How to Make Soap with the Book, Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Soapmaking Book on How to Make Homemade Cold Process Soaps - Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola

When I first started making soap in 2001 the internet was still very young. Etsy didn’t exist yet and I wasn’t really aware of other soapmakers or crafters online. Eventually I discovered the – an online community for crafts and DIY where other craft novices and craft pros would share their finished projects and tutorials. That group eventually led me to Etsy when it first made its appearance in 2005 and I signed up while it was still in beta. Listings were free then; it was also a very different ecommerce site from what it is today. So essentially I learned how to make soap on my own through trial and error and what I considered the bible of soapmaking at the time, The Soapmaker’s Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch which was first published in 1997.

Nowadays there are scores of books on how to make homemade soap as well as blogs and forums full of tutorials, recipes, techniques and other handy advice as well as communities like Etsy. There is also the book, Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps, by Anne-Marie Faiola which was published in August of this year. Faiola, endearingly referenced as the “Soap Queen” ventured into soapmaking very similarly to the same way I did through book research and trial and error. As a result, unlike The Soapmaker’s Companion, Soap Crafting presents its content in a simple, straight forward manner that leaves no room for confusion. Easier for a beginner to grasp than The Soapmaker’s Companion, Faiola’s book not only breaks down the basics of soapmaking in a way that is simple and easy to understand, it is also presented with beautiful photography to guide you through the process so there’s no confusion – something that is lacking in The Soapmaker’s Companion which consists only of limited hand drawings and no actual photography. That said, The Soapmaker’s Companion is still an invaluable resource for those who are in pursuit of the all the information there is to have on making cold process soaps.

While this book is perfect for beginners wanting to make their very first batch of soap, this book is also suitable for those who enjoy making homemade soaps for more than simply function but aesthetic beauty as well. Faiola covers not only the basics, colors, molds, and food ingredients you can include as part your soap recipes, but she also delves into embedding soaps, funnel pours and gorgeous swirling techniques. In addition to the instructional content of this amazing soapmaking book, there are also thirty-one homemade soap recipes to get you started.

Currently you buy both kindle and spiral bound versions of Soap Crafting from Amazon. Or you can opt for the hardcover version of this book which is available from Mountain Rose Herbs.

My Top Favorite Must Have Beauty Products Lately

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Since joining Birchbox, ipsy and Beauty Army I’ve discovered a lot of really amazing bath and beauty products recently. While there have been a few fails, there have also been quite a few standouts. Here are some of my most recent favorites that I currently prefer not to live without.

Must Have "5" Star Beauty and Cosmetic Brands and Products

1. L’Oreal Paris RevitaLift Miracle Blur Cream discovered via a sample in More magazine :: After trying this product I was instantly in love. It’s similar to the Youngblood Anti-Shine Mattifier that I discovered via Birchbox in it’s ability to keep shine away all day long, but it actually works better. It’s biggest bonus is you get more product than with Anti-Shine Mattifier from Youngblood for a smaller price tag. Also, ass it applies similarly to a cream, you don’t need to use a sponge. Apply after your favorite moisturizer – my favorite for dry skin is Dr.jart+ Ceramidin Cream – and under foundation. You can currently purchase this on Amazon for less than what the Big Box stores are charging.

2. Revlon Uniq All In One Hair Treatment discovered via Birchbox :: I purchased this from Birchbox after reading so many positive reviews and it has become one of my favorite hair care products EVER. It sprays on like a hairspray but if you look inside the bottle it looks like a conditioner. It’s perfect for those dry, winter days if you have normal hair or for everyday use on dry or frizzy hair. I find that this product really keeps my hair soft and frizz free and it’s also helped prevent breakage I was having issues with. Not only does it hydrate hair, but it also promotes shine, repairs, protects against heat damage, and prevents split ends. Plus it smells amazing! To use, simply spray it on towel dried hair and style as usual. I’m on my second bottle – you know I really love something if I buy it more than once – and I’m looking forward to also trying the Uniq One All in One Shampoo & Balm.

3. Paula’s Choice RESIST BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections discovered via Birchbox :: I sample this through Birchbox and noticed a difference overnight. As I am prone to acne breakouts during those monthly hormone changes, I sometimes end up with red marks that linger long after the actual acne has cleared up. This product actually completely erased those marks overnight while helping to keep my skin clear. I have this as a definite on my wish list of things to buy when my budget allows.

4. Jesse’s Girl Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner discovered via ispy :: I sampled this this eyeliner through ipsy and as I received the full size product I’m still enjoying it. What I love about this eyeliner is that it stays on without smudging or transferring onto other parts of my eyelid later in the day. It also makes applying a liquid eyeliner super easy. The applicator is soft so I don’t feel like I’m tearing my eyelids off applying it and it’s super easy to control how much you’re putting on – even for those super fine lines. Plus, it’s drugstore priced.

5. Cailyn Cosmetics Tinted Lip Balm discovered via ipsy :: While this claims to be a lip balm, this product has all the staying power and color intensity of a lipstick. Made with natural beeswax and carnauba wax, this lip balm won’t smudge or stray and unlike long wear lipsticks and color stains, it moisturizes lips rather than drying them out. Plus each bold, beautiful color comes with a brush for application right inside the lid for the perfect application. This line of lip balms comes in wide range of colors as well as colors with shimmers. The price tag is on the end of a high end cosmetic, but it will seriously put your other lip balms to shame.

6. Supergoop!® City Sunscreen Serum discovered via Birchbox :: I sampled this via Birchbox as a free sample in one of my more recent orders and really liked this product. I found it’s great if you’re prone to breakouts – it helped to diminish mine – and it also helps to mattify your skin on those makeup free or light makeup days that you may not be using a product with sunscreen in it. I’m also a fan of the Supergoop! SPF 35 Daily Correct CC Cream although as winter is on it’s way, I really wish they offered a Porcelain/Light shade.

7. theBalm® cosmetics NUDE ‘tude™ Nude Eyeshadow Palette discovered via Birchbox :: I had this gem of an eyeshadow palette on my favorites list for a while and just recently was able to purchase it with a significant $30 discount through Birchbox with my points. I had read a lot of great reviews and I loved the neutral color palette. I was not disappointed. In fact, after I tried these eyeshadows, I cleaned out my makeup bag and literally threw all of my drugstore eyeshadows in the trash. This product put everything I had ever tried before it to shame. The colors are not only beautiful, but they stay in place all day long and are really, super easy to blend. This palette is the first time I was ever able to use an actual eyeshadow brush and not end up with a mess of dust down my cheeks and under my eyes.  I cannot recommend it enough. It’s simply the best eyeshadow I have ever used. I also found that the darker colors are great for lining your eyes when you don’t want a stiff, eyeliner line.

Take a peek at a few of my other previous cosmetic and beauty favorites from beauty box sample program here. Also be sure to follow my Bath + Beauty board on Pinterest for more great products you can buy as well as my DIY Bath + Body board on Pinterest for bath, body and beauty products you can DIY.

What are some of your recent bath, body and beauty favorites?

The New WhimseyBox Community and Subscription Service

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

WhimseyBox Monthly Craft Kit SubscriptionI’ve been eying the monthly craft kit subscription service via WhimseyBox for quite some time. Unfortunately, when they first offered this service you couldn’t enroll in a month to month plan and the 3-month recurring plan ran $75 – which was completely out of my budget at the time. They’ve been making some really exciting changes over at the WhimseyBox website recently though and those changes definitely warrant another look!

You can now purchase a recurring monthly WhimseyBox subscription for just $15 a month – a much more affordable program for my budget. And it gives me the opportunity to try new craft projects I might not normally delve into. Their new catch phrase, stop pinning and start making, pegs this monthly craft kit box perfectly. If you stay a busy bee like me, you don’t have time to hunt down materials and supplies for every Pinterest DIY you dream of making someday. WhimseyBox changes all of that by delivering a diy kit to your mailbox every month. Each box contains craft supplies for one project, project ideas and instructions, a collectible 5″x7″ art print, and of course their signature box – which like other monthly box subscriptions – are sturdy enough to re-used for storage and organization or upcycled into something new. { You can sign up for your monthly WhimseyBox subscription here. }

If you’re not quite ready to commit to a once a month project, no worries. WhimseyBox also now offers a shop where you can purchase past kits and buy a la carte diy supplies.

In addition to the shop, WhimseyBox now also has a community space where registered WhimseyBox users can upload and share their own fabulous diy projects to their profile, fave craft projects by other members, follow other members and comment on existing projects within the community. { You can see my profile here. }

Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen WhimseyBox Blog FeatureAnd don’t forget to also stop by the WhimseyBox blog where members of the WhimseyBox team share their favorite DIY finds and projects from the community and beyond along with behind the scenes looks and craft videos to keep you inspired and crafting! I am pleased as punch to have recently been featured on their blog for my bath & beauty recipes and craft projects.  { Check out my WhimseyBox feature here. }

Are you a member of the WhimseyBox community yet?

Beauty Sample Websites Reviewed & My Favorite Recent Beauty Products Sampled

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Reviews of Top Beauty Sampling Programs - Birchbox, Beauty Army and ipsyI’ve been a beauty sampling fiend lately and am currently a member of three beauty sampling programs – Birchbox, Beauty Army and ipsy.

My favorite company is still Birchbox because I not only love the variety of products and brands they offer, but also because they have a really great rewards program where you earn can points toward free products for reviewing samples, shopping, and referring your friends. Because of their rewards system, I’m able to purchase products that normally wouldn’t be within my price range. I’ve been with Birchbox the longest and most of my boxes have included at least one full size product. They also recently revamped their profile questions to help narrow down what types of samples you receive. Boxes are $10 a month.

Not long after signing up with Birchbox, I also signed up with Beauty Army. Beauty Army is different because it allows you to choose your own samples based on your profile. And if you don’t like the selection of samples you are given, you can change your profile to get different sample results. Generally they include one full size product in with the mix of samples and you can choose up to six samples every month. If you don’t like the sample choices for a particular month or are low on spending money, you can easily skip a month and you won’t be charged. They also have a rewards program to earn a % off your purchase and free monthly kits. Boxes are $12 a month.

ipsy is a little different – and it shows my age I suppose that I don’t really participate in sharing my beauty looks on YouTube – where you receive a monthly cosmetic bag filled with samples. Generally there are several full sized products within these bags with bag styles changing from month to month. I’ve only been with ipsy for two months at this point and wasn’t very excited about the selection in my first bag as it didn’t really contain products I would use. However, I did read from other members that the longer you are a member the more customized your bags become, so I stuck with it into the second month and was very pleasantly surprised. Every product I received in my second bag was something that I will use. You just need to remember to give feedback on the products you receive and whether it’s something you like and would want to receive more of based on brand, color, and type of product. The products in the bags are curated by Michelle Phan – and to be honest I have no idea who that is though you may – and while there’s not really a rewards program – you are directed to the manufacturers’ websites with a coupon code should you choose to make a purchase – you can receive free bonus items in your monthly bags for referring your friends. Bags are $10 a month.

So wondering what’s been in my beauty sample boxes recently? Below are a few of my recent favorites.

Must Have Beauty Products from Top Beauty Sample Programs1. SKIIN Instant Skin Tightener & Line Filler sampled via Beauty Army :: This product is coined “Plastic Surgery in a Bottle” and I have to admit it does a great job. Not only does it tightens sagging skin and help to smooth creases and wrinkles, but I also found that it was pretty amazing at getting rid of shine.

2. ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick Trio sampled via Birchbox :: This product comes as a trio of lipsticks available in Neutral (pictured) and Classic shades. I received a full size lipstick in my latest box in the neutral shade called “Kitty” and just fell in love. This lipstick gives just enough color to perfect my look without looking “made up” and it smells like a heavenly blend of sweet fruits. The long lasting formula glides on smooth and moisturizing and unlike other long lasting lipsticks and stains, it doesn’t dry your lips out.

3. Michael Todd True Organics Jojoba Charcoal Scrub sampled via ipsy :: This organic facial scrub is formulated with jojoba wax beads and activated charcoal to aid in removal of dead skin, impurities and toxins. It very gently exfoliates without scratching sensitive skin and leaves your face feeling fresh and clean, not oily. The activated charcoal is also perfect for helping to prevent acne and the ingredients are suitable for for all skin types

4. Supergoop Daily Correct SPF 35 CC Cream purchased via Birchbox :: Supergoop is the first CC Cream I’ve ever tried and I fell in love instantly. I have very fair skin and and it often looks red and blotchy without anything on it. This product corrects and evens out my skin tone, offers SPF protection and is works great alone or under foundation or other makeup. It’s also easy to blend and is fragrance free. I love how great my skin looks after applying this!

Natural Beauty and Skin Care Products Sampled Via The Top Three Beauty Sample Programs5. Pixi Lash Booster Mascara sampled via ipsy :: This smudge free mascara goes on evenly and doesn’t clump, giving you great waterproof coverage. It’s available in Blackest Black (which I received) and Blackest Blue which awakens the eyes and makes the whites of the eyes appear whiter. Vitamin E and carnauba wax nourish lashes while simethicone provides a smooth glide.

6. Pure Marula Facial Oil sampled via Beauty Army :: This natural oil provides intense hydration, protection and rejuvenation. I’m currently using this sample under my eyes to help keep wrinkles away. Interestingly enough this oil has the highest content of anti-oxidants vs. Argan and other oils tested.

7. Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream sampled via ipsy :: This super sheer, lightweight BB cream moisturizes and illuminates skin. It can be layered to build coverage or used as a primer underneath makeup. Alone it gives skin a soft, dewy glow. Similar to a tinted moisturizer, I love that this product is all natural with ingredients like coconut water, sweet iris leaf extract, damascus rose extract, white tea extract and aloe.

8. Bikini Soft Shave Oil & Razor Shaver sampled via Beauty Army :: I sampled the Bikini Soft Smooth Shave Oil and was tickled pink. This shave oil isn’t a goopy, sticky foam, yet it gives you a close shave without knicks, cuts and razor burn while leaving legs soft, smooth and moisturized. It’s formulated from all natural oils prized for their moisturizing properties and skin softeners that tone and restore.

9. Benefit Chachatint sampled via Birchbox :: I thought this product was a little weird at first. It’s very thin but also, surprisingly, very effective. It can be used both as a cheek and lip stain to give you a sheer, sun kissed look. I love the natural looking color it adds to lips and it’s staying power.

Fabulous Beauty Products for Skin and Hair10. Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream sampled via Birchbox :: I love this cream for under my eyes as it provides rich moisture that lasts and works better than more expensive brand under eye anti-wrinkle creams. Not only does it contain skin repairing ingredients, but it also provides prescription-quality relief for conditions like eczema and redness, as well as dry skin.

11. theBalm cosmetics InStain Long Wearing Powder Staining Blush sampled via Birchbox :: I sampled this in Swiss Dot (Peach) and while it’s not a color I typically would wear – I tend to lean towards berry colors for lips and cheeks – I actually liked the way it looked against my pale skin. The sample size is one that will last for months on end as a little goes a long way.

12. Davines Oi/Oil Absolute Beautifying Potion sampled via Birchbox :: I sampled this hair all along with the Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner and was completely in love. The shampoo and conditioner samples lasted through a week of daily shampoos and left my hair ultra smooth and shiny while the Davines Oil helped tame frizz brought on by an excessively humid summer. It did the job of what generally requires the use of multiple products to achieve.

Are you a member of any sampling programs beauty related or otherwise? I’d love to hear about them!

My Top Five Favorite High End Cosmetic Favorites Worthy of Their Price Tag

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

High End Cosmetic Favorites Worthy of Their Price TagSince I joined Birchbox’s sampling program back in April I’ve had the opportunity to try some really incredible products – many of which I’d never heard of. (In case you haven’t discovered Birchbox yet, it is the best way to discover new beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. Men and women can join to receive monthly deliveries of top product samples from high-end brands.) We did get an Ulta Beauty store at our local mall late last year, but I really haven’t had the time to hit the mall and peruse their offerings. So Birchbox has been like discovering an entirely new world of beauty brands for me. I love that they have unbiased reviews of all of the products they sell. It makes it easier to try new cosmetics and beauty products that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to sample. And their points program allowed me to score $30 off my most recent full sized product purchase which I was particularly happy about since some of these products aren’t in my everyday price range.

However, my top five most recent cosmetic discoveries are well worth their price tag and will stay part of my regular beauty routine for as long as I have the extra cash (and points!) to purchase them. They are (in no particular order): 1. Marcelle BB Cream (a Birchbox Exclusive), 2. Youngblood Anti-Shine Mattifier, 3. Benefit Bad Gal Lash Mascara, 4. Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips, and 5. Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara.

I have combination skin so my cheeks are anywhere from normal to dry while my nose, forehead and chin tend to be oily. I can put on makeup and an hour later my t-zone looks shiny. By the end of the day – especially if I head out for a night of dancing to a local band – basically all of my foundation has come off entirely. So I’d been anxious to try Youngblood’s Anti-Shine Mattifier for some time as well as a BB Cream as a primer underneath of my foundation. As Birchbox carries the Marcelle BB Cream and it had rave reviews, I chose to go with it as a first time purchase. I was not disappointed in either.

The Youngblood Anti-Shine Mattifier does exactly what it claims. It prevents shine and soaks up excess surface oil. I apply this to my entire face after I’ve applied my own Handmade Eternal Spring Under Eye & Anti-Wrinkle Cream. You can immediately see a difference. I then follow it with the Marcelle BB Cream in Light to Medium. I have very fair skin and was really pleased that this BB Cream did not look fake on my skin. It blended beautifully while providing hydration – I use this in lieu of a facial cream – and helping to control shine as well.

29 Preserves I-Block Grape Seed Age Protecting™ Eye ShadowI then follow with my regular drugstore foundation, Almay’s TLC 16 hour makeup in ivory. Next I apply blush – I have been using Revlon’s powder blush in Berry Rich for a good ten years now – then dust on Cover Girl’s Clean Oil Control Pressed Powder in Classic Ivory with a brush. I am new to using this as I had tried it to control shine, but it would wear off very quickly. Next I follow with my eyeliner and shadow – I’m currently stuck on the 29 Preserves I-Block Grape Seed Age Protecting™ Eye Shadow (also via Birchbox) – and a thin layer of NYC Pressed Face Powder in Translucent, and then I apply my mascara and lip gloss. It may seem like a lot, but it actually looks pretty natural and lasts all day. Prior to using the Anti-Shine Mattifier and BB Cream, nothing would stay on my face.

No Shine Even After An All Day Festival in Ninety Degree Heat

Incidentally I tried out these two products in several different ways and settings. I wore it to work and came home with no shine. (I checked the mirror at work throughout the day and was honestly surprised that my face didn’t shine as it’s usually shiny by first pit stop to the restroom in the morning.) I slept in it and woke up to no shine. I went out late night to a restaurant/bar for dancing and drinks and came home late – still with no shine. I suffered through the worst allergy attack ever and must have blown my nose a thousand times and still didn’t have any shine. But the true test, I think, was on Saturday when I attended an all day outdoor festival in ninety degree heat. Even at the end of the festival my face remained a lovely matte (as pictured above at the end of the day.) I did get a touch pink even with SPF 30 under everything, but all my makeup lasted through the festival and without any shine to speak of.

I received the Benefit Bad Gal Lash Mascara as a free sample with one of my purchases from Birchbox and was really pleasantly surprised. This mascara is truly both clump free and lengthening even with just one coat. This is tied with the Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara in Brownish Black as each has benefits the other doesn’t. I love the Bad Gal Lash Mascara for nights out when I want a more dramatic look, however, it’s not waterproof which is my preference. The Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara is waterproof and provides beautiful full lash coverage with zero clumps in literally one swipe while Benefit’s Bad Gal Lash Mascara requires an extra coat to really reach its full potential. However, the Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara doesn’t provide the same stunning length that Benefit’s mascara offers. Prior to discovering these two mascaras my favorite mascara was Cover Girl’s Waterproof Exact Eyelights Mascara in Black Gold as it was waterproof and clump free and allowed you to build some length and volume.

Finally is the Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips. As the name implies you can use this as a nipple balm. It also works great as a lip balm and gloss and to heal cuticles, split ends, sunburns, and even diaper rash. I received a sample of this and will be purchasing the full size product to add to my beauty arsenal. I used this on my chapped nose when I was sick and it worked wonders to heal it quickly. I also used it on a patch of eczema on my calf and on my lips with wonderful results. This product is the consistency of a super thick petroleum jelly, but is 100% natural and is even medically proven to reduce skin roughness by up to 40% in one hour. I love this both for its effectiveness and it’s many applications.

If you’re interested in sampling high end beauty brands like these for yourself, then sign up for a monthly Birchbox subscription! At only $10 per month (billed monthly) it’s a really affordable way to try new bath and beauty products without having to make a huge commitment. Plus both your monthly Birchbox subscription and your purchases earn points towards free products. Every dollar you spend earns you ten points. At 100 points, you get $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop. Monthly boxes each give you ten points and you also earn 10 points each for reviewing each product in your monthly box. There are also free gifts and free samples with your purchases in the bonus shop!

Want the ability to choose your own beauty samples? Join Beauty Army and choose six samples based on your personal beauty profile for just $12 a month with free shipping!

What are some of your favorite bath, body and beauty products that you love to indulge in?