Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Skin Care Ideas You Can Do At Home

I'm the type of girl who relaxes in a hot bubble bath, candles and a glass of wine, I don't know about you but with 5 kids in one house, one bathtub/shower, those dreams are a thing of the past for me. Just getting a hot bath is a dream come true in my house, or a bath without someone knocking on the door (eyes roll). But I do like to pamper myself at least once a week, if even for 30 minutes.

Once a week I make a 'date' with myself, a hot bath with sea salts, a hair mask and a face mask, and a glass of wine (tee hee). With todays hectic and stressful times sometimes taking just 30 minutes a week and pampering yourself in your own in home 'mini-spa' is enough to relieve stress, lower your blood pressure and ease your tension. You can create your own in home mini spa for very little cost and you will feel better about it, because you control the ingredients. You can change up your weekly spa with different essential oils, change up your facial mask (because as the seasons change so does the demands on our skin), to fit you! It's a lot of fun!

Look at your local farmers market for locally grown fruits and vegetables as pampering agents both for you internally and externally!

AVOCADO'S - Not only have the rich oils that are good for us on the inside, the oils are so rich they work wonderfully in a mask for your hair. I like to combine jojoba oil with mashed avocado's, along with a few drops of peppermint essential oil, massage into my scalp and let it sit on my hair for 20-30 minutes, rinse hair, use a sulfate free shampoo and condition.. Your hair will be shiney and vibrant without driness associated with 'fly-away'.

BAKING SODA- One of the best ingredients for a bath! Softens and soothes the skin turns your bath into a silky soft experience. If you can't afford sea salts, a box of baking soda will leave you feeling invogorated and revived. A cheap pamper bath can be created using equal parts (1/2 cup each) epsom salts and baking soda, a few drops of Lavender Essential oil, heaven on your skin and for your soul.

EPSOM SALTS -  These salts will relieve sore muscles, help with achey feet, and will also aid with you are sick and suffering from flu symptoms. Not only do Epsom Salts help to relax you by soothing your muscles, give it a try in a nice relaxing foot bath, about 10 drops of Peppermint Essential oil and 5 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil, will leave your toesies feeling clean, refreshed, and invigorated.

GREEK YOGURT - Now I'm talking about the plain, unflavored kind of Greek yogurt. Now yogurt in general has active live cultures that create results similar to using Alpha Hydroxy skin peels. So it eats away the dead skin cells and that in return stimulates and generates new and healthy skin growth within the top layers of skin. Creating skin that has less wrinkles and is more vibrant. I Love to use greek yogurt, avocado's, a cucumber, and kaolin clay in a facial mask, talk about soothing and skin of glass.

KAOLIN CLAY- Kaolin Clay helps to absorb excess oils, pull toxins out of our skin, open up the pores, aid with acne, and is an incredible clay to use for most all skin types, including sensitive skin. And it's easy to come by in your local drug store, inexpensive and a good ingredient to have around for many many uses.

CUCUMBERS- Cucumbers reduce puffiness around the eyes and helps to relieve the broken capillaries under the eye that creates those dreaded dark under eye rings, the first sign that you stayed up a little too late. I also like to add a peeled cucumber in the blender as an ingredient in some of my facial masks. Cucumber makes a really cool and soothing ingredient if your face gets a little too much sun and you get burnt, some alo gel (or better yet pull some off that aloe plant in your kitchen and squeeze the gel insides into the blender with your cucumber, blend, pour into a bowl and mix in some oatmeal or kaolin clay to thicken the mask and whella your skin went from the desert to a soothing cooling rainforest of skin soothing heaven.

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL- I start with lavender essential oil for one reason, it's very versital and it's very harmless, but it is also one of the widest known essential oils and can work in nearly any kind of skin soothing bath, lotion, hair care, mask, almost anything! AND it's rather easy to find in your local drug store.

EGGS- Yes, I said put egg on your face.... If you have oily skin add egg yolks to your facial mask. If your have dry skin add the egg whites to your mask.

SEA SALT- You can get this at your local grocery store, but now you are starting to see items like 'Pink Hymalayin Salts', which I love to use in both my cooking and in the bath tub, it has a high mineral count and will leave you feeling amazing!

FLAX SEEDS- Flax Seeds are natures bounty when it comes to skin and body healing oils like the full Omega's Family. Flax seeds also get slimmy when you mix them with water or any liquid, it's gel like and it's AMAZING for your hair! Now there are 2 ways you can do it, I prefer the alcohol free method, but if you like to make a weeks worth at a time then I think using alcohol would be best to use. I take a 1/4 cup of whole flax seeds, put them through an old coffee grinder, line a wire mesh strainer with a piece of unbleached muslin, put the freshly ground flax seeds in the center of the muslin in the strainer, Pour warm distilled water over the top of the flax seeds and strain, for a thicker gel type feel, wrap up the flax seeds with the muslin piece and allow it to soak in the warm water, strain in the wire mesh strainer, squeeze the flax seed in the muslin bag till the 'water/gel' doesn't come out anymore. Allow to cool, stir well, add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil, and scoop out a small amount on your hand and rub into clean wet hair, this works as a great hair gel that helps boost shine and feelds your hair vital oils to help rebuild your hair.

This list is by no means finished, I could go on and on, so instead of continuing right now, I am going to go tinker around with the numerous ideas in my head. I will be continuing in my blog here a large variety of different ingredients to use for some self papmering, along with recipes and ideas for you to create your own 'mini spa' in your own bathroom!

Monday, April 16, 2012

1 Year Into Running A Business ~ How I feel after a year of running a small soapmaking businesses

I have to say I am a lot farther along than I was a year ago. For that I am proud to be where I am right now, the shop looks like I have always dreamt of it to look, my soaps have transformed me and my life in a completely different journey that I have never before dreamt of. I am excited about my passion, determination and frustrations that I commonly feel on a daily basis now while running a business. I have gone from being a stay at home mom that cooked, cleaned, tutored kids, washed clothes, and was the main disciplinairy within my family. To now being an all business, worried about bills, never home, and 'cook? What's that mean' bottom line all about business person.

For me this past year has been filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, happy times, profiting times, to bottoming out and feeling like I've hit the brick wall type of business person. The person who is frustrated over family issues, emotionally exhausted, financially strapped to the bone and stressed out constantly about all the money and where it goes, from the business.

Being a business owner has taught me a lot, i've learned frustration, I've been humbled by flops and errors on my own behalf, I've learned the true meaning of passion, determination, and endurance, because without learning these things and truly understanding them you will not ever achieve a successful business. But one the feel good side of it, I've learned: accomplishment, success in what i love to do, and the direction I would like to continue. None of which I would have been able to do if I didn't take on the journey of being a business owner, and non of which would have mattered if I didn't know the true ups and downs of running this business this past year.

Here's a few tips and things I have learned when running your own business, some of the unatractive parts of it, but real reallity.

When you are your own boss, you cannot expect the day you open your doors, that people are going to flood your shop and buy buy buy from you. Now depending on where you are, if your like me a in a very small town there are a few things you should know. First off, you cannot depend on 'local sales' to carry you streadily throughout the year. Instead your going to HAVE to market yourself. Now from what I have learned you can get a radio add in a local radio station for between $6 per add to $20 per add (depending on IF your radio station has packages you can buy), now your add will run 4 times every day (at various am & pm hours). Or you could go tv and try a local tv station, get into their 'Buy Local' campaigne which includes a tv comercial a web page on their official site and comercial ads that run 70 times per month (this is based on their smaller packages). This type of advertising will cost you $500 - $3,000 per month depending on package size more ads run longer ads run etc.... There is always your local news paper(s), and these ads can run you $50-$125 per week....

Then you have the Credit Card Merchant Service Companies can make or break a new business. Since the first of this year alone my fees have went from 10% of my credit card sales to 20% of my credit card sales is taken monthly from my total credit card merchant service company (which we are currently looking into another service). A 'Knuckle Buster' (the old fashioned paper slide the card to umprint on a piece of paper reciept like) will cost you $20 (if your company doesn't want to give you a brand spanken new one). OR you can buy a swipe machine, but remember these terminals wil cost you anywhere from $150-$1000 (again depending on the type of machine you want), then you have to add in adding a phone line now, add in another $35 per month, plus the merchant company you are using has an additional fee just for swiping the card usually $.25 - $.75 per transaction (that means per card number that crosses the line, and if you are calling them in your charged more like $.65 (like me) just to call in each credit card that comes through the door) off the top! Then there is the %'s that fluctuates and can be as high as 30%, mine doubled since the first of the year, so we are shopping around at this point.

Listen, I did not start this out to complain about the shop now that we are a year into it, I'm writing this because not only do small businesses not get appreciated and cherished like they should, they do not get many breaks, if you own a small business it is the most grueling work you have ever done. You work all day long into the night, you're paying out to nearly everyone and their brother, and you are so drained both creatively and emotionally, you have to have the passion to go back and open those doors every single day.

I would like to give all Micro & Small Businesses Owners my hats off to you, one never knows what it truly takes to open those doors every single day, some days knowing that we are not even going to meet our daily essentials in sales, but we sit down with each individual person and give them the individual attention that makes us stand out as shop owners.

For all those that are just starting or thinking about opening their own real brick and morter shop, I say in all honesty and from what I now know, you have to have a lot of passion, determination, and endurance to love and nurture the growth and development of a small business. It's a journey that you have to learn to overcome your own obsticles and fears.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Liquid Soap Base

When I make liquid soaps I make mine from scratch. Below is a short intro to making your own liquid soap from scratch.

A word of caution, this process is a long process to make and should be attempted by an experienced soapmaker. You do not have to be a professional soapmaker to make your own liquid soap, but I will state that having some experience at making soap is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I say this because you will know what 'trace' looks like and how soap is going to react when you add the lye solution to the oils.

Making your own liquid soaps can be a very fun experience and should be a continuing experiment. I am always learning with each and every batch of liquid soaps. You will notice that even if you use the exact same formula each time not all will trace the same way, cook the same way or end up the same way, this allows you to experiment and create wonderful soaps in your own way each time you make a liquid soap.

First off, one of first things you will find when you start to make your own liquid soaps is that certain oils will give you different results to the finished liquid soap you make. For instance, adding palm oil to your formula will cloud your soap, BUT, if you add a small amount of palm oil to your liquid soap with the addition of castor oil, will counter act the slightly clouding of the palm oil in your formula. Castor oil adds extra emoliance to the finished soap, giving your soap a thicker creamier lather. Palm oil, even though it slightly clouds your soap also adds extra oompf to you finished soap, both boosting lather and aiding thickness to your finished liquid soap.

Now, if you are looking for a crystal clear liquid soap, you need a long cook time on it, generally when you are making a liquid soap base (I call this the paste) I cook my 'paste' for a minimum of 3 hours. This is to ensure that all the oils have completely bonded with the lye and are completely neutral. This process is necessary for a completely clear liquid soap. This means there is NO super fatting of liquid soaps, a super fatted soap will be cloudy. If your looking to have a moisturizing liquid soap, then you may want to supper fat your liquid soap a little bit and not worry about the clouding in your formula.

All liquid soap bases are lye heavy, because of this you will need a buffer to help bring the PH down. In liquid soapmaking I use either borax or Cirtic Acid solutions to help bring my soap's PH down. The addition of Borax has double purpose, Borax is both a buffer for your soap and also a thickener, this is my choice when I make my liquid soaps.

Here we GO!

Here is my makeshift double boiler to cook my 'paste' in when I am making my liquid soap base. The larger pot has enough water in it so my inner pot is not sitting directly on the bottom of the pot, the water inside is at a full boil.

Here I have added the lye solution 'potassium hydroxide and water' to the oils:
35oz coconut oil
11oz castor oil
3oz palm oil

'Lye Solution' (also known as potash or soda ash)
13oz potassium hydroxide
39oz distilled water

For liquid soaps instead of using Sodium hydroxide we use potassium hydroxide, because we want a base that is easily diluted into water, has a longer molecular chain, and creates a transparant base when it's finished. potassim hydroxide bases will be soft, like a thick paste that easily dilutes into water. Sodium Hydroxide creates a solid soap while Potassium Hydroxide creates a softer gel paste.

When adding the oils and lye solution together, your oils temperatures should be at or around 160F deg. When you mix the potassium Hydroxide with your water you won't really want to allow the solution to cool, as potassium Hydroxide does not raise your water to 200F deg, instead it only get's to about 160-180F deg. You will want to keep your oils and lye solution at these temps to create and cook your liquid soap paste.

When I make my liquid soap paste, I stick blend for a few minutes, then I use the spatula to continue to stir my oils and lye solution. I do this because if you continue to use the stick blender too long you will risk trapping air into your paste, which slows down the saponification process of your paste, and once you get bubbles in your paste a few things will happen.
1) The air bubbles will not come out of the paste and will take longer for your paste to completely saponify and cook until it is neutral.
2) trapped air bubbles in your soap paste will make your paste to puff up and you run the risk of a 'volcano' effect with your paste. When this happens, you loose a lot of soap paste, you create a HUGE mess, and you also risk being burned by the very hot soap.

So, I use the spatula to help keep the extra air bubbles out of the soap, I alternate, stick blend for a minute or two then stir with the spatula. Once you've made liquid soap for a few times this becomes easier to know when your oils and lye solution is mixed, and when to expect it to start tracing.
Above it's just mixed, it is a milky color but it is still very thin almost like water, it's not seperting so I am stiring it with the spatula to keep those air bubbles out of it.

Here is what it looks like when it's starting to trace, no from the previous picture till this one it took less than one minute to get to this point, it's starting to thicken up.

This is what it looks like 30 seconds later, it's like a thick batch of mashed potatoes. When your making liquid soaps once the base starts to trace it goes very fast, within seconds you will go from a water like mix to a thick potato like paste.
Now the clock starts and the 3-4 hour cook time starts! Put the top on your soap pot to keep it hot, and if you are able to, put the top on your outer pot to help keep all that heat around the inner pot.

Here you are seeing what your soap paste looks like at the half way point, the above paste has been cooking at 1 1/2 hours. As you can see your starting to see it's getting clear. Continue to cook your paste, being sure to stir it every 20 minutes to maintain full saponification and neutrality.

Here we are at 3 hours! The soap base is clear, I tested it and it's completely clear. You can test your paste by heating up a small amount of distilled water take a teaspoonful of your paste, let it melt into the distilled water and if it's clear your soap is done cooking.

Here is another picture of the soap paste at the end of the 3 hour cook time! It's real thick, and tested neutral.

I always let me soap sit over night to let it 'loosen' up a little bit, it will continue to cook while it's in the hot pot over night, just make sure you keep the pot closed to keep the heat inside.

Tomorrow, the soap will have a slightly differnt look to it, being more clear and more 'gel' like.

Tomorrow I will go over the diluting of the liquid soap!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Soap UPDATE


Here is the Bluberry Yogurt soap, it's finished curing and is ready to hit the floor of the shop! I told you that I would keep you posted about any changes the soap made during the course of it's curing. Well, the fragrance is still strong, the colors are still bright, it did discolor the white part of the soap a little bit, but I think it's worakable.
The bar is now very hard and it held it's blue colors well, it's just the white uncolored part of the soap that discolored a little turning a creamy off white color. If you don't mind your soap being off white then I recommend this fragrance with 2 thumbs up. You can't beat the fragrance of this fragrance, it's strong and very true to blueberries.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Making Yogurt Cold Process Soaps







All the above bar soaps contain yogurt in them!

I have been super fatting my bar soaps for years now using yogurt, the addition of yogurt to your bar soaps is adds a much loved feel to your bar soaps. I used to make goats milk bar soaps, and then I started using yogurt just to see how it felt in a soap. Once I used yogurt I was hooked and haven't made a goats milk bar since!
The feel of a yogurt bar soap is, in my opinion, much much richer and creamier it leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft and smooth and it doesn't hamper the lather of my bar soaps.
Through much trial I have used many different kinds of yogurt in my bar soaps, I have found most recently that I like the Greek Yogurt in my soaps much more than regular yogurt. Greek Yogurt when you look at the labels has mor fat content in it, therefore adding that extra fatting to your soap. I loved it so much I even added it to one of my salt bars and have fallen in total love with the feel of the finished product. These bars each offer you a rich creamy lather that feels incredible on your skin.

Here is how I add yogurt to my soaps:

I use my basic soap recipe, and here is a recap of my basic soaping formula:

50oz of hard oils
25oz of soft oils
5oz castor oil
11oz lye

I give a decent sized water discount to my formula generally I use around 24oz -27oz of water for my formula.

When I use essential oils (depending on what kind of essential oils I use, some will accelerate your soap just like a fragrance oil will) I generally use 24oz of water in my formula.
When I use fragrance oils I usually use the full 27oz of water with my lye because fragrance oils will accelerate your soap slightly, some faster than others, and in a case when I know that a fragrance oil accelerates very rapidly in a soap I will up my water to 30oz and exclude the use of castor oil in my soap recipe all together.

I soap with lye and oils at room temperature, about 75deg.
When I am making a yogurt soap, I will let the yogurt set out to warm to room temperature. Before I even start soaping, I have forgotten to take it out before and used the yogurt cold and added it to my formula and it turned out just fine.

Now if you have ever made goats milk soaps you know that there are a few different ways you can go about adding milk to your soap formula, you can freeze it and add your lye to it, you can mix the lye with part of the water for a concentrated lye solution then add the goats milk to the lye right before you add the lye solution with the goats milk to the oils. Then there is the create a concentrated lye solution allow it to cool add the solution to the oils then add your goats milk.

I create a concentrated lye solution using 12-13.5oz, then adding the 11oz of lye to the water, allow it to set in a cool water bath to cool.
While my lye solution is cooling I slightly warm my oils to get them just to a semi liquid state, my soap kitchen tends to be a little on the cool side so my solid oils are rather cold, I put all the solid oils in a pot and set them on one of my burners on my stove on the warm setting, just until they are semi fluid, I then add my room temp soft oils to the semi fluid solid oils.
At this time I weigh out my yogurt to equal the remaining 12-13.5oz of 'liquid' that we took away from the water. Right before the lye is ready to be added to the oils, I will add my yogurt to my oils and whisk it all together, this helps to get rid of all the clumps of yogurt that will form in your soap mix. Then add your lye solution to the soap mixture, this really helps to break the yogurt down so you don't have the big lumps.
Yogurt bars will set up rathe quickly because of the extra fats in your soap formula. I suggest if your going to use fragrance oils when making yogurt bars, make sure you have everything set up and ready to go before you start to mix your soap together. Also if your going to use fragrance oils I add mine to my oils along with the yogurt to mix it with the oils before I add my lye solution to the oils, yogurt and fragrance oils. Doing this you will be able to see your soap thicken and you can stop stick blending your soap at the first sign of it starting to get thick.
I have made a lot of yogurt soaps with fragrance oils and only had to stick blend it for a few seconds before it was thick and ready for the mold.

Now just like any milk soap I do not insulate them, but this is a matter of personal preferance.

Yogurt soaps usually set up pretty quickly and are rather solid, and nice and firm within 12-24 hours after you pour them into the molds. I slice mine right away and allow them to cure. Because you use less water in this recipe they do cure rather quickly.
When slicing your yogurt bars you will notice the creaminess to these bars.

Just a quick note! When making any type of milk soap or yogurt soap there is an odor that you will notice both when mixing the milk in your soaps and right after slicing your soaps. To me it smells almost like what a perm smells like, this is totally normal, this smell will disipate within a few days to a week out of your soap.

Now it's time for you to try making yogurt soaps!