Mixing Ingredients - is More Always Better?

Tina asked in this post
"I always wonder when I read those very long ingredients lists with good oils, butters and stuff. When you add so many different things, you end up with such a small amount of one specific ingredient on your skin - how much good will it do my skin? Would it be better to keep it simple?

This Q applies to my own oil blends and creams/body butters as well – is there a limit to how many oils I should mix? Does it actually make a product better to keep adding ingredients or is there such a thing as too much of the good stuff?"

This is an excellent question Tina!

The short answer: no, more isn't always better. Sometimes, less really is more.

On the other hand, it can be great with a mix of many components.

Here are a couple of general rules about creating a good formula that my experiences have taught me.

For active ingredients

When I started out, I wanted to cram as many actives in as possible, but when something went awry (which it can and does do when you're developing products), it is almost impossible to pinpoint the culprit. I learned by doing that more definitely isn't necessarily better when it comes to active ingredients. Keeping the list of actives at 2-3 is actually desirable. With only 2 or 3 actives, you can (usually) allow yourself to use the maximum amount of each active. This makes a difference in how your product is going to work.

Example: I've tried working with caffeine, panthenol, and vitamin A in different concentrations in different formulas. For these 3 actives, being able to add a max dosage really makes a noticeable difference in the effectiveness of the product.

For oil blends

If you are trying to discover which oils work best for your own skin, you may find your optimal blend is a mix of several different carrier oils. It's always wise to start with 1-2 different oils and experiencing how they 'get on' with each other and your skin.

Mixing opposites together can make for a fabulous feel. For example: a drier oil (like rosehips) with a fattier oil (like avocado) may be just the ticket. You may also find during your mixing and matching that you have discovered the perfect blend of oils for your next cream or lotion.

Which brings us to:

For carriers and texture-givers in formulas

Here my general rule is anything goes to achieve the desired feel/texture, and if it takes a few extra ingredients to achieve texture perfection, then go for it.

For example: some emulsifiers will 'loosen' or 'stiffen' over a course of time changing a firm-ish cream to a 'runnier, lotion-type' texture. To correct that, it may be necessary to add a stabilizer or switch part of the oils with butters. The more you get to know the individual ingredients and their possibilities (as well as limitations), the better an idea you get of how to put together a formula with your favorite oils and butters and your favorite actives.

I hope this was helpful to you Tina, as well as to anyone else formulating their own products.

PS: Last chance to sign up for this giveaway


Tina Rasmussen, CPH said…
Thank you Lise, it most defintely was helpful! I find your answer reflects hat I have been thinking. Sometimes its just so hard to know when to stop with all the interesting oils out there. But you are right, its good to know they work for me and my skin -alone and in mixes. I'll keep it simple but look more into emulsifiers and texturizers!
LisaLise said…
HI Tina, I am happy to be of help! If you ever want to share an experience I would love to hear more about it! Please feel free to write me (my info on the sidebar)

Danuta said…
Thank you Lisa, very informative post, I do formulate my own cosmetics, but only for myself. I usually use two oils and two butters. I even have some where is only oil, without the butters it came very light, more like a mouse than cream. Do you think i could formulate such cream with calendula infused in Olive oil?
LisaLise said…
HI Danuta - absolutely! You can use infused oil in an emulsion or a straight up oil mixture. Let me know how it turns out for you.