Category Archives: Challenges and Q&A

Sue’s Cupboard – Simply Luxurious Cocoa-Mint Lip Balm

PeppermintSue e-mailed in asking for help to create an easy lip balm recipe that she could put together and give away as gifts. Her request? “Can you make a nice chocolate peppermint lip balm that feels luxurious, but doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to make it?” Sue, I’m so excited to work on your challenge for you! I have the perfect recipe to share with you and I’m sure you will love it!

Collect needed items:

Castor Oil
Peach Kernel Oil
Cocoa Butter
Refined Shea Butter
Peppermint Essential Oil
Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Microwave Safe Container
Lip Balm Tubes

Recipe: (Makes 100 grams or 3.53 ounces and fills 22 Black Lip Balm Tubes)

Recipe in ounces:
0.71 ounces Beeswax
0.35 ounces Castor Oil
0.95 ounces Apricot Kernel Oil
0.53 ounces Cocoa Butter
0.88 ounces Shea Butter, Refined
0.09 ounces Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.02 ounces Peppermint Essential Oil Oil
Recipe in grams:
20 grams Beeswax
10 grams Castor Oil
27 grams Apricot Kernel Oil
15 grams Cocoa Butter
25 grams Shea Butter
2.5 grams Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.5 grams Peppermint Essential Oil
Recipe in Percentages
20% Beeswax
10% Castor Oil
27% Apricot Kernel Oil
15% Cocoa Butter
25% Shea Butter
2.5% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.5% Peppermint Essential Oil

Weigh all ingredients except the Peppermint Essential Oil and Sugar Baby Flavor Oil into your microwave safe container. Microwave in short bursts until all ingredients are melted. The beeswax will take the most time to melt, but if you stir the lip balm after the other oils have been heated, it will melt quickly. Once the mixture is melted, add the flavors . Stir until all of the flavor has been incorporated. Fill tubes or jars. Cool. Label.


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Betsy’s Cupboard – Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread Man

Betsy emailed in asking for help formulating a Gingerbread Sugar Scrub. She had found a recipe on Pinterest that she liked the look of but it called for using vanilla extract and kitchen spices. This is her request. “Can you help me do something that doesn’t use my good cooking vanilla and spices? I want the scrub to look like gingerbread but I want to leave my spices for the real stuff. Can I add something to give the scrub an extra oomph?” Betsy, I can’t wait for this challenge. Let’s make a fabulous scrub that leaves your baking ingredients in the kitchen and not in your body care products.

Betsy’s cupboard contains mostly soaping oils.
Apricot Kernel
Polysorbate 80
Liquid Germall Plus
Vanilla Bean Fiber
and a variety of fragrance and essential oils.

I am going to use a combination of white sugar and brown sugar. This will give both color and exfoliation. Brown sugar is a little more gentle as it exfoliates the skin but it can also make the scrub feel sticky. We will be making a half and half mixture of sugar.

I will also be using Polysorbate 80. Polysorbate helps remove some of the oils, leaving just enough to be conditioning to the skin but not making it overly greasy.

White Granulated Sugar
Brown Sugar
Sunflower Oil
Shea Butter
Polysorbate 80
Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
Microwave Safe Container


Recipe in Grams
75 grams White Granulated Sugar
75 grams Brown Sugar
56 grams Sunflower Oil
5 grams Shea Butter
16 grams Polysorbate 80
1 gram Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
2 grams Liquapar
Recipe in Ounces
2.65 oz White Granulated Sugar
2.65 oz Brown Sugar
1.98 oz Sunflower Oil
0.18 oz Shea Butter
0.56 oz Polysorbate 80
0.04 oz Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
0.07 oz Liquapar
Recipe in Percentages
32.6% White Granulated Sugar
32.6% Brown Sugar
24.3% Sunflower Oil
2.1% Shea Butter
6.9% Polysorbate 80
0.4% Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
0.8% Liquapar


Weigh the Sunflower and Shea Butter into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until the Shea Butter has melted. The mixture should only be mildly warm. Add the other liquid ingredients. Stir well making sure everything is incorporated. Add the white and brown sugar. Stir well. Package into jar and label. Enjoy!


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Shelf life of a fixed oil

Shelf Life of a Fixed OilWe are regularly asked about the shelf life of a fixed oil (you know, the animal and vegetable oils we use for soap making). There are a few things we would like to address for storage.

To have the freshest material I would like you to use up any oil you purchase from us within 1 year from the date of purchase.

To get the longest life you should store your oils in a dark, cool, dry place. Dark because UV rays break down the oils. Cool because microbial activity, including oxygen exchanges, happen slower at cooler temperatures. Dry because moisture encourages growth of yeast, bacteria, and mold which can contaminate the oil by either growth inside the oil if water is introduced or by odor from growing populations of these organisms.

In the event you live in a very moist and warm climate I would recommend refrigeration, including freezing. The one reason I hesitate to mention refrigeration to most people is they do not have a dedicated refrigerator for low odor vegetable oils. There is nothing like an oil that was stored in a refrigerator next to a cut onion. Your soaps and lotions will have an onion odor that can not be removed.

Freezing will not harm a fixed oil. Liquid oils may congeal but they will melt when warmed to room temperature and it takes nothing more than removing the oil from the freezer and setting it on the counter. Zero energy melting of a congealed oil! There are some oils (waxes) that really have a long shelf life and I rarely worry about their stability. These are beeswax, jojoba oil and lanolin. If you plan for the 1 year rule and treat your oils with care, you will have a fine time making soaps and lotions!


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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge – Karen

What happens when you are so enamored with a specific ingredient that you can’t make just one type of soap? You expand your creativity horizons of course! Vanilla Bean Specks are one of those items that you can’t have just one product containing them! They are beautiful is soaps, a must in scrubs and just a fun addition! Check out this lovely Vanilla Bean Speck inspired soap! 

Here’s another of my favorites soaps. I created this one as a more “girlie” version of my Denali Granite soap. This one also has ground vanilla bean seeds (love this in soap) and clay, with a blended berry scent.

Keep an eye out for the fabulous challenges that we do here on the blog. It is not just a chance to show your art through the media of soap and cosmetics. It is also a chance to earn awesome prizes like free product, gift certificates and more! I promise you won’t want to miss out.


Karen's Denali Granite Soap
Karen’s Denali Granite Soap
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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge – Karen

Vanilla. The world’s most prized flavor followed closely by chocolate. It thoroughly amazes me how such a small delicate orchid blossom can create a pod bursting with such prized flavor. Vanilla is an inspirational, rebel rousing flavor. And it has inspired culinary delights, sophisticated perfumes, homey candles and more. So it isn’t particularly surprising to have people pioneering new ways to incorporate vanilla. Soap is just one of those fields. Check out what one particular soap maker developed!


Here’s a soap I make and just love. It gets its look from MMS ground vanilla bean seeds, bentonite clay and kaolin clay. Scented with Bay Rum; it’s an awesome soap!

Keep an eye out for the fabulous challenges that we do here on the blog. It is not just a chance to show your art through the media of soap and cosmetics. It is also a chance to earn awesome prizes like free product, gift certificates and more! I promise you won’t want to miss out.


Karen's Granite Soap
Karen’s Granite Soap
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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge Soap Submission – Karen

I find it fascinating when people are given the same basic materials but their finished products are completely different. That is one of my favorite things about challenges. Challenges seem to give people full reign of their creativity by forcing them to think outside the box. Check out what Karen thought of! 

I LOVE this coffee soap. I love coffee and it’s just the best to use in the kitchen and after gardening. I made a 4X strength coffee for the liquid and added the used grinds to the soap. A little TD to give it a beautiful creamy (yeah, I love cream in my coffee) swirl. I added a touch of tea tree oil, peppermint and lavender essential oils. This could be the perfect soap ;*) And, it’s just beautiful (in my coffee hazed mind!) And yes, it’s a botanical. Coffee comes from trees, so there ya go.

Want to join in on the fun? Don’t forget, you have until July 18th to strut your stuff and have a chance to win an MMS gift certificate!


Karen's Coffee Soap
Karen’s Coffee Soap
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Reader Challenge: New Gift Kit Combination Ideas Wanted!

Help Wanted! I’ve been working on some ideas for new kit combinations using our fantastic bases. I love the ability to use our gift kits when I have an emergency gift I need to make, friends to entertain or even planned out gift baskets for special events like Christmas, birthdays or even just because!

I need your help! I need fresh ideas to pair any of our bases with a fragrance (or flavor) that you think we should put together as a new kit option. I’m open to thoughts and inspiration!

Once I get some ideas from you, I’ll take them to the Graphics Team and we will design some new labels for the kits. If you have any thoughts on that front we would love to hear them!

I am running on a deadline for this project and I will need your ideas by July 25th, 2014. To submit your idea(s), simply tell me in the comments below or use the Contact Us page. Please make sure that your e-mail is correct so I can send a message back to you. We wouldn’t want you to miss out if we choose your idea. You can submit one idea or multiple ideas. No idea is too small! I’ll listen to them all!

Once we have the new kits ready to release, all participants will be among the first to know! If you didn’t enter any ideas, don’t worry. Our loyal blog readers will also get the list of the new kits a few days later. How cool is that?

So, what do you “win” if we choose one of your ideas?

  1. A bundle of virtual hugs!
  2. A really awesome goodie box from the Blog Kitchen.
  3. A special note card from all of us here!

Is your brain already coming up with ideas? If so, yay! We want to hear them! If not, pop on over to the catalog for inspiration. I can’t wait to see what you create!


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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge Soap Submission – Karen

Soap makers are artists and scientists rolled into one and anyone who says differently needs a day shadowing a soap maker. Soap makers work with a media that can be unpredictable in shape or even colors but when things turn out just right, we all want to celebrate! Karen submitted a beautiful soap that used botanicals, micas and clay! Here is what she has to say about this bar.


This is a CP soap I made just for me.   I put in the things I  like.   From the bottom up, I did layers with  vanilla bean, rose hips, blue Cambian Sea clay, copper mica, red merlot mica.  Scented with bergamot,  lavender, lavendin, grapefruit.  I love these colors and the gentle scrubbiness. Very restful, very beautiful.

I agree Karen. It is a very beautiful soap and the scent blend sounds so delightful. Is anyone else wishing computers were scratch and sniff? I certainly am!

Does Karen’s soap inspire you? If you want to join this challenge, pull out your soaping container and starting creating! Don’t forget, winners have a chance at an MMS gift certificate!



Karen's Soap
Karen’s Soap
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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge

One of my favorite things about summer is the garden. I find great delight in sitting in the garden, watching the butterflies, birds and bees. I also find great humor in watching the neighbor’s fat, orange cat slink through the plants only to be startled. Many bees and other insects have sent him streaking back to the safety of his yard. As I sat in the garden this weekend, I thought of all of the body care products that have been inspired and influence by nature. I thought today I would release a challenge. I want you to create a product based on botanicals. Get inspiration from gardens or local parks.


All participants must submit a photo of their product, a photo of their inspiration and a description about it, include what it is scented with. We will accept submissions of products inspired by botanicals, gardens and parks. All submissions will be displayed on our blog. Good luck!

Now here is the really exciting news. We will accept submissions in three categories. Soaps, Bath Goodies and Cosmetics. The Soaps category can include cold process soaps, hot process soaps and melt & pour. Bath Goodies includes bath salts, bath bombs, bath oils and even bubble bars. The Cosmetics category will include lotions, creams, lip balms, massage oils, etc. Please note that all submission are due by July 18th. To make a submission, email your description and photos to I have gift certificates for winners!

Happy creating! I can’t wait to see all the submissions!


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Spring is Here Challenge Soap Submission – Carma

One of my favorite parts of spring is that fresh produce starts to become available again. One of my particular favorites is strawberries. The is nothing better than biting into a luscious, plump, bright red strawberry and feeling a burst of flavor on the tongue. Carma thinks of fruit and fruity scents too!


I live in Minnesota and look forward to spring all winter long. We have had a very long, very cold winter this year and I have a bad case of Spring Fever!! This soap is scented with a blend of MMS fragrances. I had 3 – 1 oz bottles with a little left in each one, so I combined them to create a spring time scent. The scent includes Cherry Blossom and Kiwi, Mulberry and Enchanted Apple. I LOVE enchanted apple!
I included some skin softening ingredients to soften up our winter frozen skin and get it ready for springtime!!! The recipe includes cocoa butter, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. So luxurious I can’t wait for Spring!


Carma’s blend sounds delightful! I hope everyone is enjoying the spring-themed products! Which are inspiring you?


Carma's Soap
Carma’s Soap
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