Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Favourite Scents in Soap: Part 2, Fragrance Oils

Fragrance oils are different from essential oils when it comes to cold process soap, and they can be alot more problematic! FOs are more likely to discolour the soap or accelerate trace, plus the scent can often fade or morph into something different. So when I come across an FO I love the smell of, it behaves well in soap, and sticks, and my customers love the smell of it too … that’s an FO I will continue to buy again and again. Below are some of my favourite FOs.


Almond Biscotti - A very strong almond fragrance with a hint of sugar & pastry in the background. If you love almond scents, this is for you! Does D slightly due to the vanilla content.

Champagne - A lovely "fizzy" scent that is fantastic either on its own or blended. Behaves well, no A or D, sticks well, and it's a great scent for the festive season! 

Love Spell - A dupe of the Victoria's Secret perfume, many FO suppliers make a version but this is my personal favourite. Smells great, no A or D, and the scent sticks really well too.

Mayan Gold - A strong, exotic scent with notes of chocolate and patchouli. Customers love this one! The scent stays amazingly strong in soap, and although it does A and D slightly, it's worth the trouble.

Sensuous Sandalwood - A dead-on dupe for sandalwood essential oil, at a fraction of the cost. Beautiful on its own, also amazing blended with other single-note FOs (vanilla or orange are my favourites!). Slight A and D but again, worth it.

Buy in the US:

Daystar Supplies

Blackberry Jam Butter Cookies - A truly unique fragrance, you can really smell the buttery shortbread and the jam! No A, does D heavily to a dark brown but the scent is worth it.

Buttermilk & Honey - A sweet, milky comforting scent, I love this one. Great for milk soaps or baby soaps. It does D slightly to a tan colour, and has a tendency to overheat in the mould so keep soap temps cool and only minimal insulation.

Rose Jelly - A dupe of Lush's Rose Jam, this one smells like a turkish delight! I love it. 

Buy in the US:
Buy in Australia:

Nature's Garden

Froot Loops - I'm actually not a fan of the cereal but I LOVE this scent. Fruity and sugary and delicious. No A or D, behaves perfectly and sticks well.

Lick Me All Over - An amazing and unique blend of melons, citrus and flowers that smells like you just stepped off the boat onto a tropical island. No A or D, and sticks very well.

Nectarine & Honey - The perfect combination of tart nectarines and sweet honey. Refreshing and great for summer. No D however it does A quite dramatically so be prepared with cooler soap temps and no water discount. Scent sticks really well and is worth the trouble!

Buy in Australia: 

Do you have a favourite FO you'd like to share? Leave a comment in the section below!

For more information on how to make soap, check out my eBook Soapmaking Made Easy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Favourite Scents in Soap: Part 1, Essential Oils

All essential oils are amazing, however when it comes to cold process soap, some perform better than others. My criteria for EOs in soap is that they hold their scent well, don't accelerate trace, and are reasonably inexpensive to buy. These are my "must have" essential oils for a soapmaker's arsenal!

Orange 10fold
Rose Geranium
Tea Tree
Ylang Ylang

These are some of my favourite blends:

Hippie Blend
2 parts patchouli
1 part lemongrass
1 part orange 10fold

Ocean Blend
2 parts lavender
2 parts rosemary
1 part lemongrass
1 part peppermint

Forest Blend
2 parts lavender
1 part cedar wood
1 part lime
1 part rosemary

Minty Blend 1
1 part peppermint
1 part eucalyptus

Minty Blend 2
2 parts lavender
1 part peppermint
1 part spearmint

Spiritual Blend
3 parts frankincense
3 parts mandarin
1 part lemongrass
1 part patchouli
1 part orange 10fold

Bliss Blend
3 parts rose geranium
3 parts cedarwood
2 parts patchouli
2 parts mandarin
1 part ylang ylang

Eau De Cologne Blend
2 parts petitgrain
2 parts lavender
1 part orange 10fold

Clear Complexion Blend
1 part lavender
1 part tea tree

Do you have a favourite essential oil or blend in soap? Pop it in the comments below!

Friday, October 18, 2013

10 Tips to Selling Soap on Etsy

I first opened my Etsy shop in 2008, expecting (as you do) that as soon as I opened my virtual doors, the sales would start coming in thick and fast. I mean, who wouldn't want to buy my soap? Right? Wrong!!

It took me two weeks to sell just one bar ... then another week to sell another bar .... and so on. It was a very slow process, one that (for me anyway) involved alot of patience and persistence. Five years later, and I have learned some things along the way that I thought would come in handy for first-time soap sellers.
Unwind Lavender & Mint Soap - the first soap I ever sold on Etsy
1). Photos, photos, photos. When you're shopping online, photos are everything. Customers can't pick up your product, they can't touch it or smell it, so good photos are crucial. Make them clear and use natural lighting if possible. Include one artistic shot as the main photo (this will increase your chances of getting on the front page as well as drawing in customers to click on your listing), and one realistic shot so that people can see exactly what they're getting. Gabbie from Simply Soap shares her amazing photo tips here.
Beautiful soap photo by Blushie

2). Spend time writing your description. Along with photos, your description will go a long way to selling your product. What does the soap smell like? What are the fragrance notes? Is the soap all natural? Are there any features such as extra moisturising, a rich lather, or mildness? What inspired you to make this soap? Sell the features of your soap. It's also a good idea to include a full ingredients list.

3). Fill your shop. The more listings you have, the more you will sell. Aim to have at least one full page of listings, but two or three is even better. Customers want to feel like they have a good range of choice, and it makes your shop look more professional.

4). Customer care. Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated. Respond within 24 hours to emails or convos, get orders posted within a timely fashion, and always be courteous. Go out of your way to look after your customers - small things like refunding excess postage, or notifying them if there will be a delay in getting their order out, will go a long way to building a good reputation and will encourage repeat business.

5). Always have new products. In addition to your regular soaps, always have something new to try. This keeps your shop fresh and exciting. This is probably the easiest and most enjoyable advice to follow, as in my experience soapmakers love to experiment with new products!

6). Use social media. Promote your shop through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or a blog. Post photos of your soaps in progress, new products or listings, ideas, sales or giveaways ... anything! Your customers will love to see the person behind the business and what goes on "behind the scenes". Always remember to include a link back to your Etsy shop.
Photos of your soaps in progress give people a glimpse into your handmade process
7). Have a unique selling point. What is special about your soap? Are they all-natural? Scent free? Aesthetically beautiful? Having a unique selling point for your soap will make you stand out from the hundreds of other soap vendors on Etsy.

8). Spend time on your About page.  Talk about yourself, your business, and what inspires you. Include good quality photos of yourself, your workspace and your process. Etsy have some more detailed tips on the About page here.

I love this about page by Vice & Velvet
9). Use tags. These will help people to find your products when they search Etsy. Some good general soap ones are: soap, handmade, homemade, cold process, natural, bath, vegan, bar. It's also a good idea to tag the colour, fragrance, essential oils, or any other unique features of the soap.

10). Be patient, and be persistent. Becoming a successful seller on Etsy takes time. Don't be put off if no-one buys your products straight away. If you have great soaps, people will want to buy them, they just need to discover you first!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Soap Student Photos!

Well it's only been 2 weeks since the release of Soapmaking Made Easy and already I've seen some amazing soaps being made using the techniques from the book. I thought I would share some of them with you!

Faux Funnel Swirl by Roseann of Sweet Body Soaps

Hanger Swirl by Michele of Tierra Verde Soaps

Hanger Swirl by Roseann of Sweet Body Soaps

ITP Swirl with pumpkin puree by Alina of Swan Lake Cosmetics

Can I just mention that these are all first attempts too. How great do they look! I'm so proud :-)

For more info on the book or to buy your own copy click HERE.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Did You First Start Making Soap?

I love hearing about how soapmakers first began making soap. I thought I would share some stories here from my Facebook fans. I would love to hear yours too!

Tanya from Titania's Dreamy Delights:

Handmade soap became my creative outlet in 2008 - the first one I ever had. Until I started soaping I believed I didn't have a creative bone in my body. Now I realise that everyone is creative and they just have to find the medium that 'speaks' to them in order to release it. I enjoy both creating luscious, mild soap recipes and playing with colour and shape to make something that satisfies my customers need for beauty.

Vicky from Maylilly's Garden Party:

One day back 2009 I was Internet browsing in my lunch break and accidentally looking at a page where you could buy a franchise and learn to make skincare. I thought "wow you can make your own?". Then upon further research I came across a supplies website and discovered you can make all kinds of skincare and bath treats! As someone who loved the body shop but never bought anything (too expensive), the idea of create your own was incredibly exciting lol. First thing I ever ordered was a melt and pour kit (along with some other stuff i can't remember). I actually thought that the soap would be the least exciting thing to make, but boy was I wrong! I seemed to have a knack at layering and found it to be rather rewarding. I had a little bit of a break (whilst planning a wedding, building a house and 2 pregnancies), but that didnt stop me watching my fave soapmakers on YouTube, or reading blog after blog, and I was finally able to get back into soaps and bath treats late last year. The love was still there hehe. I took the plunge at the start of 2013 and made my first cp. I don't get to make it as often as I want with two little girls running around, but that doesn't stop me romanticising about my next soap. I love the look of raw soap and of freshly swirled soap. I think about soap constantly. I dream of "winning the lotto" and I'd build a soap room, and I'd have a shop down in Shellarbour Village near the boat harbour. I am kind of getting there as I am planning to attend the markets there in a couple of months.

Annie from Sanctum Body Skin Soul:

The first soap I made was a castille style soap with an almost pure olive oil blend - I was stirring by hand and it took 3 HOURS to come to trace!!! Learnt very quickly about the joys of a stick blender!! I love essential oils and the fun of being creative - especially then being able to enjoy the end result like we can with soaps.

Christy from Sweet Treats Desserts:

Started in 2010 I wanted to be able to say I could make it but was scared to used lye. I just decided one day I was going for it, then got addicted. Took a couple of try's to get my formula right but after third batch started making a batch every other day. I think first batch was lavender.

Sue from Green Me Up Granny.

First soap was unscented and happened because I couldn't use supermarket soap. Now I am the grandma behind Green Me Up Granny and love making soap.

How did you first start making soap? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Even Layering Soap Tutorial

Want to learn how to make this soap? Head on over to the Great Cakes Soapworks blog, where I've written a soap tutorial on the Even Layering technique. This will be one of the techniques I teach in my upcoming soap book! 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Make a Long-lasting Bar of Soap

A common problem that beginner soapmakers have is making soap that lasts a long time and doesn't melt away in the shower. All the effort, work and ingredients put into making a batch of soap, only to have it melt away after just a few washes!

In my experience, formulating your soap to be long-lasting can actually be really easy, when you narrow it down to these three factors:

  • The base oils
  • The water discount
  • The cure time

Base Oils
If you want your soap to be hard and long-lasting, you need to use a balance of hard and soft oils. The best hard oil for long-lasting soap, in my opinion, is palm oil. It's economical, easy to buy, and it contributes hardness, longevity and a smooth creamy lather. Include it in your soap recipe at around 30% of your base oils for a good, hard bar of soap.

TIP: You don't have to buy palm oil from a soap supply store. It can be found in the supermarket in the butter & margarine aisle, called Frymasta in the yellow wrapper. 

Unfortunately there's been alot of controversy around palm oil lately, with many soapmakers (and soap buyers) opting to go completely palm oil free. If you don't feel comfortable using palm oil, try cocoa butter as a substitute. It's more expensive but you won't need to use as much - between 5% and 10% will greatly increase the hardness of your soap. Using more than 10% isn't recommended as it can make the soap dry and crumbly. As an added bonus, cocoa butter also imparts wonderful conditioning properties to the bar!

Water Discount
This is where you reduce the amount of water used in your soap recipe. The resulting bars will become harder much faster during the cure time.

I personally use a discount of 25% water, which equates to 250ml of water to 1kg of oils. I wouldn't recommend going lower than 25% otherwise you may end up with bars being too hard or crumbly. 25% - 35% water is considered the normal range.

TIP: Water discount is not recommended if you're using ingredients that you know may accelerate trace or seize! For example, cinnamon or clove essential oils, milk, honey or beeswax.

Cure Time
Cold process soap is traditionally cured for 4 weeks before use. However, the longer you cure the soap for, the milder and more long-lasting it will be. If you want a really hard bar, try curing for 6 or 8 weeks (or more!) and you will notice a big difference. 

Using The Soap
One more thing that should be noted is that when you're actually using handmade soap, it needs to be kept somewhere that allows it to drain and dry out between uses. Soap that's left sitting in a puddle of water will turn to mush. Make sure your soap dish or shower caddy allows the excess water to drain away and the soap will last much longer!

Questions? Leave a comment below!

Interested in making your own soap? Click the "soap updates" button below to sign up and receive free tutorials and updates on our upcoming soap course.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are You Ready For Soap Porn?

If you are, you've come to the right place!

We recently had these amazing shots taken by the super talented Gabbie Hine

I like to think of them of "soap art"!

 Sweet Like Candy

Sea of Swirls 

Heaven Scent

Pinks and Greens

Orange Creamsicle

Dark Clean

High Tea

Pastel Rainbow

Tiger Stripe

Lavender Swirls

Lavender and Mint

Bubbles of Love

Pure Clean

Ocean Waves

Pretty in Pink

P.S. They are all available to buy as greeting cards, calendar or posters HERE!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Soapmaking Thesis

I've been working hard perfecting my soapmaking course over the last few weeks ... what began as a small few pages has turned into a monster! Super excited to get this finished though. You could call it my soapmaking thesis ...

The bulk of the chapters have been written, now just making notes and going over each one.
Colourants and fragrance preparation for Banoffee Pie soap tutorial (below). 
Banoffee Pie soap, freshly cut. This was made using a faux funnel swirl. Want to learn to make one like it? I teach it in the soapmaking course!

Sign up to stay updated on my soapmaking course, using the sign-up form on the right ;-)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lining Your Mould with Contact Paper - Step by Step

As some of you may already know, I'm in the process of creating a course on how to make soap: everything from the basics through to advanced techniques. One of the tutorials I've just finished is how to line your soap mould. I know from experience that this can be a source of frustration for many soapmakers! My technique is quick and easy to learn, and I thought I would share it here.

1. Choose your mould. I'm using a wooden 2-log mould, but only lining one side.

 2. Cut the length of contact paper that you need. Make sure it’s long enough to cover the bottom and both side of the mould.

 3. Put the contact paper over the top of the mould, shiny side up. Use your nail to press a line of the inside edge of the mould onto the contact paper, all the way around.

 4. Fold over each line that you’ve made, folding inwards, creating four creases in the paper.

 5. Cut four slits into the paper, two at the bottom, and two at the top, as shown below. 

 6. Fold the middle tab up.

 7. Fold the left tab over.

 8. Fold the right tab over.

 9. Repeat steps 6-8 with the other end of the paper.

 10. You should now have a box shape that you can slot into the mould.

 11. If you have excess paper hanging over the top, make cuts in the corner creases, and fold the edges down.

 12. Tape the paper to the side of the mould to prevent it from moving around.

 13. Your mould is now lined and ready to use!

● This method can work with other materials such as baking paper or freezer paper, however it can be tricky as it doesn’t hold the shape as well. 
● Use clear contact paper rather than coloured or patterned, to prevent any dyes being transferred onto the soap.

If you're interested in my upcoming soap course (it will be a downloadable e-book), please click here or subscribe for updates using the sign-up form on the right.

Friday, April 19, 2013

In My Soap Pot: Unwind and Marrakesh

These are two soaps I made recently. The first one some of you may recognise from a couple of years ago, back briefly as a limited edition. The second one is brand new!

Unwind: lavender, spearmint, peppermint and French green clay. All natural essential oils.
Available from 5th May.

Marrakesh: frankincense, grapefruit, orange and lemon. All natural essential oils.
Available from 6th May.