Lora's Beauty Website

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

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

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!