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!)

Phew...so 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.

SHINY LOCKS INTENSIVE CONDITIONER
HEATED WATER PHASE
84.5% distilled water
2% stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
0.3% citric acid
0.5% panthenol (powder)
3% cetrimonium chloride

HEATED OIL PHASE
7% cetearyl alcohol
2% cyclomethicone
0.2% dimethicone

COOL DOWN PHASE
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*