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

 

 

Craft-oholics Unite?

So, who else grew up doing crafts? Who remembers ironing shaved crayolas between wax paper to create stained glass windows? Using papier mache strips all over balloons to make colorful bowls? Modeling clay into little milk and sugar dispensers? Painting rocks and creating your own special pet rocks?

I LOVED all of that…I learned how to sew when I was young, and even took up knitting at an early age. I can remember learning how to gather seams and embroider smocked nighties. I get kinda goofy and have tried so many crafts, but other than knitting, I haven’t really been able to learn much new since I started soaping full time in 2013. So…I am signing up for a weaving class! I hope to start next week and consider it time to self.

I toyed with bee keeping classes, and might still try my hand somewhere down the line. ¬†But weaving? I’ve always wanted to do that!

So what fun crafts do you love? What would YOU love to learn to do?

Cheers –

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

Calendula (C. officinalas)

800px-Illustration_Calendula_officinalis0

 

Calendula oil is still used medicinally. The oil of C. officinalis is used as an anti-inflammatory, an antitumor agent, and a remedy for healing wounds.[8]

Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have antiviral, antigenotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro.[9] In herbalism, Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically for treating acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue.[10][11] Limited evidence indicates Calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis.[12][13] Topical application of C. officinalis ointment has helped to prevent dermatitis, pain, and missed radiation treatments in randomized trials.[11]

Calendula has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation.[14]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula

Such a workhorse of a little flower! Who else has tried growing Calendula in their gardens? (Please note…it’s not just a regular little marigold, it’s a different plant altogether!)

I use Calendula in two ways – I grind it up and add it to my Gardener’s Soap for the color and calming qualities. I also infuse it in avocado oil to make my Calendula Salve – great for cracked fingers, burns, and small cuts. Also good on baby’s bottoms! ¬†It also makes for a great Gardener’s salve after working in the garden all day. Made with local beeswax and a kiss of essential oils to round out all the goodness!

Cheers – and stay clean!

~ 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

 

New Things…

It has been a weird winter with the warm temps, lack of snow, etc. Maybe that’s why the water heater decided to give up the ghost out of nowhere last week (that was fun). ¬†And then we had a 36-hour cold snap that bust not one, not Two, but THREE pipes. Three days without water in the house was crazy and I am ever so happy to have water again! Laundry and dishes are done!

Have been formulating some new(ish) products again in preparation for the big Made in NH Expo coming up at the end of April. It’s a huge show and one I kind of look at as a way to debut new scents and products. (If you have never been, it’s really amazing to learn about all the types of businesses in New Hampshire – it’ll be my fourth year there!)

So, what’s new?

Well, it’s more like tweaks to existing products. I now offer my Beard Oil in three scents – Bare Naked (unscented), Sandalwood and Bay Rum. All feature a lovely blend of oils that do a marvelous job of softening whiskers, and providing moisture to the skin. (Heck, I sometimes use it to add a bit of moisture to my damp hair – but a little goes a long way on fine hair like mine). They’re just $10 and I’m really pleased with the amazing feedback I’ve received.

beard oil

Another goodie I’ve been testing and am pleased with is a reformulation of my No-Funk Deodorant. Instead of a cream, I’m trying a spray with Magnesium, Aloe, and a blend of fume-fighting essential oils. Stay tuned for more details on that one!

Until then, stay clean!

~ Karen

Handmade Soaps and Skincare
Hemlock Springs Soaps

 

So I Mentioned Custom Soaps Last Time

In my last blog post I mentioned doing custom batches of soap and party favors. I’ve done all sorts of fun projects over the years – very chic bars wrapped in coordinating paper packages, sweet little baskets for guests, combinations of soap and lotions, lip balms, and I even make soap cakes – rustic round soaps that can be cut into slices for tea parties or the like:

orange spice cake

If you would like to brainstorm about different options for a corporate party, wedding or bridal shower, baby shower, etc., please know I welcome your call or email anytime. I find these little projects to be a lot of fun!

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.