Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Some thoughts on lotion making processes and recipes

I'm off to teach another class at Voyageur Soap & Candle this morning on hair care products, so I don't have a lot of time to write, but I thought I'd share few thoughts about lotion making arising from e-mails and comments I've seen this week.

Add the water that evaporated back to your container when you remove the heated water phase from the double boiler. Boil up some water at the start of the heating and holding and add that when the phase is done. It should be around 70˚C, give or take, which is the perfect temperature at which you should add the extra water. If you don't add the extra water, you will end up with a thicker lotion than the recipe intended.

Related post: Compensation for evaporation

Heat and hold. I can't stress that enough. There are two huge reasons lotions fail - not heating and holding, and not using enough or the right type of emulsifier. Why not wait that 20 minutes of heating and holding to make a better lotion than you would without heating and holding?

Related posts:
The argument for heating & holding
The argument for heating & holding in separate containers
What if you go over 70˚C while heating and holding?

If you're new to lotion making, don't make your own recipe from scratch. You simply don't have enough information to make something that won't fail on you as you don't know what it looks like to succeed! Find a recipe you like and make that. Use that as the baseline for future recipes. Make it exactly as directed the first time, then change it the second. But make it the way you're directed the first time. I cannot stress this enough. Would you make a cake from scratch when you'd never tasted or seen one? Yeah, you've used a lotion before, but have you used your homemade lotion before?

Check out this lotion making PDF I put together with a great beginner recipe you can alter to include any oil or butter you like! Or check out the newbie section to see the body butter or cream making recipes and process.

Here's a list of all kinds of questions that might arise when you're making lotions, and the link is the start of the formulating series on the blog. Start there and hit "newer post" at the bottom of the screen to get to the next installment.

A few notes about making changes...If you change a bunch of stuff in a recipe - let's say I normally use Polawax, cetyl alcohol, and shea butter and you use BTMS-50, stearic acid, and no shea butter - you aren't going to get the same result as my original recipe. It might be thicker or thinner, it might be silky or draggy, it might be anything and everything because you used different ingredients.

If you write to me to ask for help, telling me you didn't include the recipe because you used one of mine doesn't help me help you figure out what went wrong. I don't have the more than a thousand recipes on the blog memorized, and this means I have to try to figure out which one you used. Please just write up the recipe and process and make my life easier.

I can't stress enough how much I love hearing from you, my wonderful readers, but I also must stress that I can't help you if you don't write up the exact recipe and process you used to make the product with which you aren't happy! I won't be doing the back-and-forth e-mails to drag it out of you any more as it takes up too much time I could be using for just about anything other than trying very hard to help you. I know I've said this before, but I was being nice by writing to people and trying to help so I have been writing to ask for more information...I just don't have the time to do it any more, especially with the incredibly busy crafting and teaching part of my year as we ramp up to Christmas!

I have written down what I need from you all over the blog, and it's simply not fair to expect me to spend tons of time extracting every piece of information I need to help you make successful lotions when it's simple for you to send it to me in the first e-mail. If you do think I'm being an awful person, think about three other things I could be doing instead of writing to someone to ask them about their recipe and process. I could be spending time with my husband or mother. I could be cuddling my dog. I could be reading and relaxing after a hard day of work. Do I seem so mean asking you to spend a few minutes of your time so I can take a few minutes of mine to help you? 

Please don't hesitate to write to me, but if you're asking for help, give me all the information I will need to be of service! I'm happy to answer questions about ingredients or recipes or processes, but please don't ask me to create something from scratch as I'm sure there's a recipe that could help you somewhere on the blog. There isn't a lotion making section - I'm trying to find time to create that - but there is a hair care section and a newbie section, both of which contain hair care recipes and newbie recipes. (If you write to me to ask if I have shampoo or conditioner recipes, I know you haven't really taken then time to read beyond the first section where I give out my e-mail address.)


ChristineMM said...

Just found your blog two days ago. Finally think I have found what I have been searching for. There is a lot of misinformation out there, the chat boards being the absolute worst.

I need to know the whys and do not trust the people who just say "do this" as so often they are giving out wrong information.

I found your blog while trying to figure out if a lotion could be made with a natural preservative. It was linked from soap maker's forum.

I have made salves and cremes in the past for my own use using the Rosemary Gladstar recipe (can be found free online) but she calls for no preservative. I stored it in the fridge and used a small amount at room temp with no problems except one.

My myrrh resin infused oil salve gave my hand a speckled rash and online research indicated myrrh salve can grow staph bacteria easily.

I am trying to figure out which of the (manmade) preservatives is less harmful than the others. I really want to avoid endocrine disruptors or phyto-estrogens and other hormone tricksters.

The ratings on EWG are not so great because I don't care the effects if you eat it when I am concerned with skin application and other such rating scale indicators.

I am a CP soapmaker mainly but want to make lotions, shampoo and conditioner. Many store brands on the market for hair products make me break out in pimples on the scalp, forehead and neck where the suds touch. I have found only 2 brands without SLS which are Australian brands that are hard to find and those more natural things do not cause breakouts but I don't know if it really is SLS or something else.

The dental hygenist said the new rash in my mouth is from the toothpaste's SLS so I quit that for a natural brand (Jason) and no more mouth rash.

Anyhow I probably will be buying your ebooks shortly so I can learn. I want to make these for my own self and gifts and might start a small business but that's another whole project to research (US and TX laws).

THANK YOU for your blog and ebooks!

Soap Crafter said...

What would suggest making a lotion the consistency of yogurt. The person uses apricot oil, jojoba, beeswax for emulisifier and distilled water. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what you thought of using an induction cooktop like the "Nuwave" instead of a double boiler?

Love your blog, Dan.

kiev@miraclebars said...

Hi Susan great post as I am new to lotion making and have done some of the no no's you have listed. I am trying to understand the HLB system and that has prompted a question regarding Ewax or any self emulsifying system. I am currently using Ewax - don't know enough to try to formulate my own emulsifiers yet. I do have an HLB calc and I run my recipes through it just to see the HLB number and to try and start making a correlation between the number and the end product - my emulsifier is ewax which I use as recommended at 25% of oil phase (so in essence I am not really using the calculator for that purpose). Anyway my ewax is listed at 15 HLB from my vendor. My oil phase combinations have been everything from 8 to 11. When I get to the point of trying my own systems I use 2 emulsifiers both high and low HLB to match the HLB of my oil phase - so how is an SE product HLB 15 working for all my creams regardless of the HLB number? I suppose this is more a question of curiosity, but it does make me wonder why in a self made emulsification system you match the oil phase but don't have to with an SE system. Thank you for your time.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ChristineMM. I'm not sure what to say because I haven't seen any evidence showing me that any of the preservatives I use - liquid Germall Plus, Germaben II, or Phenonip - are harmful in any way. If I did, I wouldn't continue to use them! (Check out the preservatives section of the blog to see more about these ingredients!)

Hi Soap Crafter. I've tried to answer your question in today's Weekend Wonderings, but Blogger didn't save it, which means I have to spend another two hours doing work on it. I don't have that kind of patience right now, so the answer is that I suggest going to the Newbie Tuesday section and trying the body butter or thick cream recipe. The recipe you note can't possibly work for more than a short period of time as you don't have an emulsifier, and you don't have a preservative, so the shelf life should be no more than 3 days out of the fridge.

Hi Dan. I had put this in a post to be published today, but it failed to save, so I will write this up later. If it's a direct method of heating, it isn't suitable for making bath and body product.

Sorry for the abrupt tone of this comment, but I'm so annoyed right now!

Unknown said...

Hi Susan - thanks for all your time dedication and sharing your knowledge. I am going to follow your advice and start with a basic lotion. I never think any of your comments are "mean"...being a good steward of the time you spend with family, friends, and your own interests is absolutely necessary.

Bunny said...

ChristineMM, what you want is probably the Journal of Toxicology, which has final safety assesments on all sorts of preservatives: