Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Attention all Canadians: Check out this conference in June 2018!

I cannot express my excitement enough, so I'll just use a string of vowels to share my joy: EEEEEEEEEEEE!

The Handmade Bath & Body Guild (Canada) is partnering with the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild (US) to bring us a conference in June 2018 in Toronto, Ontario! If it's half as much fun as the one I just attended in Las Vegas, you are in for a great time!

Click here for my exhausted, but excited report from the 2017 HSCG conference in Las Vegas! 

I'm definitely going - I'm applying to be a speaker, but if they don't choose me, I'm going anyway -  and if you're on the fence about attending, I have two words for you - sober karaoke! It's like drunk karaoke, only more embarrassing and you don't get to say "I was so loaded" afterwards as an excuse for your amazing performance. We can do one of my favourites, Europe's "The Final Countdown" as a group. Are you in?

Who would you like to see there? I'm voting for Dr Joe Schwarcz, professor at McGill University and author of many, many books on chemistry, as well as Ariane Arsenault. I'd love to see Kevin Dunn of Scientific Soapmaking speak as well. (After all, he's the one who inspired me to make soap last week with Michele of Windy Point Soap!)

If you aren't familiar with Dr Joe, check out his column in the Montreal Gazette (here's an example), his show on Sundays on CJAD, or his Facebook page! He's just awesome! 

Who would you like to see speak at this conference? Make your suggestions here or get over to the Facebook page for the Handmade Bath & Body Guild and let them know what you think!

Did I mention I'm so excited? I just can't hide it! 

Question from Patreon: Why isn't my toner spraying properly?

On Patreon, Susan asks: My question is regarding toners and the spritzer bottle.  I have been making your toner recipe (from Newbie Tuesdays) with distilled water, rose hydrosol, witch hazel, glycerin, sodium lactate, allantoin, cucumber extract, chamomile extract, and liquid germall plus - % same as yours (I'm in the midst of moving, so my formulation book is packed, but it's the recipe from newbie tuesday). Specifically the spritzer - I find that this toner does not spritz nicely out of the spritzer bottle, so I tried a few different bottles in case it was just the pump. Still not a nice spritz (more like a blotch to the face, not a nice mist). I then tried the bottles with just water, and they spritzed nice and fine. Have you noticed this?  I am thinking, although its a very water like toner, the viscosity might just be too much for the spritzer, or one of the ingredients 'pulls' the molecules together more than just water.  Thank you for your thoughts! And if you can suggest a specific spritzer that you find works well, please let me know!  

Bear with me as I work through your question by thinking out loud.

I've been using mister bottles for my toners for forever. I get mine from Voyageur Soap & Candle, and I don't think they're anything unique. I use the natural HDPE 4 ounce bottles with mister cap* and I have found they work really well. (Having said that, I think I'll get a few of these with the trigger mister this weekend as I really like those for hair care products.)

I thought it might be because the misters that go with the 120 ml HDPE bottles are wider than those for the cosmo ovals or Boston rounds as those latter bottles have smaller openings and get smaller pump bottles, for instance, but the misters look the same when it comes to the tube in the bottle and the mister opening.

I know that some of the powders can be problematic if there's a little too much in there - like this toner I made where I added just a little too much powder each time - but it doesn't sound like that's your problem as you're using a recipe I've been using for years in a mister bottle.

It could be that different hands make different things. I might be the type who measures a little under 0.5 grams while my best friend measures slightly over, and that might cause some issues? This isn't to say you've done something wrong, but it could be a difference of 0.05 grams here and 0.05 grams there equals a slightly thicker product than I make? Or maybe I'm measuring under, so those of you who are measuring exactly 0.50 grams are getting too much? Hmm...

The idea about some molecules pulling others together to make it more viscous is an interesting idea. We can see that sometimes when glycerin or other humectants bind water a bit, so it makes it thicker even when used in small amounts. Could that be happening here? It is possible.

I've seen this happen with things like cyclomethicone before. I make the same anti-frizz spray all the time - 10% dimethicone, 90% cyclomethicone - and some times it comes out in a weird stream instead of a mist, and I can't figure out why it does that. It doesn't seem to be the problem of the mister or the product, as far as I can tell.

So what't the answer? I genuinely don't know for sure. The easy fix is to put it in a disc cap bottle and use it with a cotton pad each time. I will do some experiments and see what I figure out and will share the results here.

Is anyone out there having a similar problem? Do you have some suggestions for Susan? Please share in the comments below!

Check out this post with more information on types of misters that might work! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Questions from Patreon: How to make fragrances last longer?

On my Patreon site, there's a section for questions and answers each month. Since Patreon is a massive pain in the bum to navigate sometimes, I'm posting the questions and answers here for everyone to read. I hope you enjoy these over the next few days!

In May, Catherine asked: What is the best "fixative" to make fragrances last longer in lotions and other bath body products?  I know Lotioncrafter has AromaFix (haven't tried it yet), but I'm interested in other suggestions. 

Lotioncrafter's AromaFix* (INCI: PPG-20 Methyl Glucose Ether) would be a very good choice, but I can't speak from experience about it.

C12-15 alkyl benzoate, an ester that will make your fragrances last longer. I have used this, and I noticed it seemed to make fragrances last longer when I used it at 5% or higher.

Ethylhexylglycerin, an ingredient we find in some preservatives. also helps with fragrances.

Natrasorb Bath can help with bath salts, bath bombs, bath milks, and so on. I use it at 3% and it makes such a huge difference, I've found.

What do I do? I find using my fragrances at 1% in a lotion or slightly more at up to 2% in a rinse off product works well. (I definitely only need 0.5% in my leave in conditioners!) But they don't last all day, and it can be a bit of a punch in the face for a stronger fragrance. This isn't the best advice I can give - the best is to use a fragrance fixative in your products - but it will help a bit.

I think it depends on your supplier as well. I find some fragrances last forever, while others last a few minutes. And I think it depends on your product. I find my hair care products hold on to fragrance much longer than my hand lotions, but that could be for any number of reasons.

If you want to know more about fragrance, check out this article I wrote for Handmade Magazine!

What do you do about fragrances in your products? Do you have any helpful tips to share with Catherine?

Please please please don't make your own sunscreen!

It's that time of the year again, and as I do every time the sun shines a little brighter than I would like, I have to remind you that we can't make our own sunscreens at home. Please please please don't make your own sunscreen. I know it seems as simple as adding some titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to a product to reflect the sun's rays, but it really isn't that easy.

I know some of you are dying to write to me and tell me I'm wrong, that your sunscreen works for you, and so on. But there is no argument you can make that will support you making what is considered a drug at home. This isn't as simple as making a lotion or conditioner. The worst thing that happens with those products is a little more dry skin or a bad hair day. We're talking sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer as the worst case scenarios for a poorly made homemade sunscreen.

I have to say this again: There is no argument you can make that justifies making your own sunscreen. I know this because over the last 8 years I think I've heard them all, and none of them are reasons to make a drug in your kitchen. (If you have, however, had the SPF of the product confirmed by a proper lab with the credentials to perform such tests, I'd entertain the argument.)

Please check out this post for more information on all kinds of things relating to sunscreen!

If you'd like to learn more about SPF, check out my column in Handmade Magazine!

And check out this post by Realize Beauty about her experiences with testing her sunscreens!

And check out this infographic from Compound Interest about the chemistry of sunscreens!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Update on a bunch of things including my new e-zine and classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle

Hi everyone! I've spent the last few days at my desk reading and writing and preparing and getting things done, most of which you'll see here over the next few weeks. Thank you for your excitement about me making cold process soap! I had great fun making it, and I hope to try a few new small batches over the next few weeks. Michele introduced me to the joys of Soapcalc, but I'd like to try the one we made a few times more before I go off making my own recipes for a product I don't quite understand on an experiential level. (I do get the chemistry of it, and I'll be sharing some great information I've found on the topic as I post here about my experiences.)

The new e-zine is out for those of you who are $10 Patreon members. If you aren't a member, and you're interested, please check out my Patreon site to learn more. This e-zine will be available in early June for $13, so if the idea of an e-zine on extracts interests you, then check out this table of contents and visit the Patreon site to learn more.

The e-zine has brand new recipes, including a few for a clay mask and a liquid blend you could add to it, as well as information on how to make gels to mix with it. I'm quite excited about all of this!!!

I have tons of ideas on what I'd like to write about first, including more recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference in Las Vegas, including a whole series of things on Simulgreen 18-2, a new, ECOcert emulsifier I've been working with for more than 18 months, but I want to get through your comments and questions first.

Thanks for being such awesome readers! I met quite a few of you while at Windy Point Soap last week, and I can't tell you how much it means to me that you read what I write, try the recipes, and love this craft I love so much! You all make doing all of this worth while! I love to hear from you, too, so don't hesitate to write or comment. I know I'm falling behind, but I really do want to hear from you about what you're making!

I have two more classes coming up at Voyageur Soap & Candle...

This weekend on Saturday, June 3rd at 9:30 it's JUST FOR MEN!

Who could forget about all the wonderful men in our lives! The modern man values and understands the importance of taking care of their skin and hair, and Susan will teach you to make a range of products just for men! These will include a conditioning shaving lotion, Beard Oil, Hey Beardo! sprayable beard and skin conditioner, beard and face wash, protectant hand lotion, and lotion bar. And in addition, you will take home a recipe and information package so you can continue to make these fabulous products at home and just in time for Father’s Day!

And then on Saturday, June 17th at 9:30 it's all about gels!

Susan demystifies how to make a range of specialty gel products by walking you through the science of these advanced ingredients and teaching you how you can easily use them at home to create amazing skin care products. Using the specialized gelling agents, Sepimax Zen and Carbopol Ultrez 20, together with premium skin care ingredients, students will make a variety of premium gel products for face and body. And in addition, you will take home a recipe and information package so you can continue to make these fabulous products at home!

If you're interested in learning more about having me come to where you live to teach or if you have ideas for classes I could offer at Windy Point Soap or Voyageur Soap & Candle, don't hesitate to comment here or email me at for more details.

Let's get to your comments!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What did I make??

So what did I make yesterday?  Cold process soap!!!!! I know, right? It was so much fun!!!

Michele from Windy Point Soap taught me how to make two batches of soap yesterday. Both were coconut, palm, shea, and olive oils. The pink was fuchsia mica with strawberry jam fragrance oil; the other, neon orange with blood orange and goji fragrance oil. They smell amazing, but I'm so worried I won't make it until they have cured to use them!

I've been planning and plotting my next batch - I'm thinking neon green and/or neon pink with Manchurian Dragon fragrance oil - but what oils should I try? I'd love to hear your thoughts. (Does soy bean oil soap well?)

We aren't back at home yet, but I'm documenting our travels with the always adorable puppy Sasja on...
Facebook as SwiftCraftyMonkey
Instagram as SwiftCraftyMonkey
and Twitter @SwiftCraftyM (as Susan Nichols as my name is too long!)
so join us there!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Guess what I made today?

Happy Victoria Day! We're still on the road after my incredibly exciting weekend teaching at Windy Point Soap in Calgary, and it's hard to update the blog as the Blogger app crashes constantly, but I really wanted to share some of my excitement over the project Michele taught me today!

It's not ready yet, but I'll give you a few hints before posting some pictures...

You've all been bugging me for a while to try it...
It's an exothermic chemical reaction, one that gives off heat...
It has an alkaline pH, a pH over 8...

Hmm... what could it be??? 😁

If you want to see short updates of our adventures last week and this, please check out my SwiftCraftyMonkey Facebook page! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Recipes from the HSCG 2017 conference: Niacinamide & willow bark hydro-gel - part three, the recipe and modifications

Yesterday, we met a new gelling agent in the form of Sepinov EMT 10, and Monday we took a look at the ingredients we're using in this recipe. Today, let's look at the recipe and some modifications we can make to it!

74.5% distilled water
5% willow bark extract (liquid)
4% niacinamide (powder)
3% propanediol 1,3
3% sea kelp bioferment
2% n-acetyl glucosamine
2% panthenol (powder)
2% chamomile extract (liquid)
0.5% sodium lactate (powder)
0.5% allantoin
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

3.0 % Sepinov EMT 10

In a container that’s big enough to use the stick blender or hand mixer in, combine all the water phase ingredients. Sprinkle the powder over the water, then mix well with a stick blender or hand mixer until it gels. You’re done! Rejoice!

Wow, that was super easy, right? 

If you want to alter this recipe, please note that niacinamide needs to have a pH around 6, so we can’t add any acids, like salicylic acid or AHAs, or ingredients that might need to have a lower pH. 

A few combinations that might be nice…
Use this as a targeted treatment by adding 3% to 10% argireline into the water phase. 
Try using this as a targeted or all over treatment by dissolving 1% genistein into 3% glycerin (use in place of the propanediol 1,3). 
5% Fision Active White for a little of everything to help with skin brightening. 
Add 10% any oil or oil soluble ingredient to this recipe to make a cream gel. I really like squalane in this recipe. (I'll be posting that version shortly...) 
Add a fruit acid complex at up to 10% to add some AHA ingredients. If you do this, please remove the niacinamide at 4% from the recipe as per my note above. 

If you have Sepimax ZEN, you can use it in place of Sepinov EMT 10 in this recipe. It may be quite thick at 3%, but give it a try. 

Or join me tomorrow and the next day as we look at some awesome modifications of this recipe! 

Links to buy these ingredients at Lotioncrafter:
Willow bark extract
Chamomile extract
Sodium lactate
n-acetyl glucosamine
Propanediol 1,3
Sea kelp bioferment
Sepinov EMT 10
Liquid Germall Plus

Please note, I supply these links to Lotioncrafter as my thanks for sponsoring my demonstration at the HSCG conference. These are not affiliate links and I receive nothing if you click through or if you buy ingredients from that shop. I have them here to make it easier for you to find things as well as showing my gratitude for Jen's generosity! 

If you're interested in learning more about gels using Sepinov EMT 10 and simply can't wait for me to post things on this blog, please check out the e-zine I wrote on the topic, entitled Gels! Ooey, gooey fun! which includes recipes for Ultrez 20 and Sepimax ZEN. 

Oh, as a note, if you're a $10 subscriber to my Patreon page, Lotioncrafter is offering you a 7% discount on ingredients until Saturday, June 10th! Pretty awesome, eh?

Join me tomorrow for more fun modifying this recipe! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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

I don't think I've mentioned that I'm teaching in Calgary, Alberta this weekend! If you're interested, click here to see the registration page at Windy Point Soap! We're offering an all day lotion making class with five different emulsifiers, a half day anhydrous class, and a half day class on conditioners. Everyone who attends will receive an e-book to take home! Even if you aren't coming to the class, stop by the grand opening of Windy Point Soap!

Recipes from the HSCG 2017 conference: Niacinamide & willow bark hydro-gel - part two, all about Sepinov EMT 10

In yesterday's post, we took a look at the ingredients to create a hydrating and oil free recipe with niacinamide and willow bark. Today, let's take a look at this new gelling agent and what it offers.

I’m using Sepinov EMT 10 as my gelling agent (INCI: Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer). It's a pre-neutralized polymer you can use to make gels, cream gels, and alcoholic gels, and can be added to an emulsion as a rheology modifier (thickener).

The recommended usage rate is 0.5% to 5%. The lower usage rate is for including it in lotion, while the higher levels are creating gels or cream gels where EMT 10 is the main ingredient.

Why use this instead of another gelling agent? Because it’s not like normal gels. It can make a perfectly fine thick gel, but it’s awesome for making things like facial sera thanks to its silky skin feel. If we think of gels as being bouncy and watery, EMT 10 makes gels that are smooth, only slightly bouncy, and less watery than a normal gel. I’ve yet to make a clear gel with it, but that’s no big deal when you’ve made something lovely and moisturizing.

It’s an anionic or negatively charged ingredient, so it’s not compatible with cationic or positively charged ingredients. This means you can’t add cationic polymers like honeyquat, polyquat 44, polyquat 7, and so on, as well as emulsifiers like Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, and so on. Some hydrolyzed proteins might be right out, too, so if you want to include those, do a test batch to see how they turn out.

To make a gel, add it to the water phase, then mix with a hand or stick mixer. As you’ll see in my recipes, I get all my ingredients into the container, then add Sepinov EMT 10 last and mix very well. The gel will be ready in minutes.

To make an alcoholic gel – inedible, sadly – you add all your water ingredients, then Sepinov EMT 10, then your alcohol while mixing. This might seem like a strange idea, but this is how you could make something like salicylic acid, which is soluble in water, or hand sanitizers.

For a cream gel, which is one with oils, add it to the oil phase, then add the entire water phase while mixing. The data sheets for this product say it can handle up to 50% oils, but that didn’t work for me. I tried 40% and 45% oils and esters, and each time had an epic fail. I suggest no more than 10% oils, esters, and oil soluble ingredients at first and see how it works for you. I liked 10% - you’ll see that shortly – and thought it was lovely and moisturizing.

To use it in a lotion as a thickener and rheology modifier, add to the heated oil phase. Remember, you can’t use it with Incroquat BTMS-50 or other positively charged emulsifiers.

As an aside, the reason we add powders to the heated oil phase is to make sure they don’t clump when we get them into the water phase. I know it seems counterintuitive, especially when you see it for ingredients that are really water soluble, like our carbomers and gums, but it really works! 

Since EMT 10 is stable from pH 3 to 10, it can be used in more acidic products, like those with AHAs or salicylic acid. It’s a great ingredient for facial products – I especially like spot treatments, eye products, and sera – thanks to that silky skin feel and ability to emulsify oils. The recommended usage rate is 0.5% to 5%. The lower usage rate is for including it in lotion, while the higher levels are creating gels or cream gels where EMT 10 is the main ingredient.

It’s an anionic or negatively charged ingredient, so it’s not compatible with cationic or positively charged ingredients. This means you can’t add cationic polymers like honeyquat, polyquat 44, polyquat 7, and so on, as well as emulsifiers like Incroquat BTMS-50, Rita BTMS-225, and so on. Some hydrolyzed proteins might be right out, too, so if you want to include those, do a test batch to see how they turn out.

Sepinov EMT 10 is a silky feeling gellant when compared to carbomers like pre-neutralized sodium carbomer, Ultrez 20, or Sepimax ZEN. You can use those gellants in this recipe instead of EMT 10 at their suggested usage rates. It can emulsify oils – I’ve found it’s best at 10% or so – and it can handle acids, like alpha-hydroxy acids, fruit acid extracts, lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and more.

You can buy Sepinov EMT 10 at Lotioncrafter!

Please note, I supply these links to Lotioncrafter as my thanks for sponsoring my demonstration at the HSCG conference. These are not affiliate links and I receive nothing if you click through or if you buy ingredients from that shop. I have them here to make it easier for you to find things as well as showing my gratitude for Jen's generosity! 

Join me tomorrow and we'll finish up this recipe!

Oh, as a note, if you're a $10 subscriber to my Patreon page, Lotioncrafter is offering you a 7% discount on ingredients until Saturday, June 10th! Pretty awesome, eh?

Final note, if you're interested in learning more about gels using Sepinov EMT 10 and simply can't wait for me to post things on this blog, please check out the e-zine I wrote on the topic, entitled Gels! Ooey, gooey fun! which includes recipes for Ultrez 20 and Sepimax ZEN. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference - Niacinamide & Willow Bark Hydro-gel (part one)

Some skin types can’t handle oils, so this recipe is an oil free moisturizer or serum into which you could add all kinds of lovely water soluble ingredients. My goal for this product is to hydrate skin, help reduce inflammation, soothe irritated skin, and promote a more even skin tone.

I’m using willow bark extract in this recipe as it contains salicylic acid, which can help with problem skin and act as a chemical exfoliant. As much as I like saliyclic acid, it's hard to dissolve and can be a little much for some skin types.

You could use salicylic acid in this recipe dissolved in alcohol, for instance, as Sepinov EMT 10 can create alcoholic gels. You'll see some recipes including salcylic acid on the blog over the summer. 

I’m having a love affair with the combination of niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and n-acetyl glucosamine (NAG).

Used at as little as 2%, niacinamide can increase skin’s barrier lipids and ceramides, which results in a reduction of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and an increase in collagen synthesis. It can reduce sebum production and pore diameter, as well as reducing hyperpigmentation of age and sun spots. It can reduce the damage from environmental causes, which reduces the irritation, inflammation, and skin redness from things like the sun, cold, or weather as well as application of straight SLS.  Even at 5%, there's a lack of irritation and redness on our faces ('cause sometimes niacin can make our skin flush, but not at 2% or 5%). It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and decreases skin blotchiness and "pebbling" or roughness on facial skin. It also behaves as an anti-inflammatory and enhances skin's barrier functions.

n-acetyl glucosamine is a bio-identical ingredient that can reduce hyperpigmentation in the skin, and has been shown to work well when combined with niacinamide. It can also increase hydration of our skin by increasing the production of hyaluronic acid in our skin. This combination has been studied and found to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation to promote a more uniform skin tone. Whew! That’s a lot of stuff, eh?

Propanediol 1,3 is a naturally derived substitute for propylene glycol that can be used at up to 20% in your water phase. It's a humectant that draws water from the atmosphere to your skin to offer hydration. It has a 9 to 12 month shelf life once opened.

I'm using it in this rcipe as a non-sticky feeling humectant. You could use glycerin or propylene glycol in its place, if you wished. 

I’m adding sea kelp bioferment to the recipe as my film former. (Gels don’t tend to like hydrolyzed proteins, so I’m using this ingredient to behave the way something like hydrolyzed oat protein might work.)

I’m adding panthenol to this gel to improve hydration of my skin, and sodium lactate to act as a humectant. (Yeah, I’ve gone crazy with humectants in this recipe, but I need something to moisturize and hydrate without oils!) I’m adding allantoin at 0.5% as my barrier protectant and skin soother, and I’m adding liquid chamomile extract to help reduce transepidermal water loss and soothe irritated skin.

Quick note: If you're using a liquid sodium lactate, you can use 1% in this recipe. If you're using the powder, please use no more than 0.5% sodium lactate. I made that error, and the viscosity was ruined!

If you haven't noticed by now that I love the combination of panthenol at 2%, allantoin at 0.5%, and some kind of hydrolyzed protein or film former at 2%, where have you been? I love this combination! I'm adding niacinamide at 4% and NAG at 2% to that combination these days, and my skin is so happy! As usual, your mileage may vary. 

As this post is getting far too long, please join me tomorrow for more information on Sepinov EMT 10 and the rest of this recipe!

As I've mentioned previously, my presentation at the conference was sponsored by Lotioncrafter, and you can get all the supplies for these products there. These are not affiliate links and I get nothing if you click through and buy something. I provide them as a thank you to Jen at Lotioncrafter for supplying everything necessary to do the presentation and more! 

Links to buy these ingredients at Lotioncrafter:
Willow bark extract
Chamomile extract
Sodium lactate
n-acetyl glucosamine
Propanediol 1,3
Sea kelp bioferment

Oh, as a note, if you're a $10 subscriber to my Patreon page, Lotioncrafter is offering you a 7% discount on ingredients until Saturday, June 10th! Pretty awesome, eh?

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference: Gigawhite & Vitamin C moisturizer with Aristoflex AVC - the active ingredients and recipe

On Monday, we took a look at the oil phase and emulsifier for this recipe. Yesterday, we took a look at the water phase and preservative. Today, let's take a look at the active ingredient and the final recipe.

I’m adding Alpaflor® Gigawhite (INCI: Water, Glycerin, Alcohol, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract), an ECOcert extract. It can be used at 3% to 5% to help promote a more even skin tone and uniform complexion in all over products or targeted treatments.

This ingredient can decrease the viscosity of Aristoflex AVC a titch, but it's not a big deal as the recipe is thick enough.

Please note, it is important to make this recipe in the order you see below. If you change an ingredient, figure out in which phase you should include it before starting the process. I know it seems silly, but it can make such a difference in the viscosity of the final product.

80.5% distilled water
2% sea kelp bioferment
2% panthenol (powder)
0.5% allantoin

3% propanediol 1,3
0.5% resveratrol
5% Alpaflor Gigawhite

2% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
3% squalane

1% Aristoflex AVC

0.5% liquid Germall Plus

1. Measure the slightly heated distilled or de-ionized water into a container. 
2. Add your water soluble ingredients. 
3. Mix the propanediol 1,3 with the resveratrol into a small container, like a shot glass. When dissolved, add to the larger container along with Gigawhite.
4. Add the oil soluble ingredients. 
5. Add the Aristoflex AVC. 
6. Add the preservative. 
7. Mix well. Bottle, and rejoice! 

Pretty simple, eh? If you're organized and can gather your ingredients quickly, it takes no more than 10 minutes to make a completely emulsified lotion! 

Links to buy this ingredient from Lotioncrafter: Alpaflor® Gigawhite

As a note, none of these links are affiliate links and I do not receive any sort of compensation if you buy something from Lotioncrafter. I provide them as Jen was so kind to supply all the ingredients for the conference at great expense to her company, and this is my way of saying thanks for spending so much time to make sure my presentation was the best it could be! 

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at the niacinamide & willow bark oil free hydro-gel. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference: Gigawhite & Vitamin C moisturizer with Aristoflex AVC - the water phase

We took a look at the oil phase and emulsifier in this recipe yesterday. Let's take a look at the water phase today. Because I can only use around 5% oils in this recipe, it's even more important to choose our water phase carefully to include ingredients that will hydrate our skin.

I’m adding resveratrol in this recipe at 0.5% to help with hyperpigmentation and signs of photoaging. It has a ton of great qualities: It's a very good anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger, as well as being a great anti-inflammatory. It's advertised as reducing he signs of aging by ameliorating the effects of skin damage caused by UVB rays. And it is showing promise for diabetic wound care as it's shown some anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity.

Related posts:
Cosmeceuticals: Resveratrol
Aristoflex AVC: A light lotion with resveratrol, panthenol, and allantoin

To include resveratrol, we need to first mix it with a solvent like propylene glycol. I've chosen to use propanediol 1,3 as the solvent in this recipe. Mix the two together first, then add to the product.

What's up with propanediol 1,3? It's a naturally derived substitute for propylene glycol that can be used at up to 20% in your water phase. It's a humectant that draws water from the atmosphere to your skin to offer hydration. It has a 9 to 12 month shelf life once opened.

I can't use hydrolyzed proteins with Aristoflex AVC as it will ruin the viscosity, so I'm using sea kelp bioferment as the film former and oil free emollient. We generally use it at 2% to 5%, but I find the lower amount is enough for this recipe.

If you've been around this blog for even a short period of time, you'll know I love allantoin! This water soluble powder is a fantastic skin protectant that softens skin (it's a keratolytic, meaning it causes the keratin to soften), causes rapid cell regeneration and proliferation, and is approved by the FDA to temporarily prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked, or windburned skin by speeding up the natural processes of the skin and increasing the water content. It can be derived from comfrey root, aloe vera, and urine. I know there's some debate about whether to add this to the heated water phase or the cool down phase, and I suggest using at no more than 0.5% in slightly warmed water. Why? Because it seems to dissolve better in warmed water and it avoids those awful shards that can come when the ingredient crystallizes as it cools.

You also know I'm a big fan of panthenol. What can it do? It improves stratum corneum hydration, reduces redness and inflammation, increases wound healing by stimulating skin epithelialization, improves skin barrier mechanism repair, mitigates itching and soothes irritation, and behaves as a humectant. You don't need much to get these effects - 2% is more than enough.

You can find it as a powder or liquid. The powder should be used in the heated water phase, the liquid in the cool down phase.

For my preservative, I'm choosing to use 0.5% liquid Germall Plus. It's my go-to as it's a broad spectrum preservative that works well with all kinds of different emulsifiers and at different pH levels.

Links to buy these ingredients at Lotioncrafter:
Propanediol 1,3
Sea kelp bioferment
Liquid Germall Plus 

As a note, none of these links are affiliate links and I do not receive any sort of compensation if you buy something from Lotioncrafter. I provide them as Jen was so kind to supply all the ingredients for the conference at great expense to her company, and this is my way of saying thanks for spending so much time to make sure my presentation was the best it could be! 

As this post is also getting too long - yeah, I know, I talk too much! - join me tomorrow as we take a look at the active ingredient, Gigawhite, and the final recipe.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference: Gigawhite & Vitamin C moisturizer with Aristoflex AVC - the oil phase and emulsifier

I was fortunate to be asked to present at this year's Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference in Las Vegas, and thought I'd share some of those recipes with you. Lotioncrafter very kindly sponsored my presentation, providing me with all the ingredients I needed as well as all the supplies from beakers to spatulae and the equipment, like a hand mixer and kettle. You can get all the ingredients I mention in this recipe at that lovely on-line store, as you'll see in the links below.

The goal of this moisturizer is to create something that all kinds of ingredients to moisturize and hydrate our skin with some lovely active ingredients to help with the appearance of uneven skin tone and fine lines and wrinkles. We’re using Aristoflex AVC as a cold emulsifier so we can make something quickly rather than heating and holding.

Aristoflex AVC (INCI: Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer) is a cold process emulsifier, a polymer that can create gels as well as emulsify up to 5% oils or silicones. We can’t include ingredients with high levels of electrolytes, like aloe vera, sodium PCA, sodium lactate, some extracts, or some proteins, or hyaluronic acid at 0.1% or higher. It doesn’t work well with surfactant based products, like shampoo, body wash, or facial cleansers. It can potentially make clear gels, and it’s suggested you use up to 5% glycerin to make the gels clearer.

In this recipe, I'm using it at 1% to emulsify my two oil soluble ingredients - tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and squalane.

Squalane is a fantastic oil! It makes up about 12% of our skin's sebum, so our skin identifies it as "ours" and soaks it up quickly. Squalene is a vital part of cholesterol, steroid, and Vitamin D synthesis in our bodies. It penetrates the skin quickly offering softening and moisturizing to even really chapped or cracked skin. You can use it neat or in a lotion. But it's highly unstable with all those double bonds. So instead we use squalane, a hydrogenated version with no double bonds that offers us a lot of stability, such as a shelf life of over 2 years!

I'm using it at 3% to offer some light moisturizing along with the tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. You could choose another oil, but if you're making facial products, really consider investing in some squalane. It feels amazing and makes such a difference in the skin feel of any product, even at a lower usage level. I'm not kidding about this. We made a serum at the conference - you'll see it next week - with squalane as the base, and people really loved it. It is an amazing oil!

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is an oil soluble Vitamin C used to promote a more even skin tone. I'm using it at 2% in this recipe to see how my skin handles it, but you could use this ingredient as high as 10%. Having said that, you can't go over 5% oils with Aristoflex AVC, so if you're considering higher levels, you might want to choose another recipe.

Related posts:
Vitamin C
Adding Vitamin C to a product
Aristoflex AVC: A facial moisturizer with Vitamin C and ferulic acid
If Vitamin C doesn't penetrate the skin, what is the benefit of it?

Links to buy these ingredients at Lotioncrafter:
Aristoflex AVC
Neoessence squalane
Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate

As a note, none of these links are affiliate links and I do not receive any sort of compensation if you buy something from Lotioncrafter. I provide them as Jen was so kind to supply all the ingredients for the conference at great expense to her company, and this is my way of saying thanks for spending so much time to make sure my presentation was the best it could be! 

As this post is getting far too long, please join me tomorrow as we look at the water phase!

Recipes from the 2017 HSCG conference: Introduction

I had such a blast at the Handmade Soap & Cosmetics Guild's conference in Las Vegas last week with Jen from Lotioncrafter, who sponsored my workshop, and my husband, Raymond! It was an absolute honour to present a workshop there on facial moisturizers - and if you enjoyed it, don't forget to tell them so I might be asked back to future conferences! - and I'd like to share those recipes with you in a series of posts so I can explain why I'm using what I'm using and share more information about each ingredient.

I also filmed a few videos that will be up on the Guild's how-to library page shortly, and I'll let you know when that's there. 

I made four products at the conference (in 90 minutes, no less!):

Natural Calendula & Rosehip Seed Oil Lotion using Simulgreen 18-2

Sweet Almond & Pomegranate Oil Serum

Niacinamide & Willow Bark Oil Free Hydro-gel

Gigawhite & Vitamin C Quick Moisturizer using Aristoflex AVC

Let's spend some time taking a look at these recipes and why I used what I used in each one! I'll start with the niaciamide & willow bark oil free hydro-gel, a great moisturizer for those of us who don't want to use a lot of oils. (We gave out samples of the finished product at the conference! If you received it, what did you think about it?

And if this all sounds like great fun to you, consider attending a conference yourself! There's one next spring in Atlanta, Georgia, and they're coming to Canada in 2018! (I have no idea where yet, but I'll share when I know something more!)

Join me in a few minutes for the first recipe, Gigawhite & Vitamin C moisturizer using Aristoflex AVC!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Another installment of Is this a good recipe? featuring David's Tea's "Green tea infused coconut moisturizer"

I receive a newsletter every once in a while from a company called David's Tea, and I thought we could analyze the recipe they're calling a green tea infused coconut moisturizer* for some fun!

The recipe, which they state has a shelf life of two weeks, is as follows...

2 Perfect Spoonfuls of Japanese Sencha tea
2 cups + 3 tbsp hot water
1 cup organic coconut oil
8 drops eucalyptus or another essential oil (optional)

Please click the link above to see the suggested process to make this as it's just too long. 

The first rule when making products is that we do everything by weight, not volume. It's all about the accuracy, baby! Let's say you wanted to measure that coconut oil. Is it before or after melting? Is it a level cup or just a bit more? When it comes to tinier measurements, like spoons, thick or sticky ingredients may end up coating the container and less ends up in the product. This is a big deal for things like preservatives.

Volume isn't the same as weight. 1 ml of water weighs 1 gram, but 1 ml of oil doesn't weigh 1 gram. You can't just add 1 ml of water and 1 ml of oil and consider you have a 50-50 mix of oil and water.

Related post: How do I figure out volume? (Includes information on specific gravity)

If you aren't convinced yet, measuring by weight means fewer annoying containers to clean up as we just put our jug on the scale and measure everything directly into it! I can make and package a lotion using only two Pyrex jugs, one beater on my hand mixer, my bottles, and a funnel. How many little spoons and cups would it take for a more complicated recipe than the one above?

If a recipe is done by volume, I can't tell if the ingredients are used at the right proportions. For instance, how much preservative would I add to this if I were to use 0.5% liquid Germall Plus? I have no idea because the 0.5% is how much preservative I would use by weight. If I have 100 grams of product, I'd use 0.5 grams of liquid Germall Plus to preserve it.

A side note to this is that we don't measure essential oils by drops. It's inaccurate as all heck! What kind of drop? From a small orifice bottle? A larger orifice bottle? A large eye dropper? A small one? A larger pipette? A turkey baster?

Will you tell by smell if it's the right amount? What do you do if this is your fourth product of the day and you're nose blind?

Measure your essential oils by weight and you'll ensure you aren't wasting any or adding too much. Eight drops from even a very large dropper won't do a thing in a cup or more of product, so use something like 0.2% to 0.5% by weight to start and see what you think.

Looking at this recipe again, I've realized something. The 2 cups of water is how much you put in a saucepan to create a double boiler. Why 2 cups? Given they don't know how big your pot might be, this is an irrelevant number. 

The 3 tablespoons of water - 45 ml - is used to soak the leaves for a 10 seconds, then discarded. So the only moisture in the product is the water left over in the leaves when you put them into the coconut oil and simmer. Doesn't matter how much, there's still water in the product. Just enough wet, soggy leaves and water to cause problems. (I'll address this more in a few paragraphs...)

Oil and water don't mix. In chemistry terms, water is polar, oil is not. Oil floats on the top of the water as it's lighter. We need an emulsifier to bring the oil and water together, something like emulsifying wax, Polawax, Incroquat BTMS-50, and so on.

A lotion is made when we bring oil and water together with the help of an emulsifier. We heat the ingredients, then bring them together to create an awesome emulsion.

In broad terms, there are oil-in-water recipes or those with more water than oil and water-in-oil recipes or those with more oil than water. What is this one? We have some water coming from the soggy tea leaves, much less than 250 ml of coconut oil, so it's a water-in-oil product. It might only be a titch of water, but it'll come out eventually, so we need an emulsifier of some sort.

Lest you think it's not important, the company responded to my concerns with this: "The whisking effect acts as the emulsifier to get the right consistency – if you find the oil and water separating, simply whip it back together before applying to your skin. "

As a note, it looks they've changed the recipes since I first wrote to them. My goal is to make safer products, so I'm happy they are doing that, but there's still so many problems here. 

Emulsifiers are ingredients like those I mention above, not processes. When we make lotions, we use a stick blender or mixer, not a hand whisk because it's not powerful enough. And the whisking isn't an emulsifier. Mixing helps to emulsify a lotion, but it's only part of the essentials of a lotion - a chemical emulsifier, heat, and mixing.

Related posts:
Is this a good lotion recipe?
How can you tell if it's a good recipe?
Avoid these recipes if you find them on Pinterest?

Any time we use water, we must add a preservative. There are no exceptions to this rule. You add water, you add a preservative. If you don't, you will have contamination in a matter of days. You may not see it, but you will be slathering bacteria, mold, yeast, and worse on your skin, which is dangerous. Granted, there's only a little water in this product, but it's tea...

...and we never ever use tea in a product. It's a contamination magnet with all that botanical material. This recipe calls for returning sopping wet leaves back to the oil to simmer for 30 minutes before straining through a cheesecloth, which isn't small enough to strain out all the bits and pieces of the tea, so there's some left in the product.

In fact, if you look at the picture of the moisturizer on the spoon, you can see it looks slightly green and contains hunks of something, so if this really is the product - which I don't think it is - they are expecting it to contain very large specks of something brown.

A few other thoughts...

They say to use a double boiler to melt the coconut oil, and to make sure it doesn't boil. Coconut oil has a smoke point of 177˚C or 350˚F. There's no way you could get it to that point in a double boiler if you reduce it to a simmer after it melts. It's good advice to watch an oil so it doesn't get to the smoke point and never leave it unattended, but we use a double boiler to ensure our ingredients don't get too hot.

They tell you to put the essential oil in the melted coconut oil and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Essential oils are volatile and shouldn't be exposed to heat or they will evaporate. You will have nothing left at the end of the process.

They say it has a two week shelf life "for ultimate freshness". No, you've added water and tea to this, so I'd give it a day at the most. (Remember, they think it should contain huge specks of tea in it...)   And what the heck does "freshness" mean when it comes to an oil you purchased from the store? It's not like Safeway has a coconut oil making plant in the produce department!

Why did they add tea? Because it sounds nice. Otherwise, this product would just be "coconut oil in a jar" instead of a "green tea infused coconut moisturizer", and David's Tea would have no reason to post this on their blog and encourage you to give it to your mother. They've taken a super simple recipe - put coconut oil in a jar - and made it complicated and unsafe.

Here's my version: 
Get some coconut oil. Let's say 100 grams.
Add some essential oil. Let's say up to 1 gram
Whisk so it's a bit whippy, and package in a jar with a cute label.

If you'd like to include tea in it, consider adding some oil soluble green tea extract at up to 5 grams or so, adding camellia seed or tea seed oil at up to 10 grams, or a fragrance that smells like tea, like green tea, tea leaf & jasmine, or my new Saturday night thing at Voyageur Soap & Candle, Charleston Sweet Tea.

Another version:
100 grams of coconut oil
10 grams of camellia seed oil
up to 1 gram essential oil or fragrance oil
Whisk and so on.

Here's the thing...using coconut oil as the only stiff oil in a recipe is a terrible idea because it has a melting point of 24˚C or 76˚F, a temperature you can easily attain at home in the late spring to early autumn in your house, or any time in a warm bathroom, purse, pocket, car, and so on. The best outcome is that it will melt and you'll be sad. The worse case is you end up covered in oil and ruin some of your favourite clothes, sheets, and other fabrics.

Related post: Why we don't use coconut oil in emulsified scrubs?

If you'd like to make a whipped moisturizer without water for your mom or anyone else, consider instead making something like these whipped butters. The general recipe is 80% shea butter, 19% liquid oil, and up to 1% fragrance or essential oil of choice. Melt slightly, then whip until it's at least 50% to 100% more by volume. Put into jar. Rejoice.

I use a 1M icing tip in a piping bag to make mine look pretty, like this picture! Package it in a nice jar or metal container, and it's a great present!

If you'd like to make a very basic lotion with coconut oil, water, emulsifier, and a preservative, try this one. If you follow the directions, I can guarantee it'll work!

One final note: Inevitably, someone will show up and accuse me of being mean to this big corporation for not vetting this recipe or say that this is a recipe intended for people who don't want to learn the intricacies of cosmetic chemistry, and I'd like to give you my two cents first.

One, if you are a large company posting recipes, it's your job to vet them. Sure, find a recipe from Pinterest, but make it and see if it works. If you acknowledge it will separate - which they have done - then you should know that means it doesn't work. If you don't know enough to know that basic information, don't post it. Or pay someone who knows what they're doing to create a recipe for you.

Two, I'm annoyed because my goal is to help you make safe and workable recipes. If someone tries this recipe, they are not only risking contamination, but the failure of it might turn them off making something again.

I want everyone to fall in love with this wonderful hobby! Imagine if my first or only experience with making something had been a terrible recipe like this? Back in '06, there was this terrible "bath cookie" recipe going around the 'net that was just awful. I tried it and it failed, but I chalked it up to experience as I had already enjoyed a few successes with melt & pour soap, bath salts, and bath bombs by then and it was no big deal to have a small failure. This recipe could be the one that kills the enthusiasm of a new crafter when it grows mold or melts all over a lovely piee of fabric. There are so many lovely recipes a new person could try; let's hope it isn't this one.

Plus, think how bad you'd feel if you made something for your loved one that went moldy or hurt them in some way!

Three, if you make something that's a kitchen DIY, call it that. There's nothing wrong with mayo or egg yolk on your hair or skin, but don't pretend that's a proper product you can keep for weeks outside the fridge.

If you've enjoyed being frustrated and annoyed by this recipe, consider doing a bit more head banging on your desk by checking out David's Tea's suggestion for making bath bombs with tea*. (Spoiler alert: They're including tea in it because nothing feels better when you're in the bath than steeping in wet, floating leaves.)

They use cream of tartar as the acid as, "Citric acid is definitely useable but it’s harder to come by and that’s why we used cream of tartar!" No, it isn't. Plus, cream of tartar is around $14 a pound (454 grams), while citric acid is $4 or so a pound (454 grams). If you're using a cup of cream of tartar in their recipe, and if we pretend that 250 ml of this ingredient is 250 grams, you're spending more than $7 for the cream of tartar alone for one or two bath bombs.

They suggest using quite a lot of water in that recipe - 1 tablespoon or 15 ml. FIZZZZZZZZ. What's that? It's the sound of your bath bomb starting the acid-base reaction before it leaves your bowl or while it's swelling up and coming out of the mold. (Trust me, this is a topic I know so much about because I teach youth how to make bath bombs and when you're using a liquid colour, more equals better, right?) It may also be the sound of the water soluble ingredients like salts dissolving as you work with the mixture, but it's less a "fizzzz" and more of a "...." sound. (Dissolving salts are pretty quiet things...)

If you want to make bath bombs, try my recipe done by weight using oil to bind the bombs. If you are living in a less humid place that where I live near the coast of B.C., consider spritzing them with witch hazel or alcohol to add a bit more liquid.

Want to know more about bath bombs? Check out my column in Handmade magazine for more chemistry!

If you'd like to see another analysis of a terrible recipe, click here for the oil and water shampoo. Or play along in this post of Where's the emulsifier?

Friday, May 5, 2017

I'm back from the conference, and joyously exhausted!

Wow, that was one heck of a conference in Las Vegas through the Handmade Soap & Cosmetics Guild! I presented two demos of facial moisturizers to a room of at least 100 people - and more during the first one - which was so much fun and resulted in the hashtags #ducks are evil and #don'tputmentholonyourbum, so you know a good time was had by all. I hope those of you who received samples enjoyed them.

I'll be posting the recipes here shortly as a free PDF as well as a paid e-zine that's almost an e-book on the ingredients we used. 

I met Kevin Dunn - and he knew who I was as a fellow columnist at Handmade magazine! Squee! - and sat in on a seminar he taught about how to determine the experimental saponification value of oils, which has inspired me to make some CP soap soon! (Yeah, I know, right? Me, making soap? Who woulda thunk it?) He spoke about how to test pH in soap without a meter, and even said that one isn't necessary!  (I'll share more about all of this shortly, too! I was so inspired!)

I met Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, the one who helped me set up my Patreon account. She was just as awesome as I thought she would be!

It was great to meet my blog readers and Patreon subscribers. Thank you all so much for your kindness, support, and enthusiasm! I had such a great time speaking to you as we met in the halls and conference rooms, and I look forward to interacting with you more here in the comments or by e-mail.

A huge thank you to Jen at Lotioncrafter for sponsoring my facial moisturizer 101 presentations! She was amazing, setting up all the containers so I'd have them at hand, making sure she sent more than enough of each ingredient, and cheer leading me all the way through the process! She spent hours finding a kettle and a mixer that we needed, even Ubering away from the strip to the nearest Wal-Mart for supplies. She went so over and above the call of duty to make sure our presentations were a success, and it such a joy to call her my friend. I'm so lucky to have spent six days with her on this trip!

Some great news for us Canucks! The Guild is coming to Canada in 2018 for a conference! I'm hoping for Montreal so we can get smoked meat, poutine, and bagels. (Maybe they'll invite Joe Schwarcz, the amazing chemist from McGill who writes such awesome books. I would so fangirl if I met him!) No matter where it might be, I'll be there! (I'll apply to teach again, but even if they don't pick me, I'll attend!)

I did a few video lessons while there, which I'll post here when they're up. Look for videos on making an anti-frizz spray, a lip gloss, and lip scrub.

I had hoped to make ones for a few other products, like shampoo and conditioner, but unfortunately, the wrong ingredients were ordered and others were missing, so we couldn't make them. Too bad, eh?

Don't you love those micas from Windy Point Soap Making? They're magic purple, magic red, and red-blue! And check out the lip gloss containers from Lotioncrafter. I'm a huge fan of silver, and these ones looked great in the video lesson. I'll be posting the recipe for these lovelies soon...

Speaking of Windy Point Soap, did you know I'm teaching out there during the grand opening of their shop and warehouse on the Victoria Day weekend (May 20th and 21st)? Join me for classes on lotion making, anhydrous products, and hair care! If you can't make it, let us know what might interest you and perhaps Michele and Keith will have me back! (There were some discussions around here about an intermediate or advanced lotion making class in the future. Please let me know what you'd like to see in the comments below.)

Phew, that's a lot of stuff, eh?

I'm spending a few days catching up on things like my column for Handmade magazine, the comments here and on Patreon, checking my e-mail, and making a to-do list for what I'll be doing next.

Thanks to you, my lovely readers, for spending time with me and making me feel appreciated and supported wherever I go. It hasn't been a great year for us around the Barclay-Nichols's household, but we're starting to feel life is getting a little more normal every day.

*Remember! I am beholden to no one! I provide these links so you can learn more about the things I've used and liked, and I get nothing from no one if you click through and buy anything. I hope you do as I really like these lovely people so much, but I provide them only for reference, not to enrich myself. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

So much fun at the conference!

Wow! There's so much to see and do here at the 2017 conference for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild in Las Vegas! I had a blast with my workshop yesterday, making lotions using Simulgreen 18-2 and Aristoflex AVC, making an oil serum filled with all kinds of goodies like pomegranate oil and chia seed oil, and an oil free hydro gel using Sepinov EMT 10! I think the workshop went well. I told a few stories, shared my love of raisins and my hatred of ducks, and made some really cool products! You'll see pictures soon, I promise!

I've met so many amazing people here! I met my idol, Kevin Dunn, and I was so excited that he knew who I am! I met Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking who helped me set up the Patreon account. And of course I spent all my time with Jen at Lotioncrafter, who sponsored my workshop.

My presenting time is over, so I get to be a participant woo!

I was told by people that I need to promote myself more, so I'm asking you here to take a look at my Patreon. If you're a $10 subscriber to the blog, you get a lovely e-zine every month, but there are rewards for subscribing to the $1, $3, and $5 levels too! Check out my Patreon feed when you get a chance and see if you're interested! 

I'd love to post pictures, but the Blogger app crashes and the version I can use on the web thinks I only have 6 pictures on my phone instead of 36,000. So I'll update this with loads of pictures when I get home!