Substitute teacher

I spent the weekend out of town visiting a friend, and we spent a little energy talking about the shaving cream incidents as well as the latest hurdle to overcome. As it turned out, the vaguely green tinge from the beetroot powder has now deepened into a nearly mossy green. A “baby diaper mystery” kind of green, if I’m honest. This bothers me for two reasons; one, it’s simply not how shaving cream is supposed to look, ever ever, and it seems unprofessional to send out poo green product. Second, I’m personally off put by the idea of smearing such a product on my own legs and can’t bring myself to ask a paying client to do so. So back to the drawing board.

After a lot of research into cream soap bases, and whipped cream soaps made from these bases, I decided maybe I would give this method a try. Today when I got home I wasted no time hunting down my notes and jumping in. However, I realized quickly that I was too impatient to cook up a batch of cream soap base, and that I didn’t have any stearic acid on hand. Stearic acid is a necessary stabilizer for the “whipped cream” state of these soaps. Take it away and you can still whip a soap until it’s frothy, but it won’t hold air and will dry back out into an ugly gooey mess that requires rehydration and being whipped again to be useful. Not having the soap base, or anywhere local to purchase stearic acid, I was going to have to be creative or throw in the towel. I wasn’t throwing in the towel, and creativity necessitates innovation, so I quickly looked around for equivalent substitutions.

My husband will be twitching by now. To him, recipes are strict chemical formulas that shouldn’t be messed with. However, I’m more…morally flexible…than him, so I shredded and melted a shampoo bar and added water to make it the correct consistency as I saw the pictures of cream soap base. I already knew magnesium stearate was nothing more than stearic acid and magnesium, and I had a pretty large bag. After doing some math to figure out how much magnesium stearate is just magnesium (eight percent according to my online source), I swapped in mag stearate with the extra to compensate for the difference, and got to cooking.

Once again I used cold, already brewed yerba mate tea to get that caffeine injection and added menthol crystals, peppermint oil, tea tree, and rosemary essential oils for tingle and fragrance.  Yummy.

The end result is foamy and fragrant, and once it’s completely cool, I will be able to use the whisk attachment on my hand mixer and beat into a stable shaving foam. I have the bowl cooling and only need to run and grab some wide mouthed pint jars to decant it into. This time, there will be enough to ship some to my friend in Missouri who was the original requester, and also to give to my kids/their husbands to get good feedback on faces and legs.

In the future, making the cream base and purchasing stearic acid-which melts at a lower temp and is less messy than magnesium stearate-is definitely on my to do list, but for now, my substitutions seem to be just as effective.

In other news, my friend K.J. is helping design a logo for Incidentals. K.J. is responsible for a lot of the awesome art in my life the past several years and I’m happy she’s helping me, albeit with a tiny bit of clip art. I’m very excited about having a logo again, because after that, I can start printing labels for products that look professional. I’m rather proud of both my pain relief balm and my shea butter lip balm, and I would be inclined to pass out samples and business cards if only I had labels and, well, business cards. This weekend I discovered Bulk Apothecary, which is one of the cheapest sources yet that I’ve found for typically expensive things like containers (pump bottles are ridiculous expensive, normally), and also has amazing prices on everyday items like coconut oil. I wish I had known about them a month ago.

Finally? Taking a risk and spending a tiny amount on advertising with Etsy has paid off. I’ve gotten two orders in one week, meaning I spent $3 but made over 10x that. Fingers crossed this trend continues! I’ll be taking a break from DIY beauty to make jelly tomorrow, but I like making jelly.

Hope your weekend was fantastic!


Author: scseery

Soap, bath and beauty, jams and jellies, and unique upcycled gifts. That's what I make and talk about here. A lot.

One thought on “Substitute teacher”

  1. Addendum: Well, I had to add some coconut oil, Shea butter, and more magnesium stearate to get the mixture to stay whipped and fluffy. Even still, it isn’t as dense as I would like it to be, leaving me wondering if I’ve created a mess or a monster.
    I need to shave my legs, so I will jar this up but set some aside and see how it behaves. Ideally, it belongs in a pump bottles instead of jars but it’s not in my budget to invest in a pack of them, even at Apothecary’s fantastic prices. Not til the end of the week, anyways.


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