Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Ingredients for Lotions & Creams

Today we start the third day of the Empty Cupboard series! Many of people have asked me over the years about the basic ingredients I recommend for lotions and creams, so this list was really easy for me to write.

Let’s take a peek at my lotions and creams ingredients wishlist!

Required Ingredients: These are ingredients that I feel are the most important items for lotions and creams. Without these ingredients, I feel that a lotion or cream is not going to turn out the right way.

Emulsifying Wax: While we offer many emulsifiers for making lotions and creams, I feel the best emulsifier for any beginner is our regular Emulsifying Wax. This emulsifier can handle most formulations with ease. It has only given me one problem over the years and that was simply because I transposed a number and used too little! As you increase your knowledge and become more confident with your lotions and creams, then you can expand your emulsifier options if you desire.

Stearic Acid: If you are planning on making only very fluid lotions then Stearic Acid is not necessary but if you want to also make thicker creams, I recommend using Stearic Acid. We use Stearic Acid to make a cream thicker by increasing the stearines that give a cream the body it needs. Stearines are a fatty acid that have a strong bond which gives the thickening properties.

Humectant of Choice: Humectants are something that I will give you the basic information, but I will let you choose your own humectant based on your personal preferences. We carry four humectants: Liquid Glycerin, Hydrovance, HoneyQuat, and Sodium Lactate. I’ll describe each humectant briefly so you can choose the one that you would prefer to use.

  • Liquid Glycerin: My first introduction to a humectant in lotion was to Liquid Glycerin. While Liquid Glycerin is a wonderful humectant, you do have to watch the usage rates and not use anymore than 3% due to the potential of the final product having a sticky residue. Since Liquid Glycerin pulls moisture from anywhere including skin, it is liked more in humid climates over dry climates. Our Liquid Glycerin is vegetable derived and biodegradable!
  • Hydrovance: My favorite humectant is Hydrovance because it doesn’t have the stickiness that sometimes accompanies lotions made with Liquid Glycerin. Hydrovance is more of a long term moisturizing humectant than Liquid Glycerin as it can help skin feel soft and smooth for several hours.
  • Sodium Lactate: Like Hydrovance, Sodium Lactate isn’t as sticky as Liquid Glycerin can be. This humectant is produced from renewable resources and completely biodegradable. Sodium Lactate also allows you to enjoy long term moisturization with great effects!
  • HoneyQuat: While HoneyQuat is a new humectant to our catalog, it is also a great moisturizer. It is noted to be every effective with a low sticky factor that can influence the application of lotion. It is not viscous, and it is great to know that a little goes a long way!

Liquid Germall Plus: Every lotion or cream needs a preservative. Do you remember Taylor’s post about the importance of preservatives? That post makes my skin crawl with the very idea of not using a preservative! The best preservative that I can recommend is Liquid Germall Plus. It is a very effective preservative that has no known chemical inactivators nor does it break down your emulusion. The low usage rates of this preservative also means that you get more for your dollar in using this preservative!

Recommended Oils: You are more than welcome to use oils that are not on this list. I have simply compiled a list of my favorite oils for lotions and creams.

Sweet Almond Oil: This is a wonderful oil gives a soothing drag that has massage therapists in love with it. A mid-weight oil, Sweet Almond Oil has minimal odor and leaves skin not feeling excessively oily.

Apricot Kernel Oil: As I classify Apricot Kernel Oil as a mid weight oil, it is one of my favorites for lotions. This oil has a pleasant and very faint nutty odor that is easily covered by fragrance or left alone. Sadly this oil is sometimes overlooked, but I love this oil because it can be used for the many people who worry about allergies.

Macadamia Nut Oil: Firmly placed on my oil weights list as a light weight oil, Macadamia Oil is a dreamy oil for light summer lotions that are massage worthy. As it has a barely-there odor, it is great for all lotions!

Rice Bran Oil: Even if I keep trying to write Rice Brain Oil, I still love this oil in lotions! (I guess I have zombies on the brain!) I place this oil on the light side of my mid-weight oils. I haven’t written many formulas using this oil, but I really need to rectify this error because lotions made with Rice Bran Oil are perfect for season transitions. Minimal odor makes this a fantastic oil for those who have sensitive noses.

Sesame Oil: The Sesame Oil in our catalog isn’t like the toasted Sesame Oil that the Chinese are extremely fond of. This lighter mid-weight oil gives a smooth and creamy feel to lotions that I’ve been hard pressed to find elsewhere. Sesame Oil doesn’t have much of an odor so there aren’t limits to using it! (I’ll leave the toasted Sesame Oil in my kitchen!)

Sunflower Oil: While this oil is certainly a mid-weight oil, the long shelf life of our High Oleic version makes this a great oil in lotions. Lotions made with Sunflower Oil leave the skin feeling refreshed without any extra weighty oils!

Additional Ingredients: These ingredients are 100% optional. You are not required to use them as you begin to make lotions. These are simply options that you can consider adding to add a little “oomph” to your lotions and creams.

Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils: This is something that I can’t tell you which ones you should or shouldn’t order because everyone has their own personal preferences and that makes it hard to give recommendations. Choose something that interests you. If you are struggling to find something that you would like, feel free to call or e-mail us for help!

Extracts: While I enjoy adding extracts to my lotions and creams, they are beneficial but not necessary. I typically add extracts to give label appeal and please the end users. I would recommend reading the descriptions for the extracts and choosing one or two that suit your needs. Extracts are something that a little bit can really alter the feel of a lotion to a better product so if you think you have a pretty good lotion, look to extracts to make the pretty good graduate to WOW!

Tomorrow we will take a look at the basic ingredients for making lip balms!

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Happy Halloween!

Today is my favorite holiday of the year! For the first time in my life, I’m unable to celebrate the way I feel the holiday should be properly celebrated. In the USA I would be happily pulling out my fog machine, getting treats ready for the trick-or-treating kids, and preparing my costume. Here in China, Halloween isn’t a recognized holiday unless you have a large community of expats who want to celebrate the holiday together.

Typically, for each Halloween, I try to come up with treats and tricks for the kids. One year I dressed up as witch in a black costume gown and answered the door saying, “Would you like a poisoned apple or an Otter Pop?” I had tried to make my voice sound creaky just like the disguised evil Queen from Disney’s Snow White. Most kids would stare for a moment and then say “Otter Pop.” One of my favorite visitors that night was a girl around the age of ten who gave me a huge grin and giggled, “Hehehehe! Can I have the poisoned apple?” Naturally, I gave her my real apple and simply fetched a new one from my basket sitting by the door.

No matter your feelings for the holiday, I hope you have an enjoyable day today! As it is a holiday that has people of all ages hitting the streets, we will be closing our offices early to allow our staff to get home safely before all the kids hit the streets for their trick-or-treating adventures.

Our office will close at noon, but we will be back at 8 am tomorrow morning ready to process all orders!

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Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Basic Soapmaking Ingredients

Yesterday, I started the Empty Cupboard series with my basic equipment and containers. I’m really beginning to enjoy looking at what I consider necessities and what I consider fun additions. Handmade soap is one of those things I can’t bring myself to live without so I put together a soapmaking ingredients wishlist!

Let’s take a peek at my soapmaking ingredients wishlist!

Required Oils: These are the oils that I feel are the important base oils for any soapmaker. I feel these oils make great soaps without severe expenses.

Coconut Oil: Due to marketing efforts over the years, people have been taught that unless soap has lots bubbles their bodies aren’t getting clean. To give a soap this desired lather factor we use Coconut Oil. Want a dual purpose oil? Coconut Oil also will make a very hard bar of soap. We typically use between 20 and 30% of Coconut Oil in a batch of soap, however, not all soaps we make will have this percentage range as Coconut Oil.

Palm Kernel Oil: In the blog kitchen, we use Coconut Oil and Palm Kernel Oil interchangeably because they give the finished bar of soap similar lather, color and firmness. Palm Kernel Oil will make a very hard bar and does not contribute any color to the finished bar of soap. I have used both Palm Kernel and Coconut in a bar of soap and found that recipe was my favorite, but you don’t have to use both oils in the same recipe.

Palm Oil: This oil is one of the more universal oils and contributes firmness to soap along with a straw color. Many people refer to this oil as vegetable tallow and frequently use it as a filler oil. Many luxury soaps use Palm Oil because it gives soap a special texture and color.

Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: I regard Hydrogenated Soybean Oil as one of those oils that help reduce the costs of the ingredients as well as an oil that contributes to the hardness of the final bar of soap. The soap will be firm, white and have a creamy texture.

Olive Oil: We recommend Olive Oil in soaps for many reasons. It is easy to find in most kitchens and grocery stores so you can make soap at 2 in the morning if you desire! It also contributes a dense “cream” to the lather that helps give a stable foundation for the large bubbles from the Coconut or Palm Kernel Oils. Olive Oil is a slow to trace oil that helps slow things down without making a soap prone to stalling so it can extend the working time of the raw soap. Soaps made with Olive Oil are also noted to be mild and soothing on skin which makes it a favorite ingredient of many soapmakers.

Luxury Addition Oils: My choices are just two of the many potential oils that I feel can give a soap a little extra “Oomph.” I only add a small amount of these luxury or splurge oils to a single batch of soap so they are still a cost effective addition to soap.

Avocado Oil: Most of the soapmakers on our staff recommend Avocado Oil as a luxury oil because soaps made with this oil are dreamy. The smooth glide, gentle cleansing and the creamy lather is a great addition to any soap. I particularly like this oil in any baby soap recipe! We recommend a small amount of this oil per batch, 3 to 12.5% per batch which is 0.5 to 2 ounces in every lb of fats.

Lanolin: I think any soap made with Lanolin is just fantastic on the skin. Lanolin soaps give my skin a moisturized feeling that just can’t be beat! Lanolin is actually a wax that is quick to saponify so we only recommend using a little bit of Lanolin per batch. Usually we use 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound of fats per batch of soap. Lanolin contributes a dense lather and a silky feeling to the skin when used as a luxury oil in a soap.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the basics for making lotions and creams!

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Using the Body Butter Base

During our class we had the opportunity to demo the conveniences of using the Body Butter Base. This Body Butter is one of my favorites to use because it goes on easy and helps moisturize my hands and feet. A little goes a long way so I like to put this in the 1 oz or 2 oz jars, then I’m able to take one along with me everywhere. I have one in my purse and one in the car, and of course one on my desk, and my coworker’s desk!

We began our class time by smelling several fragrances. Then, after deciding on a couple of our own favorite scents, we then we added about 1/2 ml of fragrance to each 2 oz of body butter and placed the whole into a plastic bag. We like to use the bags because it is easy to use and there is less clean up. Some of the students added color and some preferred to go all natural. After kneading the bag to mix the fragrance and color throughout the Body Butter we then cut the corner of the bag and piped the Body Butter into our containers, then added a lid and labeled.

Wow! That’s it! This was super easy and fast! Our bases are great gift making ideas because it takes little effort to make some fabulous gifts for everyone you know.

Tonya

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UPS Shipping Alert! Hurricane Sandy

As I’ve been following the news about Hurricane Sandy and looking at pictures as the hurricane comes inland, I decided to check UPS for shipping alerts before the email hit my mailbox. I’ve included the text from their website regarding the service alerts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Severe weather due to Hurricane Sandy is causing some unavoidable service delays in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. No pickups, deliveries, or On Call Pickup® service are available in the ZIP Codes listed below.

Delaware
All Zip Codes

Maryland
All Zip Codes

New Jersey
08201 – 08270
08302 – 08362
08401 – 08406

New York
10002 – 10292

Pennsylvania
18901 – 19496

Virginia
23301 – 23316
23336 – 23488

Washington, DC
20001 – 20599
56901 – 56999

The UPS Service Guarantee does not apply when packages are delayed due to causes beyond UPS’s control.

If you live in these areas, I hope your packages get to you safely. We hope that Hurricane Sandy doesn’t effect disrupt any more lives and that people are safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been affected by Sandy.

If you need information regarding your package, please call our office (435.755.0863) between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday. If you are needing assistance after hours, e-mail info@thesage.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Equipment & Containers

Living in China has been an eye opening experience in many ways. The hardest thing for me though has been my inability to make the very things I was used to making while in the USA. Writing the blog without the ability to even test some of the recipes I’ve been formulating has also been hard. Thankfully, Joy has been very helpful by taking pictures and testing recipes for me. Since the holidays have been rapidly approaching, I’ve started making my wish list of things I want from our catalog so I can test and photo projects without giving Joy a big burden.

When I was talking to Tina about my wish list we were also discussing that my wish list would be a great list for beginners who aren’t sure where to start. I need so many different ingredients to make a variety of finished products, so this will be a series for the week to cover what I think are necessary items and what I think are good, but not necessary items.

Come join me as I put together my equipment wish list!

Scale: No matter the type of product you are making, a scale is one of the most important items. I do realize that it isn’t always feasible to go out there and get the most expensive scale. We recommend getting a scale that works for you and your desired products. If you plan on only making soap, then a scale with 1 gram readability is one that we recommend for you. If you want to make mostly lotions or lip balms, then we recommend using a scale with 0.1 gram readability. This allows you to make small batches and KNOW your ingredients have been weighed correctly. Due to my projects being the variety, I’ll need a scale that has the 0.1 gram readability. Decision: REQUIRED.

Microwave: While a microwave isn’t 100% necessary, it does make things easier to work with a microwave rather than waiting for a stove to heat a double boiler. It takes just a few minutes compared to 10 or more needed for a stove. Decision: PREFERRED.

Mixing Buckets: To begin soap or lotion making, one needs containers that are microwavable to melt the various ingredients. I like to have several of the 87 ounce buckets for making small batches. I use beakers in our blog kitchen because it helps us photo our projects to show you what you should see. When I empty buckets of oils, I reuse the buckets as mixing or storage containers. I prefer the 1 gallon buckets that many of our butters and solid oils come in for the 5 pound quantities. Also, never wash any bucket or mixing vessel in the dishwasher if the plastic container had a scented product made inside. Your dishwasher will spread the love to every next load of dishes and you might find your dishes taste like your body care products. YUCK! Decision: REQUIRED.

Spoons: No matter the project I’m working on, I use anywhere from 2 to 8 spoons. They can vary from basic blending spoons to rubber scrapers to measuring spoons to soup spoons. I use different spoons for different things! My soup spoons usually scoop ingredients out of the bulk containers, or if I just need a little or stirring small test batches. The measuring spoons are used for dry ingredients. I use the blending spoons for stirring larger amounts of ingredients or mixing fragrances into completely cooled lotions and creams. I normally used the rubber scrapers for getting every bit of soap, lotion or oil out of a container. Decision: REQUIRED.

Immersion Blender: While an immersion blender isn’t necessary if you are only making lip balms and scrubs, it is a life and time saver when making soaps and lotions. An immersion blender can help your soap reach trace quickly and your lotions become completely mixed. Decision: REQUIRED.

Gloves: If you are making soap, then gloves are highly recommended. I prefer using heavy duty gloves for protection from the lye and raw soap. If you are making lotions or lip balms, then gloves are not necessary. I would recommend a light pair of exam gloves for production facilities just to ensure you keep the possibility of contamination down. Decision for me: PREFERRED, your decision may be different.

Eye Protection: This is really important if you are making soap. You only have two eyes and we don’t want you to loose your eyesight due to a splash. I wear glasses myself and they don’t protect my eyes the way a pair of goggles do. Please, please, please! Protect your eyes. I would much rather you invest in a pair of goggles than gloves. The goggles from MMS are also able to fit over glasses and they have an anti-fog coating. YEA! Decision: REQUIRED.

Thermometer: While we don’t note temperatures on the blog, we do recommend taking temperatures for your notebook. It will help you determine what caused a problem if one occurs. Decision: REQUIRED.

Pipettes: I love transfer pipettes. They help me get small amounts of liquids for recipes, add fragrances, fill lip balm containers and more! Having disposable transfer pipettes also helps me ensure that I don’t have cross contamination of products. Decision: REQUIRED.

Paper Towels: I have to say that while making such fun products it is inevitable that a mess will happen. In order to clean up after myself I use paper towels. It makes the clean up easy and I don’t have to try to clean rags to get oils out or worry about fragrance covered rags being a fire hazard. Decision: REQUIRED.

Windex: This is one of those products that I swear on the brand name for cleaning. It helps cut down on the oils left on counters, bottles and containers. In our production department, we use Windex to clean counters and bottles before applying labels. It helps us make sure any spills are cleaned up thoroughly. Decision: PREFERRED.

Notebook: I have a notebook of recipes and notes about each recipe. It is actually a spiral bound notebook that I add each new recipe on the paper I printed it on. I do include some lined paper where I can write extra notes, but usually I just write ALL over the recipe. I use my notebook for all products I work on and I can find recipes by the date that I worked on them. Older recipes are in the back and newer recipes are in the front. You can easily change your notebook to be a paper or electronic form, but I promise that notes will be your lifesaver! Decision: REQUIRED.

Containers: This option is important if you are making lip balms, lotions, scrubs or other similar products. While your personal preference will help you choose the final containers, you will want to consider the product and the end users.

  • If making lip balm, you can choose between tubes, jars or tins. I personally like tubes, but I happen to know that not everybody does.
  • When I make lotions and creams, I choose jars and bottles that suit the end users. If I’m making blog samples, then I use small 1 ounce bottles and jars so the recipient can test the formula to find out if they like it. If I’m making gifts for friends and family, I tend to use 4 or 8 oz containers. They like the larger containers, but I don’t have to worry about the product reaching the point of expiration before it is gone.
  • When I make scrubs, then I generally use 8 or 16 oz jars. It doesn’t take long for someone to use this amount of scrub and I know it will be used within 4 to 8 uses. The only exception is foot scrubs as those use a smaller amount of product during each foot cleansing session.

Molds: This option only matters if you are making soaps. Molds do not have to be expensive. They can be something you find around the house, that are built from scraps, or are just drawer organizers. Our blog kitchen uses a variety of molds, but our favorites are the Rubbermaid Drawer Organizers #2915, Dirk’s Guerrilla Mold, and a simple PVC tube mold. Molds aren’t hard to come by!

We have now covered the items I find to be most important in my equipment and containers list. Tomorrow, we will cover my basic soap making ingredients!

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Freebie Friday!

Rose Buds & Petals
It is the last weekend before Halloween! It is time to finish preparing for parties, trick-or-treaters or just staying at home for peace and quiet. As Beijing prepares for just another week with little excitement, I sit back and remember a grocery store aisle in the USA that is purely dedicated to Halloween. Candy, costumes and decor! What is your favorite candy at this time of year? My favorite candy is the Giant Chewy Sprees from the Wonka division of Nestle.

Now, onto this week’s giveaway! This week we are giving away some partial items from our Production Department. Many of the partial items are sent to the blog kitchen and our collection of partial items has gotten overwhelming! Not only are you helping us keep the blog kitchen clean, but you get to play with some new goodies too! This week’s goodies include a partial container of White Melt & Pour Soap, Rose Buds & Petals, Calendula Petals, and a discontinued Braided Round Soap Mold. This treasure box sounds like some soaps are on the schedule!

The winner for this week is … stella! Congratulations! I will be sending you an e-mail for your mailing address. Your treasure box will be sent out on Monday!

Remember, if you comment any time during the week, you are automatically entered into the Freebie Friday Drawing.

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Only 2,000 left!

Deanie only needs $ 2,000 to be completely funded for his unique muscle therapy. I wrote and told you about him the other day. Could we get your help to meet their goal in 24 hours? The Gift Certificate offer works like this:

  • You buy a gift certificate for YOURSELF. You can give us a message to forward to Deanie if you choose.
  • You receive an immediate posting of those funds to your MMS account for you to spend any way you desire.
  • We send a hard copy receipt and MMS catalog to you through the US Mail.
  • We submit a gift in your name to Deanie’s GoFundMe account for the total value of your gift certificate.

You can shop for your holiday supplies and help Deanie at the same time! Here is a quick link to our Gift Certificate form. Let’s help Deanie live a better life!
Let’s meet this goal in 24! We can do it! Spread the word!

Read about Deanie and his therapy at http://www.gofundme.com/wwwnowicanorg.

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Tonya’s First Classes with The Sage – What a Success and Super Fun!

I just want everyone to know that these classes have been a blast and that I am really glad that everyone is enjoying all the fabulous products that we have been making! We had the opportunity to create a lip balm from scratch, we made the Orange Lip Balm recipe that is available on the blog. This is my new favorite and I have been using it all weekend!

We also added fragrances to the Body Butter Base and made our own amazing Glycerin Salt Scrubs! During this class we got to experience the differences between making items from scratch and making similar items from the bases that are available at thesage.com. Many of the class participants said that they never made stuff like this before and that that they were surprised by how easy, simple and fun it was to create their own products. All class participants got an opportunity to add different items to make the Orange Lip Balm recipe, then melt and pour into the lip balm filling trays. This was amazing and we could fill 50 tubes at once. What a time saver!

Then we got the chance to see how convenient and easy the Lip Solutions was to use. I really enjoy using the bases because they are easy and very fast to use. I can put together a fantastic gift for anyone in just minutes. All made by me for a fraction of the prices that can be found at the mall.

Remember, if you have any class or kit suggestions, or just want to learn how to make a blog recipe, then let me know and we can try to include it into a future class.

Thanks to our students for coming to class! You all have been a delight to meet and teach.

Tonya

Barbara
Donna bringing out melted Lip Solutions
filling lip balm tubes
Filling Lip Solutions into tubes
Orange Butter Lip Balm ingredients
Rebecca, Carrie, Lanina, and Carolyn adding ingredients to Orange Butter Lip Balm

Pouring Lip Balm into filling tray
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Deanie – Gift Certificates and lots of care

If you are a spinner then you may have heard of Spinderella’s Fiber Mill. This local shop is a mom and pop place for sending fleeces to be prepared into roving, dyed, and/or spun into yarn. Lynn started this business years ago and has been preparing some of the nicest fleeces ever since. Jim is the resident spinner and the machine maintenance guru. Jim is meticulous at the spinning process, and to watch their big carder (Meriwether) is amazing. Jim’s spinning equipment processes pin drafted roving into some of the most beautiful yarns, my favorite knitting yarn is a 3 ply from Spinderella’s. Read more about Spinderella’s Fiber Mill at www.Spinderellas.com

Lynn and Jim care for their son, Deanie. While Lynn was pregnant she caught a virus that permanently disabled Deanie. Lynn has been able to teach me a few sign language words because she uses ASL with her son. Jim and Lynn are awesome people. They could use a helping hand with Deanie who needs some unique muscle therapy to give him more pain-free living. Read about Deanie and his therapy at http://www.gofundme.com/wwwnowicanorg.

You can also help by buying a GIFT CERTIFICATE for yourself at TheSage.com! We will donate 100% of the value of your gift certificate to Deanie’s fund, just put a note in the message area that this is for Deanie. You can write a message to Lynn, Jim and Deanie and we’ll send a note to them. If you need fiber processing we can highly recommend www.Spinderellas.com!

Thank you for your assistance!

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