Friday, November 30, 2012

Sponsored by readers like you: Christmas jewellery

Last night during How's that Made in Chilliwack, we made some lovely Christmas jewellery! I think these are my favourite type of earrings! Visit a shop that sells Christmas decorations - make sure you get the small to medium sizes - put a jump ring in the top, add some earring hooks, and you have a great pair of earrings! I bought a package of decorations at Michael's for $9.99 - with 40% off - and we had 27 Christmas balls for jewellery! I'm in love with these ones!

We also made awesome jingle bell based jewellery. They are lovely, and I know they are going to get annoying for everyone else by the end of a school day...and isn't that what Christmas is about? Loud Christmas carolling and jingle bells?

I have more pictures, but the kids are in almost very other picture, so I don't really want to post those! 

What's this all about? Our groups are sponsored by readers like you through the donations you make for the e-books! (Click here for more information on our youth programs!) When you donate for one of the e-books - Lotionmaking 101, Formulating & Creating Lotions, Hair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners, or Back to Basics - all the proceeds go to support our youth programs at the Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries. Without you, the groups wouldn't exist, and we really can't thank you enough for all your support!

Next week we have our Christmas Extravaganza at the Yarrow and Chilliwack locations. In Yarrow, we're making chocolate, melt & pour soap, and Shrinky Dinks. In Chilliwack, we're making stuffed animals! It's going to be awesome!

Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - bath bombs

One of my first projects was making bath bombs. This is one of those things that can seem completely easy or unbelievably hard, and I'm not really sure why some people succeed so well at making them and others have so much trouble! One of the big issues is water - whether you're adding it and setting the fizz off early or if the humidity in the air is causing problems, it is definitely your enemy when it comes to bath bombs!

A full post with all kinds of pictures and comments can be found here and I really recommend you check it out if you have any interest at all in making these adorable products! And check out the idea of making bath bomb cupcakes. I don't know if you've noticed, but I kinda have a thing for cupcakes! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - whipped butters

Some of you will be surprised to learn that making whipped butters is incredibly easy* and something you could make for Christmas this year. It really is an easy project that doesn't take much time. What does take time is choosing the right oils and butters for the task. Then choosing some lovely packaging!

I've already written a really detailed post on making whipped butters so I won't go into the greatest of detail here before suggesting you click on the link...but I do have a few helpful hints! 

When it comes to choosing a butter, you really have two main choices - shea butter or mango butter. You can use cocoa butter, but you'll make a very very stiff butter that will have to be removed from the container with your nails! And you can use other butters, but why go stampeding for the more expensive ingredients if you're never used the staples? And they're staples for a good reason! Shea and mango butter feel quite lovely on our skin, but they are quite different in what they bring to your product.

Shea butter has a more greasy feel than mango butter, but it seems to be softer when whipped. Mango butter will feel less greasy, but it will create a stiffer product. Try the butter on your hand and see if you think it to be too greasy. If you do, choose a drier feeling oil like hazelnut, fractionated coconut oil, or macadamia nut oil.

When making products for the winter, my first choice is always a shea butter and soy bean oil combination. This is quite a greasy feeling whipped butter, but I love what it does for my elbows and legs in the colder months!

I get the cute swirl on my whipped butters by putting it into a piping bag with a 1M icing tip! I love the 1M icing tip! I use it for so many things! 

I encourage you to bookmark the Emollients - oils, butters & esters section of the blog if you're interested in learning more about oils and butters. Read a bit, then try the oil on your hand neat. Notice the skin feel, the viscosity, the smell of the oil. Write down your thoughts. Try another one, and so on. Eventually you'll learn what you like and don't like in an emollient!

As a final note, learn all about the shelf lives of the oils you use. If you go with shea butter, it has a two year life span from when you opened it! (Always write the date of opening on the container!) If you choose something like rice bran oil, you'll get a shelf life as long as the rice bran oil, up to one year. If you choose grapeseed, you will have 3 months or less. Make sure you put the suggested expiry date on your products!

Please choose your fragrances carefully. I know we all like essential oils, but they need to be treated with the utmost respect. Citrus based essential oils have the potential to increase sun sensitivity and minty oils probably aren't the best choice for products that go near mucous membranes like bath products. Make sure you are using them at safe usage levels. If in doubt, use fragrance oils instead. (Click here for the section of the blog about essential oils.)

*I know I talk a lot about honing your craft, learning all you can before selling, then I go and say that making whipped butters is easy. If you have a good recipe, it is easy. Melt slightly, put in freezer, take out, whip, package, rejoice. Creating a recipe from scratch, then tweaking it, is the hard work. You can find a recipe and make it, but what happens when you run out of that oil. The craftsmanship comes when we know how we can alter a recipe without actually trying it or being able to figure out what each oil brings to the party and so on. 

Previous Newbie Tuesday Christmas present posts....
Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - helpful hints
Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - bath salts

Sponsored by readers like you: Wrapped wire rings!

We had an amazing donation last year of over 200 spools of copper wire, so we had some serious fun on Thursday making wrapped wire rings! We've made a few things from this wire - we learned how to make our own eye pins and loops, as well as clover leaf loops back in May - and we're making more next week!

Want to make a ring for yourself? Try it! You will be surprised at how easy and beautiful these projects can be! A spool of wire - we used 20 gauge, but you could go as low as 18 gauge - from a craft store, a pair of wire cutters, a pair of pliers, and a wooden dowel is really all you need. I bought a 3/4 inch dowel for a size 7 to 8 ring. The 5/8 inch dowel is around a size 5 ring, suitable for small fingered people and children!

This is probably my favourite tutorial for a bead in a wire wrapped ring. So easy to understand! And here's another step by step tutorial from Fusion Beads! (Click here for the listing of all their wire wrapping ideas!) Awesome!) And this is a good video tutorial for a ring with a bead in it! One of the things to keep in mind is that you want to make the ring a size bigger than you want it in the end. This is why I suggest getting the 3/4 inch dowel - it'll work for most ring sizes. And if you need it smaller, then wrap some masking tape around the dowel and make it smaller! If you have $4 and a jewellery store nearby, get a mandrell and make the rings on that. If not, then a round wooden thingie is just what you need!

What's this all about? I like to share with you what we did in craft group this week! Our groups are sponsored by readers like you through the donations you make for the e-books! (Click here for more information on our youth programs!) When you donate for one of the e-books - Lotionmaking 101, Formulating & Creating Lotions, Hair Care Products: Shampoos & Conditioners, or Back to Basics - all the proceeds go to support our youth programs at the Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries. Without you, the groups wouldn't exist, and we really can't thank you enough for all your support!

Let's see what you can make!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - bath salts!

These are easy peasy to make - the key is to avoid the urge to add a ton of colouring because too much water in your bath salts can lead to bath rocks in a couple of days! No one wants a big ball of hardened bath salts for Christmas, except maybe your mom when you were eight.

1/4 cup Epsom salts (100 grams)
a few drops of colouring
1 gram or 1 ml of fragrance or suitable essential oil

Weigh or measure the Epsom salts. Add a titch of food colouring and the fragrance oil. Mix well. Put into container. Rejoice.

I think of bath salts as a gateway project for bath & body product crafting. When you realize you can make something like this so easily, you'll want to try other things, like bath bombs or lotion bars. (Those are coming up in the next few days!)

Here's a handout on bath salts. Make one change - do not use 1/4 cup Dead Sea salts! It will turn into a clumpy ball of wet and sopping salts in the bag. Dead Sea salts are humectants, meaning they draw water from the atmosphere to the salts. It's a good thing for our skin, a bad thing for a product. If you use 1/4 cup Dead Sea Salts with 1/4 cup Epsom salts, you will end up with a soppy mess. Try using 1 tablespoon: That's a really nice amount. And DO NOT use Dead Sea salts when you're making fizzy bath salts. They will draw water to the bag and this will set off the fizz and you'll end up with a bag of really hard rocks!

Resist the urge to put a ton of pretty flowers or leaves into your bath salts. They look wonderful in the jar or bag, but who wants to bath with some wet foliage floating around the tub?

As for colouring, you can use food colouring if you want. Just don't use a lot. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. Every time I teach a group on bath salts, someone wants to add more than the titch of colouring I suggest. A few days later, they have rocks in bags. I hate to say I told you so, but I really did tell you quite a few times.

Feel free to use different kinds of salts. Using all fine sea salts leads to a finer looking product. I like to use a combination of Epsom and sea salts as it looks really awesome.

If you want to make a layered product, make one colour, put it in the jar, make a second colour, put that on top, and so on. Use the same fragrance for each layer, or at least a fragrance that complements the other ones.

I like cellophane bags for bath salts, which I get from somewhere like Voyageur Soap & Candle or Essential Packaging. You can get them from the dollar store, but they aren't genuine cellophane, which means the lovely fragrance over which you agonized will go away and you'll end up with prettily coloured but fragrance-less bath salts. Make up some cute labels

Related posts:
Handmade Christmas presents - packaging
Aesthetics of our products - labelling

Join me tomorrow for more Christmas crafting ideas!

Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - helpful hints!

If you've never made a product before, start with something fairly foolproof this close to the holiday season. Our bath & body products generally need us to give them time to figure out what they will do over a long period of time - for instance, grow mold, turn brown thanks to the vanilla fragrance, go rancid, get thinner, get thicker, and so on - so I really don't encourage you to try making a lotion for the first time to give away in a few weeks. Try making something a little simpler and promise yourself that you'll practice with lotions for next year! (Perhaps the Newbie Tuesday lotion making posts can be helpful to you?)

I'm sitting here writing this post while my adorable blonde dog snores beside me. She's really getting loud! That is a Christmas Opus toy she is destroying in the picture, and I thought it would be cute to put this picture with this topic! 

Over the next week or so, I'll share with you some ideas on products you can make today and give next week, even if it's your first time making something!

If you've never made anything before, finding the right recipe is the first key to success. I know it's hard to find a tried and true recipe if you've never made anything before, so here are a few thoughts...
  • Read the comments under the post. If people are saying things about the recipe that indicate it doesn't work, don't use it, no matter how pretty it might be.
  • Find a few different recipes and look for similarities. If you are looking for a lotion bar, for instance, you'll want to use 1/3 oil, 1/3 butter, and 1/3 wax. If you see a recipe with 1/4 something, it might be out of whack. (Read the explanation when you see something like that.)
  • If the recipe contains water and oil, it must have a proper emulsifier like emulsifying wax, Polawax, BTMS-50, and so on. Beeswax is not an emulsifier, nor is any other kind of wax (jojoba, sunflower, rose, etc.) And if you have water, you must have a preservative. (GSE is not a preservative!)
  • Check the shelf life of the ingredients before buying them. For some reason, everyone seems to want to use grapeseed oil, which has a three months shelf life. (The first batch of bath bombs I made, I used grapeseed oil, and it went rancid in a few weeks!)
  • Get all the ingredients together before even trying the product. Make the recipe exactly as it is written the first time. Once you master it, you can play around with it as much as you want. 
  • Have fun! When we have fun making something, it's obvious in what we product. 
  • And don't think of making anything to sell this year or even next. Making bath & body products is a skilled craft, and to think you can make something today and sell it this weekend is a bit of an insult to those of us who have worked hard to hone our skills and knowledge. Make something for fun - if it turns into a business, then it's lovely you're doing something you love! 
Don't forget about expiration dates! (Thanks for the reminder, Michele!) For something like bath salts, suggest a usage date of something like a year. (Most fragrance and essential oils have a one year life span, hence the suggestion.) For anything containing an oil or butter, look at the ingredient with the shortest shelf life. I'll make suggestions for the next few posts as to what expiry dates you might want to consider!

Join me later on for our first newbie project - bath salts!

Related post:
How can I tell if a recipe is good?
Beeswax is NOT an emulsifier
Grapefruit seed extract is NOT an emulsifier. 
Question: How do we figure out shelf life?
Question: How can grapeseed oil have a shelf life of a year? (It can't!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We're all about Christmas at craft group this week, and I thought I would share a picture or two of the wonderful beaded snowflakes from our Yarrow group! We are able to do crafts like this thanks to your generous support of our youth groups by donating for the e-books! (To learn more, click on the links to the right!)

Tonight, our Chilliwack group will be making more wonderful Christmas related jewellery and wire wrapped rings!

We really can't thank you all enough!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making an eye cream: Tweaking the oils

You can tweak this eye cream recipe with any oils you like. I chose macadamia nut and arnica oils because they offered some great qualities, but you might have other preferences. Let's take a look at some of the oils we might consider using in this recipe! 

Visit part one of this post to see why I chose the oils I did. Visit part two for information on the water phase, and part three for information on the cool down phase and full recipe. Visit this post to have fun with tweaking the emulsifiers! 

Let's take a look at a few exotic oils that might offer some awesome qualities to this product. We have 18% oils in this product - I used 11% macadamia nut oil, 5% arnica oil, and 3% behenyl alcohol - and you can mix and match what you like within this amount. Every oil change you make will change the skin feel of the product, so keep in mind what you want from this product when you when you choose your oils! If you want a thinner product, leave out the behenyl alcohol and add 3% oil in its place. 

An aside before we start...There isn't a lot of value in using 1% of this and 2% of that and 1% of another oil. For the most part, it's better to use 5% of an oil than 1% of five different oils. I know it's hard to choose exactly the one you want some times, but you aren't getting the value of any of them when you use small amounts. I generally don't like to go down below 5% of an oil, unless it's something like arnica that has a very specific usage. I have some recipes that call for less, but I probably had a good reason for doing that! 

You can see all the writes up about oils, butters, exotic oils, and esters in the emollients section of the blog

Consider what each oil brings to the party. Is it a dry or greasy feeling oil? Is it a light, medium, or heavy oil? Is it expensive? Does it have a suggested usage rate? What fatty acids, polyphenols, and phytosterols does this oil have and how will those benefit my skin? What is the shelf life of the oil?

I wouldn't consider using an oil with anything lower than a 6 month shelf life. I've been using this product for almost two months, and I haven't used up even half of the 30 ml (one tablespoon) container yet! If you make a 100 gram batch, you'll end up with about 75 ml or 5 tablespoons! If you must use an oil with a short shelf life, make sure you use an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E (0.5% in the cool down phase). 

As another aside...If you leave out the behenyl alcohol, you'll end up with a thinner product. So you can use that 3% for an oil as well! 

An oil I would consider for this product would be evening primrose oil. It's a drier feeling oil with a six month shelf life. It has great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I would use it at 10% minimum in this product. 

I'd also consider borage oil for the same reasons. It is dry feeling, has at least a 6 month shelf life, and it has a ton of great polyphenols that offer anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Sea buckthorn oil might be a good choice as it offers anti-inflammatory properties, but check what you have as it might be just a little too orange for your skin type. 

If you really want to use a greasier oil, like soy bean oil, consider adding up to 5% IPM or IPP, two esters that will make your products feel less greasy. Or use Incroquat BTMS-50 to make the product feel drier. 

8% Ritamulse SCG
3% fatty alcohol
16% oils of choice.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at making an eye cream. Remember, you can tweak this to your heart's content - changing the oils, changing the cosmeceuticals, changing the emulsifiers, changing pretty much anything you wish - to create the perfect eye cream for your skin type, your skin's needs, your climate, and your budget. 

Join me tomorrow for something else...not sure just yet. What should we do next? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making an eye cream: Tweaking it with other emulsifiers

Although I'm pleased as punch with my version of an eye cream with Ritamulse SCG, I get that you might have other ingredients or other requirements of the product. So let's take a look at some tweaks we could make in this product!

If you want to start at the beginning of this product creation, click here for part one, click here for part two, and click here for part three.

10% aloe vera
10% witch hazel
11% chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed silk protein
2.5% sodium lactate
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
25% water

8% Ritamulse SCG
3% behenyl alcohol
11% macadamia nut oil
5% arnica oil

2% panthenol
5% Revital-Eyes
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Remember that the goal of this product is to provide a non-greasy and light feeling eye cream that might help with dark under eye circles and inflammation. If we keep those goals in mind, it makes tweaking easier. But note, changing your emulsifiers will change the skin feel and viscosity of the product. You will have to do some playing until you get what you want, but isn't that the fun part of making our own stuff?

If I have Polawax, I would use it at 25% of my oil phase. My oil phase without the Ritamulse SCG is 18%, which means we would use 4.5% Polawax in the heated oil phase. (Remember to increase your water phase by 3.5% to compensate for the change in emulsifier.)

4.5% Polawax
3% behenyl alcohol
11% macadamia nut oil
5% arnica oil

A quick aside to explain why I'm increasing my water amount by 3.5%. The amount of water in our products is the easiest thing to alter when we are creating. We can reduce or increase it when we add or remove ingredients. We always want our recipes to total 100%, so when we do something like change the emulsifier from 8% to 4.5%, our new recipe will total 96.5%. To keep it at 100%, we add 3.5% water to the heated water phase. To learn more, click here or start at the beginning of the formulating series and keep hitting "newer post" for the next installment. 

Substituting Ritamulse SCG with Polawax means the product might feel a bit greasier. You might like that, but you might also like a less greasy product. If that is the case, consider using something like IPM or IPP at up to 2% in place of another oil. We're already using macadamia nut oil, which is a less greasy feeling oil than some of our other choices, so an ester seems to be the easiest way to reduce the greasiness!

Incroquat BTMS-50 is not just used for hair conditioners - it's a good emulsifier that offers a powdery feeling to our products. There isn't a rule of thumb for using Incroquat BTMS-50 as an emulsifier, but I generally use it at the same level of Polawax. I know this is a little more than necessary, but I know that will produce a nicely emulsified product every time. So try it at 4.5% in your heated oil phase in place of the Ritamulse SCG and add 3.5% water to the heated water phase to compensate. Incroquat BTMS-50 will make the product slightly thicker than using Polawax, but you will get that less greasy or drier feeling in the product.

If you aren't sure what you have, please click here to learn how to determine what kind of BTMS you have based on the INCI.

Here's the problem with emulsifying wax - it differs a lot between each supplier. So to substitute with your version of e-wax, you'll have to find out the suggested usage rate for your specific ingredient. For instance, Voyageur Soap & Candle recommends we use their emulsifying wax at 1% more than we would use Polawax. Which means we would use 5.5% in this product and add 2.5% to the water phase.

Please don't ask me to help you with the e-wax you own. Please contact the supplier as they will be able to provide you with the information you need quickly. Or read this post to learn more about the different emulsifying waxes available to us. 

Related posts:
What if we increase our percentage beyond 100%?
Calculating percentages in our products. 

Join me tomorrow when we take a look at tweaking the oils in this eye cream!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cosmeceutical: Revital-Eyes

As I mentioned in yesterday's eye cream post, I wanted to use an ingredient from the Formulator Sample Shop called Revital-Eyes (INCI: Water and Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Camiellia sinensis leaf Ferment Filtrate, Punica granatum Ferment Filtrate, Caffeine Ferment Lystate Filtrate). I was intrigued by the various components in this ingredient and thought I'd take a look at what each of them could bring to the product!*

What is the benefit of using caffeine in our products, specifically an eye cream? Caffeine is known to constrict our blood vessels, which could reduce puffiness and dark circles under our eyes. It's also known to be an anti-oxidant, which could help fight oxidants on our skin. 

The first question is - can we absorb caffeine through our skin?

This study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology, noted that caffeine can be absorbed by skin, and the absorption rate increases when skin's barrier is disturbed. In other words, broken or damaged skin will absorb more caffeine than non-broken skin. 

This study from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology noted that "Hair follicles contribute significantly to percutaneous absorption of caffeine after topical application in man in vivo only at times soon after application." The study wanted to "define the underlying relative penetration of caffeine through hair follicles and through intact stratum corneum with time", in other words, it wanted to know if caffeine could be absorbed by our hair follicles and, if it could, was it faster than being absorbed through the skin. The result - yes, it was faster. 

Unfortunately, we don't have hair follicles under our eyes, but these studies show that we can absorb it through the stratum corneum anyway. So yay! (There are many many studies about this - I thought I'd link to two of them...)

So the second question - what does it do for us? I've already addressed a few of the benefits in this post on caffeine in green tea extract, but let's do a little summary here! Studies have shown caffeine behaves as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidants can quell free radicals on our skin and anti-inflammatories reduce inflammation. 

This study found in the British Journal of Dermatology studied the effect of caffeine on mice who were exposed to UV light. They reported that "Caffeine applied topically after UV treatment resulted in a significant decrease in UV-induced skin roughness/transverse rhytides as assessed by treatment-blinded examiners." Now remember that this study was conducted on animals, and we can't necessarily extrapolate what happens to animals to use, but the caffeine was used at a realistic amount of 1.2% caffeine in solution. 

This all sounds pretty good to me. I'm not expecting miracles, but an ingredient that can reduce inflammation and offer some anti-oxidants are always welcome in my products!

It seems like probiotics are all the rage these days - what the heck are they? "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host" (FAO/WHO definition from this post on Wikipedia.) Lactobacillus specifically "convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid". So what does this mean for our skin?

This study on reactive skin from Experimental Dermatology noted "The results demonstrated that the volunteers who applied the cream with bacterial extract had a significant decrease in skin sensitivity at the end of the treatment. Moreover, the treatment led to increase skin resistance against physical and chemical aggression compared to the group of volunteers who applied the control cream." The study used 5% Bifida ferment lysate in water.

Reactive skin was noted as having a "marked sensitivity to physical (heat, cold, wind) or chemical (topically applied products) stimuli and by the impairment of the skin barrier’s ability to repair itself." I think this is a great definition! 

We can't necessarily extrapolate the results of Bifida ferment to be the same as lactobacillus ferment, but it is an interesting result, eh? In all honesty, I've done a ton of searching and still can't find anything on using this ingredient in skin care products. so I can't say much about what it brings to the mix. I did find a lot about using it in intimate care products for women, but nothing about using it on our eyes.

As an aside, lysis "refers to the breaking down of a cell, often by viral, enzymic, or osmotic mechanisms that compromise its integrity. A fluid containing the contents of lysed cells is called a "lysate". (From Wikipedia.) So something you see that might be called a lysate is broken down, generally to make it more available for our skin by being smaller. Hydrolyzed proteins go through a similar process to make them smaller so we might be able to absorb them better.

I've written quite a bit on Camellia sinensis or green tea extract. Click here for the PDF on the topic, or click here on the extract section and read the four posts on this lovely ingredient. There are tons of awesome benefits in using this extract.

We know all about the awesome power of pomegranate oil, but what about the water soluble part of this fruit?

Pomegranates contain polyphenols called ellagitannins, which are formed from ellagic acid and carbohydrates. A recent study found that using ellagic acid reduced the destruction of collagen and the inflammatory response, both of which are partially responsible for aging skin. It also shows promise in helping regenerate skin cells and helping to thicken skin.

They also contain anthocyanins, which are water soluble flavonoids that give colour and protection to plants. (They are anthocyanins when they contain a glucose molecule, anthocyanidins when they don't.) They are very good anti-oxidants, scavenging those free radicals that lead to rancidity and spoilage.

I can't guarantee these polyphenols are found in this specific product, but it does sound interesting, eh?

*In the interest of full disclosure, I received this ingredient, Revital-Eyes, from the Formulator Sample Shop. I made it very clear to the company that I would give an honest review of the ingredient on the blog. So my opinion of the product is my opinion and hasn't been influenced by anyone else. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Experiments in the workshop: Making an eye cream (part 3)

Wow, this eye cream is taking a while to create, eh? But good things come to those of us who wait...Click here to see part one (heated oil phase) and part two (heated water phase) if you want to follow along. 

I thought we'd take a look at some cosmeceuticals we could use in our eye cream before we create our final recipe. I've decided my goal is to make something that will help with dark circles and inflammation, but you could just as easily choose different goals - reducing the look of fine lines, soothing irritated eyes, or just generally moisturizing your eye area - and use different ingredients.

Again, as a reminder, we can't make claims about our products. We can choose ingredients we hope will accomplish a goal - speed up our skin's barrier repair, reduce transepidermal water loss, reduce inflammation - but we cannot make that claim about the final product. 

What the heck is a cosmeceutical? It's an ingredient that is chosen for its ability to do something specific, like anti-aging or reducing inflammation. There are hundreds to choose from, so let's take a look at a few that might work well in our product. (This is not a complete list. Click on the link to see some other cosmeceuticals.)

I know for a fact that I want to include panthenol in this product. I'm sure you've noticed I use it a lot, and that's because it offers quite a lot of well studied properties to my products. It behaves as a wound healer, anti-inflammatory, and humectant. I use it at up to 5% in the cool down phase of my products as it is heat sensitive. In this product, I'll use it at 2% as that is a goodly amount!

Phytonadione claims to be good for under eye circles, but there aren't any studies showing this to be valid. Use it at 2% to 5% in either the heated oil phase or the cool down phase. (I have very little information about this ingredient.)

Beta glucan is a good film former and anti-inflammatory that might have some properties that offer a reduction of the look of fine lines by increasing collagen production. It is an anti-irritant, which could be a very good thing for the under eye area that seems to get abused by putting on make-up, removing make-up, and rubbing our eyes when we're sleepy. You can get some of these benefits by using hydrolyzed oat protein as well. Check your supplier's suggested usage rates for beta glucan. I'd use the hydrolyzed oat protein at up to 5% in the heated water phase of the product.

DMAE might be interesting at 1.5% to 3% in the cool down phase of the eye cream. It's claimed that it can reduce skin sagging and increase firmness. It can improve the overall face texture of aging and photo-damaged skin.

And I'm wondering if MSM couldn't find a place in this eye cream? It does offer some anti-inflammatory properties and it can keep collagen fibres bouncy and elastic, but I wonder if the blood vessel dilation and possibly slight odour might make it less attractive? And it can oxidize things...Hmm, not sure...

I'm going to be using two cosmeceuticals as I don't want to overload my product the first time I make it. After all, if I have ten different ingredients in the product, how do I know which one is working for me? And it might be that I don't like the combination of oils or something else about the product the first time I make it, so why put a bunch of spendy ingredients into a first time eye cream? In my cool down phase, I used panthenol at 2% and an ingredient called Revital-Eyes at 5%. (More on this ingredient tomorrow!)

2% panthenol
5% Revital-Eyes
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

If you don't want to use anything in place of the 5% Revital-Eyes, add 5% water to the heated water phase. Or use your favourite extracts or cosmeceuticals in its place in the correct phase.

All righty then! Let's take a look at the full recipe!

10% aloe vera
10% witch hazel
11% chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed silk protein
2.5% sodium lactate
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
25% water

8% Ritamulse SCG
3% behenyl alcohol
11% macadamia nut oil
5% arnica oil

2% panthenol
5% Revital-Eyes
0.5% liquid Germall Plus 

Use the basic lotion making instructions to make this product. 

What do I think of this eye cream? I really like it. I've been using it since early October and it feels very nice going on - not too greasy - and good the next morning. I have no problems with it being all greasy on my eyes or eyelashes, which is nice, 'cause there's nothing more annoying than having oil on your eye lashes weighing them down or making them droop into your line of sight. It's got a slightly powdery feeling, but it still feels moisturizing. Has it reduced dark circles under my eyes? I think it has, but that could also be that I'm taking better care of myself lately and getting more sleep. (Check out this post on confounding factors.) In general, I really like this product. I've given it to my best friend and I hope to have her review here shortly.

Wanda reports on the eye cream, "I like it. It is not greasy and feels moisturizing. Doesn't feel heavy for under my eyes." Unfortunately - for the purposes of this product at least - Wanda doesn't have dark circles under her eyes, so we weren't able to see if that worked on her! 

*As a note, I received a bunch of ingredients for free from the Formulator Sample Shop. I have not been paid to like the ingredients, and I made it clear to that company that I would be offering my honest opinion of the ingredients on the blog. If I say I like the ingredient, it's because I really do like it! 

Join me tomorrow as I take a look at this ingredient, Revital-Eyes, then we'll do some tweaking of this recipe. (And to help, are there ingredients in this recipe that you lack? We can tweak it to suit those ingredients!) 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Question: What constitutes evidence?

I like to think I run an evidence based blog here, and recently the idea of what constitutes evidence has been questioned. Let's take a look at what I mean.

Judge: Mr. Hutz. Do you have any evidence?
Lionel Hutz: I have conjecture and hearsay. Those are kinds of evidence. 

When I say evidence, I mean that reputable studies have been done - and, we hope, replicated - about that ingredient. For instance, I can say that sunflower oil has 61% to 73% linoleic acid, and that linoleic acid has been shown to help restore the barrier function and reduce scaling on your skin. Studies have been done on linoleic acid and these benefits have been demonstrated in other studies.

What constitutes a reputable study? A full accounting of the study with the names and locations of the researchers published in a peer reviewed journal. It is hoped it would be relatively current, but some things are so well established that no one is bothering to do studies any more. If the study isn't peer reviewed, I get a little wary about it. That's why I say I don't consider the press releases put out by EWG, Skin Deep, and the Suzuki Foundation to be evidence. They might be conducted by scientists - I'm not really sure as there isn't much information on the authors of these releases - and they might look like a study, but key bits of information aren't readily available, they aren't published in peer reviewed journals, there's no information on how the studies were conducted, and so on.

And no, I don't just trust everything scientists say. (Some people seem to think scientists are involved in some giant conspiracy theory to kill us all!) I can find a scientist to say just about anything for a sound bite. I can find scientists to deny climate change and evolution (click for Project Steve), and I'm sure I could find some who think the world is flat, giant lizards rule us all in secret, and the apocalypse is set for December 21st this year. (As a note, that's my birthday, so if you really believe the apocalypse is coming, then sell all your stuff and send me a great present!) The point isn't about the scientist - it's about the scientific method. This is why I trust peer reviewed material. It isn't about one scientist, it's about a group of them. And the hope is that when you get a group of people together to review material, someone somewhere will ask enough questions to ensure the study is valid.

I really encourage you to read Dr Ben Goldacre's Bad Science. He goes into great detail how we can be bamboozled by studies that aren't really studies, and it's an education and a half! Check out his blog here.  

When I say the plural of anecdote isn't data, I'm not putting down your personal experiences. I'm saying that your experiences don't constitute data. I love to hear about them, but your experience with an ingredient doesn't mean it works for everyone. For every opinion you can provide showing that using catnip worked as a conditioner for someone, I can provide you with the opposing opinion. We can't call using an ingredient and liking it evidence. It's your opinion and it is valid and wonderful and can be shared, but it call it evidence simply isn't right.

Someone said that I should run studies myself on things. For instance, when it came to washing one's hair with baking soda, someone suggested that the way I could gather evidence would be to try it myself. If I did that for a few days or a week or a month, it still wouldn't offer more than my opinion on how baking soda works in my hair. And I certainly couldn't extrapolate that to mean that it would or wouldn't work for your hair. I can't control for things I should control for in a study - things like the hardness of my water, the length of time I would wash my hair, my hair type, and so on - because I only have my hair and my house for the testing.

I hear a lot of "my experiences constitute data" arguments when it comes to making our own suncreen (please don't!), I've heard the argument that if we go into the sun and we don't burn, the product must work. Here's the problem - the information we gather still isn't evidence. Always consider the confounding factors! If I use my own sunscreen today and I don't burn, it could mean that I've made an awesome product that is a proper sunblocker, but it could also mean that I wasn't in the sun much today, that I put more than normal on, that I stopped taking those medications or using that product that made me sun sensitive, or a million other things that have nothing to do with the suncreen. It doesn't necessarily mean the product worked. And it doesn't mean that the product will work for me tomorrow or that it will work for you with a different skin type living in a different part of the world.

It's like the fabled tiger rock. This is my tiger rock. There are no tigers about. Therefore my rock must work to keep away tigers. Very faulty logic! 

If we consider cosmetic chemistry to be art plus science equals awesome, we need a balance between the two. We need to make creative choices based on our philosophy about ingredients, our preferences for skin feel, our budgets, and everything else we do to make our products unique! (I love the fact that we can all follow the same recipe but have different outcomes, even with the same ingredients!) But we can't do all of that without the evidence, the science part.

Our subjective experiences are vital when we are making products, but they aren't evidence. I really can't say this enough - our opinions are important and I love hearing what you think about what you're making or different ingredients, but saying that something worked or didn't work for you isn't evidence.

If you think I'm wrong and want to discuss it, click here for some ideas on how to share those thoughts with me! I'm always eager to hear more on a topic, and a good debate is always great fun!

Related posts:
Why we can't make claims about our products. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Experiments in the workshop: Making an eye cream - part 2

Sorry it's taken so long to get to part two of making an eye cream...see this post for more information on how busy I am these days! 

As usual, when making any product we should ask ourselves this question: What is my goal? So what is my goal with this eye cream? I want something that will moisturize my under eye area without feeling too greasy or heavy. I would like something that will reduce inflammation and reduce dark circles.

We put some great oil soluble ingredients into the heated oil phase of our product last week, which makes up 27% of the lotion, so we have 73% left for our heated water phase and cool down phase.

What kinds of water soluble ingredients could we use? Hydrosols and extracts are the first things that come to mind. Something like aloe vera could help soothe annoyed skin and witch hazel could offer a slightly cooling feeling while reducing inflammation. We can add film formers - like hydrolyzed proteins - and humectants - like glycerin, sodium lactate, sodium PCA, honeyquat, or honey - as well as cosmeceuticals! We have a ton of choices, so let's start narrowing them down.

I'm using Ritamulse SCG as my emulsifier, which means I can't use anything that has a cationic or positive charge. This means things like honeyquat or the cationic polymers aren't options.

Some people find honey and glycerin sticky, so those might not be the best choice for the delicate under eye area. Sodium lactate is a nice choice, as is sodium PCA, and consider using panthenol as it does a double duty offering some hygroscopic features as well as some wound healing features! Let's go with 2.5% sodium lactate (any more could make us sun sensitive) and 2% panthenol. Sodium lactate goes into the heated water phase, while the heat sensitive panthenol goes into the cool down phase.

Note...we don't make claims about our products, so please don't tell people who might buy this product from you that it can do this that or the other. I might use the properties the ingredients have when making decisions, but we must be so careful when stating what the product can do. We can't test that this eye cream will offer anything more than moisturizing and hydrating, so we can't say it can reduce inflammation or reduce dark circles! Here's a post on making claims about what we make!

What about hydrosols or water replacers? I'm going to include 10% aloe vera, 10% witch hazel, and 11% chamomile hydrosol. (The 11% is because my hand slipped and added 1% more. You can use 10%, if you wish.) like the anti-inflammatory features of each of those ingredients. I think just about any hydrosol would work nicely here, except perhaps peppermint. These are just my preferences and what I have in my workshop.

I could also include some powdered extracts in the cool down phase instead of the hydrosols - 0.5% chamomile extract, 0.5% green tea extract, 0.5% calendula extract, or 0.5% any other extract you like put into the cool down phase I'm going with the chamomile hydrosol for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing features. (I'm also out of the powdered extract!) As the goal of this product is to reduce inflammation, I think I'll add 5% water soluble calendula extract into the heated water phase of my product to help with that aspect.

I tend to use hydrolyzed oat protein in my products, but I'm going with hydrolyzed silk protein this time because (a) I just bought it and (b) it can penetrate the skin for moisturizing purposes. I need all the moisturizing I can get for my delicate under eye area, so let's go with 2% in the heated water phase.

Finally, as I always like to have an approved barrier ingredient in my products, I can choose from dimethicone, cocoa butter, or allantoin. Cocoa butter would be too heavy here. Dimethicone might be a good choice as it is a great moisturizer, but it might be too heavy for my eyes. (Plus, I admit that I'm out of that, too! I really need to get to Voyageur this weekend!) Allantoin at 0.5% in the heated water phase seems like a great way to get that barrier ingredient into this product without making it too heavy.

Well, it looks like I have a water phase and a cool down phase ready to go!

10% aloe vera
10% witch hazel
11% chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed silk protein
2.5% sodium lactate
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
41.5% water

2% panthenol
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (or other preservative of choice)

Hold on a minute. Don't we have some very nice cosmeceuticals we could add to this product? Hmm, I do! Join me tomorrow (or Saturday) as we investigate a few cosmeceuticals we could include in this product! I really do think the list is endless, so I'm thinking about starting with one cosmeceutical and adding more as we get to know the skin feel and results of this eye cream!

New rules for commenting on this blog

I've tried really hard to create a safe space where people can feel comfortable to ask questions and share their thoughts, but that was put in jeopardy recently. Because I want everyone to feel welcome, I have decided to institute a few rules that I will ask you to follow when commenting.

1. Completely anonymous comments will be vetted for content. If you don't have a google account, that's okay. Just put your name at the end of the comment and all will be fine! (I'm thinking about commenters like Rosi: I want your input. Just sign off with your name as you've been doing and we're good!) I find that when we are completely anonymous, our dark side starts to come out and this isn't a place for those mean thoughts...

2. It's okay to not like things...If you disagree with me, share your thoughts, and be civil about it. We can have a lively debate and even agree to disagree without sharing a single mean word! What should you do if you think I'm wrong? Click here for a post on the topic. I'm always up for a lively debate!

3. If what you're about to say to me or another person would hurt your feelings, don't write it. I'm astonished at how many people thought it was okay for someone to call me a "baby" or that my blog was filled with "misguided ramblings". These things aren't okay. You're an adult, and I expect you to behave like one. No name calling, no besmirching of reputations, no shouting someone down. If you would be ashamed to hear your child had called another child what you called me, or if it would hurt your feelings to see that in a public place, don't write it. These comments will be taken down. It's not censorship - it's a kindness.

As an aside to this, it is not okay to question my mental health when I say I'm upset by something. Commenting that I might not be getting enough Vitamin D as I seem a bit moody or asking if I'm going through things in my personal life really isn't acceptable. 

I admit I'm a little shocked by what passes for adult discourse these days. If you don't like something I've said, ask yourself if it's worth your time to comment? If you don't like my philosophy, it is okay to leave the blog without having to give me a piece of your mind. There are hundreds - nay thousands - of blogs out there about cosmetic chemistry. Why not find one you love and spend time there instead of visiting those that make you angry? I accept that I am not everyone's cup of tea! (Click here for more on what I call my Trifecta of Argh!)

As a final thought - p pointed out that flame wars are acceptable on other blogs and forums - they aren't here. Share your thoughts and play nice.

And thank you so much to those of you who commented and emailed me. Your messages mean a lot to me and you reminded me why I write the blog and why I get such joy out of it. I'm working on new posts now and should have them up by the weekend! I really can't thank you enough!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My new favourite gadget!

Check out this spoon scale! It's $20 at Canadian Tire this week, on sale from $50. (It's a Starfrit product!) It's an interesting piece of equipment, and if you are working with volume measurements instead of using weight in your recipes, this is money well invested! You can measure out a liquid or solid ingredient as tablespoons and get a result in grams, which will help you convert your recipes easily! (The white granular stuff in the picture is boric acid.) It also comes with a cup that measures up to 7 tablespoons and 105 ml or more than 1/3 cup but less than 1/2 cup.

What's the big deal with using volume instead of weight anyway? Working with weight is waaaay more accurate, which reduces the potential for failure and exposure to higher than safe or suggested usage rates.

Let's say you make a lotion and use 1 teaspoon emulsifying wax. Are you really using 5 ml of emulsifying wax every time? Let's say you have calculated 1 tsp as being 5% of your recipe (1tsp = 5 ml). This week you might get exactly 1 tsp - next week you might get 1.1 tsp or 0.9 tsp, but it's hard to know you're a little off. The result? Potential lotion fail!

And you really aren't using 5% because 1 ml of emulsifying wax doesn't necessarily weigh 1 gram. Water is 1:1 - 1 ml or 1 cm3 weighs 1 gram - but many things aren't. Oils are lighter than water - 1 ml of oil doesn't weigh 1 gram. (Olive oil is 0.92 g/ml, meaning 1 ml is 0.92 grams.) And each oil has its own specific gravity.

If you create a recipe that has 1 tsp (5 ml) emulsifying wax, 4 tsp of olive oil (20 ml), and 5 tbsp (75 ml) water, how much oil are you using? 20 x 0.92 = 18.4 g or 18.4% by weight. Polawax has a specific gravity of 0.539 g/ml, so 1 ml of Polawax weighs 0.539 grams. 5 ml weighs 2.695 grams, which is no enough to emulsify 18.4 grams of oil! Potential lotion fail!

It's easier to make changes to a recipe when we use weights. You can scale up a recipe easily when we use weight because we just multiply the whole recipe by the desired amount. My recipes are 100 grams: To make a kilogram of lotion, I multiply the recipe by 10. If you do this with volume, think of what kind of difference you'll see! You'll be using 184 grams of olive oil instead of the 20% or 200 grams you want, and 26.95 grams of Polawax instead of the 50 grams we need!

I will be using this helpful device in the near future to show the differences between volume and weight. In the meantime, if you want to know more about weight vs volume, check out the FAQ and read the posts on measuring! Or click on the chemistry section and look for the posts on specific gravity.

What should we do for Newbie Tuesday and Chemistry Thursday!

As I try to figure out how to respond to the outpouring of kindness I've seen here in the last week, and as I patiently wait for the arrival of Raymond's new computer - we've been sharing for about a month now, which means my posts are mainly written on my tiny iPhone screen - I wondered what you might like to make for future Newbie Tuesday posts? We will finish up conditioners, then...what?

I get a lot of questions about bath bombs and surfactant based products, like shampoo and body wash, but those might not be your cup of tea! What do you think you'd like to see next? Facial products, mineral make-up, natural cleaning products - the list is endless. Make a comment and let me know!

As well, what ideas in chemistry interest or infuriate you? For Chemistry Thursday, do you want me to start near-ish the beginning or answer your questions? Again, comment and let me know!

Check out this really cool picture from our lab the other day! It is so Christmas-y! (Silver is growing on a copper coil. So shiny!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A few thoughts for November 8

Thank you to everyone who commented and emailed me. Wow! I didn't realize you cared so much, and I really am blown away! I'm still trying to process my thoughts and responses, but you have really helped me figure things out. This blog ain't going anywhere! (There wasn't a risk of me not writing this any more, but I think the break will be long enough to get through my midterm on Monday!) I'm feeling quite renewed! Thank you so much for your kind words and support.

As an aside, I ran outside without my shoes to clean out the car in anticipation of a car full of kids after games night tonight, and I almost froze to death! We've gone from a balmy 14C to 3C overnight. The cars are covered in a really thick frost and the ground is freezing! At 5:45 am, the sky is clear and hundreds of stars are twinkling above my house. It is silent outside, the birds still hunkered down for the night. I think I might wear pants today!

Lest you think I'm running around Chilliwack in my underpants - Wow! There is an image only my husband could love! - I generally wear shorts or Capri pants. I'm thinking of wearing long pants. Nah! It's not THAT cold yet!

I think this calls for a Game of Thrones reference! (Have I mentioned I'm obsessed with a Song of Ice and Fire? I just started book 5!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You win...

You're right. I'm wrong. Will you stop now? Things that brought me such happiness - writing this blog, reading your comments, reading your e-mails, and interacting with my readers - are tainted by a few people's cruelty. I've asked you to be civil, to stop the name calling, to be nicer, and you just won't. You justify your bad behaviour by accusing me of being a fraud, of spreading misinformation, of not reading your evidence, and I'm tired of it.

If you would like to see a small sample of what is giving me such grief, you can see it here in the comments section of this post on using baking soda in place of shampoo. I'm leaving it up for the next few days so you can see what I mean, then I'm deleting the post. I've never done that before, but I really can't take this any more. 

Saying that you're not bullying me doesn't make it so. Justifying it by calling me aggressive doesn't absolve you of your cruel behaviour. If your daughter was behaving like this, you would be ashamed., so why is it okay behaviour for adults? Why can't you read the blog and walk away if you don't like what you see? Why do you think that your need to say hurtful things to me is more important than my feelings?

I know I shouldn't let the bullies win, but I just don't have the energy to read this stuff any more. I'll be back. Soon. I just want a little peace.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Movember!

It's Movember around here, the month during which our men grow moustaches - or in the case of my husband, shave off the beard and grow only a moustache - to create awareness of men's health issues! It's a worthy cause, and I encourages you to support your local moustache grower, even when he starts to look like one of those 80s guys! (I will attach my infamous Man O' War picture when I get to my computer at home!)

Check out the products for men link in the links to lists section of the blog (look to the right!).

The picture is of my Raymond enjoying the free doughnuts offered to honeymooners in Wall Drug, South Dakota! He isn't growing a 'stache this year!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A few thoughts for the first day of November

Wow! How did it get to be November? That means that we are only 55 days away from Christmas! (I am not too early! We have had nog in the shops for at least a month and I heard two different versions of Jingle Bells in Michael's!)

So what are you making for Christmas? I have quite a list going, but I know I'll have to pare it down to actually get half of it done. Share your thoughts and links because we're always up for great ideas!

Please don't try something you've never made a week before you want to give it. When it comes to bath and body products, giving things time is essential. And make sure you find good recipes that work well. Read comments and reviews before trying them!

Another aside...Just because something works for you, it doesn't mean it will work for other people. I'm thinking about both product creation and product usage.

This is why we follow the good manufacturing processes - look for the basic lotion making process in the list of ingredients or the FAQ. This ensures we all get good results from a recipe. We all have different hands - I might measure on the low side while you tend to go a bit high - but we can get basically similar results if we follow the same procedure. (Almost every product fail I am sent is due to a failure to heat and hold!)

For product usage, I'm thinking about recent comments I've seen about using baking soda as a cleanser and conditioner washing. If these methods work for you, that's great. But they will not work for everyone.

As an aside to the aside...I appreciate your passion for this topic, but I am growing weary of the rudeness. For the record, calling my blog "misguided ramblings", accusing me of "spreading misinformation", and calling me ignorant is rude. If I said these things about you, you wouldn't like it, so why do you think I might? Calling me defensive doesn't change your inconsiderate behaviour.

Things will be less busy around the Point of Interest household next week, and I have a ton of topics in mind as well as many many half finished posts. Enough from me...Have a great November 1st!

A quick update: I really hope this post didn't come across as fishing for compliments! I really appreciate your very very kind words. I'm a bit overwhelmed by your wonderful comments! Thank you!