DIY Intermediate, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen, Trying Something New

DIY: Lavenaloe Face Bliss

The oils of this lotion have been playing in my head for quite some time now. I’ve told you all about how I kind of missed the whole shea butter love affair when I first started this “hobby”. And to be honest, I am kind of happy about it! It means that now that it is slowly being introduced to various products at a small amount to be effective but not with the KAPOW grease ick factor.

Winter in Northern China is all about dryness. And at the moment my face is slowly healing from a fairly few amount of issues. I can’t eat chocolate, peanuts or too much cheese without the whole world seeing that I’ve been snacking, and these spots I get? They are so badly itchy that all night I tear at them while sleeping. And then to add insult to my poor face? It’s now winter so scarves, high neck sweaters and that means all those issues too. So add all these things together and my face is taking a huge beating.

Beaker A- Liquids

So I needed to make things that can help combat the dry environment, help sooth the itch, soften and try to just to keep my hands busy for a short time so my hands would be kept busy.

And I had a box full of new ingredients that were just begging to be played with! So I went to hang out in The Kitchen. I decided to swap out my usual ewax: Emulsifying Wax NF, and try out Olivem 1000 which is an emulsifying wax made from olive oil and which has made me very happy with a ph range of 3-12 so can handle all the fun additives and cosmeceuticals I can toss at it. All the research I’ve seen on Olivem 1000 say it is highly moisturising, provides deep moisturization with fantastic spreadability (my new favourite word by the way) with no soapy effect. It’s plant derived so if you are vegan, this is a good choice! It is also biodegradable.

Beaker B- Oils to be melted. Look at those flakes! 

And it is sold in flakes! Not the dandruff kind, but the kind you want around. For your face!

So that’s my new ingredient I’ve been playing with. I’ve made maybe five or six different products with Olivem 1000 just to see how it reacts compared to what I’m used to. I’ve a nice little line-up of 20g pots, labeled and dated to observe over the next few months to see how they test differently than my other ewaxes I use. Olivem 1000 is notorious for it’s stability issues and dislike of hydrolats, temperatures and more! So I’m putting it through the battery of tests! And so far, I have to say my face is enjoying the effects! Next up with Olivem 1000? A body lotion. Maybe. More face lotions!

I also added in a lot of aloe juice, lavender hydrolat, silk, vitamins B3 & 5 and some Vitamin E.  For my oils, I added in cranberry seed oil (I’m on a serious cranberry oil kick these days), argan oil, shea butter and some cetyl alcohol for some oomph. I do like the way cetyl alcohol makes everything feel so powdery and soft. I actually forgot to add allantoin into this formula, so if you want to add some in, I’d suggest adding it at 1% and dropping the water by 1%

Adding in the contents from Beaker C- ingredients that are volatile that cannot be heated without losing their properties 

To make lotions with Olivem 1000, it is just like making lotion with say BTMS 225/50 or others. I had three beakers set up; A, B, C. Beaker A held the liquid phase to heat (water, aloe, hydrolat, silk, Vitamin B3), Beaker B had all the oils+Olivem 1000 for melting, and Beaker C had all my volatile ingredients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B5, preservative and if you’d like, a few drops of lavender essential oil.

My work space.

Beaker A and Beaker B got tossed into the double boiler for about twenty or so minutes on a low simmer. There is a lot of discussion on if the heat and hold is actually necessary. While I don’t think that the heat and hold method kills any of the possible nasties that may or may not be present, I do feel that bringing my beakers to the same temperatures is better safe than sorry. And I know in this day and age that the chances of things not working the way they should be are slim when it comes to ewaxes, but as I said, better to be safe than waste ingredients! And this being a new ingredient, go for it it!

The end result is something decadent and fast absorbing! My face was left with an almost powdery feel and very touchable. I did find that with all the spots on my face, this lotion helped to soften them for a more even feel on my skin.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 9.51.39 AM

Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with a 10% Bleach solution. Wipe all your equipment, tools, beakers down with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t forget your immersion blender, countertop AND your scales. Using an immersion blender is very important when working with Olivem 1000 as you need that high sheer.

  1. Place all Phase A ingredients (water, aloe, hydrolat, vitamin B3 and silk) into one beaker. Place all Phase B ingredients into a second beaker (Olivem 1000, argan, cranberry, shea, and cetyl alcohol). Place all Phase C ingredients into Beaker C (Vitamin B5, Vitamin E, preservative, essential oils if you choose)
  2. Place Beaker A and Beaker B into a barely there simmer in your double boiler and allow to sit for approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Once everything is melted, remove Beaker A from the double boiler and wipe down the outside of the beaker. Pour contents into Beaker B.
  4. Using your immersion blender, beat the contents of Beaker B until you get a nice smooth consistency. If your work space is warm, this will take a lot longer, but my kitchen area is quite cold these days, so lotion making is wicked fast now. It took less than thirty seconds for me to get to lotion consistency.
  5. Once Beaker B has cooled down to the touch, add in the contents of Beaker C and stir incorporating everything.
  6. Decant and enjoy! This lotion is thin enough to be in a pump bottle and thick enough to be in a pot without worry.


No everyone is an exotic oil junkie. So if you don’t have cranberry oil, feel free to sub in any liquid oil your skin likes. Here are a few I’d consider subbing:

  • moringa oil
  • sea buckthorn seed oil
  • macadamia nut oil
  • evening primrose oil
  • abyssinian oil
  • borage oil
I love the look of argan oil and cranberry oil… so pretty



This lotion will pump easily, or hold neatly in a pot. 
MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen, Trying Something New

Sepimax Zen vs Aristoflex AVC Part II

So here is where we get to get a little more technical. We’ve already had a run down of AVC and ZEN in a previous post.

On first glance, they are pretty unassuming. Both are white powders, kind of slippery when rubbed between your fingers. Both are on the very pricy side, while AVC you can buy in China (but be VERY careful of your seller, I had a serious issue with fake product), Zen has to be bought abroad and brought into the country.

Let gets this showdown on! Here are the recipes I used, I attempted to keep them similar so my face using them on each half would get the same results. A big difference between AVC and ZEN is the amount of oil you can use in your mixture.

AVC: suggested usage 0.5% to 1.2% to emulsify up to 5% oils

ZEN: suggested usage 0.5% to 5% as an emulsifier, stabilizer and/or thickener into a larger amount of oils. Generally using 2-3%.

Remember, in AVC no silks, pearl powder, or aloe

2.5% moringa oil
2.5% sea buckthorn seed oil
2% panthenol
2% hydrolyzed oat peptide
2% vitamin b3
1% allantoin
1% vegetable glycerine

1% Aristoflex

1% preservative (consult your own preservative usage rates please!)

 remainder water

10% aloe juice
5% moringa oil
5% sea buckthorn seed oil
2% hydrolyzed oat peptide
2% panthenol
2% vitamin b3
1% allantoin
1% vegetable glycerine

2% Sepimax ZEN

1% preservative (consult your own preservative usage rates please!)

remainder water

I made both according to their directions. I heated up the water and added the allantoin, b3 and glycerine with the liquids giving them time to dissolve. I then allowed them to cool to add in the remaining ingredients and oils. Then, I sprinkled the ZEN on and set it to bed. And then whipped up the AVC.


  1. Time to make: to set up, prepare, weigh and measure, both are identical. They take the same amount of time.
  2. Time from make to first use: this is where the AVC wins. As soon as you mix the AVC mixture and it thickens up to its lovely smooth gel, you’re good to go. ZEN on the other hand, takes about 8 hours to properly set up before you mix it. I’ve also found that in our hotter and much more humid weather, it takes even less time to set up. Once you beat the ZEN senseless with your whisk or electric whisk for about a minute, you’re good to go.
  3. Decanting into containers: meh. They are relatively the same. Maybe the AVC is a smidge easier?
  4. Type of container: Pots, pumps, squeeze tube, flip top lotion bottle? Both the ZEN and AVC are great in all the above containers. I like pots for my testers and sample sizes as they are cheaper!
  5. Amount of mess: Both made about the same amount of mess to clean up. What I really appreciated, was scrubbing the containers clean was very easy.

How did I compare the two?
I put the AVC on the right side of my face and the ZEN on the left side of my face daily for about five days before I knew what was what. I knew what was what after day one, but needed to be sure. More on this in the next part!

Initial Impressions
Getting a good AVC recipe has been a pain in the arse. But has been soooooo worth it. I’ve oily skin, but generally happy skin. I find in the summers that I cannot put too much on my skin as I sweat a lot and that sweat and oils/creams/lotions mixed makes me feel gross. So I have always strived to create a recipe to wear that keeps my skin happy, but also now that I’m walking down the other side of the hill agewise, I also need to make sure my skin has something on it to help keep those age issue stuff at bay. My usual summer facial routine was wash, Bee Happy Toner and go on my way. But with my age getting up there, I knew I needed more. Now my morning and evening routines are a little more intensive.

Upon applying the AVC (once I worked out the kinks), my skin feels soft, plush and hydrated (which isn’t all that hard as I’ve oily+happy skin). My skin stayed fresh and happy all day long and I noticed the little bit of strange acne I’d get kind of stopped appearing. I loved the AVC so much that I formulated a face recipe and sent it to some ladies for testing as I had to know if it was just me. It got some rave reviews!

So the Sepimax had a lot to live up to if it wanted to compete with the AVC.

My initial impression is that I much prefer the AVC over Sepimax. I am finding the Sepimax to be like most gels upon application somewhat tacky, but quick to sink in. I also found that when the ZEN sank in, my skin felt… the only word I can think of is “tight” but not that squeaky clean tight, more like, water drying on your skin when you are in the sun.

And that is when the light above my head went off and the choirs began to sing.

New eye serum.


Stay tuned for Part III!

MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen, Trying Something New

Sepimax ZEN vs Aristoflex AVC Part 1

What an epic black hole Marie’s blog is. If you are truly a DIY junkie (as in you actually have a dedicated room in your house and it spills over to take over the kitchen table, the TV shelving unit and more or want a dedicated apartment for DIY projects), I would strongly suggest checking out her blog. I was playing around on The Hive when Marie posted something about a funky new emulsifier.

And fast forward many months later….. and Aristoflex AVC has become a staple in our face care routine. I will go without a toner. I will go without hair elastics and socks. Just please. Don’t take away my AVC!

So AVC and I haven’t always had the best of relationships. It took some time to figure out what works with it and what doesn’t. It also took some time for me to figure out what else my skin likes since the list of ingredients I couldn’t use in AVC was a mighty big one. And once I figured it out what to pair it with, I can’t gush enough about this ingredient!

The adding of the sea buckthorn seed oil into the eye serum dropper bottle.

My original plan was to use the AVC for the Eye Serum recipe to use it as the emulsifying agent and as a result, have it thicker to get rid of the dropper bottles as I find those generally ridiculously messy and just an all around pain. I prefer pump bottles and pots. But as you quickly learnt in this post: FAILURE! Aristoflex AVC, there was no real way the AVC could handle that task. It couldn’t handle all the skin yummies I needed it to to do all the stuff an eye serum needs to do.

After a discussion with some other DIY Junkies, I found Sepimax ZEN which plays nicely with all the skin yummies: silks, aloe, pearl, the range of vitamins, salts, all the extracts I like to include in our products, and all the ones I want to include- all that fun stuff. But as I mentioned previously, it was not easy getting my hands on a bag of it. So the ZEN got put through the various tests to see what’s what and how it works and all the fun stuff that makes skin care making absolutely the best part of my day.

I began talking to people about the things I noticed between the two of them and an idea popped into my head. Why not do a series of blog posts comparing AVC and ZEN? Both are wonderful ingredients, so how do they stack up to each other? And which do we want and why? How do they differ in a product? Which do we like better? And through these posts, we will also be involving some of our amazing skin testers comments and opinions and suggestions.

So stay tuned to this space for the Aristoflex AVC and Sepimax ZEN Showdown!



MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen, Trying Something New

Making gels with Sepimax ZEN

One of the worst things you quickly learn when making and selling your own skincare/ cosmetics is that your standards are usually higher than your customers.

Our current eye and face serum recipes are wicked. They are an emulsified product which means they are oil and water based serums that are loaded with goodies and extracts and we offer it in an amber dropper bottle. The dropper bottle offers great control for the number of drops you apply to the eye and face area. We’ve received no complaints, no suggestions to make it better… the only thing we have heard from our clients is that its amazing and really does work!

Preparing the ingredients
I love my new bowls for test days!

And as I said, my standards are very high. I love the dropper bottles, they are quaint and simple and easy to work with. But, they pose one major and I mean major issue for my liking. Dropper bottles suck large crazy things when you put a viscous liquid in them. When you open the bottle they work like they should. But when you go to put the cap back in, way too much product spills down the sides. And that is a waste. And that to me is unacceptable. I mean a pump bottle lotion, I’m ok if you cannot get the last little bit out of there. That is what scissors are for after all! But dribbles down the side of a container? No. It’s contaminated and that product cannot be used.

So, we’ve been working hard formulating the recipe to make it thicker to put into a pump style container. And the number of failures from that? Countless. Here’s one of my more, interesting failures:

Using xanthan gum as a thickener, ummm it reminded me of snot.

And, I think there might be a possibility that I’ve figured it out! And if we haven’t figured it out, we made gels! How swanky is that?

Getting our hands on Sepimax ZEN was tricky. It took a friend in America pre-ordering it, shipping it to my co-worker in another State who was visiting, him bringing it to China for me. So far, the initial testing phase has been productive. And inspiring. Originally, we were thinking of making the eye and face serum with Aristoflex AVC but you cannot use any electrolytes with it. And that’s how we found Sepimax ZEN! Electrolytes! YAY!!!

INCI:  Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN)

So what is Sepimax ZEN and why does it seem like we are way too excited by it? It is used as a thickening agent, a stabilizer in surfactant and emulsion systems. It is a pre-neutralised polymer that can create transparent gels on its own.

How freaking cool is that???? Pre-neutralised!

Do you know what that means? No ph checking! And electrolytes! Aloe is back baby! As is proteins and more! My skin is tingling with anticipation. And a gel. A gel! A gel I tell you!

We took some vitamins, silk, aloe juice and some other skin yummies with some of our eye serum and added some ZEN. Then walked away.

Adding the ZEN

That was the hardest part. Walking away.

Two hours later…. BRAINS!

But that didn’t stop me from taking pictures while it was setting up!


Once my timer went off that eight hours was up, I took out my whisk and almost forgot about taking pictures. Pre-blending, I was kind of grossed out how everything looked. It looked like curdled kefir in sauce. Very gross. The aloe vera gel I made looked very cool. Like gelled ice!


Finished product!

It looks amazing! So crazy slime looking! I really think after using this that this gel wouldn’t make the face happy as it is really like a gel. But now that some time has passed, I do feel that this would be better suited as the ingredient in the eye serum. And I’ve already got my notes prepared for how I want to improve on the eye serum using Sepimax. I want to add in some hydrolised oat protein and some burdock root extract too. And more! And silk. And glycerine. And other oils. And more aloe. And and and! Just not the kitchen sink.

Now comes the crazy part of trying to figure out which container to put the ZEN into! And that’s what I’ve been testing out this morning. Fun! In the coming weeks, we’ll be testing out various Zen recipes to add to our line or keep the Aristoflex. Getting new ingredients are awesome, but formulating the perfect recipe is a pain in the arse. Makes me wish we lived in a big city where there are plenty of foreigners where I can borrow thier skin.