Sunday, November 25, 2012

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!)


Ingrid said...

Hi Susan,

Many, Many thanks for all the info you have posted. I have been making my own products for 5 years now and have not strayed into a drug store to buy staples for as many years. I've been a faithful follower of yours for about 3 years now. Today I am sorting out my computer files and happy to say I have deleted about 75% of the websites touting 'make your own cosmetics" that I had previously stored. Of course, I have kept all my bookmarks for your posts that I would like to keep reviews on. Thanks so much for all your hard work to educate the rest of us - and for all you do for the youth groups.
Just call me a groupie. :-)
Cheers, Ingrid

Michele Clarke said...

I made my own products for Christmas last year. Yes little food dye goes along way. Unless it's your goal, you don't want your recipient to come out dyed after their bath. I also had the issue with Dead sea salt. I didn't know why till now. Thanks!

I included expiration dates which were shorter than they had to be. I stressed the importance of not keeping it past the date.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ingrid! Thanks for your wonderful and kind words. I love what I do - I just have to find more time!

Hi Michele. I forgot all about expiration dates. I'll update the post with that information!

Danuta Kildan said...

I had done the same as Ingrid, got rid of links and keep you, and it is just enough for me. Solid well researched information in one place; it is like a dream. Thank you Susan:))

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Aww, Danuta. that's lovely. Thank you for your kind words. I really cherish them, and keep them in a special place in my heart for those days when things aren't going well. You are just wonderful!