Plum Oil

What is it? The oil pressed from the seed of the plum fruit, Prunus domestica L.
Appearance Warm yellow liquid.
Texture Velvety, smooth, rich.
Scent Wonderful scent reminiscent of marzipan and dried fruit.
Absorbency Speed Medium, but on the faster side of medium. Stunning, satiny skin feel.
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? The incredible scent carries through in final products at 10, contributing a very luxurious scent that is hard to get without the use of fragrance oils.
Do you need it? No, but it’s a nice luxury oil. If you love the scent of marzipan I highly recommend it!
Refined or unrefined? Definitely get the variety that has the scent in tact.
Strengths Stunning scent, beautiful skin feel.
Weaknesses It does tend to be fairly expensive, but we don’t need to use it at large amounts.
Alternatives & Substitutions If you don’t have the plum oil I think your best alternatives would be apricot kernel oil or cherry kernel oil—oils that are pressed from the kernels of similar stone fruits. You will lose the marzipan/cherry note. You can look to replace that scent with a fragrance or flavour oil with a similar scent (I’d start at 0.1–0.2% as it’s a pretty subtle scent). I haven’t found this scent anywhere else in the realm of natural ingredients, sadly.
How to Work with It Use it at 10% of the oil phase to contribute a stunning marzipan-y scent to the end product.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, plum oil should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks The fatty acid composition is very similar to apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, cherry kernel, and peach kernel oil.
Recommended starter amount 50mL (2fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it I personally recommend the stuff from Essential Wholesale. I haven’t found it for sale from very many shops, but you could always try a different online DIY ingredient supplier.

Some Formulations that Use Plum Oil

Bayberry Wax

What is it? A wax made from the waxy coating boiled off of bayberries.
Appearance Dusty brownish green lumps.
Texture Dry
Scent Amazing; warm and spicy, and smells like the the forest. I love it!
Absorbency Speed Average to slow, depending on the recipe it’s in.
Approximate Melting Point  45°C/113°F
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? It’s a relatively good thickener, and it contributes a great forest-like scent.
Do you need it? It’s a good buy if you’re vegan, or if you adore the smell of the forest.
Refined or unrefined? Unrefined!
Strengths Smells fantastic, and is fairly close to beeswax for a vegan alternative.
Weaknesses As far as waxes go it’s a weak thickener with a low melting point, so you’ll probably need to pair it with other waxes. Check out this experiment to learn more.
Alternatives & Substitutions Nada. It’s very unique.
How to Work with It It’s great in balms and salves as a thickener and added lovely forest scent.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, bayberry wax should have an indefinite shelf life.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks It’s commonly used in candles for its distinctive scent.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.3oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Bayberry Wax

Monoi de Tahiti

What is it? Coconut oil that has been macerated with the Gardenia Tahitensis (Tiare) flowers of Tahiti.
Appearance It looks exactly like coconut oil.
Texture Smooth, thin, fast-melting oil.
Scent Strongly sweet and floral, with coconutty undertones.
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point 24°C
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Usually for fragrance; it’s so potent that you likely won’t want to use enough of it to get any other benefits (which are otherwise identical to coconut oil).
Do you need it? No
Strengths It has a very strong, tropical, floral scent. Natural floral scents are usually very expensive, so it’s a great way to get a floral scent without spending a fortune on essential oils or using artificial fragrances.
Weaknesses The scent is so strong it can be overwhelming, and fakes are abundant, so be sure you’re buying the real thing.
Alternatives & Substitutions Coconut oil can be used instead of Monoi de Tahiti in any recipe, but it will obviously be lacking the Monoi de Tahiti scent. The feel of the final product will be identical, though.
How to Work with It Include small amounts in recipes for a sweet, floral scent; if the recipe contains coconut oil just swap out a gram or two of the coconut oil for some Monoi de Tahiti.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Monoi de Tahiti should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks When purchasing Monoi de Tahiti, ensure the ingredients are only Cocos Nucifera Oil and Gardenia Tahitensis Flowers—there should be no added fragrances.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Monoi de Tahiti

Orange Wax

What is it? A liquid wax that’s pressed from orange peels.
Appearance A dark orange liquid.
Texture Smooth and very thin—like water.
Scent Deliciously orangey! It’s wonderfully juicy and awesome.
Absorbency Speed Almost instant, it doesn’t feel oily in the least.
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? For a delicious orange scent and its orange colour. Because of its almost instantaneous, water-like absorption speed, it also helps give balms a dry/drier finish.
Do you need it? Not really—you can use a combination of the fastest absorbing carrier oil you have (hazelnut would be a good choice) and orange essential oil in pretty much any recipe that calls for orange wax.
Refined or unrefined? I’ve only ever seen unrefined orange wax.
Strengths Delicious smell and lovely warm colour. It also has a astringent and antibacterial properties.
Weaknesses Orange wax is photo sensitizing, and may stain the skin in higher concentrations.
Alternatives & Substitutions You can use a combination of the fastest absorbing carrier oil you have and orange essential oil in pretty much any recipe that calls for orange wax. Because orange wax is liquid you cannot use it for any of the hardening waxes like beeswax, candelilla, carnauba, bayberry, soy wax, etc. as it has absolutely no hardening properties.
How to Work with It I love it in cleansing balms and body butters, and I’ve also read that it’s nice in candles.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, orange wax should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Orange wax is photo sensitizing, so don’t use it in anything you might put on before going out in the sun. Orange wax also has a 75°C (167°F) flash point, which is quite low—don’t heat it over direct heat an be careful with water baths!
Recommended starter amount 30g (1oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Orange Wax

Macadamia Nut Oil

What is it? A liquid oil pressed from macadamia nuts.
Appearance A golden yellow liquid oil.
Texture Silky smooth.
Scent The unrefined version is slightly nutty, but not overwhelmingly so. The refined stuff doesn’t smell like much at all.
Absorbency Speed Fast
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Because it absorbs into the skin quickly it’s a great choice for making lightweight lotions that absorb into the skin quickly, and it can help lighten heavier oils like shea butter.
Do you need it? I really like it, but as far as fast-absorbing carrier oils go it is one of the pricier ones. You could get away with grapeseed or safflower oil instead in most applications.
Refined or unrefined? I like the unrefined variety for the nutty scent.
Strengths Beautiful, fast-absorbing oil that’s rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Weaknesses A pricier carrier oil, and obviously not suitable for those with nut allergies.
Alternatives & Substitutions Other fast-absorbing carrier oils like grapeseed and safflower (though you’ll lose the nutty scent).
How to Work with It I love it in lotions, lip balms, and body butters.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, macadamia nut oil should last up to two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks The nutty scent and colour can vary from batch to batch with the unrefined version.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Macadamia Nut Oil

Cocoa Butter

What is it? Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from cocoa beans.
INCI Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter
Appearance Beige chunks
Texture Hard and brittle at room temperature—just like a good bar of chocolate. When it melts, the oil is thin and smooth, and absorbs into the skin easily.
Scent Deliciously chocolatey! You can also buy deodorized stuff that smells like mostly nothing.
Absorbency Speed Fast
Approximate Melting Point  34°C/93°F
Why do we use it in formulations? Cocoa butter will help thicken recipes without adding a wax (and even solidify if used in high enough concentrations)—check out this experiment for more information. It’s wonderfully smooth, and brings its delicious chocolatey scent to projects. Yum!
Do you need it? I’d say so! I use it all the time, and I love just taking the lid off the tub and inhaling the super delicious scent. YUM.
Refined or unrefined? I say unrefined all the way, but if you don’t like the smell of chocolate then refined is your best bet.
Strengths Amazing scent, smooth texture, it’s a rare brittle butter.
Weaknesses Not everybody loves the scent (easily solved by purchasing deodorized cocoa butter).
Alternatives & Substitutions There aren’t a lot of brittle butters out there that make good swaps; kokum butter or tucuma butter would be the best choices.
How to Work with It Include cocoa butter in the oil phase of your products. Melt it gently in a water bath along with the rest of your ingredients.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, cocoa butter should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks You can also purchase dark cocoa butter, but I’ve found that to be a bit of a novelty; I wouldn’t bother with it.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Cocoa Butter

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