Believe Soap Company {Product Review}

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My friend Noelle approached me a couple months ago, asking if I’d be willing to review one of her handmade all-natural bar soaps.  As a fellow straight-shooter, I think she knew that I’d provide an honest review 🙂  I had been wanting to try her soap for a while, but I was holding off until I finished my current supply of bar soap.  I chose the Milk & Honey scent, which smells just as good as it sounds.  She also sent me samples of Lavender Oatmeal and Refreshing Mint.  They smell awesome too!  Lavender has calming properties so this would be great to use at night, and since mint is energizing, it would be perfect for those I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-need-to-wake-up showers.
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So, what did I think of the Milk & Honey?  It’s great!  It lathers well, which is sometimes a challenge for bar soap.  I’ve been using it for close to two months and I’ve only used about half of the bar, making it a great value in my opinion.  I like that the scent is mild, and I love that all the soaps are natural, 100% vegan and made by one person – no assembly line here!  I have eczema so I’m always nervous when trying any kind of new skin care product, but I had no issues with this soap – no adverse reactions and my skin didn’t dry out.  I’ve also used it for shaving and it worked great for that too.  I know not everyone is into bar soap, but use this as shaving soap and get rid of the awful commercial-made shaving cream (seriously, look up the ingredients used in that stuff…terrible!).  As you can see from the pictures, the bar has a cute shape with fun oatmeal “sprinkles” on top.
image (4)image (1)I wanted to give you some insight into the company, its practices, and philosophies, so check out this Q&A with owner Noelle…
Q.  How long have you been making soap and why did you start Believe Soap Company?
A.  I have always LOVED / been semi-obsessed with artisan handmade soap, and I am super picky about scents and ingredients. The ones I loved were really expensive (think $10 a bar), which led me to want to make my own. But getting started is expensive for all the equipment and supplies, so I decided to make them for Christmas gifts (we like giving consumable gifts), and I could also have some for my own family. After doing a TON of research and taking a long DVD class by a boring chemist, I ended up making about 180 bars to give to friends, family, husband’s co-workers and bosses he wanted to schmooze 🙂
The phone calls started a few days after Christmas, with “Thank You” and “YOU SHOULD SELL THESE!” from a BUNCH of people. I think after the fifth or sixth call, I started thinking seriously about going into business. Then, the organic farmer I work with (I volunteer at a CSA) said he really thought I should sell the soap, and that I could sell at his farm to CSA members on pick up days. I went home, prayed about it, talked to my hubby, and started making more soap.  I am now in my second year!
Q.  What’s the simplified process of soapmaking, without giving away any of your secrets?
A.  I take Olive Oil, Shea Butter, and Coconut Oil and blend those with a mixture of water and Lye. I then add essential oils and herbs or spices, and pour the mixture into molds, cut them into bars after 24 hours, then cure them for 6 weeks.  
Q.  Is it safe to use products that contain lye?
A.  The lye is consumed in the saponification reaction and the water evaporates, so you are left with a bar of just Saponified Oils and Herbs after the long curing process.  Since the water and lye aren’t technically in the final bar of soap, some companies don’t list them as an ingredient, however I prefer to disclose all ingredients.
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Q.  How do you choose your scents?
A.   I am selfish in that I don’t make any scents that I don’t like – I love all my different blends.  I started with my favorites, then added on based upon available pleasant smelling essential oils.  I create my scents by adding essential oils to a glass ramekin, then blending and adding and blending until it smells just right. I write down what I did, then voila, a recipe is born.  I have also taken suggestions for ingredients (“Can you make a soap with honey in it?” “Please make a chamomile soap”), which is how I arrived at my Milk & Honey and Chamomile & Cream blends.
Q.  What are your most popular scents?
A.  Lavender Oatmeal, Refreshing Mint and Spiced Citrus.
Q.  Are you working on anything new?
A.  I am testing a Coffee Soap right now (round three on getting the scent right!), and I will have two soaps coming out for Christmas: Peppermint and Frankincense & Myrrh.  Also, we’re currently creating a “Soap of the Month” Club where you can choose any 3 bars (or I can choose for you!) and pay one flat-rate cost which includes shipping.  You can opt to have a one-time shipment, or set up a recurring shipment.  You can also opt to have the soap sent directly to a gift recipient, which makes this a great gift set for holidays, birthdays, weddings, housewarmings, etc.
Q.  Are your soaps sold online only, or can they be purchased in person anywhere?
A.  I sell online through my website and at the following California locations:
Good Seed Organic Farm (on unscheduled Tuesdays)
Bravo Farms Gift Shop – Tulare and Visalia locations (hopefully expanding to their Traver and Kettleman City branches soon!)
L.T. Sue Co. Tea Room – Soaps sold at this location are private label.  I create recipes and make soap using their teas, but you’ll see their branding on the packaging.
Q.  Is Believe Soap Company involved in any charitable organizations?
A.  I love giving back to our local and global community. 10% of profits are donated to charity.  I also helped do a fundraiser for Save the Girl (via Care India) this last summer.  I am glad my little business can help people around the world.
Q.  Anything else you’d like to add?
A.  I love making soap and providing customers with quality, all-natural ingredients at an affordable price.  My mission statement is “Add Something Fresh to Your Day.”  The goal is for my soap to make your daily routine a little more cheerful…like a vacation in your shower!
Head over to Believe’s website and check out the wonderful soaps Noelle has to offer.  And make sure to check out the handcrafted soap dishes made by Southern California artist, Linda Wolford.  The best thing you can do to make your soap last the longest is to store it properly in a soap dish and these dishes are unique with a cool vintage doily imprint, much better than the cheap plastic ones you can find in any store!
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Photo used with permission from Believe Soap Company

You can also get info and updates from Believe’s Facebook page…go give ’em a like so you can find out when all those new scents are available!
Disclaimer:  Believe Soap Company sent me a bar of soap at no cost to me, however, all opinions in this review are my own.  You can’t buy my opinion folks…I just tell it like it is 🙂
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DIY Drain Cleaner (+ Elbow Grease!)

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When your shower or sink drains start to back up, what’s your first instinct?  Clean it out manually?  Grab a bottle of commercial cleaner that’s supposed to unclog it for you?  Admittedly, there’s a lot of appeal in how the commercial cleaners work.  Just pour some into the sink or shower or toilet and let it do its thing.  We live in a world where time is valuable, so why not go for the easy fix, right?  Well, you might want to rethink that.  Did you know commercial drain cleaners are considered one of the most caustic “cleaners” you can have in your home?  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website:
  • Drain cleaners contain very dangerous chemicals – Sodium Hydroxide being one of the most common
  • If inhaled, ingested, or comes in contact with your skin, you can expect symptoms of difficulty breathing, loss of vision, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, severe burns and tissue damage, among others
  • With severe cases, ER treatments can include endoscopy to pinpoint burns in the stomach and esophagus, IV fluids, pain meds, and potential surgery to remove burned tissue
  • If swallowed, possible long-term risks include continuous damage to esophagus and stomach for several weeks, and death occurring up to 1 month after incident
Now, I’m not one to create hysteria, and I think the majority of the time people follow instructions properly, but why would you even want to risk an accident, especially if you have kids or pets?  What if the lid wasn’t put back on tight, or the bottle gets knocked over while open, or it splashes on you while pouring?  Personally, any type of cleaner that suggests you don gloves and protective goggles to use, isn’t one I want in my house.
In researching drain cleaner toxicity, I came across a plumbing company’s blog post that recommends NOT using caustic drain cleaners.  I found that to be especially interesting coming from a plumbing company!  They point out that not only are chemical drain cleaners harmful to humans, but they’re also harmful to your plumbing fixtures and pipes.  While those chemicals are sitting there trying to eat through the clog, they’re also eating away at the pipes.  Talk about an expensive repair down the road if you use these cleaners often.  So according to this company, if you’re going to go with something commercial, try enzymatic cleaners instead.  They’re much safer, although they generally take longer to unclog, and additional applications are needed.  They also recommend the same things I do, make your own natural, safe cleaner and use a little bit of elbow grease!

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So what did I do when our shower drain started backing up?  I grabbed a metal coat hanger, some baking soda, vinegar and doTERRA Lemon essential oil.  It was an easy process…a little on the gross and smelly side, but easy.  After taking off the shower drain cover, I used the hanger to pull out the clog.  I added about 1 cup of baking soda, then a few drops of the oil, followed by about 1 1/2 cups of vinegar.  There will be lots of bubbles and fizzing!  It’s recommended that you place a bowl or plate over the drain opening to keep that reaction working on the drain itself.  I found it wasn’t necessary, but that could be because I had already pulled the clog out.  Just have something on hand and you’ll know if you need it.  I let the mixture sit for about half an hour before flushing it with warm water.  The lemon oil, in addition to being a natural disinfectant, neutralized all the odor.  As you can see in the “Before” photo, there’s lots of gunky buildup from soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.  Not pretty, and I really hate to show it, but if you have a sparkling “After” photo, you have to show the yucky “Before” photo.  The baking soda & vinegar mix didn’t take away all the gunk, so I simply used the coat hanger to scrape it off.  It flaked off pretty easily and probably would have gone much quicker if I had something better than a hanger.  I finished up by flushing with warm water again, and the drain pipe looks great!

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There are other DIY drain cleaner recipes out there.  I encourage you to give one a try and help cut down on chemical usage.  Remember, what you put down the drain can make its way into water supplies, rivers and oceans, affecting humans and wildlife!

doTERRA Series: TerraShield Insect Repellent

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I’m not good with bugs.  I’m rarely able to kill them myself and, for fear that one will get away, I’ll stand and watch it while hollering for someone to come kill it for me.  My dad’s rule when I was growing up was that if a spider or bug was inside the house, then it could be killed, but if it was outside we had to leave it alone because that’s their home.  That’s a rule my husband and I have implemented for our household, but we have one exception: widows.  Black, brown, inside, outside…they all die.  Our area of California is also prone to many other spiders and insects (including roaches <shudder>), and most don’t like the heat.  This year we experienced our first triple-digit heat wave at the beginning of May, followed up by a second one a couple weeks later.  Since then, we’ve noticed an increase in spiders and insects IN the house.
So, I’ve had “bug spray perimeter” on our to-do board for two weeks now, but haven’t done it yet.  I should have because that might have prevented this morning’s ants-feasting-on-cat-food event.  That was finally enough motivation.  I used our eco-friendly commercial bug spray to take care of most of the indoor ants, then sprinkled diatomaceous earth along our deck and exterior wall where they were seemingly coming in from.  I also made up a quick indoor insect repellent consisting of TerraShield and water.  What is TerraShield?  It’s a blend of 15 essential oils in a base of fractionated coconut oil (FCO) that was developed specifically to repel insects.  Some of the oils included are Sandalwood, Wild Orange Peel, Rose, and Citronella.  Don’t be put off by the Citronella, this blend smells so good!  Light, citrus-y, and I swear I smell vanilla in there!
TerraShield can be diffused and/or applied topically:
  • Apply to skin “neat” (since it’s already in a base of FCO), or mix with water in a spray bottle for easier application.  One application generally lasts around 6 hours.  
  • Add 1 – 4 drops in a diffuser and place anywhere indoors or outdoors.  Great for BBQs and other outdoor events!
  • Add 5 – 10 drops to a 2 oz. glass spray bottle and fill the rest with water.  Shake before use, then spray along baseboards, cracks, window sills…anywhere insects may be able to get in.
0529141400~2After mixing up a bottle, I sprayed around doors and in window sills.   I don’t often think about bugs getting in through windows and screens, but I was met with an ugly spider when I opened my office window, so windows are on my radar now!
Interested in ordering some TerraShield?  Click here!