I'm alive (LOL) and I have a question :)

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gigisiguenza

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Hello friends :) I've been very busy with work, bills, personal crisis aplenty, and plain old survival these past few months, and no time at all to soap (booo!). But I miss all your virtual faces and am going to try harder to not be such a ghost.

I also have a question for those of you that make lotion bars.

Has anyone here made lotion bars specifically for dealing with the insect repellent factors? I am highly allergic to insect bites and this year has been insane down here in Houston. I have modified a regular lotion bar recipe that I've made before, to deal with insect repellent, and it is good, but I'm looking for suggestions to improve it. Mine consists of equal parts shea, mango, and coconut oils (to sooth and moisturize my skin), a little avocado and vitamin E (to nourish the skin), and beeswax (to stabilize), and some tea tree EO to repel insects. I'm very open to suggestions that will improve this, so feel free to toss them out there. TIA :)

Hugs and love to you all <3
 

Susie

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I know nothing about lotion bars, either, but it is good to hear from you again!
 

DeeAnna

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Hi, Gigi -- glad to see you back!!!!

I've made lotion bars with insect repellent EOs. Tea tree is seldom mentioned as an insect repellent, so I'm not sure you're going to get as much benefit from that vs. other EOs.

What is probably going to work better -- Lemon eucalyptus and/or lemon tea tree (not related to "real" tea tree) and/or catnip for mosquitoes. Lemon eucalyptus for ticks. Citronella may be helpful against skeeters but doesn't last nearly as long as catnip or lemon eucalyptus in tests. Patchouli repels flies. Cedarwood (whether the real stuff such as Atlas cedarwood or the junipers such as Virginia cedarwood or Texas cedarwood) seem to help with flies and gnats. Other known insect repelling EOs are thyme, peppermint, and clove, but some (clove and lemon tea tree among others) are skin irritants or sensitizers, so can't be used in a high % in any formulation.

As far as a lotion bar formulation, it can work, but there are some competing goals you'll have to balance. For use in hot summer days in Texas, you're going to have to formulate a fairly heat-resistant formula. But you want the formula to rub off easily on the skin because these EOs need to be on the skin in a high enough amount to be effective. And you want the product to be evenly spread over the skin. But you don't want to feel like a greased sweaty pig on a hot summer day. So there are issues to deal with. I trialed this recipe:

Meadowfoam seed oil: 12 g
Jojoba wax: 8 g
Beeswax: 10 g
EO blend: approx 3 g

My notes: Oils have a long shelf life and a lighter texture. Borderline too soft in the heat of Belize, but not overly greasy. Tolerable, portable.

I never took it any further because even with these light oils and a soft-ish formulation, the product didn't spread on the skin as quickly and completely as I wanted. I didn't get the insect control I was looking for. The heavy base felt sticky or heavy on the skin.

What does work well is a light lotion base. I've used different combos of meadowfoam, jojoba, coconut, and sweet almond in various trials. Total oils are about 12% to 14% and EO blend about 3% by weight. Cetyl alcohol, emulsifying conditioner (or e-wax), water, and preservative make up the rest of the ingredients. This kind of product goes on the skin easily and thoroughly. The lotion base is slightly cooling and light -- not much of the "greased pig" feeling. Gives about 3-4 hours of protection with the right EO blend.

Another base that works is a water-alcohol (vodka) base with my EO blend added at 3% by weight. You have to use polysorbate to solubilize the EOs into the vodka, otherwise they just float on top. PS80 has worked better for me than PS20. I need to use 3 to 4 parts PS to 1 part EO blend. Shaking the mixture should supposedly work in place of the PS, but it's hard to ensure a consistent dosage with shaking alone. This is good in a spray bottle. Cooling, light, but doesn't last as long as the lotion base since there are no oils to retard evaporation of the EOs from the skin, so need to reapply more frequently.
 
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earlene

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Last year I made an insect repellent oil mixture, which I used both in a spray bottle and as a squirt-on, which worked very well for me. I used it in the summer at a lake in California, in the summer in San Antonio and in the summer in Illinois. As well as while traveling by car to and from those various places. All buggy places at the time.

The base was 7.2 ounces grapeseed oil.

The EO blend was:

18 grms citronella,
3 grms lavender
3 gms peppermint

For me this worked extremely well. I have read of other blends to use, but because this was 100% effective for me last summer I felt no need to try anything else.

Putting it into a lotion bar sounds like a nice idea, but if you want to try out the blend first to see how effective it is for you, I'd suggest doing it as an oil first. Once you identify an effective blend, then adding it to the lotion bar would mean less waste, I think.
 

IrishLass

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Hi Gigi! I have no advice to add to the wonderful advice already given, but I just wanted to say that it's good to hear your 'voice' again! :)


IrishLass :)
 

penelopejane

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Tea tree oil is better known for stopping bites from itching. It is very effective for tick bites as it reduces the inflammation if used early and also reduces the itchiness.
 

gigisiguenza

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Huge hugs to all of you! It's lovely to see you all! And the advice is awesome, as usual! I'm going to give the easiest ones a try first, because I have the ingredients available LOL, but will certainly try the more difficult ones as soon as I can get an order of supplies in. I've never ever made a lotion before, but I want to try my hand at it, as well as shampoo. TY all for the awesome suggestions! :)
 

Arimara

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Welcome back. Tea tree is nice and all but lemongrass, mint, maybe vanilla are said to be some repellers. I think the lotion idea is the best one I've came across yet but I'm never without lotion in my bag.
 

DeeAnna

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I was surprised to learn recently that vanillin is a stabilizer for the EO based insect repellents. Vanillin slows how fast the EOs evaporate so they stay useful on your skin longer. I personally really, really dislike vanilla scent on my skin however faint (I love vanilla in food!!!!) so it's not an option for me to use in my insect repellent. But that's why a lot of the "more natural" insect repellents are vanilla scented.
 
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