Friday, 31 October 2008

Shhh....... Its a Secret

Look what arrived by special delivery this morning. At special times a year, we do a sectret something (secret santa, secret bunny, sectret spirit) whereby members of the Melting Pot Cafe Forum send a prezzie to another member. One person organises it so most us don't know who our prezzie is from.

The secret spitit was excellently arranged by Elaine of Briallen Traditional Crafts (affectionately known as 'Mum'). I don't know who it is from but I know it is going to be a lot of fun guessing (well it will drive me crazy but I think it will be most enjoyable to witness, lol)

Everything smells so lovely. I got:

2 Autumn Spice aroma beads in lovely black organza bags (they are now making the house smell all gorgeous)

Sweet Spice perfume oil (that went on straight away - Mmmmm.)

Conditioning shampoo with cedarwood, rosewood and ylang EO's (which I will be using tomorrow )

5 x Sweet pumpkin bath fizzies in these cute little paper pots (which I can't wait to use, they smell just lovely)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my SS, whoever you may be (I will try to find out you know), I just love, love, love all my lovely things. The next one will be the Secret Santa, he, he... how fun!!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

I Got Nominated!!

Ah... my friend at Lomond Soap has nominated me for The Friendship Around the World Award (how lovely). The rules for acceptance of the award are as follows:

Pick 8 blogs that you consider deserving of this award based on their creativity, design, interesting material and also for contributing to the blogging community, in any language.

How lovely that this can be passed on. I would like to nominate...

I could really go on but can only select eight (and shhh..... I added nine, lol).
Thank you Corrie xx

Monday, 27 October 2008

Spicy Stuff

A while back, I was perusing the supermarket looking for potential ingredients that could be used in creams, lotions & potions (forget putting food in ones belly, there are far more interesting things to be doing in the kitchen).

Anyway, I came upon the herbs and spices and, when one is in the mindset that I was that day, you don't see flavours. You see colours, textures, aromas, functionality, brief glimpses of finished products and the effects that could be achieved from them.

What really caught my eye this day was the ground cardomon. So fine, so delicate, soooo aromatic and certainly not a spice that I keep in my cupboard (I'm not an adventurous or creative cook). I bought it and took it home.

Cardomon is not the cheapest of essential oils but the aroma is just lovely and few people dislike it. The ground spice is equally as lovely, being warm, spicy-sweet & balsamic and, like the essential oil, its aroma strength is very good and certainly a much cheaper alternative.

The powder of the ground cardomon is super-fine and got me thinking about its potential for gentle exfoliation and facial skin refinement. I tried it in a cleansing cream wash that I made previously, adding about a heaped teaspoon to roughly 50g of cream and worked this into my face for about a minute (using gentle pressure and working in small circles) and the result was truly outstanding. My skin felt fresh, clean and so very, very smooth. No stinging, no irritation. What's more, the aroma was wonderful and seemed to last an age - just lovely. Now, I just use it a couple of times a week, mixing a small amount into my usual measure of cleanser.

I've not tried it in soap (yet) although I did use ground cinnamon, clove and sugar M&P soap. Here, I used the cinnamon and a dash of tumeric for colour (which was just lovely) and it gave the soap a multi-grade exfoliant texture - a good compliment to to the courser grade of the sugar. The aroma of the cinnamon was fairly good although I did boost it with some essential oil.

Going back to the cardomon, I wonder what it, or any other spice for that matter, is like infused in oil? I wonder if you could harness the wonderful aroma. I feel an experiment coming on :o)

We have had a number of discussion on the Melting Pot Cafe Forum at Fresholi about herbs/spices in products. I would love to hear your experiences in soaps, products and infusions.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Whipped Shea Body Butter

Shea butter, in all varieties, is a wonderfully healing and moisturising, naturally occurring butter. The following recipe is very simple and makes the most lovely, light and fluffy body butter - perfect for special gifts or just to give parched skin a luxurious treat. You could play around with the recipe, such as change the ratios to produce different textures or using different combinations of fixed oils chosen for their specific properties (there are lots of oil profiles in the resource bank at Fresholi that may help offer a guide).

Anyway, enjoy and I would love to hear your comments if you have tried this or anything similar!!


80g Shea Butter
18g Fixed oil of choice (almond oil is a wonderful emollient or you may wish to use a drier oil such as sunflower)
1g Vitamin E
1g Fragrance/essential oils of choice


1. Melt the shea butter (if it is refined) in a non-aluminium bowl over a pan of boiling water
2. Add the fixed oil and stir well.
3. Remove from heat, add fixed oil and stir well.
4. Allow to cool then cover and put in the freezer for 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the freezer, add essential oils (or fragrance), vitamin E and using a hand whisk or stick blender, begin whipping the mixture for a good 5 minutes.
6. Return to the freezer for 5 then whip for 5 & repeat until mixture becomes light in colour and fluffy.
7. Spoon into a jar and label.

Notes: The shea butter would only really need melting if it is the harder, refined variety however, if using unrefined shea or especially the even softer nilotica shea, you probably wouldn't need to melt it at all. Simply add your fixed oil a little at a time as you are whipping. No need to keep freezing either. Add in your vitamin E and essential/fragrance oils when the mixture has softened enough to ensure even distribution.

More recipes can be found at

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Shop With Sparkle

Most of us only dream about opening a shop but here's one Fresholi member who is living that dream....

Purple Sparkle Crafts Is Open For Business

This pretty and inviting shop has opened its doors in Wincanton and has lots Purply Sparkly Crafts on offer. Aw.... everything this crafter does has her purply stamp on it.

I for one would like to wish her every success in the expansion of her business and I am sure this is echoed by all her friends at Fresholi. Good luck Becky, may you continue to go from success to success.

If you don't live in the Wincanton area, please do pay Purple Sparkle Crafts a visit online for a wonderful range of soaps, bath & body products and candles, all handcrafted and beautifully finished.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Which One Are You?

Self Skin Analysis

Being able to identify the type of skin you have will help you to make more appropriate product choices to achieve optimum results.

There are five basic skin types…

1. Normal
2. Dry
3. Sensitive
4. Greasy (oily)
5. Combination

Identifying your skin type.

In good light (daylight is best) look carefully in a mirror at your skin and see if you can recognise any of the characteristics that are identified in each of the five categories.

1. Normal Skin – This skin type is not often seen accept in pre-puberty children (before the hormonal changes occur). Characteristics include…

> Even colour and texture
> Clear and blemish free
> Feels soft, smooth and has an even texture
> Neither too dry or too oily, not shiny not dull
> Is firm and plump
> Has a pink radiant glow

2. Dry Skin

> Tends to feel tight after washing
> Often looks pale
> Tends to be flaky
> Can become irritated & red easily
> Pores look small
> Prone to milia (white spots)
> Broken capillaries (‘spider veins’) are common
> Can look prematurely aged/lined
> Can be inherent or caused by inappropriate product application or environmental factors (such as the sun or dry living/working environments)

3. Sensitive Skin

> Can go hand in hand with dry skin
> Can display all/some of the characteristics of a dry skin
> Reacts easily to environmental factors or the application of an inappropriate product by becoming red, inflamed, itchy or blotchy
> Skins affected by acne will often be sensitive

4. Greasy/ Oily Skin – The skin contains oil glands (called sebaceous glands) that secrete oil (sebum) onto the skin’s surface. This has a protective role so its presence is important. However, an over production of sebum (oil) can result in oily skin, which is characterised by the following…

> Skin can have a shiny appearance or develop one over the course of the day
> The pores appear enlarged and often become congested (black heads)
> Prone to spots and even acne
> The skin can appear sallow
> Often prevalent in teenagers (hormonal)

Oil secretions are largely governed by the hormones although diet, lifestyle and methods of skin care also have their influences

5. Combination Skin – Probably the most common skin type and is characterised by combination of two or more skin types mentioned above. A typical example of a combination skin might be an oily T-zone (forehead, nose & chin) & dry/sensitive cheeks.

When the skin shows signs of having combinations that are in extremes, for example an extremely oily T-zone and extremely dry cheeks, it might be worth considering treating them separately, using separate products designed to for each skin type.

This will, hopefully, help you to establish your basic skin type and with this knowledge, you should be better able to select appropriate products to suit you. However, it is always best to consult a qualified therapist who will be able to answer any particular concerns and give you guidance on product choices and advice on how best to use them.

You will find lots of information & recipes for skin care at Fresholi. If you don't want to make if yourself, there are lots of Fresholi members who make gorgeous natural, handcrafted soaps, creams, bath and body products there too (see galleries, links etc...). If you are wanting something a little more specific, why not make a request on the forum?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Really Clever Cleansing

Being completely pure and containing absolutely nothing but natural ingredients, Really Clever Cleansing Balm from Maia Skin Care has the most wonderful aroma and super-soft constistency. It doesn't matter what skin type you have, this balm is suitable.

It works by gently dissolving grease and make-up without stripping the skin of its vital oils. In fact, after I used it, my skin felt really comfortable, so much so that I didn't feel the need to moisturise at all.

It contains a rich cocktail of the most delicious oils, including papaya, watermelon, coconut and jojoba as well as the most purifying aromatic blend of essential oils to help moisturise, boost and balance the skin, leaving it looking radiant. It also contains absolutely no preservatives at all.

Only a really small amount is needed to do the most fantastic cleanse and removed using a hot muslin cloth (which not only adds a touch of everyday luxury by giving the face a mini-steam treatment but also helps to gently exfoliate dead skin cells).

What is REALLY clever about this gorgeous balm is that it can be left on the skin either as a treatment mask or overnight for oily/congested skins. It comes in a dark violet glass jar (made in Switzerland) to retain the bio energy of the product, has its own little spatula and offer's excellent value for money at £15.97. Very little is needed and its uses go way beyond cleansing - it is more of an experience!

There is also a cleansing kit available which includes 15g of the Really Clever Cleansing Balm and a lovely organic muslin cloth, all for just £7.45 as well as a range of handbag-sized products.

See more of this lovely, pure range at the Maia Skin Care website...

Monday, 20 October 2008

Skin Care - Naturally...

I just love skin care products and am particularly smitten with facial creams, lotions and potions. I recently learned of the launch of a new skin care range, Natroma from The Natural Soapworks, and I am really excited.

Why am I excited? Well, I know that Sarah (founder of NSW and Natroma) is a stickler for absolute top quality ingredients, that you would expect to see on the labels of high-end commercial products. However, I also know that Natroma will contain these ingredients in high concentration – no skimping, no way! Here’s the beauty though, after browsing through the range, the prices are so very, very reasonable.

Among the luxurious ingredients are the premium shea butter – nilotica, plant extracts (such as echium and arctic cranberry), luxurious nut and seed oils, D-panthenol, Co-enzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, ginseng and other wonderful ingredients.

The full and complete range includes:

· Cleansers
· Toners
· Concetrated moisturisers
· Q10 moisturisers
· Serums
· Treatment masks

As well as maintaining Natroma’s philosophy for creating handmade, safe, luxurious and affordable products, they also guarantee:

NO animal testing
NO animal derived ingredients
NO parabens
NO artificial colourings or fragrances
NO petrochemicals / SLS detergents

The presentation is immaculate, the packaging simple and airless containers used where possible. This is skincare with a conscience, a soul. It has been created with exceptional attention to detail for what really matters – what’s inside (the bottle that is).

The Natroma website is so welcoming and easy to browse (kind of leave’s you feeling rather calm really). I would highly recommend it :o)

I also hear that there are going to be some really great offers coming up very soon, on the run up to Christmas, so it would be well worth signing up to the newsletter so you don’t miss out (I have, lol)

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Soap Art

Take a look at this....

Ok, now tell me how in world one could ever, I mean EVER bring oneself to use this beautiful work of art? So pretty with the lovely detail. Just breathtaking isn't it? Soapy Chica never fails to take my breath away and there's many more where this came from, just as stunningly beautiful. Oh and please, please, please.... if you do nothing else, you just must visit the Bakery section of her Etsy shop for THE most yummy, scrummy, mouth-watering soaps you could ever imagine. Mmmm......

Friday, 17 October 2008

Tamanu Oil - Ingredient Feature

With an aroma that is (in my opinion) not unlike that of a walnut, tamanu oil is perhaps one of the most intriguing oils I’ve ever come across. Apart from the aroma, it has a rich colour and a consistency that is thick, almost puddingy. Despite its richness, it absorbs into the skin remarkably well. So what is tamanu oil?

Well, the Tamanu tree is native to South East Asia and Polynesia and has now naturalised to Hawaii and grows in Madagascar (where it is known as Kamanu). It is also known as Calophyllum inophyllum, Anti tree, Alexandrian laurel, Kamani tree, Indian poon, True kamani and Foraha.

Calophyllum is from the Greek ‘with beautiful leaves’ and is sometimes called Beauty leaf. With its droopinf fruit, glossy leaves and aromatic white flowers, it is often cultivated as an ornamental tree. The oil is obtained from the sun dried nuts that are cold pressed to produce a thick, viscous oil that can vary in colour, from dark green/yellow to almost black.

Before the conversion to Christianity, the ancient Polynesians considered the Tamanu tree assacred. Idols were carved in the wood and they are still considered a sacred relics of the past. Considered highly medicinal, the oil and many parts of the tree were and are still used in tinctures and decoctions.
The oil is sometimes used in conjunction with coconut oil and flower essences as a massage medium for Lomi Lomi massage. One of the properties of tamanu is that it is rubefacient, increases blood circulation, so it’s one that would be good in any warming oil massage blend. The fruit extract has been used to make a brown dye to colour tapa cloth and the oil used to waterproof it.

It is interesting to note that around the turn of the century (1900), missionaries in the South Seas noticed that people suffering from leprosy would come to the leper house with Tamanu, which they rubbed on their wounds. They had the idea to dilute the oil in an alcohol ether to prepare an injection. This proved effective against the associated neural problems and is still used successfully in hospitals in this region.

Tamanu Oil is said to…
· Be useful in treating rheumatism

· Relieve itching· Relieving scabies

· Have similar properties to Myrhh

· Help relieve ringworm

· Be used as a liniment for joint pain

· Be used by Fijan mothers to help prevent nappy rash

· Be good to use in place of lip balm for chapped, dry lips

· Healing to wounds, cracks and chaps

· Good to apply to chemical and physical burns (including sunburn)

· Be anti-inflammatory

· Be useful for allergic skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis

· Be useful for general skin disorders such as diabetic sores, chilblains, cracks, acne, dry skin

· Be useful for skin diseases such as herpes

· Treat alopecia

· Relieve haemorrhoids

· Reduce the appearance of scarring and keloid scarring

Cosmetic Uses:

While tamanu oil has been a long kept beauty secret of the natives, it now has caught the interest of some cosmetic scientist and a number of studies have been carried out with interesting results. Tamanu is a valuable raw ingredient in cosmetic preparations and is used chiefly for its restorative, regenerative and protective properties. It can also be used in soap making as a valuable and active ingredient. Examples of other uses include…

· Used neat or infused with essential oils / fragrance oils (flower fragrances are ideal)

· Ideal for acne preparations

· Added to ointments for aches & pains of the joints, muscles and nerves
· Restorative and protective cream formulations

· To add 'value' to soaps

· Used in massage, blended with other carriers (largely due to the expense)

· Lip balms for chapped, parched lips

· Body butters and bars

Thursday, 16 October 2008


Mmmm............. These beautiful Flupcakes look just fabulously delicious and incredibly yummy although, I dare say, perhaps wouldn't taste quite as good as they look.

These gorgeous Flupcakes are made by a wonderfully creative artist, from who always uses colour and texture to create the most visually stunning soaps. Yes, these gorgeous lil' Flupcakes are actually soap. Whipped soap!

Whipped soap is adored by kiddies (young and old) because they soap is so light, fluffy and, this is the best bit, it floats!! Yipee, never lose the soap again :o) These flupcakes are made extra special because they are finished off with Barbie sprinkles. Tell me, what girl wouldn't just fall in love with them? Balissimo!!

Visit Not only is it a great read there's lots of soapy inspiration too :o)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Art Nouveau - Super Chic Labelling

Could Coquilles de mer from the LCR Soap Company get any better? Well, take a look at this....

The Art Nouveau styling really adds class and gives these beautifully crafted bars extra super chic. This is a label that makes a statement about the artist behind each bar of lovliness and gives you a sense of who they are.

Visit the LCR Soap Company blog to see more super chic soaps.....

Monday, 13 October 2008

Funnel Soap Tutorial by Corrie

This is a wonderful tutorial and written by someone who not only has the most exceptional packaging ideas but who is also the Queen of Funnel Swirls... Thank you so much to Corrie. Enjoy!!


How they're done!

1. Set up your mould, fully lined. You will need to rig up a device to hold your funnel in place. Mine is 4 chopsticks tied together with bag ties! So long as it doesn't fall over whilst pouring, anything will do. For this technique I find that soaping cool to cold gives you the time to separate, colour & fragrance your batch. You can always put it on the radiator once you're done to kick start the gel.

2. Make up your soap base as normal. Stickblend enough to combine your oils & lye. You want thin trace not thick! (If it's too thick it won't flow through the funnel).

3. Split your soap batter into 2 halves, colour & fragrance each one. Again, only stir enough to combine the additives well. You do not want a thick batter. If you are adventurous you could try 3 or 4 colours.In the pic below I'm adding Titanium Dioxide powder to this half.

In the next I'm adding a green colour to the other half.

4. Ok, so now you've got 2 pots of coloured batter. Pour those into 2 jugs ready for pouring. Don't hang around whilst doing this. Have everything ready before you start.

5. Start pouring first one colour, into the funnel, then the other. The amount you pour of each colour will affect the final look, it's trial and error in this part.

The pic below shows the mould about half full, you can see how the swirls are building up.

6. Pour till all your batter is used up. And you're finished! The one I made above is called "Yo! Limey" and turned out like this...It's fun, no 2 bars look the same. For those like me who are swirly challenged, give it a try!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Coquilles de mer

Here we are, almost half way through October and today I think one could be forgiven for thinking it was July. What a lovey day! Blue skys, very gentle breeze, glorious sunshine and ooh... just lovely and warm.
It is days like this that make you think of the seaside rather than pumpkins and, although I didn't even get close to the beach (unless you count 100 miles as being close) I do get a little taste of the beach with this lovely soap, Coquilles de mer by LCR Soap Company.

Think blue sea, blue sky, clear sandy beaches, seagulls and seaspray. A warm sunny day looking for seashells, the sand between your toes, the kiddies laughing, paddling and giggling. Ah yes... I AM there. Smell that sea air? You with me? Lol...

This beautiful soap was crafted by hand and I just love the delicate swirls of blues and that lovely sandy layer. The seashells just finish this off so perfectly. Just tell me though, how in the world could one bring oneself to use such a lovely work of art? You will find more works of art and some interesting entries on the LCR Soap Company blog (and hopefully, the website will be finished soon :o))

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Feast Thine Eyes!!!

I have a friend who happens to be a very creative soaper and she makes the most wonderful creams (how fortunate for me :o)). Anyway, I popped around her house yesterday for a quick chat as she prepared for a craft show. I went through the back gate and walked up to her workshop and lining the small forecourt was a delight to behold.

All these lovely, rustic-looking baskets and wooden boxes filled with wonderful chunky bars of soap, creams, bath salts and other goodies. Wow I thought. All the soapies were bare and naked and not one single bar looked like any other. There is something about that which really appeals to me. It is like each bar is an individual, has a personality all of its own.

Although I have seen her work many times before, on the drying racks of her workshop, there was something really special about she had arranged the bars, simply and without pretence in these boses. Just a simple and honest exclaimation of what she had to offer.

Amazing really, I felt almost compelled to say "I'll take one those, two of those and.... ooh, one of those please". She also had these wonderful gift bags and boxes that screamed natural goodness. A really perfect gift for someone special and as I picked up this and sniffed that, I was thinking 'hmmm.... this would be lovely for so and so for Christmas'.

It just goes to show though, that presentation is everything and it doesn't need to be all posh, neat and uniformed. In fact, I think we consumers have probably become somewhat immune to that kind of presentation that it no longer effects us. We could easily walk by that. No, this simplistic and open way was so honest, eyechatching & homely and Keilly's love & passion for what she does really shines through.

I know she did really well at the show and my goodness, why wouldn't she? Although I do hear she spent a good chunk of anything she made buying stuff from other stalls, lol. Anyway, she kindly allowed me to publish some pictures of her stall (which apparently was in stables - how quaint?).

Keilly is the founder of Mad About Nature and makes handcrafted soaps, creams and bath products from natural ingredients. A passionate creator with a great range of products (the gift packs are to die for). is available online and will be showing at numerous events around the country (event calender can be viewed on the site).

Friday, 10 October 2008

Green Moss & Fern Soap by Udderly Divine

This has the most wonderful fragrance that lingers on the skin for what seems like an eternity. The wonderful aroma of green moss and ferns is perfectly complimented by its green, moss-like colouring It is incredibly fresh but has green, earthy notes that somehow have a sweetness to them.

Over half of this soap is comprised of rich and moisturising olive oil. Coconut, palm and cocoa butters contribute to lovely rich, creamy lather. This soap lathers so easily, even in cold water and leaves, what only can be described as, a moisturising film on the skin. So while it is lovely and cleansing, it is also remarkably moisturising. One that I would most definitely like a lifetime supply of, that's for sure.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Today Is a Sad Day

Picture BBC News

I am feeling very blue today. As I took my children into school this morning I heard one of the other mums say to someone 'the post office in the village has been burned to the ground'. I use this post office every day (sometimes twice a day) to post my smaller parcels and the staff there are just so lovely.

I am sad because this was owned by a husband and wife. Their business destroyed. They have been fortunate to have so far avoided closure (unlike so many other PO's), largely because of their determination.

Another sadness is for one of the staff members. She had been collecting sponsors for months now because in October, she is going to ride The Wall Of Death (sitting on the handlebars of the motorbike) for the charity Wishes For Kids. She was aiming for a target of raising £2,000. Only last week I asked how it was going and she said she would excede the target. How wonderful! She was getting rather nervous about it. The sponsors were on a clipboard in the post office and (since I doubt she would have taken it home of an evening) was probably destroyed. How very sad.

Apparently, burglars broke in and I think the fire was a result of their efforts to break the safe. It took 40 firefighters to bring it under control but now, it's all gone. What will the pensioners do? Will it be rebuilt (or will it be a perfect opportunity to close yet another)? What about the owner's business? What about those who worked there? It was at the heart of the village and part of the community for many, many years. I really feel a great sense of deep loss.

I am perplexed that another human being could create such destruction to not only someone elses property but also something so central to whole community. Yes, H is really feeling sad today. I hope and pray with all my heart that it can be rebuilt and restored once more.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Funny Soap Tale

A very funny tale about the life of a croaper written by the inventor of the word 'Croap' herself. It is very funny but also weirdly inspiring. The Croap Queen is not deserving of her crown really, she make the most lovely soap and the most pretty danglies. Her blog, Diary Of A Croaper is worth a visit because not only will you be entertained and inspired by her craftwork (she does lots of crafty things :o)) you will have a giggle AND be able to have a peep at her *cough* 'solid gold' croap crown.

This is the tale of a soaper named Jo,

She's not very good, but she'll give it a go.

In her head it's a soap that looks just like a dream

With rich, creamy lather the texture of cream.

She plots and she plans and she asks for advice

From the Fresholi girls, 'cos they're ever so nice.

She measures and weighs, she melts & she stirs

She waits & she watches - she's chuffed so she purrs.

In go the superfat oils and a lovely new smell

And then, Oh My God, it's all turned to hell.

It goes into the mould - she's working real quick

But whatever she's done, it just looks like sick.

It was supposed to be white, with a nice swirl of blue

But it turned sort of pink, and it really looks poo.

So she's here once again picking wonderful brains

Before she tips it all out and bungs up the drains.

Can my supercroap be saved or will it go in the bin?

Will it be dangerous to use and strip off my skin?

I'm not very happy, and I'm now wearing a frown

At the prospect of having to melt it all down.

So, ladies, I need you to cheer me up please

With words of advice 'cos my soap looks like cheese.

Thank you all kindly for taking the time

To come up with answers to my sad little rhyme.

You're all very sweet for giving me hope

That one day I'll make something that's better than croap.

Coap 1 lathers nicely, and it's really not bad

But the colour is awful and it looks a bit sad.

Croap 2 is still curing and the colour is fine

But the smell's faded a bit and so has the shine.

Croap 3 looked the best, but it's just played a trick

I checked on it today and it looks a bit sick.

The smell is just lovely, and it was really pink

But I think I'll just use it for cleaning the sink.
Croap 4's a disaster as you already know

Did everything right, so it just goes to show.

I'll speak nicely to Santa - I'll even sit on his knee

If he'll send a new crockpot for little old me.
Croap 4's a disaster as you already know

Did everything right, so it just goes to show.

Well, I've just had a go at unmoulding Croap 4

And it's hard to believe, but it's worse than before.

Artistic blue swirls? Not a cat's chance in hell

It's gone purple & pink, and a bit white as well.

The top is all lumpy - think pink cottage cheese

And some bits are runny - it could do with a squeeze.

Is that neat lye solution? (Wasn't there, yesterday)

Should I wrap it all up and just throw it away?

B*gger this for a lark now, I'm getting annoyed

All my artistic hard work and it just gets destroyed.

I'm really not thick, but I just can't get it right

And my niece has just told me my croaps are all sh*te.

But over this latest disaster, I shall just gloss

'Cos I'm sending my Mum to the nearest Argos.

For a lovely new crockpot for me to destroy

Oh goody goody, I'll have a new toy.

So, I've tried M&P - and at that I'm not bad

But my CP - well, you know it's just all very sad.

So I'll try out the HP - I'm just living in hope

That one day I'll make other, than rubbish old croap.

*Added 12.12.07...*

A new croap has been born, but it’s barely alive

Yes, ladies, I give you – my Croap No 5.

At conception - a dream, with a hint of vanilla

At birth - looks like something coughed up by Godzilla.

A soft, creamy brown swirl was what I had in my mind

But when dragged from the mould, well what did I find?

It’s more the colour of porridge – it’s gone a bit wrong

And I do have to say it’s got a very odd pong.

I used herbal tea for the water – I made it quite dark

But it should have been weaker – I was way off the mark.

I added the tea bits as I wanted it “scrubby”

But the leaves have turned brown, so it looks a bit grubby.

Not that I mind that, as it doesn’t look bad

But the vanilla smell’s gone, and it’s driving me mad.

About every hour, I nip off for a sniff

But nope, it’s not there, not even a whiff.

Well, I’ll watch and I’ll wait, and I’ll give it some timeWho knows?

It could turn out to be really sublime.

So guess what I did, when I had time for a skive?

I gave Chanel a big scare, I made Croap No 5.

*Added 15.12.07...*

My shiny new crockpot was calling my name

So I washed it & dried it and made it quite tame

I talked to it nicely and checked there was hope

Would my first batch of HP be better than croap?

So, I melted the oils and I added the lye

I blitzed it and stirred it, and the time just flew by.

I put the lid on, then I watched & I waited

I didn’t breathe out ‘cos my breath was all bated.

It bubbled and gelled and along came the wave

It was looking quite good – what a feeling that gave.

I stirred, and I checked that it was like apple sauce

And then it went wrong – this is JoJo of course.

I took a bit out and superfatted the rest

I was trying so hard – I was doing my best.

In next went the FO, it was going to work!

Then I tried to add colour – Doh! What a berk.

Liquid turquoise I added, because I forgot

That that wouldn’t work, & so I should be shot.

It wouldn’t mix in, it was driving me potty

So I left it, and hey, my croap is now spotty.

My sis doesn’t mind if her skin turns a bit blue

And she thinks it looks nice (I’m not joking, it’s true).

So all in all I’ve been up to my usual old tricks

Yes, ladies, I give you my croap No 6.

This very funny poem was written by one of our regular members on the forum who gives a whole new meaning to soapmaking. Thank you Jojo from all of us for the endless entertainment your croaping provides!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Inspired by Colour

Every consumer likes a novel idea, a novel product. Whether you are making soaps, creams, lotions & potions, we are ever searching for inspiration that transforms a basic formula into something new, different, novel. Something that will switch the consumer on or something to get those creative juices flowing and enthuse us to, well… create.

We can draw inspiration from almost anything that’s going on around us, sights, sounds, colours, tastes, pictures, aromas, social experiences, latest trends, latest news, the list is endless. But, for this article, I would like to come back to colour. I think colour could be a most interesting source of inspiration.

We all have our favourites and nobody can argue that colour definitely influences an individual’s attraction to certain things, whether it be a wallpaper, a flower, a car, a soap. Colour does indeed play a key role in the initial attraction. But, and this is why I find colour so interesting, colours are also said to harness enormous power over how we think, feel and is even thought by some to play a hand at improving our health and well being. Colour is also said to have meaning.

Fig & Melon Soap

This fresh and delicately fruity, rich bar from Lomond Soap is not only pretty to look at but has the most delightful aroma that reminds me so much of lovely perfume I once had. Enriched with moisturising walnut oil, this bar has a lovely creamy colour that is complimented by a delicate swirl of pinky/peach. When using it, you can just feel the quality oils & butters working their magic as your skin becomes enveloped in a rich, bubbly lather that gently cleanses. My skin was left feeling soft, smooth and lightly fragranced. A very lovely soap indeed. (Helen)

Monday, 6 October 2008

Embrace The Grit?

Something was brought up on the Melting Pot Cafe forum regarding a problem with a lip balm formula containing shea and mango butter. It wasn't the first time this was brought up. So what is the problem? Grittiness.

Sometimes, finished products that contain either shea or mango can feel grainy or gritty. It is not usually noticed straight away though as it can take a few days for it to materialise. This is because these two butters are both high in unsaponifiables and if heated incorrectly can develop crystal-like granules of fat as they cool and set.

Although they do eventually melt upon skin contact (with the assistance of massage), the initial 'grainy' feel can be disappointing, especially when the user is expecting a smooth formulation.

But can it be embraced? What about a product that has natural and gentle dispersable exfoliating granules? Great for the lips and wonderful in creams/body butters as no rinsing is required. If that doesn't float your boat and it is a problem, there is a method you could use to either remove or avoid this and restore smoothness.

  • In a double boiler, heat your shea or mango to about 76-85 degrees C (don't worry about spoiling the properties of the butter, this is not hot enough).

  • Maintain this temperature for 15-20 minutes to ensure all fat crystals are completely melted.
    After 15-20 minutes allow to cool (rapid cooling will reduce the chances of crystals reforming - using a bowl of ice-water will speed the cooling process).

  • This process can be repeated if any crystals reform after cooling and solidifying (can happen if heat is not maintained at right temperature or for long enough).

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Cocoa Butter

Mmmm...... just the saying that makes me think I have gained a few pounds, lol. If you are not familiar with it in its raw form, here's a lil' lowdown....

The cocoa tree is native to the lowland rainforest regions of central and northern South America, particularly those surrounding the Orinoco and Amazon rivers, although the cocoa tree is now pan-tropic. The fat extracted from the seeds becomes cocoa butter and has a variety of cosmetic and dietary uses.

Cocoa butter (or cacao butter) is a pale white to yellow solid edible fat with a wonderful, slightly sweet chocolate taste and aroma. It has a melting point of between 32-35 deg c. The cocoa butter present in quality chocolate provides that fabulous texture that just 'melts in the mouth'.

While having obvious dietary uses (chocolate - look, there's another couple of pounds I just gained -Eek!) it is also a very rich compound, with excellent emollient properties thus having numerous uses in hair and skin care.

Cocoa butter is one of the most stable and concentrated natural fats and does not go rancid easily. Most skins tolerate it very well however, where there is evidence of irritation or sensitivity, discontinue use.

Skin Care & Cocoa Butter
  • Has been used for centuries to help keep the skin soft and supple and has been called 'the ultimate moisturiser'.

  • Excellent for use on very dry, dehydrated and chapped skin as it moisturises, soothes and protects.

  • It is a natural source of vitamin E which has numerous skin benefits.

  • Melts on skin contact and is absorbed slowly by the skin making it ideal in massage bases (especially when blended with essential oils), ointments, lip balms (chocolate taste without the calories - perfect!) etc...

  • Contains tocopherols and polyphenols that have antioxidant properties to suppress free radicals soothe irritations.

  • Cocoa butter is often added to suntan product as it can help to enhance the appearance of a suntan (although be aware that cocoa butter itself does not contain a SPF).

  • Often recommended for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, not only for its moisturising properties but it also contains CMP (cocoa mass polyphenol) that inhibits the production of immuno globulin IgE, (which may exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and dermatitis).

  • Helps to protect sensitive skin from external elements by providing a moisture-retaining barrier to the environment.

  • Cocoa butter has a long tradition of being used by pregnant women to help prevent stretch marks as well as reduce their appearance.

  • Recent researched has indicated the possible health benefits gained from eating chocolate but there has also been indications that massaging with cocoa butter may help to relieve stress and boost the immune system and could help to prevent cancer.

Tess by Briallen - A product review....

Product review by Kim's lil' grandaughter (Kim is is a Fresholi member) on this wonderful bath product, Tess, by Briallen Traditional Crafts...

I was really excited when nanny told me the second Tess had arrived. I couldn't wait to try it out. The first one was lovely and the little bag was so sweet.It looked like a fresh cream meringue. Almost good enough to eat.

Tonight I filled the bath up with hot water,climbed in and dropped the Tess in the water. I loved the way it fizzed because it looked like it was about to explode and it smelt like creamy buttery white chocolate.(yum yum)The fragrance stayed in the bath until I let the water out (wow) The cream melted well and it didn't leave greasy marks on the sides of the bath.

Pettigrain & Tescos

Today I took delivery of some pettigrain (been waiting a little longer than I would have hoped in getting here but YAY, its here!!!). Anyway, it was one of those multi-tasking/multi-hat wearing sorts of days (mum, therapist and order-pickerer / packagerer / preparerer). So, in between client appointments, I decided to decant the pettigrain for customers who had ordered it. As I removed the drum stopper, it made a loud pop which made me kind of jump thus knocking the drum as spilled around 5-10ml all down the front of my uniform.

Now pettigrain is one of my most favourite EO's (reminds me of eu de cologne, Mmmmm.... ) so not really a problem and my uniform is chocolate brown so you couldn't tell. Anyway, after doing the bottle filling, I had about an hour before the next client was due so thought I'd be mum and do a trolly dash around Tescos. Now despite having very little time to wizz round the shop (my local Tescos is HUGE) and the fact it was really busy all I could smell was this pettigrain and I was soooooo relaxed. Did my entrire weeks shop and got back really quick and yet, I was really calm.

It is funny, when I got to the school to pick up the kiddiwinks, I was standing next to a old colleague of mine (from when I worked at the college) and she said 'have you been working with pettigrain?', even she could smell it, lol. Anyway, the moral of the story is, if you want to keep your calm while under pressure, dowse yourself in pettigrain. Works a bloomin' treat.

Oils, Butters and Waxes

There are a huge number of nut and vegetable fixed oils available to the aromatherapist, soap or lotion maker, each having their own unique, value-adding properties. To produce quality blends and formulations, use only fresh oils of high grade (such as food, cosmetic or pharmaceutical grade).

Refined V Unrefined

Unrefined oils are a fabulous and flavoursome ingredient and well suited for food use. However, they usually have a much stronger odour, which can dominate a formulation, and, more importantly, have a much shorter shelf-life. This is fine if the end product is used quickly (as in food applications) but when it comes to cosmetic applications (lip balms, soap, lotions etc...), it is expected that the product will last longer than a food item. Refinement is simply a means of removing the free-fatty acids (that can cause the oil to become rancid rather quickly) and reducing its odour and sometimes its strong colouring.

This said, holistic therapists (such as aromatherapists) may well have a preference for unrefined oils in which case, might well consider buying their fixed oils in smaller quantities to ensure freshness and to avoid having to discard oils that have become rancid before being used. Adding an anti-oxidant, such as vitamin E, can help to prevent oxidation (rancidity) and thus prolong the shelf life.

Refined oils are the oil of choice for some lotion and soap makers

Refined, cold-pressed oils are considered the best for lotion and soap makers because they can withstand oxidation and have a much lower odour. Refined oils offer the formulator some reassurance that their products are stable.

Storing Your Oils And Butters

To retain freshness, oils and butters should be stored in airtight containers/bottles and kept in a dry, cool and dark place. The fridge is fantastic as it maintains a constant cool temperature and a dark environment. Refrigerators may turn some oils cloudy and some can become thickened, however the oil soon returns to normal once it has returned to room temperature. Your butters can be frozen providing they are well protected and clearly labelled with the date (use within 6 months after defrosting).

Fruit and Vegetable Seed Oils

These are generally polyunsaturated that are fine and fluid. They are functional and add value to creams, lotions, soaps etc... Oils that are high in stearic, oleic and lauric acids are best used as your main/primary oil, these include oils such as coconut, sunflower and jojoba. Oils that are high in essential fatty acids are rather delicate and less stable but add value and 'nutrition' to a formula, such as hemp or rosehip.

Nut Oils

Nut seed oils, such as sweet almond, hazelnut and macadamia work very well in creams, lotions and soaps (up to 15%) due to their moisturising properties however, it is important to remember that some individuals are allergic to nuts so clear labelling is vital.Olive Oils Olive oils comes in many grades and can often be a source of confusion. The grade of oil identifies the point at which it was pressed. For example, extra virgin olive oil is the oil produced soon after the olive is harvested and is the oil produced from the first pressing. The oil produced from subsequent pressings are graded as follows... virgin olive oil and then grade A olive oil. Olive pomace is obtained by solvent extraction, but the solvent is removed from the final product.

Vegetable Butters

Butters, such as mango, cocoa and shea, are pressed out and are considered naturally occurring. However, other vegetable or nut oils do need to go through a process of hydrogenation in order to create saturated fatty acids, resulting in a product that is solid at room temperature. In a small number of cases, such as in the production of aloa butter, the end butter is produced by infusing the plant material in a solid oil such as coconut oil. Butters are a wonderful addition to creams, lotions, soaps and other skin care products as they are excellent emollients and give hardness and solidity to the end product.

Plant Waxes

Waxes obtained from plant sources are becoming increasingly more popular for natural products and are a choice ingredient for vegan products because they are an alternative to beeswax. The wax ingredients provide hardness and solidity to the finished product as well as provide a protective element to the skin. Some waxes are obtained by boiling the plant material and then skimming the surface where the wax deposits (as in carnauba wax). In other cases, the plant material undergoes a series of hydrogenation of the fatty fractions (as in olive wax - no chemicals or foreign matter is used). Although often considered an oil, jojoba is in fact a liquid wax and is extracted by simple cold-pressing.


Beeswax is a combination of pollen, plant waxes and bee secretions. Beeswax is the material produced by bees to build their combs for the storage of honey, eggs and larvae. It is a hard material that has a distinct, honey-like aroma and has a melting point of around 63 degrees C. It also has a long shelf-life. Beeswax is boiled, cleaned and filtered and comes in either sheets or pellets. It has a natural yellow/brown colour but can sometimes be bleached in either sunlight or using hydrogen peroxide, producing a white beeswax. Like plant waxes, it adds hardness and solidity to end products as well as providing a protective barrier to the skin.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Project Two (Day Two): Citrus & Spice Swirl (Cold Process)

After a pretty good success from my M&P experience, I was all fired up that evening in preparation for my CP experience. I had asked for some last minute advice/tips on the forum that night then set about looking for soap recipe. I eventually found one which was both too large and needed converting to metric.

So I halved the quantity and converted the measurements so, as I thought, I was all good to go the next morning. I must admit, I asked for the advice rather late the night before and got on task early the next morning so, as far as I was aware, no last minute tips to help get me on my way.

So, here is the recipe (the cinnamon swirl and the colouring was something I added in myself, as are the essential oils used + there was a bit of exchanging one ingredient for another)…

188ml Apricot kernel
157g Coconut oil
127ml Macadamia oil
86g Mango butter
100g Shea butter
71g Palm oil
190ml Sunflower oil
285ml Water (which I had brewed 2 Earl Grey tea bags in to colour the water)
120g Lye

The bit I added…

1st essential oil blend – 5 ml tangerine, 1ml mandarin, 2ml grapefruit, 1ml lemon
2nd essential oil blend – 2ml nutmeg, 3ml cedarwood
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Red wax crayon, black wax crayonI pulled up the tutorial that the Fee Fairy kindly put together on my computer screen so that I could keep making reference to it should I need to (it was my comforter)

I weighed out all the ingredients and cleared away any excess bottles & washed up any utensils used (I like to be organized)

With all the oils in a stainless steel bowl and a saucepan of hot water ready to go, I left these to one side while I set about preparing the lye, the bit I was dreading
I took the scales outside and got an old pot to weight the lye into(I also covered the scales surface in case any granules spilled over). My water I had prepared much earlier with boiled spring water and two tea bags, let it brew then set the bowl outside to cool (I did have to pop it in the fridge for a little while)

With the water at about room temperature and the lye weighed and ready (ooh, and me wearing thick rubber gloves and a mask – I looked gorgeous), I added the lye carefully to the water, keeping my face slightly turned away. I stirred carefully and before long, the steam began to rise in the cool morning air. Do you know, I didn’t get one whiff of the fumes at all!
When satisfied the lye was fully dissolved, I took the spoon used to mix it and ran it under the hose outside and left it outside for the time being. I then went inside to begin heating the oils (leaving the lye to cool outside)

When the oils had melted I fetched the lye in ready to add to the oils. I had intended to get them bnoth at around 65 degrees C but the oils were something like 75 degrees and the lye had cooled so much it was at about 55 degrees. I was tempted to cool the oils (in a bowl of cold water) but this would take time and the lye was cooling all the time. I wasn’t sure whether it mattered how cool the lye got or whether it could be heated again, I just went ahead and added the lye to the oils and got the stick blender in there.

I did intermittent power on, power off but after about five minutes, it started to look quite thick and did leave a ‘trace’. But I had heard about a false trace so I then went on to hand mix for the rest of the mixing period rather than blend with the stick blender. I was right, there was a clear trace. I did however add the essential oils at this point.

When it reached trace, I realized that I wanted to do the swirl but the mixture was far too cool to melt the crayons (yes I said crayons, I heard that these can be used and since I had no other colour pigments, they would have to do). So poured most of the mixture into the mould (which, and I know now that I made mistake here, was unlined – it was a non-stick teflon coated loaf tin I bought the day before – its all I could find the day before and would have preferred a SS one so sorry).

I saved some mixture back and quickly got another pot to melt the crayons in on the double boiler. They melted quickly (phew) but went all cloggy when added into the mixture I had saved back. I had no choice but to reheat the whole lot, soap and globby crayon bits. However, this was successful. I took it off the heat, added about 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and stirred for a while to cool a little before adding the second essential oil blend.
I then dropped small amounts of this coloured mixture over the main soap mixture then used a small spoon to carefully swirl.

I covered this in cling film and wrapped it in a snug blanket (an old cot blanket – bless) and it has now been sitting there for well over 24 hours. I can’t help myself, but I do keep having a peek at it. I just can’t wait to demould it and slice it to see what it looks like.
Well, I am unable to report any further on this at the moment as it is still in the mould but just as soon as its out, I’ll report back!

Two Days Later

After a couple of days, I sought some advice on the forum as to when it would be ok to demould and cut the soap. From my description, it was suggested that it was probably ready (yipee!). I was advised to pop it into the freezer and, if necessary, blast the hairdryer over the bottom of the mould. Turns out, 10 minutes of freezing and presto, out it came.
{mosimage}However, the surface of the soap loaf was covered in bubbles (I wonder what caused that and I wonder if it could be prevented?). So I set about cutting it (I was cautious of the raw soap, in case it would burn so I picked up a small piece, rubbed it in to a small area of skin and waited to see what happened - fortunately nothing happened).

To cut the soap I started with a smooth edged knife but wasn't brave enough to go bull at a gate at it and was maybe too cautious as I ended up shaving of a small, thin slice that rolled up like those decorative chocolate swirls - Fantastic I thought, so shaved off a whole load of others. This also gave me some confidence to just cut into it.

I cut it into slices and tidied the edges. They are now sitting on a rack curing (on paper as advised by one of the forum members as this is a metal rack).
I had a lot of odds and ends left so decided I was going make these into a soap ball (for the kids). As the soap was still very soft, I chopped it into really smally pieces, wet my hands and began moulding it all into a ball. The result really looks funny. It looks like a baked spud!

The most wonderful part of all this was when I can to wash all the soap from my hands, it created the richest lather (believe me, I would have been happy with just a couple of bubbles). Little old me had created bubbles and from scratch! I could hardly believe my eyes!! It was such a proud moment =o)

Melt & Pour: Project One (First Ever Attempt)

Admittedly, apart from a getting some guidance on one or two essentials, this was more or less made up as I went along.

Here's the recipe....

750g Clear M&P soap base
30g Cocoa butter
25g Ground coffee
10ml Apricot kernel oil
2.5ml Vanilla Extract
1.5ml Orange EO

Melted everything in a double boiler except the essential oils. When completely melted, removed from the heat and stirred and stirred until it went puddingy and had cooled a little. Added the essential oils and poured into a mould. Presto!! I made soap!!

Constructive Criticism….

I have to be honest though, I didn't use the quantity of essential oils in my original recipe because they are too expensive to waste if it all went bit wrong. Therefore, not much aroma happening except for coffee and the cocoa comes through a little too. However, it does foam up lovely and the grounds are exfoliating. It's a great body bar and coffee is used for its many beneficial properties in quite a few high end salon beauty treatments.

I would have liked to have given the colour some oomph (to give it a more creamed coffee appearance) but the cocoa still has time to lighten. I think if I was to try this again, I will go with some kaolin as this will also add to exfoliating/refining action as well as give the colour a bit of 'background'. This said, the colour is rich and dark and would be great for a wintertime product. I would also have liked to have a creamy white top that mingles into the soap (darker at the bottom), but didn't know how to do it, lol

Some other points were made by more experienced soap makers such as suggestions on layering; to pour first portion of soap and allow it to develop a skin then spritz the surface and pour on the next layer. This would give a fairly defined layer. To get a more blended effect where the line was less defined could be to pierce the skin of the first layer at various points to allow some liquid to escape before adding another layer or to scatter coffee grounds after spritzing which may colour the lighter layer slightly.

Regarding the recipe, it was suggested that I was probably at the limits for the butter (too much butter may affect lather quality). It was thought that I had maybe used too much coffee grounds and that 15g rather than the 25g I used may have been more appropriate. I have to agree, it was very dark and I noticed today that the soap dish has developed a brown soapy puddle from the drips. All in all, this first time experience was a fantastic one.

Another thing this experience has done for me is to really look around at all the possibilities for this method of soap making. I was genuinely amazed at the number of wonderful effects that can be created with this clean and safe method. The possibilities are endless, however, somehow I think I should learn some of the basics first before even entertaining some of the extravagant methods that many of the members have used, just look in their galleries. These are a real source of inspiration!

This concludes my first ever experience of making soap but something tells me, its not going to be the last. I’ve already got a few ideas from a gallery that was added to the Fresholi site. Funnily enough, these ideas involve chopping up my Mocha-Orange soap :O)

The Weekend I Lost My Soap Virginity

I was a self confessed soap virgin (no, before you start thinking, I do use soap). I had never made soap before. But listening to fellow members discuss and share their experiences and seeing photos of their finished soap projects in the forum and the gallery made me very curious indeed. I wanted to feel a little bit of the magic so many others feel so often. Please keep in mind that these experiments took place a year ago...

I woke up yesterday morning and had it my mind that this weekend was the weekend that I going to loose my virginity and make soap. I set in my mind to do two types; Day one: melt and pour; Day Two: Cold Process.

Obviously much of the ingredients were to hand, except caustic soda and colouring. After asking one or two questions on the forum, I was told where to go for caustic soda (oh and I got a loaf tin while I was at it for the mould – although I was tempted to consume an entire tube of Pringles as a number of forum members do, for the mould of course). So follows my reports...

Body Care Special

Beauty salons have spent what seems like an eternity focussing on facial care, and body treatments have been somewhat secondary to that. However, consumers have driven a huge change in this trend and if the reports by Mintel are anything to go by, body care is now one of the fastest growing treatment focuses.

In 2006, consumer sales in body care treatments/products was worth around £300m, up 43% on the previous five years, compared with a 24% rise in facial skincare in the same period. This figure is set to rise by a further 41% over the next five years to over £400m.

Why this change? Well, consumers are much more product savvy and with both the more mature, body-conscious consumer looking for anti-ageing solutions as well as the younger consumer equally interested in taking preventative measures having relatively easy access to information, we are seeing a surge in new demands.

Beyond the Moisture

Consumers want the results they are seeing from facial treatments/products in their body treatments/products. Facial skin care has for years now been a results-driven market. Consumers want results and they want them quickly. Industry has intensively developed to be able to meet these demands and now, the facial skin care market is now a rather sophisticated and complex arena.

Now that consumer's attention has shifted to the body, although the demands remain pretty much the same, the modern consumer is searching for products that contain unusual ingredients with beneficial properties.

Many companies are beginning to face up to this increasing demand with new product launches and are understanding the sophistication of their customer's needs. It seems the days have passed where consumers were satisfied with moisturising; now they expect the product to make them feel good and have visible effects.

Mother Nature's Well-Stocked Shelves

We may think that in order to meet the requirements of the consumer, we need to invest copious hours (not to mention money) in a science lab. Hasn't Mother Nature already done that? This said, while there are many naturally occurring potent ingredients to pick from off of nature's well-stocked shelves, sometimes a little fine tuning may be required so that we can harness and optimise these fine ingredients.

Exploring The Potential

In order to capitalise on what is naturally available (in its rawest form or after a bit of 'fine tuning') we need to really look at the choices in detail. When a product is results-driven, it should contain ingredients that play an active role in achieving the objective. Formulators research their ingredients and select those that are most pro-active in achieving a said goal, not to mention label appeal.

Some of the big players in the skin care industry are recognising the potency of natural raw materials as in the following examples:

Loofah: A trusted friend of the formulator. The loofah is a relative of the squash and has been used for centuries for its exfoliating properties. This climbing plant forms a complex mesh of fibres which is excellent for massage and exfoliation yet soft and gentle on the skin. It is one of the main ingredients in Guinot's Gommage Facil

Green Coffee Bean Extract: Research has shown that green coffee bean extract boosts micro-circulation, detoxifies and has a diuretic effect. It also helps to inhibit the formation of free-radicals and is a key ingredient in Pevonia's Nymphea Body-Svelt Cream

Red Vine Leaves: A key feature of Thalac's Frigic Jambes and contains polyphenols which have beneficial effects on blood circulation and cellular exchange to reduce 'heaviness' in the legs.

Algae: Has anti-ageing properties, it helps support the cellular structure & stimulates the production of glycosaminoglucans (responsible for cellular metabolism and renewal). This is a key ingredient in Elemis's Cellutox Herbal Bath Synergy

These are just some examples of how key players in the beauty industry are seeking out, researching and harnessing the powerful effects of natural raw ingredients to meet the needs of the ever more savvy consumer.

With plenty of research, carefully selected and cleverly combined ingredients, a formulator can take their products beyond just moisturising and into the realms of results-driven active potency.

Hand Crafted Products - Products With Soul

Who I Was…

You know, I’ve been a beauty & complementary therapist for ‘eek’ number of years. In this time I’ve seen, used and indeed loved an enormous range of salon products. Some very high-end, expensive products with numerous claims and some not so high-end but still very lovely. For a good deal of my professional career, I think I wandered off down a pathway that was very much dictated by the clever marketing ploys of huge product houses. Pretty much the same techniques used to lure customers into thinking they need this product or that product to achieve this result or that.

Of course, although professional products are designed in part for treatment application they are also retail driven. Basically, we therapists are given information that ‘fits’ our needs (what we use, how we use, why we use) as well as extra information to ‘fit’ our clients’ needs (what they need, what they might need and why they need it). Nothing wrong with this? Not at all, if needs are being met. Indeed, there are some wonderful products around.

The Spell…

Anyway, something happened to me a few years ago that brought about a huge change in the way I ‘do business’, so to speak. I actually began to question my own knowledge. I’m not talking about the textbook knowledge (such as the anatomy & physiology of the body), more the knowledge I had about the products that I had been using (quite successfully, I might add) on my clients. I, like most beauty therapists, had been imparting information to my clients based on the information I had been given by years of being under a huge marketing spell.

Whilst I always truly believed I was working with - and indeed advising my clients to use - products containing ‘natural’ ingredients and that I was giving my clients the best, I began to look at the labels a little more closely. The more I did, the more I felt compelled to try to recreate these products without all these complicated formulas. After all, everything was there in nature already so why, oh why were all these other materials being used? Did it have to be this complicated?

Nature’s Well-stocked Beauty Solutions…

After months of researching most of these ingredients, I realized that many of these materials could actually be contributing to long-term poor skin and, indeed, body health, even though the short-term effects may actually be very positive. Also, by looking more at the natural materials provided by nature, the very same effects can be achieved with the added benefits of working in harmony with our skin and body for better long-term health.

The Spell Broken…

Needless to say I started to collect some natural raw materials, learned about the best varieties to use in different applications, merged this within my ‘textbook’ knowledge and began creating my own creams, lotions and potions. These I began to use in my treatments (and on willing victims… meaning family and friends!) with very impressive results indeed. A new hobby was born and, indeed, I feel the spell has been broken.


However, the journey to this point, I have to say, was a series of trials and a goodly number of errors. The thought, deliberation, time and energy that go into these products take heart and soul. But indeed, that’s what you get out of them when you use products like these. They look different, feel different and have something very special about them…. these are most definitely products with soul.

I am slowly but surely converting all the products used in my treatments over to natural, handcrafted products and my clients love it. They are as enthused as I am and always look forward to sampling a new creation. However, I need to point out here that I do not sell any of my products. For me it’s just personal gratification and helps me to better understand how the materials work. It also allows me to be completely free of sales gimmicks – I am no longer buying into them.

Reflecting On A Previous Life…

I went to a trade show recently (the first in a while) and I was totally struck by how unmoved I was by it. Normally, these events are a bit like being let loose in your favourite shop during a sale. However, as well-presented and well-marketed as many of the products were, it all felt flat and lifeless. Most of the products on exhibit felt, to me, soulless.

I feel as though I have been somewhat misled in my previous professional life. An example of this is that, up until quite recently, soap (as in the bar variety) was a no-go area. However, in June ’07, I decided to set up a website - - to share my information by providing resources regarding natural raw materials.

People Who Give Heart & Soul…

Fresholi quickly attracted many like-minded, wonderful people. Some are expert crafters and some are just starting out. Through learning more about soap crafting I soon realized how wrong I was on that score too. You see, handcrafted soap is a little bit like a hard drug - you are addicted with the first use. The richness of the oils, botanical and other natural skin goodies packed into these little bars are just divine (I now even dabble in the odd bit of soap making myself – another highly addictive activity).

We have built, and continue to build, a wonderful community where we share the benefits of our skills and knowledge. We are building galleries, collecting recipes & tutorials that these talented people have generously provided and continue to provide.

Raw, Natural Skill On Tap…

I said earlier that I don’t sell the products I make. I don’t have to. Everything I could want for my treatments and customers (and indeed myself) is right there. The Fresholi community can meet just about every need, from rich hand creams to exfoliating soaps. All are handcrafted and all come complete with heart and soul – perfect.

Imperfectly Perfect – Simple Yet Magnificent!

Handcrafted, natural products look magnificent with all the perfect imperfections that make them so special and unique. Formulas are simple yet have a natural complexity through the synergy of these natural materials working in harmony.

So here I am today. Completely converted, the spell broken. Please feel free to see for yourself some of the wonderful products produced by the Fresholi Community in the Members Galleries.

You could also see the Members Links page. Or, if you have something specific you have in mind, the Customers Request board in the forum is open to guests so do feel free to post your request there.