Extra Creamy Green Clay Cleansing Balm

This Extra Creamy Green Clay Cleansing Balm is a Bee Better version of 2017’s Forest Cleansing Balm. That formula was one of the first anhydrous formulas I made with fatty thickeners and I remember being absolutely blown away by its rich, creamy, slippy consistency and incredibly easy rinse-off. I wasn’t the only one! Over the years I’ve heard from many people that my Forest Cleansing Balm is their favourite cleansing balm formulation 💚 Because the original was already pretty darn lovely, this updated version isn’t super different, but it’s definitely more polished. Keep reading to learn what I levelled up 😄

How to Make Extra Creamy Green Clay Cleansing Balm

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Beginner-Friendly Salicylic Acid + Squalane Serum

If you’ve been wanting to formulate with salicylic acid but haven’t been sure where to start; start here 😄 This five-ingredient Beginner-Friendly Salicylic Acid + Squalane Serum doesn’t contain any water, so you don’t have to worry about pH, making it super simple to whip up. This serum has made my skin more radiant, smooth, and even—I love it, and I think you will, too!

How to Make Beginner-Friendly Salicylic Acid + Squalane Serum

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Ultra-Light Summer Face Cream

If you’ve been looking for a lightweight summer facial moisturizer with a gorgeous, powdery, expensive-feeling finish, you can stop looking. This is it! I’m currently obsessed with this cream—I can’t get over how lightweight and fancy it feels. It smells softly of roses, glides on like a dream, and leaves my skin glowing.

How to Make Ultra-Light Summer Face Cream

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Rustic Clay Soap

This two-layer unscented soap is coloured with clay, and is really beginner-friendly. I designed this soap for my dad as a Father’s Day gift since he prefers unscented products; my Christmassy soaps for 2021 were pretty perfumey, so he put in a special request for something less fragrant. I also designed this soap to use up some oils that needed to be rotated out of my inventory, and I show you how to do that with whatever oils you might need to use up. The partner video for this soap is the most complete soap making video I’ve ever made—I hope you enjoy it 😄 Let’s dive in!

How to Make Rustic Clay Soap

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A Quick Guide to Butter Pearls and Liquid Oil Ratios

Today we are getting acquainted with a new-to-me fatty thickener: C10-18 Triglycerides, sold as “Butter Pearls” by Simply Ingredients (gifted). I love fatty thickeners and use them in all kinds of formulations, and I’m super excited to have a new one in my repertoire! Simply Ingredients says you can “turn any oil into a balm with just 20% Butter Pearls melted into your favorite oil”—and that definitely got me excited to get to know these little white beads a bit better 😄

Getting to know Butter Pearls

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Butter pearls are a blend of palmitic and stearic acids—roughly 75/25. This ingredient is made from inedible leftovers from the making of olive oil, making it a lovely up-cycled ingredient that reduces waste. Like all fatty thickeners, Butter Pearls are super versatile. In my research I found C10-18 Triglycerides in ingredient lists for cleansers, creamy colour cosmetics, lotions, moisturizers, and more.

I structured this experiment differently than I’ve done in previous “quick guide” experiments. My earlier experiments were structured around ratios, making the percentages a bit odd (1:8 = 11.1111111%). I’ve structured this experiment around percentages as that’s how I formulate, and it’s about time my quick guides caught up 😄

I’ve made seven different mixtures of butter pearls and safflower oil: 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, and 40% butter pearls, with safflower oil taking us up to 100%. I melted each mixture together in a water bath and stirred the mixtures while they cooled. I then left them overnight before trying them out. I looked at the viscosity/hardness and then spread each mixture on my skin to see what the skin feel, slip, melt speed, and general use experience was like. I did this a couple times, over a couple days, to be sure I was getting a good feel for what was going on. Here’s what I learned.

The Ratios

2% C10-18 Triglycerides + 98% safflower oil

This mixture is visibly hazy. It is more viscous than straight safflower oil, but definitely still liquid. Lovely rich skin feel, with great slip. After sitting for 3 days the haze of the C10-18 Triglycerides is starting to settle out, leaving a clear layer on the surface of the mixture, indicating that this isn’t going to work well to add just a wee bit of viscosity to very fluid formulations (at least not on its own).

5% C10-18 Triglycerides + 95% safflower oil

Very soft solid when left on its own, but liquifies when stirred about. Oil-gel-like. Soft, scoopable, rich, silky. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth. Melts quickly but maintains structure well—it doesn’t start immediately running down my leg as it softens. This would probably be fully liquid in 25°C+ temperatures.

10% C10-18 Triglycerides + 90% safflower oil

Somewhere between very thick liquid and very soft solid; it could tip one way or the other depending on ambient temperature. Does not liquify quickly, requiring a few seconds of massage into the skin before melting. Rich, creamy, slippy skin feel. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth.

15% C10-18 Triglycerides + 85% safflower oil

Soft solid; I can run my finger through it in a very rich, indulgent way—like extra thick custard. Nice glide on the skin, slow to melt. Rich, creamy, buttery. A bit white on rub-in. Slightly mealy, uneven appearance, but feels smooth.

20% C10-18 Triglycerides + 80% safflower oil

Soft solid; you can press a finger into this mixture and it’ll leave a dent behind. Scoops, spreads, and massages into the skin well. Definite rich, creamy, buttery feel. Good playtime, though not long enough for a massage product. Slight powdery skin feel. A bit white on rub-in. Satiny, non-greasy skin appearance.

30% C10-18 Triglycerides + 70% safflower oil

Dry, fluffy, crumbly, malleable, and creamy. You can smoosh a chunk of this between the fingers and it feels both buttery and a bit dry/powdery. Rubs into the skin relatively easily, though with a noticeable whiteness—almost like lather. Some creamy-tackiness left on the skin—reminiscent of shea butter. Satiny skin appearance; does not look or feel greasy.

40% C10-18 Triglycerides + 60% safflower oil

Hard, dry, and crumbly. A chunk of this mixture will just sit on your skin without melting. That chunk can be pressed into the skin and massaged in, though it’s pretty slow moving. The skin feel is stiff yet creamy, leaning towards powdery. Leaves the skin looking satiny, not greasy.

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Lessons Learned

  • C10-18 Triglycerides hardens products in a way that softens quickly, but is slow to fully melt/liquify; the products keep their structure to a degree as they’re applied.
  • Post-testing, my skin was left feeling conditioned and protected, even after washing my hands.
  • Compared the cetyl alcohol, C10-18 Triglycerides melt much more slowly and add more richness.
  • Compared to stearic acid, C10-18 Triglycerides create formulations with better slip.
  • Compared the cetearyl alcohol, C10-18 Triglycerides thickens similarly, but C10-18 Triglycerides is more creamy/butter while cetearyl alcohol is more slippy/oily
  • A potential substitution for C10-18 Triglycerides would be a blend of cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid.
  • C10-18 Triglycerides would be a great addition to anything you want to feel rich and creamy—I’m especially thinking lipsticks and vegan lip balms!
  • C10-18 Triglycerides is to stearic acid as cetearyl alcohol is to cetyl alcohol

Observations Chart

Hard? Solid? Melt speed Sticky? Slip
2% No No Immediate No Excellent
5% No Barely Medium No Excellent
10% No Barely Medium No Excellent, rich
15% No Soft solid Medium Not really—more rich & creamy Good
20% No Soft solid Slow Not really—more rich & creamy Good
30% Yes Yes Very Slow Not really—more rich & creamy Slow, slightly powdery finish
40% Yes Yes Very slow A little; tacky/creamy Slow, slightly powdery finish

Luxury Hair Oil

This formulation is a bit of a sideways Bee Better project. When I published my RODIN-inspired Luxury Facial Serum back in 2016, it didn’t take long for requests for the accompanying hair serum to pop up—and for good reason! Rodin’s Hair Oil is a rather astonishing $70 for 1 fl. oz., and the ingredient list is really quite simple (and inexpensive), making it pretty much the perfect DIY project. That can be said of most of the Rodin line, honestly—they are (or were) clearly fans of using lovely whole oils, herbal infusions, and essential oils. I had intentions of creating and sharing a RODIN-inspired hair oil back in 2016 (this bones of this post have been sitting in my “drafts” folder for nearly 6 years!), but I’m just finally getting around to it now. Let’s dive in!

How to Make Luxury Hair Oil

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The original ingredient list

Here’s the ingredient list for the original:

Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Fruit Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil, Limonene, Linalool

It’s mostly a blend of five carrier oils, rounded out with a blend of three essential oils, calendula oil, and an antioxidant (tocopherol acetate). Limonene and Linalool are noted independently as they are potential allergens present in the essential oils.

The limits of haircare

Since 2016 I’ve completed the Formula Botanica Diploma in Organic Haircare Formulation (and another 6 years of formulating!), so I know a lot more about formulation than I did when I first considered making this project. Something I think is very important to touch on is the limits of haircare. Hair is dead, so haircare can only do so much. The aim of haircare is generally to keep the hair as healthy as possible so it looks good on our heads for as long as possible. Haircare products can smooth, add shine, improve slip, condition, soften, moisturize, cleanse, perfume, and more—but they cannot heal the hair.

The 1% line

In this product the 1% line is likely between the almond oil and the juniper essential oil, meaning the carrier oil blend is easily upwards of 95% of the formulation. Once we pass the 1% line the ingredients don’t have to appear in order. It’s possible there was more calendula oil than juniper oil. There could be 0.99% of each essential oil. We really don’t know for sure, but given how expensive neroli essential oil is (100mL is currently over $1k at New Directions; roughly 23x the price of juniper essential oil and 50x the price of rosemary essential oil!), I’m going to assume the final ingredients are in roughly the right order.

The scent blend

I read a lot of reviews for this product and people were divided on the scent; some people loved it, and some said it smelled really pine-y (one person said it reminded them of pine-sol!). That pine-y scent would come mostly from the juniper. Rosemary would bring a more herbaceous camphoraceous note, while neroli is sweet and powdery. I’m honestly not a big fan of any of these essential oils; I enjoy a bit of rosemary in the background with mint or lavender at centre stage, but juniper always makes me think of gin and neroli just… doesn’t do much for me. So… I’m changing up the scent blend. I’m allotting 0.3% of this formulation for a fragrance oil of choice (as always, be sure what you choose is ok for leave-on use at that level!). You’re certainly welcome to use essential oils instead, and you can use more if desired (though I’d keep it around 1% total). If I were going to use the original essential oils I’d probably start with 0.4% juniper essential oil, 0.2% rosemary essential oil, and 0.05–0.1% neroli essential oil (reducing one of the carrier oils to keep the formulation balanced).

Calendula & Vitamin E

The calendula in the original is listed as Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil. There’s not a single listing in UL Prospector that matches that. Products sold as Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil are revealed (when you read the product description) to either be an infusion of calendula in a different carrier oil, or a calendula CO2 extract in a carrier oil (the extract alone is Calendula Officinalis (Marigold) Flower Extract). I suspect RODIN used a calendula infusion with one of the carrier oils in the formulation as the solvent—possibly the sweet almond oil as it’s present at the lowest amount.

I will be using Bramble Berry’s oil-soluble calendula extract for this formulation, which is a blend of Caprylic Capric Triglycerides and Calendula Extract. The usage rate is up to 6%, so I’m splitting the different and using 3%. If you don’t have this product, a homemade calendula infusion would also work beautifully—you could use any of the carrier oils in the formulation as your infusion medium. Infuse, strain, and proceed!

I’ll be using tocopherol acetate at 0.5%; you’re welcome to use tocopherol MT-50 instead if that’s what you have.

The oil blend

Having started with the potent, lower-use ingredients, we’ve got 3.8% of the formulation worked out—leaving 96.2% of the formulation for the five carrier oils. From the ingredient list we know there’s more apricot oil than jojoba oil, more jojoba than olive oil, and so on—but we don’t know by how much. This hair oil could be 90% apricot kernel oil, followed by tiny amounts of the following four oils. It could also be 20% apricot kernel oil, followed by slightly diminishing amounts of the remaining four oils. Either way, the ingredient list would look the same.

Let’s hop over to the Science-y Hair Blog and check the levels of hair penetration we can expect from these oils:

  • Apricot kernel oil: some
  • Jojoba oil: little to none
  • Olive oil: some
  • Sunflower seed oil: lots
  • Sweet almond oil: some

Oils that penetrate the hair help soften it and add pliability, while oils that coat the hair add shine and lubrication (please read the post on the Science-y Hair Blog to learn more!). This list is heavily weighted towards oils that penetrate the hair (4:1). The positive reviews I read for the original product praised it for both softening and boosting shine, so I chose the percentages of these oils to even things out a bit. You are certainly free to adjust the percentages of the oils to suit your hair!

Relevant links & further reading

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Luxury Hair Oil

12g | 40% apricot kernel oil (USA / Canada)
10.5g | 35% jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
3g | 10% olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
2.7g | 9% sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada)
0.66g | 2.2% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada)

0.09g | 0.3% Wildflower Honey fragrance oil
0.9g | 3% oil-soluble calendula extract
0.15g | 0.5% tocopherol acetate

To make this hair oil, simply weigh everything into a beaker and stir to combine.

I recommend packaging this formulation in a bottle with a dropper top so you can dispense it one drop at a time. The instructions for the original recommended spreading two drops across your palms and then working that into your hair as thoroughly as possible. You can find those instructions (and more for adding to conditioner, etc.) here.

If you’d like to lighten the hair oil, simply dilute it with a lightweight, volatile, oil-soluble emollient like cyclomethicone (or other cyclo-siloxanes) or isododecane. 10–30% hair oil and 70–90% volatile diluent will work well! If you prefer all-natural ingredients you can try esters like Coco-Caprylate or products marketed as natural cyclomethicone alternatives (they must be oil soluble), though I have never found them to work terribly well in applications like this as they are nowhere near as light or volatile.

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this hair oil does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year or two before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.

Substitutions

As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.

  • As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 30g (roughly 1 fl oz).
  • To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
  • If you’d like to really simplify the carrier oil blend, I’d use 50% apricot kernel, sunflower, or sweet almond oil, and 46.2% jojoba oil.
  • You can combine the apricot kernel oil and sweet almond oil amounts and use all of one or the other.
  • You can use a different fragrance oil.
  • If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
  • You can use a homemade calendula-infused oil instead of the extract; I’d infuse the calendula into olive oil and use 13% calendula infused olive oil.
  • Tocopherol MT-50 will work instead of tocopherol acetate.

Gifting Disclosure

The apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, and 30mL (1fl oz) bottles the lighter version is packaged in were gifted by YellowBee.
The sunflower oil, fragrance, vitamin E, and calendula extract were gifted by Bramble Berry.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.