Monthly Archives: September 2012

One Deal Ends, Another Begins

For the last little while, I’ve been giving away a free lip balm of the customer’s choice with every Etsy order. Today is the last day of that special, but starting tomorrow there’s a new deal beginning: Free SunSoap samples with every order, in a different fragrance every month. These will be two- or three-use pieces of soap in a scent I will choose – perhaps one that’s new and exciting, one which suits the season, or just an old favorite. It’s a great way to experience scents you might not have known you’d like. Or, if there’s a scent you really, really want to sniff before you buy a whole bar, you can request that your free sample a particular scent, and if possible, I’ll include that instead.

I hope you will all enjoy your free soap samples with forthcoming orders in October and beyond – but if you’d rather have a free lip balm, you can still get one today!


Fragrance Profile: Plum Tea

This is a fantastic fragrance for late summer/early fall; the rich, dark fruitiness is leavened by soft florals and some darker notes to create an effect perfectly suited for the falling temperatures and shorter days.

Plum Tea SunSoap

The description from the listing text: “This clean fruity floral has a beguiling soft freshness. After beautiful white tea and damask plum and herb notes, this fragrance is beautifully supported with sweet notes of honeydew melon, quince apple, lily of the valley and chamomile. The fragrance finishes with a touch of black tea to add depth and tamp down on the sweetness. Absolutely irresistible.”

It’s been a favorite around here ever since I brought it out early this year, but I really do think it’s coming into its own in the autumn. Check out the deliciousness for yourself here.


FotR for LotR!

Did you know there was a Tolkien holiday? I didn’t, until quite recently: September 22 is Hobbit Day –  Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday. Combining my near-lifelong Tolkien fangirlness with the coincidental acronym overlap (Foam on the Range<>Fellowship of the Ring), it seems appropriate that I should celebrate this event – so I created a two-pack of Woodland Elves and Dragon’s Blood soaps, to let people create a bit of magic for themselves.

Hobbit Day Two-Pack

Woodland Elves is a brisk, evergreen-forest scent, crisp and invigorating; appropriately timeless. Dragon’s Blood is a rich fragrance with an undercurrent of heat. They won’t carry you off to Middle Earth, but perhaps they’ll help evoke it a bit. Find it here.

…and if something does come to sweep us all off to Middle Earth, you’ll probably find me peddling soap near Edoras. Or possibly in the Shire.


Product Profile: Lip Balm

Fall is only barely here, and winter’s bite is still well in the future. Nonetheless, the sudden disappearance of sweltering heat and the arrival of chilly mornings appears to have put people in mind of cold days to come, judging from the way the lip balm flew out of our booth at last week’s show. Or maybe there’s been a chapped lip epidemic and I missed the news; it’s hard  to say. Still and all, it made me think about writing this!

Lip Balm

Quite a bit of the lip balm one finds for sale is laden with petrolatum, paraffin, parabens, and all manner of other things. It does its job well enough, but I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better solution; one that worked better and didn’t hurt when applying it to already-chapped lips, and one in which I actually knew (and understood) the composition of what I was putting on my lips. So I set out to make my own.

Lip balm needs wax to make it stay put, and my inclination when looking for a wax is always to use beeswax. I have no objection to carnuba wax or candilla wax, and indeed am willing to seek out those ingredients to construct a vegan lip balm if requested, but beeswax is just so lovely and rich – and besides, the bees worked so hard, it seems only right that we should appreciate their efforts. So beeswax it is, then. But wax on its own obviously won’t get the job done; it needs to be melted and blended with a liquid oil to make it soft and spreadable. So I turned to sunflower oil, our signature ingredient.

I could actually have stopped there – quite a few lip balms consist only of wax and oil. It would protect the lips against the elements and soften them somewhat, and in general would do what was asked of it. But it didn’t seem sufficient; I wanted something more than “good enough”. So into the mix came cocoa and shea butters, to bring richness and the smooth, pampering feel I was looking for. Also, cocoa butter helps provide a barrier to retain moisture, and shea butter has long been used in salves and similar formulations intended to help the skin heal itself.

The end result was a product with a remarkably devoted fan base. Not convinced? Stop by our booth at one of our upcoming shows or check them out online and see for yourself why people keep coming back for more!

(Lip balms with custom-designed labels also make great wedding favors or customer gifts!)


Product Development: Eye Serum

Many people turn to eye and facial serums as the years begin to accumulate, in an attempt to fend off wrinkles. Really, though, we could all do with nourishing the delicate skin around our eyes to help protect it against sun, wind, and other environmental damage. To that end, I decided to turn my hand to developing something that would serve this purpose.

First, I need to establish the requirements of the product. It needs to be incredibly, deeply, richly moisturizing, though preferably not overwhelmingly greasy and also non-comedogenic. Oils that show sun protection tendencies are also good, though for FDA-related reasons this will not be something I can claim about the finished product. I also want to have lots of linoleic acid, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and assorted antioxidants.

Well, that’s a pretty long list of parameters, but given the breadth of oils available, it’s actually harder to narrow down the choices than it is to come up with things to fit the above requirements in the first place! I’d like to start with sunflower oil due to my longstanding love of this oil and its high lineoleic acid and vitamin E content, which gets some of the requirements out of the way in the first place. Raspberry seed oil is fantastic for more vitamin E content as well as essential fatty acids, and may well serve the sun protective role that I’m looking for. Rose hip oil has antioxidants and essential fatty acids, and meadowfoam oil contains vitamin E and is very moisturizing. Ordinarily a serum of this sort would include some straight vitamin E, but honestly I think there’s enough E in the assorted component oils that it’s not necessary here.

I could go on and on; I’d love to use more oils: pomegranate, black currant, sea  buckthorn, cranberry seed, tamanu, wheat germ, argan, neem, borage, camelina, cherry, evening primrose – but really, the above is plenty, especially given there is one significant ingredient I haven’t listed yet: Squalane.

Squalane is a derivative of squalene, modified to give it a longer shelf life but still very beneficial to the skin. It is readily absorbed due to being a significant component of natural sebum, and is fantastic for extra-dry, chapped, or damaged skin.

So, having selected the components of the eye serum, it’s time to work out proportions. As a starting point, let’s go with:

  • 30% sunflower oil
  • 20% raspberry seed oil
  • 20% rose hip oil
  • 20% meadowfoam oil
  • 10% squalane

That looks like a good balance of oils to begin with, but that doesn’t include botanical extracts. Obviously only oil-soluble extracts can be used here, but there are a few good ones: Green tea, orchid, sea buckthorn (ah, now I feel better about having to cut that oil from the composition), and evening primrose (likewise). I’ll add these to the already-blended oils; maybe about 5% or so.

Do we want fragrance? I think it should have a slight scent of some sort, yes. If I were using tamanu or neem oils, they would determine the basic scent profile of the product, but with neither of those included, the field is wide open. I’m thinking lavender, for its soothing and relaxing properties; 0.5% or so.

Not pictured: Sunflower oil.

Time to bottle it up! This product should be used very sparingly; therefore it needs to be packaged either in a small bottle with a treatment pump or in a roller ball vial. I don’t happen to have the former on hand at the moment, so I’ll go with the latter. If it doesn’t seem like the right vehicle for the product during the testing phase, I’ll switch to the treatment pumps before the product goes on sale.

And that’s that! I now have a small batch of eye serum, ready to head out to my testing group. I’ve already put some on myself – on my right eye but not my left, for ease of comparison – and it feels luscious. I think I’m going to love this product!


Out and About: Lawrence Fall Arts & Crafts Fair

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Lawrence this weekend, come to South Park on Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm for the Fall Arts & Crafts Fair! This will be our third year at this show, and it’s always a lot of fun.

Our booth last year.

This weekend marks a bit of a kickoff in the busy craft show season – it doesn’t look likely that there will be too very many weekends from now until the end of the year that don’t find us out and about somewhere. I love this time of year, and hope to see lots of you this weekend or another weekend soon!


Fragrance Profile: Saffron & Honey

This is a sweet, spicy scent, with dominant notes of honey and a collection of warm spices. It’s delicious, decadent, and rich, and absolutely compelling.

Saffron & Honey SunSoap

This was one of the first two dozen or so fragrances in the Foam on the Range lineup, and it’s amazingly versatile. It’s a sensual fragrance but not overpowering, excellent for men and women both. I particularly like using it as a perfume.

You can find our products in this fragrance here. Enjoy!