Frequently asked questions

Welcome to the frequently asked questions page! I thought it might be easier to put it in this format than having it as a side bar on the blog. If you have any questions about something written here or anywhere else on the blog, click here - what do I do if I think you, Swift, have something wrong? If you have a question and can't find an answer, feel free to write to me at sjbarclay@telus.net or comment in a relevant thread, and I'll do the best I can to answer it. I might even send you out a copy of my e-book as a thanks for the challenge!

ANHYDROUS PRODUCTS
Adding preservatives to anhydrous products.  (not including sugar/salt scrubs)
How do some people manage to get water soluble things to emulsify in anhydrous products?
Why do we heat and hold anhydrous products? (Scroll down a bit)

ANTI-OXIDANTS
A more in depth look at anti-oxidants
Why grapefruit seed extract (GSE) isn't a preservative (but is an anti-oxidant)
How do anti-oxidants affect the shelf life of your product?
Combining anti-oxidants
Rancidity: A primer

CALCULATIONS
Calculating percentages in lotions.

GENERAL QUESTIONS
What does it mean to have an "active ingredient" or percentage of active ingredient?
Are astringent ingredients still moisturizing?
Are you getting what you think when you buy ingredients?
Do we need to use a preservative in soap?
How can you tell if a recipe is good?
How do I use powdered extracts?
How do you know into which phase we should add an ingredient?
How do you know how much of each ingredient to add to a product?
What's an INCI name?
How to read INCI names (part 1)
How to read INCI names (part 2)
Making up batches of products and scenting them later
What does solubility mean?
What does anionic, cationic, and non-ionic mean?
What's the difference between solubilizers and emulsifiers?
What are penetration enhancers?
Where do I get my information (how to research)?
Why are you trying to create recipes from scratch?

Also check out the chemistry section for more information!

HUMECTANTS
Does glycerin draw water from your skin if the humidity is low?

Please check out the humectants section of the blog as it's full of information on humectants!

INFUSIONS & TEAS
Why can't we use tea in our products?
Infusions, teas, and using vinegar to preserve products?

LOTIONS, CREAMS & MOISTURIZERS
Can I re-heat a failed lotion?
Compensating for evaporation of the water phase during heat and hold
How much emulsifier should I use? (Specifically about Polawax)
Should I add the water phase to the oil phase or the oil phase to the water phase?
Some thoughts about greasiness in lotions
Troubleshooting an epic lotion fail
When lotions go wrong!
What is the "soaping effect"?
What is the cheapest lotion we could make?
What if our phases go over 70˚C?
Why we heat and hold our ingredients!
Why we heat and hold our ingredients separately!

NEWBIE LINKS
Making your first lotion - PDF and step by step tutorial
Making your first body butter - PDF and step by step tutorial

OILS & BUTTERS
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Can we use grocery store oils in our products?
Does heating & holding damage our oils or butters?
Heating, holding, freezing & thawing oils
How to temper your butter to avoid graininess! 
Why do we heat and hold anhydrous products? (Scroll down a bit).
How can grapeseed oil have a shelf life of a year?
Why are whipped butters whippable?

Check out the section of the blog on emollients for all the posts on carrier oils, exotic oils, butters, and esters!

pH

PRESERVATIVES
Are the preservatives found in our ingredients enough to preserve the entire product?
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is not a preservative
Water activity and sugar scrubs!

Please visit the preservatives section of the blog for more information on this topic!

THE PROCESS OF MAKING PRODUCTS
How do you know what to do (part 1)?
How do you know what to do (part 2)?
How to research ingredients?
Keeping your notes in order! 
Learning to formulate lotion series - introduction! 

SHELF LIVES OF PRODUCTS
Determining the shelf life of your lotion! 
How do anti-oxidants affect the shelf life of your product?

SHOPPING FOR SUPPLIES
Choosing carrier oils
Suggested supplies for those new to lotion making
Which surfactants should you buy?

Where to get supplies in America?
Where to get supplies in Asia?
Where to get supplies in Australia and New Zealand?
Where to get supplies in Canada?
Where to get supplies in Europe?

SUBSTITUTIONS
General substitutions, including information on BTMS-25, cetrimonium chloride, and fatty alcohols.

SURFACTANTS
Surfactants and fragrances - clarity and colour! 

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