Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Use Braggs' amino acids in cosmetics?

In this post, formulating a facial cleanser with soy, Theresa asks: I love using foaming soy and I try to throw it in at every chance I get! It really adds to the product, in my opinion. Speaking of soy, I have noticed DIYers using Braggs Amino Acid (soy sauce substitute) in hair and face products a lot over the past few months. Have you heard of that? What's your take on it, do you think it does any good? 

I'm always apprehensive about using food stuffs in our products. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that food based ingredients aren't designed with the intention of using them in cosmetics, so they won't necessarily be preserved well or stand up over time. (In the case of Braggs' amino acids, they proudly state there are no preservatives in the mix, so I worry how these will stand up over time in the bottle, let alone in our products.) With this ingredient, there is a second reason I wouldn't use it - we probably won't get the benefit of the amino acids on our hair or skin. What we want to use in our products are hydrolyzed proteins.

(From this post, hydrolyzed proteins...) Proteins have very poor water solublility, so they are hydrolyzed to increase this solubility. (How do they do it? They hydrolyze by cleaving the protein molecule to disrupt the peptide bonds. This cleavage can happen by chemical or biological means, or can be a combination of applying high temperatures and pressure.) They are usually vegetable proteins, and the hydrolyzation means they will be water soluble to offer conditioning, moisturizing, and film forming properties. They are amphoteric, and a positive charge makes them substantive.

So using a hydrolyzed protein or amino acid means it's more likely to adsorb to your hair or skin, leaving it feeling conditioned. I grant you that the Braggs' liquid aminos product seems to be less expensive, but I have a feeling the product is more likely to smell like soy sauce - or at least something very savoury - and it isn't adsorbing to our hair or skin the way the hydrolyzed versions would.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Tabletop Day!

Happy International Tabletop Day! Wherever you are, I hope you're playing a board or card game today! As you may or may not know, we are big gamers! We run a board and card game night for the youth every month, Raymond runs three Dungeons & Dragons sessions every fortnight for the youth, and we go to a D&D group every Tuesday at our local store, Nerd Haven Games in Abbotsford.

If you're in the mood for a game today, check out to see what's happening in your community by visiting the International Tabletop Day site and looking at the map!

I'll be back tomorrow with a Weekend Wonderings filled with your comments!

In case you're wondering what that little statue is all about, it's Halfred, the halfling barbarian that Jessica plays every other Monday. Isn't he adorable? 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fun with soy: Creating a foaming soy cleanser

I admit I'm totally addicted to my favourite foaming facial cleanser. It feels great on my skin, and it lasts forever! (I only need to make 100 ml every four or five months!) I've tried it with foaming silk, foaming oat, and foaming rice surfactants, and thought it was time to try it with foaming soy.

39% distilled water
20% chamomile hydrosol
15% witch hazel
10% foaming soy surfactant
5% cocamidopropyl betaine

5% honey matte
5% calendula extract (water soluble)
0.5% liquid Germall plus

Combine the heated phase in a heat proof container, like a Pyrex jug, and put into a double boiler and heat until it reaches 70˚C. Heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Remove from the heat and replace the water that might have evaporated. Mix and allow to cool to 45˚C before adding the cool down phase. Add the cool down phase, mix well, then let cool to room temperature before bottling in a foamer bottle. This is very thin, so you really do need a foamer bottle for it. If you want to try thickening it with something like Crothix, you may thicken it slightly, but it will still be a very watery product because I don't have a lot of surfactants in it.

I'm not kidding when I say a 100 ml batch lasts me a few months. I made the last batch in October and just ran out! Only make a small batch of this - 100 grams - at a time!

Foaming soy surfactant* (INCI: Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein) is very much like the other foaming proteins I mention above. It is a very gentle surfactant that offers substantivity - meaning it is attracted to our skin and leaves it conditioned - and it foams and lathers nicely. It can be used at up to 10% in a product. You can use it as you would any other surfactant, but I suggest using it in facial cleansers as it is very mild and doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped.

Please note, you can leave out any ingredient you wish in this product. The main ingredients of importance are the two surfactants - foaming soy and cocamidopropyl betaine - and the preservative. Everything else I've added to work with my skin type. If you have dry skin, you might consider adding a little glycerin at up to 5% in the product or maybe a water soluble oil, like PEG-7 olivate.

What do I think of this product? I really like it. It seems a little foamier than the rice one I've just finished using, but otherwise is very similar. It has good cleansing abilities, and leaves my skin feeling clean and smooth. I have to say that I'm a fan! 

*Please note, I was sent this ingredient for free from the Formulator Sample Shop. I receive no other compensation for writing about the ingredient, and I receive no compensation of any sort if you click the link above to go to their site or if you buy something from them. My opinions are my own. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Reminder about the soapmaking challenge. Phenoxyethanol and polysorbates!

I hope you're all enjoying your long weekend - if you get one - spending time with family and friends! I'm spending the day with my bestie playing with this stuff called Inkodye, which silk screens fabric using the sun! I'll post results when we're finished.

We had great fun making gummies (video) and lollipops at craft group this week! Click on the links to see how to make these at home!

Don't forget about Kevin Dunn's soapmaking challenge! He's had no submissions so far, which kinda weirds me out as there were some very vocal soapmakers who should have jumped at the chance to prove me and the other doubters out there wrong. I really am eager to see what the results might be!

In this post, Choosing a preservative, Tammy asks: I was wondering about the combination of Optiphen Plus and Polysorbate 20. I was participating in an online forum today with a formulator (from Microformulations in the US) and he mentioned that polysorbate and other surfactants can deactivate phenoxyethanol. I can't seem to find any other reference to that online or in your blog. What do you think? I had never heard this so I've been using Optiphen Plus to preserve my cleansers, foaming soaps, and sprayable lotions (all of which contain polysorbate 20 for the FOs or EOs) and I haven't noticed a problem -- yet. 

I've never heard this before, either, but I found this reference at Making Skincare*, "Phenoxyethanol is inactivited by highly ethoxylated compounds including polysorbates so do not use with surfactants." This means we would want to keep it away from things containing polysorbate 20 or 80. Not all our surfactants are ethoxylated - for instance, decyl glucoside and cocamidopropyl betaine, according to this post at Chemist's Corner

*Making Skincare is a great site filled with loads of information from the chemist, Jane Barber. Add this to your list of reputable sites, if you haven't already. 

So which preservatives contain phenoxyethanol? Optiphen, Optiphen ND, Optiphen PlusLiquipar Optima, Liquipar PE, and Phenonip. To be on the safe side, don't use these in products that contain polysorbate 20 or 80 or any of the foamy and bubbly surfactants like SLeS

Which preservatives could you use if you're in doubt? Liquid Germall Plus, which we all know is my favourite, Germaben II,  Geogard Ultra, or Cosmocil CQ combined with a fungicide.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with your comments!

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!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quick post: National Craft Month is almost over!

When March ends, so does National Craft month, and I'm holding a little contest to celebrate! (Check out the full details in this post!)

Send me a picture of your craft with a bit of information - for instance, is this your first time with this product, this recipe, this craft? - and I'll enter you in a draw to win a copy of the e-book of your choice! I'll be posting the pictures throughout the month and so you can share your experiences with others on the blog! Newbies, veterans, and everyone in between is welcome to participate. I will ask you to keep the projects limited to bath & body products as that's what this blog is about, but if you have something that is tangentially associated with cosmetics, we'll include that too. (I'm thinking about make-up bags, make-up brush holders, cute boxes you've made to give away your products.)

E-mail Susan at with the subject line National Craft Month! Please sign off with the name you want me to use on the blog (first names only) and location (if you wish) and pictures of your craft. There is no limit to how many times you can enter! You have until midnight PST March 31st to enter, and there will be multiple prizes. I'll post the winners the weekend of April 3rd. I can't wait to see what you make!

I realize I said to keep the crafts bath & body related, then I go and put a picture of my husband sewing and a charm I made with metal...Silly Swift! 

Weekend Wonderings: Where to get reputable information?

In this post, Much maligned ingredients: Propylene glycol, Katt asks: Recently I was in a soap group on Facebook and a woman asked me if i used propylene glycol.  At the time I had no clue what it was 'til I looked it up on your site. Besides the fact I don't use petroleum derived ingredients, I don't see what's so bad about it. So I asked her. She went off about how it caused cancer and all sorts of stuff, so I did some research and found a site called ATSDR, which stands for Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. They say all it can cause is skin irritation depending on the person. So my question is - is this a reputable site to get info from? It seems legit and basically coincides with what you say (I tend to trust what you say a lot). I just wanted to make sure I understand all ingredients before I use them and need to know a good site to get info from, not a bunch of people who bad mouth products because they don't like them. 

The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry is a "federal public health registry of the US Department of Health and Human Services". They are reputable. (Here's their take on propylene glycol!)

It's hard to know where to get information. I trust my textbooks and the studies I find through EBSCO host. I like Cosmetics Info, Paula's ChoiceChemist's Corner, and Joe Schwarcz (see his Facebook page!), to name a few.

I don't trust sites like the EWG, Skin Deep, Natural News, Food Babe, The Suzuki Foundation, and their like because they don't seem to get it right when it comes to chemistry. They rely upon studies conducted by labs no one has heard of and they don't share their data.

It's interesting how much misinformation there is out there about food and cosmetics, both relating to chemistry. The concerns about propylene glycol - it's in anti-freeze - reminds me of the Food Babe's crusade against the chemical azodicarbonamide in Subway bread, calling it the "yoga mat chemical".  You can't say that because something is in one thing, it's bad if it's in another. Water can be used to flush toilets and clean filthy vehicles, but this doesn't mean water is bad for us. 

Although I'm really flattered that you trust me, I encourage you to do your own searches to make decisions about your ingredient choices. (Shocking as it might be, I have been known to be wrong at times!) Find reputable sites and consult those regularly. If something doesn't make sense, consult another site or book to see if this is a widely held position.

Related posts:
Where do I get my information?
How do I research ingredients and make decisions about my ingredients?
How to research ingredients?
What constitutes evidence?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A few notes for the day...

I had great fun at Voyageur Soap & Candle to teaching a hair care class yesterday! If you're interested in taking a class with me or in learning anything to do with bath & body products, including cold process soap, check out their spring class schedule to see when you can attend!

This is what we made yesterday in the hair care products class! So much stuff! 

Just a quick note about conditioner recipes on this blog...they are all pH balanced. You don't need to make the conditioners more acidic. Just leave them be and use them the way you made them. Some could be as high as 6.0, but that's fine. As long as they are on the acidic side of things, you're just fine. Please don't go altering the recipes with vinegar or citric acid when you don't have a pH meter. Just leave them be!

I'm off to have a quiet day. It's been a crazy week and it looks like it'll be crazier as spring break is starting up in our town, and we have a few activities we're doing with the kids, like going to Granville Island tomorrow, making sushi on Thursday, and playing video games on Saturday.