Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making Solid Perfume Sticks

In the previous post, we explained how to make liquid perfume. This time, we will tell you how to make solid perfume.  Whether you're looking to set yourself apart with a unique scent or you're not so fond of the alcoholic undertones in most liquid perfumes, these instructions will show you how to create an inexpensive alternative.

Here is what you will need:

1 Tablespoon of beeswax
1 Tablespoon of carrier oil (Almond or Jojoba are good choices)
10-15 drops of essential or fragrance oil, according to personal preference
2 Standard lipbalm tubes

Measure oil and wax into a small glass dish. Place in microwave and heat at short intervals, watching it very closely, until it is just barely melted. Add fragrance and stir well with toothpick. Pour into lipbalm tubes. ( If the perfume thickens before you can pour it into your containers, just reheat. Carefully.) Allow to sit until fully cooled. Your perfume is ready to use!!!

For a lovely extra touch, you can add a small pinch of glitter to the melted oils.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Perfume

Many people, male and female alike, wear fragrances in one form or another. Some favor a soap with an exceptionally strong scent, which lingers on the skin. Others like to use scented lotions or creams. Perfumes and colognes are another form of wearable fragrance.
The origination of perfume can be traced back thousands of years to the early Egyptian’s where the first perfume was in incense form. The origin of the word perfume comes from the Latin words per and fumus, which mean through smoke.

Perfumes can be expensive, plus, who wants to smell like everyone else? You can create your own personal, unique fragrance quite easily.

Creating a perfume is a lot like cooking a multiple course meal where all of the courses blend together and compliment one another, resulting in a satisfying, fulfilling experience.

It is important to understand the terminology of perfuming. Here are a few words you will encounter as you journey along.


Absolutes are regarded as the strongest aromatic product from the starting plant material.


An Accord is the equivalent of a chord in music. It is a blend of two fragrances to produce a third, unique fragrance, without the two original fragrances distinctly detected. The two should be in balance and harmony with each other. The accord or note is usually only a part of a perfumes composition.


Alcohol is used to break down solids and heavy oils. It also lends to the diffusion and blending of perfumes. It also is catalyst to the dilution adding a fresh lightness.


A heavy, rich, sweet, full bodied aroma, slightly powdery.


The rich aroma displayed by balsamic notes.


Aromatherapy is a term meaning the combination of aroma with therapy, created by R.M. Gattefosse, a French chemist.

Attar (Otto)

Attar or Otto refers to essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the Bulgarian rose, a precious additive to floral perfumes.

Base Notes

The base notes are the final fragrance notes that appear once the top notes are completely evaporated.


A perfume term for the middle or "heart" of a perfume. Used to describe a fragrance that is well rounded or full.


The sum mixture of flower notes.

Bridge Notes

Bridge notes have intermediate evaporation rates and serve to tie a scent together.

Carrier Oil

An oil base into which aroma additives are mixed with to create oil-based products.

Citrus Note

The fresh, light notes of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and bergamot.


A style of fragrance that has rich large percentage of floral absolutes.


A perfume that is excessively sweet, clinging and overpowering.


It is primarily a blend of citrus oils. Also a light form of fragrance with about 3% concentration of perfume in a solution of alcohol and water.


The term used in the perfume industry for a concentrated mixture before it is diluted or used in products.


Concrete is the term used in perfumery to refer to the hard, waxy substance derived from the raw material.


Refers to the quality of a perfumes body and sophistication. Being rich and full bodied nature.


The volatilization or evaporation and dispersal of a aroma material into the surrounding atmosphere.


A product of distillation like lavender oil from the fresh, blooming lavender plant.


Plant material such as leaves, flowers or wood placed in a still where steam is passed through the plant material. The steam carries the oil out to a condenser which cools the steam & oil mixture. The mixture drips into container where the essential oils float to the top.


Alcohols help create this sort of scent. Think of it like a dry cocktail, not to sweet, more aromatic.

Dry Down

The final phase of a perfume, the bottom note. The aroma that lingers several hours after application.


Notes that give the impression of earth, soil, the forest floor, mold and moss. Earthy notes are clearly discernible in oakmoss absolute, vetiver and patchouli oils.


A very old method of extracting fragrant absolutes. Fresh flowers are pushed onto plates of glass and then covered with tallow. New blossoms are continually added to replace spent flowers until the fat is saturated with the fragrance.

Expression or Pressed

Method of obtaining essential oil from plant material, mostly citrus fruit peels.


The method by which essential oils are separated from the plant using solvents which can then be removed by evaporation. Strictly speaking, distillation and expression are methods of 'extraction' but the term is generally reserved for the use of solvents.


A material used in a perfume to fix the perfume or make it last longer.


The core of a perfume composition which gives it its character. (Also known as Middle Note)


An odor which is intense, often sweet and balsamic but lacks lift and vibrancy.


A solution obtained by steeping the material in a hot solvent. Making tea is an infusion.


Lively quality or diffusiveness.


Fresh, bright usually top notes.

Middle Note
The middle or "heart" notes make up the main body of a perfume. It denotes the classification of a fragrance. What you smell after the top note has mellowed. It usually takes from ten to twenty minutes for the middle notes to fully develop on the skin.


The language of music helps to describe an olfactory impression. It also indicates the three distinct periods of evaporation in the perfume. The top note, middle note, bottom note.


To be dissolved in a solvent (liquid) such as water, oil, alcohol.


Are used for dissolving solid or viscous aroma materials. This enables them to mix with other components of the production of perfume.


The degree to which a aroma material or perfume is effected over time by heat, light and air.


A man made aroma product is made to replace what occurs naturally. These products can be derived or isolated from natural products. They also may be made by chemists in a laboratory.


The life of a note or perfume. Its lasting quality.

Top Note
The first impression of a fragrance when applied to the skin. The most volatile and diffusive additive in your perfume which is light and evaporates quickly.

Now that you have a bit of perfume making knowledge base, lets explore further.

Much like musical notes make up a song and various shades of colors turn into a painting, fragrance notes are necessary to make a perfume. Overall, there are three note scales that when blended together create the perfume's fragrant accord. Each of these levels, has its own primary purpose.

Top Notes:
Also sometimes referred to as the opening notes or head notes, the top notes of a fragrance are generally the lightest of all the notes. They are recognized immediately upon application of the perfume. The top notes are also the first to fade.
The top notes of a fragrance represent the first impression.
Common fragrance top notes include citrus (lemon, orange zest, bergamot), light fruits (grapefruit, berries) and herbs (clary sage, lavender).

Middle Notes:
The middle notes, or the heart notes, make an appearance once the top notes evaporate. The middle notes are considered the heart of the fragrance. They last longer than the top notes and have a strong influence on the base notes to come.
Common fragrance middle notes include geranium, rose, lemongrass, ylang ylang, lavender, coriander, nutmeg, neroli and jasmine.

Base Notes:
The base notes are the final fragrance notes that appear once the top notes are completely evaporated. The base notes mingle with the heart notes to create the full body of the fragrance, but are typically associated with the dry-down period. The job of the base notes is to provide the lasting impression. These often rich notes linger on the skin for hours after the top notes have dissipated.
Common fragrance base notes include cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, patchouli, oakmoss and musk.

Generally speaking, percentages are used when creating a perfume.
An example:

25% top notes

25 to 40 % middle notes

And the rest base notes.

The right amount of a top note will not only make the perfumes first impression but will temper the middle and base notes. Making them just that, middle and base. The top note is the first component of perfume that you smell. It generally dissipates quickly revealing the heart of your perfume.

The middle note comprises the heart of your perfume. A rose perfumes middle note will be rose. The top notes could be citrus, fresh or aromatic. The middle note defines the perfume type.

The base notes anchors your perfume and makes the perfume last longer on the skin. This is known as "fixing". Base notes add warmth, depth, body and longevity to your perfume. These notes are usually achieved by adding balsam, wood or animal notes. Base notes can dominate a perfume if used in equal amounts as top and middle notes.

Try to achieve the best balance you can. This will take a bit of experience, but you will be surprised how fast you will learn. Use your aromas additives on a smell strip or cotton ball first. This will really give you a good idea of how much you want to use and how aromas smell together. This is how all perfumers begin a new perfume.

Examples of Notes:

Base - Vanilla, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Mosses, Lichens, Ferns

Middle - Yland Ylang, Lemon Grass, Neroli, Geranium

Top - Bergamot, Lavender, Orchid, Rose, Lemon, Lime

Bridge - Vanilla, Lavender

When beginning to make a perfume, the first thing to do it read about the aroma family. This will help you decide what sort of perfume you want to make. Once you have decided on the aroma accord that represents the sort of perfume you want to make, select other ingredients from the notes and aroma chemicals to enhance the accord.

It takes experimentation to get the scent you want, but you can get started in the right direction by keeping in mind the type of scent associated with particular oils:

Earthy: patchouli, vetiver
Floral: geranium, jasmine, neroli, rose, violet, ylang-ylang
Fruity: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, orange
Herbal: angelica, basil, chamomile, clary sage, lavender, peppermint, rosemary
Sea: sea salt
Spicy: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger, juniper, nutmeg
Woodsy: cassia, cedar, cypress, pine, sandalwood

If the perfume is too strong, you can dilute it with more water. If you want your perfume to retain its scent longer, add a tablespoon of glycerin to the perfume mixture.

Sample Perfume Recipe

0.5 ounce Jojoba OR Sweet Almond Oil

2.5 ounces perfumers alcohol

2 Tablespoons Distilled Water

7 drops Base Note Essential or Fragrance Oil

7 drops Middle Note Essential or Fragrance Oil

6 drops Top Note Essential or Fragrance Oil

Add the jojoba or sweet almond oil to the bottle. Add the essential oils in the following order: the base notes, followed by the middle notes, then finally the top notes. Add a couple of drops of bridge notes, if desired. Add 2-1/2 ounces of alcohol. Shake the bottle for a couple of minutes then let it sit for 48 hours to 6 weeks. The scent will change over time, becoming strongest around 6 weeks. When the scent is where you want it to be, add 2 tablespoons of distilled water to the perfume. Shake the bottle to mix the perfume, then filter it through a coffee filter and pour it into its final bottle. Ideally, this will be a dark bottle with minimal airspace, since light and exposure to air degrade many essential oils.

Enjoy the scent of sweet success!!






Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Does Superfatting Soap Mean?

Soapmaking is a science. The "creation" of soap is a chemical reaction between oil and lye, known as saponification. Every oil (or butter) requires a specific amount of lye to "turn it into" soap. The soap term for this is saponification value. Soap calculators can be found on many soap making sites on the internet and will figure your lye amount for a specific recipe, at whatever superfat percentage you desire. Using the exact amount of lye you need to make the exact amount of soap with nothing left over (no extra oils) is called a 0% superfat or a 0% lye discount. Most soapmakers like to make soap that has "extra" oil or butter left over after the chemical process of soap making is completed because it makes the soap more moisturizing. This amount of "extra" oil is a purely personal choice. The average amount is about 5%. Superfatting too much can result in a softer bar of soap, less lather and a risk of premature rancidity.
If you want to make a few bars of soap that are exceptionally moisturizing for the Winter season, and plan to use them within a few months, it is perfectly acceptable to superfat as much as 15-20%. Keep in mind that you have to allow a cure time of 4-6 weeks after making the soap before you can use it, so, if you need extra moisturizing soap for Winter, get busy!!
Butters are commonly used as superfatting agents. I personally use Shea butter. I only superfat at 5% year round because I like tons of lather and a nice hard bar of soap. If extra moisturizing is more important to you and you can live with the decrease in lather and a softer bar of soap, superfatting is the way to go.
Happy soaping!!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Great Stocking Stuffer Idea!

Holiday Shopping

Scrubs. Sugar versus Salt.

Exfoliation is the secret to glowing, healthy skin. The most popular form of exfoliation are scrubs. Two common types are sugar and salt. Each have their own benefits. Most people prefer one or the other. I personally like brown sugar scrubs. I find them to be a gentle but effective exfoliant. We will talk about both.

First of all, scrubs should not be used daily. They are effective if used on a weekly basis.

Sugar is a natural substance and has no harsh chemicals or negative side effects. It can be used on all skin types and effectively exfoliates and deep cleanses pores. Sugar contains alpha-hydroxy, a popular ingredient in commercial skin creams. Sugar scrubs are gentle and can be very soothing for people with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture to itself. In addition to the sugar, these scrubs use some type of oil which also lends beneficial properties and  aids in skin health. (Refer to our previous post on oils to review beneficial properties of popular oils). Adding essential oils can further promote healthy skin.

Salt is also a natural substance and scrubs utilizing salt are prefered by some, particularly for facial exfoliation due to the minerals found in salt and their beneficial properties, particularly, Dead Sea Salt. The salt scrub is rougher than the sugar scrub, therefore should be used carefully to prevent irritation. Salt scrubs are more effective on caloused and dry, rough  skin. It is also good for those with acne, as it helps absorb excess oil.The salt scrub is reported to have therapeutic benefits that helps remove  toxins and impurities from skin. On a negative note, salt scrub is a bit irritating and stingy to skin and should not to be used on sensitive, irritated or cut skin.

For best results, use a scrub while in the shower. Apply a handful of scrub to wet skin and massage in a circular motion over the entire body. Rinse away.

Scrubs are easy to make at home, and, depending on the oils used, can be very inexpensive. Here are a couple of recipes to try.

Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/2 cup of oil of your choice (sunflower, olive, wheat germ, etc)
You can use more or less oil, depending on the consistency you prefer. You can also add fragrance if desired.
Mix the oil and sugar and you have a scrub. It's that simple! You can spiff up the scrub by adding a tablespoon of finely ground oatmeal and / or a tablespoon or so of honey. Lemon juice can also be added as it is a natural astringent. Play around with ingredients until you find the perfect one for you.

Salt Scrub
1/2 cup fine sea salt (dead sea salt is great if you have it)
1/2 cup of oil of your choice
Once again, use more or less oil according to personal preference.  Also, other additives can be included if yo prefer. (Refer to Sugar Scrub recipe).

Extra scrub can be stored for a short period of time in a sealed glass jar.

These recipes are very basic but  WILL do the trick. We will explore more"posh" scrubs in an upcoming post, including solid scrubs and scrubs with cleansing agents already incorporated.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Craft Ideas

I am looking for feedback from my readers. Is there a craft project you would like me to write about? What types of projects are you especially interested in? So far, I have just rambled on about things I am interested in, but this is a public forum so I want to include YOUR interests as well!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Body Butter

Body Butter is a wonderfully moisturizing product that is particularly useful during the Winter months when the skin is especially prone to dryness. Body butter is typically more greasy than lotion, however, this is what provides the intense moisturizing effect. The greasiness can be controlled to a certain degree depending on the butters used and with the addition of other ingredients.
For those concerned about the safety of preservatives, Body Butter is a great alternative to lotion as it does not require a preservative since it does not contain water.
Whipped Body Butter is a variation of regular body butter, the only difference being it is whipped as it cools, incorporating air, which results in a lighter texture. It does not affect the greasiness.
A recipe I often use is:

2.5 ounces Shea Butter
1.0 ounce Mango Butter
1.0 ounce Cocoa Butter
1.5 ounces Almond Oil
Few Drops of Vitamin E
1 Tablespoon Corn Starch ( Optional. Cuts down on greasiness)
1 Teaspoon fragrance of choice (more or less to your own taste)

Melt the butters just to the point they are melted. Add Almond oil and Vitamin E. Mix well. Place in freezer or allow to sit at room temperature just until the oil begins to solidify around the edge of the bowl. Mix with standard kitchen mixer (hand blender not recommended for this particular product) until butters become opaque and begin to thicken. Slowly add cornstarch and fragrance and mix well. Pour into containers. Butter will harden to a solid form, but will melt readily when applied to the skin. If you prefer a lighter texture, continue to mix until the butter becomes the consistency of cake frosting. It will take a while! Scoop into containers. Butter will continue to harden.
Body Butter is especially nice to use immediately after a shower or bath while the skin is still damp and moist. It will help seal in the moisture and will leave your skin silky smooth! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wedding and Bridal Shower Favors

Making Shower Favors is an easy and fun project to do. There will always be weddings so there is always a market for this type of product, or, you can make them for your own wedding or for friends. Fortune Cookies are popular and can easily be personalized with the Bride and Groom names and the date of the wedding.
To make the cookie, melt your soap and add the color and fragrance. Add a tiny bit of vegetable glycerin to the melted soap. This keeps the soap more pliable so it doesn't break when you fold and bend it. Pour the soap into a flat, shallow container so it will be about  1/8 of an inch thick. After it hardens, cut out circles as you would cut out cookie dough. Fold the circle in half, pressing the edges together, leaving one side open. Slip the piece of paper with the bride and groom names on it down into the open side. Holding the lengthwise sides, center the cookie with the folded side down, over the edge of a bowl and press down to bend the cookie. Waala! That's all there is to it. An adorable fortune cookie favor! We packaged ours in a clear cello bag and tied it with a piece of silk ribbon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unique Handmade Projects

I am looking for inspiration! I would love for readers to share their ideas on UNIQUE and UNUSUAL craft projects. Around the holidays you find many of the same year in year out ideas. It doesn't have to be something you personally make, just ideas. If I try your idea, I will post pictures of the end product.
Winter is a great time to work on hobbies. It is cold, gets dark early and since we are stuck in the house more than during warmer seasons, we generally have more time to invest in our hobbies. So, put on your thinking cap and let your imagination soar! I look forward to getting lots of GREAT ideas! Happy crafting!!

Friday, November 11, 2011


How many times have you received flowers for a special occasion and watched sadly as they wilted and died? You wished there were some way to preserve them but didn't know how to do it yourself.
The PERFECT solution to this problem can be found at
Check them out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Custom Requests

If anyone out there needs a custom piece of jewelry or a "special request" bath and body item, let me know! I love doing custom work.

To date, my favorite custom order was for a lady who had a little boy she was trying to potty train. She was also trying to teach him to wash his hands after using the potty. As with most kids, he wasn't too keen on washing his hands. According to his Mom, this little tyke loved pirates. One day when she told him to wash his hands, he said he would wash them if he could use pirates gold as soap. So, Mom contacted me to see if I could make soap which looked like gold pieces. I made shiny gold glycerin soap coin soaps, packaged in a black faux leather pull string pouch. Some time later I received a letter from Mom saying her son loved the soaps and was more than happy to wash his hands ANY time!

Monday, November 7, 2011

More About Preservatives

I spoke briefly about preservatives on an earlier post but wanted to revisit the subject due to it’s importance. When I started making bath and body products about 8 years ago, I did endless research on all aspects of the process. The thing I found most bewildering was the preservative issue. There was so much controversial and contradictory information I didn’t know what to believe. My biggest fear was contamination of my products, so, my priority was to make sure I used the best and safest preservative available.

The microbes that can infect formulas primarily include bacteria, mold and yeast. In small quantities, they do not pose much of a problem, but when they multiply, can have catastrophic consequences. Bacteria like Pseudomonas can cause all kinds of health problems including skin and eye infections, toxic shock and strep throat, to name a few. Yeast like Candida albicans can cause thrush, and many other bacteria can cause products to have a foul odor, change color or otherwise break down.

When first starting out, I frequently went to craft shows where handmade products were readily available. I wanted to see what everyone was doing and how they were doing it. I and was astounded at the number of times I was told a product was 100% natural. When I asked specifically about the type of preservative, I received a variety of answers, however, most often was told Grapefruit Seed Extract, Vitamin E and Rosemary Oil Extract.

Let’s explore those particular ingredients.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Here is a “word for word notation” taken from an online site pertaining to Natural Cosmetics.

“Grapefruit Seed Extract - A natural antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative. It is used to promote the healing of almost any atypical skin condition. According to published sources it is effective against more than 800 bacterial and viral organisms, 100 strains of fungus, and a large number of single-cell and multi-celled parasites. This preservative is used by many handcrafters in products that contain water.”

In doing further, extensive research just on Grapefruit Seed Extract, it would appear that the antimicrobial effects of this product are directly related to residual chemicals which are used to manufacture the extract in the first place, not the extract in and of itself. Thus, in reality, Grapefruit Seed Extract is not a “natural” product, nor, on it’s own does it have the antimicrobial properties as claimed by some.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant. An anti-oxidant is a preservative that reduces the rate of oxidation in oils that oxidize quickly. Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs when oils or other natural ingredients are exposed to oxygen. Anti-oxidants extend the shelf life of your products by reducing the rate of oxidation of your oils. It does NOT have antimicrobial benefits, thus, using it as a preservative is misleading. It will help prevent oil content from becoming rancid as quickly, however, will not prevent bacteria from growing in products which contain water.

Rosemary Oil Extract

This is also an antioxidant and is very beneficial in extending the shelf life of oils, however, does NOT inhibit the growth of bacteria in products containing water.

Now, lets look at the most commonly used synthetic preservatives. As you will see, each and every one of these has received negative press in one way or another.


Paraben preservatives are listed under multiple names and are used to preserve the majority of cosmetics on the market today. Paraben preservatives have recently come into question with new studies that link the daily exposure of paraben preservatives to breast cancer and endocrine-disruption issues. It must be noted that the European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Associan affirm that parabens are hydrolyzed in the skin and that they do not enter the bloodstream. Parabens are not officially identified or listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical by any government or regulatory organization.

Parabens are synthetic preservatives that have been for almost a century as “broad-band” preservatives (anti-bacterial and anti-fungal) which means that they work within a formula to prevent the growth of multiple possible contaminants such as bacteria, yeast, mold and fungi. They can be found in approximately 80% of cosmetics such as make-up, lotion, deodorants and shampoos.

Much research still needs to be done to ultimately determine the true long term safety and consequences of the wide spread use of paraben preservatives as a daily part of our skin regimen. In the interim, many people have jumped on the bandwagon of initial studies and have declared parabens as the demon of all demons as pertaining to safety. More than any other ingredient, preservatives are considered by consumers to be the worst ingredients cosmetic chemists can use in formulas.

Formaldehyde Donors

Formaldehyde derivatives are the next most common preservative. These compounds interfere with membrane proteins, which kills microbes. They are effective against bacteria, fungi and mold. Bad press and real safety concerns have led cosmetic chemists to stop using formaldehyde. Instead, ingredients that dissociate into formaldehyde when put in a water solution are used. These are compounds like DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and gluteraldehyde.

Phenol Derivatives

Phenol derivatives have been used in cosmetics for many years and can be effective against a range of microbes. Unfortunately, they are not as effective as the parabens and formaldehyde donors. The most common example is phenoxyethanol.


This is a category of compounds which contain nitrogen and have a positive charge when placed in a solution. Studies have shown that many of them demonstrate an ability to kill microbes. This includes ingredients like benzalkonium chlroide, methene ammonium chloride and benzethonium chloride. Due to their cationic nature, they are less compatible with anionic surfactants, which limits their application and use.


Ethanol has been proven to be a great preservative. The downside is that it must be used at high levels, therefore, faces considerable environmental restriction. Other compounds like benzyl alcohol, dichlorobenzyl alcohol and even propylene glycol have also been shown to exhibit antimicrobial effect. At lower levels, these compounds are less effective at preserving products.


These are some of those long words you see on commercial product ingredients lists which you wouldn’t even begin to try to say. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone are reported to be effective at incredibly low levels and at a wide range of pH levels and in many different formulas. Their use has been thwarted, however, by at least one study that suggested it could cause skin sensitization.

Organic Acids and Others

Various other compounds are used as preservatives but all face limitations of one kind or the other. Some of the most important include: sodium benzoate, chloracetamide, triclosan and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. Pyridine derivatives like sodium pyrithione and zinc pyrithione are frequently used in anti-dandruff shampoos.

The Moral of the Story

This is what I hope you take from my ramblings. Preservatives are designed to kill cells. That is why they are effective. Unfortunately, that is also why they are potentially hazardous. They do not easily discriminate between good human cells and bad microbial cells but ultimately, the risk from using preservatives is significantly lower than that of using unpreserved cosmetics. There are safe levels of “toxic” chemicals. All chemicals can be deadly if one is exposed to high enough levels. Remember, it’s the dose that matters! The most important word to keep in mind when considering preservatives, is "balance". You need to include enough preservative to control microbial growth, yet not too much so as to cause allergies, dermatitis or other side effects.



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lets Talk About Butters

Lets talk about butters. In no particular order. This is certainly not a complete list, but, I have used each and every one of these butters in one product or another and use several of them on a regular basis in my current line of products.

It should be noted that many butters come from nuts. Individuals who suffer from nut allergies may also be allergic to butters.

Cocoa Butter

Solid at room temperature but softens readily when applied to a warm body. This is a pleasantly aromatic butter, particularly id you like the smell of chocolate! You can also get deodorized cocoa butter if you prefer to add other fragrances to your products and find it difficult to get a fragrance that marries well with the natural cocoa butter aroma. Cocoa butter adds a richness, thickness and creaminess to lotions and creams. It adds hardness to soap. Cocoa butter is wonderfully moisturizing and is commonly used in products aimed at reducing skin dryness and for the improvement of skin elasticity. Cocoa Butter contains natural antioxidants which give it a shelf life of over 3 years. It is naturally rich in Vitamin E which helps to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin and also provides the skin collagen which assists with prevention of wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Cocoa butter is frequently used by massage therapists for direct application as it is thought to help relieve stress.

Illipe Butter

This is considered one of the exotic butters. It has exceptional moisturizing properties and is believed to aid with restoration of skin elasticity. It is comparable to cocoa butter, though it is harder than cocoa butter, and is beneficial for the treatment of numerous skin and hair conditions. Illipe butter is an excellent base for a great many body care products, including those used for the skin, sun protection, creams, soaps, lip sticks, balms, make-up foundations, and hair conditioners.

Kokum Butter

This naturally white, very smooth butter which has many beneficial properties that help regenerate tired and worn skin cells and restore elasticity to the skin wall. A great ingredient to add to healing lotions, creams, and body butters. It can be directly applied to the skin in its solid state, but it may require a mild amount of heating to improve applicability. Naturally high in vitamin E. Makes a great healing balm. Shelf life is about one year, though it can be extended by storing in a cool location.

Mango Butter

Mango Butter has a slightly sweet, fatty odor, has exceptional moisturizing properties and is commonly used in lotions and creams. Mango butter also acts as a mild lubricant for the skin, and is very similar in color and texture as cocoa butter. Great source of essential fatty acids. Mango butter has natural emollient properties, thus, softens and soothes the skin. Also believed to help restore skin elasticity. Shelf life of about 2 years, which can be extended if stored in a cool location.

Shea Butter

 Available unrefined, refined or ultra refined. A wonderful base for cosmetic recipes or used as a stand alone application, this comes highly recommended for those concerned about naturally healthy skin. Rich in vitamins A and E which help soothe and hydrate the skin. Promotes collagen production further helping erase fine lines and wrinkles. Promotes skin renewal and improved circulation. Shea butter also contains a low level of natural UV protection so is a nice addition to natural sunscreen products. Products with Shea butter also make wonderfully moisturizing after sun lotions.

Aloe Butter

 Also butter is an extraction of the Aloe Vera plant using a fatty coconut fraction to produce a soft-solid which melts on contact with the skin. It aids in rapid hydration of dry skin caused by eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, sun burn, wind burn, and general chapping. Aloe Butter is suitable for a variety of skin care applications including use in lotions, soaps, skin creams and lip balms.

Avocado Butter

Obtained from the fresh flesh of the avocado fruit and then hydrogenated to yield a soft greenish butter. At room temperature, this is a much softer butter than most other butters. Very rich and moisturizing. A great treatment for the hair and skin. Avocado butter also has natural sunscreen properties. This butter can be a little heavy and greasy but this makes it ideal for use on areas requiring extreme moisturizing treatment, such as the feet, elbows and knees. Avocado Butter is a good butter for belly balms, lip balms, eye makeup remover creams, hair conditioning creams, baby bottom balms and soap.

Coffee Bean Butter

Produced by hydrogenating cold pressed oil from roasted coffee beans with other vegetable oils. The light hydrogenation process creates a butter with good oxidative stability and a smooth, silky feel. Offers natural protection from ultraviolet light and is becoming a popular ingredient in sunscreen products. Coffee Oil is rich in phytosterols which promote excellent moisture retention with quick penetration.

Hemp Seed Butter

 Exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids that nourish the skin and helps reduce moisture loss from the skin. Used in creams, lotions, soaps, lip balms and other formulations for dry, damaged or irritated skin. Hemp Seed Butter is deep green in color and similar in feel to Shea Butter. It absorbs quickly into the skin and does not leave a greasy feel.

Macadamia Nut Butter

This is one of my favorites to use in body butter. It provides excellent emollient properties. It is a light, non greasy butter that penetrates the skin easily. Use Macadamia Butter in creams, lotions, balms and soaps.

Mochacchino Butter

A combination of Coffee Bean Butter and Cocoa Butter. In addition to its wonderful aroma, this butter has the healing, moisturizing properties of Cocoa Butter, and the sun protection and antioxidant benefits of Coffee Butter. Use in soaps, lotions, body butters, lip balms and bath bombs.

Murumuru Butter

Has a unique composition of essential fatty acids and Pro-Vitamin A which helps restore elasticity to damaged and aging skin and makes a wonderful ingredient for use in anti-aging formulations. It is also soothing addition for products intended to heal dry and cracked skin, eczema and psoriasis.

Pistachio Nut Butter

Created by hydrogenating a blend of cold pressed Pistachio Nut Oil and other vegetable oils. It is a soft green butter which spreads readily on the skin and penetrates easily. Excellent as a massage butter. Pistachio Butter does not clog the pores and can be used in all types of formulations.

Shealoe Butter

This is made with equal amounts of Shea Butter and Aloe Vera Gel resulting in a healing and moisturizing emollient. Shealoe Butter can be used straight out of the jar to soothe dry, irritated skin, or add it to formulations as a skin or hair nutrient. When used in formulations, Shealoe Butter lends a high gloss sheen and a non-greasy slip to your product. Shealoe Butter is wonderful in lip balms, creams, lotions, body butters, lotion bars, bath bombs and more.

Kpangnan Butter
(pronounced pie-nya.) From the kernels of the African Butter tree, Pentadesma butyracea, which grows in the rainforests of Togo. Kpangnan butter is very yellow in color and has a firm texture. When applied to the skin, it feels powdery and silky. Even more moisturizing than shea butter, kpangnan has an earthy aroma. Kpangnan also has a slight warming effect on the skin when applied. Contains high amounts of vitamin A and stigmasterol, a natural skin firming agent, which is an unsaturated plant sterol.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Essential Oils

This is just a partial list, of course, but, will provide you with information pertaining to the reported beneficial properties of some Essential Oils.

 Basil (Ocimum basilicum) Said to help heighten the sense of smell. Great additive to healing balms intended to treat insect bites. Can be relaxing to muscles. Uplifting.

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Natural astringent. Commonly used in acne treatment products. Natural mood-lifting qualities. Bergamot is responsible for the distinctive flavor of Earl Grey Tea.

Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) Has been recognized for centuries for it’s calming, purifying properties. It also helps calm nervous tension, and benefits the digestive system. Supplies oxygen to tissues and helps repair DNA damage, believed to be beneficial in prevention of cancer.

Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) Calms, relieves restlessness and tension.

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) Contains natural estriol, a phytoestrogen (plant estrogen). Promotes relaxation.

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) Natural antiseptic properties.

Coriander (cilantro) (Coriandrum sativum) Studies report this oil promotes normal pancreatic function. Also has natural calming properties.

Eucalyptus Globulus Contains a high percentage of the compound eucalyptol, a key ingredient in many antiseptic mouthwashes. Has a camphor-like aroma commonly used to expel mucus. Should not be used by small children or asthmatics.

Eucalyptus Polybractea Appropriate for topical application or diffusing. This species contains the highest amount of the antiseptic compound eucalyptol, thus the strong antiseptic actions among the eucalyptus oils. Should not be inhaled directly.

Eucalyptus Radiata One of the most versatile of the eucalyptus oils, is suitable for topical use, diffusing, and even direct inhalation. Relatively gentle and nonirritating.

Fennel(Foeniculum vulgare) is antiseptic and stimulating to the circulatory and respiratory systems.

(Boswellia carteri) Commonly used as a holy anointing oil in the Middle East and has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Reported to be stimulating and elevating to the mind and helps in overcoming stress. Believed to supporting the immune system and helps repair DNA damage.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) has been used for centuries for skin care. Distinct odor is disliked by some, however, is believed to have aromatic benefits, specifically with regard to memory. It is also used by skin care specialists to restoring balance between oily and dry skin and hair.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is used to combat nausea, vomiting, or dizziness associated with motion sickness and has been studied for its gentle, stimulating effects. (Ginger Ale)

Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) Said to support the circulatory system, liver function and the urinary tract. Also exhibits relaxing and calming effects.

Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) Commonly used for it’s natural weight loss benefits due to it‘s unique fat dissolving characteristics. Especially helpful for the nervous system during stressful situations. Has an uplifting aroma.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is an "absolute" extracted from the flower and is an essence rather than an essential oil. It is good for sensitive skin and can also be uplifting and stimulating. Considered an aphrodisiac for centuries, Jasmine supports the nervous system and is helpful for women going through menopause.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) The most versatile of all essential oils. Lavender is commonly used for treatment of minor cuts and bruises. It is also well reputed for it’s aromatic benefits, specifically with regard to ability to calm, relax and balance both physically and emotionally.

Lemon (Citrus limon) has antiseptic-like properties and contains compounds that have been studied for their effects on immune function, lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems. Is antibacterial and may serve as an insect repellent as well as being beneficial for the skin. Citrus oils should not be applied to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light within 72 hours.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) is used for purification and digestion.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is used for supporting the muscles and the respiratory system. It assists in calming the nerves and also has antiseptic properties.

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) has one of the highest levels of compounds that has direct effect on the hypothalamus, pituitary, and amygdala, the seat of our emotions. Myrrh is considered to be emotionally strengthening and empowering. It also has natural antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Should not be used during pregnancy.

Myrtle is commonly used for its effects on hormonal imbalances of the thyroid and ovaries. It is also believed to have a soothing effect on the respiratory system, possibly helping relieve chronic coughs and respiratory tract ailments. Can be applied topically, diffused, or used in a humidifier. Suitable for use on children.

Neroli Fresh, floral aroma brightens spirits and clears the mind. Supports the body under stress and enhances skin tone.

Nutmeg (Myristic fragrans) helps support the adrenal glands for increased energy. Also benefits circulation and relieves muscle aches and pains.

Orange (Citrus sinensis) brings peace and happiness to the mind and body. Frequently used in skin products as it is believed to help a dull, oily complexion. Citrus oils should not be applied to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light within 72 hours due to photosensitivity.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is very beneficial for the skin and may help prevent wrinkled or chapped skin. It has antiseptic properties and helps relieve itching.

Pepper, Black (Piper nigrum) is a stimulating, energizing essential oil that has been studied for its effects on cellular oxygenation. It has been used for soothing deep tissue muscle aches and pains.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion. It is beneficial to the sinuses and muscular system, and especially useful for women during monthly cycles or menopause. Apply to bottom of feet to soothe tired feet. Rub on temples for a calming effect.

Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) comes from orange leaves and has antiseptic properties. It is also believed to re-establishes nerve equilibrium.

Pine (Pinus sylvestris) has antiseptic properties and is beneficial for use in massage for stressed muscles and joints.

Rose (Rosa damascena) helps bring balance and harmony. Is stimulating and elevating to the mind, creating a sense of well-being. It is also great for circulation and skin care.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT 1,8 cineol) Contains antiseptic properties. Beneficial for the circulatory, nervous, and muscular system. Should not be used by individuals suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy or during pregnancy.

Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) is soothing and nourishing to the skin. Also has natural anti-bacterial properties.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) has been used in Europe for numerous skin conditions. It has been recognized for its benefits of supporting metabolism.

Sandalwood (Santalum album) is high in sesquiterpenes and has the ability to oxygenate the area of the brain where emotions are centered. Soothing, promoting sleep and a sense of wellbeing. Also traditionally used for urinary and respiratory systems.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) oil helps support the respiratory and nervous systems. It may help open and release emotional blocks and bring about a feeling of balance.

Spruce (Picea mariana) helps support the respiratory and nervous systems. Its aromatic influences help to open and release emotional blocks, bringing about a feeling of balance.

Tangerine (Citrus nobilis) is a calming essential oil. It helps with anxiety and nervousness.

Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus) has natural antiseptic properties.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of the most antiseptic essential oils and very high in antioxidant rating. It contains thymol, which has been studied for its effect on gingivitis and plaque-causing organisms in the mouth. It may be beneficial in helping to overcome fatigue and exhaustion.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a root that has been used for thousands of years for its calming, relaxing, grounding, and emotionally balancing influences. Can also be an effective treatment for restlessness and for sleep disturbances resulting from nervous conditions.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zanioides) has a heavy, earthy fragrance similar to patchouli with a touch of lemon. Vetiver id reported to help cope with stress and recover from emotional traumas and shocks.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria prcumbens) contains methyl salicylate and is beneficial for massage associated with bone, muscle, and joint discomfort.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) may be extremely effective in calming, balancing and bringing about a sense of relaxation. Commonly used in hair and skin products and can be used for insomnia and pain.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fragrance Oil versus Essential Oil

I have often been asked the difference between Essential Oil and Fragrance Oil.

Essential Oils are natural chemicals that are extracted from different parts of a plant; the leaves, flowers, stems, roots or bark. In reality it isn't an oil, but are aromatic essences.

Fragrance Oils are synthetic chemical compositions of fragrances. Some people also referred to these oils as Perfume Oils.

Lets explore Essential Oils. I will talk more about fragrance oils in another post.

There are several methods used to extract essential oils from a plant, the most common being steam distillation. This process involves  placing  the botanical material into a still where steam is forced over it. The hot steam helps to release the aromatic molecules from the plant material which evaporates into the steam. The steam is then passed through a cooling system to condense the steam, which forms a liquid from which the essential oil and water is then separated.

Hydro diffusion is a type of steam distillation where the steam is introduced into the still from the top, onto the plant material instead of from the bottom, as is normally the case with steam distillation.
The condensation of the steam / oil mixture occurs below the area in which the botanical material is held in place by a grill. This method uses less steam and has a shorter processing time.

Water distillation is another method of extracting essential oils and involves immersing the plant material in water which is then brought to a boil. When the condensed material cools down, the water and essential oil are separated. The water is not discarded as it still contains aromatic properties and is sold as floral water or hydrosol.

A combination of steam and water distillation can also be used to extract essential oil. The botanicals are immersed in water which is heated, at the same time steam is introduced into the still.

There are times when an essential oil contains impurities. Purification can be obtained by re-distillation. This process is known as rectification.

Fraction distillation is sometimes done, which merely means the oils are collected in batches rather than continuously.

Maceration extraction is a method using hot oil instead of water.

Enfleurage extraction is rarely used in this day and time, though it was once popular. The process involves using glass plates in a frame (called a chassis) which are covered with highly purified and odorless vegetable or animal fat. The petals of the botanical matter are spread across it and pressed in. The petals remain the greasy compound from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the botanical material being used. The  depleted petals are removed and replaced with a fresh harvest of petals.This process is repeated until the greasy mix is saturated with the essence. When the mix has reached saturation point the flowers are removed and the enfleurage pomade is washed with alcohol to separate the extract from the remaining fat. Once the alcohol evaporates the remaining mixture is essential oil.

Solvent extraction is a method of extracting essential oils with the use of a solvent such as petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol or hexane. This method of extraction is frequently used on fragile botanicals such as  jasmine, hyacinth and narcissus, which are unable to handle the heat of steam distillation. These essential oils are very concentrated and  very close to the natural fragrance of the material used. There is considerable controvery regarding the use of solvents due to the residual solvent present in the essential oil. For this reason, Benzene, which was determined to be carcinogenic, is no longer used. Some studies report  a solvent residue of 6 - 20% still present in the finished extraction when benzene was the standard solvent used. With hexane as the solvent material, the  residue is reported to be about 10 ppm (parts per million) which is extremely low.

Yet another method of essential oil extraction is Hypercritical Carbon Dioxide Gas CO2 Extraction. This method is a relatively new process. Carbon dioxide becomes hypercritical at 33 degrees Celsius, which is neither gas or liquid, but has qualities of both. This method of extraction is a rapid, low temperature process that has no chemical interaction with the finished product.

Now that we know how Essential Oils are obtained, lets quickly go through the beneficial properties of some of the most popular ones. As I write this, I realize another post will need to be forthcoming to discuss uses of essential oils . I will touch on just a few, briefly.

One of the most popular essential oils of all time is Lavender. It is reputed to promote relaxation, has antibacterial properties  and is popular for use as room and linen sprays.

Tea Tree Oil is easily the most versatile oil when it comes to having a wide variety of uses. Unfortunately, the fragrance is considered by some to be unpleasant. I personally love it.  It has natural antibacterial, antifungal and antibacterial properties, so, is often used to clean wounds. It is also used to repell insects and for decongestion purposes. Tea Tree is very potent and should always be used with caution for the first few times to make sure that you are not allergic to it.

Peppermint is the most commonly sold mint essential oil. It is believed to promote relaxation, both physically and mentally.

Jasmine is popularly used as an anti-depressant.

Chamomile is safe for ingestion, and is the most popular herbal tea. It is reputed to have a calming, sedative effective and is very effective against indigestion. 

Rose Essential Oil has many benefits of which few people are aware. It is very gentle and a good starting point for those just getting started experimenting with essential oil.

I will compile a more extensive list of Essential Oils and their beneficial properties in another post. For now, I am sure your eyes are VERY WEARY!!!!

I will also write more about Fragrance Oils.




Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let's Craft! How about a Dammit Doll.

A Dammit Doll is an adorable conversation piece which can easily be crafted in about an hour. This little cutie makes a great addition to your own home, or, as a gift for friends or relatives. The one I made measures approx 8 inches long and 5 inches wide. I filled mine with polyfil, however, you could also stuff the doll with dried herbs, such as lavender buds, or a combination of polyfil and dried herbs, to add a nice aroma. If using dried herbs, be particularly careful to make your stitches small enough so the herbs won't slip out between the stitches. I used muslin material, however, any material is acceptable. Calico is a popular choice. I used pinking shears to decrease the liklihood of the material fraying, however, you could use regular scissors if pinking shears were not available.

To make this project you will need:

12 x 12 piece of any type of material
Small piece of pink, blue and black felt
Matching thread or embroidery floss
Polyfil (double handful should be sufficient) and  or dried herbs
Small piece of ribbon
Doll Body Pattern (I tried to attach a pattern but couldn't get it to work. Watch the video to see the pattern. It is very simple and easy to draw by hand)
Paper to print poem on

The poem:

          DAMMIT DOLL
When you want to climb the wall,
And stand right up and shout.
There's a little Dammit doll
You cannot do without.
Just grasp it firmly by the legs,
And find a place to slam it.
And as you whack the stuffing out
Yell Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!

If Dammit is not a word you say
Then twist its little neck
And shout out repeatedly
Oh Heck, Oh Heck, Oh Heck!

And once you’re done abusing it
Just sit it on the shelf.
But hug it first, as I’d hug you
If I were there myself.