Soaping

February 2019 Soap Challenge and SZN News

IMG_0814Hello everyone and thank you for joining us on our blog page.

Life has been kind of crazy for us at Skin Zen over the last year with changes to our focus market.  Things moved very fast as we changed our internal processes to gear up for the new business goals and challenges we faced.  Our increase in production is a direct result of our new Marketing Manager and Director who joined us in 2018, and we are pleased to welcome Shanelle and Dan Mayerhofer on our team. Shanelle and Dan have already implemented great ideas within the company and boosted our business and clientele tremendously since joining our team.  Looking forward to greater things to come for 2019!

It has been several months since I have had the time to make a new soap, so I decided to use the February 2019 Soap Challenge by Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks and dedicate my weekend to creating a new custom soap for a wholesale order (one of five new wholesale orders!)  I am so grateful that Amy was able to bring the challenges back for the inspiration these events provide to soapers which push us to grow and experiment while making our products.

This month the challenge is Glycerin Rivers design and is inspired by soapmaker Clara Lindberg from Auntie Clara’s Handcrafted Cosmetics and her blog posts on glycerin rivers.  I have created glycerin rivers on previous challenges (here and here) but they were not intentional.  When I created the first soap with glycerin rivers I liked the effect they gave my soap, and I thought they complemented the design perfectly (January 2016 Soap Challenge blog for the Circling Taiwan Swirl.

Glycerin rivers are not actually glycerin but are non-pigmented (clear) “rivers” or a crackle-like sections running through your bar. These “rivers” run along side or surround the pigmented sections in your soap. Rivers (or Glivers as Clara likes to call them) must meet specific criteria when found in your soaps:  (a) colored with pigment such as Titanium Dioxide, rather than with mica or lake colorants; and (b) when heat was added to the soap for a gel phase.  Rivers can also be caused when you have a high sugar content in your soap, or some fragrance oils can cause overheating and rivers.  Glycerin rivers cure at a different rate than the “smooth” portions of your bar, causing an uneven or ridged look between the pigmented and non-pigmented sections. I believe the addition of rivers in some bars adds to the overall design which is what we are trying to accomplish with this challenge.

My first attempt to create rivers in my soap is the only soap I made that actually had rivers in the bars. I used my standard moisturizing soap recipe with 38% water.  The colors used were Pink Vibrance Mica, Green Neon Fluorescent Pigment, Neon Orange Fluorescent Pigment (mixed in water), and Titanium Dioxide  mixed with water all from Nurture Soap.

 

The design was made using a hanger swirl.  I placed the wooden loaf on a heating pad and covered the loaf with several towels. Unfortunately the heating pad I pulled out had a default two-hour timer and auto shut off so I had to keep a timer on to turn the heating pad back on every two hours for six hours which was very frustrating. The loaf was left covered over night without the heat once I went to bed.

Unfortunately I ran out of time to make a better “river” soap but I do love how this one turned out with the clear rivers in the white and between the colors adding additional depth to the soap.

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September 2018 Soap Challenge

IMG_2770Hello to all viewers!

I was so excited to hear Amy Warden, the owner of Great Cakes Soapworks, decided to revive the Soap Challenge Club!!! Thank you Amy for giving us this wonderful opportunity to practice and play soap with our peers and to… “Learn. Make. Share. Repeat.”

This month our challenge design was a mini drop swirl technique.  This technique gives your soap an amazing look of small teardrop shapes suspended within the body of the soap for a beautiful floating bubble effect.  For my first attempt at mastering this technique I used my standard soaping formula that is fairly slow to trace and scented  with lavender essential oil.   Lavender essential oil doesn’t seem to accelerate my soap base much so it was easy to experiment with for new designs.  I wanted to experiment with Halloween colors as well so this soap was made with mica from Nurture Soap in neon green, neon yellow and neon orange, glow in the dark pigment, in the titanium dioxide, and activated charcoal. I set the essential oil in Kaolin clay from Arizona Soap Supply to help hold the fragrance in the soap longer.  Unfortunately this batch didn’t make the cut for the challenge club entry as I over blended the batter and it didn’t get very good drops in the design as well as the heavy glycerin rivers throughout the loaf… so, more practice!  Sorry that a couple of the photos are blurry, I got oil on the camera lens but I do love the little face that was  in the finished bars, what do you think?

My second batch was made with the same oil recipe and a custom citrus essential oil blend.  I again used Nurture Soap’s neon colors but the orange wasn’t what I was looking for (it turned pink!) so this will be another soap for the house.   The “drops” are perfect in this batch though, but unfortunately this loaf was full of glycerin rivers.  I believe I have the technique down now,  and I hope number three will be perfect!

My third batch is a new essential oil blend I designed for the holidays with Sweet orange Chocolate and peppermint YUM!  I don’t know why I decided to try an untested scent on this batch but it worked out fine.  The colors are from Nurture Soap ( identified as “ns” below) and Crafter’s Choice purchased from Essential Depot (identified as “cc” below).  The colors used in this batch are: 24 K Gold mica (cc) and Yellow Gold (cc) combined, the red is Crimson Sparkle mica (cc).  The green is Alpine Green (ns), and I didn’t have a silver so I created some using titanium dioxide, Ivory Lace (cc), Super Sparkles (cc),  Platinum Grey (ns),  and activated charcoal.  I decided to pipe the top of this and used a mica drizzle of red, gold and green but the red didn’t stay blended very well.  I still love the look of this and the fragrance is soooo yummy!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the creation of this soap (which is why I show the pictures from the above batches) but I do have pictures below of the loaf ready to cut and final pictures.  I really love this technique and will be using it again in the future.  I can’t wait to see all of the creative ideas everyone used with this challenge!

 

Coming from a Soaping Newbie

Hi there everybody!

My name is Felecia Mayerhofer for all of those who do not know me. I am Danielle’s granddaughter. Now for those of you who are not aware of what Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is, this is the easiest way I have figured out to explain it. Take a sweet smelling vanilla body spray for example, this to the average person smells good, some would even say delicious. To my grandma this triggers what almost seems like an asthma attack/ cough. With tears welling up in her eyes and her face turning red, I have watched my grandma struggle to breathe because of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. So all the fresh and sweet smelling fragrances of our favorite body sprays and detergents is what a huge, overfilled dumpster smells like to a person with MCS. Sounds horrible doesn’t it?

I do not suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity(MCS) like my grandmother does, but for awhile the illness  made it really hard to go visit her. I was in my teens when the disease came on. To me, it felt like it came out of nowhere. One day me and my three siblings were staying the night, watching movies and spending time with her and before we knew it she could not be in the same room as us because of how potent our laundry detergent and deodorant were to her.

I remember when her and I used to go shopping together at Ross and Michael’s before MCS took over. We could spend 3 or more hours at just one store together. We would just be talking, laughing, and searching through every aisle. We would search high and low even if we weren’t in dire need of anything specific, then we would do the same thing at the next store. She also used to take me to one of my all time favorite stores… Sally’s Beauty Supply! I will admit that I have a problem. I have an addiction with coloring my hair, collecting makeup products as well as skin care products. I cannot tell you how much money my grandma has spent on me in that store before the MCS kicked into full throttle.

There will always be apart of me that wishes we could go to Ross together one last time…

but I have seen countless times what MCS does to her when she is in a place filled with a wide range of scents.

My grandma is a brilliant, strong, and independent woman. Even when her condition was at its worst she did not stop trying to find some sort of solution to cure/manage her MCS. After realizing that there is no true cure for this disease, she did not let that stop her. Instead she used all the information she had learned about the disease and decided that if she cannot tolerate chemically made fragrances she would make her own household and body care products. The onset of this condition is what jump started the Skin Zen company.

I have been there for my grandma and this journey with Skin Zen from the very beginning. I was mostly behind the scenes. I did a lot of running errands such as searching through the Dollar Tree for useful utensils for soap making. She taught me how to be a cameraman for her soap challenge videos, how to keep an invoice record, and much more! It was only a few months ago that I decided to jump all in and become a part of the Skin Zen family. My parents, Dan and Shanelle, were devastated when my grandma broke the news to them about shutting down the business. They decided to partner up with my grandma to reopen Skin Zen because they have fallen in love with all of her products. Over the years my grandma has been experimenting and learning how to improve her recipes to create the luxurious products we now have today. My parents and I are proud to be apart of the Skin Zen family.

Just last month in May was the first time I had ever assisted with the making of a bar of soap. My grandmother let me take the wheel on creating Inner Peace and I would just like to say that making this soap has changed my life! I know that may sound a bit dramatic but I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Being able to be apart of something bigger than myself and finally experiencing what it is like to handcraft something from literally nothing has truly changed me. I did not realize how much time, effort, labor, thought, and patience goes into something like this. Making soap is definitely a form of art and boy my grandma sure is talented! I would have not been able to finish making Inner Peace if she were not there to encourage and guide me the whole way. So even though I said it a million times in the blog piece, “The Creation of Inner Peace” thanks again for letting me make this soap with you grammie!

Now for those of you who consider yourselves experienced soap makers or even newbies like me, I have a question for you. What did you think and feel during the process of making your very first soap? Please share! I am very curious and would love to start communicating with our readers.

P.S.

Follow/like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Snapchat @skinzennatural

Don’t forget to check out our website www.skinzennatural.com

 

Yours truly,

Felecia Mayerhofer

Marketing and Production Support

The Creation of Inner Peace

The Creation of

Inner Peace

Hey guys!

It’s Felecia here, I hope you all enjoy reading my piece about my soap making experience! Here it goes…

It is easy to take things for granted. For example, something as simple as a bar of soap. Have you ever really pondered the thought of how long it takes to make just a single bar of soap? There is a lot more to it than just mixing a few ingredients and letting it harden.

This is the story of how our new soap, Inner Peace, was created! I hope you enjoy reading my first bar of soap making story.

It all started with a simple picture of a peacock swirl pattern in a bar of soap that my grandmother, Danielle, sent to my parents and me. The picture she sent us is provided below with permission from Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks who was the host for the Great Cakes Soap Challenge, my Grandmother participated in several of the challenges.

Now I know that some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just some swirls in a bar of soap.” To be completely honest I thought the same thing at first.

With my face glued to my chromebook screen, I remember answering my grandmother’s questions about a new soap she wants to make quite robotically. Yes and no a few times, a sure every now and then.When she asked if I wanted to design a new fragrance for this soap, it broke my transe with the screen! That’s when my mind changed about this soap challenge.

Deciding on a Fragrance

The very first step in making soap is deciding on what you want it to smell like! For Inner Peace my grandma let me make that decision. I immediately felt nervous once she asked me if we should use essential oils or fragrance oils. I did not want to pick something that only I would find appealing, I wanted this soap to smell good enough for anybody to use.

Once my grandma started naming off some essential oils, and I heard her say “what about ylang ylang?” I made my decision to use essential oils instead of fragrance oils. Ylang ylang has always been one of my favorite scents so we used that as our base note. For our middle note we used Ginger and our top notes are a mix of Tangerine and Vanilla.

Once your oils are mixed the longer you wait to use the blend, the better. My grandma told me that when creating your own custom blend of fragrance, it does not put off it’s true scent until it has sat for at least 24 hours. When I was able to come back to my grandma’s house to start the next step of the soap, it had been 5-7 days.

Every time I catch a whiff of Inner Peace, a smile immediately pops onto my face! The sweet aroma brings me to my happy place… Walking into my great grandma’s house on Christmas day to the smell of fresh bread dough being made and eggs on the stove…. While the floral oil used brings me happiness and excitement, the rich, sweet oil makes me sigh into a relaxed state of mind.

With the overwhelming feelings of joy and comfort, it was easy for me to come up with the name, Inner Peace, for this soap.

The Ingredients

Once we had our fragrance, we were able to start picking colors for our soap. I decided I wanted the soap to look similar to an actual peacock feather. I wanted to create something natural but unique at the same time. With that in mind the mica powders I choose were purple, teal/ turquoise, yellow, black, and white. Something I did not know is that all colors for mica powder, expect for white, must be mixed with oil instead of water. White is the only color that is to be mixed with water.

With all the colors mixed, it is then time to start measuring all the other ingredients to create the soap batter. My grandmother let me do this part and let me tell you, it is not as easy as it sounds! For each butter and oil needed you must put your bucket/bowl on your scale and zero it out between each ingredient to get the accurate weight for each. For example, when you have measured your shea butter and are ready to measure your mango butter, you must tare/zero your scale before adding the mango butter. You want to get as close as you possibly can to the required measurements for each ingredient to ensure creating the ideal batch of soap.

It was way more difficult than I had originally imagined it would be. I did not realize how much time and hard work it takes to make just one loaf of soap. The slightest mistake like adding too much of an oil or over mixing the batter, can cause issues throughout the rest of the soap making process.

Technique

This, to me, was the hardest part of making Inner Peace by far! Once we had all 5 of our colors mixed in our bottles we were ready to begin putting the bar together. We added our fragrance to our black base and poured that into our soap mold once we had the mold assembled.

My grandmother poured the base and immediately started squeezing purple soap batter in a zigzag pattern across the black. I joined in and we continued this pattern until all of our colors were gone from each bottle.

I have drawn the picture located to the left to demonstrate the zig zag pattern I am talking about. When doing this you want to make sure that the soap batter in each color touches the edge each time you bring the bottle to the left or right.

To achieve the peacock swirl pattern a wide tooth comb is needed to create columns in the soap batter. We made our comb piece out of cardboard and skewers.

Unfortunately our batter started to thicken while we were layering our colors so when we took our wide tooth comb piece I made, it was difficult to pull through but that didn’t stop us from finishing what we started.

Once we made lines through the zig zag pattern of our colors my grandmother took another stick and started from the top left corner making an “S” in between the lines the comb piece created. She let me do the last few columns, I was nervous but fun once I got the hang of it!

Results

While waiting for our soap to cure, my grandmother started putting together a label we would want to use as apart of the packaging for Inner Peace. This is was one of my favorite parts in creating my first bar of soap. I wanted a label that would compliment the fragrance of the product. With the fragrance being light, fresh, and floral like I knew for sure that we needed to have pastel colors and a flower somewhere on the packaging. My grandmother was able to capture my vizion and put it down on paper! I think this label is the perfect match for Inner Peace.

After 1-2 days we can clean up each bar of soap. This can be done by hand with a knife or potato peeler, that’s the way I prefer to do it. You can also do it with a set of shavers or edgers. The ones my grandmother has are made out of plexiglas.

Once your bars of soap are cut, cleaned, and cured, they are ready for packaging! This is the final product for Inner Peace created by my grandmother and myself. I am proud to be adding Inner Peace to the product line that we as Skin Zen have to offer.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! That is how I made my first bar of soap. I could not have done it without my grandma. She was so patient and kind as she guided me through every single step. This was an incredible opportunity and I am so happy that I did not let it pass me by. I not only got to learn something new, I was able to do it while spending quality time with my grandma. Because of this soap, Inner peace, I have a memory I can and will cherish forever.

P.S.

Follow/like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Snapchat @skinzennatural

Don’t forget to check out our website www.skinzennatural.com

Yours truly,

Felecia Mayerhofer

Marketing and Production Support

Soap Challenge – Circling Taiwan Swirl

Hello everyone;

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  And glad we are all here once again for Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge!  I am excited for the phased or split judging in this challenge as it can be a little intimidating to go up agents some of these entries sometimes as they are so beautiful. I kept entering because I loved the learning aspect and felt it was well worth the challenge… But NOW…. As a newbie, I just might have a chance to win😄  Thanks so much to the wonderful prize donations from Bath Alchemy Labs, and Custom Soap Stamps.  I can’t wait to sign up for some classes at Bath Alchemy, and I love my stamp that Alex made me a few months ago, and use the plainer and  beveler  I bought from Custom Coap Stamps exclusively now (thanks Alex), it is superior to my previous equipment.

This challenge was exactly that for me…a challenge.

I was sick when I decided to make my first batch of challenge soap and needless to say, it was quite a disaster.  My black wasn’t black enough, my soap thickened up on me too much, I spilled my batter all over my counter and floor, ugh it was a nightmare!  I did have enough to make a loaf and I popped it in the oven (CPOP) cleaned up my mess and went to bed.

(It turned out pretty in a Frued kinda way lol! if you like looking at ink blots that is)

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So, two nights later, I attempted my second batch for the challenge.  This one I decided to make pink, gold and white but my colors didn’t come out well so… Back to the drawing board I go again!  The pink was the middle color, gold is the bottom.

Failedsoap02

 

My last batch, and the one I am using as my entry, is made using mica colors from Nurture Soap.  I used Neon Pink, Vibrant Purple, Maya Gold Mica, and Velvet Pearl with Titanium Dioxide.

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I wanted to use the gold to highlight the purple as an accent to give it a little bit extra but it isn’t very noticeable, so I think next time I will need to do a little more (maybe half) for it to really pop. I will also experiment on placing the gold in different locations to see what that does.

Gold Mica line enlarged

It was really interesting to see how different both ends turned out on my loaf of soap!

loaf

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I can’t wait to see all the beautiful entries this month, good luck everyone!

 

Impression Mat December 2015 Soap Challenge

The challenge this month from Amy Warden and  Great Cakes Soap Works was using Impression Mats with our soap.  We could either buy a mat or make our own, and the coupon from this month’s sponsor really helped so thanks to Bramble Berry too, for being the sponsor for this challenge.

I decided I needed to buy my mats and hit the internet for anything interesting.  Several of the mats and items I bought will not arrive until after Christmas, but that’s ok, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the mats in this challenge and will again add this technique to my growing skills.  I subscribe to Antie Clara’s blog and love reading about her techniques. Her blog on impression mats was very informative and can be found here.

found some  as it was very similar to painting in my opinion.

applying purple
I started out using the Q-tips as Amy did in her video but that didn’t work very well for me. I switched to a small makeup brush the to a small paint brush to apply the mica to the matt and found that was the perfect way to work.  The smaller the bristles the better.  The picture  above shows a small makeup brush and the below image shows one of the small paint brushes.
rubbing tape to pull off excess mica on top
I found that tape worked really well to pull excess mica off the top of the mat and saved me a LOT of clean up.  I used the edge of the paint brush to rub the top of the mat to clean the top.  If I used my finger or a ball of tape, I would pull off mica where I didn’t want, if I fell into a wide spot such as a grape or big leaf.
2nd pealing tape off after rubbing - better
You can see the imprint of the excess mica that would have been on the top of the soap if I had not cleaned it well using the tape.
matt in mold with oils ready to make soap
Here is the mat in my mold, and I am ready to make my soap batter.
Pealing off mat 2
I used  the following micas from Nurture Soap in this batch so I will not be selling this soap: Paradise Purple, Vibrant Purple, Titanium Dioxide, Hunter Green Vibrance Green, Alpine Green, and a custom blend of these greens.  I tried to create shading on the leaves, grapes and vines.  there was a little bleed-through on the purple drop swirl, but i think it came out ok over-all.  The first loaf I made wasn’t as defined in the shading but this second loaf came out better.   In the above picture the mat pealed off really clean during the unmolding.
loaf 2 and frog molds
Here are the two frog molds I painted with mica drying with my challeng soap! My Daughter will love these!
deep angle view
Close up of the shading detail on the leaves and grapes.
cut bars uncleaned
cut bars waiting to be cleaned.
cut bar closeup
Close up
final 2
I used a CPOP process on this soap and will be giving these away to family soon.
Final Photo
Lavender and Vines

 

I scented my soap with a custom blend of essential oils  that has a light “Lavender and Fresh Air” fragrance.  Slightly citrus, floral, and refreshing.  I don’t use micas in my soaps and the swirl in the main portion wasn’t enough color and I lost the color in the first batch but this second bach is great!

This was a really fun challenge, I can’t wait for next month. Thanks Amy!