Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fun with formulating: Make a toner!

I figured a picture of my best friend having a great time making lotion was a great accompaniment to a post on how much fun it is to formulate!

I have become a huge fan of toner in recent months as I have very oily, acne prone skin that does not like moisturizers all that much. But I need a moisturizer, so what do I do?

What's the point of a toner and what do I want as an end result?
I need something that will cleanse and moisturize my skin (without oil).
I want something that will not make my skin oilier (if you remove too much oil, your skin overcompensates and makes you oilier!)
I would like something that will soothe my skin, remove redness, and help my acne.
So what ingredients fit into my wish list?

I am not making any medical claims or promises with this recipe. I use these questions as an example of what you might consider when formulating!

Lavender & Chamomile Toner
30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol (or another hydrosol of your choice)
25% water
10% aloe vera liquid
2% sodium lactate (supposed to be good for acne prone skin and a humectant)
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol
2% cromoist (or another hydrolyzed protein like soy or wheat...I just like oat protein!)
0.5% extract (I use chamomile)
0.5% preservative (I use Germall Plus)

Heat and hold the witch hazel, hydrosol, water, and aloe vera in a heat proof container in a double boiler for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Mix the powdered extract with some of the warm water before adding to the mixture.
When it cools down below 45C, I add the sodium lactate, panthenol, cromoist, and preservative.
When it has cooled, pour into a bottle, then use as you would with any toner. Or pour into a spray bottle for easier use!

What are all these ingredients, why are you using them, and what can you modify for your skin type?

Witch hazel hydrosol - This is witch hazel, a great astringent. I would suggest not modifying this as it works for all skin types.

Lavender hydrosol - I have chosen this as it is soothing for all skin types, and could reduce redness in your skin. Hydrosols are what's left over when the plants are distilled for essential oil production.
  • Lavender hydrosol: Gentle, balancing for all skin types, cooling in summer heat, soothing sunburns, healing irritation. Gently tones oily, dry, and mature skin. Good for easing sunburn or windburn.
  • Neroli hydrosol: Good for oily skin, mildly astringent. Reduces redness and irritation. Avoid for dry skin.
  • Rose hydrosol: Good for both dry and oily skin. Controls and balances sebum production, making it useful for dry and oily skin. Antibacterial properties.
Water - Please only use distilled water to ensure low contamination.

Aloe vera liquid - I love aloe vera. It contains allantoin, which is considered a healing ingredient, and it is good for sun damaged skin. Feel free to include more of this in your toner over the 10% suggested, and reduce the amount of water you use.

Sodium lactate - This is a humectant (meaning it draws water from the atmosphere to your skin, which helps moisturize it). It is good for acne prone skin, but don't go over 3% as it can be exfoliating. I chose 2% because it's far enough away from 3% so I don't risk the exfoliation thing, but still have the goodness it offers. This is optional - increase any of the liquids above for this 2% if you don't want to use sodium lactate.

An aside on humectants: I love humectants. I include them in anything I might consider moisturizing. Glycerin is a fantastic humectant and can be used at 2 to 3% in something like toner. Another traditionally used humectant is propylene glycol, and it can be used up to 3% in this toner. Hydrovance is a lovely humectant - also use at 2 to 3% - but you can experience pH drift over time, so use it only in small batches you are going to use quickly until you figure out how to use it properly!

Honeyquat - Honeyquat is modified honey to behave as a conditioning agent. It is also a humectant. I find including this makes my skin feel softer and more moisturized. Again, you could leave this out, or use something like polyquat 7 (Condition-eze 7 from Voyageur).

Panthenol - You might recognize this from Pantene hair care products. It's a B vitamin that has been shown in studies to help repair damaged cells, and I include it because I figure my skin must have some damaged cells!

Cromoist - This a hydrolyzed oat protein, and it is a great film former that acts as an oil free moisturizer. You can use soy, wheat, or silk protein in its place. I really encourage you to use a hydrolyzed protein as they provide the moisturizing qualities you seek in a non-oil based toner like this.

Botanical extracts - You can find dozens of botanical extracts in your local supply store (like Voyageur, Aquarius, Suds & Scents, and Soapcraft), so really it's a matter of choosing what extract is right for you. I love using chamomile and honeysuckle for my red, acne prone skin, but you can use different extracts together - or alone - to find a combination that is right for you. Please don't go over a total of 0.5% if you are using two exfoliating extracts together.
  • Banana extract: For dry skin - rich in vitamin A and potassium.
  • Chamomile: For all skin types - soothes and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Has some skin softening properties.
  • Cucumber: For skin with blackheads or wrinkles - a natural astringent, good for tightening and toning skin.
  • Green tea: For aging skin - rich in polyphenols, a powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Guava: For all skin types - rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and prevents cell oxidation.
  • Honeysuckle flower: For acne prone skin - contains 10% chlorogenic acid.
  • Papaya: For oily and acne prone skin - works as an exfoliant. Contains vitamin A and C. Excellent for oily skin as the fruit enzyme, papain, stabilizes oily skin. Has good cleaning and antiseptic properties.
  • Rosemary: For all skin types - good antioxidant, helps strengthen skin elasticity.
  • Strawberry: For oily skin, large pores - Rich in polyphenols and vitamin C. Skin protecting, soothing, and reduces the appearance of large pores. (Note: Strawberry powder is really hard to preserve, even with good preserving techniques, so only make very small batches - no more than 100 grams - you can use quickly!)
Preservative - I like to use Germall Plus for my products as it can be used at 0.1 - 0.5% in your mixtures. Germaben II is used at 0.5% to 1%, so you're using more, which will cost more. Please do not leave the preservatives out of the mixture! They are essential! I know some people shun preservatives, but you leave them out at your own peril! With the number of botanical ingredients in this recipe, you are just asking for bacteria to multiply, and I think that would be worse for your skin than 0.5% preservative! (And you can tell I'm serious by all the exclamation marks I'm using!)

And you've made a toner! How awesome is that? Design an awesome label with a great name and an ingredients list (this is vital because one day you'll have 7 versions of this toner in your bathroom and you'll want to know which is your favourite to you can re-create it, and you'll thank me for making the suggestion that you include the ingredients when you can make it again!) Rejoice!


acbaker82 said...

oh my gosh, I have bad acne, and I was going to post a question on craftster for a chamomile and lavender toner for my acne skin, and your post and blog came up! I was so excited! I do have one question if you could help. I wanted to make a toner like yours, with witch hazel floral water, and lavender and chamomile essential oils, but whould it be better to use all floral waters? or are essential oils quicker to heal skin? Thanks so much, I will definitely be subscribing to your blog.

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

To be honest, I don't know that much about essential oils. I know they have wonderful healing qualities, but I don't know about the speed at which they heal skin. I think they are a good inclusion into a toner, but I'd suggest trying it without the essential oils first and see if you like it (chamomile essential oil is really really expensive!)

If you want to make a toner with all floral waters and no water, go for it! I would suggest lavender hydrosol and witch hazel, and you could add some rose hydrosol, which is anti-bacterial and good for acne prone skin. I wouldn't suggest neroli if you have acne - I find it is good for oily skin, but seems to exacerbate my problems.

Try 0.5% chamomile essential oil and 0.5% lavender essential oil, blended with 1% polysorbate 20 to emulsify them. Then add to the toner and use.

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi swift,

What temp do you heat the water etc, to? How do you ensure that you have the full amount for the recipe after heating? Doesn't some of it evaporate? Thanks.

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

Oops, I left out the temperature! Heat and hold the water to 70C. Good question about the evaporating (and good thing I've learned how to post better since I started these tutorials!)

Yes, the water phase will evaporate as you heat it! I keep some boiling water around so I can ensure I have the water ingredients I need. Some of the aloe and lavender will also evaporate, but I am using more than I need to compensate for that.

The other alternative is to create the toner cold, which is fine for small batches you are going to use in a short period of time, but I do worry about contamination that way.

Anonymous said...

"Some of the aloe and lavender will also evaporate, but I am using more than I need to compensate for that."

Can you please explain this further? I'm sorry to be a bother but I'm new to formulating. Thanks, again.

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

You know, I didn't think through that answer as I was posting while doing a hundred other things...I know I shouldn't divide my attention like that!

And you are not a bother - you're a "why" person like me, and it would drive me crazy to see the answer I posted. Keep the questions coming - it keeps me thinking! And thinking leads to better posts and more learning for me (so really, you're doing me a favour!!!)

There's a lot of aloe and lavender in the mix, so if we lose a bit of it - you're not going to lose more than 2 or 3% - it's not going to be a massive loss to our toner. Yes, it will make the 100% more like 97%, so you can add a little more of each ingredient to the mix to ensure you are getting exactly 30% witch hazel, for instance.

So there are a few options...

1. For this toner, make it cold and use distilled water. There is always a chance you might have some preserving problems, and I would only suggest that people who have some experience with well preserved products make it this way. If you are getting your products from a reputable supplier with a good reputation, your liquid ingredients are unlikely to be contaminated and may already contain preservatives. If this is the case, then you could make the toner cold and feel happy you've preserved it well.

2. You could use a closed container to heat and hold for the water phase. You will have to let a little steam out now and then (or have a small opening at the top), but you won't lose as much to evaporation as you would in an open container (like a Pyrex jug).

3. You could boil the water phase in a kettle - I mean a proper rolling boil at 100C or 212F. I've been to classes that suggest this, and people I think of as good formulators do this. I've done this with my craft groups to make things easier - we have 1.5 hours, so heating and holding for 20 minutes, then waiting for cool down isn't an option for us timewise - and it has worked well for us. We only make small batches that will be used up quickly.

So having said all of this, if you are worried about losing your water phase to evaporation I'd suggest the closed container first, the boiling method second, and the making it cold third. Good practice would call for the closed container process, so that's my official suggestion!

Row said...

Hi Swift:(found you on the dish)I just wanted to let you know that this blog has the best info i've found anywhere and I've spent hours looking. So I just have to say how much I appreciate the tremendous effort you put in to your posts they ARE the best. I think you should write a book. I for one would be more than happy to donate in any way I could. Till then please keep your wonderful,informative topics coming.Thanks Row

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

Row: Thanks for your kind words. I hope I'm passing on some information. I am seriously thinking of writing something because I realize there are so many interesting things in the world of bath and body products relating to chemistry. Normally when I say that word, people blank out - but here, it's a good word! I like to teach the kids I work with about chemistry in this way - they don't realize they're learning and they don't complain about it (well, most of them).

I'm working on gels this week - I love gels!

Row said...

Hey Swift: Can you explain condensation to me. If stuff cools down isn't it going to produce some sort of condensation even if it's in an air tight baggie to pipe into a malibu bottle.Please enlighten me. From one Canadian to another, you make us proud once we find you. Thank you Row

SwiftCraftyMonkey said...

If you heat this recipe and let it cool, there's going to be evaporation and you'll lose some of the volume. But if you store the heated toner in a closed container as you wait for it to cool, you can just shake it up to re-integrate the condensation, so you'll lose less. (You're going to lose some during the heating phase if you are not using a closed container!)

With this toner, you can just pour it into the bottle from a Pyrex jug or using a funnel. I wouldn't suggest a malibu for a liquid like this - it's going to run out everywhere. A bottle with a disc or turret cap is probably your best choice, although a mister can be very nice for a toner.

Jane said...

Is witch hazel hydrosol the same as witch hazel distillate? NDA has the distillate which is 86% witch hazel and 14% alcohol, but is that the one I want?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

The witch hazel to which I'm referring should be 100% witch hazel without alcohol. If you want to use witch hazel with alcohol, you can use it at the same levels and see how your skin likes it. (My skin definitely doesn't like alcohol, so that's why I make that suggestion.)

Anonymous said...

SO RARE that I See recipes that explain to you "WHY" they've chosen certain ingreds and "WHAT" benefits they add to the mixture...

Another awsome post!


Adam, Lisa Weiss said...

How long is the shelf life on this recipe? Thanks for posting

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lisa! I would say a year, give or take, but you won't have it around that least not in my house! I burn through toner this time of year!

City Mouse said...

Hi Susan!
I made this last weekend and have been loving it! I used rose hydrosol and the silk protein as my options for those ingredients and it smells and feels great. I wanted to know if I should also be using a moisturizer with this toner? My skin does not feel dry but I live in Vermont and winters can be pretty intense here.

Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - I've seen some of your toner recipes add the hydrolyzed oat protein to the heated water phase and this one adds in the cooling phase. Does it make a difference? I have a liquid hydrolyzed oat protein and wasn't sure how I should do this. Thanks for your help!

JK said...

Hi Susan

Is it correct to say that only when we use water in the recipe that we have to heat and hold.

Do we still need to heat and hold if we use all hydrolates or floral water instead of pure or distilled water?


JK said...

Hi Susan

Is it correct to say that only when we use water in the recipe that we have to heat and hold.

Do we still need to heat and hold if we use all hydrolates or floral water instead of pure or distilled water?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...


Pauline Reyes said...

I’ll be creating my first DIY toner this weekend, and I’ll be following your instructions. Thanks for sharing! :)

~Pauline @Kallony

Anonymous said...

Susan, please forgive the anonymous post, I have a phobia about online identities - it's nothing personal.

I'm a man interested in this as an after-shave. Would you change this in any way that being the case?

Also, I feel that 25% of a floral hydrosol might be a little too floral for my tastes. Does that provide any benefits that I would miss or can I tone it back and use additional water?

Lastly, you call for "0.5% extract (I use chamomile)". When I search for botanical extracts on some of the supplier sites I end up with everything from what I thought would be incredibly mild (meadowfoam oil) to some things I think would be incredibly pungent like licorice root extract. Is there a better way to classify this ingredient that might help me pick a suitable ingredient? I'm not overly find of chamomile.

Thanks in advance for any assistance and thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous Guy. This would make a lovely aftershave, as would the many other toners I have made on the blog. (Just search for "toner" for the many many recipes!) . If you want to learn more about hydrosols, check out the post on hydrosols. They don't smell especially floral, although there is a whiff there if you smell the container very closely. You can use water in their place, if you wish, but it is nice to add them for the properties they offer.

As for extracts, check out the extracts section of the blog for more information on those. I'm not sure what you mean by classifying the extracts. Can you be more specific about what you would like to see in classification for these extracts and I'll see what I can do!

As for using an extract, choose something else you like instead of chamomile. I like chamomile because it offers anti-inflammatory and anti-redness properties, two things that someone using a toner with rosacea might want. Sounds like it would be great in an after shave, but if you don't like it, look at the extracts section and find something else. It does have a tiny whiff of chamomile to it - the faint scent of earthiness - but it isn't a full blown floral scent.

It is possible to sign off with a name - any name - and still remain anonymous. I do like a little friendly, "Bye, (name)") at the bottom of the post. I recognize your need for anonymity, but it still contributes to a community where people aren't accountable for their actions, and that way lies madness. I know, I've been there. Please make up a name, any name, for future posts. I'm respecting your wishes, so please be kind and respect mine! Thanks!

Elizabeth Aqui-Seto said...

Lavender & Chamomile Toner
30% witch hazel hydrosol
25% lavender hydrosol
25% water (I substitute the water for lavender hydrosol)
10% aloe vera liquid
2% sodium lactate
3% honeyquat
2% panthenol (I used the powder panthenol and mixed with water phase)
2% cromoist (I used hydrolized soy protein)
0.5% extract (I used chamomile powder mixed with warm water)
0.5% preservative (I used Phytocide Elderberry)
2% Multifruit BSC
4% water based anti-ageing actives from Croda

I made some small revisions to the recipe, as indicated in brackets.
AND, although I went above the 100% for the total recipe, this is a toner; I think we can take some liberties with a product that is 100% water based. I am very liberal with my toners, so there is no concern with shelf life when I double or triple the recipe.

After using this toner, my skin feels very tight and energized and totally ready to absorb some moisturizer. A definite recipe keeper that is easy to customize.

RobinLindsay said...

okay, first of all I'm sorry about the random comment 6 years after your original post, but I am actually interested in making your sun relief spray, which links of course to your toner recipe. I purchased all the ingredients but realize my sodium lactate is powdered (from lotion crafter) will it still work? do I need to mix it with distilled water first? My aloe is also powdered 100x but that's a more simple fix. I'm more concerned with the sodium lactate. I will also be sending some to a couple friends currently hiking in the Southern California desert along the Pacific Crest Trail and am worried about sun sensitivity, but would definitely like to keep the humectant properties (I don't have glycerine).
Thanks so much for your help, your blog is an invaluable resource!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Robin! There are no old posts around here - I consider them all comment worthy! As for sodium lactate, I recommend asking the supplier what she suggests you do to add it to the product as every ingredient is different!

love naturals said...

At what point or phase to you add the honeyquat or humectant? I don't see that part- thanks much! LOVE THE RECIPE..can't wait to try!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Honeyquat is added in the cool down phase. A humectant is added to the phase in which it would be appropriate, heated or cool down, depending upon the humectant.

Nadia said...

Hi Susan,

Great Article. I have a question. I love to use Thayers Lavendar/Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toners, but I don't see a preservative listed in their ingredients. Below is a list of their ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose), Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (made from Certified Organic Witch Hazel), Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract.

Is it the combination of ingredients listed that's preserving this product?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nadia. No, they seem to think that grapefruit seed extract is a preservative, which it is not. And I'm wondering if they are using citric acid thinking it's a preservative, which it is not. This is an unpreserved product filled with botanicals, which is a contamination festival waiting to happen. The other alternative is that they have used a preserative and not declared it or that they have preservative in one of the other ingredients - for instance, like the aloe vera - and they haven't declared it there.

As an aside, you could totally make this yourself!

Nadia said...

Food for thought, Thanks for answering my question!

Mary Taylor said...

First I have to say you are my number one go to for formulating information. I have all of your books and I love your blog! I just tried my first toner formulation yesterday. today there is sediment at the bottom. my recipe was as follows; 37% water, 30% witch hazel, 10% alovera, 2% glycerin, point five p.5℅ allantoin, 2% beta glucan oat, 2 percent silk aminos, 15 percent of 70℅ aha solution, all in the heated water phase. cool down phase of 0.75 green tea extract and 0.75 Otiphen. any ideas why there would be sediment settling out?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Mary. What format was the AHA, beta glucan, amino acid, and green tea extract in? Powdered or liquid? What are the suggested usage rates for your powders? For instance, it would normally be 0.5%.

Mary Taylor said...

Hi Susan. aha was liquid form 70%, silk amino acid in liquid form with recommended usage of 1 to 2.5%, oat beta glucan powder with suggested use of 1% (maybe this is my problem-I used 2%), green tea extract in liquid form with suggested use of 1 to 2%. the appearance made me suspect the beta glucan and after some shaking the big chunks have dissolved. Thanks for you help!!!

Erika said...

Hi Susan, I have a question about using powdered extracts - are they something that dissolves in the water, or do you need to filter them out as you do when diffusing herbs in oils? I have only seen them for sale on one side so far and would love to create something with banana and / or watermelon, but I feel like I need more info. Thank you so much,


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erika. They are powders that dissolve. If you'd like to learn more, please check out this post on extracts in the extract section of hte blog.

Nora said...

Hi Susan! I ordered green tea extract powder from bulkactives (they state that the concentration should be 1-3 %) and tried to make a facial spray with niacinamide 3%, allantoin 0,5 %, and green tea extract at 3% (I tried the last one at different concentrations down to 1%, they all failed) I didnt include a preservative, as I like to make my products fresh every week and keep them refrigerated. My problem is that after I mixed them together, the green tea either dissolves mostly or stays a bit cloudy (which would be ok) but after letting it sit for a bit, it all gets milky, gritty, white and almost creamy, which unfortunately i cant use on my face. What could be the problem? Im sure its the green tea, since i have been making a spray with b3 and allantoin for a while and it always worked out great. I just cant figure out why it doesnt stay in the solution. Thank you in advance! Nora

Liz Tóth said...

Hi, Susan... I have been using Cromoist and love it in my lotions and hair products. Trouble is, I've been reacting to some of my creations and it looks like the Cromoist may have phenoxyethanol in it, which is an allergen for me. So I've been looking for a powdered oat extract. Does this sound like a reasonable substitute?

As for suppliers, I have been coming up pretty much blank except for an American company called badmonkey. I would prefer to order Canadian if possible (I'm in Edmonton). I've checked the usual sources (New Dimensions, Creations from Eden, Voyageur, Oshun, Candora, Windy Point)... nobody seems to have it anything like this. Do you have any recommendations? Or just do without and find something else? I love the feel of the Cromoist and would like to find some substitute that I can actually use.... thanks!

Elizabeth Aqui-Seto said...

Hello Liz,

I did a google search for "substituting Cromoist in cosmetics" and would you believe one of the hits led me back to Susan's blog:

If you scroll down, you'll see Susan's comments to Anonymous:

"Hi Anonymous. Read the INCI of the product to which you've linked. It's hydrolyzed oat protein. This is one of the reasons I always suggest knowing the INCI for all our products - if you bought this and Cromoist from Voyageur and hydrolyzed oat protein from somewhere else, you'd have three bottles of hydrolyzed oat protein and feel silly for having bought three of the same thing!"


Liz Tóth said...

Hi, Elizabeth... thanks for your reply... yeah, I've been reading the INCI... . The problem isn't the hydrolyzed oat protein, it's that the INCI doesn't show what preservatives are being used. I twigged onto this when I got rashes from my (otherwise lovely) creations, and researched it,. It looks like there may be phenoxyethanol in the hydrolyzed oat protein. I'm allergic to the phenoxyethanol. So I figured getting a powdered substitute might be a solution... since it's dry it won't need a preservative. Then I can formulate with the preservatives I can actually use.

None of the posts I've come across address this particular issue: the preservatives are not shown in a lot of the INCI lists, and you have to really dig, dig, dig to find out. When this involves going to the manufacturer, that means getting the distributor to contact them for you because you have to be a distributor to get that info. And that can be a long, long wait!

but thanks anyway, and if you happen to find out anything else please let me know!



Elizabeth Aqui-Seto said...

Liz, I didn't realize that the INCIs don't always show what preservatives are being used. Now you've got me thinking. In future, I'll have to ask this question of the supplier. I often did wonder at the long shelf life of some of my amino acid actives in my cupboard, like phytokeratin, wheat protein and silk amino acids, but it never occurred to me that they contain preservatives. Duh, of course, they must or else they would probably have to be refrigerated and have a very short shelf life. I've probably used my phytokeratin for over a 2-year period, with no adverse effects that I know of!! I finally threw it out a couple months ago!! I don't believe in strictly following expiry dates of products :-)

I'm sure Susan will help shed some light on this question.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Liz! Always start with your supplier. Ask them how these ingredients are preserved. They should be able to tell you that. If not, ask them for the data bulletins or MSDS that come with the ingredients and read it yourself or look for the manufacturer of the ingredient's information in Google. Or go to a supplier that makes the information really obvious. I have found that the Formulator Sample Shop is very clear about what preservatives they're using, as is Lotioncrafter. (Their version has Leucidal in it.)

As for using the dry powder, check what you're getting because there are there are preservatives in all kinds of things, even powdered things! And substituting it will depend upon the application. A powder might not dissolve well, so you'll have to check the solubility, and definitely use a good preservative with it. It may cause your product to be much thicker, so keep an eye on that!

Thanks, Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts with Liz! I love it when that happens on the blog!!! Keep sharing what you've learned with people here. You've got great ideas and awesome knowledge!

And I admit that I'm not a stickler for best before dates. I keep things in the fridge and freezer and they last much longer that way!!!

Liz Tóth said...

Thanks, Susan and Elizabeth for your comments; you guys are awesome! Your post pretty much confirmed that I'm barking up the right tree - bit of a newbie here so it's nice to have that confirmation even if I don't like the answer! I have asked the distrubutor (it was Vogageur in this case, and I'm waiting for the response... gotta work on that "patience" muscle!), checked the MSDS sheets - not a lot of information there, in this case, but I'll keep checking those, too. Never heard of data bulletins so that's a new avenue to explore.. thanks! I've been trying to resist the U.S. route (currency conversion, postage, border issues... you know all about that one!) but might have to cave. The point about the dry powders is well-taken; I had assumed those would be preservative-free so thanks for that warning! I'll just have to inquire with the company before each new product... what a pain! Anybody want to take a few small allergies off my hands? ... you can have your pick; I have plenty to choose from! ;-)

thanks again for all the info...


m. said...

Hi Susan,
You suggested that the toner can be made cold if the ingredients are already preserved. My hydrosol contains some sodium benzoate. I'm planning to make a very simple toner containing 97% of the preserved hydrosol and 3% of unpreserved glycerine.
My questions are:
1. Is sodium benzoate a sufficient preservative in such case?
2. Do I need to add more preservative since I'm adding 3% of unpreserved glycerine?
3. Can I still blend it cold?
4. If I decided to heat and hold, would the sodium benzoate in my hydrosol lose its preservative power?
Many thanks! Regards,

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi m. No, sodium benzoate isn't a broad spectrum preservative, so it won't effectively preserve your product. Check out the preservatve section to find what you can combine with it to create a full preservative or another one that works well with water only products. (I like liquid Germall Plus.)
Yes, you could add a titch of something like glycerin without worrying if you're using that broad spectrum preservative.
Yes, you can blend it cold.
Yes, you could ruin the preservative if you heat it, so don't worry about heating it. Just add the glycerin and rejoice. Oh, and use a broad spectrum preservative.

(Can you tell I really want you to use a broad spectrum preservative?) :-)

Susan M. said...

Hi Susan,
I have been a follower of your blog for quite some time and love it! I rarely go anywhere else. Loved your blog so much that I bought all your books and read them all on a vacation in the Mayan (sitting on the covered balcony, sipping on a cold drink, while hubby was doing some long distance work in the air-conditioned room!). Now that you have taken some time away to heal and decompress (amongst other things), I decided instead of jumping all around your blog, I would go right back to the start and read through from the beginning way back to 2008 - I feel like I've really gotten to know you, and share your addiction to crafts and always asking the question 'why?'. I am having fun, filling up my shopping list and 'to make file'!

To my question, which may seem obvious, but I just want to make sure. When you list a % for a botanical extract, such as chamomile or green tea extract, is that in the powdered form, before it is hydrated? So this recipe for toner would be .5% powdered chamomile extract? Just want to make sure as I have made some fails in the past using extracts incorrectly in the recipe when it was not clearly stated. A lovely lotion I made turned ugly when I added green tea extract - the author apparently had used a liquid form.

Thank you for your blog, I visit daily, appreciate your time, effort, and honesty :)
Susan in Calgary

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Susan! Wow, thank you for your very very kind words! I apologize in advance for the impact my log will have on your credit card! You'll have fun, though, I promise! :-)

Yes. When I add 0.5% powdered chamomile extract, in a 100 gram toner I would add 0.5 grams of powdered chamomile extract to the toner.

I've gone into greater detail in Thursday, May 12th's Weekday Wondering. This was a great question!

Susan M. said...

Thank you so much. It can be so disheartening when a recipe does not specify liquid or powder. The first time I made the lotion I mentioned, it was lovely, and I did not have any GTE, so left it out. The second time, I did have GTE, added it in, and the entire batch turned ugly with an ammonia off gas :(. So, now I am more cautious - lesson learned! Looking forward to making this toner for my daughter, and change it up a bit for myself (I have more of a dry skin).
Thanks again!
Susan in Calgary

LubLub Jubran said...


Thank you so much for the wealth of information you provide!!

A couple quick questions... 1. I read somewhere that aloe vera juice cannot be preserved.. Regardless preservative, it'll go rancid, do you know if this is true? And if it isn't, do you know if rice water (organic rice booked in distilled water) used in the toner would preserve just as well with liquid germall plus??
2. Have you ever used organic raw spoke cider vinegar in your toner in small amounts? It's great for acne prone skin, so what's your thoughts??

Thanks in advance!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi LubLub! I've answered your question in more detail here - Weekend Wonderings. The short answer is that aloe vera can't go rancid, but it can be contaminated so use a good preservative. Aloe vera can be preserved if you use good preservative.

Cleo's Beauty said...

I had a quick question, coud you add the chamomile extract to an already made toner? if so, how could one do this? Thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cleo's Beauty! If you made the product and know you've used enough preservative, then you could add it. If it's a pre-bought product, you have no idea how much preservative is in the product and if it's suitable for botanicals, so you can't.