A question someone asked us recently is why have some of my wicked whip/spellbinding scrubs suddenly darkened in colour from white to a beige colour? What happened? Vanilla happened! As much as we love them, fragrances containing vanilla can discolour our products.
The main discolouring culprit in vanilla is called “vanillin” a component that contributes a “strong, sweet, and milky scent” to our scent formulations. Vanillin shows up in so many of our fragrance blends because of its amazing scent. Vanillin is found naturally in so many things, like vanilla beans, blueberries, coffee, red wine, strawberries, and more. The substance is dark in nature, I mean…. you’ve seen vanilla essence in a bottle?? It’s Dark !!
Why does this discoloration happen? When exposed to air and light, vanillin oxidizes and starts to brown. For those interested in chemistry, it has a pH of about 4.3, and discolouration increases as the pH becomes more alkaline. We can see this in action when we compare the discolouration of products like body cream, shower scrubs, bath bombs with alkaline products such as cold process soap. The browning in the latter products can happen almost overnight and continues to get darker with time, while the process in more acidic products takes longer and discolours less.
We’ll let you into a little secret…..Vanillin is why we have a lot of dark gothic looking soaps. Because Vanillin discolours the soap batter too. We just have to work with it and incorporate it into our colour schemes !!
Vanillin can impact more than just the colour of the product. Because it’s polar, it’s soluble in water. (Water is polar, oil is non-polar, and the rule is “like dissolves like”, so polar things usually mix well with water.) This is also why the texture of Andraste fragranced wicked whip can feel a bit more fluid than the Queen Mab variety for example !
We could of course use stabilisers, but that means putting things into our current formulations that we would not be happy with using. It just isn’t as pretty as it could be without the slight discoloration. So, until we find something we are happy with to suppress the discoloration, we and we hope you, will just embrace the colour change! It isn’t a bad thing for our product to turn beige/brown. It doesn’t mean the product’s gone bad or is dangerous, and of course just make sure you also use it within the 6 months from opening due to the eco friendly preservatives that we use.