Thursday, May 30, 2013

Think this is a good recipe?

I love Pinterest- I really do. I love to find things that I didn't know I needed and inspiration for things I want to do around the house and yard. I also love to get patterns for sewing, crochet and knitting. There are many great things pinned on pinterest. Recipes for making your own lotion from stuff in your kitchen are not among them. I have seen so many bad recipes. I would love to review them all but my sensitive skin would literally be on fire with some of the stuff I've seen. So in honor of my newest favorite blog, Pintester and her Pintester Movement, I'm writing a review of a homemade lotion using just three ingredients.

Making cosmetics (lotions, soaps, shampoos, face masks, etc.) is about more than mashing an avocado and an egg together and smearing it on your face. You can't make a wonderful lotion out of Crisco and water. And you cannot defy the laws of chemistry and physics just because you really want beeswax to be an emulsifier. I found this recipe on pinterest a few weeks ago. I knew from looking at the recipe that it would not work because I am a chemist and I do this all day. Beeswax is a wax- it has no emulsification properties. Emulsion is the act of bringing two disparate parts together in a stable way, in the case of lotions, oil and water. The emulsifier must have hydrophilic and lipophilic parts in order to create a stable mix. Most lotions made by homecrafters will use something called "ewax" or emulsifying wax because it is easy to use. Commercial lotions use the HLB system to create a blend of high HLB and low HLB values that will emulsify all of the various components of the oil phase. The HLB system is not an easy thing to learn in my opinion but once you know it, you can do it in your sleep. So anyway- even though I knew this wouldn't work I decided to make it in the lab anyway for demonstration purposes.

First- the recipe- converted to grams because it's a much more accurate way to measure things. Side note- weighing ingredients in baking results in much better baked goods as well.

My ingredients, I used distilled water, beeswax and olive oil.

I weighed the water into a beaker large enough for the full formula and put it on my stand mixer with my high shear dispersing blade. Also, it is important to note that the original blogger did not say to heat the water, so I did not. Normally, when creating an emulsion- you heat both parts (oil and water phase) to the same temperature (70C) and hold them there to kill any microorganisms present in the water. To create a stable emulsion, the phases must be the same temperature when they are combined.


I weighed the olive oil into another beaker, added the beeswax and let it melt in my steam table.
The recipe says to let the oil phase cool for two minutes- using a thermometer to measure the temp would have been much more valuable but whatever- two minutes it is.
Now we turn on the agitation and add the oil phase to the water phase.
This is not at all what an emulsified lotion looks like. An emulsified lotion is a smooth, white liquid. This is water, a lumpy, curdly layer of wax and oil floating on top. The recipe says that at this point you should spoon it into jars and give it to all your friends because it's amazing! Would you like some?

I went a little farther and turned my dispersing blade up as high as it would go and forced the wax into the blades. Basically after about 10 minutes I has a sort of whipped wax that if you squeezed, water would come out.
I put some on my hands and the wax coated my skin and the water beaded up on top. Exactly as I predicted- the "lotion" was not at all emulsified. This doesn't even cover the inherent problems with a recipe that uses unheated tap water and no preservative. This lotion would spoil and grow beasties in a matter of days. The original poster says that you can store it in the fridge- because there is nothing I like better than smearing ice cold wax on my skin.

I left it sitting over the weekend and this morning it was clearly in two layers again. I poured out the water for you to see.
Buy some lotion at the store or at the very least learn about how to make safe cosmetic products at home. There are things you can make at home that are safe and awesome, check out one of my other posts- So You Want To Make a Sugar Scrub? for ideas. Save your Crisco and olive oil for baking.