Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Gallery Page

I've decided to add a new Gallery page to the blog to be able to keep track of when all the soaps are fully cured, ingredients, fragrances etc - it's so handy to have everything all in one place.  There are tabs at the very top of the blog, just under the banner, so click on the Gallery page to see all the cold process soaps together.  I'll add more images and information as and when things are made. 

As you know by now that I've decided to close down the Soaperstar website and cease sales but, if people fall in love with the products, I'm happy to continue to sell them but there'll be no hard sell, no promotion, no driving people nuts with continuous "Buy Me" posts. 

If you see something you like and want it, then email me at

Friday, January 28, 2011

Announcement - We're taking a Break

Well, I have a rather large and important announcement.  I've thought long and hard about this for several months now, talked to my husband about it and my friends, had discussions back and forth and, just this weekend, I came to a big decision.

I've decided that I will be closing down Soaperstar for the time being. 

In the time that it's been in existence, I've learnt a lot about myself - what I like, what I don't like, what I can do and what I can't do, what my limitations personally, emotionally, professionally, and spatially are.  I've learnt that I ADORE soapmaking and love making loads of other body products - I love the experimentation the best of all.  I get excited like a big kid when I work on something, even if it doesn't work out because then I have the challenge of trying to fix it and working out why it didn't work in the first place (witness my recent tussle with the Pomegranate Noir soap!). 

I love to build a recipe, to understand why I'm adding the different ingredients, to adding those buidling blocks together and see how they interact - I just adore the puzzle of it, the endless questions about "can I do this", "what if I add that", "why does this happen when I add X but not Y".  I don't always get the answers right but I like trying.  And once I've worked on something, I like moving on to a variation, to something new, to another challenge. 

What I didn't anticipate when I started was the HUGE amount of work that goes into starting a business, no matter how small it is.  Producing something for sale, making decisions about what it should be, what colour, what fragrance, what ingredients, does it do what it's supposed to do, what is my target market, will they buy this, how is it to be packaged, what colours and designs will the packaging be, how will I send it out, how will sell it, where will I sell it... honestly I could write reams of paper about the number of decisions that you have to make for each and every product that is sold.  And then someone comes along and says, yeah your soap is nice but do you do body butters... so you make body butters and have to make all those decisions again .. then someone says, yeah 100ml jars are nice but do you do 200mls? So you have to look and see if there'd be enough demand, how much would the change in packaging cost, does your supplier supply the new size, what should you charge, what should you offer that size in and so on and so forth.  I didn't have a notion quite how many questions you could ask yourself in one day - plus I hadn't copped on to the fact that there was only one person to answer all those questions - me!!!

Some of you might be aware that I also work full-time in education - the reason I got into soaping in the first place was to de-stress from that job, one I find actually very stressful indeed.  I needed a hobby to focus my energies on, and found that I had a huge creative streak (or, at least, I like to think so) and it needed to be expressed - apparently, through the medium of soap! So I made soap and I was excited and happy. 

Being the typical Type A personality, I have to always do the ultimate job I can do, there are never half measures - I drive myself harder than I would anyone else and I'm my own worst critic.  I also jump in with both feet and put my heart and soul into everything I do; now, that's a great thing if you're the person buying the products because you know that I'll have done everything in my power to make the product the very best it can be.  For me, working a full time job and coming home to another full time job, it's not such a great thing, long term. 

For some time, I've suffered from major tiredness issues moving on recently into total exhaustion.  This past week has shown me that I needed to take a step back and look at what I could do to resolve that issue - in the long run there are several options but they'll take time to implement.  What could I do in the short term? And I looked at what gave me pleasure and what didn't, anymore.  Soaperstar has given me huge pleasure but has, in the last few months, also proven an enormous amount of work - the paperwork, the regulations, the promotion, marketing, sales, shipping, designing etc all take such huge time.  Notice I haven't mentioned the making there.  The making, the R&D part I love so much, was becoming a smaller part of the whole - the part I liked was being swallowed up by all the other things around it.  I wanted the "glitter and kittens" part of what I loved (the mad scientist experiments) but the other million jobs still had to be done and I was running out of energy, fast. 

So, in discussion with my husband and my friends, I've made a decision to put me first - to do what I love doing, to make what I want to make, when I want to make it, how I want to make and with whatever I want to make it from.  So, up til now, I've been limited to 1% citrus essential oils in anything - well next soap I make will have 3% citrus oils and who's gonna stop me?! There's a world of US fragrance oils I've not been able to use (because you can't if you sell to the EU) and I want to use them.. so, guess what? I'm going to! I'm going to take all my oils and butters and fragrances and I'm going to make stuff for me, I'm going to have the best fragrances ever, I'm going to take my most expensive extracts and use them on me! In the past, I've always used the spare bits, the ends of things, the leftovers.  Well, no more, I have decided... it's all about me!

I am being flippant really - I have enjoyed Soaperstar in the main, I have learnt so many things along the way and made lots of new friends (I can't even remember if they were customers first or friends first but it doesn't matter now, they're friends now).  I found out what I liked and what I didn't like and I know what I can and can't do .. and what I should and shouldn't do. 

So, I'm taking an extended break, perhaps forever - I need to see what I want to do and when I want to do it.  I'll keep the website open for the stock that's on there at the moment but I won't be putting any new stock up there.  I'll keep up the blog, of course, because I love writing this and I'll keep up the Facebook page cos I love showing off what I've made and I love the comments.  Really, the only thing I'm going to stop doing is running a business ... all the other things, the fun things, the things I like, I'm going to keep doing and enjoy doing. 

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's supported me, purchased from me, commented on my soaps or body butters or helped me in any way during this whole time.  I won't be going anywhere, but where I'll be, I'll be a lot happier and, hopefully, far less tired doing it!!!

Sayonara Soaperstar, it's been a blast!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Soaping Fairies and Saving the Day

I haven't been too well lately, suffering from extreme tiredness - I've had a few days off work to rest and relax and decided I'd make a soap to help me de-stress.  I had in mind a nice swirl maybe (I always have this in mind, it rarely actually works that way ... is this going to be any different?!) and wanted to work with the Pomegranate Noir fragrance oil I've used many times before in body butters and my glycerine soaps.  It's a lovely fragrance, deep but beautifully scented.  It's also really popular with men and women. 

So I decided to make a nice cold process soap with Sweet Almond Oil and Cocoa Butter plus add my favourite pure silk to it as well ... then maybe a dark pinky swirl (thinking of the pomegranate element) and a deep dark blue swirl (to illustrate the depth of fragrance) alongside pure white soap.  So I weighed and checked everything, double checked in fact.  Weighed out my water and my lye (I was tempted to reduce the water level a little but then thought best not to since I was going to try and swirl).  Did everything the way I've done it before and it's all worked fine.  The only variable was the fragrance oil which I'd not used in cold process soaps before.

Everything went fine ... I mixed the fragrance oil with the now liquid oils and butters and mixed it all thoroughly in; then added the lye and wham bam thank you Ma'am, it was seize city! I mean whoooooo hoooooo.... ricing too, lumpy bumpy.  I beat that thing, beat all the ricing out of it and thought, to hell with it, I'm going to do my damn colours anyway, so I poured my prepped titanium dioxide in the batter, stick blended it as much as I could, then poured (or glopped in reality) some of the batter into my pink and some into my blue colours.  Then beat it again because it was starting to rice and sieze and then glopped the white into the mould, then glopped the blue, more white and then the pink and the last tiny bit of white on top.  Banged any air bubbles out of it and hoped for the best.  It looked like creamy semolina at this stage.  Hubs was around and helped out by carrying it upstairs to the spare room which is a sort of soap airing room now. 

So I tidied up (I was literally in a sweat now cos I did all that in milliseconds, rushing like a crazy thing - isn't soaping meant to be relaxing??) and sat down - I have to say it didn't help my exhaustion! Then I decided I'd have a peek and take a photo anyway.  Oh my Lord, this is what I saw:

See the granulation and the pools of oils on top?

This picture shows the pool of oil on the right hand side of the mould

This isn't what it should have looked like at all - I wasn't happy! Fearing it was incorrectly mixed lye (but thinking it couldn't have been either because I stick blended that thing to within an inch of it's life) I checked and found it was definitely oil but didn't want to find out if it was fragrance oil (by tasting) because I'm not that brave.

I went online to my soaping buddies and was advised to hot process it in order to able to save it.  As I put it in the crock pot, I had to scoop it out of the mould and found it had seperated inside also so it was definitely a goner unless I HP'd it. 

As it was cooking, we discussed it online and the consensus was that the fragrance oil heated up the batter so much that was already gelling in the bowl and that it was seperating or leeching out oils - this one is obviously one to HP from scratch.

So I HP'd it and, though it ruined my nice layered effect (which, as I dug it out of the mould to put in the crockpot, I was happy to see that it actually looked really nice), and blended all the colours into one, it certainly made for a nicely smooth soap.  I was pretty happy with the end result and it does smell pretty good. 

In the mould, just at the end of cooking

Cut pics, it was only after that I thought I should have dusted the tops with some mica

Pretty smooth side for HP soap (which can look rather rustic at times)

Finished article

So the moral of this story is that, when something goes wrong and you're sure you've done everything right, HP your soap in order to save any waste ... plus maybe test new fragrance oils on a smaller batch first!

If I had a stamp, I think a stamp and some mica would really bring some life into this soap - I don't though! It does smell really good though and I'm growing to like HP more and more!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ButterBee Silk - Cut Pics

I nervously cut the new ButterBee Silk soap today - I say nervously because I cut the last lot of soaps too early for my tastes which affected their surface (not the soap, I hasten to add, it just made them look a bit more rustic).  But the little change I made to the recipe obviously worked a treat because they are beautifully smooth. 

I used fresh whole Buttermilk, deep amber Turkish Honey and pure Tussah Silk - a combination that'll be hard for anyone with very sensitive skin to resist.  The soap doesn't have any added fragrance or colour - and, to be fair, it didn't need it because it's a beautifully creamy caramel colour all by itself plus it smells wonderfully of creamy rice pudding (due to the milk sugars and honey caramelising no doubt).  I could smell this all day - I hope it last through the cure so you can smell it too.

So, I present, ButterBee Silk - there are 10 lovely soaps and they'll be available from 1 March onwards.

Straight out of the mould

All cut - see how smooth they are?

Up close and personal

Close up of the tops - what a change in colour from when they were freshly poured

I am very happy with these and I predict they're going to be great sellers - I think I probably should make a second batch too!

If you're interested in thsese, they'll be available on from 1 March onwards.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ButterBee Silk

I asked the question on Facebook the other if people liked the sound of a Buttermilk & Honey combo in a soap and the resounding answer was YES! So, always one to listen, I made one today!

The soap is made with lots of Sweet Almond Oil plus some very fragrant Cocoa Butter (it naturally smells really like chocolate).  I've used fresh Buttermilk as the liquid portion of the soap and added pure silk (if you're a regular reader, you'll know my love of silk in soaps) plus lashings of pure golden honey (actually Turkish honey that we brought back with us from our holidays there this summer).  The buttermilk contains lots of vitamins & minerals and is excellent for very sensitive skin and honey is a natural humectant (it draws moisture into your skin) plus has antibacterial properties and is extremely caring for all skin types. 

It has no added fragrance or colour - the current colour comes from the honey itself; it's designed to be extra caring for sensitive skin and will be perfect for those who prefer not to use a fragranced soap or who have dry skin issues. 

This should be ready to cut in a few days and it will be for sale 1 March. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lemon Cream & Green Tea Cut pictures

I promised you some cut pics of the Lemon Cream & Green Tea soaps - sadly I cut too early which has annoyed me a lot but it's all a learning experience.  This makes NO difference to the quality of the soap of course, it just means my designs would be clearer and the soap smoother in appearance. 

The time you can cut a soap is dependent on a lot of factors - your recipe, the outside environment (drier means you can cut earlier, damper, like it is here at the moment, you need to leave it longer, whether you gel the soaps or not etc).  I don't gel and I cut only a couple of days after making the soap - in reality, I should have left it for a week and then cut it. 

Lemon Cream - scented with Lemon & May Chang Essential oil:

Sprinkled with poppyseeds

You can see the subtle swirls of white against yellow soap - if you look at the previous picture, the yellow was so vibrant and now so pale.  You can also see that the poppyseeds get everywhere which drove me nuts!

Green Tea - you can see the slight drag due to cutting too early; its an incredible fragrance though, I just adore it. 

I'm going to leave the soaps to cure and possibly trim them on a beveller (as I'm looking into ordering one) to tidy up the final soaps. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Busy Weekend & New Soaps

Well, I sit here at gone past 11.00 pm on a Sunday night and wonder where on earth the weekend went? Honestly, wasn't it only 5 minutes ago I was enjoying Friday night? Of course, having to spend 5 hours in the hospital on Saturday probably didn't help but what can you do? My Dad (who lives with us) was complaining of chest pains and, of course, you can't mess around with that.  So off we go, straight to A&E where he's taken in immediately (fair dues, they responded PDQ) and hubs and I sat until we had flat bottoms on the hard chairs and couldn't take any more hospital coffee.  As it turned out, my Dad has pleurisy and so is being kept in for a few days to get IV antibiotics - not great but I'm happy, it could have been a LOT worse.

So, with all this mad rushing and stress etc, I needed a day to get relaxed and back into the weekend vibe and what better way for an inverterate soaper to do to relax other than .. yep, soap! And I did, twice (go me!). 

The first is Green Tea which is fragranced with a Green Tea fragrance oil (no surprises there I guess); this fragrance is just lovely, the second I smelt it I knew I'd have to make something really lovely with it; it's a calming green tea fragrance with a lovely citrusy background - a rather perfume-y fragrance which I hope will be a big hit.  It has Sweet Almond Oil & Golden Olive Oil plus added pure silk (as ever, I do LOVE LOVE LOVE silk in soaps) plus some titanium dioxide (you'll see why when it's cut!). 

Sorry the picture isn't the best, Winter light is so dull at times ... this is the first time using this size mould and I got the capacity slightly under so next time I need to up my oil level by about 100 or 200grms I think.  I adore the swirls!

The second is called Lemon Cream and is a blend of Lemon fragrance oil and May Chang Essential oil - I decided to blend both a fragrance and essential oil because cold process soaps can tend to eat delicate citrus oils in the cure and you can end up with a soap that smells just very faintly of citrus.  Plus May Chang is a really beautiful lemon fragrance with almost a fizz to it, delightful.  The other reason I choose the FO/EO blend is that, legally, I'm restricted use to 1% for all citrus EOs so, by blending with a citrus FO, I can extend the lemonyness of this soap (yes, it's a word!). 

This is made with Sweet Almond Oil (a really beautiful oil in soaps, it creates a very conditioning bar with lots of very creamy bubbles - my favourite) and I've added silk, of course, to this soap.  I've put on a sprinkling of blue poppyseeds to give a very slight exfoliation effect but also because lemon poppyseed is such a great combo (and I'll be making a scrub to match which will include the poppyseeds also). 

If you are interested in purchasing either of these soaps, they'll be finished curing and ready for sale by 20 February.  Check out the website at for details then. 

I'll post up pics of the cut soaps in a couple of days when they're ready to cut - I really found soaping today was a real relaxtion for me and a perfect antidote to the madness of Saturday.  In the end, all is well in the Soaperstar household and it's the start of another week very soon!

Night night everyone xx

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cashmere Silk

Well I have a little news! During the Christmas holidays, my fabulously kind safety assessor sent me my Safety Assessment for cold & hot process traditionally made soaps (if you're a regular reader, you'll know that those selling any form of cosmetics in the EU, need to hold safety assessments for all their products).  So now I can legally sell these!

I had a very lazy Christmas and did very little indeed but, in the last few days, the bug seems to have bitten again - starting with this soap, Cashmere Silk.  It contains Sweet Almond Oil and Golden Olive Oil along with a generous dose of Pure Silk (I've used this recipe before and it was recently reviewed on a forum I belong to by a very experienced soaper who raved about it... I was chuffed!). 

The soap in its mould

I've coloured the top layer with a camel coloured mica and a very light dusting of an irridescent glitter - I tried to get the impression of soft, warm cashmere. 

You can see the golden creaminess given by the Golden Olive Oil in the base colour and the glitter gently sparkles

This looks so delicious - like the best, golden, creamy fudge

I think I have captured the feel of cashmere in this soap

I just adore the gentle glisten given by the mica & glitter which really shows the gentle swirls on the top of the soap

The soap is fragranced with essences of Moroccan jasmine, lily of the valley and bergamot with warm undertones of sandalwood, amber and musk - it smells like a very top end perfume, not too floral with a warm basenote. 

The soap will need to cure for 6 weeks and so will be ready by 13 February - it's a limited edition and there will be 8 bars available for sale then. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year, Burns & Soaping

Oh I've been so lax in posting here - I notice my last post was Happy Christmas... well now, isn't that all very 2010 of me, get with the programme Celine!

So Happy New Year to you all - I sincerely hope that 2011 brings you all the happiness and health (and hey, wealth too, might as well go the whole hog here) that you wish for. 

People are talking about setting goals and plans for the year and, to be honest, I'm in such a brain fog right now that it's as much as I can do to decide what I want for dinner.  Oh yep, I've been VERY lazy indeed over the Christmas period.  We had a friend stay for a few days and we all did very little, watched lots of DVD's and had lots of laughs.  I'm not excusing any of that at all because I obviously needed it.  I keep finding that, by the time my holidays hit, I've worked myself up into a state of tension and exhaustion and I obviously need to unwind and just veg out for a while.  Plus, with visitors coming and going, it's not always possible to get time to work on anything, even if my brain had allowed it.

Yesterday, 1.1.11 (what an auspicious date!), I decide to do "something".  What that something was took the form of a facial cleansing/conditioning soap - I had worked on a formula that I wanted to be extra conditioning but didn't lack a bubble factor and didn't fall apart in my hands either (when you up the conditioning factor, you often lose out on the hardness factor and I didn't want a slimey ball of goo to clean my face with, no matter how good it might have felt). 

I had a window of opportunity where there was no-one around and set to it.  I thought a very conditioning bar with silk (naturally, I can't do without this because I really believe it brings something magical to soap), I wanted to use pink clay because it has a ton of lovely goodies for the .. ahem... more mature skin and I wanted to try sodium lactate too in order to help counteract the reduced hardness factor (plus it is a natural humectant). 

So I got everything ready - I decided to hot process this soap as I wanted to see the results sooner than 6 weeks from now (because I leave my cold process soaps at least 6 weeks before testing).  I weighed out my oils and butters, got them melting in the crockpot.  I weighed out my water & lye, adding silk, sodium lactate at 2% of the oil weight (though I've been told 3% of the oil weight works well too) and I included a teaspoon of sugar to help with the bubble factor [again, when you up the conditioning, bubbling can so bye bye too so I've read that a little bit of sugar helps restore that] - so I included 1 teaspoon for 300g oil weight). 

I kept back some of my liquid oils for the superfat (7%) and mixed that with the pink clay, a dash of pink mica and essential oils.  I decided to use Lavender, Mandarin and May Chang - sort of a summer meadow vibe and God knows we need something to counteract the dank winter we have going on here. 

All perfect so far - yay the soaping fairies are off bugging someone else.  Well now, why the hell did I think that for God's sake??!!! Talk about inviting them in! So, I got my oils all melted and put in my stick blender and whizzed just to see and then realised I didn't have enough of the liquid to stop it from splashing all over the damn place.  The bell part of my stick blender has holes in it and, if the liquid level isn't enough to cover them, whatever your blending splashes everywhere.  Greattttt.... not.  So ok, all is not lost... I poured in the lye water plus goodies and covered the bowl with a cloth leaving just the arm of the stick blender out and blended, all splashes container by the cloth.  Of course, somehow the wire of the stick blender knocked against the spoon in my superfat & essential oil mix and knocked it all over! So now I have a pink oil slick on the worktop.  ARGGGHHH! So okay don't panic, I leaned over to get my spatula to scoop it all back into the bowl and OUUUUCCCHHHHH I burn my arm on the side of the hot crockpot.

Close up of my poor burnt arm!

So ok, stop screaming & swearing cos I still have a pink oil slick to worry about and I'm damned if I'm going to lose all those lovely essential oils anyway.  So I spatula up all the oils (basically by manoevering it all to the edge of the worktop and catching it all in the bowl).  Even though I wiped down all the worktops before I started, now I'm sure there's some random toast crumb in there too! Oh well, this is just for me and it'll add exfoliation right?!

So, the bowl with the half stick blended lye is still sitting there and, despite the burning sensation on my arm, I finish blending it, brave solider that I am.  I like that it's produced a very liquid batter but suspect that's because I have a higher level of liquid oils than usual plus the sodium lactate is probably doing it's thang too.  So I pop the bowl back on the crockpot and cover it and allow it to cook away whilst I go about cleaning up the mess everywhere. 

It didn't take too long as it was a small batch (too small in hindsight, next time I'm going to do a batch of at least 500g oil weight) and it was cooking nicely.  I kept checking for zap and zing which I got but then checked again and again til I had no zing and took it off the heat, adding in my superfat oil/clay/essential oil/random toast crumb mixture and mixed.  Once off the heat it sets up rather quickly (I have no clue how people do HP in those intricate moulds because my mix is never liquid enough to show off the detail - anyone has an idea on that, I'd be glad to hear) so I poured it into my awaiting silicone mould. 

So here it is in it's mould:

Apologies for a rubbish picture, it is actually pink and not some random pinky yellow and I will admit I do NOT like the tops of HP soap (if anyone has a remedy for that other than cutting them off, help me out here!)

And here it is cut about 6 hours later (I could do this so quickly because it was a very small batch, a normal sized batch I wouldn't have thought to cut til the next day at least but, in hindsight, I was probably better waiting):

The tops are all crumbly, I didn't like this - could be that I cut too early.  This would look far better if the tops were planed off but, again, this is just for me as a tester so I didn't bother in this case.   

This pic shows the bottom and the top - definitely need to shave off the lumpy top on this one I think. 

So I tried it when I cut it and it really felt good on my face, it has a bubbly lather that quickly goes into a very creamy lather and that washed away beautifully but left the skin very soft.  I applied my tester facial oil serum afterwards and, for a first go, I was very impressed because they seemed to work really well together and my face felt really smooth and sort of polished feeling - this is pretty impressive for me as I've rather mature, dry and sensitive skin so it can react oddly [when it hates something, I get little eczema patches].  I've left it now to cure a little and will use my small amount I cut off one of these bars on my face for the next few days.  I often think you need to use something for several weeks to see it's cumulative effect. 

So, that was my adventure for the first day of 2011 - a new year, a new scar and a new soap!

Happy New Year everyone and happy soaping!!!

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