Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unlock posts with your comments!

As I mentioned in this post, Huge news that will affect the blog, I miss is being a part of a community of creators, connecting with people who love this thing as much as I do, and I'm really feeling the isolation when I look for a place to recharge my batteries.

Think of every single post - new and old - as a tiny Kickstarter type thing that needs your attention to unlock the next installment. If you see part one of a post, you won't see part two until there's a certain amount of interaction in the form of comments. If there isn't that interaction after a week, it won't be posted as I'll assume you aren't interested that topic, ingredient, or formula. For older posts, if I see a topic that's suddenly filled with comments or feedback, I'll make sure I spend time on that topic again in the future. 

If you're interested in seeing part two of the series on cosmeceuticals, share your thoughts! If you aren't interested in it, that's fine. I'll move on to another topic. (The rest of that series will remain on my Patreon page as I write these things a few weeks in advance now for those subscribers.)

You don't have to say much - share a thought about the topic; something you love or hate about the oil, emulsifier, or surfactant; write about your experiences; tell me about the fail you had with it so we can fix it; think about how you might make substitutions; share your favourite fragrance in it; or anything else you can think of - but say something. The only rule - as of this moment - is that you must do it with kindness, with an understanding that every single person who reads it, including me, is a human being who has feelings. We can totally disagree, but we do it as adults without condescension or insults.

Some of you have mentioned that you're surprised to see me wanting you to comment as I'm probably swamped with things already. Yeah, I definitely am, it isn't about you asking me questions and me answering them. It's about you sharing your feelings, experiences, and thoughts. It's about you asking questions and other people answering them. It's about creating a community in which we support each other and provide awesome, science based information as we all take this journey together. It's not about me as I'm just your guide to faciliate this process, but I want to learn about you and what you like, too! How can I write about things that interest you if I have no idea what interests you?

Quite a few of you have written to me privately or posted on here that it's hard for you to comment as you're really busy. I get that, believe me, I get that, but it would be nice to see you around here some time. If you value what I'm offering, why not make time when you're sitting at the doctor's office or having a coffee break or using the toilet - oh, you know you do it, we all do it! - to add your voice to the conversation? It only takes a minute, and your helpful comment might be the thing that helps someone fall in love with this craft all over again!

Finally, if you get these posts by e-mail, you won't see the edits or updates I've made to them, as well as the comments from other people that might spark something in you! Please come visit the blog and be part of this community to see what you're missing!

If you'd like to see posts from the blog a few weeks earlier or don't feel like commenting, click here for more information on my Patreon feed. $10 subscribers get an e-zine as well as discounts from awesome shops, like Lotioncrafterbut you can subscribe at as little as $1 a month to gain access to the feed.

Why sign up for Patreon? Because this is my full time job now, and your subscription helps me write more and experiment with more ingredients and equipment for the blog!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Series from a question from Patreon: What's a cosmeceutical? What's an active? And how much can we use of these things in combination? Part one - definitions

In the October Q&A on Patreon, Michelle asked: I am loving the latest e-zines with all the lovely cosmeceuticals. I am wondering what exactly is considered an 'active' ingredient, and if there is a maximum percentage recommended for total active ingredients in a formulation. I have been experimenting with many of the cosmeceuticals in an eye gel that I want to be anti-aging with antioxidants. I am working with a formula as follows: 51% water, 20% hydrosol (neroli), 10% oil, 5% mulberry root extract, 3% Eye Complex 4 (from Making Cosmetics [Palmitoyl tripeptide-5, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate, algae (dunaliella salina) extract]), 2.5% D'Orientine, 2.5 Sepimax Zen, 2% Sea Kelp Bioferment, 2% propanediol1,3, 1% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, 1% Penoxyethanol SA. This is a lovely eye gel but it does tingle slightly (but goes away in less than a minute) when applied to my eye are. As far as I can determine, each of these ingredients alone shouldn't cause this sensitivity so I am wondering if in this case too much of a good  thing is just too much. What are your thoughts? My pH meter is on order, so with the pH strips, it measures at 6.

In the same post, Belinda said: I will second Michelle’s comment. I, too, have been wondering how many cosmeceuticals is too many. Right now I’m experimenting with the ones I have one at a time, but when I’m sure I’m not reacting to any of them individually, I’d like to use combinations of them in an anti-aging facial lotion. Are there any guidelines for formulating with multiple cosmeceuticals?

In the same post, Mimi added: I have the same question as Michelle and Belinda.  Is there a limit to how many cosmeceuticals you can add to a face cream?  I put about 6-7 anti aging products that I bought from Lotioncrafter into 1 face cream, but I'm not sure doing this will cause one product to react with another and nullify the effectiveness. 

Okay, this is the kind of question I could use as the starting point for weeks of posts, and it's one that will take some time to unpack, so let's start at the very beginning...which I understand is a very good place to start. (Hey, Julie Andrews never lies! Never!)

"In the USA, according to the FDC act of 1938, a cosmetic is defined as an article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting structure or function (1). It is noteworthy that in this definition the cosmetic is not allowed to have any activity (i.e., without affecting structure or function)." (Reference: Cosmeceuticals and Active Cosmetics, page 11).

In Canada, Health Canada defines a cosmetic as "any substance or mixture of substances, manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth and includes deodorants and perfumes. This definition also includes cosmetics used by professional esthetic services, as well as bulk institutional products (e.g. handsoap in school restrooms)." For instance: "Products that have a therapeutic claim or that contain certain ingredients that are not permitted in cosmetics are considered to be over-the-counter drugs and are handled by the Therapeutic Products Programme, for example sunscreens." (More on this topic at Health Canada).

The moment that cosmetic has some activity - for instance, a dandruff shampoo to treat dandruff versus a shampoo that cleans your hair - it isn't considered a cosmetic under these rules, it's a drug. This is why we can't say something like "gets rid of age spots" - because that alters the appearance. Instead, we have to say something like "may promote a more even complexion".

Albert Kligman notes, "With the great advances in our understanding of skin physiology, it is impossible to think of a single substance that cannot, under some circumstances, alter the structure and function of skin, especially when repeatedly applied, which daily grooming practices ensure." 

I understand definitions in the EU, Japan, or other parts of the world may be different, but I figure if I start with Canada - which is where I live - and the States, which is where most of my textbooks are written, I'll have at least two countries to compare, if necessary.

What is a cosmeceutical? I've written about this at length on both this blog and in a few e-zines that will eventually become an e-book over the next few months - fingers crossed! - but I find it helpful to go back to my books and references to make sure I'm on the right track just in case I lost something in translation somewhere.

They're "cosmetic products with properties very similar to a pharmaceutical product (drug-like benefits)". (p. 295, Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology.)

"Increasingly though products which are considered cosmeceuticals actually do affect the structure or function of the skin and thus have drug-like effects but are marketed using appearance-based claim." (Cosmetic Formluation of Skin Care Products, page 187.)

From the coiner of this controversial term, Albert M Kligman:
I defined cosmeceuticals as topical formulations which were neither pure cosmetics, like lipstick or rouge, nor pure drugs, like corticosteroids. They lay between these poles, constituting a broad-spectrum intermediate group. Some were closer to drugs, such as the alpha-hydroxy acids—designed to exfoliate the outer, loose stratum corneum, a structural effect—whereas others were closer to cosmetics, like rouge—designed to give color, a purely decorative effect. (Reference: page 1, Cosmeceuticals & Active Cosmetics)
The Australasian College of Dermatologists notes,
Cosmeceuticals are products that have both cosmetic and therapeutic (medical or drug-like) effects, and are intended to have a beneficial effect on skin health and beauty. Like cosmetics, they are applied topically as creams or lotions but contain active ingredients that have an effect on skin cell function. In some cases, their action is limited to the skin surface (such as exfoliants), while others can penetrate to deeper levels, either enhancing or limiting normal skin functions. Cosmeceuticals are available “over-the-counter” (without prescription) and are generally used as part of a regular skin care regime to help improve skin tone and texture, pigmentation and fine lines. 
Most moisturisers restore barrier function and water content to the skin, improving the appearance of aged or dry skin. Cosmeceuticals should ideally deliver the active ingredient in a biologically effective form to the skin and reach the target site in sufficient quantity to have an effect.
(Read the rest of that post, as it's very interesting and has loads of examples of cosmeceuticals.)

I could provide you with post after post, reference after reference, but the general idea is the same - they're ingredients we add to our products to offer a specific benefit, like anti-aging, creating a more uniform skin tone, alleviating acne, and so on. You can never make a claim that the product you make with those ingredients will fix, heal, or repair anything, but that doesn't mean you can't include ingredients in your products that might be of benefit. Ingredients like Co-enzyme Q10, niacinamide, or MSM would be considered cosmeceuticals by this definition.

Having said this, the FDA (US) states, "The term "cosmeceutical" has no meaning under the law."

This is still kinda vague, but I feel like I know what a cosmeceutical is when I see it. But do I?

I've spent the last few days researching this topic, and had at least five pages of notes, and I think it's definitely something we can call them. I think cosmeceuticals implies something that active ingredients doesn't, but it is a term we can use.

Do I see a difference between "cosmeceutical" and "active"? Sort of, I guess? I'm not completely sure given that there really isn't consensus on what cosmeceuticals are, but I think there's a difference between adding magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (a type of Vitamin C) liposomes into a product and adding some rosehip powder. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but there may be more standardization of the amount of Vitamin C we find in those liposomes and what we find in rosehip powder.

Having said that, I've spent some time at Perry Romanowsky's Chemists' Corner, and he has some good posts on the topic. If you'd like an interesting read, check out his posts on the topic - including three categories of ingredients, and do active ingredients in cosmetics work?. 

Okay, so now that I've messed with your head quite a lot, let's take a break and resume this when we see enough comments!

This post appeared on a few weeks ago, on my Patreon feed. If you'd like to see these posts three to four weeks earlier, click here for more information on my Patreon feed. $10 subscribers get an e-zine as well as discounts from awesome shops, like Lotioncrafterbut you can subscribe at as little as $1 a month to gain access to the feed.

Why sign up for Patreon? Because this is my full time job now, and your subscription helps me write more and experiment with more ingredients and equipment for the blog!

Want to see part two of this series? Unlock the next post with your comments!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Do you need to measure the pH of your products? If so, do you need a meter, or can the strips work just as well?

We took a look at various pH meters yesterday, so let's ask the most important question of all today - Do you need a pH meter? And what's the advantage of using a pH meter over pH strips?

The first question should be - Do you need to measure the pH of your products?

If you're making lotions with oils, butters, and so on, probably not. The pH will be in the right range.

If you're making lotions that contain active ingredients like AHAs, Vitamin C, salicylic acid, and other cosmeceuticals, definitely yes. These ingredients require very specific pH ranges and they're useless outside of it. As well, you want to make sure you aren't going too low as this could burn you. It is vital if you're using these kinds of acids that you measure the pH accurately.

If you're making body wash, facial cleaners, or shampoos with surfactants that have an acidic starting pH, like cocamidopropyl betaine or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, then no, probably not.

If you're making body washes or shampoos with ingredients like decyl glucoside, pH 8 to 11, or sodium lauryl sarcosinate, pH 7.5 to 8.5, then yes, as we want the pH of these ingredients to be below 6.

If you're making shampoo bars with sodium coco sulfate (SCS), you definitely need a pH meter. I can't believe how many blog posts I'm seeing where people are making shampoo bars with this ingredient and aren't lowering the pH drastically. SCS is a very alkaline ingredient with a pH over 9, which will wreck your hair if you don't alter it!

If you want to make a shampoo bar and don't want to test the pH, then use sodium cocoyl isethionate or SCI as it has a perfect pH for our hair.

Related posts:
How to melt SCI
pH of shampoo
Shampoo bars for dry hair
Conditioning shampoo bars for oily hair

As a note, check out the surfactant section of the blog for more information on these wonderful, bubbly, lathery, foamy ingredients! 

If you're making conditioners with Incroquat BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225 probably not.

Related post:
pH of conditioner

If you're making conditioners with ingredients like stearamidopropyl dimethylamine or Varisoft EQ65, both of which require adjusting the pH to lower than 5 as they aren't cationic or positively charged until then. No pH adjustment, no conditioner.

By the way, Varisoft EQ 65 is an amazing conditioner! It's ECOcert, green, and readily biodegradable, which is great, but it makes my hair feel so soft!!!

The essential question is whether you need to adjust the pH to make the ingredient work or make the product safe.

When I present a formula on this blog, in the e-books, or in the e-zines, I make sure it's pH balanced. If you follow my formula exactly, you can rest assured it's in the right pH range. If you change a water soluble ingredient, like a hydrosol or extract and so on, or an emulsifier, it might not be any more. 

To give you a very specific example, I made a salicylic acid toner with the rose geranium hydrosol from Windy Point (pH 5.26), which worked out very well. When I made it the next time with Voyageur's rose hydrosol (ph 6.99), it went all weird and cloudy as the pH was increased, and fell outside the necessary range.

For other things, it's no big deal, but for something that is so pH specific, this small change made all the difference.

So part of the answer is that you need to measure some products, but not others. 

Could you use pH strips instead of a pH meter for products? Yes, and no. It depends on how accurate you need to be. If you're looking for "anything below pH 6" for a body wash or shampoo, then strips could be all you need.

If you're looking for between 3.0 and 3.5 so you don't burn yourself and so the AHAs or Vitamin C or other ingredient is effective, go with the machine as accuracy is vital here.

I've been experimenting with pH strips from Lotioncrafter. They have three test areas, and it's definitely the more the merrier here!

So when looking for strips...

1. More testing areas = more better. These ones have three measurements, while these litmus strips can only give you one measurement for pH 1 to 14.

2. Choose the testing range wisely. Lotioncrafter has pH 2 to 9, and 7 to 14 strips. For everything but soap, you'll want the pH 2 to 9.

3. Get a lot. You'll need to test your product with every adjustment, so you can go through five or six quite quickly.

An aside...why don't I use the strips? Because I suck horribly at matching the colours to the pH range. I'm not kidding about this. If it weren't for the fact that it's rare for women to be colour blind, I'd think I might be at times. I don't do well with slight variation like those on the strips. My mom used to tell me all the time something was "mauve" instead of "purple", but I have no idea how to tell the difference!

So do you need a pH meter or not?  If you're making things exactly as they are presented to you on a website or blog you can trust, then no, you don't need to get a pH meter. For everything else I listed above, yes, you need to be able to test the pH of your creations.

If you can't afford much, then get the strips that measure at least 2 spots. The more, the better. Having said this, you'll be using quite a number for each product you make, so get a pack of 100. (I found this brand that I know nothing about on Canadian Amazon. I can recommend this package I have been using from Lotioncrafter, the pH 2 to 9 version, that also comes in 100 packs.)

If you can afford to $25 to get a meter from Amazon, I'd suggest the Etekcity (from yesterday's post). I'm sure there are others, but that's the one I tested yesterday. I can't recommend the WeePro at this time, but I'm hoping to find time to test it in the next few weeks.

If you can afford $100 to get a meter from Amazon, I'd suggest the PH200 (from yesterday's post) or the Jenco pH 630 in the States. There are also some great ones from our vendors, like Lotioncrafter.

Check your local hydroponics store for pH meters as well. I know a few near me have some lovely ones, the kind we use at university, but they're $300 to $400 and I just can't afford that.

As a note, again, I don't have any affiliate links, ads, or sponsored posts on this blog. When I recommend a vendor or shop, it's because I like the vendor or shop. 

Related posts:
How to test the pH of our products and more (updated for 2017) - loads of links in this post

If you'd like to see these posts three to four weeks earlier, click here for more information on my Patreon feed. $10 subscribers get an e-zine as well as discounts from awesome shops, like Lotioncrafterbut you can subscribe at as little as $1 a month to gain access to the feed.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Testing pH meters - let's compare a few!

I've been talking a lot about testing the pH of our products as it's so important when we start using different surfactants, conditioners, and active ingredients.

I purchased three pH meters from Amazon. I chose them according to the reviews I saw left on the site. My goal is to calibrate each of them and test them in the calibration solutions to see how well they measure pH.

When you're considering a pH meter, look at at the calibrations it can do. Two is good, three is better.

And look at what the pH levels are for each calibration. It's easy to get pH 4, 7, and 10 calibration solution from Amazon or vendors like Lotioncrafter. If you're using 4.01, 6.86, and 9.18, you'll have to order those powders from the company online somewhere.

Please note, any links you see are not affiliate links. They're intended as information for you about these meters. 

The orange one is the HM Digital pH meter PH-200. (This is my second one as the first one didn't calibrate properly.) It was $100 or so on Amazon. It has an accuracy of +/- 0.1 pH and can also measure temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit. It can do three point calibrations, pH 4, 7, and 10. It came with two calibration solutions, pH 4 and 7.
(See the link here...)

The yellow one is the Etekcity I purchased from Amazon for around $23. It has an accuracy of +/- 0.05 pH. It can do two point calibrations, pH 4 and 6.86. It came with two calibration powders, pH 4 and 6.86.
(See the link here...)

The red one is the WeePro PHpro 814 I purchased from Amazon for about $20. It has an accuracy of +/- 0.01 pH. It doesn't measure temperature. It can do three point calibrations, pH 4.01, 6.86, and 9.18, and it came with powders for each of those.
(See the link here...)

I thought I'd test three pH meters using three different batches of pH calibration solutions.

I have a pH 4, 7, and 10 calibration solutions from Lotioncrafter and a pH 4 and 7 solution from a company called Growtek I purchased from a local hydroponics store. I also made up the 4.0, 6.86, and 9.18 solutions that came with the pH meters.

Different meters require different first calibration methods. In general, you'll dip them into the solution to cover the electrode- the little bit at the bottom - and alter them if they aren't measuring exactly the number you expect.

I'll post the results in a chart below for easy reference. 

The PH-200 comes factory calibrated to pH 7, but it's always a good idea to make sure this is accurate. For this one, dip the meter into a pH 4, 7, or 10 pH. Lightly stir the meter for approximately 30 seconds. Press and hold the "temp/cal" button, the meter will show you the pH, then you can calibrate it by pushing a button up or down to get exactly the pH range you are expecting.

I generally use the pH 4 fluid to start so I can go up to pH 7 next. I calibrated it using the Lotioncrafter 4, then 7 solutions.

It measured the pH of the pH 4 calibration solution from Lotioncrafter as 4. It tested the Growtek pH 4 calibration solution as 3.98, which slightly more than the +/- 0.1 difference we can expect,.

It measured the measured the 6.86 as 6.98 and 7.00, the Lotioncrafter 7.0 as 7.00, and the Growtek 7.0 as 7.07. It measured the package 9.18 as 9.17.

The Etekcity doesn't mention if it's calibrated or not. When you remove it from the package, submerge the electrode into distilled water for 10 minutes. Make up the solution, then calibrate.

It suggested that I try the pH 6.86 solution first. Submerge the electrode into the solution, stirring gently for a few seconds, then waiting until the meter calculated a stable reading. It was reading 6.71, so I had to adjust it using the included screwdriver to be pH 6.86.

If I may be completely honest, it was a massive pain in the bum to try to get to the tiny screw on the back of the meter while it was immersed in a container of liquid. I'd move it a bit, then check the front of the meter, then adjust it again. It was so annoying! 

It measured the pH of the calibration solution from Lotioncrafter as 3.98, which is more than the +/- difference we can expect. It tested the Growtek pH solution as 4.06.

It measured the measured the 6.86 as 6.71 and 7.05. the Lotioncrafter 7.0 as 7.05, and the Growtek 7.0 as 6.71 and 7.10.  It measured the package 9.18 as 9.47.

The WeePro also doesn't mention if it's calibrated or not. It suggests you make up the calibration solutions using 250 ml of distilled water, then immerse the pH meter in each of the solutions.

Start with the 6.86 solution. Press the "CAL" button on the front for 5 seconds, then release. The display will flash 6.86, and you have to wait until it's finished flashing, which means it's calibrated.

Then put it into the 4.00 solution, press the "CAL" button again for 5 seconds, release, then press and release it again to get pH 4. It'll flash, then it's calibrated.

I tried the 9.18 solution and did the same thing, only this time I hit pressed the "CAL" button for 5 seconds, released, hit it again, released, then hit it again for the 9.18 flashing.

It measured the pH of the Lotioncrafter 4.0 solution as 3.97, and the Growtek solution as 3.97, which is more than the +/- 0.05 difference we can expect.

It measured the pH 6.86 solution in which we calibrated the meter as 6.72 and 6.65, the Lotioncrafter 7.0 as 6.78, the Growtek as 7.03, and the 9.18 as 8.56.

For all these tests, I made sure I had a very clean container and used distilled water from Superstore that had been purchased the day before and opened just before the tests. After doing the first 6.86 test, I realized that the water was colder than it should be at 12˚C, which means the pH would be higher at between 6.86 to 6.92, so I heated it slightly to 20˚C. The pH would still be a little higher at 6.88 rather than 6.86, but that's not that bad.

As an aside, for something like this, you want to make sure you always have freshly opened distilled, reverse osmosis, or de-ionized water as the carbon dioxide in the air can acidify it. It won't be a huge amount, but it could be enough to cause the slight changes we see in this chart.

You can see that they all did relatively well for the two 4.0 tests. The PH200 was out by 0.01, which is within its usage guidelines, while the others were only out by 0.02 and 0.03, which is just fine. The PH200 and WeePro were a little under for the Growtek solution, but again, not by much. The Etekcity  was out by 0.06, but that's still not that big a deal.

The package labelled as 6.86 is quite out of whack, and this is concerning for one huge reason - this is the one I used to calibrate the Etekcity and WeePro meters. If it's out of whack by that much - if I use the PH200 findings, it's out by at least 0.12 around 7.00, this means I've calibrated my meters to read lower than they should, which I think is why the WeePro is reading the 6.86 as 6.72.

So I made up a second batch of this powder and ensured the temperature was around 20˚C - the results in the brackets - and my PH200 registered it as 7.00, the Etekcity as 7.10, and the WeePro as 6.65. (I have no idea what to make of this.) I honestly think this may be a pH 7.00 solution, not a 6.86 solution.

The Lotioncrafter 7.0 came up as 7.00 for the PH200, 7.05 for Etekcity, and the WeePro as 6.78.

Growtek 7.0 was a little higher for all of them, but not enough to worry about as it's less than 1% for each of them.

The 9.18 package was good for the PH200, but the others were really out of whack there, 0.29 higher for the Etekcity and 0.62 lower for the WeePro, which is a 7.24% difference. This worries me.

What to make of all of this? If I had to make a recommendation, I'd say go for the PH200 or the Jenco 630 I used to own. It's worked well for me for a while now, offering me what I consider to be very accurate measurements. The downside is that it's $100. That isn't a lot when you consider that I had a comparable machine for 7 years and only replaced it because the electrode needed replacing and I couldn't find a place to purchase it. I would have happily bought that meter again, but I couldn't find a place in Canada to buy it, and the PH200 was at Amazon.

Given that most of what we do has an acidic pH level - except for soap and stearic acid-TEA emulsifiers (like Lush uses) - and given the Etekcity tested well with with all but the alkaline or 9.18 solutions, I could suggest this pH meter if you're looking to spend less than $25. Ignore what the last number is on the meter - so if it registers as 7.14, just assume it's 7.1 - and you can get some good readings. Just know that if you're over pH 7, adjust the pH slowly and measure often. I really hate the way you can calibrate the machine by using the screwdriver, but that's only a small downside.

I can't recommend the WeePro at this time, but I plan some more tests with it. I need to try calibrating it again to see how it performs.

If you plan to use these machines, don't rely on their testing powders. Visit your local hydroponic store or vendor and get their version of the calibration solutions.

Join me tomorrow for more on pH meters as this is far too long!

Related posts:
How to test the pH of our products and more (updated for 2017) - loads of links in this post

If you'd like to see these posts three to four weeks earlier, click here for more information on my Patreon feed. $10 subscribers get an e-zine as well as discounts from awesome shops, like Lotioncrafterbut you can subscribe at as little as $1 a month to gain access to the feed.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Prepare your body for winter: Baobab & babassu body butter with Simulgreen 18-2 (part two)

The other day, we spent some time getting to know each of the ingredients I like for this lotion, so let's make the darned thing already!

As an aside, thanks for commenting on the previous post! 

36% distilled water
10% aloe vera extract or liquid
10% chamomile hydrosol
3% glycerin
3% propylene glycol
2% hydrolyzed baobab protein
2% sodium lactate (liquid) or 1.2% sodium lactate (powder)
0.5% allantoin

12% baobab oil
10% babassu oil
4% Simulgreen 18-2
3% cetyl alcohol
0.5% xanthan gum

2% panthenol (liquid)
2% dimethicone (6 cs, which is very watery)
0.5% fragrance oil - vanilla bourbon FO from Voyageur Soap & Candle - or essential oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

1. Weigh the heated water phase into a heatproof container. Measure the weight of the water phase and the container before putting it into your double boiler. (This is so we can compensate for evaporation after the heating and holding phase.) Place the container into a double boiler.

2. Weigh the heated oil phase into a heatproof container, then place into the double boiler.

3. When both phases have reached 70˚C, hold for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat. Measure the water phase and top it up with enough recently boiled distilled water to make up the weight of hte water phase before heating to compensate for lost water.

4. Pour the water into the oil phase, then mix with a stick blender for about 3 minutes. Then switch to a hand mixer with beaters.

5. When the lotion reaches 45˚C, add the cool down phase and mix well with the beaters again.

6. When it comes to room temperature, package in a tottle (Malibu) bottle or jar.

If you want to try this with Polawax, check out this post in the frequently asked question section of the blog about the 25% rule and this emulsifier. In short, total up all the things that need to be emulsified - oils, butters, silicones, fragrance oils, essential oils, fatty alcohols or acids, and so on - which would be 27.5% for this lotion. You'd then figure out what 25% of 27.5% might be (divide by 4), so you'd get 6.75%. I'd round that up to 7% to ensure I compensate for potential hand slips.

Modify the distilled water amount by removing 3% to compensate for the extra emulsifier, so you'd have 33% distilled water.

If you want to try this with emulsifying wax, you'd do the same thing as you'd do with Polawax, but add an extra percent at the end. So instead of 7%, you'd have 8%. Modify the distilled water amount by 4% to compensate, so you'd have 32% distilled water.

If you use these emulsifiers, you will have a far thicker product than what I've made here. You can see a version I made with shea butter and baobab oil in this post.

If you want to make other substitutions - that's the fun of making our own stuff! Check out the emollients section of the blog for more about each of the oils I mention on the blog and see what might be a good substitute for either babassu or baobab oils. Check out the humectants section to see what might work there or look at the preservatives section to see how you could use what you have at home.

Or join me in a few days to make lighter, fluffier version of this with Simulsol 165 (aka Lotionpro™ 165). 

Did you make this formula? If so, share your thoughts so we all have an idea of what it might be like to change something! (I'm trying to build a sense of community at this blog, and I'm sure you have something to contribute! Take a look at the bottom of this post to learn more!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Prepare your body for winter: Baobab & babassu body butter with Simulgreen 18-2 (part one)

Yeah, as a former English major, I love a good alliteration, but these are some of my favourite ingredients with one of my favourite new emulsifiers, Simulgreen 18-2. I made a huge batch last year for our itchy winter skin, and I've made so many versions of it since then as I love it so much.

My favourite thing about it is the way the babassu oil melts on contact with your skin, so it pumps out of the bottle quite thick, but turns to liquid quite quickly.

One note - don't put this in a cute treatment pump or airless pump type bottle as it simply won't pump out. You need this to be in a tottle bottle or jar as it gets quite thick. I wanted a few cute bottles for pictures, and I eventually had to cut the darned thing in half to get it out to put into another container.

For the water phase, I definitely want some aloe vera in here to act as a film former and hydrator. I'm also adding chamomile hydrosol as I like its ability to soothe and reduce transepidermal water loss for up to 48 hours. (I know, right???)

As a note about aloe vera, you don't want the gel as if you look at the INCI name on your gel, you'll see it's gelled with a carbomer like Ultrez 20. It's not a bad thing, but not something we need in a lotion. And if you're using 100x or 200x powdered extract, you need to reconstitute it with water, then add it to the product. Do not just add 0.25% as that is far too much and will likely create product failures as that's far too much salt to be added to one product. Please read more about using those powders here

I love love love humectants to draw water from the atmosphere to our skin to hydrate, so I'm including a few in this one intended for dry winter skin in the form of glycerin, propylene glycol, and sodium lactate. I'm also adding some panthenol - liquid in the cool down phase or powder in the heated water phase - as I need all the wound healing I can get for my dry, cracked skin.

I love using allantoin in everything - seriously, visit this post to learn more if you aren't sold on this comfrey, aloe, or urine derivative - to help keep out winter winds and cold and soothe skin chapping. This very inexpensive powder with a super long shelf life should always go into the heated phase as it can create little crystals that feel like shards on your skin if it isn't dissolved properly.

And finally, I have to have some kind of hydrolyzed protein in the mix to help hydrate and film form on my skin. Keeping with the theme of this body butter, I'm using hydrolyzed baobab protein, but you could use silk amino acids, hydrolyzed oat protein, hydrolyzed rice protein, or any other one you might like.

I love babassu oil. I love it so much, some of you joke that I'm working for the Babassu Advisory Council. (There isn't one, but if there me. Let's talk.) It's a great substitute for coconut oil as it melts at 24˚C or 76˚F, which is much lower than body temperature, so the body butter glides nicely over your skin. Unlike coconut oil, though, it is considered lighter, much less greasy, and silky feeling.

And I love baobab oil. Thanks to all that thick palmitic acid that we'd normally find in much smaller quantities in liquid oils, I find it feels like a medium weight oil without the greasiness I associate with something like olive oil. I think this is an important ingredient in this product, and don't suggest altering it if you want that less greasy skin feel. As well, baobab contains a lot of phystosterols, which act as anti-inflammatory ingredients, something awesome and necessary for winter months.

Whoa, huge slam on olive oil out of nowhere, eh? I generally like greasy products, but I wanted something a little less greasy for this product. If you wanted to use olive oil here, it'd be a good choice with all those lovely phytosterols. 

I'm adding very liquidy dimethicone in the cool down phase to act as a barrier protectant ingredient and silk-i-fier, which is a word I just made up, but I'll use it from now to describe something that makes something feel more silky. Feel free to use 350 cs or 1000 cs, much heavier dimethicones, in its place. At 2%, the weight won't make a huge difference.

For the emulsifier, I'm using Simulgreen 18-2, a green, ECOcert and Natrue approved ingredient that offers a lighter, much less greasy skin feel when compared with something like Polawax. You have to stabilize it with a fatty alcohol, so I'm using cetyl alcohol here, or xanthan gum, which I'm using at 0.5% as well.

Why am I putting the xanthan gum into the heated oil phase when it's a water soluble ingredient? Because it's less likely to get clumpy in something like oil, in which it can't dissolve. When we add the heated water phase and heated oil phase together, the xanthan gum will stay unclumped, making it far more awesome than a clumpy lotion.

Wow, I do go on, eh?

In light of my recent post about wanting your feedback in the comments before I post part two, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Huge news that will affect the blog!

This is a big announcement but...this is my job now. I know, right? Terrifying, but necessary. As much as I loved my job as a family counsellor, I was done. The events over the last eighteen months -  (in chronological order, not by importance) being bumped from my job into a part time position, losing my beloved Blondie dog, losing my mom, and losing my favourite supervisor (to another agency, fortunately), and so many things that feel like I'm being kicked when I'm down - have been harder than I can describe, and I just didn't have it in me to go back to such an emotionally challenging position.

What does it mean for me that it's my job? It means this is my job, this is how I make money. Writing the blog, writing Patreon posts, writing e-books and e-zines, writing my column at Handmade magazine, teaching classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle and Windy Point Soap, presenting at conferences like the HSCG one next May in Atlanta and the HBBG and HSCG joint conference next June in Toronto, and so on. I have no other obligations, so I can spend all my energy and time writing about bath & body products, which is very exciting.

There are also a lot of things I've been working on over the last year or so that can become a reality. Yay, right?

What does it mean for you that it's my job? It means that this is how I make my living now. If you value what I'm offering here, please consider subscribing to my Patreon feed at $1, $3, $5, or $10 US to help support the blog as well as my family.

It also means that Patreon subscribers may get the posts on the blog one to four weeks before you see them here. They may also get other things that might not appear on the blog - they're already getting the duplicated formula every month - but I'm not sure how that might look or what it might be, if it's anything at all.

Before you cry "unfair!" - they're paying the bills for the blog, so it's only fair they get to see what they paid for first. 

What it doesn't mean is that I'll be taking advertising, sponsorshop, or affiliate links as I want you to rest assured when I say I like an ingredient, I really like it, I haven't been paid to say I do, and I won't make money if I send you to a supplier to get it. (I also don't want those horrible "one weird trick coconut oil" ads, which are just awful and undercut my promise to you to be science based and not fearmonger-y.)

It also doesn't change where the money for the five current e-books goes - it still goes to our youth programs, Rated T for Teen.

And it does mean I'm asking for something from you - your time.

I love writing this blog so much, but I get very little feedback in the form of comments. I see you're out there in so many ways - stats from the blog and email subscriptions, raves from you when I meet you, comments I see on Facebook or Reddit, and so on - but there's just crickets and silence day to day around here.

I know part of this is because there are tens of thousands of you receiving this information I'm writing now via email, and it's a hassle to visit the blog. I know part of this is because some of you don't think you have anything to share, but you really do! I know part of it is that you're really busy and don't have time to visit, something I heard time and time again from people at conferences and in classes. And sadly, I know a small part of this is because some people never think to give back to those who have shared so freely with you, which is how people like me burn out, take our balls, and go home.

I don't want to burn out, but after the year I've had - from Marlene Daniels of Soapconscious stealing my work and selling it for $1,000 for my five e-books for years to the constant linking against my wishes to my charts to the people who think it's okay to use my work without asking permission or without credit, and more -  I know I'm at great risk to do so.

I miss is being a part of a community of creators, connecting with people who love this thing as much as I do, and I'm really feeling the isolation when I look for a place to recharge my batteries.

From today onwards, think of every single post - new and old - as a tiny Kickstarter type thing that needs your attention to unlock the next installment. If you see part one of a post, you won't see part two until there's a certain amount of interaction in the form of comments. If there isn't that interaction after a week, it won't be posted as I'll assume you aren't interested that topic, ingredient, or formula. For older posts, if I see a topic that's suddenly filled with comments or feedback, I'll make sure I spend time on that topic again in the future. 

You don't have to say much - share a thought about the topic; something you love or hate about the oil, emulsifier, or surfactant; write about your experiences; tell me about the fail you had with it so we can fix it; think about how you might make substitutions; and so much more - but I'm asking you to say something. The only rule - as of this moment - is that you must do it with kindness, with an understanding that every single person who reads it, including me, is a human being who has feelings. We can totally disagree, but we do it as adults without condescension or insults.

I'm sure there are loads of you waiting to say something about this post, and I can't wait to see what you share!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Present ideas for crafters - mixers!

Yesterday, we made some suggestions for gifts you could give to your favourite crafter. I can't believe I forgot all about mixers! Click here for another post on ideas for presents! 

When it comes to hand mixers, I like to have one that has loads of attachments. When I'm teaching at Voyageur Soap & Candle, we use Black & Decker hand mixers that have whisk or beater attachments. These things are so fast, we only use one beater at a time!

I've also been using this inexpensive Hamilton Beach mixer that came with four beaters and a whisk. It's a very powerful one.

I have a Kitchenaid Architect 9 speed mixer that has a blending rod, which is awesome as a propeller mixer, as well as whisks and beaters. (See it here at Best Buy in Canada.) I love this one so much. It's much slower to start than the Black & Decker, but it's powerful as heck. It's ideal for things like making an oily gel with Sucragel AOF, which requires a propeller mixer, ane one of the gels I've been using lately...can't remember which one!

Oh, and we also have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, which is great for larger batches and things like emulsified scrubs or whipped butters that need to be mixed for a while.

It's helpful to have both a hand mixer type thingie and an immersion blender. Stick blenders are high shear mixers, and some emulsifiers like Olivem 1000Simulgreen 18-2, and Varisoft EQ 65 require high shear to come together. You'll also want high shear for gelling agents like Siligel or to incorporate lovely things like Penstia powder.

I hate hate hate immersion blenders as they're so hard to clean, but they're a necessary evil. Is there something I can use that'll make clean up that much easier? Thank goodness, yes! I'm in love with this MiniPro Mixer from Lotioncrafter*.

It's way more powerful than the little mixers or drink foamers I've purchased in the past, and it's super easy to clean up by whirring it in a container of soapy water.

As a note, I know some of you will write to me saying that it's easy to clean immersion blenders. It's not. My husband usually cleans them for me as I have such a hard time with them, and he notes that last time, it took three Q-tips to get it clean! 

This MicroMini™ Mixer from Lotioncrafter* is super powerful, but so small you can get it into a bottle to mix all those annoying powdered extracts and other things.

I tried to get an action shot of this mixer, but it's hard for me to take pictures and mix and not spill all over my workbench!

I love this little "Deluxe Cordless Mini Mixer" from Candora Soap* (Ontario) as it comes with a few little attachments, which come in super handy when you have to change from an immersion attachnent to a whisk attachment quickly.

Which one do you use the most? Which one do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Please note, none of these are affiliate links, and I receive nothing if you click through or purchase anything about which I write on this page or this blog. I am sharing this information as these are things I love! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christmas present ideas for the crafters in your world - stuff for your workshop

Everyone I know tells me it's hard to shop for me as I make everything I want, so I thought I'd share a list of things you could buy for the bath & body crafter in your world.

I wrote about this topic a few years ago, and thought I'd update it for 2017. Please note I provide the links to online shops as a courtesy. None of these are affiliate links and I receive nothing if you click through and buy anything. 

Heating and holding and melting solids slowly is easiest in a double boiler, and I've been using this Rival Fondue Pot as my double boiler for more than 11 years now. My favourite feature is the dial that allows me to choose my temperature, so I can boil the heck of something, then turn it down before the water starts jumping out of the pot.

I can fit two 1 litre beakers or two 500 ml Pyrex jugs in it, which is more than enough for my needs in my workshop.

Canadian Amazon link
Canadian Walmart link
American Target link for the Oster fondue pot

A tiny scale that weighs to 0.1 grams or 0.01 grams. I've used a Salter diet scale from London Drugs for years, but the last few I've had were ruined during classes when someone poured melted butters or waxes on them. I've moved to this little scale, Smart Weigh ZIP300 Ultra Slim Digital Pocket Scale with Counting Feature, 300 by 0.01g, which I found on Amazon for $18.99.

You could also go into a hydroponic or head shop and get a very accurate scale there!

I think pH meters are essential pieces of equipment for those of us who want to move beyond using the basics to make facial products, hair care products, and more. I've done some testing of a few meters - which you'll see on November 27, 2017 - and the two I like the best are the PH-200 from HM Digital and Jenco 630, but both of those will run you around $100 Canadian. For a less expensive one, consider the Etekcity - the yellow one in the middle - for about $30.

Check out Amazon or your local hydroponic shop to find some of these things.

A nice lab notebook where they can keep all their notes. I make my own as I really like Doane paper but don't like their books, but you can get someone a really nice book with dot grid or graph paper that opens flat as it's a serious pain in the bum to have to hold something down when you have a mixer in your other hand!

Do you have ideas to share? Make a comment or two below!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Question from Patreon: How can I make a shower gel concentrate?

In the September Patreon Q&A, Sally asked: How can i make a shower gel concentrate?  I want to be able I want to make a large batch using some sci which takes a long time to melt, then dilute and add a different fragrance when I want say 300 mls of product. Do I just melt and mix the different surfactants using little or no water?

This isn't directed at you, Sally, but I don't understand why people think melting SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) is so hard. It isn't. You just need to choose the right surfactant to help dissolve it. You can add some anionic surfactants like disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, or sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. You could add an amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine or cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine. Or you could add some non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 20 or 80, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, or PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate.

My first choice is always cocamidopropyl betaine because it increases the mildness of the surfactant mix! (As a note, I'm calling it cocamidopropyl betaine instead of coco betaine because they are, in fact, two different products. It's a pain to type, but it's a good thing to be accurate!)

When melting SCI in a double boiler, you want to melt it only with the surfactant that can help it dissolve best. (I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago, so check it out here.)

As a note, if you're using the powder - I'm using this version from Windy Point Soap (Alberta) - it doesn't need heating for things like shampoo bars, and only needs quick melting in a liquid product.

Also, why are people using so much SCI as the primary surfactant when it really isn't that water soluble? Don't get me wrong, I love this surfactant so much, but you're lucky if you can get 10% in a formula without it solidifying. And you can't do that with a non-powdered version very well. You can see the results of using SCI noodles in a body wash in this post.

Related links:
Chemists' Corner discussion about SCI
Clariant's data sheet on their versions of SCI (I use Hostapon 85, which is very easy to melt)
Excellent article on the solubility of SCI - I encourage you to read this science-y article as it's really interesting. 

Okay, back to the question at hand. You can make a shower gel that you can fragrance later on in two ways.

1. You could make a concentrate that doesn't contain water by making up something like this formula - I love this body wash, but there are so many different versions on this blog - without the water bits.

37.5% water
5% SCI
15% cocamidopropyl betaine
20% LSB (or other anionic surfactant of choice)
10% aloe vera
3% glycerin
3% condition-eze 7
2% hydrolyzed protein

2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix (may not be necessary!)
0.5% to 1% preservative
colour, if desired

I've worked out the formula without the water, fragrance, colour, and Crothix thickener. The total is 60.5%. I divided each ingredient by 60.5, then multiplied by 100 to get the percentage. So I divided 5% SCI by 60.5% to get 0.0825. Multiply by 100 to get 8.25%. 

8.25% SCI
24.8% cocamidopropyl betaine
33% LSB or other anionic surfactant of choice

16.5% aloe vera
5% glycerin
5% cationic polymer, like honeyquat or polyquaternium 7
3.3% hydrolyzed protein

3.3% panthenol
0.8% liquid Germall Plus

This would be quite thick. You could add water to the mix - somewhere between 30% and 40% - as well as Crothix to thicken, if necessary, and a fragrance oil at 1% or so.

2. Find a formula you like. Make it in a big batch, then store it until you want to fragrance it. (Related link here in the FAQ.) I do this all the time as I like to change my body washes or shampoos with the seasons. (Right now, I'm all about the oatmeal, milk, and honey as it smells like marzipan!) Remember that fragrances can affect the clarity and viscosity of surfactant blends, so if you choose something that thins it out - like those that contain vanilla - you'll need to thicken it up with some liquid Crothix at the end.

Related posts:
Surfactants & fragrances - viscosity
Surfactants & fragrances - clarity
Fragrances and our products

Related posts on using SCI in liquid products...
Experiments in the workshop with polyglucose/lactylate blend
Ridiculously moisturizing body wash with esters
Formula for a 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and conditioner
Orange & honey hand cleanser with SCI
And there are more on the blog if you do a quick search for them.

Other related posts:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I have removed all the charts from this blog - updated on November 12, 2017

I have removed all the charts I created for oils, butters, preservatives, and more as well as all the free PDF tutorials and handouts as I'm tired of seeing people using my work without linking here or giving me credit. These charts are the result of a lot of reading and researching. The three newest ones I had planned to share on emulsifiers, extracts, and cosmeceuticals have been in progress for at least 18 months.

You will not see any charts on this blog again for download. 

To respond to the people who have been saying that I'm trying to make money from my charts - so what if I am? These are my charts, and I can do what I like with them. Don't I give away enough? Don't I deserve to be paid for my time, my work, my writing? 

The three companies distributing my e-books - Voyageur Soap & Candle, Windy Point Soap, and Lotioncrafter - are the only ones allowed to share these charts with the e-books or during classes. I send them out with e-books, too. These are the only ways you can access them at this time.

If you see someone sharing my charts on a web site, blog, or forum, or sharing them in a Facebook group, they are doing this without my permission and against my very clear requests that anyone wanting to share the charts link directly to the blog to download them. No one has permission to share these charts publicly. No one has permission to host them anywhere but on this blog. No one has permission to use these charts in any classes they may be offering. 

My dad used to say it only takes one bugger to spoil it for everyoneThese people are some of the buggers...

All Sorts of Soap - I have written repeatedly to her to remove the charts, but they're still there.

Eat Live Wear - I have written to them repeatedly, but they're still there. It's nice to know she likes my work so much, she's plagiarized great swaths of it.

The Root & the Vine - this one seems to be by the same person as Eat Live Wear, with big swaths of my work copied and pasted as well as hosting the charts.

There are - sadly - many many more, and I will be posting their names here as I encounter more since writing to them directly does nothing.

I can't believe I have to say this, but the materials you find on this blog and in my e-books are my work, and you do not have permission to copy them and sell them, use them in your classes, host them or post them on your website or blog or Facebook group. You can link to my work or quote sections of it, but you cannot use my formulas, write ups, charts, or other materials in your paid classes, online courses, blogs, and so on. (If you want permission, write to me.) You cannot share formulas or writing you find in my e-books or e-zines. You cannot share materials from my paid Patreon subscription.

Copying my work, using it to make money, or hosting my charts or PDFs aren't ways of showing me you like what I do - it's theft, and I call you out as a bugger who spoils things by being a taker. You are the reason things go behind paywalls, why people like me feel taken advantage of or get burned out offering things for free. You're trying to get credit and money for work you haven't done, and that's a scummy thing to do. 

I'm sure you know about the plagiarism by Marlene Daniels of Soapconscious earlier this year, but there's so much more theft of my work going on from a course being taught that has copied and pasted my work to blog writers who think they're disguising my formulas and/or writing but don't know enough to know how to alter them so they aren't identifiable.

I know you're doing this, as do so many readers who have written to me. I ignored it for a while as I didn't have the energy to fight back with the hell I've been through in the last year. You don't know me well enough to know how true this is: My mom said the only thing more dangerous than an angry Susan is an angry Susan who knows she's right, and I'm done waiting for you to give me credit, pay me, or take down my material.

Okay, it's safe to come out now... :-)