Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Ginger's View on Natural Sunscreen

We get asked if we carry Sunscreen all the time.... and my answer to this one usually starts with a deep breath as its a bit of a lengthy explanation about the why not and government agencies. Sadly, it is also usually correcting misinformation from other soap/body care makers who simply don't know the rules or care to follow the government regulations. I'll try a quick explanation why we don't and why its probably not the best idea to purchase sunscreen, sunblock or anything with an "SPF" from an independent skin care business.

Can Wylde Rose make Sunscreen? Absolutely.
Will I make a Sunscreen, Sunblock or make claims with an SPF number or even just use the word SPF? NEVER!

Let me explain why. To sell it in Canada, Sunscreen requires testing. Testing done by professional labs with a very hefty price tag. It also becomes a product that falls under the Food & Drug Act. This is a safety thing and its a good thing!

See some folks like to throw around words like SPF as if they can actually measure the Sun Protection Factor. Outside of a profession laboratory that has thousands of dollars in equipment, there is no way to actually test the Sun Protection Factor. They have no way of knowing without testing.

To be able to make and sell sunscreen a producer must:
  • Have the product tested in a recognized facility that is approved by Health Canada
  • Apply for a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN)
  • Be registered with both Health Canada and the Food & Drug Act.

Some ingredients do have a natural SPF to them, however it is very small and again without lab testing you don't know the actual number of SPF. Adding some titanium dioxide, essential oils or zinc oxide doesn't make it a proper sunscreen. Following the rules does.

How do you know if someone is following the rules? Ask them for their Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN). If they don't have one then I wouldn't be buying it. If they don't know what you are talking about then I definitely wouldn't be buying it.

This is something I don't even make for myself or my family's use. I simply care about their skin enough to not allow them to be caught without proper sun protection. Skin cancer is no joke and has one of the largest occurrence rates. And like everything else - you can find recipes for it online - but I seriously, seriously DO NOT recommend making your own for the same reasons - you have absolutely no way of testing its actual SPF.

I was going to post some images of skin cancer here but I won't - you can google that on your own if you would like. They are a little too graphic for my tastes. Its just not worth the risk.

As a paler than pale redhead the sun is not my friend, at all. If this was a product I could make I would in a heartbeat. Alas - the regulations are in place for a reason. I only wish all soapmakers / skin care makers followed the same rules

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Laundry: The Real Never Ending Story

I am cautious with what my family puts ONTO their bodies. We also try really hard to pay attention to what we put INTO our bodies. So that leaves what we wash our clothes in. We don’t live in a nudist resort and frankly that would just be a tad chilly in these Canadian winters. As such, we spend much of our time in our clothing and linens. I want to make sure we aren’t dosing ourselves with chemicals from that avenue too.

This has been a massive transition for me personally. I was totally the woman buying all the wonderful scented products that lined the shelves of the stores. I kind of have this addiction to wonderfully smelling things. Society loves it – so much so the industry has generally a full, if not at least half, an aisle in every grocery store devoted to laundry products; all with promises of leaving your clothes smelling robustly for weeks. I asked myself what makes it smell so strong after weeks. *Sigh* Chemicals, that’s what it is, chemicals.

Laundry cleaning products sold in stores (99.9%) are DETERGENTS.

We strive for something better. Our laundry soaps are natural and will leaves your clothes clean and not coated with toxic chemicals. I want to be confident that my child playing sports is not going to have chemicals leech onto their skin and into their body while perspiring. I want to be confident that the cloth I use to wipe their tear streaked faces with, or clean cuts with, is not exposed to a chemical cocktail when its supposed to be clean.

Reality is that detergents are far more inexpensive to make and can allow for a much higher profit margin than natural ingredients. Commercial laundry detergent that you purchase in Walmart or your grocery stores is still full of fillers whether its powder or liquid. And it’s still full of chemicals.

Those chemicals coat your clothes with an invisible layer to keep the smells strong and noticeable. If I pay attention to what I put on my body, and what I put into it, how can I ignore what is on my clothes and linens? When you sweat you are absorbing even more of those chemicals from your clothing.

Laundry products have changed a lot over the years but more and more people are going back to basics and finding the basics are best for them.  Wylde Rose is proud to offer multiple options for our customers. 

I started making the powdered laundry soap that I sell now about 4 years ago, fell in love and started selling it over two years ago now. I love it and so do customers!!  You can put it in the drum or the dispenser – every machine is different. With a HE machine – ONE TABLESPOON is all you need!

Laundry Butter
A few of our laundry butter samples for testing :)
With the amount of liquids on the market now, some folks are a tad bit nervous to try a powder so we have been testing a laundry butter we have been making for about a year now. We love it! Take ONE TABLESPOON and smear it on the inside of the drum, add clothes and wash as you normally would. The results are awesome!!!

I don’t find there to be a difference between the powder and the butter, so it’s essentially personal preference. We are still working out the details on sizing of jars that we will be offering.

While supplies last, we are handing out/sending a free sample of laundry butter with all purchases online, in-studio or at the Cambridge Farmer's Market. All we ask in return is that you take 2 minutes and fill out a survey (on paper or online) with your results. 

We are also super excited to be introducing stain sticks, re-usable dryer sheets and dryer balls.

Stain Sticks
These will be sold individually and are just like any other soap you would use for pre-treating stains. Wet the items and scrub on the stick. Work the fabric with your hands, or a nice soft nail brush can be helpful, depending on your fabric. Wash.
I have to say I impressed even myself with this gem! As an avid tea drinker I, of course, slopped tea down the front of a brand NEW white shirt… cotton… before I had a chance to even attempt to pre-treat it, the Mr. did a load of laundry and then proceeded to put that same white shirt thru the dryer. Lost cause? I thought so – after all the heat from the dryer would have set that stain in even worse. I figured all I was wasting was time but to my shock the stain came out. My white t-shirt is stained no more.

Dryer Sheets
Completely reusable! And chemical free!! Set includes 8 dryer sheets, fluid to keep you going for many months and will be scented with a variety of our awesome scents. No more chemicals! Refills will be available and we will even show you how to make your own liquid.

Dryer Balls
I do love using a clothesline, I really do, however it is not always possible in our household to hang clothes. Wool Dryer Balls are incredible! Dryer balls will be sold in sets of 3 and are made from 100% Canadian wool.  Wool dryer balls when placed inside your dryer will absorb some of the moisture in the clothes maintaining the humidity level in your dryer and keep the clothing and air flow circulating cutting your dryer time down by half. Wrinkles are also cut down drastically and the wool helps prevent static issues.  

We are working out a few details but we will also be offering Essential oils in small bottles so that you can make your own liquid for the reusable dryer sheets and you can also use these on the dryer balls. 

We get questions from folks - Here’s some answers:

Powder doesn’t all dissolve. Doesn’t matter what powder I use it never dissolves.
We wash in primarily cold water and the laundry soap was designed to dissolve fully in all water temps. If it’s not fully dissolving – you could be overloading your machine. I know I want my mountains of laundry gone as fast as possible too, however, too full won’t allow the water to distribute properly and allow the agitation to fully occur that is needed no matter what laundry soap you are using.

Are they safe for cloth diapers? (and woman cloth)
ABSOLUTELY! In fact cloth diapers prefer them as they don’t leave the film on the cloth. The film can build up over time and actually make things not so absorbent any more. Using soaps vs icky detergents is best for cloth. While our diapering days are over, those who use cloth diapers love our laundry soaps, as they will also mean no chemicals to wear out the fibres of your diapers.

Is this from one of those recipes you see online? Like Pinterest?
No my recipes are not from Pinterest. While they or something like them may be online somewhere as the web is vast, these are recipes I have spent time tweaking and getting the way I like it. And some of those recipes on online are really kind of scary. Remember anyone can add anything to the internet – it doesn’t make it true.

I don’t see bubbles – I should just add some more right?
No… You won’t see bubbles. Bubbles are caused from another nasty chemical because society is weaned on the belief that bubbles clean. They do not. And HE machines work best when not having to deal with bubbles anyway, so it’s a benefit all around!

  • All natural ingredients that actually CLEAN your clothes instead of disguising them with chemical odors or covering them with chemicals that are then worn on your body. Your clothing will be lightly scented (if at all) as we use high quality phthalate free fragrance and essential oils.
  • 1-2 tbsps is all you need!
  • 100% vegan
  • FREE of phosphates, EDTA, phthalates, parabens, SLS, SLES, nitrates, sulphites and chlorine, making it a safe choice for our environment, your home (septic safe) and your body.
Not only will Wylde Rose Laundry soap get your clothes clean, in an all-natural way, it will also not have a harmful, clogging, effect upon your washer!

Monday, 23 March 2015

So You Wanna Make Soap...

I try to not do ranty types of posts very often but lately due to YouTube and Pinterest, everyone is suddenly an expert on everything and it’s time to chime in. While this is about soapmaking – it is probably something that is relevant in many other businesses too.

I have been making soap and such products for 20 years this Spring and selling them for 19. Two decades of experience & knowledge and I will never claim to be an expert. I hope I never do because to me, learning is one of the best parts of life.

I am about to impart some things I’ve learned for the rookies. This may come across as one of the bitchiest posts I’ve done. That is not the intent at all. The intent is to inform. 

Soapmaking may not be rocket science, but it sure as hell is Chemistry and if you don’t pay attention or have the proper knowledge then you can hurt yourself or even worse someone else. 

First off, Glycerin soap is a misnomer – ALL soap that is made from scratch contains glycerin. It is naturally produced from the chemical reactions when the oils and butters are undergoing saponification (turning into soap). Unfortunately most of the time people call Melt & Pour soap “Glycerin” soap. While it does contain glycerin, melt & pour soap does also contain other chemicals. Melt & Pour is exactly what the name suggests. You melt it, add some scent and colour then pour it into molds. I’ve worked with Melt & Pour (M&P) and it can make some gorgeous soaps, however it is not natural. While there are some great bases out there, depending on where one buys the M&P base it can be downright terrible for skin.

Cold Process soap is made from butters and oils when they are combined with sodium hydroxide (Lye) and no, you cannot make soap from scratch without it. Just like making a muffin when you combine your ingredients like milk, eggs and flour they become the muffin and are no longer the single ingredients. Soap is the same. It goes into the mold as mixed oils/butters/lye and comes out 24 hours later as soap having undergone saponification.

An experienced soapmaker can formulate their recipes to utilize the ingredients carefully selected for their various properties that they add to the chemistry of their bars. They are the architect creating the hardness, the lather, the everything, that makes each bar fantastic.

The ingredients Wylde Rose uses in our products are 100% vegan and high quality. The 20+ years of experience comes into play with the quality here. I’ve “done my time” shopping from various suppliers and know who is good and what products are good. One supplier may have a fantastic cocoa butter but their shea butter isn’t so great so I get that from another supplier.  That information can only come from experience - and the 20 binders of notes I have - one binder for every year. Plus other binders of information such as recipes, ideas, cost calculations etc.

I participate in a lot of soap swaps as I love trying other soaps. You can have 20 bars made from different people with different recipes and have 20 very different products. Some fantastic, some meh, and some that are just kind of scary. Jumping into the “tub” to make a quick buck versus being truly passionate about products, ingredients and processes shows in the final product.

With the advent of YouTube and Pinterest, there are recipes everywhere on the internet. Does that mean they are all awesome? NO! Come on now – admit it – you have tried something from Pinterest and it was an epic fail. I will not speak of the chocolate avocado brownies I attempted once. Ok – I will speak of it but only once – they were horrible, just terrible. I followed the recipe and it was a flop. Can you imagine if I were a baker I who just started selling their products without testing them? You wouldn’t want that if it were food so why would you do that with skin care or body care products?

There are so many things to consider when making soap and other products for sale. A standard recommendation amongst most “seasoned” soapmakers is that people should be making them for a year or so BEFORE selling them for a few other reasons.

Many people savour pieces of handmade soap and use it very slowly. Sometimes it sits in linen closets or lingerie drawers.

Do you know what your products are like a year down the road?

Do you know what the shelf life of your ingredients and what will the shelf life of the final product be?
From experience, some of those soaps I have received in soap swaps have gone rancid. Eww. If you are selling soap from your first few batches how on earth do you know how your product is going to be in 6 months? New soapers use recipes they find online – but they have no way of knowing what that recipe isn’t lye-heavy or what it will be like after 3 months or 6 months without testing it and recording it for months and years. And as scary as that is I’d be more scared of a bar from a new soaper who has formulated their own recipe and not seen what it was like after 3 months or 6 months….

Do you know how that product will smell after 6 months?
Many essential oils and some fragrance oils morph as time goes on. They all age differently. For example – an essential oil may smell one way in the bottle, another in raw soap, another in freshly cut, another in freshly cured and ANOTHER 6 months down the road. FIVE different ways from ONE essential oil. Again, How do you know how they are going to be 6 months down the road if you haven’t been making them that long?
What smelt fantastic when it was made may be a bit of a little stinker now...
Do you have business insurance?
Does your house insurance policy (renters or owners) cover soapmaking? Even as a hobby it could make your insurance policy null and void. Best to check with your broker or insurance company.

Health Canada
Are you compliant? Have you registered? Have they approved what you plan to sell? Is your labeling compliant? Did you use INCI Nomenclature?

Some folks reading this may remember when I switched my main recipe and dropped palm oil from my products due to ethical concerns I had, that I spent a year… a full year testing new potential recipes. 20+ recipes later I narrowed the field and then had over 100 test volunteers trying the new recipes. Overall it was a 16 month process. I respected my customers to make the best bar possible for them. Quality can’t be rushed.

Are you a medical doctor? I’m not. Then you aren’t allowed to make claims about your products. Health Canada has very specific wordings that can and can’t be used.

Claims about essential oils and healing in soap… Did you know that very few essential oils have actual healing benefits after undergoing the temperatures that soapmaking reaches. Some do, most don’t. Making claims about the essential oils doing this and that from soap is kind of like selling snake oil. Also claims that are worded incorrectly could be turning your product into a drug and thus it must be registered with another government agency.

*This is not to comment on proper aromatherapy practices under a certified aromatherapist with the correct usages of essential oils – I am a believer in essential oils used under proper conditions 100%. The above comment is only referring to essential oils in the final product of soap. Healing oils can certainly be used in salves, butters and lotions. However making claims of the oils in the products is getting into tricky territory and I hope you’ve read up on it.

That all said everyone does start somewhere. Just learn to perfect your medium/craft/product first.

I was a newbie once too. I was given much of this advice by one of my mentors. I’m glad I paid attention and cared enough to take the time to learn about what I was doing for myself, my family, friends and customers. Learning isn’t something that comes from reading one or five books, or watching couple of videos. A lot of it comes from experience.  Experience also means not spewing information that you don't know about. It's OK to be new but don't be cocky. I’ve seen a lot of soap businesses come and go. Usually the ones who come in fires a'blazin burn out fast.

My biggest issue with it is the bad PR that soapmaking gets from the fly-by-nighters. If you are serious about it then take it seriously. Soapers who do not pay attention or care to learn about the craft properly are a reflection on all soapers. Who would want to be judged by another’s businesses untested products?

Again with my soap swapping experiences, over the years I have probably used more than 200 bars from other soapers. I have used bars that I fell in love with, I have used bars that are nice, good bars and there were some bars that I couldn’t continue to use.  All soaps are definitely not created equal. I’ve spent years honing my craft and finding my niche in the market.

If you are thinking soapmaking is a get rich quick kind of thing – you are mistaken. Soapmakers are now like jewelery makers and photographers and I have had many conversations with folks in both industries – and I love them dearly. I understand their pain as now it seems everybody and their sister are either soapers, jewelers or photographers.  Oversaturation makes it worse for all. Did you know that on this day of posting this blog, on Etsy, soap has over 5200 listings for soap in Canada.  I pulled up a page and of the first page of 48 listings there were about 40 different companies – that’s just the first page.

You have a long learning curve ahead of you and it’s only the beginning. You need to learn and create your own recipes. You have to test those recipes. And for goodness sake be original. Don’t copy upon someone’s dreams and creativity. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Reaching the Climax :)

EEK! So its been almost a year since my last post... so much for promising to post more last year.... I'm going to try really hard this year to make more of the blog and post more ramblings!

Reaching the Climax

So anyone who has met me pretty much gets it that I have a passion for what I do. That the chemistry behind soapmaking excites me and gets my creative motor running.  That experimenting with new ingredients is thrilling. That seeing a colourful dress, or flower bouquet, or even colours of candles sitting beside each other can set off sparks in my head of colour combinations to make with soap. I find inspiration everywhere! Truly…  everywhere…  My brain is wired much like other artists, except, I see colours in soap instead of on a canvas. 


Measuring out the oils – ok so this part is probably my least favourite – however it is super important  to pay attention to the recipes – if I screw it up its good money and good ingredients wasted. Never mind, creating a potential safety issue. Soapmaking is a chemical reaction between the oils/butters and the lye. (Yes I use lye. One simply cannot have natural soap without it).  If ingredients aren’t measured properly then it will be a flop or even be dangerous. There are many, many variables and many different results one can have but accurate measuring is the start to something beautiful. 
I use high quality ingredients and while I stated that measuring is my least fave part – I do find an enjoyment in smelling the rich and creamy cocoa butter which is really intoxicating with its natural chocolately scent. And then there is the shea butter which isn’t the greatest scent (in my personal opinion) but it sure is lovely to work with.  Finding joy in the mundane…

Mixing of the goodness – well this could be a book length story but it won’t be. At least not today. 

I carefully plan out each batch – I even sketch out new designs or colour combos – heaven forbid if someone touches MY pencil crayons.  A couple times a year I sit down with whatever family members are present and willing and we will use scent sticks to come up with new blends.  Some of my best selling essential oil blends have been created by my kids. 

Sure I could make a 25lb block of soap that is plain or single coloured or even a two colour swirl to then cut it into individual bars. And sure I could crank out 200 or so lbs of soap a day like that. But seriously – where is the fun in that?? And honestly I love to say AND I am proud to say I make my soap in small batches. 

Don’t get me wrong – I do make plain looking bars that are devoid of design – my Unscented and my Bastille soap lines are basic looking bars and I love them very much, however, I also love the designs and the swirls and lines and colours. OMG I love colours!!! Colours can come from soooo many sources - clays, herbs, spices, oxides, roots, and micas.  I would rather make less soap each day is it means I can have more time being creative with its looks. I also love in the shower how the look of a bar changes with each use. Secret swirls become visible or morph into a new look as the bar is used. 

One of the worst parts of soapmaking is the wait! Once the soap is poured into the awesome custom wooden molds Mr Wylde Rose made me, it has to “go to bed”. In a nutshell it’s wrapped up in blankets and sits for 24 hours begging to be peeked at and explored but I have to wait. 

The Moment

After the 24 hrs, this is the climax. No seriously this is one of my favourite parts about what I do. Every time I cut open a batch – even if it’s something I’ve made 100 times before still gets me excited to see the look of each new slice. Each swish of colour, each line, each unique look.
This is the pinnacle.

One of my daughters, Kenzie, who is a regular at the Cambridge Farmers Market with me, was the photographer during some of these shots. *Enjoy – it’s rare shots that I am in. One of my other passions is hobby photography and I am usually behind the camera – not in front. *

There is really only one thing that excites me more – it’s the comments from my customers, the feedback on how it’s helped their skin or how much they love that new scent. Its seeing the customers come running down an aisle at a show or the Market to see me and pick out their soap like its manna from Heaven. 

I'm really proud of the bars that we make with options for everyone's tastes and wants. We have a simple philosophy. Simple. That's it. Wylde Rose Handmade Soap has experience, knowledge, wholesome ingredients and creativity poured into each handcrafted small batch but also one that is very proudly overloaded with oodles of love. 

On that note of keeping things simple, back to basics and love, here's to a personal goal this summer. Mr Wylde Rose and I love to camp. Sadly we have not been able to go camping previous summers since finding each other again after a long time. Its awful I know. On behalf of all trekkers, campers and paddlers I am ashamed to say my beautiful paddle hasn't seen water in far too long.  I haven't been in a canoe in ages and my soul is longing for it. This summer will see us doing what we love. Setting goals!

Sitting in this canoe with this kind of a view... yep that's our kind of happiness. 

PS I'm not sure how my body will cooperate after this long - thinking air mattress needs to be thicker... Methinks although the train derailed over the holidays its time to get back on track to healthy.