General News, MsBarb, Starting your own cosmetic business, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Learning Curves: buying new stuff

By now, you have seen this….

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And you know my time here in China is limited! And because I know where I am going and what I’ll be doing, I can begin planning my future inventory. And because I too can pretend to be clever? I know I won’t be a whackadoo and buy every little new oil and ingredient that I coo over. I also know that it will actually be cheaper to buy 2g of that fancy anti-aging powder to start rather than the 10g bag in the long run.

Marie over at HumbleBee&Me wrote a brilliant article about throwing things away and I do agree with her on most everything she wrote. But that article doesn’t really help those of us starting over quite literally and not figuratively from scratch. None of the products I have made here (like the almost 500 bars of soap) can go with me to Europe. None of the ingredients I bought here in China can be used to sell products in Europe. It means, when I move, anything I bring with me must be for my personal use. I’m looking at you AVC! And my sea buckthorn oils. And my moringa oils.

Everything else, must be bought.

That means, all the soaping ingredients I want to soap with must be bought. All the stuff to make lip products, must be bought. All the stuff to make anything I want to sell, has to be bought. And not just bought from the EU, but from a reputable supplier that will supply me with things such as the MSDS reports, Certificates (of batch) Analysis, Sensitizer reports… and, I have to have a very accurate and official inventory tracking system set in place. How neat is that!

In a way, I am very happy about this! With starting from scratch it means I get a chance to do everything right the very first time setting up my stock/store room and setting up an inventory supply. Oh yeah. Inventory. A proper and established inventory!

It also means, that since I’ve gone through the, “Hey! This is a new hobby! I must try everything!!!!”, “oh a shiny” phase (and survived!), I’m not going to be tempted by seeing 1kg of coffee butter go on a 75% sale and need to buy it. It’s actually been kind of funny, I’m buying some stuff already for The Move and it’s funny to look at my shopping carts. It’s no longer, “oh look! I bought 10mL of this essential oil, but I bought 100mL of this essential oil. I need to buy both bottles in 100mL just in case I like them and so they look better in my essential oil box!” It’s now, “Well, I am not sure if I like this essential oil in this blend, so I’ll get 10mL of each, but I know I’ll be using this essential oil a fair bit in various products to sell and for personal use, so I’ll get it in 30mL. If I use it quickly, then next time I will get the 100mL. After all, it will be cheaper to buy another bottle later when I use this up rather than toss it out because it expired!”.

For the fact that everything in my house must go, it’s actually been neat to clear out things! The hardest part is what am I going to do with 450mL of Apricot Oil (and all the other oils back there, and packaging, and shelves, and and and and and and and and and and) that still has eight months left on it’s shelf life? And if you say make soap, what will I do with those bars of soap?


DIY Beginners, Soap, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: How to make soap?

So you’ve got your equipment, and you’ve got your ingredients. Now it’s time to get down to work and formulate a recipe!


What do we want in soap? Generally people want a hard bar of soap, as the general rule of thumb is, that the harder a bar of soap is, the longer it will last. We want soap to last as long as possible, we want the soap to moisturise, we want the soap to lather awesomely, we want the soap the not be stripping of our skin loving oils, we don’t want to be itching after a shower from dry skin, and… I don’t know about you, but I want to use the soap to shave my legs with. I’m exceedingly lazy and I don’t want too many products cluttering my shower. Or poofs or gloves or cloths… I like my shower area to be clean, organized and nothing on the floor.

And can we get all those demands? Yup! With some tweaks here and there, it is totally possible to get that done. I mentioned this before in previous posts, but what works for me, may or may not work for you. Take into account your water you bathe with, the condition of your skin, your climate/environment, clothing, type of lotion, all these and more will factor in how your soap will work.

Soap Prep1To make soap you will need to follow this simple equation:

(fats)+(lye)+(liquids)= soap

But to make a bar of soap that doesn’t look like fudge, you might want to add in some scents and colours, and maybe some other ingredients like coffee. So our equation would then look like this:

(fats)+(lye)+(liquids)+(additives)= soap

Soaping is generally always done in percentages, and each and every recipe needs to go through a lye calculator (this one is my favourite).

First things first.

How much soap do we want to make?

We want to use 500g of oils to make approximately 770g of soap. You can make a smaller amount say 250g of oils, but then you are looking at mixing for a while with spoon or a fork. And who has an hour to constantly stir?

What oils, butters and fats are going into our basic recipe? 

As we discussed ingredients in this post, we are going to use;

  • Olive Oil 20-30%
  • Coconut Oil 20-30%
  • Animal Fats/Cocoa Butter/ Palm Oil 15-30%
  • Shea Butter 10-20%
  • Castor Oil 5-10%

I don’t have those oils, can I use something else? 

Sure! You will have to run your recipe through the Laye Calculator before you move forward though. Today, we are only going to be using the fats and oils mentioned above.

What if I want my first batch of soap to be bigger? 

I’d strongly advise you to keep your very first batch of soap to be 500g, and simple. You second batch go big! Think of it like this. If you mess up this batch of soap, it’s not that big a deal as you didn’t use a lot of ingredients. Give yourself a batch or two to kind of get an idea of how things work; figure out trace, how long it takes you to pour, the mess.

Can I use a wooden spoon to stir?

No. Play it safe. Use a silicone spatula! Wooden spoons and bamboo ones too could possibly splinter in the heat of the lye solution and cause you to get a splinter in places you really wouldn’t want to get a splinter.

Let’s get started! Looking at SoapCalc; this is what you input.

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 1.14.37 PM

  1. Type of Lye: NaOH is the lye needed for cold process soap.
  2. Weight: today we are going to use 500g of oils.
  3. Water: 38% is a great place! You can bump this up to 40 and then down to 30 to see the difference.
  4. Super fat: This simply means the amount of oils left behind that will not be converted to soap. So, at the end, once cure is over, you will have 5% of that bar of soap still as “free” oils and not soap. Talk about moisturising! You can super fat at 0% for a very cleansing bar, or at 8-10% for a highly moisturising bar. Be careful though, the higher the percentage you go, the higher chances you won’t get a long life from your bar of soap. Or your soap will change colour after a few months! I shudder to think of DOS spots! (Dreaded orange spots)

Recipe One: two animal fats

(rock hard solid bar and highly moisturising bar, will last a long time)

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Ok! Now plug in your oils. I always plug in my oils in amounts like ingredients on a label. So, the oil that I am going to add the most of will be first, and the least will be last. You’ll see in any decent soapers recipe they use percentages. This will allow you to upscale or reduce any recipe easily. We will cover how to come up with percentages in a future blog post!

Click on calculate recipe, and your oils should equal 100%. Then click on view or print recipe. A new page will open. You’ll see a lot of mumbo jumbo stuff at the top of the page, and just ignore all that for a little while. This is what you want to look at:

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This is our recipe!

  • 190g Distilled Water
  • 68.87g Lye- NoOH
  • 500g Oils

With the oil break down looking like this:

  • 150g Olive Oil
  • 100g Coconut OIl
  • 75g Lard
  • 75g Tallow
  • 75g Shea Butter
  • 25g Castor Oil

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 1.19.27 PM

Then your eyes will certainly move over and see this chart. And your heart will start to race thinking YAY! A cheat chart! I just need to move my amounts around and get them to the high end of conditioning and and and and…. no. 100% pure olive oil soap makes for a insanely hard bar of soap. But it only tells you that it will make a 17 on the Hardness Range.

This chart is only just a guide. And like all guides, it’s not 100%. So don’t put a whole lot of faith in it. It only gives you a general idea; and most of the time, that general idea is not really right. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here; the only way to truly know how the end result of a combination of oils will work in soap, is to make it and test it out.

Recipe option TWO: one animal fat

(highly moisturising, hard bar but the end result will feel like a

slick bar of soap) 


And just so you can see;

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And look at that! Your lye amount is different! How neat is that! Just by removing one ingredient, our whole recipe needs to change! You might think, whoa! It changed! But not by much. What’s the big deal? Each and every oil, fat, butter requires a different amount of lye to convert it to soap. So by swapping one oil for another, won’t work. Or you accidentally pour and extra 100g of one oil and shrug it off thinking meh, it’s all good! I’ll just reduce this other oil/fat. Don’t think so! Imagine you are grilling up a steak. You swap out salt for sugar to season your steak. Your steak is still edible. But is it good? Nope. Notta. Yuck.

Now that we have our recipe, let’s get cracking!

Barb SUITED UP!Don your apron, gloves, eye goggles and safety gear. Be sure to be wearing closed toed shoes too!

Be sure to read all instructions carefully, two or three times before beginning.

  1. Into a heat resistant pot, measure in your water.
  2. Into a separate bowl; like a margarine tub or a cottage cheese container, weigh out your lye.
  3. In a well ventilated space, wearing your safety gear, slowly add your lye to your water, stirring the whole time.
Remember! Snow falls on water! Add lye to your water, not water to your lye!

4. Stir until all the lye dissolves. Be very careful as adding the lye to the water, it will create an exothermic reaction and it gets bloody hot. Yes, hot enough to burn you! If you do get a splash of lye water on you, rinse with lots and lots of running water.

5. Put somewhere to cool. Out of reach of anyone. No touchy touchy, allowing the temperature to come down to room temperature.

6. Into a large pot/bowl, weigh out your fats and oils. Melt over a double boiler if you need to. Allow to cool. IMG_2676.jpg

7. Using a thermometer, make sure your fats and oils and lye are approximately  the same temperature. I personally aim for room temperature so sometimes I weigh out everything the night before and mix when I wake up. This way, I know for sure that everything is the same temperature. For me personally, I find when my bowls are at room temperature, I get the best pours and have the most time to make fancy dancy swirls or tops. Some soapers find that when things are a smidge warmer it provides them with more time… this is one of those things that you will need to learn on your own that no one can tell you what will work best for you.

8. Prepare your mould. You might need to line it if it is not a silicone mould. If you need to line it, please use parchment paper NOT wax paper.

8. This step is critical if you want to ensure a soap that is pretty and you remain stress free. Have every possible tool, piece of equipment, colour, additive, scent… have everything you might need right here with you. You could have made the same batch of soap a million times before, but this time it could cause you a headache. Be prepared! This is also when you will want to go to the bathroom even if you don’t need to! Grab your camera, set it up if you’d like to, turn it on to remember your first batch of soap (hint hint nudge nudge turn it on!!!!). Be sure you have all your additives if you have any, your mould, your pitchers if you want to swirl, your colours, make sure you have everything lined up.

Black Orchid Soap before mixing, look! My mould is already lined!
Bamboo and Teak Waves before the mix
Magarita Salt Bar pre-mix.
Himalayan Salt Soap Bars before mixing

8. Once everything is around room temperature, it is time to combine! You add the lye solution to the fats and oils. I usually allow the lye solution to trickle down the immersion blender so it is not such a huge shock to the batter and I find it just behaves a wee bit better.

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The mixing of Ancient Gold Secrets

9. This is where it gets tricky to explain things. I turn my immersion blender on the lowest setting and basically pulse it through the batter. I do not leave it on and stir. Some soapers will tell you that you need to come to a full trace, whilst others will tell you a light trace. At the end of the day this information is not really all that helpful to a new soaper. Cause what the hell is trace? Trace is where you lightly pour some batter from your spoon or blender and it remains on top.

Tap tap tap, you can see the air bubbles coming to the surface

I usually will pour my soap at a light or a thin trace because I like to do some funky swirls. At the moment I am all about the drop technique which I really can’t seem to master! Vicky at The Soap Mine has the most amazing looking soaps! And that’s all she does. The Drop Technique. I love the look of it! One day I’ll master it! When to pour is really a personal choice and it mostly depends on what you want to do. If I am making a solid colour soap, I’ll pour at a thicker trace as there is not going to be anything special happening in the soap. If I am swirling or doing a complicated swirl, I’ll pour at a thin trace.

So we’ve poured the soap into the mould.

IMG_196510. Tap the soap GENTLY on the countertop to get rid of any air bubbles, and then put it on a shelf away from any sunlight and curious fingers and walk away. For about 12-48 hours. This is again what makes soaping a challenge. Learning when to cut. I usually cut my soaps about 16 hours after I make soap. Some soaps I need to wait two days, whilst others cut within a few hours. It all depends on you and your soap and what you add to it. And temperatures when you mixed, how long you blended for, how hot or how cold your room is… It’s one of those things you need to learn through time and practice.

11. Once you decide it is time to cut, don your gloves, and begin to gently unmould your soap. We are wearing gloves here otherwise you’re going to leave your fingerprints everywhere! And as a safety feature. Your soap may have lye pockets (basically a a pocket filled with liquid lye that could burn you, or a pocket of fragrance oil or just something pockety filled with stuff that could hurt you, so safety first! Wear your gloves!)

12. Using a chopping knife or a clever, GENTLY and SLOWLY begin to cut your soap into soap sized pieces.

13. Stand your freshly cup soap up and put into a cool, dark and well ventilated space to cure.

14. And try to forget about your soap for at least four weeks. I try to let each bar of soap cure for about six weeks before using as then it has had a little more time to become a better bar of soap. The longer it cures the better the soap becomes. Like wine! I don’t really use soap that is less than 8 months old. I’m a snob.

And that is it! Making soap is quite easy, but it does require a whole lot of patience.

Cure 1
Goodnight freshly cut soap for a few weeks! 
DIY Beginners, Soap, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Question: What should be in my first order? Making Soap

Honestly? The whole dang shop should be in your first order. Remember? I’ve got an entire room, eating area, TV room and the only place actually safe these days from this hobby is my bedroom. And it’s been stolen by boxes and moving stuff. So really. I’m the worst person to ask. And don’t ask any of my DIY buddies as we are the worst enablers of all time. But I am going to try to put my insatiable need for more more more- oh look! New ingredients!- and give you only the ingredients I think work the best in soap. I’ve been soaping for almost nine or ten years now, and have used these ingredients for the past three. The people who knew me way back when that I gifted soap to always said my soap was amazing. And it was. Compared to commercial soap. But. Those old bars hold no candle to the soap I currently make. Those same people when they see me ask for gifts of soap as their own presents from China. Yeah. I’m one of those people who travel to visit their families across a friggen ocean and half my suitcase is soaps. 

Hey you! Random foreigner walking down the street. Are you going to American or Canada anytime soon? Can you take some of my stash with you? My friends and family are requesting product!

SoapWe’re going to Ireland in a few weeks so we are sitting down placing some orders from various shops around the EU and I’m worse than a kid at Costco, “Holy sweet mother of coffee beans! They have Crothix!” “Dear Spatula Goddess, you sent me a shop that has polyquats! Now I can finally make that hair recipe Marie’s gone on about!” And everything is in English. It is amazing! And so easy! The hard part, is figuring out the amounts to buy of each product. Lowest amounts. Low. Low. Low amounts. But we’ll discuss that later. Today is all about soaping! 

In this post, we will already assume you have read and have all your equipment you need. We won’t be talking about recipes… yet. That really does come later once you’ve figured out some stuff. This post is just your shopping list to be able to make some simple (but awesome!!) soaps somewhat cost effectively so you can get a feel for the process and how it all works. Soaping can be somewhat dangerous if you don’t respect your ingredients, and if you are playing with various pours and swirls, you want to know a little of what is in store for you. In terms of what your soap may or may not do. Blend too much? It gets too thick. Don’t blend enough? Your soap separates and is ruined. Add the wrong ingredient at the wrong time in the wrong way, and your soap accelerates to the point where you can’t do anything by pray to the soap gods that it will turn out. 

Southern BelleBut by taking it slow, making a practice batch or ten, playing with your ratios, your liquids and their amounts, you are ahead of the game. But by jove listen to me when I say this…. KEEP IT SMALL SILLY! The DIY’er version of the other KISS.

The soaping community is a fun loving, soap porn/picture sharing community. A word of advice? Every soaper out there will tell you the same thing. And when everyone tells you the same thing, listen.  And I’m serious about this. Listen. And if you don’t, very soon you’ll end up thinking the way we do; eventually. I mean you can do what almost all of us have done when we started, totally ignore seasoned soapers and decide that you will be learning from your own mistakes. It’s the much more expensive route, and much more fun…. and exactly what I did when I began soaping, but I have a fantastic excuse. I had no access to YouTube and most of the internet as I was trapped behind The Great Firewall of China. And some of my bulk ingredients were ridiculously cheap. 

IMG_0388.JPGAnd that is part of the reason I created this post for you. It’s simple, pretty easy and you can get everything I’ve listed pretty cheaply, from one supplier too! You need not worry about messing up a recipe, because the ingredients were not expensive. And even when you cut your soap, you may or may not get the most beautiful bar, it might look like a hunk of fudge, but it will still be an amazing bar of soap. 

You’ll notice that each fat, oil or butter will list a range. And that is because, that’s the fun in soaping. Creating and learning to create a soap that you like. I could sit here and give you the hundreds of soap recipes I’ve tried over the years, but you may or may not find them good. Everyone’s skin is different, everyone has a different kind of bathing water, some people want soap as hard as bricks whilst others want one that is a little softer. Some want their soaps with cocoa butter, whilst others want it with lard. Some want it with olive oil and others refuse to use anything with olive oil. It is all about finding out which soap recipe works best for you. What is important to know about these, is that it these are general guidelines. These guidelines are meant to be observed while you are starting out to get an idea of how to do things. But once you are a comfortable soaper? GO CRAZY!

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 7.10.24 AMNew Soapers Buying Rules to Follow:

  1. Don’t use or buy any expensive, exotic or luxury oils until you’ve made a few batches and have allowed them to cure and have used them so you know what to expect from soaping. Once you’ve used your soap after a suitable cure/age time (I suggest six weeks), that will help you to figure out what your soap needs more of, or less of. 
  2. Drool over those luxury and exotic oils and their descriptions all you want while you get comfortable soaping. 

Enchanted Nights 6.jpg

And that is about it. Fragrance oils all will act differently in your soap. I made soap with vanilla fragrance oil the other week for the first time in my life, the website I bought it from said will heavily accelerate trace. I’m standing there blending and blending waiting for trace to happen and it is just not happening. It took so long to get that batch of soap to even thicken slightly! If I were a new soaper, I’d be wicked worried I did something wrong as it wasn’t thickening up. And then there is the salt bar soap fiasco. I can give you hundreds of stories where someone out there said that this or this would happen whilst making a specific type of soap, and the exact opposite happens. Everything will play a part in how your soap sets up. Climate, temperature, even your ingredients and where your supplier gets them from. 

So take everything, including what I say about soaping with a grain of salt. Learn from your experience and write it all down. What works for one, won’t work for another. And may or may not work for you. And that is the crazy part of soaping. And the joy. 

If you take nothing else but this paragraph away with you when you begin your soaping journey, start small.

And never ever ever put lavender buds in your soap. They really do look like mouse turds!

So what should be in your first cart? As I mentioned above, we are assuming that you already have all your equipment to make soap. So let’s begin our list:IMG_6788

  1. SAFETY gear. I like my surgical gloves as they are a pretty colour. And they protect my hands from the soap and lye. I like to look down and say oh la la I have purpley blue hands! Or pink. Or purple. Or black. I really want green ones. Don’t forget about eye protection too. And an apron to protect your clothes. And closed toe shoes. Ask me how I know about closed toe shoes and soaping! 
  2. Lye: Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)
  3. Refined Coconut Oil 
  4. Pomace Olive Oil 
  5. Shea Butter 
  6. A hard butter or animal fats 
  7. Castor Oil 
  8. Distilled water

And that is honestly about it. From these ingredients, you can make a fantastic bar of soap and alter your recipe in many ways to find a great base recipe. Let’s go through each one, where we will talk about what it does in soap, and how much I would suggest buying your first time around. IMG_6785

Lye: Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) 500g

You cannot make cold processed soap without this one very important ingredient. Without this ingredient you are going to get mush. And mould. And a gross smelling pile of mess. And a large waste of money. It is the ingredient that converts oils into soap. Without this ingredient, cold process soap is impossible. Let me say that again, it is impossible to make cold process or hot process soap without lye. Yes, it is a dangerous and it is found in many drain cleaners, or you’ll read about it being used as an industrial cleanser, but it is the chemical that saponifies out fats, oils and butters to make what we know and love: soap. 

The soaping process begins immediately once your mix your lye solution with your fats/oils. You’ll find your soap begin to thicken up after some mixing, and that is the magic. You pour, leave your soap in a mould for a day or two, unmould and cut. Your stash is now soap. You’re first few batches you will be there feeling up your bars of soap enjoying the look, and admiring and patting yourself on the back. You’ll find each time you touch them, they get harder and harder. And after about two to seven days, there is no longer any lye left in your soap. It has evaporated with the water. And all that is left behind, is salt. Oh yeah! Salt.

One more time;

You cannot make soap without lye


If you hear about people making soap without lye, it is a joke. They are making MP (melt and pour) soap.

Coconut Oil (refined): 1kg 

Use: 1-100% Generally 20-30%

Purpose: produces a hard bar, large fluffy bubbles

Property in soap: has the potential to be an overly energetic cleanser when used in high amounts, white soap, I use it as a filler and for it’s hardening properties. And that’s all I use it for. To help give me a harder bar of soap which means longer lasting. 

Yup. I am actually saying buy refined coconut oil here. And use it ONLY in soap. Refined coconut oil still possesses some of the amazing qualities as virgin coconut oil in soap. You’ll still get the hardening factor, you’ll still get your lovely bar. Used usually at 20-30% to impart a nice hard bar of bubbly soap. There is no reason to use virgin coconut oil in your soap. The smell does not survive the saponification process (the soap making process). So you’d just be watching those extra dollars go down the drain every day. Refined. It’s all you need.

IMG_8338.jpgPomace Olive Oil: 1kg

Use: 1-100% Generally, 20-30%

Purpose: When I use olive oil, it is mostly as a liquid filler to be honest and for marketing appeal. It will help to create a wicked hard bar of soap, in time. Which means a longer lasting bar.

Property: I’ve not really noticed any truly distinctive properties to be honest with you other than creating a hard bar of soap.

Ah. Pure olive oil soap, Castile soap. How disappointed I am in you. I do feel you suck as a soap, no matter how long I’ve cured you for. You are overly drying and you produce a snot like lather, which is why I call you the “Snot Soap”. But, you do serve your purpose in soap. You allow my soap to be pourable even with all the hard oils and butter I add into you. You help to produce a nice hard bar of soap even when I use you at 20%. But, other than these two worthwhile mentions, there are much better alternatives for moisturising, and skin loving oils than olive oil.

As I mentioned, I use olive oil simply as a filler in my recipes. I don’t rely on the “amazing” properties of olive oil in my soaps. As I find pure olive oil soap kind of sucks. Which leads me to tell you that the next few fats are pretty dang important.

IMG_0098 2Shea Butter 500g

Use: 10-20%

Purpose: to provide marketing appeal, highly moisturising

Property: VERY easy to work with, helps to create a hard bar of soap if left to cure properly, purely awesome moisturising abilities.

Shea butter is an awesome ingredient in soap. It will help harden your bar over time, but a soap with a higher amount of shea butter will take longer to cure (I’ve found a 30% bar needs about 6-8 months to really cure up well, while 15% is about 6-10 weeks; again, depends on the whole recipe though). Shea butter is one of those magical ingredients that will help moisturise your skin and leave it feeling awesome. There is only one other ingredient I would feel comfortable swapping shea for and that is lard.

Shea Butter


Animal Fats 1kg (or cocoa butter, palm oil) 

Use: 1- 100%

Purpose: provides a highly moisturising bar of soap, and makes for a very hard bar of soap

Property: HARDNESS FACTOR, lard and tallow make for a very hard bar of soap, highly moisturising. Even more than shea butter.

This is where some people get queasy thinking of fats on their skin. But did you know? Olive oil is a fat. Shea butter is a fat. Coconut oil is a fat. And yup. Yeah, I was once there too getting all grossed out thinking of tallow and lard on my skin. But after doing the research and the experimentation (go on and do a quick google search of, “tallow and skin”, you’re eyes are going to go huge at those results) there is no way I want to go back and use a soap for personal use that does not contain tallow or lard.

I think of it like this, most of us eat animal meat. We wear animal skins. And we are ok with that. We slaughter animals for various reasons, I love my beef and chicken soups and my nice Australian steaks. But all that fat doesn’t get used. It gets tossed into the rubbish bin… so why not actually respect the animal and use all that we can instead of throwing it out? Wasting a part of any slaughtered animal for our use is just plain wrong. Most people are not going to become vegetarians or vegans for meat is a part of their way of life, so there will always be these fats going to waste. Why not render them, and use them so the less likely used parts of the animal does not go to waste? The fatty acids found in tallow are also pretty similar to those found in human skin. Tallow is also full of fat soluble vitamins… what is not to like? Soaps made with these fats generally will be ready to be used after about a three to a six week cure time.

IMG_6796Other options: If you are averse to using animal fats in your soap, that’s ok too. There is palm oil (which presents a whole host of issues when it comes to the process of making the oil: deforestation and the orangutan’s natural habitat being destroyed, so please be sure to look into where your palm oil is from). There is also cocoa butter but like shea butter it can take a wee while to really get the nice hard bar of soap from the cure time. I do like lots of cocoa butter in some bars of soap as I find the cocoa butter I buy at the moment, the scent of chocolate does actually come through in the final soap!

Castor Oil 250mL

Use: 5-10% NO MORE!

A high percentage of castor oil in your recipe will make for a very tacky, almost rubbery bar of soap. Castor oil helps to stabilise the lather and I add it to almost every batch of soap I make at 5%.


This one is a little on the iffy side. I personally cannot get access to distilled water as it is not sold where I am. I use filtered water as that is the best I can do. Tap water is most certainly a no no. You want your water to be clean, otherwise it may react negatively with the lye causing you a ton of grief.IMG_6805


Be sure to pick up some colours! Once you’ve got one batch of soap under your belt, you are going to want to start making some pretty pretty soaps and that means playing with some swirls and colours. I like using micas over oxides as micas seem to be able to get more intense colours with and you get more control over them. But, you have oodles of choices here; micas, LabColours, oxides, clays, spices and herbs, and others. Be wary of using various extracts or powdered fruits and vegetables as they might look glorious on the computer screen, but in actuality, they’ll probably turn some brown colour (hibiscus powder anyone? Yup! Brown soap!).6

I’d also suggest picking up some fragrance oils or oodles of essential oils in your first order, you are going to want to try using them after your first batch or two. They are a little on the pricey side, so you don’t want to waste them. Be sure to look at the reviews and the suggestions. The reviews will be your biggest helper in picking various essential oils and fragrances.

Personally, I don’t use essential oils in soap or that much in general for my personal products as they are ridiculously expensive. And in soap? They are only on you for maybe a few seconds before they are washed off. So are they really there to benefit you if your soap is made with lavender essential oil or lemon essential oil? I don’t feel there is a reason to put them in. Just kind of a waste in my opinion.

So! Ready to place your order? Ready to soap???? Huzzah! It’s addictive. It’s calorie free baking at its best!

Soap 3


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DIY Intermediate, Face, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Daytime Blemish Busting Stick

Hello Donald! Good afternoon fake tanner! Holy smokes why have you got an orange circle on your face? Are you trying to be a clown? So you made the Nighttime Blemish Busting Stick and everyone knows it! They can see it!

IMG_4391I handed my pot of Nighttime Blemish Busting Stick to a co-worker of mine and she said she loved it. But, can’t use it during the day as it is too colourful for her skin. Granted, even I can’t wear it during the day. So I asked her what she wanted in a daytime blemish stick, and she told me, she wanted something to help with scars AND spots/acne.  And that got me thinking. And then I had an aha moment. Which usually means I’m in my kitchen for many hours playing with various ingredients.

And this is what I came up with. A Daytime Blemish Busting Stick. The companion stick to the Nighttime Blemish Busting Stick.

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 5.38.13 AMThis stick is still filled with lots of goodies to help the skin work on those pesky scars. And, I included some essential oils in this blend too. I used mainly tea tree oil as it was the only essential oil on the various essential oil lists that could help with scars and with acne. And I know chamomile helps with redness. Which is always good in my books!

IMG_4399I used some Cetyl Alcohol to give this recipe some structure and stability so it would easily stay in the tube without falling everywhere, and because I wanted the powdery feel that cetyl alcohol leaves on the skin. I used mango butter as the skin drinks that stuff like crazy leaving your skin hydrated and happy, but feeling dry and not oily. I used argan oil for that same reason. And because I have over 270mL left of argan oil to use up before I move! And I used sea buckthorn SEED oil in this recipe instead of the FRUIT oil.

You can see the difference between the seed oil and the fruit oil colouring in the Blemish Busting Sticks.

Applying this powerful oil to the skin is known to reduce signs of aging, such as wrinkles, blemishes, scars and age spots. This is due to the diverse range of antioxidants and tocopherols, which can prevent oxidative stress in the skin, boost collagen production, and stimulate healing. 

-Organic Facts

After washing your face in the morning, apply some Daytime Blemish Busting Stick to your spot or scar, and with a clean finger tip, gently massage the oils into your skin for 10 to 20 seconds. OR, apply and leave it alone, and your skin will absorb it on it’s own!



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  1. Prepare your work space; wipe down all your tools and beaker with rubbing alcohol. Set up your double boiler, and the containers of choice. I used lip balm tubes. Feel free to use  pots for finger application!
  2. Weigh out your sea buckthorn seed oil, cetyl alcohol, argan oil and mango butter into your beaker, and place into your double boiler on a barely there simmer.
  3. Stirring constantly, let your oils melt.
  4. Once melted, removed from the double boiler and wipe off the water from the outside of the beaker.
  5. Stirring constantly until a thin trace forms.
  6. Decant into your desired containers and allow to cool. About one to two hours.



In this picture you can see I applied the Daytime Blemish Busting Stick and the Nighttime Blemish Busting Stick to the back of my hand at the same time. Within three minutes you can see how much my skin drank them up! 

DIY Beginners, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Nighttime Blemish Busting Stick

I’ve been working hard on my mug shot trying to keep my face blemish free and I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it! But, without the sun, and with pretty much constant wind burn, all my old acne scars and other face scars are making themselves known as I become more pale and rosy cheeked via wind burn.

I was flipping through various sites for an idea for a stick to help heal some scars  and I realised I have all the ingredients on hand to make my own!

Blemish Buster 4The star of this Blemish Busting Stick is none other than my absolute (ok, top ten, maybe five?) favourite oil; sea buckthorn! I can’t get enough of the stuff! In this recipe I used sea buckthorn fruit oil for the über extra power punch, but if you are looking for a Day Blemish Busting Stick, wait for it! You’ll get a recipe soon!

Daytime & Nighttime Blemish Busting Sticks! 

Sea buckthorn seed oil has the highest source of Vitamin C and E in the vegetable world. Huzzah! Then! It contains essential amino acids and beta carotene- and according to PubMedvitamins: A, C, D, E, F, K, P, and B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B6), provitamin A. All these wonders basically in a nutshell, help to encourage the skin to be better.

Blemish Buster 3I just love the way sea buckthorn oils make my skin look brighter, glowly and all the good things you want your skin to be. Who am I to argue with those kinds of results! I decided on sea buckthorn over rosehip seed oil, which is more commonly known as a scar repair oil, for I seem to get better and more consistent results with sea buckthorn oil. Rosehip is great for my fine lines around my eyes, but for scars and skin health, the orange colour oils win hands down.

I mixed the sea buckthorn fruit oil with some white beeswax, some skin soothing sweet almond oil, Vitamin E and tossed it into a lip chap tube.

I did list some essential oil in the recipe. However; I don’t use a lot of essential oils in my face products, so if you’d like to add some feel free! May I suggest rose, frankincense, neroli, lemon or even tea tree if you are looking for a scar repair essential oil. If you are looking to fight acne blemishes, might I suggest chamomile, lavender, cedar, or tea tree?

I made the recipe purposefully small at only 10g so enough to fill two 5g lip chap tubes or two 5g pots. It takes forever to use up a tube of lip balm, can you imagine how long it would take you to use up a tube of Blemish Busting Stick? Blemish Buster 1

Apply directly to your blemish after washing your face at night. I apply, then sit down to do some work, then go to bed. I found that 60% in this recipe was perfect for my skin without leaving stains or staining my pillow case. If you have very fair skin, I’d suggest trying to make this recipe with less sea buckthorn oil and more sweet almond oil. Sea buckthorn is a medium absorption oil, so it will absorb relatively quick. Not as fast as argan but not a slow as shea. You want to make sure it is absorbed and not wiped off on your pillow case. So give it some time to work it’s magic!

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  1. Prepare your work space; wipe down all your tools and beaker with rubbing alcohol. Set up your double boiler, and the containers of choice.
  2. Take your smallest beaker (I used my 25mL beaker), and weigh out your sea buckthorn fruit oil, sweet almond oil, and beeswax and place into your double boiler.
  3. Keep a VERY close eye on your beaker, as soon as the beeswax is melted remove from heat ASAP.
  4. Stir, and decant into your prepared containers.
  5. Allow to sit for an hour or two.


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DIY Intermediate, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: The Busy Woman's Highly Moisturising Mask

Lately there has been some chatter about Sepimax ZEN and Aristoflex AVC and a residual tacky feeling going on with one or the other. And, with the cost of each, (AVC= 8.95/2oz and ZEN=9.95/1oz, then possible taxes, delivery fees, customs fees, exchange rates and and and and) you make a batch and if it doesn’t work, you try again. And then again. And then again. And then wonder if you’ve wasted your money. And wasted your time.

IMG_3847Last Spring, I did a nice little comparison between ZEN and AVC, and discussed how they were similar and how they were different.This post is not going to be about comparing them, this is a brand new recipe! Huzzah!

Once I knew for sure that I would be leaving China sooner rather than later, I began to find strange uses for some of the ingredients I had laying around that I knew I’d not be using for products and wouldn’t be bringing with me to Ireland. And with having less distractions and a little more free time, I’ve been able to work on some of my Diploma programs studies. Mix the two together, and what do you get???


That’s right! Masks! But, not just any masks.

IMG_3848.jpgClay masks when they dry, they crumble and crack dropping little bits of clay into your shower gel or lotion you are making. Thank goodness these products were practice products! But it made me realise, that if I wanted to use up some of these ingredients, wanted to have a spa mask at home, and be able to get accurate results, I needed to come up with ingenious ways to have one that didn’t involve clays or sheet masks. Oh the stories I could tell you about sheet masks and making lotions.

IMG_3852Just don’t do it. No matter what kind of clothes pins and elastic band thing you think will work. It won’t. And then that lotion is ruined.

So this mask is simple. You just splash everything together, add your ZEN then wait, blend and HUZZAH! You’ve a super duper hydrating mask!

I’ve been loving mixing liquid cucumber extract, oat peptides, aloe and some panthenol onto a sheet mask and plopping that stuff on my face. But, with the sheet mask, I learnt you have to actually be laying down so it won’t fall into what you are doing. And that presented a problem.

I’ve precious little time these days but I love my masks. What’s a girl to do?

IMG_3855Create something! So while putting my moving boxes together the thought came to me. GEL MASKS!

Gel masks are a fantastic way to slather your face up with oodles of skin happy ingredients, and still be able to do some puttering and work around the house without worry of leaving behind parts of your mask. Like a little trail of various coloured clays, you can Hansel and Gretel your way from one room to another! If you accidentally fall asleep with it on, it washes off quicker than doing up velcro shoelaces!

IMG_3857I decided on ZEN over AVC, for the ZEN we can put oodles of skin loving electrolytes and whammy it up with proteins. And then add vitamins and other skin loving goodies and we’ve got ourselves an awesome skin happy, anti this and that bowl of happy skin!

For my liquids, I decided on chamomile hydrosol, as the bulk of my liquid, then some cucumber extract, aloe, oat peptides. I’m barely sleeping these days trying to get coursework done, packing, getting the last of the products made so I have more time later. The consequence of barely sleeping is sallow and dull looking skin. Uneven skin tone, skin that is kind of dead looking.

IMG_3870I want my skin to look bright, even, toned, healthy! So all these ingredients are said to be anti-inflammatory ingredients. Ingredients to help combat dull and lifeless skin. I love cucumber extract! It’s currently one of my current favourite ingredients. It’s cooling, astringent, hugely hydrating, high in Vitamin C… pair that with the cushiony feel of oat peptides, wheat protein to help the skin retain its moisture and some hydrolyzed silk? You’ve got yourself a power packed gel.

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A couple hours after putting the gel to rest for a while. 

I made the decision to add in some awesome pack a punch rosehip and borage. I mean, they are just kind of laying around and have to be used right??? Rosehip oil is said to be good for scarring and aging, and borage oil is said to be great for acne prone skin as it is high in gamma-linolenic acid or GLA. It helps to promote healthy and happy skin!

To round it up; vitamins. I found a Multivitamin Complex from Gracefruit that I’ve been including in many of my formulas to see how it works. I added in a little extra panthenol and niacinamide as this is a mask not a leave on product. I decided to try using my new rechargeable lotion mixer to incorporate my vitamins and allantoin. Usually I would dissolve them in hot water, but have found using Sepimax and letting it sit overnight does a fantastic job of dissolving them. As long as you blend beforehand.

I decanted it into a squeeze tube for easy access, because really. Who has time to fiddle?

You might be asking how to use a gel mask? Well, wash your face as usual. Apply some toner, and then squirt a generous portion of gel mask into your hands. Gently, massage onto your face, and leave for about twenty minutes. Go wash the dishes, write up a report, make some lotion/bread… you know. Who actually has time to sit down and relax for twenty or thirty minutes? But do all your chores without a worry! This baby ain’t leaving crumbs! Rinse clean and feel the difference!

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  1. Into a wide mouth small stainless steel bowl, weigh out your liquids; chamomile hydrosol, cucumber extract, aloe vera juice, oat peptides, wheat proteins, and hydrolyzed silk.
  2. Into the liquids add in your Multivitamin Complex, Panthenol, Allantoin and Niacinamide.
  3. Use a small milk frother or MiniPro Mixer and agitate the vitamins incorporating them.
  4. Add in your Rosehip Oil and Borage Oil. DO NOT BLEND.
  5. Add in your essential oils of choice, if you choose to use them.
  6. Weigh out your Sepimax into a small container, and lightly sprinkle over top of the contents of your stainless steel bowl.
  7. Cover with a sheet of paper to prevent dusts, yeasts, and other nasties from accidently falling in, and place on a high shelf.
  8. Leave it alone for about 8 hours.
  9. Don’t peek! Don’t disturb it!
  10. Add in your preservative.
  11. After eight hours, take your electric whisk or your MiniPro, and beat it till it is smooth. This usually takes me about two minutes of mixing.
  12. Decant into into a squeeze tube or a 100g pot.
  13. Store in the fridge (a cold mask feels delightful on a hot day!), or in the bathroom cupboard.


DIY Beginners, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Winter's Kiss Body Shine

Good morning from a very chilly Panjin! Here is another beginner type recipe for you to enjoy. The possibilities of scents you can play with are endless! This came together in less than 7 minutes. And that included gathering all the ingredients, weighing, pouring, mixing, and clean up. These would make fantastic Valentines Day gifts for your kids friends scented in chocolate or strawberry, or a high end lux gift for your best friend scented in their favourite fragrances. They are super easy and wicked cheap to make too!

It’s no secret I like things that shimmer. Most of the body stuff I make for myself has some sort of shimmer in it. So we be making something that you spray on, rub around and leaves you scented, hydrated AND shimmery!

IMG_3739This Body Spray came to me while reading up on various things about glycerine no less. Go figure. Glycerine is actually a by-product of soaping believe it or not! Your glycerine is either derived from plants and/or animals, or synthetic. One of the whackiest things about glycerine in products is that it actually has the ability to carry ingredients like aloe into the skin. Glycerine has been known to accelerate the healing process, it helps to prevent dull flaky skin, helps to soften and lubricate the skin, and hydrates.

But above all, we know that glycerine is a fantastic humectant. It attracts moisture and locks it into the skin. And that’s why we add it to so many things!

IMG_3740Usually, when making a product you’d only add no more than 5% of glycerine to your product to prevent you from feeling tacky and gross. In this product, we want more. So we are going to up this. A lot. Massively a lot. Like, I need to buy another bottle a lot. When we spray ourselves down with this, we want to shine. Like a beacon. Perfect for a date night!

Be sure to mix those fragrance oils and polysorbate together very well! Otherwise your product will separate and you’ll have a layer of oils on top of your product within 24 hours. 

I’m going to use distilled water, but if you wanted to use a hydrosol, it will give you a faint scent and provide some botanical properties to your formula. So something like lavender would be calming, relaxing. Orange blossom hydrosol would help to balance the skin, and helps with redness, rose hydrosol would help to rejuvenate dull and tired skin. Each hydrosol can offer different types of skin properties. OH! Peppermint hydrosol would provide you with some cooling relief after a sunburn, and with the glycerine could help speed up healing. You’ll still have to suffer through the sunburn though. Sorry can’t help you there!


So what’s left? Scent it and preserve it! Right!

So to scent this bottle of shiny stuff, since I’m going to be using this when I go out in the evenings while in Ireland. I want the scent to be exotic, unique and very much Barb. So I’m going to be using a combination of vanilla, benzoin and tangerine. Oh yeah. Honestly, give it a try! I love this scent combo! The tangerine is the fleeting scent for you to personally enjoy, but fades slightly to a warm unique slightly fruity vanilla. I include the benzoin to many of my personal recipes as the middle note where I want the citrus scent to kick around a wee bit longer and it seems to encourage the blending of the top and bottom note a little.

And if you don’t have fragrance oils, don’t worry, you can always use essential oils. Be sure to be aware of any phototoxicity and/or skin sensitizers if you choose to use essential oils.

IMG_3760Mix these oil with some Polysorbate 20 and you’ll have your fragrance oils equally dispersed in your spray without worry of a concentrated spritz of vanilla and then the worry of is that too much fragrance oil on my arm? Is that going to burn me?? ARGH!

When you use Polysorbate in your product, unfortunately, you are going to end up with a white or milky looking liquid rather than a transparent liquid. Which honestly doesn’t matter much unless you have a transparent bottle. If you use a blue spray bottle this doesn’t matter much! I decided to include some silver mica to my spray to give me some added oomph in the shine department and because this bottle of spray would be a milky colour, why not put that milky colour to good use and add in some mica sheen to give the bottle a wintery blizzard type effect? You can add in a bronze or a gold, or some iridescent mica for a really neat look!

Lastly, because this product contains water, you do need to add a broad spectrum  preservative. Today we are using Iscaguard PE from The Soap Kitchen (UK).

You can see the shimmer of the mica before its rubbed into the skin. DO NOT add more mica, you do not want to be looking like a disco ball in a 70’s club!

Once your product is set up, you just spray on top of your lotion or body butter, and rub in. You can re-apply for an added oomph of scent or shimmer throughout the night! Be sure to spritz your shoulders, décolleté, and arms.

A 50mL spray bottle is small enough to travel on the airplane with you, and small enough to just toss in your purse. This product is not intended to be sprayed near the face, so don’t. Spray directly on your skin and NOT on clothes. You can rub this spray into your skin and enjoy the shine left behind!

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Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with a 10% Bleach solution. Wipe all your equipment, tools, beakers down with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t forget  your scales! I like to use beakers when I make stuff, makes me feel all sciency! If you don’t have beakers, use some Pyrex or heat resistant glass cups.

  1. In a small Beaker or in a shot glass, mix your your fragrance oils or essential oils together. Add in the Polysorbate 20 and mix well. I mean very well. Set aside.
  2. In your 50mL spray bottle, add in your glycerine and water (or hydrosol).
  3. Pour the contents of your Beaker or shot glass into the liquids in your spray bottle.
  4. Cap and shake.
  5. Add your mica to the shot glass and decant a wee bit of your spray and stir. Return to your spray bottle.
  6. Cap and shake.
  7. Add in your preservative, cap and shake and spray away!
This stuff really does pack a punch in the colour and scent department! Layer it up for added oomph in the bronzing department for that, “Oh look at me! I just spent the day in Spain” kind of look. Unfortunately, even with the countless selfies I took trying to show off some Kiss in use, just wasn’t working. So thought of this to show just how much colour you can get with five spritzes.