Sunday, April 3, 2011

Duplicating products: Lush's Afterlife Moisturizer

Let's take a look at Lush's Afterlife Moisturizer and see if we can duplicate this! (As a note, this is the reason to send me the ingredient list. Because it's been discontinued, I can't find this product on the Canadian, American, or UK Lush sites!)

The first step is to get the complete ingredient list. 

Ingredients: Honey Water (Mel, Aqua), Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Stearic Acid, Fresh Juiced Mango (Mangifera indica), Cold Pressed Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis), Cold Pressed Avocado Oil (Persea gratissima), Glycerine, Cold Pressed Wheatgerm Oil (Triticum vulgare), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Triethanolamine, Rose Otto (Rosa centifolia), Frankincense Oil (Boswellia carterii), Everlasting Flower Absolute (Gnaphalium uliginosum), Patchouli Oil (Pogostemon cablin), Cetearyl Alcohol, Perfume, Propylparaben.

Step two is to look at what each ingredient brings to the product. So let's break down what we have here. (Please click on the links to see a detailed post about the ingredient.)

Honey water - What is this? I'm guessing it's water infused with honey in some way. Honey can behave as a humectant and moisturizer.

Olive oil - An emollient oil with lots of oleic acid that offers moisturizing, regenerating, softening, and anti-inflammatory properties. It's well absorbed by our skin.

Stearic acid - A thickener and emollient. Generally added to products to make them thicker, more creamy.

Fresh juiced mango - What is this? Are they really putting fresh mango juice into these products?

Evening primrose oil - A light, dry feeling oil that contains a lot of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) that can help restore skin's barrier functions quickly, reduce transepidermal water loss, increase skin's hydration, and increase skin's flexibility.

Avocado oil - A heavier feeling oil that is easily absorbed by our hair and skin. Good for sunburned or wind chapped skin.

Glycerin - A humectant. Glycerin has been shown to accelerate the recovery of barrier function following damage to skin and it draws water from the atmosphere to our skin, so it feels more moisturized.

Wheat germ oil - Very high in Vitamin E and phytosterols, as well as linoleic acid.

Coconut oil - Lots of phytosterols and moisturizing fatty acids, but it can be comedogenic.

Triethanolamine (TEA) - pH adjuster.

Rose otto - An essential oil from roses. It may have some therapeutic properties for our skin, such as helping with broken capillaries and reducing inflammation. It's probably in there for the lovely fragrance.

Frankincense - Another essential oil, it may be there for the fragrance or possible therapeutic properties.

Everlasting flower absolute - The only reference I can find for this ingredient keeps pointing me back to Lush. A search for the latin name - Gnaphalium uliginosum - comes up with this plant, the marsh Cudweed. I have no idea why this is included in the product as I can't find any information on its cosmetic benefits. It is used in Russia for hypertension and it contains phenolic compounds that might benefit our skin. (Click here for a study on this plant). It's one ugly plant, and grows everywhere, so it might be considered a weed.

Click here for a post I wrote on this ingredient and click here for more information on ingredient names. It isn't helichyrsum! 

Patchouli oil - An essential oil. May be in there for fragrance or possible therapeutic properties.

Cetearyl alcohol - An emollient and thickener, it can be used as a high HLB emulsifier in lotions. It confers a more waxy feeling than cetyl alcohol. I think it's used as an emulsifier in conjunction with the stearic acid (which isn't really an HLB emulsifier, but it's the only other ingredient I can find in this list that might behave as an emulsifier).

Parfum - Generally a fragrance, but some companies are hiding their preservatives under this name.

Propylparaben - Our preservative, but not a broad spectrum one, which leads me to believe the parfum might also be a preservative. It should be combined with another preservative that has better bacteria fighting abilities.

As an aside, we know we're in the 1% ingredient list territory when we reach something like TEA. You aren't going to use more than 1% TEA in a product, so it's safe to assume that everything below it is at 1% or lower. The ingredients above TEA could be at less than 1% as well, but I generally find something that I know won't be over 1% and check what's listed around it to see what else might be something we'd use at less than 1%. Generally perfumes, preservatives, and pH adjusters are used at less than 1%, so if you see something like aloe vera listed amongst those ingredients, you know you're in label appeal territory not useful ingredient territory (that's if the ingredient should be used at more than 1%. We know our extracts and cosmeceuticals can be very effective in less than 1% land). 

Okay, so there's the list. Step three is to figure out what's important in the recipe. We want to think about the skin feel, the viscosity, and what skin benefits each ingredient brings to the mix. Consider what's in there just for label appeal and what's really benefitting your skin or hair.

These ingredients aren't necessary: The honey water can be a mix of honey and water or honey powder with water. The fresh mango juice can be substituted by mango extract added to the cool down phase of the product. The rose otto, patchouli, frankincense, and parfum are all things we can add or not add depending on our preferences for those ingredients (I hate patchouli and frankincense, so I'd leave them out). I have no idea why the everlasting flower absolute or marsh cudweed is in the recipe, so I'm going to think about whether I need to substitute an ingredient for this (it could be filled with polysaccharides, which will bring moisturizing to the skin, or great polyphenols that offer benefits for all I know!).

We want to keep the various oils and humectants, but we need to find a complete emulsification system (BTMS-50, Polawax, e-wax, Ecomulse, etc.) and a complete preservative system if we're making this at home.

Since this post is getting way too long, join me tomorrow for figuring out how much of each ingredient I plan to use and how to create a basic recipe that I can try to see if I'm getting close! See you then! (And if you have some ideas on recreating this or information that could help, post it in the comments!)


Sarah said...

Brilliant post, as always.
I'm wondering if the Everlasting absolute could be aka Immortelle or Helichrysum and supposedly 'used' for its regenerative properties?

Celine Blacow said...

I was going to suggest the Immortelle Absolute also which is used in one of L'Occitane's ranges.

Katherine said...

I was also going to suggest Helichrysum.

LotionCrafter & The Herbarie both sell it as a an extract.

melian1 said...

Everlasting is one of the names that helichrysum is known by. i'd bet anything that is what is being used.

Will said...

Just wondering...

was jsut reading that honey mixed with an EO (oregano) was being used in US Patent 6623767 for sterilization effects (IF I read it right).

Could honey be any part of a "preservative"?

Could honey be touched upon as an ingredient you evaluate sometime in the future.

It really is fascinating and the topical uses for it are amazing.


Tara said...

I second the honey topic :)

Tara said...

I wonder if this product was discontinued because of problems associated with the usage of fresh mango juice???

p said...

Everlasting/helichrysum/immortelle is the species Helichrysum italicum (var. italicum) - this plant is used extensively in aromatherapy, and the essential oil is wicked expensive (like $15/ml!). The Herbarie's helichrysum extract ( looks like it's a different species in the same genus. The species that Lush is using looks like it's in a totally different genus - I wonder if they're just using an unrelated, mediocre plant that's also referred to as Everlasting for the label appeal, hoping that label readers will confuse it for the good stuff.

Sarah said...

What p said - it wouldn't surprise me in the least!

Katherine said...

After reading P's comment, I looked for the plant name. I did find one source several pages in to a google search saying it was known as Everlasting. Deceptive at best!

Look at how many of us automatically thought Helichrysum! That was probably their intent.

Magia said...

I have a hunch about some of Lush's "fresh" ingredients. I mean, you can tell they are fresh with the face masks, and those are labelled to refridgerate and use quickly accordingly. But as for the others...

When I've tried to formulate with actual fruit myself (bananas in a conditioner... was very thick, more like an intense once a week treatment than every day conditioner, anyway...) The bananas were fresh when they went in. I then added them to the water phase (note hot temperature of water phase- killing bacteria etc), before adding other ingredients appropriate to the water phase. Then I combined with the oil phase and of course heated and held. I also of course added an appropriate amount of preservative at the end too. It might be argued that by this point, you've lost some of the goodness, but it's the only way I've found to do it, and certainly my hair feels great when I use it!

I have a hunch that what they advertise as "fresh" might mean the fruit which is "fresh" when they put it in ie before they do a load of STUFF to it, which extends the shelf-life and makes it more useable as an ingredient. The one I made hasn't shown any signs of degradation yet (though next time I need to put it in a pot, not a squeeze bottle, as it's so thick! Perhaps this is why Lush do their version as a bar... and maybe why it works as such...) I wouldn't sell that myself... I just made some for myself and a friend (with added henna, as we both have red hair and wanted a rich, frizz fighting, colour-boost henna conditioner- which it did indeed deliver!)

Anyway, I'd kind of expect they'd have to do something similar if they were using fresh apricot. It's the only way I can think of to make it work.