Monday, September 2, 2013

A Lotion Confession

Happy Labor Day everyone!  I have said good-bye to all our visiting family and decided to use the remainder of my Labor Day to tackle lotion making.  I had intentions of starting this little task all summer.  But since it's new to me, I was a little scared and always found one reason or another to put it off.  But then I had a customer request for a lotion scented in Acai Berry so I decided I better get after it.  You may find yourself asking "Don't you already carry lotions in your line?"  The answer is YES!!  When I started adding sugar scrubs to my line I had a few of you requesting lotions to match, so that's what I did.  But here is where the "confession" in the blog title comes in.  In the past, I made my lotions using a "lotion base" and then tweaked it and added a few fun ingredients to customize it to my liking.  But since I make all my other products from scratch (lip balms, soaps, scrubs) I decided it was time to learn to make lotion from scratch.  And oh my, I'm so glad I did!!  I actually enjoyed it so much and once again it made me feel like a mad scientist when I combined my ingredients and lotion literally formed before my very eyes.  It all happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to get very many pictures, but I did snap a few to walk you through the process.

So here is my ingredient line-up:  Distilled water, sweet almond oil, avacado oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid, shea butter, a preservative and fragrance (in this case, it was Acai Berry).  Let's talk about what these ingredients do, because a couple of them sound pretty foreign and one even sounds a little scary!!  Obviously the oils and shea butter provide nourishing properties to a lotion.  I chose sweet almond oil and avacado oil because that's what I had.  I may experiment with some other oils later on but so far I really like how these two feel in the finished product. Now on to the emulsifying wax.  What this ingredient does is simply bind my oils and water together.  We all know "water and oils don't mix!"  And they don't, unless you have emulsifying wax.  Now on to the scary sounding ingredient:  stearic acid.  Stearic acid is derived from palm oil (a main ingredient in my soap making recipes too) and it's job is to thicken up the lotion and it also contributes to the light and fluffy factor.   It's not an acid at all.  And lastly, a preservative is needed in order to avoid the lotion from growing mold and bacteria.  Any product that contains water needs a preservative. Here is my set-up.  I used a double boiler method so I could control how hot everything got.

First I combined my oils, stearic acid and emulsifying wax to melt everything together.  This is what it looks like:

Once everything was melted, I added my shea butter so it could melt.

Now for the really cool part.  Once the water was added, the formulation immediately turned white and fluffy and almost instantly I had lotion!!

From here I whipped it for a couple minutes and then added the preservative and fragrance and then filled my bottles.  It started to thicken up very nicely.  This test recipe only made three, 8 oz bottles and the 4 oz jar is definitely going to be mine!!  This Acai Berry fragrance is so delicious.  One of these bottles is going to be paired up with a scrub and is headed to a customer who has been waiting patiently (I hope anyway) for this order all summer.  It's finally nearly ready to ship out!!

So I loved making this recipe so much that I was going to immediately get all stocked up for the upcoming craft fairs, but of course I was out of distilled water and lotion bottles.  Both of which I should have more of this week sometime. 

Of course I tested this recipe.  It felt really heavy at first, more like a cream than a lotion, but after I got it all worked in and it had a couple minutes to soak into my skin, it was so moisturizing and no greasy feeling left at all.  I may tweak the recipe a bit to make it a little thinner. But so far I really like it as is.

So there you have it!  My adventures in lotion making.  I can't wait to crank out more of this soon!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

So I've been on a little break lately.  I took the summer off from soaping to enjoy baseball, softball, chasing a 2 year old and celebrating my entire family's birthdays, one every month starting in May. I also enjoyed a mission trip to Oklahoma and a family vacation to Colorado Springs.  But alas, all good things must come to an end, and by this I mean we are enjoying the last days of Summer.  Will I be sorry to see it go?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  I spent nearly every day sweating at one kid activity or another and I cannot wait to greet Fall with open arms.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this summer and enjoyed making many memories, I'm just ready to make memories in cooler weather.

This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend and we get to enjoy even more family coming to visit. I'm going to enjoy one last, long weekend and then it's time to crank up production again and prepare for the busy Fall and Christmas holiday events.  I've been making soap the last couple weeks since that has a 4-6 week cure time, I have to prepare a bit in advance for that.  Be looking for many of them to hit the Etsy store soon.  My Etsy shop is looking pretty sad lately due to lack of variety but that will change soon.  And all soaps that are listed there right now have been marked down to $3.50 per bar, so now is a good time to stock up!

So what's new?  Well, we have a lovely selection of soaps coming up which all are reminiscent of 'home.'  I have an apple cider soap, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, white chocolate chunk brownie, maple pecan, cracklin' birch and fresh brewed coffee.  I also had someone request a 'Tommy-like' soap, so that is nicely curing away and will be ready any day now.  The salt bars have had a nice long cure and I plan to test them out this evening and will report back on how that performs.  If you don't remember the post on them, you can read that HERE.

I also had a customer request a coffee scrub, which had been on my to-do list to try for awhile now.  I made a batch up tonight.  Be looking for some new and improved sugar scrubs, lotions and new flavors of lip balms.  This summer I tweaked my lip balm recipe a little bit and also added a new line of all-natural lip balms which are flavored with essential oils.  I've been mostly happy with those, however I think I will be subbing Mango butter in for the shea butter to give the recipe a smoother texture.  

So that pretty much sums up my summer and gives you a sneak peak as to what's coming up!  My first event of the fall is the Fall Fest in Concordia which is the last weekend in September.  Fall Fest is always a great weekend full of vendors, music, food and lots of kids activities!

Off to salt bar testing!!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Facial Bars

The more comfortable I've become with cold process soaping, the more willing I am to expand my comfort zone in the products I make.  I hadn't had any intentions of expanding my soap line into facial skin care, or hair care (more on that later).  But over the last few years I've had a bit of the mentality of, if I can buy it, why can't I make it?  Part of it has to do with me being a bit frugal (tight, cheap, whatever you want to call it) but another part of it is that the older I get, I'm becoming more aware of the harsh ingredients in a lot of commercially made products.  I like to be able to control the ingredients in the soap products I use.

Now, since around junior high age I have had horrible skin - extremely oily, blemish-prone, pores the size of craters, blotchy skin.  It's always been a thorn for me.  At the same time, I also hated having to follow a cleansing routine and that has followed me into adulthood.  I'm too tired to wash my face!!

I used to have a license in cosmetology and for a period of time I worked in a day spa and was the main esthetician.  I could tell everyone else how to care for their skin, but I wasn't willing to do it myself.  It was just easier to complain about it.  One day a light bulb went off, If I'm going to be informing clients the best way to take care of their skin, but my own face is a mess, do you really think they are going to listen to me?!  I started using the facial products that we use there at the spa.  A Swedish imported line of skin care that was AHH-MAZING, but also came with an AHH-MAZING price tag.  It worked great on my skin and eliminated my oily skin.  Once I moved and didn't work at the spa anymore, there was no WAY I could afford that stuff.  It was pricey even with the discount I got.  So from that point until recently (approximately 10 years) I really lacked in the skin care department.  I'm even embarrassed to say that I never washed my face at night unless I did an evening workout and showered afterwards.  In the mornings when I showered I would use the shampoo that I washed my hair with to wash my face.  Boy was I lazy.

Have I ever mentioned that cold process soap is awesome? :-)  It's amazing on your skin, can be formulated for your hair and can also produce a great facial bar.  All my regular soaps worked great on my face, I especially liked using the all natural carrot soap shown here:

I liked that is was all natural, even though I've never been one to be on the 'all natural' bandwagon.  I decided to formulate something that would work great for my type of skin.  Obviously I needed something that would be beneficial to oily skin.  Clays would be the answer to that as well as activated charcoal.  Clays absorb any oiliness on your skin while activated charcoal acts like a magnet to pull toxins from your skin and attract them to itself.  It's a natural detoxifying additive and also gives the soap a lovely slate/black color.  All other over-the-counter face washes I've used dried my skin out so much that I then was left with really tight feeling skin but I couldn't ever moisturize because that just made my face super 'greasy' feeling within a couple hours.  So I wanted to add some butters to the soap to moisturize but not be too heavy.  So my facial bars contain white kaolin clay (because that was the clay I had on hand), activated charcoal, shea butter and cocoa butter.

I also used aloe vera juice for my liquid, just to add something a little different to the bar.  

Here are all my butters and oil melted together.  Coconut oil (great lathering oil), avacado oil (great moisturizing oil) and olive oil (great oil for delicate or sensitive skin).

Here are my oils and butters combined with the kaolin clay and charcoal.

Everything was stick blended until a light trace is achieved.  This seemed to be a very slow moving recipe so I had to stick blend for quite awhile!  In keeping with the all natural feel to facial soaps that I like so much, this soap is scented in an essential oil blend of lemongrass, litsea and orange.  It has a refreshing smell to it.

Here it is all poured into the molds.  Now, at the time I made this batch, we were going through quite a rainy spell and the humidity was a bit high so things didn't set up quite like I had hoped.  After a couple days in the mold these suckers were still soft.  I finally unmolded after about four days and ruined about half of each of the batches because it stuck in the molds (grrrr!!).  So this batch is cut a little wonky and are in a couple different sizes so I will just have to price accordingly.  

So that's how it was made, but how does it work?  I had 4 different people do some testing for me, and yes one was me.  It is amazing on my oily skin.  I have been using it for about a month now (from a previous batch made) and have had maybe one breakout since I started.  My skin is very clean after I wash, I even got a squeak sound when I ran my hands across my face after I rinsed the soap off.  The soap is gentle and not drying.  This time of year (summer) I don't moisturize, but come winter when my skin is more dry, I think I will follow up with a light moisturizer. My oil is under control once again.  

I had two other testers that have normal to dry skin.  Both had successful results.  One noted how soft her skin felt after use and how well it removed make up; the other commented on how refreshing the soap smelled!

My last tester has very sensitive skin with rosacea, but also prone to break outs.  She said that the soap didn't irritate her skin at all and her skin felt good after using.

So I feel comfortable in saying that this soap would great on all skin types.  I like the recipe in this facial bar and doubt I will change it up much other than maybe making a few tweaks in additional batches.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Salt Bars

Salt bars and spa bars, I've been seeing quite a few of these around lately.  In all my soap blogs I follow and in a couple Facebook groups I belong to, everyone is raving about salt bars.  So naturally, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  I've done a lot of research on these. At first I thought I would just use my favorite recipe and throw in a handful of salt and voila! Salt soap!  But the more research I did I found that it was not going to be that easy.  Most of my research came from Amy Warden of and Amanda Griffin of Fellow soaper's blogs have proved very helpful.  For instance I learned that salt is a lather and bubble "killer" and coconut oil is the only kind of oil that will produce a lather in salt water.  So that means the majority of the oils in a salt bar have to be coconut oil or you won't get a lather.  And who wants soap without a lather? Also, salt bars set up very quickly.  Normally you have to wait 24-48 hours before you can cut a log of soap.  Salt soap MUST be cut within the first few hours or else you will have a crumbly mess.  In order to avoid this, I made my first test batch in individual molds so I wouldn't have to worry about when to cut.

Salt bars create a unique, rich and creamy lather.  Well to me that just sounds delightful, I definitely want some of that.  I have read that your salt bar, after being used will be like a smooth polished stone, not a rough exfoliating bar.  Again, I need to know these things for myself, thus the creating begins.  I used a recipe from Amy's blog that consists of coconut oil, avocado oil and a bit of castor oil, salt, water and sodium hydroxide.

Here are my oils all combined together

Here is my colorant mixed into my melted oils.  I used a teal.  That seemed spa-like and my fragrance is Coconut Lime Verbena.  I then stick blended until I reached a light to medium trace.

Once desired trace is achieved, I add my salt.  This is a 1 pound test batch so I used 14 oz of salt.  You can use up to equal parts salt to oils.  I hand stirred in the salt until I reached a thicker trace so that the salt would stay suspended, but still liquid enough to pour into my molds.

Here the salt is completely incorporated and is ready to be poured.

And here is my salt soap poured into individual molds.  I let these set up for 24 hours, and...

Here they are all set up and sitting pretty.

Sounds like salt bars get better with age and perform best after a nice long cure of at least 6 weeks.  One soap maker said she doesn't even start to test hers until 12 weeks, but I'm too impatient for that.  I will use one of my sample salt bars at 6 weeks and will post a blog about the results and what I think about them.  I'm anxious to see if they live up to all the hype!  With this recipe, I got 8, four ounce bars out of my test batch plus a little extra for some smaller bars for me to use.  If they are as glorious as I'm hoping they will be then I will list them!  Otherwise family will be getting salt bars as gifts. :-)


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Soaping 101

M&P, CP, HP?  What does it all mean?  And why should I care?  Isn't soap...just soap?  A year ago I would have had no clue what these acronyms meant except for M&P because that was the only kind of soaping I did.  Quite frankly, I didn't even know that any other kind existed.  When I first announced on my Facebook page that I was going to start making cold process soap (after about 6 months of research and convincing myself I could do it), I had a lot of friends asking what that was and how it was different from what I had been doing.  So let's first break down these acronyms:

M & P: Melt and pour.  Melt and pour soap has so many possibilities and is the easiest way to soap in my opinion.  There is no danger in dealing with lye because this kind of soap comes to you "pre-made."  I would order my m & p soap in 25 lb blocks of either glycerin or basic white base.  It was unscented and uncolored.  Just a big block of soap.  From that, I was able to cut off what I needed, scent it, color it and pour into any shape of mold that I wanted to.  Scenting and coloring with melt and pour is pretty straight forward.  Other than a few fragrances that discolor, you can get very vibrant colors because there is no "saponification" process to go through; it has already gone through that process it when it was made.  Make sense?  No?

Here are some of my melt & pour creations
Now let's move on to cold process soap making.
Cold Process soap making is creating soap by turning fatty oils into soap through a process called saponification.  How do we turn common, food grade oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, etc. into soap?  Well, we have to cause a chemical reaction and this is done by adding lye (sodium hydroxide) into the mix.  Sodium hydroxide is very dangerous to work with, which is why I was so nervous about having it in the house with kids and pets.  Fortunately, now that I have a separate workspace I no longer worry about having it in the house.  Lye is typically used to clean drains.  A lot of people think that if it is such a dangerous "ingredient" then why in the world would I put that on my skin!  Let me just be clear about this "ALL SOAP IS MADE WITH LYE."  You can't have soap without lye.  Lye simply creates the chemical process. After 24 hours, or when the saponification process is complete, nearly all the lye has left the soap.  Also, cold process soap has to cure.  Cure times vary between 4 weeks to 12 weeks.  Certain types of soap are best after being cured for 6 - 12 months (castile soap, or 100% olive oil soap).  It's during this cure time that the remaining lye dissipates, the soap evaporates any excess water and becomes a harder bar of soap.  Ph levels also come down so that it is gentle for your skin.

And here are a few of my cold process soaps.
Now let's move on to HP soap making, or Hot Process.  Let me back up for a second. Cold process soap making is called "cold process" because you use no outside heat source to make soap this way.  So then, can you guess what HOT process soap making means?  You guessed it; you add a heat source.  Adding a heat source to "cook" your soap speeds up the saponification process. Some will say you can use the soap right away once it's set up and cut.  I still like to add a cure time even to my hot process soaps because they do become firmer the longer they cure, but technically, they are safe to use after about 24 hours.  Hot process soap making, in my opinion, produces a more rustic looking bar of soap.  It tends to be clumpy and lumpy and makes it hard to get a color fully incorporated.  At least that is my experience but I only have a couple batches under my belt.  The pictures below show the phases the soap goes though as it cooks.  You can see it turns a darker color as it heats up.  This soap is being cooked in a crock pot.

See the soap heating up around the edges?
Almost completely heated up
Completely heated through or "gelled"
At this point you will lye test your soap and then you can incorporate fragrance and coloring .

Here are my hot process soaps.  See how they are a bit more rustic looking?  Some soapers only use this method and they are absolutely gorgeous.  Mine?  Not so much, but I'm okay with that.
 There is also something call CPOP, or Cold Process Oven Process.  This is a combination of the two.  Soap is made using the cold process method and then it's placed into the oven for about 24 hours.  Being subjected to heat for a period of time speeds up saponification too.  I've only done this once and it didn't work out very well!!
So there you have it.  I tried to be brief but sill give you enough information so that you know the process of soap making.  Now this is where I tell you that hand made soap is absolutely the best kind of soap for your skin.  Not because of anything special I do, it's just the nature of hand made soap.  It's gentle, it's made with oils and butters that your skin loves.  It's NOT commercially produced and it's absolutely NOT a detergent (unlike that stuff you buy in the store). 
This completes a very basic knowledge of soaping.  Hopefully you are leaving this blog enlightened and not confused. :)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Well Hello There

I'm new to blogging.  I tried it a few years ago and for some reason I just couldn't get it figured out. So here is take two. I wanted to start this blog to share with you my adventures in soapmaking. There is so much I want to say about each soap that I create but a Facebook post doesn't seem to be the best place, so I'm going to give this a try. Do I have the time to manage another social network such as this, probably not, but I will do my best to keep it updated. I absolutely love to follow other soaper's blogs and often check them daily to see if anything new has been posted, so I will try to update this often. Maybe not with each new bar of soap or product created, but definitely as many as I can fit in. :)

And so now my journey into the blogging world has officially begun...again.