Absence: On the Road

On the Road

I will be on the road April 23-26!  My other life as a consultant requires that I travel occasionally.  Since I can’t carry my inventory with me and my husband is not yet trained on how to fulfill orders, in my absence orders will have to wait to be shipped.  Regular shipping will resume on April 26, and all orders will be fulfilled as soon as I get home.  I’m sorry for the inconvenience!

As a reminder (and a bit of an apology), please use code MOTHER2018 for 18% off!  This code is good until Mother’s Day 2018.

Mother’s Day Sale

HEART image

Mother’s Day is fast approaching!  Have you gotten your mother something yet?  To help you out, Bath Geek LLC is having a 18% sale from now until Mother’s Day (May 13).  Get your mother something she’ll love!  Use the code MOTHER2018 to save 18% of all your purchases (excluding gift cards).

Physical Credit Card Payment Safety

Credit Cards

We’ve all heard about credit card skimmers that read the magnetic stripes on our credit cards.  Now we have chip cards, so we’re safe, right?  Not so fast–apparently now scammers have “shimmers” that read your card and then use that information to make a fake magstripe card.  This article says that Apple Pay and other such tap-to-pay methods are actually the most secure way of paying by credit card in person.

I want to let you know that if you are paying online, Bath Geek supports Apple Pay!  (Yes, even if you are shopping on your phone!)  And if you see me at my booth at various craft fairs, I also take tap-to-pay in person.  I have yet to see a customer use the tap-to-pay option, so please make my day and use it so I can squee at the tech coolness!

Spotlight: Parabens

Photo credit TJ Cosgrove @ Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/explosivofilms/8355301288/

There are a few major types of preservatives that are safe for use and that are effective.  Parabens are one of these, and the focus of the spotlight for this blog post.

Because of a misinterpretation of a study done in 2004, parabens got a pretty bad name.  This is why “paraben-free” is a selling point for cosmetics, bath, and beauty products.  However, P. Darbre and the rest of the scientists who authored that 2004 paper have clarified that their study set out to detect parabens and that “no claim was made that the presence of parabens had caused the breast cancers”. (page 1, page 2).  There were no control studies to compare cancerous tissue against non-cancerous tissue.  Likewise, no studies were conducted to see if paraben concentration was spread through the body or only concentrated nearest to the armpit.

Cancer charities such as the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK have come out with statements saying parabens don’t cause cancer (and these folks are the preeminent researchers in those fields). If the presence of parabens wasn’t the cause of breast cancer, why was there a study to detect parabens?  It’s because parabens are suspected to be oestrogenic, which means they behave like estrogen in the body.  Estrogen stimulates breast cells, and higher lifetime exposures to estrogen have been linked to higher incidences of breast cancer.

However, estrogen treatment has also been linked to protective results against Alzheimer’s.  Hormone replacement therapy that is estrogen-only is linked to higher rates of cancer only if the therapy goes on for more than 10 years.  Parabens, while oestrogenic, are hundreds to thousands of times weaker than actual hormonal estrogen.

The scientific jury is still out on parabens, even though they have been convicted in the eyes of the people. Anthony Dweck has a very lengthy compilation of related literature in his Paraben Compendium. Bath Geek LLC has a small number of products that are preserved with parabens, because they are one of the few effective preservatives that are oil soluble, and it is a matter of choosing the least evil.  You can avoid products containing parabens simply by choosing the “paraben-free” filter when searching for products.

Coconut-Free Shampoos

Photo credit TJ Cosgrove @ Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/explosivofilms/8355301288/

The holy grail of coconut-free products is a coconut-free shampoo.  My search for the perfect coconut-free shampoo has been a long one.  Every single detergent and surfactant I can find, bar none, is derived in some way from coconut and/or palm.  Making coconut-free soap is not hard (I sell a lot of it!), but honestly, even the best shampoo bars and liquid soaps aren’t recommended for hair over the long term because of the acidic nature of the human scalp.  It’s enough to make a girl want to shave her head!

A lot of blogs recommend using baking soda and water as a shampoo, and apple cider vinegar as a rinse/conditioner.  Unfortunately, as this blogger explains, the huge swing from the very-alkaline baking soda to the somewhat-acidic apple cider vinegar isn’t really helping our hair or scalp, either.

Is there any truth to the claims that the pH of shampoo makes a difference in scalp health?  The National Center for Biotechnology Information actually did a study and concluded that yes, shampoos with pH above 5.5 tended to irritate the scalp.  More importantly, the study concluded that as the pH of our hair is 3.6 but the pH of scalp sebum is 5.5, any shampoo over a pH of 5.5 was not good for hair (this includes water).

Note: this makes sense to me from a colored-hair standpoint.  I’ve always been told that water is the enemy of colored hair, and to retain the vibrance of hair color, it was important to wash my hair as little as possible.  Now I know why–because water’s pH is 7.0 and it’s much more alkaline than my hair or scalp!

“Blah blah blah,” I hear you say.  “Just cut to the chase already!”

Well, long story short, while I know of a shampoo recipe that will help people who need to avoid regular shampoos (ie. people allergic to coconut and its derivatives), unfortunately, it contains gluten.  Low levels of it, but still.  The quest for a coconut-free AND gluten-free shampoo continues!

Oh, and yes, I will be adding the coconut-free (though not gluten-free) shampoo to the shop ASAP!

New: Emulsified Scrubs

Four Emulsified Scrubs

Sugar scrubs and salt scrubs are lovely exfoliating products that pamper our skin while helping us get rid of dead skin cells.  The problem with regular sugar scrubs and regular salt scrubs, however, is that they leave everything so slippery when you’re done.  That’s where emulsified scrubs come in!

Emulsified sugar scrubs are basically a lotion-like product that combines the best of two worlds: the exfoliating goodness of a scrub, and the non-oiliness of a lotion!  Using an emulsifier in the scrub means that when you rinse off the scrub, the oils bind with the water instead of sticking to your shower, sink, or bathtub.  No more slippery tubs, no more falling in the shower!

Because I know allergens are a cause for concern, I’ve formulated a number of different scrub recipes!  Whether you’re allergic to nuts, shea, or avocados, I’ve done my best to ensure that no one ingredient is in ALL of my scrubs.  This way, even if you’re allergic to an ingredient in one of the scrubs, you can still use the ones without that ingredient in it.  As always, please use the tag system to filter out allergens you are concerned about.

A note about preservatives

Phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, and sorbic acid are all preservatives that are essential to keeping you safe and healthy.  All three of these used together are a great barrier against bacteria, yeast, and mold, which have a way of messing up anyone’s day.

Vitamin E and rosemary oleoresin extract (ROE), while popular antioxidants that greatly extend the shelf life of oils, don’t do anything against the really nasty microorganisms that can really make you sick (and at the bare minimum, gross you out a lot! No, really.) These are antioxidants, but they are not preservatives.  Vitamin E and ROE will not do anything against bacteria, yeast, or mold, and it’s amazing just how fast the little nasty buggers grow and reproduce! While I understand wanting to keep skincare natural, I also want to make sure that no matter how my products are used, no one gets ill or sick from using something I’ve made.  The responsible thing to do is to preserve my products so that you get the maximum enjoyment out of them.

Coconut-sensitivity alert

Coconut-allergic folks, I know you are desperately wondering if you can use these scrubs!  Sadly, the four new scrubs I’ve just made contain coconut-derived emulsifiers.  However, I have some ingredients on order that I think will be just the ticket (definitely not derived from coconut or palm), and I am eager to get my hands on them so I can work on the new formulas. Stay tuned!

Summer Shipping

Present for You (Pexels)

Lotions and body butters feel fantastic, but that amazing skinfeel does come with a price: body butters and lotions melt and/or separate in the summer heat.  A lotion stick will re-solidify relatively unscathed if placed in the fridge, but liquid lotions may separate, and whipped body butters will lose all that lovely air that was whipped into it!

In order to avoid this, in the summer months when the temperature is projected to rise above 75F (especially in hot USPS warehouses), shipping costs for any package with lotions or body butters will be an extra $8 to cover the cost of insulation and cold packs.  In addition, anything containing heat-sensitive products will only be shipped on Mondays and Tuesdays (to avoid your whipped body butter melting in a hot warehouse over the weekend and losing that gorgeous texture).

Porch pickups will continue for locals, but to protect your products, on hot days there will be a cooler on the porch to insulate the packages as much as possible.  Please try to pick up as close to your target arrival time as possible so that your whipped body butters, lotion sticks, and lotions don’t melt!

Summer shipping rates begin on April Fool’s Day (April 1) and go through Halloween (October 31).  Make sure to stock up before then!

Essential Oils at Bath Geek

Essential Oils

I’ve been asked a couple of times why, as a limited-ingredient allergy-friendly manufacturer, I don’t prefer to use essential oils, and instead use fragrance oils.  After all, essential oils are natural, they are quite popular right now, and as they are extracted from plants, it stands to reason that they’re better for your skin than fragrance oils, right?

Multiple Allergen Filters

Packaging and Shipping

I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking for specific product recommendations, and a lot of these questions have to do with a combination of allergies, such as what products to use (or avoid) if you’re allergic to nuts and corn.  It’s clear to me that you need a way to search for products that fit ALL of your needs!

Because of this, I’ve added an option to search for a combination of ingredients and product type choices.  For example, if you want to find a nut-free bath bomb that doesn’t have any coconut, cocoa butter, or sweet almond oil, just choose “bath bomb” in product type, and then check the boxes for “coconut-free”, “cocoa-free”, and “nut-free”.

I hope this helps in your search for better bath products.  As always, please feel free to contact me if you have more questions!

Survey Says

Survey Q1 results

I asked, and you answered! <3 Survey responses are here if you would like to see them with up-to-the-minute results.  Otherwise, let me share what I’ve learned so far:

Survey Q1 results
Survey Q1 results

I had no idea whipped body butter was this popular!  I hadn’t planned on introducing it and had just included it in the survey on a whim, but clearly I am missing out on something vital.  I will definitely be working on a great allergy-sensitive formulation post-haste.

And yes, those bath bomb and bubble bath combinations are coming right up!  (After this class I’m taking, which is eating up all of my free time…)

Product Survey

Survey Says

Can I ask for a huge favor?  Can you please complete this quick two-question survey?  I would like to know if there is interest in new products beyond what is on the website now, and I would also like to know if there are allergies I am unaware of that you would like me to consider when making my products.  This is a very quick survey to help me make better products for you!

Create your own user feedback survey

Again, thank you for your time! <3

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day Header

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today only, take 14% off your entire order (excluding gift cards.)  Simply enter VDAY2018 at checkout and you’ll get 14% off no matter how much you order.  Remember that $150+ nets you free shipping anywhere in the USA (including territories) too!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our giveaway with Gluten Free and More Magazine to win a care package for you and your valentine.  Good luck!

It’s time to SHARE THE LOVE with Gluten Free & More magazine and our great sponsors leading up to Valentine’s Day! YOU can win, and so can someone YOU LOVE! Each day, we’ll be highlighting a new sponsor, and you (and whoever you tag in your entry) has a chance to win! Make sure you’re FOLLOWING @GlutenFreeandMoreMag and FOLLOW OUR SPONSOR @bathgeek! 🛀🏻 Bath Geek is a great small business that makes bath bombs, liquid hand soap, bubble bath bombs, hand soap and more! You can use their website to search for products that are free from soy, corn, colorants, fragrance etc.! You’ll have a chance to win a set of soaps and bath time products including their adorable pixie dust which is a powdered bath bomb (made with almond oil). All of the soap is 100% castile. The total value of each set is $40. ❤️ Tell us why you’d like to win, and TAG ONE FRIEND in your comment that you’d like to also win along with you! RULES! Giveaway ends 48 hours after post launch. Winner will have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen. USA only, 18+ only, and not affiliated with Instagram.

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Nut-Free Bath Bombs!

Avacado halves on dark background

A number of customers have requested a nut-free version of my bath bombs, and I have good news: I will be making some of my bath bombs with avocado oil instead of sweet almond oil to give you a choice!  Please make sure that you read the description in order to find out whether the bath bomb contains almond or avocado.  (It will not be both, it is an either kind of thing.)

As you may have surmised from the image above, the replacement oil is avocado oil.  If you are allergic to avocados, I apologize–we will still have avocado-free bath bombs!  Just know that some of the new bath bombs will contain avocado oil instead of sweet almond oil.  If you particularly want a certain fragrance available either avocado-free or almond-free, please let me know and I will do my best to make you a batch.

Again, just a reminder, you can always shop using my tag system!  On the Bath Geek homepage, use the Shop By Ingredient section to find bath products that don’t contain things you’re allergic to!

Site Housekeeping

Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels

A couple of housekeeping notes:

  • Most of you deduced (correctly) that the sales tax information wasn’t being displayed correctly in my invoices.  It was an annoying bug, and I am very happy to announce that I have changed the plugin I was using to generate invoices, and the math works correctly now.
  • Gift wrapping is now a checkbox option on each product page.  As always, gift wrapping is free!
  • Every product page now has a tab where you can ask questions directly about each product!  Just click on the “product enquiry” tab and fill out the form.

Cocoa Butter Soaps

Cocoa Butter

At my last craft fair, a man came up to me and without even browsing, asked for my most moisturizing soap.  The only soap I had that was different from all my other soap was the now-sold-out Campfire, which contains shea butter.  He bought the last bar.

I’ve come to realize that even though olive oil soaps are extremely mild and gentle, they aren’t particularly known for being moisturizing.  Now, soap will never remove the need for good ol’ lotion and moisturizer, especially if you live in semi-arid Colorado.  That said, different soap ingredients bring different benefits to the table.  So I’ve started making some four-oil (and three-oil, and two-oil) soaps.  The big addition is cocoa butter, which I am now adding to about 20% of the new soaps I’m making.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am adding other oils to my soaps to branch out.  My four-oil soaps currently have olive, cocoa butter, almond, and castor oil.  I still make pure olive oil soap, and a lot of it!  But I am also making a bit more of a variety for people who are looking for more in their soaps.  Cocoa butter is an amazing moisturizer in its own right, and has a most endearing quality of melting at the temperature of the human body.  I wish it weren’t so expensive, though–it costs 4-5x what olive oil does, and making a 100% cocoa butter soap would mean selling it at a much higher price.

The first four-oil soap that will be available early February is called Coffee Lovers.  The cocoa butter lends a lovely whiff of chocolate aroma, and the soap is scented with a vanilla macadamia coffee fragrance.  I love going into my curing room and picking up a bar to smell!  It makes me crave hot chocolate, especially now that it is so cold as we head into the heart of winter.

I hope y’all like cocoa butter soaps.  As always, please free free to contact me with any specific requests!

 

First Craft Fair!

Craft Fair Setup

[This is also a follow-up to my post “Branching Out“.]

I did my first craft fair as Bath Geek LLC on Saturday (Dec 9), and it was great fun.  The craft fair was at Vista Peak Preparatory, so I made sure to stock up on tons of bath bombs, which were a favorite with the teens.  There were three soap-related booths in a fair of roughly 25-30 stalls, so considering how much competition there was, I did pretty well.  ^_^

What really stuck with me, though, was that at the craft fair, I met a lady, Nic, who was just as excited to see my stuff as I was to meet her!  She too was an allergy-conscious shopper, and after she told me her allergies I recommended certain soaps.  We have been e-mailing back and forth; she’s a great correspondent.  She’s given me a bunch of ideas, recommended some places to get more exposure, and told me about lots of allergy-safe substitutions for things, as well as oral immunotherapy to help with certain problems.  It is always wonderful to meet someone else who understands just how life with allergies can be annoying and irritating (if not completely life-threatening).  I also really love and appreciate the support! <3

Meeting Nic has strengthened my resolve in making sure my soaps are allergy-friendly and considerate of people’s sensitivities.  I still want to add a couple of ingredients to my soaps in order to make them feel creamier, feel more moisturizing, and in general improve on the soap experience… but I will always be mindful of allergy-conscious customers.  If you have specific allergies and you need me to make a formulation that helps you, please do not hesitate to contact me–there is always something I can do to help!

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