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.

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.

Face Masks 101


Face masks nourish the skin, remove dead layers of the skin and help to improve circulation. They pull toxins and impurities out of the skin. Face masks smooth, tighten, brighten and tone the skin. If you want more radiant and glowing skin, try a face mask.

Types of Masks

Nourishing masks add vitamins and moisture to the skin. Try dried fruit and plant fiber powders like cranberry, pumpkin, blueberry, banana and green tea, plant-based milks like coconut milk powder, rice milk powder, soy milk powder, grains like oat flour, ground oatmeal and colloidal oats.

Detoxifying masks contain highly absorbent clays such as green clay. Clays are rich in minerals and enzymes. They pull out and absorb excess dirt, oil, and toxins. Clay masks exfoliate, tone and strengthen the skin and improve skin circulation. Clay masks can be drying and work best with oily and congested skin. Some clays are not so absorbent and can be used for most skin types, try rhassoul clay and white clay.

Combination Nourishing and Detoxifying
A mask containing nourishing and detoxifying ingredients to detoxify and add nourishment back into the skin are great for most skin types.

Consistency Of A Face Mask

A face mask should be a little thick to adhere to the facial skin, about the consistency of pudding. If the mask is too thick it will not spread easily on the skin. Pour a little liquid at a time as it takes time for the mask to absorb the liquid, mix and add more liquid until you reach the desired consistency.

How To Apply A Face Mask

One of the best ways to apply the face mask is with a clean large makeup brush with soft bristles. It feels so soothing and relaxing to paint the mask onto the skin. And it’s fun too. Make sure and source a cruelty-free makeup brush. There are natural bristle brushes made from plants and synthetic bristle brushes that are better than animal-derived brushes from the suffering of animals.

You can always use your fingers to gently apply the mask onto your skin. Massaging the skin while applying the mask feels so good.

Best Time To Do A Face Mask

Face masks can be applied to the face, neck and décolleté. It is easiest to put the face mask on before your shower or bath. The mask washes off easily while taking a shower or bath. A washcloth can be used but it is messier.

How Long To Leave A Face Mask On

It depends on the type of mask and the person for how long to leave the mask on the skin. Generally 5-10 minutes. Some masks dry quickly and don’t feel comfortable on the skin and should be washed off.

How Often To Do A Face Mask

It depends on the type of face mask and the person’s skin, generally a nourishing face mask can be applied once a week, a detoxifying mask containing green clay about once a month.

How To Make a Face Mask

There are countless ways to make a mask and numerous combinations of ingredients with what you have on hand in your kitchen or pantry.

Fruit and Veggie Masks

Fruit and veggie masks gently dissolve the dead skin and brighten the skin. Use seasonal fresh fruits and veggies, eat the fruit or veggie and save a small amount to apply to the face. Be careful not to be in direct sun after you do a fruit mask as your fresh new skin cells exposed to the sun will sunburn easily.

Grain Masks

Many grains work nicely for a face mask once they are moistened. Try millet, barley or oat flour. Grains gently exfoliate, cleanse and brighten the skin. Oats even skin tone and lighten the skin. Make sure the grains are not jagged and harsh on the skin. The grain should be ground very fine. Do a pre-test before applying the grain to the facial skin. Pour a little grain in the palm of your hand and moisten it with water and rub it onto the back of your hand. If it is too harsh with too much exfoliation, don’t use it on the face.

Plant-Based Yogurt Masks

Try coconut yogurt, soy yogurt or rice yogurt for instant radiance. The yogurt gently dissolves the dead skin cells, softens and brightens the skin.

Simple Base Mask

one time use

1 tablespoon oat flour (or finely ground oatmeal)

2 teaspoons liquid (plant milk, fruit or veggie juice, hydrosol, water, plant yogurt)

Slowly add and mix the liquid into the oat flour until the desired consistency for the mask.

These mask formulas are available in the Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.