Saturday, November 7, 2015

Aromatic Adventures: Spirit of Anzac Soothing Gel

Aromatic Adventures: Spirit of Anzac Soothing Gel: 2015 is the year of the ANZAC as two nations remember and commemorate the landings at Gallipoli in April 2015. ANZAC stands for Australian ...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ingredient Spotlight- What is glycerine?

Hot Topic

Glycerine- a common and age old ingredient on many cosmetic products (and also some food products). One of the most well known use for glycerin is in clear soaps. So what is it, where does it come from, why is it used and do we need it in our skin care????

I am writing this from a skin care formulators/consumers perspective rather than a detailed chemical treatise on it.  We started using  a vegetarian source of glycerin in micro amounts in some of our products to act as a carrier for a couple of water insoluble ingredients. The previous coconut oils based liquid emulsifier we used was found wanting, and contained too many synthetics for our philosophy. Glycerine seemed the most acceptable and cost effective replacement as it had the characteristics of being odourless, colourless and easy to work with. However time has moved on and more details have emerged which has left this ingredient wanting, in my opinion. Time for some more digging....

Image result for glycerin structure 
The main way glycerine is produced is through the process of soap making as part of saponification. Soaps can be made from either animal or vegetable fats, thus the glycerine produced may not be vegetarian. In addition to this, many soaps are made from palm oil, so again if a consumer is trying to avoid palm oil derived products this furtehr raises the question about the source of glycerine.
Image result for glycerine 
As a product glycerin (glycerol) is a odorless, colourless viscous liquid. It has been assigned the E number E422. It can also be added to propylene glycol (anti freeze) and used as a humectant for the skin. Within the food industry glycerol is widely used as an emulsifier and used in margarine, shortenings, ice creams. Sometimes it is approved for use as  a sweetener in low carb diets due to its low glycaemic index.
In herbal medicine it is widely used as a solvent for raw herbal material, especially where it is desirable to avoid alcohol.

As an aside glycerin is also a key part of the manufacturing of gunpowder and other explosive materials as well as some cardiac (heart) medication.Wikipedia has a great page full of all the technical specs relating to glycerine (

It seems as if the commercial production of glycerol was around the 1880’s and initially was part of the candle (tallow) industry) and then production increased along with the need for gunpowder.

The technical properties of glycerine are that  it has 3 alcoholic hydroxyl groups which accounts for its solubility in water. It is also considered ‘hydroscopic’, meaning that it absorbs water from the air. There is now added concern of the apparent glut of glycerine produced as a waste product of the bio diesel industry. It seems that since 2005 there has been a decreasing price and increasing stock piles of this ingredient due to the bio diesel industry.

Are there any risks to using glycerine in skin care? Whilst there is some concern around the ingestion of large amounts of glycerine, these risks do not appear to be the same for applying through the skin. Due to the size of the glycerine molecule it is not absorbed through the skin. However, there are some considerations oif you are desiring a natural skin care product. Glycerine listed by itself on a label, with out any qualifier could be from any source (animal, vegetable, synthetic). Also it is a cheap ingredient and could be used to pad out a product. Whilst it does have some moisturizing and protecting qualities, the converse is sometimes true if too much is used in a product. generally formulators will not use more than 2% for facial skin products.

Vegetarians/Vegans and those with environmental concerns will want to know whether the glycerine is from plant sources, and whether it is from palm oil (Orangutan friendly) or from non GMO crops. Suppliers may not be able to guarantee this. This is not to say that glycerin is a 'bad' ingredient as it has some positive attributes, however skin care purests may wish to dig deeper as to the source of the ingredient. It does has its use in herbal medicien in the creation of non alcohol herbal tinctures as it can be ingested. At From Nature we use an olive based ester where we need solubility, smoothness and hydration in products.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Time to give away some incredible base products

Closing soon! Check out the great review organised by Oh Natural! All you need to do is then pop over to the From Nature Face Book page, like it (if you haven't already) and add 3 words to describe what natural skin care means to you! Prize will be drawn at random on Friday 9th October!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ready Made bases- post 2 How to use gel bases

                                            How to Use Gel Bases

Gel bases are usually a water based ingredient mixed with a gelling agent such as xanthum, carrageen or a sucrose based agent. These expand and make the water thicker, thus forming a gel. Gels can be used  as an after shave, a soothing balm, or added to skin creams or lotions such as cleansers to give extra volume without adding oiliness. Most gels can take a small amount of extra additives - perhaps up to 2-3% depending on how thick they are to start with. too much liquid. Remember any water based additive must have extra preservative added, -microbes love water! Try the Gel bases  at From Nature or our temporary site.

After Shave Gel:

this can be used on the face or on the body after shaving. It is both moisturizing as well as containing ingredients which soothe the skin and reduces the chance of bacterial skin infections. Use an aloe vera gel and add 1-1.5% essential oils- choose from lavandin, tea tree, spearmint, lemon (0.25% maximum), sandalwood, cedar wood or frankincense. Add 2% jojoba oil 9soothing, moisturizing without being greasy). Other herbal additives of befit include infused calendula oil, tea tree or lavender hydrosol

Tightening Face Mask
mix 1 teaspoon of fine clay with a teaspoon of gel base. Apply to face (avoid the eye area) and leave for about 5-10 minutes.

Muscle Rub Gel

had 10% infused arnica oil to the gel base. Add up to 2% pure essential oils of lavender (pain relieving), ginger, warming, rosemary (warming), peppermint (increases blood supply), lavandin (pain relieving)

Alcohol Free Toner

use 20% of a gel base and add aromatic hydrosols such as lavender, rose or tea tree depending on the skin type. Remember to add additional preservative to any water based ingredients.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How to uses base products- Balm bases

So you are interested in putting together some cute cosmetics and skin creams and not sure where to start? Buying ingredients can be costly, working out formula can be costly and when you may be making small volumes (less than 1 litre), there can be a number of errors where only a ml or 2 either way can affect you. So what is the solution?- Buy pre made bases and customize. There are lots of different types of bases on the market and of course the ones Wendy makes for sale the best!
What ever bases you are using there are a number of general rules though to consider. This is if are only making products for yourself and friends and family to give away. If you are putting product together for selling then there are very specific rules around labeling and claims and packing - even if it is just going on a market stall. For professional advice Wendy can help with this (email

Firstly check all of the ingredients of your chosen base (especially important if you have allergies or what to avoid chemicals or particular ingredients for other reasons). Find out what sort of ‘load’ of additional ingredients the base can hold-depending on what you are going add this can be up to 10-20% extra weight.
Secondly make sure you have the right ‘type’ of base for your needs- for example From Nature offers balms (fat based), gels (water based), lotions (oil and water based) and creams (thicker oil, water and fat based).

What to do with  Balm Base

A balm base is perfect for lip balms, body butters and massage bars. the From Nature organic balm base is a smooth me of hard and soft fats. As it does not contain any water based ingredients it does not need a preservative. here are some ideas:
Make a nappy rash or baby balm by melting and mixing in 10% infused calendula oil
Make a sports relief balm by melting and adding 5% infused arnica oil, 1% lavender essential oil, 1% peppermint essential oil and 0.5% black pepper or ginger essential oil. Arnica cannot be applied on broken skin. this mix would also be nice as a arthritis relief blend
Make a massage bar- add 20% extra cocoa butter as a hard fat and pour into small chocolate moulds. They will melt on contact with your hands. Mix up to 1% of favourite essential oils or fragrances such as lavender, sweet orange, ylang ylang or even chocolate or vanilla
Lip balm- use base as it is and add 0.55 food safe fragrance or essential oils. If you are using pure essential oils suggested ones are lemon, grapefruit or rose geranium.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cosmetic Ingredients demystified and more!

The skin care industry is a global powerhouse with markets which are highly controlled and regulated to markets which have no restrictions on what can claimed. Here in skincare products must conform to various legislations as no medical ingredients or claims can be made unless the product is a licensed medicine. There are also requirements that all ingredients must be included (believe it or not it was only a few years ago this was not the case!), and ingredients must be listed in decreasing order of volume using INCI terms.

Basically all creams are a mix of water type ingredients and oil based ingredients mixed with an emulsifier to form a cream (rather like mayonnaise. Within that base is any number of 'active' additives  as well as inert fillers (to give bulk but no function) as well as a preservative or two, stabilisers and pH adjusters.

Here are some common terms and what they mean:
  • Active ingredient (s)- means it has a beneficial function for the skin, however a medical claim can't be made unless it is a medicine. Sometimes more a marketing term implying the product has something extra special in it.
  • Anti-oxidant- means the ingredient or product can slow down or stop oxidation by free radical activity. Things that increase free radical activity include UV damage and smoking
  • Astringent- means the tissues will tighten and large pores will shrink. May make the skin feel tight and dry
  • Botanical- derived from plants-may be whole plant, fraction  or a constituent which has been extracted)
  • Comedogenic- will increase keratinocytes clumping together in the follicles so blocking them
  • Emollient- a fatty product which softens the skin- they will also hydrate the skin be minimising water evaporation
  • Essential Fatty Acids -building blocks of cellular membranes- loss of EFAs increases skin roughness
  • Ester- an organic acid and alcohol--help give smoothing and emollient action to the skin
  • Fragrance- can be natural or synthetic (on labels word can be either according to INCI)
  • Humectant- bind water and increase the moisture content (e.g. glycerine, squalene)
  • Skin Conditioner- a generic terms which helps keep skin it its optimal state and improving overall tone and texture. 
How to use bases to create your own products.
At there is a number of wholesale bases to start creating your own products. As all bases are fresh made you are secure in knowing you will have at least 18 months to use them. here are some tips
  •  All bases carry a preservative however if you are adding more water based ingredients then you will need extra preservative
  • Limit handing of your bases with fingers- ALWAYS wash hands and use hand sanitiser. Wipe around the lid or top with a peper towle and some meths or alcohol after using to reduce contamination
  • use a sterile spoon to remove product. Store product in a cool dark place away from dust and light

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Purple Pesto With Hempseed oil-feed your face from within!

Healthy skin starts from a healthy diet. Here I explain our an every day food item, pesto, can be supercharged to maximise the health benefits without compromising flavour. this is a vegan version, however if you wanted to use parmesan cheese then that is your choice.



Purple basil leaves (why purple?) Well scientists recommend we eat a ‘rainbow’ of foods and those in the purple and blue spectrum are full of constituents  called Anthocyanins and ellagic acid which have a number of health befits such as reducing cholesterol, reducing risk of urinary track infections and maybe even preventing cancer cellular growth. Adding something blue or purple to your daily diet is a good place to start. Also purple is much more exciting than green. Nutritionally basil packs a good punch as well which it is so widely used in many global cuisines. From a vegetarian and vegan point of view it contains calcium, iron, thiamine, niacin and folate along with at least 14 other micro-nutrients and minerals. The full analysis can be found here
Hempseed Oil-I used a organic NZ grown one which is a rich dark green. Hemp seed oil is one of the most valuable nutritional oils as well as giving a pleasant nutty taste. And no-it does not contain THC so this pesto will keep you firmly on the ground! Hemp seed is another plant power house with a perfect profile of omega 3,6,9 which are essential fatty acids our body needs. Leave the poor salmon and krill alone- grow more hemp I say! this site here compares the profile of hemp seed with other common sources of EFA's. A quality NZ hemp seed oil can be obtained from New Hemisphere  (I am not affiliated in any way with this company)
Toasted sunflower seeds (yes pine nuts are usually used but here in NZ you need have bag of gold to buy a decent amount!). Sunflowers are another nutritional friend of vegans and vegetarians and also contain valuable minerals to improve skin health. Toasting them releases more zinc and selenium which is important here in NZ as our soils are naturally depleted of selenium. I usually sprinkle a handful of toasted seeds on whatever I can. A detailed analysis is here
Garlic- slightly fried to soften and take away the bitterness. Garlic helps boost immunity, reduces the risk of an attack by vampires (always a concern for us veg*ns)
I used some olive oil and a slight amount of lemon juice to make it smooth.
for my ‘pesto’ flavour I used vegan parmesan (non dairy) made by Angel Foods in NZ. this is optional as you can still have a perfectly nice pesto with the cheese flavour. I like it as if gives a nice ‘bite’

Pop them all in your blender and blitz away to your hearts content- time depends on whether you like it chunky or smooth! No rules with pesto.
use anywhere! Wendy

Wednesday, January 7, 2015