Thursday, October 12, 2017

I'm not available for a bit...

I'm taking some time away from the blog to heal from an arm injury that has left me unable to type and to honour the anniversary of my mom's death last year. I will not be available through any medium from October 13th to 16th, so any e-book or e-zine purchases will not be sent via email until October 17th, around 9 am my time.

Please respect my boundaries around this time. I know you may be thinking to yourself, "Who wouldn't respect those boundaries?" How about the person who quit Patreon on the day my mother died and added, "Creator didn't engage with the audience as expected," because I had been taking care of my dying mother for months beforehand and had announced that I might not get the e-zine out in time? (I did get it out in time, but that person still left...)

This week alone I had someone call me at work - a number provided here for youth attending or interested in our programs, which I've removed  - and someone else ask me to call them long distance so I could offer them a free consultation. I know of at least four people who have been sharing the paid materials only available on Patreon in a Facebook group or with non-patrons, and I know at least two paid courses are using my materials and formulas without permission and without paying me. This is on top of so many bloggers, Redditors, and instructors I know who are using my formulas and written materials without crediting me or even thanking me, who are making money from advertising on their blogs or YouTube channels.

I don't know how else to say this and I am tired of writing this over and over again, so I'll just be blunt. I have written 2,900 free posts on this blog. I ask for nothing for providing them, except maybe a little kindness and the odd comment. I don't have advertising here or pop ups that fill the screen. I take no sponsorships. I make exactly nothing from these posts on the blog. I answer emails and comments, and offer you free consultations on a variety of platforms  if you provide me with what I need to help.

I've always said I'll write the blog as long as it's fun, and the only way I will continue to enjoy it is to set some pretty strict boundaries and maintain them. (My dad always said it only takes one bugger to spoil it for everyone, and I've encountered quite a surprising number of them this year. Such a sad thing to say...)  How can you help me do that?

If you find any of what I offer of value, please respect me as a human being and not ask for more from me than I'm able to give. When you can't respect my boundaries, you stop treating me as a person and start treating me as an object, as a means to an end, as an extra in your movie. Don't use my work as a way to make money for yourself. Don't slam me in Facebook groups, then ask me so sweetly for help or pretend you didn't say it. (You want to challenge something I've written? Do it in public in a kind way and assume it could be a great learning opportunity for both of us. From the number of you who love to say I'm wrong by noting the times I've admitted I'm wrong, you know I'm open to the idea of not being right as that's the only way we learn!)

Offer feedback on my formulas and write ups, share your happy stories and pictures with me. Let me know you're out there. Say "hi" to me at conferences and let's share a moment of joy over something we love! Greet me by name in messages and share yours. And respect that when I say I can't do something, that isn't a challenge to find a way around my "no".

And, if you can afford as little as $1 a month, consider supporting me on Patreon so I can continue to afford to offer this blog for free, and support other people whose work you like by buying their music or books, subscribing to their Patreon pages, and so on.

If you can't afford it, I completely get that. Contribute to this or any community by offering your thoughts, feedback, criticisms, and yourself to make it an even better community! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: How much preservative to use in an emulsified scrub?

In this post, Using black cocoa butter in emulsified scrubs, Vintage Blue asked: If I'm reading this right the preservative goes into the mix before I add the sugar. So I only calculate the preservative based on the weight of the oil mix not the oil and sugar? Wouldn't i be short on preservative if preservative weight is calculated on the final weight of the product? I just want to make sure that my product is well preserved before giving it as gifts to friends.

I'm so happy you want to preserve your scrubs! When I first starting writing this blog, every time I wrote about emulsified scrubs I'd have people not wanting to preserve them, so it makes my heart so happy to see how times have changed!

When I make emulsified scrubs, I tend to use 1% Phenonip, a broad spectrum preservative with a suggested usage rate of 0.25% to 1% in our products. In the end, every 100 gram batch of my sugar scrub base eventually becomes around 240 grams of emulsified scrub as I love to add loads of sugar. This means that I'm using about 0.42% preservative, which is well within the suggested usage rate!

In the formula below, there aren't any serious botanical ingredients that could cause problems down the road, like powdered extracts, aloe vera, or clay, so using 0.42% will work well. If you wanted to add more to the product just to be on the safe side, total up your base plus your sugar or salt, then add 1% of that. So for 240 grams of my favourite scrub, I'd add 2.4 grams total.

10% emulsifying wax (e-wax, Polawax, or BTMS)
10% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid (5% cetyl and 5% stearic is very nice)
20% cocoa butter
56% oil - I'm using soy bean oil here
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
1% Phenonip

Check out the post on this topic on how to make it! 

Related posts:
Water activity with sugar or salt scrubs
Debate: What kind of preservative should we be using with scrubs?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Stuff I thought was interesting in your comments...

In this post, Newbie equipment, Chinny asked: What are the cup-like things in the second picture? I guess they are heat proof?

They are! These are tri-corner beakers from Lotioncrafter*. I love them! They are great for heat or just mixing or looking awesome on my workshop bench. I have quite a few sizes - 250 ml, 400 ml, and 800 ml - as these are the sizes in which I tend to make things. (I just realized they have 50 and 100 ml versions, which I must own now!!!)

Are you curious about what's in the container? I've been experimenting with Siligel, a natural gelling agent that can handle loads of electrolytes. This is my magnesium chloride or "magnesium oil" gel, which I'll be sharing with you soon!

What's Siligel? I'll point you over to Lotioncrafter* or Formulator Sample Shop* to learn more about it now. I'll have a write up about it next week! Woo! In an unrelated bit of information, did you know that $10 subscribers to my blog on Patreon get a 5% off coupon for Lotioncrafter? That could come in handy if you're buying things there. Just saying...

In this post, Is emulsifying wax part of the oil phase?, Kirsten suggested: For beginners it might be good for you to clarify why cetyl alcohol is part of the "oils". I know when I was starting, that was very confusing as it does not appear to be an oil. 

Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol and is oil soluble, as is behenyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol. Anything that is oil soluble and needs to be emulsified in a lotion is considered part of the oil phase. This includes things you might find in the cool down phase, like Vitamin E, fragrance oils, and so on.

Anything that's oil soluble is part of the "oil phase" when we're calculating how much emulsifier to use, regardless of where we find it in the lotion making process.

It is not an emulsifier - it is something that has to be emulsified by the emulsifier in a lotion. It may help stabilize an emulsion - we see that with Simulgreen 18-2 - but it doesn't emulsify things. It may be used as a booster with conditioning compounds like Incroquat BTMS-50, but it isn't a conditioner on its own. In this same post, Debbie suggested we think of it as a thickener and emollient, and that's a great way to describe this ingredient!

Learn your INCI names if you're ordering ingredients! This is the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients names and it should be readily available when you buy an ingredient!
More on this topic
Still more on this topic

Just a few thoughts as I work my way through the comments!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Why did I buy that again? Siligel

This is a neat new gelling agent that's considered green, eco-friendly, and natural. Siligel (INCI: Xanthan Gum (and) Lecithin (and) Sclerotium Gum (and) Pullulan) can create gels, be used as a stabilizer in emulsions, suspend things like exfoliants in gels, and enhance skin feel. (They say it may be a substitute for silicones.)

It comes as a water soluble beige powder that we use anywhere from 0.3% to 2% depending upon the application. It has a 12 month shelf life, and it's hygroscopic, meaning it can draw water to itself so keep it well sealed with a few silica packages for good measure.

It can tolerate quite a lot of electrolytes at up to 20% - you'll see this shortly as I used it with magnesium chloride - as well as up to 15% alcohol. You can use it in facial products in which you might want to add hyaluronic acid, AHAs like glycolic acid, or salicylic acid as it can handle a huge pH range of 2 to 10. It can handle up to 2% oils, but it's not a great emulsifier.

The down side is that it can't really be used with more anionic surfactants (negatively charged) or amphoteric surfactants (like cocamidopropyl betaine) at more than 5% active matter or cationic ingredients, like Incroquat BTMS-50 or a cationic polymer, like Honeyquat or polyquat 7. It can be used with decyl glucoside and other non-ionic surfactants, like polysorbate 20 or 80 and caprylyl/capryl glucoside. (Remember to alter the pH there!)

It can take up to 24 hours to reach its final viscosity, so don't worry too much if you're finished working with it and it's still quite thin. The recommendation is to use high shear mixing - so using an immersion blender, stick blender, or one of these adorable mixers I have from Lotioncrafter or Candora Soap (Ontario) - rather than a hand mixer. (Click here for even more information on mixing with high shear.)

I'll be writing more about my new mixing toys shortly. I've been so busy with so many things that everything will be written "shortly". Sorry for over-using that term! 

I found I had to mix for around 10 minutes with the projects you'll see soon. With surfactants, you'll want to mix everything and add the foaming, lathery things at the end as you'll end up with a frothy mess!

Lotioncrafter* very kindly sent me a sample to play with, and I've been having great fun with it, as you'll see in the next few days. 

A few thoughts on how to work with and melt SCI and how to create a double boiler

Hi everyone! I'm up to mid-September in the comments, and I continue to work through them. Thanks for your patience. 

A few thoughts: Why does everyone think it's so hard to melt sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI)? If you pick the right version and couple it with the right surfactant - disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine (more about that one soon...), sodium methyl cocoyl or oleoyl taurate, sodium cocoyl glutamate (more on that soon, or read about it now in my new e-zine) and others, which you can read about in the link for SCI.

Make up a double boiler - I use a fondue pot, but you can use a pot on the stove - and get the water boiling. Use as much water as you can without having it spill over the sides when you add the SCI container.

Reduce the heat so it's not splashing into the container, add your SCI and other surfactant ONLY in a glass container, and heat until melted. If you're using prills, it should only take 5 to 10 minutes at the most. If you're using noodles, it might take longer. If you're using powder, it isn't necessary to heat it at all!

What you see in this picture is the powdered SCI we used to make shampoo bars at Windy Point Soap in Calgary last weekend. We made these without heat as they dissolve nicely in room temperature surfactants. This version was done with C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40) and SLSa, and they turned out pretty wonderfully!

I've made shampoo and bubble bath bars with this powdered SCI on my own, in classes in Calgary, and with youth at our groups, and every time they turned out awesome!

When they are solid and have a day to cure, I can drop them from waist height!

What can you do if you don't have the powdered kind and have to heat it? 

Make a powdered version by putting your SCI in a coffee grinder.

Ensure you're using a surfactant that helps it melt well. See the list above and in the linked post about SCI above.

Melt only the SCI and the surfactant that helps it melt well in the container. More ingredients means more things to melt or heat, and it won't be all about melting the SCI.

Use loads of hot water in your double boiler. The higher up the sides you can get it, the better, as the part that isn't touching water will end up cooling down to the ambient temperature. You don't want the water to be roiling so it gets into your container, but you can have it quite hot. I generally have mine on 300˚F setting on my electric fondue pot's control dial.

Have fun formulating!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Question from Patreon: How does a mud cleanser clean your skin without surfactants?

In September Q&A for Patreon, Jaime asked: How on does May Lindstrom's Honey Mud cleanse your skin without a surfactant? Ingredients: Raw Honey w/Bee Pollen & Propolis, White Clay, Macadamia Nut Oil, Witch Hazel, Collodial Silver, Cocoa Absolute Oil, Sweet Orange EO, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla Co2, Cedarwood, Frankincense, & Myrrh EO

I'm going off on a tangent for a minute, then I'll come back to your question, I promise!

You remember how surfactants work, right? (If not, please click here.) Surfactants are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of liquids and lower the interfacial tension between liquids - in other words, they emulsify. In a shampoo, foamy facial cleanser, body wash, and so on, we use anionic surfactants to create a lathery, bubbly creation. In lotions, we use non-ionic surfactants in the form of emulsifying waxes to create an emulsion. In conditioners, we use cationic surfactants to condition, but they also create emulsifications - ever use Incroquat BTMS-50 as an emulsifier or use a conditioner only to cleanse your hair - which will remove the dirt and soil from your hair.

So lotions, conditioners, and anything that contains a surfactant will cleanse your skin. (This is how cream cleansers work.)

What does it mean for our skin to be clean? It means we remove sebum, bits of skin, dust and pollution, make-up, Buffalo wing sauce, custard, and everything else that ends up on our face at the end of the day.

Someone with dry skin may have a different definition of what "clean" means than someone with normal or oily or acne prone skin.

Which leads me - finally - to the answer, which is...There are a few ingredients here that might make certain skin types feel cleaner.

Clay absorbs oil from our skin, while citrus essential oils help with degreasing. The macadamia nut oil might offer some cleansing as per the oil cleansing method, while the witch hazel might act as an astringent. I don't know what the honey brings to the mix - maybe it acts as a lovely humectant?- and I am concerned that I don't see a broad spectrum preservative here when it contains water-soluble ingredients. (You had a question about colloidal silver, which I'll be addressing soon, I promise! I think they're using it here as a preservative.)

As a note, honey only preserves itself. Once we dilute it with all kinds of liquids, it doesn't work that way any more. 

As someone with oily, acne and rosacea prone skin, I don't think my skin would feel clean - which is to say, the sebum is removed and all that other stuff is removed - using a product like this. Someone with less oily skin might find it a godsend.

If you're interested in learning more about what my Patreon subscription feed offers, please click here! This question came from the September Q&A for Patreon! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My new e-zine is available - Shiny Things, volume 1: Ingredients that distracted me

I'm super excited to share my new e-zine, Shiny Things, volume 1: Ingredients that distracted me. In this month's e-zine, chock full of new ingredients like pear seed oil, cupuacu butter, coffee butter, Neossance Hemisqualane, Varisoft EQ65, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, and lauryl glucoside.

As a bonus, when I send it to you, you'll receive a coupon for 10% pear seed oil at the Formulator Sample Shop! Woo!

Take a look at the table of contents to see what's inside!

Buy now for $13.00

The e-zines you'll see here on the blog and linked permanently in the e-zines and e-books section of the blog are issued to my $10 Patreon subscribers every month. For the rest of the year, those subscribers also receive a 5% discount from LotioncrafterWoo!

If you're interested in my Patreon account where you can see all kinds of exclusive information, including the e-zine and a duplicated formula every month, please visit it now!

If you're curious about which duplications I've done so far, please click here for the list! 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Happy National Coffee Day! Celebrate with a whipped vanilla latte coffee butter!

Let's get formulating with coffee butter! We met this interesting ingredient yesterday, and I think we can make some luxurious whipped butters good enough to drink!

Amanda and I wanted to make something that would allow the less greasy, moisturizing feeling of the coffee butter to shine. Here's what we formulated!

10% cocoa butter

70% coffee butter
19.5% rice bran oil 
0.5% fragrance oil 

Weigh the cocoa butter in a heatproof container. Heat the cocoa butter to just melted in the microwave - try 30 seconds to start, mix, then 10 seconds at a time until it looks like apple juice - or put it in a double boiler until just melted. 

Add the coffee butter, oil, and fragrance oil. You can start whipping it now with a whisk attachment or put it in the fridge for a few minutes to get a bit harder, then start whipping. I generally hope I can increase the volume by about 50% to make it lovely and whippy. If you make 100 grams of this formula above, you'd be looking for about 130 ml to 140 ml as the final amount. 

I like to put mine in a piping bag with a 1M tip to make it look like frosting. Package in jars - I'm using clear, low profile, 60 ml or 2 ounce jars here - and add a little label to it. You're done! Rejoice! 

As my husband says, everything in our house looks like cupcakes and smells like cupcakes, but nothing tastes like cupcakes. Now everything in the house looks like coffee! (Check out this post on fizzing bath cupcakes, this one on making cupcake shaped cards, this one on making cupcake shaped melt & pour, and this one on making things with cupcake fabric. See, I'm in love with cupcakes!)

Coffee butter is quite soft, so I added some cocoa butter - crude cocoa butter* to get all that chocolately smell - to stiffen it up. You could use mango butter, which might stiffen it up and offer a more powdery skin feel, or shea butter, which won't stiffen it up a lot and will offer a greasier skin feel. 

Which liquid oil should I add? Any liquid oil would be suitable, but I wanted something that would offer a nice balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid to offer some lovely skin softening and moisturizing properties and help speed up skin's barrier repair mechanisms. So I chose rice bran oil at 19%. If you wanted to go with a theme, you could use hazelnut oil and make a chocolate hazelnut mocha! 

Remember, you can switch any liquid oil for another liquid oil or the cocoa butter for any other butter. You may alter the skin feel and viscosity, but you won't ruin the product. 

I'm not using a preservative in this product as it doesn't contain water and won't be exposed to water. You could add an anti-oxidant, like Vitamin E, to retard the rancidity of the oils, but this version should have a 1 year shelf life. 

Which fragrance oil did we use? Considering we were playing at Windy Point Soap - a place I consider adult Disneyland and a ball pit rolled into one awesome place - we had our pick of them! 

You can leave this unscented and bask in the joy that is the chocolate mocha, or you can add a titch of something to create the kind thing you'd find at your local coffee shop! 

Since I know nothing about coffee, I turned to my two Starbuck's experts, Emrys and Kim, for ideas for fragrance combinations. This is what they suggested...

Vanilla latte: We added 0.5% vanilla fragrance oil to the product. I left it with the slightly creamy colour. 

Chocolate mocha: You could leave it with the lovely cocoa butter fragrance or kick it up a titch by adding 0.3% chocolate fragrance oil. Add a sprinkle of mica - we used gingerbread mica - and mix until you like the colour. 

If you wanted to be slightly naughty, consider adding a chocolate flavour oil or, my favourite, chocolate lava cake flavour oil. All the ingredients in this butter are edible. Just saying...

Hazelnut cappuccino: We used 0.5% hazelnut cappucino fragrance oil, and a titch of the gingerbread mica in half or 3/4 the amount of butter. Leave some as the creamy colour for the whipped topping. 

Pumpkin spice latte: We used 0.5% pumpkin patch fragrance oil to make this a 
We used gingerbread mica to get the lovely brown colour, but left a bit uncoloured for the creamy top. 

One of Kim's favourites is caramel macchiato, which we could have made using this creamy caramel flavour oil, but I didn't see it when we were making things, so I didn't try it. You could add a titch of a lighter mica for this one - maybe start with a dark yellow mica and add a bit of gingerbread mica until you get that creamy, light brown colour - and leave the top uncoloured. 

Go nuts trying different fragrance or essential oils. Start at 0.3% and work your way up from there as we don't want to mask the coffee butter fragrance. (If you're using a flavour oil, you may need to use more, but start at 0.3% with those, too.) 

Here's the funny thing: I'm not a coffee person. Seriously not a coffee person. I avoid going into Tim Horton's because of the coffee smell. But I like this butter, especially when we add a titch of another fragrance. I find the coffee adds a bottom note, like a deeper vanilla, that I really like. 

Please note, this is not a sponsored post or an ad. None of my links are affiliate links, and I receive nothing if you click through. I'm posting this because we had a blast making things at Windy Point Soap, and I really like the owners and staff there. 

Related posts:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Check out my classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle in October!

I can't believe I haven't posted about the classes at I'm teaching at Voyageur Soap & Candle in Surrey, B.C., starting on Monday!

We'll have more classes scheduled soon! Watch this space! 

Monday, October 2nd: Full day class of lotion making (with e-book)

Saturday, October 7th, morning: Solid bubble bath (like these adorable ice cream scoops) and bath truffles

Saturday, October 7th, afternoon: Bath bombs & bath salts

Friday, October 20th: Full day class, facial products (with e-book)

Saturday, October 21st, morning: Pedicure class - fizzing foot salts, lotion bars, and foot scrubs

Saturday, October 21st, afternoon: Whipped butters! (Doesn't the yellow of the sea buckthorn oil look awesome here?)

Friday, October 27th: Full day class, eco skin care, which is all about using green and biodegrable ingredients

Holy cow! So many cool things to learn, eh? I'm super excited! I have to take the summer off as the Voyageur store gets so warm, we can't really do much without wanting to pass out, and it feels like that was ages ago!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for classes! Woo!

Happy National Coffee Day! Celebrate with coffee butter!

I admit it: I don't like coffee. My parents were very British, and we were a family of tea drinkers, so I didn't get much exposure to coffee until my first day of university when I was surrounded by at least 300 people all sipping their morning brew, the smell of which was completely overwhelming.

But I'm starting to fall in love with this ingredient...

When I was at Windy Point Soap in Calgary last week, I had a chance to play more with this ingredient - INCI: Hydrogenated soy oil (and) Coffee arabica seed oil (and) Tocopherol - and I'm really enjoying working with it! Out of the jar it has a very rich coffee fragrance thanks to the coffee seed oil. It feels slightly silky and almost dry when used neat on the skin, and it's a great addition to a lotion or body butter thanks to this quality.

This isn't a butter in the sense that cocoa butter or mango butter would be - it's a butter created by hydrogenating soy bean oil to make it thicker. When an oil is hydrogenated, it's saturated, meaning there are no double bonds, only single ones. Single bonded fatty acids lay down flat, so they can pack more closely together, and they can create a thicker product like butter. (This is why we see hydrogenated vegetable oils in things like margarine.)

So the fatty acids we see most in soy bean oil - oleic acid, with one double bond and linoleic acid, with two double bonds - are hydrogenated by adding an oxygen, making them straighter, like stearic acid, so they become thicker and have a longer shelf life.

Check out this post for more information on this process! 

This hydrogenation means we can have butters like green tea butter, avocado butter, or coffee butter, ingredients that would normally be quite liquid.

As an aside, we can use Lipidthix™to make some butters at home. (This ingredient has an INCI of hydrogenated vegetable oil.) Check out part one here, then part two here

How can we use coffee butter? You can use it as you would any other butter in anhydrous products like whipped butters or emulsified products like lotions, body butters, or creams. It's great in an emulsified scrub in the shower, too.

I don't recommend it as the only butter in something like a lotion bar as it's a little on the softer side, and it doesn't offer the structure to a solid product that we really want. You could use it as the liquid part of a lotion bar, though, and it would smell amazing.

Should we take a few days to look at this interesting and fragrant oil? Let's start tomorrow with a whipped butter!

I've just written a few pages in my newest e-zine along with an emulsified vanilla latte body butter, which is available to $10 subcribers on Patreon this month. Click here to learn more about the e-zine!

Check out this coffee butter over at Windy Point Soap!

Please note, I'm not receiving any kind of compensation by sharing this ingredient with you. I'm sharing it as I absolutely love Windy Point Soap and had the joy of staying with Michele & Keith for almost a week while I taught classes there. This is not an ad or sponsored content. Just wanted you to know that! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We're home!

Oh my gosh, did we have fun at Windy Point Soap in Calgary! The classes were so much fun - we had a blast playing with new ingredients like  coffee butter, carrot seed extract, PEG 6 caprylic/capric triglycerides (awesome for micellar water), and foaming silk - and it was an absolute joy to meet so many of you who follow the blog and support us on Patreon.

I'll be back again, and I'd love to hear what you'd like to learn. (I'm sorry we could only offer one facial products class as it sold out quite quickly. We'll have at least two next time.) If we're looking at something early in 2018, what dates work best for you? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Michele and Keith were lovely to host us at their home, and Sasja had a great time playing with her cousins, Macy and Bailey. A huge thank you to Michele's daughter, Megan for caring for Sasja when we went out for dinner. (Sasja adores Megan!)

I had a blast making pressed eye shadows with Amanda. After a few more weeks of testing, we'll be ready to share our experiences and formulas with you! (Check out the little pressing kits on Windy Point. Here's the silver one!) We've been creating some visual tutorials for this project and a few others you'll see here and on Windy Point Soap's blog and formulary.

We're not trying to be mean by not sharing the formula yet. We have to test things for a while to ensure they work well, like testing them in a more humid climate or with glitter. I promise we'll have something shortly! 

Since we drove around 1,000 km yesterday, it's a resting day for us at home before we dive back into life on Thursday!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Join me on social media while we're travelling

Hi everyone! I'm off to Windy Point Soap in Calgary to teach some classes, and posting here can be difficult as the Blogger app crashes constantly and I can't post pictures when I use it in Safari on mobile.

I'll be able to send out your e-book and e-zine purchases when I get notification as we should have cell coverage for most of the trip. It might not be immediate, but it shouldn't be more than a few hours  (except when I'm sleeping or teaching).

In the meantime...

follow me on Twitter @SwiftCraftyM

follow me on Instagram @swiftcraftymonkey

or check out my SwiftCraftyMonkey Facebook page.

Wow, I never go anywhere, and this year we're travelling every other month or so! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Woo! Check out the schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle!

The class schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle is up for anyone who wants to take classes with me in Surrey, B.C. in October.

We'll be doing the day long classes of lotion making, facial care products, and eco skin care, as well as a few new half day classes, like those to make these adorable foaming bubble bath ice cream scoops. (This one is vanilla mint from Voyageur, and it smells as lovely as it looks!) many announcements this week, eh?

I'm teaching at Windy Point Soap in Calgary this weekend!

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
For those who are new to making a lotion, the first half hour of the class will cover basic lotion making concepts.  From there, the class will learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. (The class will be customized to the particular interests of the participants.)

For more information, visit Windy Point Soap to learn more about the classes!

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A few thoughts for the day on Honeyquat, alcohol, and solubilizers

For a while there, it seemed like honeyquat smelled like dead plastic fish and I couldn't use it in anything, even things that had loads of fragrance in it. I'm happy to report that the version I have from Lotioncrafter smells like...well, nothing, which is a good thing.

When it comes to using alcohol in our products, they are not all the same. Look at this comparison between the denatured alcohol I get from Voyageur Soap & Candle and 40% vodka I bought at the liquor store. On the left we have the denatured alcohol, which has very easily dissolved 6% salicylic acid, whereas 6% has barely dissolved in the vodka. 

Salicylic acid is soluble at about 14% in pure ethanol and 0.5% in 20% alcohol. So at 40% alcohol in the vodka, we can dissolve about 1% salicylic acid. In the denatured stuff I bought - 85.5% Ethyl Alcohol, 13.7% Methanol, 0.85% Ethyl Acetate - I can easily get 6% or more. 

If you see a body wash, facial cleanser, or shampoo formula that contains surfactants - the foamy, bubbly, lathery kind - and they suggest adding a solubilizer like polysorbate 20 or caprylyl/capryl glucoside with your fragrance or essential oil, you can leave it out. Surfactants are good emulsifiers of oils, and 1% will be easily incorporated. You can leave it in, too, but solublizers can suppress foam and lather. 

Please also note that you can't use solubilizers to incorporate small amounts of water into oil. They can incorporate small amounts of oil into water, not the other way around. Our solubilizers are what are called high HLB emulsifiers, and they are water soluble. You can't use them to incorporate a bit of oil into a lotion bar, for instance. 

What does this mean? It means that I can use polysorbate 20 or 80, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil - to name a few - to incorporate a bit of oil into a product - say 3% oil into a toner - but I can't use it to incorporate water into something oily. I can't use it to get some glycerin into a lip balm or honey into a whipped butter. 

Just a few thoughts for the day...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Wondering: What is the "dump and heat" method for creating lotions?

In the September Q&A on Patreon, Allison asked: I recently read an article on the blog for Majestic Mountain Sage where they advocate what they refer to as a "dump and heat" method for creating lotions, creams, or conditioners.  I have read quite a bit about creating emulsions and have never seen any instructions that suggest all ingredients can be dumped together and put in the microwave!  An author of the blog suggests that dumping ingredients together creates more stable emulsions, and that also, should one choose to formulate with phases, that emulsifiers belong in the heated water phase.  This goes against anything I have read, and I'm wondering...have you heard of "dumping and heating" and is there even any science to support this method?  Thank you!  

There are a few things to unpack in this question, so bear with me as I go through it concept by concept.

It seems they are only looking at the idea of emulsifying wax, which is one specific product they carry with an INCI of Cetearyl alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20. This wouldn't apply to any other emulsifier unless indicated in the data bulletin that this is the best way to use it. As it is, this method isn't advised for emulsifying wax.

I'm not sure why they're saying this should go into the water phase as we should "Treat it like the other water soluble items in your mixture." Emulsifying wax isn't water soluble - it has a hydrophilic or water loving head and a hydrophobic or water hating tail, which is how it works as an emulsifier. It connects to water at one end, oil at the other, and it creates these lovely micelles that hold the oil in little bubbles floating around in the water. I honestly I have no idea why they would suggest this. I have seen it suggested for some emulsifiers - I just wrote about adding stearamidopropyl dimethylamine to the water phase as it's more water soluble at the higher pH at which it normally exists - but never for emulsifying wax or Polawax.

Now the second part of this - why do we heat and hold the phases separately?

For an emulsification to work, we need three things - heat, mixing, and chemistry in the form of the emulsifier.

We need to use the right all-in-one emulsifier for our product - for instance, we can't use Ritamulse SCG for something with a larger than 25% oil phase - and we need to use the right amount.

We have to heat our ingredients up to the right temperature. For Polawax, it's suggested we heat to 70˚C, while the new conditioner I'm using Varisoft EQ65 wants to be heated to 75˚C. It's all about getting all the ingredients melted properly. Something like stearic acid has a melting point of 69˚C, so we heat our products to above that to ensure it'll be completely liquid.

I have to stop here and beg you not to use a microwave to heat up your ingredients for a number of reasons. One, we use a double boiler because it heats our ingredients slowly so they won't burn. Two, because the oil phase in a microwave can heat up super quickly and burn you. To your left, exhibit A. This container was in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds for the last burst, and this happened. This could have seriously burned quite a few of us as we gathered around the table.

We heat and hold separately because we're trying to make it easier for the ingredients to come together. The best way I heard it described is like this: Oil and water don't want to mix, and we're forcing them to come together by heating and mixing and using an emulsifier. If we heat and hold all the ingredients together, our emulsifier is trying to create an emulsion at lower temperatures as everything heats up, which means it has to work pretty hard to create an emulsion that's kinda weak and inefficient. You're also asking the other things that we need for a lotion - the mixing and the chemistry - to do more far more work, and this can lead to fails.

You may have to add more emulsifier than necessary or you might have to mix longer to get that lotion to stay together. By keeping them separate and mixing them together when they reach their suggested heating point of - for instance - 70˚C, we're creating the ideal circumstance in which an emulsion can happen, which means awesome lotions!

Why heat? Chemical reactions generally speed up when heated. (Think of how much easier it is to get sugar to melt in a hot cup of tea versus a cup of ice water.)

Chemical reactions also require a certain amount of energy to happen, and in the case of a lotion, the energy is the heat that's applied. Think of something like deep frying chips in a pan. If we heat the oil to 200˚F and add the potatoes, nothing happens. If we heat it to 350˚F, we get lovely crisp chips. I know lotion making isn't like making chips, but the concept is the same: If we wait until the optimal moment to combine our ingredients, we get a better result.

There's also the theory of phase inversion, which is all about the getting the temperature to a certain point so the emulsifiers create a water-in-oil lotion first, then cool down to make an oil-in-water lotion, which makes the lotion more stable. (I'll refer you to the post for more information there.)

Related post: Why do we heat and hold separately?

So the short answer is that yes, I have heard of this technique, it's not advised as it can lead to using more emulsifier than you need and unstable lotions. I know some people have had great successes with it, but it's not something I'd recommend when making a lotion in two phases is barely more work than this method.

I have to add one more thing. The author of the linked post states, "Almost each time I hear of someone having trouble with lotions I find they use the phases method for heating and mixing." Again, I'm baffled. I would argue that at least 50% of the lotion fails I hear about are those in which there was no heating and holding.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Does "safe for colour treated hair" mean anything?

In September's Q&A on Patreon, Doris asked: Does "safe for color-treated hair" on shampoos have any real meaning?  Are there any common surfactants or other ingredients we might use that would not be safe for color-treated hair?  I assume by "safe" they mean the ingredients are less likely to fade or change the color (or maybe it's just an advertising gimmick), but I'm planning to ask some friends to try out my shampoo and conditioner and don't know what to say if they ask about this. 

The short answer is that if you formulate mild shampoos with gentle to mild surfactants and ensure the pH is below 6, you can be assured your product is colour safe.

Almost all the surfactants we use in our products are considered gentle to mild. Some of my favourites - sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI), which I use for shampoo bars to create big, fluffy, "elegant" foam and lather; C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40), which is great for oily skin and hair; SMC taurate, which is great for dry to normal hair and skin; and foaming silk, oat, amaranth, and other proteins, which are super mild and great for really dry hair or any skin type.

Sodium lauryl sulfate isn't considered mild, so if you're looking to make something colour safe, this is the one to avoid. Some people avoid sodium laureth sulfate, but it's considered mild, and is good for all hair and skin types.

Choosing the right surfactants is vital, but there are two other things to consider - incorporating mildness and ensuring the product has the right pH.

One of the reasons you'll always see a amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, or disodium cocoamphodiacetate in my products is that they bring mildness to the product. I generally add around 10% to thicken and increase mildness. (I leave it out when I want to make a clarifying shampoo for my really oily hair.)

Ensuring the shampoo or conditioner has the right pH is vital. An alkaline product with a pH of 8 or higher can lead to some serious damage as the cuticle won't lay flat, and this leads to dull looking hair that tangles easily. When hair tangles too much, it can strip the cuticle from the hair, leaving it weak.

This is the reason that most people can't use CP soap as a shampoo as the alkaline pH can really damage our hair. 

We want a pH of 6 or lower, and, as you'll see with the new conditioners I'm using like stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and Varisoft EQ65, we have to alter the pH to make sure they are positively charged and conditioning to our hair. If you're using something like decyl glucoside, which can have a pH as high as 11, or sodium lauryl sarcosinate, you have to ensure your pH gets down below 6 by adding citric acid or another acid to the mix.

I have been playing with at least 10 new surfactants and quite a number of new conditioners, which I'll be sharing with you soon. I'm so excited about this!!! 

Related posts:
pH of shampoo
pH of conditioner
Adjusting the pH of our products

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Comment catchup: Spectrastat G2 and bath bombs

In this post on Spectrastat G2, Ally D shared, So far I have had success with this in my shampoos. However, at 1% usage (recommended usage is 1-1.2%) it curdled my lotion emulsion! I was very disappointed to say the least. I may try to pre-mix it with a bit of the emulsion and then add it in that way to see if it helps.

I'm sorry you've had this experience. I know very little about this preservative beyond reading about it - I have a sample, and I will be trying it out shortly - but I'll post what I can about it as I find out more.

As a note, Lotioncrafter is now carrying this preservative as Caprylhydroxamic Acid GCG™.

In this post, Is guar gum a good thickener for bath bombs?, Elyse asks: I want to make bath bombs but instead of oil I want to use a surfactant like coco glucoside. Considering coco glucoside is about 50% water will I need to preserve the bath bombs? 

Surfactants contain water, which will set off the fizz in your bath bombs, so be cautious about adding a liquid like this to your mixture. Check out more about this topic in this recent post.

In this post on bath bombs, Amy said: Soo.. has anyone ever had theirs explode in a glass container? I've heard of this happening to multiple people.

Dear God, no! It sounds like something set off the fizz early and the container was too tight, so the gases couldn't escape and it blew off. Please please please don't store anything in glass containers, especially if you're in a bathroom. Naked people and bare feet plus glass equals awfulness!

I'm still working my way through the comments. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Experiments in the workshop: Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine conditioner test

When I find a new ingredient, I do a search of all the materials on my computer or iPad, then I look for prototype formulas to give me an idea of what I can do with this thing. In this case, I was looking for more information about stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, a conditioner we met yesterday.

I found this formula - Shiny locks intensive conditioner - so I tried it with a few small changes. I find it wise to make the first batch as close to or completely as written as this will give me a sense of what success should look like. If I go messing with it before I've even tried it, then I'll never know when it's right.

84.5% distilled water
2% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
0.3% citric acid
0.5% panthenol (powder)
3% cetrimonium chloride

7% cetearyl alcohol
2% cyclomethicone
0.2% dimethicone

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (I used guava fig from Windy Point Soap*)

1. Heat heated water phase to 65˚C.
2. Heat oil phase to 65˚C.
3. Add the oil phase to the water phase using a high shear mixer, like an immersion blender. I used the MiniPro Mixer from Lotioncrafter* for the small batch, but used my Braun stick blender for larger batches.
4. Cool to 40˚C and add the cool down phase with high shear mixing.

This is a fairly weird looking product so far. Look how clear and foamy it is! It will eventually cool down to become an opaque and thicker product by the next day.

Don't forget to always test and adjust the pH. In the case of this formula, the pH was around 7. (I say around 7 at this point as my pH meter wasn't working, so I had to rely on pH strips.)

When I fixed up my meter and bought a new one, it registered pH 6.89 in a 10% solution in distilled water. It has to get down to 4.5 to 5 to actually be a conditioner, so I started adding drops of a 50/50 solution of citric acid and distilled water.

To make this, measure out 50% distilled water and add 50% citric acid. Store it in a plastic bottle of some sort. Mine has a disc cap so I can add it drop by drop to a product. 

I added 3 drops of this 50/50 solution, and it dropped down to pH 3.07. Holy cow! This is why I make the 10% solution, so when I do something like this and add too much, it works as my test case.

Into the entire container - 390 grams now - I added 0.04 grams citric acid, mixed, and it measured pH 4.84. Success! Considering I already had 0.3% in the heated water phase, this means that I only needed 0.01% more to bring it down to the pH level I wanted. That's not much, but it made such a difference!

What do I think about this formula? I really like this ingredient. My hair was really wavy the day I washed it, and even the next day, but on day three, it was looking a little straw like. As with the ICE Restore cold process conditioner, I do miss the humectants I'd normally find in Incroquat BTMS-50.

Weirdly, I took very few pictures of this formula as I was making and bottling it. It's all gone now - it's the second from the left bottle - because I liked it so much! 

What will I do differently next time? I think I'll add a few of my favourite ingredients, like proteins, and a bit more silicone. Join me on Monday as we take a look at that formula! Oh, and I think I'll make a version with some lovely Monoi de Tahiti (infused coconut oil), too.

As a note, I'm providing these links to you in this post to provide you with information. They are not affiliate links and I get nothing if you buy something from these suppliers. If you're looking for stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, I bought mine from Making Cosmetics*

I'm teaching at Windy Point September 23rd & 24th

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Advanced lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
Join this advanced lotion making class to learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. We will have a few formulas to follow, but we'll be adjusting it as per the interests of those attending. This is truly an improv type class! (I'm so excited about this!!!)

Please note for this class you will be expected to know how to interpret a formula in percentages, scale a formula up and down, use a digital scale, and understand the concept of emulsification, how to heat and hold, and the differences between a preservative and anti-oxidant and when to use each as there will be no time to cover these concepts during the class. Ideally, you will have made many lotions at home and wish to attend this class to understand how to alter your existing formulas, learn new formulas, or learn how to use new emulsifiers.

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe is speaking at the Canadian conference!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe Schwarcz, chemistry professor and science educator from McGill University, is the keynote speaker at the Handcrafted Bath & Body Guild and Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference held in Toronto, Ontario, on June 8th to 10th, 2018. I'm so excited right now... Give me a minute.

Why am I so excited? Dr Joe is an amazing speaker and his knowledge of chemistry is unparalleled. You don't have to be a chemistry expert to enjoy his work: He writes for everyone, and makes it easy to understand. He writes and speaks on interesting topics - here's an article on paraben phobia, here's another one on the benefits of tea - so we'll all want to learn chemistry. We are so lucky to have him at the conference!

I can't believe I'll be leading a workshop at the same event at which Dr Joe Schwarcz is the keynote and Dr Kevin Dunn is teaching. I think I might fangirl myself silly!

If you want to know more about the conference, click here for my post on the topic.

For more on Dr Joe...
Follow him on Facebook.
Check out his newspaper column, The Right Chemistry, from the Montreal Gazette. This is a great one on parabens.
Check out his radio show as a podcast, The Dr Joe Show!