Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils

There is always going to be a debate over these two ingredients. Natural versus synthetic. You'd think natural would always win, but in this case, there are arguments to be made for both sides.

Fragrance Oils are synthetic, man made with essentially inert ingredients. Unless you happen to have an allergy or a sensitivity to one of the components they are very safe to use. In fact, they are often safer to use because so few people have any kind of a reaction to them. Also, they provide such a broad range of amazing scents, virtually anything your heart desires.

Essential Oils are natural, usually pressed or steam distilled from the natural plant material. They have wonderful medicinal properties. For example, Rosemary Essential Oil is wonderfully invigorating. It can help with exhaustion, muscle cramping, arthritis. It can revitalize dry and dull skin, help keep dandruff under control and encourage healthy hair growth. Sounds great, right?

(Mint Tea Soap - Peppermint & Rosemary Essential Oils & Green Tea)

However, you know how the medicine commercials are now filled more with warnings than the benefits? Essential Oils need to be treated the same way. Rosemary Essential Oil should be avoided by those with high blood pressure. It also should be avoided during pregnancy and those who suffer from epilepsy. It can cause severe complication for people with these conditions.

I've spent years researching essential oils and their uses. I also am very blessed to have a certified aromatherapist in the family (my mother in law). I've developed a very healthy respect for essential oils, all of their properties (good and bad), and use them carefully.

So which should you choose? That's completely up to you. I personally use both in my products. I love being able to use natural essential oils, and I also love to use unique and exotic scents that are only available to me in a fragrance oil. My only caution is this. If you choose essential oils, make sure that you trust the person creating your bath & body products. Ask them questions about their knowledge in the aromatherapy field. If they know their stuff, they'll be more than willing to share that with you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

500 Sales on Etsy!

500 Sales on Etsy!
Originally uploaded by blsoaps
After one year and one week on Etsy, I passed this wonderful milestone!!!

We've had such a great year. We've made some great friends, joined wonderful teams, had some rough bumps, learned a lot of new things, and have grown so much. It's been an awesome ride!

And I'm just thrilled that I get to spend so much of it with such wonderful people! Thanks for making this such a great year! And here's to hoping the next year is even better!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Introducing Jezebel - A Handmade Soap Story

Jezebel Handmade Soap
Originally uploaded by blsoaps
A sexy little bottle walked into my soap room and seduced me into soaping her. The beautiful scents of juicy berries, rich coconut milk and decadent roses blended with Egyptian Vanilla and Amber Musk, and enticed ALL my senses!

When it came to naming this sexy little scent, I wanted a name that captured the full beauty of its depth. When someone suggested Jezebel, I knew that was her name!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Name Contest Winner

You know what? Sometimes I really suck at time management! LOL! Back on September 22nd I started a contest to help me name a soap. I had information both here on my blog, as well a thread on Etsy.

I have had the name picked out for a while now, but I wanted to get a photograph of the soap before I blogged about the winner.

Urbbody suggested Grinch Stole my Fragrance and immediately told me she was joking. But you know what? I TOTALLY fell in love with the name! I dug through some photos to see if I could find something that worked with it, and I did!

Urbbody, I'll be contacting you privately about sending you these two bars of soap! And I wanted to thank everyone for all the help they've given me! There were so many awesome names in that thread, but this one just tugged at my humor, and I fell in love with it! Thank you so much!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Holiday Goodness! Handmade Soaps

Our Holiday Soaps are finally arriving in our Etsy Shop! They're off the curing racks, photos are being taken, and they look and smell absolutely amazing!!!

Spiced Cider Handmade Soap

Rich Juicy Apples blended with Sweet Spices, like cinnamon and clove! Makes you want to curl up with a mug of Hot Spiced Apple Cider!

Perfect for Autumn and Winter, a great option for a gift, or simply indulge in this amazing bar for yourself! I know I definitely will!

Available in our Etsy Shop

I have always loved Gingerbread Cookies, and these bars smell so good that it's hard not to take just a big bite out of them!!!

This bar FLEW out of our shop so fast last year, make sure you stock up on this one early! This is one you will absolutely love! Perfect for gift giving!!!

Available in our Etsy Shop

Monday, September 22, 2008

Name That Soap Contest!!!

I admit it, I goofed. I was making soap recently, I wanted a nice pretty green on green swirl for my Christmas Pine Soap. It turned out wonderful. Then as I was cleaning up, I saw the bottle of fragrance oil STILL sitting on the counter.

So I now have 5 lbs of a beautiful, but unscented, green swirled soap.


I always name my soaps based on their scent. So I am at a complete loss as to what to name this soap. So I am leaving it up to all of my readers! Help me name this soap!!! PLEASE!!!

Please post your suggestions in the comments section, and once I choose the name from the choices offered, I'll send the winner a free bar of this beautiful soap, as well as a bar of our Christmas Pine (you know, the scent this was SUPPOSED to be! LOL!). So two bars of soap just for helping me name my new soap!

Let the creative juices flow!!! Feel free to make as many suggestions as you'd like!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Super Busy Soaping Week!

We've had a super busy soaping week! So busy that we actually have completely run out of Shea Butter and Castor Oil, and we're almost out of Coconut Oil and Palm Oil. Luckily we have a big shipment of oils that are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday! Yay!!!

We've also had an AWESOME experience using the new soap molds my dad made for me. These molds are exactly the same length as the freezer paper that I use to line them. So no more trimming!!! Yay!!! No more Waste!!! Double Yay!!! These new molds really are a dream come true! (you can see them in the first picture)

Currently on the Curing Racks:

Oceania Shea Butter Soap
Vixen Shea Butter Soap
Wisdom Facial Soap
Gingered Orange Spice
Breakfast Bar

New in the Soaping Line Up!!!

That gorgeous Red Loaf up at the top is a new Fragrance. It is absolutely amazing!!! Smells like a delicious mug of Spiced Apple Cider! Then that light green soap is a new essential oil blend, Winter Wonderland. It has Virginia Cedarwood, Balsam Fir, Wintergreen, Spearmint and a hint of Cinnamon. It's really awesome, I love it!!!

We absolutely LOVE this soap though >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We originally made our Gingered Orange Spice last year as a holiday soap, but it was so popular, we decided to keep it year round! It's rich scent is all natural, a blend of essential oils. Ginger, Orange, Cinnamon & Clove, and the top is dusted with ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. This is one you definitely need to try! We only have one bar available in our shop right now, but this batch should be ready by early October!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Handmade Soaps on the Curing Rack

I'm trying to get stocked up for Christmas, and I keep finding myself behind! But we're cranking out the soaps as fast as we can with our schedules right now!

Currently on the Curing Rack:

Gingerbread Dreams - I absolutely LOVE this one!!! We sold out of it so fast last year. We did a nice big batch, and we're hoping to do another batch in the next two weeks. Look for this soon in our shop!

Blackberry Sage - Back with a brand new look! We don't have pictures of the new look in cut bars, but here it is in the soap mold right after we poured it! (for more pictures of us making soap please view our Flickr Account)

Oceania - If you haven't tried out this great new scent, you really need to! Nice fresh and clean, like a beautiful ocean breeze!

Vixen - Sweet and Sassy, just the way we know you like it!

Purity - Our super gentle Castile Soap completely free of all scent or color. As pure as soap can possibly be!

Overdrive - Our best selling mens scent! This scent is super sexy. Great for gift giving!!! (picture at the right)

Mulberry - A new scent for the holiday line up. This soap is a beautiful deep purple color, and the scent is just fabulous! Perfect for a fall evening!

We'll be adding some new scents before too long, as well as our holiday scents! So keep checking back for more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good News!!!

August has been good to us. To start with, David met with his neurosurgeon today, and they've scheduled surgery for the Tuesday after Labor Day. But if our insurance approves it quickly, they might move it up for us.

The back surgery is still a long shot. The chances of it being successful is about 50-60%. But considering that there is 0% of him getting better without surgery, we're taking those chances. They'll be going back in through the original incision in his back, and making it longer. They'll then basically clean out the disks that are causing the problems, put in a 'cage' along with some bone grafts, then metal plates along the side of the vertebrae. They'll be fusing 3 together.

Then he'll have a 3 month recovery period to get him back up to 80%. So we still have a very long road ahead of us, but at least we're finally starting down that road.

In the mean time, he's finding as much as he can to keep himself entertained and occupied. He started back to school with online classes last month. He's also opened a shop on Etsy for his photography. While he won't be able to take many NEW shots after his surgery, he's trying to squeeze as many in right now.

You can check out his shop at ViviDesigns. It's been a lot of fun to watch him. His excitement over his first sale, he loves listing new items, watching for new hearts, and new views. It's been a lot of fun, and he's really been enjoying it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Silver Linings

As many of you know, we've had a tough time of things lately. David had emergency back surgery the beginning of May and has been on disability since then. We recently discovered that he'll need more surgery.

Well, this morning he woke up in a great deal of pain. After calling our doctor's office to find out our doctor wasn't even in, we decided to take him to the Emergency Room. From there, we were shipped off to a neurosurgeon's office, who promptly told us they wouldn't work on David. We came back to the hospital to get him a new MRI (hoping to find the source of this new sudden pain), and we're told that our appointment for it had been canceled (even though they'd told us that morning that they'd hold the appointment for us).

So we come home hot and tired (AC isn't working in our car), David still in pain, and more than a little frustrated with the lack of communication with the various doctors we saw today.

So I prop myself in front of my computer, with a floor fan blowing on me full strength, and open up my Etsy Shop. First, I'm happy to see that one of my newly listed Pomegranate Soaps has sold. I finally relisted them last night after them being sold out for several weeks.

Then I start moving through my convos, and find out that the Pomegranate Soap Set that sold was also on the Front Page! Earcmra put this treasury together yesterday, and it made it to the Front Page today! It's a beautiful treasury, all about Pomegranates!

Then right after that, we found a message from a neurosurgeon at the University of Utah Hospital who is hopefully willing to work with us.

I also had some other wonderful convos that just brightened my day. So even when things look absolutely dismal, there is always that silver lining on those dark clouds!!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's SHEA Beautiful!

One of my favorite Ingredients has ALWAYS been Shea Butter. So much so that I created a Treasury on Etsy chocked filled with Shea Butter Goodies!

Many people nowadays have heard of Shea Butter. It's even in baby wipes now! To the big companies, it's a marketing ingredient. To me, I use it because of it many wonderful properties.

Shea Butter is a solid fatty oil made from the nuts of Karite Nut Trees that grow in the savannah regions of Africa. Shea Butter is often called "women's gold," because the extraction of the butter gives employment to hundreds of thousands of rural African women. Shea butter is also so non-toxic and beneficial that is used in foods and cooking as well as soaps and beauty products.

Shea Butter is said to have the following qualities and more:
  • Creates a soft pleasant skin sensation
  • Protects the skin from drying out
  • Accelerates the Healing of superficial skin wounds and skin irritation
  • Well tolerated by the skin
It also has been shown to provide relief from the following:
  • Dry Skin (face & body)
  • Skin Cracks
  • Shaving Bumps
  • Eczema
  • Loss of Skin Elasticity
  • Wrinkles & Blemishes
  • Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
  • Relief of Rheumatism
  • Eases Muscle and Joint Pain
It only has one major caution... If you are allergic to Latex, please do a skin patch test first.

When shopping for products with Shea Butter, keep one major thing in mind, the placement of the Shea Butter on the Ingredient List. All ingredients are listed in descending order, meaning that the more there is of a certain ingredient, the closer to the top it'll be listed. You want Shea Butter to be as close to the top as possible! One of my biggest pet peeves is when a company markets their product as being so great because it contains Shea Butter, only to find out that the amount it contains is so pathetically small they may as well have not bothered including it! Unfortunately it happens all too often. So if you haven't gotten into the habit of reading labels, don't you think it's time to learn what it is you're putting on your body?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Fast and the Furriest!

A few weeks ago my husband signed our kids up for Hamster Races. They were held at Animal Ark in American Fork. After being sick for a week, I went mostly to help him keep reign over the kids and because I wanted to get out of the house! LOL!

Well, I had the time of my life!

My boys each have these little itty bitty hamsters, Robo Dwarf Hamsters, named Max (short for Maxine), Robo, and Bitsy. These tiny troopers went up against hamsters of all sizes, and well, let's just say they more than stood their ground!

Robo and Max went up against each other in the first heat, and easily took 1st (Robo) and 2nd (Max) place, automatically qualifying Robo for the finals. Bitsy ran in heat 5, and if her car hadn't gotten stuck against the wall at the last minute, she'd have won as well!

We get to the final heat, and Ashton lines Robo up. He's racing against the best of the best, the fastest of the fast!

On your Mark!

Get Set!


The cars are dropped, and the hamsters are running! They fly down the track and at the very laast minute, another car pulls in front of Robo! But Ashton was ABSOLUTELY thrilled to come in second place!

He's been carrying around his 2nd place ribbon with him all week, and he's been telling everyone about his hamster race and how he won!

What a great way to spend an afternoon! I think we may sign up for the August Races as well!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Great Soap Debate!

I absolutely love Etsy, and the Forums, well, they're addicting to say the least. It's a great place for all crafters to come together to discuss their work, their businesses, and naturally, some debate can get going. One that has come up several times over the last few weeks has been the great soap debate...

Which is better? Cold Process, Hot Process or Melt & Pour?

It's a question I personally hate, because I have ALWAYS felt that it is not the method that makes or breaks a good soap, but the ingredients IN that soap. But in the guise of educating, I wanted to share a few things about each soaping process so that you can decide which is best for you.

Cold Process (or CP)

This is my soaping method of choice. Basic explanation is you take your oils and butters and mix them with your lye solution. The mixture is blended until trace (resembles thin pudding), and poured into molds. In these molds, they then set up. Once they are hard enough to remove from the mold, they can be cut. They then must cure, typically for another 3-8 weeks, before use. This curing process produces a milder soap (as the saponification process finishes, although most of the process happens while it's setting up in the mold), and allows for excess water evaporation (resulting in a harder and longer lasting bar).

Cold Process Plus:
--Complete control over all ingredients going into the formula.
--Better design control - all those pretty swirls! Like these --->

Cold Process Negatives:
--Cure time. You definitely have to plan ahead. Not always the best for impatient people.
--You are working actively with lye, which is a very dangerous and caustic substance, but when used with respect and care, it can be used safely. The comment about those with kids shouldn't make lye soap, I disagree. I have three boys. I try to make all my soap when they're not awake, but I still make soap sometimes when they're awake. They simply know that when mommy is making soap, they stay out of my way.

Hot Process (or HP)

Basically the same as cold process, but instead of pouring into a mold at trace it's cooked. This forces it through the saponification process. Once it has fully saponified, it's poured/pressed into molds. It still has a cure time, but not nearly as long since it's only for water evaporation.

HP Positives
--Soap can be used right away. So if you're impatient, it's a good choice!
--Complete control over ingredients.
--You're able to work with more scents, because some scent oils make CP seize.

HP Negatives
--Still working with the lye.
--The cook time can be very laborious.
--Not as much swirl or design control.
(HP soap picture provided by AJ's Country Cottage)

Melt & Pour (MP)

MP Bases have come a LONG way in the last few years. You can now get an MP Base that ingredient wise is equivalent to a CP soap. Most MP soapers also add some wonderful ingredients to their base to make it their own and that much more wonderful. And the artistic ability with MP soaps is limitless. Take these for example! They're little pieces of art!

MP Advantages
--You don't have to work with lye.
--Artistry capable with these is only limited by the crafter's creativity.

MP Disadvantges
--You're limited to the bases available and the ingredients contained in them.
(MP Soap picture provided by Midohana)

All of these soaping methods have the glycerin retained, which is often a point brought up in favor of one or the other. Also, MP soaps are often called glycerin soap, making it seem as though the other soaps don't contain glycerin.

What I'm basically saying is this...

Every soap (and B&B product) is only as good as the ingredients in it. Which is why they should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be disclosed in full in the listings as well as on the labels. One type is NOT better than the other, it's just different. Like beads versus gems. Or watercolor versus oils. We are all crafters, artisans. We use different mediums and achieve totally different results.


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