Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Avoid these types of recipes if you find them on Pintrest!

I've seen two recipes going around the 'net recently that are simply not good recipes. The first was posted as a comment in this post by FooFooBerry...

I made this cream for personal use that I found on pinterest and it's wonderful. The problem is there is no preservative in the recipe. It's 1 1/4 cup of hot water, 1/4 cup of ewax, (and) 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Could I just add Optiphen Plus to it at 1 or 1.5% so it won't go rancid? I've had mine for over a week and it's fine.

I really don't recommend this kind of recipe. When it's in volume measurements, it's hard to know if the ingredients are within the suggested usage rates. I would never use equal parts emulsifying wax and oil in a recipe, so already I know there's a problem. The water weighs about 310 grams - 1 ml of water weighs 1 gram - and the oil would be about 56 grams - 62.5 ml x .92. I'm using LabRat's estimation of e-wax at 0.539 g/cc, which would give us around 34 grams. So let's take a look at this recipe with a total of 400 grams in the recipe. (That was convenient, eh? And note, this is only an estimate based on math, not on actual measurements I conducted.)

Water - 310/400 = 77.5%
Oil - 56/400 = 14%
E-wax - 34/400 - 8.5%

As you can see this recipe is completely out of whack. In general, we would want to use about 25% of the oil phase as Polawax (add 1% if you're using e-wax). So we would want to have 3.5% Polawax or 4.5% e-wax, not 8.5%. This will be a really thin lotion if you modify the amount of e-wax, so you could either leave it as is and add 0.5% to 1% preservative to the mix, or you could find a recipe that contains about the same level of water and make that instead. (As a note, a 77.5% water recipe is going to be quite thin when you use the right amount of e-wax, on par with a facial moisturizer!)

If you really love a recipe like this and want to get it into weighed measurements, then get your scale and measure out each ingredient, then write down the weight. You can turn it into percentages easily - see below for the link.

This is all about relative density. Click here for a list of ingredients and their relative densities

Related posts:
Calculating percentages in lotions.
Why we weigh our ingredients rather than using liquid measurements. 

As for this recipe from ReadyMade, well...I'm not sure where to start on how wrong this recipe is. Please do not make it and do not give it to your friends. It is simply a terrible recipe that won't work, and worse, it will likely be contaminated in a short period of time.

"To find beeswax, the substance that causes the lotion to emulsify..." This is just wrong. Beeswax is NOT an emulsifier on its own, no matter how much we want it to be so. It has about as much emulsifying power as olive oil or lavender hydrosol, which is to say it has none. If we combine it with borax we create an emulsifier suitable for water-in-oil lotions. If it does work for you as an emulsifier, it's because you've used enough heat or mechanical energy to create an emulsion. It will break down sooner rather than later. We see proof of this in the sentence, "If there is still some water on the surface, turn up the blender and blend the mixture 30 seconds to a minute longer." This lotion is separating while it's in the blender! And one commenter notes, "...except when I put it on my skin, the oil and water immediately starts separating into beads!" Another notes, " emulsifies fine, but once I put it on my skin it seems to separate, meaning there are water beads all over my skin after applying." The suggestion is to use more oil or more beeswax. Neither of those will solve this problem. Using an emulsifier is the only way to make an emulsified product, and beeswax is not an emulsifier.

Please do not use tea in your products, especially those that don't contain preservatives. I know this writer is all worried about the possible toxins in plastic containers, but she's avoiding the known issues of contamination in water containing products that don't use preservatives. You cannot store this recipe for 3 months at room temperature or 6 months in the fridge. I wouldn't use this at all, but you could use it for maybe three days if you keep it in the fridge. (And I'm not responsible for anything that happens to you if you make up this product and put it in the fridge for a week!)

It does contain chemicals. Everything contains chemicals. If it contains things made up of elements, then it's a chemical.

I'm not really sure why people continue to insist that we can violate the laws of chemistry and physics by arguing that "it worked for me". The plural of anecdote isn't data, and "working for me" isn't evidence if no one else can replicate it.

I hear all the time from people who won't try making something for fear of wasting supplies. Following recipes like this are the quickest way to do that. Don't waste your supplies and supplies. Find a good recipe and try that instead. There are so many great recipes on-line - I'm perplexed why these bad recipes continue to show up on the 'net! I think it's because three ingredients make it seem easy and they're "all natural", which is something that appeals as well. The problem is that unpreserved lotions using non-emulsifiers will only lead to contaminated and separated products that will leave you frustrated!

Related posts:
How can I tell if it's a good recipe?
Emulsification - what's that then?


uschilise said...

Thanks for your explanation. I'm from Germany and wondering why Americans use borax all the time (I read some books and blogs from the USA). In Germany it's not allowed to buy that for private interests, especially not for cosmetics, because of its carcinogenic and teratogenic effect. Greets! Sanny

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sanny! Interesting indeed! I'm always perplexed why people think that beeswax and borax is such a great combination: After hearing this, I'm even more confused!

p said...

That ReadyMade recipe is no good, and I say that as someone who cares about making all-natural creams. Tea?? That much water phase? No....

FooFooBerry said...

Thanks for this post, I knew this recipe seemed off but tried it anyway. I appreciate the time you took to explain all of this.

Ged said...

I love Pinterest, but those "just take a jarful of crisco and some rosewater and make a gorgeous anti-ageing moisturiser" posts are driving me nuts... why have we bothered to learn all about hlb systems, emulsifiers, actives, antioxidants and preservatives when anyone can make a brilliant product with no knowledge in 5 minutes in their kitchen - NOT!! Grrr ...!!

PreservedSafely said...

Thank you for posting this about these so called natural recipes ground on Pinterest that claim there unreserved and unsterilized creams are good for three months without refrigeration! Good luck with that!

Baby Kat said...

Great post. I started making these "natural" recipes on Instagram and soon enough I was throwing stuff away because they went bad. I hate wasting ingredients! Luckily, I found your blog and I am constantly learning new things from you, thanks for that.