Where to buy ingredients if you’re wanting to jump into this hobby…besides Amazon, which I recommend as a last resort or for the free shipping only if you’re a Prime member. It’s better to save up, sort your wish list and order from these fine merchants. You’ll get quality. Promise!
Soap Goods. Soap Good has a wide variety of items for cold process and melt and pour soaps, as well as some cosmetic offerings. Not a lot as far as packaging.
Mountain Rose Herbs. As the name suggests, they carry herbs as well as some soap and cosmetic supplies. They have a unique selection of containers and packaging, including cardboard powder containers for making and applying homemade body or skin care products.
Bulk Apothecary. Bulk Apothecary is my “go to” shop for just about everything. They carry bulk oils and butters, essential oils, herbs, and packaging galore at very reasonable prices. I even buy my extra virgin coconut oil and olive oil for home use here because their prices are unbelievable. Shipping becomes more relevant as the order gets larger, so I try to place just a few large orders a year rather than many small ones.
New Dimensions Aromatics. Oh, NDA… I love what they have to offer, and they offer high quality, but they place a $20 charge on orders under $100 and shipping is high. As a result, I don’t shop with them unless I have a large order… And by then, customer loyalty takes me to Bulk Apothecary most of the time.
Making Cosmetics. Making Cosmetics has an Amazon store and I tend to buy from them through there, as they only have a few items I can’t get anywhere else, such as bamboo extract and rhodiola hair serum (which works with bamboo extract and hydrolyzed wheat or oat protein to make awesome hair products). They also sell coco betaine, and right now that’s hard to source from any supplier. They charge the same shipping through Amazon or through their website, so using Amazon is strictly convenience for me.
Uline. Uline is containers and packaging for everything! Storage solutions! Boxes! Everything!
Wholesale Supplies Plus I haven’t shopped with them much, but I’ve found their customer service to be excellent and I enjoy their weekly recipes on Facebook and have used a few of them, including one sugar scrub that’s proven very popular.
The Herbarie. The Herbarie is relatively new to me. They seem to sell everything, and I love that about them.
LotionCrafters Ah, Lotion Crafters. Next to Bulk Apothecary, these people get a lot of my money. They sell more cosmetic stuff than soap stuff, and I’ll be honest: their packaging selection is lousy unless you want mineral make up shaker jars. But they have a lot of stuff you need if you are making hair care and skin care items, and they cover usage rates and other critical information about each product in the descriptions. Love that. I rely on them for things like emulsifiers, preservatives, keratin, and powdered aloe vera. That’s just the tip of the ice berg, but you get the point.
Nurture Soap They have the best micas! And shipping is free on micas! They have a true red mica that stays red in CP soap called Really Red, that I highly recommend. I’m also in love with their “vibrance” line, I have the whole rainbow!
I also suggest you shop locally. Get beef fat to render into tallow for soap from whatever grass fed butcher shop is nearest to you.
Buy local honey, and if you can find it, buy it directly from a bee keeper who will sell you beeswax as well. Grating your own beeswax is more work than buying pastilles but you get a much higher quality product. If you can’t do that, the yellow beeswax from Bulk Apothecary seems to be pretty nice.
I have found that the health food stores and their bulk herb area is a better place to get 1-2 tbsp of things than buying a pound of it off the internet. It may cost more per pound, but it’s significantly less output up front and I am not stuck storing a bunch of herbs I may never use again. If the first batch goes well and I like the finished product (or whoever tests it for me raves about it), then I will add it to an order from Bulk Apothecary or Mountain Rose.
Often you can find essential oil producers in your area. There is one about two hours from me that I try to buy from when they have what I need. After that, I tend to buy higher quality essential oils if they will be used in lotions, balms, etc., from companies like Now oils or from places like Bulk Apothecary. Then, I buy the very cheapest oils I can find (usually the Sun brand) if I’m going to be using them for soap because it takes SO MUCH essential oil for soap. You stop measuring in drops and start measuring in grams, and often you go way beyond what the recipe says to use for that weight of soap. Like it may say 35g is good for that much soap but you end up creating a mix that uses 50g because you hope it will stick better and your soap will retain the scent longer. 28 grams is one ounce, so you can see where it doesn’t take long for a bottle of essential oils to get used up making soap.
Unless you’re lucky enough to somehow have an unlimited budget, you’re going to be price checking. I recently saw a gallon of aloe vera at Target for $7. I’m now all set on making lotion and, if I want, aloe vera soap for a little while. So remember to keep your eyes open!
Take advantage of USPS and Priority Mail. They deliver packaging materials to your home, including labels and tape, all sizes of boxes. Definitely save yourself a trip and have that stuff delivered. Bubble wrap and brown packing paper is cheap off Amazon or if you need lesser quantity, at Wal-Mart. Bubble mailers are cheaper on Amazon. My local grocery store has had the best prices on packing tape by constantly having it on sale or offering it at Buy one get one. So watch for sales. I go through pens and sharpies like none other and once again the grocery store beats everyone with sale prices and coupons.