Our Blue Mountain Soapworks lavender soap bars are so gentle you can wash your hair with them too. Among other things, lavender is known to be great for preventing dandruff. Try a bar of Luscious Lavender today.

Lovely Lavender

Renee Vailes

If there is a sunny spot on the walkway to your house, that’s an ideal place for a potted lavender or bush because its fragrance will surround you each time you arrive and leave. You’ll get in the habit of running your fingers over its foliage to release the aroma as you pass. What could be better than a single plant that is decorative, aromatic and provides ingredients for many other projects?  

‘When I am an old lady I shall have a lavender bush and sprinkle the blooms upon my sheets and under my pillow; steep it into tea and press its spikes among the pages of my books.’  


Lavender has been used for centuries for its healing properties and as a perfume. As far back as AD 77, the Greek and Roman doctors attested to the use of lavender for many physical discomforts. It is said to ease depression, soothe upset stomachs, and calm the itch of insect bites to name just a few of its properties. It can be used for decorating, cooking, and crafting beautiful gifts.  

It is thought that the name of the plant comes from the Latin ‘lavare’, to wash, since the Romans used to bathe in lavender-scented water. They found it refreshing, and it was in this role that the herb was to be valued for many centuries to come. A dab of lavender water on the temples was considered the ideal treatment for the vapours.   Legend tells us, that lavender was brought to Britain by the Romans from southern France.

Lavender flower with bee

It was a highly valued plant due to its healing, soothing and insect repelling properties. Lavender oil was also used for massage.   Records show that monasteries used lavender medicinally and it was listed as such, as far back as 1301. The Lady of the Manor used lavender for culinary and medicinal purposes and kept a still-room for preparation and use by family and staff.  

 In today’s upscale restaurants flowers are making a comeback as enhancements to both the flavor and appearance of food. As a member of the same family as many of our most popular herbs it is not surprising that lavender is edible; its use in food preparation is also returning.  

Lavender was often used during Tudor and Elizabethan times in the preparation of a wide variety of dishes and was a particular favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. The palace gardeners were required to have lavender flowers available at all times which were used to make Conserve of Lavender (a mixture of lavender flowers and sugar) and sweet lavender tisane (a drink made with lavender flowers, boiling water and honey.)  

Lavender Farm

Today the flowers can often be found in salads where they bring a dash of color, fragrance and a bitter-sweet flavor. The blossoms and leaves can be used instead of rosemary in many recipes and crystallized flowers make beautiful and tasty cake decorations.  

Many of the purported medicinal uses for lavender have, upon modern scientific testing, proven to be legitimate. Lavender oil does have antibiotic activity effectively killing many common bacteria. Lavender oil was used extensively during world Wars I and II on the battle field and whenever medical supplies became scarce to prevent infection and as a pain reliever.   The sedative effects of lavender are well documented in medical tests demonstrating its effectiveness in reducing caffeine induced hyperactivity, and increasing length of sleep by ingestion or inhalation. The inclusion of lavender in lotions and oils placed on burns and bee stings aids in relieving the pain and its use in massage oils helps in relaxing muscles.  

Luscious Lavender handcrafted in Jamaica

While many of the medicinal properties of lavender involve the use of lavender oil or dried lavender flowers the stems or ‘straw’ left after stripping the flowers can be burned like incense and have often been used as a means of deodorizing and disinfecting sick rooms.   The other maladies that Lavender is reportedly helpful in controlling include such things as the control of dandruff and hair loss when included in shampoos.

Many of these claims have yet to be tested scientifically, but it is evident that many of the old uses for lavender were more than simply old wives’ tales.  

Check out our Lavender Soaps and Lotions at http://www.NeeNeesSoapShop2.blogspot.com

date15 Aug

There’s some great info here about cocoa and Shea butters – both wonderful ingredients! Try Blue Mountain Soapworks’ Spectacular Shea Butter soap. It’s completely fragrance free and makes your skin feel wonderfully soft, smooth and NOT dry!

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Cocoa Or Shea Butter? What's The Difference?

Renee Vailes

Cocoa and Shea butter are two of the best emollients around.  If you suffer from dry skin, like so many seem to do, you can’t go wrong with either one!  Moisture is moisture, I say, so how do you choose?  To make an educated decision, you have to look at the qualities of both and decide for yourself.  Some companies even combine the two in a lotion or body wash, for the best of both worlds.  In my estimation, the two are interchangeable and equally moisturizing.  I have made lotions from both, choosing the Shea butter for myself… but we shall get to that later.

Spectacular Shea Butter Soap

Skin conditioning is of utmost priority for me.  I suffer from some of the worst dry skin in the winter, even suffering from it in the summer, especially as I get ‘older.’   Most people are open to using anything that will moisturize and keep them looking young.  I know from experience that both cocoa and Shea butter are listed in many lotions and body washes.  I like to couple them in body wash with any oatmeal type ingredient. 

In the past, I have bought every kind of moisturizing butter available and in every scent imaginable:  mango, grapefruit, lime and coconut, banana, apple pie, etc.  Obviously the scent has nothing whatsoever to do with its ability to soften your skin.  The moisturizing elements within the body lotion or body butter are your key to longer lasting beauty and youthfulness.

I am going to outline here the history and uses of both cocoa and Shea butter.  You can decide for yourself


Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean from South America and West Africa.  It has to be grown around the equator; no other location will do. Cocoa butter is used to make toiletries, skin care products, cocoa powder and chocolate. Cocoa butter has a delicious subdued chocolate odor, and has natural antioxidants that prevent products containing it from going bad, thus increasing their shelf life for up to two years. It is a favorite in the production of soaps, cosmetics and skincare products. Its emollient properties and its smooth texture make it a perfect ingredient for body butter and lotions.  Cocoa butter has been around for centuries. Known as the ‘ultimate moisturizer,’ cocoa butter absorbs into the skin with ease due to its body temperature melting point.

Cocoa ButterThe cocoa butter creates a shield against the environment, and it is very helpful in the alleviating of psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It works by holding back the production of immunoglobulin which is known to aggravate and accelerate the above mentioned conditions.

This butter will soothe the skin, relieve stress, and help you relax.  It is useful for pregnant women, when used in regular applications, as a formula to help prevent, and ward off stretch marks. The butter has a very nice smell also. It has been said that cocoa butter may also help to ease arthritis and even help to prevent heart disease. Wonderful claims I must say. I really had no idea just how good this butter was for my skin and body. I just enjoyed using it.


The benefits of Shea Butter have been enjoyed for centuries. Women in Africa have been using Shea butter to smooth their skin and hair far longer than their Western counterparts.  Shea butter has tremendous benefits for hair and skin. It comes from the tropics of Africa from the nut of the Karite tree, where the fatty acids are extracted from the the nut container. The quality of the irremovable fatty acid is far more superior to that of the cocoa butter, but unfortunately it can take up to thirty years for a crop to yield the right quality of this fatty acid. It’s a wonder they can actually bring it to us at a reasonable price bearing all this in mind.  The women of Africa call it ‘women’s gold’ as many on the continent depend on it for their livelihoods.

Shea butter is known especially for its cosmetic properties as a moisturizer and emollient. It is also a known anti-inflammatory agent, although we make no medical claims here! :-) Shea butter is reported by many as being effective at treating the following conditions: fading scars, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, severely dry skin, blemishes, dark spots, skin discolorations, chapped lips, stretchmarks, wrinkles, and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis.

Raw shea butter and nutsShea butter provides natural ultraviolet sun protection, although the level of protection is extremely variable, ranging from none at all to approximately SPF 6. Shea butter absorbs rapidly into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.  Africans have been enjoying the natural properties of Shea butter for centuries, and they have used it on their hair as a conditioner, and also on their skin for protection against the sun, and the harsh elements of their climate.

Shea butter is a luxurious moisturizer, which leaves the skin feeling silky soft. It works by stimulating the skin’s renewal process, thus revealing a more youthful, fresh skin. It is non greasy, and it is used in many expensive skin products. It is also a wonderful, natural conditioner that makes the hair vibrant, while also protecting it from dryness and preventing split ends. It is also the base of many essential oils.  Shea butter works by maintaining the natural oils in our skin, and it can also activate collagen production.


To wrap up our discussion, I have to say, given the info here, I must profess a penchant, a fondness for shea butter.  Given its natural SPF, healing qualities and richness of moisture, it seems only natural to choose it over cocoa butter.  Both leave you feeling silky soft… and while both are superior moisturizers and healing agents (again no medical claims here!), one can’t go wrong with Shea butter! 


Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/advertising-articles/cocoa-or-shea-butter-what039s-the-difference-732458.html

date14 Aug

I’ve been too busy making soap to write blog posts! But I feel like I’m letting everyone down, so here is the first of several great articles by other soapmakers about our favorite topic – natural handcrafted soaps! Enjoy, and visit us online or in person to buy some wonderful soap handmade in Long Bay, Jamaica!

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Why Use Natural Handmade Soap?

Renee Vailes

The benefits of using handmade soap are many: simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals, natural vegetable oils instead of animal fats. All these things are important to many people today. The reasons to use a more natural, handmade product are not always obvious, however. Read on to learn more.

We live in a day and age where the technological advances are many. Cell phones, microwave breakfast, instant pototoes, digital TV, radios the size of a credit card…. Many of these advances are there to make our lives easier. However, when it comes to skin care and the ingredients you put on your skin, technology is probably not what you had in mind!

Why is Handmade Natural Soap so special?

Natural soaps are made in a time-honored fashion. It involves a very simple chemical reaction between oils (or fats) and lye (sodium hydroxide for bars). All soap is made with lye, but there is no lye in the finished product. The chemical reaction converts the lye/fat mixture to glycerin. The glycerin is a natural by-product and, as such, the relationship between the soap molecule and the glycerin means you have a cleanser with abundant, luxurious lather that cleans like nothing else. As a bonus, it does not strip your skin of its natural, protective oils.

Commercially made soap usually contains detergents, fillers, chemicals, petroleum, high animal fat content (read: sodium tallowate) and irritants like SLS or SLES (read our other articles about sulfates!). Commercially made soap tends to be less eco-friendly as well. While commercially manufactured soap usually costs less, the impact on your skin and the environment is shocking.

Natural handmade soaps are made with natural oils, have a high glycerin content, are better for the environment with no detergents, phosphates or sulfates, and are never tested on animals.

What is Natural Soap made of?

Shea nut after harvestingAt Nee Nee’s Soap Shop, we use all-natural vegetable oils in our soaps. Each oil is carefully chosen for its cleansing properties in soap. Soybean and Coconut oils are the only oils we use. Our soybean oil is partially hydrogenated, vegan and as natural as we could find for cosmetic use. Shea butter adds essential moisturizing properties to the soaps we make, aiding in keeping your skin soft and supple. Goat’s Milk (read our articles here about that, too!) is also a natural, skin-friendly moisturizer that helps your skin maintain its pH balance, thus making your skin more healthy and better protected. Essential and fragrance oils contribute each soap\’s unique scent; natural spices/herbs, oatmeal, and/or flower buds and plant leaves contribute texture. We use NO colorants or unnatural dyes in our soaps. What you see is what you get!

Why is Glycerin Important?

GlycerinGlycerin is a humectant. It attracts moisture and gives it back to your skin. In natural and handmade soap making processes, one molecule of glycerin is created for every three molecules of soap. Commercial soap makers often remove the glycerin from their soap and then sell it to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. With our natural soaps, however, all of the naturally occurring glycerin remains intact along with all its skin-nourishing benefits.

When and how did soap-making begin?

Until about a century ago, all soap was made from animal fats, and much of it was made at home. Families would save the lard from butchering animals to make soap. Lye was made from the ashes from the fireplace or pit. However, in 1916, the first synthetic soap (detergent) was made. This occurred because of a shortage of animal fats, or tallow, during World War I. From that point on, synthetic soaps became popular with women eager to free themselves from yet another exhausting household chore.

Today, however, we not only understand the process of natural soap making better, there are a wide variety of natural oils and ingredients available. Making handmade natural soap has never been easier, and you don’t have to use animal fats to do it. This is great news for vegetarians, vegans and those just wanting a more natural alternative to the ‘detergent’ we us on our hair, our skin and in the sink!


About the Author

We are located in the Piney Woods of East Texas. We are a small, locally owned and operated home business. Our products are all from the finest quality ingredients and many are made when you order them! All our lotions and soaps are handmade with fresh goat’s milk and the finest quality vegetable oils. We aim to provide Quality Skin Care at a fraction of the cost! God Bless You!

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/advertising-articles/why-use-natural-handmade-soap-900309.html

date13 Aug