A Beauty Regime + Skin Issues = ?

Hello there! I have wanted to do a more personal post for a while now and found a good excuse for one tonight. Be forewarned that this will be a longer post as I discuss my own skin problems, as well as how I try to deal with them.

I’m really excited to say that after a delay by the weather I got my shipment of new supplies, including those for sugar scrubs and for a clay mask recipe. I have been so looking forward to getting these items! Firstly, I get to make a couple things I haven’t made before, and secondly, I get to try to put together the Pamper Parties I mentioned in my last post.

Like any good crafter and seller I immediately went to the soap kitchen to test out the procedure for making both things (in very small test batches). They were both pretty easy, and now I know where a little extra care needs to be taken to make them come together more smoothly. 


Afterward I rushed home to put the actual product to the test! I’ll be testing the sugar scrub cubes tomorrow, but the one I was most interested in was the clay mask. That’s the one I tried tonight, and which has prompted this post.

I don’t know what it is about a facial mask that sounds so appealing. Then, throw in the word clay and visions of childrenless spas full of blissful, quiet serenity dance through my head. Hey, I’m a stay at home Mom, those are things we long for.

I have tried a couple masks that I’ve gotten from the “store” before, and they’ve been too harsh for my skin. I was enticed by this particular recipe because it promised the possibility of being something that would be gentle enough for me.

My face has a problem. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous! However, I have eczema… on my face. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t clear up. It becomes less inflamed, and less visible, but it’s always there. It hurts, it itches, it flakes and it oozes, all depending on how out of control it is at any given moment. Thankfully the oozing and flaking hasn’t been a problem since I’ve started treating it, but the itching and hurting are still in full effect most of the time, even when it can’t be seen.

I use a steroid cream on it to keep it fully in check, but I use other things to minimize my use of that chemical ointment. I don’t really want to use it at all, but I haven’t found the right solution yet. If you have a similar problem, please allow me to share a few things that have helped me (although not cured, they really, really have helped). 

I use witch hazel at least once a day… when I’m behaving myself like a big girl. I use a cotton ball or square and wet it down then run it across the affected area. I have found this helps to smooth out the bumpiness of the rash and it’s really soothing to the itching and hurting.

My other favorite trick is a homemade mask (but not the clay one I will be discussing momentarily). I make it with turmeric, honey, and milk. The turmeric is lightly exfoliating, (which is awesome!) as well as being anti inflammatory. Milk helps the dead skin cells turn over and slough off. Honey is a humectant, which means that it draws moisture to the skin. All this combines for a great treatment of my personal condition. 

The downside is that turmeric turns my extremely fair skin yellow… like a Minion. Yes, one of those cute, babbling ones that wear the overalls. So I can’t leave this mask on as long as it takes to make it really work well, because it’s hard to get my face un-stained. If you have fair skin, no more than 10 minutes with this mask on, and then you will need to really scrub to get the residual yellow off even so. If you have a dark complexion, this will not be a problem for you, and you may be able to leave it on for up to 20 minutes.

Are these little tricks sure to help with your problem? No, not necessarily. And I am not a doctor, so I can’t even say “you should try this!” However, because of my health conditions, I feel compelled to share about what helps me in the hopes that it could possibly help someone else who also suffers. That said, it’s always best to talk to your health care professional about doing any of these things first.

Now, back to the clay mask! In addition to my eczema problem, since becoming pregnant my skin has been a major mess. It is bone dry and flaking in the center of my face, and around the outside it is oily and broken out. Can you feel my eyes rolling in exasperation?

It’s so bad that I can’t even wear make up to cover it up because the makeup will not stick

To make my experimentation with this new mask a profoundly bad idea for this specific moment, I have let the eczema get a little out of control this week. So my skin is, at the moment, hyper sensitive. This may not have been the best idea. But I was excited! Who cares about consequences, right?

I slathered this stuff on good and thick! And it feels amazing. It’s creamy, like lotion, and because I did a really small batch it’s actually slightly whipped. It feels heavenly going on. And don’t I look heavenly?

I did notice a slight, but easily tolerable, burning sensation. Other masks I’ve tried to use I have had to take off immediately because they burned so badly. This wasn’t like that, it was a very mild irritation, so I decided to try to leave it on for the recommended 10 minutes.

Well, then I got distracted looking at kitties on Instagram (please don’t judge me), and went for about 15 minutes with it on. That, incidentally, was not longer than was recommended. The optimal time frame was 10-15 minutes and I had decided on 10 because I wasn’t sure how my skin would react. 

Despite how thickly inlaid it on, it did actually dry quite bit, and the purple Brazilian clay gives it a very pretty hue.


That is my “look! I’m frightening!” face. It makes me think of all those times in movies where a girl surprises someone at the door wearing her mask. I’m pretty sure I would have scared someone.

This washed off really nicely. It was very smooth, still lotion like even where it had dried. It’s actually a really pleasant mask!  But then, I looked in the mirror:


My skin was very inflamed. I wasn’t really surprised, even when I just wash my face it goes pretty pink. So I decided to wait a little bit, because I could actually feel the heat in my face, and see what it looked like after a half hour. I went ahead I used my regular moisturizer, and figured after a few minutes it would be fine.

A half hour later there was still a whole lot of heat in my face. In this picture I’m pointing to where my eczema shows up. Right around my mouth and even just inside my nose. You can see how bad it is right now, to the point my lips are actually starting to crack (though you can’t see that in the picture). 


This is clearly not a great thing to do when I’m having a severe flare up. 

What was funny to me is that the center of my face was still red and hot, but the outer parts of my face really were fine. The dryer part of my skin, on my cheeks and around my eyes didn’t appreciate this.


However, the portions of my face that have been really oily, which is not a thing I usually have a problem with, by the way, were perfectly fine. I will say, that even in the red parts of my face and over the rashy area, my skin had a much nicer and more supple texture. I really like the way it feels over all, and I think that once I get my flare up under control I will do another test of it to see if that differs. I’m not giving up on my luxury!


Now after having written this post, almost and hour after washing the mask off, the redness has completely dissipated except where the eczema is, which is to be expected. I ought to have taken another picture of what my face looks like now, but I didn’t 😦

I’m withholding final judgement on this one until I give it another shot, probably in about a week. I will say that this was way more gentle on my skin than any other similar mask I’ve used. However, if you have ridiculously sensitive skin like mine this may not be the thing for you. Everyone has very different skin that tolerates different ingredients to varying degrees.

 Even if I decide this mask doesn’t work for me, I will probably be making it again to tweak the recipe to fit my needs a little better. In the mean time, someone else will probably really love it just as it is. 

The great thing about making the products myself, and testing them myself, is that I have complete control over it and can make adjustments until it’s right for me. And once I discover what it is about this mask that didn’t work, I can help tailor it to someone else’s needs when they ask for it! Creating is so liberating!

If you have any tips or tricks for annoyingly persistent skin conditions please feel free to share them in the comments below. {*Remember! Talk to a healthcare professional before trying anything that is suggested. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it is necessarily safe for you in your health circumstance!*} Or if you have questions about my experiences you’re welcome to email me @ hoffenblocksoap@gmail.com

Way too Long!

I have not put up anything news in AGES! I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. The first trimester of my pregnancy was not so much fun, and currently my household is in the throws of a dreaded tummy bug. However, this evening I made a leap of faith and wanted to share.

Before I get leaping, I would like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who shopped with us this past holiday season. I was so blessed by the support and the many positive reviews, and even repeat customers. Thank you for enabling my creative habit!

I also had the pleasure of making our first special order batch for a delightful customer who had some special skin care needs that she hoped a soapy concoction could help with. I happen to suffer with the same problem, eczema, and was very excited to have an excuse to try to make something that could potentially help. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite over all recipes that we’ve made so far, and I look forward to hearing whether or not it satisfies her needs.

We also got to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with our family. It was in my top five favorite Christmas gatherings. We had so much fun, completing puzzles, playing games, and opening some really special gifts. I hope your Christmas, or other designated holiday, was equally wonderful.

Now I can get to the leaping portion, which I wanted to share with you! This evening I placed an order for a bunch of supplies for a new venture. Sure, I got the things I needed for what I already do (including more of our new favorite fragrances), but I decided to break into new territory by ordering supplies to do some parties.

Of course, we’ve all been to Mary Kay parties, or perhaps to a Pampered Chef party, or one of the countless others that are available. My parties will not be exact replicas of those, but will feature an interactive DIY project that we will do together, and which can go home with my guests, and then a short and sweet talk about our products complete with testers and demos. This gives me an opportunity to “nerd out” about what I do, share my love of creating things in a tangible way, and hopefully continue to support my passion.

The supplies I’ve ordered will be good for between two and four Pamper Parties and we will be making either some fabulous sugar scrub cubes, made with actual soap and great for exfoliating, or what looks like a really spectacular clay face mask. Before I book any parties I’ll be making a sample of each project so that I’m familiar with how they come together, and so I know whether or not they’re really as good as they look! Cheers for being my own guinea pig!

I’m still hammering out some details about how it will all work, including location (because these projects might not actually be as conducive to doing in someone’s home), and things like hostess or booking rewards. Not to worry, I’ll keep you up to date as we go.

Speaking of up to date, I am in and out of actually updating. While first trimester is over and I am feeling better over all, this pregnancy is incredibly different from my first and I’m experiencing things I did not expect, which frequently keep me from doing all the things I would like to, and even need to do. Rest assured we are creating, and if you have any questions you can always contact me through this blog, via e-mail (hoffenblocksoap@gmail.com), on Facebook (@hoffenblocksoap), or on Instagram ( also @hoffenblocksoap). While I don’t update all the time these days, I do still check all my feeds and will get back to you as quickly as I am able.

That’s all I have for now. I hope you have a wonderful week!

After the Craft Shows

I hope you’ve enjoyed a relaxing weekend. Mine was busy! We enjoyed a small craft and vendor fair on Saturday and on Sunday we had a full day of church events and my husband trying to work out the glitches in his new-to-him computer. 

Saturday’s craft show was fairly uneventful, they can’t all be super awesome! But even so, my Dad and I had a good time and really enjoyed talking to the other crafters and vendors that were there, who were all delightful.

One vendor in particular I really connected with was a lovely young woman who makes herbal teas from her very own plants! Being a person with a “black thumb”, (I am so good at killing plants! Not so great at making them grow), I was thoroughly impressed! She gave me a sample of one of her teas and it was delicious. If you have an interest in more holistic living, or if you love to drink loose leaf tea, you need to check her out. You can visit her website Here at A Garden of Healing. She was truly a delight to talk to, and very passionate about the power of herbs.

I also met a wonderful woman who specializes in making bath bombs. She was such delight. We got to talk about how she had tried her hand at soap and couldn’t quite get the hang of it, and how I have been struggling with getting my bath bombs recipes right. It was nice to be able to talk to fellow crafter in my field about our successes and failures. Part of what I love about this crafting industry is how supportive people are of one another, how welcoming and inviting they are is just a really special thing. You can find her information and bath bombs (which btw smell divine) Here!

As another big win, I’ve gotten my very first special order! I’m so excited! We’re planning to get started on a special soap to try to help ease the effects and irritation of eczema. As a person who suffers from eczema, you’d have thought I would have considered doing this before, however, sometimes we need a push. We have a good strategy for the ingredients to add to our regular recipe including activated charcoal, milk, colloidal oats, lavender, turmeric, and clay too. We’re hoping to get started on it today. So cross your fingers and say a prayer for me that I can get it right, and hopefully be able to provide some relief for another person who suffers with this skin condition.

In short, the success of a craft show isn’t necessarily measured in sales, so much as experience. I may not have sold out of product (although I am running low now), but I did have a wonderful time, and really enjoyed the company of the people I met there. 

If you are interested in a special order of soap please feel free to contact me to discuss it. We love to make soap! A special order is another great excuse to get crafting, so don’t be shy!

 If you would like to browse the soap we currently have available you can visit our Web Store. If you live in the Pueblo area I will be happy to personnalyndeliver your soap and refund the shipping to you once your order is placed (that’s for zip codes 81001-81008), because I can’t seem to find a way to give the option for no shipping. I apologize for my continued hiccups with the web store, however I have to make do with what I have available at the moment and will hopefully be able to up grade in the near future.

Thank you for stopping by today, and I hope to have more new soap and other fun products to show you in the near future! 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Hello faithful followers! I have to apologize profusely because I have been so very, very absent of late. I haven’t been on any of the social media platforms, or anything. I haven’t even been properly in the Soap Kitchen over the last few weeks.

If you follow us on Facebook, or Instagram then you already know the news which is the reason for my lack of presence, I’m pregnant! I’m expecting a second miniature human to be running my house come July. While this does not make for a great excuse, it is none the less the reason. I have been exhausted and generally yucky feeling for the last several weeks, and am avidly counting down the days until the second trimester when things should start to feel a little bit better.

Please, please forgive me. Truly, I don’t mean to be neglectful, and do actually check my social media feeds regularly even if I haven’t been posting anything new.

All that said, I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving! I had a great time with our family (although, I didn’t actually eat anything myself), and enjoyed a relaxed black Friday of doing nothing but watching Christmas movies all day long. No crazy shopping for me!

While I haven’t been posting them, and I haven’t gotten them loaded up on our web store yet, we do have three news bars of soap, and a few flavors of bath teas. We have added a “Pretty in Pink Grapefruit” bar of soap, as well as “A Touch of Snow” and “Peppermint”, all of which are very pretty to look at as well as a treat for your nose and skin. I will have these up on the web store in the next couple days, and will announce it on Instagram and Facebook.

We will also be at a craft show in Colorado Springs this weekend, December 3rd,  from 10 am until 4 pm at 1628 W Bijou St, which is Westside Community Center. If you happen to be in the area, I hope I will get to see you there. We will have some special gift boxes for sale with pre-arranged soaps, bath truffles and body butters all ready to stick under the tree!

I sincerely hope you are able to enjoy this Holiday season. It is my very favorite time of year, and I pray it is full of blessings and joy for you and your family. Let me know in the comments what your favorite Christmas tradition is! (Soap exchange anyone? 😉 )

Cheers!

Happy Election Day! Please, please remember to get your vote in. I wouldn’t dream of telling you who to vote for, this has been one of the most divisive elections in our history. Just know, that regardless of who you may vote for, you’ll get no judgement from me.

In honor of election day, and our right to vote for whomever we choose, I’m pleased to announce that our web store is now online! You can visit it here. I am still working on a few bugs, and I’m desperately trying to work out promo codes (I’m currently waiting on a reply from tech support to get it working!). As soon as I have my code up and running I will publish it on our Facebook page, so you can enjoy a much deserved discount after a long political season.

One of my bugs that I’m still working out is a special order system where you can order soap, and other products, with or without things that you want/don’t want. I understand that many people may have allergies, or special skin conditions which our base recipes don’t accommodate, and it is my fervent desire to serve you in whatever way you may need. In the mean time, please feel free to contact me directly via e-mail (hoffenblocksoap@gmail.com) if you have a request, I will be delighted to discuss it with you.

I’m also announcing that we have decided to start offering bath teas! I’m so excited for this I can hardly keep it in. I placed our order for supplies over the weekend and am expecting our shipment by the end of the week. You know what that means? It means lots of crafting this weekend! I’ll be posting pictures along with my other big news that I’ve been teasing you about.

Remember to like and share with your friends! Christmas is now right around the corner and soaps, bath bombs and bath teas make excellent gifts and stocking stuffers, (and I really need to move inventory so I can make more 😉 ). I’ll see you again soon.

Preparing to launch!

Our first craft fair was pretty super! Thank you to everyone who stopped by to sniff around and take something home. And congratulations to Jane who won our drawing for the gift basket! 

I’ve been waiting to post because of a couple reasons, but the primary reason is that I’m working hard on getting our web store up and running. I’m very excited to put it out there where you can order your favorite items in time for Christmas.

On the web store I hope to make a special order option available where you can order a half, or a full loaf of soap (that’s either 5 or 10 bars), with any scent or liquid base you might prefer (such as beer, goat milk, coffee etc.). This detail is proving a little harder than I expected, but I know it’s possible. I’m also working on way to give promotional discounts, and figuring out how best to deal with shipping.

Speaking of shipping and special orders, if there is something you would like now, please feel free to email your request to hoffenblocksoap@gmail.com, I would be delighted to figure out the details of your order while I work on getting the website running. AND if you are in the Pueblo area (zip codes between 81001-81008, that’s including Pueblo West and the Mesa), I would be happy to hand deliver your order at no shipping charge. I will make a delivery day a permemamt part of my calendar for once a week, probably on Fridays. 

Thank for your patience and your support as I continue to delve into making a delightful hobby into a business reality. As we approach Thankgiving I am very aware of the blessings I have received in this journey.

I’ll let you know soon when the web store will launch, and the other big news which is having significant effect on the speed of my progress. Hang ing there with me, I know it will be worth it!

In the meantime, I’m already looking at ways to expand our line of products. Let me know in the comments what kinds of products you would like to see in the future (I’m considering things like shaving soaps, beard oils, bath salts, bath teas, solid bubble bath bars, lips balms etc.).

We’ve Been Busy!

I’m sorry I have been out of touch! Believe me there is a good reason for it: we have been super busy, creating, soaping, whipping, drilling, painting and so much more. We are almost ready for our first craft show! It’s getting pretty exciting.

We made our two batches of beer soap, which turned out beautifully and they look and smell very differently. They really are great, I can’t wait to make more.

We also made a batch of Warm Sandalwood Vanilla and a really beautiful (my Dad says our prettiest bar yet) unscented bar. I had intended to scent it, but I was soaping without my faithful assistant (I really need to not do that) and  voila! Unscented soap. But beautiful unscented soap–who wants boring unscented soap anyway???

Then while my Dad has been creating displays, I’ve been battling with labels. Who knew that it would be so difficult to make labels?! But I’ve gotten it done and everything we have made so far is ready to be labeled and packaged next week.

I’ve also uploaded everything onto our soon to launch online shop, date of launch to be determined (but soon!).

Finally, I made 32 jars of whipped body butter today. Let me tell you, I made these at my house today instead of in the soap kitchen, and my house smells positively AMAZING. I can hardly handle it, I’m completely in love.

I hope this makes up for my online absence for the past week. Remember, you can come get your favorite bar of soap or body butter at the craft show on October 29th at the Pueblo Mall from 10 am- 5 pm. I hope to see you there, even if only to sniff around.

Beer Soap Anyone?

This afternoon I will be making another really special bar of soap–Beer Soap!

I’m so enchanted with the idea of making beer soap. Seriously, we’ve wanted to make this for ages and just weren’t sure we  were ready for it, as it requires a few extra steps. Beer makes for a great addition to soap because of the sugars is contains, which make the soap lather with extra fluffy bubbles!

We’re going to hot process this batch so it can cure a little faster. We’ve had our beer resting to let the carbonation air out, and have boiled it to reduce the alcohol content, (lye and alcohol are not a great mix, although alcohol is added when making glycerin soap. That’s another process I want to try, but it requires more ingredients and is a little more complicated). Once we have the soap cooked, the cure time will mostly involve letting the liquid evaporate out so the bars will be harder.

Keep an eye out for our reveal in a couple days. We’re going to scent this with a beer inspired flavor, which is warm and inviting, similar the way you feel after drinking a fine stout. I’m very excited for this soap! I hope you are too.

Remember to like and share, and let me know in the comments what your favorite beer, or ale is. See you soon.

Christmas Soap

On Friday I got to enjoy a little early Christmas spirit. Now, I know someone may be cringing at the phrase I just used, and that’s unfortunate, because it’s practically the day I live for throughout the rest of the year. Yes, I did listen to Christmas music while I made two very special batches of Christmas Tree soap.

Every batch is an adventure, and I made two batches of Christmas Tree inspired soap on Friday, and they’ve turned out quite differently. I didn’t take pictures of both cuts… well, that’s not exactly true and you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

You may remember that I have referred to cutting soap as being similar to opening a present where you don’t know what you’ll get until you rip off the wrapping paper. Do you ever remember a Christmas where you snuck down to the tree and opened one, or two, or… all of your presents before your parents got up? Remember how that didn’t go as well as you thought it would? Well, the same is true with soap.

img_4229This is what happens when you unmold soap before it is ready. Feel free to insert the sad face emoji here. In my defense, I really did think we were in the clear to unmold them. This picture is of the second of the two batches (which stayed in the mold a whole day longer than the first, and still didn’t come out right), the first batch was so much worse, but it was expertly repaired by my faithful assistant. Even so, I ended up losing a few bars from that one, and the second batch I’ve really only lost one because I was able to cut off just the damaged ends and save the rest.

img_4231But they both cut beautifully, and I’m really happy with the swirl that I achieved with them, though the swirl is very different from one batch to the other.  They smell just like a Christmas Tree, I kid you not. If you haven’t had a real Christmas tree for a while and miss the smell, this is the bar for you. If you’ve never had a real tree before and wondered what they smell like, this is the bar for you. Its delightfully piney with dash of Christmas cheer, a pleasure for men and women alike.

img_4233By the way, don’t worry too much about those bars that didn’t quite make it. I was able to cut them into smaller pieces to give as testers! I’ll be handing them out at the craft fair, and probably a few to those who request them ahead of time. Even if you aren’t crazy about the fragrance, (it’s ok, not everyone has to love it), you can at least get a good idea of the quality of our soap.

This week we’ll be making soap like crazy, because we’re running out of time! I’ll also give you an update about the other products we’ll be offering. In the mean time, please like and share this post, and let me know in the comments what kind of tree you’ll be getting this year, (it’s never to early to start thinking about these things, you know 😉 ).

 

Something Different!

Today I decided to take a breath from my obsessive soaping and share a few craft ideas with your that I really like from my obsessive Pintresting  instead.

I spend too much time on pintrest. Does anyone else have this problem? It’s a great place for crafters and foodies especially. Most of my pins revolve around DIYs and funny things about animals being silly. This week as I was thinking of something different I could post about for the week wrap up and I decided to peruse Pintrest for some fun crafty things, (because I really needed the excuse..

Thus I found 6 fun DIY projects that revolve around a theme of mugs! I personally have more mugs than can fit in my dish cabinet, so some of these are pretty appealing and I think I’ll be giving them a try. (As a disclaimer, the images I have used belong to the websites I have linked them to. They are not mine, my pictures don’t look that professional. I am borrowing them to promote the blog’s craft only).

I really like this pallet project. I love the pallet fad. I’m 100% on the bandwagon of repurposing pallets, and I have a stack of them waiting to be used. So this DIY mug rack looks great! And you could paint the pallet with a rub through to give it even more character. Check out this fun project here.

image source: robin clementOnce you have your DIY rack, you’ll want to further decorate it with some really pretty mugs. Why not use some of that old nail polish lying around that you haven’t used in ages? Here is an easy tutorial on decorating your old mugs with something you might have lying around the house.

Coffee Cup CandlesNow, lets say you don’t actually want to use those old mugs for drinking coffee, or tea, anymore. How about turning them into delightful candles to make your home smell nice and create a warm, relaxing, and inviting environment? Here is a great tutorial on how to accomplish just that!

These bird feeders are fun to make and will certainly help attract birds to your yard!If you have kids, or are just a bird and squirrel enthusiast, perhaps you would prefer to make your mugs into a delightfully adorable feeder for your outdoor friends. Seriously, this idea is so cute, I can hardly handle it. Get the instructions here.

Incredible sharpie art coastersIf you are still using your mugs for coffee and tea, you might want a safe place to put them so that the heat from the cups don’t damage your furniture. I have two solutions for you! The first is so simple, your kids can help you do it. This looks like a lot of fun to do, and really easy. Check out these coasters here.

DIY Flannel Coasters ... perfect touch for Fall and Winter | Via View From The FridgeAnd Finally, I’m really into these flannel coasters. I love flannel, and all things that have a rustic feel to them, so this is right up my alley. You can find out more about them here.

I hope this little break from soap news was enjoyable for you. You can look forward to more of these in the future as I become more accustomed to this new area of my life, by which I mean blogging and using social media the way it’s actually intended! I’ve always been the casual observer, and this is new and exciting territory for me.

Until next time, leave me a comment on what your favorite crafts are, I’m always looking for new ideas! Don’t forget to like and share. Have a blessed day, I’ll see you next time.