Category Archives: Helpful Information

Comparing Shea Butter: East African and West African Shea Butter

Comparing Shea Butter: East African and West African Shea Butter

I previously wrote about the benefits and processing of shea butter here and fair trade shea butter here and here.

I use both types of these shea butters in the formulations in the Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.


East African Shea Butter

East African shea butter comes from the eastern side of the African continent, from Northern Uganda and Sudan.

Shea Nilotica shea butter comes from the fruit of the Karite tree, Vitellaria nilotica. It is easily available in organic and unrefined. Shea Nilotica is very soft and creamy. The butter spreads easily on the skin. It does not have a strong aroma and the color is light yellow. Shea Nilotica creates creamy, rich and soft formulations. The light aroma is easy to work with in formulations. The color produces a cream color formulation. Shea Nilotica has a lower melt point than Butyrospermum parkii.


Learn How To Make Simple Whipped Body Butter with Shea Nilotica, recipe here.


West African Shea Butter

West African shea butter comes from the western side of the African continent, much of it from Ghana. Butyrospermum parkii shea butter comes from the fruit of the Karite tree, Butyrospermum parkii. This is a hard and solid butter. It has a higher melt point than Shea Nilotica. It needs to be softened or melted first to apply it to the skin. It is available in unrefined or refined. The color varies depending on if it is unrefined or refined. This beautiful shea butter moisturizes, softens and smooth’s skin and hair. Since it is a harder butter it helps to thicken and add body to formulations.


Unrefined Shea Butter

Unrefined shea butter has a strong nutty aroma. It is hard to mask with essential oils. The nutty aroma comes through strongly. For years I only used unrefined but in the last several years I switched to refined since it is processed through a natural deodorizing process now. The nutty scent of the unrefined comes through regardless of the essential oils added for scent. The color is tan.

Refined Shea Butter
Refined shea butter is now available naturally filtered through diatomaceous earth, a chemically free process to deodorize it. I mostly use refined shea butter so my added scent of essential oils come through. The color is off-white.

Learn How To Make Shea Body Butter with Butyrospermum parkii shea butter, recipe here.



joan morais Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.

8 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Taking An Online Class

8 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Taking An Online Class

I recently completed an intensive vegan desserts course. I am usually the instructor but this time I was the student. I think online learning is one of the best ways to learn. Online learning provides you with the instruction and videos you can view over and over until you understand it. In my desserts course, I viewed some of the videos at least ten times before attempting to make a dessert. This is the greatest advantage of taking an online class, plus you can take it in your pajamas, early in the morning or late at night. I have taken  online courses on cosmetic chemistry and business and recently I’ve been taking culinary courses. This is the first time I truly allowed the time I needed to take a class and experience the teachings in full. I took full advantage of being active in the class. The results were amazing to me. I learned better, the journey was enjoyable, I pushed through the struggles and I can make delicious and beautiful desserts. I am satisfied. I know I did the very best I could. From my student perspective here are my tips for getting the most out of taking an online class.


1. The Class Aligns With You and You Have Time To Take It

Does this class support how you like to learn? Does the class have videos to teach you or is it only text material? Can you make time in your life to take this class right now? Do you still have access to the class after the session has completed? If so, what is the fee? Many charge a monthly continual access fee. These are questions you need to find out from the class. Fully understand the class you are taking before you sign up for it.
My Note: I wanted to take a professional culinary vegan desserts course. I wanted excellent instruction and to learn techniques followed up with text and videos to show me how to make desserts. I wanted a course with a class Facebook Group. I made sure I could complete the course in the time frame given and I had space in my life to fit it in. This is always a challenge for me as I run a business and a household and I love being and doing things with my hubby, daughters, grandchildren, family and friends.

2. Read Emails and Save Into A Folder

Read the emails containing the instructions for taking the class. Create a folder in your email and save the class emails in the folder for easy access to the information you need. If you don’t understand anything send an email or call and ask your questions.
My Note: I always create a folder and label it once I sign up for a class. When I receive a confirmation email and other emails I read the email and then save it in the folder. There is usually one email that contains crucial information and links. It is easy to find this email in the designated folder when I need to refer to the links.

3. Schedule Class Time and Goals

Create a vision in your mind on completing the class and holding the certificate in your hand. Have an overview of the entire class and know all that is required of you to finish the class. If you need equipment for the class, only get what you know you need for sure or wait until the tasks. Much time is spent searching out equipment and money is wasted. You end up not using the equipment and at the end of the class, you realize you rather have a different tool. Set a schedule on your calendar and block out time for taking your online class and schedule when you will complete tasks in the class. You can always adjust your schedule after you have a realistic sense of how long it will take you to do the class tasks. Schedule an ending date and try to be complete with the tasks early, before the class ends. You have to motivate yourself and make yourself go and study. Sometimes you have to say “no” to others and events and value your studies. Tell your roommate, your family members, not to bother and interrupt you while you are taking your class. Put a sign up, “Do Not Disturb” or “Pastry Chef School In Session” or whatever subject you are studying to get the point across that you are in school.
My Note: I reviewed the course syllabus and I didn’t think it would take me long to complete the tasks and finish the course. Once I started reading the units, making the desserts and taking the tests, I was surprised how long it took me to do a dessert task. Most times it took 6-8 hours for each task from start to finish, longer than I had planned.

4. Create A Clear and Desirable Workspace

Clear out an area to take your class. Even if it’s a corner of a room, clear out extra stuff and make it easy and enjoyable for you to go and take your online class. Light a candle, make a cup of tea, cut up some fruit and create a space to support studying. Make it an enjoyable experience.
My Note: One of my class tasks was to clear out and organize my refrigerator, pantry and countertop before beginning the dessert course. I had to take photos of the organization and submit the photos. This really helped me to have order and clarity of mind. It made the tasks more enjoyable as I had organized access to the ingredients and to make the desserts.

5. Participate and Interact

If there is a Facebook Group or other online community, participate in it! Introduce yourself, comment, post photos, talk to your classmates and be part of the community.
If your instructor sends a check-in email to you, respond to her email. If you are having trouble in the class, ask for help from your classmates and the instructor.
My Note: This is the first time I interacted a lot in the course and in our Facebook Group. I found it highly valuable. I connected with other classmates and learned a lot from them. It helped me with my tasks.

6. Do Your Own Research

A class does not contain everything you want to know. Take time to further research a topic you are studying to understand it better. Get books from the library, go to a bookstore, Google what you want to learn and watch YouTube videos. It is easy to loose focus and get distracted with all the things we can do and make and let our imagination take over. We can spend a lot of time on these thoughts and take valuable time away from our class time. Write down and save these ideas for when you are done with the course.
My Note: Every topic of dessert opened new doors for me and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know the history of the dessert and how it was traditionally made. This helped me a lot to research the topics I had questions on and have a better understanding of that dessert.

7. Challenge Yourself and Enjoy The Journey

Compete with yourself and do the best you can. Look to your classmates as inspiration, not competition. Learn from them. Everyone is on different levels. A few students will do exceptional work. Don’t compare yourself to them. If you are not one of those students challenge yourself and learn what you need to learn. Be content with your results. Enjoy the experience and journey you are on. Focus on the task you are currently on and don’t look too far ahead. Looking far ahead can easily overwhelm you. Since you created a timeline on your calendar, every now and then, do a check-in to see where you are at and then direct your focus back to the task you are on. Enjoy the learning of the task.
My Note: I am not one of those students that do exceptional work. I do great work and I work hard at it. This time since I devoted a lot of my time to the tasks and did my very best, I didn’t compare myself to other students. I didn’t feel my desserts were “not good enough” because someone else’s dessert looked so much better. The students always inspired me and their creative desserts were a work of art.

8. Celebrate Completing Your Online Class

Take time to reflect on the class and all that you did to complete the online class. It takes focus, diligence and determination to complete an online class. Smile and say, “Yes, I did it!” Do something for you to celebrate this milestone, all you accomplished and the struggles you pushed yourself through.
My Note: It is easy for me to move on to other things after I complete a class and not process the intensive accomplishment. This time, I took time to process and reflect on all I did to accomplish and complete my Desserts Course. I looked at all the tasks I completed. I visualized how far I have come and what I learned. I cleared out, cleaned up and put things back in order that got out of whack from me spending so much time on the course. My celebration; a gourmet vegan dinner and of course dessert.


joan morais Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.

How To Make Vanilla Extract

Once a year I make a batch of vanilla extract and it lasts for the entire year. I use the vanilla extract in my natural perfume formulations and for baking. I bake a lot. The vanilla bean is so incredible. I was fortunate to visit the Steel Grass Farm on my birth island of Kauai, Hawaii. They are the only ones that grow vanilla beans in Hawaii. I was able to see how the vanilla vines and vanilla bean pods grow. I brought home some of the vanilla beans from this Kauai farm and the scent alone transported me to bliss. I made vanilla extract with them and used it in my baking and gave some bottles of the extract as gifts. Every time I used the vanilla extract it transported me back to my birth island that I love so dearly.


Vanilla Beans Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla beans come from the only orchid that bears fruit, Vanilla planifolia. Vanilla beans are mainly grown and imported from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Mexico. They are expensive because of the growing process. The flower must be hand pollinated and the beans handpicked at the perfect time and then allowed to dry correctly for the best flavor. The scent of vanilla is reported to calm angry feelings and emotions. Vanilla beans are an aphrodisiac.





This vanilla extract can be used for natural perfume making, body care products (it does add a tan color to body butters and creams) and cooking and baking. Vanilla extract makes excellent gifts as most people that bake use vanilla extract.

You will need:
8 vanilla beans
vodka, brandy or rum with 40%-50% alcohol (I use whatever I have on hand or want to use up. I usually use vodka. The plum brandy from Trader Joe’s is nice.)
glass bottle or jar

Directions to Make
1. Cut 8 vanilla beans into 1” pieces and add to the jar.
2. Pour 1 cup vodka, brandy or rum into a clean jar or bottle.
3. Cap jar tightly, label with date and shake.
4. Store jar in a cool dark place for 6 weeks. Shake the jar each day for the first week.
5. After 8 weeks or longer, strain out the vanilla beans.
6. Store vanilla extract on a cool dark shelf.

I usually triple this recipe and have vanilla extract for the year and give it as gifts.

Leftover Vanilla Beans
Use the leftover strained vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar or vanilla paste.

Vanilla Sugar
Use the strained vanilla beans making sure they are dry and add them into granulated sugar for a vanilla tasting sugar to add to drinks or baking. The beans can be left in the sugar for several months.

Vanilla Paste
Use the strained vanilla beans and add into a blender with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Blend until a paste. Use vanilla paste in place of vanilla extract.

Free eBook How To Make Vanilla Bean Oil and Extract here.

What makes Joan Morais Naturals different?

What makes Joan Morais Naturals different?


What makes Joan Morais Naturals courses different?

For over 10 years Joan Morais Naturals has assisted thousands from all over the world interested in learning how to formulate and make natural and organic cosmetics; skin and hair care products.

We offer cutting edge education and high-quality formulas using natural and organic ingredients.

We are the only online school offering all plant-based formulas and instructional materials containing no animal products. Many cosmetics contain pig oil, cow skin, hoofs, etc. Plant-based products contain no ingredient from any animal or processed with animal products. Plant-based ingredients are derived from plants, flowers, herbs, nuts, seeds, barks, seaweeds, grains.

We provide tried and tested formulas with step-by-step instructions to make them.

Not only does the course include many formulas to choose from, we train students on how to formulate their own unique formulas and develop it into a product and how to adjust formulas and make their own unique skin care and hair care products.

We offer continual support with lifetime access to the courses and a supportive community of skin care and hair care product makers. Plus we are easily reachable via email, through social media and by phone.




Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol has been used for a long time as a natural preservative. High proof food-grade alcohol is used in natural cosmetics in the preservative system to preserve cosmetics from creams, lotions, serums, shampoos and hair conditioners.


Is Alcohol Drying to the Skin?

Clients, students and customers are always asking me, isn’t alcohol drying to the skin? Pure food-grade alcohol applied directly to the skin is drying on the skin but not when it is combined with nutrient rich ingredients. Synthetic alcohol is confused with food-grade alcohol and performs differently on the skin. Synthetic alcohol also known as isopropyl alcohol is drying to the skin. I have used organic food-grade alcohol for over 10 years to effectively preserve natural cosmetic formulations. In my test groups, they always favored facial creams and moisturizers preserved with alcohol over the facial creams and moisturizers using a different preservative system. The comments were similar stating the product went into their skin quickly with no oil residue and the skin immediately felt soft, moisturized and hydrated.


Alcohol is Beneficial to the Skin

Pure food-grade alcohol combined with nutrient rich plant oils, herbs and plant emulsifiers acts as a carrier and delivers these skin beautifying nutrients immediately into the skin. It works as a wonderful delivery system for the natural cosmetic product.

Attention and care is imperative to preserve natural cosmetic formulations with high proof food-grade alcohol. A high proof alcohol must be used. I’ve used organic grain, sugar and grape alcohol. During the manufacturing process it is imperative to prevent evaporation of the alcohol and the container must be one that is minimally exposed to air.

I formulated the Organic Facial Cream and demonstrated how to preserve using alcohol in the Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.



joan morais Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.