Sunday, June 25, 2017

Question from Patreon: How to include many extracts in a product? How to include powdered extracts? How to deal with the colour?

On my Patreon feed, Laura asked: Question about botanical extracts: I want to avoid using liquid extracts because mane contain Phenoxyethanol and my clients DO NOT want it. Nor do they want Sodium Benzoate. There are not many available preserved with Leucidal Liquid. I do use some powdered extracts, but they tend to not dissolve, settle and darken product dramatically. Question is HOW some companies manage to include countless extracts and the product is still light??? What is going on??? I am beyond puzzled at this point. 

There's a lot to unpack here, so bear with me as I try to answer each question one by one...

Powdered extracts will colour your product, there's no doubt about that, but some of the good stuff botanical extracts offer are all about the colour.

Proanthocyanidins are colourless molecules also called oligoflavonoids, condensed polyphenols, or hydrolyzable tannins. They called the latter because they can be hydrolyzed (the molecule is split by water into different compounds) in an acidic environment to produce anthocyanidins, which are coloured. They play a role in the stabilization of collagen and maintenance of elastin in the skin. They are being studied as water retention reducers, and capillary protectors. They can help the body to produce histamine to prevent allergic reactions. And they can be powerful anti-oxidants - they are about 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E.

Procyanidins are part of the proanthocyanidins group, and occur as esters of gallic acid in green and black tea and grapes. They are quite unstable, reacting chemically in acid or base solutions, reacting thermally, and oxidizing easily. They are considered to have anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidizing properties through free radical scavenging.

Carotenoids are strong anti-oxidants that connect with free radicals to quench them. They're comparable to Vitamin C in inhibiting lipid peroxidation, which is the degradation of lipids in our skin. They tend to be orange to deep orange, and you can find them in extracts as well as oils.

Thus, my answer to one part of your question is there's a lot of value in the colour of our botanical ingredients.

In my class yesterday, a lovely participant suggested that the brown tinge in of green tea extract in our facial gel wasn't brown, it was "amber". I really like that! Now I have to find a way of describing products made with grapeseed extract as something other than "bloody". 

How to use powdered extracts without precipitation? Stay within the suggested usage rates and note how soluble each extract might be. If the suggested usage rate for green tea is 0.5% and the suggested usage rate for rosemary extract is 0.5%, maybe use 0.25% of each and see what happens over time. (I've used three powdered extracts at a time without problems, but it really will depend on the product and what else is in it.)

How do companies get all those extracts into a product? They probably use small amounts - much less than we're using, I suspect, as a lot of it is label appeal - which don't offer much colour, or they could be using colourless liquid extracts.

You can get all kinds of different liquid extracts at our suppliers with differing levels of colour. For instance, I've had almost clear liquid willow bark extract to very very brown versions. I know some suppliers put the colour of the ingredient in their write up, but if they don't and it's important to you, then ask.

What does it mean if they're uncoloured or very lightly coloured? It doesn't mean the extracts don't have awesome properties, it just means those things like proanthocyanins aren't in there any more.

When it comes to the issue of preservation, botanical ingredients are harder to preserve, so you always want something broad spectrum in there to ensure long term stability and safety. If this is an issue, consider using oil soluble extracts, which don't require preservation. You can find quite a few at your local supplier - green tea extract is pretty common, for instance.

I can't tell to how to run your business or what to tell your customers, I can only share my experiences, but when I'm teaching classes, I encourage people to embrace the colour as part of the awesome power of botanicals. Yeah, I recognize a slightly brown lotion or body wash may not be the most beautiful thing in the world, but knowing that colour is full of awesome things makes it easier to appreciate.

Related posts:
Big posts on using powdered extracts
Extracts section of the blog

If you want to learn more about extracts, check out the section of the blog or take a look at my new e-zine on botanical extracts (part one).


KMY said...

Some companies accomplish this by using fruit juices that are decolorized and dehydrated. I don't think my dehydrator at home can replicate this.

Iveta Rog said...

Hi susan, im just reading your e-zine, thank you very much for it. I'm however wondering, could i use the powdered extract in products based on oil only? Like body butter? Or do i have to use just the oil soluble ones? Thanks