Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thank you all so much...

Thank you all so much for your lovely and thoughtful words about my recent post about taking a break. I feel so honoured that you think so kindly about me, and it means so much that you took the time to offer support and share your experiences. 

Raymond and I travelled this past weekend to a place my mother loved very much, and scattered some of her ashes here while we celebrated her life. It was a surprisingly lovely weekend considering the task at hand, and one I'm glad we could have together with few interruptions. 

I'm still taking a few steps back from the blog as I try to let my arm heal, but it's killing me not to write! I have so many amazing ingredients, formulas, and other things that I think are interesting to share, but I have to listen to the boundaries my body is setting and be patient lest this be a forever thing. 

Having said that, I tried a few hours at the laptop today to prepare my handouts for my classes at Voyageur Soap & Candle this weekend, and that took painkillers and a lot of ice, so I'm still in rest mode. (I'm writing things by hand so Raymond can type them out, but it's amazing how much pressure I put on my left arm to hold down my papers or notebook!) 

Thank you for all your suggestions and support. Hearing that it's okay to take a break or reduce my workload means so much to me, and it's what I need to help me process all of the last year and what's to come ahead. (Us counsellors are the worst at taking our own advice! Do you know how many times I've read and recommended, When The Body Says No?) 

I'm checking into the blog, Facebook, Patreon, and so on to keep on top your comments, messages, and suggestions, but it's hard to respond when I'm limited to one fingered typing on my device, so it'll still be a while before I can offer responses. I am sending out e-books during day time hours - from around 9 am Pacific time to around 5 pm Pacific time, so if you have donated for an e-book or paid or an e-zine outside of these times, please have patience. 

Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have readers like you? I really am....

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I'm not available for a bit...

I'm taking some time away from the blog to heal from an arm injury that has left me unable to type and to honour the anniversary of my mom's death last year. I will not be available through any medium from October 13th to 16th, so any e-book or e-zine purchases will not be sent via email until October 17th, around 9 am my time.

Please respect my boundaries around this time. I know you may be thinking to yourself, "Who wouldn't respect those boundaries?" How about the person who quit Patreon on the day my mother died and added, "Creator didn't engage with the audience as expected," because I had been taking care of my dying mother for months beforehand and had announced that I might not get the e-zine out in time? (I did get it out in time, but that person still left...)

This week alone I had someone call me at work - a number provided here for youth attending or interested in our programs, which I've removed  - and someone else ask me to call them long distance so I could offer them a free consultation. I know of at least four people who have been sharing the paid materials only available on Patreon in a Facebook group or with non-patrons, and I know at least two paid courses are using my materials and formulas without permission and without paying me. This is on top of so many bloggers, Redditors, and instructors I know who are using my formulas and written materials without crediting me or even thanking me, who are making money from advertising on their blogs or YouTube channels.

I don't know how else to say this and I am tired of writing this over and over again, so I'll just be blunt. I have written 2,900 free posts on this blog. I ask for nothing for providing them, except maybe a little kindness and the odd comment. I don't have advertising here or pop ups that fill the screen. I take no sponsorships. I make exactly nothing from these posts on the blog. I answer emails and comments, and offer you free consultations on a variety of platforms  if you provide me with what I need to help.

I've always said I'll write the blog as long as it's fun, and the only way I will continue to enjoy it is to set some pretty strict boundaries and maintain them. (My dad always said it only takes one bugger to spoil it for everyone, and I've encountered quite a surprising number of them this year. Such a sad thing to say...)  How can you help me do that?

If you find any of what I offer of value, please respect me as a human being and not ask for more from me than I'm able to give. When you can't respect my boundaries, you stop treating me as a person and start treating me as an object, as a means to an end, as an extra in your movie. Don't use my work as a way to make money for yourself. Don't slam me in Facebook groups, then ask me so sweetly for help or pretend you didn't say it. (You want to challenge something I've written? Do it in public in a kind way and assume it could be a great learning opportunity for both of us. From the number of you who love to say I'm wrong by noting the times I've admitted I'm wrong, you know I'm open to the idea of not being right as that's the only way we learn!)

Offer feedback on my formulas and write ups, share your happy stories and pictures with me. Let me know you're out there. Say "hi" to me at conferences and let's share a moment of joy over something we love! Greet me by name in messages and share yours. And respect that when I say I can't do something, that isn't a challenge to find a way around my "no".

And, if you can afford as little as $1 a month, consider supporting me on Patreon so I can continue to afford to offer this blog for free, and support other people whose work you like by buying their music or books, subscribing to their Patreon pages, and so on.

If you can't afford it, I completely get that. Contribute to this or any community by offering your thoughts, feedback, criticisms, and yourself to make it an even better community! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Weekend Wonderings: How much preservative to use in an emulsified scrub?

In this post, Using black cocoa butter in emulsified scrubs, Vintage Blue asked: If I'm reading this right the preservative goes into the mix before I add the sugar. So I only calculate the preservative based on the weight of the oil mix not the oil and sugar? Wouldn't i be short on preservative if preservative weight is calculated on the final weight of the product? I just want to make sure that my product is well preserved before giving it as gifts to friends.

I'm so happy you want to preserve your scrubs! When I first starting writing this blog, every time I wrote about emulsified scrubs I'd have people not wanting to preserve them, so it makes my heart so happy to see how times have changed!

When I make emulsified scrubs, I tend to use 1% Phenonip, a broad spectrum preservative with a suggested usage rate of 0.25% to 1% in our products. In the end, every 100 gram batch of my sugar scrub base eventually becomes around 240 grams of emulsified scrub as I love to add loads of sugar. This means that I'm using about 0.42% preservative, which is well within the suggested usage rate!

In the formula below, there aren't any serious botanical ingredients that could cause problems down the road, like powdered extracts, aloe vera, or clay, so using 0.42% will work well. If you wanted to add more to the product just to be on the safe side, total up your base plus your sugar or salt, then add 1% of that. So for 240 grams of my favourite scrub, I'd add 2.4 grams total.

10% emulsifying wax (e-wax, Polawax, or BTMS)
10% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid (5% cetyl and 5% stearic is very nice)
20% cocoa butter
56% oil - I'm using soy bean oil here
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
1% Phenonip

Check out the post on this topic on how to make it! 

Related posts:
Water activity with sugar or salt scrubs
Debate: What kind of preservative should we be using with scrubs?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Stuff I thought was interesting in your comments...

In this post, Newbie equipment, Chinny asked: What are the cup-like things in the second picture? I guess they are heat proof?

They are! These are tri-corner beakers from Lotioncrafter*. I love them! They are great for heat or just mixing or looking awesome on my workshop bench. I have quite a few sizes - 250 ml, 400 ml, and 800 ml - as these are the sizes in which I tend to make things. (I just realized they have 50 and 100 ml versions, which I must own now!!!)

Are you curious about what's in the container? I've been experimenting with Siligel, a natural gelling agent that can handle loads of electrolytes. This is my magnesium chloride or "magnesium oil" gel, which I'll be sharing with you soon!

What's Siligel? I'll point you over to Lotioncrafter* or Formulator Sample Shop* to learn more about it now. I'll have a write up about it next week! Woo! In an unrelated bit of information, did you know that $10 subscribers to my blog on Patreon get a 5% off coupon for Lotioncrafter? That could come in handy if you're buying things there. Just saying...

In this post, Is emulsifying wax part of the oil phase?, Kirsten suggested: For beginners it might be good for you to clarify why cetyl alcohol is part of the "oils". I know when I was starting, that was very confusing as it does not appear to be an oil. 

Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol and is oil soluble, as is behenyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol. Anything that is oil soluble and needs to be emulsified in a lotion is considered part of the oil phase. This includes things you might find in the cool down phase, like Vitamin E, fragrance oils, and so on.

Anything that's oil soluble is part of the "oil phase" when we're calculating how much emulsifier to use, regardless of where we find it in the lotion making process.

It is not an emulsifier - it is something that has to be emulsified by the emulsifier in a lotion. It may help stabilize an emulsion - we see that with Simulgreen 18-2 - but it doesn't emulsify things. It may be used as a booster with conditioning compounds like Incroquat BTMS-50, but it isn't a conditioner on its own. In this same post, Debbie suggested we think of it as a thickener and emollient, and that's a great way to describe this ingredient!

Learn your INCI names if you're ordering ingredients! This is the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients names and it should be readily available when you buy an ingredient!
More on this topic
Still more on this topic

Just a few thoughts as I work my way through the comments!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Why did I buy that again? Siligel

This is a neat new gelling agent that's considered green, eco-friendly, and natural. Siligel (INCI: Xanthan Gum (and) Lecithin (and) Sclerotium Gum (and) Pullulan) can create gels, be used as a stabilizer in emulsions, suspend things like exfoliants in gels, and enhance skin feel. (They say it may be a substitute for silicones.)

It comes as a water soluble beige powder that we use anywhere from 0.3% to 2% depending upon the application. It has a 12 month shelf life, and it's hygroscopic, meaning it can draw water to itself so keep it well sealed with a few silica packages for good measure.

It can tolerate quite a lot of electrolytes at up to 20% - you'll see this shortly as I used it with magnesium chloride - as well as up to 15% alcohol. You can use it in facial products in which you might want to add hyaluronic acid, AHAs like glycolic acid, or salicylic acid as it can handle a huge pH range of 2 to 10. It can handle up to 2% oils, but it's not a great emulsifier.

The down side is that it can't really be used with more anionic surfactants (negatively charged) or amphoteric surfactants (like cocamidopropyl betaine) at more than 5% active matter or cationic ingredients, like Incroquat BTMS-50 or a cationic polymer, like Honeyquat or polyquat 7. It can be used with decyl glucoside and other non-ionic surfactants, like polysorbate 20 or 80 and caprylyl/capryl glucoside. (Remember to alter the pH there!)

It can take up to 24 hours to reach its final viscosity, so don't worry too much if you're finished working with it and it's still quite thin. The recommendation is to use high shear mixing - so using an immersion blender, stick blender, or one of these adorable mixers I have from Lotioncrafter or Candora Soap (Ontario) - rather than a hand mixer. (Click here for even more information on mixing with high shear.)

I'll be writing more about my new mixing toys shortly. I've been so busy with so many things that everything will be written "shortly". Sorry for over-using that term! 

I found I had to mix for around 10 minutes with the projects you'll see soon. With surfactants, you'll want to mix everything and add the foaming, lathery things at the end as you'll end up with a frothy mess!

Lotioncrafter* very kindly sent me a sample to play with, and I've been having great fun with it, as you'll see in the next few days. 

A few thoughts on how to work with and melt SCI and how to create a double boiler

Hi everyone! I'm up to mid-September in the comments, and I continue to work through them. Thanks for your patience. 

A few thoughts: Why does everyone think it's so hard to melt sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI)? If you pick the right version and couple it with the right surfactant - disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine (more about that one soon...), sodium methyl cocoyl or oleoyl taurate, sodium cocoyl glutamate (more on that soon, or read about it now in my new e-zine) and others, which you can read about in the link for SCI.

Make up a double boiler - I use a fondue pot, but you can use a pot on the stove - and get the water boiling. Use as much water as you can without having it spill over the sides when you add the SCI container.

Reduce the heat so it's not splashing into the container, add your SCI and other surfactant ONLY in a glass container, and heat until melted. If you're using prills, it should only take 5 to 10 minutes at the most. If you're using noodles, it might take longer. If you're using powder, it isn't necessary to heat it at all!

What you see in this picture is the powdered SCI we used to make shampoo bars at Windy Point Soap in Calgary last weekend. We made these without heat as they dissolve nicely in room temperature surfactants. This version was done with C14-16 olefin sulfonate (Bioterge AS-40) and SLSa, and they turned out pretty wonderfully!

I've made shampoo and bubble bath bars with this powdered SCI on my own, in classes in Calgary, and with youth at our groups, and every time they turned out awesome!

When they are solid and have a day to cure, I can drop them from waist height!

What can you do if you don't have the powdered kind and have to heat it? 

Make a powdered version by putting your SCI in a coffee grinder.

Ensure you're using a surfactant that helps it melt well. See the list above and in the linked post about SCI above.

Melt only the SCI and the surfactant that helps it melt well in the container. More ingredients means more things to melt or heat, and it won't be all about melting the SCI.

Use loads of hot water in your double boiler. The higher up the sides you can get it, the better, as the part that isn't touching water will end up cooling down to the ambient temperature. You don't want the water to be roiling so it gets into your container, but you can have it quite hot. I generally have mine on 300˚F setting on my electric fondue pot's control dial.

Have fun formulating!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Question from Patreon: How does a mud cleanser clean your skin without surfactants?

In September Q&A for Patreon, Jaime asked: How on does May Lindstrom's Honey Mud cleanse your skin without a surfactant? Ingredients: Raw Honey w/Bee Pollen & Propolis, White Clay, Macadamia Nut Oil, Witch Hazel, Collodial Silver, Cocoa Absolute Oil, Sweet Orange EO, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla Co2, Cedarwood, Frankincense, & Myrrh EO

I'm going off on a tangent for a minute, then I'll come back to your question, I promise!

You remember how surfactants work, right? (If not, please click here.) Surfactants are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of liquids and lower the interfacial tension between liquids - in other words, they emulsify. In a shampoo, foamy facial cleanser, body wash, and so on, we use anionic surfactants to create a lathery, bubbly creation. In lotions, we use non-ionic surfactants in the form of emulsifying waxes to create an emulsion. In conditioners, we use cationic surfactants to condition, but they also create emulsifications - ever use Incroquat BTMS-50 as an emulsifier or use a conditioner only to cleanse your hair - which will remove the dirt and soil from your hair.

So lotions, conditioners, and anything that contains a surfactant will cleanse your skin. (This is how cream cleansers work.)

What does it mean for our skin to be clean? It means we remove sebum, bits of skin, dust and pollution, make-up, Buffalo wing sauce, custard, and everything else that ends up on our face at the end of the day.

Someone with dry skin may have a different definition of what "clean" means than someone with normal or oily or acne prone skin.

Which leads me - finally - to the answer, which is...There are a few ingredients here that might make certain skin types feel cleaner.

Clay absorbs oil from our skin, while citrus essential oils help with degreasing. The macadamia nut oil might offer some cleansing as per the oil cleansing method, while the witch hazel might act as an astringent. I don't know what the honey brings to the mix - maybe it acts as a lovely humectant?- and I am concerned that I don't see a broad spectrum preservative here when it contains water-soluble ingredients. (You had a question about colloidal silver, which I'll be addressing soon, I promise! I think they're using it here as a preservative.)

As a note, honey only preserves itself. Once we dilute it with all kinds of liquids, it doesn't work that way any more. 

As someone with oily, acne and rosacea prone skin, I don't think my skin would feel clean - which is to say, the sebum is removed and all that other stuff is removed - using a product like this. Someone with less oily skin might find it a godsend.

If you're interested in learning more about what my Patreon subscription feed offers, please click here! This question came from the September Q&A for Patreon!