Lora's Beauty Website

For handcrafted soap visit the online store or the Etsy Store!

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

New Product! Dish Washing Soap

Keeping with all things soap, Lora's Beauty has launched a new product; solid dish washing disks!

No more plastic bottles of liquid soap cluttering up your counter tops and our oceans. These eco-friendly bars are rich in coconut oil and castor oil for creamy, sudsy bubbles. They will look so pretty on your counter top in a dish of your choosing.

These disks are made to cut grease but still remain gentle and not drying on your hands. The pure essential oil of lemongrass provides a refreshing, natural scent and one bar should last several months (with moderate washing!)

How does one use a solid dish soap?
Simply wet your brush or dish rag then rub in circles on the dish bar working up a lather. Once your brush or rag is sufficiently sudsy, then use it to was your dish(es)!

You can find the new Lemon Fresh Solid Dish Washing Disk on both my website and etsy store!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Eco Friendly Shampoo and Conditioner For Healthy Hair and a Discussion about pH

It's taken a while and I've learned a lot about pH levels, but I finally have created a shampoo bar that's worthy of carrying the Lora's Beauty name!

The Aloe Vera and Avocado Shampoo Bar combined with the new Cocoa Butter Conditioner Bar make for a pH neutrilizing hair care solution without plastic bottles!

Before I deep dive into my new shampoo bar, let's talk about pH. pH is measured on a scale of 0-14 with 7 being neutral, below 7 being acidic, and above 7 being alkaline (basic). Handmade soap, if made correctly, is a base on the pH scale, clocking in anywhere between 8-11. Your skin doesn't have a pH but your skin's acid mantle does and it falls within 4.5 and 6.2 depending on a lot of factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

There's been a lot of talk recently about pH and the skin's acid mantle and how using a cleanser that has a pH closer to your acid mantle is better for your skin. Unfortunately, in order to make a cleanser like that, a lot of synthetic ingredients are needed. Ingredients that aren't healthy for your skin otherwise. Handmade soap made correctly and with quality ingredients is made with beneficial oils and butters that skin loves. Yes, the pH level is higher, however, remember that water, something the skin is exposed to when bathing and showering, is a pH of 7-8.5 depending on where you live.

The point is, disrupting the skin's acid mantle with a quality handmade soap is rubbish. First off, soap isn't meant to sit on your skin, it's meant to be rinsed off and second, knowing that the skin does absorb into the body what you put on it, would you rather have the skin absorb harsh synthetic chemicals or natural oils and creamy butters? Oh, and third, measuring exact pH (not just determining if something is an acid or a base), as I've now learned, isn't that easy. So chances are that really expensive synthetic cleanser claiming to be a perfect pH match for your skin, is in fact not.

All of this brings me back to my new Shampoo Bar. Human hair and scalp oil has a natural pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Unlike the skin though, there seems to be a consensus that using a more neutral pH cleanser on your hair is beneficial. The acidic pH of your hair keeps the cuticle closed and healthy.
Again, shampoo is meant to be rinsed off with water that has a pH of 7 - 8.5, however, using too basic of a cleanser on your hair could cause the cuticle to open and break easier.

In an attempt to create a shampoo bar with a lower pH, I spent time doing research and I found a lot of conflicting information, not surprisingly. Finally, I decided to just start experimenting myself.

Knowing that handcrafted soap was alkaline, I decided to add an acid to my soap right before pouring it into the mold. I had seen from other people's writings that adding citric acid once the soap had achieved trace (when the oils and lye water have emulsified) would not cause the soap to fail and would bring the pH down some. It was important to get the timing right though. Adding it too soon or adding too much and you could end up with a gloppy mess.

I'm happy to report that on my first attempt I was able to not destroy the soap! I still felt the bars were a little too alkaline so I tried again with even more citric acid. The second time yielded a bar I was much happier with and paired with my new Cocoa Butter Conditioner bar, which has an acidic pH, I found a neutralizing solution for hair! I've been using this combination now for a couple of weeks and my hair feels very soft and manageable.

As the name suggests, the Aloe Vera Avocado Shampoo Bar is made with aloe vera water, avocado butter, and the nourishing oils of castor, olive, and rice bran as well as citric acid. French green clay and ground spinach are added to naturally color the bars and the essential oils of tea tree and spearmint provide a refreshing scent!

The Cocoa Butter Conditioner Bar is made with BTMS 50/50 (a conditioning emulsifier), cocoa butter, olive oil, castor oil, and scented with essential oils. The preservative phenonip is added to discourage mold growth since the bar will be exposed to water.

Currently, I'm selling these bars separately but they really are meant to be used together for a healthy, neutralizing hair care solution that's plastic free!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

It's Here!

It's hard to believe but a few weeks ago the wonderful, life-changing purchase I made back in February finally arrived!

My new Vanmoof X2 electric bike!

I worked from home that day and even took the afternoon off so I could put it together.

There were videos to watch to help assemble the bike. Here I am at step 2, removing the packaging. Step one was remove the bike from the box; check!

So far so good, we have power! The display, showing number of bars of power and speedometer, is embedded in the top tube.

After installing the front wheel and pedals, raising the seat and turning the handlebars around, I'm ready to get the bike app! Yes, there's an app. It works as an option to lock/unlock the bike, set the alarm, and shows the location of the bike, among other things.

The bike is a pedal assist so it won't move unless I pedal and the motor, which is in the front wheel hub, won't propel you past 20 mph.
Look how happy I am and that was before I had even ridden the bike! Now, after several weeks of ownership I still have a smile on my face each time I take off on it.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Lora's Beauty on Etsy!

You read that headline correct! Lora's Beauty is now on Etsy!!

Yes, you can still purchase all the great Lora's Beauty soaps on the original website and now you can opt to shop on Etsy as well.

I get it, it's hard to go to a small business's website and enter all your billing information to make a purchase. Although Lora's Beauty continues to use and has always used state of the art shopping carts that protect your personal information, I know, it's still hard. That's why we've branched out to Etsy; in the hopes that you feel more comfortable working within the Etsy website.

Lora's Beauty soaps on Etsy will still offer Free Shipping inside the US on purchase $35 or more and on the off chance you want to pick up a new soap dish or new dress from another Etsy site with your bars of soap, you can do that by just adding them to your cart!

On both the original site and the Etsy site, I'm offering a new round bar of the always popular Cinnamon&Honey Goats' Milk Soap for just $4!

This is the perfect shaped and sized bar for your gym bag or travel bag!

So take a look, follow my shop, order a few bars, and please leave me a review!

Friday, June 7, 2019

5 Things Lately

Hello, yeah it's been a while. Not much, how 'bout you? Can't get that song out of your head now, huh?

Anyway, just a brief check in to share what's going on at Lora's Beauty. As some of you know who follow me on Instagram (click here to follow me), I made a quick trip to Alaska last month. I went to see my son and take in the beauty that is Seward, Alaska.

Wow! Is it ever beautiful! 

Surrounded by the Kenai Mountains, Seward sits on Resurrection Bay in the Gulf of Alaska. I'm adding these photos unfiltered and unedited.

I went with my mom and we saw Alec's ship!

Someone told me that Alaska was a lot like Oregon only everything is just bigger. I couldn't agree more, I mean look at those mushrooms!
Unfortunately, on our next to the last day there, Alec went underway. However, this afforded me the opportunity to get a photo of the ship leaving the bay. Doesn't it look so tiny?

I'm headed back to Seward in July and this time I'll bring a new camera lens so I can zoom in better on the wildlife and the ships.

Meanwhile, back in Portland, we've got the garden planted and have even harvested a little from it such as the romaine lettuce I used to make this smoked salmon (from Alaska of course) salad.

Because of the garden and the fact that the lettuce is ready, we've been eating our fair share of salads and to make them more of a meal I'm all about the extras, like salmon (or tuna), eggs, avocados, and wasabi peas! The wasabi peas tossed on top provide a nice kick and crunch to the salads, seriously, try it!

Another nice summer (or any season) meal I've been doing is shredded chicken in the pressure cooker; it's so simple. I cook 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts with some pre-packaged taco/fajita spice mix and a couple cups of water for about 30 minutes. I then shred them by pulling them apart using forks. We get about 4 meals out of this by using the chicken in burritos, soup, on salads, or whatever! 

I made some last week and we had burritos which is how I discovered squeezable sour cream at the grocery store! How have I missed this before!? Sour cream is just meant to be squeezed! Perfection.

Since returning from Alaska, I've made a new soap which is now available in the online store. This goats' milk soap, named Polar Smoke, is a mad mixture of warm cinnamon essential oil and cool peppermint essential oil with menthol crystals melted throughout!

The bottom black part (the smoke) has activated charcoal and is scented with cinnamon while the polar top is scented with peppermint! 

If you haven't tried showering with a soap that has menthol in it yet then you haven't experienced the refreshing, awakening shower that's perfect for hot summer days. 

Both the new Polar Smoke as well as the Peppermint Ice soap contain menthol and are fully stocked in the online store!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the longer days.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Thousands of Bars of Soap

"Big Order Request" read the subject line and innocently I clicked on the message. It was from a lady in California that I've done business with for many years. Her usual order of around 20 bars a month was about to increase.... "Would you be able to make 5200 bars by June 10th?" the email continued. The current date was March 14.

As she had a certain price in mind, I did what seemed logical to me and started figuring the costs involved in creating one bar of soap in the shape she requested. As it worked out, I could make a bar of soap and sell it to her for the price she wanted to pay and still make a profit but I also needed to know whether I could do 5200 of them in under 3 months! Needless to say, another spreadsheet was created.

As it turned out, yes I could make that many by June 10th however, I had a vacation planned in May and I still work full time at another job! I replied to her email that I'd guarantee delivery of 3000 bars by June 10 and maybe more but I didn't feel comfortable committing to 5200. She responded back saying she'd work with that.

So began my 'Soaping Spring' of which I'm still deeply in the throes of.

Besides the cost and time involved in making that much soap, there were logistics that needed to be worked out. Specifically, where was I going to store roughly 800 bars of soap at a time while they were curing for several weeks?

I had a curing rack that Jeff made years ago that I use for current production requirements; it holds a little over a hundred bars.

To make up the difference I needed something else and quick. Perhaps, all those planter boxes my son made last summer that were still in my laundry room could help?

Drastic measures were needed so after I set aside a couple for my garden projects, Jeff and I began converting the rest of the planter boxes to curing racks by stapling chicken wire to the tops.

In order to meet the production goals, I also needed to make 4 batches of soap a day or one quadruple batch. This required a larger bowl or bucket. It also required 7 more molds. I had one so I needed 3 more for my quadruple batch plus 4 more in case, on the weekends, I made two quadruple batches. A trip to the hardware store for mold making supplies was in order.

Me, staring at my supplies.
Finally, I needed supplies. I need gallons of olive oil, castor oil and rice bran oil, pounds of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and lye, and many, many ounces of essential oils AND I didn't want to pay shipping costs which would drastically cut into my profits.

Luckily I knew of a handcrafter's supply shop about a half hour drive from my house. A phone call to the store and a Saturday trip down the freeway to pick the supplies up and I was off to the races! Remind me sometime to blog about how mind blowing and nerve racking it is to drive on I-5 and over a major river with 50 pounds of lye in your trunk. On second thought, let's just forget about that....

Safely back home, I've been making soap everyday now for two weeks. I'm on schedule and under budget and happy to report that my initial calculations were very close to correct! I've still got another 6 weeks of soap making to go to meet my goal but I should have all 3000 bars complete by the time I leave for vacation!

I'm not sure whether this is a one time order or will be something ongoing. After I come up for air, I'll ask. For now, I'm heads down into soap making!

I had the online store pretty well stocked before I started this project so don't be bashful, you can still order soap!