Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Weekday Wondering: How to make a lotion bar less greasy?

In this post, It's that time of the year again: Lotion bars, Tonya asks: I am experimenting with lotion bars and have a question about tapioca but greasiness- I guess would be the the actual question.

My most recent mix of ingredients includes these variations. My question is how do I get the tapioca starch to fully melt? In bars I made before and am still using I'm finding a slight bit of grittiness over time and I suspect the tapioca as I had a hard time getting it to mix but I also used safflower oil in that attempt instead of coconut. 

Recipe 1
30 grams soy wax (natural soy 444 wax)
20 grams cocoa butter, unrefined 
20 grams virgin coconut oil
1 gram tapioca starch (Bobs Red Mill)
1 gram Vitamin E (natures gate with carthamus tinctorious safflower seed oil,vitis vinifer grape seed oil, calendula officinalis flower extract.)

Recipe 2
Same but sub 50% of oil for almond oil so 10 grams almond and 10 grams virgin coconut

I made these into little ice cube mold hearts for my nieces. They smell like a candy bar and have the perfect consistancy to melt just enough in little hands. 

The first batch I added the tapioca after removing from heat and slightly cooled to 122°F just before Vitamin e. There was powder in the bottom end as I poured so I mixed the last bit and poured the final row of hearts and could not tell the difference between the ones at the beginning when they solidified. The next batch I tried mixing the tapioca after everything was melted but still in the hot water bath. The same thing happened. 

I dont know yet if these will get gritty as only a week has passed and so far they are good. I added the tapioca to dry the bars out as my prior attempts left my skin to greasy/oily feeling even 2 hours after application. Even if they don't get gritty I want the ingredients to distribute evenly. 

I like using ingredients that don't contain animal products. I do use beeswax in my products, but I like the soy wax for these as it is softer and the extra 50% seems to work well for me as a consistency. Maybe there is a better option or recipe you could suggest than tapioca?

Before I start, can I make a suggestion? Please put your recipes to total 100% as it's easier to figure out what you're using in the product. Your total is 72 grams here, so that means the recipe turns out to be:

41.6% soy wax
27.8% cocoa butter, unrefined
27.8% virgin coconut oil
1.4% tapioca starch
1.4% Vitamin E

Another quick suggestion: Generally, keep the Vitamin E at 1% or lower. I've been reading that using too much can actually increase the rate of rancidity, so I'm suggesting 0.5% or lower now.

We can see in this recipe that you have more than 1% tapioca starch, which could be an issue for solubility in the future. (Let's say 1 gram of something dissolves in 100 grams of something else. If we have 1.4 grams, that means 0.4 grams isn't dissolved. That's a big deal!)

Second question about tapioca starch...It doesn't dissolve in oils. It's water soluble, which means it dissolves in water, but not in oily products, like a lotion bar. You might be able to get it to disperse or suspend, but you won't get it to dissolve to avoid the grains. This isn't to say you'll always have grains, just to say that they are in the realm of possibility when making an anhydrous product like a lotion bar.

There are modified starches you can buy that will work in oils, like Dry Flo AF or Dry Flo TS, that'll give you that silky feeling you seek. Natrasorb Bath is interesting as it absorbs oils and mixes into lotion bars very well. These are much better choices than using tapioca starch from the store.

If you're trying to make your lotion bars less greasy, there are a few options...

1. Change the oils. This is a big one and can make a massive difference. Coconut oil is very greasy feeling, so substituting it for something less greasy feeling like babassu oil will make a big difference.

You mention sweet almond oil. This is a greasy-ish feeling oil, so changing that can make a difference, too. For coconut or swee almond oil, you can try other drier, silkier feeling oils like hazelnut, macadamia nut, evening primrose oil, or others and see what you think.

Or you could try using an ester, like isopropyl myristate (IPM) or C12-15 alkyl benzoate, both of which are light and silky feeling. Use them in place of any of the oils at any amount. You could make a very lovely lotion bar with nothing but esters and have a really light feeling, silky product.

Silicones are very nice in lotion bars. I regularly use 2% cyclomethicone and 2% dimethicone in mine, and this gives them a lovely, dry and silky feeling to the product. (I love my products greasy, but lotion bars can get way too greasy at times...) You can see my use of shea butter, esters, and silicones in this recipe - Lotion bars: Let's get complicated.

Related section: Emollients - oils, butters, and esters

2. Change the butter. Again, this makes a massive difference as cocoa butter is greasier than mango butter or kokum butter, for instance. The refinement of the butter makes a difference, too. I find refined shea butter much greasier than unrefined.

Related post: Lotion bars: Tweaking the butters and oils

3. Change the wax. Soy wax is super greasy compared to beeswax, carnauba wax, or candelilla wax.

Related post: Lotion bar: Change the waxes

So let's say you wanted to use soy wax, but needed this to be less greasy. You could try a few things. Let's use babassu in place of the coconut oil and mango butter in place of the cocoa butter. We'll leave out the tapioca starch - although you could use Dry Flo, if you wished - and decrease the Vitamin E. What do we have?

42% soy wax
29% babassu oil
28.5% mango butter
0.5% Vitamin E

Heat the wax, babassu oil, and mango butter until liquid. Add the Vitamin E, then pour into molds and wait until set. Rejoice for you have made lotion bars.

Try a small batch of this - maybe 50 grams to 100 grams to see what you think. If you want it to be less greasy, consider getting some Dry Flo or changing the wax to see if that helps.

Related posts:
Back to basics: Lotion bars
Lotion bars: Let's get complicated
Lotion bars: Wrap up and link-o-rama!
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make lotion bars!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sorry for the silence!

I hope you and yours had a great Christmas or are enjoying a lovely Hannukah!

I'm sorry for being so quiet this last few weeks, but, as you probably know, we lost my mom in October and I'm still trying to make it through each day without melting down. I'm an only child with no relatives in Canada, so it feels quite lonely some days. (I realized that I've only lived apart from my mom for two years in my life in my early twenties. We were very close.) 

But onto good news! We have a new havanese-Maltese puppy named Sasja (pronounced Sasha), and we celebrated our dating anniversary (23 years on the 19th) and my birthday on the 21st, all of which led to us being extremely busy and tired!

I thought I'd ask you all what you'd like to learn more about in the new year. I'm planning to experiment more and share more recipes with you for men's products as well as green and plant based products, and play with all kinds of ingredients from Lotioncrafter and the Formulator Sample Shop. 

So what do you think you'd like to learn more about in 2017? If you have ideas for ingredients, please link to them unless it's something basic like an oil. Thanks!

Please note, I'm not inviting suggestions for products you'd like to duplicate at this time. I'm asking you for ideas for products you'd like to make or ingredients you'd like to know more about. Thanks! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

New e-zine! This isn't your father's shaving book: Men's products (part one), and a new e-zine for my Patreon subscribers

I've just put out my men's e-zine, This isn't your father's shaving book (part one), if you're interested in purchasing it. Click here for the table of contents or click here to buy it!

Click here to see all the e-zines I've put out this year as well as my e-books!

I put these e-zines or short e-books of 25 to 40 pages out every month for those who subscribe at my Patreon page for $10 or more. Then the next month, you'll see them here for purchase. I'm also basing some of the classes I'm offering at Voyageur Soap & Candle around the e-zines like the Gels: Ooey Gooey Fun class and the Bath Time Fun Class!

I've just posted my new e-zine, Green & Natural Emulsifiers, for download for my $10 Patreon subscribers, which is downloadable today. I take a look at four emulsifiers - Simulgreen 18-2, Montanov 68, Ritamulse SCG, and Natragem EW - as well as natural preservatives.

It'll be available in mid-January 2017 for sale in my e-book and e-zines link.

Click here to see the table of contents.

As a note, all the money raised by the sale of these e-zines and Patreon goes directly to me and my family. The proceeds from the e-books still goes 100% to the youth programs my husband and I run called Rated T for Teen. I really wanted to make that distinction. 

Thank you for your continued support of this blog! You're all so awesome!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Newbie Tuesday: Creating a facial toner, part two

Last week we started making toners. This week, we'll modify them using some of the interesting ingredients we can get from our suppliers.

As an aside, there's nothing wrong with a simple toner of rose water or witch hazel plus preservative. Simple can be just as awesome as super and ridiculously complicated, so don't stress if you've made something you love and want to leave it that way.

In the shopping list, I suggested a few ingredients you could use in this series, so let's take a look at how to integrate them into a toner.

Humectants are awesome ingredients. They draw water from the atmosphere to your skin to hydrate and moisturize. In toners, we could use glycerin, sodium lactate, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, honeyquat, and more. A little goes a long way. We can use as little as 0.1% hyaluronic acid, 2% glycerin or sodium lactate, 2% sodium PCA, 3% honeyquat, and so on in our products to offer that great hydration we want on our skin.

Hydrolyzed proteins are a great way to hydrate your skin with just a titch of an ingredient. I've suggested that you try using hydrolyzed oat protein and silk amino acids or silk protein in this series, but there are so many choose from like baobab*, rice*, quinoa*, pea, lupine, soy*, or Phytokeratin, a mix of corn, wheat, and soy. You can find them listed as hydrolyzed proteins, hydrolysates, amino acids, We'll use these in small amounts - 2% to 5%, generally - in the heated water phase.

Cationic polymers, like polyquat 7 and honeyquat, condition skin by forming a tiny film that moisturizes in a process called adsorption. There are so many to choose from - look for the word "quaternized" when at your supplier's shop to see what you can get like rice, soy, silk, and so on - and you don't need much. For something like polyquat 44, 0.5% will do. For polyquat 7 and honeyquat, I generally use 2% to 3%.

As an aside, honeyquat can smell fishy to some people, which is why I'm a bit hesitant to recommend it for something like a toner where you can't obscure the smell with a fragrance or essential oil. It's a very strong smell for me, so I don't use it much any more, except in hair care products where I can add something like white chocolate, blueberry poundcake, or oatmeal, milk & honey fragrance oils. If you have used Incroquat BTMS-50 and noticed a fishy smell, don't buy honeyquat. This is a normal smell for these ingredients as they are quaternary ammonium compounds, and ammonia can smell very fishy to some people. 

Aloe vera is another ingredient I recommended purchasing for this series, and it's an ingredient I absolutely love using for my facial products. It's hydrating, emollient, and anti-inflammatory, all great things for our faces.

We use aloe vera liquid, not the gel, on the blog. The gel version of aloe vera is gelled using a carbomer, like Ultrez 20, and it isn't necessary to gel this toner recipe. (Yet...gels are on their way!) 

I've just started using the 200x powder, which is so easy to incorporate into my products. You could use a titch of it in this recipe - 0.5% in the water phase - or make up a batch of the liquid. I create a bottle of aloe vera liquid by adding 1 gram of this 200 x powder to 198.5 grams distilled water and 0.5 grams liquid Germall Plus. Now I have a bottle of aloe vera. I can add this liquid at up to 10% in the water phase.

Panthenol is one of my favourite ingredients of all time! It improves stratum corneum hydration, reduces redness and inflammation, increases wound healing by stimulating skin epithelialization, improves skin barrier mechanism repair, mitigates itching and soothes irriation, and behaves as a humectant. It's an amazing ingredient for all skin types, and I encourage you to use it at 2% to 5% in the cool down phase if you have the liquid and in the heated water phase if you have the powder.

So where are we now? We have all kinds of ingredients that will hydrate, condition, and moisturize our skin. Let's make a few toners, eh?

Let's modify the simple toner for dry skin from last week!

69% distilled water
20% rose water or lavender hydrosol
5% witch hazel
2% one of glycerin, propylene glycol, or sodium lactate
2% one of glycerin, propylene glycol, or sodium lactate
0.5% allantoin

0.5% powdered cucumber extract
0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

What could we add to this recipe?

Hydrolyzed silk protein or silk amino acids are a great choice for dry skin as the molecules are small enough to penetrate the skin. Let's add that at 2% in the heated water phase.

Aloe vera will film form and moisturize, so let's add that at 10% liquid or 0.5% powder into the heated water phase.

Honeyquat or polyquaternium 7 would be a great addition at 2%. (If you're using honeyquat, please put that in the cool down phase as it can smell like melted plastic fish if it's warmed up too much.)

And panthenol is excellent at 2% in the heated water phase (powder) or 2% in the cool down phase (liquid).

Remember that when we add something to a product, we have to remove some of the distilled water amount to ensure it all adds up to 100% in the end. So if we add 2% silk amino acids, 10% aloe vera liquid, 2% panthenol, and 2% polyquat 7, we have to remove 16% from the distilled water amount. I'll note the changes in this recipe in bold.

53% distilled water
20% rose water or lavender hydrosol
10% aloe vera liquid
5% witch hazel
2% polyquaternium 7
2% silk amino acids
2% glycerin
2% sodium lactate
0.5% allantoin

2% panthenol
0.5% powdered cucumber extract
0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Measure all the heated water phase ingredients into a container and heat until 50˚C to 60˚C. Mix well, then let cool to 45˚C.

In a separate small container, weigh out your powdered extracts. Add some of the water from the heated water phase and mix well until the extracts have dissolved. Add back to the cool down phase.

Measure the liquid Germall Plus into the container, stir, then bottle in a disc cap or mister bottle.

Rejoice, for you have an awesome toner!

Let's say you want to include 2% honeyquat, 0.5% powdered 200x aloe vera, 2% Phytokeratin, and 2% panthenol, you'd be adding 6.5% to the recipe, so remove 6.5% from the distilled water amount.

62.5% distilled water
20% rose water or lavender hydrosol
5% witch hazel
2% Phytokeratin
2% glycerin
2% sodium lactate
0.5% allantoin
0.5% powdered aloe vera 200x

2% honeyquat
2% panthenol
0.5% powdered cucumber extract
0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

For those of you with normal or oily skin, you can easily modify the recipes we made last week by following what we've done here. Add a hydrolyzed protein, aloe vera, panthenol, skin conditioner, and humectant to the simpler versions we made last week. Add up what you've added to the recipe, and remove that amount from the distilled water amount.

What modifications did you make this week? What do you think about those changes? Please share in the comments below! 

Join me next week as we modify this toner further to include some cosmeceuticals, water soluble oils, and more extracts!

If you'd like to play along or if you've missed a post, here's a listing of the complete series...
Newbie Tuesday: We're making facial products! 
Shopping list
Equipment list
Let's start making facial cleansers! - Your skin type
Surfactants - what are they?
Meet the surfactants
pH of our surfactants
Facial products - the base recipe
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part one) - physical exfoliants
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part two) - physical exfoliants
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser by adding chemical exfoliants
Modifying your facial cleanser into a foamer bottle recipe
Creating a facial toner (part one)

If there's an asterisk beside a link, it means it'll take you away from my page to a supplier of those ingredients. These are not affiliate links; I receive nothing from these companies for clicking through or buying anything. As usual, I'm sharing where I get my ingredients from awesome suppliers.

Monday, December 12, 2016

More DIY links suitable for Christmas presents

I've written a lot about Christmas presents on the blog, so I'll refer you to this post where you can find links to making bath bombs, bath salts, whipped butters, and more. I also encourage you to check out this post on some things to consider when looking for a good bath & body recipe on line. And look at this post on whipped butters! I'll also refer you to the newbie section as I have tons of ideas for beginners' recipes there.

Are you looking present ideas? If you can't find it here, let me know in the comments and I'll try to help further!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's that time of year again! DIY presents - lotion bars

Christmas and Hannukah are almost here, and if you're looking to make some awesome gifts for your loved ones, join me over the next week for loads of ideas.

You can get the ingredients for these little lovelies at your local health food store if you can't get to a supplier or get things mailed to you in time. Melt equal parts one solid butter, one liquid oil, and beeswax, add a titch of fragrance or essential oil, and you're done!

33% solid butter, like shea butter, mango butter, or cocoa butter
33% liquid oil of any sort
33% beeswax
1% fragrance or essential oil

Melt all the ingredients except the fragrance or essential oil in a double boiler until liquid. Remove from the heat and pour into molds - chocolate molds or silicone ice cube trays are awesome for these lotion bars - or into lip balm tubs, tubes, or deodorant containers (like above). Let cool on the counter or in the fridge until hardened. Don't roll up the lip balm tubes until the next day to make completely sure they're solid.

Make only 100 grams of this product the first time you make it as you might want the bar to be softer, harder, less greasy, more greasy, and so on. 100 grams is a nice sized batch!

Learn more about our oils and butters in the emollients section of the blog!

You can't use coconut oil as the main butter here as it melts around 24˚C or 76˚F, so it'll melt in your car, purse, or other warm space. You could use it as part of the liquid oil, if you wished. Or you could use fractionated coconut oil (the liquid stuff) as the liquid and the solid coconut oil as part of the butter, as long as you have a solid butter in there, like mango or cocoa butter.

As a note, this goes for babassu oil as it has a very low melting point.

33% liquid oil of choice - fractionated coconut oil would be awesome here
20% cocoa butter
13% regular or virgin coconut oil
33% beeswax
1% fragrance or essential oil

Follow the instructions above.

If you're vegan or trying to avoid animal products, you can make a variation on this recipe using carnauba wax or candelilla wax. These are harder than beeswax, so make sure you're using less.

43% liquid oils
40% hard butter
16% carnauba wax or candelilla wax
1% fragrance or essential oil

Follow the instructions above. The wax will take longer to melt than the beeswax, so be patient with it.

You can't really use soy wax as it's very soft, but you can try it at 50% of the recipe with 30% hard butter, 19% liquid oil, and 1% fragrance or essential oil.

A quick note before I leave you for the day: The shelf life of your lotion bar is the shelf life of your shortest lived oil. Most butters have a shelf life of two years or more, so it's really about your liquid oils. Unrefined oils have a shorter shelf life - generally 3 months - while oils like olive oil or soy bean oil can last a year. Check out the emollients section of the blog to see the shelf life to make sure you're making a good choice.

Related posts and more recipes:
Newbie Tuesday: Formulating lotion bars - many many more recipes there
Visual tutorial on making lotion bars (SnapGuide)

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun making whipped butters!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: Reading INCI names

In this post, A conditioning shampoo with SCI, Synara asks: Just wondering: I only have Amphosol CG and cocamidopropyl betaine. Can I make a shampoo with these surfactants?

The short answer is no. And that's because you actually only have one surfactant because Amphosol CG is cocamidopropyl betaine as made by Stepan, and it's such a mild surfactant, it wouldn't be a good product for anyone other than small babies with very fine hair.

This is where checking the INCI or International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients name of the product comes in handy! The INCI is the name the ingredient should be called on labels for cosmetic products, and every supplier should have that information handy on a label or on their websites.

If you take a closer look at the label on the Amphosol CG I bought from Voyageur Soap & Candle, you can see it lists the ingredient as cocamidopropyl betaine. Knowing this information means I don't buy it from another site and end up with two or three of everything. (Ask me how I found this out the hard way!)

This comes up a lot with surfactants and emulsifiers as the names can be different depending upon the manufacturer of the product our suppliers have chosen to use and the suppliers' desire to put their stamp on the product. Knowing the INCI for Incroquat BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol keeps me from buying the conditioner emulsifier at this supplier, the emulsifying conditioner at another supplier, and the conditioning emulsifying wax at yet another.

This also comes in handy when you're ordering in a different language. I recently went on a surfactant buying spree at Les Ames Fleurs in Quebec, and I was able to figure out easily what I wanted based on the INCI names!

I know the names may seem daunting, but knowing what you're buying will save you so much money, and help you make more awesome things! Plus, it makes it easier to break down commercial products' ingredient lists so you can learn what you like, what you don't like, and where to start if you want to duplicate it.

Related posts:
Reading INCI names
Substitutions: Reading INCI names

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Newbie Tuesday: Creating a facial toner

If you've been following the Newbie Tuesday facial products series, you'll know we've spent the last three months making various cleansers for our skin. Let's take a look at making toners today.

What's a toner? It's a liquid or gel that we apply after we clean our skin to make it feel nice. I've seen it written that toners are to restore the pH of our skin after using our cleansers, but our cleansers shouldn't be altering the pH of your skin in the first place!

They can hydrate our skin using water soluble ingredients, like hydrolyzed proteins, humectants like sodium lactate or glycerin, water soluble oils, and so on. They are used as a moisturizer for those of us who can't use oils or an extra layer of moisture before you put on your facial serum or moisturizer. There are some versions for oily skin that offer to shrink your pores or reduce sebum levels, and versions for dry skin that offer to moisturize better than a lotion alone. I've seen them filled with botanical ingredients, as well as cosmeceuticals like niacinamide or beta glucan.

Toners shouldn't sting or be drying. I remember using the very medicinal smelling Bonnie Bell toner as a teenager and it not only stung like hell and left my skin feeling quite stripped of oils. (I was 14, so oil stripping was a good thing, but it felt like it was even more stripping than I could handle!) This is not what we want.

In short, a toner tends to be a liquid or gelled product that contains water soluble components that offers hydration to all skin types. You can fancy them up as much as you want with all kinds of things, or keep them really simple. Some of us with oily skin can use them as moisturizers on their own, while others might use it as a step before using a moisturizer.

Let's take a look at a creating a simple toner today, then make some modifications next week...

I generally start with witch hazel in my toner. Contrary to popular thought, it's not an inherently drying ingredient if it's not full of added alcohol. (There is some alcohol that is found naturally in witch hazel. I'm not talking about that type of alcohol.) It's an astringent and an anti-inflammatory liquid that can reduce swelling, so it's great for oily or inflamed skin types, that can also help stabilize collagen and elastin. Dry skin types might not like it so much, so you can leave it out, or just use up to 5% because it does contain some nice anti-oxidants. I use it at 20% as the base of my toner for my oily skin.

You can use all sorts of hydrosols or floral waters in a toner as part of the water amount. I generally use up to 20% hydrosols in the form of chamomile or rose water. If you don't have any hydrosols, you can leave it out and replace the 20% I'm using in the recipes below for 20% distilled water.

As an aside, I didn't suggest buying it as part of the shopping list for this series, but it is getting super popular and we are burning through bottles of it at every group I teach at Voyageur Soap & Candle this semester! It's a great inclusion in a toner! 

For skin that tends to redden, chamomile hydrosol or extract is an amazing choice! It's also awesome for dry skin as it can reduce transepidermal water loss for up to 48 hours. You can get the hydrosol or the powdered extract. I recommend it for all skin types, so we'll add it to this recipe as the powdered extract at 0.5% or you could add it as the hydrosol for up to 20%.

For oily skin, rosemary extract is a great choice for a product as it reduces the sebum production and helps remove oil. Let's add it at 0.5% in the cool down phase.

For dry skin, we'll add some cucumber extract as it soothes and offers hydration by creating a light gel film on the skin. It's great for all skin types that need some soothing.

For normal skin, let's use the chamomile extract as well as some green tea extract to offer some anti-oxidizing, anti-inflammatory, and elastin and collagen maintaining properties.

For problem skin, chamomile is a great choice, as is white willow bark.

Remember, when adding extracts, check which ones are exfoliating and avoid combinations of more than one at a time!

Why can't we use all the powdered extracts ever in our products? The main reason is that we can only put so much powder into the water and have it dissolve. If we add too much, we get precipitation, which means our powder falls out of the solution and ends up in a clumpy mess on the bottom of the bottle, as you can see here.

If you want to add a few powdery things but worry about having too mch, consider that you might find the benefits in another way. Look at hydrosols, liquid extracts, or essential oils with a solubilizer as an option. If the smell of some of these ingredients bother you - the way I feel about chamomile - then consider liquid extracts as they can be odourless and colourless. Ask your supplier for more information or check the description of the ingredient on their web site before buying.

Also remember that powdered extracts will likely turn your product a beige, brown, tan, or other earthy colour. This is normal!

Related posts: Extracts: Liquid or powder?

I love allantoin so much, and we'll be using it at 0.5% in the heated water phase of our product. It offers occlusive properties, which is to say it reduces transepidermal water loss as well as protecting us from wind and cold chapping, for such a tiny amount.

Note: I always use mine in the heated phase or I add it to warmed water as I find this is the best way to dissolve it. I have found when I use it in the cool down phase (under 45˚C) or over 1% it can precipitate or re-solidify and cause little shards in the product.

Finally, I need to think about a humectant, something like glycerin or sodium lactate. I like to use them around 2% in my product to offer hydration by drawing water from the atmosphere to my skin. Sodium lactate will feel less sticky than glycerin, but it can make you sun sensitive over 3%, so always keep it at 2% or lower. You can use propylene glycol at 2%, if you wish. You could get really fancy and add 0.1% hyaluronic acid, if you wished.

56% distilled water
20% witch hazel
20% rose water or other hydrosol
2% glycerin, sodium lactate, or propylene glycol
0.5% allantoin

0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% powdered cucumber or green tea extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Measure all the heated water phase ingredients into a container and heat until 50˚C to 60˚C. Mix well, then let cool to 45˚C.

In a separate small container, weigh out your powdered extracts. Add some of the water from the heated water phase and mix well until the extracts have dissolved. Add back to the cool down phase.

Measure the liquid Germall Plus into the container, stir, then bottle in a disc cap or mister bottle.

You're done - rejoice!

If you have oily or problem prone skin, consider using sodium lactate at 2% as it can act as a mild exfoliant that can possibly help with acne. I'm adding chamomile extract to reduce redness - you could use it as a hydrosol as well - and rosemary extract to deal with sebum production.

Orange, neroli, and rose waters can all help with sebum production, so they're good choices for hydrosols. Peppermint hydrosol could be a great choice here, and it adds a tiny tingle at as little as 10% in the water phase. We'll use rose water

56% distilled water
20% witch hazel
20% rose water
2% glycerin, sodium lactate, or propylene glycol
0.5% allantoin

0.5% powdered rosemary extract
0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Measure all the heated water phase ingredients into a container and heat until 50˚C to 60˚C. Mix well, then let cool to 45˚C.

In a separate small container, weigh out your powdered extracts. Add some of the water from the heated water phase and mix well until the extracts have dissolved. Add back to the cool down phase.

Measure the liquid Germall Plus into the container, stir, then bottle in a disc cap or mister bottle.

You're done - rejoice!

For dry skin, consider using a few humectants like 2% glycerin and 2% sodium lactate, or 2% glycerin and 2% propylene glycol, or some combination thereof to make sure you're getting enough hydration to your skin.

We'll be talking about other non-oil based moisturizers we can add to our toner next week, so it's all about your skin type then! 

69% distilled water
20% rose water or lavender hydrosol
5% witch hazel
2% one of glycerin, propylene glycol, or sodium lactate
2% one of glycerin, propylene glycol, or sodium lactate
0.5% allantoin

0.5% powdered cucumber extract
0.5% powdered chamomile extract
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Measure all the heated water phase ingredients into a container and heat until 50˚C to 60˚C. Mix well, then let cool to 45˚C.

In a separate small container, weigh out your powdered extracts. Add some of the water from the heated water phase and mix well until the extracts have dissolved. Add back to the cool down phase.

Measure the liquid Germall Plus into the container, stir, then bottle in a disc cap or mister bottle.

You're done - rejoice!

Related posts on toners:
Gels: Making a gelled toner (part one)
Formulating with toners for dry skin (part one)
One ingredient, five products: Toners with cucumber extract
Making a toner for oily skin types (part one)

If you'd like to play along or if you've missed a post, here's a listing of the complete series...
Newbie Tuesday: We're making facial products! 
Shopping list
Equipment list
Let's start making facial cleansers! - Your skin type
Surfactants - what are they?
Meet the surfactants
pH of our surfactants
Facial products - the base recipe
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part one) - physical exfoliants
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part two) - physical exfoliants
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser by adding chemical exfoliants
Modifying your facial cleanser into a foamer bottle recipe

What version did you make? Did you make any modifications? What did you think of the toner you made? And what will you do different next time? Share your thoughts and we'll make some more toners next week and talk about what you'd like to see in future recipes!

As a quick note on scheduling: I thought we'd get started on gels next week, but there's so much to cover for toners, we'll still be doing that on the 13th and the 20th as we make a few more based on your feedback for modifications.

We'll start on gels after Christmas, December 27th, so there's time to get some gellant if you wish. I will have versions you can make using Sepimax ZEN, Sepinov EMT 10, and sodium carbomer if you don't have access to the Ultrez 20 I recommend in the shopping list for this series.  You can get those gellants at Lotioncrafter.

If you want to shop a little further, consider looking at getting a bit of niacinamide or panthenol (powder or liquid). I'll be putting up the shopping list for moisturizers and facial sera in the next week or so, but we won't be getting to those products until late January or early February, so you have loads of time to shop and wait for shipping.

Again, I recommend shops because I like them, not because I make anything if you purchase from them. I admit I'm biased towards Voyageur Soap & Candle and Lotioncrafter because I shop there often and I really like the owners, but I get nothing if you buy from them. The links I offer are for convenience, not so I can make money! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Presents for crafters: Mixing and measuring

I know it's only a few weeks until Christmas and Hannukah (and my birthday, hint hint), so I thought I'd share some ideas for presents you could get for bath & body crafters or yourself. (I encourage you to look at this post on presents for crafters from 2014 as I have many more ideas there and figured I shouldn't repeat myself...)

I've added to my mixer equipment this year as I found this Minipro mixer at Lotioncrafter, which is powerful enough for my small batches. I tried a milk frother from Bed, Bath & Beyond and it wasn't powerful enough, which is why I'm recommending this one specifically.)

I've been using it quite a lot for making gels, like the ones you'll be seeing shortly using Sepinov EMT 10, and I love it for that purpose. It's a great little machine for your smaller batches, and it cleans up really easily.

You can get any hand mixer you want for our products, but I am having a love affair with my new 9 speed Kitchenaid hand mixer. It has all kinds of attachments - beaters, whisk, dough hooks, drink mixer - so I can mix pretty much anything I want!

I have a few different mixers that range from my mom's mixer we bought when I was a kid to the Hamilton Beach I have with those neat mixing blades covered in silicone ( link). Any of those are great for mixing your products. I'm just in love with the drink attachment you get with the Kitchenaid hand mixer because it can work as a propeller mixer for things like Sucragel AOF or Sepimax ZEN gel.

As an aside, I keep referencing Sepimax ZEN and Sepinov EMT 10, but I haven't discussed it yet. I'm hoping to get to it in the next few weeks as it's my new Saturday night thing when it comes to thickening things like decyl glucoside or making easy gels. I wrote an e-zine for my Patreon subscribers with information and recipes if you're interested in learning more before I get to that series. 

You know I love the beaker set I just purchased from a hydroponic store with beakers from 5 ml - which is just adorable! - all the way up to 1 litre. I use these all the time in the double boiler as they're heat tolerant, and when making cool products, like gels or body washes. There's never not an opportunity to use beakers, and I cannot recommend enough getting a set with one of every size from 100 ml to 1 litre.

You can find a set at Lotioncrafter, which I own and love. If you're in Canada, check out to find this set of 50 ml to 250 ml or this set of 50 ml to 1000 ml.

I love Erlenmeyer flasks as they're heat tolerant and they reduce evaporation when we heat and hold our lotions and potions. You can get all kinds of sizes, but I have found the 100 ml, 250 ml, and 500 ml to be the optimal sizes for the smaller batches of products I make.

You can find a great set of smaller ones here at  or this set of 5 from (and both will ship in time for Christmas)

I love these tri-corner beakers (from Lotioncrafter) for heating and holding as well as making smaller batches. They clean up really well, and they seem to last forever! (You've probably seen pictures of them all over the blog - I bought a set from Lotioncrafter four years ago, and I'm still using the same ones!)

You need a digital scale that can weigh as little as 1 gram to make bath & body products for accuracy, but if you want to make things like facial products that require a titch of this and a bit of that, you'll want to invest in a digital scale that weighs lower than 1 gram. I love this Salter diet scale I bought from London Drugs for $34.99 or, if you want to splurge, this Escali Professional lab scale at for $109!

There are so many places to get a scale that weighs tiny amounts. Look at jeweller's scales, epoxy scales, and completely legitimate
drug scales as options. (I will share that my epoxy scale that was supposed to be safe from spills and such died violently after a bit of resin spilled on it. This disappointed me greatly.)

I've never ordered from this company, but Canadian Weigh has loads of options! 

Those little pH strips you get from our suppliers' shops are okay for getting an estimate of the pH of your product, but they aren't going to help you when you're trying to measure the pH of that alkaline body wash with decyl glucoside or your facial cleansers with AHAs.

I love my Jenco Vision Plus, model 630, but there are loads of other ones that you can love as much as I do. I found a few when I went into my local hydroponics store last week and saw they had some really fancy ones that would work well for less than $100. Lotioncrafter has a very nice one (but they won't ship outside the US for this item), and you can find tons on Amazon.

Related post:
A crafter's Christmas list (2014 edition)
Creating products: Equipment (part one)
Creating products: Equipment (part two)
Equipment for measuring pH

Please note: Clicking through the links takes you to the shops at which you can find the thing about which I'm writing. These aren't affiliate links, and I don't benefit in any way if you click through or buy anything at that shop. These are offered as informational links only for you, my lovely readers. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weekend Wondering: Measuring in drops?

I'm still working my way through my e-mail and comments. I'm currently on Novemer 19th for comments and in early November for mail. Thank you for your continued patience. 

In this post, Preservatives, tafchk asks: How do you know how many drops to use for a given percentage please?

The short answer is that we don't use drops in our recipes or products, so I don't know that information.

We don't use volume measurements like drops for our ingredients - like preservatives, cosmeceuticals, essential oils - because it's simply too inaccurate. Is that drops from an eye dropper, a large eye dropper, a large or small pipette, an orifice bottle, a dropper bottle like the picture, and so on? Drops aren't the same out of each container, so to tell you that 10 drops of liquid Germall Plus is equal to 0.5 grams would be completely wrong because that only applies to my eye dropper, pipette, or bottle.

Viscosity plays a huge part as well. Every oil is slightly different than the next, so to say that every essential, fragrance, or carrier oil is x drops to 1 gram is incorrect. Avocado oil is much thicker than fractionated coconut oil, and you'd end up using too much or too little even if we were using the same dropper.

Lest you think this isn't a big deal, there are a few huge problems you'll encounter if you want to measure in drops. The first is accuracy. If you're dealing in drops for essential oils, you could be using too much or too little of what you want. You might be adding too much oil to a lotion, which can throw the emulsification out of whack. Or you could be adding too little preservative, which can lead to icky contamination. All of these are concerns when you're measuring by volume or other inaccurate methods.

The second is scaling up. It's not the worst thing in the world to measure out 20 drops in 100 grams of lotion, but do you want to measure 200 drops in 1000 grams of lotion, a reasonable size for a batch?

The third is the ability to duplicate what we've done before. If you measure out 10 drops of something, are you sure the next time you make it you'll use the same dispensing method and same vicosity ingredient to end up making the same awesome product?

By using grams, we ensure we get exactly how much we want in a product and can duplicate it again. You can convert those drops in a recipe into weight by measuring them on a scale and making a note of how much you used. You might need a tiny scale - see tomorrow's post for information on those - but it'll be worth your time to figure it out.

As an aside, I know there are standardized measurements in different fields like pharmaceuticals and medicine for what constitutes a drop, but those aren't applicable to cosmetic chemistry. And even then I couldn't find information on a standardized measurement that works for every possible oil. 

Related posts:
Why we weigh our ingredients
Weight vs volume

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: How to get a gel without using synthetic ingredients?

In this post, Oil free moisturizer, Tim asks: I'm thinking of formulating a completely water-based soothing moisturising gel using natural/nature-derived ingredients. So far I'm thinking of Honeyquat for the humectant as well as a marshmallow glycerine extract a bit of extra humectant and as the emollient. The rest of it would be something like a camomile or other soothing hydrosol with additional water added. I'm just wondering what gelling agent/thickener you would suggest to get a similar consistency to the common Aloe vera gels? I'd like to stay clear of Ultrez-21 and other synthetic thickeners.

Aloe vera gels that we buy from our suppliers is not a natural gel. It's aloe vera liquid combined with something to create a gel, like a carbomer or other gelling agent.

Most of the time, aloe vera gel'll have an INCI like this one  INCI: Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract (and) Aqua (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross-Polymer (and) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (from Voyageur Soap & Candle) or Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (and) Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (from The Herbarie). So it's aloe vera liquid and Ultrez 20, a carbomer or gelling agent that I like to use quite a bit, mixed together to make a gel.

You could make a gel with my new favourite gelling ingredient, Sepimax ZEN, as seen in the picture above, which can handle aloe vera and all its electrolytes much better. I promise I'll share more with you about this ingredient shortly. There's just so much to write about and I'm trying to catch up on comments first! 

You can find some gels, like this one - INCI: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Sclerotium Gum, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate (from Ingredients to Die For) - that contain other gelling agents, like the sclerotium gum, but there is always a gelling agent in the mix. Otherwise, you're buying aloe vera juice that is a liquid.

As an aside, I've seen "aloe vera gel" sold at some suppliers, but it's very clear that it's a liquid, not a gel. I'm talking about ingredients that are thickened like gels that contain aloe vera. 

You have some choices in how to gel your products - carbomers, Sepimax ZEN, Sepinov EMT 10, xanthan gum, sclerotium gum, guar gum, and so on - and I'm not really sure what to suggest to you. It's hard to make any suggestions without knowing your exact ingredient list, so my suggestion is to write up your recipe, get the ingredients, have some fun in your workshop, then record the results. You can do some research beforehand to learn a few things that might conflict, like honeyquat as a cationic with xanthan gum, to save you time and money!

I have to be completely honest with you when I say I haven't found a gum that I like. I have found they feel sticky and a bit snotty on my skin. (I'm not trying to be mean; this is one of the words used to describe xanthan gum). I'm working with guar gum quite a bit lately, which I definitely prefer to xanthan gum, but I'm still not in love with it the way I am with Sepimax ZEN or Sepinov EMT 10. Gels aren't inherently sticky; it's what we add to them that makes them that way. Keep that in mind as you work with the your recipe!

I know my lovely readers will have some suggestions for you, so I'll open the floor to them: What would you suggest for making a gel without using synthetic ingredients for Tim? 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: Did my oil turn my lovely body butter brown?

I'm slowly working my way through the comments you've left me over the last few months, and I'll be posting those I think would appeal to a larger audience over the next little while. If you have a question, please comment on a relevant post, regardless of how old it might be, and I'll do what I can to answer it!

In this post, Pumpkin seed oil: A whipped butter, Adele asks: This is my favorite body butter, but I saw that in time (after 2 weeks of use) it turned its color from light green (due to the pumpkin seed oil which was unrefined cold pressed) to a more brownish color, which I don't like. What can be the cause? Oxidation or the temperature (which was above 20 Celsius degree in the room I kept it)? Thank you!

I love this recipe so much, so I'm glad someone else loves it, too!

There are so many reasons a product can change colours, and most of them are pleasant and okay. For instance, in the picture above, a tiny change in oils changed the colour. Add something like sea buckthorn or rosehip oil that has a very orange hue, and you'll have yourself a darker coloured product. Add something like fractionated coconut oil or squalane, which are colourless, and you've got yourself a clear or very white product. Something like unrefined hemp seed oil could make something quite green, and so on.

We see this a lot in extracts. Powdered rosemary extract has coloured this shampoo a deep green, something you can avoid by using a clear, liquid extract instead.

This is the risk in using botanically derived ingredients: A different climate, a different growing season, a different soil, and so on can lead to very different colours from the last batch you bought. In general, if you see a brown or green colour in the ingredient, it'll show up in the product. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you were looking to make a colourless, clear shampoo with green tea extract or a facial cleanser with grapeseed extract, you'll be sad with the end result. (I love the colour of that cleanser so much!)

Fragrance and essential oils can have a huge impact on the colour of our products. These body washes are the same with the exception of fragrance oil, and look how one is almost red-orange with the other almost clear. You can get an orange-y tone from citrus based ingredients and a brown-beige from using vanilla.

Related: My article in Handmade Magazine: Understanding the Vanillin Villain

In the case of your green oil turning brown, I think you're right - there's oxidation going on, but it's not a horrible thing. You could add an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E to slow down that process, you could use a more refined, less coloured oil, or you could keep it in a cooler place.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Point of Interest: Preservatives!

I'm so happy when I hear people want to use preservatives, but a few questions have been posed to me lately that I thought required a blog post. Preservatives are ingredients we add to our products that contain water soluble ingredients or will be exposed to water. They prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungus. (Click here for more information...) Without a good broad spectrum preservative - one that works for all kinds of ick! - your product has a shelf life of 3 to 7 days.

Polysorbate 20 is not a preservative: It's a solubilizer that will help you incorporate small amounts of fragrance or essential oil into your product.

Propylene glycol isn't a preservative: It's a humectant that draws water from the atmosphere to our skin. It acts as an anti-freeze, reducing the freezing point of water and water soluble things in our products, making it easier to ship things in cold weather.

Stearic acid isn't a preservative. It's a fatty acid that we find in our oils and butters that makes them thicker, as well as a thickener we can add to our lotions.

Preservatives are ingredients like liquid Germall Plus - INCI: Propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate - or Germaben II - INCI: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben - or Phenonip - INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Isobutylparaben - or Optiphen ND - INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Benzoic Acid (and) Dehydroacetic Acid - and so on.

If you'd like to learn more about preservatives, I encourage you to check out the section of this blog on that topic, or check out the comparison chart if you want some quick information. It's a fascinating topic, and one that will keep your products safe and effective!

Related topics:
Why do we need preservatives in products containing water?
Preservatives: How the heck do they work?
What you need to know about making products (part one)
What you need to know about making products (part two)
Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative
Packaging and preservation