New Lab Journey 1

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in New Lab Journey |

Big changes coming to our lives- a move to what we Michiganders call “up north”.  Since our state is the water wonderland, folks head out of the city and suburbs on the weekends to their lake house or cabin.  What’s to do?   Camp, hike, fish, boating, ski, swim, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobile,  snowshoe, climb the dunes, hunt for lighthouses, drink craft beer…and the list goes on.

This move will be permanent.  And it will take some time as I’ll need a lab in which to produce my bath and body products without too much down time.  I’ve been operating in our 40 x 60 pole building.  It was retrofitted with water, heat, air conditioning, and a drain.  It never seemed big enough, and this move will certainly be a challenge.   Later, we’ll put up a 40 x 80 pole building.

I wanted to track this journey warts & all- so I can look back on it.  There’s an enormous amount of work to do (not including renovations to our current house down state).

Update on this post.  Now it’s May 2017.  It seems we’re moving slowly like a snail.  Some rooms in the house have been painted up north, and some in our house down state. But we did get a 40 x 80 pole barn roughed-in up north.  It has a second story.  There’s a cupola on the top of the building to let light in.  All I want  to do with the work ahead is put a sofa under it and drink tea with my feet propped up:)

Stairway to heaven?

Stairway to heaven?


new building

Baby steps.


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I should have said NO!

Posted by on Aug 8, 2016 in Odds & Ends | 5 comments

When the 30 day blog challenge was announced, I knew we’d be closing on the house we’d just bought, and that’s a 5-hour trip one way.  We’ll be moving up north near the Mackinaw Bridge and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Well, that turned into 5 round trips during the blog challenge.  In between, we put in 15 hour days to help our son with renovations on his cottage in northern Michigan.  He was preparing for the arrival of the French student we’d for hosted for a year- many moons ago.  She was coming to the US for a visit with her husband and 3 kids.  We wanted to soak up every moment we could with them.

The risk is negligible in moderation

The risk is negligible in moderation

My husband and I somehow agreed to host a barbecue for them in our new empty house (for a total 18 people), and thus far only had toilet paper!

Besides  shopping for food, we had to scramble for seating- thus the extra trips back home to raid the picnic table and patio furniture, and lots of pots & pans, and all that‘s needed to entertain up north.  The other thing I lacked was access to the internet to publish the blog posts, so I tethered my laptop to my phone when I had to and hoped for 4G.

Granddaughters at the barbecue using their imagination to build a fort.

Granddaughters at the barbecue using their imagination to build a fort.

A few days ago, there was the goodbye party downstate for the guests that were returning to Paris.   And these last few days I’ve been stupid busy with a stat order for 250 one-ounce lotions and 500 one-ounce guest bars, and another wholesale order.  (I know this is nothing compared to what others had to do to get their posts out- especially those with little ones.)

Blogging can give you a headache!

Blogging can give you a

Every day & bleary-eyed, the thought of what to write hung over my head.  I had to do a post….and an image…no matter what.  It usually took me all day to think about what to write and by the time I sat down to write it, I was brain-dead and feared it was rambling nonsense.  Grammar and punctuation be dammed.  I had a couple of nights of posting near midnight with only a few minutes to spare.  Then I’d wake up to a new day with the task of writing a post looming.  Low dose-but continuous pressure!

But the blessing is, I now will have 30 days of posts for my tribe to read.  It’s allowed me to express what’s important to me on my own real estate; especially when it comes to my business.

Who I am, what I do, why I do it.  My customers can read:

  • How important cosmetic preservation is.
  • How I make decisions based on scientific data, not world view.
  • They also know I love to use safe synthetic ingredients that allow me to get the sensory properties that they love on their skin.
  • They know better how to spot ludicrous claims, and how to ask for evidence.
  • They know there’s nothing to fear from commercial antiperspirants and other traditional products.
  • They know soap will neither kill them, nor make them look 20 years younger.
  • They know that there’s nothing that proves organic is better.  They know now that organic agriculture uses pesticides and herbicides too- the only difference is the origin of the chemical with no regard to toxicity. Those both conventional and organic ingredients have pesticide residues well below any potential harm.  That organic is one giant feel -good marketing ploy with no significant benefits.
  • They know there are ill-informed charlatans that will use #healthwashing and spurious claims to scare them into parting with their dollars.
  • They know that the beauty looks ugly when painted with fear.  There is no reason to propagate fear.  We already have safe cosmetics and they are still not harming anyone.

They now know I call out bull$hit when I see it.

It took a lot of mental energy to get through the blog challenge, but it feels good to have information for my readers to get to know their maker.  Blogging gives the ability to enrich their lives by posting perspectives that they might not have considered before.

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Essential Oils: Why They’re Not Essential.

Posted by on Aug 7, 2016 in All Posts, Woo | 4 comments

I have to be one of the few people in the bath and body manufacturing business who isn’t gushing over essential oils.  I bought some last year and on the counter they sit. I’m sure if I ordered products made with essential oils from my Indie group, I’d find them lovely.

I never cared for the way they smell out of the bottle or “got” what they were supposed to be doing for me. Take me to Narnia? Tickle my limbic system with the life force of the plant? Traverse my blood brain barrier and make me smarter?  My snark is probably from practicing evidence-based medicine.  I pretty much ignore anything that isn’t steeped in science. It’s the #healthwashing aspect of them that confounds me, and I’ve seen that carried over into cosmetics.

boosting the immune system is non-sense.

You can’t boost your immune system without pharmaceutical intervention for specific disorders under the care of an M.D. Lose that bogus claim.

The worship of essential oils has turned into a sort of cult or religion. The MLM companies with their outrageous marketing claims and some slimy snake-oil reps have ruined it for me. It’s the Swiss army knife of “holistic” medicine.  The placebo effect seems to be alive and well.  It’s disheartening to see good people being so easily taken in by incredulous claims ranging from curing erectile dysfunction to Ebola.  It’s smelling more like a cash cow.

 I find it ironic that modern-day charlatans are promoting thieves oil….

Among the list of all the wonders attributed to EO’s, most of them claim mood enhancement.  Fragrance oils can do the same thing.  Essential oils don’t own the word aromatherapy.  Fragrance oils can make people happy as well.  That’s evidenced from the success of the multi-billion dollar fragrance oil industry world-wide.  Fragrance can take someone back in time to childhood memories or remind them of events or people that they care about.  I buy them without phthalates, and have IFRA guidelines for safe use.

The typical way to demonize fragrance oils is by pointing out they’re often made of a mix of natural aroma chemicals and “synthetic” chemicals.  Many moons ago, they were granted trade secret status and people can’t stand that.  They envision toxins and “nasty chemicals they can’t pronounce.”

If you go here there’s a partial listing of lavender oil chemicals.  If those people had a similar list of the trade-secret fragrance chemicals in front of them, I wonder what the hell they’d do with that information?  It’s the same crowd of people that won’t put anything they can’t pronounce on their chakra points. But they’ll gladly ingest an essential oil based on what a salesperson told them when the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of these chemicals are unknown. All because it came from a plant and we all know that makes it “speshull”, right?

There’s claims of antimicrobial action but at the level it would take, it might be irritating to the skin.  On the EU list of allergens that must be declared, I think most of the 26 are from plants.

Hand washing with soap, it works.

EO’s are all the rage: self-medicating for the worried well until someone gets hurt.  I’ve read several injury reports from their use ranging from seizures to esophageal erosion. That’s why we have and need trained aromatherapists!

I have no problem with adults indulging in their misters, inhalers, vape sticks etc.  Just leave it off the helpless kids and animals who can’t speak for themselves. (Think dogs- with their extraordinary and magnified sense of smell).




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Why I killed the bunny logo.

Posted by on Aug 6, 2016 in All Posts | 2 comments

The business guru’s say build your business, the way you want, and do your thing.  To me that means NO restriction on the safe ingredients I use (in terms of the origin of the ingredient or world-view).  I’m not after any certifications.  Maybe I’ll make up my own seal for certified, conventional, and un-organic.

Freedom is why I left the corporate world.  To avoid being dictated to by some organization who boxes me in with their “approved” list of ingredients.  Screw that crap.  With ~10,000 hours of cosmetic formulating under my belt I don’t need those restrictions.  I also don’t value an organization who wants to hold the world to 100 year old agricultural techniques, or won’t accept biotechnology.  Easy to have that frame of mind when you have a full belly, but there are other people in the world that need to eat besides the privileged food elitists.

I’m not gonna “pay to play” to have an organization make me look green/wholesome/eco/cruelty-free for a price.   That brings me to animal testing.   I always have to smile when I see “no animal testing”.  It’s supposed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but I find it disingenuous because of the implication that all the makers who haven’t paid for the seal are cruel.

The dirty work has already been done.

The dirty work has already been done.

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t have the leaping bunny on my site.  I think it’s a fine organization and applaud what they do to help outlaw animal testing on cosmetics (according to what I’ve read, animal testing has been pretty much phased out since the 90’s anyway, except for some big conglomerates who want to tap into the China market).  I can’t imagine using animals to test frivolous things like cosmetics.  They aren’t necessary to our survival.  From what I understand, certification only pertains to new testing.  Virtually every ingredient we use has been tested on animals in the past.

On the Leaping Bunny site it says:  “Some companies choose not to join our program because they continue to conduct or commission animal tests for ingredients or formulations, or they wish to reserve the right to test on animals in the future”   This is so NOT applicable  for small companies or solopreneurs!  Hello? ding-dong,  We’re not Avon or L’oreal!

“We don’t test on animals”.  Of course you don’t.  How would you?  It’s like me saying I don’t put plutonium in my cream. (I’ve tried to locate labs that perform animal testing to no avail;  I wanted to find the cost of Draize testing for something small companies weren’t going to do anyway).

Does that mean you didn’t rub Fido’s eyes with shampoo or didn’t spend thousands on testing?  Or you did the legwork to get certs from your suppliers that they don’t currently test on animals.  The dirty work has already been done! There’s no need for suppliers to repeat it.

The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms. A cosmetic manufacturer might only use those raw materials and base their “cruelty-free” claims on the fact that the materials or products are not “currently” tested on animals.  I don’t know of any small company that has the funds or desire or need to do animal testing.  For all practical purposes, everyone is cruelty free.

Anyone can put a statement on their site and claim that they are ‘cruelty free’.   Ya know what would be a better spend of money?  Ditch the seal and donate to your local animal shelter.



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Could you have Cosmedica Nervosa? (Part 2)

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in All Posts |

Part 1 was about the excessive fear some people have about chemicals / toxins that they think are out to get them.  There seems to be the increasing rejection of science that everyone benefits from, like the great technological improvements it’s brought to our lives (e.g. chemophobia powered by social media).  Some believe that 20 minutes of googling is equal to 30 years of education and scientific research.  Just today, I got an email from a customer and was dismayed at one of his comments……..what else…..chemikillz!  He mentioned where he used to buy soap in his home town because it -“didn’t have lots of chemicals listed as their ingredients“.

non toxic girl IG

It’s time to talk about what no one else is…..the role of makers propagating crap to get a leg up on their competition with their “it’s bad for ‘ya” claims.  Here’s an example with no citations.  Seems fact checking has gone out of style.

I’m betting the person is selling something with essential oils, and knocking fragrance oils.  She’s gonna milk this paranoia.  How did we go from Avon and Tupperware to peddling crap like this?  For people in the cosmetic business- it would be great if they instead defended our industry as safe.  Because it is.  The public is nervous enough thanks to NGO’s et al.

Nothing in life is without risk.  To put it in perspective,  traffic accidents kill 1.24 million people a year worldwide; wars and murders, 0.44 million.  Do we still drive cars?  Pick your battles.  Calm the F down!  None of us are getting out of here alive, so if you like a traditional perfume-enjoy it.

Referring to the part 1 discussion, we makers do have to consider what our customers will think.  A maker can pander to these folks by changing suppliers and labels to words a 7 year old can pronounce (performance be dammed).   Another option is to avoid being a cosmetic apologist, by explaining the origin or function of an ingredient in parentheses e.g., decyl glucoside (from coconut oil) to put the customer at ease, since it’s a “chemically” sounding name.

Stop the fear-mongering

Stop the fear-mongering 

Educating the consumer using science, by referencing the Cosmetic Ingredient Review is is a good way to show the safety of ingredients to customers.  Give weight to ideas that are evidence-based.  With chemophobia and misinformation so rampant,  I don’t see a lot of makers defending the industry.  Some are enablers playing into consumer fears and positioning their products as non-toxic.  (I just sprained my eyes by rolling them).

Skin care should make you soft, and it shouldn’t be a philosophical obsession about ingredients.  Some people need to get a grip.



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