It's that time again. While most people are still contemplating turkey and avoiding sketchy in-laws - soapmakers are well into Christmas season! We have to start making our wares and workin' the mojo in mid-october if we are to be ready for the holiday madness that ensues, the minute the last Tootsie Roll is gone from the Halloween stash.
Every year, I love watching what other vendors come up with. It's always fun to see new creativity, but everybody just pulls out all the stops this time of year. Like, just NUTTY talent. Best of all - we are completely justified in our ridiculous over-glittering, for once.
I did make a buncha seasonal soaps this year. Can't remember how many kinds. 8? 9? They are already almost gone. Even so, I wanted to make up some higher end gift boxes, to supplement my usual fare. I found some great gift boxes, that were really sturdy (reusable!) and sparkly without being cheesy. I really wanted to avoid as much cheese as possible for this project. I enjoy a dancing M&M in a Santa suit as much as the next guy, but I'm going for more of a Tiffany's-Meets-Ruby-Slippers, upscale look.
Ya know how you can get sucked into buying overpriced boxes of items offered by a vendor, and it ends up being mostly dollar store tissue paper and sample sized crap you really don't want or need in the first place? (I'm looking at YOU subscription box services). Or worse yet...a box full of tiny samples and 47,000 coupon codes for 10% off. Yeah. Just go ahead and light your cash on fire next time, and save some steps. My point is that I'm making a serious attempt to stuff my boxes to the rim with full-sized, customized, genuine ALDSC products with lots of attention to detail.
Totally cute, right?
So let's get to what's in the box...
The obvious anticipated items are the goat milk soaps. What's a goodie box without the soap?! In each box, I have included a bar of Topper The Christmas Penguin soap, scented with notes of rich grape and raspberry blended with sugar and sparkling soda:
Twas The Night Before Christmas soap, scented with a gorgeous blend of cherry wood, sweet raspberries, creamy vanilla and the most AWESOME hint of pipe tobacco.
Next inside the box, is a full 10 oz. bubbling Sugar Whip Body Scrub for gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and kissably soft skin. You''ll either receive my dupe for Merry Mistletoe by Bath & Body Works - or Fresh Baked Gingerbread!
Also in the stash is my 12 oz. hand poured christmas candle - Silent Night. I've triple scented them with a seasonal blend of creamy vanilla, sweet strawberries, freshly shaved coconut, frosted raspberries and sugar-sweetend blackberries. It is made with my own special blend of waxes and topped with a beautiful glass, twinkling Christmas star.
The next item in the box is a full-sized aluminum pump bottle of my Timeless Hydrating Skin Complex (with hyaluronic acid). All made from scratch and formulated to combat moisture loss, replenish softness and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Not that any of you sexy beasts have wrinkles. I'm totally talking about those other trolls. ;o)
And speaking of candles....to go with your container candle, I've added four hand poured votives. Two scented in Mulled Cider & Chestnuts, and two in Brandied Holiday Pear. The perfect home scents for the holidays. Put them in your prettiest glass votive holders or sconces for a little magical holiday mood lighting.
Next up - is a full-sized, 4oz jar of my (customer favorite) Apricot Facial Scrub. AKA - Face Crack. If you like the product manufactured by a company that rhymes with Paint Jives - you'll love my version.
I have also added a single use tube of Christmas Chamomile Goat Milk & Oatmeal Bath. Milk baths nourish, soften and make your skin feel like silk. Just pour it in your bathtub full of warm water, and soak away your crocodile skin and the stress of avoiding the beat-down that lady had comin' when she took your parking spot at the mall. ;o)
For all you tart hoarders (you know who you are), I have also included a single Brandied Holiday Pear wax tart for your home melters:
Oh nooo...we aren't done! Included in your goodie box, is one full pound of soothing bath salts (of the non-face-eating variety) scented in a Christmas Candy blend of cool peppermint and dreamy vanilla. Enriched with dead sea and himalayan sea salts. Packaged in a resealable pouch with scoop.
Lastly - no good treat box is complete without chocolate. For an added touch of decadence, I have included a box of Mrs. Fields White Chocolate Peppermint Bark and one large Peppermint Crunch Dark Chocolate Dipped Bavarian Style Pretzel.
Best enjoyed with wine milk. ;o)
Incidentally, I opted to ship these UPS Ground. Now ya know I appreciate me some USPS, and I know they all work hard, but they sometimes like to play dodge ball with fragile packages. These will be delivered via big brown truck to your doorstep.
There are many great gift sets, gift packs and gift boxes out there this season. One trip around Etsy.com and you'll see lots of $15-$25 purchases to make. However, if you're looking to splurge a little more on someone extra special - even if that someone is YOU - I hope you'll take a peek at these fun, luxury boxes this year. On sale 11-15-13. Limited availability.
I love me a good exploration. Though this post has little to nothing to do with soap, other than I used some before leaving the house this morning, I like to write about life sometimes, and the things I fill mine with.
Every day, I find something new to love about the destination fate steered me to. Nobody gets why I love the things I do, or understands how my hubs and I can spend every adventure together, just the two of us, and just have the best time. After just two weeks short of 600 years together, it just operates like a well-oiled machine. I finish his thought, he knows how I feel without asking. Every pilot needs a great co-pilot. No one else to have to think about, no bickering from people who don't share the same interests, no hosting and accommodating....nothing but pointing our compass in the direction of what makes us happy. It's never been that way up til now and we are enjoying it immensely.
Michigan typically isn't the first image that pops into one's head when thinking of states in the US to spend exploring. It doesn't have the majestic mountains of the Tetons in Wyoming, Or the pristine beaches and volcanic regions of Hawaii, but it does hold a special magic all it's own. We learned of a place in the thumb region, not too far from where I live, that is home to the only known collection of prehistoric native american petroglyphs in the state. Even the word "Michigan" is actually an Algonquian indian word for "big lake", which of course, refers to our Great Lakes. I can get lost for hours, in places in history. Imagining who walked the land before me. What their lives were like. I also have native american heritage, so whether finding this place was some romantic notion of connecting with a portion of my ancestry or just a fun afternoon, really didn't matter. There's also an element of spirituality in these places for me. The ghosts of Devil's Tower took my breath away. If I ever felt any connection to a religion or belief system, the things I have learned and read about the native americans, have resonated the most.
The petroglyphs lie in the middle of a wooded historic site. They are carved into a rocky outcrop of sandstone, tucked away on 240 acres. They've been sheltered by a fenced in area and wooden pavilion to protect it from vandalism and elements. I will never understand the need to carve a spectacularly detailed penis into a 500 year old treasure. Usually, it's etched right next to the telltale Douche calling card - empty 40's of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
To my surprise and delight, when we hiked the short distance back into the woods to the site, a guide, who looked disturbingly like the unholy love child of Richard Dreyfuss and the principal from Ferris Bueller, was starting a tour...he also had him some epic halitosis....
I have forgotten his name, so for the purposes of this blog, let's call him "Hal", for short. ;)
So Hal started the tour over when we walked up, which was awesome of him. One snotty bitch in bike shorts (but no bike) felt compelled to challenge him on his credentials right off the bat. Like he hangs around tourist sites in khakis and Indiana Jones hats just to fill visitor heads with blatant misinformation. The site itself is bigger than I expected. It is an oblong mound of sandstone maybe 30 feet in length, chained off to prevent even more morons from attempting dirt angels on it during the presentation.
I learned that the "glyphs" were discovered after great fires swept the area in 1881 and were uncovered when the land was burned to the sandstone. Archaeologists estimate them to be somewhere between 300 to 1000 years old. So about 4 years older than Madonna. The surface of the rock is covered with various icons, easily recognizable when Hal pointed them out with his BigMetalStickOfImportance. I was transfixed by the stories while hubby meandered around the perimeter, distracted by anything shiny. He does that.
I learned about the Water Panther that was a powerful, malevolent spirit, with a spiny back, who took the form of a mountain lion with horns. It lived in the lakes and caused terrible storms by thrashing it's tail.
I learned about the more well known icon, the Thunderbird also carved into the rock here. The Thunderbird would rule the skies and gather the clouds with one flap of it's mighty wings, shoot lightning from it's eagle eyes and send thunder all around it. Difficult to see in my photo...
I learned about what Hal explained was one of the most important icons in the rock - The Bowman. Who, in fear of losing cultural identity, shot their heritage into future generations with his archers hand.
Most fascinating to me, were the Windwalkers, spirits that led one into the afterlife. Depicted as very long stick figures. Not exactly Bob Ross, but paintbrushes and happy trees weren't invented 'til much later.
We took a trip to Mexico back in 2003, and visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum. The Mayans drew hands with 6 digits in their carvings, and the same 6 fingered hands are carved here. It is believed that an ancient human race had polydactylism - or 6 fingers or toes. I knew a kid in junior high, named Michael Fulton, that had 6 toes. He could also turn his eyelids inside out and blow air out his tear ducts. Freak.
There are several humanoid glyphs too...
There is much more than I can ever adequately share here. There are birds and whorls and canoes telling stories of great travels. It felt special and certainly sacred to the native americans who come there and leave prayer offerings to the Great Spirits in exchange for blessings. I wish I could talk to some of them. So much more to learn about.
Bye, Hal....thanks for the tour.
After the petroglyphs, we hiked 1.5 miles into the trail for other sites along the way. It was a beautiful day despite the mosquitos and bad humidity hair.
Next, we hopped in the jeep and headed up to Harbor Beach. A sleepy coastal town with the largest freshwater harbor in the world. I don't know this for a fact but that's what hubs tells me and his brain is LOADED with useless information things he's read, so if you're a bettin' man - take the bet. It's located on the eastern side of the "thumb", about 125 miles from Detroit. It is also home to the beautiful Harbor Beach Lighthouse.
Who doesn't love lighthouses?! They're just so romantic and mysterious. Guiding lost ships to shore....tales of lightkeeper ghosts....and the Great Lakes are home to 115 of them. Goosing my already burgeoning desire to learn to sail, there were several beautiful sailboats anchored in the harbor as we walked the length of the boardwalk. It is virtually impossible to be stressed out here.
I noticed the water in the harbor wasn't very deep. Several kids and one fat lady rockin' a purple one-piece, were barely submerged beyond the waist, 100 yards out. Now, I'm not much of a swimmer. If forced to label it, I'd say I'm more accurately a sinker. However, the paddle out to the lighthouse looks totally doable to me. Next weekend, we plan to load the canoe on top of the Jeep and make the ride out again, to get in the water and float out there. See it there on the left?
It was an amazing day, and every day like this makes my heart smile. The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.
I must admit - I was of the mind, before learning to create product of my own, that moisturizers were for old people and people with lizard skin. Certainly not, MY skin. Crap Oily, sensitive, breakout prone. I have since learned that all skin types benefit from a good moisturizer. The trick is getting is right.
So what do we want in a face moisturizer?
2.) Non greasy
4.) A little magic to work on those little problems areas. Uh....not that any of YOU have them. You babes are perfect. ;o)
So, along the way I have made several attempts :::coughIwouldn'tputitonmydogcough::: at formulating a good moisturizer. The only way to meet a prince is to kiss a lot of frogs. I spent over a year, and many hours working on it. Not to talk smack, but I see so many out there that people just throw together without any thought other than "I can sell this". Scarier still, is there are so many vendors still insisting that "vitamin e" is a preservative. Yeah. You go ahead and enjoy that bacteria and mold. Ick. Dip some corn chips in it even, and have a siesta.
At it's most basic, a moisturizer is a water and oil emulsion. Let's say I take some coconut oil, some distilled water and an emulsifier and whip them up. Looks fluffy. Feels creamy. Will it make your skin soft? Sure it will. So would Land 'O Lakes butter if you rubbed it all over yourself, but this ain't that kinda party. Is it necessarily a good oil if you get clogged pores and breakouts? Probably not. I'd look like Freddie Krueger inside of 24 hours.
So, I set to work on a product that would be sort of a companion to my Gourmet Body Mousse, but incorporate select ingredients that I felt would give the best results for a broad spectrum of skin types.
Let's talk turkey. What's in it?
Distilled water - Duh.
Avocado oil- Has natural sunscreen properties, and has great antioxidants.
Macadamia Nut Oil - Love this stuff. It's totally BFFs with skin. It is the closest to our own natural sebum and is contains the highest amount of palmitoleic acid than any other plant oil. Palmitoleic acid has oodles of anti-aging properties and has even been shown to slow the rate at which our skin ages. Naturally high in vitamins A&E.
Camellia Seed Oil - Cold pressed from the seeds of the camellia flower. It won't clog pores, it absorbs rapidly, and it's unique makeup allows it to penetrate to the deepest layers of the skin. Unrivaled emollient.
Red Raspberry Seed Oil: Exceptionally high in Vitamin E, wonderful anti-inflammatory shown to be effective in soothing irritation, eczema, psoriasis and is full of antioxidants. It creates a lipid barrier for skin protection.
Extracts such as carrot seed, calendula, and chamomile: Anti-inflammatory, reduces irritation, antiseptic, has healing properties, increases elasticity, balances, and puts to work those antioxidants.
Hydrolyzed Oats - I use gobs of this stuff. Shameless pimper of it with no apologies. Soluable form of whole oats. Soothes, and makes your skin feel velvety and awesome. 'Nuff said.
Squalene - Naturally present in your skin and is a valuable moisturizer.
C12-15 Alkyl Esters: Found naturally in things like coconut oil and cranberries. Softens, conditions and smooths the skin and imparts a fantastic silkiness.
And lastly.....the piece de resistance - Hyaluronic Acid. This is the showpiece of this cream. You have probably heard chatter about this ingredient, if you are at all in tune with what's going on in cosmetic trending. It's not cheap, I'll keep it real with ya. But completely worth it. HA is a naturally occuring active often touted as the "key to the fountain of youth". I won't get quite as Ron Popeil on you, but I will say that it's good stuff. HA holds 1000x it's weight in water (hello moisture!) and is a biopolymer naturally occurring in the skin and other tissues. Topically applied, hyaluronic acid forms an air permeable layer (so your skin can breathe), penetrates into the dermis, and boosts the elasticity and hydration of the skin.
So those are the key players. Nothing to clog pores, lots of emollients and anti-inflammatory soldiers, anti-agers and soothers. Whats great too, is that you can wear it under your makeup without feeling like you have a layer of gook (technical jargon) on, but rich enough to use as a night cream, as well. Here's what one customer had to say:
"I'm writing you to let you know that your Timeless moisturizer is GOOD stuff! My skin is loving it. I don't want to rush and say how good a skin care product is after using it for a few days or a week. I have skin that's easily upset. My skin will start to break out in a few hours after I wear certain foundations, or moisturizer, or anything it comes in contact with. I have oily, dehydrated skin. I'm in my mid 30's yet still break out like a teenager if I'm not careful. My skin is decent because I'm careful with the products I put on it. Lately I'm trying to find skincare that's more natural, less chemical...and every "natural" product I've tried broke me out that I kept returning to my chemical skincare (but works good for me). Since I really like your soaps, I decided to give your moisturizer a try. I'm so glad I did. It moisturizes without being greasy. It works nicely with my serum. I can wear it under make up without making my face look like an oil slick. My skin feels so soft and silky! I've been using this for more than 3 weeks and haven't seen any break out or allergic reaction. I don't have a youtube channel or a blog to review products or haul, but I want you to know that I love every single product I've tried from you:)"
Nothing I can ever say is as valuable as good old fashioned customer testimonials. I hope you try it and enjoy it, as well. If you do - let me know how it's working for you.
it's shameful to show my face here after such blatant neglect of this blog.
Oy. I really do have good intentions about keeping up with it, yet
always fail miserably. For what it's worth - I can't fold fitted sheets
worth a damn either.
said, I thought I'd motivate myself by telling you a little bit more about some
of the products I offer in my shop, what goes into the idea conception, the
nitty gritty on ingredients, creative process, and what I hope it can bring to
the consumer. I'll "spotlight" a new one every week. (And
let's just go ahead and assume "every week" means "whenever I
initial Spotlight entry, I want to talk about my Sea Buckthorn Blemish Bar.
My point of reference for creating new product has always been my own
crap skin. (Thanks, genetics - so much for that lucrative contract with
Cover Girl). I don't have a team of dewy-skinned guinea pigs at every
beck and call, so I basically create for myself, knowing there are many of you
out there looking for the very same product answers to skin dilemmas, that I
history: I am currently 45. Ouch. That stung a little and
made my face scrunch up to type. As a teenager, I had raging breakouts
(my professional self-diagnosis is stress, hormones and a steady diet of Burger King
and Cool Ranch Doritos.) My skin is also oily. Even at the age I am
now, I still battle oil and the occasional zit. People used to tell me
"You'll be so glad when you're older, because people with dry skin will be
all cracked and wrinkled and yours will look sooo good". Vicious
lies. My skin looks like every other average 45 year old. Nice try
though. I have also learned that I have very sensitive skin.
If I rest my face in a hand....or get accidentally sprayed on the skin
with an over zealous spritz of hairspray - you can be sure I'll break out in
those spots the next day. True story: I once wore my daughter's
silk scarf for an afternoon, and my neck broke all out the very next day, in
every place it touched. Yeah....I'm a total freakshow. It's not
lost on me.
finding some kind of relief from this nonsense has been ongoing in my life, yet
I am not a person that will head to Sephora and drop a hundo on a one ounce jar
of "miracle cream". It's just not gonna happen. It's gonna
need to be more affordable for me, or I'm just gonna have to go ugly. So
what are the elements I needed to formulate a soap to help combat these issues?
Natural ingredients. PEOPLE! Stop using commercial
"soap". It's garbage. It's chemicals and detergents.
It's heinous and a waste of time and money. If you can get a gross
ton of it for .23 cents, that should be a red flag.
2.) Affordability. Not .23 cents, but not rivaling your car payment.
3.) Balance. It would need to calm the skin, regulate pH, and not dry it out so much that oil production is over stimulated to combat what your skin thinks is a need to produce MORE oil, leaving you with scaly, rough, dry patches covered in even more oil. It's not cute.
4.) A perfect storm of researched, specific, carefully chosen ingredients in the arsenal that will work together, not against each other, in application.
Sea Buckthorn Fruit is pretty new on the scene, relatively speaking, in terms of being used by vendors like me. I give ample side eye to most new, the-next-big-thing fixes, because most turn out to not do much more than cost me money. Sea Buckthorn Oil really turned out to be a great surprise for my skin, however.
Sea Buckthorn berries come from a shrub which grows in mountainous and coastal regions of Europe and Asia. These funny little, sour, orange berries have been used to treat sunburn, radiation burns, eczema, psoriasis, is loaded with vitamins and anti-inflammatory agents, as well as several groups of micro nutrients (including omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9) that work together to balance and regulate the body's hormonal and immune systems. Topical sea buckthorn applications soften, thin and strengthen the skin and reduce scarring, swelling and inflammation - allowing the skin to finally break the inflammatory cycle and heal itself. Sounds great, right? I KNOW!!!
Secondly, I always remembered how my skin would clear up and heal in ocean water. Many times, even in fresh river or lake waters. Even now, if I swim in a natural river (and by "swim" I mean "fall out of my canoe"), my skin is softer, more clear and I notice my pores will shrink, as well. So what does all of this mean? It means that natural minerals, antioxidants (found in salt water, especially) really do make a difference in conditioning and healing inflamed skin. Now salt from the Dead Sea has unique qualities that are helpful, as well. It is full of essential minerals which aide in overall skincare, including:
Magnesium - Necessary for cell metabolism. It contains several potent, natural anti-inflammatory minerals and also promotes the healing of skin tissue and gives skin surface anti-allergic elements.
Bromide - Soothes irritated skin.
Potassium - Moisturizes the skin.
Sulfur - Naturally disinfects while also working as a detoxifier.
Calcium - Cleanses pores.
Zinc - helps protect the skin against elements such as sun and wind, and is also an important factor for the enzymatic regulation of cell proliferation. (Say *that* five times fast).
Am I losing you yet? Ok, you get the basic gist. I was still worried that I need an ingredient that would add an extra element of moisture in case all that salt left my dry skin customers feeling like a herring at a fish market.
Enter - oatmeal.
Oatmeal is my go-to ingredient in many of the products that I make. Whether in natural, colloidal, hydrolyzed or other form, it's great stuff. We've all had oatmeal baths as kids, when we've gotten into some poison ivy or contracted chicken pox. Remember how your skin calmed down, felt soft, and the itchiness subsided? The same principle applies in the soap. It's not rocket science. Just smart ingredients all working together to accomplish a goal.
There are no synthetic fragrances or colorants in this soap either. The rich orange color is from the sea buckthorn berries themselves. The slight nutty scent is also the natural fragrance of the berry pulp.
Now there is one caveat - dead sea salt is a natural lather inhibitor. In much the same way a carbonated drink will fizzle out if you pour salt into it, these soap bars do not have big fluffy lather like the rest of the soap in my line. I think the trade off is worth it. I myself, like to agitate the bar onto a face cloth to boost the bubble factor, and then apply and scrub my face. It is my favorite face soap and has made a tangible change in my skin. I invite you to give it a try too. Salt bars last a long time as well, so at $6.50 a bar, it's affordable.
As much fun as crazy colors, strong fragrance and less-than-natural ingredients in B&B products can be, if you have sensitive or acne prone skin - less is assuredly more. At least when it comes to delicate face skin.
Read labels, choose vendors and soapmakers who do the research and just don't slap a product together from a bad internet recipe.
Sea Buckthorn Fruit! Who knew?!
Until my next post - thanks for reading and give my little shop a try sometime. I love hearing how products are working for you.