Saturday, December 1, 2012

Un Petite Cadeaux

In French, "un petite cadeaux" is a small gift, a little something. You know, the tiny gifts that make your day? Whether you tuck them into stockings, casually hand them to a hostess after she opens the door to her home for you, or send them to school for your child's teacher; these gifts are not extravagant yet mean so much. This blog post is a collection of those little gifts that are perfect for this time of year. Soap is the perfect gift; everyone uses soap, it is calorie free, relatively inexpensive, does not add to clutter, and one bar of soap can be enjoyed many times.
We put a loofah in the center of our yummy glycerin soap! These 5 ounce bars of soap offer exfoliation, relaxation and fun all at the same time. Very popular as hostess gifts, teacher's gifts and stocking stuffers and a wide variety of fragrances and colors make sure that you will find the right one for everyone on your list.

Soap in a Sweater
This soap comes in a crocheted soap saver (Christmas Confetti style shown here)  made in the USA by moogly. This reusable bag is made from 100% cotton yarn and will extend the life of a bar of soap because it can be hung up in the shower to keep the soap dry. The best part is that you can use the bag like a wash cloth. Just lather up and hang it up. Toss it in the wash and it is ready for another bar of soap. 

Soap and Balm in Organza Bag
This simple gift is a bar of soap and a 1/4 ounce pot of aromatherapy
balm or solid perfume. Packaged in an organza bag that can be used as a soap saver. This is tied off with a gift tag (not shown).

This "little something" is a brown bag packed with a whole lotta something! A bar of soap, a full size (10 ounce) jar of our ultra moisturizing and a little 1/4 ounce pot of solid perfume or aromatherapy balm. You can add lip balm and shea butter hand cream for an ultimate package of pampering. 

This tiny little box packs a big wallop, the perfect small gift including; 2 oz of sugar scrub, a 2.5 oz glycerin soap, and a lip balm.  Everything someone needs to get acquainted with Bean Tree Soap.
Aromatherapy Gift Set
This set is perfect for the naturalist, the overworked, the person on your list that just needs to take some "me time" but realistically cannot make it to the spa. A bar of soap, a lotion bar, lip balm and a "to go" balm. Made with essential oils, these sets are to uplift, relax or simply help you clear your head.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall/ Christmas 2012 Sneak Peak

I cannot help but to be very excited about what I have been doing this week. I have been in the shop creating new soaps like it is my job! .....Wait! It is my job. Well, one of them anyways. This is not all of it either, there will be about 5 or 6 more soaps added to this list in the next week.  So...just to give you an idea what will be available as soon as they are done curing, here they are:
Organic blue cornmeal and strawberry seeds make this soap scrubby. The clean/ minty smelling lavender, mint and clary sage essential oil blend is soothing and refreshing. This one may be around longer than just the holiday season. 

This is a very happy, feminine essential oil blend.  This soap is like an attitude adjustment in a bar. I cannot imagine anyone being able to resist the uplifting scent of geranium and citrus essential oils. The rose clay is great for cleaning and detoxing skin by drawing impurities from the pores.

 Pumpkin Spice
Spicy, creamy and totally yummy with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pie crust; this is an annual favorite. Real pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and gives this soap it's orange color. There is a crushed vanilla bean swirl (see the tiny specks) which adds a very light, gentle exfoliating feel. I have several pumpkin fragrances and this is by far my favorite. This bar of soap is a must have for anyone who loves spicy fall scents.
Basil Lime
With top notes of sweet lime and base notes of earthy green basil, this essential oil blend soap is really yummy. Definitely a unisex scent. 
 Bergamot & Grapefruit
Top notes of fresh and fruity bergamot blend into deeper citrus notes. It is swirled with pink and green clay. Some of you may remember a soap called Pampelmousse, this one is similar but even better. It is my new favorite soap. Complex, uplifting and clean smelling.

 Blue Christmas 
If you think for a minute I was not channeling Elvis while making this soap, you would be mistaken. The picture does not illuminate the iridescent glitter on the top of the bars, which reminds me of my favorite Christmas cards, the sparkly ones. This soap is Christmas without being spicy and sweet. This gorgeous blue soap is scented with a blend of grapefruit, juniper, Italian lemon and mint. Well rounded and unisex. 
 Apple Pumpkin
This year, I decided to add a little bit of pumpkin to the apple pie. The result is even more delicious. This is a bar of soap that will make you smell good enough to eat. Top notes of apples and pears with middle notes of pumpkin and nutmeg with a base note of vanilla make this a scent to keep you in the spirit.
Don't get caught under the mistletoe without bathing with this first! Cedar, fir, mint are just a few of the essential oils that comprise this very woodsy blend. This is definitely a clean smell that will leave you kissable. 

 Lavender Oat
The lavender essential oil is strong in this soap which is blended with ground lavender and colloidal oatmeal. It is gently exfoliating and very soothing. Which sounds like just what I need after a big holiday party or an afternoon spent shopping. I am definitely looking forward to ending my busy days this season with a bar of this soap to put me to bed.  

 Cranberry Fig
This is another holiday favorite! Crisp tart cranberries and sweet figs are made even better with a hint of blood orange and grapefruit.
Warm Sugar Vanilla
Our moisturizing cold process soap blend and sparkly glycerin soap are swirled in this sweet, delicious bar. This is loved by everyone and a safe choice when you are considering a soap for someone and are not sure of their scent preferences. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Natural Deodorant Pits

I gave up using antiperspirants about 15 years ago when I began questioning the ingredients in them. Mainly it was the aluminum that made me give them up. Then I also had to question the necessity of shutting down pores to keep them from sweating. Isn't sweating one of the ways that the body detoxifies? I like to keep it natural and let my body do what it was designed to do.

Before I say anything else, I suppose I should give you the heads up on the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant. An antiperspirant actually prevents sweating. The aluminum salts in the formula are absorbed into the endocrine gland ducts (the ones that put out the sweat). Inside the ducts, these molecules basically swell and close off the ducts, not allowing the sweat to be released onto the surface of the skin. All antiperspirants have some form of aluminum in them.

A deodorant does what it says, it deodorizes your pits. The funk of body odor is caused by bacteria in your arm pits. Think about it; your pits are dark, warm and moist. The perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So many deodorants have additives that discourage bacterial growth. You see this in many natural deodorants at the health food store, they will boast of essential oils that naturally discourage the growth of bacteria.

So what is the big deal about aluminum? Well...the verdict is still out on any link between antiperspirant and Alzheimer's. The Alzheimer's Society has concluded that there is no evidence of a relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer's. However, many Alzheimer's patients have presented high amounts of aluminum in their brain tissue. Some people, like me, choose to live without using body care products that contain aluminum. My motto has always been, "When in doubt, leave it out!"

For years, I just picked up a crystal rock deodorant at the health food store and went on with my life. It was sold at the health food store and it worked, so it had to be good right? I mean these people know everything about healthy living so I should be safe buying products there, right? Wrong! Then I started using the Adidas cotton-tech deodorant. That worked well, then I realized it relied on tri-closan to prevent bacterial growth. I did not want my kid using that. The evidence against tri-closan being a hormone disruptor in the system is mounting. It is also partially responsible for antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment. (For more information click here read what the FDA says about tri-closan ). I do not want to take any chances. You, the consumer,  really need to do your own research, even if you are spending the big bucks at Whole Foods or your Mom and Pop health food store.

 I will admit that while I am certainly far from being an expert on cosmetic chemistry, I am not afraid to decode a list of ingredients on the back of the bottle well enough to discern if it is something I want to buy. This led me to notice that the rock crystal deodorants contained aluminum. I was so angry! On the bottles it is labeled potassium alum, ammonium alum (ammonium aluminium sulfate) or hydrated aluminium potassium sulfate. The molecular structure of these chemicals are a bit bigger than the aluminum used in conventional antiperspirants. The claim is that these molecules are too big to be absorbed by the skin, but I cannot find any clear scientific trials which prove this. Once again, the consumer is duped by clever wording and misleading packaging. So I gave up the rock.

This began a LONG journey of trial and error. There were many errors down the road of natural deodorants.I have purchased so many brands and thrown away almost as many.  I have a few funny stories of being far from home and realizing I smelled like I lived on the streets. I found a few brands that I liked but it was not until my daughter began wearing deodorant that I became determined to find one that works for her and for me. So...after hours and hours of research, I have finally found a deodorant formula that works, smells nice and does not leave white stains on my clothes.

So a deodorant that I love was born.What is in this deodorant? Well, it is a bit more complicated and chemical sounding than oils mixed with baking soda and corn starch, but it works and does not stain clothing. This is a list of the ingredients and why they are in this product. To purchase this awesome stuff click here.

Ingredients:Propylene Glycol- A humectant, and a carrier in fragrance oils

Purified Water

Sodium Stearate- sodium salt of fatty acids that works as an emulsifier and a surfactant.

Vegetable Protein-neutralizes the enzymes that cause odor to a simple salt.

PEG-200/Hydrogenated a Castor Oil- carrier oil used as an emulsifier and surfactant

Isosteareth-2- agent derived from fatty acids, and works as an emulsifier

Salicylic Acid- anti-microbial agent obtained from willow trees

Steareth-100,-A surfactant derived from fatty acids

Chamomile Flower Extract- anti-inflammatory properties which help relieve inflamed and irritated conditions.

Aloe Vera leaf juice- an emollient with soothing properties.

EDTA- amino acid, prevent deterioration and rancidity.

Essential Oils- steam distilled plant based oils for scent and to inhibit growth of bacteria

Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate (0.3%)- Preservatives.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Soap: Explained.

There are so many different types of "soap" on the market. It can be confusing for the consumer to understand what the different terms mean. So, here is a quick and easy primer on popular soaps that are available.
 Soap- The term "soap" technically means the result of a chemical reaction between oils/ fats and a caustic substance like sodium hydroxide.  The result of this reaction is an agent that cleans and forms a lather. Soap makes water wetter. The way it works is that each soap molecule has a "head" and a "tail". The head of the soap molecule loves water and attaches itself to water molecules while the tail of the soap molecule loves oils and will attach itself to an oil molecule. So oils are flushed away with the water. Soap also disturbs the surface tension of the water. All of this makes it easier to wash away dirt and grime.
        Making Cold Process Soap
Cold Process- This is a process by which soap is made that requires no additional heat. This is the most basic form of soap. Most of the soaps at Bean Tree Soap are made by this method.  Oils are melted and added to lye and then blended. Then they are allowed to undergo a chemical process on their own. The soap has a minimum cure time of 3 weeks. During this 3 weeks, the soap will complete the chemical reaction and lose water, making it a harder bar. The resulting soap is hard and opaque. Cold process bars have a long shelf life however, over time some of the additives like essential oils or colorants may fade. Depending on ingredients, these are the most natural forms of soap available on the market.

   Soap undergoing saponification in molds.

Hot Process- Like cold process soap, hot process soap starts out with melted oils and  lye. The two are blended together but unlike cold process soap, hot process soap undergoes a cooking stage where heat is added. This acts as a catalyst for the chemical process of saponification. The resulting bars of soap are a bit different in appearance but are completely cured once they are hardened in the mold. These soaps do not have a long cure time.
     The Cure- for soapers at least.

                                One of the many cool things possible with glycerin soap, owl soaps.
Glycerin- Technically, glycerin is a by-product of soap making. Every bar of handmade soap will naturally contain glycerin. However, there are soaps which are commonly referred to as "glycerin soap". These soaps are usually transparent. Some have detergents and some are true soap. These soaps are a bit more processed than the previously explained soaps and typically are made from a base. They are very gentle on fragrances and easy to color as the additives are not exposed to the chemical reaction of soap making. Often, these soaps are quite beautiful and allow for more creative and intricate designs as well as some fragrances that are not suitable for cold process soaps.  The high glycerin content of these soaps make them "sweat" if they are left in a humid environment. The glycerin soaps made by Bean Tree Soap are packaged in plastic wrap with a sticker label. It is very important with these soaps that they not be left in water.

Superfatted- This is a term used when a  soap has added extra oils or fats so that not all of them react with the lye. This is also called incomplete saponification. These extra fats make the soap more moisturizing. This is also what makes modern hand made soap better than "Grandma's Lye Soap", the soap that folks remember "taking the hide off of ya". Grandma did not have the means to get pure lye. She had to make her own from potash and often there was more lye than fats in her soap. Which made the soap very harsh on the skin, but great for cleaning. Today, handmade soap is almost always superfatted and much gentler on the skin. This is also why bars labeled as laundry soap should never be used on the skin.

Syndet- The term stands for synthetic detergent. This is what you currently purchase at the grocery store. Most of those bars are not really soap but rather, synthetic detergents. These are often labeled as "moisturizing bars", "beauty bars", or "body bars".  Check the ingredients on these items if you are trying to avoid SLS, a common irritant in high foaming detergent type products like bubble bath. Many solid shampoo bars are actually  syndet bars.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

5 Reasons Why You Need Bean Tree Soap

1. Your skin is the largest organ that you have and what you put on your skin gets into your body. That is why we use natural, wholesome ingredients.

2. We are a small company that makes every batch by hand. This means we pay attention to detail and we can afford to use the highest quality of ingredients to be found on the planet.

3. We leave the glycerin in our soap, it keeps your skin moisturized. The stuff you buy at the grocery has had the glycerin taken out of and then it is sold to you in other products. Each bar of Bean Tree Soap is loaded with the natural glycerin that is formed in the process of becoming soap. One shower and you will see the difference.

4. We believe that life is art. In every task, no matter how mundane, there is an experience to be enjoyed. So we create bath and body care products that reflect the art of bathing. We believe that bathing must never be boring and each lather should remind us that taking care of ourselves is where happiness begins.

5. Allergen free bath care items. That's right! We formulate items for those that are sensitive to nuts, dairy, soy and gluten! We make our soaps in a facility that is free from these items. We live with allergies and sensitivities and know how difficult it can be to find great body care items.