Monday, January 28, 2013

Photo Challenge - Fave Smelling Soap

We had another Soap Photo Challenge in our facebook group, Soaper's Retreat over the weekend.  I like to challenge all of you to spread a little beyond your comfort zone and use natural light to take pictures instead of a flash or straight up blinding sunshine which can be very contrasty.

This challenge, I asked all of you to choose your favorite smelling soap and tell us why you named it what you did.  I'm not sure everybody read the entire challenge because a lot of entries didn't have an explanation of their soap's name.  That's okay.  I will be more clear next time. 

Here are the entries that I loved the most this week.

"Patchouli grapefruit.  First of all, the smell I associate with the color. Patchouli for me it's something deep, rich and sexy - dark red, black. Love that rich scent :)"
by Lina Vilniskyte

 "I am horrid at naming soaps and tend to use just the scent but this is one of my favorite scents.... 
It's deep, it's sexy, its sensual, it's slightly sweet, its just plain delish and the two scents are made for each other."
by Sacha Staffanson

Nature's Alchemy "Petals -n-Pods". 
"I named it this hence the organic,fair-trade chamomile infused soap with madagascan vanilla seeds in the top layer. Then the soap is topped with both organic chamomile & vanilla beans. 
I love the warm, grounding essential oil blend of this soap which consists of: Peru balsam,clove,&orange.Yum! The herbs are more in focus than the soap but that's okay, they can have center stage-they are deserving!"
by Kira Johnston

The next challenge shall be posted this week for next week's blog post.  Let us know if you like these challenges!  Leave a comment!!  Tell us what you'd like to see more of. :)

xo Jo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shieh Shieh Shieh

Emily Evily, of Shieh Design Studio, sent me soaps many months ago, before I moved across town...only to have to wait ions for my soap review.  It has been a stretch to keep up with reviews, as the move, life, kids, new puppy and restructuring my entire company has been eating up all my time.

But she deserves this, because her soaps are so fine.  And gorgeous.

Gelato Twist Soap

First of all, Emily is an artist and every bar she produces is a work of art.  I'm not really sure how she does it, because every new soap of hers that I see tops the last one.  How is that possible?  Because she is a true artist.

The soap:  I took that baby in the shower with me, and it performed with lovely lather and silkiness I hadn't expected.  The blended fruity scent was not overpowering but gentle on the nose.  I'm not a big fan of overly scented soaps, so I was very pleased to be in that shower for a good 20 minutes.  The soap left my skin nourished and clean.  Just the combination we all hope for in a bar of soap.  Not tight and dry.

With the bar wet and rubbed out a little, the swirl design popped and I could see the delicate nature of the soap.  Three or four colors, gently co-mingling together and perfectly swooped with such a delicate nature.

You can take a look at some of her recent works of art at her shop, but here are a few of my faves:

Teakwood Cardamon Buttermilk Banana Soap  (YUM) I want this one!!

As you can see, the all look scrumptious and sound heavenly.  Every ingredient, every nook and cranny...all make for a luxurious experience. 

Thank you, Emily!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Etsy Sunshine Sporn!

Oats and Honey Soap by The Soap Lab

Fresh Rosemary and Lemongrass Soap by Empire Soap

 Yellow Marseille Soap by Morning Calm

Turmeric Root Soap by Whole Truth Beauty

Lemon Sugar Soap by Dress Green

Honeysuckle Goat Milk Soap by goatmilkstuff

Natural Orange Citrus Soap by Dr. K Soap Company

A fine selection of bright and cheery yellow soap for today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bar Soap: The Comeback Clean

Danielle Martin, of The Soap Distillery, has generously offered to write a guest post on the popularity of bar soap:

As a fairly new soap maker and user of bar soap, it wasn’t that long ago for me that I was questioning the consistent use of such an, what I thought to be, archaic product. I thought to myself, “bar soap is so drying. Why wouldn’t people just want to use shower gels?” and I’d head over to my local get clean/smell good store and buy some commercial bath and body products. I loved the way the packaging always looked. I loved all the colors they used and the images that the printed on the bottle. “Oooh, this one is all natural because it has added aloe in it!”, I’d screech. I have always had sensitive skin, so, seeing products with aloe in them was always a plus for me. As I got older (and subsequently fatter) I started to pay very close attention to the things that I ate. I was always the one in the grocery stores looking at the ingredients and nutritional value for packaged and can goods, and eventually I stopped eating processed foods all together. Besides, there is a level of consumer knowledge that needs to be exercised so you can make informed decisions on what you are putting inside of you. But, what about the stuff that we are putting on the outside?

One day, I said to myself, “I’m going to start using all natural skin care products. I need to take just as good of care of the outside of me as I do to the inside”, and that’s where my personal journey began. More and more these days I’m seeing the skincare isles at my local health food stores being full of customers looking at the ingredients labels and making informed decisions about what they are buying. But, if you’ve never used an amazing handmade, gentle, and many times all natural product, you may be wondering why we’re all putting so much weight on the subject. You may be thinking about those soap bars that your grandmother or great grandmother used to make, and how they used to be so strong that they’d take the hair off your knuckles. Well, let me tell you something: bar soap is making a comeback.

Bar soaps these days offer so much more than the soap of old did for us. Many companies have been making soaps since the dawn of time, and in reality, their soap really hasn’t gone anywhere.  However, we can see that so many other companies have begun the large scale manufacturing of soap bars and people are buying them up like fast food French fries. Many people are attributing the popularity of these new soap bars to the fact that most of them are only comprised of a small percentage of actual soap, and the rest of the bar is made with synthetic detergents which offer a lower Ph that is gentler on our skin. Is that the case? I’m wondering how many people would still buy those soap bars if they realized that they were made with the same ingredients that make up powdered dish this why bar soap is the new black? I think not.

This could be why bar soap is making a comeback…is it chocolate, or soap? I wanna eat it.
Photo credit: Blossom and Twig Artisan Soaps and Aromatics  

Soap is no longer just your average white molded bar of soap. It’s beautiful, it’s loaded with amazing oils, and perhaps the best part…it’s REAL. 100% soap. It’s being made with luxurious vegetable oils, calming essential oils, high quality fragrance oils, natural pigments, natural exfoliates, etc. They use flower buds/petals, charcoal powder, coffee, etc as exfoliates instead of artificial materials. They are being superfatted with oils that are loaded with vitamins and provide skin softening benefits that artificial ingredients can’t touch.  And one of the most amazing things that most commercially manufactured soap is NOT offering is the aesthetic beauty that you can only get from a soap that is handmade by a talented soap artisan that treats every bar of soap like it’s the first and the last.

Yeah, it’s a cake. A SOAP cake.
You can’t tell me you’ve never wanted to shower with a slice of cake.
Photo credit: Mianra Artisan Soaps 

Soap makers are putting time and effort into not just making a bar of soap that will clean and moisturize you, but they are also putting lots of time into every little detail to make your soap a work of art. The design, colors, and photography is all designed to peak your visual interest first, and once they draw you in and you actually use this artistically crafted bar of soap, you can’t go back.

This bar of soap takes getting you clean seriously. It doesn’t mess around.
Photo credit: Cirmes Tonsorial Parlour

In all, yes, soap is making a comeback. But let’s give credit where credit is due. The education that customers are getting about what they are actually using on their bodies fuels the desire to use the best products that they can get, and this demand for the best product possible has allowed us soap makers to do what we do best: make a beautiful bar of soap that not only looks good, but will properly clean you and drape your skin with the best ingredients we can get our hands on.

Thank you Danielle, for your inspirational post!