What's in your soap?

Love, and some other stuff

Making soap from scratch is a mix of science and cooking.  On the one hand it is predictable and precise; on the other, it is creative and magical.  I guess that's one of the reasons I enjoy making soap.

I find using olive oil makes the best quality soap. It makes a robust and firm bar, and is free from association with cruel or unethical practices, as is the case with lard or palm oil.  In a way, the ready availability of olive oil in Australia I also consider to be a celebration of the success of post-war immigration to Australia, but in any event, olive oil makes great soap.

Olive oil has one, somewhat minor, drawback. It doesn't do bubbles. It's not the end of the world, but my preference is for soap to have a creamy lather. Adding coconut oil helps with the lather. A lovely oil to work with in its own right, and one with benefits for the skin, coconut oil loves to bubble. Too much, however, can be a tad drying as it likes to do its job as an excellent cleanser enthusiastically!  I like to strike a balance with keeping a high olive oil content and managing a luxurious lather.

With a basic soap blend, I add a number of different oils, depending on the type of soap.  All of the oils I use have benefits for the skin and give the different soap types varying personalities. Do you like your soap to feel like a satin pillowcase? Try Velvet Cream, North of Havana or When in Rome.  Prefer a super rich lather?  Try South Pacific, Madame X... or Spring Sherbert.  Something extra mild?  Try Winterfield or Smokey Joe. 

With about 20 soaps in the stable, I shouldn't really be creating opportunity for more indecision, but I love choice and experimentation, so I hope you do too!


Heady and exotic

I love making perfume, it's something that brings me a lot of peace.  I experiment as much as I can with the natural essential oils that I have and every now and then I come across a blend which I think is successful.

Of course, it is all subjective, what is strange and compelling to me might be repellant to another, but I don't mind that.

When I put together the Nightshade blend, I knew instantly that this was one of the successful ones.  It smoothly combined a number of elements, elevated the scents I wanted to feature and produced an evocative perfume that I'm proud to have made.

Not for everyone, Nightshade is heady.  It's a late summer's night in Acapulco, a midnight tryst in a winter hothouse or it's the lingering memory of the first time you saw your love.  Nightshade is blended to highlight that most beautiful and exotic of scents, tuberose, with a supporting caste of cocoa and black pepper.  

Nightshade takes its place with One Fine Summer and Sleepy Lagoon in the current range of Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez's all-natural, vegan eau de parfums.  


A new soap

I have just released a new soap, Winterfield.   I love coming up with new soap ingredient or essential oil combinations and with this soap, I chose to go for a classic Mediterranean scent, lavender and rosemary.  As I was releasing the soap in winter, I wanted it to have a 'comforting' feel, so I used extra rich and creamy oils including avocado, apricot kernel and hemp seed oils, to achieve a lovely smooth lather - perfect to counter the drying effects of a hot shower.   Winterfield is gently coloured with green clay.

So, please feel free to visit the store to purchase some Winterfield of your own.  Otherwise, you can follow my Facebook page (you may wish to select the setting to receive all of my notifications as otherwise you may find Facebook is something of a brat, not liking to share everything it should) to keep up to date with which markets I'll be at and when.

1960s Toy Stencils

Colour Inspiration

Some time ago, I came across a bunch of old toys and stuff from my childhood including these wonderfully coloured plastic stencils.  I love that translucent soft plastic and the 1960s Eurasian designs.   I think my favourite was the seal, though the lion and squirrel come pretty close.

Enriched Bath Salts

New products for 2014!

I recently trialled a range of bath salts and I was very pleased with the results.  I sold them at That Dapper Market and people seemed to respond to them well. 

In making the salts, I considered what I wanted out of a bath product - something luxurious and indulgent - something which softens the water (sheesh, Adelaide water is hard!), leaves the skin gently moisturised and provides a wonderful scent (gentle and not over-powering).  

So, I used high quality, mineral-rich salts - Dead Sea mineral salt and pink Himalayan rock salt - mixed with skin-softening epsom salts and added a splash of shea oil.  I chose shea oil because it feels particularly nice on the skin.   The shea oil and the essential oils I added needed to be anchored (oil will eventually seep to the bottom so something needs to keep it suspended around the salt throughout the jar), so I used a blend of arrowroot and bicarbonate soda (again, great for softening water).

I made three, if I might say so myself - amazing - all-natural scents:

The Violet Hour - a complex yet sweet blend of violet leaf essential oil and vanillin;

West of the Moon - a super-rich floral blend of rose geranium and ylang ylang and;

Evening in Capri - a sophisticated dry citrus blend of kaffir lime and bergamot.

Each jar of bath salts is accompanied by a cute little wooden spoon (made from plantation wood) and is beautifully labelled ready for gifting or indulging!   The 200g jars of salt will be $16.00 and postage will be $7.00.   The salts will be ready in the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez store about mid-January.

When in Rome

Breezing along on a breeze

I have just released a new soap - When in Rome.  This wonderfully aromatic basil and spearmint scented soap will be fresh start to the day and put you in the mood for scooting around town with the wind in your hair!

Packed full of excellent quality oils including olive oil, olive pomace, shea oil, rice bran oil, meadowfoam seed oil and a dash of castor oil (for that silky skin feel!), When in Rome is a treat for the skin and the senses!

Sophisticated and youthful, When in Rome is all natural, hand crafted, vegan and contains no palm oil.  Now available in store!

Top photo: Detail from the cover of "The New Target Book for Girls".

Tea and...Sunday Spice!

A deliciously scented new soap

A wonderful addition to the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez collection - Sunday Spice.  With a blend of oils packed with skin-loving goodness, like olive oil, olive pomace, cocoa butter, shea oil and avocado oil, Sunday Spice is a rich and luxurious soap.  Scented with carrot seed and ginger essential oils, this soap will make your mouth water!  Delicious!

Sunday Spice is all natural, vegan and palm oil free.  Gentle on your skin and a treat for your senses!  

Now available through Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez's store.  Pay a visit by clicking the shop button in the right-hand column.

Sneak Peak at New Soap

As Yet Unnamed 

I have a few naming options up my sleeves for this one, but feel in no hurry to settle on it now.  I have four weeks, because that is how long this new soap will be curing before being boxed up, labelled and sent into the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez store!

But let me tell you about what is in New Soap - olive oil, olive pomace, macadamia nut oil, shea oil and a dash of castor oil.  But as if that isn't enough to make your skin soft and silky, I have added Mojave Living Clay!  Mojave Living Clay is a calcium bentonite/montmorillonite clay from, you guessed it, the Mojave Desert in southern California!  This clay is rich in minerals and is excellent for drawing out impurities in the skin.  In a soap, the clay offers a silky texture which will enhance your bathing experience!

Here it is, as a loaf, just before being hand cut into bars:

Madame X...

Coming Soon

I wanted to create a scent for a soap that suggested an adventurous spirit.  Something floral and exotic, yet edgy.  I trialed some combinations of essential oils and finally settled on this new scent.  A dangerously exciting blend of rose geranium, ylang ylang and black pepper creates the perfect scent for the mysterious and daring souls amongst us. 

Madame X... is lavishly packed with skin-conditioning oils including olive oil, olive pomace, cocoa butter, apricot kernel oil and musk melon oil.  It is coloured with the beautiful muted red of Australian red clay.  So, whether you will be riding your horse at full speed across the moors, jumping from one Parisian roof to another in your cat-suit or just making a dramatic entrance into the ballroom, you can rest assured that your skin will be in perfect form for your busy life.

Madame X... will be available in the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez store in four weeks.

Dessert Time!

Here it is!  Lemon Meringue!

I have been making this soap for a couple of years now and I love it!  It is deliciously scented with lemony may chang and gorgeously coloured with botanicals (annatto) and topped off with white peaks.  And it is a treat for your skin too, with its olive oil, apricot kernel oil and evening primrose oil (and a dash of my an old favourite, castor oil, for a silky-skin finish!). 

Now available for sale in the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez store - your passport to soap wonderland is one click away on the button, top right. 

One Fine Summer

A new soap!

If you're a daydreamer, you'll understand how the first days of summer hold a special resonance in your vivid imagination.  Whether it be lying in the grass looking up and pondering how blue the sky gets, exploring the pine trees by the beach, or sipping your first Pimm's No.1 for the season, it's a bright and happy time.  

And bright and happy really does describe this soap!  Starting with a base of olive oil and coconut oil, it is further lavished with macadamia nut oil, shea oil and super-charged with olive pomace.  A superb blend of oils to condition your skin, with a dash of castor oil to make your skin feel like silk.  

One Fine Summer is gently scented with green geranium and Madagascan tagetes, a green floral with sweet citrus notes.  A sweet and youthful scent.  Natural chlorophyll colours the soap a perfect soft green.

One Fine Summer is all-natural, vegan and pure luxury!   It will be available in Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez's shop in two week's time.  


Delicious Lemon Meringue

Alert, sweet tooths!  I have whipped up a batch of sweet, lemony Lemon Meringue soap!  A drools-worthy delight!   But it's not all about the smell; it's about the luxurious feel of it too.  A luscious blend of olive oil, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil and evening primrose oil make this soap a super skin conditioner.  Naturally coloured with annatto, it even looks like a slice of lemon meringue!

But there's one thing you can't do with this soap, and that's eat it!  All natural, all vegan and a luxurious treat for your skin, Lemon Meringue will be in Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez's shop in just 3 weeks time!