Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm presenting at the Conference for the Canadian Guild of Soapmakers, Chandlers, and Cosmetic Makers!

Woo! This is going to be fun! I've been asked to run two workshops at this year's 1st Annual Conference for the Canadian Guild of Soapmakers, Chandlers, and Cosmetic Makers the weekend of October 16th to 18th in Banff, Alberta! I'll be running two workshops sponsored by Voyageur Soap & Candle - lotion making and hair care products - on Saturday and Sunday respectively. This is going to be great fun with loads of workshops and chances to spend time with your fellow creators in a beautiful place like Banff! I'm not sure of all the details, but if you click on the link above, it'll take you to the page and you can learn more!

If you have any questions for me, let me know! This is going to be great fun!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: How to heat proof a whipped butter?

It's been a weird week! I've been sick for most of the week with some kind of stomach/digestive ailment, which has left me in bed feeling very grumpy. Today is Rated T for Teen video game club with the kids, then tonight we're going to see Nightwish in Vancouver, and we'll stay in town until Monday. I hope I'm feeling well enough to enjoy myself! As a result, I won't be getting to all your e-mails and comments as I usually do on Saturday, but I'll try during the next week to carve out some time to answer what I can! (Next Saturday, I'm teaching the Back to Basics class at Voyageur Soap & Candle, so I'll have to wait until Sunday for more writing time!)

In this post, Newbie Tuesday: Creating whipped butters, Christine asks: I'm trying to formulate a body butter that won't melt in the summer heat during delivery. I saw your whipped body butter made mostly with soy butter and wondered how that would withstand the heat. (I live in steamy GA.)

It won't. Soy butter is a butter made of soy bean oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil, so it'll have a lower melting point than something like mango butter or cocoa butter. If you want to try to make something more heat resistant, look at those butters or other butters, like sal or kokum, that have higher melting temperature. For the love of all that is good and holy, don't use coconut oil as it has a very low melting point around 24˚C (76˚F). You can consider adding something like beeswax or cera bellina, but that will change the consistency and skin feel of the product.

If you wanted to make your own butter, you would use something like Lipidthix, which is a powder you can add to your oils to make them solid. Check out the posts below to see how you might do this! 

If you have a suggestion for heat proofing a whipped butter, please share your thoughts! I've heard many people say they just don't sell or ship whipped butter in the warmer months...

Related posts:
Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix
Lipidthix: Making a butter
Lipidthix: Using 25% to make a butter
More about Lipidthix and re-heating products
Pumpkin seed oil: Making pumpkin seed oil butter

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fatty acids: What's up with them? Part three

Let's continue our look at Erika's question about fatty acids from this post...

Then, I look at other fatty acids in each of the oils and additional confusion sets in, with the function, or mechanism of other fatty acids contained in those oils.

Another example, coconut oil. It contains a lot of lauric acid (47.5%) But, so what? (not to sound cheeky) What does that mean other than the fact that lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid, C12, so it's a medium chain fatty acid, no double bonds, which offers a long shelf life. What is the effect, or benefit of lauric acid? What can I expect from the lauric acid in coconut oil? 

And, coconut oil also contains unsaturated fats with "18.1% myristic acid (C14), 8.8% palmitic acid (C16), and a titch of stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidic acids. Because of this saturation, this is a very long lasting oil." C16 palmitic acid and C18 stearic acid are also saturated fatty acids, as well as myristic acid (C14)

Stearic acid - helps with moisture retention, flexibility of skin and skin repair (saturated C18), it also provides thickening properties - how? why? is it because it's a saturated fat?

And myristic acid (C14), which is much like stearic acid, but it's considered a penetration enhancer - why is this considered a penetration enhancer when it's similar to stearic acid which works as a co-emulsifier and thickener.

GLA - helps with inflamed skin, and helps restore barrier function (polyunsaturated - omega 6 - C18:3)


I'm not trying to be a chemist. I just would like some basic understanding so that when I look at the fatty acid profile of an oil I can say, oh, hey, this has lots of myristic acid, so I can expect __________ from this oil because myristic acid does __________________ by way of __________________ (in an easy to understand way) :-)

If you're just joining us, I suggest reading part one and part two of this post from earlier this week?

All fatty acids are going to offer moisturizing to our skin as they are found in oils, which are inherently moisturizing. Having said this, there isn't a lot of really great information on what fatty acids other than linoleic (and its relatives) or oleic acid. I couldn't find much on stearic, palmitic, myrisitc, or lauric acids.

What does stearic acid offer to our skin? Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid that has reported anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as thickening properties. Adding stearic acid or a butter containing it will be thicker than those without. This thickening power is thanks to the structure of the molecule in that it lies straight, meaning that more molecules can pack into a smaller space, making it thicker. (Check out this post...) As well, it can make our skin feel slightly colder than using a product without it.

What does lauric acid offer to our skin? Lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid that has reported anti-microbial properties that could be used as treatment for acne issues. It will help to thicken the products we make containing it.

What does myristic acid offer to our skin? It is a saturated fatty acid that will help to thicken the products we make containing it and it will offer moisturizing to our skin. I could not find anything indicating it was a penetration enhancer.

What does palmitic acid offer to our skin? It is a saturated fatty acid that will help to thicken the products we making containing it and will offer moisturizing to our skin.

I'm afraid I can't find much on lauric, myristic, or palmitic acid on the 'net or in my textbooks. I am presenting what I have found. Please send me anything you might have from reputable sources about these acids if you have them! I'd be thrilled to read them! 

When it comes to your sample sentence above, you could say - oh, hey, this has lots of linoleic acid, so I can expect it to help restore barrier function and can reduce transepidermal water loss because it is a fatty acid found in our skin and it can reduce inflammation because it helps produce eicosanoids that play a critical role in inflammation and immune system responses in our skin and because it's converted into GLA in our skin. I also think it'll be quite liquid because of the large quantity of cis bonded linoleic fatty acids.

You could say that stearic acid will offer moisturizing because it's found in this or that butter, that it will thicken the product in which we use it thanks to the structure of its molecule and high melting point.

I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of information on the other fatty acids as there just isn't any great information out there.

Linus Pauling Institute
Anti-microbial property of lauric acid against Propionibacterium acnes
Topical application of docanosol or stearic acid containing creams reduces the severity of phenol wounds in mice

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fatty acids: What's up with them? Part two

Yesterday we took a look at a question Erika posted in the fatty acids post on the blog. Let's take a look at more of that fantastic question!

Then, I look at fatty acid profiles of oils high in oleic acid I find...
olive oil (78%) 
high oleic sunflower oil (74%)
hazelnut oil (66 to 85%) 
avocado oil (75 to 80%)

Avocado oil feels soft, spreads long, and seems to absorb at a medium rate. Olive oil seems about the same. Sunflower oil, on the other hand, feels rough and dry. And, hazelnut oil feels a dryness somewhere between avocado and sunflower. Why is that? Is it related to other fatty acids in each oil? 

Although I don't think you can judge the nature of an oil by the fatty acid composition alone, I think it will give you some valuable information. For instance, if you see that there are loads of oleic acid and linoleic acid, you can guess that it's probably a more liquid oil than one filled with stearic acid or myristic acid, both of which are solid at room temperature. If you see that the oil has more cis bonds than trans bonds, you can guess that the one with more cis bonds will be more liquid than those with the trans bonds.

The top molecule is oleic acid with the kink in the middle thanks to the cis bond. The bottom molecule is stearic acid without a kink in the middle. The lack of kinks makes it easier for the molecules to lie closer to the other ones, which makes it more solid at room temperature. (This is why we see trans fats in our foods. They are meant to replicate solid fats like butters.)

Want to know more about cis and trans fats? Check out this post! Curious about how to figure out the melting point of butters? Check out this post! 

There are more features to oils than the fatty acids, though. There are phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins, tocopherols, and more. So when you consider something like hazelnut oil, you can consider the fatty acids, but also take a look at the tannins, which will make it feel drier than something like olive oil.

I think you also need to consider personal interpretation for skin feel. For instance, you say you think sunflower feels rough and dry, while I feel it feels very slick and greasy.

As an aside, fatty acids that are not part of a triglyceride are called free fatty acids, and there is some indication free fatty oleic acids might be disruptive to the skin's barrier and increase transepidermal water loss. (Take a look at this post to learn more.) This is one reason to consider the greater picture when looking at the fatty acids of oils. 

So, as you can probably tell, I don't think that you can judge an oil by its fatty acid profile alone because there are just too many variables that go into how an oil will feel, what its melting point will be, what it offers to our skin, and so on.

Join me tomorrow as we continue our look at fatty acids!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fatty acids: What's up with them? Part one

Erika asked a very good and very long question in this post, fatty acids, and I thought I'd do my best to try to answer it. I'm breaking it up into smaller bites so I can try to cover it all over the next few days...

I'm so confused!! I'm going in circles and about to pull my hair out! I'm trying to understand fatty acid profiles. I get double bonds and saturated versus unsaturated in terms of a fatty acid chain. And, I understand what fatty acid profile tells us in terms of shelf life of an oil. But, I'm confused about what else it tells me.

For example, oleic acid (monounsaturated - omega 9 - C18:1) - not an EFA, helps with cell regeneration and provides skin softening properties, and is also moisturizing. My question is how does it do that? What's the mechanism? Is it related to fatty acid synthesis and the pathway in metabolism? And why is oleic acid regenerative as opposed to linoleic acid which is said to restore barrier function. 

Linoleic acid (duo-unsaturated - omega 6 - C18:2), an EFA, helps restore barrier function and acts as anti-inflammatory that can help with dry and itchy skin; can reduce TEWL. How does linoleic acid work as an anti-inflammatory? Is it because it has 2 double bonds? Is it related to the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA and AA?

What differentiates the two in terms of how they work? Is it because one has only one double bond and the other has 2? They're the same chain length. So, I don't understand what makes one provide cell regeneration and the other restore barrier function?

Small changes in a molecule can result in big results! It may not seem like a big deal, but the difference of an extra double bond and the difference of two hydrogen molecules means one of these fatty acids is oleic acid (top one), a monounsaturated non-essential fatty acid that our body can produce, and the other is linoleic acid (bottom one), an polyunsaturated essential fatty acid, one that our bodies can't produce. That extra double bond means that linoleic acid will be rancid quicker than oleic acid, and means that it has a lower melting point of -5˚C compared to 13˚C of oleic acid. Both are liquid at room temperature.

Compare these molecules to stearic acid, an 18 carbon fatty acid with no double bonds. It is a solid fatty acid with a melting point of 69˚C with a much longer shelf life as there are no double bonds to break and oxidize.

Why do oils go rancid? Check out this post to learn more

Linoleic acid is considered an essential fatty acid, one we can't construct ourselves in our body, so we have to get it from the outside world. It is crucial to normal barrier function in skin, and a deficiency can lead to dry skin and hair, hair loss, and poor wound healing. It is a major component in ceramides - about 14% - which make up about 50% of our stratum corneum or outer layer of skin. Studies have shown linoleic acid can restore the barrier function and reduce scaling on your skin. One study showed using linoleic acid on people with acne reduced the pustule size by 25% in one month. It can act as an anti-inflammatory, acne reducer, and moisture retainer.

Why is linoleic an essential fatty acid (EFA)? It's considered essential because we need it to live. We can't produce it, so we must get it from outside sources, like sunflower or soy bean oil. (You may also see it called a polyunsaturated fatty acid, meaning that it has more than one double bond.)

How does it work for barrier function? In our skin, the corneocytes or skin cells are surrounded by an intracellular matrix that provides the barrier function. The stratum corneum liquids make up about 15% of the dry weight of the stratum corneum, and contain about 40% to 50% ceramides, 20% to 25% cholesterol, 15% to 25% fatty acids (those with C16 to C30 chain lengths, with C24 to C28 being the most common), and 5% to 10% cholesterol sulfate.

So to answer the question, the reason it helps with barrier function is because it's found in the lipids of our stratum corneum. Without linoleic acid in our skin, we would experience essential fatty acid deficiency, which leads to increased transepidermal water loss, skin dryness, and inflammation of the skin. Adding it back in the form of something like sunflower oil means our skin will incorporate it as part of the stratum corneum lipids, leading to an increase in barrier function, which leads to a reduction in transepidermal water loss and reduction in dry skin. The reason oleic acid doesn't help with barrier function is that it isn't part of our skin's normal make-up, so applying it topically doesn't change the make-up of our skin's barrier lipids, which leads to the increase in barrier function.

How does linoleic acid work as an anti-inflammatory? There are chemical messengers in our skin called eicosanoids that play critical roles in inflammatory and immune responses in our skin. They are produced by enzymatic reactions between LOX enzymes and linoleic acid to produce hydroxy fatty acids, like 13-hydroxyoctadecdienoic acid, that has anti-proliferative effects. Linoleic acid is converted to gamma-linoleic acid, then to dihomo-GLA, then to arachidonic acid. Along the way, dihomo-GLA produces 15-HETrE, which is anti-inflammatory, and arachidonic acid produces 15-HETE, which is also anti-inflammatory.

So the answer is yes, it is an anti-inflammatory because of the conversion of linoleic acid into gamma-linoleic acid, dihomo-GLA, and arachidonic acid.

Does linoleic acid act as an anti-inflammatory because of the two double bonds? Sort of...The 18 carbons and double bonds in the 6 and 9 spaces define this molecule as linoleic acid. Take away the 6 double bond, you have oleic acid. Add a double bond at 12 and you have linolenic acid. So I think the answer is kinda yes because if it didn't have these two double bonds in just the right place, the molecule wouldn't be linoleic acid.

Join me tomorrow as we take a closer look at oleic acid!


Join me tomorrow as we take a look at more of Erica's question!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Where to get cetrimonium bromide? What can you substitute for fatty alcohols?

I'm sorry I haven't been writing much lately. Every weekend morning I get up, make a cup of tea, and fire up the laptop intending to write a bunch of blog posts for the week. Then the dog looks so cute and wants to play or I decide to make breakfast or one of a number of distracting things happen and I'm off doing something else for the day! It's not that the blog isn't a priority - it is, and I love writing it! - it's just that my week is so busy, it's nice to have unstructured time on the weekend to lie on the couch cuddling a dog while I drink a lovely cup of Earl Grey cream tea or to spend time with my husband playing games or watching videos!

This past week was so much fun! It included the Vancouver concert by Faith No More! One word: Epic! This upcoming week will be great fun with more Dungeons & Dragons with kids, cookie & cupcake decorating in craft group, and Rated T for Teen video game club before our weekend in Vancouver for the Nightwish concert. (I can't wait to see Floor Jansen again!!!) May will be just as busy as I'm teaching a few classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle on May 2nd and May 16th, but I'm hoping to get more writing time on the weekends.

As a note, if you want to take a class at Voyageur but find that it's booked, let them know you'd be interested in being on a waiting list as we could add more classes! 

What's the point of all of this? It's to let you know that I generally don't get to emails and comments until the weekend as I simply don't have time during my working week, but I try to answer each and every one on Saturday or Sunday morning! (The e-books are sent out as soon as I receive the donation, just so you know!)

In this post, What do you want to know?, Morbo asks: Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for fatty alcohols? Fatty alcohols irritate and break my skin out terribly but I'm not seeing much info out there about other options. 

In a lotion or other emulsified product, you can generally substitute a fatty alcohol - like cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, or behenyl alcohol - with stearic acid. Substituting one for the other may change the vicosity and skin feel of the product. Products made with cetyl alcohol will be slicker and thinner than those made with stearic acid. Cetearyl alcohol adds a little waxiness and behenyl alcohol offers a little dryness, neither of which you'll feel in a lotion with stearic acid. As an interesting aside, lotions made with stearic acid will feel a bit cooler! 

If you don't have stearic acid or don't want to use it, you can always leave the cetyl alcohol out and substitute it for some butter. The butter will help thicken the product slightly. 

To those of you looking for cetrimonium bromide, The Personal Formulator in the States is carrying it again! 

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Use Braggs' amino acids in cosmetics?

In this post, formulating a facial cleanser with soy, Theresa asks: I love using foaming soy and I try to throw it in at every chance I get! It really adds to the product, in my opinion. Speaking of soy, I have noticed DIYers using Braggs Amino Acid (soy sauce substitute) in hair and face products a lot over the past few months. Have you heard of that? What's your take on it, do you think it does any good? 

I'm always apprehensive about using food stuffs in our products. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that food based ingredients aren't designed with the intention of using them in cosmetics, so they won't necessarily be preserved well or stand up over time. (In the case of Braggs' amino acids, they proudly state there are no preservatives in the mix, so I worry how these will stand up over time in the bottle, let alone in our products.) With this ingredient, there is a second reason I wouldn't use it - we probably won't get the benefit of the amino acids on our hair or skin. What we want to use in our products are hydrolyzed proteins.

(From this post, hydrolyzed proteins...) Proteins have very poor water solublility, so they are hydrolyzed to increase this solubility. (How do they do it? They hydrolyze by cleaving the protein molecule to disrupt the peptide bonds. This cleavage can happen by chemical or biological means, or can be a combination of applying high temperatures and pressure.) They are usually vegetable proteins, and the hydrolyzation means they will be water soluble to offer conditioning, moisturizing, and film forming properties. They are amphoteric, and a positive charge makes them substantive.

So using a hydrolyzed protein or amino acid means it's more likely to adsorb to your hair or skin, leaving it feeling conditioned. I grant you that the Braggs' liquid aminos product seems to be less expensive, but I have a feeling the product is more likely to smell like soy sauce - or at least something very savoury - and it isn't adsorbing to our hair or skin the way the hydrolyzed versions would.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Tabletop Day!

Happy International Tabletop Day! Wherever you are, I hope you're playing a board or card game today! As you may or may not know, we are big gamers! We run a board and card game night for the youth every month, Raymond runs three Dungeons & Dragons sessions every fortnight for the youth, and we go to a D&D group every Tuesday at our local store, Nerd Haven Games in Abbotsford.

If you're in the mood for a game today, check out to see what's happening in your community by visiting the International Tabletop Day site and looking at the map!

I'll be back tomorrow with a Weekend Wonderings filled with your comments!

In case you're wondering what that little statue is all about, it's Halfred, the halfling barbarian that Jessica plays every other Monday. Isn't he adorable? 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fun with soy: Creating a foaming soy cleanser

I admit I'm totally addicted to my favourite foaming facial cleanser. It feels great on my skin, and it lasts forever! (I only need to make 100 ml every four or five months!) I've tried it with foaming silk, foaming oat, and foaming rice surfactants, and thought it was time to try it with foaming soy.

39% distilled water
20% chamomile hydrosol
15% witch hazel
10% foaming soy surfactant
5% cocamidopropyl betaine

5% honey matte
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
0.5% liquid Germall plus

Combine the heated phase in a heat proof container, like a Pyrex jug, and put into a double boiler and heat until it reaches 70˚C. Heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Remove from the heat and replace the water that might have evaporated. Mix and allow to cool to 45˚C before adding the cool down phase. Add the cool down phase, mix well, then let cool to room temperature before bottling in a foamer bottle. This is very thin, so you really do need a foamer bottle for it. If you want to try thickening it with something like Crothix, you may thicken it slightly, but it will still be a very watery product because I don't have a lot of surfactants in it.

I'm not kidding when I say a 100 ml batch lasts me a few months. I made the last batch in October and just ran out! Only make a small batch of this - 100 grams - at a time!

Foaming soy surfactant* (INCI: Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein) is very much like the other foaming proteins I mention above. It is a very gentle surfactant that offers substantivity - meaning it is attracted to our skin and leaves it conditioned - and it foams and lathers nicely. It can be used at up to 10% in a product. You can use it as you would any other surfactant, but I suggest using it in facial cleansers as it is very mild and doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped.

Please note, you can leave out any ingredient you wish in this product. The main ingredients of importance are the two surfactants - foaming soy and cocamidopropyl betaine - and the preservative. Everything else I've added to work with my skin type. If you have dry skin, you might consider adding a little glycerin at up to 5% in the product or maybe a water soluble oil, like PEG-7 olivate.

What do I think of this product? I really like it. It seems a little foamier than the rice one I've just finished using, but otherwise is very similar. It has good cleansing abilities, and leaves my skin feeling clean and smooth. I have to say that I'm a fan! 

*Please note, I was sent this ingredient for free from the Formulator Sample Shop. I receive no other compensation for writing about the ingredient, and I receive no compensation of any sort if you click the link above to go to their site or if you buy something from them. My opinions are my own. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Reminder about the soapmaking challenge. Phenoxyethanol and polysorbates!

I hope you're all enjoying your long weekend - if you get one - spending time with family and friends! I'm spending the day with my bestie playing with this stuff called Inkodye, which silk screens fabric using the sun! I'll post results when we're finished.

We had great fun making gummies (video) and lollipops at craft group this week! Click on the links to see how to make these at home!

Don't forget about Kevin Dunn's soapmaking challenge! He's had no submissions so far, which kinda weirds me out as there were some very vocal soapmakers who should have jumped at the chance to prove me and the other doubters out there wrong. I really am eager to see what the results might be!

In this post, Choosing a preservative, Tammy asks: I was wondering about the combination of Optiphen Plus and Polysorbate 20. I was participating in an online forum today with a formulator (from Microformulations in the US) and he mentioned that polysorbate and other surfactants can deactivate phenoxyethanol. I can't seem to find any other reference to that online or in your blog. What do you think? I had never heard this so I've been using Optiphen Plus to preserve my cleansers, foaming soaps, and sprayable lotions (all of which contain polysorbate 20 for the FOs or EOs) and I haven't noticed a problem -- yet. 

I've never heard this before, either, but I found this reference at Making Skincare*, "Phenoxyethanol is inactivited by highly ethoxylated compounds including polysorbates so do not use with surfactants." This means we would want to keep it away from things containing polysorbate 20 or 80. Not all our surfactants are ethoxylated - for instance, decyl glucoside and cocamidopropyl betaine, according to this post at Chemist's Corner

*Making Skincare is a great site filled with loads of information from the chemist, Jane Barber. Add this to your list of reputable sites, if you haven't already. 

So which preservatives contain phenoxyethanol? Optiphen, Optiphen ND, Optiphen PlusLiquipar Optima, Liquipar PE, and Phenonip. To be on the safe side, don't use these in products that contain polysorbate 20 or 80 or any of the foamy and bubbly surfactants like SLeS

Which preservatives could you use if you're in doubt? Liquid Germall Plus, which we all know is my favourite, Germaben II,  Geogard Ultra, or Cosmocil CQ combined with a fungicide.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with your comments!