Glossery of Terms
Liquid, solid, or gas that contains hydrogen and reacts with metals to form salts and water. You can usually tell an acid by its pH level, which is below 7. Examples of common acids are citric acid (lemon juice), malic acid (apples), acetic acid (vinegar), and tannic acid (found in tea).
- Acid mantle
Microscopic film of acidic moisture over the skin; a kind of protective covering.
Colorless, volatile liquid obtained by distillation and fermentation of carbohydrates (grain, molasses, potatoes). Alcohol is antiseptic and cooling but is also very drying to the hair and skin; care should thus be taken not to use too much.
Refers to a substance that does not contain water. Lanolin is typically purchased in an anhydrous form.
A substance that stops the growth of bacteria and helps to control infection by inhibiting germs.
- Bath Salts
The purpose of bath salts is to detoxify...drawing out toxins from the skin and even the muscles. Creating a saline solution with mineral salts draws impurities and toxins out. Her recommended recipe was equal parts sea salt, epsom salt, and baking soda. Don't soak more than 20 minutes. The variety of salts will each work to draw out different things.
This is particularly helpful for overstressed people, people with body aches, muscle strain, sprains, etc. ALSO, people undergoing emotional stress or healing can benefit from this kind of soak. It is recommended that after doing healing body work, or energy therapy, the client can continue the emotional healing by soaking in a mineral salt bath, because a lot of emotional trauma is stored in our body tissue and needs release.
I was particularly interested in the bath salt discussion because for several months I've been gathering the ingredients and ideas for a bathsalt with a bit of emu oil added for additional skin soothing and healing luxury. NOT! According to our resident expert putting oil in the salts, defeats the purpose. In a salt bath, we want the pores to open and things to come out. Then we rinse (in another bath or shower). THEN we apply soothing oils or lotions to moisturize and protect the skin. The salt bath can be a bit drying. Bottom line is adding oils and salts to the same bath is counterproductive.
Of course, to make this an especially lovely experience, pure botanical essential oils chosen for their individual abilities to relax, stimulate, etc. etc. make the bath salts even more effective!
- Bath Tea
Its usually a combination of herbs in a cloth bag. The bag is hung in the bath so that the bathwater runs through it as it is filling. Its often common to do a oatmeal herbal bath, and the oatmeal is very, very soothing. The cloth bag is actually like a giant tea bag.
See Carbon Dioxide Extract in the Ingredients Section.
A product That has been distilled along with something else. A great example is the "italian neroli" that
is starting to show up on the market...a "codistillation" of the leaves AND the flowers of the bitter orange tree.... It is always, of course, necessary to know what the different 'components' of a codistillate are.... your vendor should let you know.
The substance that gives skin elasticity, or the ability to stretch. It is found in the inner layer of the skin, or dermis.
Most frequently a special type of liquid mixture or suspension in which the particles of suspended liquid or solid are present in a very finely divided form (i.e., particle size from about 1 to 500 millimicrons in diameter). The colloidal suspension of liquids in liquids is an emulsion.
Colloidal means that the substance is ground finely enough to remain suspended in the suspension medium.
A compress is simply a cloth soaked in a hot herbal extract and is applied to the painful area.
Defined by the FDA in 1938 as (1) articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance, and (2) articles intended for use as a component of any such articles.
A thick emulsion of oil and water.
Similar to an infusion but usually used for roots, barks and twigs. The "tea" is simmered for up to an hour.
The inner layer of the skin. The dermis is protected by the epidermis and is made up of tissues, muscles, and nerves. Collagen is found in the dermis layer.
A thick, creamy material used to soothe or soften the skin. Emollients are usually made from oil, water, and wax.
A material that binds two different materials together. An example of this would be beeswax that is used in making creams to bind together the oil and water together and keep them from separating. Others are cornflour (corn starch), lecithin, borax, and several other waxes.
An emulsion is the mixture of two liquids that would not normally mix i.e. oil and water. If you shake oil and water together you get an emulsion but it is very unstable and will separate quickly. An emulsifier can be used to make the emulsion more stable. The emulsifier works by coating droplest of one of the liquids so that they may stay suspended in the other liquid. There can be oil in water emulsions or water in oil emulsions. Soap cleans because of it act as an emulsifier between water and oil (dirt). Some common emulsifiers are beeswax, lecithin, borax and corn starch.
An emulsion is composed of two phases (under some circumstances it can be more than two). One phase exists as tiny droplets (the dispersed or internal phase) that are dispersed within the outer (external or continuous) phase. When the dispersed phse is composed of oil and/or oil loving (lipophilic or hydrophobic) materials and the external phase is composed of water and/or water loving (hydrophilic or lipophobic) materials we term this an oil-in- water emulsion abreviated o/w. More than 95% of all emulsions sold in the US are of the o/w type. A w/o emulsion is often termed an invert emulsion (water is the internal phase and oil is the external phase. Several factors determine whether the emulsion will be o/w or w/o: the character of the emulsifier (this is most important) the phase volume ratio (the relative weights of the water and oil phases) This can be misleading since many w/o emulsion contain internal phases that are actually larger than the external phase. This is particularly true of the newer water-in-silicone emulsions that use fatty(12-18 carbons in length) dimethicone copolyol emulsifiers.
What follows is a short discussion on the techniques used to thicken (and stabilize) emulsions.
Emulsions (creams and lotions) come two types (mainly)...oil-in-water and water-in-oil. In the US the oil-in-water emulsions predominate. All things being equal, which they usually are, the thicker the emulsion the more stable (physically) it will be. Thus creams are more stable than lotions. The difference between a cream and a lotion is only viscosity (a lotion flows and a cream does not). In order to thicken an emulsion there are only two approaches: thicken the external phase (water..in the case of an oil-in-water emulsion) or add more internal phase (oil..in the case of an oil-in-water emulsion).
1. Thickening the water phase (external):
In order to thicken water one must add a gum of some kind. Most popular among cosmetic chemists is the Carbomer family of acrylic acid polymers. They must be neutralized by an appropriate material (NaOH, etc.). They can at a very low level (0.1-0.3%) dramatically thicken the lotion, often into a cream. Other water phase thickeners include: xanthan, guar, locust bean, methylcellulose(and its derivatives), silicates (magnesium aluminum silicate), etc. There are literally hundreds of water phase thickeners (gums). One must carefully choose the correct gum to match the emulsifier type and the desired skinfeel.
2. Increase the size of the oil phase:
This is readily accomplished by just adding more oil components. Keep in mind that you must then also increase the % of the emulsifier. Generally speaking the % of emulsifier used should be 10-20% of the oil phase (which must be emulsified).
Note: Adding waxes (beeswax is popular) will not appreciablly increase the viscosity of an oil-in-water emulsion. They will however, significantly thicken water-in-oil emulsions as they thicken the external phase (oil). Another way cosmetic chemists thicken emulsions is to homogenize them. This process reduces the particle size and has the same effect as increasing the internal phase (oil). Most of the emulsions seen on this list are of the water-in-oil type. Thickening them and stabilizing them presents special difficulties (opportunities)
A substantially permanent heterogeneous liquid mixture of two or more liquids which do not normally dissolve in each other but which are held in suspension, one in the other, by mechanical agitation, or more frequently, by small ammounts of additional substances known as emulsifiers. These modify the surface tension of the droplets to keep them from coalescing. Typical emulsions are milk, mayonnaise, and such pharaceutical preparations as cod-liver oil emulsion or liquid petrolatum emulsion.
Typical emulsifiers are egg yolk, casien, and certain other proteins; soap; gums such as acacia, sea weed extracts, water-soluble cellulose derivatives; lignin, bentonite, and surface-active agents such as the quaternary ammonium compounds, sulfonated oils, and polyhydric alcohol esters and ethers. Specific kinds of soaps include those from tallow, grease, fishoil, rosin acids. these are widely used in synthetic rubber manufacture. Mahogany acids from petroleum refining sludge, are used in synthetic resin production, as are sorbitan oleates and laurates, and polyoxy-ethylene esters. Stearic acid esters of glycerin, thyleve oxide, sorbitol, and glycols, and also lecithin, are used in food products.
Ammonium and amine fatty acid soaps are used in waxes and polishes. Various ones of these and others are widely used in stabilizing the emulsions of cutting oils, pharmaceuticals, drycleaning solvents, and mixtures used in the textile and leather industry.
Essential Oil. Essential oils are steam distilled and contain the non-water-soluble elements of the plant. Large quantities of plant materials are required to produce a small amount of essential oil.
As these are concentrated substances they can have harmful effects. Please research the safety aspects of an essential oil before incorporating it in your products.
The surface layer of the skin. The epidermis is where new cells are constantly being formed.
Removal of dead skin cells and surface dirt, a very important step in proper skin care because removing dead skin cells allows the skin to function more efficiently and to absorb more moisture.
A total treatment for the face that consists of deep-cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing the skin.
- Fragrance Oil. A usually synthetic product used strictly for it's aroma.
- A plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities. For example, chamomile is very soothing to the skin, peppermint has a scent that is extremely refreshing, and geranium oil kills bacteria.
Also see Herb List
- A substance that holds the moisture in a product or on the skin. Honey is a natural humectant. Glycerin is the most popular humectant used in cosmetic products.
Humectants are widely used in cosmetic products where they serve several functions. (I will just talk about their use in emulsions.) All humectants contain a group (OH...hydroxyl) that associates with water and binds to it (hydrogen bonding). Hydrogen bonding is crucial to life. If it wasn't for hydrogen bonding then water would be a gas and we would all die. Humectants are thus thought to be moisturizers since they bind water. This comment (moisturizers) is a bit misleading. Is moisturization adding water to the skin or preventing water from leaving the skin??? I have opinions but nothing more. A popular humectant often used is glycerin. While it functions well, it can be a bit sticky and is seldom used at more than 5% in emulsions. Humectants have four additional functions in emulsions: they can decrease the freezing point of the water phase and thus improve freeze/thaw stability, they can help to solubilize preservatives (our friends the parabens... propylene glycol is best for this purpose), they can prevent drying out of the cream when the consumer has left the cap off and lastly they can provide a nice skinfeel (cushion) during the initial rubout stages of product application.
Commonly used humectants include:
propylene glycol (can be irritating at high use levels)
sorbitol (can have a sticky/tacky skinfeel)
butylene glycol (good for use in make-up products due do non-tacky skinfeel)
MP diol (a new, and very safe!! material)
Humectants are water soluble (due to their high polarity) and will always be placed into the water phase.
A term denoting afinity for water, with stablilizing action on the water content of an article; thus, a humectant keeps within a narrow range the moisture content fluctuations caused by wide-range humidity fluctuations.
Hydrogenation is a chemical reaction that adds hydrogen atoms to an unsaturated fat thus saturating it and making it solid at room temperature.
Is the "water" left when an essential oil is distilled. This is very beneficial, in a healing sense, because it contains certain elements which did not make the distillation process, and is actually much more than water with essential oil suspended in it. Its wonderful for certain skin conditons.
- A mixture of herbs and water that has soaked for a period of time. When you make tea, you are making an infusion.
- Irritation - Irritant
An irritation reaction is immediate. Generally it occurs upon application of the product to the skin. Often it is not too severe, though it could be. Continued use of the product produces the same magnitude of reaction. Tyoically, redness and some swelling. In severe cases some blistering may be seen.
Also see http://www.naturesgift.com/sensit.htm 6/27/98
- Lotions are usually liquid suspensions or dispersions intended for external application to the body.
- A meaning of the term "natural"
- Occlusive Oil
- A substance that increases the water content of the skin by creating a seal on the surface, holding in moisture. Canola, olive, sesame, and castor oil are all examples of an occlusive oil.
- An ointment contains only fats or oils, but no water; it does not blend with the skin but forms a separate layer over it.
Ointments are semisolid preparations for external application to the body. Melting point is a factor here. In general, ointments refer to a preparation with an oleaginous(fatty) base, such as lard, vaseline, lanolin, etc.
- A substance that is or once was living. In chemistry, organic means "containing a carbon atom."
- The measure of acidity and alkalinity in a solution. The pH scale goes from 1-14 (neutral is 7). Healthy skin may range from pH 3 to 5 1/2.
- Similar to a compress, but the whole herb rather than a liquid extract is applied.
- A preservative is used to keep something in it's original state (keep it from spoiling). Different preservatives work to preserve different things. For instance a preservative such as sodium benzoate will prevent molds from growing, while Vitamin E will prevent oils or fats from breaking down and going rancid.
- Rebatching is the art (or is it science) of melting down hardened soap (it just has to be hard enough to cut, which is why I say it this way), then adding neat stuff and pouring back into molds. It is the best way to add delicate items like frankincense or any other exorbitantly expensive nutrient. There are ways and ways of melting soap, but my "patented" 12 Step process is located on my website for anyone's perusal.
Now, lest this begin to sound suspiciously like Melt & Pour, it's not. Melt & Pour soaps use a prefabricated soap base to which soapers add their own unique blends of neato stuff. (that's a technical term, btw, neato stuff) M&P is _generally_ used with transparent soap, since you get GREAT colors and scents this way.
CP (cold process) soap is for the so-called soap-snob (of which I am one) who longs for a more natural kind of soap. Colors are generally (though not always) of the earthy tones...yellow, cream, white, tan, brown, muted greens and reds. Blue is a favorite of soapers because it is so difficult to produce without resorting to pigments (there's no way to do it, AFAIK, without pigments...but what do I know?
Lisa Beccia 6/20/98
- A term used in soapmaking when the soap hardens suddenly and unexpectedly.
- Sensitization - Sensitizer
- A sensitization reaction is characterized by a severe response that is not seen upon initial application of the product. After several applications, the consumer discontinues use of the product (with no adverse effects). After not using the product for several weeks (or months) the next time the product is applied a severe and immediate reaction is seen. This type of reaction can be dangerous and should be avoided! It can be seen with preservatives, sunscreens, fragrances and many other materials. It is frequently due to impurities (trace materials).
Also see http://www.naturesgift.com/sensit.htm 6/27/98
Ordinary soap is a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats. Thus common soap is largely a mixture of the sodium salts of palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids. The term soap is also applied to the individual components such as sodium palmitate, sodium stearate, ets. In case some other metal or basic radical is present instead of sodium a modified term such as potash soap, calcium soap or amine soap is used.
A treat variety of special soaps are produced, which are for the most part variations of ordinary sodium soaps. hard soap contains a relatively large proportion of sodium stearate.
rosin soaps as used for laundry purposes are made by adding a soap made from rosin or rosin itself, to an ordinary soap. Castile or Marseilles soaps are made from olive oil. Mottled soaps are produced by the addition of small amounts of ferrous sulfate, ferric oxide or ultramarine. Transparent soaps are made from decolorized fats with the addition of glycerol or sugar, or both. Liquid sopa is usually a potash soap dissolved in water, containing from 8 to 30% soap; the solutions of 30% and higher contain alcohol.
- Supper Fatting
- A term used in soap making where a small percentage of fat is added beyond what can be saponified by the lye used.
- An extract, usually herbal, and usually made with a mixture of water and alcohol, although there were official tinctures that also used acetic acid, chloroform and glycerin.
- A term used to describe the consistency of a batch of soap when dribbling a small amount of the soap across the surface of the batch leaves a visible trace. About the consistence of thin pudding.
- Ultraviolet Light
- The invisible rays of the sun that penetrate the epidermis and have been proven to cause premature aging and skin cancer.
- Stands for United States Pharmacopoeia and means that the product meets the standards for use set by the United States Pharmaceutical Board. You will see this labeling on many products, such as lanolin, camphor, glycerin, and alum powder.
- Water Bath
- A method for heating ingredients when making cosmetics. A container with ingredients in it is placed in a pan that has one to two inches of water in it. It's similar to a double boiler because it protects ingredients from direct heat. Also know as a bain marie. A simple water bath can be made by filling an electric skillet with one to two inches of water.
- Natural Beauty at Home by Janice Cox
- Marge Clark
- Sam Brooks
- Michael Moore
- Ela Heyn
- The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Sixth Edition, Arthur and Elizabeth Rose, Reinhold Publishing Corp. ©1956
- Mary Robinson
This page is edited and maintained by Linda Coffin
© 1998- Linda Coffin