Sunday, 29 June 2008

Update on the Soap Fairies Visit

Well, the soap fairies certainly seemed to have enjoyed the visit to our house, because they decided to come back! Remember the poisonous looking yellow soap, which I had to cook and shred to save it? And my lovely plans for it? Well.............. the soap fairies had other ideas, LOL.

I decided on a well used recipe for the base soap, to which I wanted to add the shreds and also top it with shreds. But as the scent of the shreds wasn't all that strong, I thought it a good idea to add a little fragrance to the base soap as well. BAD IDEA! I wanted something to compliment the scent of the soap shreds and sniffed my way through all my FOs, and of course I just had to pick another one from a batch bought which I hadnt used before. Guess what? Yep, soap fairies spat in it. It set up very quickly, but I managed to handstir the shreds in and top the log as well, but...... after alittle while it separated again and a huge oil lake appeared on the top of the soap. It started absorbing back into the soap a little over the next couple of days, but I didn't hold out much hope, I feared for the worst again.

So yesterday I finally unmoulded it, with oil dripping everywhere and yes, as I had feared....... poisonous yellow splotches all around the bottom. I was not a very happy bunny. So what to do? Sling it in the bin? Waste all those oils and fragrances ( which, btw still smelled delicious in the soap, darnit )? The soap didn't have any zap so it would definitely be ok to use, but oh boy, those yellow bits were gross. Sigh, it was majorly frustrating. The only thing I could do was yet another rebatch. Fortunately ( and I have no idea why ) the yellow areas were all round the bottom, so I cut these areas off, chunked up the rest of the soap and chucked it in the cooking pot.

Added a little water and stirred like crazy while it heated up, until it was all melted down nicely to a kind of soft mashed potato consistency. Slopped it into the mould, had a few words with it, basically to tell it to b...dy well behave itself or else, and left it overnight.

And lo and behold, just this once my stern words must have had some effect on it, because when I took the soap out of the mould this morning, it was............. normal looking soap, hurrah! Not the prettiest of soaps but it looks kind of wholesome in a rustic sort of way, LOL, it smells great and has lovely lather. It is still very soft, because of the added water, but I am confident that in a few weeks time this will be a lovely soap to use.

I just hate waste and if there is ever any chance of saving a batch, I'll give it a go. They might not be as beautiful as other soaps, but they are special, because they have been given a second ( or third, lol ) chance and survived despite all the hiccups.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Hurrah, new soaps!

It has been a long while, because I have been busy formulating other things, but I finally couldn't resist the urge any longer and picked up the soaping spoon again. It was great getting back to planning, measuring, stirring, colouring, pouring etc etc, and putting the babies to bed under a nice warm blanket. And finally, two fresh soapies resting on the drying rack now. IT FEELS GOOD !

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Visits from the Soap Fairies

Even the most experienced soapers report visits from the soap fairies occasionally. And these are not the nice fairy godmothers who'd leave you with wonderful goodies, help you create the most wonderful soaps and generally make you feel good, but the nasty variety, the ones that spit in your soaping oils, poison your fragrances causing them to misbehave and drop your equipment on the floor.

I have had my fair share of visits, resulting in hissy fits, sudden hair loss ( due to pulling ) and frantic rescue attempts. Have a look at the following examples:

For this one, I used a recipe which I had used many times before, but I used a new fragrance oil. As soon as I added the FO, the soap turned a violent kind of sickly yellow and seized instantly. I just about managed to squash it into a mould, where it started separating after a little while! Oh boy, what a total mess. However, I can't just chuck "soap" out without at least trying to rescue it, and this FO smelled sooooo good!

Only thing to do was cutting it into chunks and melting it down and hoping for the best. I just added a little water and kept stirring the chunks until they were all dissolved and a very heavy gooey consistency.

The kind of ochre/yellow colour didn't change for the better, it just got deeper, the texture was somewhat rough but the delicious smell of the FO had survived! These poor little soapies were beyond ugly, but...... my thinking was, they could be shredded and the shreds added to a nice creamy soap along with calendula petals.

So yet another kitchen gadget found its way into the soaproom, lol, and I spent half an hour or so shredding the uglies into two different sizes. Now all I have to do is make a plain soap to add these to, lol! I'll update this post as soon as I have found some time to make a plain batch, I promise, and if I am taking too long, please feel free to kick my butt and nag nag nag.

Ok, on to another disastrous visit from the soap fairies. Again it was a tried and tested recipe, plus a FO which I hadn't tried before. The OOB smell was gorgeous and the FO was supposed to discolour to a lovely light yellow, so I planned a pretty, girly soap with pink curls on top. It moved quickly, but wasn't too bad, I managed to put lots of pink curlies on top of the soap batter in record time, and then the soap fairies waved their magic wands and the whole wretched thing started to separate, chunks of sort of soap floating in lakes of oils........... I was near tears

So out came the wooden spoon, and I very gently stirred it all together, trying not to destroy the pink soap curls, put it on a gentle heat on the stove and kept stirring until I had soap again........ with curly bits inside rather than on the top, lol. It was something of a miracle that this soap still turned out fairly decently, not the way it was meant to be, but not a total waste of ingredients and time either. And again, the wonderful scent survived being cooked!

If you have had a visit from the soap fairies, don't throw the messed up soap away immediately. Try saving it, using it in confetti soap, for example. When you have put so much effort, time and money into making it in the first place, its worth giving it that little bit more and rescuing it from a fate worse than death ( ie THE BIN ).

Monday, 23 June 2008

Shaving soap - not just for the boys

I am one of those girls who has never gotten on too well with hair removal products. I didn't like the smell of the creams, and didn't like the wait, and I certainly didn't like the pain of waxing or sugaring. So I have always shaved my legs and underarms. However, I wanted to get away from shaving foams and now I much prefer using a hand made shaving soap. The most important ingredient in a good shaving soap is clay. It provides wonderful slip and glide and helps to produce a firm dense and creamy lather ideal for shaving.

I have used green clay in this soap ( plus a few bits of a blue soap, just for a bit of added interest ) and I am very happy with the way it performs.

My DH uses the shaving soap in conjunction with the shaving oil I formulated. He just rubs a drop or two of shaving oil onto his skin and follows it with the shaving soap, and apparently it beats any other shaving product he has ever tried hands down. YAY!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Daily facial beauty routine

How much money and time do you spend each and every day on your beauty regime? Do you buy dozens of different jars/bottles for all sorts of different things - day moisturisers, night creams, eye creams, eye serums, lip serums, spot treatments, exfoliators for the face, the body, dry skin treatments etc etc etc, a whole dressing table or medicine cabinet full?

When I was a teenager, many many moons ago, I just couldn't be bothered with creams and lotions and potions, it seemed that a good wash was all that was needed to keep the skin clear and fresh looking.
Years later, after getting married and with a growing family, it was financially impossible to buy all the jars and bottles of miracle potions which, according to TV and magazines, were an absolute must if you didnt want to look like a wrinkled prune. I do remember buying a jar of cold cream a couple of times, when I was pregnant, and it did feel good on the skin.
Years later again, kids growing up, it was finally time to experiment with those wonderful creams, the magical concoctions promising ever youthful skin. Yes, they smelled nice and yes, they felt lovely and velvety on the skin, but did they make me look younger? Hmmm, I think not. So, most of the time I was terribly slabdash with my beauty regime, cream went on perhaps once a week or so, when I remembered, lol.
Fast foward to a few years ago when I started suffering ridiculous allergies, so badly that I even became allergic to the allergy tablets ( turned out it was work I was allergic to, lol, seriously ). I started getting huge red welts on my face, especially in the nose and cheek areas, and even after I stopped work and the allergies finally stopped, the welts kept appearing. By that time, I had become very interested in soaps, creams, any kind of cosmetic and started making my own.
BEST THING I HAD EVER DONE! After spending hundreds of hours reading and studying, I formulated a balm which got rid of the welts, I made a very gentle facial scrub to keep the skin nice and clear, made a salt soap for the face and formulated a facial serum. None of these contain harsh chemicals or preservatives ( hurrah, no parabens ! ), as none of them contain water, and I can honestly say that the beauty regime I use now is simple, effective, non time consuming and it works for me.

This is it - Two or three times a week, I use the gentle facial scrub. It is a dry mix of selected botanicals, including adzuki beans, for example, to which I just add a few drops of water, and gently massage it over my wet face for a minute or two. It leaves the skin feeling velvety soft, not stripped and tight, and I follow it with a few drops of the facial serum. The combination of squalane and some very fine oils with really wonderful properties keeps the skin velvety soft all day. Occasionally, I use a fruit and clay mask, maybe once every couple of weeks. It is a lovely thing to use when you want to feel really pampered. Again, I just follow it with a couple of drops of facial serum.

I only use the salt soap for washing my face these days. A salt bar will not produce lather in quite the same way as a normal soap ( see the post on salt bars ), but it is great for problem skin. Again, after washing with the salt bar, I just use a few drops of the serum on the face. Doing this morning and evening, my sking stays clear and soft.

I very rarely get outbreaks these days, but when I get very stressed, it can happen. The balm sorts that out within a couple of days, thankfully, so even though my skin still looks a little red round the nose, welts are a thing of the past. The balm works wonders on my DH's psoriasis as well. It is the only thing which keeps the flaking and redness under control.

The only other thing I use on my face these days is a lip balm, winter and summer alike, because my lips do get very dry very quickly.

I do make and use body lotion and handcreams for example, and I love making and using luxurious soaps and scrubs for the body, but my face loves my simple routine - facial scrub ( and occasional fruit and clay mask ), salt soap, serum, lip balm, thats it, and it seems to be keeping the prune stage away for a little longer. If you feel you don't need a salt bar for your face, then you can of course substitute a mild and gentle milk, goats milk or coconut milk if you are vegan.

( Rebatched goats milk soap )