Oils, What’s Not to Like?

Oils. Who loves oils more than those who make soap and body products?

 

Many of us try as many oils as we can get our hands on (or afford), eagerly reading the fatty acid profiles and attributes of each oil while planning which products would be the best use of our precious oils.

 

To be honest, previous to soapmaking and bath and body, I never paid much attention to oil. I’d use it in cooking, but I never wanted it on my skin. Once I began my journey in producing skin products however, I saw oils in a totally different light. Oil was good. It was pure and was beneficial. It nourished my skin and helped me to heal. It had vitamins! Oil was in nearly every product I created, from soap to salves to lotion and more. What’s not to like?

 

And yet, the subject of oils causes a great deal of consternation among soap and bath and body makers. Which oils should I use? Which oils are good for soap or lotion or shampoo or liquid soap? Indeed, there is so much to learn that I feel as if I have only scratched the surface. I think I have a grasp on the breadth of oils available to me and then I hear of another one I never knew existed. Isn’t the continual opportunity to learn what makes this job or hobby so much fun? By the way, for the purposes of this discussion, my use of the term, “oils,” pertains to fats, as well.

 

Consider CP/HP soapmaking, for example. We have a hundred oils we might use, but we need to narrow our choices down to a manageable few. So, what do we choose? For a long time now, I’ve been convinced that if we were to choose our soapmaking oils and fats according to their fatty acid profiles and properties, we’d choose much differently than we often do and would value certain oils more than others because our opinions had no base in cost.

 

Nevertheless, we are usually restricted by price and availability, which may seem like a bad thing, but it isn’t. There is no shame in using inexpensive oils that are easily available. In fact, many would argue that using expensive luxury oils in soap is a waste of money since it’s washed off almost as soon as it’s applied. Others insist that certain oils, albeit pricey, give their soap a luxurious performance that cannot be matched with “everyday” oils.

 

I tend to side with the former, believing that some humble, commonly found oils are actually excellent oils, providing us with lovely soaps to bathe with.  What about you? Do you enjoy using more common, less expensive oils, or are you a person who appreciates oils more when they’re rare and expensive?

 

Either way, it’s a discussion that ends with, oils. . . what’s not to like? Want to learn more? Subscribe to the Saponifier!
 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth for the Saponifier

Learning the Hard Way

Have you been enjoying your January/February 2014 issue of the Saponifier? Safety and GMP aren’t always the most popular of topics, but I do believe that they are vitally important to the growth and survival of our industry. Many of us only think of safety in regards to soapmaking, and to be sure, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are dangerous caustics that we need to respect. Nevertheless, it behooves us to be aware of safety precautions in regards to bath and body manufacturing and candle making, as well. I applaud our writers for writing articles that we love to read, but are filled with important information.

 

I know that GMP, standing for, “good manufacturing practice” is another area of concern for those with businesses making soap and bath and body products, so we appreciate Marie Gale’s article, “An Introduction to Good Manufacturing Processes,” introducing us to the topic if we aren’t already familiar.

 

I hope this issue has caused you to review your safety and GMP processes! Share with us what you have learned.

 

If you are as yet not a subscriber of the Saponifier, you can rectify that!  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

This next story is related to GMP, and my failure to properly institute a process. I recently made a five color, swirled soap. I printed out my formula, prepared my surfaces and molds, measured out my ingredients and mixed my colorants. I proceeded to make my soap and was so pleased with the colors and design. I placed my soap in my properly pre-heated oven for a CPOP (cold process/oven process) batch and congratulated myself on a spectacular session. A short time later, I noticed my carefully measured essential oil still sitting on the counter. My elation turned to despair. It was too late to add the essential oil and even if it weren’t, mixing in the oil would mix all five colors together, producing a soap only a mother of said soap could love. As a result, I have a very pretty batch of soap with no scent.

 

Who hasn’t forgotten their scent at least once? Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson. Had I had my GMP properly in place, I would have a procedure posted that included the exact step of adding my essential or fragrance oil at the right time and thus, would not have missed it. I confess to being too complacent since I print out my formula each time, thinking it’s almost as good. I now know that almost isn’t good enough.

 

Have you begun instituting GMP in your business? Share with us your experiences thus far.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Hope That Works

Hope.  What do you think of?  Generally, we think of it as fulfilling a desire of some kind.  For instance, I hope you had a great holiday season, that you made the amount of money you projected, that you enjoyed the season and that you remained sane.  I hope you didn’t gain weight.

 

I was reminded, however, of a more archaic definition:  trust and confidence.  I find that I like that definition even better.  We have a trust and confidence in something coming to pass, whether it be in our businesses, our relationships, our bodies, spirituality or any number of facets of our lives.  Rather than a pleasant, but ineffective kind of “best wishes” hope, we have trust in the future.  I call it, “hope that works.”

 

I then ponder what it takes to produce confidence in the future.  Is it merely an idea of what we’d like see come to pass?  ”I’d like to sell more product in 2014.”  How far will that get us?  Like most of our New Year’s Resolutions, they’re nice ideas, but not enough to move us, especially not for the long haul that 2014 will prove to be.

 

Therefore, rather than uttering general hopes, let us make them concrete and attainable.  Instead of, “I’d like to sell more product in 2014,” set a goal and a plan for getting there.  How much soap would you like to sell?  How will you accomplish it? What do you need to do to get ready?  Don’t forget to set realistic dates for each activity to keep yourself moving!

 

It’s more work than a wish, but it’s hope that works.

 

Don’t forget to put a Saponifier subscription on your to-do list for 2014.  You have just a few hours left to subscribe for a 25% discount:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saponifier

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Holiday Hopes

You’ve survived the holidays.  If you’re in the US, you stuffed yourself for Thanksgiving, and then partied and celebrated your way through Christmas or Hanukkah, etc.  Hopefully, in this time period you also sold soap, bath and body products and candles or gave your best efforts to friends and family.  What were your results? I hope that your experiences were all positive!

 

I’m always interested in finding what people like.  The best part to me of doing shows is to observe customers’ reactions upon seeing and smelling products.  I also like finding out what my loved ones like, whether they love lavender or are more partial to citrus.  If you’re a smart business person, you’ll watch and keep notes of what people like so that you make better product decisions in the future.  If you’re a smart gift-giver, you’ll want to keep notes of what your giftees like and what you gave them so that you can continue to give gifts that make them feel special.

 

In spite of the fact that the holiday season is when most retailers make the bulk of their money for the year, I do hope that you got more out of the season than money.  I hope that you were blessed by the love of family and friends.  I hope that you gave back to them and to your community.  I hope that you gave hope this year.

 

More on hope tomorrow.

 

Don’t forget.  Tomorrow is the last day to claim a subscription to the Saponifier for 25% off!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saponifier

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Colorants: FD&C Colors

This is the third in our series on soap colorants.  We’ve discussed natural colorants and micas; so today, we turn our attention to FD&C colorants.

 

First of all, what does FD&C stand for?  It refers to the FDA’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic approved colorants.  Each color is approved for specific uses and the color title indicates which uses the colorant is appropriate for.  If a color is named, FD&C Red #40, for instance, the product is approved by the FDA for food, drugs & cosmetics.  If it’s labeled D&C Red #34, on the other hand, it’s approved for drugs (used externally) and cosmetics.  Knowing this makes it easy as a formulator to determine which products each colorant may be used in.

 

FD&C colorants:  These are dyes which permeate the product and thus, are likely to bleed in soapmaking.  If your soap is one color, you have no worries.  If you want a distinct pattern, however, you’ll probably be disappointed.  These colors are intense and easy to use, as well as inexpensive, but they don’t always like alkalines, so their use in CP or HP soap is sketchy.  Most manufacturers who sell these also provide or sell charts that instruct how they should be used in soap and other products.  When you see a color followed by a number such as D&C Yellow Number 11, you’ll know this product is a dye.  These colorants, by the way, are often used for melt and pour soaps and other cosmetics, as appropriate, because they color well and reliably; whereas, they are trickier in CP soap.

 

You may have heard the term, “Lake” used in conjunction with colorants.  They are FD&C type colorants, but you will see these labeled like the other FD&C (or D&C) colorants, except for the addition of the metal substrate used.  For example, the additional descriptor, “Aluminum Lake” would be added at the end.

 

As with all colorants, it’s always smart to test colorants out before adding them to large batches of soap or other products!

 

Stay tuned for our final installment, Oxides and Ultramarines.

 

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Coloring Soap and Cosmetics With Mica

Continuing on in our series on soap colorants:

We talked last time about natural colorants such as herbs and purees.  Today, I’d like to talk about man made colorants, specifically micas.

 

If you want strong color, you’ll likely be using micas, FD&C colors, Lakes or pigments.  Therefore, you’ll want to know the differences between them so that you know how to get the result you desire in your soap and avoid disappointment.

 

Micas are lab created versions of natural micas found in the earth plus oxides, etc. added for color.  The mica itself is called “nature identical,” but the added colorants may not be.  They come in every color of the rainbow, and more–shimmer, glitter and metallic types included.  They may be used without caution for melt and pour soap, but might morph or disappear before your very eyes in cold process/hot process soap!  I’ll never forget the green I once added, only to make a lovely purple in my cold process batch.

 

If you’d like to use your micas in CP/HP, be sure to do a bit of research to find out how each one works in soap.  Some vendors offer lists or reviews on how each mica they offer works in soap.

 

Additionally, some micas bleed, while others do not.  If you see a dye in the INCI, it will probably bleed, so use it accordingly.  (Bleeding refers to color migrating into the the rest of the soap, not necessarily on to washcloths, and such)  Micas are a staple in mineral makeup and other body products, but be sure to ask for recommendations and experiment with small batches to make sure the colorant works.  For instance, you don’t want the colorant from bath salts clinging to the tub. I can pretty much guarantee that your customers will not be happy!

 

To add micas to soap, mix directly into soap or into a bit of rubbing alcohol for melt & pour or a small amount of soap that you add to the batch for CP/HP.  Most soapmakers find them quite easy to incorporate.

 

As for makeup and other cosmetics, research the colorant used in your mica to determine whether or not it is an approved colorant for your application.  For instance, green oxide is not permitted in the US for lip colorants.  Each country and the EU has its own standards for colorant use.

 

Next time, we will talk about pigments.

 

Until then, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

Coloring Soap, Do it Naturally!

I hope all of our US readers had a great Labor Day weekend with friends and family.  For our friends everywhere else, I hope your weekend was enjoyable, as well.

 

Today, we’ll explore natural soap colorants.  If you recall, in my last blog post I promised to write about them, so I’ve been combing my notes to share information with you.  As anyone using natural colorants knows, it’s a complicated topic, and to cover it all thoroughly, I’d be writing a book, not a blog post.  Therefore, I’ll keep it to mostly those I’ve personally used.

So many colorants are used, and in several different ways.  Some are best infused in water, others in oil and a few in lye water!.  Many herbs and such are added as powders or purees at trace.  One of the most important things to know, however, is that the colors usually fade in time.  Few natural colorants keep their color.  If you’re an m&p soapmaker, by the way, powdered colorants are for you, but don’t use much!

Here are some natural colorants commonly used in soapmaking.  Most of these, I have tried and have included my results for; but not all:

Yellow – Calendula (I’ve never gotten intense color with an infusion, but more with powder), turmeric, chamomile flowers (powdered), annatto seed (great color, but some are allergic.  Infuse in oil) and pureed carrots (yes, yellow)

Orange- paprika (don’t use much!), pureed pumpkin (really nice as a portion of the water amount), safflower petals (haven’t tried it, but sounds good), ground rosehips (peach)

Green – dill weed (bright green that fades quickly), ground parsley (good, but expect fading), French green clay (try infusing in lye water), kelp (be prepared for the smell), ground spearmint (green to brown)

Brown – comfrey root, cocoa powder, wheatgrass powder (green to light brown), beet root, cinnamon and cloves (but I suggest not using them since they are irritants), tea (green, black or white), coffee grounds, berries, corn silk (attractive gray/brown)

Purple – Alkanet (if you’re lucky.  Infuse in oil first), Madder Root, Red Sandalwood Powder (brown/purple)

Blue – Indigo (don’t go overboard because it stains), woad (I haven’t used either of these)

Red/Pink – cochineal (yes, ground bugs),  Moroccan Red clay (brick red), Rose pink clay (pink, but deeper if infused in lye water)

When it  comes to natural colorants, experimentation is to be expected.  Depending upon the method used to extract the color or to add it to soap, results vary widely.

It’s also important to note that the FDA requires approved colorants to used in cosmetics, so be aware.  Fortunately, most natural colorants also lend cosmetic properties to soap that make them advantageous to use.

If you’re willing to work with the inconsistencies of natural colorants, you’ll find a whole world of possibility at your fingertips.  If you’ve used these or others, tell us how they worked for you!

Speaking of fingertips, have you seen your new copy of the Saponifier?  Our writers have worked hard to give you a great issue sure to be helpful in preparing for the holidays!

Until next time, may your days be full of bubbles and wax–and colors!

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Soapmaker’s Sweet Spot

What kind of soapmaker are you?  Do you plan out your offerings far in advance?  Do you spend time developing intricate designs and precise colors?  Or, do you make soap as the spirit moves you?  Do you prefer soap with simpler colors and patterns, either because you’re not the fancy kind or to speed production?

 

A more important question to consider is whether it’s important or not to plan far ahead, to make artistically designed soaps, to be a free spirit or to keep it simple.

 

The answer, of course is, it depends–on a number of factors.

 

For some of soapmakers, simply making soap is the satisfaction, be it fancy or simple, unusually shaped or rectangle, scented or not, it doesn’t matter.  The magic of combining the alkali and oils and getting lovely soap is a reward unto itself.  For others, the design part of making soap is a large part of the attraction.  Artistic souls are moved by the possibilities of making patterns in striking color combinations and it keeps them going.

 

As for planning, well, planners know whom they are and free-spirits know whom they are!  For some, planning is painful and stifles creativity, so they make what they want when the spirit moves them.  Others find that careful planning  is the only way to get soap made and made well.

 

So then, should we all be striving for the same outcome?  Absolutely not!

 

If you’re selling soap, you realize that all things about your nature must be tempered by business demands.  It’s a simple fact that you cannot run a successful business without a good degree of planning, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not.  You also realize that you need to produce soap as quickly and as efficiently as possible in order to maximize time and thus, profits.  This realization usually forces us to streamline our creativity into something that we can do easily and can reasonably replicate.  Hobbyists, on the other hand, you have the freedom to spend as much time as you like to develop your skills and put your artistic abilities to work.

 

Even so, I hope that each soapmaker finds his or her “sweet spot.”  Gorgeous or utilitarian, rectangular or round, full of additives or not, well-planned or by-the-seat-of-your-pants, all have a place and a purpose.  Finding your purpose and working with your personality is the key to success, however you define it.  The Saponifier’s goal is to open you up to the possibilities to help you on your way.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles & wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

 

PS – Subscribers, watch your inbox today for the 15th anniversary issue!  If you’re not a subscriber, quick!  You have a little time to make sure you get in on the fun:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

                                                   William Shakespeare,
Romeo and Juliet

What’s in a name?  If we take the fictional Juliet at her word, we might think, “not much.”  The reality, however, is much different.  Yes, your rose scented candle or soap smells the same no matter which moniker you attach to it;  but, in marketing the scent, you might want to take it a step further and create a name for your rose scent that evokes the imagination in a way that plain, old “rose” cannot.  For example, Dewy Rose, Ramblin’ Rose or Rose Cascade, say something more, something that triggers the imagination to become fully engaged with the scent.  By mere mention, the customer pictures roses at dawn before the dew dries off, or a strong-scented wild rose happily tumbling through the field with its wide open, simple flowers, or even a heavily blooming climbing rose bush, delighting both the eyes and the nose as it appears to flow down its peak.

If your scent lacks a strong single, natural note, you have even more room to play.  Close your eyes and  take a little sniff.  Let your mind wander and explore as it searches for a description of what you are smelling.  Does it remind you of a certain time of day or place?  Do you recall the scent somewhere in your past?  Do you see colors?  Are you transported to another season?  What kind of person do you feel would be attracted to this scent?  Any of these will provide you with material for choosing a name.

Conversely, perhaps this scent is indicative of a time period or a particular culture.  Do a little research and be open to names that pop out as you read.  Medieval Castle or Savannah Breeze may be your newest scent name.

Of course, clever naming isn’t relegated to scent, but to product, as well.  You’ll want to be clear in your name what your product is, but you do have some poetic leeway for making the name unique and appealing.  Why sell lip balm in a pot when you can sell lip butter?  Lotion is great, but body cream may be more attractive to certain customers.

You might even go totally off convention and choose a name that you have made up.  As long as it’s simple enough and pronounceable, it may be just the thing to get customers talking.  It worked for George Eastman and Kodak; it may work for you!

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth, for the Saponifier

Is it Natural?

“Is it natural?”  If you make soap or body products, you’ve probably been asked this question numerous times.  How do you answer?  

 

This question is much more difficult than people often realize.  The average consumer is used to seeing the term, “natural,” several times each day, and seldom knows how to determine whether the product is truly natural or not.  In fact, they most often take it for granted that the natural product they’re buying is indeed, natural.

 

Those of us in the industry take a harder look at the issue, but may come away as confused as the average consumer.

 

Why is this?  It’s a simple answer to a difficult concept.  We have in the USA, no formal, uniform definition for the term, “natural,” where it applies to soap and body products.  Therefore, companies are in full compliance with FDA regulations when they call their products natural, no matter what is in them.  Yes, you read that right.  You may be appalled at what you suppose to be an oversight of government, but actually defining natural is harder than it appears on the surface.  Sure, we all think we know what natural is.  We may be hard-pressed to define it, but we have a “know it when we see it” idea of natural–except that it’s not that simple.

 

For instance, seeing dimethicone on an ingredient label, most of us would agree that it isn’t a natural ingredient.  Nevertheless, it began as a silica and is mixed with oxygen, carbon and hydrogen to get dimethicone.  If it is made from natural ingredients (albeit not plant-based), is it natural?

 

Let’s take a look at di-propylene glycol.  It began as crude oil, which is natural, but through many processes, becomes a clear, odorless liquid which is listed as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and is used by the food industry?  Is it natural?

 

 You  might use cornstarch or its more processed cousin, modified corn starch or modified tapioca starch.  Some consider cornstarch to be natural, but not modified cornstarch; however, good old cornstarch is a processed product.  Are either of them natural?

 

How about fractionated coconut oil?  Some consider it natural, while others do not, citing the processing necessary to separate the long chain fatty acids from the short ones.  What’s your opinion?

 

Some believe that even essential oils are not natural, due to the efforts involved to distill or otherwise obtain the essence of the plant.

 

Confused?  The subject is confusing, for sure. Given the complexities, which I believe shall prove to be more common as science and cosmetics develop, discerning natural will only become more difficult.

 

It is true that a few organizations for natural products do exist and that they have set down standards to which their members adhere, but the organizations are entirely voluntary and hold no power of regulation.  You may even find, if you were search them out and read their standards, that you may or may not agree with them.

So, what is natural?  I think I’ll leave that to you to decide!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles & wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Next Page »