Monday, November 30, 2015

Designing your products as a line: Shampoo - hydrolyzed proteins and amino acids

I love including hydrolyzed proteins in my shampoo, but is there a point in using it if you're including  it in your conditioner?

I admit that I have a huge weakness when it comes to proteins in my products. I kinda collect them - I've used many different ones, including hydrolyzed oat protein, hydrolyzed silk protein, Phyokeratin, keratin hydrolysate, pisum sativum, lupine amino acids, and more - so I'm a bit biased when asked if they should go into a shampoo. Keep that in mind as you read this post...

Proteins, amino acids, and their like offer film forming and moisturizing for our hair strands and our scalp, both of which are a good thing. They increase mildness in a surfactant product like shampoo, They offer conditioning because they are slightly positively charged, and they make the product feel slightly silkier or softer. They can counteract the feeling of dryness we can get after using a surfactant, and they might slightly thicken the product.

Is there a point to using a protein in a shampoo when you're planning to use a conditioner afterwards that contains it? In my products, I'd use a protein. Why? Because I've tried my shampoos without them and I think I feel a difference. (Remember, this is only my opinion!)

Having said this, proteins are not the cheapest ingredients you'll use, although you only need a little to make a big difference. Can we get the qualities proteins offer in another way? Yes, we can. There are other ways to moisturize our hair and scalp without oils by using humectants. There are other ways to increase mildness,by using things like Crothix or cationic polymers. And there are other ways to film form by using things like aloe vera.

So do we have to use proteins if we'll be using them in a conditioner or if we prefer not to use them at all? No, leave it out if you wish. I'd include them because I like them, but you can leave them out if you wish. You won't be making a terrible product, and you can get benefits from using it in your conditioner only.

As a note, we'll be putting together a bunch of different recipes at the end of this series, but you can feel free to drop things and add them in any recipes you find on this site! 

Other posts in this series:
Shampoo - How does it work?
Shampoo - What's in it? Surfactants
Shampoo - What's in it? Other ingredients
Shampoo - Increasing mildness & viscosity
Shampoo - Conditioning agents
Shampoo - Dimethicone

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Twenty-six days until Christmas? Wow!

Making and giving handmade presents for the holidays is an awesome way to show someone you care about them. That you've taken the time to consider what product they might like, what fragrances they love or hate, and how they might use them. With that in mind, here are a few considerations when you're making products as presents...

Start with a good recipe. There are so many recipes floating around, it's hard to know what's good and what's not. A good recipe will be measured by weight, not volume, so it's more accurate. A good lotion recipe contains oil, water, a proper emulsifier, and a preservative, for example.

Want to know more about that product you want to make? Check out the newbie section for information on what you should find in each product! 

Related posts:
Avoid these types of recipes you might find on Pinterest
How to make a successful lotion! 

Please use weighted measurements. When we make bath and body products, we always do it by weight as it's more accurate than a cup of this or a tablespoon of that. It ensures that all the ratios are in order - we're using enough emulsifier, preservative, or fragrances - and that we are making the same product every single time.

When we go by volume, it's highly inaccurate. Did you use a heaped tablespoon? Is that shea butter measured before or after it's melted? When you measure by volume, you run the risk of an epic lotion fail, which is a waste of your time and money!

Weighing your ingredients is also less messy! You don't have to wash all those cups and spoons as we measure directly into the container. Now there's a great reason to get a scale!

Consider the container you are using. We don't recommend using anything glass around the bath tub as it could break and cause serious problems! I know those containers are adorable, but we want our giftees to be safe and happy with our products! There are loads of adorable plastic containers that'll work well for our bath oils and scrubs!

You should label everything! Let your giftees know what they are getting. Use proper names for things so they can look things up instead of generic terms like "surfactant" or "oil".

The name you see at the supplier is called the INCI name, and it is the correct name for your label. Having said that, you don't need to get into using the Latin for shea butter as it's obvious what that is on a label, but do get more specific for things like your preservative or surfactants. 

Plus, making labels really makes the product feel special! You can personalize each one for the giftee, and make up cute names for the product!

Project ideas:
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Detailed instructions in the newbie section of the blog
Loads of Christmas ideas! 

Designing your products as a line: Shampoo - dimethicones

Sorry for the long delay in posts - has it really been three months? Let's resume our discussion about designing products as part of a series. Please check out this posts below to read from the start about shampoo!

Shampoo - How does it work?
Shampoo - What's in it? Surfactants
Shampoo - What's in it? Other ingredients
Shampoo - Increasing mildness & viscosity
Shampoo - Conditioning agents

Silicones like dimethicone or amodimethicone can be used in your shampoo at a low level - up to 2% - to increase conditioning. You don't need to use a solubilizer or emulsifier as the surfactants will help keep it in the mix, which is a great thing!

As an aside, amodimethicone can cause more build up than dimethicone. I encourage you to take a look at this post, if that interests you. 

When I'm making something for my husband and know he might not use conditioner afterwards, I always include dimethicone in his shampoo as I want the maximum conditioning and shine I can get out of that product. When I'm making something for myself and I know I'll be using silicones in my conditioner, I don't. It's not that I worry it'll build up - my experience is such that in the past nine years of making things, my hair has never felt weighed down because of products - it's just I don't want to use something if it's pointless.

Dimethicone doesn't increase the mildness in the product or offer thickening, so there's no reason to include it for those reasons. It's purely for the conditioning feeling it leaves behind, so if you're using a conditioner after washing, feel free to leave it out.

Join me tomorrow to take a look at using proteins in our shampoo!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Last Saturday of November is always great fun!

It has been an incredibly busy few weeks around our house! An epic Blind Guardian concert, a night out at karaoke, and quite a few excellent craft groups, including bath bombs, soaps, and these lovely soy candles have all kept us really busy! (Thanks to Nicole at Voyageur Soap & Candle for teaching us this project! To learn more, click here!)

A quick reminder that registration for the 2016 Canadian Soapmakers' Guild convention is open now! Kevin Dunn will be speaking, which will be awesome. I'm presenting two classes - facial products and lotion making - which will be great fun. To learn more, visit them at

Thank you for your kind wishes for my back. It's never been this bad before, and I'm having good days and bad days, sometimes on the same days! I'm working out, getting massages, and following not one but two doctors' orders. Here's to hoping it'll be better soon with some new things we're trying! 

I've really dropped the ball on men's products this month, and I hope to resume that idea along with the series I started in September about designing your products as a line around Christmas when I get my time off. 

For now, let's talk about products! What're you making? What questions do you have about the things you either wish to make or are making? Do you need some troubleshooting for problems you've had? Do you have a product you'd like to try? What's on your mind? I'd love to hear from you! I need a bit of inspiration to figure out what to write about next, and I'd love to hear what interests you!

I am going back to some open posts to see what interests you, but I'd like to hear more from you now! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A couple of updates for a November Saturday...

The best laid plans of mice and Susan are easily waylaid by back pain...but things are getting better with the help of some lovely pharmaceuticals, some intense weight workouts, a couple of lovely back balms, and a weekly massage. This is the first week that I didn't come home from work earlier than normal because of pain, and I managed to stand and headbang for a few hours at the Blind Guardian show on Monday night - which was epic!!! - so I'm holding out hope this healing continues! Thanks to all of you who have sent me good thoughts and healing balms!

Just a reminder about the 2016 Canadian Guild of Soapmakers, Chandlers, and Cosmetic Makers' conference in Niagara Falls the weekend of April 21st to 24th! Kevin Dunn is the headliner - you might remember him from the pH 7 soap challenge* - and is offering not one, but two, chances to hear him speak!

*As an aside, it looks like one person has entered this challenge as of this date, which is weird considering all the claims that people have made about getting soap down to a pH 7. I can't wait to see those results! 

I'm offering four hands-on workshops - two - 2 hour facial product workshops when we'll be making a facial cleanser, eye gel, and toner, and two - 3 hour lotion making workshops when we'll be making a body & hand lotion, body butter, and facial moisturizer.

I know there's an early bird discount, so I encourage you to take a look at the page if you're thinking about attending.

A reminder that November is actually Movember, a month to increase awareness about men's health issues. My husband - the always adorable Raymond - has been growing his 'stache all month. If you want to see pictures or donate to the cause, please check out his Movember page here.

He calls this one "you can always tell a Milford man..." 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Updates galore!

Sorry for the silence, but this back pain of mine is really getting in the way of my life/ I'm really struggling to do much more than go to work and my youth programs, which means when I have down time, I'm resting in bed with a cuddly dog and a whole lot of muscle relaxants instead of playing in the workshop, researching ingredients, or writing the blog. Yes, I'm under a doctor's care - two, in fact - and I'm following all of their advice.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me lovely balms, in particular Kathleen Broughton and Gina of Scentsible Mama! These balms feel absolutely lovely on my skin, and I enjoy the tingle! You have been very kind to me, and I can only repay that kindness by saying thank you publicly on the blog!

Raymond is enjoying Movember! He's growing a moustache - I do really miss his beard! - and he's moving every day for 30 minutes. If you have a few extra bucks and want to support the Movember movement, check out his Movember page! I love that we are bringing awareness of men's health issues to the forefront of our minds for at least one month a year, and I'm happy to support it!

If you're new to this wonderful hobby of cosmetic crafting, please visit the Newbie page to see all the recipes you could try! I've tried to create a section that gives you loads of information and recipes for those of you starting out! There are tons of ideas for things you could make for Christmas, and there are loads of questions that I know you have answered! I encourage you to make that your first stop when you're searching this blog for stuff!

Registration is open for the 2016 Canadian Soap Makers, Chandlers, and Cosmetic Makers' national conference in April 2016 in Niagara Falls, Ontario! I'll be there offering two workshops. One will be on facial products, including an eye gel, toner, and facial cleanser, while the other is a lotion making class that will include a hand & body lotion, body butter, and facial moisturizer. (Note: The site is down for some reason, but I'll link it shortly!)

That's about it for now. It's back to lying in bed with my adorable pup and a gorgeous husband!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Formulating an under eye gel: Raymond's creation

Last Sunday, Raymond and I made it into the workshop to make some eye gel. He's been using it for a week now, and it's time to share the recipe!

We started by establishing our goals. What did Raymond want from an eye gel? He is getting worried about having dark circles under his eyes and about puffiness. He isn't worried about moisturizing or hydrating the under eye area all that much. And he wants something that doesn't feel heavy or greasy.

Sounds to me like Raymond would like an eye gel.

We started by making a thick gel. You can use a pre-made gel and skip right to the recipe, or make your own gel. (I encourage you to make your own gel as it is surprisingly easy and fun!)

97% distilled water
1.2% carbomer (Ultrez 21)
0.9% TEA
1.6% liquid panthenol
0.5% liquid Germall plus

Weigh the carbomer into the distilled water and allow it to be wetted before to move on. For Ultrez 21, you can wait about three minutes before neutralizing the gel with the TEA. Check your suppliers' suggestions for the type of carbomer you have if it isn't Ultrez 21.

Once you neutralize the gel with the TEA, add the other ingredients and mix well. It should thicken up in less than a minute. Yay! You have gel!

Please note that I do not know how to make a gel with flaxseed, so I can't give you advice on that. I don't like gums, so I haven't used any to make gels before either. I have always used one carbomer or another, and they've worked for me. If you use another type of gel, please share so others can learn how to do that too! 

We removed 20 grams of gel and added our ingredients to it. (You really want to use a tiny scale that can weigh down to 0.1 grams for this recipe.)

20 grams gel
1 gram organic eye bright
1 gram Revital-eyes
1 gram white tea
1 gram horsetail extract
1 gram Dark eyes

(To put into percentages, multiply everything by 4!)

Mix together. Put into bottle. Label, and rejoice.

Why these ingredients?

I thought I'd use Revital-Eyes, a cosmeceutical sent to me by the Formulator Sample Shop. (I encourage you to check out the post I've already written to learn more.) It is supposed to help with dark under eye circles, so I thought I'd include it at up to 5% in my product. You can substitute it with water soluble green tea extract or caffeine extract at the suggested usage rates. *

Eyebright(INCI: Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract & Water & Euphrasia Officinalis Extract) comes in two forms - an oil soluble and water soluble, and I'm using the water soluble in this product. Eyebright is supposed to be good for sensitive skin, and offers anti-inflammatory, astringent, and soothing properties to our products. It's supposed to be good for puffy eyes, which sounds like a perfect match for an eye gel! (Click here for a data bulletin on eyebright.) Eyebright is used in traditional medicine for swelling around the eyes, eyestrain, and inflammation related to coughs and fever (Wikipedia).

Horsetail extract is supposed to be good for inflammation. Reducing inflammation may reduce the look of dark circles under the eyes. It's recommended as an astringent and anti-oxidant that offers increased wound healing, improved circulation, and retention of connective tissue like collagen and elastin. The main component of horsetail extract is silica, making up 5% to 7% of the extract. This is believed to help improve nail and hair quality, and help retain collagen and elastin. Horsetail extract also contains an unique mixed-linkage glucan (which can be called ß-glucan or beta-glucan, which is also found in oats), a polysaccharide that forms a thin gel like layer that offers hydration, emolliency, and anti-inflammatory features like those found in aloe vera. (Link to the Formulator Sample Shop version we used.)

Dark eye complex is not an inexpensive ingredient, but the claims it makes are pretty awesome. It claims to help strengthen the capillaries around the eye area, which may diminish the look of dark circles.

White tea extract contains a lot of anti-oxidants, and it sounds lovely on the label!

*Please note: The Formulator Sample Shop sent me these ingredients for free. I am not being compensated in any way for using their ingredients, except that I get them for free. I use them because I like them.

What does Raymond think of the eye gel? He admits that he's not accustomed to having things on his skin, so it does feel a bit weird to have this gel under his eyes. He notes there's a slight tightness as it dries, which he likes. It isn't shiny upon application, and he doesn't notice it during the day. He thinks his eyes are looking better, which he likes.

What do you do if you don't have these ingredients? Check out the other posts I've written on making under eye products! There are so many ways you could address these goals using other ingredients like caffeine, green tea, various proteins, aloe vera, and more, so I encourage you to do some experimenting with the ingredients you have at hand!

Related posts:
One ingredient, five products: Gels
One ingredient, five products: Gels - making an aloe vera gel

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Movember!

It's Movember, the month men grow their facial hair or get moving for 30 minutes a day to bring awareness of men's health issues, and to celebrate, my wonderful Raymond shaving his face clean and starting all over again!

Men's products aren't that different from women's. They contain the same ingredients and may be exactly the same formulations, but they tend to have different names - for instance, "skin hydrator" instead of "body wash" and "shower tool" instead of "shower poof" - and different fragrances.

I wrote my first post on men's products in 2010, and things have changed since then! Men are oiling beards, waxing moustaches, and pomading hair, in addition to washing and hydrating and moisturizing. They're using as many products as we are in a day, and they are loving it!

Men's skin is different. Men's skin tends to be thicker than women's skin and they experience more gradual thinning of the skin over their lifetime, whereas women's skin thins quickly after menopause. Men have about 20% more elastin and collagen than women, and they have less subcutaneous fat than women (they tend to gain fat under their muscle, which explains why they don't tend to get cellulite). Because the ratio of skin collagen to skin thickness is higher, they seem to age less quickly than women. Men's skin is more resistant to sun exposure, but you still need to use sunscreen!

And because they tend to have higher levels of sebum over their lifetimes, they are more prone to acne and pimples, larger pores, and blackheads. (Although this sebum production drops after 40, like it does with women, men tend to have higher sebum production at all ages). This might sound like a hardship, but oily skin tends to experience aging slower than dry skin, so again they appear to age more slowly than women!

Men tend to sweat more than women, which can increase the hydration of the skin, but it can also encourage skin cells to remain on the skin instead of shedding.

When we're formulating for men's skin, we'll want to lean towards ingredients for oily skin and hair. (This isn't to say that all men have oily skin and hair, but if you don't know his skin or hair type, oily is your best bet!) Surfactants like C14-16 olefin sulfonate and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS mild) are good choices for gentle removal of sebum.

Men will likely want to exfoliate their skin more to help with the removal of skin cells and reduce acne (when skin cells don't desquamate, they can build up and cause more pimple problems). This can be done with a poofy scrubby thing in the shower or by using ingredients like salicylic acidwhite willow bark, or AHAs. You don't want to go overboard with the exfoliation - scrubbing skin until it's stingy and pink is a bad idea - but you will want to do it regularly.

And finally, consider the impact of shaving on a man's face. Men's faces tend to be dehydrated because of all that shaving and they can experience increased transepidermal water loss because of the nicks and cuts daily shaving can cause. Although an astringent after shave splash - much like a toner - might feel good, using ingredients that will last longer on the face is a better idea. Humectants and cationic polymers are your friend in this situation! And an after shave lotion is an even better idea, and one filled with oils with loads of linoleic acid or gamma linoleic acid, like sunflower, soy bean, borage, or evening primrose oil will help increase skin's barrier repair abilities.

When it comes to hair, there are no biological differences between men's hair and women's. They're less likely to alter it chemically - straightening or dying - and physically - straightening and curling - so they will likely need less conditioning. And, as I mentioned above, they will tend towards oilier hair and scalp.

If they're using oil based products like pomades, they may need more concentrated shampoos designed to remove a lot of that oil and but leave hair feeling soft and manageable. Some prefer not to use conditioner as an extra step, so 2-in-1 products might be a better choice than not having any conditioning at all.

Join me this month as we celebrate manly products for the month of Movember!

I must warn you in advance that I don't have any oil based products like moustache wax or pomade or beard oils as I don't have any men in my life who use these kinds of products. If you have a killer recipe you'd like to share with the readers of this blog, please write to me at and let us know about it with a recipe, a picture, and your review. I'll thank you with a copy of the e-book of your choice! (Sorry I can't afford to pay you, but as I'm not making any money from the posts, I don't have any money to share out! I believe that content creators deserve to be paid!)