The Week in Soap: 27th October, ’19

Today’s weekly catch up is going to be an experiment in speedy posting, I’m officially on holiday, but won’t have anything soapy to share next Sunday and I didn’t want to miss two weeks. Every week seems to get busier and busier, but I think this week that had more to do with being off this coming week and wanting to get all orders out and loose ends tied before I go away.

The main thing I wanted to show you before I go away is…. Drumroll please…. the Christmas bars!  The theme is ‘Let it Snow’, and there are five in the range:

Ice Queen

Spiced Orange

Sugar Plum

Gingerbread

Candy Cane

What do you think?

This week I delivered my first batch of 840 bars to Babipur, a local online company who offer ethical shopping for kids (and the grown ups in their lives).  I have many more bars for them ready to be wrapped, yet more curing and more still to be made, so they’re keeping me extremely busy but I’m SO grateful and happy to be working with them to spread the love of handmade soap 😉

I was lucky enough to secure two new stockists this week.  Firstly The Eating Gorilla is the areas newest vegan eatery which has had seriously great reviews in the few short months since it opened. The owner Diane was already a customer of mine and she was keen to share her love of my vegan friendly products with her customers

The Eating Gorilla

The second, Celyn’s is an independent shop which stocks a fabulous range of locally produced goods for the home and garden. It’s located in Llanbedr, on the west coast of Wales, just south of Harlech:

Celyn’s Llanbedr

In addition to all the deliveries I had to get out this week I also had my regular monthly craft fair in Porthmadog on Saturday:

Craft Show Display

and spent most of Friday night wrapping and labelling stock for that (oh, and a special order for 40 (FORTY :-0) gift sets that were being picked up on Saturday evening – I was wrapping THEM in my sleep Friday night lol, but sadly I forgot to take a quick pic of them before I handed them over).

Finally, because we’re away next week over Halloween, my kids decided to carve their pumpkins early, and I did a bit of seed roasting for the first time.  Oh my word how have I never done this before? Home roasted Salted, Spiced and Honey  pumpkin seeds are DELICIOUS!  And the children agree, so that’s a win 😉

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tomorrow we head off on holiday for five days – taking the children to do the whole sightseeing shebang in London.  There’ll be no soapy stuff going on, but hopefully lots of exploring, fun and… walking. Unfortunately I managed to twist BOTH my ankles this week – my right one last Sunday while out with the pup, and then on Wednesday my left one went and I took a dramatic tumble. Ouch 😦  They’re improving and I’m hoping that all of the walking to come this week won’t make them worse.

Thanks for reading – I’ll be back in a fortnight if not before!

Vicki

The Week in Soap: 20th October, ’19

I can’t be the only one who’s incredulous that there’s only a week and a half left of October? They say time flies when you’re having fun so I guess I must be having a whale of a time 😉

I didn’t manage to get a weekly update out last week, I posted the info about the solid conditioner bars (here) and that, it would appear, brought me to the limit of my available blogging time. However, you really didn’t miss much. I made soap. I wrapped soap. I labelled soap. I dispatched soap to retail and wholesale customers. I read about soap and talked about soap soap – in person and online.  Oh, I took the dog for a few walks as well.

Seriously though, I am living and breathing soap at the moment (with the odd foray into solid conditioner bars). I’m running out of space in my rented office space (a 20 second commute over the road above the village Tourist Info Shop – I should share some pics sometime), and I definitely need a larger making area at home.  It feels like I should be expanding my space, but there isn’t really anywhere local I could move into, and the children are still too small for me to travel too far afield.  We’ve talked about the possibility of building a workshop in the garden, which would solve the studio space issue, but I’d still be struggling for curing / wrapping / packing space. It’s one of those things that’s on the back burner, but always there, niggling at me to find a solution, so I’m trying not to fret about it too much during the run up to Christmas, and will give it some more thought in January / February (supposedly my ‘quiet’ time, but it didn’t quite work out that way this year so we’ll see).

I’ve had a big run on guest bars this last couple of weeks. The guest houses and holiday lets around here continue to be occupied throughout autumn and are always full over Christmas and New Year, so I think everyone’s getting their orders in now to be sure they don’t run out over the festive period.  I have 250 of these mini bars to cut and bevel over the next two or three days. Thankfully customers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and don’t always want them fully wrapped – the ‘naked’ option is becoming more popular, and I always provide a full ingredients list and other mandatory info for the customer to pass on to their guests.

Lavender Guest Bars

Ooh, and I’ve added a new fragrance to the FO range… During the summer I released four limited edition bars, one of which was Watermelon, which proved to be extraordinarily popular. And justifiably so – it smells utterly delicious.  When I dropped Tutti Frutti from the core range I had room for a new regular fragrance and adding Watermelon was a no-brainer.  Here’s the very first batch of 60 in the mould:

Watermelon in the Mould

I said in my last weekly update that I would share a bit more about the Christmas range soon but I’ve STILL not managed to take any photos. I hereby undertake, no, I PROMISE, that I shall reveal the Christmas range in my next update post. *Adds another thing to this week’s to-do list*

I’m still working on my HUGE order that I alluded to back on the 22nd September.  The first batch are now all fully cured and are bevelled and ready for wrapping. There are almost 800 bars just in this first delivery to get labelled up with a cigar band wrap, and I’m so grateful that my lovely friend has been willing to come round and help me in return for a cuppa and a chat.  Now these are new to me, but I love the way they look, and I’m edging more and more towards doing my own this way. They’re eco-friendly, look great, and are quick to wrap once you get into the swing of them.  However my customer is an online only company, so these bars won’t be sitting on a shop shelf for any length of time, whereas mine would be, so I’m not sure whether it would work for my wholesale customers? I think I’m going to give it a go though. Here’s a sneak peek of some we’ve wrapped already:

Custom Order Packaging

And finally, here are some pics of cut soap and soap in the mould from the last couple of weeks…

Triple Coffee Scrub

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Thursday Night’s mega-making session

Serenity Essential Oil Bars

Thanks for reading, back soon!

Vicki

Solid Conditioner Bars – What’s in Them?

Solid Conditioner Bars

With the continuing drive to reduce single use plastic, solid conditioner bars have become more and more popular in recent months. I started experimenting with mine sometime last year, but the development / certification process can be a long one, and it wasn’t until the 2nd of October that I received the *Cosmetic Product Safety Assessment (CPSR) which meant I could finally offer solid conditioner bars to the public (and you can be sure that they’re perfectly safe to use)

So what are they made of?

Here’s the full ingredients list for the unscented version. Beneath I’ll give the same list in plain English.

BTMS25 (Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol), Cetyl Alcohol, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Phenoxyethanol,

Plain English:

BTMS25 (Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol), Cetyl Alcohol, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Preservative (Phenoxyethanol)

The chances are some of these ingredients will be unfamiliar to you.  It’s possible that they might even ring alarm bells and I’m guessing that the ones that may cause concern are BTMS25 (Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol), Cetyl Alcohol and Preservative, so let me address these in turn.

1 Behentrimonium Methosulfate

Unfamiliar though this sounds, don’t be alarmed into lumping this sulfate with the ‘bad guys’ (eg sodium lauryl sulfate SLS) It’s a gentle surfectant, non irritating to the scalp, and one of the mildest (yet effective) detanglers, giving ‘slip’ to your hair after washing. Made from Rapeseed Oil.

2. Cetearyl Alcohol / Cetyl Alcohol

These are both fatty alcohols that occur naturally in plants and animals. I have been given a personal assurance from my supplier (The Soapery) that not only are the ones I use vegan friendly, they’re also palm free, being derived from coconut. They are used in conditioners for their emulsifying and moisturising properties.

3. Preservative (Phenoxyethanol)

Any solid conditioner MUST, by law, contain a preservative before it can be made available for sale. This is because once it comes into contact with water, there is the opportunity for bacterial, mould and yeast growth.  Preservative or botulism? Regardless of the legalities, I know which I would choose.  Phenoxyethanol has been called a ‘natural’ preservative, but this is a little misleading. It does appear in nature (in green tea, and chicory) but the one I use is a nature identical version created synthetically. It is free from parabens. This article gives a good, balanced overview of the use of Phenoxyethanol in cosmetic products.

The other ingredients (coconut and jojoba oils, shea butter and glycerin) are added for their moisturising properties.

I currently offer three versions of the conditioner bars to match the shampoo bars: Unfragranced, Lemongrass & Spearmint and Bergamot & Lime.  The ingredients are identical, other than the added essential oils.

*A CPSR is a legal requirement for ANY cosmetic / skin & body care product before it can be placed on the market in the European Union.  Please make sure that any handmade product of this type has been certified before you make a purchase.

The Week in Soap: 6th October ’19

Monday and Tuesday of last week were the big soaping days – this was the result of Monday’s session:

180 Soap & Shampoo Bars

On Tuesday I was mostly speed (read: ‘panic’) making Christmas soaps.  I made a  load weeks ago, thinking I was really on the ball, but I wasn’t happy with them.  AT ALL  😦

I prevariacated for a while, conscious that time was getting on and that I needed to make a quick decision, and finally this last week I redesigned and made bars that I’m happy with – phew! They’ll be released a little later than I’d hoped, but still in plenty of time for the holiday period.  I don’t have any pictures yet, but I’ll share the fragrances next week, and perhaps a photo or two the following week – maybe 😉  In the meatime, here’s a sneaky peek that doesn’t give too much away 😀

Festive Collection Sneaky Peek

A brand new stockist came on board last week, Snowdonia Nurseries in Glan Conwy. They’ve taken a lovely range of soaps for their gift shop, and shared these photos with me over the weekend:

Snowdonia Nurseries Display

Snowdonia Nurseries Display

Snowdonia Nurseries Display

Snowdonia Nurseries Display

The next bit of excitement last week was the fact that my Cosmetic Product Safety Report finally came through from my solid conditioner bars.  It’s illegal to sell any body care / cosmetic product in the UK (well, the EU actually) without one of these reports, which proves that your recipe has been checked by a qualified chemist and is safe to use. So although I’ve had them ready for a while, I’ve not been able to sell them until that report came through.  These are some of the ones I made during the formulating / testing process:

Solid Conditioner Bars

They’ll be available in three varieties initially, to match the shampoo bars – Bergamot & Lime, Lemongrass & Spearmint and Unscented – but more varieties will be coming soon.  Now I just need to get making!  A few people have asked for more information about the ingredients etc so I’ll be writing a dedicated post about the conditioner bars later on this week.

Lastly, I’m giving away a free mini Peppermint Scrub bar with all orders over £10 this week (while stocks last).  These are what’s left over when I make the full size peppermint bars – I use the usual amount of soap mix but because there’s so much extra stuff in there (ground apricot stone and oats) there’s far too  much to fit my regular moulds and I have plenty left over to make these little ones – a little treat for my valued customers 🙂

Mini Peppermint Scrubs

Thanks for reading, back soon!

Vicki