Sunday, May 20, 2007

Class Review: Lotions and Creams 101

On May 19, 2007, I took the Lotions and Creams 101 class at the Nova Studio in Pt. Richmond.

In this class we learned how to make lotions and creams for the body from scratch. The class covered all necessary ingredients, humectants, emollients and all of the equipment to get started making our very own lotions and creams. After the class was complete, we left with 3.5 ounces of lotion, 2 ounce jar of shea butter hand/foot cream, handouts of detail instructions, supplies and information on all of the ingredients.

I will tell you that the products in the class are great! I do not have dry skin so I do not need to use alot of lotions or creams. But I will tell you that the products feel great on your skin and the scent in the products seem to last for along time on your skin.

I will admit I am alittle nervous trying to make these products on my own since you need to be very precise on your measurements and make sure that everything is at the right temperature. But to start off I did purchase the KD-7000 scale from her. I am planning to purchase all the right tools to create these magnificent products (ie Blending stick, a thermometer, etc).

If you are thinking of selling this type of product to the public, Lori goes over what you need to do to be able to sell your creations (ie Product Challenge Testing to Labeling to Insurance).

Also, I just want to let you know that this class is primarily demonstration/lecture style with some hands-on elements. Due of the necessity of making the emulsion product in batches, Lori demos that portion of the class, but the student gets to scent, color and package the product.

It is well worth the trip over to her studio. I give the class 2 thumbs up!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Digital Scale

Lori Nova recommends the KD-7000 Digital Scale for measuring out ingredients for making your own lotions, creams, body butters, etc.

If you like to purchase a scale, please contact her studio at 510-234-5700 if she will sell you one or ask her who she recommends buying one from. You may find many sites on the internet which sell these scales and they will vary from site to site. I cannot recommend any site to purchase from since I have had experience dealing with them. I bought one from her at one of her classes. She sells them for $49.00 which includes tax. If you need an adapter, she also sells them for $8.00. She accepts checks or cash (preferred) as payment in order to purchase a scale. Sorry she does not accept paypal or credit cards on this item.

But I do trust Lori Nova, she will help you any way she can.

If you do a search on the internet you will find that there are alot of sites that sells this scale. They will vary in price, but the average price is around $48-$49.00. But you have to figure on shipping costs. In my side bar. I noticed that sells this particular scale. You may want to check out their website if you want to purchase one. I cannot recommend any of these sites since I did not purchase my scale from them.

On the packaging, the website for this particular scale is

I have not used my yet, but I will let you know what I think of it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Milk Powders for Your Milk Bath Recipes

If you are interested in using other types of powder milks for your milk baths, sells some milk powders online. They have coconut milk powder ($10.55 for 1 lb); buttermilk milk powder ($9.95 for 1 lb); Goats Milk Powder ($1.85 for 2 oz).

I am currently looking for any local grocery establishments in the San Francisco Bay Area that happens to carry these products. If know any retail establishments that happen to sell these milk powders, please leave a comment. Really would appreciate it!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fragrance Extender

Benzoin is a fixative that extends the fragrance in your bath products, soap or potpourri. Currently, Juniper Tree in Berkeley carries Benzoin in an one ounce bottle for $10.50. On the bottle it states is 100% steam distilled essential oil. According to Juniper Tree, it is a preservative so it will not go bad like essential oils will. But, it does have a slight vanilla aroma which will not detract from your original scent since vanilla goes just about with anything.

When adding benzoin to your melt and pour soup, Juniper Tree recommends 2 to 5 drops. That is probably a good guideline when making individual batches of soap, bath salts, body scrubs. etc. I am planning to do some experimenting to let you know about adding this preservative to other bath products.

According to E. Joy Bowles, author of The A to Z of essentials oils...what they are, where they come they work, says that Benzoin is used as a fixative in perfurmery and is a preservative in cosemetics because the coniferyl esters have high boiling points and are antifungal and antibacterial. There are two different types of Benzoin. There is the Siam version and the Sumatra version. The Siam version is described as a balsamic or vanilla like, where as the Sumatra is still balsamic in fragrance, it is more harsh and more bitter in its aroma.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Milk Bath Recipe - Updated

For those who have taken my bath salt and body scrubs class and wanted the recipe for Milk Baths here is the recipe:

♥ ½ Pint Take Out Container (about 3 oz weight)
♥ ½ cup Milk Powder of your choice: Non-fat, Goat’s Milk, Buttermilk, Cocoanut Milk(vegan), Soy Milk (vegan)
♥ 2 Tablespoons of Fine Sea Salt
♥ 2 Tablespoons of Dried Herbs
Optional: 2-5 Drops of Fragrance or Essential Oils

♥ Bowl or plastic bag for combining/mixing
♥ Measuring cups and spoons
♥ Packaging: ½ pint take out container, cello bag, twist tie, muslin bag, ribbon and label

Using a small 8 oz. plastic cup as a measuring device, start by adding 2 T of sea salt. Then add ½ cup of your choice of powdered milk. Top off the measuring device with about 2 T of dried herbs. Add contents of your cup into a zip lock bag and mix/shake well. Add optional 2-5 drops of fragrance or essential oils to contents in the zip lock bag and mix well. Place cello bag into the take out container. Cut corner off the bag and transfer mixture into cello bag and seal with a twist tie.

Instructions to Use
Simply place 2 Tablespoons of milk bath mixture into a reusable muslin bag and tie it shut. Using a muslin bag in the bath tub helps contain the herbs and dissolve the milk powder bath than just dumping the powders directly into the bath. Drop one into the bath tub while it’s filling. Once in the tub, sit back, relax and let the mixture dissolve into the tub and soften your skin.

Source: Lori Nova, The Nova Studio (

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Making Your Own Essential Oils

As you are aware Essential Oils can be very expensive and prices can vary. In general EO's cost more than fragrance oils because how much of the plant and how hard it is to extract the oil from the plant. But what is great about EO's is the intense scent you get with only a few drops. Since the cost can be prohibitive for some or you just want to try to create your EO's then you can try to extract your own EOs. I just want to let you know that if you try and make your own EO's, your product will not be as potent as the ones you would purchase from a reputable retailer or manufacturer. Because the EO's you purchases have been extracted with the use of expensive distilling equipment.

There are several methods to extract your own oils, Kelly Ewing (author of Making Candles and Soaps for Dummies) recommends the following steps for the oil-infusion method:

1. Mash your herb, spice, or flower to release its oil and place it in a container. Do not use a metal container, or it will interact with the oils. However, essential oils can eventually eat through plastic, so it is best not to store oils in plastic containers. Glass bottles, especially the amber colored ones make the best storage containers for essential oils.

2. Pour either olive or safflower oil over your herbs until they are immersed and then cover the container.

3. Store at room temperature for 24 hours.

4. Using a strainer, strain and reserve the oil in a bowl place underneath the strainer. Kelly Ewing recommends to not forget to press the herbs with a spoon to get more oil.

5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 a half dozen times. Ewing recommends the more you repeat these steps, the stronger your EO will be.

Source: Making Candles and Soaps for Dummies by Kelly Ewing, Willey Publishing, 2005. Page 230.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Soap Items on Clearance at Joann's

I was recently at Joann's in Hayward. They had some of the soap fragrances ($1.17), coloring powders ($1.47), additives on clearance,even the soap kettle ($14.97) was on sale. They were on 50% off.

As for Yaley's scents: Spice Pumpkin, Cucumber Melon, Sugar Cookie and Paradise Breeze were marked down 50% from $5.99 to $2.97.

I know that If you are intersted in stocking up I would check out your local Joann's to see what stock is still available. As of now there is plenty of stock. It looks like they just put these on clearance.

These prices are pretty much at all Joann's (except the Super store).

Joann's Superstore Opens in Fremont

I heard about a superstore opening up in Fremont and I had to check it out. I was not always impressed with Joann's, but I would shop there if the supplies I needed were on sale or on clearance.

So yesterday (5/6) I decided to venture out to Fremont to see what the hubbub was all about.

I was pleasantly surprised. The store is very light and bright plus it is very roomy. Definately no overcrowding at this store. There is definately alot more offered at a Joann's Superstore. For example, they have a Wilton Cake Decorating section to more kids crafts. What really stands out is they have a classroom for classes. Currently, they are offering knitting and scrapbooking but I am sure they will offer more in the future.

If you are interested in taking a trip to Fremont here is the address to the store:

Joann Superstore
43435 Boscell Road
Fremont, Ca 94538
(510) 687-9301

Take 880 and take the Auto Mall Parkway Exit and make a left at Boscell.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Using Recycled Containers/Sterlizing

According to Greta Breedlove, author of The Herbal Home Spa, avoid using containers that previously held medicine, film, poison, household cleaners, spoiled food, compost or fertilizer.

Always sterilize any container that have been previously used to ensure the purity of your final product. If you plan to sell your product, the FDA requires you only use new containers. The following is the sterilizing standards (for glass containers) set up by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

Sterilizing Glass Containers with Metal Lids

1. Wash the containers and lids thoroughly with soap and water, rinsing several times.

2. Combine 1/4 cup bleach with 2 cups hot water and submerge the clean container and lids thoroughly in this solution.

3. Fill a large enamel or stainless steel pot with water.

4. Submerse the bottles and lids, making sure there are no air bubbles left in the bottles.

5. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil.

6. Boil for 20 minutes and let cool.

7. Remove bottles and lids from water and allow to air-dry on a sterile towel.

Plastic Containers

Unfortunately, plastic containers are harder to sterilize because the boiling process may melt them. Greta Breedlove recommends washing these containers and rinsing them in a bleach solution; also a good dishwashing cycle can kill harmful substances that cannot be seen.

Watch for spoilage in your products and even check your bulk ingredients. If they are moldy or look moldy through them out. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Selecting Containers

According to Greta Breedlove, author of The Herbal Home Spa, bottles and containers can get awfully pricey, especially if you are planning to sell your products or give them as gifts. You may find pretty bottles and containers at discount stores, gourmet shops, and gift and speciality stores. You even find them on the Internet. Reasonable PET plastic bottles and containers can be found online at Wholesale Supplies Plus (link under where to purchase products).

Since there are so many different types of bottles and containers, I am to simplify what is out there.

Glass Containers

Clear glass containers are the most common. But blue and amber are coming more popular. These colored glass containers are better in protecting your products containing herbs and oils.

Cream Jars: These are pretty jars that have wide mouths, which is perfect for creams and salves.

Spice Shakers: These are usually two inches in height and are perfect for shaking out dried herbs in small quantities. They are also great for your dusting powders because of the shaker tops.

Woozeys: Narrow necked jars which are designed for herbal vinegars and wines. These come in a variety of sizes, but the most common are 5 ounce, 10 ounce and 12 ounce versions. You may want to use them for your bath oils.

Hex Jars: These are six-sided jars, wide-mouthed jars which are pretty and useful for creams and moisturizers. Greta Breedlove found the lids to be unreliable for travel. If you are ever worried about that you can place your containers in a zip lock bag. At least the mess will be contained in the zip lock instead of your suitcase.

Storage or Canning Jars: These are usually available in pint, quart, half-gallon and gallon sizes. They might also known as Mason Jars.

Boston Round: These jars/bottles come in a variety of sizes from 1/2 ounce to 16 ounces. In addition, you might find them in a variety of colors from clear, blue and amber. Of course, the colored glass will protect products from bright light.

Plastic Containers

Boston Round: These jars/bottles come in a variety of sizes from 1/2 ounce to 16 ounces.

Cream Jars: According to Greta Breedlove, these type of jars are opaque, white and wide-mouthed. They are great for lip balms, salves and moisturizing creams. They are great for travelling.

Lotion Bottles: Translucent, squeezable, flip-top bottles are perfect for creamy lotions and massage oils.

Powder Cylinders: Great for your dusting powders.

Other Containers

Tins: Shallow, wide-mouthed decorative tins containing labels on the cover are great for your lip balms and salves.

Muslin Bags: These come in a variety of sizes. These useful drawstring bags are great for herbal tub teas or for your herbal milk baths.

These are only a few varieties of bottles and containers for your products. And you may find a variety of these categories while shopping online or in a brick and morter store.

More Tools/Equipment Suggestions

There are some tools that I did not think to consider to the last list. I found additional tools from a book titled, The Herbal Home Spa by Greta Breedlove that you may want to add.

Cutting Board:A variety of sizes to work with different jobs. From slicing glycerin soap to slicing herbs. Greta Breedlove suggests wood because they can be replaced if they wear out. If you are using your boards to cut both melt and herbs then it is best to use the plastic ones since they are easier to sanitize and maintain than wood. But, my recommendation is to purchase separate cutting boards for your bath product making. I prefer the plastic since they are easier to clean.

Gloves: Dishwashing gloves are ok, but the closer-fitting latex (surgical type) are best because they allow for fine movements and better dexterity.

Mortar and Pestle: Great for crushing herbs, seeds, flowers, and bark. Also good for fresh fruits vegetables. Greta Breedlove suggests the marble variety, but there are some good wood versions out there.

Spatula: You cannot have too many. Great for scooping ingredients/products and filling containers.

Tongs: The long BBQ type are best used for body wraps. The shorter variety will also help with keeping your hands from hot water.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Tools/Equipment for Making Your Own Cosmetics

According to Natural Beauty at Home by Janice Cox, the following items you will need for making your own cosmetics and beauty treatments. These items are commonly found in your kitchen and you probably already own. You many not need all of the items listed, for example a blender, electric mixer or spoon can be used for stirring. But in some instances, a blender is going to work better than a spoon. Remember to always keep your equipment clean because you do not want to introduce any foreign ingredients into your cosmetic products. In some cases you may want to choose to have dedicated tools/equipment for cosmetic making and food preparation. That is up to you and what you can afford.

Grater: For grating beeswax, soap, vegetables.

Vegetable peeler: For peeling vegetables and grating beeswax and soap. It is easier to use this item for grating beeswax and cocoa butter since it is quicker and the peeler is easier to clean than a grater.

Citrus Peeler and zester: For peeling citrus fruits and removing the zest.

Knives: For cutting and chopping.

Measuring cups and spoons: Essential for measuring ingredients correctly. I recommend glass or Pyrex measuring cups when making soap by the melt and pour method. The glass heats up faster, in which the soap melts faster. And it is much easier to clean than the plastic version.

Stirring Rod: You can use a chopstick for this task. It is not essential, but it helps with stirring small amounts alot easier.

Pans: Steel and enamel pans work the best. Aluminum and iron sometimes reacts with ingredients.

Old Muffin or Loaf Pans : You can use these for making soap. But spray with a release like Pam. If you don't it makes it difficult to get them out. I do not use these for soap making myself. I prefer the silicone bakeware myself for melt and pour soapmaking. I will use the regular muffin pans for making my muffin bath fizzies.

Blender and/or food processor: Works perfectly for mixing up creams and lotions if you do not have a hand mixer. Make sure your blender is dishwasher sage to cut down on cleaning time.

Hand mixer or electric whisk: Speeds up mixing of creams and lotions like a blender does, since a hand mixer is handheld there is more control than a blender. A hand mixer can be purchase inexpensively, if you choose to have a dedicated mixer.

Coffee Grinder: For grinding peels and herbs. Make sure you clean it well after each use. But, I have always heard to have a separate grinder for coffee and one for herbs.

Funnel: For bottling your products.

Coffee Filters, cheesecloth, paper towels: Place in funnels for filtering solutions and mixtures.

Glass and ceramic bowls: For mixing, hearing in the microwave and storing products.

Eyedroppers: For adding scents and natural preservatives.

Strainer: For straining solutions and mixtures.

Sifter: To remove any lumps or air rate any ingredients such as baking soda, German citric acid, arrowroot.

Stove top, hot plate or electric skillet: Some recipes you will need to melt some ingredients. You do not want to melt your ingredients over direct heat. You will need to create a double boiler, which is a pot with 1 to 2 inches of water in it. Then you place a bowl with your ingredients over boiling water.

Microwave: It is not necessary, but most households have one nowadays. This piece is best when making your soap by the melt and pour method.

Assorted Jars, bottles, bowls, and spray bottles: For storing and applying your cosmetics. These items can be found in a variety of places from your local grocery stores to the internet. You may want to wash your containers prior to putting your cosmetics in. If you have alot, you may want to consider running them through a cycle of the dishwasher.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Flowers and Food for the Bath

According to Reader's Digest...Bathing for Health and Relaxation by Eva Gizoska, fruity and flowery bath preparations not only smell wonderful in the water; they also have an instant feel-good effect on the psyche and many therapeutic benefits for the skin.

Commerical preparations may smell good, but they are almost synthetically produced. In order to experience the full, natural qualities of fruits and flowers, you use the real thing. You can add them directly to the bath or apply them directly in the form of packs and tonics.

Fruit and Other Foods

Milk for silky, smooth and soft skin. Not just a favorite with Cleopatra, but Indian women have used milk for centuries. You can simply pour as much powdered milk or fresh milk into a hot bath.

Grapes for blemish-free skin. Add grape juice to your bath, or make a decoction of vine leaves for a cleansing, antiseptic effect.

Ginger helps stimulate circulation. It is warming and aromatic. Add a few tablespoonfuls of ground ginger, or deoction from the fresh root.

Pineapple contains a natural enzyme that helps to improve the skin. Add freshly squeezed pineapple juice to the bath, or use it on your face as a toner.

Honey has natural healing, antiseptic qualities. It helps blemished king and is very moisturizing. Stir a few tablespoons into your bath.

Citrus fruits(lemons, oranges, limes) smooth the texture of the skin. Grate the rind and add it to the bath. Apply lemon juice directly to elbows, feet and knees. Or place the rinds in a cheesecloth or muslin bag, and rub the skin briskly to exfoliate.

Tropical Fruits (melons, papaya, cantaloupe) possess skin-beautifying proprieties. Papaya, especially, is rich in enzymes that can improve skin texture. Mash these fruits into a pulp and apply them to the face or body. Leave fo about 15 minutes and rinse off. Or add some ground almond meal to the fruits and the mixture to exfoliate your skin while you bathe.

Cornmeal and oatmeal are good exfoliants - oatmeal is beneficial to dry, irritated skin. Add them directly to the bath, or make them into a paste with some hot water and a tablespoonful of lemon juice. Massage over body and then rinse off.

Strawberries soothe skin irritations and sensitive skin. Mash them up, appy them to the skin as a pack, and rinse off.

Peach is helpful for inflamed, blotchy skin. Mash the fruit and make into a pack. Apply to the face or body for 15 minutes. Rinse off.

Vanilla smells warm and comforting. Add a few drops of vanilla essense to your bath.


Honeysuckle calms skin irritations. Make an infusion from the blossoms, and add to the bath.

Iris helps improve circulation and has a calming effect. Scatter petals in your bathwater.

Marigold helps dry, sensitive skin. Add an infustion of the flowers to your bath.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Alternate Transportation to The Nova Studio

With the recent situation of the interchange of the MacArthur Maze collapsing, you may wonder if it is worth travelling over to Richmond to take a class.

If you are worried about driving, you may want to take BART to either the Richmond Bart station or the El Cerrito del Norte Bart Station. Then take the 72M AC Transit Bus. If you check the planner, they will tell you that the header will say Castro/Tewkesberry. When I explored this route, the header on the bus did not include that verbage. It included the words MacDonald Blvd, Point Richmond, etc.. Take that bus. Now I took the bus from the El Cerrito Del Norte Bart Station. It took me approximately a 1/2 hour to arrive to The Nova Studio by bus from the El Cerrito Del Norte Bart Station. It maybe better to take the bus from the Richmond Bart Station. But either one works.

So, that is my best suggestion to the situation. I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time to get there because often times the 72M is not always on time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Kids Craft Clubs

I know this is totally unrelated to making your own homemade bath products, but I just saw in the May 2007 issue of Bay Area Parent (San Francisco and Peninsula Edition) that on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 am to 10:45 am there is a craft club for ages 6 - 12 at the Millbrae Library. Pre-registration is required. And it is Free! The address is 1 Library Avenue, Millbrae. Phone (650) 697-7607.

Another suggestion to get your kids into crafting is that every Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm at your local Michael's store has a Kids Club. Each week is a different craft and it is only $2.00. It is a great deal. Some of the crafts are really functional. Check out Michael's website at for more information.

These are great ideas to get your kids interested in something creative! It is worth checking out.