Saturday, November 13, 2010

Product Safety, Lip Balm and Lotion

As soap makers, our main safety considerations tend to be pH levels, and ingredient sensitivity issues. If you should branch out into making lotions and lip balms, there's a whole new set of concerns. These are not wash off products, they remain on the skin, and are absorbed into the skin, so there can be problems. Lip balms may be ingested, so it is very important to use food grade ingredients, pure oils, and lip safe flavorings and colorants. Not really that difficult, but something to remember when formulating and manufacturing. Sanitary conditions also need to be in place for these. Not just clean, you need to get a spray bottle of bleach, and sanitize your work area. Sterilize all of your containers, and spray everything that won't go into the dishwasher with a little bleach, let it air dry. Wear gloves.
The reason this came into my head today, is there was an item in the etsy finds e-mail that was awesome, so I visited the shop. In the shop was a lotion that proudly proclaimed that it was "preservative free". Which is okay for a body butter of pure oils, but this one contained aloe vera gel. Which is mostly water. If your formulation contains any milk, water, or botanical juices, it is perishable. It can grow bacteria or fungi, which can cause serious skin problems. The only ways to prevent the growth of nasties in a water bearing emulsion are refrigeration and preservatives. I love all natural products, but a good broad spectrum preservative is the only safe way to go if you're selling lotions or creams. I personally use germall plus, which is effective in lotions and creams at 0.1% - 0.5%. That's just a tenth to a half of an ounce in a 100 ounce recipe (one and 1/2 pounds!). Most chemical preservatives have similar usage rates, so an 8 oz. bottle will last a long, long time. I'm comfortable with 99.5% natural, if it means saving someone or myself a nasty skin infection. To make lotion at home for your own use, the refrigerator is fine. And it's as easy as making mayonaise. It's kind of exactly the same.

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