Sunday, May 5, 2013
Back to the very basics: What you need to know about making any product (part 1)
Most of the products you'll want to make when you're starting out are anhydrous products, products like lotion bars, whipped butters, body oils, and balms. What the heck does that mean?
Anhydrous means "without water". "An" means without and "hydrous" means water. Anhydrous products are those that contain only oil soluble ingredients and no water or water soluble ingredients
If you want to make something like my lovely toner above, you would only include water soluble ingredients. I used a base of water with aloe vera liquid, rosemary hydrosol, hydrolyzed oat protein, panthenol, and powdered extracts of green tea, chamomile, and rosemary. These are all water soluble ingredients and I have created a product that looks uniform and requires no shaking to use.
ANY PRODUCT THAT CONTAINS WATER MUST USE A PRESERVATIVE! THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE! (More about this tomorrow, but in the meantime, read this post on the topic.) If you don't want to use preservatives, you can't make water containing products. Instead, make anhydrous products.
If you wanted to make something like this whipped butter, you would only include oil soluble ingredients, like a base of shea or mango butter, an oil like sunflower or soy bean, maybe a professionally prepared infusion of herbs or plants in oil like calendula or arnica, maybe an oil soluble extract like green tea or mallow extract, and maybe an essential or fragrance oil.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO USE A PRESERVATIVE IN ANHYDROUS PRODUCTS, UNLESS THEY MIGHT BE EXPOSED TO WATER. Scrubs will be near water, they need to be preserved. Whipped butter will not, so don't worry about it. You can use an anti-oxidant to retard the rancidity of your oils, but it's not essential. (More about this tomorrow.)
This means you can't just throw a gram or two of essential oils into a water based product and expect it to stay mixed. And this means you can't just throw in a gram or two of glycerin or honey or another water soluble ingredient into an anhydrous product and expect it not to seep out eventually. If you want to put something oil based into water, you must include an emulsifier.
We'll be taking a look at a few other concepts tomorrow before resuming the Newbie Tuesday posts on Tuesday. In the meantime, may I suggest you check out the Back to Basics series of anhydrous products if you're eager to learn more about making products (start on that post and click "newer post" at the bottom of each to move through the series)? I'll offer a ton of links tomorrow, but I wanted to make sure these basic concepts aren't lost in a ton of concepts.
More experienced formulators: What can you offer by way of information for those who wish to join us in this wonderful craft? What did you wish you had known when you started out? What do you see as an important idea newbies should know? Share what you've learned!