Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's All About The Scrub

Summer is coming, no more thick socks and closed toe boots!  Scrub is a must when trying to get ready for the pretty sundresses and trendy sandals.  The traditional scrub is oil base.  It's basically liquid oil and butter mixed with either salt or sugar as exfoliant, serves the purpose of polishing off the dry dead skin on the upper layer but leaves a layer of greasy oil no mater how many times you try to rinse with water.  I'm not a fan of traditional scrub because it leaves my shower floor oily and slippery.  I've been modifying it to the emulsified version and loving it much better.  An emulsified scrub is a tradition oil scrub with added emulsifier.  Why do we need emulsifier?  We all know that oil and water don't get along.  In order to cut down the grease and for easier rinse off we need an emulsifier to act as a binder between these 2 elements.  The emulsifier also acts as a suspension for the heavier solid exfoliants to disperse evenly and not sink down at the bottom of the jar like the traditional oil scrub.  Here's my new sea salt scrub:
I have to made this emulsified "lotion" first:
Then add different exfoliants:
Some people find salt to be abrasive and can sting cut and scratches.  This is definitely not for sensitive skin but it's by no mean coarse.  If you have a cut on your skin everything is going to sting.  I love using this on my feet and elbows.  Salt can soften the top layer of dead skin and does not melt as easy as sugar under hot shower.  And many people might have forgotten the fact that salt is an anti-inflammatory, a bonus!
But, if you still are not convinced that salt scrub is the way to go, let's talk about sugar scrub.  It seems like people prefer to use sugar scrub as an overall body scrub.  I love the idea of combining cleaning and scrub together, no need to do it in 2 separate steps!  This is foaming sugar scrub, using mild surfactant based cleanser cream together with exfoliants.
When I make scrub, either salt or sugar, I like to layer my exfoliants, like a system.  I use combination of different size particles from fine powder like pumice (volcanic ash) to dust size ground apricot seed to either finely grind sea salt or raw sugar (I don't prefer the white table sugar) and finally to large round poppy seeds.
Some of you might raise your eyebrow about using surfactant because it's not natural.  Chemically made surfactants are often misunderstood as being harmful to human skin, which is not true at all.  Carefully chosen surfactants can be milder than natural soap because the pH level is much closer to our skin.  Surprised?!  Natural soap is high in pH, somewhere around 9-10, and guess what our skin pH is?  It's around 5.5!  Anyway, for people who insist on using natural soap, I also made a cream soap version.  If you wonder what cream soap is, you can read this post: Making Cream Soap

If I didn't use a different pipping tip, would anyone be able to tell which one is natural cream soap based and which is surfactant based?
It's been more than 17 weeks since I made the cream soap, it's now much milder than fist made, so glad.  I think it's almost ready!  Now, who want to be my scrub tester?  I will select first 5 who commented under this blog, US only, each will receive 3 samples of scrub: emulsified salt scrub, surfactant based sugar scrub and cream soap based sugar scrub.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Disappointing Color Fading

I use all kind of colorants to soap, some natural some synthetic.  Sometimes I run into situations where color morphs into an undesirable hue, or fades during the curing process.  It's very common that natural colorants fade in time because most of them are light sensitive.  I can make a batch of soap with the most vibrant beautiful colors just to find them unsellable at the end.  Let's see the runner ups.

Here is the soap made with Spirulina (a type of algae).  Spirulina is a deep green powder that smells fishy and when it's added into soap and then forced gel it produces this vibrant intense leafy green color.  Then a few weeks later that vibrant leafy green turned into yellowish olive green.

Here's another one using natural colorant, Gromwell root infused 72% olive oil soap.  Gromwell root is widely used in Asia mainly for herbal medicine.  It is infused in oil and butters to make slave or balms to treat various skin conditions.  It can also be used as fabric dye for purple color.  Soap color made with Gromwell root infusion can range from blue purple to plum purple depending on the harvest.  Again, the beautiful intense color didn't last...

Now this final one surprised me.  I've used this specific colorant before and never have it fade on me in such a short period of time!  It turned to barely anything in just 2 days!  Yellow #5 lake is a strong yellow dye, it's synthetic, not natural.  I suspect the fragrance I used for this batch has something to do with the yellow disappearing.
What colorants have you tried that don't last?