How To Jam Pack Skin Care Products With Good Stuff

Good Stuff Checklist for Skin Care Products

1. Replace water with organic hydrosol
2. Use organic plant-based oils and fats
3. Replace glycerine with glycerine-based plant extracts
4. Use neutral, skin-friendly emulsifiers
5. Use safe, tested, and approved preservatives

Easy Peasy, No?


If you are a one man operation (like me), production methods and ingredients can be changed from batch to batch – making product development an interesting and fascinating process. I have been making cosmetics and skin care products for years, and my interest just keeps on growing. Here is a short description of the upsides and challenges (I refuse to call them downsides) of the above list.

1. Maximizing Water

It is the water in a skin care product – not the oil – that adds moisture to your skin. The function of the oil is to help trap the water so it can do what it is supposed to do: moisturize. Now, water is fine, but I find hydrosols work so much better. They contain the water-soluble actives from the plants they passed through during the distillation process. They also carry the aromatic signature of the plant, adding a natural scent. In short: hydrosols are pure, skin-loving luxury. It just kicks everything up a notch when water is replaced with hydrosol in a cream, lotion or gel. Finally, it's fabulous as a stand alone product.

Challenge: Much shorter shelf life, requires babysitting and pampering when doing an emulsion, and it's a heck of a lot pricier

2. Plant-Based Oils and Fats

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I am not a fan of mineral oils (or petro-chemical based ingredients in general). I still have a seriously hard time understanding what mineral oil is doing in any skin care product when plant and vegetable oils have so much more to offer. Each different plant-based oil or fat brings its own skin-loving qualities to a mix, and there is a slew of fabulous organic oils and fats to choose from.

Challenge: Some have a scent that has to be taken into account and 'worked with'  in a formula, some have a very short shelf life, some cannot be heated making it more difficult to add them to an emulsion, and all of them are pricier than mineral oil

3. Not Just Glycerine

Glycerine (as well as sorbitol) is an excellent humectant and already present in many skin care products. As often as possible, I prefer replacing 'normal' glycerine with a glycerine-based plant extract for additional moisturizing, soothing or firming action.
Challenge: Possible addition of plant sediment making it questionable for use in liquid products, possible addition of unwanted (brown) color, seriously pricier

4. Emulsifiers

To be honest, the choice of petro-chemical-free and animal-free emulsifiers is incredibly limited. Electing to work solely with plant-based emulsifiers is both challenging and difficult. Despite this, I believe they are worth the extra effort. I am still looking forward to being able to source 100% organic plant-based emulsifiers, which would (finally) allow me to create products made up entirely of organic ingredients. My suppliers are all enthusiastic and dedicated folks that are constantly updating and improving their product line, so, one of these days soon maybe...
Challenge: More difficult and demanding to work with for certain textures

5. Preservatives

Despite their controversiality, preservatives are imperative in any product containing water. Without preservatives, a beautifully rich emulsion becomes a bacteria bomb in no time. Only safe, thoroughly tested, and approved preservatives should be used.
Challenge: None that come to mind

A Growing Community

I am especially pleased to see how many people are serious about doing their own cosmetics thing, and am getting more and more questions from other gals working on their own products. It's a growing community that has introduced me to some wonderful, open and sharing ladies.

Questions? Fire Away

If you have any questions about ingredients, oils or anything else about doing your own cosmetics thing – ask! If I don't know the answer right off, I will most likely use a good chunk of my spare time researching until I can give you a proper answer.


Lola Zabeth said…
Good, practical, to-the-point advice! Would you say that the same applies for hair care products? Off to read you posts on hydrosols...
LisaLise said…
Hi Lola. Absolutely! I've seen a huge change in my hair since I started doing my own hair products.
Anonymous said…
Hello Lise, I do hope you're still working with this site.

I'm a new hair care product maker based in Canada.

I can't find any suppliers who can assure me their emulsifiers or surfactants have not been tested on animals.

Do you have any suggestions? I'm going mad trying to find anyone, and I really don't want to have to purchase something I can't completely reassure my customers about.

This is very important to me.


TM :)
LisaLise said…
Hey there TM,

What a great question and I totally understand your concern. I have the great fortune of having suppliers with products that have not been subject to animal testing, but I am in Europe and I'm guessing you are keen to find somewhere in Canada! Do you happen to know of Susan Barclay's blog Point of Interest? She is a formulator and teacher based in Canada and has an extensive list of suppliers on her blog. I'm pretty sure she would be able to point you to a few local suppliers.

If you are game to try ordering ingredients from Europe, I can recommend Aroma Zone in France (these guys are surfactant wizards), Aromantic in the UK and Urtegaarden in Denmark They are all conscientious. Hope this has been of some help. :)
Anonymous said…
Hello again!

Thanks so much, Lise! You have no idea how grateful I am.

It's incredibly disappointing that suppliers in my region couldn't tell me one way or the other if their products are cruelty free.

I'll keep you posted on my finds!

Thanks and take care :)

LisaLise said…
my pleasure TM! Do let me know how things turn out :)
Anonymous said…
Hello Lise!

I'm over-the-moon excited to tell you that I found a cruelty-free supplier!

Texas Natural Supply states on their home page (very clearly might I add) that they do not supply products that were tested on animals. Emulsifiers and all!

It's hilarious because that's the first website I went to a couple of weeks ago, but forgot about!

Either way, I'm still very grateful you took the time to help. I appreciate it :)

Take care and I look forward to the new changes coming forward in Europe next year regarding a ban on animal testing.

TM :)
LisaLise said…
Hey TM that is absolutely fantastic! I am so pleased to hear that you were able to find somewhere more local.
I really appreciate your getting back to me. Good luck with your endeavours!