Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolved: Try something new this year!

My best friend and I resolve to try two new things a year, and we always have great fun. Trying two new things lead to me taking chemistry for the first time, going river rafting, lifting weights at the gym, taking singing lessons...and so on. I had to throw away my fears and just go for something, and it worked well!

Permit me to tell you a story: I had my first singing recital earlier this year, and I was terrified! My hands were shaking, my throat was dry, and my legs didn't want to carry me to the stage. As I got up on the stage, all I could think of was this - "What's the worst that could happen?" I wouldn't die if I didn't do well. The audience wanted me to succeed, and my family and friends were cheering me on. That all gave me the courage to give it a chance! It was super scary, but I'm so proud of myself. (They said I "did well". I'd categorize it more as "didn't suck too bad" because I'm just a beginner!) Raymond was inspired to take guitar lessons because of that recital, and we're doing a song together in January. And yes, I'm still terrified...

When you try something, you aren't going to be a superstar the first time out. I don't mean to sound negative, but how can you be an expert at something you're only just learning? Be open to making mistakes because that's how we learn. I know you don't want to waste supplies, but don't look at them as a waste - look at those supplies as learning tools, and you have to use them to get to a place of expertise. Start with inexpensive ingredients - coconut oil, soy bean oil, cocoa butter, and so on - and make loads of things so you can learn about the different skin feel of what you're using and what you're making.

This year resolve to try something new! Stop reading and get into your kitchen or workshop and make a product. If you've never made anything, try a whipped butter or lotion bar! If you've never made a lotion before, check out the newbie post on the topic and give it a whirl! If you've made a lotion, try a hair conditioner! Throw your fears to the wind and give it a shot! What's the worst that could happen?

I'd love to revive the newbie series again, so I'm asking you - what do you want to learn? What recipes or techniques stump you? I'm hoping to put together some posts and videos on some topics this year, and I would love to know what you want to learn! Share your thoughts!

Related posts:
What makes you nervous about making a lotion?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this inspiring post Susan!
It's been almost a year since I got interested in essential oils, scrubs etc and I was getting very discouraged that I still haven't made anything that I'm really happy with.
I have to remember that, with every failure, I have learned a great deal, and that means that it was not a waste of time or ingredients!
I won't be trying skydiving or anything this year, but who knows what 2015 will have me doing!
Congratulations on your recital!!

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Anna said...


I think that I will also try something new this year. Thank you for the inspiration!

And here comes my wish for the newbie series.

Sometimes when I am reading up on an ingredient I read the safety assessment from CIR. And sometimes they mention that an ingredient could form nitrosamines, and that when using this ingredient "formulators should continue to avoid the formation of nitrosamines". But I have no idea how to avoid the formation of nitrosamines.

I would like to know more about what we newbies shouldn´t do, because it might create nitrosamines or other nasty things.

That would be extremely helpful!

Anonymous said...

To echo everyone else here: Thank you, Susan, for sharing your formulations and advice with us.

To answer your question: I agree with Anna that it would be good to know what things we should avoid. I will also add that I would like learn how we can use the HLB system in non-ionic shampoos. For example, I'd like to make an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner with cetyl alcohol, jojoba oil, and decyl glucoside, but I'm really not sure how to do it.

Anyway, whatever you decide on, I'm sure I'll learn a lot. Thanks again :)


Alubru09 said...

HI Susan,

Happy New Year to all.

I have another question regarding BTMS 25. We do not seem to be able to get BTMS 50 here in Australia so substitution questions always arise. We can however get Behentrimonium Chloride (~80% active ingredient with isopropyl alcohol). It is in pellet form. Can I boost the conditioning property of BTMS 25 with Behentrimonium Chloride in a hair conditioner? Also how would this work in a lotion where BTMS is used as the emulsifier?

Many thanks for your blog - it is truly a wonderful resource and an inspiration for the whole home crafting community.


Birgit said...

Happy new year! You are wonderful, Susan! Keep up the good work. And do let us know how to use oil soluble extracts, BTMS 25, hydrosols, essential oils and other fun stuff.

Ruth said...

Happy New Year...
Good for you!!!
It is always fun to try something new.
You inspire me.
I love your blog.

Spirit Woman said...

Thank you so much Susan. I'm getting ready to make my first thick cream batch and needed those encouraging words. I've made creams before but stumbled across your site and am so grateful. You helped me to understand the need for preservatives and reading your posts gave me the answers to why my creams kept separating.

Long story short your site is a gold mine of information and just what I needed!

Julie said...

Hi Susan,
I have been reading your blog for a few years now and I am always amazed at all the information. I am primarily a soap maker, but have been trying my hand at lotion, shampoo and conditioner thanks to your blog. I like the way you present your recipes and explain the why of each ingredient. It help me a lot when I want to make modifications.
You have written on so many subject already that I am afraid to suggest something as you have probably talk about it somewhere that I haven't read yet. One thing comes to mind is gel. I have bought Amaze XT from Voyager a little while ago in hope of making detangling gel or thicken up shampoo. I have read many of your posts on gels and tried your detangling recipe with centrimonium chloride but I find withou much success. Amaze XT seems to work well in water, but many other water soluble ingredients, such as centrimonium or floral waters, have all resulted in watery concoctions. Wrong product for those uses or my own mistakes. Anyway, more informations on uses of gels in general would be my suggestion for your blog this year.

Happy 2015 and lots of fun in your lab!


Alexis said...

I found something new to try - facial cleansing powder!

These seem to be the love child of mineral makeup and powdered surfactants.