Crafting Cosmetics™ I
Setting The Stage for Safety
Before you can start to create your own products there are some basic guidelines that you'll need to familiarize yourself with in order to make sure that you are creating safe products. It's important to remember that the skin is your body's largest organ and your body's barrier to the environment. It performs many functions that you may not even be aware of and its crucial that your products don't interfere with its function. Always work from the perspective that everything you put on your skin should be good for your skin. If you fail to operate with that principal in mind you may damage your skin, by impairing its ability to function properly or, by introducing contaminants that your skin is not able to defend itself against.
Your work area should be clear of everything except the things that are dedicated to crafting your products. You'll want to use stainless steel for all of your utensils and equipment attachments because plastic not only leaches chemicals but is not heat stable and glass can be unsafe for heating your ingredients as it can crack, break, and sometimes even explode. You should never mix your food utensils / equipment with your cosmetic utensils / equipment. Anything that you'll be using for your cosmetics, and your work area, should be cleaned with hot soapy water, rinsed, and then sanitized with industrial sanitizer or isopropyl alcohol which will also help to ensure that there is no water left on your utensils / equipment as any water will add contamination potential. Everything should be wiped down with alcohol, because it kills germs and leaves no residue, and then left to air dry before proceeding. If possible always wash all utensils and equipment attachments, and bowls, in a dishwasher with a sanitation cycle. Even when you do this you should still wipe everything down with alcohol, and then let it air dry because the alcohol will ensure that there are no traces of moisture on your utensils / equipment. The first enemy that you have, in crafting cosmetics, is water. Water can introduce a host of contaminants, and chemicals, that will challenge your products safety /efficacy.
Familiarize yourself with the contamination potential of the ingredients that you'll be working with so that you'll know what level of potential for contamination that ingredient has so that you can address that potential when it's necessary. In many formulas you'll see that specific temperatures are recommended. In many cases this is to improve, or aid, the emulsion (combining of water and oil) but, sometimes these temperature recommendations are to 'pasteurize' (kill any contaminants) those ingredients that have a higher than usual contamination potential. This process takes approximately 20 minutes at 170ºF. Be sure to use a thermometer to determine the temperature accurately. You can get inexpensive thermometers from you local restaurant supply, or online at Science Lab. A digital thermometer is preferable otherwise, be sure to keep them calibrated. An easy way to do this is to insert the thermometer, by two inches, into a cup of ½ water and ½ ice, which will be 32ºF, and turn the calibration nut, right under the dial, until it reads 32ºF. Any time that you take a temperature make sure that the thermometer is in the product by at least two inches, for an accurate reading. For monitoring temperatures you can even buy thermometers with clips so that you can just clip the thermometer onto the side of your cooking vessel. In order to control the heat being applied to the product it's best to use hot plates, which you can get from your local discount store, or online at Wayfair and Science Lab, if you want a really nice one. Most of these will be electric so it's best to use a cast iron griddle with will protect the heating elements from any oil spills, which will cause a fire, as well as help you to control the heat. You can also buy these at your local restaurant supply, or online at Acemart. It's best that you don't try to heat your ingredients in the microwave because you'll need to maintain certain temperatures and control the temperature to a higher degree than a microwave will allow, and the microwave can be unsafe due to the possibility of exploding glass and melting plastic.
Finally, always test the pH (positive hydrogen) of every product that you make. The skin has a pH requirement, which does vary slightly from person to person, but is basically neutral (which is between 4.0 and 7.0). Ideally a pH of 5.5 will help to ensure the skin's optimal function and protection. You can buy inexpensive paper test strips at your local health food store, or online at Indigo Instruments or you can buy hand held, and bench, meters at Science Lab.
Be sure to browse the sites listed above as you can also find mixers, spatulas, pipettors, beakers, cylinders, scales.....
Okay, those are the basics for sanitation. Now, you're ready to start thinking about what you'd like to make and get your ingredients. To help you with that process please take a look at our Crafting Cosmetics II “Building the Ideal Formula” so that you can design the formula for the product you've always wanted to make for yourself and your company's product line.