Friday, December 1, 2017

Glitter In Bath Bombs - FDA Regulations

Bath bombs are considered a cosmetic and there are rules and regulations imposed by the FDA for coloring bath bombs.  This has been a challenging time for people who make soap who have recently added bath bombs to their catalog.  Soaps are a rinse off product, whereas bath bombs are used in bathwater and are in contact with mucous membranes (genitals) for extended periods of time.

Glitter has been mostly ignored in the community as a color additive.  Suppliers who offer these glitters often have untrue statements or misinformation on their website about their approved applications.

Many cosmetic glitters contain aluminum. If you don't know if your does, look at the ingredient list on the label or on the website of your supplier.  If it contains aluminum, you may not use these safely in bath bombs (or bath products made for the tub).

The Director of Color Certification at the FDA confirmed that if a color additive contains aluminum or aluminum powder, it is approved for the following for cosmetics
  • Eyes:  YES
  • Generally (includes lipstick) NO
  • External: YES  This means it should not come in contact with mucous membranes for extended periods of time. 
From the CFR:
 73.2645   Aluminum powder. (a) Identity and specifications. The color additive aluminum powder shall conform in identity and specifications to the requirements of §73.1645 (a)(1) and (b). (b) Uses and restrictions. Aluminum powder may be safely used in coloring externally applied cosmetics, including cosmetics intended for use in the area of the eye, in amounts consistent with good manufacturing practice.

So in layman's terms, ALUMINUM is:
  1. Not permitted on lips
  2. Not permitted in bath bombs, bath salts, bath bubble bars, etc.
It is hard to keep track of all the rules.  We understand.  We try hard to keep up on all of the color additive rules and regulations,keep you informed so you can comply with the FDA regulations.  The FDA list all color additives that are approved for cosmetics and their safety applications.  If you are having trouble deciphering what all of it means, feel free to email me at info(at)madoils(dot)com or contact the FDA.

To read more on FDA Regulations, see my other FDA blog post here:

Keep your peeps safe and your reputation intact.

Please feel free to try our Sparkle Plenty at Mad Micas for a sparkle that is absolutely permitted by the FDA and deemed safe. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Frosty Blue Sea Salt Soap Recipe

The trick to making salt soap is to use a multi-cavity silicone mold to pour your soap into because it will harden to what feels like a block of concrete and will be useless if not cut at the perfect temperature and timing is tricky and hot soap burns... ow...  There was a time when I'd make a sea salt soap in a loaf pan and I'd put it in the oven and when it was "done" cooking, I'd have to remove it from the mold and cut it with a large butcher knife.  This entailed holding the loaf to secure it while cutting with the other finger.  I think I burned my fingerprints right off my fingertips!  So now, I don't cook my salt soap, nor do I cut them!  Now, I just use a multi-cavity silicone mold and pour.  Wait 12 hours and unmold - - POP!  Out they come.  They don't fall apart, or burn my fingers and they are all pretty much uniform!
I have always loved sea salt bars.  They have a creamy lather and the soap seems to last forever! Because salt inherently diminishes lather, we used 100% coconut oil to get the biggest bang for the lather.  Yes, a very cleansing bar of soap, but that is why we superfatted it at 20%.  That counteracts the drying feeling that too much coconut oil can cause.  If there is too much coconut oil in your batch of soap, you'll get lots of bubbles, but your skin will feel overly cleansed, or dry.  This bar has the best of both worlds.... with some extra superfatting.

If you do not know how to make cold process soap, please do not attempt this until you have a full understanding of how the process works.  A beginning tutorial can be found here or here for basic cold process soapmaking.
This is the recipe I used but you can adjust how much you make by putting in the number of ounces or lbs of oil you will use in
I made this soap once the lye water and oils were both warm, but not at room temperature (about 100 degrees F).  
In the melted warm (not hot) oils, add all the mica and blend with a silicone spatula until fully incorporated.  Add the lye water and blend until emulsified until you reach a light trace.  Add the sea salt and blend until fully blended and so that the salt is suspended and not resting at the bottom of your bowl.  Add the fragrance last and blend well with your stick blender until fully incorporated.
Pour into silicone molds.  Let sit overnight or for at least 12 hours.  Pop out and let cure for 4-6 weeks.  They turned out great and of course, I washed with a bit of a broken off piece and the lather is better than just creamy, there are lots of bubbles and the scent is intoxicating!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Halloween Inspiration Soap Porn

Sometimes as an artist it is hard to be inspired when work and life consumes.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and these inspire me completely!  I found some Halloween soaps that make me swoon and want to smell candy corn, eat sticky apples and run through (fake) cobwebs!

Here are a bunch of beautiful soaps I found on Etsy this morning.  Some are creepy, funny and all in the spirit of the Day Of The Dead:






Which one is YOUR favorite?  What spooky soaps are you making?



Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Blue Handmade Soap

I've been missing browsing for hours looking for beautiful soaps to admire.  Today marks a week of rain and clouds, not to mention the oppressive humidity here in south Florida, so the browsing has upped my spirits.

Thank you to all the incredible soap/bath & body making artists that brought me solace.  Here are a few that stood out for me especially.  ;)

The Charming Frogloofah soap

The Pig and the Peacockisland breeze

The Lathered Lamb, azure blue soap

Nature Nurture Soap, blue geode soap

Elixirium, greek sea salt soap

Auntie Clara, ballsy

Soap 54, lavender soap

F and L Company, deep blue sea salts

Go check out some of these artists and support handmade!  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

FDA Regulations Regarding Color Additives In Cosmetics

I have been corresponding with the Director of Color Certification & Technology Division at the FDA regarding exactly what is legal to use in Bath Bombs specifically. We (at Mad Micas) carry Batch Certified Lakes and we carry neon pigments. There seems to be some confusion regarding whether the use of neons in bath bombs is within the FDA regulations. 

These are my findings:

Bath bombs, bath salts and nail polish are regulated as cosmetics so they should only contain FDA approved color additives.  You must check the uses and restrictions for each approved color additive.  Refer to the list of approved color additives. If you don’t see the color on this list it is not permitted in the U.S.:

If the color additive is only allowed for external use, then it is not allowed in lip products or bath salts/bombs.  Please see the definition of external use in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Part 70.3(v):

§70.3   Definitions.……(v) The terms externally applied drugs and externally applied cosmetics mean drugs or cosmetics applied only to external parts of the body and not to the lips or any body surface covered by mucous membrane.

Regarding neon pigments or other pigment blends:

If the dye or lake, such as Yellow 5, Red 28, Red 40, etc. is not from a certified lot, then the pigment blend is not permitted in FDA regulated products.  It may be okay in Europe or Asia, but in the U.S. it is not allowed.

In layman's terms, if you use an approved color additive in your bath bomb, it must be batch certified.  Period.  Neons are not permitted at all unless the blend uses FDA batch certified dyes or lakes.

Micas, on the other hand, are not regulated by the FDA even if they are cosmetic grade and can be used in any bath products unless they contain ultramarines or chromium green oxide.  Cosmetic micas can be used in cosmetics depending on their ingredients (depending on if they are lip and eye safe, etc.)

I hope this has cleared up some fuzzy areas when making bath bombs or nail polish for sale and staying within the FDA regulations regarding these products.  

Please see an updated (and more bath bomb specific) blog post here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

For The Newbie Soap Maker: Safety Precautions and Warnings

There is a lot of misinformation out here in the soap world and it has become clear to me that many people will take the advice in a DIY video and just make soap without looking into getting some safety information.  There are a lot of things that are dangerous about cold process soapmaking if certain safety precautions aren't taken.

Making a basic soap is actually easy to do and anyone can do it as long as basic steps are taken and a general knowledge of chemicals being used are clearly understood.  This is not a tutorial on what soap is or what superfatting is or the chemical science behind it all, although all of these things are important to learn before you make soap, but I am simply focusing on safety and ease of this process.

I have listed a link to a cold process tutorial with photos along with some resources and MUST READS at the bottom of this post so you can read some excellent descriptions and words of wisdom from excellent master soapers I believe are trustworthy and will provide you with free, solid information.

Let's look at some simple truths that one must understand before diving into making cold process (CP) soap:

1.  Lye is caustic.  If you use it, know that it can be dangerous if you aren't careful, but it won't bite you and shouldn't scare you off as long as you follow the rules.  Here are basic rules:

  • Wear latex, rubber or nitrile gloves while handling lye, whether it's dry or in your water/lye mixture.  Lye will sting and burn if it touches you. Yes, it hurts.
  • Wear safety goggles over your eyes, even if you already wear glasses.  Eyes are beautiful and they help us navigate this life of ours.  Kind of a big deal, so protect those eyeballs always.  No need to take any chances of blinding yourself.  So wear them.  No excuses!
2.  Use an online soap calculator.  I use SOAP CALC, but there are others and I think all of them are free.  Here is a link:

If you are just starting out you will need to first figure out how much soap you are making and what mold or container you will be putting it in.  Now this is all personal preference.  You can skip purchasing expensive molds at first while you make a number of practice soaps in everyday containers that are pliable, such as Gladware disposable "tupperware".  These can be used several times before they become useless, so choose any size.  They are easy to clean, easy to unmold your soap and are inexpensive and easily accessible.  Also, while you are buying plastic food containers, grab a heavy weight plastic pitcher to make your lye/water mixture or use one from home, that you label "LYE-POISON!" on and never use it for food or drinks again.

You will be using lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, which, in the Soap Calculator is NaOH (the chemical name for lye).

In section #1, choose NaOH.  Then you need to determine your batch size in oils.  I would start with 1 lb of oils.  Making a smaller sized batch than that is more difficult to do without the experience of using your stick blender and you may end up with too many bubbles or splashing.... Remember, this post is designed for the absolute beginner.  Before you get the hang of your tools and how they work on different speeds, the rotation of your stick and air bubbling in melted oils, etc, it is probably easier to stick with this sized batch at first.  

Once you decide on your batch size, enter it in #2 of the calc.

Section #3 will determine the concentration of your lye to oil.  Choose the "Water: Lye Concentration":  Enter 2:1.  This means that you will use twice as much water as lye which is a good place to start.  If your lye in water concentration is more concentrated, your soap may go to trace faster than you may want and right now, you probably just want to make soap without panicking.  

Section #4 is named: Superfat.  Because this may be your first soap, and the batch will be on the small side, I would start at the default 5% or 6%.  I prefer my soaps to be around 8-9% superfat which is more moisturizing than 5%, but the soap may be a bit softer and harder to unmold after 12-24 hours. Trust me when I tell you, that when your soap is cooled off completely, you will want to pop it out of that Gladware and cut it to see the magic you just created way before it gets to the cooling point.  It is very satisfying to have created an actual soap from a dangerous powder, some water and some oils. It is massively addictive once you see what that chemical reaction creates, and that YOU made it.

Now you get to choose your oils.  Again, this is your first soap and will most likely NOT be your last, so don't concern yourself too much about the properties of your oils for a magnificent bar.  You will have plenty of time to learn about the different qualities each oil brings to the table of soap, but this is your test batch. You can use lard, sunflower oil, canola oil, Crisco, olive oil and/or coconut oil or any variation of any of these if you want ...all of these can be purchased at your grocery store.  Enter which oils you will be using and at what percentages.  For instance, Coconut oil: 30%, Olive oil: 40%, Sunflower oil: 30%

"Calculate" your recipe and click on View and Print Recipe which will open up a new tab for you to print out and follow exact measurements for your soap.  It is crucial that you follow the exact measurements that the calculator provides.  I always follow the gram measurements so that my soap is exactly what the recipe calls for so that if I am not happy with my end result, I can tweak my recipe based on the end result.

Thing to always remember:

1.  When mixing your lye and water:  Never add the water to the lye.  Always add the lye to the water.  Please wear a surgical mask or avoid the "steam" that is caused when the two mix together.  Do not breath the steam into your lungs.  It hurts and it isn't good for you.

2.  When letting the lye/water mixture cool to room temperature, always put it out of reach of children or pets and make sure the container is properly labeled as poison in case you leave the room and someone else touches it.  Avoid any mishaps that can end up with permanent damage.

Again, soapmaking is fun, addictive and creates a functional art, but can be dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions.  Don't be scared.  Wear goggles (even if you wear glasses!), gloves and clothes while doing every step and read the following articles and you should have a safe and fun experience.  Who know?!  Your second batch of soap could change your life!  It only took two batches for me and I was hooked.  It seems to be a common feeling among soap makers: that it is an addictive, empowering process.

So read up and have fun!

Once you've made your soap and decide that it is for YOU, then swing by Facebook and join our group called Soaper's Retreat and get involved in the community of other soapers:


1.   Cold Process Soap Tutorial with photographs:

2.    Amanda Gail Aaron's Lovin Soap website is an invaluable resource you will want to use when learning about soapmaking.  A basic cold process soapmaking guide is here:  Read it.  Also, she has an article that lists oils and their properties in soap:

3.    Kenna Cote's Modern Soapmaking article is an explanation of what makes a good, balanced soap bar:

4.    Information on superfatting, read David Fisher's Candle and Soap on explanation here in detail:  

Have fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reinventing Myself

There isn't a way to reinvent myself without blips, wrinkles or road bumps.  Of course it will take time and energy and a lot of hard work to unravel put myself together mindfully...thoughtfully.  There isn't an easy 5 step program that can tell me what to do to be successful or happy. Time and a lot of insightful self discovery can mean one thing;  that growth is inevitable if I keep my eyes open.

I've learned a lot over the past 9 years writing this blog. I know I haven't been present here much for a few years.  Life. That's really it.  Life happened and my need to write and connect dissipated, and my need for it came in ebbs and flows.

A little about my life;  I grew up in Brooklyn, New York to a family that was broken before I was even born.  My youngest memories are filled with magic among the fog of tension that existed at home.  Oh I felt the bad deeply, but I found my own kind of magic, whether it stemmed from coping with misery or if I was just a creative little girl, stuck in a sad cycle.  I had amazing friendships as a young girl in Brooklyn.  Wonderful memories fill my head with thoughts of friends (some lost, some gone forever) and our intimate times together.  Every summer, I visited my grandparents in the mountains of North Carolina.  That's where most of my childhood magic happened.  I had freedom to explore the creeks, forests, pastures and gravel windy roads, play in wonderment and create my own fantasies and realities.  The trips to the local library in my grandmother's convertible Camaro, top down, wind through our hair was one of my fondest memories.  And the smell of the library and the sound of the crinkly plastic covers on all the books brought me great  comfort.

My mind often runs off to Black Mountain and the wholesome, plentiful times I experienced every August.  And so.  And so, I sit here, 40 years later, wishing to tap into some of the good and magical moments spattered through my life, and especially in the mountains, so that I can gain some inspiration.  If I am to reinvent my person, which I am already knee deep into, which direction do I go?

I immediately think that I must tap into my creativity because great knowledge has emerged from doing my art.  I have dabbled in printmaking, ceramics, photography and making soap.  I don't make soap anymore since starting my new company. I just don't have the time to get back in the groove.

Okay, that has to be bull.  I AM a very busy woman.  I run a company.... wear 500 hats at least, and my home life is busy, but I realize that if something is important to me, I have to make time for it.  It's true for everyone.  I can browse Facebook, Instagram, YouTube....for fun, inspiration and to fill my void... but the reality is that if I took a portion of that time looking at what OTHERS do, and I used it to invest in MY work/art/moving on.....then I will FEEL good.  At least better.  "Good" may take time to sit right there on my shoulder, but it feels like the right step.  The first step.

Here goes.

The first thing I have to do is get my eyes checked.  Hit 45 years old and stopped being able to focus on anything.  Got glasses and now, a year later, I can't see the details of anything anymore.  Not only is that frustrating when taking photographs, but downright impossible to feel good doing it if I can't see clearly.  That is my Step One!

Step Two:  Write in this blog more.

Step Three:  Crack open my stone walls and TRUST there is still wonderment and innocence inside and set it FREE.

Step Four:  Evaluate

Step Five:  Unknown at this time...

Let me say something about something:

  1. I have never claimed to be a writer.
  2. I am Grammatical Error Queen.  I own that title, so try not to evaluate my errors.  You will become tired and bored.  I type what I think and I rarely look back or edit.  I write from the hip.  Is that a term?  I do that.
  3. I do not assume anyone sees the value in what I say.  This isn't to say I don't care.  I do.  But this blog starts here.  With me.  So you will have to decide whether to take me or leave me.  In my journey to be the best me I can be, I really understand I will never please everyone all the time.  It helps to focus more on goals when I realized that notion.  Common sense makes the thought available, but it is much harder to implement.  Easy to see.    Not to do.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Soap Dough Art Through The Eyes of Bee Iyata... she took my hand and led me

Bee Iyata of Sorcery Soap has touched me yet again with her eerie insight.  I first noticed Bee’s work over a year ago… images of her colorful and expressive enchanting creatures.
Perhaps it was my deep love for my childhood book, The Velveteen Rabbit and the magical and emotional presence I felt when reading it.  Bee Iyata unknowingly touched my inner child and sparked wonder and excitement every time I saw her images.
Bee’s Soap Dough book “The Enchanted Book of Peculiar Ideas and Soap Potions” contains recipes and tool suggestions so you can create 3D images to adhere or insert into your soap. That is probably why you are reading it.  But let me tell you that those things, the tools of her trade, are only a tiny aspect of the enchanted book’s contents.  Bee writes in depth about inner presence, the state of mind and guides the reader to find their Muse.  Pure wisdom exudes from the very pages to gently bring us to the very place as an artist before we set out on the path of trying to hand mold soap.
She clearly is one of the most thoughtful, patient and insightful artists of our time.  I would recommend this book to any artist of any medium…a book that can offer structure and gentle guidance to help free our minds and encourage walking with the Fairies and magic that our inner art can possess.
Your creativity may be frozen in a state of sheer fear.  Bee can help you break that barrier and set it free.  Let her hold your hand through the Magical Forest.

You can order her EBOOK by hitting the BUY NOW button below. 

Buy Now

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pull Up Your Chair ToThe Black Bomb Bar

I think I have a little fascination with black bath bombs.  Why would one want to bathe in black or dark water of any kind.... then I started thinking that activated charcoal water with other skin loving ingredients could feel GREAT!  And why not?  Who's taking notes or giving one hoot about having to clean lightly after a bath.  I, for one, would love to try them.  I think the photo below of someone actually IN a bath after the bomb fizzed away is alluring and I now want a hot bath filled with black water.  Bring it on!

I chose a few "makers" and their bombs from Etsy and ... well .... you could call it BLACK BOMB PORN.

Black Bath Bombs?!?!  BBB: Bodacious Black Beauties.
Tick Tick Bloom.  A creative duo making the biggest bath bombs I have ever seen.  Their photographs are on point and the size of the bombs are beyond my fantastically wildest dreams.
Best friends and biz partners... band together for a colorful bomb business.  They grabbed MY attention and you should check them out!  They sell on Etsy and there BIG BOMB is $20.00, but I bet it's worth it.  Too steep for my current budget, but they are on my list of things to buy!  :)


Others I saw also made me want to sell my soul in order to get a hold of them..... Such as these.... yum...

Universe Bath Bomb by Kiyi Kiyi is another eye catcher!

CrystalMaeCreations has a bath bomb offered has a regal, dark, goth appeal to it.

SouthernBelleSoap has a bunch with different sparkly glitters to go with all there black bomb offerings!


I love the photography in the next one, a bunch!!  Love the rustic wood table with the naked hand holding the bomb.   Nice product shot!!  This one is Black Gothic by ParadiseSkinClub:

Now I will grab one of these, although hard to choose.... I will have a black bath soon, I tell ya!

xoxo Joanna

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Cuppa Jo Challenge Winners

The Cuppa Jo Soap Challenge had three beautiful entries and three beautiful winners! The Challenge was described in the previous post, but here is an excerpt:

Since I've moved into my new place, I often wake up before sunset, take my fresh coffee and walk, in my pajamas and slippers, to the Intercoastal Waterway/Lake Worth Lagoon, which is only one block from my new place.  I love the salty breeze that wafts into my face and through my short hair..... while I listen to the small waves slapping against the concrete ledge I sit on.   Within minutes, the black sky turns twilight blue and from the horizon, emerges orange and pink colors.

It has been a new experience living near the water and enjoying the sunrises I get to witness when I sit out there and ponder life's curves, dips and surprises.
This one may be hard because I'd really like you to tap into your creative mind and try not to be too literal in your interpretations  (if you CAN).

I want all of you to design and interpret in your own way, my morning cup of coffee at the Lagoon.

If I were to participate in this challenge, I'd start of with a layer of soap mixed with sea clay or mud with superfine coffee grounds (this would represent the concrete ledge I sit on). I'd then make an orange to pink ombre technique.  But that's just me.

"Okay, here is my interpretation of Jo drinking her coffee in her new place. (a little background first - this has ocean critters, but smells of grapefruit, coconut and tropical goodness)...

As Joanna walks out onto the terrace of her new place with cup in hand, and looks out to the sand, ocean and sea, and smells the crispness of the citrus, coconut that is Florida (ha, don't know just guessing here that that's what FL smells like) she sees all the critters of the sea. Dolphins, sea turtles, sea horses, and tropical fish rising to the top of the ocean to greet her for the sunrise, while just under the crashing waves there is turmoil in the sea, but the sandy bottom is calm. Mixed in with the creatures, there are a few shells because they have to get stirred up and taken to the beach somehow, right? 

And as she is most every morning at sunrise -- she is at peace...

And as she is most every morning at sunrise -- she is at peace...


"At the Intercoastal Cafe and Reflection Center we strive to cleanse our minds and enjoy each sip life has to offer. We manifest our intention to allow our souls to bubble forth with all the promise of a new day!

Goat milk salt bar with coffee grounds, scented with a blend of espresso and sea spray. Mad Oils micas: Tahitian Teal, Neon Orange, Neon Pink 

(note to self: double check which salt you pull off the shelf... Dead Sea Salt results in a gloopy mess and a need to start over...)"


"The smell brings you in, coffee, mocha, espresso, the grit, the bluster of the wind, the wake me up caffeine of it all in one bar, a coffee flavored world. Here is my soap Cafe Mocha, made with cocoa, brewed coffee, and coffee grounds" 


Thanks, you three, for participating!  Because there is a lack of entries for the last couple of Soap Challenges, there is really no way I can continue doing them right now, while I am so busy at Mad Oils. So....I would love some participation regarding photo tutorials made for this blog or a blog post on ingredients or processes....etc. Hit me up jo@madoils(dot)com.