Well… perhaps not really “Magic” per se, but in line with Clarke’s third law : “Any sufficiently advanced technology (in this case, Science) is indistinguishable from magic”, I know that many people who do not comprehend the science of skincare have laughingly called it “magic”!
Making lotions, creams, balms, and butters is very much about comprehending the science that plays the most vital part in their creation. You can have the very best ingredients in the world, but if you do not know about emulsification, heating and cooling processes, humidity, and even altitude, you may end up with lumpy goop instead of a light weight lotion. In this article I am going to outline some of the most important aspects of creating truly natural skincare, the alchemical science that allows us to take different ingredients and transform them into a singular end result, and most importantly, WHY natural products HAVE to follow certain rules if they are really going to be truly NATURAL.
First things first: how to mix oil and water
No matter how much you mix it, oil and water always separate. Finding the best way to mix them is a never ending search. What needs to take place is emulsification, that is: the perfect blending of two elements so that they do not separate.
Finding an emulsification agent is easy, every cosmetic company uses them….
Finding an emulsifaction agent that is truly natural and doesn’t contain chemicals…. that’s much more difficult.
In most cosmetic and beauty products you’ll find emulsifier ingredients like: -9-OCTADECENOATE, TETRAGLYCERYL MONOOLEATE, TRIETHYLENE GLYCOL DOD ECYL ETHER, POLYSORBATE 80, MONO9OCTADECENOATE, CETEARETH-20,…. nothing you can readily pronouce for the most part. Some these actually have a basis in nature, but they have been highly processed and chemicalized. When you look them up on safety databases, you’ll also find that there are very few studies done on these chemicals that Prove that they do NOT cause health issues.
…needless to say, I refuse to use any of those chemicals.
This leaves two basic, and fully natural emulsifiers (or at least, two that I trust), and that is Bees Wax and Borax. We all know where bees wax comes from, so that’s a given, but borax is an ingredient that many people have never heard of. Borax, also called by it’s proper name, Borax decahydrate, is a naturally occurring mineral. Borax Decahydrate is the refined form of natural sodium borate. Composed of boric oxide (B2O3), sodium oxide, and water, it is a mild, alkaline salt, white and crystalline structure. Now a lot of people see a word like Borax Decahydrate and immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s a man made chemical. Borax has gotten a bit of a bad name recently, and has had several groups try to label it toxic, because of a study that found that Borax caused toxic results in a test on rats… what isn’t taken into consideration though is that the amount that was fed to the rats to get the toxic result was 2.66 g/kg in rats. That would be the equivalent of feeding a 100kg man 266 grams (9.5 ounces!) of Borax!! Compared the teaspoon full that is in every liter of lotion I make, I think you can see that the comparison is ridiculous. Even water is lethal if you drink enough of it!!
… and of course, there is a reason that Borax is on the “hit list” by some groups that may have agendas….
I will be writing a much more comprehensive article about Borax and it’s health benefits in the future, but here is just a small peek:
What Health Issues Benefit from Borax?
…and aids in detoxing from Fluoride as well.
So, emulsifying oil and water naturally takes two key ingredients, Bees wax and Borax, mixed in exactly the right proportions to your water:oil ratios, at the right temperatures.
And even that isn’t an exact equation, because not only do the ingredients have to be exactly measured, added at the right time in the right order at the right temperature… you also have to take into account the environmental temperature and humidity levels, AND the altitude you’re at when making your lotion!! Just like baking bread or a cake, the external humidity levels and the altitude above sea level all effect the final result of your creation and have to be taken into account. For me, I will not even attempt to make a lotion or cream if the external humidity is above 70%- just forget it! Because you will mix and blend and mix again… and the water will fall out of your lotion every time, because it’s just too humid and it’s effected the delicate ratio balance between your oils and waters. This can also happen if your work space is either way too cold or way too hot- both will effect the final “setting” of your lotion.
Now, if you’ve spent hours creating your own homemade lotion or cream and you have mixed and mixed and mixed, and no matter what you do either the oil or the water is falling out of it, don’t Cry and do NOT throw it all away!! It can be saved!! Put the whole mess into a clean sterile jar and put it aside until the weather changes. Then simply take it out and re-blend it. If you have your ratios right, it will re-emulsify and you will have your lovely lotion back again!
Another issue for me that I have to consider, and unfortunately it is completely unavoidable, is shipping temperatures. If I make a lotion on a hot humidish day, and then it’s shipped by air, meaning in very very cold temperatures, then is delivered to somewhere that is hot and dry, like Arizona…. there will be some slight separation that will happen to the lotion. This can’t be helped unfortunately, or at least, it cant’ be helped without using commercial chemicals. The “fix” for this though is usually very simple: just shake the lotion or serum thoroughly for 10 seconds or so, and it will re-emulsify. With thicker creams, giving them a quick stir is usually all that is necessary to re-blend the mixture back to it’s original texture. Through out the products shelf life, you may find slight separation happening- again, especially if the temperature or humidity radically changes. As above, a quick shake or mix will bring the product right back to its usual mix. Separation rarely indicates that a product has gone “off”, it simply is just a part of the routine of using truly natural skincare products.
As a final note on the subject, it is a very rare thing indeed that every single batch of lotion or serum is exactly the same as the last batch. Besides the environmental factors, there is the human factor: each product is made by hand, by me, and therefore there will be slight variations: one too many drops of an essential oil, a slight mismeasurement in an oil blend…. I’m only human after all, but I do try my very best to keep each and every product as close as I can to the original.
If you have any questions about any of Gaea’s Garden’s Truly Pure & Natural Skincare, you can send me a message at any time!