Baby Steps

Growing an online presence is a series of baby steps that are sometimes overwhelmingly baffling to me. Does that happen to you? Sometimes I’m making decisions based on “I hope this is right” instead of really finding out the details and understanding the process. For example, I *think* I finally linked my website and my blog! ūüėÄ

Baby steps are also a great way to approach skin issyoos. I generally favor a more conservative approach to addressing things like acne, dry skin, eczema, and rashes. As a kid who broke out rolling around in the grass, hives, allergic reactions to the weirdest things, it’s the simple stuff that works.

I always kind of stutter when people ask me for advice. Why? I don’t want to EVER come off as a snake-oil maker/saleswoman. If you’ve asked me for advice, I’m gonna tell you precisely what worked for me. And here’s my normal process for evaluating these types of things:

Does it appear to be an internal reaction or external reaction?

If external – was the skin thoroughly and use something like our Whipped Shea Butter. That stuff is amazing! A few weeks ago I broke out under my FITBIT. Had a bunch of oozy gross bumps. Washed it, put on a good dose of Whipped Shea Butter and immediately the itchiness went away, and a day or two later all of my bumples were gone!

If internal – do what you need to do for an allergic reaction. Doctor. Anti-histamines. Whatever. Don’t mess with that!

As for acne solutions, I usually recommend our Activated Charcoal Complexion Soap. Seems to help remove excess dirt and gunk from the skin, and the lavender/lemongrass/tea tree essential oil combo PLUS goat milk make for a soothing bar of soap. The other recommendation is our Lavender Oats soap. Again, it’s gentle and mild, and finely ground whole oats gently exfoliate dead skin cells and soothes the skin.

If those tiny little baby steps work well, you’ve got your solution. If not, remember to keep it simple. Throwing everything at a break out or an allergic reaction might only further irritate the skin. Completely the opposite of what you want to have happen!

~ Karen

charcoal

 

 

Buy My Stuff!

Wherever you are in the wide world, it’s likely that you are looking forward to the upcoming change in seasons in your neck of the woods. We are hopefully winding down on our second nor’easter in a week, with another on the horizon early next week. I’m ready for the change in seasons.

For many of you, the end of winter means your skin is overdue for some seriously decadent pampering.

You know me and Hemlock Springs Soaps is here to help. That’s why we want to remind you that what’s left of our super skin hydrating Whipped Shea Butters need to find a new home so we can make room for our spring line.

I bet there’s room in your boudoir for some of our mood-setting perfumes, ¬†or maybe you need a restock of freshly made soaps, made with rich, organic shea butter and fresh, creamy goat milk.

Just because the weather is punishing you, doesn’t mean you should punish your skin!

Head on over to the newly redesigned website to SHOP NOW:  Hemlock Springs Soaps

coconut soap

~ Karen

 

 

Do You Procrastinate?

Do you procrastinate? According to blogger Tim Urban, who has studied this stuff a lot, everyone is a procrastinator. Some people figure out how to get things done anyway. I think I’m one of those people, some of the time. I mean, I’m working on this ¬†so I’m not losing my chips when it gets super busy! ¬†This video makes some good points on the topic, and is super funny too. It’s only 14 minutes long, and I suspect you might find a giggle or two along the way.

What do you think? Can you relate to the Instant Gratification Monkey? I can! He’s a cute little buggar. Cuter than the Panic Monster.

I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you overcome the temptation to give into the Instant Gratification Monkey? And if you’re not a procrastinator, please share your secrets — we need them!

Learn more about Tim Urban at his website https://waitbutwhy.com/

~ Karen

 

Got (Goat) Milk?

I know…everyone makes goat milk soaps these days (it seems, anyway). But do you know why?

Five good reasons to start using goat’s milk soap

Delays signs of skin aging:

Goat’s milk soap delays signs of skin again due to its high content of alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids break down dead skin cell bonds, removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and leaving behind new cells on the surface that appear smoother and more youthful.

Not a chemical counterfeit:

Water-based soaps on mainstream supermarket shelves use harsh chemical acids to break down dead skin cells. The lasting effect of chemical acids on the skin is more similar to a chemical “burn.” Alpha hydroxyl acids found in goat’s¬†milk, work with skin instead of breaking it down and aging it further.

Anti-inflammatory properties:

Goat’s milk reduces skin inflammation due to its fat molecule content. The cream present in goat’s milk is a moisturizer, soothing dry and damaged¬†skin, possessing an anti-inflammatory effect.

Loaded with essentials:

Goat’s milk is packed full of essential nutrients and vitamins like vitamin D, C, B1, B6, B12, and E, that feed the skin and are absorbed into the body.

Treats acne:

Studies now show that goat’s milk is effective for treating acne and skin conditions. This is primarily because goat’s milk has anti-bacterial properties that delay the growth of microbial organisms that spur the spread of acne.

Learn more:  http://www.naturalnews.com/040766_goats_milk_soap_personal_care_products.html#ixzz41qzJzZjD

I use fresh-from-the-farm goat milk from local farms (not to mention beeswax and honey, too!) so it’s not super-processed, and retains all the natural properties.

And…it’s absolutely lovely in the goat milk lotion I make, too!

Cheers –

Karen

It’s Just a Name

You know, lots of folks approach me about the name of my business, Hemlock Springs Soaps and want to know if I put hemlock (the poison) in my products. ***OMG big eye roll inserted right here!!!***  Not sure I would have survived this long if I had been, but okay!

So, WHY? Where’d it come from?

Well, when I first started doing this on a part-time basis all those 17 (!) years ago, I lived on Hemlock Springs Road. It was my first house, first time living with another human being (eventually my other half!) and what a house it was!!! It was cheap, but the bones were good. Which was good cuz the previous owners were hoarders. I mean HOARDERS. That TV show could have learned something from these folks!!! ¬†¬†They left a van with no engine and stuffed full of cans of expired food for me to deal with (and that’s not all…..) Not to mention the filth. OMG I am cringing just recalling the work we did to clean that place up and turn it into a cute little home. It was perfect for the time, and launched us into the larger old New Englander we have called home for 11+ years. And while I feel like it was a hiccup in time, I never want to¬†forget the importance (to me) of the name.

See, soap-making is more than just a process for me. It’s a soothing, cathartic feeling. Attending markets feels like a connection to old artisans and bakers who sold their wares to traveling folk and townspeople. Neighbors. Friends. So when I left the corporate world and thought “Why not give it a shot?” I struggled¬†with the idea of changing the name of my little company. Originally, it was Hemlock Springs Cottage. I changed to “Soaps” to reflect more of what I actually do. Some days I wonder if I should have changed it to something more hip (a la “Soap &¬†Olive Branch” – a naming trend I hope ends soon!) but it’s so not me – and it’s not where I made that first batch of soap.

But the idea of a cool bed of hemlock needles on a warm day, filtered sunshine streaming through the boughs, clean trickling¬†streams with shallow pools…to me it’s the epitome of a wonderful feeling.

And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Cheers,

~ Karen

 

Cure-ious

Fun fact about the method of soap I make – it’s called Cold Process soap. It means once I blend the oils, fats, butters, milk and sodium hydroxide, add scent and color, pour into my molds, and insulate with old blankets, there’s no external heat source applied. It sits in the molds for 24-48 hours making it’s chemical transformation to soap. Then I cut the soaps, and put them on the curing racks:

curing soap

Curing Soap

Why does soap have to cure? Well, it completes the saponification process – transforming the oils, fats and butters into the compound we call soap. While you can use soap within a week or two, it’s not quite dried out yet. And the longer you allow the soaps to cure, the harder then are (meaning they’ll last longer), the more mild they are on the skin, and I think it adds to the bubble factor (soaps I have cured for ages upon ages are super lathery!)

Hemlock Springs Soaps cure for anywhere from six to eight weeks. Or more. I am using a bar of soap I made last spring and it’s simply divine! It still smells great, lathers like crazy, and is as hard as a rock. Winning!

Cheers –

Karen

PS – I have had a few inquiries of late for custom bars and batches of soaps for personal use and party favors. There are all sorts of cool things we can do for you if interested! Contact me anytime for a brainstorming session.

So…What About Shea Butter in Soap?

I know lots of folks use goat milk in their soaps these days – it has lots of nutrients and makes soaps perfect for those with sensitive skin. There’s also a creaminess in the lather that is luscious and feels soooooo good.

You know what else adds to that feeling?

raw unrefined shea

Shea Butter. 

Shea Butter comes from the nut of the Karite Tree and is made up of something called “unsaponifiables” – they are molecules of buttery, nourishing goodness that when added to soap are “leftover.”¬†¬†Instead¬†of cleaning like the other oils do, Shea Butter has lots of vitamins A, E and C that protect the skin gently during the cleansing process.

I use unrefined Shea Butter in every bar of Hemlock Springs Soaps Рit retains all of the natural nutrients and vitamins, and adds not only a little hardness to the bar, but a dense creaminess to the fluffy goat milk lather.

So if you are in the market for a gentle yet effective bar of soap, check us out! 

Cheers –

Karen

Want to see where I’ll be in the coming weeks? Click HERE!