As an organic and natural cosmetic formulator and the Education Manager at Formula Botanica, people are always asking me what my favourite ingredients are to work with. Today’s market is flooded with colourful oils, nourishing butters, wonderfully potent and aromatic extracts and essential oils. The list is endless and is growing day by day.
Today I am sharing the 5 ingredients I use most frequently in my formulations at the moment.
Personally, I feel that these ingredients don’t get enough attention, which is understandable since most DIY skincare makers tend to stick with what they already know and trust. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. In fact, experimenting is the way to becoming a great formulator so don’t be afraid to get stuck in and try something new.
I love Illipe butter. It has two variations, True Illipe and False Illipe. It does not mean that one is the real butter and the other is fake, but they are from two different species of tree. False Illipe is like cocoa butter but without the chocolatey scent. It is a hard butter, with a higher melting point than cocoa so you can add it to your lip balms, balms, stick deodorants where a harder butter is required. True Illipe is like shea butter without that strong, smoky aroma shea butter is so famous (or maybe infamous) for. It has a lovely white colour so it would not affect the final colour of your product. It is a great emollient and a good choice for dry, chapped skin.
We start introducing you to some wonderful butters in our Diploma on Organic Skincare Formulation course.
Honey has been used for a very long time not only as a medicinal remedy but also in skincare. Many cultures believe in the power of honey since it has various minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium, is high in antioxidants and is antiseptic. It is a humectant which means it draws moisture to the surface of the skin. You can use the powdered version, which is freeze-dried honey, in masks, add it to creams and lotions, salves or even facial tonics. Just like with regular honey, you do need to be careful when it comes to preservation and of course, to avoid stickiness. One advantage of using the powder form is that it is easy to work with. It readily dissolves in water without requiring heat. Make sure you keep the powder in airtight container or you may end up with a gooey lump in a jar.
Honey is one of the more challenging ingredients in preservation, but we tell you all about it in our Certificate in Natural Cosmetic Preservation.
You may want to expand your horizons from making balms to making bubbly shampoos or body washes. The problem that DIY skincare formulators often face is that natural or naturally-derived surfactants (the ingredients that help with cleansing and make your products foam) cannot be thickened easily.
Before, when sulphates were the trend, we just added some salt to thicken up our shampoos. These new surfactants will require some gums, such as xanthan gum instead of salt to achieve a good consistency. This is where lauryl glucoside can help. It is a thick, paste-like surfactant that is accepted in natural skincare formulations. You will need to heat it, till it is transparent before blending it into your formulation. It works well with the gum of your choice; it helps thicken up the product nicely and it works well with other surfactants in your products. Stir it slowly to avoid creating a huge foam and make sure you have adequate preservative in your cleanser formula.
We focus a lot on natural surfactants in our new Diploma in Organic Haircare Formulation course.
Now that it is getting warmer it is time to think about getting your skin summer ready. The first step is to give your skin a nice scrub rub to reveal a lovely, dewy skin ready for some sun. Making scrubs can be really easy and the key thing to keep in mind is: choose an effective but not harsh exfoliant. This is why ground olive stone is my go-to exfoliant. As the name suggests, it is basically the stone of the olive that has been ground and it has a brownish colour but no aroma. Although it is fine, I would not recommend it for facial products but it is certainly a good choice for body scrubs. You can choose an emulsion, a butter or even a gel base as it can be suspended well in all these environments which means it will not sink to the bottom of the jar. Make sure you add the exfoliant at the end of the formulation process.
Why not learn to create some amazing scrubs in our Certificate in Chocolate Spa Products.
This ingredient is really amazing. I recommend it to those of you with some formulating experience, since it can be tricky to work with. Sucragel AOF is a cold-process emulsifier based on sugar chemistry which can create both sprayable and thick emulsions and some oily gels.
The benefit of oily gels is that you can create a preservative-free product, which has a gel-like consistency but turns into milk when in contact with water. This takes creating facial cleansers, make up removers to another, exciting level.
When it comes to formulating with Sucragel, you will need to pay close attention to your method. Stir Sucragel slowly using a butter knife or glass rod while adding your oils literally drop by drop. Using a pipette will help. As you add the oil, your blend will slowly start to thicken up creating this lovely, shiny oily gel. You can use any oil of your choice. Some beautiful green hemp oil or maybe some sunny orange carrot oil so your final product will have the most amazing colour as well. Let your imagination go wild.
Challenge your own formulating skills, learn about the ‘science and art’ of emulsification in our Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science.
Remember the key to successful formulating is to challenge yourself, embrace the mistakes but most importantly, enjoy the successes.
Formula Botanica is an accredited and award-winning organic cosmetic science school. Fancy becoming an organic and natural cosmetic formulator? Then try out their sample class, or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You can purchase all of these ingredients at www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk