Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lavender Clay Cleanser - in Celebration of Spring

Not too long ago, I bought some tinted kaolin. I'd never worked with tinted clay before and to be honest, I fell for the color and thought it would be fun to fool around with it in masks and a few products. My first use of it was a lavender detox mask (that worked beautifully). Then the clay just sat on the shelf for a while – until the other day where it was incorporated into a lavender cleanser. The resulting product had a gorgeous color with a postively delicious texture – quite similar to a dessert yoghurt. After 'tube-ing' the cleanser, it was immediately obvious that a new label design was called for. Pictured – the result. All just for fun and in celebration of Spring.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Caffeine Sculpting Gel - Face Lifting Feedback

The tube is a temporary container.
This product will probably eventually find itself
in a classier looking bottle with serum pump.
I've been testing a brand new caffeine-based product. This is not exactly highly scientific. Initial test results consist of observations of how Double Shot Caffeine Sculpting Gel works on me (a readily available and willing test person). The 'lifting of the oval of the face' is my first interest with caffeine. The whole idea of being able to get a bit of a face lift from a natural, safe, plant-based ingredient by mere topical application is the kind of thing that can get me all excited about developing a new product.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meet The Mask - Rhassoul Head & Hair Combo

Rhassoul (also known as Moroccan Soap Clay) is a wonderful cleanser and has multiple uses. I've used it many times as a shampoo, hair mask, face mask and all-over body wash. It never disappoints. Here's an efficient, 2-in-1 combo that will cleanse and condition your entire head. It's a good idea to 'move into the bathroom' when you start this mask, because you will need to hit the shower area to move the mask from your face to your hair. This is enough for one application for short to medium length hair (if you have long hair, you may want to double the portion).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hempseed Oil - The Non-Oily Oil

The oil is made from the seeds of the plant.
Some people are more familiar with the Latin (and INCI) name for Hemp – Cannabis Sativa – the seeds of which produce a wonderfully light oil with an appealing deep green color. Hempseed is among the driest of carrier oils, absorbing into the skin so quickly that it is close to impossible to feel greasy after applying it. Because it melts into the skin so immediately, it functions as an efficient transporter of active ingredients while offering a moisture retaining effect, but it doesn't stop there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in Shampoo - The Plant-Based Alternative To Silicones

Guar Gum has a faint yellow color.
The plant is as edible as green beans.
If you've been following this 'Whats' in Shampoo' series, you may remember me mentioning at the end of the last installment that there is a plant-based alternative to (one of the popularly used) silicones.

Meet Guar Gum
Guar Gum (INCI: Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride) is sourced from the seeds of the guar plant (Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba). The gum is made by grinding the the tissue produced inside the seeds of beans. Guar gum is approximately 75% dietary fiber. Added to shampoo or conditioner, it helps thicken the product (which is nice) and condition the hair (which is even nicer). It is film forming (read: creates a protective layer), helps against static electricity and aids combing out both wet and dry hair. And, it's good for all hair types. Sound a little like dimethicone? You are absolutely right. Guess what else guar can do. It also has the amazing ability to bond to the hair, and can – just like dimethicone – create build-up on hair.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Make-up: Making Pressed Eye Shadow

The onset of Spring is enough to make any Scandinavian giddy, and I happily join my fellow Vikings in anxious expectation of the return of some actual daylight, warmer weather, and being able to leave the house in lighter clothing. With the approaching light, I am always inspired to do make-up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Caffeine - A Double Shot For Sagging Skin

Ahh, that first cup!
Like many people, I love coffee. Most of us have experienced the pick-me-up coffee can give. That little boost is due to an active ingredient we all know by its INCI name: caffeine. But caffeine has more to offer than helping us kick-start the day from a mug of mocha. It's an active ingredient in skin and hair care with some pretty impressive properties.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skin Lightening with Plants and Vitamins

Vitamin C and the right combination of herbal extracts will lighten skin efficiently and 'naturally'. So say my suppliers (and a few studies).  Let's find out, shall we? Admittedly, I hesitate using the word naturally in connection with lightening the skin – how natural is it to lighten the skin? I could get all philosophical here, but let's skip past that and just establish that this is an experiment I am willing to try because I have 2 clients that – quite by chance – have both recently requested a skin lightening product. They have also both agreed to be photographed and documented as a case study on this blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Paraben Party Time!

It's great to see Ethyl and Methyl smiling again!
Oh my goodness! I missed it! It was 3 whole months ago that the European Scientific Community OK'ed Butylparaben and Propylparaben for use in cosmetics!!
Many thanks to Dene Godfrey for bringing this to my attention. If you're interested in reading the lowdown, please visit Personal Care for more details right here.
Meantime, Ethyl, Methyl and I have a date to get reaquainted with a couple of their cousins – out of the doghouse and back in the swing of things – ready to rock and roll. It's Paraben Party time!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's in Shampoo - About Silicones

I've had a few people ask me about silicones in shampoo and have therefore decided to give them their own section in this mini-series about shampoo and lathery products. Below is a short guide to the most common silicones you will find in commercial shampoos and hair products. As I don't use silicones in my products, I am unable to share any personal experiences I have had with any of these ingredients.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blueberry Seed Oil - The Fragile Powerhouse

This winter I've been testing several new carrier oils in a series of personal oil blends. I will usually make a mix, testing each new oil in different combinations and dosages to get a feel for how it behaves, what it mixes well with etc. When I have 'gotten to know it', I might proceed to trying it out in a cream or lotion. Some oils shouldn't be heated (making them difficult – but not impossible – to use in an emulsion) while others will take almost everything you throw at them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When Shampoo Behaves

I've been writing about and working with surfactants for a while now – shampoo products in particular. One of the products I have been tweaking lately is a Lavender shampoo, and I am now at batch 6. Tweaking isn't really a fair way of describing it – looking back over my notes from batch 1 to the present, it's completely reformulated. But, as it is still going to be called Lavender shampoo, it is hereby named batch 6. The goal: a plain and simple shampoo that gently cleanses, has a wonderfully thick texture, lathers well and is as planet-friendly as possible after leaving the head and entering the shower drain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Discount Solution - Eye Make-up Remover

For years, I have used my own Cocoa Butter Cream Cleanser to remove eye make-up, and because it does the job so well, I never bothered to develop an eye make-up remover as a separate product.

For those of you who have been paying dearly for eye make-up remover, here's an incredibly easy, inexpensive, safe, natural and preservative-free way to remove eye makeup (even waterproof mascara). If you've already invested in either jojoba or sweet almond oil to try the discount solution tip about nourishing body oil, then this little beauty treatment costs only the price of 2 cotton pads.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make-up: Making a Cream Foundation

The other day I wrote about making a matt powder foundation. You may remember that I saved some of the final color mixture. This is one of the reasons I usually do foundation color only once a year. It's pretty time consuming, but if you make enough, you can quickly and easily make a few different products from the same color mixture. Here's how fast and easy it is to make a cream foundation once the color is mixed.

Tip: Always be sure the equipment you use is clean and sterile. It's a good idea to have dedicated cosmetics equipment and keep it separate from your regular kitchen equipment. For links to where you can get ingredients, please check the earlier posting about mixing matt powder foundation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What's in Shampoo – Surfactant Guide

Welcome to the third installment in this mini-series about shampoo ingredients. Prevously, I touched on why it is necessary to use a mix of different surfactants to compose a shampoo or body wash. Here is a mini-guide to the surfactants I use in my 'lathery' products. Since you now know what the different categories are (if not, you can catch up here), I've grouped them by category. As luck would have it, most surfactants just aren't exciting enough to have common names (sorry guys, I really did try to find them). Therefore most of these ingredients are listed by their INCI name. Personally, I find it a little disappointing they don't have common names and am tempted to make up my own. Even after working with them for years, there's a few of these names I still have trouble pronouncing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet the Mask - After It Comes Off

Pic: taken right after using the moisture injection mask and finishing with a spritz of Rose Skin Mist
Model: Lise (of LisaLise)
Age: 57
Face: sans maquillage (means no make-up, but it sounds so much cooler in French, don't you think?)
Hair: growing out the color (after 30+ years of coloring my hair, I think it's time I got a look at how many greys there are, and whether or not I may like looking at them).
Why?: Why the heck not

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meet The Mask – Yellow Clay Moisture Injection

The color of this clay is a very deep yellow
Yellow Clay is great for tired, dry skin. The addition of both honey and almond oil brings a real moisture injection to the mix. If you are able to get hold of orange blossom hydrosol, the effect of this mask be greater than with any of the other liquids. Contrary to many clay-based masks, this one doesn't dry out or even feel taut. It is also made a bit thinner than normal. This is enough for one application.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hydrosol Mix of the Week - Neroli and Lemon

Orange Blossom
Over the past several months, I've been concentrating on mixing Neroli (also called Orange Blossom) with other hydrosols to explore the most suitable partners for this heady, sweet scent. I love how the hydrosol conditions and moisturizes skin, is compatible with just about every skin type, and is gentle enough to be used at full strength – but on its own, I find the aroma has a serious tendency to 'get too bossy' to the point of seeming cloying.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How Science Tests Essential Oils in Ohio

How many drops does it take
to effectively 'lace' a cotton ball?
I happened upon a scientific study from 2008 on essential oils the other day. They were trying to measure essential oils' possible ability to speed up the healing process in skin. At first I thought it was a joke (their methods made no sense and one of the involved scientists had a silly name), but after reading it again, I realized they were serious. I moved on, expecting to forget about it, but it kept bugging me, so now I'm sharing it with you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Removing Childrens' Face Paint

This coming Sunday (and Monday), children will be in costume (many with painted faces) as they celebrate Fastelavn in Denmark. Here's a quick, easy and safe way to remove face paint when the festivities are over.

Douse a cotton ball/cotton pad with sweet almond oil or jojoba and use this to effectively and quickly soften and remove the makeup. If you don't have either of these oils, check your kitchen cupboard for thistle, rapeseed or olive oil. Any of these will work as well.

Happy Fastelavn!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Make-up: Making A Matt Powder Foundation

I do a basic foundation color mix once a year. This year, I decided to do a matt mixture. The past couple of years I have taken the easy route and 'just' used glitter pigments. They're easier to work with because you just sift the pigments together until you're happy with the color. The limitation – you get glittery foundation.

Although it's fine to have a subtle glow and bit of glitter, sometimes a neutral matt color is preferrable. Making a matt foundation powder requires patience – the pigments need to be ground and worked together in a mortar.

Because I recently aquired a powder mixer (a little hand-held, battery-powered thing that looks like a shortened version of a coffee grinder), I figured I'd try whizzing everything together. It saved me a heck of a lot of time and worked like a dream.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Discount Solution - Skin Brushing


Skin brushing has been around for so long there are differing theories on its origins. I've seen it attributed to the Germans, Japanese, Chinese and Scandinavians. Wherever it started, it is a healthy practice with numerous benefits.

Skin brushing (also called dry brushing) helps promote circulation, fight cellulite, remove dead skin cells, tone and firm the skin. It is an ideal way to start the day – just before your morning shower.

If you can, give yourself 10-15 minutes for the process. Even better - if you can work this into your daily routine, 5 minutes is ample time. Aside from the price of your preferred skin brushing implement, this beauty treatment costs only your time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's in Shampoo - About Surfactants

This is part 2 of a mini-series of shampoo, body wash and soap products articles. Read the first part here, or jump straight into the technical stuff. Shampoo (and other soapy, lathery products) work as they do because of surfactants.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meet The Mask - Calming Chamomile and Clay


Half and half white and beige clay
dissolving into the liquid
Australian Beige Superfine Clay is great for normal skin. I've mixed it with white clay (good for sensitive skin) for this mask, but you can use whichever clay suits your skin type. This mask is great for distressed skin. The honey brings added benefits: toning and moisturizing. If you are able to get hold of chamomile hydrosol, not only will the effect of this mask be greater than with any of the other liquids, but the apple-like scent is a soothing experience. This is enough for one application.