Weekend Savings

The holidays are swiftly approaching, with all that entails. Get a jump start on holiday shopping and save some money. Use coupon code FALL18 and receive a very nice 18% discount on your entire bill. Expires Sunday at midnight. Can’t be used on sale, clearance items, wholesale items or baskets. They carry an automatic discount.


Is It Or Isn’t It!

A bit of multitasking this morning. My Labrador Retriever uses a treadmill in the morning for exercise (or he eats the house), so, while he walks I write. By the look on his face I think he would rather switch roles. Not a chance!

There is currently a lot of controversy about Shea Butter. The value of Shea isn’t in question. It is an amazing commodity for our skin. What is in question . . . is it actually Shea Butter? Lots of fraud going on in the Shea Butter industry.

A quick recap on Shea. Shea butter is a natural oil made from compressing and boiling the fruit of the African karite tree, also called “The Tree of Life.” While it can be ingested, it is most commonly used in skin products because of its amazing moisturizing and healing properties. Natural shea butter contains high quantities of vitamins A and E and is known to improve a variety of skin conditions. Enough said on it’s value as that isn’t the cause for concern.

There are many people selling what they call Shea Butter, that isn’t Shea at all, but the nut butter known as African River Butter or African Butter. How can you tell the difference? I did my research. According to the American Shea Butter Institute, there is no yellow Shea Butter. The real deal is ivory in color, in varying shades. No mustard yellow!

Now, to prove you were sold the fake Shea you would need to send a sample off for testing. That’s a problem. The American Shea Butter Institute charges $600 to do the test. I won’t be standing in line. Actually the line is probably devoid of the smaller business people.

There are similarities between the two butters, but the biggest difference is the healing fraction. It is much higher in the Shea Butter as compared to the River Butter. Here is the link to the comparison chart published by the American Shea Butter Institute.

I can see how it happens – the fraud. The African karite tree grows in a specific area. They grow naturally in the grasslands of west and central Africa. They do not need irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides. The tree has adapted to the savannah environment and won’t grow in dense plantations. Plantations fail because the trees do not germinate easily and take 25 years to produce fruit, so they remain a wild product.

For the poor to benefit at all from the tree they would need to live in an area where the tree grows. No family buggy to hop into to travel to their locale. Some women have to walk 10 miles a day to benefit from the harvest of the nut. The women who do the harvesting can carry up to 100 pounds of Shea nuts on their head for the return trip. Desperation causes people to deal with difficult situations.

My guess would be that those who do not have access to the Shea producing trees sell what they have and in many cases that would be River butter Or African River Butter. There is a fine line between ethics and watching your children starve. While these knock off butters do have value, genuine Shea butter wins the contest.

From The American Shea Butter Institute:
What is the Cost for Grade Analysis? “
The cost for Grade Analysis is $600 per sample. The same amount should accompany the sample when submitted to the American Shea Butter Institute for Grade Analysis. Samples received without this fee will not be tested until appropriate arrangements have been made.”

I doubt there are any African women who can afford this testing.

So, look for the ivory color in your Shea butter. The mustard yellow Shea is probably African River Butter. I have a hard time being angry with women trying to feed their kids.

A Day To Remember

Red Poppies
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Moina Michael – 1915

The true birthplace of Memorial Day remains unknown, but its of little importance. It’s a day for us to pay our respects to those brave souls who have died in service to the USA. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). And so it remains to this day.

The “National Moment Of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.” So little to ask for those who gave so much. On Memorial Day honor the true heroes with that moment of silence.

Summer Special

Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer season. A coupon to help you take the sting out of the sun we all enjoy. Take 15% off handmade premium soap to moisturize your skin and repair the damage done sun bathing. Follow with a soothing lotion.

Use coupon code SUMMER15 and receive 15% off your entire purchase. Gift baskets and sale items excluded. Expires June 2, 2016.


Why would anyone want to use soap made with goat milk? Why indeed!

It will keep healthy skin healthy and help return troubled skin back to health. Goat milk works especially well on dry, sensitive skin.

It’s alpha hydroxy acids, known as lactic acid, breaks the bond holding dead skin cells together, flushing them away and leaving fresh, younger looking skin in it’s place. Removing the dead skin cells will also relieve the irritation caused by many skin problems. If your skin itches, you have a problem.

You often see the words alpha hydroxy bantered about in skin discussions, so you might ask what exactly are they. Alpha hydroxy acids are a class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. Scary sounding name!

High in vitamin A, Goat milk can repair damaged skin tissue and maintain healthy skin. There are medical studies that show vitamin A can reduce lines and wrinkles in the skin . . . an added bonus.

When your skin is moisturized it stays healthy. The fat molecules in the goat milk prevent your skin from drying out. You will notice a difference with the first use. We are a culture that loves to sun bathe in teeny tiny bikinis, leaving more skin available to the sun’s damaging rays, so moisturizing is crucial to skin health and balance. Keep the teeny tiny, but protect the skin.

Of the many minerals found in goat milk, selenium is the most important. Scientists believe selenium plays an important role in preventing skin cancer. Selenium can help prevent damage from excessive sun rays. Any one sporting a sun tan has damaged their skin.

If you haven’t used a premium bar of goat milk soap, give it a try. Your skin will thank you. Yes, skin does talk! Just neglect it and you will hear it loud and clear. That dry, tight, itchy skin speaks volumes! Not to mention the wrinkles.


One Million!

I bet you were thinking dollars. That is the number of adults, in the United States, that will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. That fact is provided by the Center For Disease Control And Prevention. Our sun heats this earth, lights our days, grows our food, and causes skin cancer.

It’s a known fact that there is a higher incidence of skin cancer in fair skinned people, those with blue eyes, blondes and red heads. The lowest incidence is individuals with black skin. The more pigmentation in your skin, the lower the risk for skin cancer, however, no one is immune. Heredity also has an impact on your chances of getting skin cancer so, pay attention to your family tree.

Summer and beach season is almost upon us and people everywhere are preparing for the beach season. Can’t waste all that dieting! If bikinis get any smaller they will become superfluous. Exposing more skin to the sun puts us at greater risk.

What To Do

> The hours of 10am to 4 pm are the most dangerous for your skin, so seek shade and cover up. Use a broad – brimmed hat to protect your face. You can look really cool in one. Use UV- blocking sunglasses. There are great looking shades a available.

> Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body before going out, reapply every 2 hours and immediately after swimming. SPF 15 or higher, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB), and water resistant.

> Do not sunburn

> No tanning beds or UV tanning beds

> Keep newborns out of the sun and use sunscreen after 6 months

> Check your skin thoroughly every month and let your doctor have a look every year
(Tips are from The Skin Cancer Organization)

If you have a tan, you have damaged your skin. The damage is accumulative and your skin will begin to take on a wrinkled, lax skin, brown spots and a leathery look over time. Here is a fact that should scare the hell out of you: The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking. In the US alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases. Provided by a JAMA Dermatology study.

So, enjoy the summer season, but have a care.

Take A Moment . . . It’s Important!

There is a movement, instigated by a few senators, that is trying to over regulate the small soap makers . . . the hand made soap industry, to death. What they are trying to put into law is so onerous it would shut us down. And that is what they, and the big soap manufactures want to happen. The following was emailed to me.

High priced Gilchrist & Soames is putting out products that the FDA states has “poisonous or deleterious substances – bacteria harmful to human health. This is not their first infraction so apparently they didn’t learn anything from the first incident.

Looks to me like their concern is in the wrong place! Read the following from CNN.

(CNN)Luxury hotel toiletry maker Gilchrist & Soames Inc. is voluntarily recalling some of its shampoos and shower gels after they were found to have microbial contamination.

The recall came after Gilchrist & Soames was warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 16 that some of its products were contaminated with harmful bacteria. Two shower gels and two shampoos were found to contain what the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act deems “poisonous or deleterious substances” — in this case, bacteria that are potentially harmful to human health.
The products affected are the Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Conditioning Shampoo, Shower Gel, Pelican Hill Shower Gel and Essential Elements Shampoo.
One pathogen found in the bath products is known to be highly resistant to antibacterial agents and can cause life-threatening infections. Other pathogens found in these products can increase users’ risk of infection, which is most dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.
The FDA also inspected Gilchrist & Soames’ Plainfield, Indiana, manufacturing facility and found that the company failed to comply with standard sanitary procedures, which include routine evaluation of raw materials and proper maintenance of machinery.
“Your firm does not perform any microbial testing on any raw materials, nor have you validated your suppliers’ quality testing through independent verification,” the FDA wrote in its notice to Kathie DeVoe, president and CEO of Gilchrist & Soames. Gilchrist & Soames was advised to develop a plan to prevent the recurrence of these violations.
In response to the FDA inspections, Gilchrist & Soames conducted a voluntary recall of these products.
“Based on a thorough review of the facility and processes by an independent subject matter expert in microbiology, G&S has introduced new procedures, including increased testing of product, enhanced sanitation and new associate training,” said a statement from Nehl Horton, senior vice president and chief communications and government relations officer of Sysco, which bought Gilchrist & Soames in 2015.
The company also temporarily closed parts of their Indiana facility for cleaning. “We take seriously the issues raised by the FDA and will continue to work closely with the agency to demonstrate that we have acted quickly and thoroughly to address its concerns,” Horton said.
In 2015, in collaboration with the FDA, Gilchrist & Soames conducted voluntary recalls of more than 2 million products that were similarly contaminated.
In 2007, a toothpaste product that contained a chemical used to thicken antifreeze, potentially leading to liver damage, was also recalled.

I hope you read this far as it is important. Bigger is not always better! There are bars of soap on the market for $40 each. No soap is worth that amount of money. They utilized the same ingredients that I use. You are buying the name who did not make the bar of soap. It was produced by one of the large manufacturers. So, have a care and stay healthy.

Bentonite Clay Warning From FDA

As a Registered Nurse I have an interest in the FDA’s warnings that they issue regarding medication, as well as other products. I just received the following warning on Bentonite Clay, used in some cosmetics. The limited Bentonite I use is not from this company. Just a heads up to those who might use this Bentonite.

The FDA Warning:
MedWatch logoMedWatch – The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program

Best Bentonite Clay by Best Bentonite: FDA Alert – Risk of Lead Poisoning

AUDIENCE: Consumer

ISSUE: FDA is warning consumers not to use “Best Bentonite Clay,” a product of Best Bentonite, located in Guthrie, Oklahoma. FDA has determined that the product contains elevated lead levels and may pose a lead poisoning risk. FDA laboratories have found elevated levels of lead in “Best Bentonite Clay.” Exposure to lead can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and immune system. In children, chronic exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with cognitive impairment, reduced IQ, behavioral difficulties, and other problems.

BACKGROUND: “Best Bentonite Clay” is sold as a fine powder on Amazon.com and on the Best Bentonite website. According to the Best Bentonite website, customers mix the product with water and ingest it or apply it to their skin.

FDA has not confirmed any cases of lead poisoning associated with “Best Bentonite Clay.”

RECOMMENDATION: Consumers should not purchase or use “Best Bentonite Clay.” Anyone who has used this product or given it to a child should consult a health care professional immediately.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Complete and submit the report Online: http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report
Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
Read the MedWatch Safety Alert, including a link to the FDA Alert, at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm492157.htm

You are encouraged to report all serious adverse events and product quality problems to FDA MedWatch at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

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And The Answer Is . . .

I get many interesting questions about the soap making process and I answer them all. Some are genuine interest in the process, as it seems magical to put oil and water in a pot and turn it into some amazing soap. Then there are the questions that attempt to uncover your wrong doing. I, on occasion receive emails inquiring why I left lye out of my ingredient list. Or people want to know if there are phthalates in my soap and why do I not list them with my ingredients as not being present. A list of ingredients is meant to tell you what is in the soap, not what isn’t.

Lye isn’t a soap ingredient! It’s the catalytic agent that triggered the chemical reaction of saponification, which will turn oil and water into soap. Soap formulations are carefully balanced. You need an exact amount of sodium hydroxide, lye, for a very specific quantity of oils. All of the lye will be required to produce the soap we all love. That is why you don’t see it listed as an ingredient. There simply isn’t any in the soap. And yes, you will see it listed with the ingredients by people new to the business, but the FDA has clearly stated it isn’t an ingredient and should not be listed on the soap label. You could write a book, and some have, on label requirements.

The distilled water used to mix the lye still remains in the soap so that will be listed on the label. It evaporates over time, during the curing process. I did a small experiment to see just how much water does evaporate from the soap. I weighed a new bar of soap every day. Over a period of 30 days the soap lost 1/2 ounce in weight. That is often why you will see soap listed as approximately 5 ounces. Over time it can still lose a small amount of weight to evaporation. Time doesn’t allow constant reweighing of large quantities of soap. I do, however, reweigh all bars before leaving the shop to be sure they are the correct weight.

Phthalates are a major cause for concern, and according to recent research, rightly so. One recent question I received was seeking information on whether I had any phthalates in my soap. Now for the bad news! Phthalates are everywhere. From the very floors we walk on (they are used as a hardener) to the very food we eat and drink (packaging).They are widely used in plastic and anything coming in contact with that source can become contaminated with phthalates. Phthalates don’t bind to the original source and will be released into the very air we breathe.

From the FDA: “Historically, the primary phthalates used in cosmetic products have been dibutylphthalate (DBP), used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes (to reduce cracking by making them less brittle); dimethylphthalate (DMP), used in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair); and diethylphthalate (DEP), used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances. According to FDA’s latest survey of cosmetics, conducted in 2010, however, DBP and DMP are now used rarely. DEP is the only phthalate still commonly used in cosmetics.”

Also from the FDA: “At the present time, FDA does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk. If we determine that a health hazard exists, we will advise the industry and the public, and will take action within the scope of our authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers.”

I have found a tremendous amount of research still pending on the subject of phthalates and if they do indeed pose a health risk it would be more likely from manufactured products and not handmade soap. We who create handmade products have a great deal more control over what is in our soap then large manufacturers. They are bound by their equipment, time element (shelf life), and quantity required.

So how do phthalates get into handmade soap? Fragrance would be the culprit. Because it is a huge concern, the fragrance industry now lists their fragrance as “phthalate free”. There is still a small percentage of fragrances that do contain phthalates and I do not purchase or use those fragrances. I personally research each and every ingredient in my soap. The reputable sources of my supplies have certified claims.

The age old adage holds true in this situation, ” Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” I see far too much smoke and, in my opinion, phthalates pose a serious risk to us all. Time will prove that I think, but there is no harm in removing the questionable products now.

Keep the questions coming! Thanks to my IPad I am always lurking about and am happy to provide you with answers to the best of my ability.