Ugly soap with beauty inside

I have recently asked whether herbal soap without fragrance is acceptable because I found only two major groups of homemade natural soaps. There is either a large group of beautiful soaps with artistic look of many kinds, or a bit smaller group where the combination of interesting fragrances is emphasized. Briefly, the homemade soaps attack directly your eyes or nose.

I love to admire creativity of both groups as well as I admit that I don’t have enough capability to do anything comparable. Still I feel the necessity to wash my body with my own soap and fill it with herbs of my choice.

The last “soaping” post described my history from feeding wishes of the others to the understanding I need to follow my inner voice although the result looks so poor.

And here it is, unattractive with no additional fragrance. You hardly find anything less common to look at, although there are hidden treasures inside.

Among herbs, there is lot of violets inside. Some of them were infused together with plantain and strawberry leaves into Babassu and Coconut oil, some of them were distilled in water environment to get my own “floral water”, in which I then dissolved sodium hydroxide.

The rest of violets were dried and powdered, so they gently peel your skin while enjoying the bubbles. For the same reason I powdered a pinch of oatmeal, which also plays a nourishing role as well as range of high quality vegetable oils like hemp, almond, olive and castor oil, plus my lovely shea butter infused with plantain.

I count days until the soap is ready, looking forward to enjoy my ugly Cinderella in shower!

With love, Ivana

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Is herbal soap without flavor acceptable?

I love to make soaps loaded by herbs. I love to experiment with various combinations, listening to my inner voice and remembering University knowledge. I’ve learned how to infuse herbal energy and active compounds into the soaps effectively and I am happy to apply them on my body. Each time in the shower my lovely soaps remind me the whole adventure from harvesting herbs to final bubbles.

I believe the desire to share passions with close people is natural. So I did and proudly offered my herbal soaps to friends. All of them did the same thing. They skipped a visual survey and immediately began to smell intensively. As if the smell could reveal everything about the quality. One by one they told me the same thing with the same disappointment: “It smells only like soap!”

Looking at my disappointment, they listened to my lecture on the effects of herbs and natural oils I had used, but it was obvious that there is nothing to compensate a lack of proper smell.

Next, I wanted to make the others happier, so I made a lot of various herbal soaps with various added flavors. I did my best and used essential oils labeled “natural”, considering it was a compromise. The others gave me compliments for innovation, but I felt somehow that I was moving away from myself.

Because I am not a big manufacturer, I only make a few soaps for a while, the whole process took a couple of years. I have to admit it now. I lied to myself in trying to be successful in the eyes of my friends. The truth is, that I need to have my soaps full of herbs but with no added flavors, doesn’t matter how much they are “natural”.

Today, I have a bunch of violets on the table ready to become a part of soap soon. They are so beautiful with hidden power for skin treatment and I finally know that I am not allowed to kill their uniqueness by added flavor. And just time will show if such decision is acceptable to more people than just for me.

What do you think?

With love, Ivana

Handicapped nettle

Have you ever wondered where the name of dead-nettle came from? What is dead on it? And why is it called a nettle? Dead-nettle is not a nettle at all!

Although we can find visual similarities in plant construction, botanically they don’t belong to the same family. Looking at the inflorescence, even the beginner will recognize why. Here are no similarities at all. Nothing to say about that the sting nettle (Urtica dioica) grows in two polarities – male and female. Modest dead-nettle (Lamium album) does it with one as most of other plants.

Stop. Now I have joined the same game, comparing what is incomparable. The game has been playing for years, spreading the myth of handicapped nettle. I must say that in my language dead-nettle isn’t dead, only deaf. But the meaning is the same – we are talking about nettle which lacks the key feature.

Dead-nettle has its own features and they are many. Dead-nettle is an important plant and a flag-ship of the whole family Lamiaceae, which contains famous and effective plants like mint, sage, thyme, etc. Would you say about these culinary and medicinal herbs that they are dead or deaf?

I like to gather and drink dead-nettle tea even though I don’t have enough patience to pick individual flowers. Usually I harvest the upper fresh part with the first row of inflorescence.

The white classic is sweet like innocent child and given to tea it gently helps to release mucus from respiratory system. Women could appreciate the release of excessive white mucus from the intimate area. In my herbal soap experience, white dead-nettle is one of choices for the female intimate soaps.

As mentioned earlier Nettle: Excellent Blood Purificator, my body isn’t a big fan of sting nettle. But I love the white handicapped nettle which is not nettle. How about you?

With love, Ivana

Oats confession

Even small child knows oatmeal is healthy. We cannot miss the pictures of happy and healthy people who had oatmeal for breakfast. The media feeds us with nutrition information and markets offer the oatmeal with various flavors perhaps because the oatmeal itself is so common, and in the past it was mainly food for the poor or food for horses. This had to be a real challenge for marketing people!

I was lucky in my childhood. Nobody forced me to eat oatmeal. Level of the media advertisement was weak at that time and I have never looked like somebody who needs extra nutrients. Now I can tell you. I really hated even the idea of eating something so ugly as porridge. No flavor could change my mind!

A lot later, when I was an adult, I let the oatmeal come into my life under the weight of undisputed facts. In many ways I tried to overcome its ugliness, particularly in the form of porridge.  How do you consider the grey mass of rubber consistency to be delicious? No way!

And so I spent most of my life in a very distinct and mostly hostile attitude towards oatmeal. Only a few years ago I realized the importance of the rubber consistency for body. The mucilage helps to cover and heal wounds and tissues. It can seal the cracks, where the inner heat escapes. Then the body is better protected, the mind and nerves can better relax.

Although vanity is not the biggest of my sins, it was strong and visible effect on skin, which made me to definitely take oatmeal at mercy. Unique balance between cleansing and nutrition, also suitable for sensitive skin, which costs nothing! You can effectively combine it with herbs or other components. To make it as simple as possible, I usually add finely grained oats to all my homemade soaps.

And so it happened that the oats (Avena sativa) became my daily companion and ally. I bridged the foolish attitudes and finally recognized, that no plant was ugly, just have to look for the right angle.

With love, Ivana

Walnut tree: Faithful and Reliable Friend

Walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a friendly tree, living close to people and having its own brain. How to call the nuts and their specific shape otherwise? I see them as small brains, enclosed in hard shells just as human brain is locked in the skull. Additionally, consumption of walnuts brings great benefits especially to our brain.

Even though I am excited walnut consumer, I mostly harvest walnut leaves for further processing. I like the young ones, still soft and little bit brown with intensive unmistakable aroma. They are the promise of all that a massive tree is preparing for that year.

Basic energy of them is warm. I sense it like warm arms of a friend, always ready for hug to make you comfortable. It calms your nerves because you suddenly feel better, more secure. As if somebody lights a fireplace in the middle of winter storm.

And because walnut leaves have a repellent capability, you can be more secure with them even in physical reality.

The most common use of walnut leaves is a tea. I like the specific taste and my blood vessel appreciates the effects. However it is still warming herb, so don’t drink it in such a tropical weather as we have in these days with us.

I love to make and use herbal soaps with walnut leaves because of their almost chocolate color and high skin care ability, which perfectly works also for problematic skin with itchy eczema or fungi. Even in the intimate area!

In the form of homemade salve or ointment, walnut leaves help with similar skin diseases. Among other herbs, I do use walnut leaves for the foot care. Why? First of all, the warming effect is mostly desirable. Second, adstringent effect helps reduce sweating. Last but not least, there is the evergreen of antifungal components, which might be a great prevention too.

There is much more left about walnut, I would appreciate your opinion and/or experience.

With love, Ivana

Elderflower Princess

At these days, my small flat is full of Elderflowers’ intensive scent and it’s almost impossible to think about anything else. In my place it’s the harvesting season now!

Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in low-end soils, but it’s the queen among the medicinal plants. I believe that mainly fruits represent the royal majesty. Inside of red-black elderberries I feel some kind of essential truth of life. Eating elderberry products it’s like pumping the spark of life with all its wisdom directly into blood.

But now, it’s the elderflower season. The queen is still very young, not enough experienced. Its beautiful white-yellow head is proudly erected, attracting bees to come and sharing potential with them. It is a cheerful princess, which cannot deny its royal origin.

Like most children, this princess likes sugar. Elderflower Princess goes with sugar even fresh, making in few days’ lovely and delicious syrup. It perfectly fits for both, summer refreshments and winter colds. And because of its healing majesty you get extra bonus for lungs and respiratory system.

There are huge amount of recipes how to use Elderflower in many ways. Recently, I was pleased to verify, that my Elderflower herbal soap successfully cares for some kinds of eczema skin. So I need to prepare much more of it!

I would appreciate if you share some tips or comments for Elderflower Princess.

With love, Ivana

Chocolate, chocolate..

If anything was a major theme in the last week of mine, it was definitely chocolate. We placed a bulk order for professional quality dark chocolate with group of my friends and logistical center was localized in my small flat. I must say I haven’t seen such quantity of chocolate in my whole life! Only my part was 2,5kg (over 5.5lbs), most of it in 96% Ebony black chocolate.

My original plan was using of this no-sugar chocolate for cosmetic purposes. But it tastes absolutely great! There are no additives, only high percentage of cocoa which you can perceive as a kind of dark brutality on your tongue. Bitter taste of this chocolate is not for people of weak character. You have to be stable adult to enjoy it fully. Then you feel a dark heaven in your mouth!

Anyway I haven’t forgotten the original plans.

First, I made herbal-chocolate foot cream with horsetail, sage, yarrow and oak bark. It has antibacterial and antiperspirant effects, smooth consistency and smells like chocolate. Due to high concentration of effective herbs is small amount enough which is also safer. In case of careless application it could let brown color on clothes or shoes. Nevertheless, it is absolutely amazing!

Then I made two kinds of herbal chocolate soap which I can recommend to everyone. In this activity I joined two great loves – herbs and chocolate, and I believe that among you are many with the same preferences.

Do you have your own experience with dark chocolate in cosmetic? I’d be happy to read your comments.

With love, Ivana