Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - shampoo bar

I love shampoo bars. I think they may be my favourite product I make. Don't get me wrong! I love my lotions and potions and body washes and everything else, but the thing that changed the way I see my hair and making things was this shampoo bar. I didn't create this bar from scratch. CathyMB on the Dish forum created it long before I joined in 2006, but I have tweaked it enough and added and removed so many ingredients for it, that I feel comfortable saying this is my version of a shampoo bar. 

Let's take a look at making a lovely shampoo bar for normal to dry hair with stearic acid as both the hardener and the emollient. (I'm basing it on this recipe, but it's not the same!) If you'd like to follow along with a visual tutorial, please click here

How will a shampoo bar for dry hair differ from one for oily hair? We can't reduce the surfactants as we normally would for dry hair, but we can change the types of surfactants we're using and increase the oils and butters.

Dry hair likes gentle cleansing, so we want to use really gentle cleansers in this recipe. We can use a baby blend type surfactant, decyl glucoside, or SMC or SMO taurate as our liquid surfactants. We can also use more cocamidopropyl betaine to increase mildness. We'll use 15% baby blend, decyl glucoside, or SMC or SMO taurate and 10% cocamidopropyl betaine. 

Why are we using liquid surfactants in a solid shampoo bar? Because the powdered surfactants need something to help stick them together! 

We want to increase the moisturizing, so let's include more oils and/or butters - you can try something like sal, cocoa, or another hard butter. We know coconut oil is great for hair, but it will soften the bar, so start at 5% and work your way up to 10% coconut oil in this recipe. (I'm suggesting 5% hard butter, 5% coconut oil to start off. If you don't mind it being a bit softer, then 10% coconut oil might work for you.)

We're also increasing the moisturizing by using SCI with stearic acid, which will also serve to make the bar harder. So we're decreasing the SLSa because we'll already have a harder bar and because some dry hair types aren't fans of SLSa. (Consider using another powdered surfactant here - although, to be honest, it doesn't look like any of them will play really well with dry hair!)

If you don't have SCI with extra stearic acid - you can tell because it'll be a prill or little round thing versus a noodle - then you can add more stearic acid to the mix. I'm choosing to use 3% stearic acid with this SCI noodle, but you could use more if you want it even stiffer. There's no value to having the stiffest bar ever as it can break. We want it to have a bit of plasticity to it. 

Related posts: 

A quick note on SCS: You can get sodium coco-sulfate as a pellet that might work here. This is sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS. Nothing wrong with it in my opinion, but it isn't a gentle surfactant like the ones I suggest in this post. 

One of the things we generally like for dry hair are humectants, but adding humectants to this will draw water out of the atmosphere to the bar, making for a really wet bar. This is why we need to use a lovely conditioner filled with humectants after using a shampoo bar. Think of the shampoo bar for dry hair as a great way to wash and moisturize our hair with a little conditioning, but the conditioner bar as being the main moisturizer and conditioner!

35% SCI (with stearic acid)
22% SLSa or other powdered surfactant
10% SMC or SMO taurate or other gentle surfactant
15% cocamidopropyl betaine
3% stearic acid
3% Incroquat BTMS-50, Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita 225 or Incroquat CR
5% hard butter of choice
2% hydrolyzed protein

2% panthenol
1% dimethicone
2% essential oil blend
0.5% to 1% preservative

To make this a clarifying shampoo bar, remove the 3% Incroquat BTMS-50 and 1% dimethicone and replace those with 4% emulsifying wax of some kind. Yes, I know I'd normally suggest against including non-ionic emulsifiers in a hair care product in favour of BTMS, but we need something to emulsify the oils so they'll stay on your hair.

Related links: 

Other posts in this series:
Join me tomorrow to wrap up what we've learned about stearic acid! 

Monday, May 30, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - foot scrub bars

With summer sandal season looming on the horizon in the northern hemisphere, a lot of attention is paid to our feet. Check out this recipe for a foot scrub bar containing stearic acid. (Which can be paired nicely with the thicker foot cream with stearic acid we made last week...)

A lot of the ingredients are the same as they were for the body scrub on Friday, but we're using them in slightly different amounts and adding a few others to make the product more moisturizing for our lovely feet! (Take a peek at that post if the ingredient that interests you isn't explained in detail here.)

We've upped the amount of stearic acid to make this bar hard and resilent when used with our feet. It'll still be lovely and moisturizing, but we want it to be able to scrub a lot harder than the body scrub bar without breaking. I'm reducing the hard butter to make up for that change.

As an aside, I wouldn't use kokum in this bar as it will be very very hard and won't glide over your feet well. I include it as an option as some people might like that feeling, but I certainly didn't. I definitely suggest cocoa or mango butter! 

I'm adding wax to this bar to make it stay on our feet longer. I have found that 4% beeswax with 10% stearic acid can be a bit draggy, but it definitely makes the moisturizing oils and butters feel like they're on my feet longer, so I include them. If you really hate the feeling of wax, leave it out and include more oil. (If you want to use a different wax, please see the notes beside the beeswax entry.)

I'm using shea, coconut, or babassu oil for my slightly greasier, less stiff oils at 20%. You could use all cocoa, kokum or mango butter here and have a really hard bar, or include the shea or coconut oil and make it a slightly softer bar. I really don't suggest using a harder butter for that 20% as the bar will be really draggy and unpleasant on your skin.

As an aside, I really didn't notice a difference in skin feel when I used babassu in these bars, so I suggest leaving it out and using the less expensive coconut or shea butter instead.

When it comes to oils, I recommend thick, greasy feeling ones to increase the feeling of moisturization. You can choose any ones you like, but this is where I like to use olive oil for all those moisturizing and softening fatty acids.

We're using pumice and baking soda as the scrubbies in this bar. You can use any physical exfoliants you wish, but this is my favourite combination. I use it at 100% of the bar, so I make 100 grams of the bar base, then add 80 grams of pumice and 20 grams of baking soda, mix well, and glop into the molds.

46.5% cocoa, mango, or kokum butter
20% shea, coconut, or babassu oil
12% oils - heavier oils like avocado, castor, or olive oil are great here
10% stearic acid
5% emulsifier of some sort - Incroquat BTMS-50 or 25, Polawax, e-wax, etc.
4% beeswax or soy wax or 2% candellia or carnuaba wax
1% Phenonip or other heat tolerant preservative

1% fragrance or essential oil (I recommend peppermint) or 3% menthol crystals (not heat sensitive)
0.5% Vitamin E (if you are using oils with less than 6 months' shelf life)

(This recipe doesn't add up to 100% if you change the wax.)

Add up to 100% pumice (or 80% pumice, 20% baking soda)

Melt everything except the fragrance/essential oil and Vitamin E in a heat proof container in a double boiler until all the ingredients are well melted. Remove from the heat and add the fragrance/essential oil and Vitamin E (optional), and mix well. (Maybe 20 seconds.) Then add your exfoliant and mix well. Then pour into a mold and put in the fridge or freezer until set. Let sit for 24 hours before using, or it can fall apart. It can take up to 24 hours for stearic acid to completely harden.

What do I think of this recipe? I do love a foot scrub bar. I always make mine with pumice and baking soda, and I find this offers a nice scrubby feeling that doesn't feel too scrubby. I used menthol in this last batch, and it definitely adds a slight tingle at 3%. I used cocoa, shea, and olive oil in this version and I thought it was very moisturizing without making my feet feel slippery when I put shoes on about half an hour later.

Can you colour these bars? Yes, you can. You have to use an oil soluble colour, like those powdered ones you could find for chocolate making, not a water soluble one like food colouring or our LabColours. I've made them green before, but I stopped because I kinda like the colour it is now.

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a hand lotion
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - foot cream
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - body scrub bars

Join me tomorrow as we make shampoo bars with stearic acid!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Wondering: What does it mean if a product advertises itself as "oil free"?

In this post, on coco-caprylate caprate, John asks: I see coco-caprylate appearing in a lot of "oil-free" moisturizers. What constitutes an "oil-free" moisturizer? It seems to me a lot of them use oil-derived ingredients anyway. 

This is a great question, and the answer really is "I don't know."

I don't buy cosmetic products from stores, I make them. But I was having trouble with my mascara smearing all over my eyes when I applied it, so I stopped at my local drug store with an awesome cosmetic section and talked to the store clerk. She told me my problem was that I was too oily. (True, but in the end, not the issue.) She recommended an "oil free" product that contained shea butter. Shea butter for oily, acne prone skin? I politely declined the product, then ranted all the way home in the car.

In the end, I wonder if that product wasn't "oil free" because it didn't contain an oil. It contained a butter - which I would argue is a solid oil, but whatever - and esters and fatty alcohols - behenyl alcohol, if I recall correctly - but there were no oils. If you look at any lotions labelled as "oil free", you'll see all those fatty ingredients there.

Let's take a look at Neutrogena's Oil free moisturizer for sensitive skin:
Water, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Petrolatum, Cyclomethicone, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Sterols , Isopropyl Isostearate, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG 10 Soy Sterol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Carbomer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Diazolidinyl Urea, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

Everything from ethylhexyl palmitate to C12-15 alkyl benzoate is an oil soluble ingredient that can be used in place of oils when we're making lovely creations in our workshops. They are right: There are no oils in this product. There are soybean sterols - which are probably quite lovely if they're anything like Croda's Super Sterol or the olive oil sterols (I think I've written about them, but can't find a link!) - which are phytosterols from soybean. This isn't soy bean oil; it's an ingredient derived from soy bean oil.

The short answer to your question is that there is no definition for "oil free" in a moisturizer, except they don't contain oils. They contain all kinds of oil soluble ingredients and silicones, but no real "oils". 

Friday, May 27, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - body scrub bars

Stearic acid is a great bar hardener, and I like to use as both a bar hardener and emollient in my body and foot scrub bars. Let's take a look at the body scrub bar today and the foot scrub bar on Monday.

What do I want in a body scrub bar? I want something that contains physical exfoliants that will exfoliate my skin and leave it feeling moisturized.

The first thing we want to think about is the butter you're using. Normally I use butters like cocoa butter, mango butter, or kokum butter to harden the bar, but I can substitut a little stearic acid in the mix to help as well. Stearic acid is not only less expensive than any butter you can find, but it's also a nice emollient. I think I'll use it at 10% in this recipe to make a really hard bar.

The down side of using so much stearic acid is that it can be a bit draggy on your skin, so consider using a greasier butter like shea butter or coconut oil as the secondary butter in this bar.

Do not use coconut oil as the primary butter in this bar as it will be very soft and fall apart in slightly warmer temperatures! 

For oils in this recipe, I definitely encourage you to use a liquid oil that will offer some greasiness. We want to get some glide and slip to this product! I generally use soy bean oil here as it has a nice long shelf life and offers all kinds of emolliency and phytosterols. You can use anything you want as an oil, but I do encourage you to use something inexpensive as it's not on our skin very long and we aren't getting all the benefits from the oil when it's being rinsed off.

I make mine emulsified so they will rinse cleaner than using all oils, so I definitely want something like Incroquat BTMS-50 or Polawax in the recipe to make sure it emulsifies well. You can use any emulsifier you like here.

Before you ask, yes, you can use any emulsifier you want. If it's an emulsifier, you can use it here. I suggest these ones as they tend to be less expensive and more readily available than some of the newer ones like Montanov 68 or Olivem 1000. You can use those, too, as you can use any emulsifier you wish in this recipe. 

What combination do I like? I generally go for cocoa butter with shea and soy bean oil for a greasier feeling product with Polawax or Ritamulse SCG. I really liked the black cocoa butter version I made as well. (No, I don't know where you can get it. The shop from which I bought it, Creations from Eden, doesn't carry it any more. If you're in Canada, check them out for other butters, like the golden shea butter, which is less greasy feeling and much stiffer than the refined stuff I normally buy!)

48% cocoa, mango, or kokum butter
25% shea butter, coconut oil, or babassu oil
5% Incroquat BTMS-25, Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, Polawax
5% stearic acid
5% cetyl alcohol
10% oils

1% Phenonip
0.1% Vitamin E (anti-oxidant, optional)
1% fragrance or essential oil

Add physical exfoliating ingredients at up to 100% into the product. (See more below)

Melt everything except the the cool down phase in a heat proof container in a double boiler until all the ingredients are well melted. Remove from the heat and add the preservative, fragrance oil, and Vitamin E. Add your exfoliant and mix well. Then pour into a mold and put in the fridge or freezer until set. Let sit for 24 hours before using.

Add up to 100% sugar, salt, beads, seeds, loofah, baking soda, and so on. It really is your preference. If you are using sugar, you may need to add more than 100% because the sugar will melt into the warm oils - if you can stand the waiting, let it cool a bit before adding the sugar. You can add the salt right away into the hot oils. It will melt slightly, but not enough to be concering. Clay and jojoba beads will melt in the hot oils so you will need to let the mixture cool a lot - they really aren't a great choice here because you'll have to wait so long, the bar might actually solidify while you're waiting for the right temperature. Personally, I'd leave those for oil based or emulsified scrubs.

To forestall the question I always get asked about scrubs with exfoliants, I add them extra to the recipe. My base - the recipe above - should total 100%. Then I add exfoliants on top of that. That's because I like to use the base for a few different products, including foot scrub bars, and I use different levels of exfoliants for other products.

My personal preference as an exfoliant is sugar. It's inexpensive, it rinses off well, it melts away in the shower, and it feels great. You can combine exfoliants to make all kinds of combinations. You'll see on Monday that I like pumice and baking soda at 80/20 for a foot scrub bar.

Another question I'll get is about the preservative. I have chosen Phenonip because it can handle heat. I can't really use liquid Germall Plus here because it needs to be added at 50˚C or lower, and our bars will be getting quite solid by then. You can use any preservative that can handle heat in this recipe.

If you want to make a less greasy feeling product, use less greasy feeling ingredients like mango butter, babassu oil, any of the BTMS emulsifiers or Ritamulse SCG. If you want to make a greasier feeling product, go for cocoa butter, shea or coconut oil, and a greasier oil, like soy bean oil. It's up to you. I suggest you make a small batch to see if you like the combination you've chosen before making hundreds of these as gifts. (Because you will want to give them to everyone you know! I know I do!)

Related posts:
Back to Basics: Emulsified scrub bars
Black cocoa butter emulsified bars
Incroquat BTMS-50 in solid scrub bars
Formulating anhydrous scrub bars for different skin types
Road trip essentials: Solid scrub bars

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a hand lotion
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - foot cream

Join me Monday for foot scrub bars with stearic acid, and join me Saturday for another Weekend Wonderings!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a thicker foot cream

Stearic acid is a natural inclusion in a cream. In fact, you can thicken any basic lotion into a cream by adding some stearic acid. We took a look at a hand lotion yesterday. Let's take a look at a cream today.

Actually, let's back up a second. What's the difference between a cream and a lotion? Or an emulsified body butter and moisturizer and creme and... There are no definitions for anything other than a lotion, which is a product that uses an emulsifier to bring together oil and water. You can call a thick, rich cream a facial moisturizer and a thin, sprayable lotion a body butter. There are no definitions for it. We have an idea of what it means when someone says a product is a cream versus a moisturizer, but that isn't necessarily so.

In this case, what I mean by a cream is a product that is quite thick and should be pumped out of a bottle or scooped out of a jar. For this product, I definitely recommend a nice, sturdy pump, not a teeny tiny treatment pump you'd use for a thinner lotion, like a moisturizer.

I'm basing this cream off the recipe you can find as a newbie recipe in this post, but we'll make some modifications. I want to use this as a foot cream, so there are some things I can change to ensure it'll be a nice lotion!

When I'm making a foot cream, I'm thinking greasy and thick. I want something that goes on well and moisturizes even better. I want something that will help my completely trashed heels feel softer and hydrate dry skin. And I don't want to use fancy and expensive oils here. This isn't some frou-frou moisturizer with live plankton and seaweed extract that comes in a 30 ml shiny glass bottle. Nope, this is a thick, buttery cream you can make by the bucketload intended to be slathered on your feet and covered up with your very thickest socks!

My first thought is to include two humectants into the mix to draw water from the atmosphere to my skin. I'll include glycerin at 3% and sodium lactate at 2% to get the most hydration possible. You could use something like hyaluronic acid at 1%, but why would you use something expensive and decadent like that on your feet? You probably don't mind the slight stickiness of glycerin on your feet all that much, and it's a great humectant.

As a note, I once made a foot lotion that was 25% glycerin! I know, right? Sounds insane, but it was totally awesome. I can't share the recipe here as it wasn't my original creation, but I can suggest that you could substitute 25% glycerin for 25% water in this recipe and see what you think. It will make your feet feel quite cold, so be aware of that, and you may even have pruny toes in the morning as it's quite hydrating! 

When I make foot creams, I generally include an oil that contains a lot of Vitamin E, which softens skin, and linoleic acid, which will help speed up skin's barrier repair mechanisms. My first choice is generally soy bean oil because it's got a lot of both, and has a one year shelf life. It's a greasy feeling oil, but do you care that much about greasiness when you've got a lovely pair of socks on? Rice bran oil is another lovely choice, and has a shelf life of about a year. It's less greasy feeling than soy bean oil. I'm actually going with rice bran oil as I'm out of soy bean oil, but either would be lovely here.

When it comes to butters, I can use just about anything here. Cocoa butter is generally my first choice as I always have it in my workshop, plus it's a great barrier protectant, but any butter will do. Shea butter will feel a bit greasier, mango butter less greasy.

We're using stearic acid here to make a thick, tenacious lotion that will go on and stay on for quite some time. You could substitute cetyl alcohol or another fatty alcohol if you wish, but doing that will miss the point of this series!

One thing I love to add to foot lotions is menthol. I use menthol crystals at 3% in the heated water phase, but you could use peppermint essential oil at 1% in the cool down phase. Menthol can make your feet feel cooler and increases circulation, both of which are awesome for foot products.

Sometimes I add up to 1% camphor essential oil and 1% eucalyptus essential oil into the cool down phase to make the product smell like Vick's, but I didn't have any of either, so I left it out. It is a really neat smell and clears your sinuses up something fierce!

54% distilled water
3% glycerin or other humectant of choice
2% sodium lactate
3% menthol crystals

15% rice bran oil
10% cocoa butter
7% Polawax or BTMS-50 (8% e-wax NF)
3% stearic acid

0.5 to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil blend

Please use the basic lotion making instructions for this product. If you want more detailed instructions, click here for the cream making tutorial. As with all my lotion recipes, you can substitute any oil for any oil, any butter for any butter, and any oil with any butter and vice versa. You can substitute 10% aloe vera for 10% distilled water, add a nice water soluble extract, or change the essential oils. It's really up to you!

What did I think of this lotion? I really like it. I do think sometimes I want to leave out the menthol because it's annoying to have to get up and wash my hands of it before going to bed, but I do like the cooling effect it has. It's a very thick cream that still feels like it's on my feet in the morning. I think I'll up the glycerin to 5% next time (removing 2% from the distilled water amount) as I do like the feeling of hydration it offers.

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a hand lotion

Related posts:
Using peppermint in foot care products
Foot lotion becomes foot cream
Body butter becomes foot cream
Creating a foot cream, part one (click "newer post" to get to the other parts)

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at making a solid scrub bar with stearic acid!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a hand lotion

If you've never used stearic acid in a lotion before, this is the lotion recipe I recommend as a great starting point. It's a small variation on the basic lotion you'll find in the newbie section of the blog, but it's a great way to learn what stearic acid brings to your product. As I mentioned yesterday, stearic acid will thicken your lotion more than cetyl alcohol, and it can feel a bit draggy on your skin. I know that doesn't seem like a selling point, but a hand lotion made with stearic acid feels a bit more occlusive and a bit more long-lasting than one without it or with a fatty alcohol.

For a hand lotion, I like to use less greasy oils. I'm normally a greasy lotion girl, but I don't necessarily want to get oily marks on my keyboard or iPhone after using it. (I will get some no matter what because lotions are inherently oily, but I want to reduce that feeling.) I'm using a less greasy feeling oil like hazelnut oil, macadamia nut oil, or evening primrose oil as the oil in this recipe. Fractionated coconut oil is always a great, extra light feeling oil that you could use in this recipe. 

When it comes to butters, my first choice is always mango butter. However, I have a slight addiction to babassu oil these days. It goes on greasy, but turns silky and dry in about 15 seconds. It's a great addition to this hand product! I'll use that in this recipe, but you could use any butter and still make something awesome. 

There's a joke that I'm getting paid off by the Babassu Advisory Council because I talk about it so much. I'm really not! I just love the stuff. It's a lot like coconut oil, but it has a less greasy and silky feeling finish! 

A quick side note: Remember, you can substitute any oil for any oil and any butter for any butter in any recipe on my blog and in the e-books. In fact, you can substitute any oil or butter for any oil or butter in just about every recipe you find! (Click this link from the FAQ to learn more!) When you do that, however, you can end up changing the skin feel, viscosity, colour, and so on. Not the biggest deal in the world, but for this recipe, if you use a more greasy feeling butter or oil, you may get a more greasy feeling product. 

For the emulsifier, you can use Polawax or Incroquat BTMS-50. If you wish to use generic e-wax, you want to increase the amount to 7%. If you want to use Ritamulse SCG, increase the emulsifier to 8% and make sure you don't accidentally go over 25% total oils, butters, stearic acid, essential/fragrance oil, and other oil soluble things as it could ruin the lotion. 

The lotions made with Incroquat BTMS-50 and Ritamulse SCG will be thicker than those made with Polawax. That's just the nature of those emulsifiers! 

Please note, this recipe does not work with BTMS-225, which has an INCI of Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol. Check what you have before you order it from your supplier or use it in this recipe! 

I'm adding glycerin at 3% as a humectant and 0.5% allantoin as a barrier protectant ingredient that can help with cracked, chapped, or wind burned skin. As usual, if you don't have these ingredients, feel free to leave them out and just add 3.5% water to make up the difference. 

I'm adding dimethicone to the cool down phase as I am a little worried there'll be a soaping effect with the product. Again, it's not a huge deal to have that effect and I like dimethicone, so it's win-win! 

66% water
3% glycerin 
0.5% allantoin

13% evening primrose oil 
5% babassu oil 
3% stearic acid
6% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)

2% dimethicone
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

Please use the basic lotion making instructions found in this post. If you want more detailed instructions, please check out this post on beginner lotion making

You can change a lot in this recipe, if you wish. Add some proteins at 2% in the heated water phase. Add a hydrosol or aloe vera at 10% in the heated water phase in place of 10% distilled water. Try 2% beeswax in place of 2% of the oil for a longer lasting lotion. 

What do I think of this lotion? I think it has just the right amount of greasiness and silkiness for my tastes. It's a little thicker than my normal version with cetyl alcohol, but I feel it stays on longer. There was a tiny soaping effect, so I might try 3% dimethicone in the next batch, but I'm really not that worried about it.

Other posts in this series:
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - a hand lotion
One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid - foot cream

Related posts:

Join me tomorrow as we make a thicker cream using stearic acid! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid

Poor stearic acid. It's often overlooked for its glidier, silkier cousin cetyl alcohol, but this fatty acid is an inexpensive way to thicken a lotion, anhydrous body butter, lotion bar, and more.

Stearic acid is a saturated, long chain fatty acid with 18 carbon molecules, which is to say it is a chain of carbons and hydrogens with a carboxyl group (that COOH you see at the end of the chain) at the head. It's called an acid because this carboxyl group is called a carboxylic acid. It's found in most of our oils and butters, and can be found in the human body in our muscles.

It isn't an emulsifier, but it can help to stabilize an emulsion and it's a great thickener for our lotions. It is considered as part of the oil phase in the HLB system - its HLB value is 15.5 - and it has a melting point of 69.6˚C, which is why we must heat and hold our lotions at 70˚C or higher when using stearic acid. (We should do this all the time, but it's especially important when we're using stearic acid or a butter or oil that contains stearic acid!)

Related posts:
Why do we heat & hold our lotions?
Why do we heat & hold anhydrous products?

There is an emulsifier you can make from a combination of stearic acid and triethanolamine (TEA). (As an aside, Lush uses this emulsifier all the time in things like their Dream Cream and Helping Hands lotion.) These combine to make an alkaline soap that emulsifies oil in water. I have never tried this combination before, so I'll refer you to this great article about vanishing creams and how to make this emulsifier!

I know I mentioned this a few paragraphs above, but I think it bears repeating: Stearic acid on its own isn't an emulsifier. When combined with TEA, it creates a type of soap that can emulsify. You can't just use stearic acid as an emulsifier as it will fail. 

You're probably quite familiar with how to use stearic acid in lotions if you've read my blog for any length of time. It's suggested to include it in the heated oil phase at up to 5%, but I like to use it at 2% to 3%. The more you use, the thicker the product will be. You can add it to shampoo and conditioner bars to make it more solid, although cetyl alcohol is probably a better choice as it works in conjunction with the cationic quat compounds to offer more conditioning. Because it is saturated, it is considered resistant to rancidity, so it's got a long shelf life.

Why use stearic acid as a thickener? It's inexpensive and has a long shelf life. You could thicken a lotion with 5% butter, but 3% stearic acid will be more effective and much cheaper than any butter you find.

Why use it instead of cetyl alcohol? It's great for products where you want a lot of thickening, like a foot or elbow cream. It easily changes your body butter into a more tenacious cream. Yeah, it can be more draggy than a fatty alcohol, but do you care about that if it makes your cream stay on longer?

It also offers a slight cooling sensation, which is another reason I use it in my foot creams!

There are a few down sides to using stearic acid. The first is that slight draggy feeling you get when you apply it. I don't really mind it all that much, but some people say they don't like that skin feel.

The other is the potential for the soaping effect. This is when you get that white film on your skin after applying your lotion. You can compensate for this by using dimethicone at 2% to 3% in the cool down phase of the lotion, use less lotion on your skin, or not really worry about it as it's just there for a few minutes, then it goes away!

Related posts:
A few questions about stearic acid

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at how we can use stearic acid in a lotion! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: Are there any oil soluble humectants? A reminder about coconut oil in the summer

Happy Victoria Day, everyone! I'm off today, lying on the couch, and trying not to get upset about last night's Game of Thrones. (And to those of you who might yell "spoilers!" at me. Every episode makes me cry. I have no idea why I keep watching it!!!)

Thanks for all your positive thoughts on me going part time, and thanks for all the great ideas on how I could supplement my income! I really appreciate all the expert advice you have offered, and encourage you to keep it coming! I'm not a business woman - as you can probably tell with all the giving things away for free stuff I do around here - so this is a very unfamiliar place for me. So many of you entrepeneurial types have approached me to offer support and guidance, and I feel so lucky!

Also, thank you for all your kind words on the spammers. Last night, we had only one who posted a few things, then seemed to give up. Woo! We may be winning the fight! I am still moderating comments on posts that are more than 2 weeks old, but if we can make it a week with only a few spammers - we'll never be rid of them, unfortunately - then I can go back to the previous commenting system.

In this post on humectants, SwiftyNoLonger wrote: Are there oil-soluble humectants?

Fabulous question! Hmmm, not that I know of off the top of my head. I know it's been said that olive oil is a humectant, but I haven't found any evidence for that. Lecithin might behave as a humectant, so that might be a choice for an anhydrous thing.

Humectants are hygroscopic because of the hydroxyl groups attached to the chain. This is a glycerin molecule - the hydroxyl groups are the OH groups representing bonded hydrogen and oxygen atoms. You might recognize OH from alcohol - the majority of humectants are poly-alcohols or polyols. The strength of the humectant is dependent upon on the ratio of hydroxyl groups to the carbon atoms. Glycerine has three carbons and three hydroxyl groups - a very nice ratio indeed!

Oils don't have hydroxyl groups or those "OH" groups, so if this is the only way for something to be a humectant, then an oil cannot be a humectant. There may be some molecules within our oils that contain these groups and they might be able to be a humectant, but I haven't found any proof of this yet.

Related posts:
The humectants section of the blog
Glycerin: The science

A quick reminder for everyone as we go into the summer months, neither coconut nor babassu oil works as a good base for a whipped butter, lotion bar, or other thing that could melt at 24˚C or 76˚F. All you have to do is leave that fabulous lip balm in your pocket or in the car, and you'll have a pile of greasy mess before you know it! You can use it in lotions without issue, but anhydrous or non-water containing products that contain it as the main ingredient will end up all over your stuff!

A few relevant posts that might interest you...
Coconut oil? Coconut oil! 
Why don't we use coconut oil in sugar scrubs?
Coconut oil in warmer temperatures

Friday, May 20, 2016

Comment moderation is on for posts older than 14 days....

Update: I have moved to asking everyone to log in with a Google name or Open ID for the time being. As well, any comments on posts older than 14 days will be moderated as that's how the spammer was working. I will allow anything that isn't spam or something mean! 

The spammer, Aiken Barlow - https://plus.google.com/109517290651564887220 - won't stop spamming me. So we're moving to moderation until Google listens to me that this person is a spammer. I have reported each comment as spam and the Google+ page as being owned by a spammer. It still won't stop.

I definitely encourage you to visit Aiken Barlow's Google page to see what he/she is doing. Report them as spammers. Look at this spam on this post and know that I'm dealing with this BS all day and night. 

I have to see all the notifications in my inbox and go through the spam. I'm done for a bit dealing with this. Wondering why I haven't responded to your comment or message? It's probably lost in this endless morass of crap from Aiken Barlow's spam.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Change to commenting abilities - temporary, I hope

Thanks to the spammer who has been running around my blog posting his/her BS all night for the last week, I'm restricting commenting to only those who log in for at least a week or so. I'm sorry to those of you without Google log ins, but I am spending an hour at least wading through the notifications of the spam then more time actually moving the comments to spam every day. (If this experiment works, I may stay with this system. Just a fair warning!) 

I hope to return to the old system, but allowing anonymous comments is really  a massive pain the bum with more problems than not, mostly with spam, but sometimes from the cowards who call me names from the safety of not providing a name. I'll see how it all goes as I know some of the prolific commenters don't sign in and I don't want to make you feel unwelcome, but I'm growing tired of waking up to hundreds of emails every morning from hair care, air conditioning, train, photocopying, and many other companies' ridiculous spam messages. It's all pointless because not a single spam message on this blog will make a penny from being here as they are deleted ASAP, but I have to deal with the carnage every morning. It's like a group of filthy polar bears showed up to your family pool to bathe, sing terrible pop songs from David Hasselhoff's greatest hits package, and fling feces at each other all night, every night, and in the morning, I'm left to clean it up while humming a surprisingly catchy ear worm all day. This extra work leaves me less and less time to write.

If you can't comment and have something to share, email me at sjbarclay@telus.net and offer feedback. We may need to tweak things a bit, but let me get a reprieve from this spam for a few days. 

PS I love those new plastic molds from Voyageur for bath bombs! They worked rather well! Aren't these cute bath bombs? 

Monday, May 16, 2016

A quick post about Leucidal liquid

I can no longer in good conscience recommend Leucidal liquid as a preservative. It is failing challenge testing all over the place, and it appears from this study that the only preserving power it has is thanks to the preservatives put into it. (Please read this study to see more about this...)

I am sure some of you out there are using it and finding that your products aren't going bad. I'm sure there are companies in the same position. But considering how many people are having problems with it - including huge companies like Badger - and considering all the things that could inactivate it - for instance, not getting the pH in just the right range  - I do not feel comfortable in suggesting this for anyone who is making products at home.

If you want to use Leucidal, then have at it. In the end, all I can do is suggest that you do your own reading. I definitely recommend you ddd something to it to make it a broad spectrum preservative, like potassium sorbate. Please remember that my goal here is to offer the best evidence based information I can, and right now, the evidence I'm seeing, hearing, and reading for this one isn't good.

References for further reading:

Making Skincare - do a quick "find" on the page or just scroll down to read more.

Identification of Didecyldimethylammonium Salts and Salicylic Acid as Antimicrobial Compounds in Commercial Fermented Radish Kimchi

Badger sunscreen recall

Anne-Marie of Soap Queen's comment. (Do a find for "Leucidal" to find her comments)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: Is guar gum a good thickener for bath bombs? What's the science behind bath bombs?

Wow! What a lovely outpouring of concern and help I've seen over the last few days. You've made amazing suggestions for how I can supplement my income and re-assured me that things happen for a reason. I totally believe they do, and I'm open to what can happen next. Please keep those ideas and thoughts coming!

The list of things I'd like to write about on the blog gets longer and longer every week, but I need to get to your comments and questions as Weekend and Weekday Wonderings! So let's get started!

In this post on bath bombs, Maria asks: I have a recipe for bath bombs using corn starch, when looking for it I found guar gum which someone said was better but I can't find any reference of it being used in bath bombs. It is a binding agent I can see but not sure how it would work?

I'm seeing a resurgence of interest in making bath bombs, which makes me happy as I love making them! They were the second project I made - the first being bath salts - and the one that lead me to the Dish forum, where I learned how much I loved cosmetic chemistry and lead me on this path as Swiftcraftymonkey! 

I make my bath bombs with four ingredients - baking soda, citric acid, oil, and fragrance oil. I don't use corn starch or cream of tartar or anything like that as I find that a 2:1 ratio of baking soda and citric acid held together with oils works best for me. As you'll notice, I don't use alcohol or witch hazel to keep them together: I prefer oils as they don't set off the fizz early and they offer some moisturizing in the tub. If you wanted, you could put some polysorbate 80 or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil or another solubilizer with the oils to make them emulsify better in the tub. 

Would guar gum be a good binder? No. Because it's a powder that will just behave as any other powder in the citric acid until it was activated with water. We don't want to add water to a bath bomb as it sets off the fizz, so the first time the guar gum should interact with water is when we add it to the tub. And we don't want it holding the bath bomb together in the tub as it should break apart and melt when added to the water.

You might be able to make a slurry of it and add it to a bath bomb, but that will set off the fizz. I honestly can't think of a good way to use guar gum in a bath bomb, but I'd love to hear how it might work if you're using it! 

Why do bath bombs fizz when added to the bath? Do you remember mixing baking soda and vinegar together and watching it fizz? That's called an acid-base reaction and the acid - vinegar - and baking soda - base - combined will release carbon dioxide gas, which is the fizz. When we make bath bombs, we're taking the baking soda (base) and citric acid (acid) and combining them without water. We need that water to start the reaction and make the fizz happen. That's why we want to store bath bombs in plastic wrap or other things to keep out water until we want to use them. 

As an aside, this is why people in really humid places - like southwestern B.C., where I live - might not be able to make bath bombs all year round. The water in the atmosphere can set off the fizz! I know this to be true as it happened to me the third time I made them! 

I was just reading why corn starch is added to the bath bomb. It's to divert any water to that ingredient instead of setting off the reaction in the baking soda and citric acid. It was suggested to use Epsom salts for that purpose as well. I don't know if it works that way, but it certainly is an interesting idea.

If you're curious about the molds, I bought those at Voyageur Soap & Candle a few weeks ago. I think they are 1.75 inch diamter molds. And the vibrant colour of the pink/red one is red lake from Windy Point Soap. I don't work for either of these companies - although I do teach at Voyageur - and receive nothing if you click on the links to look at or buy the products. (I think that's called an affiliate program, and I don't belong to any of those kinds of programs at all.) I'm leaving them in overnight to see how the bath bombs work out. They fell apart after an hour of waiting, and I understand that you're supposed to leave them for 24 to 48 hours, so I'll let you know how they worked later this week. And it's super humid here this week! 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Weekday Wonderings: How to use powdered extracts?

In this post, Creating a toner, Susan asks: To my question, which may seem obvious, but I just want to make sure. When you list a % for a botanical extract, such as chamomile or green tea extract, is that in the powdered form, before it is hydrated? So this recipe for toner would be 0.5% powdered chamomile extract? Just want to make sure as I have made some fails in the past using extracts incorrectly in the recipe when it was not clearly stated. A lovely lotion I made turned ugly when I added green tea extract - the author apparently had used a liquid form. 

Yes. When I add 0.5% powdered chamomile extract, in a 100 gram toner I would add 0.5 grams of powdered chamomile extract to the toner. This is powder straight from the container.

On this blog, I always tell you when I'm using powder or liquid extracts as there are big differences in their usage. If it isn't obvious in the recipe, it should be obvious in my write up about the recipe. For instance, I'll say something like "The reason I'm using liquid green tea extract here is.." or "I prefer using liquid green tea extract because there's no colour..." and so on.

Liquid extracts and powdered extracts generally have very different suggested usage rates. For intance, I have liquid extracts I can use up at up to 10%, whereas I've never seen a powder that was to be used at more than 0.5%. If you used 10% powder, your lotion would be a big, green, mushy mess!

Always check with your supplier for their suggested usage rates. They are the experts on this topic, and they should know what the manufacturer of that powder recommends.

For more information on extracts:
How to use powdered extracts in our products?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A few thoughts for the second Wednesday in May!

Wow! It's been one heck of a month! I wish I were back on Orcas Island eating peach croissants at the Brown Bear Bakery and hanging out with Jen at her lab at Lotioncrafter! (I'll have more stories and recipes from the lab in the next few weeks!)

There have been a lot of changes around the Barclay-Nichols's house lately, the biggest one being that I moved to working part time in my family support worker job as of last week. (I'm in a union position, and someone with more seniority moved into the family support team, which means the lowest girl on the totem pole - that's me with 11 years' seniority - had to move. Rather than leaving the job I love so much, I chose to take a part time position doing the same work!) I'll be working Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday.

This is a huge change personally and financially, and we'll need to take time to figure it all out. I'm not saying it's not a good change, but it's definitely a big one for me. I'm accustomed to working full time, going to school, offering youth programs, teaching classes, and so on, so not working so much is very very weird. Last time I was part time would have been the first year of university. I worked full time and went to school full time from second year onwards.

The good news is that it gives me more time to work on the blog, teach more classes, play in the workshop, and write more e-books. It'll give me time to look after myself by getting back to the gym regularly and having more down time.

The bad news is that I'm losing 1/3 of my pay, and we have to figure out the impact of that when I get my first part time cheque at the end of the month.

I have a few ideas for new things I want to do, but those are still works in progress. If you have any ideas for things you'd like to see - for instance, more videos, live chats, and other things - please comment below!

A few thoughts for the day...

I cannot help you make products for your washing machine or dishwasher. My friend had a beautiful front loading washing machine that broke within two years because she was using the wrong detergent. I don't want to be party to something that could destroy something so expensive!

I cannot help you make sunscreens. I know they're expensive, but there are so many factors that go into making one, then they need to be tested to ensure they work. Trust me, if I could make them, I would as my husband has vitiligo and burns very easily, but we can't do them at home.

I can, however, help you make awesome lotions and other things! If you've never made anything before, please start in the newbies section of the blog. I think that's the best place to find starter recipes and answers to a lot of the questions you might have about making products!

I think that's it for the day! Look for more soon!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Thank you for your patience!

It's been a long few months around here filled with more changes than I account for in one short post. (I will fill you in on all the details soon, I promise!) 

I'm sorry I haven't been able to get to your messages and comments in a timely fashion, and I beg for a bit more of your patience as I try to figure out how to manage my work-life-youth group-blog balance, time, and energy levels. 

Thank you for all your kind thoughts! My back is feeling much better - yay to epidurals and weekly massage therapy - but I woke up today with a horrible cold that has stolen away my voice! 

In the meantime, I encourage you to continue to comment - there are no old ones! - and send me messages. Your input gives me so many ideas for recipes and posts! I really am working on quite a few things that you'll see soon!