Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Let's Talk Body Butter

 You know, whenever I see a headline that starts with "Let's Talk...", my first thought is let's not. In this case, though, it's not a bad thing. 

Body Butters are one of those items I have a love/hate relationship with. So often, when I  make them, they end up too hard. They're fine when they're applied but I don't like that hard texture, having to dig it out of a tub. When they're like that, I'd rather use a lotion or rich cream that I can easily scoop out of a tub.

I'm lucky enough to work with a woman who prefers body butter to lotions and has used a lot of them over the years. If anyone knows anything about body butter, and what they should be like, it's her. I've been working with her to find the "perfect" body butter texture and I've finally come up with a recipe that meets her high standards! That's exciting!

One of the things I've learned is that the hard oil to soft oil ratio is important. I've tried recipes that are 60/40 hard to soft and they end up being too hard. They might be fine in warmer months but we're heading towards winter and the final butter is just too hard. I've tried recipes that are closer to 50/50 and those end up being much more along the lines of what I've been looking for.

As lovely (and edible) as this looks, it ended up being too hard and didn't apply as smoothly as I was hoping it would. Even though it's useable, I consider this a fail.

The final thing that gave me the texture I was looking for was the addition of some Arrowroot powder. It took that skin feel over the top! I'll be putting it in all my body butters from here on in.

And then there's this one... close to 50/50 solid oils to liquid oils, with the addition of Arrowroot powder. This one is like putting your finger into buttercream frosting and applies like liquid silk, melting on contact and soaking in quickly, leaving skin moisturized but not oily. Heavenly!

I don't think I'll be offering body butter all year round; summers around here just get too hot for them. However, when fall and winter roll around, I think body butters are the perfect offering. And, seriously, a little goes a long way. Seriously!

Here's a short video showint the difference in the texture of the two butters. The second one is just so much more appealing. 

I've made a small batch for my next market (Oct. 30), inspired by autumn. One of the oils I used is Pumpkin Seed oil; the butter has been coloured with a combination of Sea Buckthorn oil and a bit of orange mica and it's scented with a beautiful soft fragrance called Autumn Walk. The manufacturer's description is as follows: This delightful fragance perfectly captures the essence of Fall. The scents of brisk air and crisp leaves join woody notes of rich mountain pine, cedar, and golden aspen while whiffs of forest berries, sage, and clove swirl delicately in the backdrop. 


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Update on the Vitamin C Serum

I've been using the Vitamin C serum pretty much daily since I made it in April (is it really that long ago??) and I'm impressed.

The colour of the serum really hasn't changed much, perhaps it has a bit more of a yellow tinge than when I first made it but after six months it really hasn't changed as much as I thought it would. I suppose the fact that it's in a black treatment pump bottle helps. 

I'm almost at the end of the first bottle and will need to make more soon. Christmas markets, however, are on the horizon and that will require my time and attention before I can make anything for myself. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Vitamin Sea Serum - testing

 Over on my main blog, Strings 'n Things, I wrote about a Vitamin C serum that I'm experimenting with. (I had planned on posting that post here but Blogger wasn't cooperating.) It's made with all sorts of wonderful ingredients, including some that are meant to help keep the Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) from oxidizing. It also includes an ingredient called Sea Kelp Bioferment, which is, basically, lacto-fermented seaweed, which is why the working name for this serum is Vitamin Sea Serum. (Clever huh?)

Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is quite stable when it's in a solid (powder) form but when it's in a solution, it oxidizes rather quickly. If you make a very simple Vitamin C serum, you'd have to remake it every 7-10 days. Eventually, the solution will discolour to orange and then brown. That's how you'll know that it has oxidized. It can also discolour your hair if you manage to get it in your hair. As I did. I couldn't figure out at first why the hair around my face was turning orange. Yup, oxidizing Vitamin C serum. 

To that end, I eventually came across the recipe I now use. And, because I know that L-ascorbic acid eventually oxidizes, I decided to put this serum to the test. 



It isn't the easiest to see in this picture but in that pipette is a bit of the Vitamin Sea Serum. I've put in on my kitchen window sill, where it gets full sun in the mornings. I'm going to leave it there until it starts to change colour. I want to know how long that takes. So far, it's been 24 hours with no visible change. 

I'll keep you updated. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

I'm Back... with a dilemma

I have a dilemma of sorts.  

I keep wanting to send customers to my website so they can see all the soaps I currently have available but I haven't had the time or the energy to keep updating the site. It was especially difficult when I had a market every weekend while still working full time at my day job.

This year, though, the markets are once a month so there should be no more excuse not to update. Right?

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be attempting to do just that. I intend to create a separate page that will have all the soaps I currently have available for sale. It will not be a commerce website, just a showcase of what's currently available.

If you're local to me, you're more than welcome to email me or message me for options for purchase. Orders may be picked up at my home or my work; we can work that out. At this time, I do not offer shipping.

Flax & Sandalwood Soap


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Hair Care is Self-Care - shampoo experiments

 Sometime over the last week or so, I managed to catch a cold - sneezing, runny nose, a bit of a cough (I always have a cough due to one of my meds), just feeling ick. Out of an abundance of caution, I took a couple of days off to look after myself. And, if you know me at all, any opportunity I have to play in my soap kitchen is more than okay with me. 

This week, it was shampoo bars. I've recently discovered that my go to recipe is a little top heavy with one of the ingredients. It's upper usage rate is about 50% and the recipe uses 73%. That is not too say that it's bad for your hair; I've been using this recipe for the past three years and my hairdresser told me that my hair is VERY healthy. However, I do want to stay within guidelines so I started doing more research into shampoo bars. I've made three different variations this week.

One of the dilemmas I have is that I tend to make things that are suitable for me; my hair is dry, fine, and wavy so I need a shampoo that cleans gently and doesn't leave it feeling like straw. I recognize that not everyone has hair like mine so I need to keep that in mind when I'm creating. So, ingredients are important. What will be best for the most people? Do I create shampoo bars geared to specific hair needs or do I stay in the middle of the road and gear the bars to "normal" hair with different fragrances and additives?

To that end, three varieties. Two of them are especially geared to my and John's hair and one is one I'm hoping will be a good, all 'round shampoo bar that will appeal to a broader base.


#1 -  A Conditioning Bar with Botanical Extracts. It's made with Hydrolized Oat Protein, Panthenol, Chamomile Extract, and Grapeseed Extract. Both Chamomile and Grapeseed extracts are great for hair and the Grapeseed extract also gives the bar its colour. My first impression of this one is that it would likely be a good contender for a shampoo for Normal to Dry hair. 

#2 - A Conditioning and Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Humectants. It uses Propanediol 1,3 (from the New Directions website:

With a plant-based origin, Propanediol is a biodegradable and petrochemical-free solvent that is NPA approved, making it an excellent corn sugar-derived alternative to petroleum-based Glycols for hair- and skincare formulations. It offers benefits and functionalities that include improved emollience, enhanced viscosity, non-irritating properties, exceptional sensory characteristics, clarity, and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, among many more).
I also added Foaming Oats, Hydrolized Rice Protein and scented it with a fragrance called Caribbean Escape. My first impression of this one is that it lathers up quickly and it's beautiful, thick lather. My hair feels fuller and thicker, right down to the ends. 

#3 - Basic Shampoo Bar with Mango Butter. This one has most of the same ingredients as the other two, with the addition of a bit of Mango Butter. I scented it with on of my more popular shampoo bar fragrances, a blend I call Fresh (equal parts Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary). I just made this one this morning so I haven't tested it yet but once I do, I'll add my impressions here.

So, you see my dilemma, right? What would you do? Make several varieties or make a middle of the road, "Normal Hair" shampoo bar? 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Knitter's Hand Cream

I don't know about you but I always find winter and early spring very hard on my hands. Working in a print shop doesn't help, either. My hands get incredibly dry. Each year, I end up with cracks around the edges of my finger nails and it takes a long time for them to heal. 

Thing is, I make soap and bath & body products. Good thing, too. Late last year, I made a Knitter's Hand Cream that I'd almost forgotten about. I came across my last jar of this rich cream last week and have been using it this past week. It has made an incredible difference. 

It's a thick rich cream, made with the addition of lanolin, argan oil, jojoba oil, quinoa extract, and colloidal oats. Lanolin is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of domestic sheep primarily raised for their wool. Lanolin's role in nature is to protect the wool and the sheep's skin from climate and the environment. In cosmetics, lanolin is used in the protection, treatment, and beautification of human skin, making it a great addition to a luscious hand cream.

Jojoba oil is more of a wax than a true oil and comes from a shrub native to the south west area of the US (California, Arizona) and the north west of Mexico. It is very close to our skin's natural sebum and, as such, is a great addition to creams and lotions meant to moisturize. 

Argan oil has been used as an edible oil and in skin care in Morocco, where it comes from, for centuries. A few small studies indicate that argan oil may be effective at reducing signs of aging, either when ingested or applied directly to your skin.

Colloidal oatmeal acts as a natural, deep penetrating moisturizer that can help reduce the itching and irritation caused by dry skin. It's easily available in any local drug store, along with products using it. You may know it by the brand Aveeno. It's an amazing addition to a rich hand/body cream.

Quinoa Extract is a water soluble product that is commonly used on aging skin and in hair strengthening products, as it is full of amino acids and minerals. 

With all that goodness in a small pot of hand cream, it's got to be effective, right? What I do know is that my hands love it! And the addition of a little bit of Karma fragrance oil (from the product description: "an aura of orange, lavender and pine with notes of patchouli, lemongrass, cashmere and musk". This rich cream smells amazing and works well. What more could you want in a hand cream?

Knitters rejoice!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

On Pause

 Well, it doesn't look as if non-food vendors will be allowed at local Farmer's and Crafter's markets any time soon. If I'm not mistaken, Dr. Henry will be revisiting the guidelines in April. So, for now, my soapmaking forays have been curtailed. I am still making an occasional batch just to keep myself inspired but I've definitely cut back from my usual one to two batches per week. 

Instead, I've been focusing on using my kitchen for what it was intended for -- cooking food. Yesterday, I was given a dozen free run eggs by a local farmer and we still had almost two dozen eggs in the fridge so John suggested I make something with eggs. Challenge accepted!

Quiche Lorraine is a good start, don't you think? I'd forgotten just how labour intensive making a quiche from scratch can be. Normally, I take the easy way out and buy a pastry crust; this time, the whole quiche is from scratch. I used an old-fashioned 100% lard pastry recipe because, yeah, I just happen to have a few pounds of lard around here for making soap and nothing makes a better pie crust... or soap. Well, butter's good, too, but not so much for soap.

The pastry was made first thing this morning and allowed to rest in the fridge until needed. Then, I mixed up the eggs (4 of them!) and cream mixture and stored that in the fridge as well. I grated the cheeses and prepped the rest. Instead of strictly following the traditional Quiche Lorraine recipe, I decided to add a couple of sauteed leeks and a handful of spinach leaves because veggies are good for you. Right?

Once it was all prepped and the pastry had been mellowing out in the fridge for a couple of hours, I rolled it out and blind baked the crust. Then, everything was put together and baked. 

My house always smells good when I'm making soap but walking into the house after making this just makes my mouth water. I'm looking forward to dinner!!

Oh, I thought I'd share a nifty little tool I picked up a while back at our local Asian market. I think it's meant for ginger but it works a treat for nutmeg! (Quiche Lorraine has a bit of nutmeg in it.)