24 jul. 2012

Eucalyptus Mint Goat's Milk Soap

Here's what I've been working on this week... It's a beautiful mix of eucalyptus and mint EOs, layered green and white with a failed attempt at white texturing on the top which I hid underneath calendula petals. In the end it turned out beautiful and no one will ever know the hardships of trying to do a textured top on this soap!

Since it's made with goat's milk instead of water, I tried to prevent gelling by froze it for one day, then putting it on the fridge for another day to "defrost" and now it's been sitting on my worktable for about two days and is still too soft to cut. I'll wait two more days to see what happens. For once I'm glad the temp outside has dropped a bit, that way I don't have to worry about the soap suddenly deciding to gel :)

It smells just absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to try it!

On another note, it seems I can request a review of my case in the local government's office, that way I might get approved to have the shop where I live. I really don't want to have to rent!!

Wish me luck!


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20 jul. 2012

Squirt Bottle Technique - How To Video

And it's here! The video I promised you guys. It shows how I did used squirt/ketchup bottles to simulate the spooning technique.



18 jul. 2012

Sneak peak!

Wow! It's been a long while since I wrote anything! Sorry about that! Between being on business trips, vacations, planning for the new house and a terrible soaper's block it's been difficult just getting up in the mornings. But I'm back! (hopefully) and with new ideas and full of energy. I want to get this party started :)

I have a sneak peek for you guys today. Have you ever had a fragrance that you just love but it doesn't seem to sell that well? I've come to the theory that it all depends on the color, I had one that just would not sell, change the color and it flew off the shelves. So I have this other one which I just haven't gotten to yet, until today. So to break my soaper's block I used a new technique (new to me at least) and revamped the fragrance....so here's a riddle...what is a lovely fresh men's fragrance that smells like the color seafoam green should smell like, is named after a "green country" and a fabric? Green Irish Tweed!!! I just LOOOVE that fragrance but it just doesn't click with the multiple colors/techniques I've used. So today I gave it a really strong ultramarine blue and neon green coloring using the sauce bottle technique. I made the bottom 2/3 white, and the top third I alternated squirting soap from the bottles. I hope it turns out really nice! I've been meaning to try Kafé's spoon technique but just don't have the patience for it, I think the bottle technique will give me a similar look without driving me completely nuts!

I've just finished the log, so I'll be cutting tomorrow afternoon and hopefully will have a really nice video of the whole thing by Friday - crossing my fingers that life won't get in the way :)

I leave you with a pic of how it looks so far...


16 may. 2012

Capuccino Cupcake soap - video tutorial

I finally finished editing the cupcake soap video tutorial!

Hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed making the soaps. I'll be trying more "flavors" for sure, they were such fun to make!


15 may. 2012

Soap display ideas

 I've been searching the web for a nice soap display I can offer the retail stores with my product. Up until now I've used cute baskets, but the soap really doesn't shine in them. So I want to make a display that will showcase the product and be a perk for the store to have on their counter.

So far these are the ones I like the most, our first idea was the one in the bottom left hand corner, but we are thinking about the weight - will it hold in a glass countertop? Probably not unless it is a really light wood. Then we thought of the one in the middle of the second line from the top, it uses a lot less wood so it will weigh less. I wanted to go with MDF and do some type of country paint on it, but my hubby doesn't feel comfortable working with MDF, so we'll go with pine probably.

What types of soap displays do you like/have on your stores?

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10 may. 2012

It's been a while!

Goat's Milk, Mint and Lemongrass Soap
Wow...it's really been a while since I've written anything in my blog. I got hit with a big couple of orders, went to a 2 week training in the US and got back to work on my black belt certification (quality not martial arts). I've been really busy, but not soaping at all...I'm down to a couple of bars of each soap and don't have coconut oil to soap with!! It's been on backlog for the past couple of weeks and it's driving me nuts!

Anyways, I did the soap challenge with goat's milk soap - which is ready by now...I've actually sold a couple already to a special lady who is going through chemo and loves this soap because it soothes her skin and the fragrance doesn't make her sick.

Cappuccino Cupcake Soap

I also did the piping challenge, and just sold 2 of those :) I just regret not keeping up with the challenges, but my career at this moment is more important :)

I received two delicious packages, one from Jaboneria Suval in Spain and another from Dana in Germany. Boy am I enjoying them! Really really nice treats for me...only problem is trying to get my family not to touch them...they're mine! My precious!! hahaha

Hope to drop by more often.

25 mar. 2012

Challenge #1 - In the pot swirl

Great Cakes Soapworks in hosting a challenge where she is pushing our soaping limits with new techniques. And since we don't need much pushing to do soap, we're having the times of our lives. For week 1 challenge we were supposed to do a in the pot swirl. I haven't really been successful with the technique but went ahead anyways. Here's how it went:


16 mar. 2012

New video up - faux funnel swirl

Wow...days go by sooo fast...sorry for the lack of posts lately! I wanted to share with you a video I made last week. In it I show the faux funnel swirl process with a crazy blend of colors (neon pink and neon green with white). It was really fun to make, the fragrance was great and matched the colors perfectly! It's in spanish but completely self explanatory. Enjoy!!

xoxo Irene

7 mar. 2012

Savonnerie Mika - Review (finally!)

Where to start? Her soaps are amazingly wonderful, full of fragrance, smooth to the touch and bubbly. Each type of soap is different in itself yet possesses the same characteristics above. 

My favorite one was Crème Myrtille, but I'm a fruity sweet type of person (my husband would say fruitcake har har). I could actually imagine that particular scent as a marmalade I could eat, it was fresh, sweet, fruity and the soap's texture was wonderful too, just the slightest bit exfoliant but otherwise smooth to the touch. That soap went down fast! It was kidnapped by my 7 year old daughter as her favorite too.

My second favorite was Champ de Colza. It was the smoothest in texture of them all. The yellow part having a feel very much like a wax candle, and the orange part having a nice grittiness to it from the clay. I thought is was wonderful for the face, it provided just the perfect amount of fragrance and exfolliating action. I don't particularly like strong fragrances in soaps near my face, they make my nose itch and my eyes water, but this one was ust perfect. Really bubbly too.

Next up was the lavandin soap. What a soap! It goes beyond straight up lavender. There were like different layers of lavender fragrance in there, really hard to explain… When I first opened the package from Mika, this was the scent that was most overpowering, and it continued to smell strong even after it was just a sliver in the shower. It left my skin extra smooth and had really nice lather. The inclusion of lavandin for sure made a difference. I would have to say though, that I would include a hard butter to the mix, it was the one that lasted the least in the shower, although it might have been from overuse :)

Red clay  was lovely for shaving! The inclusion of clay and the fragrance made it a pleasure to shave my legs, even in almost freezing water (heater broke down :( ) I did not get nicked, it just helped me get a better shave. I asked hubby to use it for his face and he really liked it as well.

Zen had a very strong fragrance, it smelled really woodsy but sharp. I thought it would be better suited as a men's fragrance, but again I prefer sweet fruity smells. The lather on that one was amazing! And it was super smooth on the skin. From all the soaps, I liked this one the best in regards to feeling clean and soft after using it. I haven't given it to my hubby yet for him to test yet, I don't want to let go such a beautiful bar.

The one I'm using now is Cannelle Orange. It is a very nice bar, it's lasted forever in my shower (I now have hot water - yay!!) It's really bubbly and smells really nice. Not too strong, just right I would say, a perfect mix of citrus and woodsy. Can't really make out the cinnamon, but it's definitely not outright citrus I smell. The design on this one just blew me away, it super simple yet very pleasing. It looks exactly how it smells.

The only one I haven't tried yet is Ma douce. It sits here in my desk and I get to look at it every few seconds :) The feather swirls are just amazing, even after watching her video on how to make them I don't think I could accomplish such perfection. Eventually I'm going to run out of her soap and have to use this one, but for now, I will continue to admire it and feel inspired by it.

Thanks Mika for sending me such a wonderful array of your soaps!! I have enjoyed them a lot and my family has as well. I believe you have a perfectionist approach to your soap, and the love and effort is evident in each bar.

(All photos taken from Mika's website)


27 feb. 2012

Soap swirling video

I've been kinda uninspired lately in the soaping area. I've been running around getting everything in order to obtain my health permit and it's really depressing and tiring. I've yet to write up the review for Mika's soaps (sorry Mika) - I want it to be as good and neat as her creations are. I can say that they are yummylicious, but I'll leave the rest for later - pics and all!

I did do a little video on soap swirling I want to share with you. It's for a soap using on of the new fragrances I got in my last shipment form Elements Bath and Body, called Sensuous Black Rose. Really nice rosy scent without it being overpowering, more like the aroma at a flower shop...really really nice!

Hope you enjoy the video!

18 feb. 2012

Goodies in the mail

Look what came in the mail yesterday! A beautiful package of soap goodies from Mika (Savonnerie Mika). They are so beautiful and smell divine! I'm in for some delicious testing this weekend...

Thanks Mika!



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13 feb. 2012

My other stuff

I was thinking the other day that I never talk about the other products I make. Granted they aren't as exciting to make as soap, but they sure are hot sellers! I have three types of lip balm, with the same base for the three: beeswax, olive oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil, plus vitamin E and flavoring. I make mint and tea tree lip balm - for super damaged lips; honey lip balm, which is my favorite, but I have a hard time emulsifying it; and chocolate lip balm, that I make with chocolate chips for flavor and color - soooo goooood!!

I've always been addicted to lip balm and it's quite expensive. I got to investigating and the formula I work with now is about 50 cents to make including lip tube! I really like it, it is soft on my lips yet really really moisturizing, plus it's a hot seller because I sell it for a third of the price the regular lip balm sells for and it's just soo good on the lips (men really like it too). They're not makeup as I don't put micas or any other color inducing ingredient, but rather moisturizing balms, and the other day I found out they act as sunscreen. I went to the beach and due to the medication I'm taking now my lips and skin around them crack like crazy, so I use the lip balm on my lips and around. I after a day in the sun I looked in the mirror and I had this white "halo" around my mouth. I realized that it must have been the lip balm that prevented me from getting tanned there! I looked really funny for a couple of days :P

I want to include other flavors to the bunch, but I haven't made time to go to the store to see what selection is available. For sure I want to include cherry and strawberry, lemon seems to be a hot seller as well, just need to find the right lemony taste. Which flavor lip balm do you like?

I also make solid perfumes. They're on a base of beeswax, olive oil and sunflower oil. They melt as you rub on them, then apply the product on your skin. It leaves a nice smell, they're not sticky and they last a while. They don't sell as well as the lip balms, I suppose because people are not accustomed to the format, but they are slowly selling better. My supplier keeps discontinuing the pots I buy, but I found someone else to purchase from, it feels like I'm cheating on my husband because I really like the quality of their product and I can buy fragrances + containers in the same place, but the containers they have now are either too expensive or too ugly :( So for now I buy from someone else (please don't tell).

Soon to come...body butter, I just have to find the right name for it...it's literal translation would be something like body lard, which doesn't sound too appealing...so I have to get creative o_O


8 feb. 2012

Liquid shampoo test #6

I'm at it again - trying to figure out this shampoo thing. Only this time I'll make a liquid one. First because it's easier to add the neutralizer (borax/citric acid/vinegar) and then because we're out of liquid soap at home.

I've been noticing a slight rancid smell on the last of my liquid soap, same as for the last tubes of lip balm. the only two things in common are sunflower and cocoa butter, and I don't think it's the cocoa butter...I think it comes from the sunflower oil, so I made this recipe without it.

It's a really cleansing / conditioning soap, which will be perfect for my DDs hair which tends to get really dry - but she's a 7 year old so she needs a really good cleanser. I hope the vinegar doesn't kill the bubbles like it did on my shampoo bar. I suppose you could also use a citric acid solution instead of the vinegar, which is what I'm going to try today, I absolutely hate how vinegar smells, so I can't stomach putting it in the soap while hot (mom used to make her own ketchup and she would boil tomatoes in vinegar for hours on end - the house would stink for hours!!).

I'll infuse the water with calendula, rosemary and mint - just to make it better for our hair/hands, and I'll use my infused olive oil. Mint and rosemary stimulate the muscles and fend off hair nasties. Not sure what fragrance I'll use, tea tree smells too medicine like and I think the only other EO I have is ylang ylang which I don't really like. So I think I'll have to go with FO instead of EO.

Really hoping this works like I want it to. I'm tired of over paying for shampoo that is full of chemicals.

P.D. I've just sent some soap over to Mika form Savonnerie Mika...I can't wait to hear from her when she gets it :)

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2 feb. 2012

Another retail store location added :)

Today I innocently went by a local health store here where I live (population 6000 so you can imagine our "town"). I took some of my soaps and offered to leave them in consignment. I don't mind doing business like that as an introduction of my product to that particular store, so when I noticed the store owner was nervous about buying the soap, I just told him straight out you can have them in consignment. He jumped up at the idea and said yes :) It also helps that I'm a regular as I buy my beeswax from him every month or so.

He also asked me about my production levels. I told him honestly I don't produce much because I don't have many places to sell and it doesn't make sense to make product to have laying around in my lab (insert geeky comment about project management: "inventory is one of the seven wastes identified by 6 sigma"). He told me that this store is part of a bigger chain of stores of about 20+ all around Costa Rica, so he was interested in knowing if I could cope with having product in all the stores. What a question?!? I had to do a quick sum in my head which went kind of like this: I left him with 18 bars of soap - 2 of each kind. 1 batch = 10 bars so 2 batches (to cover 20 stores) of each soap times 9 = 18...each batch is done in about an hour considering mixing, cutting, labeling...so that's 18 hours a month to start with...not bad! so I told him "Of course I can!" I did make it very clear to him that depending on the soap and if I didn't have the qty on hand it could take me from one to four weeks to deliver, that he should take that into consideration. He said that not a problem and then told me that he has a distribution company if I wouldn't be interested in making my product labeling it made by ___ for ____. I said absolutely! Both scenarios would be awesome for my brand! Both have me mildly terrified!!

So it all depends on how the product sells in his shop. Hoping he'll call me tomorrow to say he doesn't have any more left!


1 feb. 2012

Valentine soap - vanilla chocolate hearts

This is a late late addition to my valentine soap. It's scented with vainilla and chocolate delight fragances (2 parts vanilla, 1 part chocolate delight) for a decadent sweet sticky scent that goes perfectly with the black and red theme. I've cut this up in little 3/4 oz rounds and plan to sell them in organza bags (5 to each bag).

As you can see by the first pic, it traced really quickly and I almost couldn't finish the hearts, but they turned out cool in the end. I wish you could smell it - it's so decadent!

I CPOP'd this one so it could be ready for sale by next week, just in time for Valentine's!

What products have you done for Valentine's day?


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30 ene. 2012

Coffee Swirl Soap

The other day I made some coffee swirl soap, the top looked wonderful but there's always that question mark as to how the inside looks. In this case I was super excited to see that the swirls also happened on the inside, making this soap a real beauty.
Like I explained in my previous post, my first two passes were lengthwise and then two figure 8 passes with a kabob stick. I originally started out doing it the other way around, but the results were ok (not amazing). So with this one I tried it lengthwise then 8s and it turned out wonderful! Also when pouring I alternated the colors, so that helped with the internal swirls. I enhanced the white with titanium dioxide and the black with black oxide - usually coffee only gets me so far.
I've asked my hubby to help me out making a video of how I pour the colors and how I swirl. It'll just be easier than trying to explain what I do. so look out for that :)
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27 ene. 2012

Coffee Soap redo

 Remember my very naughty coffee soap that boiled over? The one I videoed? Well it's been curing for about a month now and it is still horrible, it didn't improve with age. It works perfectly and washes dishes like a marvel...but it's not pretty. I'm keeping to use around the house, but certainly not for sale.

Having said that, I got around to redoing it today. I took the precaution of preparing the coffee and letting it sit in water with ice for a while until it was cold, I added the lye and stirred inside the ice water so it wouldn't over heat. That seemed to do the trick. Since I'm hooked on swirls I did this one as a swirl rather than bottom 1/3 dark top 2/3 white with specks. It's getting easier and easier to handle two separate colors vs. one batch that I need to split in the end - specially handy when 2/3 need to have coffee instead of water. And the swirls just keep on getting better and better.

The first few batches I swirled, I started off by doing two passes of figure eights then up and down across the length of the mould. They looked nice but kinda killed the swirl. With this batch I tried the other way around, first up and down the length of the mould then two sets of figure eights and I love it! It looks so much better!

Do you have a favorite method of swirling??


22 ene. 2012

Feels like Christmas all over again!!

Getting the things you ordered in the mail feels just like Christms all over again :-)

I had ordered calendula petals and lavender buds from Brambleberry.com along with their mini mixer for mixing powder colorants. I had also ordered micas and pigments from TKB Trading. They all arrived on Thursday!! My lab smelled delicious from the calendula...and the colors looked beautiful. I couldn't wait to try them out!

First on my to do was infuse olive oil (68 oz) with the calendula petals (1 1/2 cups). I put them on my slow cooker and had them on low for about one hour, I let it sit overnight and turned it on again for about two more hours and let it cool off in the pot. Once it was cool I put it back in the bottle. It is such a pretty golden color now. I used tasting olive oil so I don't have to worry about it having it's own fragrance or color. I'll finally have the chance of making calendula soap again!! And I was also thinking about a calendula lip balm, for extra damaged lips :-)

With my pigments I made some mini soaps using a cookie sheet. My whole recipe fits in it making soap that is about 3/4 of an inch high. I then cut it with a round cookie cutter or in squares. Only I didn't want to wait four weeks for it to set...so I baked it :O

I put it in the oven at 180 F (70 C) and cooked it for two hours. That was like one hour more after it had completely gelled. I took it out and it was completely transparent and it took about half an hour to harden and the colors to pop. For next time I'll probably leave it in the oven after I've turned it off...just a feeling as the soap was completely cooked through, I didn't get zapped with it. After it cooled I went ahead and cut it. I really want to test it out to see if it worked. If it does then I've solved my biggest problem with selling CP to B&Bs, which is the long wait.

For today I have my soaping day planned out....so much to do and such little time.



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16 ene. 2012

Shampoo soap experiment, part 1

Hi all! I've finally gotten around to initiating my shampoo experiment. If you remember in my Shampoo Challenge post I wanted to create a shampoo that would leave my hair feeling soft and silky without any fillers or other nasty chemicals. So I was going to do a normal shampoo and lower the pH by using vinegar. I finally got around to doing the shampoo, at least part #1. I went for the bar soap, hot process because I'm impatient and could not think of waiting 4 weeks for a test. The recipe is as follows:
I also added 12 gr each of Almond oil, avocado oil and castor oil at trace for superfatting. Like mentioned I cooked this, for about 2 hours until I didn't get zapped. It has a lovely natural clean fragrance and a greenish tint to it.
This is the first part of the experiment because now I will grate it and remelt it, adding the vinegar in to lower the pH. I will also try the same with boric acid and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The idea is to test each to see how it feels on my hair. As before, I will leave a "control" bar without any of the additives to see if there is a difference.
Each chunk will be about 4 ounces, since the whole recipe was a pound of soap. Also, since my mother in law is at my house she graciously offered to try the shampoo as well. Her hair type is completely different from mine, so it'll be good for testing purposes. maybe it works for me and not her or the other way around - who knows?
I leave you with a pic of a very sad and ugly looking shampoo - hoping it will look nicer after remelting...


12 ene. 2012

2011 Business Recap

Complexion soap
Since we're starting a new year, I wanted to do a recap of what's happened during the last year. It's been a roller coaster ride for my business...which started out to fulfill a personal need, then my mother in law invited me to my first fair and then...well...it turned into an obsession. I desperately wanted to make beautiful soap - and like many other fellow soapmakers - my dream is to have a soaping empire much like Lust or Bath and Body.

2nd fair I was invited to

I also started using only plastic molds...I had one set plain and one massage set. So I did very small batches of each kind of soap, and several batches to have enough product to show on the fairs. I also had a hard time sourcing coconut oil, so most of my recipes didn't have any. They still turned out really nice and smelled wonderful, no fragrances, just the smell from the different additives - honey and oats, bergamot oil, carrots, etc. They were very simple soaps that suited my needs. After those two first fairs I realized that although my soap were good for me, it's not what the buyers were looking for. So I set myself to investigating what the "standard" was and reaching that standard. I finally got a good contact for coconut oil, and added cocoa butter to the mix as well. Being the project manager I am, I made a standard formula that would minimize wastes (time, effort, money). I also started making lip balms and perfumes. A total face lift! I was decided to have extremely successful stands on the next fairs.

So by mid year, my soap had grown to it's beautiful 4 oz, it now included micas for coloring and fragrance oils as well as essential oils. Completely different from what I began with, but with the same objective in mind - 0 allergies.

It's certainly been amazing, learning new techniques getting inspired by all those great soap artists and just letting my imagination run wild.

I don't want it to end, I want this year to be just as amazing. I don't want to stand still I want to continually evolve. There's a saying here in Costa Rica that goes something like this: if the shrimp falls asleep it gets swept away by the current. So with that in mind I'll be sure to stay awake.

I leave you with a video on the highlights of my year.


10 ene. 2012

Toscana Refreshed

New Toscana
I've been struck with swirl fever as of late...I love how they look but I couldn't get them exactly the way I wanted them to be...that is...until yesterday!

I remade Toscana, which originally was hot process in the pot swirl with just a tiny amount of red and black. For this one I went all out with the color...yellow was actually a spin off from the fragrance. I also added a little more fragrance than what I'm used to, to suit my customers which are scent heavy. I think it just looks fabulous!
Original Toscana

Increasing the 2 oz of water has made a great difference, I still feel it's too wet after 12 hrs, but cutting it is easier and it doesn't crumble as much.


9 ene. 2012

Busy week

OK...so a lot has happened this week...I'll try my best to summarize. I made three batches of soap...wanted to do more but ran out of coconut oil - note to self: have two bins, when one runs out go an buy another...that way I'll always have some. Anyways, I made some straight up honey soap which seems to workbetter than honey oats or honey milk and oats - no fragance on this one except for the natural honey.

I also made some lavender soap. I recently switched to another brand of EOs and they seem to be stronger smelling - which I like. I also resolved to not care about cost when it comes to fragrance...meaning to go for medium to strong smelling soap. In the lavender batch I did just that and it came out smelling wonderful. Remamber the test I did with the vegetable colorant? Since it turned out such a wonderful purple I went ahead and used it for this batch. It turned out purple on the edges and blue on the inside! I have no idea why...I'm guessing either the cocoa butter, sunflower oil or lavender EO had something to do with it because that is all that changed from the test recipe. It still looks very nice though.

 While doing these two test batches I kept noticing how the bottom of each bar cracks a little when cutting it. I ran the recipe through soap calc and it gave me a full 2 oz more of water (I usually use MMS calc). So for my next batch I increased the water a little and it seemes to help...though the soap lookes too "wet" for my taste when I cut it.

I made carrot soap...and boy that carrot was used to the last bit. I first extracted the juice and added at trace along with some of the pulp. It colored the soap a nice orange color which turned out pretty nice. Since I had so much pulp left I made some carrot muffins...they were so yummy the kids didn't mind eating them even though they had nasty Mr. orange carrot - my daughter has this thing about orange food. I had also processed some aloe vera for the soap but it didn't actually work so well as it just made some green gunk at the bottom of the bin...so I didn't include it in the soap....and I couldn't bring myself to putting it in with the muffin batter either. So I offered my mother in law a hair mask! She was delighted. So while the muffins were cooking she got a nice salon treatment :-) She is currently nursing a broken ankle at my house...so any extra pampering is very much appreciated.

So that was my first week of the year...a lot busier than other weeks. How was yours?

P.D. Need to take better pics of soaps...these are horrible!



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3 ene. 2012

Hello 2012!!

Swirl soap rounds
I hope you've all had a great Holiday season and a good rest. I spent a great time at the beach with my family but now it's time to grab the new year by the horns.

I'm trying to get in the roster for Expo Yoga...a two day fair held with Yoga and environmental friendly products. So I'm trying to prep in advanced to have some nicely cured soap for it - Feb 18 & 19.

I want to include more essential oils rather than fragrance oils, but they are so expensive and limited here :-( And I refuse to go into a pyramid like business with several of the sellers. So I have to stick to the most normal ones. I still got a really great scent mixing rosemary, geranium, orange and lavender. I did some fancy swirls and cut them in nice little 3/4 oz rounds. These will be sold in muslim bags. I thought they were really cute, hope customers do too.
Cutting in process

Back side of soap

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