Monday, January 5, 2015

What ingredients should you buy if you're starting out? Anhydrous products!

Someone - sorry, can't remember who - suggested I write some posts about what to buy when you're starting out. This is a very big question, and it depends upon the product you're making. Let's take a look at anhydrous products

Anhydrous means "without water", so anhydrous products are ones we make with oil soluble ingredients like oils, butters, waxes, essential oils, and so on.

If you are making a whipped butter, you need only buy two ingredients - a butter and an oil. I suggest starting off with shea butter as it is the butter that is most commonly whipped and the one you've probably tried in a store or kiosk.

What oils or butters to choose? Ah, that's a much harder question! The short answer is to buy small quantities of a few oils that sound nice to you and see which ones you like.

The long answer? In this post, learning about the skin feel of our oils, I detail the skin feel, weight, and benefits of various oils. If you feel this will be a benefit to you, click on the link and check it out. If you think you might just get bogged down in all the stuff there, consider buying a few small bottles of carrier oils to see how you like them. You could even go to the grocery store and pick up a few. I suggest soy bean oil as it is light and greasy feeling, hazelnut oil or macadamia nut oil as they are light and non-greasy feeling, and something like rice bran oil or sesame seed oil as they are light to medium feeling and light to medium greasy feeling. If you get a small bottle of each of these, it'll give you a chance to find out what skin feel you like without spending a lot of money.

Related posts:
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Can we use oils from the grocery store?

For the butters, you can choose from quite a few, but the main ones will be shea butter, cocoa butter, or mango butter. Cocoa butter will be quite hard and has a medium level of greasiness. It isn't a good choice for whipped butters as it will get quite hard and you'll have to scrape your product out of the container with your nails. Shea butter will be softer and quite greasy. It's a great addition to a whipped butter. Mango butter will be medium hardness and less greasy feeling than the others. It won't be very soft in the container, and you might need to scrape it out of the depending upon how much oil you use.

If you are making a lotion bar, you need three ingredients - beeswax, a butter, and an oil. You can use the same oil and butter from the whipped butter ingredients, or you could pick up other ones. I recommend you read the link above to find out more about each ingredient.

For the butter in a lotion bar, cocoa butter will make it quite hard, so you can reduce the beeswax. Shea butter will make it softer, so you will want to use 1/3 beeswax, 1/3 shea butter, and 1/3 oil in this product. Mango butter will make it medium hardness.

If you're making a balm - including lip balms - you need three ingredients - beeswax, a butter, and an oil. You can use the same oil and butter as you did for the lotion bar.

If you're making a body oil, you just want a bunch of oils!

If you want your products to be fragranced, don't forget to check out the body safe fragrance or essential oils at your local supplier.

What about coconut oil? In general, treat coconut oil as if it were a liquid oil in most of these products because it will melt at quite low temperatures, turning your lotion bars into liquid and your whipped butters into oils. When I use it in a balm or lotion bar, I consider it on par with the liquid oil. You'll have to experiment if you really want to use it.

Related posts:
Why we don't use coconut oil in emulsified scrubs! 

I regularly tell the story about my experiences when I started out making products. I would see a recipe - let's say it was "aloe & sweet almond oil lotion" - and I would buy all the ingredients for that product. Then I'd see another recipe - "rose & apricot kernel oil lotion" - and I would buy all the ingredients for that product. And so on. I did this until I had way too many oils in the house, and I had only used tiny bits of each. This is a wasteful and expensive way to make bath & body products. So I suggest getting a few oils and trying them, noting how you like them and in which products you use them. You don't want to buy sweet almond oil and only use it at 5% in one of the products you make.

My other suggestion is to only buy small amounts at first. I know it's a pain to order something this week then have to order it again next week, but isn't it better to order 60 ml of an oil that you eventually hate instead of having a giant bottle of it going bad in your workshop?

If I were to make products only for myself and not for the blog, I would only want to own a few oils. Right now my favourites are pumpkin seed oilkukui nut oilevening primrose oil, rice bran oil, soy bean oil, and macadamia nut oil. I always have fractionated coconut oil in the house because it is a very light addition to just about any product. I always make sure I have cocoa butter, mango butter, and shea butter in the house, and I like to have coconut oil around for hair care products.

Why so many oils? Because each one brings something interesting to the party. There are oils that feel great on my skin neat, so they're better for anhydrous products, and there are oils that feel great in a lotion. Each of them brings something important to my products - for instance, great Vitamin E levels, great phytosterol levels, great skin feel, interesting fatty acids, and so on. Sometimes I want more moisturizing, so I'll choose soy bean oil. Other times I want more interesting fatty acids that can help speed up skin's barrier repair mechanisms, so I'll choose evening primrose oil. Sometimes I want a dry and light skin feel, so I would choose either kukui nut oil or macadamia nut oil.

Finally, consider your packaging. If you're making whipped butters, you'll want jars. You can use metal or plastic jars for your products, your preference. I would suggest using 2 ounce to 4 ounce jars. You can go larger, but I think smaller is better when we start out. Why? Because we don't want to make 1 kg or 2.2 pound batches when we start. Make 100 grams of whipped butter or 50 grams of lip balm and see if you like the product. No sense in having a huge amount lying around that you hate!

Lotion bars don't need to be in packages - although I think I make very nice ones in deodorant containers and metal tins - but you will need a mold to make them. Chocolate molds from places like Michael's or Jo-Ann's work very well for this application. You'll want smaller metal tins or smaller deodorant containers for your first few batches.

Balms can be in metal tins or lip balm containers. A 100 gram batch of lip balm will make quite a lot - I think maybe 10 to 15, depending upon the size of the container - so get quite a few of these! (Check with your retailer on the size of the lip balm containers as they can vary!)

Body oils need to be in bottles, and you can get those with pumps or disc caps. Again, smaller is better when you start, so I suggest getting 2 ounce to 4 ounce bottles.

So your shopping list should look like this...
  • Oils - no more than 120 ml or 4 ounces of a few different oils
  • Butters - I suggest starting with half a pound or 227 grams to start. 
  • Beeswax - I suggest maybe half a pound or 227 grams to start
  • Fragrance or essential oils - you need to add 1 gram to 100 grams of product, so you can get 15 grams or 30 grams and have quite a lot to play with! 
  • Packaging - get the packaging appropriate for your products. 
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at what one might buy when starting out to make lotions!

Related posts:
Newbie section of the blog

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