A few weeks ago I had a photoshoot in Kilburn for my existing and up and coming products.
It was waaay overdue and I’m really glad that I done it though I had only booked a 2 hour slot and I didn’t realise until we were shooting how quickly that time goes!
I do think that it makes sense to do product photoshoots regularly (like every 6 months or so) and time it so that you’re able to incorporate any new products into your shoot also.
I will be releasing 3 new products just in time for Christmas! (Wood Wick Candles, Hair Perfume and Eau De Parfum)
Here are the fruits of my labour (or his, depending on which way you want to look at it!):
- Anniversary Reed Diffuser
- Lavender, With Love Luxury Soy Candle
- Lemongrass & Mandarin Himalayan Pink Salt Body Scrub Souffle’
- First Love Eau De Parfum
Would love to know your thoughts on the new photography and products!
As always, The Secret Scent Societe’ Bath, Bodycare and Fragrant Homewares are available to buy on NOTHS: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/thesecretscentsociete
It’s very unfortunate to say but it is looking like I’m going to have to rebatch my Neroli and Lavender Meadowfoam soap. My Cocoa Butter and Rose soap was a success, infact if I had any complaints about it at all it was that it took quite awhile to trace, something like 15 minutes, BUT it looks and smells glorious! My Neroli and Lavender Soap however has issues: I think the lye wasn’t properly incorporated into the batch when I made it – I unmoulded the soap after 24 hours and found that there were oil/lye pockets throughout. I waited for awhile in the hope that perhaps it would dry out and rectify itself but after 3 days the wet patches are still there so I think it would be safest (particularly as they will be provided to strangers as complimentary favours) that I rebatch and start again.
Now I have never rebatched soap before so I’m not 100% certain I know what I’m doing but I have it on good authority by reading a number of soapmaking forums that once it’s rebatched it’s perfectly safe to use, and in this way you can save your failed soap or improve it by adding various nutrients, colourants, fragrances etc that would otherwise have caused your cold process soap to seize when made in the traditional cold process way. Often the reason why people rebatch is because they have forgotten to add an ingredient. My case is simply because I don’t think I stirred it for long (or thoroughly) enough. It was taking awhile to come to trace and I got impatient. Because my experience with other soap batches was so different (they all seized on me within seconds due to, I realise now, the fragrance oils I used). I expected the batch to seize in a moments notice and I was preparing for it to do so but then I was also worried that it was going the other way..it was taking too long to trace. And so the soapmaking story goes!
Well I have been warned that when you hot process or rebatch soap it doesn’t come out quite the way you hope it to (aesthetically that is), and that is a shame because I am not particularly a fan of the rough, rustic, knobbly look, alas it will have to do as as perfectly looking as my soap currently is (aside from the lye spots that is!) it’s not going to retain it’s smooth look after I have rebatched it. On the flip side, at least I’ve learned a valuable lesson about how long it takes to bring this particular recipe to trace, and I had previously written in my notes that I would have preferred a little more Neroil Oil in the batch and with this rebatching method I will now be able to remedy this. ALSO, and for me this is the most exciting thing of all (sad I know), I will now be able to call this soap technique French Milled Soap (though apparently you can’t actually use this term to describe your soap made here, it has to have been made in France!). I know that it basically means the same thing as rebatched soap but this version sounds more desirable to me! lol
There are 3 ways (and possibly more that I’d love to hear about in the comments below if you know of any!) of rebatching soap namely: Microwaving, Oven Method and the Double Boiler Method. I will be using the Microwave Method because it’s much quicker and I don’t intend to spend much more time on it!
So last night I made another batch of cold process soap!
As you know, my last batch didn’t come out well at all (seize alert seize alert!) and I was fearful that this batch would be a repeat of my past failure. I done a lot of research beforehand trying to eliminate all possible causes of a botched batch. I opted to use pure essential oils instead of fragrance oils, soaped at no higher then 80 degrees faranheit, added the essential oils to the oils before trace, made a smaller batch, used less hard butters and more soft oils and stirred my soap with a spatula instead of a hand blender. What a change eh?!
You might be asking…
Why Essential Oils instead of Fragrance Oils? – Because Fragrance Oils speed trace. Due to there synthetic nature, and particularly due to the inclusion of alcohol in Fragrance Oils which reacts with the oils in soap, you will nearly always have an accelerated trace when using Fragrance Oils. Depending on where you buy your Fragrance Oils, some of them have been tested for there behaviour in cold process soap, and this can be helpful BUT as with most soapmaking it is a scientific thing, variable depending on a number of factors namely your recipe, or what temperature you soap at.
Essential Oils are much more stable in that they allow you more time to work with your soap before it reaches trace, giving you time to add colourants, herbs and clays etc. Needless to say though, this differs depending on which Essential Oils you use, typically Floral Essential Oils and some Spicy Essential Oils can accelerate trace quite dramatically therefore it is always suggested to test your fragrance in a small batch first. I used Neroli (citrus oil) and Lavender (herbaceous floral oil) in mine.
Why soap at such a low temperature? – Because heat accelerates trace. Some people say that soaping at low temperatures stops the saponification process from happening but the saponification happens when you combines the lye with the oils, combining them at a lower temperature does not stop this from happening.I soaped at 80 degrees but some soapers combine the oils and lye at a much lower temperature then this, indeed some leave both the lye and the oils in the fridge overnight and soap the following day!
Why make a smaller batch? – Incase of a botched batch! I could have wept the last time I made a full 1 kg batch of soap only to find that it had seized irreparably. It was painful indeed. Not just because of the time and effort it took to make the soap but because of the ingredients which were not cheap! Therefore I thought that as I did not want this to happen again I would make less first to test, and then if it was a success I would increase the quantity.
Why use less hard oils? – Because hard oils accelerate trace! A ratio of 45% hard oils to 55% soft oils are recommended to achieve a good consistency, but up to 55% hard oils should be fine also. Anything more and you run the risk of a fast trace. Hard oils are those that are solid at room temperature such as Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil etc. I replaced the Mango Butter that I had in my original recipe, with Sweet Almond Oil, which is a soft oil.
Why add the Essential Oils before trace? – Because this too speeds up trace! It is advised to add the Essential Oils to the Oil blend before adding the lye to it which allows the Essential Oils to be fully combined, this leads to less of a shock when the lye is added. The chemical reaction is much less severe when done in this way.
Why use a spatula instead of a hand blender? – I’m sure you’ve guessed it – because it speeds up trace! I also have the windows wide open when I’m soaping to keep the room cool, and to speed up the cooling down process of the oils and lye.
So, using all of these processes I began making my soap. I’ve agreed to make some complimentary favours (including travel candles), for a festival that my cousin is organising at the beginning of October and thought that soap would be a perfect favour to give.
When I was making my soap I did indeed notice a difference in the consistency when soaping – it was much much lighter, indeed it allowed me to be spontaneously creative and add herbs which would have been impossible for me to do before. I could also have added a colourant but as I wanted my soap to be white I just added some calendula petals and left it colourless. Or at least I thought that it would be colourless anyway!
This morning I went to check on my soap (which was a suspicious bright orange colour when I last left it) to find that it was still (surprise surprise) ORANGE!
And yes I was a little surprised as I expected it to turn white overnight. I looked over the ingredients:
Meadowfoam Oil – a very light yellow colour – no
Shea Butter – creamy white – no
Lavender Essential Oil – no
Sweet Almond Oil – a very light golden brown colour – no
Coconut Oil – white – no
Palm Oil – BRIGHT orange
Neroli Essential Oil – greeny, yellowy
I was stumped. The Palm Oil that I used previously was a creamy white, slightly yellowish colour and I will admit when I compared it to the Palm Oil that I received yesterday I was a little concerned as it was BRIGHT ORANGE. However I just put it down to the fact that it was from a different batch and therefore might have different visual characteristics. But when I done research on whether Neroli Oil discoloured soap I couldn’t find anything and so I wondered….
I looked back on my previous order for Palm Oil to find that there are infact 2 different types of Palm Oil (Unrefined and Refined), and on the previous occasion I had ordered the Refined Palm Oil which had obviously been bleached to make it white. Red Palm Oil however is much more sustainable then the former and is naturally a reddish orange colour. I called the supplier to make sure and they confirmed that yes, the Red Palm Oil does discolour soaps and there isn’t really anything you can add to remedy this. After my initial shock I soon came to accept that it was a small error but infact it is better knowing that my soap has been naturally coloured, is more sustainable and most importantly WAS NOT A BOTCHED BATCH. Hallalujah, I did not make a botched batch!! 🙂
If I am so inclined (as you know I am not one for taking pictures!) I will out up a picture of my new and improved soap which according to my lye calculator indicates that it is going to be a very hard and creamy, wonderfully conditioning, thoroughly cleaning, relatively bubbly bar of soap!
I’m back! Back from my holiday in the South of France and back from kittensitting my 2 3 month old British Shorthair kittens. I had to leave them at home by themselves for the first time today as I had to go back to work but I have been with them for the past 2 days and they are just adorable. Beautiful, energetic, fluffy balls of lilac (smoky grey) and blue (slate grey) furr. The girl, Sansa, is very affectionate, confident, inquisitive and playful, and the boy Franklin is sweet and gentle but very shy. He loves his sister and follows her around everywhere, it is very sweet to watch.
Provence was delightful – the weather was fine, the food was wonderful, the villa we rented in the small village of Grillon was amazing, the scenery spectacular. I didn’t want to leave. Truly. Once upon a time I dreamed that I would go and live there and being there just made me want it even more. The architecture is intruiging and awe inspiring, some of the buildings there are in better condition that many modern buildings, yet they have been there for hundreds of years and they were built with the hands of man. I just found it all so fascinating. I had the best meal of my life at a little restaurant in Grignan called La Poeme: http://www.lepoemedegrignan.fr/
The restaurant wasn’t a typical choice of mine for it wasn’t glamorous, extravagant or beautiful, it was infact quite plain. And I was beginning to wonder why we had bothered going to it when we arrived as we were not greeted at the door by a maitre’d, indeed it seemed as though there was just one person serving all of the tables in the restaurant (granted it was small), but with her warm, quiet efficiency and then the first course – an aperitif of Olive Ice Cream and freshly baked breads and savoury pastries I was completely won. And I knew this place was something special. Because I knew that I didn’t care how long I had to wait for my food, I didn’t care that it wasn’t a glamorous castle with expensive furniture and fittings, indeed, I didn’t even much care what it was I chose of the menu, because I knew off the strength of the quality of the bread, which couldn’t have been made more perfectly, not the puff pastry more light, that this chef was a chef of dreams: One with the essense of magic aswell as technical skill. I’d never felt so sure before – and I’m not too keen on Bream, but I was sure that he could make me like it, indeed he could make me love it. And he did. But that was after he completely blew both Ian and me away with the starter. It was a simple dish, but then the simple dishes, when they are cooked well, usually are the best: Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart.
I know it sounds boring, but if I were to explain to you how this man complimented the flavours and textures it would blow your mind. I think there was a little fennel in there, and some onion, and some chilli, and something else too, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my head was exploding with sensation as taste buds were teased that had never even been discovered before. It was crazy good.
The dessert was a fruit crème brulee and was just as I’d expect from such a chef god: Bliss.
I wanted to meet this man, indeed I wanted to commend this man for his exceptional talents, but he never emerged from the kitchen of dreams. We were in such a rural part of France, that there were hardly any tourists around and certainly all of the shops and establishments spoke only a little English so I could hardly communicate with him like I wanted to, so instead I said to the waitress, his wife when she asked how I liked the meal:
“C’était Magnifique!” And she understood that well enough indeed she seemed very flattered to have received the compliment, but I meant it, I really did.
I fell in love with a little village called Gordes. Untouched, mysterious, colourful, beautiful, and perched high upon a hilltop with a panoramic view overlooking the valley below with the sweet fragrance of lavender wafting up from the fields.
It was beautiful and serene, sometimes it felt like we were the only ones in the world as most days we only saw a scattering of people, but there was always the comforting sound of birds chirping and trees rustling in the breeze.
We drove up the steep, windy incline of Mont Ventoux, the starting point for the Tour De France, and took in the breathtaking scenery at the summit. It was a surreal experience, it felt like we were on top of the world, in the clouds looking down. An unforgettable experience, and surely Mont Ventoux must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We travelled to Avignon and Orange, where we took in the famous and beautifully well preserved historic buildings: The Theatre Antique & Musee D’Orange and Palais des Papes and the beautiful gardens surrounding.
We went to the emerald green pool Fontaine De Vaucluse, which is the fifth largest spring in the world and visited a wonderful street market in Carpentras. We also wanted to visit Rousillon and The Calanques in Mersaille, but unfortunately ran out of time! Next time we visit Provence we are going to go and stay nearer to Nice so that we can visit Grasse and Eze amongst other places. I realised whilst I was there that no matter where we went in Provence it was spectacularly beautiful. I felt assured that I probably could have picked anywhere to stay and it would have been lovely. I loved the villa we stayed in which was a converted sheep outbuilding. It still had a lot of the original features which gave it not only a lot of charm, but a lot of warmth and character too, with a lovely little mezzanine (which I adored), and a big open plan kitchen with an island (another feature that I love). The huge open fireplace was a great feature of the property along with the stone well used to wash the sheep.
The property had clearly been renovated with a lot of loving care and we absolutely loved staying there. We had a BBQ outside beside our very own private pool and an outside lounge area complete with herbs we could use for cooking or cocktail making. And boy did the sun shine! The sky was as blue a sky as I’ve ever seen!
I’m off to Croatia in a couple of weeks for a house music festival so I’ve only got a few more weeks before I have to leave my adorable furrbabies at home with my boyfriend. They are such a delight to watch that I cannot wait to get home to them each evening.
I’m back because I missed ya! And I felt terribly guilty about being away for so long..actually, how long has it been? a week? 2? – no, I think it was just a week, nevertheless I figured it was high time to check in with you. So here I am! And how are you? What’s been going on? How has your week been?? Are you looking forward to the Bank Holiday?
As for me, I’ve been preparing for my holiday to Ibiza next week (I know, lucky me huh!), working on repricing, designing product labels, starting on my Aromatherapy candle range and trying out a few different Body Butter recipes, one of which was very successful and will be revealed as soon as I’ve taken some photographs of it. It is called Skin Silk Body Butter, and contains Shea Butter, Aloe Vera and Beeswax. Skin Silk has a decadent, soft, creamy texture that absorbs well into the skin and leaves the skin renewed, refreshed and totally revitalised. Scented with pure Lavender Essential Oil this Body Butter ensures that your skin is kept 100% free of harmful chemicals and toxins and is a completely guiltfree way of spoiling yourself (and your skin!)
My friend pointed out the other day that she had an allergy to Shea Butter and Monoi De Tahiti so I’ve decided to offer a range of Body Butters using different butters including Cocoa Butter (which I’m working on now), Coconut Oil, Coffee Butter, Mango Butter and perhaps even Pistachio Butter also. One for everyone! 🙂
A song for you! Enjoy!
Finally, we are blessed with the very rare appearance of the sun! Hallalujah!
Today I have been featured in the lovely Isabelle from Bumble Bean UK’s Purple inspired Treasury. Isabelle makes handmade gift cards using a variety of fabrics and materials and has put together a stunning collection that I’m flattered to have been chosen to be included in.
Featuring my “Lavender, With Love” Lavender & Osmanthus Luxury Soy Candle.
Here are some other lovely items from her Treasury:
You can see the Treasury here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/treasury/MTYwMDA0Nzh8MjcyNDQ1NTkzOA/for-princesses-with-a-passion-for-purple?ref=pr_treasury