The Butters That Be
One of the main advantages of working with formulas containing only butters, fats and oils is that you don't need to add preservatives (bacteria needs a water-based environment to grow). There are other things to pay attention to (for example trying to work with incompatible melting points), but l do enjoy having to list fewer ingredients with understandable names for the label and packaging. Ok, if you want to get really technical, it's still required by law to list the INCI name, but I will, where possible, also add the common name. Example: butyrospermum parkii (shea butter).
Since early this Spring I have been working on a new product: Super Soft Body Butter. There are only 4 ingredients in it: shea butter, coconut butter, cocoa butter and lanolin. I have done many batches, tweaking the formula and production process each time. One wouldn't think melting a few fats and butters together would be so demanding, but I have had so many different results in texture, feel, and solidity that I have had to throw myself into additional research on each ingredient.
The first batch I did turned out a little grainy and had to be "worked in to the skin" on application, but it felt, worked, and smelled great. (The natural scent of virgin coconut butter is positively appetizing!) The graininess, however, was not desirable, so I tried to fix the texture by whipping the mixture. This gave a beautifully light, melt-in quality that was gorgeous. Unfortunately, I was unable to duplicate it in the subsequent batch.
As it happens, each of these ingredients has its own melting point and maximum heat requirement, and they are not very compatible.
Lanolin: 40 C
Cocoa Butter: 34 C
Shea Butter: 29 C
Coconut Butter: 26 C
The star ingredient, Shea Butter, gets real unsatisfied with the whole melting situation if it is heated beyond 45 C and retaliates by becoming grainy. If it was any other butter, I wouldn't hesitate to replace it, but shea has the most wonderful moisturizing and skin-healing properties, so I continue tweaking the formula and production process.
The latest batch (made 2 weeks ago) is by far the most successful, boasting the same light, melt-in quality the whipped mixture from Spring gave me - yet this one wasn't whipped. As soon as I can duplicate this texture repeatedly enough to feel confident enough about the formula, I will put this (and a few other new products) on the LisaLise webpage.
Meantime, my test persons tell me they are quite pleased to continue helping me develop this product.