Friday, December 6, 2013

Reading ingredient lists: Could this be a solid conditioner?

In this post, Ana asks if we could take a look at duplicating a solid conditioner she found on Etsy: I was wondering how to make a solid conditioner using water? Filtered water, glycerin, shea butter, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, grapefruit seed extract, orange peel oil, lemon peel oil, tangerine peel oil, lime oil, ginger root extract, tangerine peel oil, amber, chrysanthemum extract, damask rose flower water, macadamia oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, cetearyl alcohol, stearalkonium chloride, scented.

There is no way this ingredient list could make a solid conditioner or even a nice feeling liquid conditioner. How do I know this?

What do we know about ingredient lists? Under the labelling laws of Canada and the States, we know the ingredients must be written from largest to smallest, with anything at 1% or under coming in at the end in no particular order. If this were the case, there would be quite a lot of glycerin and shea butter and less than 1% stearalkonium chloride and cetearyl alcohol.

What do we know about solid products? We know that they have to be solid, which means they need to contain mostly solid ingredients. They don't tend to contain a lot of water because water tends to make things liquid. What in this ingredient list is solid at room temperature? Shea butter, stearalkonium chloride, cocoa butter, and cetearyl alcohol. If we used those things at something like 25% each, we'd have a solid bar. Use them at 20% each and add some water, and we no longer have a completely solid creation. Use them at 15% each and the rest water, glycerin, and these oils, and we don't have a solid creation any more. There are simply too many liquid ingredients for this product to be solid.

What do we know about making products? We know that when we make a product that contains water, we must use a preservative. I see a lot of water in this product, but I see only a preservative that people think is a preservative, but isn't. Grapefruit seed extract, which is an anti-oxidant, but does nothing to prevent contamination. If you're making something like this, you have to preserve it, especially if you're selling it. Selling something like this will end up with something like this, a lawsuit, and a very dissatisfied customer! (I will end the rant here as I could go on for a while.)

So how do we explain this product? There are three possibilities: The seller posted the ingredient list for a liquid conditioner in the listing for a solid conditioner, the seller has written things in the wrong order, or the seller is lying. Throwing out the last option, could this be an ingredient list for a solid product?

Possibly. If we think about using an ingredient like liquid panthenol, there's water in there. The INCI for my panthenol is panthenol, but someone might think they have to include the water part in there. Other ingredients I could use, like hydrolyzed oat protein or hydrolyzed silk protein, contain water. If I use 2 grams per bar and I have 50% active panthenol, it means that I have 1 gram of water. Perhaps the seller thinks she needs to include that information?

Can we re-write this list to make it that it's a solid product? Maybe. If we used Incroquat CR as the base of such a product - which isn't accurate in this case as she hasn't listed the other ingredients we find in it, but go with me on this - we're looking at something like $30 a pound or 454 grams! If we have a product that is made solid with even 50% Incroquat CR, we're spending $3.30 on this bar, without figuring out taxes or shipping on my ingredients. Add some shea butter, cocoa butter, cetearyl alcohol, macadamia nut oil, very expensive jojoba oil, and avocado oil, and you've got yourself quite an expensive product. You could make a bar that's 90% Incroquat CR and 10% the other ingredients, and you're still looking at a fortune with all of those essential oils, if used at more than label appeal amounts.

How much is she selling it for? I have a feeling it's not more than $10 per bar, and it's going to cost her almost that to make the darned thing!

Plus, all those oils are going to create a really really greasy bar. If you could make this solid, it's more of a lotion bar than a conditioner bar if you've got the conditioning agent at the bottom of the list!

So my verdict is this - there's no way this ingredient list can make a solid bar the way it's written. Even with playing with the ingredients, there's no way you can make a solid bar that isn't a lotion bar with those ingredients. There isn't a way to make a solid conditioner bar with so many liquid ingredients!

As a closing note, I would encourage you to support your fellow crafters who make good products rather than trying to duplicate them. They're charging the price they are because they have spent a lot of time honing their skills and they're trying to make a business from that which they know. Support their dreams! If you want something customized or different, why not ask them if they make something like that or have another product in their range that might work for you? I'm not saying the original poster wants to duplicate the product or take money from the crafter to whom this ingredient list belongs, I just thought it was a good opportunity to share that thought...


linda dimery said...

An interesting post I love reading you’re blog.. Please help! I want to add sodium citrate to a toner, to
maintain the ph. I use Geogard ultra which drifts downwards. Can I add it to the heated phase?

Leslie said...

Amen, as always, very well stated Susan!

elizabeth said...

I'm not sure if you frequently shop etsy, but it seems many bath and body crafters on there don't follow INCI procedures. Many "sunscreens" appear with the only ingredient being coconut oil or just zinc oxide with untested spf ratings on them. Do you happen to know how this is allowed?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Elizabeth! I don't go to Etsy because it makes me very sad (plus I make everything I wear and use!). I don't think Etsy should allow it, but I wonder if they have the man/womanpower to review every listing. There are tons of small and large companies doing this, too. And it's infuriating!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for replying Susan! I am glad I'm not the only one who is saddened by it. I agree that it prob takes too much time for Etsy to do anything about it. It just horrifies me when I see pseudo sunscreens or creams with no preservative! Especially since they are for sale to unsuspecting consumers thinking they are doing good by being "natural"

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to make a post about it. I REALLY do appreciate it. :)
Ana C.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
If i take the cetac out of these conditioner bar, could it be used as lotion bar couldn't they? More over it would not be necessary to add preservative since it would not be in contact with water right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I absolutely find your blog both useful and educational, than you so much for sharing your knowledge. On the topic of the ingredient list for the solid hair conditioner. My hypothesis is that the person listed all the ingredients, just not in the correct order. The primary ingredients are listed toward the bottom, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Stearalkonium Chloride. I believe the base is the solid hair condiment base from wholesales supplies plus (™++Hair+Conditioner+Concentrate&Mode=INCI).

The rest of the ingredients are added to supplement the aforementioned base.

I should note that I do not have intentions to duplicate the formulation.

Thanks again for the great blog!