Monday, February 27, 2012


Back in December, I took a class on social media at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. I knew loads about Facebook, having a Facebook page already, and I was pretty confident with my Twittering abilities, but I knew next to nothing about YouTube, other than watching videos when I have the rare case of insomnia.

So, one of my New Year's Resolutions for the year was to create and maintain a YouTube channel! And I am excited to report that my channel is officially GO!

I've been working on my videos for about two months... At first, I was so self concious of my voice and my Southern Appalachian accent that I almost balked... But after two or three tries at videos, and finally getting my first successful video, I've found myself getting more confortable behind the camera!

So, here's a link to my channel! I have videos about my soaps (both pouring the soap batter and cutting the loaves), and a few how-to videos (the "in the pot swirl" video and the "1-2-3 sugar scrubs" video). I'm planning on adding more and more as I go along, so check it out for previews of new soaps, and interesting things that I come across!!

Let me know what you think! (But lay off my accent! Ha!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Know your Skin Type

Oily, dry, normal, sensitive, combination... No, these aren't terms used in cooking or baking... they are skin types! But wait... how can you tell which one of these types you have? Well, all you will need is some tissue, and rub the tissue on your face when you wake up one morning.

If your tissue has oil spots... Congratulations, you have oily skin! Oily skin can be prone to break outs of acne, so make sure to keep your skin clean. You may also need to treat break out spots with an OTC medication containing benzoyl peroxide to help treat the acne.

If the tissue is dry and your face feels tight... Congratulations, you have dry skin! Dry skin occurs more often as we age, and can contribute to the occurrence of wrinkles. To combat dry skin, make sure to yse a moisturizer daily to keep the skin soft.

If the tissue is dry and your face feels normal... CONGRATULATIONS, you are one of the lucky ones with normal skin! You are really lucky! Normal skin requires little care, is not prone to acne break outs, and is not prone to wrinkles! Lucky dog!

If your tissue is dry, but your skin is prone to redness and irritation... Congratulations, you have sensitive skin! People have sensitivities to many different chemicals and irritants, so be wary when trying new products. The best way to try a new product is to apply the product on a “test patch” of skin and wait 24 hours to see if there is any irritation. A visit to a dermatologist can also help with discovering irritants or seeking treatment.

Some of us may have more than one skin type, and if so.... Congratulations, you have combination skin! One of the more combination-types involves the T-zone, or the forehead and nose. Commonly, the forehead and nose will be oily, while the cheeks and eyes will be normal or dry. Combination skin can be easily managed once it is discovered.

Also, be aware that as we age, skin type (like hair type) will change! However, when we are aware of our skin, we can clean, cleanse, and treat it the best we can in order to have the healthiest and happiest skin on the block!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Soap Ash: A Soap Maker's Nemisis

One of the most annoying parts of being a soap maker is the inevitable nuisance of soap ash...

Soap ash? What's soap ash? Can it hurt me?

Soap ash is the thin layer of white powder (or ash) that sometimes appears on handmade cold process soap. Among soap makers, there are a variety of reasons why soap ash appears, from impurities in the water to lye quality to overheating. It seems that most ash occurs when there are a large percentage of hard oils (like palm oil and coconut oil) in the soap, or when the soap does not completely gel (the soap takes on a gel-like consistency while hardening in the mold). Some soap makers have found that they can limit the amount of soap ash on their soap by covering the soap with plastic wrap while it is hardening in the mold, but even then, soap ash can still occur.
The most important thing to know about soap ash is that it is not going to hurt you! It is a natural byproduct of cold process soap, and it usually washes away the first time a bar is used.

Soap ash can be a nuisance, but it is completely harmless and can be easily removed!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Testing the Scrubs

Me and my testers have been scrubbing away with my latest and greatest product: sugar scrubs. I have made 4 or 5 different batches with different fragrances and colors, and so far, the reviews are stellar!

One of my testers is a massage therapist, and he is my go-to guy for all things in body care. Here's what he had to say after trying out two versions, grapefruit and sandalwood:
"As a therapist, I've seen a wide variety of salt glows, sugar scrubs, body wrap products, facial stuff, etc. ... and this is some great stuff you've made! You can really tell a difference in a product like this vs. something you buy at the store or from a kit."

Another tester had this to say:
"My skin felt clean and smooth after using it! I was not dry! And I loved the smell (kiwi-apple-melon)!"

And when I asked my husband what he thought, he said "They're good." And when I asked him how his skin felt afterward, he said, "Clean." (My husband is a man of many words! lol!)

I have really enjoyed making these sugar scrubs, and I have liked using them even more! I am hoping to have some for sale in my Etsy shop by mid to late March, so keep an eye out for them!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winterize your Skin

The winter season can be harsh on our skin... Cold winds, heated houses, steaming baths all take their toll on our skin. However, there are many things that we can do to help prevent the damage, or soothe the damage after it is done. 
Here are a few changes you can make... your skin will thank you:
  • When showering, try to take warm showers, instead of hot showers. The temptation for a relaxing, steaming shower will be there, but the heat will make your skin sweat, and dry it out quicker in the cold. Hot showers can also do damage to hair by drying it out.
  • Showers are all about getting clean, but the WAY that you get clean can affect your skin. When lathering up, use a glycerin-based soap over a detergent or cleanser bar. Glycerin is a humecant, which means that it binds water to it to be absorbed by the skin. Also, be sure not to over-scrub. You can use a loofah when you wash to exfoliate your skin without serious scrubbing, and will leave your skin soft.
  • The best thing that you can do for your skin in the winter time is to keep yourself hydrated! Healthy skin is hydrated skin, so make sure to drink lots of water! Sodas, tea, and other sugary/caffeinated drinks do not hydrate as well as good old water, so drink up the clear stuff!
  • If you prefer to use a lotion on your skin, check the label for a few skin-drying ingredients. Avoid lotions that contain ethyl or menthyl alcohol. Moisturizing lotions will contain glycerin, that wonderful humecant! 
  • Go easy on the hand sanitizer! Just like some lotions, most hand sanitizers have a base of ethyl or menthyl alcohol, and they will dry your paws out fast. Instead, fight those yucky winter germs by washing your hands in warm water.

Have a happy winter with happy skin!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I am in live with my latest sugar scrubs! I have been on a sugar-scrub-making binge, and I have got these sweet cubes running out my ears!

I have given out a few samples to some close family and friends, and if everyone loves them like I do, I'll be putting them on etsy faster than you can blink!

Check out my samples:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Weather this weather...

I don't think that the plants in East Tennessee for the memo that it is still winter...

My favorite tree on the ETSU campus, this tall, beautiful magnolia, is already blooming! Come on, tree, it is only February 9th!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

1-2-3 Sugar Scrubs!

I've recently been looking into expanding my product lines for Second Spring Soaps, and I finally decided to branch out into the world of sugar scrubs! I've been researching different recipes, from scrubs that you scoop into your hand, to cut cubes, to molded cubes... I finally decided on making my sugar scrub into cubes molded in my small silicone cube pan!

However, I felt a little uneasy about using a melt and pour base. I've been working on the side with melt and pour soap base, because the soaps that M&P artisans make can be absolutely amazing! However, when I tried to make sugar scrub cubes with it, I was less than happy with the results. I guess my cold process soap has spoiled me! Well, a little more research lead me to an invaluable post on the Soap Making Forum, and I am in love with the results! (You can read the original post here!)

Here's the breakdown of the recipe... You will need:
-A shredded soap base
-Oil or Butter (I used olive oil)
-Sugar (white or brown or a mix of both)
-A measuring cup or spoon
-Mixing bowl
-Mold (if you want shapes)
-fragrances and dyes (if desired)

The recipe is simple: 1 part oil or butter, 2 parts shredded soap, 3 parts sugar! The best part about this recipe is that you can make small batches or huge batches by just changing the size of the measuring cup or spoon!

1. Add your 1 part oil to your 2 parts shredded soap. Mix in a few drops of dye if desired.
Dough-like consistency
2. Heat your mix in short bursts until mostly melted. I found that 15-20 second bursts were perfect for my microwave.
3. Add your 3 parts sugar and add fragrance. Stir until the mixture acts like dough.
4. Mold your mix and set it in the freezer for a while. The original recipe called for 5-10 minutes, but my cubes did great after freezing overnight.
5. Remove from mold and let them air dry for a day. Store them in an air tight container.

And voila! You have ready to use sugar scrub cubes!

I also made a YouTube video walking through the sets, just in case you area a visual learner!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tutorial: Handmade Massage Oil

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away! Time to go pick up that same box of chocolates... Or, that pink teddy bear with the heart that says "Wuv Yoo!"... Wait, did you even remember Valentine's day? Dang, time to make a mad dash for a card... Or, you could pick up a copy of Barry White's greatest hits to go along with a big bottle of handmade massage oil, just for that someone special! 

Here's what you will need:
-A carrier oil (grape seed oil is a great one. It's cheap and can be found in most grocery stores. Jojoba, Avocado and Sweet Almond are fantastic, too, and can be found in health food stores or vitamin shops.)
-An essential oil (Classic scents include: lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree.)
-An amber-colored or blue-colored glass bottle with cap (Can be found in some craft stores, but ore commonly found in health food stores in the Heath and Beauty section)
- 1 tsp measuring spoon

My Lavender Massage oil with
1. Measure 4 tbsp of your carrier oil, and pour into your amber or cobalt blue bottle.
2. Using your dropper, drop 5 drops of essential oil into your bottle.
3. Repeat until your bottle is full!
4. Screw on your cap and gently shake your bottle to mix it all together!

You can dress up the bottle with a few ribbons, or a special label printed on sticker paper!

How to use:
-Put Barry White on your stereo ;o)
-Pour a small amount of massage oil onto your hands and run together to warm them.
-Massage away! (avoid sensitive areas, such as the face and, er, private areas!)

For a fun twist, use flavor oils, like these found at Aroma Haven for edible massage oil! You can also use edible essential oils, like lemon, grapefruit, or mint, which are commonly found in health food stores, or in the health food section of some grocery stores. 
(Do not use flavors meant for cooking! These are often water-based or alcohol-based, and will not mix in with your carrier oil! It may smell nice, but it will be a hot mess!!)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Kudzu Experiment: Out of the Mold

My soap was finally hard enough to take out of the mold 5 days after pouring!! That's a seriously long time, when most of my soaps are ready to take out of the mold after 2 days, but I shouldnt be surprised, since I had over 60% olive oil in these tiny batches.

The first one that I unmolded was the soap make with the kudzu-infused olive oil. The color greened in the mold, and the final result was a creamy green.
The second one that I unmolded was the soap make with the powdered kudzu. It actually took on this really deep, gorgeous green color, similar to a forest green! I'm going to watch this soap anxiously, since most plant add-ins tend to go brown over time (Lavender buds are notorious for this!).

I've been slowly adding videos to m blossoming YouTube channel, and last night, I added a video of me popping out these kudzu experiments... I forgot to mention in the video that I put the molds in the freezer for about an hour before I tried popping out the soap!

Enjoy! Check back in about 4 weeks for another video... My kudzu experiments will be cured, and I'll be trying them out for the first time!