Friday, 24 June 2011

Making Belly Balm

It's been a while since I last posted.  This is mainly because I have just been so caught up in my little pregnancy world that time just keeps whizzing by and my energy to keep up with blogging, soaping and do general business maintenance has just dwindled to nearly nothing!  Thank you all for bearing with me.

Today, however, I have finally managed to get into the kitchen/workroom to make something other than food.  I made me a belly balm!  I wont traumatise you by adding photos of my bump, but I can assure you it's growing rapidly (I'm 25 weeks along today) and in need of some TLC.  
For a few weeks now, I've noticed the skin on my bump and hips feeling itchy.  I assume part of this is due to the fact that it's being stretched.   
When I was expecting my first child, I used all sorts of creams, oils and lotions on my bump.  All bought from high street shops of course (this was before I even knew I could make cosmetics at home!).  So this time round, knowing what I know now and having a fair few oils and butters lying around due to making soap, I thought I'd try my hand at making a balm.  All I needed to buy was some beeswax and pots to put the balm in.

Ok, so this is what happened...

Firstly, I did a lot of snooping on the net to find some recipe ideas for making a balm.  Unfortunately, I found the majority of recipes were more along the lines of lip balms.  I was thinking of making something softer than a lip balm really (a cross between a balm and a salve?!).  Eventually, I found one recipe where it stated that a general balm is basically 1 part beeswax, 1 part butter and 1 part oil.  Even I could manage that!  So off I went to inspect my supplies to choose my ingredients.

I measured out approx 40g organic Shea butter, 40g hemp seed oil and 20-30g beeswax pellets.  Yes, yes, I know that's not exactly one part of each, but like I said earlier, I didn't want to make a hard balm and the wax will set the balm quite hard.

The reason why I chose Shea butter is because I just love it.  It's so versatile and I'm used to using it in my soap making, so I wanted at least one familiar ingredient in this new venture.  It's also very very good for the skin and is easily absorbed.
Hemp seed oil is a new ingredient for me to use.  I bought some a while ago and have been meaning to use it for ages.  Again, it's super-good for the skin and contains an array of fatty acids and GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) It smells nice too :)

I melted the beeswax and Shea butter in a jug over some simmering water (ideally, one should use a double-boiler, but unfortunately I don't have one - it's on my wish list though!) and it took a very long time.  To help speed things along, I gave the wax and butter a few short bursts in the microwave, being very careful not to overheat the mixture.

I then added the hemp oil.  Which instantly seized up the mixture.  This is because it was cooler than the melted wax and butter.  I hadn't thought of that, but it seems so obvious now. 

So back over the pan of hot water, just to help melt it all and mix together nicely.  
I then let it cool for while I went about choosing a fragrance oil to add to the concoction.  I decided to use an allergen free fragrance oil instead of an essential oil because I know that certain essential oils should be avoided in pregnancy; some even suggest that ALL essential oils should be avoided, so I thought I'd play it safe. I had a gorgeous-smelling chocolate fragrance oil that I was dying to use anyway - just to add to the pamper factor!  So in it went into the mixture and once I'd stirred it in thoroughly, I poured it into a 100ml pot, like so:

I was really surprised to see it setting within minutes, in the photo below you can see the colour change starting from the bottom and sides:

Within an hour it had pretty much set.  I gave it a little poke to make sure...

Woops.  Still a bit warm in the middle hehe!

Later on, I tested it again and it had fully hardened.  I'd say it's probably just the right consistency for applying to a baby bump, quite hard, but softens enough from the warmth from my hands to smooth over the skin with ease.  A little goes a very long way and a few hours after applying, my bump still feels lovely and moisturised.
The fragrance is also divine!  I made a good choice by using chocolate.  With the slight whiff of the hemp oil too, it really reminds me of the scent of cocoa butter.

So, all in all, I feel quite happy about what I achieved today.  Not only did I try something new, it worked as well!  I'd fully recommend anyone giving balm making a go.


Monday, 25 April 2011

Latest news

Hello all, happy Spring!
My apologies for it being so quiet here lately, but there have been some major happenings going on that have had me quite distracted!

To cut a long story short, I'm pregnant with my second child, who is due in early October. A very exciting time!
Up until a week ago I have been suffering from awful morning sickness and nausea triggered by anything strong smelling, especially perfumey-type smells. Which severely hampered any desire to make soap due to the strong fragrance element to it :(
So I decided to close down my online shop as I had no idea how long the nausea would last plus I just wanted to rest (I've discovered that being pregnant while having a nearly 2 year old to look after as well is not that easy!).
How long my shop will remain closed I do not know. Right now, I want to enjoy my pregnancy and also my time alone with my daughter while I can before the new sprog comes along.
I also plan to work on some new ideas and products behind the scenes while I don't have to worry about running a website at the same time.

That said, I still have some stock left and plan to make the odd OOAK soap, so I'm loading some items onto my Folksy shop. If you fancy browsing or buying anything, please pop by!

You've probably noticed the picture of some bluebells at the top of this post,  this was taken during a walk this weekend at Wayford Woods, Somerset.

Afterwards, I was inspired to post a one-off, spring themed gift set onto my Folksy shop. See below for details :)

A Spring-time themed gift set, consisting of 2 SLS-free glycerine soaps and a foaming bath butter.

Spring Tulip Organic Shea Butter Soap - scented with a sweet and summery tulip fragrance oil and laden with moisturising shea butter

Spring Daffodil Organic Shea Butter Soap - scented with a truly lovely 'Daffodil' fragrance oil - sweet, fresh and full of sunshine!

Spring Bluebell Foaming Bath Butter
- A luxury foaming mousse scented with a beautiful soft bluebell fragrance. Can be used in the bath or shower, just scoop out of the pot. This bath butter creates plenty of lather, so less is definitely more! Contains lashings of moisturising sweet almond oil, which will leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated. (Please note: when you first open the pot, the fragrace will appear quite strong, but when the product is in use the fragrace is actually quite gentle and uplifting).

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

It's Imbolc!

That's right, it's nearly Spring! Imbolc means 'In the belly' or 'Ewes milk' and it falls halfway between Winter Solstice, when the sun is at it's lowest point and there is the greatest lack of light and Spring Equinox, when the light and dark are once again in balance.

Originally the festival was dedicated to the goddess alternately known as Brighid, who is said to breathe life into the dead of winter using her white wand. Hence why we start to see glimmerings of the new life to come in the form of tiny buds on trees and daffodils starting to peek out of the earth. It's a time of year that's full of potential, so now is a great time to clear out the old and welcome the new (spring clean etc...)

Good soaps for Imbolc

To reflect the potential of this time of year, the seed is quite symbolic. So I thought I would show you a couple of my products which contain seeds - poppy seeds in fact! Poppy seeds are great, as they provide gentle yet affective exfoliation and they also look aesthetically pleasing.

Summer Kiwi Fruit Soap with added Apricot Kernel Oil.

This soap is also in my sale happening right now!

Black Raspberry and Vanilla Foaming Scrub

I hope you all have a wonderful day, whatever you're up to!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Love is in the air!

It's about 2 weeks until Valentine's Day, and I've been preparing for this by making some Love inspired soaps. Here's a small selection of what is available to buy from my website.

Treat your Valentine with this luxury SLS-free glycerine and organic shea butter soap, coloured with a creamy strawberry pink with romantic red swirls throughout.

Fragranced with a gorgeous mouth-watering strawberry aroma and comes specially gift-wrapped (as pictured) with a handmade heart-shaped gift tag for you to write a personalised message to your loved one.

This happy couple is made lovingly out of luxury SLS-free glycerine soap consisting of two layers: a 'gingerbread' layer - scented with a custom blend of spicy ginger and buttery biscuit and a pale pink cherry almond layer, giving these soaps a gorgeous snuggly fragrance, reminiscent of a hug from your loved one.

They come giftwrapped in their own little box with a love poem inside.

There are also three different sets to choose from: gingerbread man and woman, gingerbread women and gingerbread men (all pictured above).

A gorgeous SLS-free glycerine soap bar, made with added moisturising apricot kernel oil and topped with a sprinkle of exfoliating sugar.

This soap is scented with a light and fruity sparkling sweet Champagne fragrance oil and coloured with iridescent gold mica with a cheeky hint of pink.

Cherise Pink & Classic Red Heart Soaps with added Apricot Kernel Oil - choose your own fragrance!

The perfect gift for your Valentine!

Pretty hearts, made with luxury SLS-free glycerine soap and lashings of moisturising apricot kernel oil. Personalise by choosing your own fragrance - just pick an option from the drop down menu on the website.

Comes gift wrapped in a cello bag, tied with a matching ribbon.

Why not take advantage of the Sale happening on all Valentine soaps on the site at the moment - prices marked down by 15%!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Blog Giveaway at NRjewellerydesign

Hello and happy Monday morning.  I was just browsing around the Blogiverse and found this amazing giveaway over at NRjewellerydesign.

By entering, I have a chance of winning this beautiful bracelet:

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Vetivyr Satyr Soap with added Natural Hemp Oil

I'm so proud of my latest soap, I just had to show him off!

Vetivyr Satyr Soap with added Hemp Oil

This cheeky chap is made out of luxury SLS-free glycerine soap with added natural hemp oil. Hemp oil is very easily absorbed and is excellent for dry, irritated, aging and damaged skin.

Fragranced with deep woody vetiver and coloured a moody shade of black with dry-brushed chocolate brown mica to highlight his features, this satyr makes the perfect soap for any loveable rogue!

Available to buy now from

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Solid Shampoo Experiments

A few days ago, I received a much awaited delivery of supplies, which contained an extra special ingredient for me to use in my soaps. This ingredient is Polyquarternium-7 (yes, try saying that after a few glasses of wine!) which is used in shampoos and conditioners as a conditioning agent.
It works by reducing static build-up in the hair, making it smoother, easier to comb and better at holding styles. What everybody wants in a shampoo, right?

So, I got straight into the kitchen and made up a little solid shampoo sample to try. I used some left over soap from a batch of Peppercorn soap, which contains Shea butter. I thought I'd better not add any other oil or butter to the soap as Shea is quite a good 'all rounder' and my hair tends to be quite greasy so went for less is more!
I then stirred in some Polyquarternium-7 and poured the soap into a little mould. Here's a picture of the finished product:

So far, I have used this beauty for 4 hair washes - just this as well, no extra conditioner or serums. I must say I'm very happy with it so far!
It's made my hair feel completely different than it normally does - which is fine, flat, straggly and greasy again within a day.
Now it feels thicker, manageable and no frizz or straggly bits. It's also retained it's shine (which is something I've always had the luck to have, even when using commercial shampoos).
Only one slight complaint - my hair isn't very easy to comb anymore. Which isn't a huge problem, but it would be nice. Maybe I need to add more Polyquarternium-7 or use something other than Shea butter.

Here's my plan anyway: keep using this sample for a few more days, then try out a different formulation (I'm thinking one with Golden Jojoba oil) and see how that compares. I may need to try out several different samples, but that's all part of the fun, isn't it?!

I will also be looking for some volunteer testers with dry/damaged hair. Please apply by leaving a comment or writing a message on my Facebook page wall (Sorry, UK residents only please). I'd love to hear from you!

Oh, and a belated happy new year/2011 to all my readers! May this year bring you much prosperity and happiness.