to make charts, like the ones you can download for things like surfactants and preservatives here on the blog. I also refer to the blog when I'm working with something with which I'm not completely familiar, like bull kelp bioferment or lupine amino acids, to give a few examples. It isn't an overnight thing this learning about ingredients, but with time, you'll be surprised at how much sticks in your head!

When I'm researching an ingredient, I like to write down things like usage, heat sensitivity, solubility, and the like, but I always put in big letters what I can't do with it. "Don't use with cationic (positively charged) ingredients!" "Don't use with more than 25% oils!" "Don't heat!" And so on. It takes time to get to know your ingredients, and don't hesitate to use charts and other devices to remember!

In this post, exotic oils, Heidi asks: Sorry to bug you, but I was wondering if you could recommend a reliable (preferably, but not necesarily free) source for information on products that you have not mentioned. For instance, one of my suppliers has Abyssinian Oil, Black Cumin Seed Oil, Black Currant Oil, etc. Where can I go to find information? I checked Wikipedia and the information there is not pertinent to skin care (aside from also not being vetted). I tried doing research online, and I DID learn a lot- for instance Black Cumin Seed Oil apparently cures HIV and cancer, so THAT's cool- No doubt these article authors would have said that it will also independently clean my house too, if they'd thought it was what I needed to hear to purchase it off of their web site. :( Although I'd of course also love to hear your thoughts on these items, I really was just hoping you could point me in the right direction. If your sources are all super chemistry heavy, many of us may not get all of the data there, but we may be able to grasp just enough to get the general idea without having to bug you. Thanks so much!

You're not bugging me! Asking where you can get information is why I'm here!!!

One of the most frustrating things I encounter when researching oils (and essential oils) are the near magical qualities ascribed to these lovely, but not supernatural, ingredients. The first thing I do is a Google search. I check out what suppliers like Lotioncrafter and the Herbarie are saying about the oils. Then I go into Google books (under the "more" button on Google) to see what I can find about the ingredient in that section. Sometimes I can get free previews, sometimes I can't, but I will generally find something pretty interesting in a book or two. Then I might go to EBSCO host through my local library or the university. (This can be problematic as you need to have it available for free at your library or be a member somewhere.) I like to see what kinds of studies show up about the oils.

The pictures you're seeing in this post come from our youth program on Thursday when we made whipped butter, emulsified body butter, and emulsified sugar scrub! Andrea was kind enough to donate a lot of containers to us, so we are able to make more bath & body products! Want to learn more about the youth programs to which you donate every time you get an e-book? Click here

Join me tomorrow for more of your comments in the Weekend Wonderings!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Essential oils aren't magical!

I know it seems like they may be magical with all their wonderful qualities, but you can treat them as you would other ingredients. For instance, don't measure them in drops. How do you know how much you're using? Measure them by weight like you would any other ingredient. Check the suggested usage rate and use it at that rate. If it says 0.5%, then measure 0.5 grams on the scale, not some number of drops!

You don't want to heat them as they are volatile, meaning they will evaporate in the heat, but you can add them to the cool down phase at 45˚C easily.

They can be irritating and you can have reactions to them. I've had people write to me in complete shock that they would have some kind of reaction to an essential oil. They aren't inert. You can have reactions to the components in essential oils as much as you can have reactions to fragrances and other ingredients. For instance, citrus essential oils can be phototoxic. And the "...the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety identified a total of 54 individual fragrance substances and 28 natural extracts (essential oils) as ‘established contact allergens in humans’" (From this paper...) I'm not saying essential oils aren't lovely and nice and wonderful, but be aware that they can be potential causes of problems, too.

I can't stand earthy essential oils, like patchouli. I can't have them in the workshop, even in bags, and if your soap stand has a strong waft of an earthy EO like sandalwood, I have to go the other way! I really can't stand those fragrances! 

I get asked all the time why I don't use essential oils in my facial products. The long answer is that essential oils can have strong fragrances and I don't like to have the smell of something - anything! even chocolate! - under my nose all day long. There are loads of lovely reasons to use an essential oil in a facial product, but the idea of smelling tea tree all day long keeps me from using it in my face cleanser.

Just a few thoughts for a slightly sunny Tuesday!

Related posts:
Essential oils section of the blog

Monday, January 19, 2015

What do you want to know? Creating a setting lotion

I realized I didn't address quite a few questions in last year's post, What do you want to know?, so I thought I'd attempt to answer a few of them here and over the next few weeks.

Wendy asked about making a setting lotion. I'm not sure if I can help here, but perhaps we can look at the ingredient lists for a few of them?

Ingredient list for Proclaim Super Setting: Water, Oleth-20, imidazolidinyl urea, polyquaternium-10, glycerin, methylparaben, fragrance, panthenol, polyquaternium-11, lanolin, benzophenone-4, blue 1

Possible ingredient list for Lottabody Setting Lotion (in backwards order?): D&C Red No. 33, Dmdm Hydantoin, FD&C Blue No. 1 Fragrance, Methylparaeben, PEG 40 Lanolin, Polyquaternium 11, Polysorbate 20, Water

So this looks to be a very light conditioner using a cationic polymer - look at the polyquaternium 10 and 11 - with some oils - lanolin - with an emulsifier - polysorbate 20, oleth 20. Pretty simple, it would appear. 

Here's what I found out about it in Poucher's Perfumes...
The original liquid setting lotions were designed to prolong the life of a water wave. A variety of styles can be achieved without affecting the internal structure of the hair. Traditional setting lotions are ethanol/water mixtures in which polymeric materials have been dissolved. Application is to towel-dried hair with combing to distribute the product evenly through the hair. The hair is then set on curling rollers and dried. On removal of the curling rollers the hair should be combed gently into the desired style. Setting lotions do not work by sticking hair fibres together, but by coating each hair fibre, creating greater interfibre friction and reducing moisture uptake, thus conferring greater control to the hair.
This sounds more like the setting lotion I found in a shop in England. Ingredient list for Bristow's extra firm setting lotion: Alcohol Denat, Aqua, VA/Crotonate/Vinyl Neodecanoate, Copolymer, Parfum, Panthenol, AminomethylPropanol, Citric Acid 

Okay, so can we find a recipe? I found a few on-line, which consisted of putting honey in your hair, which isn't something I expected to see, so let's see if I can find some in my formulation archives. 

I found this recipe in a bunch of notes I have that might work for you...

4% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine lactate
8% polyquaternium 11
0.5% cetyl alcohol
0.5% to 1% preservative 
87% water 

This seems like it would be a bit more conditioning than those products I see above - in fact, I'd put on par with a leave in conditioner - so I think we need to go in another direction. 

It seems like there are a few definitions for what a setting lotion might be. It could be an alcohol based product with a styling aid in it, a polymer we might see in a gel or mousse these days. It could be something very conditioning with no styling aids in it at all. Or, as in the case of the two products above, something that has some light conditioning and moisturizing ingredients with no styling aids. I think I'll try making the latter as that's what I see on the market. 

The amounts used in the products above will be quite small. Consider that imidazolidinyl urea - the preservative - comes before the two conditioning agents and the moisturizing ingredients in the Proclaim product makes me think that there are low levels of cationic polymers in here. I could go with 0.5% of two cationic polymers - say polyquat 44, which is the usual usage rate, and honeyquat - and a small amount of moisturizing ingredient - say 0.5% water soluble shea - with a solubilizer - say 1% to 2% of something like laureth-4 or polysorbate 20

If I were to come up with a starting point for the product, I might try this...

95% distilled water  
0.5% polyquat 44
1% honeyquat 
1% PEG-7 olivate
1% polysorbate 20
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

But this seems like it won't be moisturizing or conditioning enough. Could we try something a little different? 

90.5% distilled water 
3% water soluble oil, like water soluble shea or PEG-7 olivate  
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

The fact that both of them contain lanolin in oil soluble or water soluble form makes me wonder if that's important. You could substitute water soluble lanolin for the water soluble oil, if you wanted. Or use some regular lanolin with equal parts PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil at up to 3%-ish (each being 1.5% or so). 

90.5% distilled water
1.5% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil or polysorbate 80
1.5% lanolin
3% polyquat 10 or polyquat 7 or honeyquat or up to 0.5% polyquat 44
2% panthenol
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance

These are just my thoughts. These could be the best recipes in the world, or they could suck. It's meant to offer a starting point for a product I've never used. Please let me know if you try it and how it worked out in the comments! 

Want to know something? Visit the What do you want to know? post and make a comment! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Please do not ask me to duplicate products for you!

Wow, you've all been very active on the blog this week! I had a seriously busy day yesterday - Raymond and I played our recital and it was awesome! - and I have a busy day today, too, so I only have time for this adminstrative post....

I need to make this abundantly clear - I do not offer my help in duplicating commercial products. I'm not sure how much more clear I have to be about this, but I guess there's still some room for doubt? Please do not ask me to duplicate a product for you. Please don't send me an ingredient list and ask me to help you make your own version. Please don't send me a picture of a bottle in your bathroom and ask me to help you create something similar. Please don't send me a link to an Etsy site and ask me to make a similar product to that one. Please do not ask me to duplicate a product for you.

I stopped duplicating products for three reasons.  The first is a simple one - I hope I have given you enough information to create your own products through the almost 2500 posts on this blog. My goal is to teach you what each ingredient brings to the party and how to use them, and when you know that, you can try to make your own product.

The second one is that it takes a lot of time, far more time than I have. What you're asking me to do is spend a lot of time to custom make a product for you based on nothing more than an ingredient list. I simply don't have time to do that.

The third and most important reason, though, is that I hate doing it. When I was offering duplicating help in the past, I started to hate the blog. I hated opening my e-mail, and I hated reading the comments. It wasn't fun for me, and I've always said that when it stops being fun, I'll shut it all down. I got very close to doing that four years ago, and I have been so much happier not duplicating products.

Please understand that asking me to do this after I have made it abundantly clear that I don't want to offer my help is showing me that you can't take no for an answer. Please recognize that if you think it's no big deal just to ask me this once that there are dozens of other people thinking the same thing, which results in quite a few of these requests a week. Please don't make me the bad guy beause I have to say no to your very simple request that'll only take a few minutes because I've made it very very clear that I don't want you to ask in the first place.

This does not mean I don't want to see your recipes. (In fact, I'm asking you not to ask me about duplicated recipes so I have more time to spend on your questions and recipe tweaks!) If you've come up with a recipe or tweaked one from the blog, that's an original recipe and I'm happy to offer what I can. What I'm talking about is asking me to duplicate a commercial product based on an ingredient list from the 'net or a container.

Join me tomorrow as we have some fun formulating a setting lotion!

Friday, January 16, 2015

What's important in a conditioner? Part two...

As we discovered yesterday, we can make a conditioner with only a few ingredients - the cationic emulsifier like Incroquat BTMS-50, water, and a preservative. We can make it a little more substantive and emollient by adding a fatty alcohol like cetyl alcohol

Let's take a look at another conditioner recipe (taken from this post)!

7% Incroquat BTMS-50
3% coconut oil
2% cetrimonium chloride

78.5% distilled water
2% quaternized rice protein

2% pisum sativum peptide
2% dimethicone
2% panthenol
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (or preservative of choice)
1% fragrance oil (white chocolate, as usual!)

We start with the Incroquat BTMS-50, which is our positively charged ingredient. It also behaves as an emulsifier so we can add oils, silicones, and other oil soluble ingredients.

Coconut oil is an emollient, and it's there as a moisturizer. You can use any oil you like in a conditioner, but I prefer to use coconut oil as there are many studies showing that it has an affinity for hair's protein, and that it can penetrate the hair strand. It's one of the least expensive oils you can buy, and it has a shelf life of two years, which is awesome.

Cetrimonium chloride is another postively charged ingredient that offers great detangling and combability to my hair. I use it because my hair tangles easily. I use it at 2% because it seems to be the optimal amount for detangling my hair. I can use more - up to 5% - but it seems like I don't need more than that.

Quaternized rice protein is a cationic polymer or another positively charged ingredient. This one isn't an emulsifier, but will still be substantive to our hair. Why include this when I have already included two other positively charged ingredients? Because it offers another level of film forming on my hair strand, and it will help reduce combing and electrostatic forces and increase lubricity of our hair, leaving it easier to comb, less likely to tangle, and less likely to break. You can use any cationic polymer you like in this application.

Pisum sativum peptide is a hydrolyzed protein from a type of pea. It works like other proteins in that it is a film former and moisturizer, It is supposed to hydrate hair as well as wheat hydrolysate (hydrolyzed protein), it behaves as an anti-oxidant, and it increases your hair's diameter. If you don't have this one, use another hydrolyzed protein, like silkoat, Phytokeratin, and so on.

Dimethicone is a silicone that I have included as it improves wet and dry combing, helps with shine, improves hair feel (softness), reduces static charge, and works as a humidity resistor. It is a great ingredient to reduce frizz.

Cyclomethicone is another silicone that is deposited at the surface of the hair or skin and spreads uniformly over the surface, coating the hair shaft or skin. It's going to bring the other ingredients along for the ride, which means your products will glide nicely and coat the desired area with a thin film.

Panthenol is a fantastic addition at 2% to 5%. It builds a thin moisture film on the surface of your hair (film former) and makes it shine without oil or greasiness. In addition, it can penetrate the cuticle of your hair and brings moisture to the cortex! This means you get good manageability and pliability of your hair, and it is better able to cope with brushing, wind, and other non-hair friendly things. Finally, it could give your hair more body! Studies have shown that 2% left on for 2 minutes can actually swell the hair shaft, making it seem thicker! (So use it up to 5% in your conditioner or leave in conditioner!)

Liquid Germall Plus is my preferred preservative, included because any time we have water, we have to have a preservative. You can choose any preservative that is suitable for positively charged, oil-in-water emulsions.

What does this all mean? It means that you have to figure out for yourself what kind of conditioner you want to make. As we saw yesterday, you can make a very basic, good conditioner with the cationic emulsifier, water, and preservative, but you might make something better with a few extra ingredients. You don't need to use all of these ingredients to make a great product for your hair - I like these ingredients, but you might like other ones - and knowing what they bring to the party means you can include them or not. It really is up to you!

Make a conditioner with nothing but the basics and a protein, if you wish. Make a conditioner with loads of oils, proteins, cationic polymers, and silicones, if you wish. Make a conditioner with all the things or none of them - it's really your choice. The key is to learn what each ingredient brings to the party so you can decide what you want and what you don't want!

Related posts:
Hair care section of the blog - loads of conditioner recipes there!
Making a coconut oil liquid conditioner
Making a coconut oil and pisum sativum liquid conditioner

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's important in a conditioner? Part one...

A conditioner, by definition, contains a positively charged ingredient that will adsorb to your hair strand to increase lubricity, decrease friction, decrease fly-aways, and increase combability. These positively charged ingredients include Incroquat BTMS-50, Incroquat CR, Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225, cetrimonium bromide, cetrimonium chloride, and so on. This main ingredient is generally an emulsifier, meaning it will bring oil and water together to create an emulsified product. (This is why conditioners are creamy and white!) It will generally contain other ingredients that are good for moisturizing, hydrating, and de-frizzing your hair.

Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair. It's different from absorption in that it doesn't penetrate, it just sits on top of the hair fibre. This adsorption is called substantivity, which is defined as "an adsorption phenomenon by which materials that have opposing charges or like composition are more readily adsorbed onto or attracted to its surface and, once there, resistant to subsequent rinse-off."

A conditioner is not a conditioner if it doesn't contain a positively charged ingredient because only a positively charged ingredient will adsorb to the hair strand. You can create a moisturizing product with non-ionic emulsifiers like Polawax or slightly anionic or negatively charged emulsifiers like Ritamulse SCG, but those are not, by definition, conditioners. They are moisturizers or lotions. Your hair might love them, you might swear by them, your friends might rave about them, but they aren't - by definition - conditioners.

I wanted to address something quickly, which is this - I don't think it is possible to make a natural hair conditioner. A hair conditioner is positively charged, and there aren't a lot of natural ingredients that are positively charged and emulsifiers, meaning that large companies start with a natural ingredient - like colza oil - and modify it into something like behentrimonium methosulfate. There are things out there that might make your hair feel more conditioned - some people swear by apple cider vinegar - but they are not conditioners as they are not positively charged. So when you see something calling itself an all natural conditioner, it's either not natural or it's not a conditioner. 

So what's important in a hair conditioner recipe? Let's take a look at one, then figure it all out!

4% BTMS-50
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
94% to 94.5% distilled water

This basic recipe contains three ingredients that are important. One, the positively charged ingredient, which is the BTMS-50. Two, the water, which is the carrier for these lovely ingredients. And three, a preservative, which we always add to products that contain water. Those are the main ingredients you require for a conditioner.

But what about this recipe?

7% BTMS-50
3.5% cetyl alcohol
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil
88% water

This one contains cetyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol that moisturizes and boosts the substantivity of the conditioning agent. (You can use other fatty alcohols, but let's not complicate things!) What does that mean? It means it will offer more emolliency to the product, making it feel more slippery and making your hair feel more moisturized, and it offers a boost to the conditioner's ability to adsorb to your hair strand. When we look at the ingredient list for BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225, we see that it already contains a fatty alcohol, so why add it? It adds some slip and glide to the product, which is really lovely. It's a very inexpensive way to boost the efficacy of a conditioner.

But is cetyl alcohol right for your hair? As someone with oily hair, I have found that using extra cetyl alcohol can make my hair feel a bit greasy quicker and weighs it down a little. But that's just my experience. As with every product, you'll have to make it and keep good notes when using it to see if you respond well.

How much Incroquat BTMS-50 should we use in a conditioner? It depends upon the type of conditioner. I generally use 1% to 2% in a leave in conditioner, 3.5% to 4% for an every day conditioner and 7% in a more intense conditioner.

What else can we find in a conditioner? As this post is getting way too long, join me tomorrow as we analyze another conditioner recipe to determine what's important!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Can we create a more natural moisturizer?

This same person who asked if we could make an easier moisturizer, which we looked at yesterday, asked if we could make a moisturizer more natural. I hate to do it, but before we start, I must ask the question - what does it mean to be natural?

I'm going to be honest here and say that I don't really know what natural means. There isn't a standard for it - you can call anything you like "natural" and you won't get in legal trouble for doing so. For the purposes of this post, I thought I would consider things we find in our bodies as natural, ingredients like glycerinstearic acid, and sodium lactate. But then, those ingredients require a lot of processing. Does a processed ingredient count as a natural one?

My husband asked me how I would classify Pringles chips. They're derived from potatoes and contain a lot of potatoes (about 42%), but the process they have to go through to become Pringles is a lengthy one filled with all kinds of other "derived from nature" ingredients. They are heavily processed to become Pringles, but they are still "derived from potatoes" and contain lots of potato goodness. Would I call them natural? The amount of processing something has to go through to become an ingredient is probably on par with what a Pringles chip has to go through to become a Pringle, so why do we consider one thing natural and not another?

What about regular chips? Why are Kettle Chips considered "all natural"? Read their statement about natural and tell me what sets them apart from something like Old Dutch. Is it because one says they're natural and the other doesn't? 

I think we can agree that our ingredients are processed. Take a look at decyl glucoside, an ECOcert ingredient that a lot of people consider natural. "Decyl glucoside is produced by the reaction of glucose from corn starch with the fatty alcohol decanol which is derived from coconut." (Wikipedia) Would you really consider it a natural ingredient if it requires that much processing to exist?

Click here to learn a tiny bit more - but not much - about ECOcert. Why so little information on their site and Wikipedia? So infuriating! Or you can take a look at this really really long document to learn more. Take a look at the Cosmos standard as well. 

Related posts:
Natural products - a look at some ingredient lists
What does natural mean?
What does "coconut derived" mean?

I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, so I will consider anything that is ECOcert and/or found in our bodies as natural. This means we can use the emulsifier Ritamulse SCG in our products. Here's an example of a minimally processed ingredient lotion with this emulsifier. If we look at yesterday's moisturizer, it'll look something like this...

83% water

10% oils
6% emulsifier

0.5% to 1% preservative

I've had to increase the emulsifier to 6% because we require more Ritamulse SCG when formulating than we do Incroquat BTMS-50 or Polawax, for example. I generally use it at 8%, but that might be a little too thick for a facial moisturizer, so I'll try it at 6%.

There is no hard and fast rule for how much Ritamulse SCG to use the way there is for something like Polawax. Most formulations you see will use it at 8%, so we're taking a bit of a risk using it at 6%. The only other rule to keep in mind is that you can't go over 25% oils with this emulsifier. 

This lotion could be 100% natural if we used a preservative considered natural, like Leucidal or Advanced Aloe Leucidal.  The problem is that there are reports coming from all over the place that these preservatives aren't working as well as they could for big companies, which makes me very worried for us homecrafters! Plus there are reports it might not be compatible with Ritamulse SCG, which is our main ingredient here! I would prefer not to work with something that could fail like this. If you really must use one of these preservatives - and until we get more information, I don't encourage it - then use it at the full 4% to be on the safe side. Remove that 4% from your water phase. (So 79% water, 4% preservative in the cool down phase.)

If you are considering using Leucidal in your products, please take a look at this report on the Badger sunscreen recall using a preservative similar to Leucidal, and a note in this forum that some are using an anti-fungal like potassium sorbate with this preservative. Please be obsessive about cleanliness and choosing the right container for that product, like a pump or something with a small orifice. 

I'd much rather work with a tried and true preservative like liquid Germall Plus. If you think about it, you're using 0.5% in this lotion, which is very little, but you're getting really big returns in the form of lovely lotions that aren't contaminated. Or try something like Optiphen at 0.75% to 1.5% in the cool down phase, but make sure you add it carefully at below 45˚C or it might curdle your lotion.

I'm never sure why the idea of no preservatives is so appealing. We are so fortunate to live in a time when we can add a little something to a product and save ourselves from bacterial or yeast infections and much worse! I swear, our ancestors from the Middle Ages would beat us to death with their scythes if they could see how we reject life and health preserving measures! But I digress...

What about the rest of the ingredients? This is where your own sense of what is natural has to kick in because clearly I'm unable to make those decisions for you. The lovely thing about making products is that you can customize it however you like!

Which oil to choose? For a facial product, I like to use a drier feeling oil because we don't want our faces to look really shiny. The emulsifier here is already quite dry feeling, so I don't have to be too worried about that shiny look, fortunately. You can use any oil you wish here. I think I'm going to use evening primrose oil because it's a drier feeling oil with some good phytosterols and fatty acids.

So what will our recipe look like in the end?

81% water
2% sodium lactate

10% evening primrose oil
6% Ritamulse SCG

0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Use the general lotion making instructions for this recipe.

So there's an idea for something that is more natural. If you want to stay away from preservatives, may I suggest an anhydrous or non-water containing product like a lotion bar for your facial needs? You could keep that kind of product 100% natural with great ease!

Suggestions? Comments? I'm always here to listen!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moisturizers: What's important in a moisturizer?

Someone asked me if I could offer information on making easier moisturizers. The first step is to understand why we are using what we're using in a product.

What's important in a lotion? Let's a take a look at basic recipe, which I've taken from this Newbie Tuesday post.

68% water

15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
7% emulsifier (BTMS-50 or Polawax)

1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

As with every lotion, the important parts are the oil, water, emulsifier, and preservative. Everything else is nice, but not essential to the chemical process that creates an oil-in-water lotion.

Let's say you want to make this recipe more basic. You could use all oils for the oil and butter amount - so that would be 20% oils - and you would leave out the cetyl alcohol (which is used for thickening and more moisturizing). So the recipe would look like this...

73% water

20% oils
6% emulsifier (BTMS-50 or Polawax)

0.5% to 1% preservative

Follow the general lotion making instructions for this recipe.

I've increased the water amount by 4% to make up for the loss of the cetyl alcohol (3%) and fragrance/essential oil (1%). This is about as basic a lotion as you could make.

When we remove something from the lotion, we must make up for it in the water amount so the recipe will total 100%. 

What's the problem? No problem, in the grand scheme of things, but it really bothers me that we've left out simple ingredients that can make a basic lotion into an amazing lotion. Adding a few inexpensive, easy to get ingredients can make this lotion awesome.

Like glycerin. A humectant like glycerin at 3% in your heated water phase can take your lotion from good to fan-freakin'-tastic. It'll draw water to the atmosphere and hydrate your skin better than any lotion alone could do. Sodium lactate at 2.5% would also work very well here.

Cetyl alcohol is a really great addition to any product. It's inexpensive and thickens your products while offering more emolliency. At $5.00 a pound, it's cheaper than any butter you might add and it brings a lot to the party. Add it at 3% in the heated oil phase of your lotion. If you want to make something that is thicker, more like a whipped butter than a glidy Cool Whip creation, stearic acid is a great addition as a thickener. Like cetyl alcohol, it's inexpensive and a great emollient. As well, it can make a lotion feel a bit cooler, which is really nice for a foot product or a warm weather product.

A moisturizer is thinner than a regular lotion - I think of them as having at least 80% water and being quite thin - so you could take any recipe on this site, and basic it up. Let's basic up this moisturizer recipe! (Read that post so you can see why I'm using what I'm using ingredient by ingredient!)

77.5% water
2-5% humectant of choice
0.5% allantoin

8% oils
4% emulsifier
2% thickener

0.5% to 1% preservative
2% hydrolyzed protein
2% panthenol
0.5% extract
0.5% another extract

If I reduce it down to the basics of water, oil, emulsifier, and preservative, I get this recipe...

85% water

10% oils
4% emulsifier

0.5% to 1% preservative

Use the general lotion making instructions for this product.

The problem again is that we are lacking the awesome ingredients that make this product go oomph! We don't have the humectant, which will increase hydration, and we don't have the thickener, which will increase the viscosity and offer more moisturizing. It'll be a fine enough moisturizer, but not great. If this is what you want, then have a go at it and see what you think of it! (That sounded very guilt inducing, didn't it? "If this is what you really want..." but there really are such lovely things you can add to this product to make it awesome that it seems a pity not to put in something like a humectant...)

If you try the recipe, please let me know what you think of it in the comments below. Please be specific about which oils and emulsifier you used! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Let's take another look at niacinamide!

I've started using a lot more niacinamide these days, and this article really reminds me why it's such a great ingredient! This water soluble powder can be included in your toners, moisturizers, and other facial and body care products suitable for all skin types. It's inexpensive - $3.95 for 1 ounce at Lotioncrafter or $4.50 for 1 ounce at Making Cosmetics - and you don't need much to make a huge impact.

The claims for niacinamide are pretty substantial and they are backed up by studies and good science. Studies have shown that 2% in a facial moisturizer can increase skin's keratin, ceramides, and barrier lipids which results in a reduction of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and an increase in collagen synthesis. 2% can result in a 23% reduction in sebum production and pore diameter. It can reduce hyperpigmentation of age and sun spots. And it can reduce the damage from environmental causes, which reduces the irritation, inflammation, and skin redness from things like the sun, cold, or weather as well as application of straight SLS.  Even at 5%, there's a lack of irritation and redness on our faces ('cause sometimes niacin can make our skin flush, but not at 2% or 5%). It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and decreases skin blotchiness and "pebbling" or roughness on facial skin. It also behaves as an anti-inflammatory and enhances skin's barrier functions.

All of these great things can happen in a short period of time. In one study, all of these results were seen within 12 days (the first time they checked, so it could have been a shorter period of time) and continued to work with application of the moisturizer daily.

Use it in your heated water phase or cool down phase, but make sure you dissolve it well. I've had no problems dissolving this ingredient and no problems with precipitation after it has dissolved.

How to use it? I've used it in this cucumber extract toner at 2% and absolutely love it! You can use it in a facial moisturizer - try it as the only active to make sure your skin likes it - or an oil free facial moisturizer for oily skin. It is water soluble, so you can only use it in things that contain water or water soluble ingredients. Sorry, lotion bars or balms are right out!

Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology (textbook)
Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics (textbook)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Why are you using willow bark in a rinse off product? Do we need preservatives in our cleaning products? Why doesn't handmade soap make a good shampoo?

In this post, Experiments in the workshop: A 3-in-1 that might be good for swimmers, Marg asks: Can you explain your thinking on adding white willow bark extract to your 3 in 1? I love that product, and use it in my aftershave lotion to soothe tiny nicks or scrapes, but not sure if its purpose in a rinse-off cleansing product. 

I've always used willow bark extract in my body washes because it increases mildness, offers anti-inflammatory properties, and makes the product feel more astringent. It is a keratolytic, meaning it behaves as an exfoliant, which is the main reason people use this ingredient. I use it in a lot of rinse off products - like this facial cleanser - because I can't handle it on my skin for a long period of time, like in a toner or moisturizer. I can't find the reference now - I have looked for quite a while this morning! - but I read that it can be used in a cleanser as it doesn't need to be on the skin for long, hence its usage in my cleansers as well as toners.

Related posts:
White willow bark: Formulating skin cleansing products

In this post, Preservatives: What can get into our products?, Thalia asks: I also make my own cleaners using distilled water, vinegar, castile soap, baking soda and borax. I wonder if I should also include preservative when I make those. I don't want to spray beasties on my countertops when I'm supposed to be cleaning them. Would cosmetic preservative work in my cleaning mixes?

Yes, a cosmetic preservative will work for your product, and yes, I would use one if I were you. Every time we use water, we need to include a preservative because things can grow in our products. I think it's even more important in a cleaning product as we are using that to clean up, not spread around even more problems! I use 0.5% liquid Germall Plus in my products, and that seems to work well.

Related posts:
Preservatives section of the blog
Using d-Limonene in your cleaning products

In this post, Shampoo: Formulating with greener ingredients? Laura asks: Would it work if I made some castile soap and added panthenol, and silicones, and phytokeratin--to make a shampoo? I'm wondering if castille could work as the surfactant. Then add other things to make it into a shampoo. Would the castille lose its lathering ability? Any insight?

I write at length about why we don't want to use soap as a shampoo in this post, so I encourage you to visit that post, but the short answer is that the pH of a soap is far too high for our hair and scalp. We want our hair care products to be from 5 to 6 or so, and the pH of a castille soap is always above 8, which is far too alkaline. Most of us using any cold process or handmade soap as a shampoo will find our hair feels brittle or very tangled or generally in poor condition. Adding those lovely things your hair likes, like hydrolyzed proteins and panthenol, aren't going to make a difference to your hair if the pH is out of whack.

To those of you who want to use castille soap as a shampoo, I'm asking the question - why? What is it about castille soap that is so appealing as a shampoo? I get asked this question once a week, and I'm just curious why castille for a shampoo? Why not another liquid soap? Why not another type of solid soap? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun with niacinamide!