Life

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.

{ 0 comments }

Soap, Spring and Sunshine

by Veronica on August 19, 2014

in Evelyn, Life, Soapmaking

A month on Cymbalta (give or take a few days) (take, mostly) and things are slowly evening out. My pain is back under control, I’m no longer feeling quite so scatty and distractable and if my jaw is dislocating a hundred times overnight, well at least it isn’t aching all day as well.

Spring is sprunging here. My fruit trees are trying desperately to squeeze out some early blossoms and the sight of the swelling buds brings me so much joy. The nights are icy and there is frost on the ground in the morning, but the days are long and sunny and there is a patch of sunlight in my bedroom I can spend hours lying in like a contented cat if I need to.

It makes the bitterness of death a slightly easier pill to swallow. Nathan’s grandmother died last week and he will miss her. She was lovely and we named Evelyn for her and my grandmothers together, which soothes the ache of missing them a little. Their names will live on, even as they don’t.

Yesterday was full of sunshine. Nathan spent the day grumbling about the dirt against the side of the house as he pulled weeds and discovered exactly where the wood boring grubs are causing issues. He excavated an old hole into the foundations of the house and we shoved the cats down there to hunt mice and chase each other.

Evelyn happily followed him around the yard, throwing weeds into the wheelbarrow until she got bored, pulled her gumboots off, sat in a pile of freshly turned dirt and began digging. By the time we were ready to come inside she was covered in mud, but it was okay, because she had successfully completed her quest to fill her boots up to the very top with dirt. I admire her ability to stick to a task as the cats ran over her, the dog nearly sat on her and the dirt she was sitting on got progressively damper.

A long warm bath and she was clean again, with a bonus lot of fingernail cutting thrown in.

Winter hasn’t been cold exactly, but it’s been dull and weird, probably contributing to my dull and weird mood. More vitamin D is in the works, along with an iron supplement, because I always seem to forget I need to supplement with iron when I get too exhausted to eat well.

The soap business launches in a little over three weeks and I am so excited. My shelves are full of soap ready to sell, and my other shelves (and the other shelves, and basically the entire house) is covered in soap still curing, packaging, label tests and various lists of things I need to do.

It’s excellent and exciting and I am so grateful to you, my dearest Internets, for supporting me and making the process of setting up a business so much fun.

2014-07-31 20.49.36 020

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

There’s always an upside.

by Veronica on August 4, 2014

in Life

I started Cymbalta twelve days ago. I think. Let me count. Yes, twelve days ago. Which of course means my brain has gone on holiday. I think I spent 2 hours yesterday sitting in front of the fire doing nothing. My brain just turned off and there I was, staring at the flames and nothing was working. I find myself gazing into space, thinking about nothing.

Everything is an effort. Like moving through treacle. But if I take them right before bed, I can’t sleep. WOE IS ME.

I need something to pull me out of this god forsaken grey fogginess, but I suspect the only thing which will work is time.

On the upside, my pain levels are a lot lower and I know from last time I should start to feel better in another month. I can do that. I can do this.

In the meantime, I spend a lot of time contemplating things. Do I need a wheelchair? Would I actually leave my house more often if I didn’t have to walk when we got whereever we were going? How does a husband push a wheelchair and a trolley at the same time? Could we convoy our way through the supermarket?

No.

So there’s that.

Things are happening here – well I mean, things are always happening here. And I think about writing about them, but then it’s like someone is sitting on my shoulder asking why the fuck anyone would care about it. Basically my brain is screwy and I’ve forgotten how to blog well.

The dog needs an operation. She limps intermittantly and a vet visit today showed her patella is dislocating. Because OF COURSE, right? If anyone gets a dog with a dislocating knee it ought to be me. So she’s off for an operation next week and I am so relieved. I was worried it was something more serious and we were going to have to put her down. Plus, the quoted operation was way less than I was expecting, so that’s nice. I’m not going to have to sell a kidney.

School continues, as always. Multiple complaints about multiple things there, but this blog is very public and I’m already persona non grata down there I suspect. Maybe I’ll write about it elsewhere and at least get paid to have sour looks thrown my way. How dare I complain.

Eve is recovering, slowly. She’s asleep at the moment, which is of course why I can write this rambling crappy blog post, because she hasn’t heard my fingers tapping and come running to sit on me and bash the keyboard herself. She’s still coughing, but that’s a hallmark of RSV, a lingering cough.

We moved her out of her cot (side note: if you’re in Tassie and you know someone who wants a cot, email me. good quality, aus standard approved and taking up too much space in my storage area. free as well.) and into a bed – well, a mattress on the floor because she flails a little too much to be trusted with edges yet. When she’s adjusted to this, we’ll play juggle the bedrooms and she’ll move in with her sister and everything will be chaos for a week. Of course.

So that’s me. Soap is happening, the business launch is a mere six weeks away and I’ll be glad when my brain is working well enough to actually let me work without losing my train of thought or accidentally falling asleep on my keyboard.

Yay me, right?

Again. Upside: less pain.

There’s always an upside.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Today I have spent time on hold with three different companies chasing products I ordered.

So far the only success was TOLL IPEC discovering my castor oil was on board for early delivery, which I think was a bit magic because it didn’t get found until I complained. It still took over a week to fly from Sydney to Hobart, but DETAILS.

My shea butter is however, still missing. The seller’s postal service (it was posted from Senegal) says it reached Melbourne on the 10th June. Aus Post has no record of it and Customs, whom I feared had it, don’t.

Now we wait for the seller to instigate an investigation at her end. In the meantime, if you find 10kg of shea butter on the side of the road somewhere, it’s mine and I need it.

In the middle of all the chaos, I made 5kg of lemon soap with honey for a large pre-order.

There’s nothing scarier than working with large amounts of soap batter when it can decide to misbehave at any moment. Today everything played nicely and it’s now waiting to saponify and harden so I can cut. I had to tweak the recipe a little to make it softer initially, because DA DA DUUUN, I have a new soap cutter and it is amazing.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Frogpondsrock bought it for me as a business opening gift. I am in love.

002

In other soap news, I’ve been making a lot, planning a lot, and working a lot.

Green Apple Soap with shea butter.

008

And here is a photo of the eucalyptus and spearmint foot soap I mentioned in my last post. I hadn’t cleaned it up after cutting yet in this photo. It’s all put away and curing now, neat and tidy.

015

It smells amazing and I can’t wait to try it out.

As a quick heads up, if you’re interested in large amounts of soap for Christmas presents, pre-ordering is your best bet to make sure I have the stock available. Two people have already. Email me to work out the details. If you order over 20 bars, you get wholesale prices.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

The natural evolution of a blog

by Veronica on May 12, 2014

in Life

I’ve been blogging for nearly six years now, starting when my first child was small and sleepless. I’ve watched blogging change, sat here through the rise of the sponsored content, seen the explosion of mummyblogs. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading blogs, commenting, responding to emails.

I’ve written sponsored posts, attended brand events, excitedly accepted a swag bag full of crap I didn’t need. I’ve laughed and cried over blogging, made friends, made foes, found people I love and people I’d happily punch in the face.

This blog is not the same as it was when I began. It’s not the same as it was when my second child was born, or when my grandmother died of cancer, tearing our family apart, or when my third child was born needing extra attention.

I’ve blogged from hotel rooms, from conferences, from airports. I’ve blogged from hospital wards, from special care, from paediatrics, from chemotherapy wards. I’ve blogged from palliative care and from the waiting rooms of oh so many doctors.

I’ve pissed people off with my honesty. Made them change their views of me. Upset them with my refusal to shut up and be nice.

Six years of my life, documented in snippets, photographs and short stories. Triumphs and failures, excitement and heartbreak.

I haven’t been a mummyblogger in years now. My daughter starting school made me draw back, protecting her from prying eyes. Protecting all of us from prying eyes if I’m being honest. Things got quieter here as time passed. We adjusted to Evelyn’s difficulties and I stopped feeling the need to talk about everything non-stop.

All of this is okay. It’s the natural evolution of blogging. People change, grow up, move along. Six years is a long time in the blogging world which sometimes seems to flit around faster than a dragonfly.

My life is full and suddenly, there isn’t the time for the Internet there once was.

Again, this is okay. I am okay.

I spent two hours today melting down beeswax, straining it, and cooling it in sheets for easy slicing. I’ll add it to soaps and lip balms in the next few months.

The house smells like honey now, warm and inviting. There are soaps curing on top of my closet, all through the linen cupboards and in the bottoms of drawers. Some of my books will be going into storage to make way for soap. Bookshelves are handy places for curing soaps.

Life has changed. We’re busy getting this business off the ground, and when all I can think about it soap, and everything I ever do is soap related, it’s hard to keep a humorous parenting blog running.

So it’s fair to say there will be more soap stories here than child stories. Maybe a good thing; soaps can’t complain they’ve been embarassed at school, and if someone calls a soap ugly, no one cries. Except maybe me because they’re my baaaaaybeees.

Blogs change. People change.

I don’t want the same thing from this blog as I wanted two years ago.

Blogging in Australia has changed. The explosion of blogs has meant the very small tight knit and sometimes stifling community has branched out and gotten bigger. There’s more room to breathe now, although it’s harder to attract traffic when you can’t find the time to comment on the blogs you like.

Things are different, and that’s normal. It’s not a bad thing. To be honest, I got sick of saying the same things over and over about the same topics. Ethics, criticism, blogging. It’s all white noise and people are going to meltdown over things no matter what I say.

This space is changing and I am okay with that.

Beeswax.

beeswax 004

{ Comments on this entry are closed }