Monday, May 30, 2016

Launching in 3...2...1...

I finally decided to do it. I'm taking the plunge into actually selling my home-made skin care products. As mentioned in an earlier post, I've been making my magical bug bite and burn salve for a couple of years with amazing results and the only ingredients are infused olive oil and beeswax! Taking what I've learned about infused oils to the next level is pretty intimidating but I've never been one to take on "small" challenges.

Sunscreen and lip balm were introduced here

Due to how much camping and hiking we do, all natural (and safe!) bug spray was my next priority. I found many recipes online that claimed to do the job but that was hard for me to believe considering they were mostly water. The two recipes that seemed to have the greatest compliments for efficacy were either entirely made of apple cider vinegar (ACV) which was effective but stinky or with a high concentration of essential oils which may not be safe for kids or pregnancy and may also burn sensitive skin, all categories with directly apply to my family right now.

So I combined the two recipes, took another ingredient from another recipe and combined them, and infused it all with eucalyptus, mint, rosemary, basil, and lavender. What came out actually smelled really good once the vinegar evaporated. I have tested it here int he PNW with good results and I have a friend in Texas testing it on herself and her family.

Witch Hazel extract
Strong decoction of distilled water and herb mix
Apple Cider vinegar
Vegetable Glycerine
Eucalyptus and Lemongrass essential oils

General body lotion and mature skin cream are currently in testing and should be available soon. There is still some tweaking I want to do with both of those and today I'm taking on the challenge of refining the lotion recipe which, so far, has ended up too thick.

Bug bite and burn salve is brewing for another two weeks, infusion for extra dry skin cream is brewing another week, and brew for face toner will be another week. Probably the most difficult part of starting all this is I'm trying to predict the demand for products that I haven't introduced yet and take several weeks to prepare.

This week I received the professional logo I requested, set up a domain name, and began setting up my e-commerce presence thanks to It was difficult deciding which platform to use to sell my products since skin care products tend to be small and with low price points. Etsy requires a listing fee and a percentage fee of each sale and you get hit a second time with PayPal surcharges. I found a great article by Grace Dobush, long time Etsy seller, which addressed all my concerns about e-commerce sites in general including a chart outlining the various platforms available for selling products online, what they offer, and how much their service charges cost for a variety of price points.

Later this week I expect the website to go live with all the products currently available. Already you can e-mail and expect a prompt response from me. Also on the "to-do" list are business cards, unique vintage labels, twitter account, and a facebook page. Until then, I will keep my Products page up to date with what is available. Shipping within the USA is available for $6.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New herbal products!

Over the past several years I have been slowly learning about the edible and medicinal properties of many plants, especially those native to the Pacific Northwest. Though it's considered an invasive species from the Old World (the Indians called it "white man's foot") my gateway drug was Plantain. Not the banana, but a green herb that comes in about two hundred varieties spread over the entire earth, the most common of which in our area are "broad leaf" or plantago major and "narrow leaf" or plantago lanceolata. Being so widely spread, of course the two noted above have many more than one or two names, but for the sake of my reference and brevity I'm sticking with "broad" and "narrow."

Plantago has been used for millennia for a combination of topical and internal ailments and is an excellent edible green as it is extremely high in vitamins and minerals. One species is cultivated specifically for psyllium and they all produce very small seeds that can be powdered into flour. My favorite use is putting it directly on bug bites. You have to bruise it first to release the oils by rubbing it in your hands or mashing it up in your teeth. It has antimicrobial, astringent, anti-histamine, and anti-inflammatory properties. We most often use it for soothing nettle stings, general bug bites, rashes, scrapes, and burns. I've developed the habit of picking some on the side of a trail and keeping a few leaves in my pocket whenever hiking just in case. My personal experience leads me to believe that the broad leaf variety is more effective for skin and topical issues and the narrow leaf variety is more effective internally. Of course, if you can't find one, the other will do just fine!

On to products!

I've made salve for the last couple of years using primarily broad leaf plantain and a couple other skin beneficial herbs like yarrow, comfrey, and dandelion soaked in extra virgin olive oil for a few weeks. Add some beeswax for structure and you have portable, spreadable, skin-healing magic! My family swears by it and we use it for just about any closed skin issue like bruises, boils, bites, burns, and stings. I always take a few ounces with us on camping trips.

**FYI oil and beeswax products are discouraged for open wounds as they tend to seal in bacteria**

Given my sensitive skin, Shoshana's even more sensitive skin, and our concerns about applying toxins to the largest organ in our bodies I've been interested in broadening my homemade skin care products so I can feel confident using things like moisturizer, lotion, scrubs, and soaps. The most accessible of which were sunscreen and lip balm! Quick online search will bring up several simple recipes for both. I picked my favorites and tweaked some of the ratios for my personal preference and added vanilla as a basic scent. The difference is my use of herb-infused oils when the recipe calls for liquid oil. At this point I have my skin salve combo, rosemary, lavender, rose, eucalyptus, calendula, echinacea, oregano, and peppermint infused oils, and dandelion root tincture (made with alcohol instead of oil) available for tinkering. 

Sunscreen recipe:
1 cup infused olive oil (I used a combo of skin healing salve, eucalyptus, and rose oils)
1/2 cup beeswax
1/2 cup coconut oil
4 tbs Shea butter
2 tsp raspberry seed oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbs zinc oxide

Chocolate peppermint lip balm recipe:
2 tbs beeswax
1 tbs shea butter
1 tbs cocoa butter
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tbs rose oil
1/2 tbs lavender oil
1/4 tsp peppermint essential oil
30 drops raspberry seed oil

I hope you're inspired to embark on your own herbal journey, even if that means understanding their importance and relying on someone else to do the work. (wink, wink!)

Please check prices and upcoming products over at our products page!

Lavender lemongrass lip balm now available. It is made with the basic recipe above except 2 tbs Shea butter instead of half cocoa and 18 drops lavender and 10 drops lemongrass essential oils instead of peppermint.