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. :-)