Tag Archives: handmade

Re-use, recycle and packaging hiccups

You need to be a bit creative, resourceful and crafty to re-use and recycle and still produce an aesthetically pleasing result, but it can be extremely rewarding to do so!
Sourcing cosmetic packaging, specially for soaps, can be quite a daunting and frustrating task for the small scale producer. It’s hard to find exactly what you want, in quantities you can afford and stock. Trying to be an environmentally friendly, green business just makes options even more restrictive.
In my quest to improve my soap ‘presentation’, and trying to be all green and eco-conscious, so I was quite delighted when I came up with this!

Upcycled castile soap packaging

Upcycled castile soap packaging

The purple tissue paper was the only thing I had bought.
The strip around the soap is recycled wall paper sample from a catalog which was tossed away (there are loads of décor shops in Chiswick, I keep an eye on their rubbish!).

Recycled wall paper sample catalog for packaging

Recycled wall paper sample catalog for packaging

The dried flowers are re-used from a bunch I got from friends who came to stay over New Year’s.

Re-used dried flowers

Re-used dried flowers

It was a bit of a stretch to my creativity (believe me, I usually suck on it!), but I’ve been reading a lot of craft websites and blogs where I got some inspiration from. I even joined Pinterest recently to get new ideas and help me with this packaging malarky. (If you want to check it out, this is the link to my packaging inspiration board, you’ll see I have a long way to go!)

For once, I’m really pleased with the result, and very happy to be reducing the amount of rubbish I put out every week.
And just to show you the organic castile facial bar soap inside…

Organic castile soap facial bar

Organic castile soap facial bar

And you, what do you think?



Filed under Castile soap, natural skin care, Packaging

Facial treats, bespoke skincare

These last few weeks have been frantic, lots of bespoke orders! As I’m off to Berlin tomorrow, this is a quick post just to show you my latest creations.

My clients trust me well… Often they ask me to put a gift box together for XX amount – and it’s up to me to come up with the contents!

Most of the ingredients I use are organic and fairtrade. I always chose the right oils for your skin type and season. Hydrolats (water by-product of essential oil distillation) are used rather than just water (‘aqua’). Essential oils are only added if needed, as we’re overloaded with fragrances and perfume far too much on a daily basis.

So, this time, here is what I made (two sets, 1x sensitive & dry skin, 1x oily skin):

Surprise, surprise

– Cream cleanser, packed with nourishing & cleansing oils to remove even make-up; use with organic muslin cloth

– ‘Traditional’ moisturiser for dry & sensitive skin (with gorgeous plum kernel oil that smells like heaven!), or gel moisturiser (very light, ideal for summer) for oily skin

– Night serum with organic rosehip & meadowfoam oils

– Body butter scented with rose or tuberose wax.

So, would you trust me too?! 😉 Please drop me an email if you’re interested in my bespoke service:

To find out more about my bespoke service, please visit:


Filed under Bespoke skin care, natural skin care, Natural x organic

Why is castile soap so good for your skin?

True castile soap is made purely with olive oil.  According to Wikipedia, castile soap was produced in Castilla, Spain, during the period of Muslim rule.  They had to keep clean as part of their religious rituals.  Olive trees where abundant in the region.  An ancient form of soap was produced by boiling olive oil, abundant in the region, with plant ashes.

Many castile soaps in the market are made with a combination of olive oil and palm and/or coconut oil.  Although these other oils may have their own beneficial properties, palm oil production has been on the news recently for raising concerns with deforestation, and endangering orangutans in Asia.

Coconut oil, which in large quantities can be drying to the skin, is generally added for extra lathering because consumers believe that if it doesn’t foam, it won’t clean either!… This is a negative misconception, and in fact, the more foam a product makes, the more it will strip the skin off its natural oils, causing the skin to get even dryer, and making it feel ‘tight’.  If used in oily skin, it will stimulate even more sebum production, exacerbating the condition, and leaving the skin shinny rather than glowing.

Curing time...

Curing time...

Saponification, the chemical reaction induced to produce soap, starts off as a harsh process.  The acid, olive oil in the case of true castile soap, is neutralised over time by an alkali, usually caustic soda.  The soap ‘cures’ for 4‑6 weeks, while it hardens and neutralises.  If other ingredients are added to the soap while saponification is in process, it is very likely that this harsh reaction will break them down, wasting precious skin-pampering additives.

When soap is handmade, a softening and hydrating by-product of soap‑making process – glycerine, is retained in the soap.  A luxurious ingredient, it is more lucrative for commercial soap manufacturers to extract glycerine from soap and sell it for other uses.

Glycerine dissolves easily under warm water.  Due to the high content of glycerine in olive oil soaps,  we recommend that soap bars should always be kept in a drying rack after use – or you soap may turn into an unrecognisable, transparent, gooey mass that will melt away easily!

Skin BistroTM soaps with added ingredients are all hand‑milled – which means that the soap base is made into a bar, grated, cured, melted, to only then ‘receive’ additives such as essential oils, dried herbs, powdered nuts, seeds or spices, etc.  The soap is guaranteed to retain the valuable extra benefits these ingredients have to offer.

Of course this makes the whole process a lot more laborious but the result is so worthwhile!  The soaps smell incredibly fresh, and feel very smooth and soft on the skin.  To reward oneself with such an extraordinarily good soap is certainly a luxury!

Choc & cupuaçu soap

Choc & cupuaçu soap

Our castile soap is made with organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.  A little amount of organic, unbleached beeswax is added, just enough to make the bar hard.  Lye is dissolved in water, and this solution is mixed with the olive oil and beeswax.  When saponification (neutralisation) is complete, the bar of soap is ready to be used or milled (for adding ingredients).

Olive oil produces a very gentle soap with a creamy lather – so it doesn’t foam much.  But it’s this very quality that makes it mild on the skin.  It doesn’t strip the skin off its natural oils, and it will actually help moisturise the skin.  It leaves a velvety feel on the skin.

Castile soap is especially good for dry, itchy, irritated, or sensitive skin, and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.  It works well in oily skin and acne by helping with balancing oil production, and for not clogging pores.  It is so mild even babies can use it.

It is probably easy to recognise the ingredients listed on Skin BistroTM soap labels: they all come from natural sources.  We only use ingredients that will provide benefits to the skin, and nothing else. Soaps don’t need preservatives, and ‘become’ colourful or scented just by adding herbs, nuts, seeds, clays, and essential oils.  Skin BistroTM soaps have no artificial colourings or fragrances, no preservatives, and no synthetic ingredients.

We’ll soon launch an online shop where you’ll be able to buy our castile soap.


If you want a personalised product, please contact us for a quote.  Shower gels are also made-to-order only.


Filed under Castile soap