Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Li's Crafting Thoughts 4-03-08

Been working on this entry on and off for many, many days, so here it is! :)

I haven't been crafting as much in March as I did in February (due to my thesis) but I have been crafting and tweaking some products for my future business, and jotting down ideas, as well as making a lot of kitchen cosmetics (cosmetics made with fresh ingredients that I have been making for my own personal use).

Toners and water based serums: I have been working on a lot of toners. I've been researching hydrosol properties for quite a while (expanding on my overall understanding of them) and more importantly using a lot of hydrosols that I have never used before to really understand their properties and how they react on the skin. I am really loving frankincense hydrosol (great for dry skin, anti-aging, but rare/not offered everywhere). For serums, I have been studying more herbalism, and experimenting with herbs that I haven't used yet. Also I have been coming up with a lot of ideas of crafting water based serums (I usually only craft oil based serums).

Oil Based Serums:I have totally shifted my focus entirely to tweaking about four of them (instead of the original sixteen), and experimenting with different blends of ingredients, especially essential oil blends. I am working hard to craft blends that will really help specific conditions.

Mineral makeup: Made a few gorgeous shades of brown, and a totally awesome vegan lip gloss! I nailed the texture/glide/slip on my first time crafting it (after over seven years of crafting, most of the time I nail it on the first try, but the artist and scientist in me is always tweaking a formula). My lips are so soft after I use it!

Creams: Been working on a preservative system for creams. I am still considering whether or not to offer creams/lotions in my business because of the short shelf life when using natural preservatives. Though I think most people would understand using the products up quickly if it's explained it's a must, I think some people really wouldn't understand. I have made some nice waterless balms/salves for the face and they have the most melt-on-your skin texture and leave the skin really soft so will be offering those at least.

Though I've blogged about natural preservatives a lot, here is a quick summary again :)

Creams and lotions are a tricky product to craft for a business, simply because of the preservative issue. No matter what some people say or think, there are benefits and disadvantages to using both natural or synthetic preservatives. On the issue there seems to be two extremes: there are people who are absolutely convinced natural preservatives do not work at all, and others that believe any natural herb is a good preservative against all kinds of bacteria and that an all natural product lasts as long as one preserved with synthetic preservatives. My personal thought on this :) they are both misinformed. Natural preservatives can be very effective but you have to realize the limitations of using them. Products preserved with natural preservatives simply will not last as long as a product preserved with a synthetic preservative. On general, depending on which natural preservatives you use, shelf life for creams and lotions will be anywhere from one month to three months, maybe (stress the maybe) up to five months for some formulations (ones with alcohol and a blend of certain--not random and not just one--herbs/essential oils, and packaged in a specific container). Also though many herbs and essential oils are antiseptic, they are antiseptic to various degrees, and different herbs/essential oils will kill different bacteria. To be effective, it's really important to use a combination of natural preservatives (and not just one or two ingredients) but shelf life will still be very short. Other things to consider: container style (airless pumps are a good idea), and (if you are selling) antibacterial and antifungal tests and (if you can afford it) challenge testing are a must. Or you may want to consider waterless products, which are less prone to bacterial contamination.

(It is a good thing I am a scientist/environmental biologist and know how to properly do antibacterial and antifungal tests).

I am considering offering only waterless creams (so technically salves/balms), or offering an all natural cream (and stress the short shelf life), or maybe offer an all natural version plus a version with one of the few synthetic preservatives I'll actually use. I am still deciding.

Kitchen Cosmetics:For kitchen or fresh cosmetics I've been making a lot of fresh scrubs and masks for personal use (revisiting old recipes and concocting many new ones) (Note: shelf life is only a couple days and it must be stored in the fridge if there is any left over). Though I craft vegan for my business, for kitchen cosmetics I will use vegetarian (but not vegan) ingredients like yogurt (I'm only veggie and not vegan, though some of the food I eat is vegan). I've also been using a lot of fresh organic fruit in masks (which contain natural forms of acids, that are gentler than the concentrated derived acids typically found in products) recently and my skin has been glowing!