A Tale of Embarrassment (Why Testing is Important) 4


The lip balm after cooling again.

The lip balm after cooling again.

I’ll have to admit that I hate feeling embarrassed. I really hate it! Whew! Now that I’ve gotten that little bit off my chest, let me explain why embarrassment is the theme of my blog post today.

It all started with an invitation to go to visit the home of one of Jerry’s extended relatives. We had been invited to come and learn how to make a type of 点心, diǎnxīn, or as we westerners know it as dim sum. (I know Taylor got the recipe, so maybe we can ask her to share the recipe and instructions.)

As it is considered extremely rude to arrive at someone’s home without a gift, I collected a few soaps, lotions and lip balms to take with us as gifts for our hosts. After presenting my simply packaged gift sets to the host family members, we sat down and talked about food preparation and the recent return of the young married couple from Japan. The young woman held onto her gift bag as we talked and about 30 minutes after she received the bag, she asked for more information about the lotions and lip balms that she had received.

Jerry helped me explain about the gifts and how they had been handmade. As we explained, she opened her bag to sniff and try her new goodies. However, when she opened the tube of lip balm, I was embarrassed (and horrified) to see the lip balm had partially melted in the tube!

I sat on the couch, next to Jerry and had an internal freak-out. I had grabbed the lip balms because I thought they rounded out the gift bags. I didn’t want to make it seem like I made horrible things! I tried to clean up the warm partially melted lip balm that had spilled over the outside of the tube. I didn’t know how to explain that the lip balm had probably melted due to a combination of her high body temperature and the heat outside.

In the end, I took the lip balms back with a lot of embarrassment and a personal vow to make sure I do more testing with people who are willing testers before I give gifts away to new acquaintances! 😐

Want to come with me to see how I’ll change this recipe to make it better? In the left column, I’ll show you my original recipe and in the right column, I’ll show you my modified recipe. Then I will share the reasons why I changed the ingredients and percentages!

My Original Recipe:
20% Soy Wax
25% Virgin Coconut Oil
15% Palm Kernel Oil
20% Castor Oil
19% Cherry Seed Oil
1% Coconut Flavor Oil
My Modified Recipe:
20% Soy Wax
15% Virgin Coconut Oil
20% Palm Kernel Oil
10% High Melt Point Shea Butter
15% Castor Oil
19% Cherry Seed Oil
1% Coconut Flavor Oil

Since I knew the lip balm had a complete ingredient melt point that was too low, I changed the ingredients and percentages to help increase the melt point. I began with changing my percentages to decrease the amount of my liquid oils and increase the amount of my brittle and solid oils.

I wanted to keep the Soy Wax, so instead I started with Virgin Coconut Oil since it melts at body temperature. The original recipe called for 25% of Virgin Coconut Oil and I decreased it to 15%. This reduction will help me keep the coconut flavor without making the lip balm too soft.

Next I increased my Palm Kernel Oil from 15% to 20%. Palm Kernel is one my favorite oils for lip balms because I generally already have it for soap! The additional Palm Kernel Oil will help add firmness to the finished lip balm.

I didn’t want to lose the glide that Castor Oil gives to any lip balm, so I reduced it to 15%. It was just enough to help the lip balm be firmer without loosing the glide that is desired in so many lip balms!

My last change was to add 10% of High Melt Point Shea Butter. My goal with this addition is to maintain a creamy feeling to the lip balm and increase the melt point enough that the lip balm would survive any pocket test.

After my changes, I’m excited to say that the modified formula turned out to be a lip balm that was pocket and hot hand safe! That being said, the process of learning was enough to give me a few more gray hairs!

Next time I make a lip balm and want to give it away, I’ll make sure I do a pocket test of the lip balm by putting the lip balm tube in my pocket and carry it around for the day. This will ensure I can test the melt point of the lip balm as well as stability after being kept in a pocket all day!

Have you ever done something like this? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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About Andee

I'm a twenty something soap snob. I've grown up with hand made soaps and I love them! I really like making lotions, soaps and perfumes. I adore mixing scents to come up with something new. My favorite scent is either Wicked or Cotton Candy. I tend to hoard fragrances, I even have an Earl Grey Tea from the MMS catalog. I won't tell you how old it is, but it sure is good!


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4 thoughts on “A Tale of Embarrassment (Why Testing is Important)

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Andee, I can relate to this story. I made a body lotion some time ago that was supposed to be used as a spray. The lotion appeared to be of the right consistency on day 1 and perfect for using in the spray bottle. On day 2, i did notice it began to get slightly thicker, but after shaking a bit, I was still able to spray on. But on day 3 and later, it definitely was no longer sprayable.

    I had met a friend who was one of my testers on day 1 and shared the lotion with her. She was happy and sprayed some on her arms and she loved it. After discovering that the lotion was thickening, I was a bit embarrassed to call and ask her if her product had also become thicker. which it had. I should have waited for the product to ‘settle’ I

    I now know that when certain ingredients are used to emulsify ingredients in cream lotions, one needs to let the product rest or settle a few days.

    So now, whenever i make any new product, i wait a few days before i can ask friends to test it. Since this episode, I haven’t had a chance to review the ingredients but I think I know where I went wrong.

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  • Turboweevel

    A tiny bit of candelilla wax would also work. It’s a hard wax with a pretty decent melting point and a vegan ingredient too if that becomes a concern.

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  • Lesley

    Hi Andee,
    I admit, I have a fear of making something that is a complete flop. I won’t bake a cake for special company because I can’t try it ahead of time! I did make a body butter with virgin coconut oil that was not very good. The low melt point keep it almost runny. To compensate I added too much beeswax. Through all the heating / cooling of the whole mixture, I ended up with crystallized shea butter. what a mess! I didn’t know until weeks after I had shared it. Very embarrassing!

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  • Madea

    Oh yes, I made a cocoa butter/shea butter pomade with that I’d made four times before. I followed my recipe exactly. The only difference was the time of year. Normally the pomade was smooth and creamy. I always tempered the cocoa butter and shea butter like chocolate with warm liquid oils to reduce or minimize the chance of graininess. It worked the first four times. Fifth time I gave out a few jars to friends and a week later I went to use a jar I kept for myself and it was grainy like a scrub. I was sooo embarrassed. No body would give them back though, they thought that was a feature.

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