Three Tips on Using Clay in Balms
This past winter has been all about skin-loving balms in my lab.
I've been working on a few melt-and-pour less-is-more formulas to see how minimalistic it is possible to get without sacrificing function (or luxury factor).
This kind of create-the-perfect-synergy 'roots' formulating has become a bit of an obsession. It's both fun and educational all at once, and you can't help but get real up close and personal with every aspect of every ingredient in a formula.
So let's talk about clay!
It can seem a little odd to add clay to an anhydrous product, but there is a purpose.
- to help cut the greasy feel
- to tint the product with a natural colorant
My color goal with this balm: a light, baby's-breath barely pink.
Above are the ingredients: 2 butters, oil, e-vitamin and 'rose' clay (a blend of kaolin and red illite).
It took a few batches to learn how much clay is needed to color a balm.
Which brings me to the first tip.
Tip One - Less is EnoughIf the clay is purely added as a colorant – use less than you might expect.
See that bowl up there? That portion of clay will give a deep rose – it is about 6 times more than I needed to create a delicate pink.
Need a certain amount of clay overall in your formula and don't want a darkly colored product? Mix your colored clay with kaolin until you have the desired shade.
Tip Two - Don't PanicIf you add clay the moment your butters have melted (and temperature is at its highest), the color will turn much much darker than you expect. Don't panic. The color lightens up again as the product cools.
Trying to create a very specific shade? Make a few small batches and keep copious notes on the amounts of clay you add to each one. Wait until the balm has cooled completely before adjusting the amount of clay.
Tip Three - Take Your TimeFor even color throughout, don't pour up too early.
Pictured above: what happens to impatient people who pour into containers too early.
To avoid streaky bits of clay residue settling at the bottom, stir your balm gently until trace. Then pour up.