Friday, January 30, 2015

Can we substitute one ingredient for another in a product? Lotion bars

If you're wondering if you can substitute one ingredient for another, check out first what the ingredients do in the product. What exactly does the ingredient do? Is it a surfactant, an emollient, a conditioning agent, an emulsifier, and so on? What does it bring to the product? What is its skin feel? Does it thin or thicken the product? Is it essential for the success of the product - for instance, is is the bubbly and lathery thing in a body wash or an emulsifier in a lotion - or is it a nice addition - for instance, a film former or humectant? Why exactly is the original ingredient in the recipe and what will substituting it for the one you have do to the end result?

Yep, it all comes back to knowing your ingredients! I know, I know, right? There's just no way to get around it! Learning about the ingredients you have - learning what they do, how they do it, what they feel like, and what they bring to the product - is the only way to get to the point where you can make substitutions or create your own recipes from scratch!

Let's say you want to substitute one oil for another in a lotion bar recipe.

33% beeswax
33% mango butter
33% soy bean oil
1% fragrance oil

If you wanted to use kukui nut oil instead, you might take a look at why the soy bean oil is in the recipe in the first place. A liquid oil is necessary in a lotion bar to keep it from being too hard. It will also contribute to the skin feel and greasiness level. Soy bean oil is a light and greasy feeling oil with a lot of Vitamin E and phytosterols. It will make the lotion bar feel medium to heavy greasiness. Kukui nut oil is a light and non-greasy feeling oil that has a very silky after feel with an unknown (to me) amount of Vitamin E and phytosterols. If I used this in the product, it means my product would feel less greasy and more silky. Can I substitute one for the other? Yes! We can almost always substitute one liquid oil for another liquid oil in our products!

The exception? If you're working with castor oil and beeswax together, there is a neat effect they have when they are together in something like a mock Vaseline or lipstick. The beeswax becomes more plastic when combined with castor oil. Don't make changes in these two products! 

Related posts:
Can we substitute one oil for another?

Let's say you want to substitute the mango butter for another hard butter, like coconut oil. Could we? What does the mango butter bring to the product? It has a high melting point, which means the product will stay solid, and it offers a dry, powdery feeling instead of a greasy one. Coconut oil has a low melting point, which means the product won't be solid any more when it reaches 24˚C or 76˚F, and it has a greasy skin feel. Can we substitute the coconut oil for the mango butter?

No. The mango butter has an important role here, to keep the bar more solid, so we can't substitute something that might melt at slightly above room temperature for it.

Could we substitute another high melting point butter for the mango butter? Yes! We could use cocoa, shea, kokum, and so on for it because they will maintain the shape of the lotion bar.

What about substituting one wax for another? Beeswax is a plasticizer and hardener, helping the bar keep its shape and stiffness. Could we use something like carnauba or candellia wax? Yes, but we would have to modify the amount we use as these other waxes make lotion bars much much harder. In general, we divide the amount of beeswax in half for the wax, then make up the rest with the butter and liquid oil. So we might use 16% candellia wax and 40% oil, 39% butter instead of 1/3 of each.

When we alter something, we will change the skin feel. Your bar with candellia wax, kukui nut oil, and shea butter will not feel even remotely like my bar with mango butter, beeswax, and soy bean oil, but we aren't altering the chemistry of anything when we make these substitutions. When we're making anhydrous products, changing the ingredients is about changing the viscosity, skin feel, stiffness, and so on, changes in physical sensations. When we make changes in things like lotions, we could be changing the chemistry of the product, so we have to give it a little more thought.*

*This isn't to say that you can't alter the type of oils or butters in a lotion. I can't think of a situation in which a lotion using an all-in-one emulsifier like Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-50, or Ritamulse SCG couldn't have the oils changed as long as the concentrations stayed the same. (So, not going over 25% oils for something like Ritamulse SCG.) What I mean is doing things like not including an emulsifier. We'll take a look at substituting things in a lotion next week! 

Related posts:
Substituting cetyl alcohol in a recipe
How do you know what to substitute?
Substitutions: Playing around with a recipe
Substituting one ingredient for another
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Substituting: Figuring out what's important in a conditioner. 
Substituting: Learning INCI names
Substituting: How to tweak that amazing sounding recipe!
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part one)
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part two)
Substitutions: What to do when you can't wait to create! 

Formulating on a budget: An introduction
Formulating on a budget: Buying ingredients
Formulating on a budget: A test recipe

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ingredient: Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is being used in cosmetic products as a moisture booster, preventer of moisture loss, humectant, and anti-inflammatory. It is an anionic polysaccharide that has great water binding activity that might work as an anti-wrinkle ingredient at low levels, like 0.1% to 2%.

Hyaluronic acid is found in the middle spinous layer of our skin, not in the stratum corneum or stratum granulosum. Its role in skin hydration is not completely known, but it is a very powerful humectant that can bind a thousand times its weight in water and it does help our skin in retaining said water for hydration. Older and dry skin is characterized by lower levels of HA, with 50 year old skin having about half the HA it had when younger. So far studies are showing that topical application of HA won't penetrate your skin to increase the amount in the stratum spinosum, although it will make your stratum corneum feel nicer. (The molecules are simply too big!)

If it doesn't penetrate through our skin, does it do it any good? Yes, it does. Studies are showing that the application of topical HA of various molecular weights can form films on the skin that will increase moisture, reduce moisture loss, speed up wound healing, reduce inflammation, and decrease the formation of age spots. It softens the skin and restores elasticity to skin, which can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

How do we use it? As usual, I recommend you use the suggestions from your specific supplier when figuring out how to use it as this ingredient comes in many different weights. The lower the molecular weight, the more chance there is that the HA will penetrate your skin, so check the listing from the supplier to see what the weight of the product is and how much to use. I cannot stress this enough. You can't assume that all hyaluronic acids are the same. You can find ultra low molecular weight, super low molecular weight, low molecular weight, and not listed molecular weight in powder form. You can also find it as a liquid with the HA in it as a percentage, for instance at 1% in the container, which means that bottle has 1% HA in it. (If you use 10% of that 1% liquid, you'd get 0.1% HA in your product.)

I'm using the low molecular weight or LMW hyaluronic acid from Lotioncrafter, and its recommended use is 0.01% to 2%. This post from Making Cosmetics notes that you don't want to go over 2% as it will clump because all the water is bound. And, in the research I've done, it doesn't seem like there's any point in using more than 2% as it doesn't offer more moisturizing or other benefit.

It's not an inexpensive ingredient - 10 grams will run you $15 to $25 depending on the weight - so you want to use as little as you need to get the maximum benefits. You can make up the gel from the recipe to which I've linked below, then use that gel in your products. For instance, if you wanted to use 0.1% in a product, you could add 0.1% HA into the product, or you could add 5 grams of the gel to the product. (10 grams has 0.2 grams HA, so 5 grams would have 0.1 grams HA.) Either way, you're getting 0.1% HA.

I made a gel using this recipe and found it a simple recipe to make. I sprinkled in the HA, mixed well by hand, then I left it for three hours and came back to a lovely looking gel! As you can see, it is completely clear, and doesn't feel sticky on skin.

I've been testing it over the last few weeks. So far the results are pretty awesome! My mother and best friend are using it under their night time moisturizer and both feel that their skin looks plumper and smoother. I've started using it at night on its own as I don't use a moisturizer, and I feel that my skin feels moister than it did before using it.

You can use it alone in a gel format, with other ingredients in a gel format, or you could add it to things like lotions, moisturizers, or any other water containing product.

Here's a recipe from for a serum that includes it. Here's a recipe from Lotioncrafter that also includes Vitamin C, Vitamin E, panthenol, and more, and a simpler recipe that contains HA and panthenol! As I'm still in the process of playing with this ingredient, I don't have my own recipes to share, but I can tell you that the gel I list above from Lotioncrafter feels just awesome!

Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, 3rd edition
This study (although they used human growth factor and don't indicate how much of what weight HA they used, so take it with a grain of salt)
This study, which is about reduction in facial seborrheic dermatitis
This study, which indicated it could be used for faster wound healing
Lotioncrafter posting
Factsheet from Making Cosmetics (they had a better one that I saved on my computer)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ingredient: Olive oil unsaponifiables

Olive oil unsaponifiables (INCI: Olea europaea (olive) oil unsaponifiables) are the unsaponifiable portion of olive oil that can be used in our products as an oil and ethanol soluble emollient, much in the way we'd use olive oil.  Use it the way you would any other oil, but especially where you want a light product, like in a facial moisturizer, light lotion, body milk, or sprayable lotion.

Quick aside: What's an unsaponifiable? It's the portion of an oil that fails to create a soap when it is mixed with lye. 

It's a much lighter oil than olive oil - I'd say it's on par with an ester or fractionated coconut oil and its specific gravity is 0.81 to 0.84. It has a very light and non-greasy skin feel. It contains 55% to 70% squalane, 15% to 25% squalene (a triterpenic compound), 10% to 15% glycolipids (a lipid with a carbohydrate attached, Wikipedia), and 1% to 7% phytosterols, primarily in the form of campesterol and stigmasterol. It contains Vitamin E at 70 to 130 ppm, but some can be fortified with extra tocopherols. It has a shelf life of at least one year, but it could be more.

This ingredient can go by the brand name Dermolene (data bulletin here, ignore the horrible spelling!), Insapolive, or Planell Oil. Some versions of this ingredient appear to be ECOcert - ask your supplier.

How do we use olive oil unsaponifiables? You can use this ingredient anywhere you'd use olive oil but want something ligher. You can use it in the place of fractionated coconut oil or esters, and it's suggested that we use it in anhydrous products as it is so moisturizing. Treat it like any other oil by using it at up to 10% in the heated oil phase of your product. (As an aside, you can use this neat, like any other oil.) You can use it in any product suitable for your skin or hair. It would be a great addition in place of an oil in your facial moisturizer or serum!

Where can you get this lovely ingredient? I was sent mine by the Formulator Sample Shop and I've found it at Lotioncrafter. In the UK, you can find it at Of A Simple Nature.

You can also find olive oil unsaponifiables in an ingredient called Oliwax, that is used as a rheology modifier (like we would use our thickeners, stearic acid or cetyl alcohol). This comes in white flakes and is used in anhydrous products and lotions to thicken them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How do I modify a recipe when I add or remove an ingredient?

Let's take a look today at altering recipes as there have been a lot of questions about this lately. (Original post can be found here...)

Let's say I have this recipe from this post:

69.5% water
15% oil
5% butter
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
6% Polawax
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Please use the general lotion making instructions for this recipe.

Let's say I wanted to add a few things to the recipe. I think it might be quite nice to have some glycerin, allantoin, hydrolyzed protein, and panthenol in the mix. How would I add them?

How do I know when to add an ingredient? If they are water soluble and can withstand heat, they would go into the heated water phase. If they are oil soluble and can withstand heat, they would go into the heated oil phase. If they are oil or water soluble and can't withstand heat, they would go into the cool down phase.

Glycerin, allantoin, and hydrolyzed protein are water soluble and can withstand heat, so they go into the heated water phase. Panthenol is water soluble and can't withstand heat, so it goes into the cool down phase.

How do I know how much to add to the mix? Check the suggested usage rate, which can be found at your supplier's website, and trial and error in your workshop. I could add tons of glycerin, but I think I'll go with 3% because I have found that anything over that tends to feel a bit sticky to me. I know that 0.5% allantoin is a good amount because I've used 1% and thought it was a bit gritty. I like to add hydrolyzed proteins at 2% (generally) because that seems to be a nice level that offers some film forming without potential stickiness. And I've read that panthenol is effective at 2%. I have found it can get a bit sticky above that level, so I'll keep it at 2%.

How do I add these ingredients? I would remove the amount of the ingredient from the water portion. So if I'm adding 3% glycerin + 0.5% allantoin + 2% hydrolyzed protein + 2% panthenol = 7.5% new ingredients. I will remove 7.5% from the water amount, leaving me with 61.5% water in this product.

62% water
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin

15% oil
5% butter
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
6% Polawax

2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall plus

If you wanted to remove or add something that is oil soluble, it gets more complicated. Because oil soluble things need to be emulsified, an increase or decrease in an oil soluble ingredients means an increase or decrease in the emulsifier. In this recipe, let's say you wanted to remove the butter. This means you are losing 5% oil in the recipe. You don't need as much emulsifier, so you could reduce the Polawax by 1.25%. You would then add 6.25% to the water phase.

All recipes should add up to 100% for ease of reading and formulating. So if you remove something, you have to make it up somewhere. We make it up in the water amount. Yes, this will change the viscosity, but that's the nature of changing a recipe!

Why did I reduce the Polawax by 1.25%? Because we use Polawax at 25% of the oil phase. Add up all the oil soluble ingredients and multiply by 0.25 to determine how much Polawax we would use. If you are using another emulsifier, you would have to do different calculations.

68.5% water
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed protein
0.5% allantoin

15% oil
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
4.75% Polawax

2% panthenol
1% fragrance oil
0.5% liquid Germall plus

I hope this exercise has given you an idea of how to modify your recipes. Please check out the related posts to which I link below if you want more information!

Related posts:
Back to the very basics: Defining our terms for lotions
How do I modify a recipe when I add or subtract an ingredient?
Learning how to read and convert a recipe
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a lotion!
Making your first lotion (PDF)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekday Wonderings: Can I include slippery elm or MSM in a leave in conditioner?

In this post, a very light leave in conditioner, Kelly asks: But in this conditioner could we add in slippery elm powder extract and msm powder? Slippery elm and marshmallow root are good to add slip to hair, saw some diy recipes on naturally curly of course they don't include the honeyquat, preservatives, etc. this question would also help possibly with making face cream with btms-50 and honeyquat. As a newbie I'm not totally clear on how to know what can go with cationics, or anionics.

In general, my first question would be why would you want to add those ingredients? What would they bring to a leave in conditioner? What would they bring to this leave in conditioner? Are these ingredients that work well when left on the hair and scalp or are they better as a rinse off product?

What does slippery elm bring to the party? Paula notes that "Plant that can be a good anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory. Its mucilage has soothing and emollient properties." (Paula's Choice) It gets a slimy consistency when added to water, so it will offer some slip to the product in a slimy way. I did a search and couldn't find the electrical charge for this ingredient, but I think it's safe to assume it's non-ionic, so it shouldn't have a problem with other ingredients.

What would MSM bring to the party? It offers a reduction in oiliness, can help with scar and collagen flexibility, and increase blood flow. In addition, it is supposed to help with inflammation, helping with the treatment of aches and pains. It is used in arthritis related creams and ointments and hair care products intended for dandruff or oil control. It is suggested to use it at less than 5%.

Could these two ingredients go into a leave in conditioner? Sure, why not? Neither seem like they will conflict with the electrical charge and they seem to have some quality that might be good in a hair care product.

What about using them in this product? This specific recipe is a very very light leave in conditioner that contains only water, a cationic polymer, preservative, and fragrance. It is intended to be a very very light conditioner, so I think adding all kinds of things to it is probably not a great idea because it defeats the purpose of a very light leave in conditioner. I would recommend using another leave in conditioner recipe - say, this one or this one - for the additions of these ingredients. Try with one ingredient for at least a week - take very good notes - before trying the other one. Only add one thing at a time so you know how you like that one thing!

You mention not knowing what goes with cationic or anionic ingredients. There really aren't any hard and fast rules, except check before adding something cationic to something anionic and vice versa. For instance, I can add honeyquat to an anionic shampoo without big problems, generally because I'm adding a small amount. Check the data bulletin or ingredient write up at this blog or your supplier if you're in doubt.

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Do we need to make a complicated shampoo if we're using a nice conditioner?

An administrative thing: Subscribing to posts doesn't seem to work right now, so the easy solution is to make a comment and tick that you want to see follow up comments. Subscribing to the entire blog will not get you any of the comments. This only means you will get each day's post by email. As for what "following" is...I think you get updates somewhere when a new post is published? Not really sure about that...

In this post, what's important in a conditioner (part one), Bunny asks: Oh yes, wonderful! I was hoping there'd be a conditioner one after the shampoo one... But a question! How much redundancy... or... If you're going to make a lovely conditioner, is it necessary to put a bunch of conditioning type ingredients in your shampoo? Or can I make a real simple shampoo just for cleaning and make up for that in a really nice conditioner?

I would argue that yes, you want to make a nice shampoo to go with your nice conditioner, and here is my justification...If you've ever used soap*, a shampoo that wasn't well suited to your hair type, or a really cheap one you found in a motel room, you know that no amount of awesome conditioning power can make your hair feel lovely afterwards. You will rinse your hair of the lathery stuff and it feels dry and straw like and knotted and generally lousy. Even after using the bestest ever conditioner you've ever made, your hair still feels kinda hard. Now think about using a lovely shampoo then a conditioner. How does your hair feel?

The conditioning agents we add to the product will stay on your hair. You can tell because your hair feels more conditioned, meaning it might be more combable or might feel less knotted/tangled. If you have people in your life who use 2-in-1 shampoo products, they'll tell you that their hair feels conditioned afterwards. Some of us require more conditioning than a cationic polymer can offer in a shampoo, which is why we use a conditioner.

We also include those ingredients to increase the mildness of the shampoo. And we include some ingredients because it feels nice on our scalp our hair, the way we might add some glycerin to the mix to increase the bubbles and lather.

You don't have to use all the ingredients I do in my products - I use the ingredients I use because I've played with them and decided they bring something I like to the product or to my hair - so I encourage you to create a stripped down shampoo and try it. See what you think it missing from it and add it. It might be that you don't mind a product that doesn't contain those ingredients!

*I know that some of you like to use cold process soap as a shampoo. I'm not looking to start a debate here. Just using it as an example...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: How do I organize information on my ingredients?

Sorry for the break in posting and in responding to comments, but it's been a crazy week! I have a practicum student with me at work and I have more clients than normal, so when I get up I'm out the door and when I come home, I'm on the couch!

A quick note: To those of you who would like me to get rid of the CAPTCHA thing when you comment, sorry but no. I tried that once and I was inundated with spam! As it is, I have to filter through the spam every morning. I don't want to have to do even more of that! If it's any consolation, Blogger is making me do it every time I write a comment now!

Does anyone know where to get Sucragel AOF in the States or Canada? Comment below if you do! Thanks!

In this post, what do you want to know, Elisabeth asks: Sort of a meta question here, do you keep some kind of "cheat sheet" data base for all your ingredients and their interactions with each other, or do you have it all in your head? My problem number one is to keep myself organised in such a way that I can start up smoothly again after taking a break -- I didn't have time to make anything for five months, and by now I almost feel I have to start from scratch with a proper inventory and redoing research and so on. Some pointers in how you keep all your information together would be really helpful. As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge and inspiration.

Yeah, I kinda keep some things in my head, but I also find it useful to make charts, like the ones you can download for things like surfactants and preservatives here on the blog. I also refer to the blog when I'm working with something with which I'm not completely familiar, like bull kelp bioferment or lupine amino acids, to give a few examples. It isn't an overnight thing this learning about ingredients, but with time, you'll be surprised at how much sticks in your head!

When I'm researching an ingredient, I like to write down things like usage, heat sensitivity, solubility, and the like, but I always put in big letters what I can't do with it. "Don't use with cationic (positively charged) ingredients!" "Don't use with more than 25% oils!" "Don't heat!" And so on. It takes time to get to know your ingredients, and don't hesitate to use charts and other devices to remember!

In this post, exotic oils, Heidi asks: Sorry to bug you, but I was wondering if you could recommend a reliable (preferably, but not necesarily free) source for information on products that you have not mentioned. For instance, one of my suppliers has Abyssinian Oil, Black Cumin Seed Oil, Black Currant Oil, etc. Where can I go to find information? I checked Wikipedia and the information there is not pertinent to skin care (aside from also not being vetted). I tried doing research online, and I DID learn a lot- for instance Black Cumin Seed Oil apparently cures HIV and cancer, so THAT's cool- No doubt these article authors would have said that it will also independently clean my house too, if they'd thought it was what I needed to hear to purchase it off of their web site. :( Although I'd of course also love to hear your thoughts on these items, I really was just hoping you could point me in the right direction. If your sources are all super chemistry heavy, many of us may not get all of the data there, but we may be able to grasp just enough to get the general idea without having to bug you. Thanks so much!

You're not bugging me! Asking where you can get information is why I'm here!!!

One of the most frustrating things I encounter when researching oils (and essential oils) are the near magical qualities ascribed to these lovely, but not supernatural, ingredients. The first thing I do is a Google search. I check out what suppliers like Lotioncrafter and the Herbarie are saying about the oils. Then I go into Google books (under the "more" button on Google) to see what I can find about the ingredient in that section. Sometimes I can get free previews, sometimes I can't, but I will generally find something pretty interesting in a book or two. Then I might go to EBSCO host through my local library or the university. (This can be problematic as you need to have it available for free at your library or be a member somewhere.) I like to see what kinds of studies show up about the oils.

The pictures you're seeing in this post come from our youth program on Thursday when we made whipped butter, emulsified body butter, and emulsified sugar scrub! Andrea was kind enough to donate a lot of containers to us, so we are able to make more bath & body products! Want to learn more about the youth programs to which you donate every time you get an e-book? Click here

Join me tomorrow for more of your comments in the Weekend Wonderings!