Thursday, October 31, 2013

Soap Photographing

I'm like most of people started taking digital photos of my soap using a small point and shoot.  Some point and shoot cameras can be very high resolution these days, should be enough for what we need, right?  That's until I had a comparison with photos taken by my husband's heavy duty one.  While he went out of town for his 2 weeks business trip I had to fall back to my compact point and shoot.  This is the shot, after intensive photo correction, still looking awkward:
Indoor lighting is tricky with some colors, green is one of them.
I finally got a hold of my husband's fancy camera again and shot the cut bars of this exact log of soap.

Green is still the tricky color to get it right, but with minor photo color correction on my computer these photos came out so much better in details!  I started to wonder why I refused to learn how to use the "real" camera earlier.  It definitely take longer to set up, it's heavy, it's big, it needs a tripod, it needs to manually set everything.  But the end result just look so much more professional!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BTMS and Caffeine Cream & Butter

I've only used BTMS for making my own hair conditioner because it makes my hair velvety and smooth without feeling oily, I have oily scalp, I wash my hair everyday.  Using BTMS to make leave on cream is new to me.  It all came about because I read a blog post by Soapqueen and she swears by it: Kissably Soft Lotion  As greedy as I am, I also want to 
adding caffeine powder, that's the tricky ingredient, I have no idea how it's going to be incorporated.  This is my first try:
As cosmetic law stated I cannot make any claims on what my lotion can "cure" or "help" any condition.  But hey, I'm doing this for myself because I'm curious about pure caffeine powder.  I heard using it daily with a certain percentage concentration can help eliminate cellulite because it reduces water retention.  I don't care how young or fit a girl is, 99% of us got unpleasant cellulite especially on our hip and thighs.  Oh... what a girl would do for beauty!
My first impression of this lotion formula is that it gives a powdery (or velvety) feel after applying on my skin, and if I rub harder it would produce residue.  I thought it failed, this cream is thick but should not be caky.  I continued to use it daily for another 2 days then I realized the caky powdery feeling is gone.  I'm thinking it's the caffeine powder, it finally got "wet" and completely emulsified into the cream.  After a month of using, I noticed my thigh skin is tighten and smooth, but stretch marks are still there.  I guess there's no such thing as miracle ingredient!  I use it under my eye sometimes to help my dark circle and puffiness, it's not a miracle cream, but for what it's worth, it's darn good!
As fall and winter seasons approach I decided to reformulate my seasonal body butter using BTMS and caffeine powder.  This is be my 4th batch:
 What I learned from dealing with caffeine powder is that it would only dissolve in hot water, almost boiling temperature.  It would dissolve clear but turn into cottage cheese stage once cooled down, that's what contributed to the caky texture I mentioned earlier.  I've since decrease the % from 7% concentration to 5% and finally settled with 3%.  This year's body butter is not anhydrous (all butter and oils, no water), it contains aloe juice, caffeine powder, 18% butter (shea, cocoa and mango mix), apricot kernel oil, sesame oil, emu oil, hydrolyzed plant proteins (film forming protection), marine collagen, hyaluronic acid (hydration retention), oat extract, and more.  The only synthetic would be the fragrance and preservative.
I used to make anhydrous whipped body butter but I just never like the greasiness and heavy emollient after feel.  I tried adding modified starch to cut the grease with not much luck.  In time the fluffy whipped butter will settle and harden again, making it hard to scoop out the jar.  My skin is very dry in winter, it really need hydration, not just occlusion or emollient from all that butter and oils.  That is the major reason for me to convert to liquid/butter oil combination.  With hyaluronic acid added, hopefully it would help attract and retain the hydration my skin desperately needs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Design For Business Cards

Would you buy a brand name handbag or dress if the designer is wearing Target bought generic outfit?!  Not me!  There might be people who believe business card is just a tool to exchange contact information, as simple as possible, clean and get right to the point.  That might work for most of the industries, but not in area where design is essential.
Designing our business cards is similar to designing our product packaging, it's a never ending journey.  With so many cards flowing around the market, one can easily get buried.  How do I get my card noticed by general public?  How do I get my card into new customers who then want to keep my contact information?  More importantly how to design one that fits into the whole branding concept?
A year ago my business cards look like these:
This year I'm concentrating on eye catching bold statement that would make people want to keep my card and find out what I do.  With that in mind, these are my new business cards:
All contact information is now on the back of the card, it is a 2-sided design.  These are the 3 that got the highest votes when I proposed 4 designs to the online soaping community asking for public opinions.  The most common comment I got online is that #2 is preferred because it's clean, it's complimenting my branding colors (shades of purple), and most importantly, it looks like soap.  Funny thing is, when these new cards arrived my day job office, guess what cards my co-workers grab?  #1 & 3...  Reason is they are all amazed that soap can look like flower and cake!  Intriguing...  What do YOU think?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Color Inspiration - Mulberry Frost Soap

This is what inspired me:

I made Mulberry Frost Soap:

A bit boring at the top?!  Agree, inside is so much better!

This new fragrance behaves like a lady, no trouble at all!  But it did stayed too cool that I got "frosted" inside too.  For this I don't mind, suites the name very well anyway!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Soothing Cucumber Soap

Hot summer ended, temperature has been ramping down and so is the production of my Dad's home grown Japanese cucumber from his backyard.  For a period of time we eat cucumber everyday, that's how crazy it gets, when they grow, they go off the roof!  Naturally I took one and pureed it to soap.  Cucumber doesn't have a lot of juice, and I don't want to use all the pulp nor do I want to cook it first before puree.  Some people cook the vegetable before soaping.  Personally I think that kills some of the nutrients, so I prefer and always soap vegetable (or fruit) raw.  This soap I pureed the home grown cucumber with coconut water.  The liquid came out a very beautiful dark green from the peel, but sadly I don't think that green would survive the saponification.  I used cheese cloth and filtered out most of the pulp, left some in for texture.
The beautiful greens you are seeing?  They are colorants I added knowing the natural green from the cucumber peel would disappear in soap.  See those green spots through out the soap?  That's the pulp.  I thought I would like the texture, but I keep on thinking it's pimples!  Next time I'll totally filter out the pulp and use juice only.