Balms, Lotions, Cremes, Butters…OH MY: Which Moisturizer is Best for You?

Balms, Lotions, Cremes, Butters...OH MY- Which Moisturizer is Best for You-

Let’s start with the basics here.  According to a simple Google search of the definition of moisturizer, this is what you will get:

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The first important point to recognize is that each of these products has been created to moisturize the skin in some way, and they are all considered humectants – which is a substance that promotes the retention of moisture.    Seems like simple rhetoric, but in the cosmetic industry, there are subtle differences.

Balms: According to the FDA, balms have the connotation of healing, so they really shouldn’t be used for cosmetics, but more cosmetic-like drugs – for example, a “healing lip balm.” Technically, this would need drug clearance by the FDA, but assume the product does have this clearance, balms are waxy in texture. Many balms are made with beeswax and vegan balms are often made with candelilla, soy, or carnauba wax.  Balms are created to leave a waxy coating for healing or protection. You want to go for these if your skin is really damaged or you will be in an extreme climate.

Butters: Butters are very nourishing for extra dry skin. They work especially well after exfoliating or after a hot shower/bath when the pores are open for absorption. Butters are usually made with a 75% hard oil (or butter) to 25% liquid oil ratio. Butters don’t have water, so they don’t need a preservative, but be very careful not to put wet hands into a butter jar or you could be introducing bacteria and mold. With butters, a little goes a long way, so start small and add as needed. Be sure to thoroughly rub in a butter or it can feel greasy on the skin.

Creme versus Cream: Focusing on denotation, a “creme” is literally the French word for “cream;” however, when it comes to cosmetics, a creme usually has a lighter consistency compared to a cream. Creams are usually in jars and are focused on the face, under the eyes, or extremely dry skin; they usually have a high consistency of butters (like shea, mango, or cocoa). Cremes are also usually for the face, but are a little lighter in consistency and may have a greater focus on liquid oils over butters (like olive, grapeseed, jojoba, etc.). Most creams/cremes also have some water consistency. Choose a heavier cream if you have very dry skin, for harsher climates, or people with fair skin. A heavier cream also works well on the body for people with “ashy” skin. Opt for a creme if you have medium/dry or combination skin; you may need to switch for summer months.

Lotion: Lotions are lighter in consistency and texture. They are mostly comprised of purified water making them easily absorbed for nearly every skin type. Lotions can vary a great deal based on what types of oils and/or butters are being used, but high-quality lotions will use oils rich in antioxidants like avocado oil, mango butter, shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, rosehip seed oil (etc.). Lotions are also made with emulsifying wax to ensure the oil and water combine, as well as cetyl alcohol and/or stearic acid to create a fluffy consistency; don’t worry, these are all non-toxic chemicals derived from plants. Lotions also require a preservative since they are made with water; if you ever see a lotion without a preservative, run the other way because it absolutely will grow mold and/or bacteria. Lotions are easily spreadable and are perfect for quick, non-greasy moisture, or for skin that tends to get oily or sweaty.

Salves: If you’re seeking a salve, you’re probably in need of some topical medical treatment. Salves are in-between creams and balms; they are softer than balms but waxier than creams. Salves are often created for medicinal purposes, often called ointments; a common example that many of us have used is Vicks VapoRub. They are often infused with essential oils believed to suppress certain aches and pains – like a muscle salve, an after-workout salve, a clear breathing salve, etc. As with balms, please be sure the salve/ointment has FDA drug clearance before making any medicinal claims!

Serums: Serums are very thin in texture and are created to work beneath a regular creame/creme or lotion. They function to protect and encapsulate skin with extra soothing and moisturizing properties. Serums are almost completely comprised of botanical liquid oils and usually only require a few drops. You wear serums on your face and decolletage because they are rich and specifically made for that gentle skin. Be careful not to use too much, or it can definitely make your skin feel oily. Serums are especially useful for filling fine lines and wrinkles while helping the skin rejuvenate lost moisture, usually for dry skin or mature skin.  If you tend to have oily skin or acne, you probably don’t need a serum.

Hopefully this blog helped to clarify all your moisturizing needs! If you have any questions, please comment below!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

I was at dinner with some friends when my phone alarm went off at 8:00 p.m.; it has rung at the same time for the last 14 years. People look at me strangely, and sometimes it has been awkward, but that alarm has saved me from myself, reminding me that I have to take an incredibly important medication at the same time every day.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, some people have criticized and villanized technology, most recently the use of smartphones. But the purpose of all technology has always been to improve lives, and if it’s used as a tool and not a substitution, it can be especially useful for our health and wellness.

You already probably track your steps and/or your food with your phone, and I’m sure you use it to wake you up, but you can use it to be proactive for a multitude of healthy behaviors.

Here are the six alarms I want you to program into your phone TODAY to remind you of your health and wellness.

  1. Any medications that you take! Program your phone to remind you to take your medications. Almost all medications are the most effective when taken at the same time every day. This is especially useful if you have to be mindful of being on a full or empty stomach.
  2. An hourly reminder to take a deep breath. Deep breathing helps to calm and relax you. This can also be great if you’re using an aromatherapy spray, such as Rest Easy; your deep breathing can be filled with lovely essential oils!
  3. An hourly reminder to stretch or take a quick walk. So much of our lives requires us to sit down, especially with the American work-through-lunch mindset, that a quick reminder to get up and keep the circulation moving in your body is healthy and rejuvenating.
  4. Call/Text a friend or family member reminder. The best way to keep your spirits up is by maintaining happy and healthy relationships. Setting a phone reminder is a great way to make sure you’re doing your part to show the people you care about that you’re thinking of them.
  5. Set a water reminder. This is best done in the middle of the day. Once you set your water intake goals, a reminder in the middle of the day can help you remember you should be about half-way to your goal.
  6. Bedtime reminder. The new iPhone actually has a bedtime feature which allows you to program how much sleep you need and reminds you to go to bed. This is really helpful to ensure your body is getting enough rest and maintaining a regular schedule.

Utilizing your phone (which has become an appendage for most of us) as a tool for wellness is yet another way you can ensure you’re taking the best steps towards a healthy life.

What alarms do you set on your phone?

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Brewsome Bar Soap: Making Soap With Coffee, Beer, Wine, and Tea

Brewsome Bar Soap - Making Soap With Coffee, Beer, Wine, and Tea

A normal cold-process soap recipe calls for distilled water as one of the main ingredients. But what happens when you decide to kick your water to the curb? Apparently, brew soap is what happens. I was tired of the same distilled water base for my soap recipes, so I decided to see what the outcome of brew soaps would be. (In short, pretty awesome.)

Like millions of other Americans, I start my morning off with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. During the months when I teach, I’m usually harried and run to a local coffee shop to grab my fix of morning joe, but during the summer months, I like to brew my own coffee and sip it outside on my porch while reading.

Bath Body Candle Moments Mocha Coffee Break Soap

The Mocha Coffee Break Soap has been part of our permanent line. Inspired by sipping coffee, the love of the smell of chocolate, and the desire to create an exfoliating, scratchy bar of soap, Mocha Coffee Break was born.  Screenshot 2017-06-02 23.25.49

Mocha Coffee Break Soap soon became a fan favorite – with myself and my husband included. I love the scratchiness and exfoliation, plus the extra caffeine boost from the soap made with real Colombian coffee helps to tighten pores.

The spring I figured – why stop at coffee? I decided to expand my soaping horizons and explore the skin benefits – and the fun – of using other brews to make soap.

I tried out beer soap. I use Samuel Adams Oatmeal Cappuccino Stout to make Monday Night Football Vegan Soap.  Because of the sugar, beer soap produces a beautiful, fluffy lather. I thought this would be especially perfect for Father’s Day, so I scented it with cedarwood essential oil, with a dash of patchouli. Between the hoppiness of the beer and the woodsiness of the cedarwood, this soap smells masculine, strong, but still elegant.

 

Mondayy Night Football Vegan Beer Soap
Monday Night Football Vegan Soap

 

I really loved using the cocoa butter in this bar soap because it’s extra firm, and I truly wanted to give the impression of a “manly” soap. Working with the beer was a lot easier than I anticipated. After boiling off the alcohol, it actually behaved very well in the soap to produce a bar that was smooth, beautiful, fragrant, and easy to cut. I sincerely believe using a high-quality beer made all the difference.

 

Girls' Night Out Wine Soap
Girls Night Out Wine Soap

 

The name of this soap was born before the idea. I always loved the concept of a “Girls Night Out” theme for one of our moments, but never could quite grasp what that scent was. That’s when I got an invitation from my friend to come over to her house to play board games and sip wine. Boom. To the brew-mobile, Batman! GIRLS NIGHT OUT WINE SOAP! 

Working with wine was a real challenge. First, I had to boil off the alcohol but had to watch not to boil it too long or I would actually burn the wine. Then I had to let the wine cool, freeze, and finally, I could mix it with the lye. The amount of sugar in wine is so intense that mixing it with the lye without freezing would cause the temperatures to go over 300 degrees Fahrenheit – completely making a burning mess.  On the flip side, the sugar creates a beautiful fluffy lather, and the Cabernet gives the soap such a floral fragrance. This soap did start to seize on me pretty fast when mixing, so it’s a bit more rugged looking than others, but an absolutely gorgeous bar of soap.

 

Tea Time Soap
Tea Time Vegan Soap

 

Finally, I wanted to work with one of my favorite comfort beverages – Early Gray Tea. I love the natural bergamot that comes through with Early Gray, and the softness the tea makes for the water. In soap, that soft water translated to a lustrous, smooth bar of beautiful Tea Time Vegan Soap.

I scented this one with crisp cranberries and lemon poppy, so the top notes are bursting with a freshness closing off bottom notes that have a light, sugary edge. I chose to make this bar with shea butter to give it an extra firmness with lovely moisturizing properties. I sincerely love the way this bar smells and wish I would have made a bigger batch!


Overall, I really enjoyed working with different mediums to make soap and will continue to experiment in the future.  I would love to hear your ideas on what I should make next!

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Introducing Twenty Paws Rescue: Our New Charity Organization

Introducing Twenty Paws Rescue- Our New Charity Organization.jpg

Frank and I had been thinking about adding a dog to our family for a long time.  We were waiting for the right moment…pun intended.  When we first got married, we lived in an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets, so it was out of our hands. But when we finally bought our house this past August, it was only a matter of time.

I admit I was hesitant at first. I LOVE dogs. I’ve raised two dogs in my life: Rocky, a lab-beagle mix, and Daisy a pit bull mix, but I was living with my parents and completely aware of how much help they offered. Dogs need tons of love and attention and working two full-time jobs and one part-time job, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give enough of myself.

And then there was Lucy.

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Frank and I saw this little “pocket pittie” (as she was described by Twenty Paws Rescue) and fell in love. Her bio read she was good with other dogs and kids, perfect for us since we have a niece and nephew, and tons of other dogs in our neighborhood. We put our application in, and after a rigorous interview by Rachel and her team at Twenty Paws, we drove to the Upper East Side of Manhattan on May 6th to pick up our Lucy, who had traveled all the way from North Carolina.

After a visit to our vet, we learned that little Lucy, who is only two (and shares the same birthday as our niece…which is also our dating anniversary, April 17th), was used for breeding purposes. She had also suffered from Lyme Disease (cured now). This poor baby had been through so much.

Now coming into our fourth week with Lucy, she is vibrant, alive, and not a pocket pittie anymore, but very much a full, healthy girl at around 58 pounds.

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Lucy loves her walks! We take her on three a day and hire Wag to take her on a fourth while we’re at work.   (Disclosure: Click the link for Wag to get a free week of walks for your dog and a free week of walks for Lucy!)

So, after many conversations, we decided that it would be most beneficial for pups to make our priority charity Twenty Paws Rescue, a not-for-profit Brooklyn-based charity focused on emptying shelters and saving dogs. We loved our time with Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue and hope all of our donations have served them well, but we are moving forward to help rescue the dogs now.

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A portion of all of your purchases from here on in will be donated to Twenty Paws Rescue and we are so excited to begin this new partnership in honor of all the good they do for dogs, and in honor of our Lucy.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

When You Need a Moment to Step Away

when you need a moment to step away.jpg

I haven’t blogged in two weeks. I haven’t made soap in over a month. I only stepped into my lab twice in the last two weeks. I haven’t even logged into my business social media accounts to maintain them. The normal joy I feel from crafting was, strangely, just non-existent. Luckily, since the business is mine to run, I can choose when I want to work and when I don’t, but because the business is almost solely my responsibility, if I choose not to work, my sales plummet.

I try to be open about my anxiety and clinical depression. But we all know there is still a stigma and shame to those of us who suffer from depression – why can’t we just “snap out of it” or “get over it.” Believe me, and I think I can speak for most of us, I wish it were that simple. My whole business was born from my depression; my needing a moment to step away. To take me down from a panic attack, I would light candles of fragrances that would remind me of happier moments in my life….like my wedding cake.  So I started making my own, and the rest is history.

But this blog isn’t about my depression, per se; it’s about recognizing when you need to walk away from things. It became obvious to me that I needed to walk away from my business and concentrate on different moments of my life when we adopted our rescue pup, Lucy. What started as a rushed chore to get home and take her out for a walk became my half an hour of peace. It was just me, Lucy, and the pavement. I didn’t have to worry about posting the right thing, or finishing something up, or some order; I had the perfect reason to put all of it aside and just be present with Lucy.

I’ve been torn about my feelings because I love my business and I’ve worked incredibly hard to grow it, but I couldn’t ignore my visceral reactions of flooding tears, overwhelming trembles, constant migraines, and persistent illness. Walking with Lucy, I felt a little freer, a little less trapped to my home office, a little riskier with my money. I specifically remember thinking that “I can’t be buried in my money, so they can bury me in debt” as I was walking. I felt like Atlas on a coffee break – alive, weightless, impermanent.

Unfortunately, this need to let go doesn’t always work so easily. For example, my day job as a teacher wouldn’t just let me walk out because I didn’t feel like it that day. So, we persevere and continue to push ourselves beyond breaking points causing irreparable damage.  I started to feel damaged…like the sunken hole I was in had gotten so deep I couldn’t pull myself out of it. If I didn’t act in my favor soon, I would have crashed and burned. Lucy was a big proponent to this since I could not longer hide behind my screen all day.   I had to make a choice, and I chose me.

I always preach that people should just learn to say “no,” and yet I always find myself in the corner of an obligated yes. I do believe that true friends will understand whatever you go through, but that can only go so far when all you want is to say no all the time. You can’t be depressed and a good friend.

The real trick is to listen to yourself before it gets to the point where you want to run and hide from all things in existence. Do things for yourself everyday. Light a candle, take a bath, go for a walk with your Lucy. I wish I would have listened to my signs before I felt broken.

Will I turn glittery with this soap? Addressing Customer Questions!

Will I turn glittery with this soap- Addressing Customer Questions!.jpg

Whenever we craft and create products, we do our best to predict customer questions and concerns. We try to anticipate how the product will be received, which is why we offer a comprehensive FAQ page, an ingredients page, and a product care page.

Even with all of the information we offer, including on our blog and product descriptions, we still get questions from customers. We’re so happy when you contact us with your questions because it makes us better makers, providers, and allows us to offer service that is specific for you. Most of the questions we receive are in person at our shows, but we also get them via email and our social media accounts.

Some of the questions we receive are a little obscure, which is why we don’t just update our FAQ pages, but we thought it would be a lot of fun to share them (and answer them) here!

  1. Will the glitter on your soap turn me glittery or make me sparkle?
    1. No, we use cosmetic grade and biodegradable glitter solely for the aesthetic purpose of the soap itself. It will not adhere to your body….or make you a unicorn.
    2. *Side note – We use this same glitter (sometimes) in our bath bombs. This may get stuck to your bath tub, but it is easily rinsed off with water and a cloth.
  2. Will your soap wash off blood?
    1. To be completely honest, the context of how this question was asked freaked us out… A LOT, nonetheless, if the blood is on the body (such as a cut or scratch), then yes, our soap is no different than any other body soap in that it will wash off the blood. If this question was referring to fabric, then the answer is no. You would need a special blood enzyme stain remover for fabric. Just for the sake of precaution – our soap does not claim to stop bleeding or act as first aid equipment. 
  3. Will your products cure my eczema/acne/psoriasis?
    1. As much as we would love to boast that our products could do everything, maybe even your laundry, the reality is that our products are solely created for cosmetic purposes – to make you look younger and more beautiful than you already are.
  4. Is your soap made with lye?
    1. Yes, our soap is made with lye. It’s as simple as this: no lye, no soap. (FYI – Lye is the common name for sodium hydroxide.)
  5. Why did my bath bomb fizzle all out in my tub?
    1. Bath bombs are created as a one-time-use-only bathtub treat. Some people have broken the bombs to get multiple uses from them, but the bath bombs will not perform in the way they were intended to if they are broken.
  6. I’ve left my scrub open in the shower and now it smells weird/looks weird?
    1. While we use enough preservative in our oil-based scrubs to anticipate some water contamination (like wet fingers dipping in to grab more lovely scrub), you can never, ever leave any products open for water contamination. Where there’s water, there’s mold, mildew, and bacteria.
  7. I want to stretch my product, can’t I just add water and/or more oils?
    1. No, no, and please NO. Not only are you risking some serious contamination, you are messing with delicate chemistry and formulations. Unless you know the actual percentages and properties of everything inside of a product, you don’t take it upon yourself to change it. Think of it this way – if you’re making cookies and you’re out of eggs, do you just add more water?
  8. I only use liquid soap; I don’t buy bar soap because it’s dirty.
    1. Well, we actually wrote a whole blog entry about this, but in short – you’re way dirtier than your bar soap will ever be, unless you store it in the dumpster.
  9. Are your products natural?
    1. Ah, the famous natural question. The answer is yes and no. Did we pick our bar soaps and candles off of our magical bath and body bushes, nope; did we use ingredients derived from nature, yup; were those ingredients synthesized and decontaminated through various scientific methods, yup; do we use harsh surfactants, detergents, phthalates, or formaldehyde, nope. In short, NATURE + CHEMISTRY = BEAUTIFULLY SAFE.
  10. Do you have anything made with milk, beeswax, or honey?
    1. No. We are a vegan company who only uses botanical (plant-based) ingredients. The closest we get to breaking that law is the use of palm oil (from palm trees); however, we only use RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) which is responsibly sourced palm oil. [More about why some people don’t consider Palm Oil vegan here.] Milk, Beeswax, and Honey are all animal-derived ingredients, which is why they do not fit our criteria.
  11. Can’t I just melt my own wax and crayons to make my own candles?
    1. We encourage anyone who wants to be a maker to be a maker; however, anyone who plans on selling their products needs to do an incredible amount of product testing first. You can try whatever you please, but FYI on the DIY – crayons are created to be flame-retardant, so they will drown your wick.
  12. Do you have a shop on Etsy?
    1. No, we do not sell our products on Etsy or Amazon at this time. All of our products are sold directly to consumer from us through our website or at one of our tradeshows. We do not plan on joining Etsy or Amazon in the future. Our future plans consist on having independent sales representatives.
  13. How come you don’t have more candle scents/soap scents, etc.?
    1. Putting a product on the market is a lot more work than “Ok, I’m going to put this on the market today.” We have to buy fragrances/ingredients to make product, ensure it goes through complete testing, if it passes – then buy packaging and labels, pay a photographer, store the inventory, and then hope it is successful on the market. This process can take months. We’ve significantly narrowed our product line to ensure the products are successful and attributed to our vision and branding.

Do you have any other questions for us that we have not addressed? Email us at info@scentsthemoment.com and ask us!

 

The Amazing Luffa (Loofah) Soap

The Amazing Luffa Soap

When most people think about “Luffa,” they believe it is a sea sponge. This is wrong! The Luffa Plant is actually a gourd which produces fruit! Commonly grown in the United States and Asia, people have been consuming the squash produced from the luffa plant for centuries.

The luffa you find in cosmetic use, common for exfoliation, has actually been dehydrated for months.

 

Photo courtesy of Wholesale Supplies Plus

 

Most commonly, people purchase pieces of luffa for use in the shower. It’s used by adding soap and scrubbing the skin, but this can actually be quite harsh, more so, left alone in the shower, the luffa has the potential to grow mold, mildew, and bacteria. For these reasons, we created the After the Rain Luffa Soap.

 

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After the Rain Luffa Soap by Bath, Body, Candle Moments

 

Using the melt-and-pour soapmaking technique, we added chunks of luffa directly into the soap, so there is no concern about the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria because these microbes cannot grow on soap.

Ideally, you would use a luffa soap for extremely rough or dry skin, such as on the feet. When used on the feet, it’s an amazing exfoliation of dead skin because the soap is naturally coarse and rough, helping to slough off the hardened, dried skin.

A luffa soap can also be used to invigorate the body. An ancient technique, called “Dry Brushing,” usually requires the use of a bristle brush, but a luffa soap can almost be used in the same way. Using the luffa soap on areas like the hips, glutes, and back can create a deep scratching feel, which promotes circulation and can feel like a deep-tissue massage. Be careful not to scratch too deeply – if the skin is red, inflamed, stinging, or painful, it was done too hard, or the skin may be too sensitive for this kind of use. It’s normal for the skin to be slightly pink.

Luffa soap is also excellent for areas where there are ingrown hairs, as the coarse features of the soap may help to loosen the skin blocking the hair. For this reason, using the luffa soap right before you shave (never your face!) can create a smoother, softer, closer shave.

In any way you decide to use a luffa soap, always be sure to moisturize afterward to keep your skin soft and supple.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

 

 

Secrets to Feeling Younger at Any Age

Secrets to Feeling Younger at Any Age

I’ve felt incredibly old these last few months. Not because of my age, but my general well-being. I’ve felt extra tired, overworked, and this extraordinary guilt anytime I wanted to do something fun because there was either some responsibility I should be attending to, or I couldn’t justify spending the money because of some bill I should be paying.

I decided I couldn’t live this way. I can’t change how much work I have to do because once I commit to something, I must give it my all (or there will be other unhappiness). Nor could I change how much income I have flowing in. So, I woke up this morning with a goal to be mindful about feeling young.

  1. Spend one hour a day doing something just for you. Whether that hour is spent getting a manicure, reading, taking a bubble bath, cooking, being crafty, I will do something just for my enjoyment.
  2. Step away from the TV. While I love television shows and getting wrapped up into their storylines, watching TV is doing nothing for my brain or my waistline. When I get home from my day job, I am exhausted and want nothing more than to go watch TV. But, I’ve decided I could spend that time being productive.
  3. Sing! I was stuck in traffic for three hours with my husband yesterday; it took us that long to drive 50 miles (gotta love New York City). We were both getting frustrated and started snapping at each other. So, I plugged in my phone, and started blasting tunes we both love. We started singing together and suddenly the ride wasn’t so bad.
  4. Eat at home. People who eat at least five home-cooked meals a day are 47% more likely to live an extra decade¹.  I feel like I never have time to cook, but I know I can come up with something quick and much healthier than what I order if I just plan ahead.
  5. Self-acceptance. I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s a vicious cycle, really; I feel depressed about my weight and don’t want to leave the house which turns into overeating. I realized if I accept who I am where I am, I will naturally make better choices. Anything worthwhile takes time. Listening to Hamlet, if we learn to weather the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” we are sure to live a longer, happier life².
  6. Choose to Feel Younger. Don’t let yourself be controlled by three things: people, money, and past experiences¹. We can make the conscious choice to let go to actually gain control and feel younger.

Sources:

¹ Life Hacks by Keith Bradford

² Reader’s Digest, May 2017

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

From Staten Island to Ghana: Making Traditional African Black Soap

From Staten Island to Ghana- Making Traditional African Black Soap

It was Spring Break here in Staten Island, New York this past week. While many of my fellow teacher friends were hopping on airplanes to Caribbean climates, I chose a stay-cation in my Staten Island soap lab. I finally had a full week to be super creative with my soaping!

I chose to dedicate this week’s soap shenanigans to step outside of my normal soaping zone. I made soap with beer, soap with wine, Spanish Castile soap, soap inspired by the Arabian desert, and traditional African Black Soap with a recipe from Ghana.

I started doing my research on African Black Soap several months ago when a friend told me his wife was obsessed with it.  It goes by many names – anago soap, alata simena, and dudu-osun – and it all depends on which part of Africa the recipe is derived from.

What’s interesting about African Black Soap is that no two soaps from different regions are alike. The reason is because it’s actually a tribal recipe, and the recipes that we have now were deduced from backward engineering, otherwise, they are tribal secrets. Secondly, the ingredients are solely based on what’s locally available; however, what each recipe has in common is an abundance of shea butter.

In the soap forum, Soapmakingfun.com, the ingredient derivatives are explained:
“Palm oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter and shea butter are commonly used as base oil, while the lye component, usually in the form of potash (potassium hydroxide), is derived from the ashes of plantain skins, cocoa pods, shea tree bark and the by-products of shea production.”

This is an unusual method of making bar soap because bar soap normally requires sodium hydroxide while liquid soap requires potassium hydroxide – this is why African Black Soap is softer and more crumbly than regular bar soap.

African Black Soap has many natural exfoliants and is generally slightly scratchy when using it. This makes it an incredible soap for troubled skin. Interestingly, even with the exfoliating component, it is also an excellent soap for sensitive skin. It’s generally just an excellent soap to use for people who are seeking a natural alternative for irritated skin.

“Black” soap is a bit of a misnomer to the rustic appearance as it is really a variety of browns. Truly, because of all the natural, local ingredients, batches can extremely vary in appearance.

The natural scent of this soap may not be appealing to many people as it smells a bit ashy, which is why I took my own twist on the recipe and added tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil. Along with improving the fragrance, tea tree and lavender essential oils are also ideal for troubled and sensitive skin while maintaining the completely natural, synthetic-free state of the soap.

The beauty of this soap is how simultaneously clean, fresh, and soft your skin will feel after using it. It’s clear to see why so many people are raving about it, but don’t be fooled by mislabeling. I’ve seen a lot of brands marketing their products as traditional African Black Soap but then reading ingredient labels that have SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), which is an added synthetic surfactant. Read your labels, know your products.

Why not grab a bar of Traditional African Black Soap and see what the craze is all about?

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Obsessed with Clay Masks: The Solution for Every Skin Type

Obsessed with Clay Masks- The Solution for Every Skin Type

I am CLAZY about clay. I became obsessed with clay when I started using it in cold-process soap recipes. Clay brings a natural exfoliant and helps maintain fragrance in soap, but there is so much more to clay. About six months ago, I started using excess clay to make my own face masks, and the positive skin results are undeniable.

Clay is extraordinarily beneficial for sensitive skin, oily skin, and acne-prone skin. This is because clay masks, as they begin to harden, draw out excess oil and sebum from the skin making the appearance tighter, refreshed, brighter, and clean.

As beneficial as clay masks are, there are wrong and right ways to use clay masks. In our dry mix, Saving Face, we recommend leaving the mask on from 4 to 7 minutes, but no longer. According to Allure:

“There are three phases of a clay mask,” McGlinchey continued. “There’s the damp phase where your skin drinks in the beneficial minerals from the outside. Then you have the start of the dry phase, which exercises your capillaries and stimulates blood flow as the mask cools and contracts. But then there’s the dry phase, which draws out moisture from the surface of your skin, causing dehydration and irritation.” Not only does skin then feel dry, tight, and sometimes itchy, but when you counteract it by slathering on extra face cream, you’re just smothering your freshly cleansed skin.

When using your clay mask, you never want it to become completely dry because then you’re drying out your skin far too much. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance of sebum on your skin to keep your face moisturized, but more importantly, to protect your skin against environmental damage.

A clay mask is most beneficial when you have tired and over-worked skin, such as wearing make-up or sunscreen all week. You want to use your clay mask no more than twice per week. A clay mask is also beneficial to use when you start to notice a normal break-out. I’m stressing normal break-out because most break-outs are the results of hormone shifts…and skipping washing your make-up off (which you should never do). If a break-out is abnormal (and you know your skin), or lasting longer than usual, definitely consult a dermatologist.

But what about skincare for the 45+ gorgeous person? Clay masks are perfect for this age group, as well. Most people in the 45+ age group are not suffering break-outs, but instead, are facing skin that is a little less resilient. Clay masks are beneficial for this group because it tightens pores and draws blood-flow to the skin. The extra circulation in the face is what promotes the rosy color and oxygen flow. Blood carries nutrients, water, and oxygen around the body, so anything that increases circulation (like a vigorous workout), helps bring all of the benefits to the skin.

After rinsing off your clay mask with cool-to-lukewarm water, be sure to pat dry your face. Patting your face dry is always how you should dry your face to prevent pulling and yanking on your skin. Follow-up with a serum and/or moisturizer to replenish healthy oils and make your skin glow. We recommend Evanescence for a full facial treatment.

A few final recommendations when using Saving Face: Be sure to start with fresh, clean skin and a dry face. Finally, don’t overwork your skin by exfoliating on the same day. Alternate between Face the Day and Saving Face throughout the week to give your skin a chance to rest.

In the video below, I am demonstrating how to use Saving Face, our clay mask. If you have any questions or skin concerns, I am always happy to answer – just leave them in the comments below!

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