Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What do you want to know?

It's been a busy month with teaching classes and youth programs during Spring Break, so it's been hard to get to writing some posts. I'm hoping to catch up this Easter long weekend on the messages and comments you've been sending me! I also hope to get some of the great National Craft Month submissions up!

So I'll ask you the question - what intrigues you? What do you want to know about or want to see more of on the blog? What recipes are kicking your bum or what processes confuse you? What ingredients do you want to know more about and what ingredients would you like to see me use? In general, what do you want to know? I'm asking so I can generate some blog posts in response to what you, my wonderful readers, are curious about! Let me know in the comments below!


Sciarretta Farms said...

Why oh why can I never get bubbles from my body wash or shampoo recipes??? I have tried combinations of ACI, Coco betaine and SMC taurate. No oils or 'cones added, only esters. I have used glycerin at the recommended levels. I have followed several of your recipes to the letter. Except I have not yet used SCI, since I prefer liquid surfactants.

Do I have to use SCI to get bubbles? Is that it? I have finally sort of gotten the hang of the viscosity issue by leaving the product thinner than I'd like and by using glycerin.

Should I give up and accept my Waterloo? Any tips?

Monique Sharp said...

Hi Susan
I would love to see more posts and formulations on ethnic hair....such as leave in conditioners and hydrating mists. Thanks

Josie Williams said...

Hello from the UK! I think your blog is awesome! I have just made my first body butter and hair conditioner based on your recipes and they have turned out so well. I am going to tweak my conditioner recipe a little once I have sourced a few more ingredients as I have dry, damaged and frizzy hair - but you have certainly inspired me!

What I could do with some help with is making bubble bath (I would like to make a nice mild one for my 4 year old) and a conditioning anti-frizz shampoo for me.

I've looked at some of your recipes and I can't seem to be able to source some of the surfactants you use. What I have got so far is the following from Gracefruit.com:

Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Decyl Glucoside
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Prill

Am I able to use these? Or should I use something else?

Gracefruit.com also stock:
a) Coco glucoside
b) Lamesoft PO 65 (INCI: Coco-Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate)
c) Plantapon SF (INCI: Sodium Cocoamphoacetate (and) Glycerin (and) Lauryl Glucoside (and) Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (and) Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate)

Aromantic.com stock:
a) Alpha detergent (Inci: Mipa Laureth Sulphate, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine)
b) Natural surfactant base (Inci: Aqua, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Sodium Cococyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate)

Soapkitchenonline.com stock:
a) Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate (powder)
b) Laureth-3
c) Lauryl Glucoside
d) Alkyl Polyglucoside
e) Sodium C14/C16 Olefin Sulphonate

I am totally baffled by all of these different products so any help is much appreciated!

Patrick Booth said...

I'm curious about some formaldehyde releasers. Are they really the devil like the internet says?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

Just a quick question from Australia about extract forms. Taking Chamomile as an example, I can get it in powdered form as well as glycerine based liquid form and water based liquid form. I have read your very informative posts re powdered vs liquid forms - but which liquid form? Or does it not make any difference?

Thank you in advance

Chris said...

Hey Susan,
I'd love to see more cosmeceutical recipes or articles.

Lisa Reidzans Schmock said...

I'm with Sciarretta Farms, I can't get any foam/lather from the shampoos I make. Also a few recipes specific to dry damaged and frizzy hair, if there aren't any ;) There isn't much I want to make that you haven't already covered!


Me said...

Emulsifying High Oil% Products
I know we use a general rule of 25% of our oil for the emulsifier in a lotion, but, I would really like to get a better understanding of emulsifying products that contain mostly oil. I would say a water in oil emulsion, but I do know that that is not what it means (o/w does not refer to the amount of oil vs water, if I'm not mistaken).
I really like lotion bars, balms etc, but would love to be able to formulate those products with just a bit of water included.
There is a recipe here on Ingredients To Die For's website for a lotion bar but I don't want to just make it, I want to understand the basic principle behind how to come up with the right amount of emulsifier.

Me said...

Oop, that post above was from me, Erin

Mala said...

I need a good recipe for bubble blowing solution. We go through a lot in the summer months, and I've never had much luck making my own (with dishwashing liquid, and now I know why). All my googling just brings me to more recipes of tha same. I'd love they be able to use distilled water, glycerin, and a surfactant, but which one and how much? I don't really know where to start, other than just mixing up a bunch and playing with ratios. Any thoughts?

Ramona Mills said...

I would like to know more about using petroleum and mineral oil in lotion making. I know this is not popular, but products containing these seem to moisturize my dry skin better than just using shea or cocoa butter. It also doesn't seem to clog my pores as badly... I don't find much information on this, as it seems to be considered bad and everyone is moving away from using them. I, however, disagree. Ramona Mills

Lisa said...

Hi Susan,
I've been trying to find some more info on lactic acid. I know it can be used to lower ph but not sure if you use it exactly the same way as citric acid. Also, what other uses it can have in our products.

Eve said...

Recipes/ ideas for facial products for troublesome skin like spot treatments, oil-free serums, face masks, anything to help keep oil at bay (I guess most of these things are sort of done by toner...) would be much appreciated. A recipe for a super-moisturising and hydrating cream that doesn't involve any oil or anything remotely comedogenic would be wonderful - my skin is very prone to blackheads, but gets very dry and flaky in parts too, and every moisturizer I've tried making, using as many moisturizing ingredients as I can (proteins, humectants by the bucketload, allantoin, panthenol etc) just isn't rich enough to get rid of the dryness. Hair products recipes are also always eagerly received (not that you ever post anything that isn't!)

B. said...


A little chemistry question. If I make a facial scrub that has fruit enzymes and extracts, would then using baking soda as an exfoliant zero their benefits? So what I mean is that e.g. papaya or pineapple extract are acidic, so does adding a base to the mixture nullify them, or will I still get the best of both worlds?


Anonymous said...

Hi there
I want to ask about my natural deodorant cream, I have Ben making it for years and never had a problem... All of a sudden it started to get all lumpy, slowly over a couple of weeks these lumps would grow bigger and bigger.
Shea, coconut, sodium bicarb, arrowroot, bees wax, jojoba, vit e, essential oils. That's it.... I was doing it in a double boiler, thought it could have been a moisture thing so I did it in the microwave.... Same problem happened. These lumps are scratchy like the bi carb, the mixture looks silly and smooth before I pour I to jars. I have lots of test jars on the go, I did make one with no bees wax and it has no lumps (I use a tiny bit of bees wax because I live in a pretty hot and humid area) I have tested different types of bicarb and some create worse lumps than others.
If you can shed any light on this I would be forever grateful 😊
Cheers Erica

Anonymous said...

I was reading your post about catechins and tannins in green tea being good for reducing inflammation


And was wondering if you know if I could use apple cider vinegar to make an extract to be applied topically?

Mike said...

Hi Susan,

We primarily make natural soap, body butters & sugar scrubs. I just formulated a recipe for a lip balm that we'll have coming out soon.

When I'm designing new soap recipes, I use a nice online soap calculator (SoapCalc). We enter the ingredients we want to use & the calculator gives us the ingredient percentages, the amount of Sodium Hydroxide to use, and also, based upon the various ingredients that we select, it will produce a graph showing how the soap, with the ingredients I selected, will perform as far as cleansing ability, moisturizing, hardness, & other traits.

My question is, is there any calculator type programs that you're aware of that are designed for formulating cosmetics, or lotions, body butters, lip balms, or other anhydrous products, etc.?

Like a program where you can enter your proposed recipe & it would give you an idea as to how that product would perform, based on the ingredients you selected?

Many Thanks!


melian1 said...

solid emulsions! lotion bars that are not just anhydrous, but are lotion, with hydrous ingredients, in a bar. reference this: http://www.thedishforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/187265-emulsified-lotion-bars/#entry3428025 which is a post from a thread on the dish.

i have wanted this for YEARS, and this is the first i've heard of it. please consider teaching us this.

Terry Norfolk said...

Hi Sue, Susan, Swift,

Emulsion theory, what to do if one doesn't have half a dozen emulsifiers and what one has are not always the ones you really need. Either wait and order the correct ones to pinpoint that specific factor or can one get away with a single "all purpose" emulsifier? It is a very broad field that one. So many different ways to make an emulsion it's nuts to try and sort out, wrap ones skull around it. I know you've written volumes on it but something about it just isn't clear enough. Mind you, the blog is awesome to start with so go with what you're already doing and expand further maybe?
Thank you Sue

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a forum on here for all of us geeked-out DIYers to exchange ideas, experiments, comments, questions etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd really like to see your blog in website form. I think it would be easier to find some of the information. Although, for a blog, this is well organized. :)

SarahB said...

Lots of great ideas in the comments! I like Josie Williams' frizzy dry hair ideas; also Mike's ideas. I use the same soap calc webpage that he does, a lotion version of that is a very interesting idea. And Melian1's ideas for lotion bars - I made your sugar scrub bar, and it was the only recipe that didn't work well, the sugar fell to the bottom and the bar was greasy. Your blog has gotten so full of information that I use your search bar a lot, and the links to lists - could those go up higher on the page?

HCTx said...

Thanks for asking! I would like to add some decyle glucoside and coco betaine to my castile soap. I am reading that I should "maintain the pd at of the finished product between 3.0 and 5.0". When I mix my castile with DG & CB my oh meter says 10. My finished product is lovely. Why do they recommend that? Thanks!

Vicki McGaugh said...

Living in hot humid Texas I sell dimethlocone as an anti-frizz (use it myself) but everyone wants it to be more of a styling cream, pumpable product. Spraying it on the length of your hair can spot you clothes as does FrizzEase the brand which contains....
Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, mineral oil, hydrolyzed silk, fragrance.

How would you make this liquid into a cream that disappears into the hair :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I'll be starting in on your comments tomorrow, but I thought I'd answer a few quick things here...

Hi Sciaretta Farms! Can you post here or email me a sample recipe you might have used?

Hi Patrick! No, they're not. Post on formaldehyde donors.

Hi Priscilla! Water or glycerin, it doesn't really matter as you'll be getting the water soluble portion of the chamomile in either liquid form.

Hi Erin. We don't use 25% as a rule with every emulsifier, only with Polawax. Every emulsifier has its own usage rates, so you'd have to check with each one before using. For instance, with e-wax we use 25% of the oil phase, then add 1% more. For Ritamulse SCG, we might use 6% to 8%, but there isn't a hard and fast rule. They're using Ritamulse SCG here as the emulsifier, and there isn't a rhyme or reason as to why they're using 10% in this bar. Probably because they tried it and liked it at that amount.

Hi Chris! Anything in specific? Have you checked out the cosmeceuticals section of the blog to see what I've written about in the past?

Hi Lisa! Have you checked out the hair care section for recipes? Did you want something other than what is there? We don't really worry about frizziness much when we are washing our hair; it's more of a conditioner thing.

Hi Erica! Please post your exact recipe in percentages along with the process you followed and perhaps we can help further.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi HCTx! Surfactants want to have an acidic pH, which is the rationale for that statement. Soaps, by definition, have to be pH 10. So it's possible that the decyl glucoside and cocamidopropyl betaine are having no effect in your soap because the pH is so out of whack.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Vicki. I'd make a leave in conditioner and use that instead. Check out the hair care section of the blog for loads of recipes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan. I would love to learn to make my own conditioner similar to a product I have used in the past that detangled my long knotty hair and made it feel like it had less build up! With very long hair, it is too expensive to keep buying, and with some lotion making experience, I figured I could try to make a version of my own. After extensively reading your blog posts on hair care, I’m not sure if the product I bought was more a cream rinse than conditioner, so I’m confused where to even start. I’m not asking you to dupe the recipe, but wondering if you had any advice. I do not even see an emulsifier in the list of ingredients!? There is beeswax in the ingredients, but I know that is not an emulsifier. The product looks like a thinner lotion.
Ingredients: Water, Coconut Oil, Pine Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, Nettle Leaf Extract, Dandelion Leaf Extract, Cider Vinegar, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Beeswax, Essential Oils, Leuconostoc Radish Rood Ferment Filtrate
Any advice would be wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Another thing I would like to know: Step by step instructions for thickening with salt.

That would be interesting!

Sciarretta Farms

Anonymous said...

This is Sciarretta Farms (sorry, can't log in right now):

I have used this recipe:

and this one:


I used SMC Taurate. Both had no bubbles.

Amber said...

Hi Susan!

I'm a bit of a lurker, but love your blog - one of my tabs is set to permanently open on your page!

More than anything I'd absolutely LOVE it if you could please share with us a recipe for a long-lasting liquid foundation, suitable for blemish-prone skin (preferably adaptable so that people with dry or oily skin can make it).

This is a cosmetic item that I use almost every single day, and being able to make my own would save me a fair bit of money. I live in the UK, where the changing sunlight intensities of the different seasons means that my skin colour changes fairly significantly through the year. I have to buy multiple foundation colours each year just to make sure my face matches with the rest of me!

Although there are plenty of recipes available for mineral foundations (of which I have made a few but found incompatible with my prone-to-dryness skin), liquid foundation appears to be one of the few remaining fields that hasn't been successfully tapped into by us DIYers.

I remember finding one post ages back in your blog which used rhonaspheres in a lotion for providing colour; however, I haven't been able to locate rhonaspheres here, nor am I sure how they can be used to account for variations in skin tone?

As far as purchasable foundations go, I really like both Estee Lauder's Double Wear Light, and Revlon's Colorstay for normal to dry skin formulations (in their lighter ivory tones, going warmer into Summer).

Both foundations smooth into the skin evenly without settling into fine lines or exacerbating dry patches; they are lightweight yet give good, buildable coverage; they set in not too many seconds; and once applied they stay put without transferring, melting or going patchy. They last well for pretty much most of the day.

Is it possible for a home DIYer to make something that stands up as well? Or is this kind of formula just too complicated for us to attempt?

The ingredients list for Revlon Colorstay is: Cyclopentasiloxane, Aqua, Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Silica, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Nylon 12, Dimethicone/PEG 10/15 Crosspolymer, Tribehenin, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Bisabolol (L-Alpha), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Cymbidium Grandiflorum Flower (Orchid) Extract, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, Lilium Candidum (White Lily) Bulb Extract (Lily), Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Flower Extract (Mallow), Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Methicone, Laureth-7, Magnesium Sulfate, Salicylic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Distearalkonium Hectorite, Ethylene Brassylate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Alumina, Triethyl Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Dipropylene Glycol, PEG-12 Glyceryl Dimyristate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone/Silsesquioxane Copolymer, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Capryl Glycol, Ammonium Polyacrylatedimethyl Tauramide, Serica Soie (Silk), Hexylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxylethanol, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, May Contain (+/-):, Mica, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947).

The ingredients list for Estee Lauder Double Wear Light is: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Trimethyl Pentaphenyltrisiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Silica, Magnesium Sulfate, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Tribehenin, PEG-10 Dimethicone, BIS-PEG/PPG-14/14 Dimethicone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenyl Methicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Laureth-7, Glycerin, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Hexyl Laurate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Disteardimonium Hectorite, Methicone, Propylene Carbonate, Tetramethyl Hexyphenyl Tetrasiloxane, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dimethicone Silylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alumina, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol. May contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide.

Thanks for your time; here's hoping!


Lucy Townsend said...

Hi Susan,

I have massively overordered coco glucoside 500ml and I'm wondering how to use it up...can I use on it's own or would it better to use in combination with other surfactants? many thanks Lucy

So Rad - Whoot! said...

Hey Susan!
I'm looking for different uses with coco glucoside.
Mascara recipes and liwuid foundation/bronzer would be awesome! :-)

Josie Williams said...

Aromantic.com advocate the use of spring water as opposed to distilled water - what is your take on this?

Marina said...

I just wanted to say that you have a super cute dog, Susan. Great action photo! :-)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Josie! The goal is to remove all the minerals and metals from the water, and spring water doesn't do that. I don't understand why anyone would suggest using spring water, to be honest. But then again, I disagree with a lot of what they suggest...

Hi Marina! We think she's lovely!

Maria said...

I'm currently using a surfactant that is a "blend" of Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate --it's sold already blended in liquid form. The problem is that it's very expensive in that form: 15 dollars for 8 ounces. I can buy the sulfoacetate by the pound much cheaper and I've finally found a place that sells DLS for a reasonable price. The problem, of course is: I need to mix them for the recipe...any idea how much DLS to sulfoacetate? The DLS is liquid and the S is pellets. Thanks for any ideas!

Maria said...

Hey Ramona Mills, I'm obviously not Susan, but I make lotion with vaseline added (petrolatum). Yeah, I know we've all been told that's not great, but it doesn't clog pores and does lock in the moisture. If you already have a lotion recipe you use, substitute in some vaseline for the "base oil" -- The base oil is often shea butter or mango butter. You don't need very much and you can play with the percentages. I put in very little and found that it works very well. For lighter oils to mix in, consider using hemp as it's not supposed to clog pores. I also like nut oils (kukui --it's considered a "dry" oil, meaning it absorbs with little residue). Grapeseed oil is also a dry oil. I'll be trying a new recipe soon where I sub in some jojoba oil next. I have very dry skin. I have one recipe posted on my blog so far, but I'll be adding a few more as I go!

Maria Schneider

nani said...

Hello, I love your blog! Your scientific twist and plethora of useful information really makes your blog a Must Read and Enjoy!
Since you asked, I would like to see more knockoff recipes for Lush products, including their wonderful aromas. (Have you smelled their American Cream conditioner? I need that in a lotion!).

I will send the ingredient list soon.

I would also like to see more articles on the use, or selection of, necessary recipe ingredients such as preservatives (I recently bought some Willow Bark solution, but really don't know how to use it).

And as long as I am making my wish list, I recently bought some NAG powder from lotioncrafters.com. It is supposed to help with lightening the hyper-pigmentation on my face (age/hormonal related rather than sun damage), so I mixed it with some water and apply it daily. Not doing anything yet.

Can you tell, I really don't know what I'm doing, pretty new at this, but I really enjoyed playing mad scientist and making skincare products for myself.

Nani Blyleven
La Palma, CA

Josie Williams said...

Susan - where are you getting cetrimonium bromide from please? I can only find it here in the UK from mistralni.co.uk and it costs a fortune and is at 100% strength - I cannot find it from any North American suppliers.

Thanks for replying regarding Aromantic's use of spring water. Yes they also have some strange theories on emulsifying!

morbo said...

Hi Susan!

Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for fatty alcohols? Fatty alcohols irritate and break my skin out terribly but I'm not seeing much info out there about other options.


Amber said...

Hi Susan! Me again. I've been doing some thinking, and I wonder whether personal care items such as toothpaste could become a one-time feature on your blog?

I've done a fair amount of reading on Google Scholar lately, looking at papers which delve into how certain substances can markedly influence our oral bacterial communities, and thus help to cure / prevent dental caries.
Xylitol, and also green tea, seem to be great effectors at achieving this.

Multiple daily exposures to xylitol have been proven to have a greater and longer-lasting impact on improving our oral micro-biomes than fluoride, or even fluoride+triclosan, or clorhexidine. Green tea drinkers have significantly lower rates of periodontal disease than non-drinkers.

You can buy xylitol toothpastes, but they're really quite expensive.

It'd be cool if we could have a section showing us how to make a base toothpaste (+mouth rinse?) recipe, that we could then go and add extra, proven, herbals to.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Josie! Check out The Personal Formulator in the States.

Hi Morbo! I'm answering your question as Today's Weekend Wondering. The short answer is to use stearic acid or a butter.

Hi Nani. I don't duplicate products any more. I explain more in this post, which I have pinned to the right hand side of the blog for permanent reference.

Hi Amber! I'm really not comfortable with the idea of making a toothpaste as it's something that can go bad quite quickly without an appropriate preservative - and you know loads of people won't use one - and one that can have long term effects like cavities or gum disease if it's not effective.

Hi Maria! I'm sorry, I don't know what the ratio is between the DLS and SLSa. I would ask the supplier of that ingredient to get you the data bulletin so you can see the ratio!

Sarah Johnson said...

Hi Susan!

I have not read the comments from this post so I hope none of this is repeat. I have, however searched your blog and can't find answers so here goes.

My first question is, can you find anything concrete on Marula oil? It's apparently the "next big thing" in cosmetic oils; it supposedly has is all: super good for skin and absorbs quickly without greasiness and such. I couldn't track down the stated source for the profile on wikipedia so I don't know if it's legit. Also, because it is so popular its hella expensive. I'm wondering if there's a good oil or combination of oils that I could substitute.

My second question regards short-life oils. I know I can add vit E to them to extend the life but I was wondering, first, how long will it extend them? And second, if I integrated a chelating agent to the oil itself, could that extend the life further?

As an aside, I busted up laughing at your reference to Game of Thrones. I hadn't realized how much I had read "it is known" in descriptions. Now every time I see that phrase, I chuckle, and as I'm currently wading through essential oils for research, you can imagine I'm chuckling a lot. It has really lightened an otherwise depressing task, so thank you.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah! Sorry, I don't know anything about this oil and I don't even know where I could get it. Sorry I can't be more helpful there. If I were to suggest anything, I'd go with anything that contains a lot of oleic acid, according to the fatty acid profile. So olive oil and a number of other ones would work. Check the emollients section of the blog to compare oils!

There isn't a way to know exactly how much longer the oil will last, but we know it is longer. A chelating ingredient wouldn't do anything in this context - anti-oxidants are a better choice.