Monday, 27 October 2014

Aloe Butter Lip Balms

This is the time of year I start thinking about lip balms and I've been experimenting with glorious, super-moisturising aloe butter. I've chosen a butter mixture of aloe vera in coconut oil which is perfect for balms and I've added peppermint essential oil for the 'zing' factor. I'm delighted with this lip balm which is gentle, moisturising and extremely re-hydrating. What more could you ask?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The wonders of avocados...

I've always had a passion for avocados, that gorgeous creamy flesh that lends itself so wonderfully to french dressing and prawns. I'm also a total believer in the power of avocado oil and this week I've been using it in both creams and soap.

My Avocado Skin Softener is a beautiful moisturiser, made with sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and of course, dark green avocado oil. I've added essential oils of patchouli and geranium for their skincare qualities and have ended up with one of my very favourite moisturisers.

Until now, I'd never thought of using it in soap but in fact research has shown that avocado is a particularly useful oil for soapmaking since it provides excellent conditioning and moisturising properties. So yesterday I set to in the soap kitchen and made a batch of olive oil and avocado soap.

I'm sharing my soap-making photos with you:-

1. Making
2. Pouring
3. Unmoulding 24 hours later
5. Cutting

This is a pure vegetable soap made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil (sustainable), avocado oil, shea butter and castor oil. For any soap-makers who may read this, the INS value is 149.

I've scented this with an exotic combination of essential oils...bay, pine and rosewood.

I can always tell when a soap will be good. It's immediately obvious when you remove it from the mould. This one came out beautifully and I feel very excited about it, but... patience is a virtue!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lavender Time Again

It's the time of year when I make my annual pilgrimage to the fabulous Mayfield Lavender Fields in Carshalton. This glorious suffusion of smell and colour almost takes my breath away.

Mayfield Lavender, Carshalton, Surrey.
I always treat myself to a bottle of their essential oil. They grow three varieties, last year I bought Grosso, this year I chose Folgate and I can't wait to use it.
As a rule I don't put it into my soap as this home-grown oil is so expensive that I feel it's a waste. Instead I save it for use in hand creams, lotions and of course my Perchance Sleep Balm.

Along with the locally sourced lavender essential oil I add essential oils of bergamot, frankincense and melissa which is the oil of lemon balm. 
Sweet Lavender Dreams!

In the same vein, I've today made some Lavender Calming Balm. This is 'bliss' in a pocket-sized tin. Along with the Folgate lavender essential oil I've also added a few drops or rose absolute. Definitely helpful for those stressful moments.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Dandelion & Honey Soap

I'm sharing a recipe in case there's any other soap-makers out there who read this and may want to know what to do with all those pesky dandelions which seem to appear overnight at this time of year.

Yesterday I collected a large bunch of dandelions both the leaves and flowers. I washed them and then poured boiling water over them and left it to steep overnight, thus making a lovely dandelion infusion.

My soap recipe consists of soyabean oil (Trex to those in the UK), coconut, olive and (sustainable) palm oils; and finally a small amount of natural beeswax.

This morning I measured the precise quantity of dandelion infusion, pouring it carefully through a strainer. It looked a very murky shade of greeny brown. I wasn't filled with confidence.

However, on adding the sodium hydroxide, it immediately brightened to a lovely mustard yellow which remained stable when I mixed the lye with the oils...

Using beeswax in soap can be tricky; it traces quickly so you have to work fast. In fact, mine behaved better than I expected and it took about 10 minutes to bring it to a nice trace. At this point I added the honey (1 dessertspoon) which I whisked in with an electric beater and then added essential oils. I used sweet orange, cassia (cinnamon) and rosemary.

So here you have the final picture of the soap being poured into the mould. It's now insulated and I shall take a peek tomorrow. I fully expect it to have lightened in colour but I can live with that. Pale yellow is better than dirty green!

Watch this space...!!

14th April 2014 UPDATE

I unmoulded the soap last night; it's beautifully hard and a dark orange colour rather than yellow. It's reminiscent of Wright's Coal Tar Soap.

I doubt if it will alter much in colour whilst it's curing so I'm fairly happy with this. However, with so many dandelions around I've tried a second experiment today infusing the flower heads only and using a colourless fragrance oil. This may lead to a lighter coloured soap. I'll keep you posted!

21st April UPDATE

No further colour change to report. I guess that the Dandelion & Honey Soap will stay this colour. The second batch using flower heads only turned out an identical colour! 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Love is in the air......

With February 14th fast approaching I thought it was time to make a few romantic and luxurious products.

I had started with the soap, which I made last October. It's a pure vegetable soap fragranced with essential oils of Vetiver, Lavender & Ylang Ylang - a rather sensuous affair!

Today I've made a super-luxurious lip balm flavoured with spearmint essential oil and a truly lovely rose hand cream which I've put into handbag-sized tins which always prove popular.

So here we have it...the Valentine's Day Trio...

"All you need is love"....well I am from Liverpool!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happy New year!

The end of the year found me in a somewhat reflective mood as I pondered on the last couple of years and the products I've made. 2013 was an even more productive year than 2012 with a total of 105 batches of soap being made and countless creams and lotions. I got thinking about my very favourite products - the ones I'd take to a desert island and thought I'd share these with you.

Top of my list in the soaps is the lovely Rhassoul Clay bar, made with natural Rhassoul Clay from Morocco - a detoxifying soap, marvellous for the face and non-drying. It also has my favourite essential oils - patchouli, lavender and rosewood; these make a delightful combination and I use it daily.

Next has to be a facial cream and I think that my Argan Oil cream is a truly lovely moisturiser. It's beautifully light and easily absorbed and great to use after cleansing.

At this time of the year particularly I couldn't be without a really good lip balm and I have experimented with many ingredients in the search for perfection. The one I'm using at the moment is my Kokum Butter lip Balm which, in addition to the wonderfully moisturisng Kokum butter, contains Jojoba wax, beeswax, cocoa butter, apricot kernel and castor oils. It also contains peppermint essential oil. This is a great, long lasting balm for the Winter months.

No 4 on my list and another must for this time of year is my Winter Balm. I use this as an inhalant to clear my head when I've got a cold. This balm is made from a powerful combination of essential oils - white camphor, cajeput, clove, eucalyptus and peppermint plus a handful of menthol crystals which add real decongestant properties. Just a pea sized amount in a cup of boiling water makes a great inhalant but it is strong so make sure you close your eyes and then breathe in!
I've had many good reports of this from people suffering with stuffy noses!

Last but absolutely not least is my Rosehip Healing Balm. I first made this about two years ago and since then I would never be without a pot of it. It does what it says - it heals and soothes. I've used it for healing scars (Rosehip Seed oil is fantastic for this), skin eruptions and rashes, and, quite by chance, I found it tremendously effective for dealing with a scalded arm when I accidentally spilled hot tea! It's a little miracle in a jar.

So there you have top five products, the ones I would never want to be without.

At the time of writing only the first two are available in my online shop but I hope to remedy this next week and make new supplies of the last three. Watch this space...and oh yes, and a very Happy New year!