Believe Soap Company {Product Review}

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!

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 🙂

Gluten-Free, Vegan Donuts

Being gluten, dairy and egg-free makes it difficult to find donuts (or any baked goods!) that I can actually eat.  Before eating free of those ingredients, donuts were one of those fun treats that we would indulge in once or twice a year.  If they weren’t so unhealthy, I would have had them way more often!  Several months back, I had such a craving for donuts that my husband went to the store and came back with a box of frozen gluten-free donuts, but they contained egg and tasted like they were frozen donuts.  So I was really excited when I came across this recipe from Fork and Beans.  I already had all the ingredients, so I tested it out this weekend.
I don’t have a donut pan so I used a mini muffin pan, making an indenture in the center of each dollop of batter so it would bake evenly (same concept as burger patties).  It was an easy batter to mix up, especially if you’re used to gluten-free recipes that call for multiple flours and starches.  The bake time was short at 8-9 minutes, but you do have to wait for them to cool before coating.  I opted to make three different coatings – chocolate, powdered sugar and cinnamon powdered sugar.  Surprisingly, the plain powdered sugar ended up being my favorite.  The chocolate was a bit too rich and was my least favorite, but that could be because I was expecting it to taste like Hostess donettes chocolate frosting, and melted chocolate chips just don’t taste as good.  The instructions call to dip the donuts in melted non-dairy butter before coating with powdered sugar.  In my opinion, that took away from the sweetness of the powdered sugar, so I would try melted coconut oil next time.  The donuts themselves were pretty good, but not as light and fluffy as I would have like them to be.  If I were to make them again, I would try using white instead of brown rice flour in an effort to lighten up the dough.
Overall, the donuts were pretty good.  Not something I’d make often because it’s still an unhealthy treat, but it is a good recipe to file away for the next time I have a donut craving.  And as you can see, they’re literally finger licking good!