Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eco Living Papaya Mask (All Natural Cosmetics/Make it yourself)

My newest Eco Living article was posted a few days ago! It is a recipe for a papaya mask (I was talking to S on garden of wisdom's forum about papayas recently, so decided to do this month's eco living article on a papaya mask). This mask will leave the skin soft and smooth! I hope you enjoy the recipe :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Comments on brown sugar scrub shelf life; freezing aloe; and testing cosmetics for bacteria/fungi (All Natural Cosmetics/Make it yourself)

So it's been a long time since I've answered comments. (I have about 80 comments to sort through, most of which are spam, though there are a few real comments in there). Below I have answered the most recent (if I have time I will sort through the really old ones, but some of them are many months old, so not sure if I post the answer if the original poster will see it, though it may be of interest to new posters). If you previously posted a comment and I did not answer it, thank you and I am sorry.

Here is a comment from my old brown sugar scrub post

Question on brown sugar scrubs:

I've made a body scrub and have used dried herbs and vanilla extract and peppermint extract (food grade). Do you know what the shelf life would be for these? Thx.

All the ingredients used are:

1) Raw Sugar
2) Grapeseed Oil
3) Olive Oil
4) Aloe Vera Gelly
5) Maple Syrup
6) Fresh Rosemary (dried)
7) Chamomile Flowers (dried)
8) Peppermint Extract (food grade)
9) Vanilla Extract (food grade)

My answer

Hi NH, thanks for posting :) Shelf life would only be a few days (maybe a couple weeks if you are careful, though it could go bad in days) since you added aloe gel and maple syrup. The food extracts contain a little alcohol (which is a natural preservative) but you'd have to use A LOT of alcohol (much too much for a scrub) to preserve it, so the amount of alcohol in the extracts (used in low concentrations) would not be enough to preserve it. Please be sure to use a spoon or spatula to scoop it out of the container to keep it fresher longer. In addition, do not store in the bathroom or a humid area (which will decrease shelf life even faster). For a good shelf life, you may want to add a broad spectrum preservative (like Geogard Ultra, which is an eco cert approved preservative). Or just omit the aloe gel and maple syrup next time. If you still wanted to use aloe in a future scrub, try aloe oil (which is aloe that has been infused in an oil). Hope that helps!

Question on freezing aloe vera:

This comment was posted under the Herb info: Aloe vera (Natural Skin Care)" entry.

I would like to know how freezing aloe leaves affects the plant and its properties. Can they be thawed out and used topically with the same results?
Thanking you.

My answer:


Thanks for posting :)

I am not sure, I have never frozen an aloe leaf before. I think it would be best to take the gel out of the aloe leaf and then refrigerate the gel or freeze it to prolong shelf life. You can add potassium sorbate to it, but that is only a good anti-fungal and a poor anti-bacterial, so it is not a broad spectrum preservative (most companies add this to packaged aloe. Personally I would add geogard ultra or another preservative (geogard is a broad spectrum preservative so would protect against a wide range of bacteria and fungi, and shelf life would be at least a few months or longer)). Aloe (when you buy it from a company) is packaged in clean sanitized conditions and for several weeks/month can sit on the shelf unopened, but once the consumer opens the bottle and handles the aloe, the potassium sorbate won't be able to preserve it for long. So if you prepare/process the aloe yourself, and add potassium sorbate to aloe, it may or may not be able to keep it fresh for a long time (and it would only protect against fungi and not bacteria).

Question on testing cosmetics:

This comment was posted under the current blog update.

I've been a long-time reader of your blog, and I've gained so much from it, not least discovering AV-AT (and their amazing essential oils) and Monave - thank you for your wonderful blog!

Congratulations on starting up your business!! So exciting! I'm de-lurking because I'd love to know more about something you mentioned... in your post on the Earth Alchemie blog about Geogard, you wrote that you do your own simple bacteria and fungus tests at home - I'd love to know more about how to do this myself! Can you point me to a reference? I was wondering, do you just use the Chek-It tests from Snowdrift? I come from a science background too (though not a lab science), and I understand it's not as good as a challenge test in the lab - but I'd love to be able to collect a bit more data myself before forking out the $ to send a batch to a lab!

My answer:

Hi P

Thanks! You're very welcome :)

I do not use Snowdrift Farm's check it kit, I buy the supplies from a biology supply company (less expensive), but their kit is a good way to start out with (gives you everything you need, with instructions). These tests would only indicate if there is bacteria or fungi in a batch. It would not tell you what kinds of bacteria or fungi, or how much is in it. Also I'd imagine there may be some kinds of bacteria and fungi that may not grow very well on the plates, though a wide range of bacteria or fungi will grow on agar plates (depending on the types of agar used). So it not as good as what a lab can do, but I still do them anyways because it is still a good indicator if an ingredient or product has gone bad. Many small companies do not even conduct basic tests). If you didn't want to do the tests yourself, Cindy Jones from Sage script does them for a reasonable fee.