Borneo by Rainforest Action Network

[pic source]

I don’t use palm oil.

I mean, firstly, there is the environmental impact. Dead orang-utans, deforestation, cruelty and a long list of other things turned me off the idea of using palm oil in soap long before I even started making my own.

Secondly, palm oil is kind of a hassle and when I hear soap makers complaining about having to melt the entire bucket of palm oil down and stir well before they use it, I’m glad my own personal ethics prevented me from even experimenting with palm oil in the early days.

But that’s the thing about ethics, they’re tricksy and they hold me to a far higher standard than any other person truly could.

Our entire business is based around the idea of making luxury soaps, along with bath and body products, and not using any palm derived ingredients along the way.

This was an easy point of difference to hold while I was only making soap. The alternatives to pure palm oil in soap are many and varied and creating a palm free recipe truly wasn’t difficult.

But lotions, man, lotions. Trying to work out how to make lotions without using anything palm derived has been a headache and a half.

Firstly, there’s emulsifying wax. The main kind – Emulsifying Wax NF, contains palm derived ingredients.

So our emulsifiers get tricky. I can buy olive derived emulsifier, but they tend to need more work to retain stability, as well as costing a good deal more, and requiring a higher percentage to work well.

If I combine two different types of emulsifiers (olive derived), with a palm free thickener (xantham gum, or carrageenan), a lotion base containing high stearic ingredients (cocoa butter and shea butter), and a little wax (beeswax, cadelilla wax, or macadamia wax), I can get a stable lotion.

But it’s more expensive than a cheap hand cream you buy from Kmart, or even a good hand lotion made using palm derived ingredients.

Even trickier, some of the ingredients we commonly think of as palm derived, such as Cetyl Palmitate and Sorbitan Palmitate, are the main ingredients in a stabiliser derived entirely from olives. The problem is the fatty acids were named after they were found in large amounts in palm oil. Olive oil can still be broken down to make Cetyl Palmitate and Sorbitan Palmitate, just in much lower quantities.

You can see my problem here, can’t you? Ingredients need to be queried over and over again with my suppliers and often times with their manufacturers. One of the most common preservatives on the market has an ingredient which may be palm derived, but it may also be synthetic and created in a lab. We’re still trying to work out which, and while we wait to hear from the manufacturers, I can’t buy or use the product.

The benefits add up of course, despite the amount of time I spent frantically googling, and emailing suppliers, I get to feel comfortable with all of my products.

I plan to start testing lotion recipes in the new year, using an entirely palm free recipe. When it eventually goes on sale (probably around September, to give time for effective challenge testing), the price won’t look like a bargain. I won’t have people exclaiming over how inexpensive my products are.

However, the point isn’t to make the cheapest skincare products available. The point is to make amazing products entirely palm free, so I can sleep at night.

Someone once said, “soapmakers are such a small percentage of people using palm oil to make products, I don’t see how us avoiding palm changes anything.”

And maybe it doesn’t. I am a very small maker in a world filled with Kmarts, and Coles-Myer groups, and no, I don’t always check my chocolate to make sure its palm free, so I might be a hypocrite.

I can however, take a stand in this one small thing, because I can’t feel good about the things I make if I know I’m using ingredients derived from palm.

It’s a complex issue and I really encourage you to do your own research on palm oil and what sustainable palm oil is (I haven’t been able to find any information on sustainable palm oil which convinces me to use it, although in other countries it can be quite different – I know the US has palm farms on US soil, so it may well be less awful to use palm there) and how everything is used.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to untangle the threads of what each ingredient is derived from, and making what I can.

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We’ve all heard the spiel. “If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be putting it on your body!”

The message is always the same. Chemicals are bad and natural is good. Natural is best. Natural is more important than anything.

It’s not true.

Before I started making all my own beauty products, I’d been trained the believe the hype too. The word natural has such strong connotations; we all look for it, consciously or subconsciously on our packaging.

A few weeks into beginning to learn to make soap, I researched lotion making. The messages were clear. “YOU MUST USE PRESERVATIVE.”

“But we don’t want to!” said the forums. “Aren’t there natural preservatives? Rosemary Oleoresin Extract? Vitamin E? SOMETHING?”

Nope. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative and while Rosemary Oleoresin Extract may protect your products for a short period, it’s merely due to the preservatives used to keep the ROE stable.

Preservatives are not the devil.

When I list my ingredients on my soap labels, I list common names. The law allows for that in soapmaking and I figure I’m not going to confuse anyone by calling something Olive Oil instead of Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, or Rice Bran Oil instead of Oryza Sativa Bran Oil, let alone using the terms Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit (Shea Butter), Cera alba (Beeswax), or Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor Oil).

You can see very quickly that the idea of “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it” doesn’t stand up very long when you’re talking about using INCI names.

INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is the standard in a lot of countries for cosmetic labelling. I’m allowed to list common names here in Australia, but when it comes to things like preservatives, listing the INCI is safer.

So something we can buy at a soaping supply store called “Germall Plus”, which has a common name sounding rather important to the safety of the product you’re buying, suddenly becomes Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.

It’s a necessary thing, to include a broad spectrum preservative in products containing water, such as lotions, moisturisers, toners, shampoos, conditioners, hand creams – the list goes on.

Soap is a less complicated product because the high pH kills anything bad. Lip balms and other anhydrous (oil only) products are safe too without a preservative. But water containing products are not.

Lotion makers have to content with mould, fungus, and bacteria. A good preservative stops all of those things.

Tell me, why wouldn’t you want to be protected from that? I’m sure as hell not going to be putting a lotion anywhere near my body if it doesn’t contain a preservative somewhere.

Far from the idea of “chemicals will cause you harm” – it’s the very lack of chemicals which would cause you harm in this case.

And I’ve seen it done. Lotions being bandied about as preservative free and all natural and the absolute best for your body.

I searched their entire site waiting for them to tell me they were joking like hahahaha, here’s the preservative, you’re all safe.

Nope.

Either they were lying on their marketing (bad) or they were selling a product which was unsafe to their customers (worse).

As I research more and more, it becomes clearer than chemicals are not a bad thing when it comes to beauty products. After all, when you break it down, lots of completely natural things like Atropa belladonna will kill you dead, which isn’t unexpected for a plant with the common name Deadly Nightshade, but maybe it’s less expected if someone is listing INCI names.

Atropa Belladonna is rather easy to pronounce don’t you think?

So when you eventually see long and complicated ingredient lists on my products, keep in mind they’re there to protect you, not cause you harm.

Next time I’ll talk about some of the benefits chemicals bring to products like shampoo and conditioner, or skincare products.

Remember – everything is made of chemicals. Even natural things.

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New carpet and new directions

by Veronica on November 27, 2014

in Gotta Laugh, Headfuck, Soapmaking

We got new carpet yesterday. We’ve lived in this house for almost seven years, just dealing with the crappy carpet hand we’d been dealt and suddenly, care of an exploding light bulb raining molten glass all over the living area and hallway, we get new carpet. It’s a bit weird. NEW STUFF. In our really old falling apart house. Something NEW AND SHINY.

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It had been a while since we looked at our dining room floor. Out of sight, out of mind is a great thing when you know you’ve got giant holes in the floor covered with random bits of board, but yesterday when we tore everything up it was hard to ignore the giant holes.

Even harder to ignore was the corpse of the cat which had gone missing a few days previously. Poor Amy, she’d been holding out hope that some kind person had thought Alley was lost and picked her up.

Alley, who was my least favourite cat, has, in death, made her way to the top of the favourite cats list. Mostly because she died right underneath the only bit of under the house we can actually access. Smart move, cat.

But I digress.

Giant holes in the floor. See here for when we first discovered them, a really long time ago oh god why have we been procrastinating fixing this floor.

The holes were ahem slightly worse than that old post shows, care of people occasionally falling through the rotted floor boards and making new, larger holes.

Don’t judge me. If you could ignore holes in your floor by covering them with shitty carpet and furniture you would too.

SO. We removed the cat corpse, had the carpet laid through the entire living area and hallway and were given strict instructions to fix the dining room floor so they could finish laying the rest of the carpet another day.

Procrastination always takes a back step to the reality of hey you could lose a small child or three under your floor and fix it so you can have shiny new carpet you procrastinating idiots.

I had not planned to spent a lot of money buying new flooring for the dining room this fortnight, but hey, needs must and can I please just cry in the corner now.

WOO. New carpet and debt! YAY US.

ANYWAY.

I deleted my veronica@somedaywewillsleep.com email address today. Up to 500 spam emails were coming through a day (A FREAKING DAY) and my email spam filter wasn’t catching all of it. Now it’s gone. Deleted. If you want to email me veronica [at] veronica foale [dot] come still works, as does my business email veronica [at] veronica foale essentials [dot] com [dot] au . Just a heads up in case your emails to me start bouncing because god knows I am so popular these days.

And finally, if you’re looking for something AMAZING to give as a Christmas gift this year, may I recommend soap?

Handmade soap is gorgeous, good for your skin, smells amazing, and is good for your soul. You know you want it.

Use coupon code WELOVEXMAS at the checkout for 15% off up until the 18th December.

To make sure your order reaches you we recommend ordering no later than December 13.

Cool Mint

Energy

Passionfruit

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Puddling jumping fun

by Veronica on November 9, 2014

in Amy, Evelyn, Isaac

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On not blogging and bath salts

by Veronica on October 20, 2014

in Soapmaking

There was a point recently when I realised, I’m not really a blogger anymore. And it’s sad, a little, because I love blogging and I love where blogging has taken me.

But after seven years, I’m tired. I jumped on the PR roundabout and fell off again 18 months later when I realised I didn’t enjoy selling my space to companies looking to make a quick impression and an even quicker dollar. I told stories, and then didn’t again. My children grew up fast, too fast, too fast to share their stories anymore.

It takes a while to readjust. From mummy-blogger to what-am-I-even-now-blogger.

A soap maker, a small business owner, a work from home mother, an entrepreneur, a maker, a creator.

I grew a brand, abandoned it, and now I’m growing another one.

I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that really matters though, isn’t it?

That’s where I went wrong with blogging. I worked too hard at trying to be something, someone. I got bored and drifted away. Now people don’t even know I have a blog. It’s almost comforting.

I made chocolate soap restocks today and my house smells like chocolate and saponification. I’ve got 60 soaps to pack and label once I write this, dinner to cook, children to love on.

Life is full. Life is good.

Bath salts! Oh god, bath salts. YOU GUYS.

Do you know how much fun bath salts are to make? SO MUCH FUN. I’m in love.

Clearly I’ve added bath salts to my shop and they’re awesome. There’s spearmint and eucalyptus for soaking your feet in, margarita scented for awesomeness, and all the usual suspects.

I *may* have spent a full day testing bath salts. It was lovely. They are lovely. Australian sea salt and Epsom salts combined to help sore muscles.

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So much fun. And pretty to photograph too.

Everything is coming off the curing shelves in great waves at the moment. I packaged 60 soaps last night, and I’ll do another 60 soon. I think tomorrow there might be another 100 to pack, but I’m trying not to look until I have to design the labels for printing. Preorders are slowly being filled and everything is good.

I think I’m okay with being not just a blogger any more, you know.

 

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