Category Archives: Thoughts from The Sage

Formulating from Your Cupboard – Day 1

ChemistOne question I hear on a regular basis is “How do I formulate with materials I have on hand rather than needing to place an order for XYZ product(s)?” This week I will share my secret by showing how to make a variety of lip balms. Once you learn this method of formulating, you will never want to go back!

The first thing we will need is an “inventory” of all of the materials we have on hand. I like to separate them into categories. I have waxes, liquid oils, solid oils. (I like to separate my solid oils into two categories. Things that are brittle at room temperature and the rest of them. This makes formulating much easier.) I also have categories for my extracts and flavors.

If I have it on hand, I will include Conditioning Emulsifier in my list under the waxes category. The Conditioning Emulsifier gives emolliency to the lip balm but it also makes it easier to use vegetable waxes without the formulation becoming to brittle or hard to apply. Consider Conditioning Emulsifier to being the secret to making a superbly successful vegan lip balm.

Once I have my “inventory” listed in a spreadsheet, I make notes on what I would like my finished formulations to be like. If I want a formulation to be vegan, I note that so I don’t forget during the formulating process. I generally don’t name my formulation until later but feel free to name yours anytime inspiration strikes!

When I start to formulate, I fill my boxes with numbers with the assumption that they are a percentage. This way it is easy to convert from a small recipe to a large recipe. I can even make a small 100 gram test batch!

Check out how I set up my formulation spreadsheet!

I like to use spreadsheets because I can add new products when they arrive or delete ones I have run out of. I always know what I have on hand. I can also make sure that my total is exactly 100. No need to track down floating numbers in my notebook. For me, that is a relief.

For the rest of the week, I will be making all of the lip balms that I formulated today. You will get to see how it is made, why I used the oils I did, what I thought of the formulations and the fabulous labels that Shayla has created for us! Stick around. This week is going to be awesome!



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Behind the Scenes: Meet Shayla

Do you ever wonder who the people are behind the scenes here at TheSage? Well, wonder no more and meet Shayla!

What does Shayla do?
Shayla is a valuable member of our team. She is in charge of our Graphics/Labels Department. This means she designs those cute labels you see on the blog samples in your orders. Shayla also helps take your orders over the phone and if we need extra help in the warehouse for Production or Shipping, Shayla steps right in!


As all of our Phone Team gets asked some common questions, I asked Shayla a few of the questions that you might ask us on the phone! I hope you find some inspiration in Shayla’s favorites!

Andee: What is your current favorite fragrance?
Shayla : Polynesian Red. I love that it makes me feel pretty, beautiful and like a woman.

A: What is your favorite thing to pack?
S: I like packing the fragrances, flavors or essential oils. It is so fun to pour into the bottles and then label.

A: What is your favorite thing about working at TheSage?
S: I have a couple of favorite things! I love my teammates because we are like a family. We work hard and it’s nice to know people care about you. It makes it easier to work with someone who cares about you. I also love the company garden. It is nice to go outside and work on a garden together. The harvests always taste better!

A: What are some of your favorite things to do at home?
S: I like to craft. I love working with wood and I like making it look antiqued or vintage depending on the piece I’m working on.

A: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you have learned about soap, lotion, lip balm or other cosmetics?
S: Lanolin, I didn’t know what it was! I was like “ew” and I think it smells weird right out of the jar. I was surprised to find how well it works to make skin feel better. I love the Brian’s Hand Butter on my feet and elbows!

Thanks Shayla for talking with us!

I hope you enjoyed your Behind the Scenes peek with Shayla! I’ll see you soon with another Behind the Scenes peek.


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Flavor Testing

Setting up test batches
Setting up test batches

I love testing new products. For me, it is like being a kid in a candy store. So when you get a new product, let’s say a flavor oil, how do you determine what usage rate you like the most? Testing. Let me share with you how I test new items in order to determine what I like! You will love how easy it is.

Measuring out Mango Lip Solutions
Measuring out Mango Lip Solutions

Today I will be making some test batches with our Coconut Flavor Oil. I will be making a total of three different batches. Each batch will have 20 grams of Mango Lip Solutions. My first test batch will have 2% Coconut Flavor Oil. (0.4 grams of Coconut Flavor Oil) My second  batch has 3% Coconut Flavor Oil and 1% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil. (0.6 grams Coconut Flavor Oil and 0.2 grams Sugar Baby.) The last batch will have 4% Coconut Flavor Oil. (0.8 grams of Coconut Flavor Oil)

Adding Flavors
Adding Flavors

To start, I set up my three beakers with my Mango Lip Solutions. I heated them so they were liquid. I then added my flavors and stirred well. I distributed the material into some mini lip balm tubes for testing purposes. I then labeled my bags so I could keep them separate. Pretty easy, huh?

Filling Test Tubes
Filling Test Tubes

Out of each of my test batches, I think I enjoyed the one with 3% Coconut Flavor Oil and 1% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil the most. It had great coconut flavor with a hint of sweetness. I felt like it just had an extra oohmp that the others were lacking. Remember, this is just my personal preference and that taste is entirely subjective. What I like may not be the same as what you like, this is why testing is so important!

I will be sending over 100 sample sets to our shipping department. Request one in your order today!

Labeling Test Samples
Labeling Test Samples


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Fast Shipping!

running_timeDid you know we target all orders that are in by 12:30 PM (Mountain Time) are to be shipped the same day?

We figure you place an order because you need the supplies, not because you are trying to exercise your patience. Recently we got this comment from Jackie, “Just a big thank you. I put in a small order in around noon today and I see that it is shipping out this afternoon! It looks like I will get it by Friday so I have the weekend to work on my product!!

Thank you to Jackie and all others who email us about our quick shipping. We feel like this is one of our top services.

Just a reminder that adding to your order can be tough because we process so quickly. Don’t be surprised by our comments that we regret that we are not able to add to your order because your order has already shipped!

What do you feel is the most helpful when placing an order with us? The order confirmation e-mail? The tracking e-mail? How much do you depend on our fast shipping? Share your thoughts! I would love to know how we can help you.


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Bayberry Fragrance is Back!

BayBerryStockI am so excited to tell you Bayberry Fragrance Oil is back in stock! This fragrance is a seasonal favorite and many of you were bombarding our e-mail to know when Bayberry would be back. Now you can breathe easy! Enjoy a wonderful fragrance that didn’t discolor our test batches.

Now that Bayberry is back, what are you looking forward to making most? I’m looking forward to making a batch of Men’s Light Face Cream with Bayberry instead of Peppermint!


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Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is Back!

SLSaStockI am so excited and relieved to finally tell you Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is back in stock! We have been waiting very (im)patiently for this bubblelicious product to be available again. Now you can make all the bubbly products you want!

Now that Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is back, what are you looking forward to making most? The first project I’m dying to make is the Foaming Fruity Layers Bath Soak!


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We Heard You! New Size for Calendula Petals!

Calendula Petals
Calendula Petals
I’m excited to tell you that we have a new size of Calendula Petals in our catalog! We have had many of you tell us that 1 pound was just too big and you would love to see a smaller size. We now have that smaller size for those of you who want to make small batches of soap, tub teas or other fabulous products.

What is your favorite use for Calendula Petals? I think my favorite use is tub teas and foot soaks.



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Ebru Soap Challenge: Tatsiana’s Crazy Owl

One of my favorite things about sponsoring Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club is to see all the amazing soaps that are made! Each soapmaker has their own unique perspective and ideas. Today, I would like you to “meet” one of the winners of the recent Ebru Soap Challenge!

tatiana-ebruTatsiana made this fun and crazy owl soap and tied for third place. Her blog shows the not only the pictures of the steps she followed to make the owl, but the pictures that inspired her. I can’t decide if I love the eyes, the heart on the belly or the “ear” tufts! Ah, I love the whole design!

I wanted to ask Tatsiana a few questions and I hope you enjoy our “mini” interview!

Andee: When did you start making soap?
Tatsiana: I started to make soap in the end of 2011, and the process of soapmaking grabbed all my thoughts, soul and feelings. But at some point I took a break for 1.5 years, so it’s not that long that I’ve been making soap. For me the design of soap is very important, but the texture of soap and its aesthetics are even more important. I love to work with difficult designs and when I am told it’s impossible to do something, I find a way to do it, maybe not from the first attempt.

A: What is your favorite thing about Amy’s soap challenges?
T: There are several things I like about Amy’s soap challenges: its atmosphere and the interesting assignments which Amy gives us, they make us try something new. I also like the spirit of competition.

A: How much time did this batch of soap take to make?
T: I started to make this batch of soap 11 hours prior to the deadline, and from the beginning of making the batch and the time I cut the soap it took me exactly 4 hours, because I decided to take a recipe with 80% solid oils and butters to make the soap faster, to be able to finish before the deadline. I would not recommend anybody to do it. It took me 7 minutes to complete the design.

A: What advice would you give any soapmaker wanting to try the Ebru technique?
T: An advice in ebru technique… First of all, what is needed is a good recipe, tested fragrance oil, very thin trace and moving fast to implement the technique. But the most important is to know exactly what you will be drawing and to imaging several times in your head how it will look in your soap.

Tatsiana, thank you for taking time to talk to me! Congratulations on a beautiful soap and taking third place in the Ebru Soap Challenge. I think I will have to try the Ebru technique!


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Heat Rash Follow up

ExclamationA few days ago I asked what people do for heat rash. Some good comments were made for our readers. I checked out the web for further reading on this topic. The Mayo Clinic site recommends menthol for cooling the skin and lanolin to help prevent duct blockage and stop new blisters from forming.

I learned from this site that heat rash can feel prickly (which is why it is sometimes called prickly heat) and that the cause is from excessive sweating. If the pores become blocked and trap perspiration under the skin, the body can not regulate the heat well and the rash develops. Rashes can appear red or clear and have bumps everywhere. Rashes are a sign of inflammation of the skin. Babies can have this problem easily in their first few months to first years. During this time they are dependent on adults to help regulate their body temperatures. Over dressing in summer can be a problem for all humans, especially babies. Adults tend to take off clothing when they are too hot.

Heat rash can turn to heat exhaustion or heat stroke so taking precautions to keep the body cool is an important daily focus.

The also recommends cool water showers, using a non-drying soap and allowing the skin to air dry. It is especially important to stay in cool areas while outside temperatures soar. If you are prone to heat rash, or worse, make sure you have light weight clothing, refreshing beverages to replace water lost through sweating and that you remain in cooled locations. See your doctor if symptoms are bothersome or do not go away after a few days. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and must be treated as life threatening.

Take care in the summer heat!

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Throwback Thursday: Soothing Oatmeal Tea Bags

Sometimes looking back at things we have made before can inspire us. Yesterday, Tina asked for advice about what to do with heat rash. Here is my suggestion for her request!

This soothing oatmeal tea bag has been a staple in my bathroom since I first made this recipe three years ago. It has lots of uses and I enjoy the calm feeling it gives my skin.

All of my ingredients weighed into the bucket for the Soothing Oatmeal Tea Bags.
All of my ingredients weighed into the bucket.
Summer is just around the corner. If you are like me, you have already received your first sunburns and bee stings all in one week. OUCH! I’ve been treating my painful sunburns with Bactine and my even more painful bee stings with Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream, but both of those stop working effectively the minute I get in the shower. Since I prefer my showers to take about 5 to 10 minutes, I was indecisive on which would be worse, terrible itching and pain for the duration of the shower or terrible BO and greasy hair for the next day at work. My pride won and I decided to take a shower. (I would bet my co-workers were relieved! 😉 )

As I was getting ready to take my shower I realized, “Whoa! Andee. What do you do for work? You probably have some things here at home that could make this shower less irritating. Go raid your stash and find something!” So … I listened to my inner voice and trotted off to my craft storage closet to rummage through my ingredients for something that would help my skin.

Beginning to mix the ingredients for the Soothing Oatmeal Tea Bags.
Beginning to mix the ingredients.
As I rummaged, I found Finely Ground Oatmeal, Calendula Petals, Milk Powder, Epsom Salts and Jumbo Heat & Seal Tea Bags. I decided all of these ingredients would make a great tea bag that would help calm my skin. Join me in the blog kitchen as I recreate this recipe for you!

Collect needed items:

Oatmeal, Finely Ground
Calendula Petals, Finely Ground*
Milk Powder
Epsom Salts
Jumbo Heat & Seal Tea Bags
Mixing Bowl or Bucket
Coffee Grinder or Mortar & Pestle
Recipe in ounces:
2.12 ounces Oatmeal, Finely Ground
0.35 ounces Calendula Petals, Finely Ground
1.76 ounces Milk Powder
2.82 ounces Epsom Salts
Recipe in grams:
60 grams Oatmeal, Finely Ground
10 grams Calendula Petals, Finely Ground
50 grams Milk Powder
80 grams Epsom Salts
Recipe in Percentages:
30% Oatmeal, Finely Ground
5% Calendula Petals, Finely Ground
25% Milk Powder
40% Epsom Salts

Rotating the bucket to mix the ingredients for the Soothing Oatmeal Tea Bags.
Rotating the bucket to mix the ingredients.
*When I first made this recipe, I used the whole Calendula Petals. That didn’t work very well as the Calendula Petals just sat on top of the mixture. I decided to grind the petals to make a powder instead. I put a small handful of Calendula Petals in my trusty soap kitchen coffee grinder and ground them until they made a fine powder. I had to do this several times until I had enough Calendula Petal powder for my recipe.

Weigh all the ingredients into a mixing bucket or bag. Mix thoroughly. After the ingredients have been mixed together, fill each Large Heat & Seal Tea Bag with 1 ounce of the tub tea mixture. Seal with the iron.

Completely mixed Soothing Oatmeal Tea Bags.
Completely mixed oatmeal tea.
I like to mix this in a 1 gallon pail with a lid. I put the lid on and shake the bucket. This recipe was fun to make and it filled 7 Large Heat & Seal Tea Bags.

How would you change this recipe? Would you add a fragrance, change the botanicals or something else? I would love to hear what you would do with this recipe!


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