Lora's Beauty Website

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

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

What's The Best Shampoo Bar For....?

Do you have hair issues? Dandruff, frizzy hair, dry scalp, oily hair, oily scalp, limp hair? Then read on as I may have a shampoo bar to help!

Lora's Beauty carries many types of shampoo bars specially formulated to be more ph balanced than the typical shampoo bar. For more information regarding ph and my shampoo bars, take a look at this blog post. If you're interested in what the best body soap is for a particular skin issue, this blog post may help. Now, if you're interested in what's the best shampoo bar I carry for a particular hair issue, then read on!

Most of my shampoo bars are made with aloe vera juice and avocado butter which are both hair loving. Aloe vera juice will help strengthen hair, calm itchy scalp, and control oily hair. Avocado butter is high in vitamin E making it great at stopping hair loss and breakage, adding hydration and shine, and thickening thinning hair. 

Just like with my body soaps, I start with a base set of ingredients when making my shampoo bars. These include olive, rice bran, castor, and coconut oils. I then add special extras to address particular hair issues. In addition, to all my shampoo bars, I add a pinch of tussah silk fibers which help to repair damaged hair and softens and smooths hair.

I also offer a Pine Tar Shampoo Bar and a Beer Bar. These have the same base set of ingredients but do not have aloe vera juice or avocado butter. Instead the pine tar bar includes goats milk and cocoa butter. Goats milk is rich in vitamin B which is an essential vitamin for healthy hair growth and cocoa butter moisturizes hair making it softer and more manageable.

My Beer Shampoo Bar is made with, of course beer, and cocoa butter. Beer is a wonderful ingredient for hair! It provides body, bounce and shine to hair and being rich in protein and vitamins it helps manage both scalp and hair oil production.

So, what's your specific hair issue and which shampoo bar would help?

Dry Frizzy Hair?

  • Pine Tar - the nutrient rich liquid of pine tar is a natural moisturizer for dry hair.
  • Spearmint Tea Tree - tea tree essential oil is such a beneficial oil for hair. It helps prevent the build up of chemicals and dead skin allowing your hair to be more healthy and moisturized.
  • Lavender Tea Tree
  • Beer Bar - Being rich in vitamin B, beer is a great deterrent against frizzy hair.
  • Papaya Orange - papaya seeds contain vitamin A which helps against dry and frizzy hair.

Oily Hair/Scalp?

  • Lemon Eucalyptus - lemongrass essential oil reduces production of excess oil on the hair and scalp.
  • Spearmint Tea Tree - spearmint and tea tree essential oils help control oily scalp and hair.
  • Rosemary Mint - rosemary essential oil has antifungal, astringent and decongesting qualities which can reduce oily build up on hair and scalp.
  • Lavender Ginger Sea Salt - Sea salt is great at absorbing excess oil on the scalp.

Lifeless Limp Hair?

  • Beer Bar - the proteins in beer bind to hair that's become dehydrated from blow drying and other styling products leaving the hair restored and with more body.
  • Activated Charcoal Patchouli Spearmint - the spearmint essential oil combined with activated charcoal will add luster to dry, lifeless hair.
  • Lavender Ginger Sea Salt - Sea salt adds volume to hair and provides a boost to hair roots.

Dry Scalp & Dandruff?

  • Lavender Tea Tree - lavender essential oil has antimicrobial properties preventing bacteria and fungi from growing, soothing dry scalp, and reducing dandruff.
  • Pine Tar - pine tar gives fast relief to itchy scalp and removes loose dandruff.
  • Activated Charcoal Patchouli Spearmint - activated charcoal will soothe itchy and irritated scalps and moisturize them to prevent dandruff. It's also makes for a great deep cleaning shampoo ingredient.
  • Lavender Ginger Sea Salt - Added sea salt is an excellent exfoliate, cleaning the scalp of dead skin cells.

Thinning Hair and Hair Growth

All the shampoo bars below contain vitamins and proteins that encourage healthy hair growth as well as limiting hair loss.

  • Beer Bar - beer can give extra life to naturally curly hair as well!
  • Papaya Orange
  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Lavender Tea Tree
  • Spearmint Tea Tree
Color Treated Hair
  • Activated Charcoal Patchouli Spearmint is a great cleanser for color treated hair as it deep cleans the hair without stripping away the color.
Gray Hair
The following bars have color additives that are the opposite of yellow on the color wheel and therefore help to neutralize the orange and brassy tones in grey and light colored hair.
  • Indigo Fir Orange - contains added indigo powder.
  • Lavender Tea Tree - contains purple mica.
  • Activated Charcoal Patchouli Spearmint - has added activated charcoal.
Scent Sensitive/Essential Oil Allergies
Now available, a shampoo bar with no added essential oil or colors. Just all natural, hair loving ingredients.

I hope this information was helpful and the next time you're wondering what's the best shampoo for your particular hair need, this can serve as a reference.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Lora's Beauty Holiday Bazaar 2022 Schedule

It's hard to believe but I already feel in the thick of the holiday season! I've probably overextended myself this year but I'm just so excited about this year and this season!! 

So, if you're local to the Portland Oregon area, I'd love to see you at one of these 5 (FIVE!!) bazaars I'll be doing.

  • November 4&5 Hinson Holiday Bazaar 9:30 am - 4pm. 1137 SE 20th Portland
  • November 25 11am-4pm. Moon Market 914 NW Everett Portland.
  • December 3 11am-6pm German American Society Christmas Bazaar. 5626 NE Alameda St Portland.
  • December 8 2pm -8pm Madeleine Marketplace 3123 NE 24th St Porland.
  • December 10&11 10am-6pm Modo Yoga Winter Bazaar 400 NE Grand Ave Portland.

Each market offers a different feel to the season.

Kicking off the season in only a few days will be the Hinson Holiday Bazaar. This one is a wonderful market. Coffee, pastries, and lunch are for sale and you can take your time checking out the handmade goods.

The Moon Market and the Modo Yoga Winter Bazaar are new venues for me and I'm delighted to be participating in them.

The German American Society Christmas Bazaar is a blast and last year was poppin'! There were food carts out front, Santa made an appearance, as did the Army Band. I expect this year to be just as fun.

The Madeleine Marketplace is a nice neighborhood market. Santa is there and the tree out front gets lit at 6pm. Last year there were food carts as well.

If you can't make it to these events, get 10% off my Etsy shop and website November 17-30th. On Etsy, the discount will be taken automatically. On my website, use the discount code Holiday2022.

Enjoy the season!

Monday, October 10, 2022

What's The Best Soap To Use For....?

What's the best soap for ~fill in the blank~?

I'm often asked this question and I love it! I love it because it's an opportunity to talk about my soaps and explain why I choose the ingredients I do. Being able to pick and choose which ingredients I put in my soaps and therefore on my body is one of the main reasons I became a soap maker.

For almost all my body and face bars I start with olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, goats milk and tussah silk fibers. These luscious ingredients form the base of most my soaps and on their own create a very moisturizing bar. I then get creative and depending on the soap I want to make, I'll add special ingredients that are known to benefit skin in one way or the other. These special ingredients determine what's the best soap for a particular skin type or problem.

Before I go any further, I would like to say that for most skin just changing to a good handmade bar of soap will bring noticeable benefits. Many store bought soaps and body washes contain petroleum products and other harsh chemicals and discontinuing use of them clears up many skin problems. However, if you're still having skin issues, perhaps the special ingredients I've added to some bars will help.

Dry Skin

I'll start with the most common skin problem, dry skin. I have a number of bars that work great for this ailment. 

  • Honey Beeswax Honey will deep moisturize your skin and beeswax will hydrate and lock the moisture in.
  • Oatmeal Calendula For dry itchy skin, it's hard to beat colloidal oatmeal.
  • Calamine, Oatmeal, & Honey For very dry skin added calamine is another defense.
  • Eucalyptus Peppermint Studies suggestion the eucalyptus essential oil may strengthen the skin's natural moisture barrier.
  • Indigo Peppermint Basil Indigo is great at relieving redness and irritation and soothing dry skin.
  • Coconut Oil Free Lavender Eucalyptus This bar has no coconut oil in it so extra olive oil is used making for a very moisturizing bar.

Oily Skin/Acne

The following bars work great for acne and oily skin.

  • Cinnamon The antiseptic effects of cinnamon fight bacteria that cause acne.
  • Activated Charcoal Removes impurities and deep cleans.
  • Tree Love with Activated Charcoal
  • Safflower Anise Both safflower and anise help fight acne.
  • Indigo Peppermint Basil Antiseptic and antibacterial properties of indigo powder make it great for healing acne scars.

Eczema/Rashes/Insect Bites

  • Himalayan Salt Has anti-inflammatory properties that heal and soothe skin.
  • Orange Poppyseed Oh the power of those little poppyseeds! They are full of antioxidants that reduce skin inflammation making them a good choice for eczema and rashes.
  • Calamine, Oatmeal & Honey Reduces redness and swelling of infected skin from bug bites, rashes, or eczema.
  • Oatmeal Calendula Colloidal oatmeal binds to your skin and locks in moisture and relieves itchy skin.
  • Lavender Lavender essential oil reduces redness, soothes and calms skin irritations and can help heal rashes. 
  • Patchouli Cedar Sage Patchouli and cedarwood essential oil have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties while sage relieves annoying skin coditions.
  • Pine Tar Pine tar is great at relieving itchiness. It's also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
  • Rosemary Mint Menthol The cooling properties of menthol are great at soothing and relieving the pain associated with sunburn.

Skin Allergy?
  • Coconut Oil Free Lavender Anise If you've ever had redness or itchiness after using a bar of good handmade soap, you could be having a reaction to  coconut oil. Coconut oil allergies are not common but not entirely uncommon either and most handmade soaps are made with coconut oil. Likewise, if you have a known tree nut allergy it's best to avoid coconut oil. These bars are a great alternative being made with no coconut oil.
Baby's Skin?
  • Unscented Beeswax and Shea Butter I purposely designed these bars to be gentle and soothing for the most delicate skin. No added colors or scents and only the best most natural ingredients.

I hope this list is helpful and can serve as a reference whenever a particular skin issue arises. Check out this post where I tackle the question "what's the best shampoo for....?"

Sunday, September 18, 2022

So Many New Things To Talk About

It's been about 1 1/2 years since I retired from my job as a software developer. I kept telling myself once I retired I'd have more time to deep dive into my sales data from Etsy and my website. I had illusions of downloading the data and loading it into a database and writing all kinds of queries against it to determine my best sellers, what people ordered most, ordered least, etc. Basically, do what I had done for the past 20 years at my job.

Well, I'm happy to report I haven't done that. I haven't written one single query against any data anywhere in the past year and a half! Amazingly, I didn't need to. I know what sells and what doesn't because I make the soap, package it up, and mail it every day. And you know what? I make a lot of dish soap and shampoo bars and conditioner bars. Those items really sell on my Etsy shop.

I also know from practical experience that my body soaps sell more on my website and in person bazaars and markets. So armed with that knowledge I'm happy to offer more dish soaps in new scents and shapes, more shampoo and conditioner bars in new scents, and new body bars as I prep for the upcoming holiday markets.

Let's start with the new dish soaps that have hit my Etsy shop and website this month. I'll now offer a GIANT sized rectangular bar! This bar will be 3.5" X 3" X 1.5" and 8 oz, twice the weight of my round soaps and will come in several scents including the new Basil Orange. 

Speaking of new scents, I've added a new scent in my popular round dish soap, lemon basil. 

Another new dish soap shape I've added is a smaller round bar. This bar is approximately 2.25 inches in diameter and has been created, per a request from a customer, to work as a replacement for the dish that comes with the popular Full Circle dish soap set. Naturally, it will work in any soap dish, but if you purchased the Full Circle set, think of this bar the next time you need dish soap.

For a limited time, I have a cube sized dish bar. This is limited because I discovered it was painfully hard to remove these bars from the mold.

Two new shampoo bar scents are coming to my Etsy shop and website this month. 

There is a lavender tea tree bar

and an activated charcoal bar scented with patchouli spearmint. 

Both these bars are vegan and made with aloe vera water, avocado butter, and the other same great ingredients as my current shampoo bars. 

For more variety, I've also added a lavender conditioner bar to my Etsy shop.

Three new body soaps will be available this holiday season. Two of those will make it to my Etsy shop and website, the other one will be sold only at the holiday markets. 

I've been wanting to make a Honey & Beeswax body bar for sometime and am happy to offer this one made with goats milk, tussah silk, and all the nourishing oils and butters found in my other body soaps. This bar can be found in my Etsy shop and website.

Also debuting online later this month is my Indigo Peppermint Basil bar. So much more than just a dye, indigo has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and contains many skincare benefits.

Stay tuned as the holiday season progresses I'll have new gift sets and discount codes for subscribers of my blog! 

If you're local to the Portland Oregon area, my first holiday market will be November 4 & 5 at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church, 1137 SE 20th Ave. Add a reminder to your online calendar! this is a nice, laid back market that also serves coffee, pastries and lunch.

Friday, August 19, 2022

How your package gets to you

I've written before about packaging and shipping your Lora's Beauty orders. As someone who does a lot of ordering by mail, I know it's important. 

Today's post is about how your package gets to the post office. I either walk or bike all packages there. I do this because I love the calm of walking or riding through my neighborhood and it's a great way to get exercise since the round trip is around 3 miles, but most importantly, I do it to be as environmentally friendly as possible. 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have probably seen my 'Journeys to the Post Office' posts. I deliver packages everyday to the post office except on Sundays. That means if you place an order on Monday, it will be in the mail and on it's way to you on Tuesday. Sometimes, if you time it just perfectly, I'll get it in that day's mail.

In case you don't follow me on social media, or you've missed my 'Journey to the Post Office' posts, I thought I'd share some photos from all the season's walks here today.

Let's start with Autumn! Don't worry, that little dog can get his head out of the fence.

Most of the time winter involves a walk with an umbrella but this day we had snow!

As always, spring follows winter!

Finally, summer!

Next month I begin gearing up for the holiday season! That means making a batch of soap just about everyday. I've been keeping a list of new holiday soaps to make including a honey&beeswax bar, an orange eucalyptus mint bar naturally colored pink&green, a navy blue and white bar naturally colored with indigo and scented with cedarwood, peppermint & basil, and finally a smaller round dish soap that will fit in the popular Full Circle dispensers as replacement soap.

Until next time, enjoy the last days of summer!

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.