the benefits of palmarosa oil

I love?experimenting?with different herbs, plants and essential oils that you don’t see everyday, and I always do lots of research before adding anything new to a product. ?I am asked a lot about palmarosa since it’s not as common as some of the more well known essential oils, like lavender or orange. ?I thought I would share what I know about palmarosa and it’s wonderful, nourishing qualities.

Palmarosa is a grassy herb with a fresh and floral scent, and smells similar to geranium and rose. ?It originates from India, where it has been used in traditional Indian medicine to reduce fevers and fight infectious disease. ?Palmarosa essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the grass plant, and has many beneficial properties that make it a wonderful addition to natural skincare products:

  • It is considered a?rejuvenating?oil and is often used in anti-aging products to help smooth out wrinkles
  • Palmarosa helps balance sebum production of the skin, and is good for all skin types
  • It has anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties, making it great for acne prone skin as well
  • It has a lovely, floral smell (very rosy with a hint of geranium) that blends well with other floral scents (like lavender), as well as citrus and woodsy scents

I love palmarosa for the face, and I use lavender palmarosa soap on my own face every day. ?I have also combined it with lavender, bergamot, evening primrose and sweet almond oil for a nourishing facial serum to use at night.

Please note: just like any essential oil, a little palmarosa oil goes a long way, so make sure to use sparingly and always dilute it in a carrier oil if you’re applying it directly to the skin.

experimenting with natural colors, part 1

Last week I got a big box o’ goodies in the mail from Mountain Rose Herbs, so I decided to do some experimenting with some of them this week. ?I ordered some brightly colored herb powders to try in my cold process soap, and also had a few other things already on hand that I had just not gotten around to trying out yet. ?Well today was the day, so thought I would share my initial results. ?This picture was taken right after mixing in the colors, so the soap is still raw. ?I also decided to test 2 essential oils I haven’t used yet – anise and a root beer type blend. I’ll update in a few days once it’s hardened – can’t wait to see how these progress!

top row (from left): ?beet root powder, ground tumeric, sandalwood red powder, bayberry root powder
middle row: spinach powder, alkanet root powder, calendula pedals, ground anatto seed
bottom row: yucca root powder, anise essential oil, root beer essential oil blend

I made a 1 pound batch of basic soap and split it into 11 different cups that were pre-measured with my herbs. ?I mixed each one in and made sure to label the cups. ?Just after mixing the colors in I was already surprised by a couple of them. ?I ordered the beet root powder because of its super bright pink color (and didn’t bother to do any research to see what others have said about using it in soap), thinking it would make the perfect pink soap. ?We’ll see what it does after it cures, but as of now it’s brown. ?The red sandalwood, on the other hand, is a beautiful shade of burgundy, but the powder is orange. ?I’m expecting them all to change once they’ve set for a while, so we’ll see how they turn out. ?Stay tuned for part 2!

more swirly soap – chocolate and cherry and almond, oh my!

So I think I’m finally getting the hang of this ‘swirl in the pot’ soap swirling thing. ?I even managed to swirl 2 colors this time (this is where you ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’). ?This soap was actually inspired by a crafty friend, Stephanie of Robot Pop. ?She has become one of my ‘testers’ and has given me several great ideas for new?scents. ?This is one that she suggested to me, down to the swirl. ?I’m saving a bar for Stephanie for the great idea on this one – it smells fantastic!

chocolate cherry almond cold process soap, swirled with cocoa powder and rose clay

I’m going to make a bigger batch this week so it will be ready in October…I hope the swirls come out this nice on my big batch!

swirly soap!

I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to get a swirled soap that I think looks good for a while. ?Every time I do a test batch, something seems to go wrong and it doesn’t swirl. ?It either traces too quickly and is too thick to swirl, or doesn’t get quite thick enough and just blends together. ?I even made the mistake of trying to swirl a light color into a dark and the light just disappeared into the soap. ?Oops.

Well here it is folks – my first successful swirl. ?I like it – what do you think?

pine orange scented soap colored with Spirulina

This is a new soap I’m testing out that I may do for the holidays. ?It’s scented with pine and orange, and colored with Spirulina powder. ?When I first cut it, it was this beautiful bright green color. ?After curing for about 3 weeks, it’s faded quite a bit to a brownish green. ?I think the color works for a pine soap, but I’ll have to try something else for a true green.

new soaps in testing

Here are a few new soaps I’m testing out right now.? I’m working on my fall and holiday scents, and have more ideas than I’ll be able to do, so only the best will make the cut.? Let’s start with the soaps I don’t have pics of yet (either because I just haven’t taken them, or I’m not quite happy with how it’s looking so am not going to show you 🙂

Last week I made a spiced cider soap, with apple cider instead of water mixed with the lye, and orange, cinnamon and clove essential oils.? I also added some brown sugar, which gave it a weird texture.? Not sure I’ll keep the brown sugar, but it does smell really good.

Earlier this week I made my second batch of a chai tea soap.? It has black tea as a base instead of water, half and half, honey, and an essential oil blend of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger and black pepper.? Smells pretty good to me.

And here are my 2 favs?so far:? triple mint and Mexican hot cocoa.? I made these on the same day, and the smells mixed together and made the most heavenly mint chocolate smell ever.? I’m already thinking of how to combine them.

Mexican hot cocoa soap
triple mint soap = peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen. Spirulina used for the green bottom.

Next up in the test kitchen:? an orange pine blend and a white chocolate almond soap.? Too many ideas!!

natural colorants experiment

2 weeks ago I attended the Lonestar?Soap and Toiletries Soapmakers Seminar in Austin – it was great!? It was a full day of talking about soap, which I don’t get to do very often with other people who actually LIKE to talk about soap.? Lots of great info shared, including an experiment that I participated in about natural colorants.? Thought I would share my contributions to the experiment here, as well as a link to the entire collection.?

I made 2 batches for the experiment (all that participated made a 1 pound batch with the same recipe and no extra additives besides the selected colorants).? I have had success in the past with lemon and orange juices in my soaps, so decided for this experiment I would try pomegranate and fresh squeezed OJ.?

used fresh squeezed orange juice instead of water mixed with the lye
pomegranate juice (POM brand) mixed with the lye instead of water. This one reacted violently - won't be trying this one again 🙂

David Fisher, writer for About.com’s Soap and Candle section, took all of our soaps with him and made this wonderful gallery of all 34 soaps that were made by different Texas Soapmakers.? I bookmarked this page immediately, and have already started more experimenting!

check out my rack

my SOAP rack, that is. :)? Here’s my latest soapy creations, all on the drying rack right now and ready in the next 3 weeks.

margarita soap topped with sea salt and colored with ground parsley - smells just like the drink
pure patchouli soap with hemp oil - for the patchouli purist who likes it straight up
orange vanilla (dreamsicle) made with fresh orange juice, heavy cream and kaolin clay. Super soft and smells divine...may be my new favorite (but don't tell the other soaps!)

My first YouTube review!

I recently sent some products to?Cathrine (misscathid on youtube)?in Norway who does a YouTube beauty channel about cruelty-free products.? She posted a review this week, and I’m so excited!? It’s a really nice review, and I’m so psyched for it to be on YouTube.? Check it out!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0jKbzpyZs]

giveaway for soap addicts!

Do you get anxious when you have less than 1 bar of handmade soap on hand?? Do you have the uncontrollable urge to sniff every bar of soap you see?? Yup, sounds like you’re a soap addict, and I bet you could use a free bar or two.?

I’m having a giveaway on my Facebook page, so thought I would spread the love to my blog as well.? 2 bars of soap, your choice of scent.? All you have to do is become a fan and leave a comment before 5:00 cst tomorrow.? So go ahead, enter the contest, because everybody likes free stuff and you need a soap fix.

You might be a soap addict if your bathroom looks like this.