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

 

 

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

Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville…

Deep dark secret – I don’t like Margaritas. Bleh. But I’m off today to the New England Chapter of Parrot Heads convention with my appropriately themed soaps.¬†It’s a three-day Jimmy Buffet party in southeastern Massachusetts. I guarantee you I will come home with LOTS of stories. Which reminds me – I need to clear the pics off my camera so there’s plenty of room for evidence. I mean more pictures. ¬†ūüėČ

Have been making soap for a few weeks now – prepping for the start of fairs in a few weeks. Made some beautiful soaps, if I say so myself. Really pleased with some new techniques I’ve been studying on YouTube and the like. I see some amazing soaps and wonder how on earth they can spend so much time crafting such a gorgeous soap – then realize they’re making about 6 bars at a time – my molds hold 80 bars each! Some of the techniques just won’t translate to the larger molds, but I’m still having fun. I guess this gal can still learn a thing or two.

See you on the other side of Margaritaville. Or Pina Coladaburg. Whichever works for you.

Stay Clean!

~Karen

Handmade Soaps and Skincare
Hemlock Springs Soaps

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

 

Happy Wednesday…

Handmade Soaps and Skincare

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It’s a fine Wednesday in New Hampshire to officially start (for the umpteenth time) a blog specifically for Hemlock Springs Soaps. Might as well start at the beginning, right?

My first batch of soap was made in 1999. Scratch that. A lot earlier – I made soap from rendered tallow at Girl Scout camp a *long* time ago. Not sure we ever used that soap, and it stunk something terrible. But I kind of remembered it and wanted to make gifts for Christmas one year. Ordered a book from Amazon (back when Amazon only sold books) and spent days riding around looking for ingredients. That first batch was rough…took me all day to make roughly 3lbs of soap and I was a nervous ninny. But I was hooked on the process. My co-workers at the time were gracious enough to indulge my every day blathering on about soapmaking and my passion was born.

Over the next decade or so, I did 8-10 craft fairs per year.¬†In 2013 I had the opportunity to try this soap thing as my full time job. And on April 1 2016 I’ll be celebrating THREE YEARS at this full time. And it feels so good! I’m feeling like I’m ready to hire a couple of folks to help out more than I did last year. I’ve got a good feeling about the wonderful woman who has taken on the wholesale sales portion of the business. I’m excited to learn about blogging and maybe spend a little more time on the business part of the business than I have been.

I’ve got an MBA in Marketing in Management, a certificate in Project Management and my undergrad in Accounting. Not to mention¬†a life-long love of skincare products and stuff that smells fantastic!

So what can you expect from my official blog? Well right now I hope to share articles and information about ingredients, maybe a few recipes you can try at home, and who knows!