One of the common questions I get is how do I know I have bad shea. To look at Shea Butter it is hard to determine if your Shea Butter is bad just on initial presentation. Some people believe that Shea Butter that has turned white is bad Shea Butter. I purchase only Grade A, certified Shea Butter that has been approved by the American Shea Butter Institute. I know that I say it over and over again that Shea Butter has to be certified. But, I can’t say it enough. If you don’t want mold, mildew, fungus, bacteria and other toxins, then you must purchase only certified Shea Butter. This is the biggest culprit for those who constantly struggle with getting good qualified Shea Butter and why the butter has gone bad so quickly. Shea Butter smells woody and woody notes to it. If your Shea Butter smells burnt then don’t use it. Forget what many say when they say the smells comes from the roasting of the nuts. Shea Butter should not smell burnt, malodorous or spoiled. Shea Butter doesn’t smell pleasant, but its odor shouldn’t be offensive. When in doubt, throw it out.
The great thing about Shea Butter is that it has a long shelf life. Shea Butter has been known to be good for up to 24 months. But, there are some things that you can determine if your Shea. If your Shea has turned white and has a rancid smell then your Shea Butter probably is not of good quality and it should be thrown out. If you’ve kept your butter in the car and it has been in different temperature climates your Shea Butter has gone through some change physically and chemically. It is best to keep your Shea Butter in a dark cool place to preserve it bioactive ingredients.
Shea Butter is full of antioxidants and Vitamin E which is great for your skin, but also lends to the preservation of the butter. While antioxidants are not preservatives as many people believe, it does delay the degradation of your Shea Butter.
Shea Butter Soap Formulating is what I love to do. I’m so excited about teaching this beginning soap making class for the Columbus GA area. This time of year, cold-process soapmaking is a booming business. From now until January, I call it soap season. Amatuer and professional soap makers a busy making soap for the holidays and the winter season. I will be traveling to different venues teaching soap-making and cosmetic science to many new business owners or start up soap makers. If you would like to book me in your area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a look at some of the soaps we will be making:
How To Stability Test a Cosmetic Formula
The biggest difference between what you experienced in your DIY kitchen versus a college organic chemistry lab is KNOWLEDGE. In an organic lab, you mix chemicals together and hope something magical happens. Your mixture A mixes with your Mixture B. And if you’re lucky you get the formula you had expected. As a formulator, you mix chemicals together and hope nothing disastrous happens. Cosmetics are mixtures of complex chemicals that mostly don’t play well together.
Unfortunately, many things that we mix more often than not don’t react together and the results are not quite what you hoped for. This is why testing is so important. So you need to test your formulas to see how long it will last. Ask yourself what conditions made the product last and can you continuously create this environment. This is called Stability Testing. Stability is something that we must spend many man hours doing to not only perfect our formulas, but to make sure the product is stable
Why stability testing?
All cosmetic scientists, chemists,formulators and DIYers must prove their product stable before it can be massed produced or be given to someone for purchase. Stability testing is proof that you have done due diligence to make sure your product remains stabilized over various conditions. Remember your product will be potentially shipped across different times zones, temperature and environments.
How to Perform Stability Testing
First you create a master batch of your formula. Put samples of your formula in different environmental conditions for a set period of time. I like to do 6 month and 12 months testing. Yes, I know that seems extreme, but what happens if your product does not sell quickly? Your customers would not like to invest in products that have a short shelf life. Test your product in conditions that vary in temperature and light; especially if your products have fragrance and oils in it. Fragrances and oils can make or break your product. Most products with fragrances and essential oils must be protected from light to delay breaking down. What you are doing with stability testing is simulating an environment in which your product will be stored.
Create an Excel spreadsheet that allows you to track data periodically. For example, Sample A you may want to note texture, smell and stability at 1 week intervals. I would suggest at first to do biweekly intervals at least the first two months and then monthly after that. At select intervals you evaluate your samples for various physical, chemical and performance characteristics to see how they have changed. If the changes have occurred go back and look at what you can change. For example if the fragrance has disappeared in the formula. Consider adding a little more fragrance to the maximum load. You may need to add only essential oils. But, these two have shelf lives. So there are many factors to consider before you truly launch a product. Repeat every necessary step until you are happy with your product. If there are variations, you might consider a warning label or an expiration date. The bottom line is this, you must make a safe product and this critical step cannot be overlooked.
Oxidation is the biggest enemy to product stability. As the product is exposed to air, the more the product ages or degrades. Take the necessary steps in the beginning. You might want to choose air sealed containers, light protected jar or bottles. Invest in the right stuff in the beginning and you will not have to go back to the drawing board as often. A sample stored at 45C for 8 weeks is equivalent to one stored at room temperature for a year. This isn’t exact science, but it is a great starting point. Since you’ll be making hundreds or thousands of prototypes during your career, it won’t be practical to run a stability test on all of them. Sometimes your products are so spontaneous or they become a big hit in the testing phase and you need to get the product out sooner than expected. Are you free to give up on stability testing? Absolutely not! Find time, even after you’ve formulated a product and do the product testing. If there are ever any potential lawsuits, you have done your due diligence by testing.
You’ll also find that changes happen so rapidly at your company, you won’t have time to properly test many of your formulas. But there are times when you need to do stability testing. Here is a short list of some of the most important times to conduct a stability test. Also, remember that everything that you make will not be successful. Disappointing, I know. But, most people are lucky to have one major product that they develop that is the best seller. The great thing about having one product is not just manageability, but one great product can be changed with the increase of a few additional ingredients or just changing fragrances, container design or making the product multi-functional. Think about for a moment, there are many companies that sell only one product. However, they have managed to make that one product appeal to different consumers. The best example of this is soap. You may not have ever thought about this, but liquid soap is one them. For example, you have liquid dish soap, liquid laundry detergent, liquid hand soap and body wash. These products are essentially the same thing with slight variations, yet we’ve found many different uses for these products to sell to consumers. Now tell me, have you ever considered just buying a large order of liquid soap and using it throughout your house? Probably not. Of course, not because you thought you needed a different soap for dishes, a different soap for your hands, a different soap for laundry and a different soap for the body. I want even get into shampoo. Same product, but the advertisers deceived you.
I test, whenever; I have a totally new product. So all my new prototypes get stability testing. If am using new raw materials that I don’t have a working knowledge of then I test, test, test. I won’t have no clue how this product works over time if I don’t do the leg work now. In my early days, I have had several products that failed after adding some new great herb, fragrance or raw ingredient that has become popular. These days now, I pretty much stick with the known and proven staple ingredients. I have a documented history on this and I can build from these products.
One thing that I must pause to mention here is that there will come times when you have purchased ingredients that you have used time and time again and yet, your product is not stabilizing. The problem may not be you, the problem make be with the manufacturer. This is a big problem for me when I am working with pure organic materials. If something is truly organic it is not the same every time. This is the fight that I have with many organizations. In my case I use 100% pure, unrefined, Grade A Shea Butter. However, the texture and consistency is never the same all the time. I combat this by adding a disclaimer to my website or placing it on my packaging. I have found that this helps me more than hurt me. My customers love the transparency.
Happy Stability Testing!
It’s that time again. The annual American Shea Butter Institute International Convention. I’ve had the distinct pleasure for the past 5 years to be a part of a global initiative to bring Shea Butter to hearts and minds of those in the Shea Butter Industry. This year, I will be lecturing on “New Shea Butter based Product Development.” This convention is like no other that I have ever been in. We are at the forefront of bring true recognition to the value that Shea Butter add to the US economy. You would be hard pressed these days to find any health and beauty product that doesn’t contain or report to claim Shea Butter. The sad part of this truth is that much of what is used here in the US is not pure Shea Butter, but inferior Shea Butter. Can you imagine how much Shea Butter that is used in American products that has not been lab tested? Most Shea Butter imported here is not lab tested and contains very harmful contaminants such as lead, mercury, mold, mildew and fungus. I have partnered with ASBI to get Shea Butter regulated to be tested. Chances are if you purchased Shea Butter from anyone other than companies who have certified their butter to be lab tested in African and then again in the USA, then you’ve purchased inferior Shea Butter.
Currently, ASBI is the only lab that is testing and grading Shea Butter. Dr. Samuel Hunter, MD, PhD, is the pioneer and leading expert in Shea Butter and Shea Butter technologies. He had worked with the government of African and the US to bring science to Shea Butter. Whether you formulate your products or distribute large quantities of Shea Butter wholesale, we are working with government officials to bring and certify quality Shea Butter for use in the USA. I hope to see you at the convention this year. You will surely learn alot. Make plans to be at 2015 Shea Butter Convention.
There are many companies that have jumped on the Shea Butter bandwagon. However, much of what you are getting on the internet is inferior Shea Butter. I have customers requesting to have the shell of the shea butter sent with their order so that their Shea Butter can be authenticated. The truth of the matter is that Shea Butter, doesn’t come in a large shell or gourd. Shea Butter comes in a nut and that nut is about the size of a walnut. Much of what you see in flea markets, beauty supply stores, is inferior Shea Butter. When lab tested, much of those retailers of Shea Butter, have only about 40% Shea Butter. The rest is other oils that have been cut to stretch the shea butter. Currently, there is only lab that can certify Shea Butter. It is the American Shea Butter Institute, which is led by doctor and scientist, Samuel Hunter, MD.
If you want Shea Butter that works, and is free of harmful contaminants, only purchase pure, unrefined, certified, Grade A Shea Butter. Leah Shea, proudly uses only ASBI certified Shea Butter.
Shea Butter Deep Conditioner
1 oz ASBI Certified Shea Butter
.05 oz of Coconut Oil
.05 oz of Olive Oil
.05 of of (Grapeseed, Jojoba, Avocado, Apricot Kernel Oil)
Heat these in the microwave for 30 seconds until melted. After washing hair, place all the above ingredients on the hair being careful to saturate each strand with the oils. Allow the conditioner to sit for at least 30 minutes with a heatcap or shower cap. Rinse hair with vinegar with 1/4 cup of vinegar. Dry hair and style and usual.
Have you ever been curious about what something smelled like when you read the name of it? I have. Well, if you want to know what Pink Sugar smells like, all I can say is think of the most feminine and alluring smell. It is that one smell that you say, I want it in a soap, air-freshener, body oil, hair-care products, and maybe even food. Well, maybe not food, but definitely a drink. Pink Sugar is the hottest fragrance that we have right now. It’s running a distant second to our every popular “Shea Baby” scent and I tell you, over here in the lab, we just love it. A few weeks ago, Dr. Harris made a Pink Sugar Candle and I can’t begin to tell you how these never made it to the website. The staff and family consumed these prized candles for presents during the holidays. We couldn’t keep up with the orders for this new fragrant piece of heaven. Catch this new scent at Laeh Shea, PINK SUGAR.
Columbus, Georgia is now the new Grade A Shea Butter Capitol. With the expertise of two Shea Butter Experts, Dr Theresa Harris, PhD and Dr. Samuel Hunter, MD, shea butter formulations has gone to a new level. The Grading of Shea Butter is nothing new. The American Shea Butter Institute has been strategically working to standardized the Shea Butter industry in the USA. Working with regulatory agency to ensure quality shea butter is being sold is the utmost importance for both doctors. Only a few distributors across the country is selling premium Grade A Shea Butter and we are proud to say that Columbus, GA and Laeh Shea Naturals is at the forefront.