Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Weekday Wonderings: Should we reduce the preservatives in a product if they're already in the ingredient?

Hey everyone! I'm furiously working on the last pages of the facial products e-book, hence the lack of posts this week. I'm re-making products, taking pictures, adding photos, and generally writing a lot. If you'd like to suggest something, hie thyself to this post - Please share your thoughts about the facial products e-book -  and let your voice be heard! Thanks to everyone who has made suggestions so far. I'm doing my best to integrate the ideas you've offered!

And don't forget to write a review for a recipe you've tried from this blog! Check out this post to learn more about what I'm asking you to do and what I'm offering in return!

In this post on hydrosols, Goya & Fig asks: I went to use some of my Blackcurrent hydrosol today (which I keep in the fridge and opened 3 months ago) to find that it had growth in the bottom of the bottle. Aroma-Zone's site says that, kept in the fridge and used within 6 months, the hydrosol are fine to use. Obviously not. That bottle went in the garbage, but to ensure my next HS's remain contaminant-free, I will be adding 0.5% liquid Germall Plus. My question for you, O Knowledgeable One, is this. If the hydrosol I use already has a preservative, and I use, say 30% of it in a face cream, should I still use 0.5% liquid Germall Plus in the cream, I should I decrease the amount, seeing as the preservative in the hydrosol is including in the overall composition?

O Knowledgeable One? I'm getting that printed on my business card! :-)

As I mention in this post - are the preservatives in my ingredients enough to preserve the entire product? - most of our water-containing ingredients will contain a preservative, and we can see why based on your experiences with hydrosols. (And my previous experience with unpreserved aloe vera! Ick! Scroll down to see the story.) The fridge will slow down the breakdown of our ingredients, but it won't stop it entirely. You can put most of your stuff in the freezer, though, and I encourage you do that if you aren't using the ingredients quickly.

But back to the question, it's wiser to use the suggested levels of preservatives rather than relying upon what might be in the ingredients we use. You don't know how much of the preservative is in the ingredient - is it 0.1% or 1%, although it's more likely to be the lower level - and you don't generally know what kind. We are using such low levels of preservatives in our products - most of them are 1% or less - that it won't be a huge issue if we have 0.1% or 0.2% more in our products. You can use the lower suggested usage rates like 0.1% for liquid Germall Plus if you're worried about having too much preservative, but I only suggest that if you have a way of monitoring the goodness of the product over time, either by challenge testing or with testing kits.

Related posts:
Heating, holding, freezing & thawing our oils

In this post, equipment for measuring pH, Gabriel asks: So I have been hearing about how the high pH of my water (very hard water where I live) may be keeping the cuticle of my hair from closing all the way. Many people say you need to use diluted vinegar to help the cuticle close properly so that your hair doesn't dry up.

I have been wanting to make a purely oil-based formulation to use as a leave-in conditioner on my beard, most likely with shea butter and jojoba oil as the main ingredients (possibly whipped). My question for you, is do you know how low pH will affect oils? Will it make the oils go rancid more quickly? If not, what kinds of things can I use to adjust the pH of an anhydrous formulation?

Can you find out how high the pH of your water might be? Can you call city hall or some kind of utility to ask? And if it is super high, isn't it customary to have some kind of water softener or other process in your home to modify it? (I live in a city and get city water, so this is something I've never had to think about!) I found this helpful sheet from Wellcare on modifying pH and I found more than you'd ever wanted to know about drinking water at this site.

When it comes to helping the cuticle of your hair close, you can use a good conditioner to do that - you don't need vinegar. A good conditioner will be on the acidic side, but will offer way more than vinegar can, such as proteins, humectants, film forming, and other wonderful ingredients that will help your hair. If you want something more acidic, like vinegar, reduce the pH of your conditioner with something like 0.1% citric acid. (I don't recommend doing this without having a pH meter of some sort so you can monitor how low you make it!)

As for the pH of an anhydrous formulation - it isn't a concern. We require water to have a pH, which means oils and butters have no pH on their own. The pH of your water won't have an effect on your oil only formulation, unless you're thinking that you'll be rinsing or washing your beard with the water, and then it's not enough to have an effect.

Related posts:
Adjusting the pH of your products
Not worrying about adjusting the pH of your products

As for the beard conditioner, you can make something nice and moisturizing with something like a whipped butter or lotion bar as you've written above, but I would ask you to consider making something like a hair conditioner as I have done in these recipes - beard conditioner with linoleic acid containing oils and leave in conditioners become beard conditioners - as you'll get more hydration of your skin and your beard. I suggest this because it's hard to wash oils out of your beard without the use of a foaming cleanser, like a facial wash, body wash, or shampoo. If you want something that only contains oils, then a whipped butter sounds like a great idea.

Related posts:
Men's products section of the blog
Pre-shave formula
Conditioners become shave products (part one)
Conditioners become shave products (part two)
Shaving lotion with green tea extract
Modified shaving lotion with honeysuckle, chamomile & rosemary extracts
After shaving spray with cucumber


ChristineMM said...

What address do I need to add to my contacts in order for your blog posts to not go to my junk folder? All I see is



Steph said...

Thank you Susan for these articles, I really enjoy reading them. I love the way you explained the oils and the ph. Thank you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ChristineMM. I'm sorry but I have no idea as I don't send them out, they go out automatically. What about a "Point of Interest" rule that anything with my blog name goes into your normal folder? Would that work?

Hi Steph. Thanks!

Melanie said...

Our well water is between pH 8-9! We have a big water treatment system on our house and it softens the water and takes out dissolved solids but it does not correct the pH. The company that installed it said the softener doesn't affect the pH. I am looking into an acid injection system.