Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When lotions go wrong!

At one time or another, we've all experienced epic lotion failure and asked ourselves what we did wrong. We call it separation, but do you know why it happened?

The main reason for separation is "the coalescence of dispersed droplets", in other words, the oil clumps together. Because the oil has a lower specific gravity than the water, it floats to the top and separates from the lotion. Every oil and water lotion will fail eventually because it's not a natural state for oil and water to be mixed together like this, but that date should be far far into the future for a good emulsification system. (When I say far in the future, I mean you should be able to give a lotion to your currently infant daughter on her graduation day! I don't recommend this - no preservative is going to hold out THAT long - but that's the kind of time line I mean!)

A note in response to some lotion recipes I've seen on the 'net...Separation is NOT normal. If you're experiencing separation, you are doing something wrong. And you can't repair it by shaking the bottle before use.

When two or more droplets collide and combine with each other resulting in the formation of one larger droplet. This is an irreversible breach of interfacial film between the two phases and is not fixable. What causes it? Poor choice of emulsifier or too low a level of emulsifier, your pH level, too many salts, and temperature. What can we do about it?

Heating and holding is essential - getting both phases of your lotion up to 70C for 20 minutes can ensure you get all the ingredients to the right temperature. Solubility of ingredients generally increases when you have a higher temperature, and when you have two phases that really don't get along that well, you need every bit of help you can get to make them mix!

I've seen this a few times - it's not pretty. Your oil phase floats to the top of the lotion, leaving a thin, milky coloured layer of water and other ingredients at the bottom. What caused this? Well, it's a natural thing for oil to float on top of water, so it could be a poor emulsification system, not enough emulsifier, failure to get the ingredients to the proper temperature, or failure to mix the lotion adequately. (In my case, I didn't get the two phases to the same temperature - I think. This was before I bought my thermometer!)

What can we do about this? Heating and holding, for one. You can increase the viscosity of the lotion with a gum or gel, although this really is a pain in the bum. You can ensure you have a good emulsification system. And remember to mix well.

I use a hand mixer for personal sized batches of lotions and a stand mixer (love my Kitchenaid!!!) for larger batches. You can also use a stick blender for smaller batchers, and a paint mixer attachment on a drill for huge ones. This is all about mechanical emulsification - again, we need to make the oil and water want to stay together, and mixing is a huge part of that. I mix quite a bit when we add the two phases together, I mix when the temperature drops a little, and I mix when I add the cool down ingredients (fragrance oil, preservative, and so on).

How to mix? LabRat recommended mixing until the lotion reaches 25C to 28C. I'm going to be honest, I don't do that when I'm using a hand mixer. It really is a lot of work and I don't have an hour to stand there holding a mixer! (I know, I know, I should but, I have so many things I want to make and so little time). If you have a stand mixer, put it on a low setting and let it run, checking the temperature periodically so you know when to add the cool down ingredients. If you're using a hand mixer, really it's your call. I find it works for me in the way I described above, but it isn't the best manufacturing practice you can do.

FLOCCULATION (my new favourite word! Try to use it in conversation!)
A process by which 2 or more droplets aggregate to form even larger drops (bigger than 2 mm!) This can promote sedimentation and creaming at a faster rate. The rate at which droplets aggregate is affected by the pH and ionic strength of the aqueous environment (meaning, it's about the water phase, not the oil phase). The floc (the joined droplets) float to the top and create the creaming effect.

This can also be caused by a too large oil phase coupled with a level of emulsifier that can't handle it. If you're using Polawax or e-wax, make sure your emulsifier level is 25% of your oil phase. Use a co-emulsifier or thickener like stearic acid or cetyl alcohol. If you continue to see this, use another emulsifier. I used to use general e-wax but switched to Polawax due to flocculation. I did try a number of things to get the e-wax to work, even increasing the amount to way more than I liked, resulting in a grippy lotion, and I finally decided to go back to Polawax despite the increased price.

When one droplet engulfs another, creating a larger droplet. This differs from the other forms of lotion failure because it's not so much about the collision of droplets as above. (I think of this one as one droplet eating another - a violent act - whereas the others are about droplets coming together and not wanting to be separated - an affectionate act.)

What can be done? Again, all the stuff mentioned above.

Lotions can go wrong for myriad reasons, but we can control most of them. Just remember lotions are formed through chemical, mechanical, and heat emulsification.

Chemical emulsification: Ensure you are using a good emulsification system at the right levels.

Mechanical emulsification: Mixing! Get a good mixer you feel comfortable holding for a while. Or treat yourself to a nice Kitchenaid mixer. Get a bowl and paddle for use exclusively for your bath and body products.

Heating: Always heat and hold at 70C for 20 minutes. Get your phases to the same temperature. Buy a nice candy thermometer (a bargain at $10 or less!) and check the temperatures regularly.

Measure your ingredients: Always go for weighted measurements instead of volume. Get a good scale - they're not expensive at $40 for a digital scale that weighs to 1.0 grams (and if you're really into making lotions, get one that goes to 0.1 grams. Good for mineral make-up as well!)

Know your ingredients: Knowing how to alter your emulsifier or which thickener to add will help you modify recipes properly.

A pH meter would be nice, but they're not cheap and are only good for one thing (whereas your scale is useful for so many things!) I know I have one on my Christmas list!

Join me tomorrow for fun with phase inversion!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HLB - a short summary and a few links

I figured now that you've seen the HLB system in action, it's time for a summary.

The HLB system is designed to make it easier to figure out what emulsifier goes with what lotion. Your oil phase will have a required HLB value, meaning this is the number you need to match with an emulsification system composed of a high HLB and a low HLB emulsifier.

If you have an oil phase with a required HLB of 8.1, you'd choose two emulsifiers in ratios that will total 8.1. (Cetereath-20 with an HLB of 15.2 and Glycol distearate with an HLB of 1 at 50% each will match this number). If you're using 4% emulsifier, you'd use 2% ceteareth-20 and 2% glycol distearate in the recipe.

If you have an oil phase with a required HLB of 6.225 and wanted to use polysorbate 15 (HLB: 15) and glyceryl stearate (HLB: 3.8), you'd end up using 22% polysorbate 80 (or 0.88 grams) and 78% glyceryl stearate (or 3.12 grams) if you're using 4% emulsifier.

The key to the HLB system is finding the right ratio of emulsifiers to the required HLB value of your lotion. You can use any combination of high HLB and low HLB emulsifiers you like, as long as they are in the right percentages in the recipe. It's up to you to figure out which combinations you like!

Want to know more about HLB? Here are a few links I like...

Emulsifiers with HLB values from the Herbarie.

Required HLB values for oils from the Herbarie.

Making emulsions for cosmetics from

Have fun!

Silicones and the HLB system

Mich brings up a very good point that I think needs addressing!

Here you have the HLB requirement for dimethicone as either 9 or 10, depending on c.s. It is listed as 5 on both LabRat's PDF and the Herbarie's list. (Neither of those specify the c.s.)

In the texts I've been reading, I keep seeing 9 to 10 as the required HLB value for dimethicone. But it makes more sense for silicones to have a required HLB value of 5. A low required HLB value of 5 indicates the molecule is more hydrophobic (and more lipophilic) and is less water soluble than one with a required HLB of 9 or 10. We know how hydrophobic dimethicone is - just try mixing it in water! - so it should be a 5!

The HLB value of a molecule is determined by the molecular weight of the hydrophilic portion and divided by 5. Silicones - like the dimethicone and cyclomethicone - are inorganic molecules, meaning they are based on silicon and oxygen. (Organic molecules have hydrocarbon groups that contain hydrogen and carbon). As a silicone is almost completely oil soluble (and therefore, hydrophobic) it should have a low number!

And yes, I know there are water soluble silicones, but this issue is already complicated enough!

But silicones don't act like our normal lotion ingredients. Their behaviour in lotions are hard to predict. To quote from Surfactants in Personal Care Products...

Direct application of the HLB concept to these materials has resulted in approximate and often misleading values due to the fact that silicones are organic/inorganic hybrids and the thermodynamics of their interactions with the oil and water phases in emulsions scale differently than do the interactions of purely organic amphiphiles.

In other words, it's hard to predict what a silicone will do and put a required HLB value on it.

A new system needed to be created for molecules like silicones which are difficult to categorize. It's called the 3D HLB system and there is no way I can explain it all here (click on the link for 3D HLB fun!) Instead of thinking about oil-in-water emulsions and water-in-oil emulsions, we must now consider silicone-in-oil emulsions, silicone-in-water emulsions, water-in-silicone emulsions, and oil-in-silicone emulsions. (Please consult the PDF linked above for detailed information this is a very good PDF and will make more sense than I will!)

So what the heck does all of this mean? Well, it means we can't predict what a silicone will do in an emulsion without using the 3D HLB system. Since most of us don't have access to fancy labs and hundreds of different ingredients (sigh...) then we have to go by what the suppliers tell us.

From yesterday's post...

Macadamia nut - 0.147 x 7 = 1.029
Safflower oil - 0.147 x 8 = 1.176
Mango butter - 0.441 x 8 = 3.528
Cetyl alcohol - 0.088 x 15.2 = 1.338
IPM - 0.0588 x 11.5 = 0.6762
Cyclomethicone - 0.0588 x 8 = 0.4704
Dimethicone - 0.0588 x 9 = 0.5292
Total HLB for the oil phase: 8.7468 - we'll round this up to 8.75 or 8.8.

So our HLB target number for the emulsifiers is 8.8.

What if we change the dimethicone number to be 5? Dimethicone - 0.0588 x 5 = 0.294

Add the numbers together, and our HLB target number for the emulsifiers is 8.4816 or 8.5.

Is that a big difference? I would say yes. We have to re-work the emulsifiers for this lotion and do more math. More math = significant.

My head is starting to hurt, so I'll summarize my thoughts...On the one hand I have various textbooks and data sheets telling me dimethicone has a required HLB value of 9 to 10, and on the other hand I have the Herbarie and Lab Rat telling me it's 5. I've gone to a number of manufacturers' sites and they won't give me the number; they tell me it's hydrophobic, as if I didn't already know that.

It makes sense to me for dimethicone to be a 5 - it's hydrophobic, lipophilic, and certainly doesn't have any hydrophilic tendencies (why does that sound rude to me?), all of which point to a low required HLB value. I trust the Herbarie and Lab Rat, so I'm going to go with 5 as the required HLB for dimethicone.

Thanks, Mich! Great topic!

Things to think about when creating an emulsification system.

We can, in theory, combine any low HLB and high HLB emulsifiers to create an emulsification system. But there are reasons you might not want to use certain combinations. Perhaps you're avoiding certain emulsifiers because they contain elements of something you don't like. Or you can't get your ingredients reliably or locally. Or you might hate the skin feel. The whole point of coming up with a customized emulsification system is to find something you love and want to use in everything!

I've been working with glycol distearate and ceteareth-20 for a few reasons...

1. I have some at home and I can get it from local suppliers;
2. It's the one LabRat seemed to recommend the most; and
3. It has a nice skin feel.

For instance, it's perfectly fine to use lecithin (HLB: 4) and polysorbate 20 (HLB: 16.7) together, but it might be hard to figure out the HLB for your specific lecithin as its HLB values are listed as 4, 7, and 9! You can use glycol stearate (HLB: 2.9) and polysorbate 80 (HLB: 15) to reach your target HLB number, but you have to consider how you like the skin feel of the end product!

How do you figure out whether you're going to like it or not? Try it. This approach will take some supplies and your time, but it's really the only way to make sure you're a fan of the system you've created. Try it shortly after you've made it, then try it a few days later. If you like it, keep it. If you don't, change it. (I know, I know, this must seem like an irritating answer, but it's really about what you like. No one can tell you what you'll like or what works well for you, so experimentation is really the only way to know!)

When you feel you have chosen an emulsification system you like and want to use for future lotions, try reducing the amount to 3% then 2%. If you've chosen wisely, 2% should work well. We've started out at 4% as it's more likely an emulsion with work at this level, and it gives you a chance to see how you like the skin feel.

The down side of using the HLB system for an emulsion is can't just throw things in and modify a recipe without a little work. Let's say it's winter and I really need an intense body butter with heavier oils. If I'm using emulsifying wax, I'll change the oils, add some silicones, and increase the butter and all I have to do is take the e-wax up a bit, ensuring it is 25% of my oil phase. If you're using the HLB system, you'll have to recalculate your oil phase to find your target HLB number again, then recalculate your emulsifiers.

It is worth it, but you might find yourself spending more time in your workshop, lab, barn, or lair in the beginning.

Join me tomorrow for when lotions go bad!

Monday, September 28, 2009

More fun with the HLB system - a body butter recipe.

All right, so we did a kinda basic recipe yesterday, let's look at something more complicated...a body butter filled with various oils and esters and silicones.

42% water
10% aloe vera liquid
10% lavender or rose hydrosol
2% sodium lactate

10% oils - 5% macadamia nut and 5% safflower oil
15% butter of choice - I'm using mango butter at 15%
4% emulsifier - to be determined
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

0.5 to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil blend
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone

What's in the oil phase and how much do we have?

Macadamia nut - 5% - HLB: 7
Safflower oil - 5% - HLB: 8
Mango butter - 15% - HLB: 8
Cetyl alcohol - 3% - HLB: 15.2
IPM - 2% - HLB: 11.5

Don't forget the silicones in the oil phase!

Silicones are tricky things in that there could be various HLB values for them. As a rule of thumb, cyclomethicone is about 8 and dimethicone is 9 or 10, depending upon the centistokes. The higher the centistoke, the higher the HLB. Since I normally use 350 c.s., which is a low c.s. dimethicone, we'll consider this a 9. (If you don't know the c.s. on your dimethicone, ask your supplier. If you can't do that, the thicker the dimethicone, the higher the c.s. If it's like corn syrup, it's likely a higher c.s. If it's like water, it's likely a lower c.s.)

Special note: Please read this post on silicones and the HLB system. I'm going to suggest you use 5 as the required HLB value for dimethicone. I'm not re-doing this math, and the recipe does work with dimethicone at 9, but if you want to use the HLB system for your own recipes, you'll probably want to use 5 in the future.

Cyclomethicone - 2% - HLB: 8
Dimethicone - 2% - HLB: 9

The oil phase is 34% of the recipe, so we need to figure out the percentages in our oil phase.

Macadamia nut - 5/34 = 0.147 or 14.7% of the oil phase
Safflower oil - 5/34 - = 0.147 or 14.7% of the oil phase
Mango butter - 15/34 = 0.441 or 44.1% of the oil phase
Cetyl alcohol - 3/34= 0.088 or 8.8% of the oil phase
IPM - 2/34 = 0.0588 or 5.9% of the oil phase
Cyclomethicone - 2/34 = 0.0588 or 5.9% of the oil phase
Dimethicone - 2/34 = 0.0588 or 5.9% of the oil phase.

Check your total. Yep, it equals 100%!

So we have our numbers - now multiply those by their HLB values

Macadamia nut - 0.147 x 7 = 1.029
Safflower oil - 0.147 x 8 = 1.176
Mango butter - 0.441 x 8 = 3.528
Cetyl alcohol - 0.088 x 15.2 = 1.338
IPM - 0.0588 x 11.5 = 0.6762
Cyclomethicone - 0.0588 x 8 = 0.4704
Dimethicone - 0.0588 x 9 = 0.5292
Total HLB for the oil phase: 8.7468 - we'll round this up to 8.75 or 8.8.

So our HLB target number for the emulsifiers is 8.8.

The HLB for glycol distearate is 1.
The HLB for ceteareth-20 is 15.2.
We know from yesterday that a 50-50 mix of these emulsifiers will give us 8.1. But we need 8.8 so we can't just use yesterday's numbers. Darn!
We're working with 4% total emulsifiers.

So if we use 55% ceteareth-20 (0.55 x 15.2 = 8.36) and 45% glycol distearate (0.45 x 1 = 0.45) we will get an emulsification system with an HLB of 8.81. Perfect!

So we know we need 2.2% ceteareth-20 and 1.8% glycol distearate to make this body butter work!

Click here for an Excel spreadsheet that might help with the HLB system!

Join me tomorrow for more fun with emulsifiers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A demonstration of HLB

I'm going to take a lotion recipe you've probably seen before (in this post) and use this as a demonstration of how to use the HLB system to create an emulsifying system.

Please click on this PDF so you can have the chart handy for the HLB values for the oil phase and emulsifiers.
As a note before starting, there are so many ingredients that aren't available to us as homecrafters, so we're kind of stuck when it comes to emulsifiers. I'm going to use glycol distearate and ceteareth-20 as my emulsifiers for this project because that's what I have available to me (from Voyageur and Brambleberry respectively). When you're using your emulsifiers, skin feel is really important as well. Some combinations are unappealing and some combinations won't appeal to you specifically. This is where experimentation is your friend!

70% water
15% oil (let's go with 7% olive oil, 8% rice bran oil)
5% shea butter
3% cetyl alcohol
4% emulsifier - to be determined!
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

This is a pretty basic lotion, so it's a good starting point for our HLB calculations.

WARNING: Math ahead! I know some people aren't fans of math and don't think themselves good at it, but don't be alarmed. If you follow the steps and remember your elementary school math for finding percentages, it's actually quite simple.

There are two phases of HLB math - finding out the HLB value of your ingredients, then finding the HLB value of your chosen emulsifiers.

The steps to finding out the HLB value of your ingredients.
1. Which ingredients have an HLB value?
2. How much of each ingredient is in the total recipe?
3. Multiply this by the total oil phase to get a percentage.
4. Multiply the percentage by the HLB value. Add them together to get the HLB value of your oil phase.

The steps to finding out the HLB value of your emulsifiers.
1. Find a low HLB emulsifier and a high HLB emulsifier.
2. Work on the percentages to find a total that is very close to the HLB value of your oil phase.
3. Rejoice!

STEP 1: Figure out which ingredients have an HLB value.
This is basically your oil phase. Anything that wouldn't go in the water phase probably has an HLB value. Our oil phase (which makes up 23% of our recipe) contains oil, butter, and cetyl alcohol. Each of these has an HLB value.

Olive oil - HLB value: 7
Rice bran oil - HLB value: 7
Shea butter - HLB value: 8
Cetyl alcohol - HLB value: 15.5

STEP 2: Percentage of recipe
How much of each ingredient is in the total recipe? Let's call this number our "recipe %" number.

Olive oil - 7%
Rice bran oil - 8%
Shea butter - 5%
Cetyl alcohol 3%

Total: 23% of the recipe is the oil phase. (Let's call this number our "total oil phase %")

STEP 3: Multiply the amount in the recipe by the total oil phase.

We know our oil phase is equal to 23% of the recipe. So we need to figure out the percentage of each ingredient in the oil phase.

recipe %
total oil phase %

Divide the % in oil phase by the oil phase %.

Olive oil - 30.5% of the oil phase (7 divided by 23) - 0.305
Rice bran - 34.8% of the oil phase (8 divided by 23) - 0.348
Shea butter - 21.7% of the oil phase (5 divided by 23) - 0.217
Cetyl alcohol - 13.0% of the oil phase. (3 divided by 23) - 0.130

This should total 100%. Yep, it checks out.

Note: Remember that a percentage also has a decimal value. For instance, 30.5% is equal to 0.305 (move the decimal two spaces to the right to get the percentage!) These are the values you want to work with in the rest of the phases.

STEP 4: Multiply the numbers from step 3 by the HLB value.

Olive oil makes up 30.5% of the oil phase. It has an HLB value of 7. 0.305 x 7 = 2.135

Rice bran oil makes up 34.8% of the oil phase. It has an HLB value of 7. 0.348 x 7 = 2.436

Shea butter makes up 21.7% of the oil phase. It has an HLB value of 8. 0.217 x 8 = 1.736

Cetyl alcohol makes up 13.0% of the oil phase. It has an HLB value of 15.5. 0.130 x 15.5 = 2.015

Add these numbers together and you get 8.322 (or 8.3) as the HLB of your oil phase.

To make a good emulsifying system I need a low HLB emulsifier and a high HLB emulsifier working together. I have chosen glycol distearate (also known as EZ Pearl) with an HLB value of 1 and ceteareth-20 with an HLB value of 15.2. (This is a standard combination for emulsifiers and feels very nice). I'm going to use 4% as my starting number for amount of emulsifier because we want to make sure we have enough emulsifier! (I know LabRat recommended 2%, but he was a gifted cosmetic chemist who had years of experience under his belt! If you want to go with 2%, that's just fine, but I want to make sure there's enough emulsifier for this lotion!)

We could have chosen a number of different combinations; I've chosen this one as LabRat posted regularly about this being a good combination and because these are ingredients easily available to the home crafter.

Now we need to figure out how to combine these.

If we use 50% glycol distearate (1) and 50% ceteareth-20 (15.2) we're going to get an HLB of 8.1.

The math...
Glycol distearate: 0.50 x 1 = 0.5
Ceteareth-20: 0.5 x 15.2 = 7.6
HLB for this emulsification system: 8.1

Although we could get closer to our HLB of 8.322 by mixing 48% glycol distearate (0.48) and 52% ceteareth-20 (7.904) for a total of 8.38, this is going to be a huge pain in the bum. We're working with 4%, so you'd have to have 2.1% ceteareth-20 and 1.9% glycol distearate. It's easier to just do 50-50 right now. Given most of the HLB value of emulsifiers are listed as + or - 1, our ceteareth-20 could have a value of 14.2 to 16.2, so we're not being foolish by using 0.1 less of one emulsifier and 0.1 more of another.)

So we have determined that a 50/50 mix of glycol distearate and ceteareth-20 will make up an HLB value suitable for our emulsifier. We're going to start at 4%, which means we'll be using 2% glycol distearate and 2% ceteareth-20 in this lotion.

We multiply the amount of ceteareth-20 we'll need by 4% (our starting point) to figure out how much to use. Put your percentages into decimals - 50% ceteareth-20 is 0.50 and 4% of the emulsifier is 0.04.

0.50 ceteareth-20 x 0.04 = 0.02 or 2% ceteareth-20.
0.50 glycol stearate x 0.04 = 0.02 or 2% glycol distearate

Yeah, I know this one is easy - just divide 4% in half to get 2%. But they aren't always this easy. I fluked out here!

So here's the recipe with the emulsification system included...

70% water
15% oil (let's go with 7% olive oil, 8% rice bran oil)
5% shea butter
3% cetyl alcohol
4% emulsifier - 2% glycol distearate, 2% ceteareth-20
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

There's the recipe. Want to get more complicated? Try this with your favourite lotion recipe.

And yes, I should be including the fragrance and/or essential oil in the oil phase with an HLB value but I didn't because I really didn't feel like looking up those HLB values! I think I've done enough work today!

Join me for more fun with the HLB system in a lotion with a more complicated oil phase.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

HLB or the hydrophilic-lipophilic balance system

When we're working with emulsification systems like e-wax or BTMS, we don't think of how it's going to emulsify our product. We just add the required amount and poof! - we have lotion. But if we want to create an emulsification system of our own, we need to turn to the HLB system for guidance! (Please click to see LabRat's amazing PDF on this topic, replete with all the HLB values for oil phase ingredients and emulsifiers! Download this and treasure it!)

The hydrophilic-lipophilic balance system (or HLB) was created by William Griffin the 1940s as a way of figuring out which emulsifier would work best with the oil phase of an emulsified product. All emulsifiers have a hydrophilic head (water loving) that is generally composed of a water soluble functional group and a lipophilic tail (oil loving) generally composed of a fatty acid or fatty alcohol.

The theory behind HLB is that emulsifiers showing greater solubility in water would be better for oil in water emulsifications; emulsifiers showing great solubility in oil would be better for water in oil emulsifications. The lower HLB valued emulsifiers are better in water in oil as they are more lipophilic; the higher valued HLB emulsifiers are more hydrophilic. (Solubility of a molecule generally increases with temperature, hence the reason for heating and holding our lotion ingredients. And most emulsifiers we use are in a pellet or flake form, so heating is the only way to incorporate it into a liquid environment!)

The HLB value of an emulsifier is determined by the hydrophilic portion of the surfactant. The equation is as follows - HLB = % hydrophilic portion by weight of the molecule divided by 5. (We don't need to know this to use the HLB system, but I'm the kind of girl who has to know everything, so I thought I'd include it for like minded people!) So the higher the number, the higher the portion of the molecule is hydrophilic, and the more water soluble it will be.

Take a look at this polysorbate 80 molecule (HLB 15). Based on this number, we should expect this is an emulsifier that would be better suited for oil in water emulsifications because it has such a high HLB number. (And from experience, we know poly 80 is well suited for adding oil to watery things like toners or facial cleansers - not a lot of oil, but enough that we want it not to float on top of the product!) We don't see any fatty acids or alcohols on this chain, so it's going to be a hydrophilic emulsifier with a high HLB value.

This is sorbitan stearate (HLB 4.7). Based on this number we can predict this molecule would be better suited for oil soluble applications, like a water in oil lotion.

You will never use one emulsifier alone for a lotion - you might for bubble baths, body washes, perfumes, and so on, but for a lotion, you need a system. We want to combine a low HLB emulsifier (the one that loves oil more) and a high HLB emulsifier (one that loves water more) at a level that will match the HLB of our oil phase. And we'll want to add enough of these emulsifiers to ensure we get proper, stable emulsification of our product. (I've seen it suggested that you start at 2% and at 4% emulsifiers in your lotions. I'm going to suggest 4% for now to ensure we have enough in the lotion to be successful.)

So how can use we the HLB system to create awesome emulsification systems? Join me tomorrow for a sample recipe!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A slightly more in depth look at emulsification

In anticipation of a series of posts on the HLB system and lotions, here's a post on emulsification. I know I've covered emulsions in the past, but I wanted to expand it a little bit here.

What exactly is an emulsion? For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to work with the oil-in-water lotion, in which droplets of oil are suspended in water. This is generally the type of lotion you'll see, where generally the water phase is much larger than the oil phase.

If you want to know more about water in oil emulsions, please click here for a comparison of o/w and w/o.

An oil-in-water emulsion is defined as an internal lipid phase dispersed in the external or continuous aqueous phase which is stabilized by surfactants. The internal phase is lipophilic or oil loving and the external phase is hydrophilic or water loving. Adding a surfactant creates a film at the interface of the two phases (oil and water), which creates an emulsion.

In other words, the oil is dispersed through the water phase and stabilized by our emulsifiers.

You might see the oil phase called the internal phase or the discontinuous phase - I'm going to call it the "oil phase" to make life easier. Similarly, the water phase can be called the external or continuous phase - I'm going to call it the "water phase". I realize this isn't completely accurate if we're considering all lotions, but since I'll be writing mostly about oil in water emulsions, it works for me.

Oil and water normally don't want to mix, as you can see in salad dressing or failed lotions. Emulsifiers decrease the interfacial tension between these two phases that refuse to mix (they are considered immiscible, meaning in any proportion do not form a solution) and allow them to come together in a lotion-y goodness. Emulsifiers also act as stabilizers for this mixture.

There are three aspects of emulsification - chemical, heat, and mechanical. The chemical is the emulsifier, the heat is the heating and holding we do, and the mechanical is the mixing process. As our emulsifications are based on kinetic (or physical) stability, they will fail eventually. It may take minutes, it may take years, but eventually the emulsification will break down. We want that date to be well after we've finished the bottle! I'm going to be focusing mainly on chemical emulsification, but temperature and mechanical emulsification will be making appearances.

Why did I mention surfactants? Surfactants are SURFace ACTive agENTS (surf-act-ents) with a hydrophilic, or water loving, head and a hydrophobic, or water hating, tail. (Sometimes you'll see the hydrophobic tail listed as lipophilic or fat loving.) Surfactants can be foamy, lathery things like detergents or they can be emulsifiers. (And yes, theoretically foamy surfactants are emulsifiers as well, but let's not get into that right now!) For the purposes of these posts, emulsifiers are surfactants with at least 14 carbons on a chain that enable us to emulsify oil and water together.

How do emulsifiers emulsify? The hydrophilic head is in contact with the water phase while the hydrophobic tail is in contact with the oil phase. The hydrophilic tail connects to the oil and the head protudes into the water connecting the two. You can see why this is so unstable.

What can cause separation in an emulsification? If we don't have enough chemical emulsification or the right kind of chemical emulsification (meaning not enough or the wrong emulsifier), if we don't have adequate heat energy (heating both phases to the same temperature), and if we don't have enough mechanical energy (using a mixer or stick blender) we're going to see separation.

When you think of how much can go wrong, it's almost a miracle a lotion works sometimes!

So what can we do? We can use emulsification systems like Polawax, e-wax, or BTMS to help us create our emulsions or we can create our own emulsification systems using the HLB (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance) system.

We have a topic for tomorrow - the HLB system!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A couple of notes about acne, break outs, and sensitive skin

A lot of us turn to making our own products because we suffer from acne or other skin problems or our skin is so sensitive, we can't seem to use any commercial products without some degree of suffering. Let's check out the definitions for various words we tend to use when we're talking about skin problems...

COMEDOGENICITY: An ingredient or product causes the formation of comedones (blackheads) in a relatively short period of time.

Blackheads form when the outer layers of our skin do not shed properly and the hair follicle is blocked. The blackhead part comes from the oxidation of fatty acids on the surface in the skin. Scienticians still aren't really sure what causes this lack of desquamation (love that word!). Formation of comedones are not accompanied by skin redness.

ACNEGENICITY: An ingredient or product has the potential to cause or aggravate acne.

Acne forms when the skin doesn't shed and sebum accumulates in the follicle and sebaceous glad. This allows anaerobic bacteria to proliferate. The duct expands until it ruptures, and the bacteria makes it to our skin, causing an immune reaction and inflammation. The irritation may come from the fatty acids the bacteria have digested in our skin and are now spreading on our skin. Formation of pustules are generally accompanied by skin redness.

PUSTULOGENCITY: An ingredient or product has the ability to cause inflammatory papules and pustules in a short period of time. This tends to be dose dependent - a little might be fine, a lot might be trouble. You can get pustules with non-comedogenic ingredients (like SLS) due to irritation.

SENSITIVE SKIN: An ingredient or product has the ability to cause some people to react adversely. It can be a feeling that one cannot tolerate the product - for instance, sensations of burning, itching, stinging, and a feeling of tightness - or it can include redness or swelling. Sensitive skin can include allergic contact dermatitis and photoallergic reactions. The most common form is sensory irritation.

Most of these reactions are dose dependent. A small amount might be just fine, whereas a large dose can result in even the hardiest skin showing a reaction.

Many breakouts and pimples we attribute to our products are not, in fact, from the products. A pustule does not develop overnight from using a product - it can take up to 7 days for the process to go from start to finish. If you try a product today and find a pimple in the morning, it is almost certainly not from the product!

Comedogenicity is generally tested on both animal (rabbits) and human subjects, and the results can be very different depending upon which test was conducted. For instance, IPM - one of the most comedogenic oils or emollients - shows a score of 1 (from 1 to 3) on rabbit ears, but 0.4 on human skin. Rabbit ears are more sensitive than human skin, so the scores tend to be higher from animal tests.

What factors can pre-dispose someone to one of these skin irritations? Between 2 and 8.3% of the population has some kind of reaction to cosmetic products.
  • Women tend to be slightly more likely to have skin irritation from products.
  • A hypersensitivity to sensory input can make slight sensations like stinging or burning even more severe.
  • There's an inverse correlation between age and susceptibility - it goes down as we get older.
  • People with fair skin are the most reactive; dark skin, the least reactive.
  • Area of the body - people can be sensitive on the face, but not the arms, and so on.
People with diminished barrier function in the skin - for instance, people with pre-existing skin conditions - should always be careful when trying new products.

A chart for comedogenic ingredients...seems like a good one.

So what does this all mean? Although the charts for comedogenicity are a great guideline, oftentimes the only way to know how you're going to react to something is to try it. If you know you have sensitive skin, then keep a list of various ingredients that might be irritating to you and avoid them.

What if there's an ingredient you really want to try but are fairly sure might irritate your skin? Many studies have found that many vegetable oils have a high comedogenic potential that can be reduced by adding 25% mineral oil to the mix (which has quite a low comedogenicity score). And no, I'm not sure exactly why that might be...

Just thought I'd share this as we finish up daily mineral make-up posts (look for mineral make-up Wednesday to return on September 30th) and start in on lotion and emulsifiers!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weight vs. volume

For the most part, most of the recipes you'll see for bath and body products are in weights because it's the most accurate way to get the results you want. And most recipes you'll see for mineral make-up tend to be in volume measurements - teaspoons, scoops, and so on - because we're dealing with such small amounts, it gets to be a right pain in the bum to work with 0.1 gram or lower. (And it can get expensive buying a tiny weight scale!) All you have to do is look at a container of Micronaspheres (2 ounces by weight fills an 8 ounce container) or Natrasorb bath (125 grams fills a really huge bag!) to know there can be a huge difference between the weight of a product and its volume.

As a note, I'm Canadian, so I work in grams instead of ounces. I will use this throughout this blog and this post because it gets really confusing with the weighted ounces and liquid ounces. If you aren't familiar with the metric system, 1 weighted ounce is about 30 grams and 1 volume ounce is about 30 ml. So a cup is 250 ml (give or take) - and I think this just shows the difference in using weights and volumes!

Pure water at 4 Celsius is our baseline for specific gravity and everything else is compared to it. Water weighs 1000 grams per litre - 1 kg per litre - or 1 gram per millilitre. If something is listed as being less than 1, it weighs less than water per gram. If something is more than 1, it weighs more than water per gram.

I have been mentioning cc or cubic centimetre in the mineral make-up posts. This represents 1 cubic centimetre, or 1/1000 of a litre, which is 1 millilitre. So 1 cc or 1 ml of water is equal to 1 gram. So 5 cc of water - 5 ml or 1 tsp - would weigh 5 grams.

If something has a specific gravity of 1.03, it means it weighs 1.03 grams for every 1 millilitre or 1030 grams per litre.

So if we see cetrimonium chloride listed as having a specific gravity of 0.93, we know this means it weighs 0.93 grams per 1 cc or 1 ml. Let's say we want 5% cetrimonium chloride in our conditioner. If we're making a 100 ml batch and add 5 ml, we'd only have 4.65% cetrimonium chloride. Not the biggest deal in the world. If you wanted to make 1 litre of conditioner and added 50 ml, you'd only have 46.5 grams of cetac or 4.65%.

Liquid Germall Plus has a specific gravity of 1.15 to 1.25. If you want 0.5% in a lotion and add it in volume at 0.5 ml to a 100 ml batch of lotion, you might have 0.575 to 0.625 ml preservative, which is above the 0.5% recommended!

A lot of oils have a specific gravity of 0.91 to about 0.95 (see this chart for more information!) So adding 1 cc or 1 ml safflower oil (specific gravity 0.90) would only add 0.9 grams of oil to your lotion. If you're making a 100 ml batch and you're wanting 10% oil will leave you with 9 grams of oil, not 10. Take this even higher to a 1000 ml or 1 litre batch (multiplying your recipe by 10) and you'll have 90 grams of oil instead of 100! This can throw your emulsification out of whack and will deprive you of 10 grams of lovely oil!

And please weigh your fragrance oils! I made this fatal error when I was a newbie, somehow measuring 1 gram of fragrance oil as being 2.5 ml! If my fragrance oil had a specific gravity of 0.90, then I was using 2.25 grams or 2.25% in a 100 gram batch! Now THAT'S overscented! Fragrances oil can vary - oatmeal, milk & honey from one supplier could be 1.12 and another could be 0.91 - so weigh them to make your life easier.

This goes for essential oils as well! They can start at 0.78 and increase from there. Considering how many essential oils have suggested limits, you don't want to mess up here!

This is one of the reasons larger batches of mineral make-up don't end up with the same colour as the smaller batches. If you are using scoops and cc spoons for smaller batches, then move up to teaspoons and tablespoons, it doesn't take much to add too much black or too little filler to a larger batch of eye shadow. My suggestion - use weighted measures when you can. I know, I've posted most of my stuff in volume measurements because it's easier with smaller batches, but if you want to make larger amounts - base, for instance, is a great place to start weighing things - make your smaller batch in weighted amounts, then you can convert it easier!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mineral make-up filler round up (with iron oxides): Micronaspheres

If you haven't figure it out by now, then let me declare my love of micronaspheres! I use these in just about every product I make because I love the oil absorption and I love the way they feel on my skin. You can use them at up to 100%, so they are an ideal filler. Let's see if they play well with matte pigments! (And in the interest of science, I am trying to be as unbiased as possible. I love the other fillers as well, but not as much as micronaspheres!)

As with the other fillers in this series of experiments, I used 1 cc Aster matte pigment blend (same batch as the others) and added 0.15 cc (13% by volume) micronaspheres. I saw no change. I was getting impatient because it seemed like nothing added this morning was going to change colour, so I went stampeding towards 1 cc pigment grind and 3 scoops (0.45 cc or 31%) micronaspheres. Really no change. It did feel a little glidier, but I saw no change in the colour or the shine. With 7 scoops (1.05 cc or about 50%), I could see the change. Good adhesion, some change in the transparency, but still no shine. This wouldn't make a bad eye shadow, but still a little too much for my tastes. Finally, I made up a batch with 1 cc colour grind and 2.05 cc micronaspheres (about 66%). Well, there you go. Good adhesion, lighter by enough so I would wear it, but still really no shine.

Then I realized something...micronaspheres are incredibly light. A 57 gram container (2 ounces) takes up an 8 ounce jar. Perhaps if I played with it by weight?

So I used 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml or 2.5 cc) micronaspheres and 1 cc colour grind. Each weighed 0.5 grams. What a difference!

The picture on the left is 1.05 cc micronaspheres with 1 cc colour grind. The picture on the right contains 0.5 grams of colour grind with 0.5 grams micronaspheres. You can see the difference in intensity between the two colours. You can't feel the different in glide - much better with the weighed version - or the difference in shine - very nice, subtle but there. And the adhesion is so different between the two. The volume version is fine, the weighted version is awesome.

And here's the difference on my arm. The top is the weighed version, the bottom the volume version. I think you could use both - they do complement each other well - but I would want to use the weighed version for every day use, the volume version for an eye liner.

Join me tomorrow for fun with weights and volumes!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mineral make-up filler round up (with iron oxides): Bismuth oxychloride

Bismuth oxychloride is supposed to offer good coverage, good shine (too much for some!), and good adhesion. It plays well as a filler in micas, so let's see how it works with matte pigments.

As you can see, it doesn't do much. At 1 cc colour grind to 1 scoop (0.15 cc) bismuth oxychloride (13%), there is no colour change or sparkle. For some reason it looks darker in the chart above - that was a trick of light or camera goblins or something - but nothing really changes. The slip and glide is just terrible.

At 1 cc colour grind to 2 scoops (0.30 cc or 23%) bismuth oxychloride and at 1 cc colour grind to 3 scoops (0.45 cc or 31%, over the maximum recommended usage), it's pretty much the same thing. No real colour change, no real sparkle. It is a bit more slippery, but the colour is so intense, I don't think anyone who doesn't work by dark of night would wear it!

Again, I was surprised to see how little the colours changed considering what 43% was like in the mica blend. I think it's all about the shine - the matte pigments offer no shine, so the bismuth is the only shiny ingredient in the mix. The adhesion was decent enough, but I wouldn't use something so grippy on my eyes!

Mineral make-up filler round up (with iron oxides): Boron nitride & boron glow

Boron nitride is a create addition to iron oxides as it can make the matte colours sparkle and will offer some translucency.

As with the other iron oxide filler tests, I used the Aster matte pigment grind from TKB Trading. I doubled the recipe to be...
3.2 grams manganese violet
1.0 grams ultramarine pink
1.0 grams ultramarine blue

I'm just doing the chart here because I really didn't notice a huge difference in colour change or sparkle as I went from 1 cc colour grind to 1 scoop boron nitride (13%) to 1 cc colour grind to 5 scoops boron nitride (0.75 cc or 43%). I didn't really notice an increase in sparkle until the 5 scoops point, and I didn't notice any increase in whitening or translucency. It's as if I hadn't added anything at all. I did notice as I increased the amount of boron nitride, it was less likely to rub off my hand, but that was it.

I admit, I was quite surprised to see how little the addition of boron nitride changed the matte pigment. I know the grind is a powerful colour, but this powerful? Even at the recommended amount of boron nitride - 5% to 40% - it didn't change the matte pigments at all. I would not use this as an eyeshadow - maybe an eyeliner, but it's quite unpleasant on its own without the slip and glide, and far too grippy for my tastes. (I really like the colour in general, but the feel is not great!)

I really think the best way to use boron nitride with matte pigments is to use 1 cc boron nitride to 0.15 cc or 1 scoop colour grind and work your way up with the colour. It will offer good adhesion and some sparkle, but the colour needs to be the smallest amount possible to start! And you really need more glide to be able to apply it easily!

Boron glow is pretty much the same as boron nitride in chemical composition, only you'll find its particle size is 30 microns, rather than the 5 or 6 microns of boron nitride. It should be shinier than boron glow, and adds a nice sheen to your products.

As usual, I used the Aster pigment grind for the experiment, in the same ratios as above.

I went from 1 cc colour to 1 scoop boron glow (13%) to 1 cc colour to 5 scoops boron glow (43%). I found the colour went more transparent as I added more boron glow, and it I did get some shine out of it by 5 scoops. There was a tad more sparkle at the lower levels than with the boron nitride, but not enough for me to use it alone as a filler. It was draggy but had decent adhesion. I definitely wouldn't wear an eye shadow made with matte pigments and boron nitride or boron glow as the only filler.

Boron nitride and boron glow really seem to shine (excusing the pun) in micas (please see the micas with fillers post!) or in lipsticks without a ton of iron oxides. I am not exactly sure why the matte pigments seem to change so little with it, but I do know that the recommended levels of boron nitride plus matte pigments equals an eye shadow I wouldn't wear!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mineral make-up filler round-up (with iron oxides): Silk mica

Mich very kindly sent me a sample of TKB Trading's silk mica to try, so I've been including it in everything lately. (It may be similar to mica powder from but the micron size is different!) But what exactly is it?

Silk mica is a colourless, translucent mica with a large particle size of 50 microns. It does not offer much shine but does offer slip and glide with a soft, smooth texture. It is supposed to be mattifying. It is more expensive, according to TKB Trading, then sericite mica. It should be used at 10 to 40% or so.

The grind: I used the Aster matte pigment grind from TKB Trading. I doubled the recipe to be...
3.2 grams manganese violet
1.0 grams ultramarine pink
1.0 grams ultramarine blue

I did not include any base as I'm testing fillers.

1 cc colour to 1 scoop silk mica (13%). The colour is a tad lighter but I'd really call it no change. It wipes off far too easily for my tastes, and I can't feel the silkiness yet.

1 cc colour to 2 scoops silk mica (23%). The colour is definitely lighter, but not whiter, and there's still no mica like shine. It doesn't wipe off as easily as the 1 cc blend, but a little more than I'd like.

1 cc colour to 3 scoops silk mica (31%). The colour is lighter still without whitening, and the adhesion is getting really good. I'd say it's above average at this point in that some comes off when I rub my hand, but it leaves behind some colour.

1 cc colour to 4 scoops silk mica (37.5%). The colour is definitely getting more transparent with every scoop and the adhesion is increasing. The colour is not whitening at all, and the slip is quite nice. There's still no shine.

1 cc colour to 5 scoops silk mica (43.6%). The colour is even more transparent, and I can finally see some shine. At over the recommended levels, there is still no whitening of the colour and the adhesion is good. The slip is very nice. I quite like this...

Except the colour is far too intense. I am shocked when I put it on my eyes - it's like I put straight iron oxide on my face and I look like a clown. Nobody in their right mind would like this colour. I would suggest using this at 40% for the slip, glide, and transparency, then adding something to actually take the colour down. The colour you see in the grind is the colour on my eyes! EEEEK! Far too much. This would be a great addition to any product in which you want to keep the colours true.

Perhaps mixing the talc and silk mica together to keep the colours as true as possible with awesome adhesion? It would be a great idea for blushes or foundations - although there's no mention of oil absorption for silk mica, so you'd have to include an absorber so your colours won't morph during the day. This would also be a great substitute for Micronaspheres in a non-colour changing eye shadow base (like my alternate base) if you can't get that product.

Here's my colour chart so you can see the changes - there aren't many. I think the only reason the 3 scoop version looks lighter is because I didn't press hard enough on the Q-tip while putting it on the card stock. As you can see, the colour gets a bit more translucent, but it really doesn't change much. No whitening, no highlighting of certain shades. This is definitely a filler for keeping your colours true - but a little too vivid in this case!

Mineral make-up filler round-up (with iron oxides): Talc

For more information on talc, please click here. For more information on talc as a filler with micas, please click here.

The grind: I used the Aster matte pigment grind from TKB Trading. I doubled the recipe to be...
3.2 grams manganese violet
1.0 grams ultramarine pink
1.0 grams ultramarine blue

I did not include any base as I'm testing fillers.

1 cc colour grind to 2 scoops talc (23%). No real colour change - I'd go as far to say the colour seems identical to my eye both of my hand and the chart, although it's more transparent on my hand. It rubs off too easily for my taste. Although it isn't as grippy as the colour grind alone.

1 cc colour grind to 4 scoops talc (37.5%). No real colour change on the chart, but it is getting more transparent on my hand. Still rubs off too easily, but it's starting to feel more silky and less grippy!

1 cc colour grind to 5 scoops talc (43%). Very very transparent on my hand, although there's no real change in the colour! It is starting to resist rub off, although it kind of leaves more of a stain behind in the creases and lines of my hand than a colour.

I was quite surprised at just how transparent the talc was in the mixture, not changing the colours but adding some transparency and silkiness as I increased the percentage. When mixing it with the micas, I found it did make the pink a little pinkier, so I did expect some colour change! Very nice.

As you can see from the chart, the colour simply doesn't change! As I noted above, it is getting more transparent on my hand, but that isn't showing up in the colour chart. Talc alone would be a great addition if you're trying to transparent up your eye shadows, for instance, without morphing the colour. It offers some nice slip and glide, and is supposed to be good at oil absorption, which means your colours should stay true during the day (I'm still testing out this idea on my own skin! Results soon!).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Share your post ideas!

Although I'm really enjoying experimenting with and writing about mineral make-up, I need to take a break while I replenish my supplies and play with new recipes. So I'm looking to you - my awesome, talented, extremely knowledgeable readers - to give me some suggestions for posts!

I've had a suggestion for using powdered extracts - that's coming up - and I plan to play with Incroquat OSC (thanks, Mich, for the sample!), but what do you want to see? Are you interested in the HLB system and using other emulsifiers? Do you want to know more about surfactants? Have you fallen in love with solid bars and want to make more? Do you want more lotion-y goodness?

I know, I know, I sound like a skipping CD, but your input is vital to this blog. Without it, I wouldn't have had the great suggestion from Christine for making conditioners more slippery or how to use extracts (that's coming up)! I wouldn't have written about silicone replacements. And where would I be without Mich's great input on mineral make-up and more? I value the feedback, criticism, and suggestions you have to offer - so let me know! That little comment box helps me so much - so use it and let me know what interests you!!!

Mineral make-up filler round-up (with iron oxides): Titanium dioxide

I'm posting two posts a day just to keep them separate!

And now for more on titanium dioxide! (To see titanium dioxide in action as a filler with mica, please click here...)

The grind: I used the Aster matte pigment grind from TKB Trading. I doubled the recipe to be...
3.2 grams manganese violet
1.0 grams ultramarine pink
1.0 grams ultramarine blue

I did not include any base as I'm testing fillers.

1 scoop colour grind to 1 scoop titanium dioxide (50%). The colour went very pale with no shine whatsoever. It was hard to rub it off my hand - great adhesion.

1 scoop colour grind to 2 scoops titanium dioxide (66%). Incredibly pale, ridiculously pale, so pale a very pale girl from the 60s who liked to wear very pale make-up would balk at it. Hard to rub off my hand - great adhesion.

3 scoops colour grind to 2 scoops titanium dioxide (40%). Matte and pale. A lot paler than I would wear, and no sparkle whatsoever. Still great adhesion.

4 scoops colour grind to 2 scoops titanium dioxide (33%). Finally a decent colour, and not so pale. I would wear this colour. No sparkle, which makes it a good matte colour. Great adhesion.

And a note on the colours...You can't see the true changes for the titanium dioxide in the pictures above because the white isn't showing up on the sheet - only the colour shows up. On my hand you can see (right to left) 50%, 66%, 40%, and 33%. You can see how the colour starts off incredibly pale, almost white, then changes to be something you'd actually wear.

In every version, the titanium dioxide added extra drag to a colour blend that is inherently draggy, making it a veritable festival of grippiness than no sane person would want to use on a delicate eye area, let alone as a blush or foundation.

Here is the colour chart for the titanium dioxide, although it's not as helpful as the picture of my hand above for showing you how the colours change!

Mineral make -up filler round up (with iron oxides): Treated sericite

After using the fillers at ridiculous levels with micas, I thought I'd do a filler round-up using the matte colours (iron oxide, ultramarine, manganese violet, and chromium pigments) and the fillers at the suggested usage levels. Let's take a look at treated sericite with matte pigments.

If you want to see sericite mica mixed with a mica blend, please click here. Or to learn more about sericite mica, click here.

The grind: I used the Aster matte pigment grind from TKB Trading. I doubled the recipe to be...
3.2 grams manganese violet
1.0 grams ultramarine pink
1.0 grams ultramarine blue

I did not include any base as I'm testing fillers.

1 cc treated sericite to 1 scoop colour (13%). Very very sheer, very shiny. Barely shows up on my skin (and I'm very pale!) It easily brushes off without a lot of effort. But really pretty and shiny!

1 cc treated sericite mica to 2 scoops colour (23%). The colour has definitely gone darker, but it's still really really shiny! It brushes off far too easily for my tastes.

1 cc treated sericite mica to 3 scoops colour (31%). The colour is getting deeper, but it's still very sparkly. (I say this like it's a bad thing - it's not!) It's still too easy to brush it off.

1 cc treated sericite mica to 4 scoops colour (37.5%). I didn't notice much change in the colour, but the shine has diminished a little bit. It's still too easy to brush off my hand.

1 cc treated sericite to 5 scoops colour (43%). The colour really hasn't changed much from the previous level, but the shine has diminished a lot more than I expected from including 1 scoop of colour! It still brushes off far too easily.

1 cc treated sericite mica to 6 scoops colour (47%). The colour hasn't changed much from 4 scoops, but the shine has definitely decreased. It's still there, but it's become more matte.

1 cc treated sericite mica to 7 scoops of colour (51%). The colour really hasn't changed much from 4 scoops, but the shine has decreased quite a bit. Although there's some shine, I'd think of this as more of a matte colour.

So what have we learned? That between 37.5% and 51% the colour doesn't change much, but the shine definitely changes. At the higher levels of sericite mica, it is more of a sheer colour and at the higher levels, it's definitely a proper eye shadow.

If I didn't know what was in the bag at 1 to 4 scoops, I would swear it was violet mica! It has that shine and glimmer you expect from a mica. So treated sericite mica at a high percentage with no other fillers might be a great way to get the mica shine without spending a ton of money on various colours!

And it doesn't stay on well alone. I could brush it off quite easily. At the higher percentages of colour, you could see the purple was left behind, but really only in the creases of my hand, which wasn't very attractive. I would not use sericite mica alone for any highly pigmented product.

If you are making a foundation or blush with matte pigments, including sericite mica will offer a ton of benefits and won't change your colour, but it won't stay on easily and will offer some shine. Play around with it to find the shine level you like. (Ironically, in a finishing powder without colour, it offers just enough shine to be nice on your skin. But when you add colour to it, it seems to sparkle even more!)

It does feel very silky and lovely, so you can get away with adding a really adhesive but grippy ingredient like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide at low levels.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Body shimmer!

I really like body shimmer products. My best friend loves them for when she is belly dancing, and I think they add a little sparkle to an otherwise boring day. You can make this in any colour you's my version of gold and silver.

Try this body shimmer for Hallowe'en - in extreme colours - or Christmas for a bit of extra sparkle. This is a great project for girls and teens to introduce them to the world of mineral make-up. Or make some up as a present (hey, Christmas is only three months away!)

What are our goals for this product?

Translucency: We aren't trying to cover anything up and we want the sparkle to show through, so translucency is the key here.
Shiny-ness: We want sparkle, so we're going to use micas here and fillers that offer some sparkle.
Silkiness: If you're putting something all over your body, you want something that feels lovely going on and feels lovely staying on.

FOR A LOT OF BASE...You'll want 4.6 grams to fit into a larger sifter container or about 1 gram to fit into a smaller sifter container, but feel free to make smaller amounts with a 7 grams Micronaspheres to 5 grams Dry-flo ratio. This recipe should make somewhere around 6 containers - the smaller amount makes about 3 containers.

14 grams Micronaspheres or treated sericite mica
10 grams Dry-flo
0.3 grams honey or vanilla powder (optional)

*The honey or vanilla powder is a humectant and it tastes nice.

Mix together in a very large bag (not suitable for a grinder with the Micronsaspheres, but okay with the treated sericite mica) until blended well.

Gold shimmer: To 0.5 grams of base, you'll want to add 1 scoop oriental beige mica, 1 scoop sparkle gold (0.15 cc each). To make a full sifter container, you'll want to use 4.0 grams of base to 1/4 tsp oriental beige mica, 1/4 tsp sparkle gold mica.

Silver shimmer: 4 scoops sunpearl silver mica or any other silver, 1 scoop black satin mica. Or 4 cc sunpearl silver mica to 1 cc black satin mica. Add at 1/2 tsp to 4 grams of base.

You can add any micas you want to this at about the same ratio. Mix together your micas until you achieve the colour you want, then add 1/2 tsp to about 4 grams of base.

This also makes a nice sheen eye shadow.

PARADISE EYE SHADOW (as seen in the picture above and in the pressing powders experiments)
Mix together your gold dust shimmer base as above.
1/2 tsp gold shimmer
2 scoops paradise sand mica
1 scoop yellow iron oxide

Blend well in a bag. Put into container. Rejoice!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pressing eye shadows: Powder binders - magnesium myristate

Sorry I didn't post this on September 17th like I planned - I was studying for a math test and simply forgot to check my posts!

Magnesium myristate at 10% in a powder is supposed to be a good binder. So I thought I'd try it!

To 1/2 tsp (2.5 cc) of eye shadow powder I added 2 scoops (0.3 cc) magnesium myristate. This works out to about 12% by volume magnesium myristate to eye shadow powder. I squished it well in the bag, then tipped it out into the container. You can see how fluffy it is!

Too fluffy, in fact. When I dropped the quarter wrapped in plastic wrap into the container it went "pooooof" and powder flew everywhere. (I guess the liquid binder in the other containers made them less likely to poooof!) So I got a spoon and pressed down a little bit to make it less pooofy. It did work well.

I dropped in the quarter and started pressing. Again, my nails were driving me nuts, so I used a spoon to press down harder. I pressed for quite some time before I thought to test it.

Now the brush test. It came away nicely on my brush - lots of good colour - but it started to powder up again.

I pressed with the brush and the entire thing poofed again and became powder. Maybe I'm not putting enough pressure to press it?

So I tried it again. Nope, didn't work. I tried to find a C clamp in the workshop, but they were all too small to fit around the container. (I have found my C clamps, so I'll try this again!)

So I put a small bottle in the container and pressed really really hard. Nope, still didn't work. What to do next?

A hammer might work. (Yes, this is the worst idea ever, so please do not try this. This is for dramatic purposes only!) So I lightly tapped on the hammer so it would put some pressure on it. The bottle didn't break - you can breathe now, the drama is over - but it didn't offer enough pressure to make the powder bind.

My verdict so far?
This is a huge pain in the bum! I'm going to try it with a C clamp!

Pressing with a clamp! (Do not try my approach at home. I know this is a bad idea, but my brain is still a little addled from the sinus infection and headaches!)

I pressed the same container of magnesium myristate with a C clamp for 10 minutes. Nope, still came away from the sides and bottom very easily. So I tried it for 30 minutes. Nope, same problem. So I'm trying it for 24 hours to see what happens.

The results? I pressed for 48 hours by accident - I became obsessed with studying math, so it was a good excuse! - and it still came away from the bottom and sides without a problem, turning into dust with a few presses from my brush. This is simply not acceptable for a pressed powder - especially one you might keep in your purse! - and I call this an epic fail!

I will be trying this with 10% by weight instead of 10% by volume in the near future as I think I may not have 10% magnesium myristate in this eye shadow. (Look for an upcoming post on my results, and an upcoming post on this topic!)

As an aside, I tried this with magnesium stearate as well. It takes a lot of pressure to make this work with a powder. It did work in the end - better than with magnesium myristate - but it is a huge pain in the bum to put that much time and energy into pressing one tiny powder.

The verdict about pressing powders in general? Personally, I'm sticking with the loose powders. I like them. If I become one of those people who wants to carry her make-up around in my purse, then perhaps I'll put more energy into it, but for now...well, I'll embrace the powder!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pressing eye shadows: Liquid binders - denatured alcohol

I thought I dismissed the idea of alcohol far too quickly, so I tried it this morning.

To 1.0 grams of paradise eye shadow I added 20 drops or 0.2 grams of denatured alcohol. I put it into the container as I figured this would be easier. It didn't make as much mess as the dimethicone did, and it mixed really well. This is actually a picture of what it looked like AFTER adding the alcohol. It was dry-ish but still mixed well.

I mixed it for maybe a minute, probably less, and pressed it with the quarter for probably a minute or so. I'm not a big fan of the smell - I really don't like the smell of alcohol - so I'm hoping that will dissipate with time.

I had to dig into it quite hard to get the powder to come away from the bottom. That's a great sign! And the colour was quite nice - although it was still wet 30 minutes later. I've left the cap off the container to see how it stands up to evaporation.

I'm glad I tried this. I didn't like the videos I was seeing on line - they used far more alcohol than I would have liked, creating a really goopy mess. I think the 20 drops (or 0.2 grams to 1 gram eye shadow) is a good amount - it was dry-ish but still pressable. Again, I have to see how it stands up over time, so I will be checking it every day to see if I still like it.

Update: I've had this sitting for a week in my workshop with the container closed. One week later, it's cracked right down the middle and is showing signs of small cracks elsewhere. If the alcohol is evaporating with the container closed, what would happen in an eye shadow container than isn't as air proof? Perhaps I needed to use more alcohol?

The ones done with the dimethicone and fractionated coconut oil are holding up well.

Join me tomorrow for fun with magnesium myristate!