Monday, July 16, 2012

Question: How do you know how and what to substitute?

I get a lot of e-mails asking me to natural up my products, and I thought I'd go over how we can figure out what each ingredient brings to the party so you can make substitutions with the ingredients you prefer. Let's try an easy one first - my favourite emulsified sugar scrub with Ritamulse SCG.

What kind of product is this? This sugar scrub is an anhydrous product, or a product that doesn't contain water. It will be near water, though, and people might put their wet hands into it. Right away we know two things - we must have a preservative in this as people will be putting their hands into it and that we should probably use an anti-oxidant to retard rancidity of the oils.

What is the normal shelf life of this product? I'm using two oils with long shelf lives - shea oil can have up to two years, and rice bran oil has about a year. So my normal shelf life should be a year.

As an aside, knowing your ingredients and how to substitute them is vital when you're reading recipes from our suppliers' sites. You can find some fantastic recipes in those formularies, but oftentimes you'll see ingredients that you'll have to buy before you can make it. Learn your ingredients and what each one brings to the skin feel of the product, and you can save yourself some serious money and time! 

10% Ritamulse SCG
10% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid (5% cetyl and 5% stearic is very nice)
20% cocoa butter (or other really hard butter)
56% oil - I used shea oil and rice bran oil
1% Phenonip

1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch

Ritamulse SCG: This is our emulsifier. We need an emulsifier to be able to call this an emulsified scrub! We include the emulsifier in the product to turn the scrub into a lotion that stays on our skin when we rinse it.

Cetyl alcohol: A fatty alcohol that will thicken the product and give it slip and glide.

Stearic acid: A fatty acid that will thicken the product quite a bit and keep it stiff even in hotter weather.

Cocoa butter: An emollient for our skin. It provides an occlusive layer on our skin to reduce transepidermal water loss.

Oil: An emollient to provide moisturizing for our skin.
Shea oil: An oily version of shea butter.
Rice Bran oil: An oil with a balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Phenonip: Our preservative. It works well with anhydrous products.

Vitamin E: An anti-oxidant that will retard the rancidity of the oils.

So let's say you go into your workshop and find avocado butter, sesame seed oil, fractionated coconut oil, Polawax, and cetearyl alcohol. Or you find aloe butter (coconut oil based), shea butter, olive oil, BTMS-50, and cetyl ester. Can you make some substitutions? Of course you can!

This is starting to feel a bit like an episode of Chopped! In your basket you'll find glycerin, soy bean oil, peppermint essential oil, and powdered chamomile extract. You have thirty minutes to create a product. (But we need to heat and hold, oh mighty Ted!) 

We could make a recipe that looks like this...

10% Polawax 
10% cetearyl alcohol
20% avocado butter
56% oil - sesame seed & fractionated coconut oil (20% FCO, 36% sesame seed oil)
1% Phenonip

1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch 

This product will be less stiff than the original product as the avocado butter is softer than cocoa butter, but it'll feel a little more waxy thanks to the cetearyl alcohol. The Polawax will make it feel slightly greasier than the original.

10% BTMS-50
10% cetyl esters
10% aloe butter
10% shea butter
56% olive oil
1% Phenonip

1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
about 146 grams sugar for each 100 gram batch 

The product will be much softer than the original and will feel way less greasy than the Polawax version and slightly less greasy than the Ritamulse SCG.

Remember that every change you make changes the skin feel and shelf life of the product. If I use olive oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, fractionated coconut oil, or shea oil, I should have a life span of 1 year for this product, slightly more if I add the Vitamin E. If I used grapeseed oil, I'd have a life span of 3 months. Hemp seed oil will give us about 6 months. The limiting factor for the shelf life for this product is probably the oil as the butters, fatty alcohols, fatty acids, emulsifiers, and esters generally have a shelf life of about a two years.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at making more substitutions in our products! In the meantime, I suggest taking a stroll through the emollients section and reading about one or two oils, just so you get to know them! (My personal favourites are rice bran oil, fractionated coconut oil, and soy bean oil.) I'm not saying there'll be a test...but you never know!

Related posts:
Adding preservatives to anhydrous products
How do I know into which phase I should add I an ingredient?
Can we substitute one oil for another?


Lora Duzhe said...

Thank you for this post!
I have not tried making emulsified scrubs before, but now I have an inspiration to. Besides my local suppliers have everything for the option #3. Waiting for the next post :)

Julie said...

Hi Susan!
I looked at my Crafter's Choice Grape Seed Oil I purchased from WSP about 2 months ago. It says on the bottle it is good for 1 year, until next spring. How is this possible? I asked a WSP representative about it. Here is the conversation:

You are now chatting with 'Cayla'

Cayla: Hello, welcome to Wholesale Supplies Plus. How may I help you?

you: Hi, I just noticed my Grape Seed Oil I purchased from you says its good for 1 year. Im a little confused as I know Grape Seed Oil is usually only good for about 3 months. Which is correct?

you: If it is good for longer than the usual 3 months, how is the longer shelf life achieved?

Cayla: Our information recommends one year from purchase

you: That is quite a bit of a difference. Im not sure how that is possible

you: How is that longer shelf life achieved?

Cayla: One moment please, while I check for you.

you: Thankyou

Cayla: I'm not sure where you heard three month shelf life... Here are our instructions.Short Term Storage:

Cayla: Air tight container. Dark location. Cool room temperature.

Cayla: Long Term Storage:

Cayla: Removing air from storage container will delay oxidation and rancidity (may need to place in a smaller container). Refrigeration can extend shelf life.

Cayla: Best Used By: One year from date of purchase.

Cayla: Shelf Life Once Used in Manufacturing: One year from manufacturing date.

What do you make of this? I also have a bottle of Grape Seed Oil from the grocery store with a use by date of March 2014. The bottle says "Grape Seed Oil is an excellant source of Vitamin E (25% of the recommended daily intake) and contains antioxidants"

Thanks for your help!

Bajan Lily said...

Hi Susan,
Lovely post as always. I was just wondering why you used the polowax at 10% instead of at 25% of the oil phase? Does it matter in this product or is that level more relevant for creams and lotions?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Bajan Lily. I wrote a post about your question - find it here. The short answer - it seems to be the level that works the best. Thanks for writing!

Bajan Lily said...


Diva Soap said...

In the time I made this scrub, I didn't have BTMS 50, so I substituted it with another emuslifier.
Here's my recipe (based on your basic scrub recipe):

Oil phase:
10% Lanette N ( INCI:Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate)
5% Cetyl Alcohol
5% Steraic Acid
10% Shea butter
10% Cocoa butter
28% Almond oil
28% Sunflower oil

Cool-down phase:
1% vit.E
1% Optiphen
120 % sugar

This was my first emulsified scrub and my first impression was: woooow!
However, later, I disliked the greasiness it would leave on my skin, in the tub, everywhere. My skin was feeling sticky,too buttery.
On the other hand, I guess PS80 or Alkyl Benzoate 12-15 would help with cutting the greasiness off, so my next winter scrub will have those and some butter.

Thanks for the given chance to win your book!