Monday, June 26, 2017

Thank to everyone...and a special offer if you subscribe this month.

As a thank you to my lovely subscribers on Patreon at the $10 level, I'm offering you your choice of 2 e-zines (your choice) or any one of my e-books (again, your choice) as my thank you for your kindness and support over the last year! If that wasn't incentive enough, you also get a discount code for Lotioncrafter. You also get to read the feed, ask questions, and suggest potential duplications and see exclusive recipes there.

Whether you subscribe or not, I hope you realize how much I appreciate you, my lovely readers. Raymond and I have just been through what feels like almost 18 months of hell, and I honestly wouldn't be close to remotely sane without your kind words of support, without you sharing your stories to give me hope that we could make it through this grief and loss in one piece together, without you encouraging me to get into my workshop to create and share. Writing the blog and all these other things has been my refuge when the world didn't make sense and I thought my brain would break, and I will never be able to thank you enough for being there for me. ☺️

Click here for my Patreon feed. 

Weekday Wonderings: Substitutes for parabens in an emulsified scrub?

In this post, One ingredient, ten products: Incroquat BTMS-50 in an emulsified scrub, Febe asks: Love the recipe. I am concerned about Phenonip and the parabens. As I see the INCI Phenonip is Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben. It has parabens and I am trying to stay away from them. I see others in the blog mention Optiphen. Do you think that is an alternative to Phenonip? Thanks in advance for your comments.

I love love love emulsified scrubs, and it sounds like you do, too! Although they don't contain water, they will be exposed to water, which means we have to use a preservative. But which kind?

There's a debate in our community as to which kind of preservative we should use in our products - oil soluble or water soluble - and I'll summarize it a bit here, then encourage everyone who's interested to check out the longer post for more information. The gist of it is that using an oil soluble only preservative means the preservative will be locked away in the oils of the scrub and won't be available when water is introduced. This means we should use a water soluble preservative.  It's suggested to include an emulsifier in the scrub regardless of the type of preservative you're using to ensure it is available when the time comes for it to act on its preserving power! I use something like liquid Germall Plus or Phenonip as they have water and oil soluble properties.

What about Optiphen? Yes, I think you can use Optiphen in an emulsified scrub as it seems to work for both anhydrous and hydrous products. But here's the problem: Optiphen isn't a broad spectrum preservative that can protect our products from bacteria, yeast, fungus, and mold, so we have to add something else to the mix to ensure it protects from mold. It's easier to use Optiphen ND as it is broad spectrum.

As a quick note, I don't want to tell people they can't choose which ingredients they wish to use, but I would encourage you to do read this column by the amazing Dr Joe Schwarcz from McGill University about the study upon which the paraben concerns are based. The summary is this: "This mistrust can be traced back to a 2004 paper by Dr. Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading that described finding traces of parabens, a commonly used class of preservatives, in breast tumours. The study received extensive press coverage, with few accounts pointing out that there had been no control group. Since parabens are widely used in foods and cosmetics, they can conceivably be detected in most everyone."

As a note, please don't put a product intended for your skin or bathtub in a tin container. It will rust and ruin both the product and the look of your fixtures, especially white ones! I know it looks cute - believe me, I use a lot of these tins for non-water containing products that won't be around water - but it will look awful after one or two showers or baths!

Related posts about preservatives or preserving scrubs:
Preservative section of the blog
Preservative comparison chart (download PDF on Google Drive)
Water activity and scrubs

Related posts about emulsified scrubs. Do a search for more as I have dozens of recipes on the blog about these products. I just love them!
Oil or emulsified scrub?
Emulsified scrub with Ritamulse SCG
Using behenyl alcohol in emulsified scrubs

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).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: Can when and how we mix have an impact on an emulsion?

In this post, Weekend Wonderings, Melinda says: I had something interesting happen when I used BTMS 25 in my lotion. In my first batch of lotion this week, I accidentally let the temperature to both water and oil get down to 45˚C. When I added the water to the oil, it immediately thickened up to a cool whip consistency. I stick blended, then added preservative and FO. 

In my subsequent batches, I mixed water to oil at the proper temperature. I find it interesting that all have the exact same ingredients and percentages yet the first emulsion seems thicker and waxier while the others feel more water-based if I could use that term. Do you think that the mix at improper temp will effect the overall integrity of the product?

I promise we'll get to the answer to your question eventually, but I need to beg your indulgence to write about something that might not seem related for a bit...

I had a great time teaching my conditioner class at Windy Point Soap in Calgary, but for some strange reason the leave in - which I've made and taught more than a hundred times, not exaggerating, I swear - separated for two of the three groups. We were using the same ingredients I use at home, but no luck. They started the recipe again, and one of the two groups separated again! ARGH! What the heck was going on?

There was one difference that I didn't think would be a big deal: We were using stick blenders. At home and when I teach at Voyageur Soap & Candle, we use hand mixers. As a non-soaper, I rarely use a stick blender. Because I wanted to make whipped butter when I started this amazing adventure, I bought a Black & Decker hand mixer with a whisk attachment and that type of appliance is what I continue to use for almost every product I make.

It's all about shear! A stick blender is a "high shear" mixer, one that "disperses, or transports, one phase or ingredient (liquid, solid, gas) into a main continuous phase (liquid), with which it would normally be immiscible." (Wikipedia). The water part of our emulsions are considered the external or continuous phase of the product, so a high shear mixer would mix the oil and water to create an emulsion. (When it brings liquid and liquid together, it's an emulsion. Solid into liquid is a suspension.)

Related post: The Bancroft rule

If we consider that the shear rate of our mixture is defined as the "relative motion between adjacent layers of a moving liquid", then something that is high shear will brings those layers together quicker than something that is low shear. A high shear mixer will disperse one phase of our recipe into a phase into which it wouldn't normally avoid mixing. High shear mixers spin quick in the middle than the outsides, and this difference creates the high shear. Immersion or stick blenders and food processors are high shear mixers.

For something like gums or polymers, we want low shear mixers, which are designed to move the ingredients around with a low amount of energy. Gums and polymers are called non-Newtonian fluids, meaning they change in viscosity according to shear. Ketchup is a great example of this: It's thick and sticky and won't move until you hit the bottle, then it turns liquid and flows!

I like hand mixers, which are also low shear mixers, and most of my recipes are mixed with one of these.

Don't worry...I'm almost at the main point of all of this...

In my instructions for the class, I didn't say how long the participants should mix their conditioners, and it was such a chaotic and fun class, I didn't get around to some of the tables to give them the information that they should mix for a few minutes, then stop and do something else as the product cooled to the point when they could add their preservative and fragrance/essential oils. So they stick blended the product for quite some time, which lead to the emulsion failing!

How interesting is that? (Well, I find it interesting!)

To return to the original question, "Do you think that the mix at improper temp will effect the overall integrity of the product?"

Totally! How and when we mix can have a huge impact on what we make! I tested this out a few years ago by making two lotions, one mixed with the hand mixer beater attachment, the other with the whisk. The latter was a whippy, fluffy, mousse-like concoction compared to the regular lotion kind of consistency with the beater.

Certain emulsifiers demand specific types of mixing. Simulgreen 18-2 and Montanov 68 need us to use a stick blender to start, then a hand mixer (lower shear) when they start to cool down. Olivem 1000 is very sensitive to mixing, too.

I will be writing about Simulgreen 18-2 soon! There are just so many things to write about and not enough time!!! 

Having said all of this, the data sheets for Incroquat BTMS-50 note that we want to add the water and oil phases together at 75˚C to 80˚C, so for the best results, this is what we should be doing. So the official answer is yes, mixing them together at a low temperature may result in a less than optimal product. (Who among us is always perfect when we make products, right?)

I know, I know, I do go on about things that I think are interesting, so if you've skipped to the bottom to see the short answer it is this - yes, I think mixing at improper temperatures can have an impact on the integrity of the product.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can I use Sepimax ZEN to thicken a facial cleanser so I can include dermabrasion crystals?

In this post, Modifying the facial cleanser even more with hydrolyzed proteins, Jamil asked:  Could I substitute Sepimax ZEN for the Crothix in the cleanser for oily skin recipe and then add dermabrasion crystals to make it a scrub? If so at what Percentage? The crystals did not stay suspended with Crothix. 

Yes! Sepimax ZEN can handle electrolytes and surfactants, so you can totally turn a facial cleanser recipe into a gel using this ingredient! And it's super easy to do!

What I would do with this recipe is take out the Crothix at 2%, and substitute 2% to 3% Sepimax ZEN into it at the end. I've used a titch less water than the original recipe - it was 51.5% and now it's 48.5% - as I'm adding 3% ZEN. If you find this too thick, try 2% ZEN.

ZEN doesn't play well with hydrolyzed proteins or cationic polymers like polyquaternium 7, but we can include them here because we're using 3% ZEN and any loss of viscosity is kinda okay. If you want it thicker, take those out and you'll have quite a thick gel.

15% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
15% DLS
10% cocamidopropyl betaine
3% glycerin
3% cationic polymer - I like polyquat 7
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

48.5% distilled water

3% Sepimax ZEN

Weigh the surfactant phase of the product into a container and mix. I suggest using a fork and mixing so you don't get a ton of bubbles. It's not the end of the world if it gets bubbly, but you'll have to wait a few days for the bubbles to go down.

When the product is uniform, add the water, then mix again until it is blended. Again, try to avoid too many bubbles.

Sprinkle the Sepimax ZEN over the top of the surfactant in the container and leave it for 8 hours. I really mean this. Walk away, and don't even look at it until 8 hours or more have passed! Yes, I know it's hard to do that, but it's the best way for the product to thicken up!

If you want to add dermabrasion crystals to it, please don't go over the suggested usage rate to start. The ones I have say 1% to 10% so stay within those boundaries until you see how your skin reacts to them.

Related posts:
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part one)
Turning your cleanser into an exfoliating cleanser (part two)

If you'd like to see more posts about using Sepimax ZEN, check out my e-zine on the topic - Gels, Gels, Gels! - or keep watching this space for more!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can I use BTMS-25 in a solid conditioner? Why isn't my BTMS melting?

In the post, Solid conditioner bar: The recipe, Christine asked: I made your conditioner bar that included everything except for the dimethicone. Turned out wonderful! I love it--but pricey because of the BTMS 50. Instead of using 60%, I was thinking of using 30% BTMS 50 and 40% BTMS 25. I've read your blog about substituting BTMS 25 for BTMS 50, but wasn't sure how to translate that into this recipe. I imagine you'll suggest I experiment with it....but, before I do, do you have feedback about this? Thanks in advance!

Ah, you know me too well. Of course I'll suggest you experiment as that's the fun part of all of this, but I'm happy to share my thoughts as well.

I love love love conditioners bars, and I'm glad you're enjoying them, too! It is a pricey recipe, but it lasts forever! And you can totally use Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225 for some or all the Incroquat BTMS-50. I like to use a little Incroquat CR in mine, but I can't find it anywhere to purchase any more! Eek!

How to substitute it? In this case, just use it instead of Incroquat BTMS-50. As we aren't worrying about BTMS-25 being a poor emulsifier, you can substitute as much as you want in the solid conditioner recipe without a problem. Make a note, though, that BTMS-25 contains cetearyl alcohol, which can be waxier feeling than cetyl alcohol.

In the same post, Jill said: I have made this conditioner several times and am having one problem with it. Even in a double boiler with the hot water high on the sides, the liquid never seems to totally melt and be clear. There is a white skin on the top. And this white, cooled product adheres to the sides of the pot and the spoon. Do I scrape that into the mold on top of the liquid part? Am I just not waiting long enough... i.e. will it eventually melt to be clear if I wait long enough? 

I have this problem when my workshop is cold - it's unheated, so that happens a lot in the winter - so only the bits under the water in the double boiler will melt. Definitely scrape off the sides and make sure it all melts. It should be completely clear when you take it out of the double boiler, so it really is about having enough water in there and waiting. I hate waiting! I'm the queen of impatience, but it is important to have it all melted before removing it and adding the the cool down phase.

You can see this problem in my visual tutorial for making conditioner bars, and I said this: This is what it will look like when it has melted. You'll notice the white around the sides of the Pyrex jug. This the stuff that has re-hardened because my workshop was a little cool last week. You can scrape it off the sides and add it to the Pyrex jug if you're going to continue heating it.

Do you have any thoughts to share about making solid or liquid condtioners? Share your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: Can we make hydrolyzed silk at home? How can I harden foaming bath butter?

In this post, Better living through chemistry: Hydrolyzed proteins, Nancy asks: Is it possible to hydrolyze tussah silk at home? I have the silk fibers and put them in my sodium hydroxide lye solution when making soap. They dissolve. How is silk hydrolyzed? Heat and an acid?? Do you have any ideas? 

The short answer is I have no idea. I found this post on eHow called How to make hydrolyzed silk protein, but I can't vouch for it. If you try it, could you come back and share your thoughts?

If you want to learn a bit more about hydrolyzed proteins, check out my article in Handmade magazine on the topic. If you want to learn even more about hydrolyzed proteins, click here for an epic article on ResearchGate.

In this post, What the heck is this and what can I do with it? Foaming bath butter, Jessica asks: So I have this product as well. I will be damned if i cant find a way to HARDEN it. Using it as a frosting is great....if you add M&P. I don't want to, I would like it to whip but then get rock hard...any other way? I tried baking soda, cream of tartar, arrowroot. I'm almost thinking what would happen if i added extra stearic acid since that is what it can be made with?

You know I'm going to suggest that you try it and see what happens, right? Did you? What were the results?

Let's review foaming bath butter for a moment. The ingredients are Aqua, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA.EDTA

What we have is a paste that is made with surfactants - the sodium cocoyl isethionate and disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate - with some humectants - sorbitol and glycerin - with water, salt, preservative, and a chelating ingredient. It is less solid that the most refined shea butter I've ever used, and was easy to get out of the container with a spoon. You can add up to 5% oils by weight to the product.

In theory, I would suggest using an oil soluble thickener, like stearic acid or glycol distearate, rather than a water soluble ingredient like baking soda, cream of tartar, or arrowroot powder as those things will dissolve too easily. You could also add more SCI to the mix, which would make it harder.

Where to start? I'd try something like 5% stearic acid or glycol distearate at first. You'll have to melt it to get it to incorporate, so heat it in a Pyrex jug in a double boiler, add to the foaming bath butter, whip it, and see what happens. Then come back and let us know what you think!

Does anyone have a suggestion for Jessica? What have you done in this situation? What did you think?