Lora's Beauty Website

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

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Thing About Shipping and Four New Products!

After mailing over two thousand packages, I've discovered a few things about shipping within the US, and would like to share them with you. 

When ordering from Lora's Beauty website or Etsy shop, you should never pay in shipping costs more than the cost of a USPS Flat Rate Padded Envelope ($8.45 as of today). I offer free shipping on all orders over $35 and I've priced my products so orders under $35 can fit in a flat rate padded envelope.

On my website, I make sure that you're never charged more than that, however, I don't have that kind of control on my Etsy shop. 

On my website, I have set up shipping rules so any purchases under $12 will ship for $5, purchases $12 to $34.99 ship for the cost of a padded flat rate envelope, and purchases over $35 are free to ship.

On Etsy I have to enter the weight of each item individually as it's packaged. So a 5 oz bar of soap with packaging would weigh about 7 oz to ship. Etsy then uses the USPS data to lookup the destination of the package and returns the price to mail the 7 oz package from Portland, OR (where Lora's Beauty is.) Over charges can happen when multiple bars of soap are purchased since they'll be mailed in one box. For example, two 5 oz bars in one box would really weigh approximately 12 oz (5 X 2 + 2) but Etsy figures it as 14 oz. Amazingly, over charges don't happen that often and I refund them when they do. 

Now onto some more exciting news! I have new products in my shop!!

Have you ever found yourself with small bits and pieces of soap that are too small to hold in your hand? Or have you ever wanted a washcloth where you could just slip your bar of soap into it and use it for scrubbing your body? Well, Lora's Beauty now has handmade crochet soap savers that will solve both these problems!

These soap savers are made with 100% cotton yarn and have a tiny loop on the corner so you can hang them to dry between uses. All my soap's sizes and shapes will fit in them.

Also new in my shop are my spirits inspired soaps!

There's one made with whiskey,

one made with gin,

and one made with aquavit!

These soaps aren't just fun, they're also great for your skin. Each bar contains aloe vera gel, silk fibers, and either whiskey, gin, or aquavit spirits, as well as all the wonderful oils and butters found in all my soaps.

Aquavit, being made with vitamin E rich caraway seeds, improves skin appearance.

Gin, thanks to the lovely juniper berry, provides smoother, softer skin.

Whiskey contains wonderful antiseptic capabilities making it a great choice for oily skin and a defense against acne. 

One of each in a gift box would make a wonderful gift!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Twelve Years Running and Three Other Things Happening At Lora's Beauty

May has always been a special month for me. Besides it being my son's birthday month, it's also the month I first started Lora's Beauty!

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since I first opened my online shop at Lorasbeauty.com

One of my goals this year, and every year, is to continue to grow Lora's Beauty. I'd love to do that through my website but my Etsy shop generates over 90% of my business. Etsy has been great at generating sales and I have had nothing but good encounters on it. However, I'd feel more comfortable if my sales were diversified across different platforms. That's why in April I opened a Mindful Market Place shop.

Mindful Market Place is similar to Etsy in that small business can create shops. The difference is there is a real push for 'conscious capitalism.' Conscious capitalism is the belief that business is more than just making a profit and shoppers can make a difference by buying from people or companies that share their values. 

It's pretty heady stuff and I'd like to see it take off but the marketplace is relatively new and it doesn't have a lot of traffic yet. I'm also not too keen on the shipping choices. The only shipping option is to calculate shipping per number of items in which you create a fixed price for the first item and then one amount for each additional items. To get around this, I increased the price of each of my products and then offered free shipping on all of them with no minimum purchase requirement. It's not perfect but I'm hoping as Mindful Marketplace grows, the shipping options will improve.

In May I took a vacation to visit my son in Connecticut. He and his fiancee moved there last August. They bought a beautiful house and have quickly made it a cozy home. I'm so proud of them and I had a wonderful visit. 

From Connecticut, I flew to North Carolina to visit an old friend. It was there that I had an idea for a new soap! My friend was doctoring his leg from multiple bug bites with calamine lotion. He said it was what his doctor recommended. 

My mind went to soap and the thought of adding calamine to soap to soothe itchy bug-bitten skin. I quickly went online and ordered some calamine powder. Once I returned home, I made my new Calamine, Oatmeal, and Honey Goats Milk Soap!

Calamine has long been used to relieve irritation from minor skin issues like hives or bug bites. It also works well to dry out rashes caused from poisonous plants. 

Besides calamine powder, I've added colloidal oatmeal and honey to the already great ingredients of olive oil, goats' milk, cocoa butter, castor oil, rice bran oil, and tussah silk. The essential oils of rosemary, lavender, and eucalyptus complete the soap. This bar is now available on my Etsy shop and website

Finally, I want to mention something I'm sure everyone has noticed lately, the cost of everything has increased. This includes the cost of ingredients used in making my soaps, lotion bar, and ceramic dishes. Even the Etsy fees to sell my products has increased. Because of this, I have raised the price for most my products approximately .25 cents per item and, at least for now, I have not increased the price of items sold on my website. So for the best deal, shop directly from my website! The coupon code LBTHANKYOU will give you an additional 10% off on purchases from my website and Etsy store.

One last thing...if you follow me on Instagram (if you don't click here) you probably already know this, I have a trio of new soaps coming out later this summer made from liquor! Specifically they are made from aquavit, gin, and whiskey. It took a little bit of chemistry to figure out how to add spirits to soap but I got it working. Look for more details in my blog next month!

Thank you for your interest in and support of Lora's Beauty!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

An Updated View Of The Soap Studio And Two Other Things To Know This Spring

Hello! I've been making soap for well over a decade now and like most soapmakers, I started in my kitchen. It wasn't until February of 2020 that I finally created a dedicated workspace for soapmaking. I'm thrilled to share some photos with you now since I've done even more organizing in it. First, there's a couple business topics I need to cover.

I'll start with the one I always mention this time of year, the heat and my conditioner bar. With the weather warming up across the US it becomes more difficult to mail the Moisturizing Hair Conditioner Bar since temperatures over 90 degrees will melt the bar as it's packed with moisturizing butters. 

If you like the bar and plan on reordering, I’m encouraging people to order more soon if you think you might run out before the end of summer. Most likely, by the end of May I’ll need to pack all bars in a 4 oz tin with screw on lid increasing the price $2. This tin is an optional add on outside of the summer months.

The second thing I'd like to mention is I'm going on vacation!! This will be my first vacation since 2020, before Covid changed the world, and I'm definitely looking forward to it! I'll be visiting my son and his fiance in Connecticut then going to see my friends in North Carolina. My shop and website will remain open and I've secured someone to fill orders while I'm gone. I have complete confidence in my unpaid helper(😊) but I wanted to mention it especially if you're a repeat customer. My vacation is the first two weeks in May.

Now on to the exciting stuff!! Before and after photos! If you're like me, I love before and after photos especially if they have to do with hairstyles or remolding! 

As I mentioned, back in 2020, I hired a local contractor to remodel a few things in my basement laundry room to make it a functional space that I could make soap in. While they were at it, I had them increase the closet space in the downstairs bedroom.

Here's a peak at what the basement looked like.

This view is looking through the closet in the bedroom after they demolished the wall.

Here's a photo of the closet with the wall before it was demolished and enlarged.

In this photo you can see on the right the new wall for the walk in closet and the space where my new sink and countertops will live.

Since there is a bedroom down here and the tv room, it was important that I had good ventilation while making soap so part of the renovation included a heavy duty fan vented outside.

This is the 'after' photo of the same area with the sink and countertops! This is still a laundry room and the washer and drier are to the right of the sink like the photo above.

Moving to the left of the sink, this is my countertop and open shelving below for supplies.

Continuing to the left, this is my worktable where I fill mail orders and store my 5 gallon containers of oils and the lye. I rearranged this area recently so I had all my mail supplies in one place. I also dry herbs here that I picked from my garden to use in some of my soaps.

Mailing boxes and essential oils are right behind the blue worktable.

My drying rack for curing soap is to the right of the essential oil rack.
Did you know that each bar of soap needs to cure approximately 4 weeks?

Here's a wider view of the curing rack and shelf that holds the mail boxes and essential oils.

After the soap has cured, I move them to my storage area directly behind the curing rack behind the curtains. I hung the curtains to protect the finished bars from dust and germs.

On the soap storage shelves, I hold each variety of soap in a cardboard box to provide plenty of air circulation.

Here you can see I'm working on getting my stock up while I'm on vacation!

Around the corner, I have another rack that holds more soap supplies and molds. Hey! There's my water bottle! I was looking for that!

Finally, deep in the back of the basement corner behind the screen in the photo above, I've set up a photo booth area to photograph my products.

I use all types of lights from every angle to get the best photos as there isn't much natural light in this corner.

That's my soap studio! It really is a workspace so it's not designer perfect but the longer I work in it the more I find ways to streamline things and improve them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The One Moisturizer For All Your Rough Skin Needs Plus A Little Insight On Moisturizers

After receiving several inquiries into whether I sold a moisturizer, I've added another new item to the Lora's Beauty Store! 

But first, did you know there are three types of moisturizers? I'm not talking creams vs lotions vs serums, no, the three types are characterized by the way they work.

Those moisturizers that fill in crevices so the skin appears smoother are typically made with oils and lipids (fatty acids). These are known as emollients and usually include ingredients found in those expensive anti aging creams.

Moisturizers that hydrate the skin by binding moisture from the air to the skin are known as humectants. Humectants are usually water based. Glycerine is an example of a humectant.

Finally, those moisturizers that provide a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture are know as occlusives. Ingredients that are occlusives are beeswax, silicones, and petroleum jelly.

Depending on many factors like age, weather and even genetics, you may need one type of moisturizer more than the other, however, most products contain ingredients from multiple categories. Such is true for my new lotion bar.

This bar contains only three ingredients; rice bran oil and cocoa butter, which are both emollients, and beeswax an occlusive. The end result is a lotion bar that forms a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture as it fills in those dry, rough patches on your skin.

Perfect uses for this bar are to smooth rough elbows, heels, knees, and hands and to heal chapped lips. It also will work to tame fly away hair by applying to fingers then smoothing fingers over hair.

These lotion bars are unscented aside from the natural scent of cocoa butter. They come in a 2 oz tin with screw on lid so they'll fit nicely into a purse, gym bag, pocket, or carry on without fears of spilling.

You can find these bars on my website and etsy shop.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Does Soap Go Bad and Three Other Things You Need To Know

Just like food, soap has a shelf life. 

The shelf life of handmade soap can be determined by looking at every ingredient that goes into the soap. The shelf life of the soap corresponds to the ingredient with the shortest shelf life. For most natural soaps, the ingredients with the shortest shelf life are essential oils, which are usually a year. 

Here's where it gets tricky though. After a year, your handmade soap can still be used and it will work just fine, it may however, not smell quite as strong as it used to and in some cases it may smell not as good. However that doesn't mean the soap has expired or turned rancid, it's still soap and will continue to  clean and fight germs. For the oils in the soap to go rancid, if properly made and stored, could take several years.

Being a soap maker, I use all my older bars. I am currently using a bar of soap in my spare bathroom that is close to 3 years old. It works fine and smells good. I've kept it stored in a cool, dry environment until using it to extend the shelf life.

So, how can you tell if that bar of handmade soap you found in the drawer in your bathroom is still good? Let your nose guide you! Does it smell good? Does it have no smell? Then put it in your shower and use it. If it smells rancid then toss it.

Recently I became aware of a new use for my dish soap and would like to share it with you; it makes a wonderful spot remover for clothing! Get the dish brush wet and rub it over the dish soap. Then gently rub it over the spot on your clothing and toss it in the laundry (with my new laundry soap of course)! Give it a try and perhaps you'll find that spot remover will be one less plastic bottle to buy!

I've received a number of inquiries on if I have an unscented variety of my conditioner bar.  As of this year I can now answer that question with a yes! The bar is rich in cocoa butter so there is still a faint scent, however, no essential oils are added to the unscented variety.

Finally, I want to mention a new color finish to my shave scuttles. Desert Rabbit ceramics is supplying me with a beautiful matte finish dish! Right now I only have it in black but I've been told I'll soon be able to stock matte finishes in other colors and in the popular soap dish! Look for this addition this spring!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Two New Products Coming In 2022 For Allergy Free and Eco Friendly Living

I so enjoyed participating in four holiday markets in 2021. After a disappointing market season in 2020 where all the events were cancelled, I had almost forgotten how enjoyable and enlightening it is to meet face to face with my customers. You guys have so many great ideas!

More than once a customer has asked for certain varieties of soap or changes in packaging which I've implemented. I love hearing other people's perspective especially when they say or ask for something I've never thought of before. I developed my conditioner bar after a customer asked for one. I also created an unscented dish bar after someone requested it. 

Lavender Eucalyptus Coconut Oil Free
A new request I had recently was a coconut oil free soap. I love this suggestion however the main reason people want a soap without coconut oil is due to allergies, therefore, I knew that if I were to make such a bar, just creating the recipe wasn't enough. I needed to also create a work environment where cross contamination would be minimal. After some thought, I decided I would give it a try and I purchased new liners for my molds, a new mixing bowl, and new utensils that will be dedicated strictly to my new coconut oil free bar. 

Lavender Eucalyptus Coconut Oil Free

This bar will be primarily made with olive oil but will include cocoa butter, castor oil, rice bran oil, goats milk, silk, and sugar. Coconut oil is so widely used in soaps because it adds lather capabilities, adding sugar should also do this. My first coconut oil free bar will be color free and contain the skin friendly essential oils of lavender and eucalyptus. If this proves to be something people really like I will expand the line. With all that olive oil and cocoa butter, this bar is really luxuriant! It's curing now so look for it in my etsy shop and website in a few weeks.

Grated Lora's Beauty Soap

Also new for 2021 will be an eco-friendly goats milk laundry soap! I've been using this laundry soap for years myself because it was an environmentally friendly way to use up the end pieces of my soap loaves that weren't quite big enough for a bar. Lately I'm ending up with a bit more end pieces than I can use, so I thought I'd offer the laundry soap for sale.

The laundry soap will come in a paper zip lock bag and will be filled with 28 ounces of powdered soap made with Lora's Beauty grated goats milk bar soap, sodium carbonate (washing soda), citric acid, and sea salt. A mini wooden scoop is included. There are no added scents because the grated soap is already scented with essential oils.

One bag should provide enough soap for at least 30 loads of laundry. You'll only need a couple scoops (1 tablespoon) per normal sized load in an HE (high efficiency) washer. It's best to store the soap in the zip lock bag to protect it against moisture. I've used the soap in cold water and it dissolves just fine.

Best of all, there are no phosphates so the waste water won't be contaminated downstream. Sodium carbonate disassociates in water, occurs in nature and is therefore consider environmentally friendly. Citric acid breaks down easily in the environment, is biodegradable, and is also considered environmentally friendly. Oh and did I mention your clothes will come out clean and your whites whiter? Yea, that too!

I'm excited for another year at Lora's Beauty and I hope these new eco-friendly additions to my shop are useful and allow people to continue to avoid purchasing items in plastic containers. Keep those suggestions coming! Who knows I may implement one. You can always reach me at lora@lorasbeauty.com. Here's hoping you have a wonderful and healthy 2022.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Round Up of Holiday Bazaars For Lora's Beauty & A Discount Code!

We have officially entered the holiday season and with it I want to give a run down on the events I will be participating in this year. After a disappointing holiday season last year with no live events, I am super excited to be participating in three events this year! So if you're local to the Portland, Oregon area, help me ring in the season and find some wonderful, handmade, local gifts.

  • First up will be the Hinson Holiday Bazaar at 1137 SE 20th Ave, Portland Nov 12 and 13 from 9:30-4 This event will feature handmade and handcrafted items and vintage/antiques. Last time I did this bazaar there were many yummy treats and baked goods made by local bakers.
  • On December 2 from 2pm - 8 pm I'll be at the Madeleine Marketplace 3240 NE 23rd street. If you're a little covid insecure this will be a great event for you as it will be outside under the covered area. There will be fires to keep you warm and hot chocolate, beer and wine for sale. Santa also makes an appearance and there will be caroling and a tree lighting.
  • Finally, Saturday, December 4 from 11am-7pm you'll find me at The German Haus 5626 NE Alameda in Portland. This will be the first year I've participated in this event but it sounds like a blast! This event will also be outside so be sure to purchase a Glühwein mug and get a free hot beverage with it. There will be handcrafted items as well as traditional German items available.
For all three events I will bring plenty of soaps for kitchen and bath and even some special kids soaps I don't have available on my website or Etsy store. I'll also have handmade tea towels, face scrubbies, and my beautiful handmade ceramic soap dishes and shave scuttles.

For those of you not local to Portland, I am offering 10% off all purchase at my Etsy shop from now until December 4. Just use the coupon code 2021Holiday at checkout!

Gift wrapping is available!

Above all else, have a healthy and joyous holiday season!