Saturday, September 30, 2017

Happy National Coffee Day! Celebrate with a whipped vanilla latte coffee butter!

Let's get formulating with coffee butter! We met this interesting ingredient yesterday, and I think we can make some luxurious whipped butters good enough to drink!

Amanda and I wanted to make something that would allow the less greasy, moisturizing feeling of the coffee butter to shine. Here's what we formulated!

10% cocoa butter

70% coffee butter
19.5% rice bran oil 
0.5% fragrance oil 

Weigh the cocoa butter in a heatproof container. Heat the cocoa butter to just melted in the microwave - try 30 seconds to start, mix, then 10 seconds at a time until it looks like apple juice - or put it in a double boiler until just melted. 

Add the coffee butter, oil, and fragrance oil. You can start whipping it now with a whisk attachment or put it in the fridge for a few minutes to get a bit harder, then start whipping. I generally hope I can increase the volume by about 50% to make it lovely and whippy. If you make 100 grams of this formula above, you'd be looking for about 130 ml to 140 ml as the final amount. 

I like to put mine in a piping bag with a 1M tip to make it look like frosting. Package in jars - I'm using clear, low profile, 60 ml or 2 ounce jars here - and add a little label to it. You're done! Rejoice! 

As my husband says, everything in our house looks like cupcakes and smells like cupcakes, but nothing tastes like cupcakes. Now everything in the house looks like coffee! (Check out this post on fizzing bath cupcakes, this one on making cupcake shaped cards, this one on making cupcake shaped melt & pour, and this one on making things with cupcake fabric. See, I'm in love with cupcakes!)

Coffee butter is quite soft, so I added some cocoa butter - crude cocoa butter* to get all that chocolately smell - to stiffen it up. You could use mango butter, which might stiffen it up and offer a more powdery skin feel, or shea butter, which won't stiffen it up a lot and will offer a greasier skin feel. 

Which liquid oil should I add? Any liquid oil would be suitable, but I wanted something that would offer a nice balance of linoleic acid and oleic acid to offer some lovely skin softening and moisturizing properties and help speed up skin's barrier repair mechanisms. So I chose rice bran oil at 19%. If you wanted to go with a theme, you could use hazelnut oil and make a chocolate hazelnut mocha! 

Remember, you can switch any liquid oil for another liquid oil or the cocoa butter for any other butter. You may alter the skin feel and viscosity, but you won't ruin the product. 

I'm not using a preservative in this product as it doesn't contain water and won't be exposed to water. You could add an anti-oxidant, like Vitamin E, to retard the rancidity of the oils, but this version should have a 1 year shelf life. 

Which fragrance oil did we use? Considering we were playing at Windy Point Soap - a place I consider adult Disneyland and a ball pit rolled into one awesome place - we had our pick of them! 

You can leave this unscented and bask in the joy that is the chocolate mocha, or you can add a titch of something to create the kind thing you'd find at your local coffee shop! 

Since I know nothing about coffee, I turned to my two Starbuck's experts, Emrys and Kim, for ideas for fragrance combinations. This is what they suggested...

Vanilla latte: We added 0.5% vanilla fragrance oil to the product. I left it with the slightly creamy colour. 

Chocolate mocha: You could leave it with the lovely cocoa butter fragrance or kick it up a titch by adding 0.3% chocolate fragrance oil. Add a sprinkle of mica - we used gingerbread mica - and mix until you like the colour. 

If you wanted to be slightly naughty, consider adding a chocolate flavour oil or, my favourite, chocolate lava cake flavour oil. All the ingredients in this butter are edible. Just saying...

Hazelnut cappuccino: We used 0.5% hazelnut cappucino fragrance oil, and a titch of the gingerbread mica in half or 3/4 the amount of butter. Leave some as the creamy colour for the whipped topping. 

Pumpkin spice latte: We used 0.5% pumpkin patch fragrance oil to make this a 
We used gingerbread mica to get the lovely brown colour, but left a bit uncoloured for the creamy top. 

One of Kim's favourites is caramel macchiato, which we could have made using this creamy caramel flavour oil, but I didn't see it when we were making things, so I didn't try it. You could add a titch of a lighter mica for this one - maybe start with a dark yellow mica and add a bit of gingerbread mica until you get that creamy, light brown colour - and leave the top uncoloured. 

Go nuts trying different fragrance or essential oils. Start at 0.3% and work your way up from there as we don't want to mask the coffee butter fragrance. (If you're using a flavour oil, you may need to use more, but start at 0.3% with those, too.) 

Here's the funny thing: I'm not a coffee person. Seriously not a coffee person. I avoid going into Tim Horton's because of the coffee smell. But I like this butter, especially when we add a titch of another fragrance. I find the coffee adds a bottom note, like a deeper vanilla, that I really like. 

Please note, this is not a sponsored post or an ad. None of my links are affiliate links, and I receive nothing if you click through. I'm posting this because we had a blast making things at Windy Point Soap, and I really like the owners and staff there. 

Related posts:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Check out my classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle in October!

I can't believe I haven't posted about the classes at I'm teaching at Voyageur Soap & Candle in Surrey, B.C., starting on Monday!

We'll have more classes scheduled soon! Watch this space! 

Monday, October 2nd: Full day class of lotion making (with e-book)

Saturday, October 7th, morning: Solid bubble bath (like these adorable ice cream scoops) and bath truffles

Saturday, October 7th, afternoon: Bath bombs & bath salts

Friday, October 20th: Full day class, facial products (with e-book)

Saturday, October 21st, morning: Pedicure class - fizzing foot salts, lotion bars, and foot scrubs

Saturday, October 21st, afternoon: Whipped butters! (Doesn't the yellow of the sea buckthorn oil look awesome here?)

Friday, October 27th: Full day class, eco skin care, which is all about using green and biodegrable ingredients

Holy cow! So many cool things to learn, eh? I'm super excited! I have to take the summer off as the Voyageur store gets so warm, we can't really do much without wanting to pass out, and it feels like that was ages ago!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for classes! Woo!

Happy National Coffee Day! Celebrate with coffee butter!

I admit it: I don't like coffee. My parents were very British, and we were a family of tea drinkers, so I didn't get much exposure to coffee until my first day of university when I was surrounded by at least 300 people all sipping their morning brew, the smell of which was completely overwhelming.

But I'm starting to fall in love with this ingredient...

When I was at Windy Point Soap in Calgary last week, I had a chance to play more with this ingredient - INCI: Hydrogenated soy oil (and) Coffee arabica seed oil (and) Tocopherol - and I'm really enjoying working with it! Out of the jar it has a very rich coffee fragrance thanks to the coffee seed oil. It feels slightly silky and almost dry when used neat on the skin, and it's a great addition to a lotion or body butter thanks to this quality.

This isn't a butter in the sense that cocoa butter or mango butter would be - it's a butter created by hydrogenating soy bean oil to make it thicker. When an oil is hydrogenated, it's saturated, meaning there are no double bonds, only single ones. Single bonded fatty acids lay down flat, so they can pack more closely together, and they can create a thicker product like butter. (This is why we see hydrogenated vegetable oils in things like margarine.)

So the fatty acids we see most in soy bean oil - oleic acid, with one double bond and linoleic acid, with two double bonds - are hydrogenated by adding an oxygen, making them straighter, like stearic acid, so they become thicker and have a longer shelf life.

Check out this post for more information on this process! 

This hydrogenation means we can have butters like green tea butter, avocado butter, or coffee butter, ingredients that would normally be quite liquid.

As an aside, we can use Lipidthix™to make some butters at home. (This ingredient has an INCI of hydrogenated vegetable oil.) Check out part one here, then part two here

How can we use coffee butter? You can use it as you would any other butter in anhydrous products like whipped butters or emulsified products like lotions, body butters, or creams. It's great in an emulsified scrub in the shower, too.

I don't recommend it as the only butter in something like a lotion bar as it's a little on the softer side, and it doesn't offer the structure to a solid product that we really want. You could use it as the liquid part of a lotion bar, though, and it would smell amazing.

Should we take a few days to look at this interesting and fragrant oil? Let's start tomorrow with a whipped butter!

I've just written a few pages in my newest e-zine along with an emulsified vanilla latte body butter, which is available to $10 subcribers on Patreon this month. Click here to learn more about the e-zine!

Check out this coffee butter over at Windy Point Soap!

Please note, I'm not receiving any kind of compensation by sharing this ingredient with you. I'm sharing it as I absolutely love Windy Point Soap and had the joy of staying with Michele & Keith for almost a week while I taught classes there. This is not an ad or sponsored content. Just wanted you to know that! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We're home!

Oh my gosh, did we have fun at Windy Point Soap in Calgary! The classes were so much fun - we had a blast playing with new ingredients like  coffee butter, carrot seed extract, PEG 6 caprylic/capric triglycerides (awesome for micellar water), and foaming silk - and it was an absolute joy to meet so many of you who follow the blog and support us on Patreon.

I'll be back again, and I'd love to hear what you'd like to learn. (I'm sorry we could only offer one facial products class as it sold out quite quickly. We'll have at least two next time.) If we're looking at something early in 2018, what dates work best for you? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Michele and Keith were lovely to host us at their home, and Sasja had a great time playing with her cousins, Macy and Bailey. A huge thank you to Michele's daughter, Megan for caring for Sasja when we went out for dinner. (Sasja adores Megan!)

I had a blast making pressed eye shadows with Amanda. After a few more weeks of testing, we'll be ready to share our experiences and formulas with you! (Check out the little pressing kits on Windy Point. Here's the silver one!) We've been creating some visual tutorials for this project and a few others you'll see here and on Windy Point Soap's blog and formulary.

We're not trying to be mean by not sharing the formula yet. We have to test things for a while to ensure they work well, like testing them in a more humid climate or with glitter. I promise we'll have something shortly! 

Since we drove around 1,000 km yesterday, it's a resting day for us at home before we dive back into life on Thursday!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Join me on social media while we're travelling

Hi everyone! I'm off to Windy Point Soap in Calgary to teach some classes, and posting here can be difficult as the Blogger app crashes constantly and I can't post pictures when I use it in Safari on mobile.

I'll be able to send out your e-book and e-zine purchases when I get notification as we should have cell coverage for most of the trip. It might not be immediate, but it shouldn't be more than a few hours  (except when I'm sleeping or teaching).

In the meantime...

follow me on Twitter @SwiftCraftyM

follow me on Instagram @swiftcraftymonkey

or check out my SwiftCraftyMonkey Facebook page.

Wow, I never go anywhere, and this year we're travelling every other month or so! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Woo! Check out the schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle!

The class schedule at Voyageur Soap & Candle is up for anyone who wants to take classes with me in Surrey, B.C. in October.

We'll be doing the day long classes of lotion making, facial care products, and eco skin care, as well as a few new half day classes, like those to make these adorable foaming bubble bath ice cream scoops. (This one is vanilla mint from Voyageur, and it smells as lovely as it looks!) many announcements this week, eh?

I'm teaching at Windy Point Soap in Calgary this weekend!

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
For those who are new to making a lotion, the first half hour of the class will cover basic lotion making concepts.  From there, the class will learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. (The class will be customized to the particular interests of the participants.)

For more information, visit Windy Point Soap to learn more about the classes!

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A few thoughts for the day on Honeyquat, alcohol, and solubilizers

For a while there, it seemed like honeyquat smelled like dead plastic fish and I couldn't use it in anything, even things that had loads of fragrance in it. I'm happy to report that the version I have from Lotioncrafter smells like...well, nothing, which is a good thing.

When it comes to using alcohol in our products, they are not all the same. Look at this comparison between the denatured alcohol I get from Voyageur Soap & Candle and 40% vodka I bought at the liquor store. On the left we have the denatured alcohol, which has very easily dissolved 6% salicylic acid, whereas 6% has barely dissolved in the vodka. 

Salicylic acid is soluble at about 14% in pure ethanol and 0.5% in 20% alcohol. So at 40% alcohol in the vodka, we can dissolve about 1% salicylic acid. In the denatured stuff I bought - 85.5% Ethyl Alcohol, 13.7% Methanol, 0.85% Ethyl Acetate - I can easily get 6% or more. 

If you see a body wash, facial cleanser, or shampoo formula that contains surfactants - the foamy, bubbly, lathery kind - and they suggest adding a solubilizer like polysorbate 20 or caprylyl/capryl glucoside with your fragrance or essential oil, you can leave it out. Surfactants are good emulsifiers of oils, and 1% will be easily incorporated. You can leave it in, too, but solublizers can suppress foam and lather. 

Please also note that you can't use solubilizers to incorporate small amounts of water into oil. They can incorporate small amounts of oil into water, not the other way around. Our solubilizers are what are called high HLB emulsifiers, and they are water soluble. You can't use them to incorporate a bit of oil into a lotion bar, for instance. 

What does this mean? It means that I can use polysorbate 20 or 80, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil - to name a few - to incorporate a bit of oil into a product - say 3% oil into a toner - but I can't use it to incorporate water into something oily. I can't use it to get some glycerin into a lip balm or honey into a whipped butter. 

Just a few thoughts for the day...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Wondering: What is the "dump and heat" method for creating lotions?

In the September Q&A on Patreon, Allison asked: I recently read an article on the blog for Majestic Mountain Sage where they advocate what they refer to as a "dump and heat" method for creating lotions, creams, or conditioners.  I have read quite a bit about creating emulsions and have never seen any instructions that suggest all ingredients can be dumped together and put in the microwave!  An author of the blog suggests that dumping ingredients together creates more stable emulsions, and that also, should one choose to formulate with phases, that emulsifiers belong in the heated water phase.  This goes against anything I have read, and I'm wondering...have you heard of "dumping and heating" and is there even any science to support this method?  Thank you!  

There are a few things to unpack in this question, so bear with me as I go through it concept by concept.

It seems they are only looking at the idea of emulsifying wax, which is one specific product they carry with an INCI of Cetearyl alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20. This wouldn't apply to any other emulsifier unless indicated in the data bulletin that this is the best way to use it. As it is, this method isn't advised for emulsifying wax.

I'm not sure why they're saying this should go into the water phase as we should "Treat it like the other water soluble items in your mixture." Emulsifying wax isn't water soluble - it has a hydrophilic or water loving head and a hydrophobic or water hating tail, which is how it works as an emulsifier. It connects to water at one end, oil at the other, and it creates these lovely micelles that hold the oil in little bubbles floating around in the water. I honestly I have no idea why they would suggest this. I have seen it suggested for some emulsifiers - I just wrote about adding stearamidopropyl dimethylamine to the water phase as it's more water soluble at the higher pH at which it normally exists - but never for emulsifying wax or Polawax.

Now the second part of this - why do we heat and hold the phases separately?

For an emulsification to work, we need three things - heat, mixing, and chemistry in the form of the emulsifier.

We need to use the right all-in-one emulsifier for our product - for instance, we can't use Ritamulse SCG for something with a larger than 25% oil phase - and we need to use the right amount.

We have to heat our ingredients up to the right temperature. For Polawax, it's suggested we heat to 70˚C, while the new conditioner I'm using Varisoft EQ65 wants to be heated to 75˚C. It's all about getting all the ingredients melted properly. Something like stearic acid has a melting point of 69˚C, so we heat our products to above that to ensure it'll be completely liquid.

I have to stop here and beg you not to use a microwave to heat up your ingredients for a number of reasons. One, we use a double boiler because it heats our ingredients slowly so they won't burn. Two, because the oil phase in a microwave can heat up super quickly and burn you. To your left, exhibit A. This container was in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds for the last burst, and this happened. This could have seriously burned quite a few of us as we gathered around the table.

We heat and hold separately because we're trying to make it easier for the ingredients to come together. The best way I heard it described is like this: Oil and water don't want to mix, and we're forcing them to come together by heating and mixing and using an emulsifier. If we heat and hold all the ingredients together, our emulsifier is trying to create an emulsion at lower temperatures as everything heats up, which means it has to work pretty hard to create an emulsion that's kinda weak and inefficient. You're also asking the other things that we need for a lotion - the mixing and the chemistry - to do more far more work, and this can lead to fails.

You may have to add more emulsifier than necessary or you might have to mix longer to get that lotion to stay together. By keeping them separate and mixing them together when they reach their suggested heating point of - for instance - 70˚C, we're creating the ideal circumstance in which an emulsion can happen, which means awesome lotions!

Why heat? Chemical reactions generally speed up when heated. (Think of how much easier it is to get sugar to melt in a hot cup of tea versus a cup of ice water.)

Chemical reactions also require a certain amount of energy to happen, and in the case of a lotion, the energy is the heat that's applied. Think of something like deep frying chips in a pan. If we heat the oil to 200˚F and add the potatoes, nothing happens. If we heat it to 350˚F, we get lovely crisp chips. I know lotion making isn't like making chips, but the concept is the same: If we wait until the optimal moment to combine our ingredients, we get a better result.

There's also the theory of phase inversion, which is all about the getting the temperature to a certain point so the emulsifiers create a water-in-oil lotion first, then cool down to make an oil-in-water lotion, which makes the lotion more stable. (I'll refer you to the post for more information there.)

Related post: Why do we heat and hold separately?

So the short answer is that yes, I have heard of this technique, it's not advised as it can lead to using more emulsifier than you need and unstable lotions. I know some people have had great successes with it, but it's not something I'd recommend when making a lotion in two phases is barely more work than this method.

I have to add one more thing. The author of the linked post states, "Almost each time I hear of someone having trouble with lotions I find they use the phases method for heating and mixing." Again, I'm baffled. I would argue that at least 50% of the lotion fails I hear about are those in which there was no heating and holding.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Does "safe for colour treated hair" mean anything?

In September's Q&A on Patreon, Doris asked: Does "safe for color-treated hair" on shampoos have any real meaning?  Are there any common surfactants or other ingredients we might use that would not be safe for color-treated hair?  I assume by "safe" they mean the ingredients are less likely to fade or change the color (or maybe it's just an advertising gimmick), but I'm planning to ask some friends to try out my shampoo and conditioner and don't know what to say if they ask about this. 

The short answer is that if you formulate mild shampoos with gentle to mild surfactants and ensure the pH is below 6, you can be assured your product is colour safe.

Almost all the surfactants we use in our products are considered gentle to mild. Some of my favourites - sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI), which I use for shampoo bars to create big, fluffy, "elegant" foam and lather; C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40), which is great for oily skin and hair; SMC taurate, which is great for dry to normal hair and skin; and foaming silk, oat, amaranth, and other proteins, which are super mild and great for really dry hair or any skin type.

Sodium lauryl sulfate isn't considered mild, so if you're looking to make something colour safe, this is the one to avoid. Some people avoid sodium laureth sulfate, but it's considered mild, and is good for all hair and skin types.

Choosing the right surfactants is vital, but there are two other things to consider - incorporating mildness and ensuring the product has the right pH.

One of the reasons you'll always see a amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, or disodium cocoamphodiacetate in my products is that they bring mildness to the product. I generally add around 10% to thicken and increase mildness. (I leave it out when I want to make a clarifying shampoo for my really oily hair.)

Ensuring the shampoo or conditioner has the right pH is vital. An alkaline product with a pH of 8 or higher can lead to some serious damage as the cuticle won't lay flat, and this leads to dull looking hair that tangles easily. When hair tangles too much, it can strip the cuticle from the hair, leaving it weak.

This is the reason that most people can't use CP soap as a shampoo as the alkaline pH can really damage our hair. 

We want a pH of 6 or lower, and, as you'll see with the new conditioners I'm using like stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and Varisoft EQ65, we have to alter the pH to make sure they are positively charged and conditioning to our hair. If you're using something like decyl glucoside, which can have a pH as high as 11, or sodium lauryl sarcosinate, you have to ensure your pH gets down below 6 by adding citric acid or another acid to the mix.

I have been playing with at least 10 new surfactants and quite a number of new conditioners, which I'll be sharing with you soon. I'm so excited about this!!! 

Related posts:
pH of shampoo
pH of conditioner
Adjusting the pH of our products

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Comment catchup: Spectrastat G2 and bath bombs

In this post on Spectrastat G2, Ally D shared, So far I have had success with this in my shampoos. However, at 1% usage (recommended usage is 1-1.2%) it curdled my lotion emulsion! I was very disappointed to say the least. I may try to pre-mix it with a bit of the emulsion and then add it in that way to see if it helps.

I'm sorry you've had this experience. I know very little about this preservative beyond reading about it - I have a sample, and I will be trying it out shortly - but I'll post what I can about it as I find out more.

As a note, Lotioncrafter is now carrying this preservative as Caprylhydroxamic Acid GCG™.

In this post, Is guar gum a good thickener for bath bombs?, Elyse asks: I want to make bath bombs but instead of oil I want to use a surfactant like coco glucoside. Considering coco glucoside is about 50% water will I need to preserve the bath bombs? 

Surfactants contain water, which will set off the fizz in your bath bombs, so be cautious about adding a liquid like this to your mixture. Check out more about this topic in this recent post.

In this post on bath bombs, Amy said: Soo.. has anyone ever had theirs explode in a glass container? I've heard of this happening to multiple people.

Dear God, no! It sounds like something set off the fizz early and the container was too tight, so the gases couldn't escape and it blew off. Please please please don't store anything in glass containers, especially if you're in a bathroom. Naked people and bare feet plus glass equals awfulness!

I'm still working my way through the comments. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Experiments in the workshop: Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine conditioner test

When I find a new ingredient, I do a search of all the materials on my computer or iPad, then I look for prototype formulas to give me an idea of what I can do with this thing. In this case, I was looking for more information about stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, a conditioner we met yesterday.

I found this formula - Shiny locks intensive conditioner - so I tried it with a few small changes. I find it wise to make the first batch as close to or completely as written as this will give me a sense of what success should look like. If I go messing with it before I've even tried it, then I'll never know when it's right.

84.5% distilled water
2% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
0.3% citric acid
0.5% panthenol (powder)
3% cetrimonium chloride

7% cetearyl alcohol
2% cyclomethicone
0.2% dimethicone

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (I used guava fig from Windy Point Soap*)

1. Heat heated water phase to 65˚C.
2. Heat oil phase to 65˚C.
3. Add the oil phase to the water phase using a high shear mixer, like an immersion blender. I used the MiniPro Mixer from Lotioncrafter* for the small batch, but used my Braun stick blender for larger batches.
4. Cool to 40˚C and add the cool down phase with high shear mixing.

This is a fairly weird looking product so far. Look how clear and foamy it is! It will eventually cool down to become an opaque and thicker product by the next day.

Don't forget to always test and adjust the pH. In the case of this formula, the pH was around 7. (I say around 7 at this point as my pH meter wasn't working, so I had to rely on pH strips.)

When I fixed up my meter and bought a new one, it registered pH 6.89 in a 10% solution in distilled water. It has to get down to 4.5 to 5 to actually be a conditioner, so I started adding drops of a 50/50 solution of citric acid and distilled water.

To make this, measure out 50% distilled water and add 50% citric acid. Store it in a plastic bottle of some sort. Mine has a disc cap so I can add it drop by drop to a product. 

I added 3 drops of this 50/50 solution, and it dropped down to pH 3.07. Holy cow! This is why I make the 10% solution, so when I do something like this and add too much, it works as my test case.

Into the entire container - 390 grams now - I added 0.04 grams citric acid, mixed, and it measured pH 4.84. Success! Considering I already had 0.3% in the heated water phase, this means that I only needed 0.01% more to bring it down to the pH level I wanted. That's not much, but it made such a difference!

What do I think about this formula? I really like this ingredient. My hair was really wavy the day I washed it, and even the next day, but on day three, it was looking a little straw like. As with the ICE Restore cold process conditioner, I do miss the humectants I'd normally find in Incroquat BTMS-50.

Weirdly, I took very few pictures of this formula as I was making and bottling it. It's all gone now - it's the second from the left bottle - because I liked it so much! 

What will I do differently next time? I think I'll add a few of my favourite ingredients, like proteins, and a bit more silicone. Join me on Monday as we take a look at that formula! Oh, and I think I'll make a version with some lovely Monoi de Tahiti (infused coconut oil), too.

As a note, I'm providing these links to you in this post to provide you with information. They are not affiliate links and I get nothing if you buy something from these suppliers. If you're looking for stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, I bought mine from Making Cosmetics*

I'm teaching at Windy Point September 23rd & 24th

I'm so excited to be returning to Windy Point Soap in Calgary, Alberta, on September 23rd and 24th to teach four half day classes!

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars - Saturday morning

Liquid shampoo and conditioners - Saturday afternoon

Facial products - Sunday morning.
This is an all new class with all new formulas exclusive to Windy Point including a foaming gelled facial cleanser with foaming silk, a moisturizing Asian skin care style toner with extracts, two micellar waters, and a cold process moisturizer.

Advanced lotion making - Sunday afternoon.
Join this advanced lotion making class to learn how to increase and decrease the water phase, increase and decrease the oil phase, modify an existing formula to use a new emulsifier, and how to add botanical extracts, proteins, hydrosols, and more. We will have a few formulas to follow, but we'll be adjusting it as per the interests of those attending. This is truly an improv type class! (I'm so excited about this!!!)

Please note for this class you will be expected to know how to interpret a formula in percentages, scale a formula up and down, use a digital scale, and understand the concept of emulsification, how to heat and hold, and the differences between a preservative and anti-oxidant and when to use each as there will be no time to cover these concepts during the class. Ideally, you will have made many lotions at home and wish to attend this class to understand how to alter your existing formulas, learn new formulas, or learn how to use new emulsifiers.

We had so much fun last time, and I can't wait to visit Michele and Keith again, and teach some classes in Calgary!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe is speaking at the Canadian conference!

OH MY GOSH! Dr Joe Schwarcz, chemistry professor and science educator from McGill University, is the keynote speaker at the Handcrafted Bath & Body Guild and Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference held in Toronto, Ontario, on June 8th to 10th, 2018. I'm so excited right now... Give me a minute.

Why am I so excited? Dr Joe is an amazing speaker and his knowledge of chemistry is unparalleled. You don't have to be a chemistry expert to enjoy his work: He writes for everyone, and makes it easy to understand. He writes and speaks on interesting topics - here's an article on paraben phobia, here's another one on the benefits of tea - so we'll all want to learn chemistry. We are so lucky to have him at the conference!

I can't believe I'll be leading a workshop at the same event at which Dr Joe Schwarcz is the keynote and Dr Kevin Dunn is teaching. I think I might fangirl myself silly!

If you want to know more about the conference, click here for my post on the topic.

For more on Dr Joe...
Follow him on Facebook.
Check out his newspaper column, The Right Chemistry, from the Montreal Gazette. This is a great one on parabens.
Check out his radio show as a podcast, The Dr Joe Show!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why did I buy that again? Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine

I've had requests to formulate with this ingredient for years, but we can't get it in Canada, so I didn't order it. During our weeks of being snowed in earlier this year, I went on a spending spree for loads of ingredients I've always wanted to try, and this was at the top of the list. Let's take a look at this cationic emulsifier, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine!

What is this? It's a cationic or postively charged emulsifier that brings together water and oil to make an emulsion. It's positively charged, so we use it in conditioners to detangle, moisturize, condition, increase shine, and more.

What does it mean to condition our hair? A cationic quaternary compound or a positively charged compound adsorbs to the surface of your hair. This adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair in a process called substantivity. Our hair is negatively charged, so a positively charged ingredient will be attracted to the surface of our hair. Using a positively charged ingredient means our cuticle will lay down properly after washing, so our hair is less likely to tangle and more likely to shine.

Related posts:
Conditioner: What's that then? 
Adsorbing and substantivity!
"Good condition"
Virgin hair
Quick summary of damaged hair

Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine is an amine with fatty chains added that becomes more cationic or positively charged when we reduce the pH. It's a good conditioner that prevents static, and will increase viscosity. It won't build up on hair, and it's said to help remove build up  It can be used with cetrimonium chloride, another cationic ingredient, to become a good emulsifier. It's also used with behentrimonium chloride, a cationic ingredient that's a very close relative of behentrimonium methosulfate, the cationic ingredient in Incroquat BTMS-25 or BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225.

This ingredient works well with negatively charged surfactants, like those bubbly, lathery, foamy ones we use in shampoos, as it doesn't depress the foam or lather.

The version I have has a four year shelf life. We add it to the hot water phase because it's initially water soluble at the high pH level of around pH 10 to 12.

We have to alter the pH of this product with something like citric acid or lactic acid. As the pH decreases, the product becomes more cationic or positively charged, and it becomes more attracted to our hair making it a better conditioner. If you're using citric acid, you'll want a 5.88: 1 ratio (5.88 grams of SD to 1 gram of citric acid) or 3.7:1 ratio with lactic acid. The viscosity of the product can be different based on the acid you use. You're shooting for pH 4.5 to 5 as that's when it forms a cationic salt and becomes a proper conditioner. (It becomes a tertiary amine salt at this point.)

Related post: How to alter pH in our products

It works best when combined with a fatty alcohol, like cetyl alcohol or cetaryl alcohol, as this will boost the substantivity of your cationic ingredient to make it more conditioning. (I've found it used with stearyl alcohol, but I've never found this ingredient at any of our suppliers.) These also moisturize hair and increase the viscosity of the product.

How do we use it? Add it to the heated water phase of the product along with the acid you're using to decrease the pH. I've found I use about 1.1% to 1.2% citric acid to 5% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine to gett to pH 4.8 or so, but you'll have to see what your measurements might be and adjust your acid levels accordingly. Use your fatty alcohol in the oil phase of your product at anywhere from 1% to 7%, depending on how thick you want the product to be.

I'll be sharing some of the formulas I've been working on for ages with you tomorrow and next week. 

As a note, I purchased mine from Making Cosmetics*. If you're using another version, please check what they suggest for usage rates and such as it may vary from supplier to supplier.

Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology
Chemists' Corner forum
Huntsman brochure
Liquid Detergents

Join me tomorrow for an awesome formula for a conditioner using this ingredient!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: How can I make a lotion feel silkier?

In this post, Recipes from the conference: Rosehip & calendula moisturizer, rahaf mohammed asked: How can I make the final texture of the cream of the body to be soft and silk and have no greasy effect I use emulsifying wax with Stearic Acid and oils. I make it but the final result of the cream was not moisturizing it was only for minutes with a trace of oils. I want to make cream from scratch but its texture is silky and beautiful as a cream that we see in stores with a beautiful texture. 

The formula in question is this one, the rosehip & calendula moisturizer that uses Simulgreen 18-2 as the emulsifier. It's a light, non-greasy lotion that should sink in quickly.

46% distilled water
10% hyaluronic acid gel (0.1% HA LMW)
3% propanediol 1,3
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
1% sodium lactate (powder)
2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein
2% panthenol (powder)
0.5% allantoin

10% squalane
5% rosehip seed oil
4% Simulgreen 18-2
2% behenyl alcohol
1% Sepilift DPHP

5% Antarcticine
2% Regu-scence
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Everything in this formula is designed to be light and non-greasy feeling, including the emulsifier.

In your formula, you're using emulsifying wax with stearic acid. Emulsifying wax offers a medium greasy and waxy kind of feel, compared to the less greasy, almost powdery feeling of Simulgreen 18-2.

I've used behenyl alcohol to give it a powdery, non-greasy feeling. You're using stearic acid, which is waxy and draggy.

When you change the ingredients, you change the skin feel. If you made this using emulsifying wax and cetyl alcohol, it'll be a little slicker with more glide. Use cetearyl alcohol and you'll have a slick, waxiness. Use behenyl alcohol and you'll get that powdery feeling. And so on.

I chose squalane as it sinks in quickly and feels light, and non-greasy. If I chose to use olive oil, it'll feel heavier and thicker.

I always say in any lotion formula I create, you can change the oil for the oil, butter for a butter, oil for a butter, or butter for an oil without wrecking the chemistry of the product. But you'll radically alter the skin feel of a lotion if you substitute cocoa butter for babassu or shea butter for fractionated coconut oil. It's not a bad thing, but you can't expect alter things like that and not change the way it feels.

To return to your question - what can you do to make the product silkier?
  • Choose a different emulsifier. Using something like Simulgreen 18-2 or Montanov 68 will make a silkier feeling product than Polawax or emulsifying wax. Simulsol 165/Lotionpro™ 165 makes a lotion feel lighter. 
  • Choose a different thickener. Stearic acid is a terrible choice as it's waxy and draggy. Instead, choose one of the fatty alcohols I list above 
  • Choose different oils. Choose ones that are non-greasy and light versus those that are thicker, and heavier. (Check out the emollients section to see what oils you might like.) Consider using silicones, like dimethicone or some of the new ones I'll be sharing more about soon. I bet one of the ingredients in your favourite store bought brand contains it! 
  • Add some occlusive ingredients. If you want something to stay on the skin for a bit, add a bit of cocoa butter or other butter, dimethicone, or allantoin to keep that feeling going for a while. 
For a few more ideas, check out the men's section for ideas on how to make a lotion less greasy feeling or search for "less greasy" on the blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to test pH of our products and more (updated for 2017)

In this post, Weekend Wonderings: Have a question?, Valerie asked: Are there guidelines on to dilute (with distilled water) a sample of a product before testing to get ph test accurate results - like shampoo, lotion etc. I have pH tested my liquid soaps in the past and was instructed to dilute appropriately before testing to get accurate results. Any advice is appreciated! I have made a powdered foaming exfoliating cleanser that I would like to pH test. I have a digital reader and a know how to calibrate it using the solutions. Also, I would love to post this recipe for feedback and suggestions on how to improve it.

I've been using the method put forth by Kenna of Modern Soapmaking. "I’m aiming for a 1% soap solution, meaning 1% of the solution is soap and 99% of the solution is distilled water. To make it easy, I weighed approximately 1 gram of soap and 99 grams of distilled water..."

If you're using distilled water - which should have a pH of 7 or neutral - then the only change to the water is the thing you want to measure. So using as little as 1% should be enough to alter the pH enough to be measured. I generally use 10% as I usually have my 1 gram scale handy versus my tinier scale, so I use 10 grams product to 90 grams distilled water. 

Why do we have to dilute our products? It's obvious in the case of a shampoo bar or solid soap, but this is important for anything that's thicker than water as the electrodes aren't equipped to measure pH in viscous materials, like lotions. It won't give you an accurate measurement if you just dip it into the lotion or shampoo. Dilute it and you're good! 

How to calibrate your machine? You'll have to read the specifics from the manual, but the ones I've used suggest we should have liquids for pH 4 and 7 and, if possible, 10. I push the button, and place it in the pH 7 liquid until it notes it's done there, hit save, then put it in the pH 4 liquid, and do the same thing. It's calibrated! 

Where do I get my calibration fluids? I get mine from either Lotioncrafter or at my local hydroponics store. 

Those of you who have been here for a while may have noticed that I'm using a different pH meter. My old one, a Jenco Vision Plus 630, which I loved so much, needed a new electrode, and I couldn't figure out where to buy it. I bought a new one from Amazon last month - Hydrofarm HM Digital HMDPH200 Waterproof PH and Temperature Meter - and I'm really happy with it so far. (Not an affiliate link, just sharing information.)

As a quick note, if you're a soap maker or want to be one, consider supporting Kenna of Modern Soapmaking on Patreon. She's the one who turned me onto it, and I can never thank her enough. I'm embarassed to realize that I haven't been supporting her, and I made that right today! I met her earlier this year at the conference, and she's such a great person! 

Related posts:
Let's take a look at what pH means!
pH of our skin's acid mantle
pH of our bodies

What pH should lotions be?
Another look at the pH of our lotions
pH of shampoo
pH of conditioners

Adjusting pH of our products
An example of me adjusting pH in our products

Calibrating my pH meter
What pH meters are good?
Equipment for measuring pH

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Is emulsifying wax part of the oil phase?

In this post, How can you tell it's a good recipe?, Connie asked, I am confused, however, about the percent of emulsifier relates to total percent. I understand that amount of emulsifying wax is 25% of % of oils. But isn't the emulsifying wax considered part of oil phase? When I add that in, isn't it going to change all my percents? I may be overthinking this. :/ 

Emulsifying wax is incorporated in the heated part of the oil phase, but it's not part of the "oil phase" or the oil soluble ingredients that need to be emulsified into the product. We need to know the total of the oil soluble ingredients in a lotion to figure out how much emulsifier we need to use.

Calculate everything that has to be emulsified in your formula. This includes things that might be in the cool down phase.

10% cocoa butter
10% rice bran oil
3% cetyl alcohol
1% beeswax
2% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (oil soluble Vitamin C)
1% tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E, oil soluble)
1% fragrance oil

We have a total of 28% oils in the formula. If we are using Polawax as the emulsifier, we'd want to use 25% of the total amount in emulsifier. So 28/4 = 7%. So we're using 7% Polawax in this formula.

10% cocoa butter
10% rice bran oil
7% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol
1% beeswax

2% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
1% tocopherol acetate
1% fragrance oil

Please note, only Polawax has the 25% rule of thumb. Emulsifying wax is 25% plus 1% - so in this formula we'd be using 8% non-Polawax emulsifying wax. And other emulsifiers have other rules, so you have to figure out what you have and what that one requires.

The rest of the formula would be the distilled water and preservative, so something like 0.5% liquid Germall Plus, and 65.5% distilled water for a total of 100%. We don't figure out the water amount until the rest of the ingredients are in place. The water amount is whatever is left over.

You may see formulas that note "water q.s" and this means "water to 100%". I tried that for a while, but people got annoyed with me, so I figure it out now.

Related posts:
Polawax versus other emulsifying waxes

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Why don't we measure by volume? and more!

In this post, Creating products: A moment or two about recipes, Caroline said, I like using weight measurement for recipes because it is so much easier to measure than worrying about cups/teaspoons, etc. and also find it more convenient. However, there are a lot of recipes out there that don't use weight. This one particular recipe did use the 1/3 rule in that it asked for 1/4 cup shea butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles. I decided to weigh them and found that the shea butter weighed 44 gr, the coconut oil 54 gr and the beeswax (I used freshly grated, packed) 18 gr. So obviously, for a more accurate recipe, weight does make a difference since the density of the ingredients has a bearing on the end result. Is this correct or am I missing something?

You are completely correct! If you were to make the recipe you mention as a lotion bar, you'd have a sloppy mess as you only have 15.5% beeswax to harden the bar, versus the 30% we'd normally use.

To see what I did here - 44 grams shea butter + 54 grams cocont oil + 18 grams beeswax = 116 grams. I divided each thing by 116 grams to get the percentage. 18 grams beeswax/116 grams total = 15.5% rounded down slightly. Check out this post on how to figure out the percentages. 

This is how I generally explain it. If I say to use 1/4 cup cocoa butter, is that before or after I've melted it? Is that cocoa butter in pastilles, shards, or almost a fine powder? Measuring by volume is completely inaccurate for bath & body products and leads to ruined products. Instead, I suggest using 10 grams cocoa butter, and it doesn't matter what shape the ingredient might be as it'll always be 10 grams of cocoa butter.

As well, if you're doing things by weight, you use fewer containers and utensils as you're measuring straight into the container, rather than using 1/4 cup this and 1/3 cup that and all those teaspoons. So using the scale = less messy clean up after formulating fun! Woo!

What do you do if you find a recipe you're dying to make in volume measurements? Leave it alone. Find another recipe. I know, this isn't the answer we want, but it'll lead to far less heartache and far fewer wasted ingredients. If you find a lotion that has the preservatives in teaspoons, how do you know if you have enough in there? You don't, and neither does the person writing the recipe. There are so many good formulas out there written by volume that you can walk away from the ones that aren't done properly. (Check out this post on figuring out if this is a good recipe for not!)

Learn how to substitute one oil for another - there are very few situations in which you can't trade one liquid oil for another liquid oil in a formula - and one butter for another and use a formula you already know works with the oil you like.

There's one exception to this rule and that's all about mineral make-up and things like colourants or dyes. Oftentimes, we're using such tiny quantities that they can't be measured with even a tiny tiny scale that measures to 0.01 grams. So we use scoops and spoons and drops.

Related posts:
Everything you might need to know about formulas, including measuring by weight
Weight vs. volume
Specific density