Lots of new things are happening!

Freshly labeled body wash

Freshly labeled body wash

After about 2 straight days of working on the labels , printing them and getting them all applied, there are 20 scents in our Silken Hand & Body Wash and they’re all up on the site now.  They’re clean, clear easy to read and available in two sizes – 4 oz and 8 oz.  Later I’ll begin work on the 16 oz size if the demand is there, but these two sizes are the most popular, so I’m not pushing to get the larger size up and ready to go.  The demand thus far just hasn’t been there, but these turned out nicely and hopefully customers will think so, too, enough to buy some at least.  The body wash is really nice to use, not at all drying, leaving my hands & body feeling very soft, clean, and silky, not dried out at all.  I don’t feel like I have to hustle to the lotion bottle.  I still use lotion later though, being winter, because it’s absolutely necessary!  It helps stop that static from zapping me all the time, though it sinks in eventually, but for a while at least I’m granted a reprieve and my skin is much happier for the additional moisturizing layer.  Winter time is terrible, isn’t it?  Torture on our skin and bodies!

Clip art was used for the background and washed out a bit, then the text was added in with a shadow effect, using the 2 fonts I like to use that identify it as my product (branding) then covered to protect from smears.  I have waterproof labels, but they’re not laid out in a form that printer seems to like so when trying to use them it doesn’t play well together with the forms.  Maybe one day they’ll reach an agreement, but right now they aren’t.  PicMonkey and Picasa are great programs to use for tweaking labels into something that can become just yours alone. Something that tells everyone out there “This is mine!”

I’ve also been feeding my font obsessions and found some really fun fonts to add to my now huge collection in the computer and these will appear now and then in blogs, labels, emails, etc.  That was about four days on the computer, but it was time very well spent.  Fonts are vital, even if you think the ones you have now are fine and will work because they’re easy to read, go small enough for your labels, etc, there’s always more out there to be found, and many of them are free.  Some really gorgeous ones are also available, but not so free, but if they have multiple uses in numerous applications, they’d be worth the investment to buy.   I’m not saying spend $95 on a font that’s so cute you can’t resist but have no particular project in mind for it, but rather one that strikes you as very cute, attractive, or unique in some way that would look very eye-catching on a label for a certain soap, body wash, or other product as soon as you see it listed.  I’ve been to mainly www.dafont.com to find most of mine and their listings are huge.  So huge, they’re divided up into various types and styles, so be prepared to spend days looking through them and downloading the one that truly strike a chord within.

Belly Butter (800x600)

Yet another addition to our line up, though it looks like something already there, is shown above.  It’s labeled Whipped Belly Butter, and you’re thinking, well, you already have that here.  Well, the label on this one is deceptive.  I’ve used that label for a reason.  One I cannot say at this time, but all will be revealed at a later date, but for now, suffice it to say, it’s a specialized body butter that I’ve developed for use for a particular sector of the population.  A very special sector.  It’s now being shipped off to its recipient with this label with the knowledge that it’s not going to be called this permanently.  Once the time is upon us, I’ll release the real name and the product will become visible on the site,  It’s there, but it’s been hidden for now.  This butter is unscented, but could be scented if demand is there.  I’m thinking of just certain fragrances for it, not the full line, which is quite extensive, but just a few that are perfect for this particular product.  You’ll see when the time comes.  Don’t you just love a mystery?

Caribbean Sand circa 2014

Caribbean Sand circa 2014

Caribbean Sands is also making a comeback after being depleted in our stock for a while but with a couple of twists.  One is I left out the sand colour except at the top of the bars.  Sand bars maybe?  🙂   But the mica swirl at the top was the same colour was was used in previous batches, but with an additional sprinkling of gold mica glitter blended in to give it a bit more kick in the swirls.  This switch up is a bit different, though I’m hoping others will feel it’s a positive switch. Well, anyway, the other change was part of the liquid being aloe juice instead of all water.  It seemed appropriate though, don’t you think?  A soap scented with a sunshine & beaches scent just cries out for aloe in it.  Like it’s part of the sunburn treatment regime, but I’m not touting it that way.  It’s going over to the Aloe Soaps page once it comes out of the Pre-Order status. It has three colours, all from TKB Trading – Pale Aqua, Pearl Blue, and Coral Reef Blue.  Here in this CP soap, you can see that these colours do not morph at all, remaining stable and true to their colour throughout the process.  I’ve used their Lemon Drop a couple of times in CP soap and it’s a bit of a shock to see it turn bright orange in the soap while it’s still in the liquid state, but once it solidifies and the saponification is complete, it goes back to its true colour – Lemon Drop yellow.  So, for you soapers out there reading this, if you use that colour, don’t be surprised bu the change, or try adding more colour, just wait a day or two at most, and it will go back to the colour you saw in the powder form.

We’ve also recently just gotten in some new oils, ones I’ve never used before.  We now have for soaps and/or body butters & lotions Cherry Kernel Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, and the third is one most everyone has used for things other than soap, Fractionated Coconut Oil.  I’ve wanted add it to my lotion formulations and see what results come from this.  I like the drier oils for lotions as they don’t leave skin feeling heavy, clogged, sticky or weighed down.  The peach kernel, jojoba, and wheat germ oils are really nice ones for bringing that touch to a lotion.  It sinks in very nicely, very cleanly, no greasy after feel or residue, so that’s what these new oils are for as well.  The coconut is great for use in lip balms, which I’m still tweaking even though the last batch turned out very nicely, not too loose so it falls apart when applying it, not too stiff that it pulls the skin during application.  I’m still working out that perfect balance of bees wax per amount of oils for the different oil blends.  It does change things a bit when other oils are used. So look for new oils in many of our products as time goes on, and I’ll be sure to post about how they’ve performed, good or bad.

Another things I’d like to pass along to those of you who are the creative types (which is ALL of you, otherwise why would you be here!), maybe seeking some fresh ideas, and want to avoid the Pinterest black hole, from which there’s no quick escape, check out these very inspiring publications from Stampington & Company.  Find them here.

Artful Blogging – Visually Inspiring Online Journals

Handcrafted

Belle Armoire

Haute Handbags

Where Women Create Business

and numerous others!

These publications are not monthly, but rather every quarter in most cases or semi annual.  They’re completely worth the money and the wait.  The photography is clear, clean, directions are easy to follow, the stories of others creating their own place in the digital world is inspiring, making this much better than Pinterest and you will be able to put it down long enough to prevent dinner from burning.  You really need to check out these publications.  Your business, crafts, and points of inspiration will never be the same!

What’s on your labels?

Grab the body wash or shampoo in your shower and read the ingredients carefully. What do you see in that mega-listing of multi-syllabic words?

Do you see something called Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)? Its use as as a detergent is mainly found in shampoos Did you know it’s an endocrine disruptor and mimics estrogen? It can also cause increased allergic responses to other allergens and toxins that cause hives, rashes, and more. No only does this affect you as you use it all over your skin, which is the largest organ of your body, taking in everything in your environment, but it also runs out the drain and into the water run off system which eventually gets into the ground water and the lakes, streams and rivers of your community. This in turn will get into the system of the animals that live in that environment, causing disruptions to their systems in a very detrimental way, upsetting the fragile balance of the ecosystem.

Commercially mass produced body wash

Commercially mass produced body wash

Do you also see something called sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)? This can often be found in such things as toothpaste, shampoos, mass produced ‘soaps’ (they might be labeled as body bars, facial bars, or complexion bars) or body wash/bubble bath. SLES is a known carcinogen. It enables other chemicals to enter through your skin deeper than without its presence, and even into the bloodstream. It too mimics estrogen, and causes disruption of the endocrine system in you and that of the animals as it enters the environment.

 

Commercially massed produced shampoo

Commercially massed produced shampoo

Now look again at your label. Perhaps there’s something further in listed as methylparaben, propyl paraben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben. These are found with alarming frequency in cancerous tumors and cells. All parabens have been linked to breast cancer as a result of tests run on the cells samples taken from cancer patients. Why is it there? These compounds are used as preservatives in many bath & body products. There are much safer methods of preserving bath & body products around, and though there are a few that state they’re totally natural, they’ve not withstood the stress test of preserving under all conditions, so natural is not always best.

Contamination of bath & body products is a part of the nature of their use. They’re placed in extremes of temperature and humidity, touched by unwashed hands, used throughout the house and all over your body, so there is a need for something that will hold up to such challenges.

Some liquid soaps and household cleaners are produced with borax. Most of us know what borax is. Our grandmothers probably used it as their mothers before them did as well, and if often used today to thicken liquid soaps or stabilize them to prevent separation. However, borax known to cause rashes in babies up through the age of about 5 or so and is even restricted in the EU (European Union) due to be very irritating to the skin.

Many products around in the bath & body products are very likely to have something called diethanolamine, cocomide diethanolamine, oleamide diethanolamine, or lauramide diethanolamine, otherwise know as DEA. This gives you that bountiful rich creamy lather that body wash & commercial shampoos are know for. What it also does that they won’t tell you is it also works with other elements of the product that increases its ability to produce cancer due to the ease by which its absorbed by your skin.

I’ve noticed a new trend in body washes and shampoos, and I’m sure you have too. They’re now including ingredients that we soapmakers have been doing for years and that is including oils, butters or other natural ingredients to entice you to buy and try their product. Don’t be fooled by this tactic. If you read their labels, you’ll still see these things I’ve already mentioned above, but they’re wrapping it up in a shiny, pretty package with something on the bottle’s label to convince you it’s better for you. It still isn’t. It’s just hiding behind the popular appeal of Moroccan Argan Oil or Natural Cocoa Butter. Nothing has changed in the basic construction of that product. They’ simply added one new item to appeal to your senses more with its touted benefits to smooth, sooth or moisturize your skin, or make your hair stronger, shinier, sleeker or smoother.

Now look at a label from our body wash and it will read like this (and I’m copying an actual label here)
Ingredients: Vegetable glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) oil, panthenol (B vitamin), silk amino acids, fragrance. Optional items I may include – or not – would be fragrance and anhydrous caffeine. Why the fragrance omitted? Some are sensitive to fragrances be they essential, natural oils, or synthetic fragrance oils, so there’s the option to leave fragrance out completely if you prefer. Why caffeine? It’s often used in shampoos to stimulate the scalp and improve your hair’s overall health. Not so much to prevent sleep, but it’s enough to help your scalp feel invigorated. These are not in every batch, but the labels always reflect exactly what’s in the product you are using.  Another aspect of our labels versus theirs is our is much shorter.  Even when we list our ingredients by their scientific names, our labels is still drastically smaller in content than theirs.  Why?  Because we stick with oils either refined or organic, water, natural vegetable glycerin,  the colour and fragrance when used, and of course a preservative, because yes, it’s genuinely necessary to use something strong enough to kill off the bad bacteria that can build up in a solution that contains water somewhere in its construct.  I could easily claim ‘all natural’ or free of this and no use of that and if it becomes contaminated or moldy, you’re not going to want it again, so it’s far better for you and me if I use the right kind of preservative in the first place, even if it costs me sales due to its inclusion of a less-than-natural preservative.

ingredients of liquid soap

ingredients of liquid soap

One thing you must remember about soap making. In making soap, REAL soap, whether it’s a liquid or a solid bar soap, is that you CANNOT have soap without sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, otherwise known as lye. The rule is no lye, no soap. This is a truth that’s inescapable. If someone’s saying it’s lye free, then you’re not getting a real honest-to-goodness soap. I can’t speak for what others out there are doing when they makes such claims, but I know from my own education in this field that soap cannot be made without the use of some form of lye.

Another aspect of soapmaking is testing. Do you really know with any level of confidence that the store-bought product you adore so much is NOT tested with horrifying results on animals in a lab somewhere? I can promise you this is not the case with our products.  I test it for pH safety, then test it on myself and often my husband will chime in.  My sons and their partners will also offer input as to how something performs and what needs to be changed, tweaked a bit or just eliminated altogether if necessary as a part of our product testing and development process.  Once it passes muster with my family and then myself, then and only then, it will be found on the web site for you to enjoy.  There have been a couple of occasions when something got under the radar and later on down the road something came to my attention with regards to a product’s performance, and this product was then promptly pulled from inventory.  I’ve even dropped suppliers at certain points to ensure that my products are of the safest and highest level of safety, satisfaction for the user, and offers no negative aspects upon use.

I’m adventurous sort of soap maker and love exploring new things for use in our soaps and other products, but I will never compromise the quality of the end product.  That is my goal, my promise to mycustomers as well as to myself.  If it ever comes to a point where I cannot provide that same level of quality, I will bow out of this industry, but I sincerely hope that day never comes.  It brings me endless joy to give my customers something useful, wonderful to the senses, and a bargain to boot.

Le Fleur

Let’s just put the money shot right up here first and get that out of the way because, let’s face it, that why some of us gravitate to soapy blogs, sites, web sites and FaceBook pages.  We love that soap porn!  So here’s Le Fleur –

Les Fleur (1024x768)

Now, first of all, you’ll see that it’s probably a slab mold, and you’re right.  It is!  But the one thing I did different besides the slab mold is one new ingredient.  One I’d never heard of and was dying to try out in a cold processed soap.  Hemp milk!  Now most of us have heard of hemp oil, and well, some have heard of hemp, mainly behind bleachers at high school football games or restrooms beneath the auditorium at that same high school or perhaps some late bloomers waited until college to explore the higher levels of thinking produced by recreational toking. But I digress.  So let’s say here & now that hemp milk was a new twist for me.

The first thing about hemp milk that might interest you is that there’s not enough of the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in it to be psychoreactive, so sorry, no buzz here.  But maybe you can get a serious buzz over all the beneficial nutrients it contains.   It’s jam-packed with all the vital amino acids you need every day, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B 12, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids,  no cholesterol, 46% of your daily requirement of calcium, and 4 gr of protein.  What a powerhouse!  It’s ideal for those who don’t tolerate the lactic acid in cow’s milk very well, and also is a great choice for vegans.

Created by pulsing the seeds in distilled water in a proportion of 1 part seeds to 4 parts water, then strained through a cheese cloth, it’s an ideal additive to your liquid aspect in hand crafted soaps.  It contains nutrients for strong hair, skin, and nails, which make this slightly nutty, light tan liquid the perfect extra for your soaps, and shampoo bars.  Hemp oil would make your formulations even more beneficial to hair, skin and nails by incorporating them into nail and cuticle balms, lotions, shampoos, shampoo bars, body butters, soaps, and rinse-out hair conditioners.

My batch today used no only hemp milk, but also my favorite, coconut milk, and there are SIX colours in this bar!  I used a Sterilite storage box without a top as my mold, lined with a plastic trash bag slit to open and lie flat.  It was taped into place and the soap poured, white first, then each colour in a zig-zag pattern up and down, using all of the colour in one sweep.  The swirling was done with a tool crafted out of 5 bamboo skewers held together like a gigantic comb with Gorilla tape.  It’s extremely sticky so those skewers WILL NOT move! The comb was done  in a S-shape move along each side and a single skewer moved through the center.   I moved up and down, going low and high with the coloured soap, so there should be colours on several levels within each bar.  The edges might be a bit odd looking with the bag creating wrinkles, so I might use those as samples.  The rest will be fun to unveil.   We’ll see in just a few days!

Spectacular Photos of Frozen Lighthouses on Lake Michigan

Is it this cold where you are today? If not, thank your lucky stars and then take a minute to thank these intrepid warriors behind the camera lens to take such stunning photos and share with us. Yes, it’s cold where I am in NC, but only down to 9°F this morning, whilst other places are experiencing temps in the range of -25 to – 50° F. Times like these are worth sharing and spreading around, so enjoy the art work in these stunning images. Stay warm, everyone!

Flavorwire

As you’ve undoubtedly read unless you’ve been under a rock (or in Florida) for the last few days, this week it’s going to be insanely cold across the US. Here in NYC it’ll be well below freezing tomorrow, but still a whole lot warmer than it’ll be in places like Minnesota and North Dakota, where it’s apparently going to be something like -50ºF. It’s a serious business, but if nothing else, winter landscapes provide stark and occasionally otherworldly beauty. As such, it seems like a good time to present these crazy photos of frozen lighthouses on Lake Michigan (which, incidentally, is steaming this morning.) They’re the work of photographers Thomas Zakowski and Tom Gill, and come courtesy of BoredPanda (note: Gill’s work also appeared on Huffington Post last year.)

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