Canada is a big country, so it’s hard to generalize about anything when you have a little bit of everything in such a large space, but there are a few things we know are true about English speaking Canadians. We apologize far too much – I said “sorry” to a YouTube video yesterday when I paused it by accident – and every English speaker knows a few words in French, as every product you buy from cereal to detergent has both official languages on the package. We all worry we’re having a stroke when we smell burning toast thanks to a “Heritage Moment” ad we’ve all seen a thousand times, and yeah, we say, “eh” quite a bit and, for some reason, we do it more often when we’re visiting the States. We spell “colour” with a u and words like “travelling” or “counselling” with two l’s. I have a driver’s licence, go swimming at the rec centre, see movies at the theatre, and I have a chequing account. We use metric for gas, groceries, and formulating, but measure our height and weight in Imperial because it’s hard to picture what 50 kg looks like. And each and everyone of us is annoyed by the popularity of poorly made poutine. (Did I go on too long? Sorry, I hope you didn’t take offence!)
So much of our Canadian identity is defined by how we endure the weather. Whether it’s day after day of gloomy rain or howling winds that whip the ocean into foam, endless weeks of darkness up north, months of scorching hot summers, or winters so cold the moisture from your breath turns to icicles on your scarf, we’re proud we can survive anything Mother Nature throws at us. Thank goodness we’ve got great occlusive ingredients like allantoin, cocoa butter, and dimethicone to keep the elements from drying out and chapping our skin!
To get a broader picture of what’s what in the Great White North, I spoke to Tammy at Voyageur Soap & Candle, Sara from Saraphina’s Coastal Colours, and Valerie of Raven Song Soap in B.C.; Michele at Windy Point Soap in Alberta; and Christine of Our Natural Creations in Ontario.
2017 was all about what I consider the “gateway drug” to the addiction that is making your own bath and body products – bath bombs! Large ones, small ones, ones that float, spin, or bubble - it seems like everyone was making them this year!
Where I live in southwestern British Columbia, we enjoy high humidity levels for all but a few weeks a year, so our bath bombs start a’fizzing mere moments after we make them thanks to all the water in the atmosphere. If this is happening to you, put away the witch hazel and alcohol, and start binding them with up to 6% to 7% liquid oils with a long shelf life, like olive oil, rice bran oil, or fractionated coconut oil, or up to 5% melted cocoa, mango, or shea butter.
Vivid colours from neon powders and liquids to biodegradable glitters were everywhere last year, from melt & pour or cold process soap to mineral make-up products, like eye shadow, nail polish, and lipstick.
One of my favourite products last year was a super simple, super shiny body gel. Mix together 2 grams glitter, 1 gram glycerin, and 30 grams aloe vera gel, and apply whenever you want some sparkly goodness!
Black raspberry vanilla and blue raspberry were the most popular fragrance oils last year, along with some citrus blends, like blood orange & goji berry or lemongrass verbena. As much as we loved vanilla alone or combined with mint, marshmallow, or berries, it was less commonly used in bath bombs and CP soap due to concerns about browning thanks to the vanillin content. Essential oil usage continued to grow, whether neat in a diffuser or incorporated into soaps, lotions, or hair care products.
This formula is a super simple way to enjoy essential oils every day! Weigh 6 grams fractionated coconut or jojoba oil, 0.1 gram peppermint essential oil weighed into a 7 ml glass bottle with a plastic roller. Cap, shake, done!
A huge trend this year saw everyone from beginners, to us grizzled veterans making greener, more environmentally friendly products thanks to a huge increase in ECOcert ingredients available to us north of the border. This includes preservatives like Geogard ECT, emulsifiers like Olivem 1000 and Ritamulse SCG, conditioners like Varisoft EQ 65, and surfactants like SLSa and lauryl glucoside. Tammy from Voyageur noted “…we have seen an increased demand for us to teach more eco skin care and natural soap classes. Customers want to learn how they can incorporate specialized ingredients into their products to create something that can stand up to a commercial product in functionality, but in the most natural way possible.” There has also been a move to find more biodegradable and natural exfoliants, like hydrogenated jojoba beads or berry seeds, as plastic microbeads are banned in Canada as of July 1, 2018.
And we learned the joys of making cold process emulsions with emulsifiers like Aristoflex AVC and RM-2051, which allowed us to make everything from facial moisturizers to body butters in 10 to 15 minutes.
Is that the time? I better book it to Tim Horton’s for a double double and some Timbits, but don’t be afraid to try some of these Canadian trends and just give’r.