Friday, May 19, 2006

Air Cleaners

The air cleaner that we use here at TKB Trading, LLC is the Friedrich C-90B Electrostatic Air Cleaner, which runs about $450 - $500.

This is an expensive air cleaner for "consumer level" (as opposed to even more spendy "industrial level") products. It is also somewhat bulky and not particularly attractive. But we really like it because it seems to be quite effective at keeping the air in our studio fresh, it doesn't have a huge energy demand, and it is easy to clean.

The fact that there are no filters to purchase and constantly replace was a big seller for us because we generate a lot of dust. You simply remove two pull-out filters and rinse them down with water before replacing them. We wash ours about once a week and always "ooh and ahh" over the amount of particulants that we send down the drain instead of breathe into our lungs.

Also, the unit received a #1 ranking by Consumer Reports (when compared to other consumer level machines).

The machine only really works in about 500 square feet of space, so we actually have a couple of them. We don't run them during the day, because they would be noisy and also they blow fresh air which can actually kick up more dust in our powder studio. Instead, we switch them on every night and let them do their duty while we sleep.

For more information, type the product name into a search box and browse the net. As of this posting, was offering the unit with free shipping at $489 each. At that site, there is a lot more detailed information about the product.

Hope this Helps!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How to Make Eyeshadow

The colored micas that we sell can be used "as-is" as eyeshadow.

However, you can save money and actually improve the adhesion and feel of the colored mica by extending it with a filler. The cheapest filler that we sell is Kaolin Clay. At $6 per pound (as of this post), that makes it a super-inexpensive filler. It also adds adhesion to the colored mica.

Other fillers which we recommend include: magnesium stearate, boron nitride, talc, silica microspheres, ronasphere, authentic silk powder and bismuth oxychloide.

Any time you mix a colored mica with a filler, you will change the look of the powder. Typically, the additives will make the colored mica less intense in hue and sometimes less shimmery. This can be a good thing, if it is what you want. You have to experiment.

For example, in the photo above, the color to the far right which is deepest in hue is our Deep Blue mica "as is". Below and to the left is the color mixed with equal amounts of our Authentic Silk Powder. You can see it becomes somewhat more matte, more translucent, and duller. Above and to the left is the color mixed with equal amounts of our Boron Nitride. It retains more of the shimmer and opacity, but it is also paler.

If you used less filler (in our examples it is equal parts filler to colored mica) the result would be a darker, more vibrant hue. You just have to experiment!

The easiest way to do your experimenting is to spoon your colored mica into a small zip lock bag (we sell 2" x 2" bags for this purpose) and then spoon in your filler. Then, zip the bag closed and mix by mushing between your fingers.

When you are doing this, start with a measured amount of colored mica and then add a small amount of filler to it (for example, start with 1 teaspoon of colored mica and add only 1/16th of a teaspoon of filler). Mush and then test it on your skin. Look for color, slip (how it feels going on), sheen (how shiny it is), and translucency. Slowly add more filler in small amounts, as you desire.

You may have heard that you should mix the products with a small grinder such as a coffee bean grinder or bud grinder (a handheld machine used to grind "herbs"). While this is a good idea if you are using pure oxides and ultramarines (heavier, more intense colors), we don't recommend it when you are working with colored mica.

These machines damage the shine and brilliance of colored mica. Colored mica is specially manufacturered and that kind of blending (called "high shear") breaks the powder up and makes it duller. Since gentle mushing between your fingers is sufficient, we suggest it!

Finally, don't forget that you can use this technique to blend your own colors. For example, you could do a blend of the Deep Blue mica, Patagonia Purple mica and then some boron nitride. You can also use different kinds of fillers. For example, maybe you'll want to use a blend of boron nitride and bismuth oxychloride for your filler. You just have to play!

Hope this helps you get started playing with our colors! We sell our samples for an affordable price just for this purpose.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Coloring Lip Products

Lip products are essentially a blend of oil and wax. To that, we add color.

The 3 kinds of color products used in lipstick includes: dyes, pigments and mica.

When you think "dyes", think "food dye", because it is essentially the same thing. The good thing about dyes is that they are very intense and they actually stain the lips, making the color last longer. The down side is that most dyes are chemically manufactured (aniline dyes). Folk who want to sell only a natural lip product tend to avoid dyes. There are a handful of natural dyes, however, which are popular in lip products. Foremost among these is Carmine, a lovely red which, while natural, is unfortunately not vegan as it is derived from insects.

An example of a natural lip product company which uses Carmine would be Burt's Bees.

Pigments (typically the Oxides) are another color additive used in lip products. When you think pigments, think "like paint". They are opaque, and while they may also stain the lips a little, mostly they "sit" on the surface of the lips to impart color. This is why pigments are best in lipsticks, and OK but not so great in lip balms, which tend to come off quickly. Dyes are better in the balms.

Most lip products are actually a blend of dyes and pigments, using both to get the best of both worlds. In addition, people will add Mica. Mica is an uncolored mineral which imparts shimmer. Often people will purchase a colored mica (for example: Bronze) and use that to color their lip products. Colored mica is really just mica blended with either pigments, dyes or both. In the case of Bronze, for example, it is mica with iron oxide pigment.

Finally, you can also use the metallic color additives. We offer a great red color called Crucible Red which is made from copper.

How much color do you use in your formula?

The general rule of thumb is that colorants are 10-20% of the formula by weight. This assumes that you are working with a dye which is predispersed in castor oil (such as our liquid lip colors) and/or pigments and micas in powder form.

Here are some sample formulae:

1) 2.5% of our Ruby Liquid Lip Color, 2.5% of our Rose Liquid Lip Color, 15% of our Australian Amber Mica (in powder) mixed with 80% by weight of our pre-made Lipstick Base.

2) 1-1/2 tsp. Dye (powder form) or Iron Oxides, 1/2 tsp. colored mica add to 3 tablespoons premade lipstick or lip balm base.

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