Design Mania, Cosmetics Issue and a Job Offer

I’ve been hinting for awhile now, and it’s time to announce our Design Mania contest!

 

I trust that many of you have been trying your hand at the designs presented in the May/June 2014 issue, and I’ll bet that you have one or two to show off. Now is the time. Here’s what you do: try the designs if you haven’t already and submit photos of your best one or two. Your photos will be uploaded and voted on by the public. The person who gets the most votes overall will win the grand prize, and it is grand, indeed! The winners after that in each technique category will win a package of prizes that you will be thrilled to receive. Complete details and the entry form may be found here:  http://saponifier.com/enter-design-mania-contest-2014/

 

I am so excited to see what you have to offer, I can hardly wait! Once the entry deadline is reached, I’ll be back with voting information. Take a look at the prizes; they are awesome. Many, many thanks to our generous vendor partners who are participating with us.

 


Speaking of soap, I could look at soap designs all day long. The artistry of some of my soapmaking colleagues is nothing short of jaw-dropping–far more intricate and creative than I could ever hope to attain. Even so, I am just as pleased to use a rather Plain Jane or primitive looking bar as long as it performs well. I guess it’s true that if you love soap, you love all of it. Well, almost all of it, anyway. It never ceases to delight me that we can combine various oils and lye to get a bar of soap. I hope it never does.

 

What about you? Will a plain bar of well-made soap be as pleasing to you as a fancy, artistic one?

 

Also, it’s just a short time until July 1st, when our next issue comes out. I can’t describe to you how I anticipate actually seeing the magazine! I’m like a kid at Christmas. This issue concentrates on cosmetics, an important subject to many of us, so I hope you’ll enjoy it if you’re a subscriber. If not, we’d love to have you aboard.  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Finally, we have an opening for a writer at the Saponifier. This person’s regular column would center on the “That’s Life” and “Wit & Whimsy” side of soap, bath and body and candlemaking. You see the humor in everyday life with your craft and don’t mind sharing. This might include your mistakes or crazy things that happen when you’re selling or other events that we can all relate to. Interested? Contact beth@saponifier.com

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

Go Forth and Color: Ultramarines and Oxides

 In three installments, we have reviewed the various types of colorants that can be used in soap and bath and body products.  We’ve talked natural colorants, such as spices and herbs, as well as FD&C dyes and micas.

 

Finally, in our series on colorants, we explore ultramarines and oxides.  Many soapmakers think they are “from the earth” natural, but that isn’t quite true, and it’s a good thing!  At one time, these colorants were used, but it was found that they contained contaminants such as arsenic.  Since then, they have been lab-created, free of toxins, to be what is termed, “nature identical.”

 

 Ultramarines and oxides have long been used in soap and cosmetics.  Users like them because they generally remain true to color in products and are inexpensive considering the amounts needed to provide color.  Use a small amount for pastel color and more for intense color.  These are matte colorants.  Mix ultramarines in a bit of water or glycerin before adding them to your soap base and add oxides to a bit of your soapmaking oils before adding them to your base so that they don’t clump or speckle.

 

They are used for mineral makeup and for bath and body products, but again, test them before you sell to make sure you’re product is not oozing color all over the tub, shower and washcloths.  Customers are not generally happy when that happens!

 

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is often included in this category, but it is unique in that it occurs naturally in minerals and is extracted for use in dozens of applications other than bath and body, from food to siding to paper.

 

Now, you have it.  Go forth and color!

 

Until next time, may your days  be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Colorants: FD&C Colors

This is the third in our series on soap colorants.  We’ve discussed natural colorants and micas; so today, we turn our attention to FD&C colorants.

 

First of all, what does FD&C stand for?  It refers to the FDA’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic approved colorants.  Each color is approved for specific uses and the color title indicates which uses the colorant is appropriate for.  If a color is named, FD&C Red #40, for instance, the product is approved by the FDA for food, drugs & cosmetics.  If it’s labeled D&C Red #34, on the other hand, it’s approved for drugs (used externally) and cosmetics.  Knowing this makes it easy as a formulator to determine which products each colorant may be used in.

 

FD&C colorants:  These are dyes which permeate the product and thus, are likely to bleed in soapmaking.  If your soap is one color, you have no worries.  If you want a distinct pattern, however, you’ll probably be disappointed.  These colors are intense and easy to use, as well as inexpensive, but they don’t always like alkalines, so their use in CP or HP soap is sketchy.  Most manufacturers who sell these also provide or sell charts that instruct how they should be used in soap and other products.  When you see a color followed by a number such as D&C Yellow Number 11, you’ll know this product is a dye.  These colorants, by the way, are often used for melt and pour soaps and other cosmetics, as appropriate, because they color well and reliably; whereas, they are trickier in CP soap.

 

You may have heard the term, “Lake” used in conjunction with colorants.  They are FD&C type colorants, but you will see these labeled like the other FD&C (or D&C) colorants, except for the addition of the metal substrate used.  For example, the additional descriptor, “Aluminum Lake” would be added at the end.

 

As with all colorants, it’s always smart to test colorants out before adding them to large batches of soap or other products!

 

Stay tuned for our final installment, Oxides and Ultramarines.

 

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Coloring Soap and Cosmetics With Mica

Continuing on in our series on soap colorants:

We talked last time about natural colorants such as herbs and purees.  Today, I’d like to talk about man made colorants, specifically micas.

 

If you want strong color, you’ll likely be using micas, FD&C colors, Lakes or pigments.  Therefore, you’ll want to know the differences between them so that you know how to get the result you desire in your soap and avoid disappointment.

 

Micas are lab created versions of natural micas found in the earth plus oxides, etc. added for color.  The mica itself is called “nature identical,” but the added colorants may not be.  They come in every color of the rainbow, and more–shimmer, glitter and metallic types included.  They may be used without caution for melt and pour soap, but might morph or disappear before your very eyes in cold process/hot process soap!  I’ll never forget the green I once added, only to make a lovely purple in my cold process batch.

 

If you’d like to use your micas in CP/HP, be sure to do a bit of research to find out how each one works in soap.  Some vendors offer lists or reviews on how each mica they offer works in soap.

 

Additionally, some micas bleed, while others do not.  If you see a dye in the INCI, it will probably bleed, so use it accordingly.  (Bleeding refers to color migrating into the the rest of the soap, not necessarily on to washcloths, and such)  Micas are a staple in mineral makeup and other body products, but be sure to ask for recommendations and experiment with small batches to make sure the colorant works.  For instance, you don’t want the colorant from bath salts clinging to the tub. I can pretty much guarantee that your customers will not be happy!

 

To add micas to soap, mix directly into soap or into a bit of rubbing alcohol for melt & pour or a small amount of soap that you add to the batch for CP/HP.  Most soapmakers find them quite easy to incorporate.

 

As for makeup and other cosmetics, research the colorant used in your mica to determine whether or not it is an approved colorant for your application.  For instance, green oxide is not permitted in the US for lip colorants.  Each country and the EU has its own standards for colorant use.

 

Next time, we will talk about pigments.

 

Until then, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

Coloring Soap, Do it Naturally!

I hope all of our US readers had a great Labor Day weekend with friends and family.  For our friends everywhere else, I hope your weekend was enjoyable, as well.

 

Today, we’ll explore natural soap colorants.  If you recall, in my last blog post I promised to write about them, so I’ve been combing my notes to share information with you.  As anyone using natural colorants knows, it’s a complicated topic, and to cover it all thoroughly, I’d be writing a book, not a blog post.  Therefore, I’ll keep it to mostly those I’ve personally used.

So many colorants are used, and in several different ways.  Some are best infused in water, others in oil and a few in lye water!.  Many herbs and such are added as powders or purees at trace.  One of the most important things to know, however, is that the colors usually fade in time.  Few natural colorants keep their color.  If you’re an m&p soapmaker, by the way, powdered colorants are for you, but don’t use much!

Here are some natural colorants commonly used in soapmaking.  Most of these, I have tried and have included my results for; but not all:

Yellow – Calendula (I’ve never gotten intense color with an infusion, but more with powder), turmeric, chamomile flowers (powdered), annatto seed (great color, but some are allergic.  Infuse in oil) and pureed carrots (yes, yellow)

Orange- paprika (don’t use much!), pureed pumpkin (really nice as a portion of the water amount), safflower petals (haven’t tried it, but sounds good), ground rosehips (peach)

Green – dill weed (bright green that fades quickly), ground parsley (good, but expect fading), French green clay (try infusing in lye water), kelp (be prepared for the smell), ground spearmint (green to brown)

Brown – comfrey root, cocoa powder, wheatgrass powder (green to light brown), beet root, cinnamon and cloves (but I suggest not using them since they are irritants), tea (green, black or white), coffee grounds, berries, corn silk (attractive gray/brown)

Purple – Alkanet (if you’re lucky.  Infuse in oil first), Madder Root, Red Sandalwood Powder (brown/purple)

Blue – Indigo (don’t go overboard because it stains), woad (I haven’t used either of these)

Red/Pink – cochineal (yes, ground bugs),  Moroccan Red clay (brick red), Rose pink clay (pink, but deeper if infused in lye water)

When it  comes to natural colorants, experimentation is to be expected.  Depending upon the method used to extract the color or to add it to soap, results vary widely.

It’s also important to note that the FDA requires approved colorants to used in cosmetics, so be aware.  Fortunately, most natural colorants also lend cosmetic properties to soap that make them advantageous to use.

If you’re willing to work with the inconsistencies of natural colorants, you’ll find a whole world of possibility at your fingertips.  If you’ve used these or others, tell us how they worked for you!

Speaking of fingertips, have you seen your new copy of the Saponifier?  Our writers have worked hard to give you a great issue sure to be helpful in preparing for the holidays!

Until next time, may your days be full of bubbles and wax–and colors!

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Soap Colorants

Color, color, color!  Although I know that some of you prefer not to add color to your soaps, a great many of you wouldn’t make a batch without.  Why is that?  Is a soap not as good uncolored as it is colored?  Of course it is!  A soap’s performance is not dependent upon color; however, our desire to add color is still important to us and often, to our customers or the recipients of our gifts.  

 

As many soap artisans are truly artists, the appeal of color and design is just too important to bypass and half the fun of making soap is creating colorful designs.  Nevertheless, color isn’t important only to the more fanciful among us, but even to those of us who make simpler, one-colored soaps or other not-so-fancy soaps.  If we’re making soap that smells like the ocean for instance, we want color that is reminiscent of the ocean, and it makes sense that a rosemary mint soap be green.  Moreover, we want our orange scented soap to be. . . well, orange.

 

Even still, many of us are still confused by color.  We don’t know which colorants to use or how to use them properly.  Our colors morph or speckle or disappear.  How do these soapmakers do it, we ask?  Seeing the beautifully swirled and otherwise colored soaps of our sisters and brothers in the soaping world, we know it can be done, but how?

 

I can’t do the topic justice in just a blog post, but the most common colorants for soap are:

1.    Herbs and spices (and other natural sources of color)

2.    Ultramarines & oxides

3.    FD&C

4.    Micas

 

Which one(s) you choose depend upon a few different factors, such as the kind of soap you’re making.  Some colorants that work well in melt and pour soap do not work well under the high pH of cold or hot process soap.  Sometimes, for the effect we want, a bleeding colorant will add to the design; other times, a non-bleeding colorant is imperative.  A number of soapmakers want to use only natural colorants obtained by infusing or powdering herbs, spices and other naturally-derived agents, whether for their properties in the soap for strictly for color.

 

Your first task is to decide what is important to you when choosing colorants.  If bright colors and crisp designs are at the top of your priority list, for instance, choose ultramarines and oxides or micas.  If your desire is beautiful coloring that is easily  mixed into the soap, and you’re making a once-color batch or you want your colors to blend a bit, then FD&C colors are just fine.  If you’re looking for natural colorants, it’s herbs, spices, etc.  Once you decide, you can purchase your colorants and you’re on your way to making colorful soaps.

 

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about natural colorants.

 

Speaking of color and design, don’t forget to enter our contest!  Details can be found here:   http://saponifier.com/design-mania-contest-submissions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with colored bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Color My World–or at Least My Soap

Color–one of my favorite topics.

 

 I find myself drawn to color, which probably explains why I like gardening, flower arranging and soapmaking.  They allow me to enjoy creativity in coloring, whether blending or just enjoying the beautiful hues.  The possibilities in creating color patterns are literally endless and I can admire photo after photo of colorful soaps that my fellow soapmakers have created.  The same is true of candles.  I’m a stickler about the color matching the scent, but I enjoy the many colors and designs in candles.  At the same time, I want to see a lilac scented candle with lots of purple.  Don’t confuse me with something red!

 

One scent/color combo that I find disconcerting is peppermint.  Have you noticed that it can be red, blue, or green?  How confusing.  Give me something easy like lemon.  The soap or candle will be yellow; but, simple, common peppermint, and I have three choices!  It can really wear on a person trying to decide which color to use in a case like this.

 

Quite often, a scent doesn’t conjure up an obvious color.  As a matter of fact, I recently made a soap using a sandalwood vanilla fragrance.  What color should it be?  I think it should be a light brown, because sandalwood is a tree and tree trunks are brown.  Also, vanilla beans are brown and the scent will turn the product brown, so I’m just being realistic.  I ended up making it light brown and blue.  Why blue?  I don’t know.  I just liked the blend, and thought it would be appropriate for a unisex soap.  You might say I’m breaking my own rules, and I am.  In my defense, however, I do attempt to offer my customers a variety of colors so that if they’re looking for a soap to match the bathroom or kitchen, I have it and for some reason, I don’t offer much in blue.

 

Do you feel the same way about color?  Must you color your soap and candles, or is it unimportant to you?  If you use colorants, what are your favorite ones?

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne

Is Your Soap a Natural Product?

One reader, Dawn, recently commented on the last blog post, where one company’s natural soaps was mentioned from our Soapers’ Showcase. Dawn questioned soapmakers’ use of the term, “natural.”  Here is what she posted:

“Since you brought up the subject, maybe we need to look into natural again. When making my soap, I do not like to use 100% natural everything because it stifles me in color and fragrance. I think most Americans do not like the smell of most essential oils and prefer the more mellow fragrance oils or a blend of essential and fragrance oils. Until glitter is 100% natural, I will have problems making 100% natural soaps. When using mica, oxide, and lab colors in soap, it makes soap less natural. So us in the soap industry should state that our soaps are mostly natural or 95% or what ever percentage natural, should we not? Do some of you feel this way, or do you think that if we should just say fragrance and coloring on our list of ingredients and be fine with that?”

Dawn brought up an excellent question, though akin to opening Pandora’s Box.  I do want to emphasize that I don’t believe that Dawn was stating that the soap in the Showcase was less than natural, just that reading about these soaps caused her to think about the topic of natural soap.  Unfortunately, no simple answer to the dilemma exists.

Why this lack of definition?  In short, it is because we have no official definition of natural.  We all think we know it when we see it, and yet we do not all agree.  Indeed, the more we learn about cosmetic ingredients, the more complicated the decision becomes.  Additionally, the FDA has no legal definition of what constitutes natural ingredients in cosmetics.

We might, in a broad sense, consider anything that comes from the earth to be natural; but soon, we are faced with deciding how much processing in a product is tolerable before it no longer fits the category of natural.  Many cosmetic ingredients are derived from something most of us would consider natural, some of our foamers being a prime example.  At what point did these ingredients cross over from being natural to being synthetic?  Or are they still natural?  Are essential oils less than natural because of the processing required to obtain them?  Who’s to say?

Hence, natural is left to individual discretion.  Indeed, at least one group who is has undertaken the task of defining natural, but they are not a governing body, so their opinions are not official or binding.  Thus, it again boils down to individual thoughts and opinions.

The best I can offer, then, is that each soapmaker must search his or her own conscience regarding labeling and claims, regardless of what others do.  Do you feel truthful about using the term, “natural,” even though you have added fragrance oil and colorant?  If you use no more than 5% of what you consider natural ingredients, for instance, do you feel truthful in offering your customers, “natural” soap?  How do you feel about modern, lab-derived sodium hydroxide?

What do you think?  We’d love to hear your thoughtful and civil opinions.