Thursday, August 31, 2017

Questions from Patreon: Retin A, retinols, and retinoids (part one)

In the August Q&A on Patreon, Mildred asked: Question pls: Can I use a glycolic toner followed by a Retin A cream? I read a blog that these two needs to be used on alternate days but I can't seem to find that writing any more. 

And Mercedes asked: I would like to know more about using Vitamin A and its derivatives in different products. I know some things are medical grade, but I mean things like retinols and learning which suits which skin types the best.

Vitamin A is an oil soluble molecule that can improve skin barrier function, increase cell proliferation, increase thickening of the skin, and increase collagen production. It can also help increase skin's water retention, and it may be effective in preventing, retarding, or restoring changes associated with the aging process. It is also effective in wound healing. It is the most abundant vitamin in our skin (in the form of ester retinyl palmitate), which is hydrolyzed to form Vitamin A, which is then oxidized to produce retinoic acid (the active form).

There are several forms of Vitamin A - the retinoids - we can use in bath and body products - retinol, retinyl esters (retinyl propionate, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate), and retinaldehyde. Each of these is ultimately converted into trans-retinoic acid, the active form of Vitamin A in our skin, but the retinyl esters are less effective than retinol, and are less stable in our products. We can find retinoic acid (tretinoin) in some of our oils.

Vitamin A is measured in International Units or IU. An IU of Vitamin A equals 0.3 µg retinol, 0.34 µg Vitamin A acetate, or 0.55 µg Vitamin A palmitate. It is classified as a drug by the FDA, so please don't make any claims about including Vitamin A in your products!

Retinyl palmitate specifically has been found to help maintain skin's barrier properties by stimulating the epidermal cells to produce glycolipids, which are important for the formation of the intercellular lipid lamellar structure in skin.

In a study on hairless mice, a cream with 0.1% Vitamin A administered over 14 days increased collagen content of the mice's skins by 88%. 0.5% Vitamin A palmitate uncreased the collagen content by 10%. And in a study on rats, 10 µg Vitamin A acetate suspended in 0.2 ml water lead to an increase in cell proliferation four hours after usage. In a study on human volunteers, aged 40 to 60, the application of Vitamin A palmitate to the temples showed an increase in skin thickness of 14% in two weeks and 22% over 6 weeks. Unfortunately, once you stop using products with Vitamin A, you return to your previous pre-Vitamin A skin condition. (But this is the case for most things - stop using it, you don't get the benefits!)

Retinol is the most effective form of Vitamin A in bath and body products. The effects of retinol usage can be very quick - epidermal thickening can in a matter of a few hours, take place in days, reduction of fine lines in a couple of weeks, and reduction of wrinkles in weeks to months. And you only need to use 1%!

Vitamin A is touted as a great ingredient for after sun exposure. Our blood levels of Vitamin A decrease when we are exposed to the sun for a short period of time, and the levels keep dropping the longer we stay in the sun. (Isn't that fascinating? No, seriously. Why have I never heard of this before?) A similar effect is noticed in our skin. So by adding Vitamin A to our products (or using oils high in the retinoids or ß-carotene) we can increase the Vitamin A content of our skin. Interestingly enough, scienticians still aren't sure of the exact mechanism by which Vitamin A actually works on sun exposed or photo-aged skin!

Why do we care about how much Vitamin A is in our skin? Vitamin A diminishes the appearance of fine lines due to increased skin cell production, which leads to increased epidermal thickness. The thicker our skin, the less likely we are to see fine lines!

It increases the production of epidermal ground substance (glycosaminoglycans or GAGs), which bind water in the skin. (You might recognize hyaluron or chondroitin sulfate as GAGs.) This results in increased hydration of skin and moisture retention. But we don't want too much GAGs in our skin, and Vitamin A inhibits production of too much ground substance! (Did that make sense? It increases the production but inhibits the production, both of which are good things?) The GAGs are required in our skin for normal collagen structure and function, but too much can lead to wrinkling in photo-damaged skin. (Shar pei dogs have too many GAGs, hence the wrinkled look!) Water retention is a great thing for skin - we want maximum moisturization!

I'll be writing more about glycosaminoglycans shortly. There are just too many topics about which I can write!!! 

It helps with wound healing by increasing the rate of cell proliferation so new cells can come to the surface of our skin quicker. And it helps with skin thickening in this way as well.

An increase in collagen production is a mighty fine thing indeed. As we age, we lose about 1% of our collage per year, which leads to reduced elasticity of our skin. With the reduction in the GAGs in our skin, we will appear less wrinkled.

Vitamin A is a good treatment for acne - it acts on the primary pre-acne lesion - and offers anti-inflammatory benefits, which is why you'll see Retin A prescribed for it.

Retinoids can be irritating to the skin! (Just ask someone like me who used Retinol prescription cream for years! When I cried or my eyes watered, it actually stung my cheeks!) Retinol and retinyl acetate are less irritating than retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate is the least irritating. Use retinol at less than 1%. Retinaldehyde at 0.05% up to 1% - it's as irritating as retinol - but use retinyl palmitate at up to 2% in your products!

We can find Vitamin A in our oils in the form of carotenoids, pre-cursors to Vitamin A. There are three major groups of carotenes - lycopene, lutein, and ß-carotene - but we find ß-carotene mostly in the oils and other ingredients we use. ß-carotene is oil soluble, and is the pre-cursor to Vitamin A. The body will convert ß-carotene into Vitamin A if it needs it: If it doesn't need it, then it just roams around as an anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging and preventing lipid peroxidation in our bodies and on our skin.

Carotenes are strong anti-oxidants. They either quench the anti-oxidizing process or chemically react with free radicals to form a carotenoid radical.

Carotenes have been shown to have photo-protective effects when we're exposed to the sun. Studies have shown a reduction in thiobarbituric acid (which shows up when we're in the sun!) if our skin is pre-treated with creams including ß-carotene! Lycopene is the strongest in the carotenoid photo-protective sweepstakes, with lutein and ß-carotene less effective.

So what do carotenes offer to bath and body products? The pre-Vitamin A stuff is pretty awesome, considering Vitamin A has such a great effect on our skin, and this is one of the main reasons to seek out carotenes!

It also helps protect from UVB damage and behaves as an anti-oxidant to retard rancidity! The one down side? The strong colour from ß-carotene containing oils might your products a little on the yellow or orange side.

Where can we find these wonderful tetraterpenoids? You can find it in cranberry oilrosehip oilwheat germ oil (which also contains xanthophylls, which have many of the same qualities as the carotenes), calendula oil, and sea buckthorn oil.

This new rosehip seed oil I've been using a lot of lately contains a lot of beta-carotene, which is obvious from the bright orange colour! 

To summarize all of this: Vitamin A and the retinoids improve skin barrier function, increase cell proliferation, increase thickening of the skin, and increase collagen production. It can also help increase skin's water retention, and it may be effective in preventing, retarding, or restoring changes associated with the aging process. It is also effective in wound healing.

We can add it to our products in a few different ways - as Vitamin A, retinol, retinyl esters, and retinaldehyde. Or we can add some oils that contain a lot of carotenoids, like cranberry, rosehip, rosehip seed, wheat germ, calendula, or sea buckthorn oil.

Retinyl esters, like retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate, are less effective and less stable than retinol.

Wow, this grew very long very quickly, so join me tomorrow as we look at more about the retinoids and our products! 

If you're interested in learning more about subscribing to the blog through Patreon, click through and see what it's all about!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why did I buy that again? Hydroxyethylcelullose

If you are reading this on Blog Lovin', please note they are exploiting my work without permission for their monetary gain. I have expressly forbidden them from using my written work, yet they continue to post it on their platform. I do not take advertising or sponsorship from anyone on this blog and make no money from it, yet they are affiliating my work with all kinds of things. Please come to my blog and read it here or sign up for the e-mail messages when I post something new; don't let this company make money from my work. 

I bought some hydroxyethylcellulose from Lotioncrafter* for a duplication of ASDM Beverly Hills Ultra Firming Cream over on my Patreon feed, and I realized that I haven't worked with this ingredient before. I did a search, went through my lab book, went through my old formulating binder, and nothing! What? There's an ingredient I haven't used? What madness is this?

So what is it? It's a non-ionic or neutrally charged polymer used to thicken aqueous products to produce "crystal" clear gels or to thicken emulsions. It's a polysaccharide, which will hydrate and create a film or light barrier on our skin to act as an emollient, hydrator, and anti-inflammatory.

Why do we care if it's non-ionic? This means it can be used with things like anionic or negatively charged surfactants in body washes, bubble baths, and so on, and with negatively charged emulsifiers like Ritamulse SCG, although I don't think this one has trouble getting thicker! It can be used with cationic or positively charged ingredients, like conditioners, and it's a nice thickener for things like cetrimonium chloride, which is water thin, to make detanglers. (Oh, so many hair care products we can make with HEC!)

And it's stable at an acidic pH - which is to say, at the pH of just about everything we make! Woo!

It can tolerate salts, like those found in aloe vera and sodium lactate, and film form to offer more hydrating goodness. which means we can use this to thicken aloe vera gels or hydrating products. Again, I say woo!

With surfactants, it can help stabilize bubbles, increase viscosity, and increase mildness, which is always welcome in a surfactant mix. Awesome news! It can help thicken surfactants that don't want to thicken well, like sarcosinates and sulfosuccinates (like disodium laureth sulfosuccinate or DLS), and may thicken decyl glucoside at an acidic pH level. Using it at as low as 0.2% can create a "nice thick creamy lather from a loose large bubble foam", which means we can use this to take something like foaming silk protein, which has "lacy glove bubbles" to something much creamier. Woo!

Use it in hair gels for a "soft hold" or as a gel base for things like facial moisturizers, cleansers, and serums.

Lotioncrafter recommends that it be "added to room temperature water with a neutral pH", after which it can be heated and the pH adjusted as these two factors can affect hydration time or the time that it takes for HEC to be hydrated. Add it to the water phase and "stir until the polymer is dissolved" to prevent the particles from settling. The version I bought from Lotioncrafter can take between 4 and 25 minutes to hydrate, while other versions I saw said it could take 30 to 60 minutes,  so my recommendation is to put on some awesome music and do some fancy dancing as you mix this to hydration.

Definitely do the water phase first, then the surfactants last as mixing those for 4 to 25 minutes will result in a container of bubbles and nothing else!

We use it at 0.1% to 3% in the water phase. At 1%, it has a pH of 6.7, which is a great, almost neutral pH place to start. It has a shelf life of about 2 years.

It's derived from wood, so I guess you could call it natural, although it has to undergo a heck of a lot of processing to stop being splinters to become this product. It's a cellulose ether, which is cellulose that has been chemically modified. "[C]ellulose fibers are heated with a caustic solution that, in turn, is treated with methyl chloride, and either propylene oxide or ethylene oxide, yielding hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose or hydroxyethyl methyl cellulose, respectively. The fibrous reaction product is purified and ground to a fine, uniform powder." (This is a really interesting document, if you'd like to know more.)

What am I making with this? I'm making up this lotion I mentioned above, then a few conditioning products for thinner or finer hair with cetrimonium chloride, quaternium 31, and more. This is a really cool ingredient if you can get the mixing right!

Cosmetics Info
Cellulose ethers
THICKENING OF FOAMING COSMETIC FORMULATIONS (Geert De Lathauwer, Daisy De Rycke, Annelies Duynslager, Stijn Tanghe, Caroline Oudt EOC Surfactants nv, Belgium)
Liquid Detergents, page 406

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The new e-zine: AHA, Salicylic Acid, Vitamin C - Oh My!

If you're a $10 Patreon subscriber for the month of August, look for the new e-zine, AHA, Salicylic Acid, and Vitamin C, Oh My!, starting today. It's filled with all kinds of formulas for moisturizers, toners, gels, anhydrous gels, primers, and more, using these lovely ingredients.

Take a look at the table of contents here.

As well, all my $10 subscribers get a 5% discount coupon for Lotioncrafter, which you'll need as a tempt you into getting awesome ingredients to play with in your workshop. I apologize in advance...

Visit our new site and blog to buy this e-zine! It's all automated now, so you'll get your download link minutes after you buy any e-book or e-zine! I'm so excited about this!

Buy e-zines & e-books at SwiftCraftyMonkey's new home! 

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 Lotioncrafter! Woo! This e-zine will be available for purchase here next month!

Please note all the funds from the e-zines and Patreon go to support my family. The funds from the e-books continue to go to the youth programs we run called Rated T for Teen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It's too hot to craft: Summery floral gel

I've never really thought of myself as a floral kind of person, but it turns out I really love rose, rose geranium, and gardenias far more than I thought. This is what inspired this "It's too hot to craft" summery floral gel using lovely hydrosols and waters gelled with Sepimax ZEN. I've been using this on my skin to offer a lovely fragrance and a bit of cooling in the hot summer months.

81.5% rose water (Voyageur Soap & Candle) or rose geranium hydrosol (Windy Point)
10% chamomile hydrosol
5% calendula extract (liquid)
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

3% Sepimax ZEN

Into a container, weigh the rose hydrosol, chamomile hydrosol, calendula extract, and liquid Germall Plus. Mix together, then sprinkle the Sepimax ZEN over top and let sit for eight hours. Mix well with a fork, then put into a lovely jar or tube and enjoy! Or you could sprinkle the Sepimax ZEN over the liquid, then start mixing it with the beater of a hand mixer for about ten minutes to thicken. It will be slightly thinner this way, but still a lovely gel.

Why use rose water? Because it smells pretty, and it might help soothe skin. (I'm afraid I can't find much about this in any of my textbooks or other science-y places, other than it smells nice.)

Chamomile extract or hydrosol contains all kinds of lovely things to reduce inflammation and transepidermal water loss. Calendula extract also offers anti-inflammatory properties and soothes inflamed and chapped skin, which are awesome any time of year.

Feel free to substitute extracts or powders you like in this gel. I like powdered chamomile extract, which you could use at 0.5% by dissolving into the liquids before adding the gel. Powdered green tea extract would be nice at 0.5%, too. Just make sure you like the colour of these extracts before adding as they will alter the colour from this slightly beige colour to a deeper brown or green.

Cucumber extract might be quite nice as it will offer some soothing and hydrating. Try 0.5% powdered extract or up to 10% liquid extract.

Remember, when you add something to a product, you have to remove something to make sure it totals 100%. So if you add 10% liquid cucumber extract, you have to remove 10% of something else, usually the thing in there the most, like the rose hydrosol or distilled water. In this case, you'd have 71.5% rose hydrosol and 10% liquid cucumber extract. 

You could use another gelling agent instead of Sepimax ZEN here as we don't have a ton of electrolytes that might mess up the viscosity. Sepinov EMT 10 would be lovely and offer a more creamy looking gel, and Ultrez 20 would offer just about the same thing as ZEN without the waiting.

Follow the instructions on this post on making an oil free hydro-gel with Sepinov EMT 10 to modify this floral gel.

Follow the instructions in this post on making toners with Ultrez 20 to modify the floral gel.

I know you're going to ask, so I found the lip balm tubes for this gel at Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta. I only bought six of them, but I've used them all for gels and targeted treatments you'll see over the next few weeks. They are just as awesome as you think they look!

Please note, I offer the information on where to get supplies or packaging to be helpful to you, my lovely readers. These are not sponsored posts or affiliate links. I get nothing from no one if you click through and buy something from them. Having said that, I absolutely adore Tammy, Michele, and Jen of Voyageur, Windy Point, and Lotioncrafter respectively as people, and I love these companies. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Using 100x or 200x aloe vera powder in our products

In yesterday's post on cooling sprays, I used aloe vera 200x powder, which is a concentrated powdered extract that we can dissolve into water to make aloe vera.

The easiest way to do it is this: Into a container, measure out 1 gram aloe vera 200x extract, add 198 grams of distilled water, and 1 gram of liquid Germall Plus. This will give you 200 grams of reconstituted aloe vera, which you should store in a bottle for future use.

If you want to use another preservative, please make sure it can be used in an all water product and it can handle high levels of electrolytes. (Check out the preservatives section for more information.)

I can do it straight into the bottle as I have this awesome little MicroMini™ Mixer from Lotioncrafter* Seriously, I love this thing! I've been playing with all kinds of tiny mixers lately, and I'll share that all in a post shortly! 

I've read a few recipes lately in which people are using 0.5% 200x aloe vera powder directly into a product, which isn't a good idea. Why? Because doing this means you don't have water in this product any more - you have aloe vera.

Think of it this way: If you measure out 2 litres (2 quarts) of water and add a package of Kool-Aid into it, you don't have 2 litres of water, you have 2 litres of Kool-Aid. You wouldn't think of using that water to make soup, wash your face, or clean your countertops because it's not water any more, it's (brightly coloured) Kool-Aid. This is what we're doing if we add 0.5% 200x or 1% 100x aloe vera powder directly into a product: We're adding aloe vera, not plain water.

I recognize that Kool-Aid still contains water, but it's not pure water. It's water with colours and salts and sugar and other things, which is the point of that paragraph.

What's wrong with loads and loads of aloe vera? Isn't it great for our skin? It's a lovely ingredient, but using this much is definitely messing with the viscosity of the product. For products made with surfactants, you're pretty much guaranteeing they won't thicken well, even with all the liquid Crothix in the world. When you go past a certain level of electrolytes, they get into the "forget it, I'm never thickening zone" of the salt curve, and nothing will make that watery thin mess back into a just-right gooey loveliness. You can see on the picture to your left that between 3 and 3.5% is the danger zone, and adding 0.5% 200x aloe vera powder to your amazing facial cleanser, body wash, or shampoo probably that point, depending on the surfactants you've chosen.

If you want to see this in action, try this for yourself! Into a container weigh 30% C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40) or 30% sodium laureth sulfate (SLeS), 10% cocamidopropyl betaine, 0.5% liquid Germall Plus, and 59.5% distilled water.  Mix well, then add 2% liquid Crothix. Then try a version with 10% aloe vera liquid (meaning you have 49.5% distilled water) and another version with 0.5% 200x aloe vera powder. Can you see the difference in viscosity?

Almost every one of our emulsifiers from Polawax to Incroquat BTMS-50 to Simulgreen 18-2 has a limit on electrolytes, and every one of our gelling agents like Sepimax ZEN, Sepinov EMT 10, and Ultrez 20 has a definite limit on them, so using 0.5% or 1% powder straight into those products will end up in separation and a serious loss of viscosity.

If you have 200x powder and want to add it directly into a product, adding 0.05% would equal 10% aloe vera and 0.10% would equal 20% aloe vera.

If you have 100x powder, you'd use 0.1% to get 10% aloe vera or 0.2% to get 20% aloe vera.

I generally use no more than 10% aloe vera liquid in my products, although I will go as high as 20% or 30% aloe vera for toners or sprays as I don't have to worry about separation or loss of viscosity.

*Please note, I do have a relationship with Lotioncrafter in that I think Jen is awesome and I consider her a good friend, but this is not a sponsored post or affiliate link. I get nothing if you click through, and I'm sharing it because I am having a serious love affair with this tiny mixer! 

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's too hot to craft: Peppermint & chamomile cooling spray

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably already know how much I hate the heat and how much I love cooling sprays. I love to create these combinations of humectants and film formers and things that make my skin less angry with the world during the summer. So let's take a look at the one I made recently for my trip to Las Vegas for the 2017 HSCG Conference in Las Vegas.

My cooling sprays always start with a bit of peppermint essential oil in them as it contains awesome ingredients like 1,8 cineole and menthol that trick our skin into thinking it's cooler than it is, which is always a bonus no matter what the weather.

If I'm adding this at 2%, I have to add some kind of solubilizer to include it in a watery base as oil and water don't mix.

I could use something like polysorbate 20 or caprypyl/capryl glucosidebut these are sticky things, and given I'm already grumpty and annoyed by the heat, this probably isn't the skin feel I'm seeking. In this version, I chose to use PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil at 2% with 2% peppermint essential oil.

I could have used Cromollient SCE at 2% (or slightly higher) as it has a lightly oily feeling, but I didn't have any at the time. That would have been quite nice! 

I want quite a few humectants - ingredients that draw water from the atmosphere to our skin - as this will make my skin feel cooler and hydrated. I could use glycerin, but then we encounter the whole grumpy-Swift-is-also-sticky thing, so let's see if we can't find another choice here.

Sodium lactate is one of my go-to humectants. It's inexpensive, effective, and non-sticky. As I will probably be exposed to the sun and as it can make one sun sensitive, I have to keep it below 3% active ingredient. This means no more than 3% powder or 5% liquid (at 60% active, this means that 5% x 0.60 = 3%). It's far too easy to add a titch more when we're measuring, so I'll use this at 2% liquid or 3% powder to ensure I'm not close to that danger zone. ("Danger Zone!" for all you Archer fans out there!)

I'm also adding 3% propanediol 1,3, my new favourite humectant. 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. But I find it's a little lighter and drier feeling than propylene glycol. If you don't have this, use 3% propylene glycol instead.

I like to have some film formers in my products, so I'm adding 2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein as I like the way it works in a cooling spray because it's not sticky and doesn't have a strong odour. If you don't have this, use any other protein you have at home.

I love to include aloe vera extract as an anti-irritant and film forming ingredient, but I don't want too much as it can feel a bit sticky, too. I'm using 5% aloe vera 200x (reconstituted into a liquid) in this product. And I'm adding chamomile hydrosol because it'll offer soothing and anti-reddening properties as well as a reduction in transepidermal water loss. Feel free to leave these out or choose another hydrosol. I know rose water is very popular right now, so that's a nice option.

If you aren't sure how to use 100x or 200x aloe vera powder, join me tomorrow - August 22nd - in this post for more information

I'll two of my usual favourites - panthenol at 2% as it's a humectant, film former, and wound healer, and allantoin at 0.5% as my occlusive - as well as witch hazel, which has some natural alcohol in it that will offer a cooling sensation.

Finally, I'm adding 0.5% liquid Germall Plus to the mix. I know we've been told not to use this in aerosols, and you should never just take my word for it, but it's safe to use in this product. It has to do with how much of something is in here and it's well below allowable levels. (I can't find the link right now, but I'm searching for it!)

There are loads of other things you could include in this formula, such as liquid cucumber extract at 5% as in this formula, alcohol at up to 10% for a cooling sensation, or another hydrosol, like rose or peppermint. It's up to you to modify this as you wish. Remember, when we add something to the formula, we must remove something else to make it total 100%. So if you add 10% rose water, remove 10% from the distilled water amount, meaning you have 51% distilled water now.

Related post: Adding and removing from the water amount

Or you could just make this with 2% peppermint essential oil, 2% solubilizer, preservative, and distilled water, if you want.

Please remember that when we are making things cold, we have to take a few precautions, like using distilled or reverse osmosis water, including the proper amount of a broad spectrum preservative, not re-using bottles or jars, and sanitizing our surfaces.

61% distilled water
10% witch hazel
10% chamomile hydrosol
5% aloe vera extract (liquid, not gel)
3% propanediol 1,3
2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein
2% panthenol
2% sodium lactate (liquid)
0.5% allantoin
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

2% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil
2% peppermint essential oil

Into a container, weigh the water phase and mix. You can heat this slightly to around 40˚C to make the allantoin dissolve better. If you do that, don't put the liquid Germall Pus in until you've finished heating it and have measured the temperature is below 45˚C.

Into a small container, like a shot glass, measure the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil and peppermint essential oil and mix well. Add to the water phase, mix well, then put into cute spray bottles. Enjoy!

What did I think of this? To be honest, nothing was going to save me from the heat of Las Vegas in May, but it did make me feel a bit better and definitely made me smell better!

I really like this version of the cooling spray. It's so much less sticky than my previous ones, and I like the dry, almost silica like feel of the propanediol. This one is definitely a keeper!

This makes a lovely toner, but make sure you remove the peppermint as it's a bit too much near the eyes at 2%.

Related posts: I have so many different formulas for cooling sprays and hydrating toners, so I'll refer you to a search as there's just too much to read! Here are a few samples...
Cucumber extract in an apres shaving spray
Making a cooling spray (part three - links to the other parts are in this one)
Aloe vera apres sun spray 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: What's making my lotion sticky? (part two)

Yesterday, we took a look at a formula submitted by BrNy to see what could be making her lotion sticky. Today, we'll see what we can do to reduce that skin feel.

Here's the ingredient list again: Glycerin, resveratrol, n-acetyl glucosamine, water, sea kelp bioferment, niacinamide, dl-panthenol, allantoin, liquid Germall Plus, fractionated coconut oil, and Aristoflex AVC.

What can make your skin feel sticky? Glycerin, sea kelp bioferment, and Aristoflex AVC.

What can we do about them? Loads of things!

Glycerin is the big culprit here, but we need it to dissolve the resveratrol in something like alcohol, glycerin, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, or propanediol 1,3, to name a few solvents. Aristoflex AVC can handle alcohol - up to 50%, but I haven't tested it that high - so we know alcohol is an option. 2% alcohol to 0.5% resveratrol would work. You could do the same for any of the solvents.

I admit it - I'm having a torrid love affair with propanediol 1,3 as a humectant and solvent these days. It has a dry, almost powdery skin feel with no stickiness. I've been dissolving everything in it lately, from salicylic acid to resveratrol, and it works so well in that capacity. I've also been using it as a humectant in my cooling sprays, toners, and other places I really don't want a sticky after feel. It's awesome!

You can see it in action in this Gigawhite & Vitamin C moisturizer with Aristoflex as I dissolve 0.5% resveratrol in 3% propanediol, and it feels just lovely!

I'll be writing more about this later this week as I've just realized I don't have a post on this ingredient. What the heck???

When it comes to sea kelp bioferment, we don't have a load of options because we can't include hydrolyzed proteins in Aristoflex as it messes with the viscosity too much. You could leave it out entirely, or you could see how you like it with just the glycerin removed. I would reduce it down to 2% as that'll be enough for the film forming properties we want. 

With this little tweak, your formula would look like this...

2.0% propanediol 1,3, propylene glycol, or denatured alcohol
0.5% Resveratrol

81.5% Distilled water 
2.0% Sea Kelp Bioferment
4.0% n-acetyl glucosamine
3.0% Niacinamide
2.0% dl-Panthenol
0.5% Allantoin

3.0% Lotioncrafter FCO

1.0% Aristoflex AVC

 0.5% liquid Germall Plus

1.  Mix the propanediol 1,3, propylene glycol, or denatured alcohol with the resveratrol into a small container, like a shot glass. Set aside for a moment. 
2. Measure distilled or de-ionized water into a container. You can heat it slightly - no more than 40˚C - to ensure the allantoin, niacinamide, and panthenol dissolve. 
3. Add your water soluble ingredients to the container, then add the resveratrol to the container. Mix with a stick blender for a few seconds. 
4. Add the oil soluble ingredients. 
5. Add the Aristoflex AVC. 
6. Add the preservative. 
7. Mix well. Bottle, and rejoice! 

So what did BrNy think? The batch I made turned a brownish color so i chucked it (could the resveratrol have caused the discoloration ?) and made a new batch sans glycerin or resveratrol and tweaked a bit. To that old recipe I added NAG at 4%, niacinamide at 2% and honeyquat at 3%. I love this new version of the lotion, it's NOT sticky at all and my skin saw good improvement in tone and texture since i started using it. In my experience making facial lotions, glycerin usually makes my pores look enlarged and it breaks me out so I'm leaving that out from now on. 

So it's a success with less stickiness by just switching out the glycerin. Yay! This is a great example how a small change can have a big impact on the skin feel of your product. 

Yes, the resveratrol could alter the colour of your product slightly. I've had this happen, too. 

Be careful when you're adding something like honeyquat to Aristoflex AVC. It's anionic or negatively charged and Honeyquat is cationic or positively charged, so they can interact and ruin the emulsion or the viscosity of your product. (I've done this before, and it's not a huge deal, just know that this can happen.) 

Before we leave this topic, BrNy asked another great question: Would sodium lactate or sodium PCA be good alternatives in lotions made with other emulsifier like Incroquat BTMS-50 (since Aristoflex AVC can't handle sodium?) Can they be used together in a lotion? 

I love sodium lactate so much - it's one of my favourite ingredients - but, as you mention, it can't be used in Aristoflex AVC. I love sodium PCA, too, it's one I don't use as much as I can't get it easily in Canada. So the quick answer is that yes, you can combine different humectants together to make something super hydrating! 

As usual, my brain spied a "shiny thing" in your question about humectants, and I've gone down the rabbit hole about humectants for a few hours. I'll be writing more about them later this week. Until then, join me tomorrow for an awesome cooling spray chock full of our lovely humectants as we continue the "It's too hot to craft!" series! 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Weekend Wondering: What's making my lotion sticky? (Part one)

In this post, Aristoflex AVC - light lotion with NAG, ceramides, and quaternized rice, BrNy asked: I know this is an old-ish post but thought I'd try my luck anyway. I made this lotion based off of a recipe I saw at but added NAG at 4% and subtracted 4ml of water (I made 100 g of lotion.) I love the consistency and all but it feels pretty sticky, even after I feel the lotion sank into my skin. Do u suppose maybe the glycerin is what is making the lotion sticky? I'm pretty new to skin care formulations and been following your blog for a few months now (been kinda obsessed a little... or maybe a lot!!) Any input will be greatly appreciated! Recipe as follows:

Phase A 
2.00% Glycerin
0.50% Resveratrol

Phase B 
83.0% Distilled water (79% actually, because I added NAG at 4%)
4.00% Sea Kelp Bioferment
3.00% Niacinamide
2.00% dl-Panthenol
0.50% Allantoin
0.50% Liquid Germall Plus
3.00% Lotioncrafter FCO

Phase C 
1.00% Aristoflex AVC

I simply followed the "how to" instructions and ended up with lovely lotion that is pretty light... but sticky!!! I'll use this up but wanted to tweak the ingredients a bit to get rid of the stickiness.

I say this all time but there are no old posts. I receive notifications for every single comment on the blog regardless of age. As well, this is from February 2016, which may be "old" in Internet time, but not so old that the product has gone rancid. (In fact, I still have a sample of my lotion on the shelf and it feels great!)

Let's take a look at all the ingredients that could make this a sticky product...

Glycerin: Yeah, this is the queen of the stickies, along with other poly alcohol or sugar based ingredients.

Resveratrol: I haven't found this to be sticky, but if it's dissolved in glycerin, it could be a contributing factor.

n-acetyl glucosamine: This 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?) I don't think this contributes to stickiness in a product.

Sea kelp bioferment: This is a great film former and substitute for hydrolyzed proteins in this formula as Aristoflex AVC can't handle those lovely ingredients. I usually use it at 2% and I see you have it at 4%, so dropping that down to 2% might be an idea?

Niacinamide: 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.

I don't think this is contributing to the stickness of the product.

dl-Panthenol: I'm guessing you're using the powder for this awesome humectant, hydrator, anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-itch, and wound healing ingredient. Liquid or powder, this shouldn't contribute to the stickiness.

Allantoin: This is another one of my favourite ingredients that I use to soothe skin and prevent wind and cold chapping. I use it at 0.5% as well. This definitely isn't contributing to the stickness.

Liquid Germall Plus: Your preservative isn't contributing to the stickiness when used at 0.5%.

Fractionated coconut oil: This very thin oil feels slightly dry and non-greasy, and not sticky at all. Some oils could have that effect - especially something like lanolin - but FCO is all about the light moisturizing.

Aristoflex AVC (INCI Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer): This emulsifier can feel a bit sticky to some people. I don't notice it, but I've had other people ask me about this and you may be one of those who notices it.

We have three potential sticky culprits here: Glycerin, Aristoflex AVC, and sea kelp bioferment. What can we do about this? As this post is getting long, join me tomorrow to see what we can do about altering the skin feel of this lotion!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's too hot to craft: Cold process hair conditioners - part four with ICE Hair Restore

Last Monday, we met a new, cold process conditioner I bought from Making Cosmetics called Ice Hair Restore (aka Gracefruit's EasyMix Smooth or Jeesperse CPCS). Last Tuesday, we made a hair conditioner with it, then modified that on Wednesday into a more intense conditioner my best friend coined the Pineapple Express Intense Conditioner.

Let's modify this formula to include some oils as ICE Hair Restore can emulsify up to 10%. (Click there to see why I'm using the ingredients I'm using...)

83% distilled or purified water
5% ICE Hair Restore
3% Volumizing complex
2% Hydrolyzed baobab protein
2% panthenol (liquid)
2% dimethicone 350 cs
2% cyclomethicone
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
0.5% Pineapple cilantro fragrance oil (from Windy Point Soap)

All our formulas should total 100% so we can quickly see whether we're using our ingredients in proper amounts as per the suggested usage rates. So when we add something to the mix, we have to remove something to keep that total at 100%. In this case, it's easiest to add our oil at 5% and remove 5% distilled water.

In this case, I'm adding some monoi de Tahiti, coconut oil infused with gardenia flowers that smells amazing! This is an awesome inclusion in a hair conditioner as coconut oil has a high affinity for the proteins in our hair, plus the fatty acids are actually small enough to penetrate the strand. (Click for more information...)

If you don't have monoi de Tahiti, you can use normal coconut oil or any other oil. I really really love this smell, which is weird because I didn't think of myself as a flower kind of girl, but it turns out I love all kinds of flower fragrances!

If we add 5% coconut oil to this formula, we have to take 5% out of the water phase, so our distilled water amount will be 78%. You'll notice everything else is the same.

5% ICE Hair Restore

5% monoi de Tahiti

78% distilled or purified water
3% Volumizing complex
2% hydrolyzed baobab protein
2% panthenol (liquid)
2% dimethicone 350 cs
2% cyclomethicone
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
0.5% lemongrass verbena fragrance oil (Voyageur Soap & Candle)

Weigh the ICE Hair Restore out separately into a tiny container, then mix with my tiny stick blender until it's more of a paste.

Melt the monoi de Tahiti oil until melted or liquid. (As a note, it's super hot in my workshop, so I didn't need to melt the monoi de Tahiti as it has a melting point of 24˚C or 76˚F, and we exceeded that yesterday.)

Into a container, weigh the water phase, then add the ICE Hair Restore, and mix for around 30 seconds. Add the oil, and mix for 15 or so seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients into the container, mixing after every addition.

You're done! Rejoice!

You might notice I have a fragrance oil in that formula. I added that as I couldn't smell the monoi in the finished product, and I really like to have a light fragrance in my hair conditioners. If you want the monoi fragrance, up the amount to 10% and remove the cyclomethicone and dimethicone. (They're part of the total 10% oils this ingredient can emulsify. Keeping them in will result in failure. I know this, sadly, by experience.) I started at 0.5% fragrance oil, then upped it to a total of 0.75%, which I think is a bit much. That's what I get for trusting my nose instead of my scale!

I can't stress enough how much you want to mix the ICE Hair Restore powder before adding it. You can see the giant lump in this picture, which I've had trouble breaking down once combined, so definitely give it a whirl with a small stick blender or even your gloved hands!

Don't you love these tiny mixers? I've been using Lotioncrafter's Minipro Mixer for ages, but they've come out with the MICROMini™ Mixer that's even smaller. (I'll show you how to use that shortly. You can put it right into a bottle, which is awesome!) I also purchased this Mini Mixer from Candora Soap, which I'm loving! 

How to mix this? You can use a stick blender, a mini blender, or a hand mixer. If I have to use a larger device to mix, I prefer to use a hand mixer. You don't really have to worry about using a high shear or immersion or stick blender type appliance for this product. You don't want to mix it by hand. It's very rare that we want to mix by hand.

Related post: Can how and when we mix have an impact on an emulsion?

What do I think of this formula? I really like it and I have really oily hair. (I don't recommend using it on your scalp if you're an oily person like me...) My hair felt light and moisturized without being heavy and weighed down. I had lovely waves and ringlets in my hair for the first two days, which made me very happy, and my hair felt very soft. It was shiny, which is something that I don't generally see as I have coarse, wavy hair strands, which was a really pleasant surprise.

I mentioned in this post that I think I need a humectant in the mix as my hair feels a bit dry on the ends on the morning of day three, and I feel this way about this version as well. I'll share that formula with you early next week.

If you have dry hair, you'll definitely want to add a humectant to the mix - say 3% glycerin to start - as you'll want more hydration than this formula offers. (I will be sharing that formula with you early next week.)

If you have oily hair, you might not want to use the oil at all, so try last week's formula without it if you're worried about that.

I wish this was a little less grainy than it is. I think I could fix that by heating it up, but that defeats the purpose of using this product, so I'll live with it!

What do you think? Have you tried this ingredient? What did you make? What would you suggest for other variations? Share your thoughts!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Question: Is normal for products with citrus oils to go orange?

In the August Q&A on Patreon, Anne asked: I am wondering why my room spray with citrus oils has turned orange. It smells perfectly fine and is preserved with 0.5% LGP. I recall you making a body wash with citrus that turned colour. Is it just a natural reaction you don't need to worry about?

I wouldn't worry about it. This happens to me all the time, as you can see from this picture of the Japanese themed body wash I made with Yuzu fragrance oil. I've had it happen with all kinds of citrus-y fragrance and essential oils, from Sweet Meyer Lemon and Lemon Curd to tangerine or sweet orange. It's just something citrus does with certain ingredients. I haven't had huge issues with lotions or creams, but it definitely alters the colour of things like my surfactant blends all kinds of yellow or orange.

Check out this post on using orange essential oil in your products.

You'll see this with fragrances that contain vanilla, too. They start browning over time, leaving your white lotion beige and your soap a more chocolate-y colour than you expected. This one I made with Michele from Windy Point Soap started off creamy, but the strawberry jam fragrance oil we used turned it brown. Which is fine with me as it smells and feels great!

Having said this, always observe the colour of your product. (This is one of the reasons I like clear bottles.) If you have a product that's changing colour - for instance, going brown or green or pink - that could be unpreserved or has been exposed to a lot of heat, you may be experiencing some kind of contamination.

Related posts:
Product testing - includes information on fragrance morphing
Surfactants and clarity
My article from Handmade magazine, The science behind citrus
My article from Handmade magazine, Understanding the vanilla villain
My article from Handmade magazine, The science of colour morphing

If you're interested in supporting the blog, please check out my Patreon page! There all kinds of rewards for subscribing, from the Q&A section to the requests for duplicating section. $10 subscribes also receive an e-zine every month brimming with new formulas and ingredients!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Question from Patreon: Does polyquaternium 10 have a shelf life? Is acetic acid or aspen bark extract a good preservative?

In the July Q&A on Patreon, Belinda asked: I have two questions...1) do you know if polyquaternium 10 has an expiration date? I've checked the website I bought it from (Personal Formulator) plus a couple more that sell it, and I've not seen anywhere if it does, indeed, expire. The reason I ask is because I'm having problems getting it to dissolve in my water phase, and I was wondering if the reason was that it's not "fresh". 2) Is acetic acid and aspen bark extract a good preservative system for hair conditioner? I've seen this listed on a product being sold on Etsy, and I have not found any evidence to back up the fact that this is a good preservation for a conditioner. I told my friend she should throw it out, but am now wondering if I was over-reacting. 

The quick answer to the first question about polyquaternium 10 is that everything has an expiry date at some point, so we just have to find it. This version has a shelf life of a year, as does this one. So I'd say a year? Which sucks because I have some that I've had a lot longer than I thought!

Acetic acid (aka ethanoic acid) is the acid found in vinegar. In this post (scroll down to Edina), Perry Romanowski says he doesn't think dehydrated acetic acid will work as a preservative, and he says it again in this post. I've seen variations on acetic acid in preservatives, like dehydroacetic acid like we find in Optiphen ND, but never just acetic acid. Could this person be using vinegar - probably apple cider vinegar - in their products?

Oh, wait, I wonder if it's being used as apple cider vinegar in a conditioner as people like to use that in their hair? (See this post I wrote about it here...)

As of today, I can't find anything about this being used as a preservative on its own and I couldn't find any company selling a preservative that contains it. If you have any information, my lovely readers, please let me know.

As for aspen bark extract, I've written about this a bit as an ingredient found in Natapres. The Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract comes from the quaking or trembling aspen, and it's listed as an anti-bacterial. It seems like it would need something to go along with it to make it a broad spectrum preservative, like one of the organic acids as a fungicide, like potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate.

My humble opinion is that I wouldn't trust those ingredients to preserve a hair conditioner or any other water containing product as they aren't part of a broad spectrum preservative.

Yeah, I know that's willow bark extract in the picture, but I needed something to break up the wall of text, and this was the closest I could get.

If you're interested in supporting the blog, please check out my Patreon page! There all kinds of rewards for subscribing, from the Q&A section to the requests for duplicating section. $10 subscribes also receive an e-zine every month brimming with new formulas and ingredients!

Question from Patreon: What are these ingredients I found in DHC Deep Cleansing Oil?

In the July Q&A on Patreon, Jaime asked: Can you tell me your thoughts on the following three ingredients and if there is a natural substitute? sorbeth-30 tetraoleate (is this just an emulsifier), pentylene glycol (humectant?), stearyl glycyrrhetinate (?)  They seem to be simple ingredients but I'm wondering if they are used for something other than just an emulsifier or humectant in the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil that crazy popular.  Here's the ingredient list: olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sorbeth-30 tetraoleate, pentylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, tocopherol, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil

You are correct! Sorbeth-30 tetraoleate is a water loving or hydrophilic emulsifier used in some cleansing oils. It has an HLB of 11.5.

Anthony O'Lenick wrote about this ingredient: If sorbitol is ethoxylated, the dehydration is minimized and sorbeth esters form. The empirical formula of sorbeth-30 is shown in Figure 4. These sorbeth esters are emulsifiers or oils depending upon the amount of EO present. For example, sorbeth-30 tetraoleate (liquid), sorbeth-40 tetraoleate (liquid) and sorbeth-60 tetraoleate (paste) are all excellent emulsifiers and solubilizers of high polar vegetable oils or esters. They provide stable emulsification in small quantities for various oils and esters.

You could try using a polysorbate in its place - I'd try polysorbate 80 - or you could try caprylyl/capryl glucoside, which is considered green and ECOcert. These may feel stickier than the original.

Some references about sorbeth-30-tetraoleate...
Fantastic post on this topic
Reference and some formulas that might be interesting...
A little more information from Cosmetics Info

Pentylene glycol is a relative of the other glycols like propylene glycol or butylene glycol. You could use either of them in its place. If you're seeking a more natural humectant, try glycerin - which can be sticky - or propanediol 1,3. 

Propanediol 1,3 is 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. But I find it's a little lighter and drier feeling than propylene glycol. 

As pentylene glycol is water soluble, methinks the sorbeth-30 tetraoleate is used to combine this into the rest of the oil soluble product. 

What the heck is stearyl glycyrrhetinate? It's an interesting ingredient derived from liquorice root! "The fatty acid form of the soothing ingredient glycyrrhetinic acid, which is derived from licorice." (Paula's Choice) It's an emollient "used to enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness." 

From UL Prospector: "Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate is an ester of stearyl alcohol and Glycyrrhetinic Acid. It acts as a skin conditioning agent with soothing anti-inflammatory properties. This product appears as a white or pale yellowish powder and is used in cosmetics and personal care product formulations for makeup, fragrance, hair care, skin care, shaving, personal hygiene and suntan products."

So it's an oil soluble emollient used to soothe skin and moisturize. Sounds pretty awesome! 

Reference for stearyl glycyrrhetinate: 

To answer your question, I think there could be natural versions of these ingredients, but these are pretty specific things and I think you'd mess up what people love the most about it. You could use caprylyl/capryl glucoside for the sorbeth-30 tetraoleate, propanediol 1,3 for the pentylene glycol, and...I'm really not sure for the stearyl glycyrrhetinate. Maybe a nice light oil like squalane? There'll only be a titch in there as it's down in the 1% or less category in the ingredient list, so maybe that's the best choice? 

If you want the benefits of liquorice root, consider using a bit of ethanol to dissolve some of the powdered extract and add it that way, or use a titch of liquid extract - 1% or less. It may not mix in perfectly, but it's a great ingredient to include in something like this. 

If you're interested in supporting the blog, please check out my Patreon page! There all kinds of rewards for subscribing, from the Q&A section to the requests for duplicating section. $10 subscribes also receive an e-zine every month brimming with new formulas and ingredients!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Question from Patreon: Are there any green alternatives to SLSa in a bath bomb?

In July's Q&A on Patreon, Ingrid asked: I'm investigating bath bombs and  more natural alternatives to using SLSa for bubbles. I've seen bath bomb ingredients listing decyl glucoside as a foaming agent. It's also supposed to be a solubiliser. Can I use it (in liquid form) instead of the Polysorbate 85 and SLSa? If not, do you have any other suggestions for more natural SLSa alternative? 

If we're talking about natural, there really isn't a natural surfactant out there. We can find green or something certified, like ECOcert, Cosmos, or Natrue, but there's nothing that hasn't gone through quite a lot of processing in a factory.

Decyl glucoside, a non-ionic or neutrally charged liquid surfactant, is an ECOcert ingredient, but I don't think it's an option for a bath bomb as it's a liquid, and not a very good bubbler. It's a foamer, but if you're looking for a bubbling bath bomb, this won't give you the big, quick bubbles like something like SLSa will offer. It can act as a solubilizer as it's a good one. The down side of this ingredient is that it's a liquid, which could be too much in some climates, especially humid ones like mine. You could try adding a bit of it - maybe 5% - to the bath bomb to see what you think, but I worry it'll be too wet and sticky.

You could use something like Bioterge AS90, powdered C14-16 olefin sulfonate, as it's a great bubbler with flash foam, but it isn't considered green.

If you are looking for a green, ECOcert solubilizer, consider caprylyl/capryl glucoside (CCG). It's a substitute for polysorbates. There is a huge down side to it; It's incredibly sticky. I mean super sticky. A drip dropped down the side of my bottle, and it took some of the wooden surface of my workshop table with it. I've been working with it in micellar waters, which is going well, but I wouldn't have it in my workshop otherwise as it's just so sticky in just about every product in which I've tried it.

So the short answer is that you could try a little decyl glucoside, but I don't think it's the best choice.

If you're interested in supporting the blog, please check out my Patreon page! There all kinds of rewards for subscribing, from the Q&A section to the requests for duplicating section. $10 subscribes also receive an e-zine every month brimming with new formulas and ingredients!