Sunday, September 30, 2012

More about Lipidthix and re-heating products!

Life has become quite insane lately, what with work, the groups, university, crafting, and everything else, I am having a hard time getting into the workshop and a hard time writing up posts. Bear with me as this might continue for the rest of the week. (Long weekend coming up for Canadian Thanksgiving, so I'll have time then to make a ton of stuff!) 

As I mentioned in the post on using Lipidthix to create a butter, I wasn't really all that happy with my rice bran butter. I wanted it to be thicker. So I made a 25% Lipidthix version and really liked it. But here I am with a container with 20% Lipidthix. Could I add more and make it more buttery? Yes!

I added 5% more Lipidthix to the 20% Lipidthix butter and remelted it. I held it at around 65˚C for 15 minutes, then put it straight into the freezer. I left it there about 20 minutes or so - I'm afraid I didn't time it very well as I had things to do, like put away stuff from craft group - then removed the container.

Like Devo says, when a problem comes along, you must whip it! (Whip it good!) I whipped it for maybe a minute and it became this lovely whippy butter, which I love! My hands and elbows really love it!

This leads me to one of the more frequently asked questions - can I re-heat this product to include something I missed or to make it emulsify better? The answer is maybe...

If you have a product like this one, an anhydrous product (meaning, a product without water) you can generally re-heat it again. If you have a water containing product - say a lotion, toner, shampoo, conditioner, and so on - you can't. What's the difference?

Ingredients that can handle heat. If you have a product like my rice bran butter, you have two ingredients - the oil and the Lipidthix. Both can handle heat well. So I can heat and hold it at 70˚C and it will be fine. If I added a little fragrance or essential oil to it, those things don't survive heating, and I'd have to add more when it cooled down or accept that my fragrance will be less noticeable.

If you have a product like a lotion or conditioner, you could have many ingredients that don't like heat. Silicones, vitamins, extracts, and preservatives - to name a few things - don't like heat. Re-heating a lotion that failed or one to which you want to add more ingredients, means you're heating things that don't like heat and all kinds of wacky things can happen then! Your preservative might be inactivated, your extracts might break up in the heat and smell funny, your honeyquat will definitely smell funny, and your silicones might turn into a goopy mess. In short, your separated lotion was an improvement on the mess you'll have after heating it a second time.

If you want to re-heat a product, there are two conditions to consider. If your product contains water, you can't re-heat it. If your product contains heat sensitive ingredients, you can't re-heat it. If you have an anhydrous product with fragrance or essential oil, you can re-heat it but you might have to add more fragrance to the mix. (Adding more essential oil might be a bad thing if it contains some active properties, so consider this carefully!)

Related posts:
Why do we heat and hold anhydrous products? (scroll down a bit)
How do we know when to add an ingredient?
Can you re-heat a failed batch of lotion?
Heating and holding our ingredients.
Heating, holding, freezing, and thawing oils

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick note on using water in sugar and salt scrubs

I've received quite a few emails lately from people wanting to know how to preserve or make their sugar or salt scrubs that contain things like aloe vera or coconut milk. I'm not sure where you're finding these recipes, but you really can't have a water based sugar or salt scrub! It's all about solubility. Sugar and salt are soluble in water, which means you won't have a scrub with sugar in it, you'll have some water with lots of sugar or salt dissolved in it. Besides, the goal of a sugar scrub is to exfoliate and leave behind a nice oily layer on our skin after rinsing. Water based ingredients won't stay on our skin - they'll rinse off with the water.

As an aside, when I say water, I mean anything that could take the place of water in a recipe. So aloe vera, coconut milk, peppermint hydrosol, and everything else watery are counted as water because they are water with a little something added. I am aware that it is possible to make a gelled sugar scrub with water, but that's a discussion for a different post. 

What's the logic in using water in a scrub? I think it's so you can get all kinds of goodies into your product. There are lots of great water soluble ingredients - extracts, hydrosols, proteins, and so on - and we want those ingredients to benefit our skin. But there are tons of oil based ingredients with all kinds of wonderful goodies, and you can even get things like green tea extract or calendul in oil soluble form. Research your oils to see what each of them brings to your skin, and choose a nice butter that gives your product the right skin feel. In short, give up the water based ingredients and do a little reading of oil soluble ingredients to make yourself an awesome product! (Click here for the emollients section of the blog...)

Here are a few recipes you might consider trying. As a note, if you don't have black cocoa butter or golden shea, try using regular cocoa butter or shea. Or try mango butter or another butter you love. Isn't that why we make products? (There are other scrub recipes on the blog, but I'm a bit rushed this morning!)

Experiments in the workshop: Black cocoa in a sugar scrub
Emulsifiers: Ritamulse SCG in a sugar scrub
Experiments in the workshop: Behenyl alcohol in my Ritamulse SCG scrub
Experiments in the workshop: Golden shea sugar scrub
Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrubs for dry skin 
Formulating for dry skin: Making an emulsified scrub
Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrubs for other skin types
Question: How do you know what and how to substitute?
Chemistry of our nails: Oil based scrubs (manicure)
Body scrubs - oil based
Back to basics: Oil based scrubs
Back to Basics: Modifying the oil based scrub

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: You made conditioner! Bragging and questions!

Yay! You made conditioner last Newbie Tuesday! Congratulations to those of you who made your first batch. Wasn't it awesome to see emulsification happen? And wasn't it fantastic to try it on your hair for the first time. What did you like about it? What do you want to change about it? How was the process for you? (If you want to play along, click here for the list of ingredients and equipment required, or click here for the recipe and process.)

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section or by e-mailing me at (especially if you have pictures to share)! I'll be randomly drawing a name from the people who comment or e-mail me for a copy of my Hair Care Products e-book

Julie writes: Made my first conditioner last night! I used this recipe and I LOVED it! I'm so glad I listened to you and bought the BTMS 50 because I originally had no interest in making conditioner. My hair feels so amazing! I made a solid shampoo last week with minty tingly EO's, so I made the conditioner to match and it's awesome. I can't believe how soft my hair feels. I think the conditioner definitely couldve been thicker though. I'll be browsing through the other recipes to make one with more additives. I just got my first order of Panthenol also so I'll be trying that out today. I couldn't not buy it considering its in almost every recipe! Thanks!

Yay, Julie! So how do you feel about it a few days later? Did you modify your conditioner? What kinds of things do you think you'd like to add next time? What could you do to make the product thicker? Do you think you'd want to add more BTMS-50 or some fatty alcohols to enhance the substantivity?

Michelle writes: Yep this was me a few months ago. I had emailed you my thoughts you did tell me just to make something and stop researching ;-) I made conditioner 4x's. First was too thin. Second I loved and made again. Fourth I removed some oils and still love it. It feels like it isn't penetrating my hair but the curls are AMAZING! I went ahead and ordered green tea and carrot extract for the 3&4th batches. LOVE IT. I am addicted. I use Bramble Berry's extracts and fragrance oils. I get so many compliments on the scent. I had a few ladies hang around to sniff me.

I really do believe there's a point where we have to get into the workshop and experience the making and using of our own conditioners or we'll never get around to it. There's always so much more to learn! What fragrance did you use? I love oatmeal, milk & honey in my hair care products - I smell like marzipan! - and I notice people smelling me from time to time. (At least I hope that's why they're smelling me!)

Thanks for sharing your process, Michelle. It's all about tweaking and tweaking and tweaking - which is so much fun! No matter how much I love a product, I'm always thinking about what I could do differently next time. I know, I have a problem...but it's a fun problem to have!

Ashley asks: I'm just curious could I add honey powder to my conditioner? Or even to a moisturizer?

What is the purpose of honey powder? Once you know the purpose, you can figure out if you should add it. I think it's used in a liquid as a humectant - that's how I've used it in the past - so you could use is in a conditioner as a humectant, if you wish. I don't know if it's the best humectant you could use, but it would behave that way. I've used it in the cool down phase of the product, so I suggest you figure out the suggested usage rate and add it when the product gets below 45˚C or 113˚F.

soblue asks: I really want to just try this but i would like to try natural- I know, i read your thoughts on natural, too. lol. Are there ecocert ingredients available to use for conditioner and shampoos? I'm tired of researching... ;D thanks!

soblue, you know I'm going to give you the short lecture, so let's get it out of the way! I know you can be tired of researching at some point - believe me, I get to that point regularly - but part of learning your ingredients is staying curious. If it's that important that you have a natural conditioner, then you have to do your homework and keep researching.

Having said that - No. Not that I can find. If you consider what a conditioner is, you'll see that there's nothing natural that can fit this description.

A conditioning agent (like Incroquat BTMS-50) is a cationic quaternary compound. It's a positively charged compound that adsorbs to the surface of your hair. (Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair. It's different from absorption in that it doesn't penetrate, it just sits on top of the hair fibre.) This is called substantivity. Substantivity is defined as "an adsorption phenomenon by which materials that have opposing charges or like composition are more readily adsorbed onto or attracted to its surface and, once there, resistant to subsequent rinse-off." In other words, a material that is positively charged - like our cationic ingredients - will be attracted to the surface of our hair, which is negatively charged.

If you don't have adsorption and substantivity, you don't have a conditioner. And there are no natural ingredients we can find that behave this way. I've seen people claim that things like catnip, various teas, vinegar, and so on are conditioners. They are not conditioners because they don't adsorb to your hair strand. They can be considered apres shampooing cleansers or rinses, but they are not conditioners.

If you see a conditioner that claims to be all natural it is either not a conditioner or not telling the truth. There is no way I would consider any of the cationic quaternary compounds natural in any way. There are people who use Ritamulse SCG as a conditioner - it's actually negatively charged, so I'm not completely sure how this works because you aren't supposed to use any positively charged ingredients with this emulsifier.

Related posts: 

Now that you've made a conditioner, you're probably thinking about how to tweak it. Do you want to add oils or butters to it? Should it be thicker or thinner? Do you want to add some silicones for shine and defrizzing or some proteins for film forming and moisturizing? Do you want to add some fatty alcohols to increase the conditioning and moisturizing or would that be too much for your hair? So many questions! If you simply can't wait, check out the hair care section of the blog for some ideas on how to tweak your conditioners! If not, see you next week!

Pose your questions and we'll try to get some answers for next week's Newbie Tuesday! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix - using 25% to make a butter

As I mentioned the other day, I've been playing with Lipidthix to make a butter out of an oil. In Thursday's post, I combined rice bran oil with 20% Lipidthix to make a rice bran oil butter. I liked it, but it was thinner than I wanted. So I thought I'd play around with a 25% Lipidthix mixture.

25% Lipidthix
75% rice bran oil

Measure out each ingredient into a heatproof container, like a Pyrex jug, and put into a double boiler. Heat at 60˚C to 70˚C for up to 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes (depending upon how much you're making!).

What was the difference between 20% and 25% Lipidthix with rice bran oil? A whole lotta awesome! This what it looked like just out of the freezer. Already I can tell that it's much thicker than the 20% version. I took a little out of the container and rubbed it into my hand: It feels quite nice and glidy with no grains. I would compare it to shea butter in that it is a bit greasy and feels thickened. In short, a very nice butter!

Let's whip it! (Whip it good!) I think it took me maybe a minute to get to this consistency of looking like a whipped butter. Doesn't that look amazing? If you want to make this more awesome, add up to 1% fragrance or essential oil  before or during whipping.

I used white chocolate fragrance oil from Voyageur Soap & Candle in this one, which I know will lead to my husband bemoaning the fact that everything in our house looks and smells good, but tastes like a mouthful of Crisco!

The top sample is made with 25% Lipidthix, while the bottom one is 20% Lipidthix. You can really see the difference, eh?

This isn't to say that every oil will respond well at 25% Lipidthix. Some might be better at 20%, some at 25%, and there might be others that need more or less. Get into your workshop and do some playing with this product!  I'm planning on playing with some drier oils, like macadamia nut oil or hazelnut oil, and a few heavier oils, like olive oil or avocado oil

I do have an avocado butter, but it smells very earthy, which bothers me! I have tried to add fragrance to it, but it's just overwhelming. 

As a final thought, I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to put your container into the freezer to cool. Every time I've left it at room temperature, I get grains. Every time I've put it into the freezer, I get no grains.

This isn't to say that you won't succeed if you leave it out on the counter to cool - I won't negate your experience with this ingredient - but my most successful batches have been those I've put in the freezer!

Related posts:
Back to Basics - an aside on melting butters
Emollients - oils, butters & esters
Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix
Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix - making a butter
Back to Basics: Whipped butters

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix - making a butter!

As we saw yesterday, Lipidthix is a powder we can add to our oils to create butters out of them. Why would we want to do this? So we can have something like jojoba butter or soy butter or any other oil we like butter that we can use as something like a whipped butter or in something else, like a balm.

80% rice bran oil
20% Lipidthix

Measure out each ingredient into a heatproof container, like a Pyrex jug, and put into a double boiler. Heat until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Then mix. 

Here's my problem with this process - it caused grains. As you can see from the picture, it looks like there are tiny beads in the butter. And it didn't feel very nice on my skin - the grains definitely got in the way of the skin feel! 

So I tried it again. Only this time I cooled it very quickly by putting it in the freezer. My logic was that when we want to get rid of grains in something like shea butter, we heat it up, then put it in the freezer so the various fatty acids cool quickly instead of leaving them out on the counter to cool slowly. It works with chocolate and it works with shea butter, so it should work with my rice bran oil - Lipidthix combination. 

Attempt number two - heated to 70˚C, held for 20 minutes, then into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Results? Awesome! I have a smoother rice bran butter than the grainy attempt one. I like the feel of this much better than the first one! 

I think I need to use more - 75% oil and 25% for the rice bran oil as it isn't so much a butter as Cool Whip. If we think of our butters as being something we have to work at to remove with a spoon from a container, this is more like a light and airy pudding than a whipped butter. 

As a note, your mileage may vary! It was a very warm day when I tried this - around 28˚C/82˚F - so my room temperature was well above room temperature. You will probably get different results in my workshop in the winter when the water in my double boiler freezes! 

Why do we heat and hold when we don't have water? Because I want to ensure that every ingredient is heated up to 70˚C and allowed to melt properly. If we heat our products in a microwave until they are melted or to a specific temperature, there are pockets of ingredients that might not have melted properly or might not be the same temperature as the rest of the product. If we heat and hold, we ensure that it is evenly heated and all ingredients are well melted. You can reduce the time slightly if you want, but I wouldn't go under 10 minutes after you reach 70˚C. 

Join me tomorrow to see the 75% oil experiment! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Lipidthix

Lipidthix (INCI Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) is an oil soluble vegetable oil that has been hydrogenated  into a powdered form. It thickens oil soluble products and can make butters by adding it to oils. (It's recommended at 20% Lipidthix with 80% oils to make a buttery version of the oil.)

As an aside, if you get something that isn't a true butter - say, something like soy butter - it will have an INCI of soy oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil. If you use this with something like soy oil, you should have a similar product. 

Lotioncrafter recommends we use it at 1% to 35% in the oil phase of our products. It has a melting point of 51˚C or 156˚F, and it's really important to get your products over that temperature if you want to make butters that don't have grains.

This may or may not be the same product as the Vegethix found at the Herbarie. Vegethix sounds the same, but it's in flake format. Unfortunately, I can't find the proper name for this ingredient or the manufacturer, so it's hard to know exactly what this ingredient is in a Google search. (I always encourage you to know your INCI names for this very reason!)

As a note, I have not been paid to say something nice about this ingredient. I bought it from Lotioncrafter with my own funds, and I'm writing about it because it's an interesting ingredient. 

Join me tomorrow to see how it we can make our own butters with this ingredient!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a conditioner!

It's time to stop researching and make a conditioner! You know who you are! You're the person who spends many many waking moments reading about or thinking about making conditioners, but you've never ever made a conditioner! I want you to step away from the computer - after printing the instructions, of course - and get into the workshop to make your conditioner. You have to make a conditioner to know what you really want in it, what the ingredients feel like on your skin and hair, and how thick you want it. These are things that require you to get into the workshop or kitchen and make a conditioner!

If you have no idea why I'm yelling at you, visit the first post in this series about making conditioner to see what you could make today! 

You can do this! It's not rocket science - it's cosmetic science, which much more awesome and useful in your daily life! You will not pre-suck! (We define this in craft group as saying you suck before you've even started so when you fail, you can say "I told you so", and not lose face. Or saying "I'm not good at this new thing", and you won't be, because it's something new and we're not going to be perfect the first time out!)

Just about an hour, you can say you've made a conditioner and have something to show for your hard work and research. (Take a picture of it and send it to me at so I can see what you've made! I'm quite excited by all of this!)

7% Incroquat BTMS-50 or BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225
91% water

0.5% to 1% preservative of choice
1% fragrance or essential oil

Normally I'd tell you to create an oil phase and a water phase, but there isn't much of either in this case. So what I'm suggesting you do is weigh out your BTMS into a heat proof container. Boil up some distilled water, then add it to the BTMS. Mix really well. Weigh the container, and write that number down as we'll have to add more water to the mix when we've finished the heat and hold. Put your heat proof container into the double boiler and allow it to heat to 70˚C or 158˚C and hold it for 20 minutes. When the time is up, measure the container again. Add as much water as you'll need to get the weight back to up the pre-heating amount.

Let's break it all down into smaller steps. I find this is an easier way to process things at times. 

Ensure that your space is clean and tidy. Make sure all your containers, utensils, and everything else have been cleaned well. Get a bottle ready for your conditioner. You don't need to sterilize this container if you bought it new from your supplier. This recipe should make about 90 to 95 ml of conditioner (about 3 liquid ounces).

First, turn on your double boiler apparatus (or turn on the burner on the stove) and get the water in the double boiler warming. I'm not sure of the exact amount of water you should add to your specific double boiler: Add enough that the tops of containers aren't covered by the water and it won't spill into the containers if the water accidentally starts boiling. I generally find that getting the water half way to 3/4 of the way up the side of my Pyrex jug should take me through to the end of the heating and holding phase. You can boil up the water in a kettle or pot before using it in the double boiler, if you like.

Next, get your supplies and equipment ready. You'll be using a scale for all the measuring, so make sure it has a prominent place on the counter top. You need a heat proof containers (Pyrex jugs, for instance) and a kettle or pot in which you can boil water. And you'll need a spoon because you won't be able to resist having a stir as they heat!

Have your notebook beside you with the recipe printed in quite large font and a pen or pencil at the ready. Writing notes is vital to make sure you know what you did this time and what to do (or not to do) next time!

Put your Pyrex jug on the scale. Now weigh out your heated phase
into your heatproof container.

Weigh your container - hit tare on the scale (zero out the number) so you can get the "before" weight of your heated water phase. (We need this number to know how much water evaporates during the heated water phase so we can compensate for it before we combine the two phases). Now put this container into your double boiler.

Remember to measure your container after you've added the water so we know what it weighed before we heated it up so we can compensate for evaporation!

Monitor your containers. Use your thermometer regularly. (If you're using glass containers, try not to let the thermometer hit the floor of the container or you'll be taking its temperature, not your product!) The container should heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C or 158˚F. The temperature might fluctuate and get up as high as 85˚C. That's okay!

If you haven't written any notes yet, write them now! There are quite a few things to consider - did you measure exactly 7% BTMS? What version of the conditioning agent did you use? What did it smell like? and so on. How long did the phases take to get to 70˚C?

While you're waiting, put away the things you don't need and get out those things you do need such as a bottle, a funnel, a spoon, some paper towels, maybe a label, and your cool down ingredients. Check on the water in your double boiler and make sure you have enough so you won't run dry before the 20 minutes is up. Maybe do a little air guitar, check your e-mail on your smart phone, or take pictures of the process. Twenty minutes isn't that long, but it might feel that way when you're excited to see your lotion finish!

When you've heated and held at 70˚C/158˚F for 20 minutes, remove the container from the heat and measure it. How much water did you lose? Add up to the amount you should have had originally. Let's say you measured 500 grams for your container and water phase - if your container now reads 475, add 25 grams from the water you boiled up separately. (It is okay if the water in the kettle is a little hotter than the water phase, as long as it doesn't make the water phase 85˚C or 100˚C while your oil phase is around 70˚C. This is unlikely to happen with so little water and your water phase being over 70˚C, so don't worry!)

This is the part of conditioner making where we mix. I like to use my hand mixer on setting 1 or 2 using the beater attachment and mix for a few minutes - maybe 4 minutes or so? Then I set it aside and let it cool down. Put a thermometer in the container and wait a bit. The temperature of the room is important here. If you have an unheated workshop like mine, it can take a really short period of time to cool down - maybe 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a warm room, it might take longer. Some people use an ice bath to cool it down. I guess you could do that if you really wanted it to cool down quickly - I've never tried it because it never seems to take very long to cool in my house!

And yes, it's okay to have a stir with a clean spoon while you're waiting for it to cool down. See how the viscosity changes as the product gets closer to 45˚C. Right now it might have the consistency of slightly thickened milk, but soon it will be incredibly thick and awesome! Document these changes, if you like.

When the product reaches 45˚C or 113˚F, add your cool down ingredients, which, in this case, would be your fragrance/essential oil and preservative (I use liquid Germall Plus, which goes into the cool down phase. Your preservative may vary. Check before you start making the conditioner!) Mix again. Maybe 2 or 3 minutes? Now leave it alone. You're done. We're just waiting for it to get cool enough to bottle.

Put a clean cloth or paper towel over the top of the container, and let it cool down to where the jug isn't warm to the touch any more (room temperature - around 20˚C or 68˚F).

If you're using a funnel, get a clean spoon and put the conditioner into the funnel. Bang the bottle now and then to get it flowing better. If you're using a piping bag, fill it up and squish into the bottle! Put your disc cap on and you're done!

And now you're done! Rejoice! Do a happy dance to celebrate the making of the conditioner! You've done it!

The next part of conditioner making? Making cute labels. Marching around the house with the bottle in your hand, huffing the lovely fragrance and making plans to take a shower as soon as possible! March around making up a little song about conditioner making, and relish the fact that you've finally made your conditioner! E-mail your friends and family (and tutor - and tell them the tales of conditioner making! Send me pictures! You're walking on sunshine, and don't it feel good? Indeed!

Once you've used your conditioner in the shower, here are a few things to consider, which will help you figure out what ingredients you might like to add next time....

  • How well were you able to apply it to your hair? Was it too thick or too thin?
  • How well did it rinse out?
  • How easy was it to brush or comb your hair? 
  • How did your hair look when it dried? How about later that day? Or the next day?
  • If you have oily hair, how much time did it take for your hair to become greasy? 
  • If you have dry hair, did it moisturize enough?

And so on...The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what you can try in your next batch!

Please write your comments in the section below to inspire others to give it a try! Next week's Newbie Tuesday post will be the troubleshooting and sharing part of the process, so please e-mail me ( or comment below and let me know how it went for you. (The week after next will be about tweaking the recipe!) I want others to learn from your experiences, but I also need to know if this tutorial was helpful! If you encounter a problem - like a lotion fail, for instance - please write out your recipe and process, letting me know about any changes so we can trouble shoot it next week! Please send pictures and let me know if it's okay to use your experience and photos in the post next week. (And let me know what screen name you want!)

Congratulations! You did it! Now use it all up very quickly so you have a cheap excuse to make those tweaks and changes you think would make this product even more awesome!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Experiments in the workshop: Behenyl alcohol in my Ritamulse SCG sugar scrub!

I'm having a love affair with Ritamulse SCG in my sugar scrubs, and thought I should try making it with a different fatty alcohol - behenyl alcohol. I've made sugar scrubs with Ritamulse SCG and sugar scrubs with behenyl alcohol, but never both! So let's see what this might feel like!


10% Ritamulse SCG
10% behenyl alcohol
20% cocoa butter (or other really hard butter)
56% oil (I used rice bran oil and soy bean oil)
1% Phenonip

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

*Note: We're using 2% fragrance oil because we're actually making 200 grams of product by adding the sugar, so the increased fragrance amount will actually make the product smell nice. If you're using essential oils, check your safe usage levels before adding to the scrub.*

Weigh all ingredients except the Vitamin E and fragrance or essential oil in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler. Heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Remove from the double boiler and put into your fridge or freezer until it reaches 45˚C. Add the fragrance oil and Vitamin E, then return it to the fridge or freezer to cool further.

When the mixture starts to harden slightly on the sides of the container and gets a thick film on the top, remove it from the fridge or freezer and start whipping it with a hand mixer with whisk attachments or your Kitchenaid with whisk attachments.

Whisk until it looks like chocolate pudding - this might take a little while - then add the sugar and whisk until well incorporated. Pour into jars and let sit until hardened.

If you want to use this for a body scrub, start with 100 grams of sugar per 100 grams of sugar scrub and go as high as 200 grams of sugar. In this recipe, I used 146 grams of sugar per 100 grams of oils and butters, and I find that a nice level of scrubbiness. If you're using another exfoliant, I'm afraid you'll have to work out those weights on your own, but let us know how it works out!

If you're curious to see how I got to this recipe, check out the post on making a black cocoa sugar scrub, then how to modify it with behenyl alcohol, then how to modify it with Ritamulse SCG.

I tried this with regular cocoa butter and it's still awesome!

I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!! (Sorry for shouting, but I think it's worthy of it!)  I think it's the nicest one I've made so far! It has quite a dry feeling to it that lasts after you've rinsed it off. I have a moisturized feeling without the greasiness I had when it was on my skin. I can't believe how awesome this sugar scrub feels!

One down side, though. If you have dry skin, you might not like the drier feeling. My sugar scrub with cetyl alcohol left behind a little more waxiness that would last well into the next day. This one doesn't feel as tenacious as that version.

If you want this to be a prettier jar, package before it cools. I tried it after cooling this time, and it wasn't as pretty as it could have been.

Related posts:
How do you know how and what to substitute (emulsifiers in scrubs)?
Experiments in the workshop: Ritamulse SCG in a sugar scrub

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why bother with distilled water in our products?

I know it's a pain to get hold of distilled water for every single crafting session, but it's necessary! "Distilled water is water that has many of its impurities removed through distillation. Distillation involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam into a clean container." (Click for more from Wikipedia!) In other words, distilled water should be free of metals, salts, and biological contaminants like bacteria and viruses. This means our products will be free of metals, salts, and contamination, too!

Why can't we use tap water? The metals found in tap water can speed up rancidity of our oils! (From this post on the mechanisms of rancidity...) Even in the absence of air, we find oxygen. Oh oxygen, you are so necessary but so annoying! Through the breaking of the double bonds, the oxygens helps the the fatty acids break down...Metal ions in the water at low levels can promote auto-oxidation. This is why we use chelating or sequestering agents like citric acid and EDTA to bind the metals so they won't be a nuisance in our lotions.

Have you ever had a glass of water from your bathroom tap? Do you notice how it always tastes sweet or soapy? My dad - the plumber - explained that years of using soap and toothpaste and so on means we get a tiny build up in the faucet thingie and it tastes funny! 

Using distilled water means few opportunities for beasties and metals to ruin your products through contamination and auto-oxidation. You still need to heat and hold your ingredients, but know that you are starting from a really really good place when using distilled water.

As an aside, my town won the award for the best drinking water in the world a few years ago, but I still wouldn't use my tap water in my products. Best drinking water doesn't mean no metal ions and no beasties!

I get mine at my local megamart in the pharmacy section for about $2 for 4 litres (3.75 gallons). Distilled water isn't the greatest drinking water...but don't take my word for it. Try it yourself! Normally I suggest you don't eat or drink our ingredients, but this one is interesting and safe. 

What about deionized water? "Deionized water, also known as demineralized water (DI water, DIW or de-ionized water), is water that has had its mineral ions removed, such as cations from sodium, calcium, iron, and copper, and anions such as chloride and sulfate...Because the majority of water impurities are dissolved salts, deionization produces a high purity water that is generally similar to distilled water, and this process is quick and without scale buildup. However, deionization does not significantly remove uncharged organic molecules, viruses or bacteria, except by incidental trapping in the resin." (Click for more from Wikipedia!) he down side of using deionized water is that the metals and impurities are removed, but the possible contamination by beasties isn't reduced.

And what about Kangen water, the one that claims to be alkaline and better for you? Do not get me started on what a bunch of hooey, hogwash, and blankity-blank-blank this stuff is. Ignore this water. Walk away. Do not believe anything the person with absolutely no chemistry background is saying about their very very expensive water system! (And don't use this in your products - alkaline water can mess up the pH of our products!)

To devotees of Kangen water...please do not comment about how wrong I am about your water. Let's keep it civil. As I always say, please provide me with a good study from a reputable source and I'll take it under consideration. 

Related posts:
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity
What contaminants can get into our products?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not all sulfates are sulfates

I don't really see anything wrong with sulfates in our surfactants, but some people wish to avoid them...but not all sulfates are sulfates. If you're avoiding sulfates, I guess you have to stay well away from Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and BTMS (behentrimonium methosulfate). You won't be able to use gypsum in your house (calcium sulfate) or take chondoitin sulfate supplements. Sulfates are all around us, so to say that sulfates aren't good for us is a sweeping statement that has little to no validity.

What the heck is a sulfate and why does it seem to show up all over the place in our ingredients? Join me for the next Chemistry Thursday to learn more!

This is why I hate the glib reminders that "If you can't pronounce it, don't eat or use it" or "Sulfates are bad for our hair" because we don't get into the why of the concept and never truly understand why we do what we do. (Quick! Spell anthocyanin. Can you pronounce it? If not, then you must avoid these fantastic flavonoids! See - it's a silly rule!) If someone tells you to avoid something, ask them why. Find out exactly what that person thinks will happen if you use that ingredient, and ask them for the evidence - solid, reputable evidence - for their statement. (Yes, it takes work, but anything worth having does.)

I still have no idea why we are supposed to avoid sulfates in shampoo - yes, SLS is considered a less gentle surfactant, but SLeS, ALeS, sodium myreth sulfate, and others are not! - despite the recent discussion about the topic on the blog! (I'll link to it later when I'm not mobile!) If you can provide a solid explanation and some good evidence, please comment here! (Note: EWG and Skin Deep are NOT reputable sources!)

Related posts:
Surfactants: Sulfates
Surfactants: Alkyl sulfates (the family in which you'd find SLS)
Surfactants: Alkyl ether sulfates (the family in which you'd find SLeS)

A few links about SLS
How to interpret surfactant names
Query: Why do you think SLS is bad for your hair?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Cera bellina - making an anhydrous eye gel

I thought I'd make a nice eye gel with the cera bellina and add some lovely oil soluble ingredients and extracts.

10% borage oil
20% macadamia nut oil
14% fractionated coconut oil
10% calendula oil
12% kukui oil
4% sea buckthorn oil
5% green tea extract (oil soluble)
5% phyto oil
10% cera bellina
10% mallow extract (oil soluble)

Measure out the ingredients in a heat proof container and place into a double boiler. Heat to 75˚C and hold for a bit - maybe 5 minutes - to ensure the cera bellina melts properly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it turns into an oily gel, which should be around room temperature. When it's completely cooled, put into a container. I put mine in a 30 ml bottle with a decent sized orifice that I could squish.

Why did I choose the ingredients I chose? As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really think we need some drier feeling oils in the cera bellina products, so I chose macadamia nut oil and kukui nut oil for those reasons. Borage oil is not only dry feeling, but it contains some great fatty acids that help with speeding up skin's barrier mechanism repair. I like sea buckthorn oil - and it turns out I have a whack of it in the freezer! - but it's quite orange, so I can't use it in large amounts. 4% seemed like a good idea. And I used fractionated coconut oil to add more oils to the mix without being too heavy or oily.

I added some calendula oil because it has some qualities I really want in an eye gel, such as dealing with inflammation and regenerating skin cells. I thought I'd add the green tea extract (oil soluble) as the anti-oxidant. I thought I'd include some mallow extract (oil soluble) for the slipperiness it can offer.

I bought the green tea extract (oil soluble) and mallow extract (oil soluble) from Brambleberry, in case you're curious! I have no affiliation with Brambleberry other than as a customer who loves their stuff!

I also included Phyto-Oil. It's an oil soluble ingredient from the Formulator Sample Shop with the INCI Name: Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract & Ceramide 3. It has a suggested usage rate of 1% to 5%, and it's oil soluble.

An aside on ceramides...Ceramides are essential for the normal organization of our tissues into structures that are responsible for keeping the barrier function of the skin functioning well, like preventing transepidermal water loss and keeping other things out. They are found in our skin at about 50% by mass. A decrease in ceramides - through aging, exposure to high or low temperatures - can lead to dry skin and itchiness due to a decrease in the efficacy of the stratum corneum's ability to keep water in and other things out. (Learn more about ceramides through Wikipedia!) Having said this, I can't guarantee that the Phyto-Oil will do all these things, but I'm really hoping it will! Which is why I thought it would be awesome in an eye product! 

In the interest of complete disclosure, I was sent some free ingredients from the Formulator Sample Shop. The Phyto-Oil was one of those ingredients. Click here for their information on this ingredient. I am not affiliated with this company in any way, and my opinions are my own. 

What do I think of this eye gel? I'm really enjoying it! I've been applying a light coating under my eyes in the morning and at night, and I've noticed it feels like it sinks in quickly and doesn't make my eyes all greasy looking. (Having said this, I don't use it on days when I'm wearing eye make-up because I already have enough trouble with oily eye lids!)

What would I change? Hmm...I might include Vitamin E at 0.5% to 1% as an anti-oxidant and softening ingredient. I might change the fractionated coconut oil for an oil with more phytosterols or other skin loving stuff, but I'm not sure which kind. I'd love more sea buckthorn oil, but I worry about the colour. Up to 6% might not be a bad thing. I'm quite happy about this eye gel, so there's not a lot I want to change.

If you don't have Phyto-Oil or the other oil soluble ingredients, consider using some oils that have features you like in their place. Something like evening primrose oil would be nice at up to 20% - I wanted to use some, but mine went rancid! - or maybe cranberry oil at up to 10% for the high levels of Vitamin E and phytosterols. Or maybe some pomegranate oil with its amazing levels of phytosterols or punicic acid. Look at some of those oils you've been saving for that amazing facial product and include it! The good thing is that you can use any combination of oils you wish - just take a look at what those oils have to offer and add them at the suggested usage rate!

I think I'm done with cera bellina for a bit. I have so many other ingredients I really want to use, such as Lipidthix! Join me tomorrow!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Cera bellina - a gel with shea butter

I'm still experimenting with cera bellina, and I thought I'd try this recipe I found on the translated site of the Aroma Zone and I thought I'd try it. It goes like this....

10% shea butter
13% cera bellina
76.50% macadamia nut oil
0.5% fragrance oil

I decided to make a half version of this product...

5 grams ultra refined shea butter
6.5 grams cera bellina
38 grams macadamia nut oil

I put all the ingredients into a heat proof container and put it into the double boiler. As cera bellina has a melting point of 63˚C to 73˚C, I made a point of heating it to 75˚C and I held it for a bit to make sure and holding it at 75˚C for a bit to ensure it all melted. Then I popped it into the freezer for about 20 minutes - it could have been a bit longer as I was doing an inventory of ingredients, but no more than 30 minutes - then I tried to whip it. It really didn't want to whip!

It ended up having a quite liquidy consistency, so I bottled it and used it as a body oil after my shower last night. I quite liked it - it was very glidy and felt kinda velvety, if that makes sense. I admit I was a bit surprised that 13% cera bellina was still a liquidy oily gel that I could squish out of a small bottle with a disc cap! Which really just goes to show you that you have to play with this ingredient to see how it works with various oils and butters!

If you want to make something like this, I definitely recommend that you use a dry feeling oil like hazelnut oil, grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil, or perhaps an ester. I can't imagine how greasy it'd feel with something like soy bean or sunflower oil, but I don't think it would be as nice as the dry feeling oils.

Join me tomorrow as we use the cera bellina to make a velvety feeling oily gel for our eyes!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Cera bellina - making oily gels

I've been dying to make an oily gel since I heard I could do it with Sucragel AOF - which was an epic fail - so I was excited to see that I could use cera bellina in that capacity. I read that 10% should make a thicker oily gel, so I thought I'd start there.

10% cera bellina
44% soy bean oil
45% macadamia nut oil
1% fragrance or essential oil

Put all the ingredients, except the essential or fragrance oil, into a Pyrex jug and heat and hold in a double boiler until the ingredients are melted. Let sit - it's recommended to let it cool slowly - until the product reaches room temperature. Add your fragrance or essential oil when the product is below 45˚C.

This created a thickish oily gel with a medium level of greasiness. (I chose the macadamia nut oil because it would feel less greasy than an all soy bean oil product. I think I'd go with all dry feeling oils next time.) I could see this being used as a balm - something for sore muscles might be nice or a cuticle balm - but I really think it needs to be thicker. It's in a state that's between a liquid and a solid, and I'd like to see it thicker or thinner, but not in the state it's in now. (I think it would be good as a bath oil - it poured very well.)

If you like your products less greasy, I recommend using some IPM (up to 5%) or another ester (I think cetearyl ethylhexanoate would be really nice, or perhaps C12-15 alkyl benzoate), or less greasy feeling oils like hazelnut, macadamia nut, avocado, grapeseed, borage, or evening primrose oil. And if you want it to be more like a whipped butter consistency, I'd suggest using 15% cera bellina in the recipe. (I'll be posting more of my experiments in the next week or so!)

Click here for the emollients section of the blog to find other oils you might like to use! 

I tried a bit of under my eyes and I quite liked the feeling, but I wanted to throw in a few fancy oils. I decided to mix 42 grams of the gel with 4 grams of green tea extract (oil based) and 4 grams of calendula oil (oil based). This was okay, but I think I'd like it thicker. My next experiment will be for an oil based eye gel with some neat oil soluble extracts. This would be nice for moisturizing, but I do like to have a few cosmeceuticals or extracts in things for my face.

Looking at this recipe, I realize that I have too much green tea extract in this experiment - I wanted about 5% and I ended up with 8! Which goes to show you that when you adapt things on the fly, you need to write things down and do the math! It does end up being 50 grams, which is an easy amount to work with if I wanted to turn this into a 100% recipe - 84% oily gel, 8% green tea extract, and 8% calendula oil. 

I thought it would be fun to turn this into an oil based scrub with cranberry seeds. I took out 50 grams of this mixture and combined it with 10 grams of cranberry seeds. What a horrible product! To paraphrase Marge Simpson, "No one will buy it or accept it as a gift!" It wouldn't rinse off, and I finally resorted to using my degreasing hand cleanser three times to make sure all the oil was gone. I didn't feel well moisturized - I felt greasy and slimy! Yuck!

Now that I've made an oily gel, I'm not really sure why I wanted to make one. I think the idea of using it as a scrub sounded nice, but I realize that I'm an emulsified scrub girl, so I'd need to include an emulsifier. Perhaps 5% Ritamulse SCG, Polawax, e-wax, BTMS-50, or BTMS-225 so it will rinse off clean? BTMS-50, BTMS-225, or BTMS-25 would be good options as they will make the product feel more powdery. Maybe I'll try it. (To be honest, I have a few scrubs I really love, so I'm not sure if I want to bother with another one!)

As a note, this is only my opinion about this one product I've made. I'd love to hear from you, my wonderful readers, about your experiences with cera bellina. And I'll be writing much more in the next week or so as I experiment further with it! 

I recommend that you visit this page, which is a translation from Aroma Zone in France, for more ideas.  I will be trying a few of them in the near future, and I'll let you know what I think!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Four great reasons to live in farm country!

I'm not a fan of tomatoes - I hate that green smell you get from the stems* - but I love these tiny heirloom tomatoes from my massage therapist's farm! I love being near all this local food. Alas, the season'll be coming to an end soon, which is why we've been canning and jamming and pickling all summer!

*I realized that I'm against stem smells! Get it...stem smells! Okay, not the best joke I've ever made, but it made me laugh!

Why did I buy that again? Cera bellina

Cera bellina (INCI:  Polyglycerol-3 Beeswax) is a form of beeswax in which the fatty acids have been esterified to create a polyglycerol that is more hydrophilic or water liking. It can be used in just about any product you want, including lotions and other water containing things. Anywhere you might use beeswax, you can use cera bellina.

What the heck is esterification? Esterification is a chemical reaction - for our purposes between a carboxylic acid (like a fatty acid from vegetable oils) and an alcohol - that leads to the creation of an ester and water (as a by-product). The alcohol is question here is glycerol or glycerin, as we can see in the name polyglycerol (meaning many glycerols). Want to know way more about esters? Click here for another page I've written about esters, or click here for a great page from the UK

As you can see, cera bellina comes in pastille form, which you can add to the heated oil phase of your products. The melting point is 63˚C to 73˚C, so you'll want to heat your ingredients to at least 73˚C and hold for a bit to melt every little pastille to the maximum melting point. I suggest using a double boiler instead of a microwave as there can be pockets of really hot and really cold bits in stuff heating in microwaves.

If you're using this in a lotion, for instance, you would put it into the oil phase and heat and hold as normal at 70˚C for 20 minutes.

Click here for more about heating and holding of lotion based products.
Click here for more about heating and holding anhydrous products! 

Why use it instead of beeswax? It can help eliminate those horrible little grains you get from butters, it can create oily gels, it can help make products a little more glidy (unlike beeswax, which makes things quite grippy), and it can help disperse pigments in things like lipsticks. As with other esters, it seems to have a slightly longer shelf life than beeswax - although the shelf life of beeswax is pretty long already - and it can help solubilize other oils. And it'll feel less greasy than beeswax. You can add it to a facial serum, for instance, to make a thicker version where the oils won't separate from each other, or you could use it to make an oily gel for a body scrub. This viscosity building feature is why I'm interested in it! 

You can use cera bellina to make an oily gel, and there are different amounts for different oils. For instance, Lotioncrafter notes that you will need about 8% for avocado oil, 12.3% for jojoba oil, and 25% for IPM! What I've seen suggested is to start at 10% to 15% to make an oily gel and take good notes for future reference. (Definitely click on the link to learn more - Jen has a ton of information on this ingredient!) 

To learn more about this here for a translated document from Aroma Zone with recipes and great pictures about viscosity or click here for Lotioncrafter's listing!

Join me tomorrow for the first of my experiments with cera bellina!

Related posts:
Better crafting through chemistry: Esters