Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Gift Baskets

Hello everyone!

The gift sets have started appearing on Etsy and ArtFire. I started with the lavender small set, but the eucalyptus mint will be available by Monday night. Larger gift baskets will be added over the course of the next week.

Shipping options are automatically USPS Priority shipping, which is a 2 day lead time, so there is still plenty of time to order before Christmas!

Small Gift Baskets: These are $15 ea. and contain: 5 oz. Bath Snow,3-4 oz bar of soap (depends on shape) in a Christmas-themed shape, Soft & Sweet lip balm. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Medium Gift Baskets: These are $25 ea. and contain: 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, and a 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Large Gift Baskets: These are $40 ea. and contain 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion, and a 4 oz bottle of Lavender Bliss (Deodorant/Room Deodorizer/Linen Spray), and a scented Beeswax candle. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Exciting New Ventures

Today, I was very excited to attend the grand opening of a new coffee shop in town, Big A Coffee Company. I saw that there was some jewelry for sale in the shop, and thought it might be wise to ask about selling some of my soaps or lip balms. Dee Dee, one of the owners, seemed very excited about the idea and had actually seen my shop on Etsy. I told her about the ArtFire shop, too; because it turns out that she sells jewelry on Etsy, and I thought she might like the chance for a new (free) venue. So, as of Wednesday, I will have Soft & Sweet Lip balm, a gift basket or two, and my soaps (Bee Refreshed and Bee Soothed) available for sale at Big A Coffee Company, as well as on Etsy and on ArtFire. There are a few other venues in town that I might be able to partner with, but for now I am very exited to see this opportunity come about.

Everyone local should definitely check out Big A Coffee Company. They are using a local coffee brewer (well, from just over the state line in SC), Iron Brew Coffee. I had a mint mocha today (special order) and it was really good. My husband Jeff had a plain ol' coffee, and he said that was great, as well. I had a spinach mushroom feta breakfast burrito that was delicious! We also tried a sample of an incredible 2-layer brownie. Beyond the food and coffee, which are of course integral to a good coffee shop; the decor was fantastic. I have seen three other businesses operated in the same establishment, and while 2 of the three had pretty good decor, these ladies outdid them all. The walls were repainted a light gray color that really opened up the place. The non-load bearing posts which were previously there had been taken out, also allowing for better use of the space. And colorful (with plenty of earth tones which are perfect for coffee shops) and tasteful artistic pieces bedecked the wals. There were armchairs and a sofa as well as the normal tables and chairs. All in all, the place looked fantastic, the coffee was great, and so was the food.

I highly recommend a visit to Big A Coffee Company, and would of course love your support while you are visiting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Long Pause

The summer time was busy for me here, which led to some delays with Bee Beautiful. We had a lengthy move (across town, but some 5 or 6 fish tanks will complicate things), some health complications, and a business trip or two cluttering up the calendar; which made for some very stop and go endeavors in this department.

I apologize for the inconsistency, and am excited to be back at last to get things moving solidly. Here are some of the changes taking place.

I now not only have an etsy storefront, but also one with artfire. Artfire is very similar to etsy, except that it is FREE! There are, of course, also paid options, but for now I'm grateful for a second venue that does not add any additional cost.

My friend DJ at Firefly Imageworks has created a fantastic banner for both sites, and is working on matching labels for the products. I am still using homemade labels for now, but I cannot wait to see how the new ones look! Here is the banner:

DJ is a very talented photographer / graphic designer/ illustrator and then some. Anyone who has needs in that area should definitely get in touch with him via the link above. And tell him I sent you. I do not get a commission of any kind, but he would love to know where the business came from, I am sure.

Christmas / Holiday Gift Baskets are going on sale as of tonight. I will be posting another blog shortly with all of those details.

We have some new products currently in development. A host of newly pregnant friends and siblings has inspired me to create Bee Beautiful Bump Balm, and I should be adding that shortly. Additionally, a friend who loves my deodorant for odor, but has a problem with excessive sweating requested that I find an aluminum-free way to make an antiperspirant; something that had never occurred to me as possible. I did a little research, though, and soon Lavender Bliss will be available as simply a deodorant and as an antiperspirant/deodorant. I am still tweaking the scent combination for the men's deodorant, but that will also be available in an antiperspirant/deodorant form.

I am very excited to get things rolling again! New blog posts, new products, and great skin care tips will be heading your way soon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Keep Bugs at Bay, Not Your Friends!

So, I was enjoying the company of some friends last night, celebrating Independence Day, when I had an epiphany. Well, it could be said that the epiphany had me. As evening approached and the bugs descended upon our little fellowship, out came the bug spray for all the kids. And then followed the smell. Now, I am not at all saying that these parents should not have protected their children from insect bites, but I realized, "Hey! I have everything on hand to make a very pleasant smelling insect repellent! I should do that!"

And so Close at Hand is born. The concept is something like this, "Close At Hand: Drive bugs away, not your friends."

Close At Hand is a blend of several aromatic oils that are also known bug repellents. Knowing that there are some bugs that certain oils are better at driving away than others, I've included 4 different essential oils, each with different specialties. The result is a rather effective blend that still smells pleasant to the people you want to spend time with. No photos yet, I am still developing a label, but hopefully by this evening Close At Hand will be available for purchase on my etsy!

Other Product Update: Product development on other items has slowed somewhat. I do not want to have to charge a great deal for shipping, and so shipping melt-able items in the heat seems like it would require some kind of special packaging. To be entirely honest I'm somewhat wary of shipping soaps in this heat. I've received items in the mail and been shocked at how very HOT they felt. Thus, Bee Refreshed may have to wait until the cooler weather to be available. Also, I think I am going to temporarily deactivate the lotion and hand protector as well. They will return, but I need to find good methods to ship in this heat!

If anyone knows any good ways around this, please share! I would love to find an affordable way to ship my items, but I don't want them to melt en route. The Soft & Sweet Lip Balm I am not nearly so worried about. That is in a sealed container, so even if it gets melted it can be set right-side-up in a warm place and will turn out fine.

That is it for today folks! Happy Independence Day! I hope everyone had weekends that were safe and tons of fun!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fabulous Friday Skin Care Tip - To Exfoliate or Not to Exfoliate?

Exfoliation. Scrubbing the skin to remove dead skin cells. How necessary is it? Won't my dead skin cells just come off when they need to? Let's talk about scrubs, scrubbers (of varying kinds), and your skin!

First of all, is scrubbing necessary? I believe it is. There are all kinds of skin care products out there with mica and other iridescent ingredients that are supposed to "brighten" your skin. Let's get real, ladies. These creams (or cremes, depending on the branding) do not brighten. If the lotion itself is glowing, it is not making your skin brighter by nourishing your skin. It is putting a thin layer of glitter on your skin. So how do you nourish your skin and really make it glow (not just sparkle)?

Moisturizers of varying kinds are the main vehicle of topical nutrients to the skin, this is true. But if dead skin cells are crowding the surface of your skin, then moisturizers only aid in clogging the surface of your skin. You may see a "glow" at first, but it is anything but healthy. Then, the next thing you'll see are little bumps, that gradually grow into pimples. Or irritation that seems to be in response to the cream, but is perhaps actually because your skin is suffocating. When dead skin cells combine with oil on your skin, they clog pores, blocking your skin's natural oil (sebum) inside, along with the normally friendly bacteria found on your skin. these blocked pores basically allow the sebum and bacteria to ferment there until you have a pimple. So pimples are basically a bacterial infection on the surface of your skin (gross, I know, but true). That is the reason that so many doctors prescribe antibiotics for severe acne (not something I approve of. I know people who now require the strongest antibiotics for even the tiniest infections, just because they got such a major dose of strong antibiotics so consistently in their teens). So exfoliating, then, is a key ingredient to keeping your skin clear.

Exfoliating - brushing or scrubbing away the topmost layers of dead skin - basically allows your skin to breathe. Also, as skin cells die, they flatten and are stretched out. They are no longer the plump, healthy cells they used to be, and as a result, they are often much more dull than healthy, live skin cells. This is one reason that scrubbing helps return a healthy glow to your skin.

Finally, exfoliation allows the nutrients in your skin care products to sink deeper into the layers of the skin, instead of sitting on top getting soaked up by dead skin cells. This example may seem in strange taste, so bear with me, but can you imagine trying to give a dead man vitamins? He does not need them. In fact, he does not need anything, except to decompose, because he's dead. Now think of your dead skin cells in that way. They do not need vitamins, antioxidants, or moisturizers. All they need is to be swept away to make room for healthy skin cells.

Now, having established that exfoliating is necessary, how should you exfoliate? Sometimes just watching the television for twenty minutes gives you the idea that there are as many exfoliants as there are women in the world. Which one is right for you?

First of all, there are many different skin types. Sensitive, dry, normal, combination, oily, and maturing. A scrub that is a favorite for someone with oily, blemished prone skin is probably not a good pick for someone who has sensitive skin (although people with dry skin and people with aging skin can usually use a good number of the same products).

Someone with sensitive skin will want to use a gentle facecloth when washing their face, and that may well be enough exfoliation. If you feel like you need more, though, you can use a scrub once a week. Try to find something with very few ingredients, high in moisture, with no added fragrance or color. 95% of skin care allergies and sensitivities are related to dyes, fragrance, and preservatives. You will want something with polished, fine granules, so as not to irritate your skin. Again, those with sensitive skin should only use a scrub once a week.

Dry skin and Mature skin can basically be put in the same category. You may find that a soft bristled face brush gives you the exfoliation you need without being an irritant to your skin. If you think you need something a little softer, there are all kinds of face loofahs, cloths, and even "bath lily/puff" styled facial exfoliators that might work well for you. You can use these every day 2x a day when washing your face. As for using a scrub, you can exfoliate twice a week, potentially three if you feel like you're needing more and it doesn't aggravate your skin.

As far as what to use as an additional scrub, Vitamin C is necessary for your skin to produce collagen, and Vitamin E is very nourishing, both of these are great ingredients for people with dry skin. Also ingredients like grapefruit extract, guarana, or kinetin are particularly good for mature skin, and can help with severely dry skin, too. Look for something with polished scrubbers, but they can be slightly larger than what you would need for sensitive skin. ground walnut shell, oatmeal based, and other "fruit and nut" type scrubs are great (just make sure they are, in fact, facial scrubs and not body scrubs. These are not really interchangeable).

People with combination skin do not necessarily need to have a "potent" scrub, if your facewash is purifying, your toner is more of an astringent, and your moisturizer is moisture balancing (look for something with seaweed, specifically one called bladderwrack, for great moisture balance!); than your scrub can simply be a scrub. Again, fine to normal sized polished granules. There is a certain famous grocery store brand that has an "apricot" scrub with unpolished granules. Microscopic slides of post-scrub skin showed what looked like tiny cat scratches on the surface of the skin cell. This, of course, is not the goal of exfoliation, so no matter what your skin type, use a scrub with polished scrubbers. People with combination skin can also scrub two to three times a week.

People with oily / blemished prone skin can usually deal with something like a soft bristled face brush when washing your face. I use one every time I wash my face and my skin never feels irritated or aggravated. As far as scrubs, again the granules should be polished, and look for something with a mild-to-strong astringent. I prefer tea tree oil (in fact most of my skin care products employ either tea tree or bladderwrack). One of my favorite scrubs actually uses ground tea tree leaves as the exfoliant. You can scrub 3 times a week. With oily skin, it is a good idea to get those three times a week in, because sebum (oil) can be a binding agent, holding dead skin cells in place that might otherwise be very easily shed.

Another good question: When do you scrub? This is very important. I worked at a skin care store in Boston and more than half of my coworkers did not actually know the answer to this question. Many people assume that if you get the dead skin cells off, then your cleanser will cleanse more deeply. These people scrub before they wash your face. This is a very bad idea. The little granules in scrubs can push dirt deeper into your pores. As a general rule you want to clean the area first, then scrub. Then you should follow with a toner, and finally moisturize. Your scrub is what you use for deep cleaning, not your cleanser. Your daily cleanser is for surface dirt and makeup, not for extracting all the toxins from your pores. Masks and scrubs were developed for this purpose. So remember, wash first, then scrub!

Now, a word on the environment. Please please please do not use scrubs with polyurethane beads. Sure, they are gentle on your skin. I make no argument there. But just think of how many little pieces of plastic are going down the drain to who-knows-where! Fish and aquatic animals can swallow them, they can break down and leach chemicals into the earth. We don't need any more toxins! So, please do NOT use scrubs with polyurethane beads!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Products Added - Hold My Hand and Touch of Silk

Happy Easter, everyone :)

Last night I was pleased to add two new products to my site: Hold My Hand Intensive Hand Protector, and Touch of Silk Lavender Mint Body Lotion.

Hold My Hand Intensive Hand Protector

Our hands are our contact with the world, and because of that they have are always confronted with agents that cause dryness. Even seemingly harmless paper can leach moisture from your skin, breaking down the moisture barrier that does not only soften your skin, but also fights infection and other pathogens. Dry skin - especially if it becomes cracked - is much more prone to infection.

With Cocoa Butter and Beeswax to moisturize deep down, dry skin does not have to be a problem any more. Keep your hands soft and smooth with Aloe, Vitamin E, and Jojoba to nourish and soothe your skin.

Lavender, Eucalyptus, Rosewater, and Patchouli combine for a surprisingly sweet scent that also contains the slightest hint of deeper and earthier tones to balance it out.

Each tub contains 7 oz. of Hold My Hand Intensive Hand Protector. As per my usual standards, this hand protector contains no parabens and no other synthetic preservatives!

Touch of Silk Lavender Mint Body Lotion

Lighter than a body butter, but more substantial than your average body lotion, Touch of Silk will keep your skin at its best!

Touch of Silk has a similar base to our Hold My Hand Intensive Hand Protector, but a lighter feel. Cocoa Butter and Beeswax again lend their best attributes to soften your skin; Cocoa Butter to sink in deep and Beeswax to protect and seal in moisture.

Aloe and Sweet Almond Oil keep this moisturizer light enough for every day use, but are also substantial enough to nourish your skin.

Scented with Lavender and Peppermint essential oils, Touch of Silk has an intriguing scent that both soothes and revives your senses.

Touch of Silk Lavender Mint Body Lotion comes in a 4 oz. bottle. Again, you will not find any parabens or any other synthetic preservatives.

Next on the list is the Bee Refreshed Eucalyptus Mint Soap!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fabulous Friday Weekly Skin Care Tip: Drink to Your Health!

Ever since I started working for The Body Shop several years ago (I no longer work with that company), my life changed in a drastic way. Any time I was with a group of women, I was being asked for skin care tips. It did not matter how seemingly secure they were, or how young or old. Every woman wants to know how to take care of her skin (even if she ends up deciding that the time and effort involved are just way too much to be worth it).

Because of this, I was equally surprised to find out that not many woman know about or practice one of the most important skin care steps: Hydration. I am not talking about keeping your skin wet. I am talking about drinking water.

People are always looking for that miracle product that will fix all their skin woes, particularly if they have problem skin (very dry, very acne prone, very sensitive, etc.). However, before you go shopping and spend tons of money on "miracle cure" claims, you should do an experiment.

A person needs to drink half the number of their body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water each day. That can sound really confusing, so for clarity's sake: If a person weighs 150, they need to drink 75 oz. water a day. That is almost 10 cups, and it is 11 oz more than a half gallon. If you will do this every day for a month, then afterward it will be very hard for you not to drink water.

In college, I began to realize that I needed to get healthier. I got sick all the time and I just didn't feel well, so I started with water. After about a month, if I went even half-way through the day without drinking any water, my stomach would feel mildly irritated. That was my reminder to drink. Drinking a big glass (16 oz.) of water at every meal is a good way to remember to drink that much, as well as also keeping you from over filling yourself, too! So what is good for your skin can also be great for your figure!

More than that, though, drinking that much water did great things for my skin. My skin cleared up considerably, and I did not have nearly as many breakouts. In addition to that, my skin just looked healthier. People were commenting on how soft my skin looked, and how it glowed. No one has ever thought I looked my age in recent years. at 26(.5....) people still think I look about 20 (If you want proof you can see a picture of me with my husband here on my personal blog).

Now, beyond my own personal experience, the effectiveness of water in skin care has been documented. Keeping your water consumption where it needs to be is helpful for many medically sound reasons. The foods we eat, the things we drink, the air we breathe; all of these have the potential to build up toxins in our bodies. This is not a doomsday speech of any kind - everything we consume has some part of it that we don't need. These parts we don't need, when they build up in our system, become toxins. Where does your body store excess toxins? In your fat cells.

Where is the primary location of fat cells? In the subcutaneous layer of the skin. It has been clinically proven that excess toxins in your system will very likely show up on your face. That is not to say that every breakout means you have a lot of junk built up in your body. Hormones, skin conditions, and the effectiveness of your sebaceous glands all effect your skin type. But, drinking plenty of water every day does help prevent the build up of toxins in our bodies, which does eliminate a majorly overlooked cause of skin care problems. If you can eliminate a major cause of problems before dropping a ton of cash on skin care products that may or may not work, why would you not do this?

That is my challenge: The 30-Day Skin Care Challenge. Drink half the number of your body weight in ounces of water a day for a month. 30 days is important. It takes about that long to build a habit, and also 28 days is one skin cell renewal cycle. It is important to note that whatever you are doing for your skin, you will not see a major difference for at least 4 weeks. If a skin care company says otherwise, they are probably lying. Especially considering that it takes your skin up to two weeks to get used to a new skin care product, so during that period of time there may be minor breakouts, or simply no improvement at all.

That is the benefit of water consumption: You do not have to worry about the two-week breaking in period. Just drink away, and your body will feel better. Your skin will start to reflect those changes (within the normal skin cell renewal cycle, and not before then).

This is not a cure-all!! Drinking plenty of water will help improve your skin, and it will eliminate some of the underlying condition. You may still need to get a specific skin care product to treat your skin. But wouldn't it be best to uncomplicate your skin care routine by improving the condition of your skin naturally?

One Final Note: Now, I know that we live in a sense-driven society, and that includes taste. But drinking juice is not the same as drinking water. Drinking flavored water is not even the same as drinking water. I do not care what the television commercials say, I know because my body tells me. Anytime they add anything organic to water, they need to add a preservative of some kind. That preservative, just like any other nonessential element in your food and drink, can become a toxin, building up in your system and coming out on your skin.

Drink filtered or purified water, with no other ingredients. Get a filter (Brita, Pur, reverse osmosis, anything is better than tap water), or buy stock in a bottled water company (haha). This is not to say drink only water; my rule when I started this for myself was that - other than my morning coffee - I would not drink anything else in a day until I had consumed half the water I needed to. But yummier beverages ( chocolate) were definitely still a part of my life.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is the simplest and most overlooked, and that is definitely the case with skin care. Drink to your health, and see if that doesn't help you reduce your skin care costs a bit.