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A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Products

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The world is an ever-changing place, with ever-changing needs and constantly evolving beliefs. You may have noticed that vegan practices and products have enjoyed a boost in popularity; but do you know what constitutes a vegan product?

A Vegan Story 

Veganism is defined by the Vegan Society as a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude-as far as possible and practicable-all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. 

There is a common misconception that being a vegan and being a vegetarian are the same thing, but there are many differences. Vegans, for example, exclude dairy, eggs, and honey/beeswax while vegetarians may not.

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Veganism, Soap and Cosmetics 

Although there are many ingredients that vegans choose not to use, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make an incredible vegan-friendly product that everyone, even those who are not vegan, will love! For example, castile soap is considered vegan because it does not contain any prohibited ingredients, and let’s be honest; who doesn’t love castile soap? If you are making this product an adhering to vegan guidelines in regards to how your essential oils are harvested for example, you can market your product as vegan without making any substantial changes.

There are quiet a few ingredients that are not acceptable for those who are vegans; although we are not going to provide a complete list here, here are some ingredients that you will want to avoid if you would like to promote a vegan-friendly line.

Gelatin

Lactose

Lard

Mono-and di-glycerides

Shellac

Vitamin D3

Whey Powder

Beeswax

Honey

Lanolin

Emu Oil

Keratin

Musk

Pearls

Tallow

Caviar

Silk

Cashmere 

You will also want to avoid any colorants or ingredients made from insects, as well as any products that might have been produced using animal derived GMOs or genes; this can include usage in both the ingredient itself and the manufacturing process.

On the flipside, there are also many ingredients that are vegan friendly. Here are a few that may apply to you and your business:

Aloe Vera

Castor Oil

Citric Acid

Cornstarch

Corn Syrup

Lauric Acid

Paraffin

Pectin

Salicylic Acid

Vegetable Glycerin 

This is a sample list of ingredients; the rule of thumb for recognizing vegan-friendly ingredients is primarily an emphasis on vegetable derived ingredients and ingredients that specify that no animals were harmed or tested on. Keep in mind that although a product may be vegetable derived, that does not automatically mean it was not tested on animals; if you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your manufacturer for detailed information on the manufacturing processes used.

Although most handcrafters do not test their products on animals, it is important to note that any ingredients that you use that may be test on animals will also exclude the finished product from being considered vegan. Be careful; a product or ingredient can be marketed as cruelty-free or animal-friendly but still contain animal derived components.

 

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Palm Oil and Veganism 

For many reasons, palm oil has come under scrutiny over the past decade; chief of the concerns among vegans and non-vegans alike is the harvesting practices of unethical palm oil production companies. These companies use destructive harvesting techniques that destroy the habitats of many animal species, some of them endangered. Because it is very difficult to know which companies employ these practices and which ones are ethical, it can be a bit difficult to include palm in a vegan line. Although palm in and of itself is vegan because it is derived solely from a plant, the questionable practices behind its production make it a hard sell for a vegan customer. If you are confident that your palm oil is sourced responsibly and free of cruelty, there is no harm in marketing it as vegan; just be prepared to substantiate its vegan friendliness if you do this.

How to Tell if Your Ingredients are Vegan Friendly 

Because veganism has become more commonplace, many companies label their products to reflect that they are vegan-friendly. Sometimes, a simple glance at the label will tell you whether something is vegan; it may have the Certified Vegan Logo or may have another symbol or sign that signifies it as vegan-friendly. When you look into ingredients, also check for allergen information; sometimes, an unwanted ingredient may not be listed, but products produced with or exposed to milk, whey powder, eggs, etc., are not suitable for use in vegan-friendly products.

Marketing Your Vegan Products 

Marketing your products as vegan will attract more vegan and environmentally conscious customers to your table, website, or both. Make sure that you have done everything possible to ensure that your ingredients and finished product truly are vegan. It is true that most likely, a customer will not challenge you based on the ingredients you have listed, but this does not mean that you should substitute lard or animal fats and oils for a more expensive, vegetable based ingredient. Remember that your customers are trusting you to be truthful in your labels, and it would be unwise for you as a small business owner to be discovered as marketing fraudulent items.

There are a few organizations that supply vegan logos for an application fee. Vegan Action, for example, will provide use of the Certified Vegan Logo with fees based on a sliding scale of your annual income. This logo and application are for one product; you would need to apply for the logo and certify each of your product individually. There is also the Vegan Trademark provided by the Vegan Society that uses a similar process. These kinds of designations can help customers searching for a vegan product immediately identify the integrity of your vegan product.

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Final Thoughts 

Expanding your product line in any way is exciting and opens the door for many creative opportunities! Many handcrafters shy away from the production of vegan products because it is perceived as difficult, but that is not always the case! If you would like to make a vegan product, do your research; this can include web searches or this can mean talking to a friend/acquaintance who is a practicing vegan. No matter what research you do, make sure that you are labeling your products truthfully and accurately, and you will enjoy a new customer base while filling a need!

Common Scents: Eucalyptus

Welcome to our  series, Common Scents. Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting.

In this edition of common scents, we will take a deeper look at a fan favorite: eucalyptus oil.  Much like many of the oils we will discuss, eucalyptus has an extensive history of medicinal and healing use.  (It is important to note that while reading the following article; the FDA has not approved eucalyptus oil to be used for medicinal purposes, therefor this article is not promoting its use for that purpose.)

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Eucalyptus is a fast growing evergreen tree with over 700 species that originates in Australia.  Eucalyptus Globulus, or the “blue gum” tree is the most common and main source of eucalyptus oil production.  The “Blue Mountains” in Australia are named such because on warm days, the eucalyptus trees release volatile organic compounds that create a smog-like haze over the forests.  The eucalyptus tree is also found other areas of the world such as India, Europe and South Africa.

The first known records of eucalyptus oil date back to 1788 when Surgeon General John White and the First Fleet arrived in Australia. Surgeon General White first documented in his journal the “olfactory” or aromatic oil present in the eucalyptus tree.  At that time, a sample of the oil was sent to Sir Joseph Banks of England for testing.  Meanwhile, the local aboriginal tribes were well aware of the many beneficial qualities of the eucalyptus oil and had already been using it for gastrointestinal issues, treatment of diarrhea and even as an antiseptic effective for treating wounds!  As time passed, the uses of eucalyptus oil multiplied and the belief in it’s healing abilities grew.  Many people believed Eucalyptus could be used in the following capacities:

  • An antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Deodorant
  • Decongestant
  • Fever reducer
  • Pain reliever

Eucalyptus creates a cooling and refreshing effect on the body and mind.

At the request of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Victorian pharmacist Joseph Bosisto began investigating the essential oils of the Eucalyptus.  By 1852, the essential oil industry in Australia began.  Bosisto built several distilleries and was know as Bosisto’s Oil of Eucalyptus and was selling eucalyptus oil all over the world.

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Fast forward to modern day. Have you ever checked out the ingredients listed on your toothpaste, mouthwash, or other oral hygiene products?  Chances are, eucalyptus is one of the main ingredients.  Or perhaps you have a fresh, crisp, almost mentholated smelling soap, lotion or scrub?  Eucalyptus has become one of the most commonly found oils on the shelves of manufacturers and hand crafters alike because of its versatility.

Aroma therapists use eucalyptus in situations where someone may be prone to illness due to emotional stress or anxiety because the aroma is know to dispel melancholy and raise the spirits, as well, it is also used to clean the air of negative energy that have been collected.

The use of eucalyptus oils is growing in popularity. One of the main reasons is because it blends well with many other essential oils including Lavender, Lemongrass, Pine Tea Tree, Juniper, Spearmint, Thyme, Rosemary, and Cedarwood, to name a few.

Differing from other oils, eucalyptus oil may not be as rich in history, but its value in the handcrafted and homeopathic fields out weigh many.  Keep in mind, some of these claims may or may not be treucalyptus3ue, it is imperative that you follow the FDA’s guidelines for labeling; this includes making claims that are not approved by the FDA. Our How-To Library contains a great podcast about labeling by expert Marie Gale; check it out by visiting: http://www.soapguild.org/how-to/legal-compliance/hscg-radio-labeling-guidelines.php.

Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them

Making soaps and cosmetics yourself is an art form made up of numerous art forms; formulating, color theory, and fragrance blending are just some of the creative components needed to make a truly standout product. The art of perfumery and fragrance blending is extensive and complex; today, we are going to cover the basics and also take a peek back into the rich history behind the human race’s fascination and love for pleasing scent combinations.

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 People have been blending scents to create olfactory experiences for thousands of years; at least 5,316 years to be exact! The world’s first recorded chemist was a perfume maker named Tapputi, a woman who is mentioned in the Cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Between 3300-1300 BCE, perfume and perfumery was documented in the Indus Civilization, too. In fact, one of the earliest distillations of ittar (also known as attar) was mentioned in the Hindu Ayurvedic Texts (Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita). 

Between 2004 and 2005, the oldest perfumery known to date was discovered on the island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. This factory existed approximately 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze age; it is estimated to have covered a little over 43,000 sq-ft (4000 m2), which tells us that at this point, perfume manufacturing was on an industrial scale.

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Islamic cultures made significant contributions to the development of Western perfumery in two ways: by honing the process of extracting fragrances through steam distillation, and by introducing new raw materials. After the rise of Christianity ended the use of perfume in most of the Middle East, Muslims improved its production and kept using it in their daily routines and while practicing their religion. In Islamic culture, use of perfume and fragrance blends dates back to the 6th century.

The very first modern perfume was produced by the Hungarians in 1370, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and known in Europe as “Hungary Water”. In the 16th century, Catherine de’ Medici’s personal perfumer, Rene le Florentin, brought Italian refinements to the perfumery and fragrance blending process from Renaissance Italy to France; his laboratory was kept a secret, and was connected via hidden passageways to Catherine’s apartment so that no one could steal his formulas en route!

Perfume grew in popularity exponentially in France during the 17th century. Perfumed gloves fragranceblending3were extremely popular, but with a caveat; French perfumers would also create poisons disguised as perfumes to be worn by unsuspecting victims.

The 18th century was the golden era of perfume, as Louis XV came to the throne; his court was called la cour parfumée (the perfumed court). King Louis demanded a different fragrance in his presence each day. Perfume was substituted for soap and water, and by the end of the 18th century, aromatic plants were being growing in France to subsidize the rapidly expanding perfume industry.

Fast forward to modern times; perfume and fragrance blends are still sought after luxuries that have become a part of both men and women’s daily routines. Fragrance is everywhere; perfumes, soaps, cosmetics, candles, cleaning products; comforting and clean scents can elevate a person’s mood or bring back memories, and consumers love the experience a well made fragrance elicits.

 

Speaking Fragrance 

As we said in the beginning of this article, fragrance blending is a complex and extensive art form that is not mastered overnight. The best thing to do when you decide to blend your own scents is to become familiar with some of the terms and definitions you will commonly find while learning about fragrance blending and perfumery.

Note(s): Notes in fragrance blending and perfumery describe the level, intensity and vibrancy of scents detected in a blend. There are three classes of notes: top (head), middle (heart), and base notes. 

Top Note: Also referred to as a “head note”, top notes are the scent that is recognized immediately upon smelling the blend. Top notes form a consumer’s first impression, and play a key part in sales based on their appeal. Usually, top notes are described as “assertive”, “robust” or “strong”. Some examples of top notes are: lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, and bergamot. 

Middle Note: Also referred to as the “heart note”, middle notes can be described as the scent that becomes apparent just as the top note is dissipating. Typically described as “well rounded” or “mellow”. Some examples of middle notes are: rose, marjoram, cinnamon, chamomile, and tea tree. 

Base Note: Base notes are best described as the scent that appears just as the middle note is disappearing. Some examples of base notes are: frankincense, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli, and vanilla. 

Aroma: A term used to describe the sensation between taste and smell. This sensation can be invoked by scents like vanilla, chocolate or coffee. 

Cloying: A descriptive word for a smell that is excessively or “sticky” sweet. An example of this would be cotton candy fragrance oil. 

Earthy: A descriptive word for a scent that smells of freshly overturned earth, roots and a mustiness. For example, oakmoss and vetiver. 

Floral: Describes flower type scents, such as rose or lilac. 

Dry: A scent that can be described as lacking in the dewy or watery element that brings to mind crisp vegetables or fruits. A dry scent can be mineral-like or woody. 

Bitter: Describes a smell that is without sweetness and “sharp”. Not always an unpleasant quality, when utilized properly. 

Flat: A blend or scent lacking in richness and variety; can be perceived as bland. 

Forest/Woodsy: Described as an earthy or mossy scent. For example, cedar and oak. 

Fresh: A scent that energizes the person smelling it. Typically, this will nature-inspired or citrusy scents.

Herbaceous: Scents that are also frequently used in cooking and have a warm, earthy smell. For example, rosemary and basil. 

Medicinal or Camphorous: Pungent scents that have been used for the treatment of a variety of ailments. For example, eucalyptus and tea tree. 

Minty: A strong, crisp smell; usually associated with cleanliness. For example, pepperming and spearmint. 

Oriental: Warm, tangy scents. For example, patchouli and ginger. 

Fruity: Evokes the thought of fresh, ripe edible fruits. 

Citrus: A crisp, clean smell produced by citrus fruits like orange, lemon and lime. 

Spicy: Pungent notes like cinnamon and ginger that give a pleasant (or sometimes unpleasant) warm sensation. 

Sweet: Can be described as a scent that shares characteristics with a sweet taste. 

Fungal: Scents like mushrooms or mold are categorized as fungal. 

Green: A family of scents comprised of smells like fresh cut grass or a warm, live forest. 

Harmonious: In fragrance blending, harmonious indicates a blend that is well balanced and unified using amicable scents. 

Harsh: The opposite of harmonious; unbalanced, unpleasant. 

Light: Typically a non-sweet, non-cloying fragrance with a prevailing fresh note. 

Depth: This refers to the complexity and richness of the blend; full-bodied is also used to describe this sensation. 

Profile: The makeup of the blend and notes within. 

These are just some of the many terms and definitions used when blending fragrances; this is by no means the comprehensive and definitive list of all terms.

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Blending Basics 

As with any project, taking the proper safety precautions when blending fragrances is very important. Wearing gloves and goggles or glasses will ensure that you do not get the oils you are working with in your eyes; an unpleasant sensation that will take away from your blending experience for sure!

Safety: check. Now it’s time to take a look at what scents blend well together to create a harmonious, pleasant scent! Generally, oils that share a category will blend well. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Florals: Blend well with woodsy, citrusy or spicy oils (think cedar, cinnamon, orange).

Woodsy: These oils are versatile because they can really be combined with any of the categories (floral, earthy, herbaceous, minty, medicinal, spicy, oriental or citrus).

Spicy: Spicy scents blend well with floral, citrus and oriental oils, but be mindful not to overpower your blend with the spicy oils. Oriental type oils also share these matches, and the same risk of overpowering a blend; use sparingly for the best results.

Minty: Minty oils blend well with citrus, woodsy, herbaceous and earthy oils.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what oils go together, think about how you will blend them. Starting out small with a new mixture is the key to perfecting the blend; start out with drops in increments of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, etc). Try not to exceed 20 drops total; a small scale like this will give you plenty of wiggle room to add as you like, without producing as much waste if you do not like the results. Speaking of waste, skip the carrier oils and alcohol during your formulation process to avoid wasting them if you are not happy with how your blend has turned out.

Establishing a ratio for your blends is also important. A common ratio for beginners: 30% top notes, 50% middle notes, and 20% base notes. The beauty of fragrance blending, like any other creative art form, is that there are no strict rules; this is merely a suggestion to get you started. Tweak and configure your ratio to fit your desired scent. Once you have blended your oils, let them sit for a bit; it can be tempting to use them immediately, or dislike them immediately. Instead, let them sit for a few days to allow the chemicals to truly interact and round out your blend.

Keeping Track 

Keeping your blends organized is crucial in the creative process. Keep a notebook or binder detailing the contents of each blend. Include things like the name of the supplier you received your oils and carriers from, the contents of the notes, and pros and cons of the scent. Describe what you enjoy about the scent, or what it reminds you of. Also, it is a good idea to note whether the scent changed after being left for a number of days, and if it was allowed to sit, how long this process took. Recording your recipe in detail like this will help you to revisit your best or worst blends intuitively, and either improve upon them or use them time and again with continued success.

In addition to keeping a notebook, make sure to label the bottles you are storing your blends in clearly and neatly; if the name or combination is too long, you can use numbers instead to correspond with the description in your notebook or binder to make things a bit easier. Make sure that the outside of your container is clean

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Final Thoughts 

Blending fragrances is an intense practice in patience and creativity. Mastering fragrance blending is no easy feat, and can take years to accomplish. The most important part of this process is to remember that, although there are guidelines for blending to help streamline the creative process, no two blenders employ the exact same techniques. Use your own preferences and vision for your product to determine its contents; each sense of smell is different; what smells a bit questionable to you might be someone else’s new favorite scent!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on fragrance blending basics! We’d love to hear about your favorite creations and the creative techniques you’ve used to perfect them. You can leave a comment here, or feel free to leave a comment on the Facebook post for this article!