Triple Mint Dead Sea Mud

I love all things minty.  Inhaled, I find it soothing, comforting and at the same time energising. My taste buds have a thing for it, too.  I was in mint heaven when I visited Australia a few years ago.  They have a mint version of almost all their chocolates!  Have you seen mint KitKat before? I was so thrilled to discover it, and of course, I had to have my stash to take home.  :)

I already make several soaps with mint, but I am always thinking of more variations.  This latest one is a Dead Sea Mud soap, aimed at acne-prone skin, yet none-drying.  It contains more than 50% olive oil, with coconut oil, cocoa butter, and castor oil making up the rest.  It also has fresh yogurt for its skin refining qualities.  For a spa-like scent, I used essential oils of Japanese Mint (mentha arvensis), spearmint (mentha spicata), peppermint (mentha piperita), cajeput (melaleuca cajeputi – a cousin of Tea Tree), Siberian fir (abies siberica), and dark patchouli (pogostemon cablin).  

Dead Sea Mud 1

Dead Sea Mud Collage 2

My M.I.L.’s New Favorite

Since I’ve known my my mother-in-law (nearly 8 years), her all-time favorite scent has always been lavender.  But ever since I gave her Honeysuckle soap last year, she has declared it as her new favorite.  Poor lavender.  She hasn’t given it a second glance since she fell in love with the heady and sexy honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle 2

I have never smelled the real flower, so I don’t know if what I have is the real deal.  I bought several honeysuckle fragrances from various suppliers, and they all smell different.  I made a blend of the ones that I like and added a little bit of other floral elements to bring everything together.

Honeysuckle 3

I think this is my 4th time to make Honeysuckle, and so far this is the best looking.  I love the bright colors and the soap batter was behaved enough for me to make hanger swirls.  Typical of most florals, this usually becomes thick quite fast, and in the past, the yellowish fragrance oil had a tendency to turn pink into peach.

Honeysuckle 1

I thought I was not into florals, but it is becoming apparent that I am wrong.  To my surprise, many of my top picks are florals, including honeysuckle.  What’s your favourite floral? :)


 

Something Blue for Father’s Day

If my father were still here today, I am sure he would have enjoyed my soaps.  He loved smelling nice and clean.  I remember he would buy a lot of bath products during his travels, and he had a row of cologne bottles and after-shaves on his bathroom counter.  He also liked designing and fabricating things, like the mini island in our kitchen which also served as a huge chopping board.  The surface was solid wood with a thick stainless steel frame.  I bet he would have had fun helping me with some of my soaping needs.

Father’s day is just around the corner and this year I remembered to prepare early.  I try to have a good variety of colors for my display, but currently I have more blues than usual. Yes, it was by design, but coincidentally blue is one of my favourite colors to soap with.  I like how there are so many different shades and tones to choose from and I think all of them are beautiful.  They tend to stay true to their colour, and unlike yellow and orange,  I don’t need to use as much.

Vetiver and Sage 3

Vetiver & Sage – fresh top notes of lemon, grapefruit, rosemary and sage, balanced with light florals, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver and musk

Deauville

Deauville – a breezy unisex blend of orange, ginger, ozone, hyacinth, vetiver and light musk.

Ocean 1

Ocean – smells fresh and soothing with ozone, marine and watery notes, and eucalyptus.

Tropical Sunset

Tropical Sunset – bottom blue part is scented with coconut cream; upper part is a delicious fruity mix of lime, pineapple, papaya and passionfruit.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads! :)

 

Soap Favors for a June Wedding

Have you ever wondered why June is the most popular month for weddings?  Perhaps most of you already know, but I didn’t until I read The History of June Weddings.

In essence, it was all about practicality in the olden days.  June meant warmer weather and a good time to take one’s annual bath.  Since people were at their cleanest and least smelly during this month, it would logically be the best time for a union. Children conceived during the honeymoon – referring to the first full moon after the summer solstice on June 21- would be born the following spring, thus escaping the harsh winter and not interfering with the fall harvest.

Nowadays people are clean all through out the year, and unless one is a farmer, no one has to think about harvest, yet June’s popularity for weddings hasn’t waned.  Undeniably, it is a beautiful and colourful time of the year.

Last month, I was approached by a lovely young couple to make 220 soap favours for their June wedding on the 13th, which, coincidentally, was also my birthday!  They chose Lavender Mist and Ginger Apple for their scents, and their only request was to have a custom stamp reflecting the design on their invite.  They were fine with my normal packaging, but I personally wanted something more special for them.  And this is where the saying “if there is a will, there is a way” applies.

I have seen on Pinterest cute packaging ideas featuring a doily folded on top of a paper bag, with a ribbon securing it.  I thought doilies evoked the perfect feel for a romantic wedding, and since I love those stuff, I’ve managed to hoard a small stash.  :)  The idea was there but how to execute it?

MC Apple 3

For me the problem is usually about finding the right materials.  I could not use my normal plastic packaging since it doesn’t have side folds and would not fit the look I was going for.  I went all around town and couldn’t find the right plastic with the right size for a single bar of soap.  I had some custom-made plastic bags for my granola, but it was too big.  At that point, I had to improvise, yet remain mindful of the amount of time it required. In the end, I found an efficient way to tailor fit the plastic for the granola by chopping a good 6″ off the top, adjusting the side fold to follow the back border of the soap, and folding and taping the excess plastic at the bottom.  Plastic has a tendency to slide and dance around, so making those folds was very challenging.

After I conquered the plastic part, I had to deal with punching the doily with plastic sandwiched in between.  My single hole puncher had a hard time punching through all the layers.  Surprisingly, my smaller hole puncher did a better job, but every now and then, it would get stuck after punching and would not open.  This required prying with the handle of a spoon, and sometimes doing so would rip the doily.  Originally, I was going to make two side by side holes for the ribbon, but no way was I going to punch more than I had to.  I settled for a single hole, and as you can see, that worked out fine, too.  :)

MC Lavender Collage

Lavender Mist

MC Apple Collage

Ginger Apple

I was really excited to make these soap favours and it pushed me to be creative.  I am very thankful to the couple, Manolo and Chinggay, for giving me the opportunity to make their wedding favours, and for allowing me to blog about it.  I wish you both all the love and joy a marriage can bring.  :)

Glorious Spring

Yesterday marked my 2nd blogsary, and I am sorely reminded that I have not posted anything the past 6 weeks. It’s not an excuse, but my husband and I were on holiday in Japan last month, and it takes me a while to get back to the swing of things.  I didn’t have problems getting back to soaping, but I haven’t picked up my camera since arriving.  I did take a lot of photos in Japan, so that is what I will be sharing today.

March to June are hot summer months here in the Philippines, so spending early spring in Japan was a cool and refreshing welcome.  We were lucky enough to catch the famed cherry blossoms, even though it was already towards the tail end of its short season. The blossoms were already falling from the trees – appearing like snow on the ground – but still a splendid sight to behold.

Sakura

Cherry blossoms or sakura in Japanese.

I met Maya last October and I was so happy we were able to meet again and spend a whole day together!  As cherry blossom viewing can be a very crowded affair,  Maya took me somewhere quiet: the Aoyama Cemetery.  Maya explained that the Japanese don’t view death as something terribly morbid or sad.   The cemetery was beautiful and serene, and felt more like a park than anything else.

Sakura Aoyama

Cherry blossoms in Aoyama Cemetery.

After Aoyama, Maya took me to the Imperial Palace grounds. In stark contrast, it was teeming with people.  I even bumped into my business partner and his family!  How random is that? Maya and I didn’t have photos the first time we met, but this time, we made sure to capture the moment.

Japan 1

Maya 2

I love this photo of Maya with her hair blown by the wind.

Everywhere I look, there is always something that catches my eye. These camellias are just stunning:

Camellia

And it’s not just the flowers.  Even tree trunks have awesome camo patterns!

Camo

From Tokyo, we took the train to go to Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. One of the highlights of our trip was our relaxing and picturesque walk along the 2-km cherry blossom-lined Philosopher’s Path.

Philospher's Path 1

Philospher’s Path

I don’t know the names of these flowers, but I found them along our walk. Aren’t they so cute and beautiful?

Flowers

On one end of the Philospher’s Path is the Silver Pavilion or Ginkakuji Temple.  Because of a friend who’s a moss lover, I couldn’t help but notice and be in awe of the lush moss that covered a significant part of the temple grounds. My friend was so jealous when I showed him the photos.

Kyoto

Silver Pavilion or Ginkakuji Temple

Ahh, spring. What a lovely lovely time of the year.  It’s nature in all its shining glory. :)

 


 

 




Rice Water Fil-Castile

A friend of mine introduced me to making porridge with glutinous purple rice, and ever since then, I would buy a small pack whenever it makes its sporadic appearance in the supermarket. The high amount of amylopectin is responsible for its sticky quality –  yielding a thicker and richer porridge compared to one made with regular rice.

As I was preparing to cook some glutinous purple rice last month, I remembered reading somewhere that rice water, or the water used for washing rice, was good for the skin and has been used by Chinese and Japanese women for centuries.  Without doing much research, I went ahead and soaked rice in distilled water at a 1:1 ratio.

Purple Rice 7

Purple rice water

I also had some shikon roots going through a second infusion. It was much lighter than the first infusion so I thought if I used it together with the purple rice water, I might get a lavender-colored soap.  Wanting to keep things simple, I decided to use these 2 ingredients in my 2-oil Fil-Castile formula.  And instead of my usual unscented Fil-Castile, I added essential oils of lavender and rosewood (all-natural blend since the real thing is endangered and too costly.)  At the last minute, I added bamboo charcoal to have some kind of design for the top.

Purple Rice 1

Purple Rice 3

In stark contrast to the dark purple colour that I got with my Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal Soap, this second-infusion batch had a greenish hue when it was wet, and dried out to a greyish bone colour.  The colour I had hoped for was not there, but it smelled nice and expensive. :D

Purple Rice 2

Purple Rice 4

I finally got to test a bar a few days ago.  It was slimy, pasty, and barely bubbly.  If I really wanted to, I could create a little lather by coating my hands with wet soap and rubbing them together for a few seconds.  But if I just glided the bar on my body, there was no lather and the soap was so slippery that it kept jumping out of my hands. Because I like using soap with a good lather, this soap rates low in usage pleasure, but it leaves my skin feeling very soft.  My conclusion is that I used the wrong type of rice, but rice water is certainly good for the skin.

As for my sticky purple rice porridge, it was delicious. After cooking it and adding enough water to make it into the consistency I wanted, I seasoned it with a little himalayan salt, added coconut milk for richness, and coconut nectar for sweetness. I forgot to include it in the photos, put I also like to sprinkle it with toasted Japanese sesame seeds, either the white or black variety. Yum.

Purple Rice 5

Glutinous purple rice, coconut milk, coconut nectar/syrup, himalayan salt

Purple Rice 6

Glutinous purple rice porridge.

 

 

Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal Soap

Sitting in a dark corner of my pantry, I had shikon roots macerating in olive oil since November. It was huddled together with my collection of various infusions: calendula, mugwort, chamomile, stinging nettle, guava leaf, papaya leaf, moringa, and turmeric.  A few of them have been there for over a year.  Not forgotten, mind you. :)  The shikon infusion, with its deep rose-burgundy hue, got me the most curious.

Shikon is Japanese for Lithospermum erythrorhizon, also known as red-root or purple gromwell.  It belongs to the same borage or Boraginaceae family as the alkanet – a popular natural blue/purple colorant for soaps.   But more than its pretty colour, shikon is known for its medicinal properties. According to Plants for a Future:

 “It is used internally in the treatment of irritant skin conditions, measles, chicken pox, boils, carbuncles, hepatitis and skin cancer. Externally it is used to treat nappy rash, burns, cuts, wounds, abscesses, eczema and haemorrhoids. The plant is an ingredient of commercial skin care creams.”

Whether any of its skin healing properties is retained after saponification is arguable.  Nonetheless, I wanted to create a luxurious soap with the shikon and bamboo charcoal powder from Maya. If you have been following my blog, you would know that Maya had generously given me a bunch of soaping ingredients to experiment with.  (One of them was  Japanese Indigo.)

It was my first time to soap with shikon and it was fascinating to see the colour change in every step of the process.  The infusion had 60 grams shikon root and 450 grams olive oil, which, after straining, formed part of a batch with a total oil weight of 1500 grams.  It consists of olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, shea butter, fresh yogurt, goat’s milk, and and an essential oil blend of lavender, rosemary, cajeput and patchouli.

Shikon Color Changes

1. The colour of shikon-infused oil is a rich rose-burgundy. 2. Infused oil mixed with the other oils, yogurt and goat’s milk – before the lye was added. 3. As soon as the lye was mixed with the oils, the colour changed to a very dark purple. The white specks are from the milk, before it was properly mixed. 4. From purple, the soap batter turned into a very dark blue, nearly black.

Shikon Soap wet & dry

In the mold, the blue-black soap batter had morphed into blue and stayed that way even after it had dried. The black portion is coloured with bamboo charcoal.

Seeing how dark blue the soap batter was, I had serious doubts that it would turn to purple or that it would lighten up.  In fact, I was having second thoughts whether to continue with my plans of making bamboo charcoal swirls.

When I cut the soap, it was still blue and the inside was a muddy gray.  I was honestly disappointed with the colour.  But after a few minutes, I noticed that the outer edges were starting to turn purple. Half a day later, the colour had stabilised into a deep, dark purple-grey.

I have just started using a bar and I love the way it feels rich and creamy, with pretty good bubbles.  It is quite hard considering that it contains more than 50% olive oil.  There’s no salt but I added sodium lactate. The scent is soothing and fresh, and while it makes the bathroom smell wonderful, it does not linger on the skin.

Shikon 1

Shikon 2

The actual colour is a much darker and duller greyish purple than what the photos depict.

Inspired by Gordana’s body butter, I also whipped up a batch for myself, colouring it a baby pink from what I could squeeze out after straining the shikon infusion.  This recipe contains 70 g. raw shea butter, 10 g. guava leaf-infused coconut oil, 10 g. calendula-infused coconut oil, 10 g. shikon-infused olive oil, and a few drops of cajeput. The consistency is that of a rich buttercream!  l like using it on my legs and feet, just before going to bed.

Shikon Body Butter

Naturally pink body butter with shikon infusion.

If you are interested to see the different shades of purple one can achieve with shikon, here are some links:

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/purple-natural-dye-for-soap/

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/shikon-soap/

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/here-comes-the-next-autumn-soap/

http://mojsapun.blogspot.com/2013/02/shikon-soap.html

 

Japanese Indigo Soap

Last October, I had the pleasure of meeting Maya of Infusions (you can read about it here). She gave me some precious gifts and soaping ingredients, and one of them was Japanese indigo powder.

Indigo 4

Japanese Indigo: raw powder and in soap

I love the colour of indigo and have always been curious to try it in soap, but had never been in possession of it until I met Maya. Now that things have quieted down after the holiday rush, I have the time to experiment with new formulae and ingredients.

Other than Maya’s post on soaping with Japanese indigo, I could not find much material on the subject. She had explained to me how to use it, but just to make sure I’m using it correctly, I emailed her. I don’t want to miss anything, so I thought I’d share her exact instructions:

As for the indigo, I have used it after making water infusion and as powder, added directly to the soap batter and also to the lye.

I used 1/2 teaspoonful of indigo powder for 12 ml hot water, infused for a couple of hours. I used about 2/3 (8 ml) of the infusion but what looked to me like a medium color may be considered dark by others. I think it is best to see the color of your batter and decide when to stop adding indigo-infused water as the color of the soap does not change much after the soap hardens. You can enhance the color by letting the soap gel.

The second method, adding dry powder directly to the soap gives you a speckled look. I do not remember how much I used but you can decide the amount of powder on the go.

Two things to keep in mind:
1. The color morphs to a very dark bluish gray if the powder is added directly to lye. It is best to add the indigo (in whatever form) at medium trace, after the saponification has advanced and the NaOH molecules have bonded with the oil molecules and cannot react with the indigo.
2. If you use EV olive oil, you will get a deep greenish blue due to the color of the olive oil.

Generally speaking, the indigo color is relatively stable in CP soap but it still fades a little with time. You need to keep it in a dark place to help the retention of color.

I decided to go with the first method, i.e. make a water infusion, and to add colour as needed after reaching trace. I ended up using all of my preparation, including the sediment that collected at the bottom of the glass. As you can see, the resulting colour is a bluish grey.  Indigo 1

I used olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and cocoa butter with 2 milks:  yogurt and goat’s milk. For the essential oil blend, I used cypress, petitgrain, lemon 5-fold, orange 5-fold, cajeput, and basil.   It was only after mixing the EOs that I realised how yellow it was and that it would certainly have an effect on the colour. I thus used more of the EO in the uncoloured portion containing kaolin clay.  Predictably, it turned yellow.

It is not very obvious in the photos, but the indigo-coloured portion bleeds into the uncoloured part. The next time I make this, I will make it a solid colour. But because of the EOs, it will probably turn a greenish blue – which I don’t mind, because seriously, it smells fantastic!

Indigo 2

Indigo 3

 

Thank you, Maya, for letting me have this opportunity to soap with Japanese indigo. :)

Coming up next is another Japanese ingredient from Maya. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week ahead! :)