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Formulating Body Powder

Generally body powders are made of combinations of vegetable starches, clays and/or talc. The word "talc" has come to mean a "body powder" but it is actually a mineral and there have been some warnings against it due to negative effects of inhalation of the products. None of the formulations here, nor the ingredients available at ForSoapmakers.com contain talc.

Some of the starches that can be used in a body powder are cornstarch, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, rice starch, and/or kaolin (china) clay. Potatoe starch was a traditional ingredient in face powders in the 19th century and pea, kudzu, bean and other starches are also available. Each different starch has a slightly different color, feel, "slip" and absorption rate. The key to a good body powder formulation is to blend the starches to create the look and feel that you are looking for in your product.

In researching the types of starches available and their qualities, I've discovered that there are many different forms of some starches. For example, depending on how it's processed, "Tapioca Starch" can be made to dissolve in water or not dissolve in water... and it's still called "tapioca starch". That's important to know when you're formulating!

Scenting Body Powder

The fact that scents (fragrance oils or essential oils) are liquid and body powders are dry presents a slightly tricky issue in scenting body powder. Each body powder ingredient reacts differently when it contacts water, oil or alcohol. For example, kaolin clay can get "wet" and, if it clumps, may turn into a solid hard chunk.

There are various methods to incorporate scent into powder. Most involve lots of trial and error with the actual ingredients you are going to use. By far, the easiest way is to use Dynasorb-X (see directions below), if it will work in your formulation.

Colors and Other Additives

Ground herbs, flowers and spices make great additives to body powders, often imparting color, fragrance and healing or medicinal qualities. Because they are dry, incorporation is easy.

If you are going to incorporate ground herbs, flowers or spices, be sure to check the feel and look of them first. Generally these products are not ground as fine as vegetable starches and can have a grainy or scratchy feel when included in body powder. They also may leave visible specks on the skin. In many cases this can be just fine, but make sure you know before you try to sell a fine face powder that leaves little green bits on the customers face.

Colored powders can be achieved through the use of herbs or flowers, and also by the addition of micas and pigments. With both be sure to mix thoroughly. Micas and glitter can also be added to body powders to give a sparkle effect.

Preservative

Generally, body powders do not require preservatives as they are in a dry state and don't provide an environment which can sustain growth of "the uglies".

Dynasorb-X

Dynasorb is tapioca starch that has been specially processed to make it absorb oils and dissolve in water. Because of the way it is made, it will absorb a large percentage of its weight in fragrance or essential oils (or fixed oils) and hold them in a powdery form.

This unique quality of Dynasorb-X means that you can mix it with a fragrance or essential oil and end up with a "powdered scent". Depending on the percentages used, it can be a little "sticky" when mixed like that, but still dry. When combined with the rest of the powder ingredients it mixes in, evenly distributing the scent.

Dynasorb-X Directions

NOTE: 1 lb of powder = about 480 grams. Scenting at a rate of 1-2%, that would be about 5 - 10 grams of scent per pound of powder. According to the manufacturer's specifications, Dynasorb-X can absorb about 20% of its weight in oil without loosing the powdery texture. That means for 100 grams of Dynasorb will absorb about 20 grams of oil. However, in my experience I've found that you can use considerably less Dynasorb in abody powder product because the other starches will absorb some of the liquid as well.

Measure out your fragrance. Measure out 4 times that amount of Dynasorb-X (by weight). You may want to experiment with the amount of Dynasorb-X. Depending on the frangrance/essential oil you use and other ingredients in your powder, you may be able to use as little as half that amount (or an amount equal by weight to your fragrance).

Mix fragrance into Dynasorb-X until it is evenly dispersed. It should not clump or stick together, but may be slightly "sticky". At this stage it probably won't be free-flowing like you'd expect in a powder. Mixing with your hands (gloved) is a good way to feel and make sure the powder is even.

Gradually add your blended body powder to the scented Dynasorb-X, mixing in as you go. It should mix in easily, uniformly distributing the scent. If you're using your hands, you'll be able to feel the difference between the scented Dynasorb-X and the Body Powder. Put it in a powder shaker, label it and you're done!

It may take a few days for the scent to evenly distribute through the whole. Experience has shown that the powder scent seems to get stronger over a period of several weeks as the fragrance molecules move around.

Using Dynasorb-X in a body powder formulation will definitely change the feel of the product. Be sure to experiment with small batches until you get the scent intensity and powder feel you are looking for.

Dynasorb-X attracts moisture (see below). If the ratio between the Dynasorb-X and the other startches in your powder is too high, the resulting mix may become slightly "sticky" if the Dynasorb-X has the opportunity to attract water moisture from the air.

Notes on Dynasorb-X Use

  • Dynasorb-X, like Natrasorb Bath, was originally developed as a way to carry scent into water-based environments. As such it is excellent for adding scent into dry products designed to go into the bath. Bath salts, fizzy balls, foaming bath powder, and similar products can all benefit by the addition of scented Dynasorb-X.
  • Dynasorb-X will absorb moisture from the air, which over time will make it it sticky or even goopy if you are in a very humid environment. Therefore it is important to store Dynasorb-X in an air-tight container when not in use. Dry products containing Dynasorb-X should be stored and/or packaged in air-tight containers as well. It's also a good idea to put a note on product labels advising the customer to close the container between uses, especially if the product is likely to be stored in a humid environment (like a bathroom).
  • Dynasorb-X is virtually identical to Natrasorb Bath although they are made by different manufacturers by slightly different methods. If you have a recipe that calls for Natrasorb Bath you should be able to replace it with an equal amount of Dynasorb-X, however we don't guarantee that this is true in all cases - be sure to test a small batch to make sure it will work in your application.
  • The ingredient listing for Dynasorb-X is simply "tapioca starch" - the same as the Tapioca Powder we sell. This is because they have the same molecular structure ... they have just been processed differently. You could compare it to Rock Sugar and powdered sugar - they are the same thing, but they have different forms and different uses.