My Review of LUSH: The Brightside Bubble Bar

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brightside

Originally submitted at LUSH USA

Cheerful bar for a fresh perspective

A little goes a long way

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita, KS on 7/8/2014
5out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: Must-Have

Pros: Long Lasting, smells wonderful, Great Bubbles

Best Uses: Bath

Was this a gift?: No

I am a SoapMaker and experiment with other bath and body products. If you have a jetted tub, this bubble bar can be broken up and used for a half dozen baths. It smells wonderful but is a bit heavier on colorants than I would have preferred.

(legalese)

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My Review of LUSH Party On Shower Jelly

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Very fun product

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita, KS on 7/6/2014
4out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: Most Wanted

Pros: Lathers Well, Pleasant Smell

Best Uses: Showers

Describe Yourself: Brand Buyer

Kids will love playing with this Vegan gelatin type soap. Though most gelatin-type products would not be Vegan friendly, this one is made with carrageenan (a type of seaweed). This one smells great and is fun for kids and moms alike.

(legalese)

My Review of LUSH Freeze Shower Gel

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Originally submitted at LUSH USA

A refreshing blast of icy peppermint

Love, love, love this shower gel

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita, KS on 7/6/2014
5out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: Most Wanted

Pros: Moisturizing, Cleans Effectively, Long Lasting, Easy To Use, Rich Lather, Pleasant Smell

Best Uses: Showers

This is my all time favorite Lush product. It lasts a long time and works well for hair or body.

(legalese)

My Review of LUSH Dr. Peppermint Solid Shampoo Bar

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I like this better than expected

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita, KS on 7/6/2014
4out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: None of the above

Pros: Cleans Thoroughly, Lathers Well, Gentle

Best Uses: Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Product Junkie

I make soap and beauty products and bought this shampoo bar out of curiosity. I have soft water and am surprised by the quick lather I get with this. I have used this four days in a row now and do follow up with a commercial conditioner. My hair is soft, not dry… manageable. I’m only giving it four of five stars because I’m really not getting much peppermint fragrance or tingle. For a good peppermint tingle, I like the Freeze Shower Gel.

(legalese)

My Review of LUSH T’eo Deodorant

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Originally submitted at LUSH USA

A hardworking deodorant for hardworking bodies

Abrasive but effective

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita, KS on 7/6/2014
3out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: None of the above

Pros: Good Protection, Great Smell, Long-Lasting

Cons: White Residue, Messy, Irritates Skin

Best Uses: Odor Control, Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Perspire Easily

With tea tree oil, this product is effective in odor control but on freshly shaved armpits, it is very abrasive. Unfortunately I will not be able to use this product daily.

(legalese)

My Review of LUSH Gumback Express Shower Smoothie

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Eh… not so impressed

By Soapmaker in Kansas from Wichita on 7/6/2014
3out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: None of the above

Pros: Moisturizing

Best Uses: Showers, Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Brand Buyer

Of all of the Lush shower products that I have tried, this one is quite expensive and a lackluster performer at that. I’d just as soon have a good sugar scrub.

(legalese)

Fizzing Bath Cakes with Bubble Frosting

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Lavender Martini Cakes

Soap makers often enjoy making whimsical variations of soap and bath bomb cupcakes. Customers seem to enjoy these little bath treats for bathroom décor and they make fantastic gifts. As soap makers, we are often in a dilemma of how to ice the cupcakes. Most use a royal icing (literally, a whole lot of powdered sugar) which I find kind of gross to imagine floating in my tub. Many soapers share my reservations and therefore simply don’t make bath cupcakes.

I’ve pondered the problem for some time. We’ve all heard of bubble bars. Lush sells them like crazy. Many soap makers have worked toward making the product. You simply break off a piece of the bar and drop under warm running water for a bubble bath. If you are interested in a great Bubble Bar tutorial, Sarah Milroy has a YouTube video and recipe that you might find helpful.

In the Lavender Martini Bath Cakes pictured above, I’ve modified a bubble bar recipe to make it less sticky and having a better texture for piping. The resulting treat has a Bath Bomb base with a Bubble Frosting. The end customer can take the two pieces apart for two separate baths, or even cut the base and frosting in half and get as many as four uses out of it. For the soap maker, one great benefit of the bubble frosting is that it is ready to use after a few days, just giving it time to harden up.

Another option would be to frost the Bath Cake with a whipped soap. Many soapers have never heard of whipped soap or soap frosting (recipe developed some years back by Terry Nisbet, a retired pastry chef in Australia) which can be piped like icing and actually floats in the tub. No more lost soap! In this picture, I have taken a Pineapple Fizzing Bath Cake and topped with a Coconut fragranced whipped frosting. The base is intended for a single use and the soap will last for as long as soap lasts.

SAM_1495

The drawback to soap frosting is that like any cold processed soap, it needs a good long cure, four weeks minimum. Six to eight weeks would be better.

A third option which I have not tried yet is a shipped soap frosting using a combination of melt & pour soap and foaming bath whip. Debbie May of Wholesale Supplies Plus offers a frosting recipe that I may try as a third alternative.

So for the many soapers who, like me, were reluctant to make royal icing to frost bath bombs, I hope you’ll enjoy the other options.  To learn more about bath bomb recipes and other tub treat tutorials, visit my Pinterst Board.

If you are new to making bath bombs, my friend Ariane Arsenault from La Fille de La Mer has a great YouTube video that you’ll find helpful.

A Different Kind of Soap Swap?

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I consider myself more of a Soap Artist than a Functional Soaper, but when selling, Functional Soap often sells better than Soap Art. Therefore, I am dedicating more of my future soap making to the utility of soap and saving the artistry for design challenges.

While many soap makers follow recipes from books or websites, I’ve learned to formulate my own recipes and analyze the conditioning, moisturizing, hardness, cleansing and creamy qualities by modifying the percentage of oils mixed in the recipe. By mixing oils at different ratios, there will be variations in the composition of fatty acids which alters the properties of the soap. While the idea of a gentle soap may seem universal, perhaps if you are making a soap for mechanics you’d want a more cleansing soap. People often prefer a moisturizing soap in the dry winter months and a deodorant soap in the heat of the summer. Hence, we make soaps with different recipes for different purposes. Facial soaps should be more gentle than body soaps or other special purpose soaps.

Over the last year, I’ve participated in many soap swaps. The first order of business is always to look at the soaps, smell, read ingredients, consider the packaging, the design, etc. Maybe I use the soaps or, many are given away. Afterall, I do have a gazillion soaps of my own to use. Of the soaps that I do keep and use, I find some that I really, really like and others that may smell and look nice, but aren’t necessarily outstanding as far as the recipe goes. Of the soaps that I really like, many are still mis-labeled or don’t have a complete list of ingredients. This is real pet peeve for me. While “Soap,” in the absence of cosmetic claims (soothing, moisturizing, cleansing, purifiying, etc) is not legally required to list all ingredients, dang it, I want to LEARN from the soaps I use! What was it that made that soap nice? Sometimes it isn’t just the balance of oils but additives or water substitutes that can make a soap particularly nice. For instance, if my balance of oils leaves something to be desired for bubbles, I can add sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc. If I want more creamy lather, I can sub out part of the water for goat’s milk, coconut milk, yogurt or add those same ingredients in powder form.

Getting to the point- I would really like to work toward a soap swap where PLAIN guest size bars are submitted without labels, but ANONYMOUSLY* numbered and distributed to other soapers. The recipient would then use the soap and go online and give feedback reviewing their impression of the soap’s performance. Were you satisfied with the creamy texture or was there room for improvement? Were the bubbles fluffy or small? Was the soap moisturizing or drying? Do you like the fragrance stronger or lighter? Then, upon submission of the feedback, the recipient would receive a copy of the SOAPCALC print out, including additives, fragrance or essential oil blends, liquids, exfoliants… that’s right, the WHOLE RECIPE. I think in this way, we could actually learn from other people’s soaps. I can’t tell you how often I use my own soaps and get out of the shower to look at the recipe and pause to consider, “what made that soap so stinkin’ good?” What do you think? Would there be an interest in soapers anonymously sharing their personal recipes for the sake of getting feedback on their soap from other soap makers and actually learning as they use other people’s soaps?

Why “ANONYMOUS” you ask? Good question! Soap makers, like the rest of the world, are a cult of personality. There are leaders whose followers love everything they do and will compliment that person regardless of what they do. If we are just considering plain soaps, then the drive is to learn about the soap performance, not to flatter the artist. Further, if the soap maker’s name remains anonymous, then there isn’t the concern that that crafter’s local competition now “knows their recipe.” Chances are, you’d never make it onto the competitor’s radar if the submissions are anonymous. Again, is there any interest out there?

Riddle me this…

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What do Okra, Throat Coat Tea and Colloidial Oatmeal all have in common?

If you’ve ever cut and cooked okra, then you are familiar with the slimy goo that comes out of the process.

Had a sore throat and used Throat Coat Tea?  Have you heard of Slippery Elm Bark?  Throat Coat Tea is made with Slippery Elm Bark and Licorice Root.  In the tea, this creates a slippery substance that sooths the sore throat by coating it.

Likewise if you have dry skin or a rash, you might have used an Aveeno Bath Treatment, made with colloidial oatmeal.

But how does this apply to soap making?  Have you ever infused calendula in your oils or made a comfrey root tea as the water substitute in your soap?  In soap, calendula creates a glorious slippery feel.  I hesitate to use the word slimy, but really it is, in the very nicest way.  There is a better cosmetic term for this subatance called mucilage.

The Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients defines MUCILAGE as “A solution in water of the sticky principles of vegetable substances. Used as a soothing application to the mucous membrane.”

Mucilage also seems to have some historical reference as what we would today refer to as glue.

1911 Mucilage

 

Wikipedia lists some other common sources of mucilage found in Aloe Vera, Cactus, Fenugreek, Flax Seeds, Kelp, Licorice Root, Mallow, Marshmallow and Chia Seeds.  Many of these plant sources are used in soap, cosmetics and medicine for their demulcent properties.  But what… is… demulcent?

DEMULCENT, also defined by the Consumer’s Guide to Cosmetic Ingredients (It’s a handy book, I tell you) is “a soothing, usually thick, oily or creamy substance used to relieve pain in inflamed or irritated mucous surfaces.”  Note that a demulcent does not have to be plant based.  Wikipedia states that a demulcent “is an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane. Demulcents are sometimes referred to as mucoprotective agents…”  It goes on to list pectin, glycerin, honey and syrups as demulcents as well as oatmeal and comfrey root.  Soap makers often use honey or even maple syrup to boost bubbles, but must do so carefully as the natural sugars can cause the soap to quickly overheat.

As soap makers, our products clean the largest human organ, the external skin.  Our soap should not contact with the body’s mucous membranes.  Nonetheless, the addition of mucilage or demulcent ingredients in our soap does give a glorious soothing quality to our product that your customers will notice and love.

I hope you’ve learned something new with this entry.  I’m pleased that at least I can quit referring to calendula soaps as “slimy.”  As the children’t joke goes, “you may think it’s boogers, but it’s sNot!”  LOL  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  Getting back to serious: All in the name of Research & Development, I’m about to make some Throat Coat Tea for a water substitute and make soap!

Soap: Is it Art or a Consumer Commodity?

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Great Soap Profile Pic

Over the last year, I’ve come to notice that there are two types of soapers.  Many, if not most, make soap for the sake of creating a natural product to clean the skin.  Their primary goal is the function of making and using a quality product with fewer chemicals than commercial body bars.  Artistry may be nice, but is not a highest priority.  Many prefer natural colorants and essential oils over synthetic fragrance oils and FD&C colorants.  Let’s call these Functional Soapers.   On the other hand, there are Soap Artists who are drawn to the craft to make fragrant, elegant, colorful swirls and as a creative outlet.

When I started soaping, I didn’t care one thing about the “natural” allure of handmade soap.  I was drawn in by the creativity.  I’ve always been a little bit crafty.  Over the last few years, I’ve been sewing, crocheting, making kimekomi ball ornaments, etc.  In college, I majored in interior design, so color theory and artistic design are always a part of my thought process.  I took a lot of art classes; drawing, painting, fiber arts, ceramics, art history, etc.  When I started making soap, my Inner Artist was calling out for the challenge of a new creative medium.  Then I discovered the fluid pouring techniques of soap making.  Wow!  Learning to “control” liquids to create art… what a concept!   And unlike cake decorating, there are no calories.   How can you beat that?

Now then if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it with quality.  So, I pledged to never use “cheap” ingredients.  I’ve never soaped with shortening and rarely use grocery store oils.  I did get drawn in to wanting to try every quality oil and butter available.  Now that I’ve tried most of the readily available ones, I can say with certainty that while I will still continue to use many of them, I can just as easily create a quality soap with just Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and, I like Hemp Seed Oil… a LOT.

But, for me, it still all comes back to the creativity.  However, I also have to recognize that there is a very large segment of the consumer population who prefers “functional” soap over creative soap.  While my soaps are intended to be used (really, I’m tempted to get a stamp that says “USE ME, PLEASE!”), I’ve often heard people comment that a soap is “too pretty to use.”  Oh heck people, I know where you can get more!  LOL.   But, back to the Functional Soap buyer… fewer colorants, more simplicity equates to a more natural and gentle product in their mind.  As a soap seller, I have to acknowledge this.  So, while I love all of my uber-colorful swirlies, I must acknowledge that I would be more productive as a business to keep the bulk of my soap product less artistic and more functional.