Tag Archives: synergy

INCI revealed

I have a cream in my hand; “regenerating night cream, all skin types“.The cost of it is ca €20 for 50ml. It is ecologically certified by eco cert. The label states:” 99% of the total ingredients are from natural origin / 28% of the total ingredients are from organic farming.” Here is the inci-list: (I will break it down for you)

Aqua (water), Simmondsia chinensis oil* (jojoba oil), Alcohol, Glycerin* (moisturizer), Persea gratissima oil *(avocado oil), Rosa damascena distillate* (rose-water), Cetearyl alcohol (emulsifier), Theobroma cacao seed* (cocoa butter), Hippophae rhamnoides extract* (seabuckthorn), Lycopersicum esculentum extract* (tomato), Glycine soja oil and Tocopherol (soy bean oil and vitamin E), Hordeum vulgare extract* (barley germ), Algae extract (seaweed), Humulus lupulus extract* (hops), Cetearyl glucoside (emulsifier), Plantago major extract* (plantain), Calendula officinalis extract* (marigold), Chamomilla recutita extract* (chamomile), Stearic acid (emulsifier, stabilizer), Sodium hyaluronate (skin conditioning agent), Xanthan gum (stabilizer, emulsifier), Potassium hydroxide*** (pH-regulator), Aroma**, Citral**, Citronellol**, Geranio**l, Limonene**, Linalool**  (there is no indication if the whole essential oil is used or just isolated chemicals)

*ingredients from organic farming. **natural essential oils. ***inorganic substances.

Remember, water is about 50-60%, and all the other ingredients will make up the rest; 40-50% of the cream. They are listed in percentual order; highest first. I have put the questionable ingredients in bold, these are the ones we are going to look at first. Let’s start at the top:

  • Alcohol: Moisturizers that contain a low molecular weight of alcohol fail to be effective because they quickly evaporate from the skin surface. In a cream alcohol speeds up absorption rate (how fast it goes into the skin.) Considering that this ingredient is in 3rd place, indicates a rather high %.
  • Stearic acid: This ingredient may be derived from animals. From PETA’s Caring Consumer: Fat from cows and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. Most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring.   Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut. (Skin deep)
  • Sodium hyaluronate: Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in connective tissues such as cartilage. This ingredient is listed in the PETA’s Caring Consumer guide as derived from animal sources. (Skin deep)
  • Potassium hydroxide: Potassium Hydroxide is a caustic inorganic base. Classified as medium human health priority. Classified as expected to be toxic or harmful. Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by industry panel. (Skin deep)
  • Cetearyl alcohol & Cetearyl glucoside are commonly used emulsifiers. Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohols that can come from vegetable or synthetic sources. Cetearyl glucoside is a surfactant and emulsifier produced from natural or synthetic ingredients. (Skin deep)

Now, let’s do the math: 28% of the ingredients come from organic farming; that’s the oils, fats, moisturizer and herbal extracts. Leaves 72% of other stuff; 50-60 % is water which leaves us with ca 10-20% for vitamins, some herbals and emulsifiers. 99% of the ingredients come from natural sources; animal or vegetable? And the last 1% is the Potassium hydroxide which is more or less the same thing as caustic soda – a highly corrosive agent. It is even higher in percentage than the perfume.

Another concern I have are the many different herbal extracts; how do they react with each-other? See my earlier post on blending too many ingredients together here. “All natural substances are alive, they react with each-other; sometimes they create a synergy that will do great things. Other times they enhance more negative aspects.

Source: Skin Deep

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THE SIMPLER IT GETS – THE HARDER IT GETS

Years ago, when I first started making natural skin-care and health products, I would get all caught up in every newbie ingredient that came on the market. Over time my products got so complicated and the INCI-list so long; herbs, tinctures, essential oils, maceration, vitamins and what-have you. One day I realized that I had no idea what kind of reaction all those substances had with each-other, even less when mixed with many others. All natural substances are alive, they react with each-other; sometimes they create synergy and will do great things. Other times they enhance more negative aspects, doing harm.

So, 10 years later, I down-scaled – big time! I went back to my origins with very simple formulas; as stable as possible and needing the bare minimum. I started working on a deeper level with the natural compounds and found beautiful synergies; less is truly more. There came a time for another kind of studying, understanding the magic within nature, and how it can be used. Feeling the product instead of thinking it, making it do whatever it is you want it to do.

Making formulations and products is a very precise matter, never mind how much you “feel” the proportions are right, if they’re not you will end up with some worthless goo fit only for the bin, and the margins aren’t that large. I’ve binned plenty in my day. 🙂 So you have to be precise and use your head, scales and measures to make it happen. But the magic that truly makes it come alive is in the combination of compounds. This is the real science. And here you have to “feel”. Natural compounds change from year to year, depending on weather etc. Every time you get a new oil or plant it will be different from the last and in a way you have to “start over” every time.

It has taken me 20 years to simplify, to learn to understand these beautiful compounds I work with and how to use them. The stuff I do now looks so simple and easy – it’s not.

It’s like mixing colors; too many in the blend and it ends up brown-greyish. Same, same.

ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY – part 1 -background


Quality is the most important aspect when using essential oils. All the wonderful effects the oils have will only happen when there is a high quality pure essential oil.
To understand why this is even an issue, you need to understand the world of scents; how they are used and where they come from. The largest users of essential oils are the food-industry and perfume/toiletries industry. These industries need consistency more than quality, the oils need to be the same year after year to fit the “recipe”. Such conformation is not possible since essential oils are natural; it would be like expecting a wine to be exactly the same every year. Living stuff will chemically vary depending on soil, weather conditions, fertilizer and harvesting methods/time. Like with wines, if you harvest the same plant in exactly the same way and the same time every year, you will still get a different yield; both in chemistry and bulk.

Essential oils are complex mixtures of different chemicals. The balance between these chemicals is what gives an oil its specific character. Each essential oil has one or two main chemicals that make up the biggest percentage of the oil, for example; linalol in lavender, menthol in peppermint, cineol in eucalyptus. Aside from these there are many, many other chemicals that make up one oil; In rose there are 3-400 identified chemicals and almost as many that are, to this day, unidentified. No matter how small the amounts of chemicals might be, they are part of the whole and very important for the quality and effects of the essential oils. Each essential oil has its own synergy.
In nature these different chemicals are used as messengers. Each molecule has its own signature and “message”. For a human being we need as little as 8 molecules to react to the “message” of a scent. We need about 30-40 molecules to consciously notice the scent. This is why the essential oils are so powerful; they are communicating with every cell in the body – for which a minute amount of molecules are necessary. To make a comparison:
Pheromones – there are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. We have all heard about them, still the term “pheromone” was introduced by Peter Karlson and Martin Lüscher in as late as 1959. (wikipedia)
Essential oils and Pheromones work much in the same way. Actually many pheromones are made up from the same molecules as essential oils.

When you smell a full good quality essential oil it is like magic, the scent is limitless. The way to smell an oil is thus:
Keep the bottle or tissue a few cm from your nose and inhale deeply 2 or 3 times. Essential oils are volatile and will very easily enter your olfactory system. Compare an essential oil to a synthetic oil and feel the difference.