Information, MsBarb, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What do I need to begin making my own skincare? Equipment

Hi! And welcome back to another What do I need to begin making my own skincare post! In this post we are going to be discussing equipment. This list is by no means complete and this list is what I think is important. Everyone has their own needs and their own preferences as to what they like or need when creating. And what makes it difficult, you won’t really know what you like in your creative area until you try it out. 

As discussed in the Before You Begin post, you will need a notebook to write all your fancy new recipes down and all your awesome notes too! 

No matter what you decide to make, please make sure that you have an organised storage system for your ingredients and containers. The featured images in this series are all the most challenging parts of the hobby, but more on that later. I can’t wait to show you my new and improved Potions Room! Stay tuned for more Questions posts! Some of our future posts will cover: basic ingredients, how to’s, advanced and exotic ingredients, preservatives and more.

Soaping from scratch:

This section will cover cold process soap, hot process soap making and liquid process soap making. 


Digital Scale:

If you are going to be soaping, you’ll want to make sure your scale is 1g accurate to about 3kg~5kg. All soapers measure by weight and not by cups as it is much more accurate this way. I am Canadian, so I use metric, but if you are American and prefer ounces, make sure your scale is in ounces. Yup. Stating the obvious.

Immersion Blender.jpeg

Immersion Blender:

Many people say you can just use the same one you use in the kitchen as you do for soaping. And while I actually do agree with them, this is fine if you are just making soap for you and your family. But once you pass into the realm of making for others, you really should pick up a secondary immersion blender. You can use a hand held whisk and just stir your soap as well. When you are looking for an immersion blender, you don’t need to buy the best of the best, it will break down. The really good ones break down just as fast as the cheaper models. Visit your local second hand store and see what they’ve got. If you are seriously thinking about DIY’ing hardcore, then I’d strongly suggest one that has a detachable immersion part thingie and buy two or three of them. When I am soaping different colours, it’s nice not to have to take a moment clean the attachment, attach then go. That precious wait time can wreck havoc on your pour.



I have always loved soaping in my large stainless steel bowls. Some like glass, some like plastic, I like my large stainless steel bowls. I like how I can feel the temperature immediately and not have to wait to see if the temperature has changed. If you plan on making large amounts of soap, then you will need much larger bowls. The big tall one is for my mixing, and the small one is my lye solution container. I use plastic pitchers (microwave safe) for pours and for mixing colours.



Spoons. Large soup spoons for the win! I cannot tell you just how much I use spoons while soaping. I’ve watched videos of others soaping and they don’t use near as many spoons as I do. So I think this one might just be me. But, I love having countless stainless steel soup spoons around while I soap. I also use about four spatulas or more for each batch of soap. I also use chopsticks, hangers, butter knives- again. Some people just mix and pour and some people want to make works of art and just be creative. Or attempt to make works of art.

Basket of Molds.jpg


Most people just start off soaping with a milk carton or a shoe box or a pringle can or something like this. And that’s great! I did! I began soaping in a Pringle Can only to realise that it wasn’t a Pringle Can, but a plastic Lay’s Potato Chip canister. So I had to cut my soap out with a knife, which quickly led to another batch using a juice carton. I wish I had photos from my most earliest work, but my phone went swimming in coffee one night and I lost all my photos from this time! If all you have is a cardboard box, just line it with a ziploc bag and it’s perfect! It’s truly a perfect solution and even to this day there are times where if I need a specific type of shape or such, I will use a cardboard box and plastic liner. I’ve long since bought lots various molds over the years: slabs, loafs, individual, quirky and more, and they are all good! Just be warned, you’re probably going to buy too many ones that will never be used again.



This is where you are going to do your head in. Various blogs and websites out there tell you that they have the best recipe and use the best ingredients, but really?  It is learning which ingredients your skin loves; and that doesn’t happen in your first batch. It may or may not happen in your first year or five years of soaping. I’m going on year nine soon and I am still tweaking my standard recipe a wee bit. You’ll need to take into consideration the climate, storage space and ingredients you can purchase easily before you look at your recipe. Humid climates need harder fats and oils (tallow, lard, coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm, stearic acid), whilst drier climates need softer fats and oils (rice bran, wheat germ, apricot kernel, olive). Then, you’ll need to learn what skin properties you want your soap to have. As well, if you want commercial grade bubbles, various lather styles… My favourite part of soaping is deciding all these things then making it happen. And, even though many tell you that you can use the oils you buy at the grocery store, that is actually an iffy point. Basically, how long has that gourmet bottle of pumpkin seed oil been sitting there? Is that olive oil really pure or is it one of those hybrids of olive oil flavoured rapeseedoil/corn oil?

Many blogs out there will tell you that making your own soap is cheap. And while yes, it is very true, it is not cheaper than a beauty bar. Now take a look, if you need to buy all this equipment, add on all the costs for colourants, molds, various oils, you’re looking at a pretty hefty price. Then you are looking at perfecting your bar to make it amazing for your skin. And that takes years. Every time I make a new recipe of soap, I think wow, this is amazing! It can’t be beat! There is no way I can make soap better than this. So I keep that recipe for a while, then get the bug to change it up a bit so I do. Then start all over again. And then you’ve got the stock pile of soap that is rockin’ soap, but what to do with it?


Then, you will need to think about colourants, fragrances, essential oils, additives like clays and extracts, silk, sugar, salt and more. Remember how I said I dedicate an entire room to this hobby/job? Now you can see why!


No, you cannot make soap without lye. No amount of being told, my friend makes soap and doesn’t use lye! Your friend is making melt and pour soap. Not cp soap. Not the same thing. And the company who made your mp soap used lye. Lye is an essential part of the soap making process, without it, we’d just have a bowl full of oils mixed with water that will begin to mold in no time and stink.

No Lye=No Soap


Safety equipment:

  • GLOVES are a must. Please, please, please, don’t do want many of us have done in the past and shrugged it off saying you’ll be careful. Yup, been there done that. I’ve got the soap spatter scars to prove it. Soap is still caustic (can burn you) for the first approximately 48 hours. We all end up wearing gloves so please, pretty please, start wearing gloves from the very beginning.
  • APRONS: I wear an apron to protect my clothes and for its pockets. I like being able to toss a pencil or tissues or phone into the pockets. Not to mention, an apron helps prevent your hair from finding its way into your soap, and aprons also help to protect your clothes from oil splatters. I honestly only bought one last year for the first time, but ever since I got it, it’s been a godsend and cannot recommend one enough! My apron collection has blown up and I wear them now every time I’m in the kitchen doing something.
  • EYES: I wear glasses ALL the time, they are always on my nose. If I didn’t wear glasses, I would be wearing safety goggles to protect my eyes and even possibly a face shield if you are prone to messes. That lye can burn you!
  • CLOTHING & SHOES: Yes, while making soap I do wear proper closed toe shoes. Shall I show you the lye splatter scar? I wear long pants while making soap for the same reason. I don’t always wear long sleeved shirts while making soap simply because most long sleeved shirts will only reach to my mid-forearm. I’m that tall.



Some people like to room temperature soap, some people like to soap while everything is cold, and some like to soap while everything is hot, but one thing most people who soap do, is try to mix your fats and oils with the lye solution while they are about the same temperature. I would strongly suggest at the beginning, get a thermometre so you can take accurate notes to record what happens. You don’t need a fancy dancy one like mine (it was one of two birthday presents last week from me to me), but if you are just starting out, I would strongly recommend a thermometre. As mentioned, you can record your results, and if you are not successful, you have all the information to pass on to someone to help figure out what happened.

picture from Walmart

Crock Pot:

If you are planning on making liquid soap or hot process soap, you will need to have a crock pot. Your crock pot must be made with a ceramic inner. A rice cooker IS NOT A CROCK POT. If your crock pot is a Chinese model and it has a clay finish, please do not use due to the clay potentially being porous.


Making Lotions/ Creams/ Moisturisers/ Toners

This section will cover the basic equipment needed for oil in water emulsions, toners, and other various liquid products. Unless I haven’t already shared it above, I won’t be sharing a photo!


Heat Proof/ Heat Resistant Containers/Pots/Measuring Cups:

You will need at least three. You can get away with two, but life is much easier with three! I began by using Pyrex 500mL heat resistant measuring cups and have since moved onto a beaker and Pyrex combo which I find works much better for me. These will be in and out of a double boiler/water bath, so you need to make sure that it can take the heat. Bottom line, you want it to be able to take high temperatures, and if possible get yourself some borosilicate glass.

Digital Scale:

Same as with soaping, but you will need a little more accuracy. If you are planning on making your own makeup and lotions, having a scale that can measure 0.01g is a good thing. Especially if you are working in 50g batches for something as you might be measuring .5g of something. Taking accurate notes, getting into this habit early is the best gift you can give yourself. And whilst you might be thinking, “.06g over on an oil doesn’t make all that big a difference!” And while that might be true for say, 100g of lotion, but what happens if that lotion becomes your favourite lotion and you want to make a 2kg batch for Christmas for friends and family? That’s well over 100g of an ingredient you may or may not be adding and that can make a huge difference.


Emulsifying Wax:

No, beeswax and borax is not an emulsifying wax. You will get something gross and heavy and feeling kind of like rendered whale blubber sliding over your skin. If you plan on making water based lotions and creams, get yourself some good ewax. I personally like Emulsifying Wax-NF (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60) when I am playing with something new. It is idiot proof and that is why I like using it. It is really hard to fudge up! If you are new to DIY and lotion making, I do strongly suggest emulsifying wax-NF as it is beginner friendly, performs beautifully, and has never let me down even in the craziest of recipes! But once you get creating, you should try to branch out to try lots of various ewaxes to see which you like the best! I like Emulsifying Wax-NF,  Polawax (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-150 Stearate, Polysorbate 60, and Steareth-20) and BTMS-50 (INCI: Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol).

My regular seller just sent me some sort of wheat germ based ewax (INCI: I have no idea, I don’t know anything about this ewax but I must try working with it! That is the fun!) and Olivem 1000 (INCI: Cetearyl Olivate (and) Sorbitan Olivate). Both of these ingredients I’ve never worked with before, this just shows you that there are always new ingredients to play with!

Immersion Blender/Whisk:

If you are lazy, use an immersion blender. If you are not so lazy? Use an immersion blender. You can use a whisk, but one of my issues with a whisk is that you get too many air bubbles, and air bubbles make your end product feel like a sponge as all those air bubble friends meet up to form bigger air bubbles. Don’t even get me started on an electric whisk or electric hand held mixer thing. Good lord. I do strongly suggest using an electric whisk or blender on high speed once at some point. I really do. It makes the most awesome creations, where it feels like pudding hyped up on a CO2 machine. It’s pretty funky!


You too will come to value a spatula at some point like a DIY’er champ. They are fantastic little chunks of silicone glory. They bend and get every single last drop of your creation out of the container and that’s the only thing that matters! Invest in a couple of each size, and be sure that you get the ones that won’t stain, can be used at high temperatures, and most importantly, a single chunk of silicone so you are not having to worry about gross stuff where the handle meets the silicone.


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This is not a choice between a blue shirt and a green shirt. This is not a choice of which shoes to wear with which outfit. Or should you order the fish and chips or the vindaloo curry. This is more along the lines of you fell off a bike and you can see your bones, do you go to the hospital or your acupuncturist? The answer is EASY. Preservatives. I like Liquid Germall Plus as I can get it now easily in China, but there is a plethora of preservatives out there that you can choose from. Liquid Germall Plus (INCI:  Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate) is a broad spectrum preservative, that is a reliable preservative system. I am excited to hit up Europe and buy a few different types of preservatives and test them all out! I am really keen on trying a paraben based preservative and hitting it up with a bunch of fungi!

Be skin safe. Don’t put your health at risk! 



The same thing as soaping. You want to figure out what your skin likes and learning what your skin likes can take time. I love to play with exotic oils, cosmeceuticals, gels and such, but in a month or so I am going to swing back to thicker oils, lotions, butters and such as the weather changes. My biggest suggestion, choose if you are going to make face recipes or body, and find oils and butters and ingredients that can be used in various ways.

new containers.jpgContainers:

Now this is where choices get really hard. Do you buy the cute little butter pots with the black lid or the silver lid? The tall ones or the stubby ones? Do you choose glass over plastic? Then the best question of all, where do you plan on using your product? You don’t want glass in the shower or bathtub. You want plastic. What you choose to make and with which ingredients will determine which type of container you end up buying. If you are looking to just start out, I would say grab some glass Mason/Bell jars in the smaller sizes with a bunch of extra lids is a great place to start, they are versatile can hold small to medium sized amounts of product and then if you decide you enjoy DIY’ing, you can change out the lids and use them in the kitchen after a very good clean. Then go crazy container shopping! I loved working with Mason/Bell jars as they were VERY easy to clean, they could be sterilised easily, and are the only containers I feel comfortable reusing.

If you make the change from Mason/Bell jars to plastics and small neck glass bottles, you really should not reuse the container no matter how good you think you have cleaned.



Please. For the love of real coffee makers of the world, label your products. You can use pretty labels that you design on your computer and print out, you can use Kraft Labels (that awesome amber/brown type of paper that makes everything look old fashioned cool apothecary shopish), you can use masking tape (I miss masking tape) you can use nail polish. But please, please, please, label and date everything you make. You’re not going to remember what that 47th tube of lip chap is in your fridge. You’re not going to remember which product is the 5% shea butter or the 8% shea butter facial lotion as they are in the exact same looking container, they look the same, they smell the same- and you’re screwed. You’re not going to remember if this spray has silk or oats because that is the only difference in the two products because you really wanted to see if there was a difference. True stories, and it will happen to you too.



Alright folks! I think that is it. I’ve covered hopefully a fair bit of the basic equipment you will need to soap and create lotions. If you are reading this and can think of any additional equipment needed, let me know!


Information, MsBarb, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What do I need to begin making my own skin care? Before you begin

Seriously? I’m an addict. I have an entire room (that has long since spilled over into my kitchen, living room, my sectional sofa only can sit one person these days, I’ve lost my kitchen table…) dedicated to ingredients and I may not be the best person to ask this question to. Because of course I am going to get all questiony on you. I mean how could I not? Questions are so much fun!

While a lot of DIY bloggers out there will tell you that you probably have all the tools and ingredients you need to begin your DIY journey in your kitchen cupboards, I tend to disagree, slightly. And agree with them too. I love to bake and cook, always have. So I already had measuring spoons, measuring cups in both glass and stainless steel, a large selection of bowls, various sized spoons, immersion blenders, food processors, various pots and pans, coffee grinders, scales and all of it. So yes! I had all the equipment needed to begin on my DIY adventure. Now, take Sonia on the other hand. She is not a baker, or a cook and because of her Chinese family, only has things to make Chinese food in the house; a wok, some bamboo version of a spatula, some odd bowls and lots of Chinese serving dishes. See what I mean? She does have this nifty rice cooker thing that I am eyeing and trying to figure out how to use it to make stuff with it. It’s in the kitchen. It must be used to make something!

If you live in China and want me to share some Taobao links with you (Taobao is the most amazing online shopping website in the world! It is brilliant and amazing- but it is all in Chinese. And don’t bother asking for help from Baopolis or other “helpers” they have no idea about this DIY stuff and Google Translator gives you some of the funniest translations ever!) just let me know! For those of you who don’t live in China, check out places like Wholesale Supplies Plus (International), New Directions Aromatics (Canada+America), From Natural With Love (America), Brambleberry (America), Windy Point (Canada), Naturally Balmy (UK/EU) to name a few. No, I don’t receive any kick backs from these companies.

So let’s begin with some questions?IMG_1602

Question 1: What do you plan on making?

If you plan on making soap, your needs will greatly differ from someone who is just planning on making some creams and lotions. Then if you travel into the realm of toners and sprays, your needs are also going to differ from soaping, but not so much from lotions and creams. Bath bombs? And, if you are going into surfactants, gels, hand washes, soap jellies and such… well you get my point. So, think long and hard about what you plan on making as the supplies and ingredients you will need are different. And then you have to think of, if you are making soap, which kind of soap? HP? MP?? CP? CPoP?

Summer Shimmer 8

Question 2: What ingredients are you allergic or sensitive to?

This will play a very large role in what kind of ingredients you are looking at. If you are allergic to almonds for example, can you use sweet almond oil? If you are allergic to bees, does that mean no beeswax? Propolis? Honey? Pollen? Venom? And then there are people allergic to nuts; what about cocoa butter? palm oil? almond oil? coconuts? but does that include coconut derived products too? And then wheat allergies… And if you are allergic or sensitive to these ingredients, you need to figure out a substitution to them. Which can be lots of fun too!


Question 3: What ingredients do you not want to use?

When I first began making my own products, I was dead set against preservatives, emulsifiers and and anything that was questionably chemically. These days, I am more into what works, so naturally plus (a combination of naturally sourced ingredients paired with preservatives, cosmeceuticals, and other chemically sounding stuff) is what I use! I still prefer not to use palm oil as I like orangutans, but I do use some palm derived products and do occasionally have no choice but to use palm oil in some recipes. When this situation happens in that I have to use palm oil or palm derived ingredients, I buy mine from a shop that imports them from abroad. And I make sure that the shop they buy from uses sustainable palm ingredients. But, this is China and there is a higher chance that they just smile and nod saying, “yes! This imported from good company! Look we have certificate!” It is a worrying thought, but one factor that needs to be addressed. There are many wholesale suppliers out there and each want to make a buck. For the vegan/vegetarians amongst you, how strict are you? There are your animal by-products like lard, tallow (best ingredients for soaping and antiaging I tell you! And they are just going to be thrown out it truly seems like a waste, why not use them), a fair few vitamins and ingredients (here’s looking at you collagen!) that are made from various parts of animals.

Then, if you don’t want to use sciency/manufactured/made in a lab sounding products like: cetyl alcohol (yeah, not an alcohol. It’s used to help soften and condition skin and it is lovely!) or say tocopheryl acetate (in everyday terminology: Vitamin E), it would be a good idea to learn what the words you are reading are first before you decide to nix them. Otherwise you are going to be missing out on some fantastic ingredients that you really should be using like Vitamin E and soaps.

Fish!Question 4: How patient are you?

If you want to almost instantly use the products you make, then I’d suggest staying clear of soaps as they generally take about four weeks to six months (and some even longer) before they are good to use. Unless you decide to make mp soap. Most other things, you are just looking at cool-down times.


Question 5: How much do you want to spend?

In my professional opinion, DIY skin care is a deep black abyss that you will never be able to climb out of. But that is me. And this is my addiction/hobby/happy place. For others it is a different story. If you are looking to perfect a recipe over time, your costs will be much different than if you are just puttering. You will also discover, that you don’t know your skin as much as you like to think you do at this moment. As you try out new oils and ingredients, and all their various combinations, your skin will have many different things to say. And all of this takes time and lots of moolah as not many places will let you try 10mL here or there. Which I think is a great shame!


Question 6: Do you live by yourself or with spouse+kids+roommate?

This one might seem not that important, however; I’ve heard horror stories of other family members going into the Soap/DIY Room and using soaping ingredients to make dinner and people getting sick. All the ingredients are safe if used properly, but what about little kids who get into everything? Do you want a tub of lye sitting around? Or colourants that your kids will want to play with? Or worse, eat? This is also something to ponder before you begin.

Question 7: If I already have some equipment you suggest, can I just use that?

But of course! If you are just making things for you and your family, and you clean your equipment very carefully in between uses, there should be no problems. However; if you decide to begin making for other people, you really do need to get your hobby it’s own set of equipment and tools.


There are so many more questions to ask, and at the end of the day, the only person who can make the choice is you. Please get into this hobby with your eyes open, that there are costs involved and it does have the potential to take over your life (it’s like I am looking in a mirror right now). And it is addicting. Someone posts a new recipe the very first thing in your mind will be, I’ve 45 minutes before I have to leave for work. Can I make this before I go? Then someone goes and posts about a new ingredient that you don’t have, you’re not even out of bed yet, you’re already ordering it. When apartment searching, I have to look at making sure I can have a dedicated room for supplies and what not. Many of my DIY friends started out with just a shelf in their pantry but within a few weeks, that shelf grew into the whole pantry. Then the dinning room table. Then the dinning room itself. Then the basement. And most of my friends eyes glaze over as I start talking about the differences in silk or why I like wheat germ oil over apricot oil. And don’t even get me started on mango butter vs cetyl alcohol at 1.8% in recipes.

So now that some questions have been asked and answered, do you have any others?

The next big Question Blog Post will be about equipment needed to start you on your journey. But before I go any further, I am going to tell you the three most important and valuable pieces of equipment you will ever own on your DIY adventure. For as a teacher, I know repetition helps with the learning process.


The most important thing in your DIY arsenal is a notebook. 

Like most people, I began DIY’ing and never wrote things down. And then I got an iPad and began taking screen shots and taking notes on everything and I filled up my iCloud storage space. Then I got into using a notebook to write things down. And I’ve found that a notebook helps to keep better records of your work. And how you did things. I found that with the iPad it was always stop everything, turn on the iPad, enter your password, type it in. But with a notebook, it is quick and easy and if you get oil on it, it’s not going to complain! Or drop it on the floor. Or use it as a coffee cup holder.

You make a product, write it down, take accurate notes on how much of one ingredient you added. Take notes for the date you made something, how it turned out, what you noticed, then take notes after a week or so of use. A month. Two months. How long did the product last in the container you put it in? Did it grow mold? How can you tweak your product to make it better? What did you like? Or didn’t like?

The most important thing in your DIY room should be your notebook. There is a reason why every single one of us who DIY all suggest the same thing. Write it down. And there is a reason why anyone who DIYs always goes back to old fashioned writing it down. Because it works.


 Digital Scale 

The second most important thing when it comes to DIY is your scale. It does need to be digital. Digital is a lot more accurate than say a Weight Watchers scale. If you are just making soap, your scale needs to be accurate to 1g. If you are making lotions, a scale accurate to .1g is great. If you are making makeup, a digital scale to .01g is needed. When I make lotions, body butters, creams and toners, I use both the .01g and the .1g scales for accuracy. This way I can precisely recreate my recipe over and over again.

You’ll find most recipes will be given in percentages on Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin or in grams. It allows you the reader to scale up or down your recipe.


This might sound strange, but yes a camera. Take pictures and enjoy them! If you catch the DIY bug, you’ll be thrilled to have your original works forever on a screen. You can show your friends and family this is what I did on the weekend! It is great to see how you progress over time and the best way to really see it? Is by photos. And, you can take videos to show off various steps in your product making!

The most important thing to remember about this craft, this hobby, is to have fun!

Who am I kidding? The most important thing to remember?

Clean up is a bitch. 


Information, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What does it all mean? Labels and misinformation 

Welcome to another informative post about labels and misinformation. Of course, I wrote this post to talk about why I don’t want people to say things like, “Happy Skin is 100% chemical free/organic/natural/made from unicorn oil”, but very quickly I realised I was writing in general terms. The information in this post is great information for anyone looking to buy “natural and organic skincare” for themselves or their loved ones.

You walk into a store and visit the skincare or cosmetic section of the store. You feel you are very ingredient savvy. You don’t want anything that has been processed on your skin for natural is best. You only use organic and natural and 100% chemical free products. You don’t want products that use any chemicals on your skin. Nothing touches your skin that has been tested on animals. And goodness, the thought of preservatives on your skin?

Now before we get too far, let me say, I was there too. I was in your shoes. I believed that if I couldn’t say the ingredients on a label, I refused to eat it or use it. I believed that only using natural based products was best for my oily+hormonal+cystic acne+acne prone+unhappy skin and on any skin of any age. Organic was the only way to go! Toxins would build up and kill me! That my skin was like a second mouth. If I put it on my skin, it would be the equivalent to eating it.  Pretty much everything store bought that I needed to apply to my skin caused cancer. Preservatives were the devil. I believed the FDA was wrong about everything… I also for the longest time believed that if I couldn’t eat it, it couldn’t go on my skin. Anything synthetic or man made in a lab was unsafe and contained “toxins” that would build up in my liver and/or kidneys or both!. Oh and don’t get me started on what I used to think about GMO’s and organic foods.

Fun Fact: Your skin is designed to keep things out. It is not a second mouth that absorbs everything you put on it.

It turns out I was so wrong. Especially wrong about the FDA. It’s not their job to regulate the cosmetic companies as cosmetic companies are not a food or a drug (d’uh!). Now, if I were to say that a Happy Skin product cures acne or prevents ringworm or dandruff, then the FDA steps in and tells me I’m a naughty girl as I would be making a medical/drug claims and then I am no longer making a cosmetic but a medicine. And that is their territory.

And then? There are the issues with companies misleading people through their labels.

These days we want to look up any and all ingredients on a jar of that wickedly expensive night cream that promises us to remove those eye bags, tone our skin and tighten what needs to be tightened and will encourage the Tooth Fairy to come and sing us to sleep. So we go to Google and do a search of an ingredient. And we get hits like, “this ingredient is used in the manufacturing of yoga mats!”, “This ingredient causes breast cancer!”, “This ingredient will make your turn blue like a smurf!” “This ingredient is TOXIC!”, “This ingredient will build up in your kidneys!” Or we get the magical and miraculous wonders of Magical Mercozaxe beans. These are the types of searches that encourage clickbait where they cherry pick the information they share with you by giving you the extremes not the actual dosage used in cosmetics.

Let me repeat that. Many of these sites who use clickbait to get you to look at their page, are only giving you extreme dosages not the actual dosage that are used in cosmetics.

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From looking at recommended dosage for adult and pediatric pain

Let’s take a moment to look at something most of us have in our medicine cupboard: aspirin. There are the recommended dosage and you’d not think of going over that as they are the safety guidelines, right? I know, every single one of you will always stay in the safety limit of a pain pill. You’ve never taken one extra tablet because your weight is higher than the “average” adult.  Well it is the same thing when it comes to making skincare/cosmetics. Each ingredient used has a recommended usage amount. Glycerine is generally 2-5%, vitamin E is .5-5%… these are the recommended usage amounts. Then there are the safety limits which are much higher than that. Propylene glycol is actually safe at higher concentrations than those actually used in consumer products in cosmetics. We learn from a young age, that just because something is good for you, does not mean you should drown yourself in it. Cosmetic ingredients are the same. So why the fear when they are used properly?

Fear mongering: deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about an issue so people are afraid of their own shadows

Think about titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide (TD) is indeed now classified as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen in humans. Stop, wait. Let me finish. For me. Not for you. I work with TD on a regular basis in it’s powdered form which is the problem. And, if you sit there and snort up lines of titanium dioxide, it will probably cause you cancer if it doesn’t kill you first. But do you have titanium dioxide sitting around your house? No? I do. I wear a particle/dust mask while working with TD, I practice safety above all else. So unless you are actively working with nanoparticle TD or TD as a base ingredient, there is really no risk to you. Yet, you will see in the coming months, all the babe’s and mama’s talking about the dangers of your makeup, soaps, and blah blah blah.  Anyways, we click because they are sensationalised and the fear mongering that goes on these days has us all scared of our own shadows. When in reality, there is no harm to you the consumer. But they forget to tell you that.

While it might be cute to see kittens, puppies and other baby animals to be scared of their shadows, or do something because they don’t know better (baby animals at a full run trying to stop… hilarious!) it’s not so cute in adults. And because we hear these partial truths so often from Facebook Meme’s, from our mothers, co-workers, from various magazines, our friends that we end up believing it for we hear and see it so often. Why?  Because there is a tiny grain of truth in there; in the extreme and not the full story.

We as a society are so misinformed. 

And as soon as we believe it, it is hard to see that perhaps, we have been lead astray.

Then to add to the problems of being a consumer in this day and age? There is the horrible act of “greenwashing” that is everywhere these days. Coconut+sugar derived cleanser indeed! SLS, SLeS, SLSa, SCI are all “coconut derived”, SLSa, SLeS and SCI are lovely, whilst SLS is NOT! These are not “natural”.

Let’s try to get through each of these wants you have one by one without needing to create a Part II to this post! Because this post is already ridiculously long.

You don’t want anything that has been processed on your skin for natural is best. I have a hard time when I am asked if Happy Skin products and ingredients are unprocessed. Everything we eat, drink and apply to our skin is processed. Here in China, we all buy water in bottles as drinking any water from the tap is wickedly unsafe. Our water has been processed to be safe to drink and bottled. Every single Happy Skin ingredient has been processed. Otherwise, how could we use them? To make any of Happy Skin products, requires ingredients to be brought together, and that is what processing a product is all about. Potatoes are processed to become mashed potatoes.

We really cannot spread an olive over our skin in an attempt to get the oil or squalane from an olive. We cannot take a handful of rose petals hoping to get some rose essential oil either. Shea butter for example, is extracted from the shea nut using a manufacturing process by separating and cracking, crushing, roasting, grinding, separating and collecting the oils, then purified. And we use refined shea butter. No one wants to use unrefined shea butter as it smells like smoke, contains some funny granules/peel/shells/other things, is sometimes a dead body grey colour and doesn’t really spread all that nicely on the skin (but feels fantastic!). And you cannot get rid of that smoky scent no matter how hard you try and no one wants to buy a smokey scented product. So why would I want to use unrefined shea butter when refined is what customers have requested?


You only use organic and natural and 100% chemical free products. You don’t want products that use chemicals on your skin.

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Paragraph from: The Green Lantern-ILLUMINATING ANSWERS TO ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS. A fantastic read for ingredient savvy folk!

Do you remember what I said above? About fear mongering? Yeah, even the dictionary doesn’t really put your mind at ease when you decide to actually look up the word, chemical either. Take a look.

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From the Cambridge Dictionary

Rather than using at least one less fearful example like, “Chemicals are all around us. We eat them, drink them, breathe them and use them often. The air we breathe is comprised of 71% nitrogen, 20.9% oxygen and 1% trace gasses.”

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The breakdown of the air we breathe 

Flour, wheat grass juice, that awesome green smoothie that keeps you regular, that cookie pie and blondie brownie I love so much, coffee… these are all chemicals. Coconut oil too! Kombucha, kefir, olive oil and everything in and around us are chemicals too. And processed. And to top it all off, what the hell does, “The government had pledged to reduce the amount of chemicals used in food production.” mean anyways? Are they trying to say that the government wants everyone to go on a diet? At least in the second example they gave an adjective to describe which type of chemicals they are talking about. But, even water can be toxic and there is such a thing as toxic levels of oxygen.

The word chemical has gone from being a truly remarkable word to describe such wondrous things, to one that is utterly and completely negative and a word that many have come to fear. Which is just sad.

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For shits and giggles I actually did a Google search, “what is not a chemical?” My result.

When a customer asks me if our products are chemical free, I honestly do not know how to answer them. Usually, I ask them a question in return, “What is your definition of a chemical?” This could possibly be why Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin is not more popular. People don’t seem to like it when you answer a question with a question or just assume everyone has the same idea of the word. How do I explain without sounding like a lecturer or a teacher or arrogant when I say, “Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin- all products, all food, the air you breath, the water you drink, your fingers, your hair, your desk, phone etc…  are made from chemicals?”

I call shenanigans!

How can a product be labeled, “chemical free” if there is anything in it? Even if the bottle or pump were filled with air, it would still not be chemical free. How is this kind of labelling possible? Take for example, you visit a shop and spy a 100% organic hand lotion. Turn it over. Does it contain water? Water cannot be classified as organic.

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From the FDA website

I love and adore niacinamide and panthenol. These two chemicals go into almost every face product I make. They are in almost all my personal skin care products and my skin drinks them up. Niacinamide increases keratin, helps with a reduction of transepidermal water loss, they help to increase collagen synthesis, reduce hyperpigmentation of sun and age spots, reduce damages from environmental causes, and helps fight the redness caused by inflammation. AND helps to reduce sebum production. Are you amazed yet? Panthenol is a skin conditioning agent, improves hydration, reduces redness and inflammation, increases wound healing, improves the skin barrier and behaves as a humectant. They are both chemicals. They are both made in a lab using. They are both manufactured. They are both synthetic. Perhaps you might know them better as Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B5 and not by their International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients name (or INCI for short). And both, are chemicals and are not organic.

Natural is best. For some people sure, natural is best and I envy the hell out of you. But unfortunately, the vast majority of us, our skin is much more demanding. I went through a phase where I only would use unrefined oils and butters on my skin and I would only mix them with other unrefined oils and apply to my skin. Yeah. Gross. We’re talking an oily mess here. And I shall ever be envious of those people who can run to the kitchen, scoop out some oil and slather it on and their skin will thank them. I’m not one of those people. I wish I were, but I’m not. I tried to force my skin to be able to take it and from sure force of will tried my damndest. But I eventually realised, my skin was looking old. Tired. Dull. My skin was not happy. My skin had countless complaints going on. And I realised, slathering various oils on my skin was actually causing my skin to become dehydrated, dry, chapped, cracked, acne everywhere, itchy, scaly and just not happy. I was uncomfortable most of the time for my skin was just not healthy. And my clothes were gross as they absorbed more of the oils from my skin than my skin did.

And I found I wasn’t alone.

hqdefaultNow, Mother Nature can be a royal bitch. There are so many things that can kill us found in nature. Our planet has an endless wealth of what many could classify as natural death threats. The American Museum of Natural History has a whole display of poisons found in nature. From cashews, scorpions, the cutest tiniest little frog. Here is a list of eleven foods that can actually kill you: nutmeg, kidney beans (I know right?), mushrooms, apples, puffer fish, tomatoes, brazil nuts, potatoes, rhubarb, cherries, raw cashews. But we all eat them. Because we have learnt that as long as we properly cook, spit out the seeds/pits, don’t eat the various leaves and such, we will be ok. We had to learn this from our parents and grandparents. Proof, that sometimes good information lives on.

When it comes to skincare, people these days seem to learn most from the fear mongers as there is not a lot of information that has been passed down throughout time that is safe to pass on down the line. Throughout history, women have done some real stupid things in the name of being beautiful. Would you really want to eat a tapeworm? Or desire to contract TB so your pupils dilate a little and your complexion gets nicer for a bit before you die? Arsenic baths anyone?

Random google search: stupid things society has done in the search of beauty

These days, there is so much that has not been distorted by marketing campaigns and the babe’s and mama’s agendas. We wrote a blog post two months ago about the need to get the facts from science and not pseudoscience. Mother Nature might be a cruel bitch in her original and natural form, but break open those original and highly evolved murdering forms down, and you get a medical advancement. Using things like animal venom for various medical uses like pain relief. And that is what we do in skin care as well. Take castor oil. The ricin found in castor beans is toxic and has been used for a long time as a poison. But, castor oil is fantastic on the skin and for the hair. Adds intense shine to lip products, helps thicken hair, and helps to stabilize bubbles in soaping (if you’ve ever used our soaps you’ve used castor oil!) helps to dry the skin. And, castor oil is also a nifty laxative too! Proof that society has the ability to evolve its way of thinking through trial and error.

Now as we all know, I love my niacinamide. But the niacinamide I use in cosmetics is a white powder. That is no longer natural in my opinion as it has been refined in a lab, packaged and sold to me. If I want a natural source of niacinamide, I should be rubbing my skin down with a turkey breast. I would be so loved by cats and dogs! But I’d be one stinky mess. And who would actually rub a turkey breast on their skin? That turkey might take issue with that. But through a lab using various processes, what we need are extracted or created, purified, packaged and sold to be bought by companies and people like us.

Nothing touches your skin that has been tested on animals. Well, um… how do I put this lightly? Everything at some point has been tested on animals. The comedogenic study that came about in the 1970’s and was conducted on rabbit ears. Cosmetic ingredients were applied to the rabbits’ inner ear then observed if there were any blackheads or acne forming as rabbits ear skin is more sensitive than human skin and scientists could see results in a matter of weeks rather than months. Currently, in the EU the rabbit ear testing is forbidden, and in other countries it is slowly being phased out.

Here is something you might be very sad to learn. We live in China. And if you buy anything from a store in China that has been imported, it has 100% guaranteed been tested on animals.  In order for international cosmetic companies to sell in China, their products MUST BE tested on animals. This is a Chinese federal law. At the moment, the Chinese government is thinking of loosening this law for some of the larger companies, it is still not across the board and not fully implemented. So when you buy your awesome, organic and natural product in Shanghai’s Sephora (or Dior, Channel, Burberry, MAC et al), it won’t pass the never been tested on animals. And this is why some companies like The Body Shop aren’t open in Mainland China (side note: although at the moment, The Body Shop has Duty Free shops in Beijing and Shanghai and it is still unclear if the Chinese government randomly tests them. There is speculation that they do, but the company says differently so this one is iffy). And if you live outside of China and want only cruelty free products, and the brand sells in China, isn’t that sort of an ethical dilemma?

Then, in regards to animals, there is the question: What about using products are made from various parts of animals?  What about animal fats obtained from a butcher? These fats are rendered into tallow or lard (Soaps! Tallow and lard are the absolute best ingredients for anti-aging products!) and have the most amazing benefits on the skin. And tallow is found in a lot of beauty bars: Dove, Ivory, Neutrogena (except Neutrogena Naturals), Cetaphil, Dial, Lever, Tone, Jergens, Irish Spring. And even in quite a number of anti-aging products. Or what about if a product uses collagen? This is usually obtained from the fibers of various animal tissues. Squalene is from a shark liver (not to be confused with squalane which is from olives). If you use any anti-aging product there is a very good chance that there is something in there made from animals.

Safety comes first. And that means YES to preservatives!

Preservatives. I am not going to spend time in this blog post talking about preservatives as we are already way past the long phase and are now into the “dear lord this is a novel phase”. They will be getting their very own blog post as to why it is vitally important for our safety to use them. To put it super simple: make some salad dressing. Mix water, oil, herbs and spices together, put some on the counter, some in the fridge, and some behind your water heater. Wait a week. Take a look see. Would you want to eat them? We will put safety first every single time. And preservatives=safety in many of our recipes. As I mentioned, more on the importance of preservatives in another post.

Here at Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin, you haven’t heard us say, “our products are chemical free!”, “our products are all 100% natural!”, “Happy Skin is organic!” and so on. We actually cannot say that. We refuse to make these claims. They are not chemical free, however; they are partially or mostly made from naturally sourced ingredients, that they are naturally based, that they are partially Ecocert certified organic, that they are made with mostly imported ingredients. We also work hard to be environmentally friendly by using PET plastic which is recyclable, we wrap our products in shrink wrap as they go through the mail and has been customer requested over the tape over the lid as we originally did to prevent waste and to ensure better tamper proofing.

Other things you will hear us say; they are skin safe, we use the exact same products you do, that they are high performance, spa like quality, safe, handcrafted, handmade, great, wonderful, luxurious, they will beautify you, hydrate you, never tested on any animals other than humans (the Chinese government believes that if a product was made in China it does not require animal testing)… we’re still working on the acceptable phrasing we are allowed to us for we really don’t want to find ourselves in any sort of trouble greenwashing or whitewashing (whitewashing: to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data) our products. Or making labelling claims. Even here in China where no one seems to know anything about labelling claims, we want to make sure that we have our products at the highest international level we possible can. And this is why when people talk about our products, we actively encourage them to not use words like organic, unprocessed, chemical free.

One of the very best things about science is that the discipline is self-correcting. A scientist makes a set of observations about nature, and then devises a theory to fit those observations.

Other scientists then test the theory, and if it withstands scrutiny it becomes widely accepted. At any point in the future, if contravening evidence emerges, the original theory is discarded. At its essence, and though in practice it’s more messy, this is how science works.

Lastly, you will hear us talk a lot about the science of things. And science is cool and amazing for it learns and evolves based on what we know. As we advance technologically, socially, universally, we have more information available to help either prove or disprove what was thought previously. They more information you have, the more your opinion changes about something. Science is fact based and as the information supporting those facts change, so does science’s opinion. As does ours. The thoughts and opinions I believed in ten years ago are not the same as the ones I had when I was a teenager, and the opinions I had as a teenager are (thankfully) not the ones that I have today. Scientists are wrong all the time, and that’s fantastic!

Isn’t science neat?

As always, if you have any questions, or would like to know more about any of the information in this post, please feel free to get in touch with us in the comment section below or by WeChat.


Additional Reading you might enjoy not linked in the post:

Let’s Talk Natural by Marie of; sums it up perfectly:

If my hair looked and felt awful when washed with CP shampoo bars, you better believe I’d be backing off that particular “natural” track pretty fast. Nobody dives into this hobby thinking “I don’t care if my acne flairs up and my hair frizzes like mad—I just want everything I use to be natural!” We seem to hope and assume the opposite will happen (“my skin will be so much happier with natural oils and soaps!”), but if it doesn’t, most people go back to what was working for them before, and I can’t blame them.

LisaLise of LisaLise Pure Natural Skincare wisely gave her readers a word of advice:

If you come across a brand promising chemical-free cosmetics: walk away. They either do not know what they are doing or are trying to sell you their products using fear tactics. Everything in a cosmetic is a chemical: even water.

Here are a few further links from around the internet for further reading:

Ethical questions of using products that sell in the Chinese markets

These beauty brands that are still testing on animals

Greenwashing and what 5 popular terms on beauty products mean

Retraction Watch

Last Week Tonight– Scientific Studies (I strongly suggest watching this one!)

Information, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: How can I make my own sunscreen?

Ever wonder how to make your own sunscreen? Want to keep your skin healthy and happy? Want to try to prevent skin cancer caused by the sun? One of the biggest questions we here at Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin this time of year is, “do you make sunscreen”? And most people really don’t like our answer.

Read on and I’ll share with you how!

Question: How to make your own sunscreen?

Answer: DON’T.

Question: Is it possible to make your own sunscreen?

Answer: Unless you have access to lots of really fancy lab equipment, then no.

Questions/Winging: But other DIY makers sell homemade sunscreen!

Snarky Answer: Comment deleted; not suitable for a public space.

So. Go to the store, look for the sunscreen section of the shop. Pick out something that is at least an SPF 30 or more.

A google image search result

Please, do not take the chance. Coconut oil, raspberry seed oil, shea butter… none of these are suitable replacements for sunscreen. I have tried all the natural sunscreens out there and they don’t work. How do I know they don’t work? Read on!

If you look at any of the babe’s and mama’s blogs out there they generally tell you that coconut oil has an SPF of 1-8 (how do I know they say this? Well, you’ll see how easy it is to fall into the siren’s song if misinformation very soon, and I fell hard). They will also say things along the lines of, Africans have been using shea butter for countless years as a natural and healthy sun screen. Shea butter has an SPF of about 5-9.

Yet, say Badger Sunscreen says on the page, SPF 30. Ok. So you are scratching your head thinking, “Sure Barb. ok. So what?”

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From TheIndianSpot on Pinterest 

Let’s go to the kitchen and let’s make some of my kind of famous Chocolate Fudgey Brownies. You need eggs, sugar, butter, cocoa powder, a wee bit of vanilla and a pinch of salt. And that is it. Let’s see… well, cocoa powder is processed so let’s not use it. Oh and the butter is not good for you so let’s not use that. And eggs can cause heart disease, so no no to the eggs, so let’s use the applesauce instead. Now the vanilla has caramel in it so can’t use that. And sugar is addictive and don’t need to be addicted to anything more. And salt, well salt causes high blood pressure. So here! Have a wonderful Chocoalte Fudgey Brownie! (slides over a bowl of apple sauce). Oh! Whoops! The applesauce wasn’t made from organic apples. Never mind! Fancy a clean bowl?

Yup. Nothing like a Chocolate Fudgy Brownie.

Not the same thing you say? But it is. Cherry picking which ingredients you think are “safe” and “good” and “toxic free” is just like what I did above. Looking at the list of ingredients on sun screen, each one of them are there for a reason. To protect you. To help you to prevent skin cancer.

Now, coconut oil has a SPF of 1-8 and the Badger Sunscreen has a SPF of 30. Let’s use another example to try to explain…

The coconut oil would be similar to saying that all apples taste the same. I’m trying to save money to take a trip, and I get criticised at for spending 30rmb (China money) on four apples when I could buy the apples in the next bin 5rmb for 10 apples. Sounds like quite the deal. But let me tell you what would happen. Those 5rmb apples would quickly visit my rubbish bin before I ever even considered eating them. And I wouldn’t blink twice at it. Those 30rmb apples are delicious. They haven’t been forced grown so don’t taste like or have the texture of cardboard, they have a slightly sour taste- huzzah! Damn you China and your refusal to grasp the concept of sour fruit can be delicious! They’ve bred out almost all the sourness from fruits. So sad. Soon tart grapes and I will meet again!


Coconut oil taste, colour and SPF value change with each coconut you use to make the oil. Each coconut from the same tree is different. How can you know that when you lather yourself up with coconut oil you are getting an SPF value of 8 every single time? Has the coconut manufacturing company turned to a lab and said, “hey, test each batch of coconut oil so we can put it on the label”.

And speaking of labels, do you ever see a jar of coconut oil claiming to have an SPF factor? Nope. And you probably aren’t going to either. The regulating bodies (Health Canada/FDA) list sunscreen as a drug and regulate it as such. EU Cosmetic Regulatory Services classify sunscreen as a cosmetic and regulate it as such (must be tested for wavelength, tested for standardised categories of effectiveness of low to very high protection, and if marketed as water resistant, must be tested and approved by that regulating body too. Then have the sunscreen assessed and tested. The sunscreen is then registered with the EU Cosmetics Portal).

It’s not a sunscreen unless it has all of this on the label.

So if you go to a fair or a market and want to buy some homemade sunscreen, be smart. The following are mandatory, so be skin smart. Ask!

USA: domestic/foreign manufacturers/packagers/labelers must register their cosmetic/skincare business with the FDA and submit an annal list of their drug products. Sunscreen is considered a drug in the USA, “Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-The-Counter Human Use monograph (21 CFR 352)”. This includes handmade/DIY sunscreens.

Canada: at the moment, Canada is proposing some pretty awesome changes to the sunscreen monograph by becoming more standardised. At the moment, sunscreens containing titanium dioxide, and/or zinc, and/or PABA are NHP’s and require a Natural Product Number or a NPN, and if the sunscreen contains any of these ingredients, they are considered drug products and therefore; require a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

It’s a good idea to make sure your sunscreens bought in Canada have this logo on them to ensure you are getting a product that has been fully tested and approved.

EU: The EU is probably the easiest one to make sure you are getting a good product. Just ask if they have had their sunscreen assessed, if they have a PIF and if they have registered with the CPNP. They are not obligated to show you these documents however; requesting some sort of proof that their sunscreen has passed it’s tests is never a bad thing.

I suffer horribly from various sunscreens. I always have. I remember summers at various camping programs as a kid being told I must wear my sunscreen and refusing point blank as my skin always got these weird blisters wherever the sunscreen touched. It is hardly surprising to see why in my DIY adventure sunscreen was on that list for a long time. And I can tell you, with certainty, homemade sunscreen is crap.

The oils don’t do their jobs very well, and I’ve mixed many different combinations up. All I did was get a tan using coconut oil and burnt while using other oils straight up (I’m looking at you raspberry seed oil!). I’ve tried adding zinc to my concoctions but unsurprisingly, zinc is pretty crappy to work with. It doesn’t incorporate easily and is attracted to itself so clumping is an issue. And if clumping occurs in your concoction, that means you don’t get good coverage when you apply it. And speaking of coverage, your foundation makeup you are applying, is just not enough coverage. You just don’t apply enough, regularly throughout the day to provide ample protection.

And now? I have no choice but to practice safe sun exposure levels. Hats don’t fit, so an umbrella is always in my purse. I wear clothes that cover. And try not to be outside for too long without being in the shade. I would love to to be able to wear sunscreen! I have heard stories from some friends who claim that European sunscreens are much better than North American sunscreen and I cannot wait to try some while next in Europe to test this theory out!

Now, I mentioned Badger Sunscreen being SPF 30 a few times in this post. This is the sunscreen most people I know recommend, which is why I am suggesting it. To get an SPF of 30, Badger had to put its sunscreen through many laboratory tests, pass various certifications, follow some pretty neat regulations and is confident that every tube of sunscreen will provide consistent results right up to the expiry date. Many on the shelf sunscreens are recipes formulated with reef safe ingredients, environmentally safe ingredients too. And after researching for this blog post, I am also very keen to try out Badger Sunscreen to see if I react.

Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin is all about DIY. We also encourage  people to explore the joys of DIY- in a safe way. There is a reason why we don’t encourage anyone to make their own sunscreen, because it is not safe. The DIY bloggers we follow, won’t make them either.

Please read these following links as they provide such amazing explanations as to why homemade sunscreen is not a good idea.

Why Homemade Sunscreen is Never a Good Idea

Why you can’t count on DIY sunscreens

Why you should not use coconut oil as a sunscreen

Myth or fact: Coconut is an effective sunscreen (The Mayo Clinic weighs in)

New research suggests sunscreens do not significantly inhibit vitamin D synthesis

An overview of sunscreen standards in the world

Why DIY sunscreen doesn’t work by LabMuffin YouTube video HIGHLY informative

Bottom line, Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin will never make sunscreen unless we get all the fancy lab equipment and the proper testing done.

Practice skin safety!

Ask questions if you buy from a DIY maker





Information, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: How to care for your products?


The new Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin Packaging


You took the plunge, you are now the proud owner of new handcrafted, spa quality, luxurious, artisanal beauty products. And the first thing you really noticed upon opening your package, is that these products really are made with a love of what the crafter does.

Now what?

How do you make sure you get the most out of your products? Make them last a long time? Keep the contamination beasties out? Keep the scent around? Keep them from going bad? That is what we’ve dedicated this post to. Now, you may or may not have bought Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin products, you may have bought your products from another artisanal maker, and that is ok! No problem. The basic principles are the same.

There is a little bit of a learning curve in caring for your handcrafted products, but the faster you get into the habit of taking care of your products, the longer you will keep them around. Some people just look at us when we try to explain this topic and they say, “It is just soap. You lather, rinse and use again tomorrow”. True, but if you want to use your fantastic bar of soap for three weeks, then grand! But if you want it to last as long as possible… you get my drift. It’s like buying an expensive cashmere sweater. Sure you could toss it into the wash with the towels like you do your other sweatshirts, but do you really think it is going to continue to look beautiful? Nope. You need to hand wash that sucker with special soap, rinse carefully, lay flat to dry, fluff, carefully fold, then put back into your closet.

Water Based Products

This includes but is not limited to: serums, gels, lotions, creams, butters, toners

A selection of water based products

It is very important to close/tighten the lids. We do try to put most things into containers that have flip top lids to make it easier for you to close it all down. And there is a very good reason we use these types of containers. Contamination is not our friends. We use preservatives to try to prevent beasties from taking over your product, we practice excellent GMP in The Scrub Me Down Kitchen, but we are not scientists working in sterile lab like conditions so there is always a risk. We do our part by making sure our work areas are pristine as they can possibly be, we sterilise your containers before we fill them, sterilise the lids, we change our gloves often, have our hair pulled back, we even go so far as to wear particle masks when making water based products to keep beasties on this end out. But, none of this matters if you don’t close that lid. China is not the cleanest of places, and I wouldn’t ever want to use a product that sits open on someone’s counter in someone’s bathroom in any country. I mean seriously. You flush your toilet in the same breathing space as that product. I don’t even want to imagine what the fecal count you apply to your face if you don’t tighten that lid. I even wipe down my containers in the bathroom often as the thought of touching said container, then applying the lotion to my hands, closing the container, then applying to my face… well the thought of a poop cream really doesn’t appeal to me.

Kids can safely use Happy Skin water based products under the direct supervision of parents. Again, this is because of the potential of contamination. Kids pick their noses, scratch willy nilly without thought, and don’t wash their hands after their frequent trips to the bathroom (most people I find don’t at all, they more or less wave their hands under the water which might sound pretty, but doesn’t do squat)… do you really want them putting their grubby hands into your precious products? I wouldn’t. Now a pump bottle or a flip top lid, I’d be happier sharing. But a tub or a pot? No way. I need to think about my safety first. I know, gross thoughts. I’ve worked with children for years, the crazy gross things they do (I laugh my arse off about it but it’s still pretty gross!) so for me, even any store bought item (and that includes food!) if a kid touches it, I’m done. I should just have kids. I’d loose so much weight!

Please ensure that you fasten your lid onto the container if you can. Don’t just cover the container/pot with the lid. This doesn’t just keep the beasties out, but it also works to keep your product in the best condition. Water evaporates. We work very hard at formulating recipes that are precise to give the glide, slip, texture, feeling that they have for the most luxurious experience. Don’t mess with the ingredients by letting something as simple as water evaporate!

Flip top lids need to be closed after every single use to prevent evaporation

If you do not like the containers we have chosen for your products and want to decant your (for example) face cream from a pump into a pot, we would strongly advise against doing so. Reusing any container is never a good idea.

Please don’t add anything to your products! I mentioned above, we spent a long time formulating each recipe to make them what they are. Each ingredient has been measured to fit into the product exactly. The preservatives used are calculated for exactly what is in there. By adding even a drop of something has the potential to alter that delicate balance.

Don’t add anything to your products and remember to close the lid after every use or the beasties will find your goodies! Photo credit: a customer who added essential oils to a body butter.

Keep your products out of direct sunlight, the bathroom cabinet is a perfect place to store your products. And if you are stock piling, store them in a cool dark location. I keep my extra stash in the fridge. I love applying cold cream to my face! Ohhh and cold toner is divine!

A bathroom cupboard is the perfect place to store your day to day bath products. Lots of testing going on!

Anhydrous Based

This includes but is not limited to: all lippies, body scrubs, lotion bars, face scrubs

The Lemon Lime Sugar Scrub pre-capping

The number one most important thing to know, keep water out. Beasties need water to grow in. No water therefore, no beasties. Get water in there, beasties can grow rampant. In some of our anhydrous products, we don’t use a preservative, so this rule, is vital. We know the body scrub will be used in the shower, and water will make it’s way into the scrub no matter how much you try to keep water out, don’t worry. It does contain a preservative. Just try to keep the water to a minimum!

Remember to recap your products after each and every use. Fecal matter. Remember?

Again, all our anhydrous products can be used by children under the direct supervision of a parent. They are all kid friendly, but again, kids+dirty+cooties+snot=questionable thoughts.

Personally, how I use a lot of my anhydrous based products by taking a clean kitchen spoon, and using the bum end to scoop some product out into a little bowl. This way, I know that I always keep water, cooties and nasties out.

A somewhat sensitive topic, heat. Now that we are getting into the heat of summer here in China, those of you who live in China, I know you are nodding your head and thinking, the humidity is a killer! And it rightly is a killer. It’s horrible! You cannot escape it. I’ve never experienced anything like it anywhere else on my travels. It is just gross. Yucky gross. And that sun is bloody hot too. And that means melting issues. And there is really no avoiding it unfortunately. Coconut oil melts at around 22-26C, cocoa butter at about 35C and here in Liaoning we are experiencing 39C weather. In the north of China. I don’t want to think of what the south is getting. Lippy’s will soften in this temperature. So be careful when applying! I have mine in my purse all the time with no problems and have spent hours out in the sun in the high heat of the afternoon. Just be aware that if you have been in the sun, that it might get soft. If you experience any of your products melting, toss them into the fridge.

The Lippy’s that are currently in my purse

And as with water based products, keep out of direct sun light.

Southern Belle
Southern Belle Luxury Soap


You may have seen our first official YouTube video about humidity and your soap. Homemade soap and humidity are not friends. The soap attracts the moisture from the air and sticks to the soap causing something called, “glycerine tears”. Then, the soap leaks everywhere. And then? When it dries? You get all these funky raised spots on the soap! It’s actually very cool! But this shows you just how amazing the soap is. The naturally occurring glycerine is a byproduct from the soap making process that usually commercial companies remove. Anyways, I digress. There are ways to store your soap to get the bar to last as long as possible. Tossing your soaps into a shoebox under the couch, or in your closet is always a good method to store your soaps. In the humidity of summer, we ship each soap with some silica packets to prevent the beading. Keep these packets and use them to store your soaps.

When you receive your soap, unpackage it. Don’t store your soap with the plastic package on. It is like your feet. Socks are great, but your feet need to air out too.

Air. Lots of air flow. Your soap caddy will play a major part in making sure your soap lasts a long time. I have a two tiered soap caddy which allows me to use one soap today, and the other tomorrow. Alternating my soap each day. This allows the soap to fully dry between use, which keeps the soap as hard as possible. Make sure your soap caddy has lots of air circulation and not a little pool of water for it to sit in.

My soap caddy; Margarita Himalayan Salt Soap, Chai Latte and Happy Skin

If you use just the bar of soap straight up on your skin (this is how I use my soap!), you will find you won’t get a long use out of it. If you use a wash cloth or loofa or one of those nylon bags, you will find you will get a longer period of use from the soap. Basically, the less time the soap spends in direct contact with water, the longer it will kick around.


Water based products: close containers properly, use clean fingers, don’t add stuff to it, keep out of sunlight.

Anhydrous products: try to keep water out, close properly, keep out of sunlight, and due to the heat your product may get softer.

Soap: let dry properly in between use, store extra soaps in a cool and dark place.

This is not an extensive list by far, but these are the basic things you can do to get the most out of your product! It’s bath time!

Under the Sea.jpg
Under the Sea Luxury Soap











Information, MsBarb, Questions, Soap, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What's the differences between MP and CP Soap?

Since we’ve started this blog, I’ve posted a fair bit about soap. But, there is a big difference between our two current soap options.

  1. CP soap- cold process soap
  2. MP soap- melt and pour soap

There are other types of soap, but these are the two types we deal with at the moment.

CP soap, is made from the base ingredients- this might be confusing. So let’s change them up to something simpler. Baking. Cakes. Yum!

  1. From Scratch (cp soap)
  2. Box Cake (mp soap)

1) So you want to eat some cake. Yum! So you go to your kitchen and look at your cupboards. You’ve got eggs, flour, sugar, butter, baking soda and most importantly, cocoa powder (cause after all, homemade chocolate cakes are the best!). You toss them into a bowl and begin to stir. You add in some vanilla, and stir and pour into your prepared pan. Into your preheated oven it goes.

2) So you want to eat some cake. Yum! So you go to your kitchen and look in your cupboards. Oh wow! Easy! There’s a box of cake mix! You toss it into a bowl, add in the eggs, oil and water and mix. Then you pour it into your prepared pan, and into the preheated oven it goes.

And you’ve got cake! Now, cool and frosting each cake the same. When you eat it, there is a very good chance people would be able to tell the difference.

Are they the same? No.

Do they taste the same? No.

Do they have the same texture? No.

Do you get to control all the ingredients in both? No.

Do they cost the same to make? No.

Do they leave you with the same feeling when you eat them? No. Well… no. They leave you satisfied that you just ate cake. I find homemade cake to be more filling and more satisfying than box cake. I do make box cake from time to time! It’s much cheaper!!!

Let me begin this next part but saying I am 100% biased on this when it comes to cake making or soap making. I will always prefer my things to be made from scratch. I find they taste better and have more of a flare that pre-made stuff doesn’t have. But that also means the cost and time will be different too.

Butters, fats and oils… I get to control them.
Making CP soap

In cp soap, you get to choose each ingredient you add in. Each ingredient has a very specific purpose and reason for being there. Coconut oil is there for hardness and to try to get some bubbles as bubbles are what people want. Castor oil is there for it provides the bubbles with stability. We add some sugar to help get better bubbles. Kaolin Clay is there to give the soap a creamy feeling. Lard and tallow are used as it they are the best moisturisers in soap making, helps to combat the signs of aging, and is the most amazing skin food. And they provide wicked hardness to the bar which means long lasting. Shea butter, because people associate shea with good skin (and really, thats the only reason I toss it in! It is good, but there are better ingredients!). Olive oil is actually my filler in soaps. Then I get to choose things like colours, fragrances, extracts, herbs, do I pipe? do I add in coffee? Salt? This? That? The kitchen sink? Do I make it look like a bar? A food item? But then, you need to let it sit for about six weeks before you use it. And when you begin to mix… you could get an explosion, a volcano, seizing, ricing, acceleration, perfect trace… you really really never know what is going to happen when you make cp soap.

BEST part of MP soap? Colour no good? Melt it down!

In mp soaps, your base is pre-made. You don’t get to choose which ingredients go in. You can use it as is, or add in some colours, some fragrances, a little toy in the middle. Let it cool down for a few hours then use it that same day.


Do they perform the same? This is a very difficult one for me to answer as I can only speak for my skin. And my skin says no. 100% no. You couldn’t even pay me to use mp soap. Even if I were at someones isolated house on a mountain top and I ran out of my soap and had no way to get more, and all they had to bathe with was mp soap… I still wouldn’t use mp soap. My skin cannot stand it. I find it very drying.

Now that I’ve told you that my skin is biased in regards to soap, let me say, that some people really really like mp soap on their skin. They find it great and that it meets their skins needs. They find it perfect for them and they talk about how amazing it is. And let me just say I am suffering from envy at this moment. How I wish that were me! We are just beginning our mp soap journey and how I would love to have all those glorious and beautiful and artistic looking soaps to have in my bathroom for use, but I cannot. My skin won’t take it.

If we take a look at the differences in appearances, there are some really amazing and talented soap makers out there. Especially when it comes to mp soap. It’s amazing to work with! The art you can create with it is astounding! Your fragrance lasts longer and is more potent, and you don’t have to wait months or even years before first use. And you can see through your soap. How cool is that? And even I would want the funky looking stuff in my bathroom! Just to look at.

One day I’ll be able to do this!

CP soap on the other hand, you cannot see through. But! You can do so many different types of swirls and twirls and fun piping tricks and much more! You can play with embeds and design techniques to make it yours.

All soap is art! But at the end of the day, I drool more over mp soap, but some of our newer soaps coming out of The Scrub Me Down Kitchen are getting pretty neat!

Currently, nameless soap! But smells like candied passion fruit!
“Ancient Secrets”
“Cucumber Delights”

In our soaps we use mp soaps to make embeds in our cp soap. We carefully calculate our cp recipes to counteract the possible drying factor of the mp. In the future, we will also have a range of mp soaps in various scents and colours to help to brighten up the cp soap room! And my absolute favourite part of mp soaping? If you mess up, you just melt it down again and try again! In cp soaping, if you mess the design up, you won’t know for a day or two, and if you mess up the recipe? You won’t know for months!

My skin may not like MP soap, but good golly I wish it did! So until I can get . skin transplant, I will have to settle for adding cool stuff to our CP soap!








Information, MsBarb, Questions, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What do I need to know before I begin on a DIY journey?

A quick note before you continue, I have no professional background in science or chemistry. This post is meant to assist you in being able to make the most informed ingredient decisions you can by looking at the facts.

All substances are poisonous; there is none that is not a poison. The right dose differentiates between a poison and a remedy.  Paracelsus (1493-1541)

Lately in the DIY community, there have been quite a number  of blog posts about how chemicals and chemically sounding words that no one but a Latin major can understand can say, can actually be good for you. And yes, there will be a blog post about it all once I figure out how I want to say what I want to say.

But todays blog post is not about that. It is about a journey into DIY. When most people get into the DIY hobby, they do it because they want to ditch the chemicals, the parabens, the preservatives, the sulfates and all those “fun” things.

So you turn to Google and the blogging world and the black hole that is Pinterest, that tells you “all you need is coconut oil or olive oil” or “the best products are in your kitchen”! “Here! Try this “burning” face mask” made with so much cinnamon you are actually at risk for a chemical burn! But “here I’ve got a pore reducing face mask for you”, Elmers Glue and activated charcoal. Spirulina as a lovely green eyeshadow that really stays! Clove powder as a blush/eyeshadow! Or you go to the “green” beauty bloggers, mama bloggers, who actually really seem use scare tactics on their readers. OH OH OH! Or the “expert” doctors out there that talk about magical ingredients or again use scare tactics by giving the tiniest amount of facts, then BAM! Preach at you with fear.

While yes, a kitchen and house does have many amazing things that one can use to obtain amazing skin, a lot of people don’t realise that a lot of these kitchen ingredients need actual safe usage levels that are not the same for food and cosmetics. One also needs to use their brain and research the ingredients and how to use them, the possible interactions of using them if you have any allergies, sensitivities, the possible reactions of using them- just because some random yahoo with a few thousand (or millions) followers doesn’t always mean they know what they are talking about. Do your research. Be safe. Be skin safe!

So what’s the problem? I like wickedly spicy food. And that is good for me! But some people can’t handle the wickedly spicy vindaloo dishes that make you cry. So why do people assume your skin is going to be like someone else’s? What works for one person, might not work for another. My face loves loves loves coconut oil, but there are people out there that put it near their face, and their pores get blocked! And just for clarification? I didn’t always have a brain either. I do speak from experience on using various and questionable ingredients in my skin care routine. I tried everything to get rid of my acne short of sandblasting. I spent years and a lot of money on essential oils, exotic oils, various commercial products, imported from all over the planet. And nothing worked. I discovered soaping, and spent a fortune trying to make this or that recipe work. I tried tea tree, lavender and discovered my skin doesn’t like either. But was assured if I only kept at it, my acne would go away.

And all through this time I was referring to the natural bloggers and the mama’s and the babe’s and the Dr. Quacks out there that tried to tell me that practically anything made in a lab was terrible for me and causing me to have this or that problem. Thin hair? You must have leaky gut! Your nose is big! You need to eat more probiotic rich superfoods! Oh, you’ve got BO? Well look no further! Rub a pickle on your pits!

So what does this all mean to you? Let me take you on an example of what I mean. It’s a little on the lengthly side, but bear with me.

Here is one example of possibly millions. Propylene Glycol and a Jackass- let’s refer to him as Dr. Dumbass.

While I was doing some research for this post to make sure I had all my ducks in a row and my facts straight, I came across Dr Dumbass’s page about propylene glycol. And reading the page, he is really not necessarily wrong in what he is saying about propylene glycol and its various albeit possible health risks: possible skin irritant, potentially toxic to the kidneys and liver, potential heart issues.. and (airquote) potentially (air quote) so on. And my favourite? The whole antifreeze hype: “When propylene glycol is used in antifreeze products in place of ethylene glycol, it’s considered “non-toxic antifreeze.””

Which amounts is he referring too? These?

FDA has approved its use at concentrations as high as 98% in topical drugs and 92% in oral solutions.

And since he brought up the EU further along in the article, take a gander:

In 1994, the Cosmetics Industry Safety Panel (of CTFA, Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, known today as “The Personal Care Products Council”) confirmed propylene glycol to be safe for use in cosmetic articles, and at higher concentrations than those actually used in consumer products.

It’s also safe to say, that if you want propylene glycol free cosmetic products, you should stop eating ice creams and ice lollies as it is usually one of the ingredients.

Now let’s take a look at some sciencey sites:

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From the website (I have some issues with Skindeep, but that is for another day, this blog post is already way too long!)
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From: ToxNet

And for you lucky ladies with lovely curls, here is a link you might find familiar:

So you kind of understand what I am saying? That lots of people out there are going to do anything to get your traffic to their site with whacky titles about ingredients in this companies food also are also used as an additive to make yoga mats. Or don’t drink this because there is so much sugar in it! (But there is about the same amount of sugar in this beverage as in a more common one). Or this ingredient is used in antifreeze why would you want to put it on your face/body? If you stop eating this, your skin will be perfect! And you read a couple more blogs about the same topic, then you read some silly doctor man’s website about how yes! It is true! If you stop rubbing that pickle on your pits, your grandchildren will get ingrown toenails.

There are different grades of ingredients. But that doesn’t mean that they are the same. Surfactants are a good example here. We use surfactants in body washes, shampoos, toothpastes and such. Sound safe? Yes! That’s the cosmetic grade for surfactants. 100% perfectly safe for its intended purpose. Now if I were a mama, babe or a Dr. Dumbass, I would scream and tell you NO! Surfactants are not safe and bad for you because they are an ingredient in…. Round Up Mix! Do you want to be eating the same ingredient used in something to kill weeds and pests? But if you do the research, you will see that they use a different grade.  And the surfactant is used to adhere the adhere the chemical to the plant and that’s its job.

When you set out to forumlate your own products, begin DIY, want to become ingredient savvy, or read someones blog to get an idea of a recipe to make your own products, look for facts. Take each and every ingredient and check it out from a science point of view. Not some random babe’s blog, or a mama blog, or a blog that tells you you can mix oils and water and not use a preservative.

March for Science April 2017

Over the past few years, we seem to have turned our backs on science based facts and welcomingly embraced idiots who preach to us with their own agenda. When it comes to your body and your skin, do the fact based research and not the oh my sisters husbands friends kids cousins brothers dog doesn’t like this so I shouldn’t like it either. Or I read on this person’s blog that the dust ball under my bed would make a good ear plug. And yes, this is now my platform too and yes, we have our own agenda. But at the end of the day, science is what will be left behind. The more you hear something, the more our brains want to beleive it is true. Just because one person is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right. If everyone were to jump off a building, would you?

In case you were wondering, Proplyene Glycol is a humectant. Humectants are very important in the cosmetics and skin care industry. They are a material that pair with water molecules and  boosts the water content in the skin. Humectants draw moisture to the skin in two ways. They can take moisture from the air and drops it onto the skin, and they promote water absorption from the outer layers of skin. Now while I don’t personally use Proplyene Glycol in Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin products, I wouldn’t say no to using it. It’s just not available to us in China, so we use vegetable glycerine as our humectant.

And now for a little something extra:

Dr Jackass goes on in his post to talk about how in the US cosmetics do not have to have their ingredients listed- wait. Let me show you what he said:

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From Dr. Axe

I call bullshite. I call massive bullshite. We just told you the other day we are thinking of moving from China to another country and opening a shop in a few years. And guess what? One of those countries is America. So we’ve been studying FDA Cosmetic Labelling Regulations which state VERY clearly on the FDA website:

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From the FDA website on cosmetic labelling

The FDA has very precise and I’m talking precise, down to the font ratio for rules for labelling of skin care/cosmetic products. Ingredients MUST be listed and there is a very strict and precise rule for how you can list your ingredients too and where your ingredient list must be placed both on the container and on the packaging.

Need another link to help understand the labelling or just want a company to make yours?

And here are a few links to some great sites that help to understand various ingredients:

Personal Care– Information Based on Sciencific Facts

Skin Deep– ingredient sheet checker

An now for some laughs from around the web:

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(sarcastic) I love to rub bacteria, yeasts and fungi all over my body! Which is what will happen when you mix water and oils with no preservative. And no, beeswax is not a suitable alternative for ewax.
“FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market FDA.” (that is a quote from the FDA) Essential oils are usually the “natural” ingredients which actually have little to no scientific backing. Essential oils, coconut oil and other similar ingredients are not “natural” as they have been chemically, mechanically, or processed in some way, and have a lovely places on the periodic table of elements making them…. chemicals. Other chemicals that are dangerous if not properly tested: water, peppermint essential oil, cinnamon powder, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, olive oil, talc, and everything under the sun.
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The molecular structure of coconut oil. Isn’t it pretty? Guess what? It’s been processed (even if you make it yourself!), making it not natural. And it has a chemical structure.

And lastly, TheOatmeal comic on why we do what we do. It’s cute!