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Relief of Itching and Skin Irritation

This evening I was a bit too enthusiastic in applying some essential oils on my kids to help them overcome their coughs and colds, and ended up with an itchy, stinging rash forming on my left index finger which is prone to dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx. I knew if I didn’t intervene soon, those dreaded itchy blisters would form and I’d be scratching them till they’d weep, just to get some relief.

So I made an oat and calendula tea bath / poultice to apply on my finger, and within 10 minutes it stopped itching completely. Here’s what I did, and you can too:

Place the following in a little drawstring pouch that can take the heat of boiling water (I used one of our cotton muslin bags which we use for packaging our soap in):

  • 4 teaspoons of ground oats (whole rolled oats probably works just as well, I reckon)
  • 4 heads of dried calendula flowers (optional, but I happened to have some handy so in they went along with the oats!)

140520 calendula and oats

Steep the bag in water that’s just off the boil for about 3-5 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have a drawstring bag to put the ingredients in, don’t fret – just follow the rest of the instructions by using just a mug, and dip a small washcloth in the resulting tea to apply on your skin instead.

Drain off the hot water, and replace it with cool water and ice cubes to cool down the bag. (If you are doing this without a drawstring bag, then just add ice to the resulting tea and wait for the mixture to cool.)

When the bag is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water from it. You now have a poultice.

Apply the poultice on the affected area. It will feel slimy and slightly sticky – this is normal. The itch may or may not subside at this point.

Continue applying the poultice on the affected area for about 5-10 minutes, occasionally dipping it back in the ice water to cool it down again.

Allow the skin to air dry naturally–try not to wipe off the oat water from the surface of the skin.

When the skin finally dries, you will find that the oat water would have left behind a protective film over your skin which feels dry and perhaps very faintly powdery, but comfortable. By now the itch (in my case, at least) was completely gone.

I hope that this can help some of you with your occasional brush with severe skin irritations and itchy outbreaks. If you do try this, let me know in the comments below if it worked for you, okay? 🙂

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How I Cleaned My Office Floor Without Using Harsh Detergents

My first real attempt at making a proper video post. Perhaps this could be something you can do with the bits and scraps of soap that are too small for you to use in the shower anymore–put them to work on your countertops and on the floor!

Additional tip: enlist the help of your kids to clean your home this way. 😀

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Indigo Revelations

The wonderful thing about being addicted to soapmaking is that I find myself traveling down paths of knowledge that I wouldn’t have voluntarily tread myself.

Take last night, for instance, when I was agonizing over how I was ever going to make blue soap. I could use iron oxide, but the list of Malaysian suppliers I found on the net didn’t specify anything about their products being cosmetic grade. And I’m not looking to import anything yet–the small quantity I need doesn’t justify the massive shipping costs.

Then I found a site that mentioned Indigo powder as a natural blue soap colourant. That was exciting. Many, many clicks and a couple of hours later, here are a few (possibly eyebrow-raising) facts about indigo I’ve gathered to satisfy your curiosity about the stuff. It’s by no means exhaustive.

Indigo powder is the dried and crushed leaves of the indigofera tinctoria shrub, commonly found in India. And THIS is what the powder looks like:

Yup, it’s green. Not blue. If I’m not wrong, the blue indigo colourants you might come across in soapmaking sites is actually the hydrated indigo leaf powder which is then freeze-dried into crystalline form.

Indigo is known as “neel” in India. It’s used to colour hair (!!) without the use of artificial chemicals, anything from brown to blue-black, to black. I learned that from reading this page at  Joy Minerals.

It’s the same dye that’s used to give jeans that characteristic blue.

Want to see what another soaper has done with indigo in her soap? Check out Southern Soapers’ tutorial here.

I’m hoping to do my own experiments with indigo really soon! Got any stories to share about this ingredient?

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Now Available – Summer Fizz Soap

Here we are–have some fun in the shower with the Summer Fizz Soap! I originally referred to these as Sweet Orange, Rosemary and Peppermint Soap in my earlier blogpost, but that was a real mouthful. :p Hence the name change.

Read more about this skin and hair-loving bar of soap that has a scent reminiscent of fizzy lemonade over at the shop.

(Psst–if not for yourself, why not get one for mom? 😉 )

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Currently Working On…

Jar of whipped body butter.
First batch of skin-lovin' goodness.

…whipped body butter! Using a combination of just vegetable oils and essential oils, I’m now experimenting with blends that are luxuriant on skin without needing to rely on preservatives, stabilizers etc that are normally present in store-bought body butters.

I’ve been working hard at this–and the results are pretty exciting!

Continue reading Currently Working On…

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Essential Oils In The Mail, Whee!

Last week I was poking around to get some essential oils for my next batch of soap. There was such a variety on offer, it was quite difficult to rein myself in and not get carried away! So I finally settled on 5 bottles. They arrived beautifully and safely packaged on Saturday morning–the start of my excellent purchasing experience with them.

Continue reading Essential Oils In The Mail, Whee!