Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks to all of our customers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, blog subscribers and readers, family and friends. You're the best! Thank you for your support, friendship, comments and suggestions.

This is a very exciting time at You Scent Me. Our blog is steadily gaining new followers. At one point the view rate was up by as much as 200%! In other exciting news, we received our first recommendation at LinkedIn.

We now have over 600 followers on Twitter! We've received a few Follow Friday recommendations. According to WeFollow, we are ranked #15 as the most influential soapmaker on Twitter!

As you can see, there's so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Glad I Didn't Throw Out My Old Thermometer

Yesterday I made a batch of CPHP (crock pot hot process) soap. The flashpoint of the fragrance I was going to scent the batch with was 200ºF. I pointed my laser thermometer at the soap as soon as it had finished cooking. It gave a reading of 160º. That didn't look right. I wondered how soap that hadn't had a chance to cool, already be below the fragrance flashpoint? I took out my old thermometer which has a probe, stuck it into the soap, and sure enough, it gave me a reading of over 200º!

Another soaping lesson learned. What has been your biggest lesson learned?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Soapmaking Timesavers

I’m a klutz. No matter how hard I try to line a soap mold, I can never get it right. I watched the videos on You Tube. I read the tutorials. I was still mold lining challenged. That’s why I was thrilled when Wholesale Supplies Plus came out with their silicone loaf mold. No more lining molds! I tend to make small batches (2 lbs; this way if a batch doesn’t come out right, I haven’t wasted too much precious soapmaking and fragrance oils), so this loaf is a perfect size for me. Best of all, it’s affordable -- $13.95.

My newest soapmaking timesaving gadget is one I learned from watching Anne-Marie Faiola’s Learn to Make Cold Process Soap DVD. In the DVD, Anne-Marie uses a laser thermometer to measure the temperatures of her oils and lye solution. The laser thermometer is a great soapmaking tool on so many levels. It’s a great timesaver in that since you don’t put the thermometer in either the soap pot or the lye solution, that’s one less item that needs cleaning! It’s great for those of us with vision problems who have a hard time reading those tiny lines & teeny numbers on traditional thermometers. (In the past, I got around that by using digital thermometers.) With the laser thermometer I like that I no longer have to put my thermometer in the soap pot or lye solution and wait for my digital thermometer to get a reading. As I said before, I’m a klutz. With my new "toy" I no longer have to worry about dropping the thermometer into the soap pot or lye solution. Laser thermometers can be quite expensive. eBay often has good deals. I got mine there for under $20, including shipping.

Got a soapmaking timesaver tip you'd like to share? Click on the word "comments" underneath this post.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Your Soap?

The laws surrounding soap labeling can be confusing. Soap can fall into three catagories 1) soap 2) cosmetic 3) drug

The United States Food and Drug Administration defines soap as
• The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product's detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds, and
• The product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap [21 CFR 701.20].
(Source: US Food and Drug Administration)

If a soap makes no other claims than its intended purpose, as a cleanser, then the soap is not a cosmetic under FDA guidelines and is not subject to cosmetic labeling laws.

Let’s say a manufacturer makes claims that a soap is moisturizing. Then the soap is regulated as a cosmetic and is subject to cosmetic labeling laws. It would have to be labeled with ingredients listed in International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients format (aka INCI). INCI is a system of naming cosmetic ingredients based on scientific names and other Latin and English words.

If a manufacturer makes claims that their soap will cure, prevent or treat disease (e.g. a soap that claims it treats eczema), then that soap is regulated as a drug.

If a soap is made of detergent(s), the FDA no longer classifies the product as soap, but rather as a cosmetic. Most “melt and pour” soaps would fall into this category. Cosmetic labeling laws would apply.

To avoid confusion, many handmade soapmakers list the ingredients in their soaps. It allows consumers to know exactly what is in their soap.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Look for the Label

I was on the phone the other day with a customer. She was interested in a particular fragrance and was looking for a local vendor so she could avoid high shipping charges. She joked that I should be ready for lots of business as she has a lot of co-workers. I joked back that I had to check if I had enough labels. She told me that it was okay, she’d buy the products without labels. I told her that I couldn’t sell her products without labels – it’s the law.

Cosmetic manufacturers must label their products. The label must include
1) the identity of the product - what the product is (e.g. body wash, lotion, scrub)
2) name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
3) how much of the product is in the container. If the product is liquid, the label must show the net weight of the product in both fluid ounces and milliliters. If a product is non-liquid, the label must show the net weight of the product in both ounces and grams.
4) an ingredient list - The ingredients must be declared in descending order of predominance. The ingredient list should show the common name of the ingredient as well as the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name. (e.g. cocoa butter, a common ingredient in cosmetics, would be listed as Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter)
Source: United States Food and Drug Administration website

(Note: Soap is sometimes exempt from these rules. We’ll discuss that further in a future blog post.)

My customer was surprised to learn about this information. While we were on the phone, she looked at a bottle of perfume she had recently purchased. Armed with this new knowledge, she was shocked that the only information on the label was the name of the company and the name of the fragrance.

Want more info on cosmetic labeling regulations? Check out the FDA's Labeling Regulations Applicable to Cosmetics.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Fragrances at You Scent Me

Three new fragrances have been added to You Scent Me's lineup:

  • Energy - A FABULOUS blend of citrus including Grapefruit, Lemon and Lime, with hints of fresh Cucumber and Jasmine, and a touch of Pineapple, Blackberry and Champagne.

  • Lavender - a classic

  • Squeaky Clean - A clean unisex fragrance that smells like you just stepped out of the shower.
  • Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Self Renewal

    I can't believe that summer's over. In New York City, it barely felt like we had a summer this year. It rained so much people joked about building arks. Temperatures didn't reach into the 90's until the middle of August.

    Like many in the United States, we've been effected by the poor economy. Instead of a week's vacation, we opted for a more economical getaway, a couple of days at the Jersey Shore. While it was great to get away, I didn't think the mini-vacation was anything that special. That is until we got home. I couldn't believe how relaxed I felt! I'm not talking "light some candles and take a hot bath" relaxed. I felt like Oprah when she talks about renewal of spirit, lol. My brain wasn't racing its usual 1000 miles an hour thinking of all the things I had to put on my "to-do list." I knew this feeling wasn't going to last very long, but I was going to savor every second of it!

    What do you do to renew yourself? Is there a special place you go? Share your tips by clicking on "comments" right underneath this post.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Fall Fragrance Trends

    Traditional Fall fragrances are warm and spicy, like cinnamon and pumpkin. According to Debbie May of soap and candle supplier Wholesale Supplies Plus, the rising popularity of Farmer’s Markets and fresh fruit stands play a part in hot trends by many retailers. Look for fragrances based on fragrant herb and vegetable gardens. Some of these scents include tomato, cucumber, mints (eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint), lemongrass and lavender.

    According to Marie Claire magazine, new women’s fragrances are borrowing wood and musk notes from men’s fragrances. New Fall fragrance launches include Bvlgari Jasmin Noir, a woody floral fragrance, and Van Cleef & Arpels Féerie, a blend of violets, blackcurrant, Bulgarian Rose, Egyptian Jasmine, and Iris Butter.

    Vintage seems to be hot this Fall. This month signals the launch of Inverse, Kylie Minogue’s first fragrance for men. It is described as oriental inspired with vintage woody notes. Supermodel Kate Moss takes vintage one step further by calling her new fragrance Vintage. The fragrance, due out next month is described as a vintage inspired floriental.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    New Tax Rate for New Yorkers

    Effective August 1, 2009 New York State residents add 8.875% sales tax to your orders.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Have You Entered Our Contest to Win a $50 Gift Certificate?

    When he’s not acting as You Scent Me’s guinea pig, my husband Steve is an IT Trainer/Desktop Support Analyst in New York City. In February, Steve lost his job.

    You Scent Me is offering a $50 gift certificate to the person(s) who comes up with a job lead or job hunting tip that directly results in Steve getting a job. While the position must be located in the New York City area, job hunting tips can come from anywhere. Maybe it’s something that’s worked for you in the past. Maybe it’s a tip you saw on
    Contest rules: No purchase necessary to participate or win. Subscribe to this blog. Send your job leads, job hunting tips, etc to info at youscentme dot com & put “Blog Contest” in the subject line. Contest ends when Steve gets a job. Contest is only open to US residents. Not redeemable for cash. Void where prohibited.

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Find Your Signature Scent

    Floral. Oriental. Spicy. It's enough to make your head spin. How do you find a fragrance that's right for you? Marie Claire magazine has a really cool fragrance finder tool. The fragrance finder asks you a few questions, then based on your answers determines what type of fragrance is right for you.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    The Search Continues...

    Called Verizon today. They have the same policy as AT&T -- one phone exchange. After that, there's a $35 restocking fee each time you exchange a phone.

    Been doing some research and Tracfone looks like they have reasonable rates and reasonably priced phones. Does anyone have any experience using Tracfone?

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Can Dave Carroll Write a Me Song About AT&T Wireless Like “United Breaks Guitars?”

    You may have heard about musician Dave Carroll. His story has been featured on CNN and Fox News. Last spring his band, Sons of Maxwell, were travelling to Nebraska for a one week tour. His guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. His $3500 guitar was severely damaged. For over nine months, he was given the runaround by various United Airlines employees. The various United representatives he spoke to put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves. Carroll promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation that he would write and produce three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United Breaks Guitars is the first song. The song instantly became a You Tube sensation and as of this writing has been viewed more than 3,000,000 times.

    Dave, you think you could write me a song like “United Breaks Guitars” about AT&T Wireless? My problem started a couple of months ago. I started getting intermittent service. I’d try dialing a number 10-20 times only to have the call dropped with each attempt. When I called AT&T to complain, they asked if the problem could be with the phone? Hmm, you’re the ones that sold me phone and you’re the ones I get my cell phone service from. How the heck would I know?

    I was told that the only way I could get a new free phone would be to sign up for another two year contract. Of course the phone that I owned and had been pleased with had been discontinued. I ended up getting a Nokia 6650. The second I got it out of the box I knew this phone was going to be trouble. The keypad construction is poorly made. I could see that after using the phone only a few times, the keys would stop working altogether. Trying to insert the battery was a nightmare. It took me 45 minutes to get the battery case off. In addition, the phone got extremely hot when in use.

    When I called AT&T to tell them I was not happy with the phone, they told me to go to an AT&T store so I could see the phones up close and personal. (I was on crutches at the time, so it was not an easy trip to make.) The store had an extremely limited selection. The salesgirl told me that I would only be allowed one exchange. If I wasn’t pleased with the new phone I was stuck with it. What a stupid policy! What if there were problems with the new phone? I hobbled out of the store.

    I called AT&T on July 6th. I spoke with Ms. Amber Polk, explained the situation, and told them what a horrible policy it was. She told me that if I ordered a new phone either via phone or online, that of course I’d be able to return the new phone. They didn’t expect me to judge how well a phone works from only seeing a photo. I hung up content with the resolution.

    As I had a doctor’s appointment Friday and would be needing paratransit services, I knew I would need a cell phone in case I had any transportation problems. (I did, but that’s another story for another day.) I decided I’d return the phone on Monday. I called AT&T to ask about shipping requirements (e.g. insurance, return receipt). When I started working out details on an exchange with the representative, I was told that I could only have one exchange. If I didn’t like the new model, I was pretty much stuck with it. I was furious. This is NOT what I was told on July 6! Getting cell phone service should be an easy process. I was so disgusted, I told the representative that it was obvious that AT&T did not want to keep the business of a long time customer (11 years) and that I was sure another carrier would be happy to take money.

    I was put on hold to talk to someone about closing my account. Imagine my surprise when Bobby Washington told me that my account was showing an $18 upgrade fee! Upgrade fee???? You told me that my old model was no longer available, therefore I was FORCED to choose a different phone! There was NO WAY I was going to pay for that!!

    By now you could see the steam coming out of my ears. Mr. Washington asked if I would like to speak to a manager so that the problem could be resolved to my satisfaction. By this point I had been put on hold so many times during that call, that I had been on the phone with AT&T 1 hour 20 minutes!

    I wish I had written down the manager’s name. First she told me that if I was unsure about a phone, I should research it online. And exactly how would I know that a phone gets extremely hot while in use based on a photograph. She told me that I just couldn’t keep exchanging cell phones as it would cause "inventory problems." That was one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard! I asked her if when she goes to buy a dress, does she only try on one dress, or does she keep trying dresses until she finds one that she likes?

    Hasta la vista AT&T!

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Hope in a Bar of Soap

    Anne-Marie Faiola of Brambleberry posted this inspiring story of turning used-once hotel soap to keep children clean, and possibly help save lives in Haiti.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Back in Stock!

    Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, a warm oatmeal flavored with creamy milk and honey and Rain, a fresh unisex fragrance are back in stock.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    How Do You Like Our New Look?

    Using one of the tips Tara Shenson posted, I've been playing around with some new blog templates. Do you like the new look? Prefer the old one? Let me know.

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Great Blogging Tips and Tricks!

    Are you thinking of starting a blog, but don't know how to begin? Tara Shenson from kMT Graphic Design has a terrific tutorial on the Handmade Marketing website. I've been blogging for awhile now, and I picked up some helpful hints!

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Southern Soapers Online Classes Canceled

    From Kelly Bloom of Southern Soapers, "With the work load we have had regarding the retail store, and the time on the road, I have put the online classes on hold until I can synchronize them for the same dates classes are conducted physically at the retail store. Just too much going on this summer, and I and staff are spread too thin. Something had to give, and it was the online classes."

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Soaping With Stress Fractures

    A couple of months ago I learned that the pain in my left knee was the result of a stress fracture. The doctor prescribed a device called a knee imobilzer (the medical equivalent of the world's tightest corset, but for your leg) for four weeks and have been on crutches for eight weeks. I learned fairly early that while I may be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, carrying anything (i.e. my soapmaking equipment) while walking with crutches is a whole 'nother ballgame.

    Yesterday I learned I'm going to be on crutches for another three months. Of course there are far worse things in life than not being able to make soap, but it got me thinking. There must be other soapmakers out there with disabilities. How do they work around them?

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Win a $50 Gift Certificate!

    When he’s not acting as You Scent Me’s guinea pig, my husband Steve is an IT Trainer/Desktop Support Analyst in New York City. In February, Steve lost his job.

    You Scent Me is offering a $50 gift certificate to the person(s) who comes up with a job lead or job hunting tip that directly results in Steve getting a job. While the position must be located in the New York City area, job hunting tips can come from anywhere. Maybe it’s something that’s worked for you in the past. Maybe it’s a tip you saw on

    Contest rules: No purchase necessary to participate or win. Subscribe to this blog. Send your job leads, job hunting tips, etc to info at youscentme dot com & put “Blog Contest” in the subject line. Contest ends when Steve gets a job. Contest is only open to US residents. Not redeemable for cash. Void where prohibited.

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Coming Soon! Win a $50 Gift Certificate

    Coming soon! Win a $50 gift certificate in the most unique contest in bath & body products history!

    Sunday, May 24, 2009 is Facebook Scam DO NOT VISIT

    Courtesy of Pete Cashmore @Mashable

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    The Results Are In

    In an effort to learn the types of fragrances you want to see, we asked, "what's your favorite type of fragrance?"

    Expecting one type to a clear winner, I was surprised at the results. Floral, spicy, oriental, fruity, musk, food & drink, and clean & sporty ALL tied with with 15% of the vote. Woodsy came in second with 7% of the vote. The only fragrance type to garner zero votes was herbal.

    Got a favorite fragrance? It can be something simple like grass, gingerbread cookies, or roses or more complex like a designer fragrance. Post your responses here.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    We Won an Award!!

    I’m so excited! This blog has won its first award! Soaping mentor Delores Harris who writes the blog Daisy Soap Girl, bestowed upon me the Honest Scrap Award. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s an Honest Scrap Award?”

    This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

    There are some rules to winning this award

    I. “When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.”

    Between Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, there will be lots of bragging in Social Medialand.

    II. List 10 honest things about yourself (and make them interesting).

    1) I could read when I was four years old.
    2) I wasn’t asked out on a date until my second year of college.
    3) I am the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.
    4) I have a wonderful, supportive husband.
    5) Said supportive husband knows I’d dump him in a heartbeat for Paul McCartney.
    6) I hate vegetables (guess I can forget about Paul McCartney asking me to dinner time soon since he’s a vegetarian).
    7) A few people have told me I should be a comedian.
    8) I can’t swim.
    9) I have never been arrested.
    10) Unless you’re talking footwear, I will never fit into a size 7 again.

    III. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Tired of the Same Old Beauty Products?

    Donna Maria Coles Johnson, President and Founder of the Indie Beauty Network, gives her Top 10 Reasons to choose indie beauty products.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Online Soapmaking Classes Update

    To work around her travel dates and holidays, Kelly from Southern Soapers has realigned the online soapmaking class schedule.

    Here is the sign up poll:

    Adjusting the poll clears the votes/sign ups so you will need to re sign up. Here is an overview of the class dates and subject matter:

    * May 23/24 - Basic Cold Process 101 - covers safety, manufacturing basics, how to manually calculate lye as well as use a calculator, creating your formula, troubleshooting, FDA definition of "True Soap"

    * June 6/7 - Rebatch Basics - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (three methods of rebatching your soap)

    * June 20/21 - Easy Transparent Soap - make your own 'glycerin soap' using old CP scraps. Includes discussion on safety.

    * July 11/12 - Advanced Cold Process - Low Temp Soaping, making ungelled soap - the why's and how's answered.

    * July 25/26 - Hot Process Methods (crockpot, double boiler, & hybrid Cold process/oven process)

    * Aug 8/9 - Advanced Cold Process - Discounted Water Cold Process - includes Safety notes for working with concentrated lye solutions.

    * Aug 22/23 - Advanced Cold Process - Milk Soapmaking (goat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and even cream)

    * Sept 5/6 - Advanced Cold Process - Making old fashioned Pine Tar soap easily.

    Kelly is REALLY looking forward to having these classes for you!

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    Free Online Soapmaking Classes

    Southern Soapers is offering free online soapmaking classes. The first class will be Basic Cold Process 101 and will be held the weekend of April 11/12. Classes are first given Saturday morning or afternoon, with a repeat on Sunday afternoon or evening.

    To participate, you must first be a member of the Southern Soapers Yahoo group. Once you become a member, click on "polls" to sign up for the class. Class instructions will be posted on the separate Southern Soapers classes forum.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    What's New at You Scent Me

    New fragrance!
    Magie Noir (Lancome Type) - Limited Edition
    A green oriental with crisp floral bouquet. Low note of Sandalwood. A musky and woody balsamic dry-down.

    In other fragrance news, the vendor for our Aqua (Pier One type) is going out of business. Once our supply of this fragrance is gone, it is gone forever. Be sure to stock up now!

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    2009 Fragrance Trends

    Perfumer & Flavorist magazine announced the results of Bell Flavors and Fragrances top 10 fragrance and flavor profiles for 2009.

    Right now it's summer in Australia. Here's what Australian MSN is listing as their hot summer fragrances. One of the featured fragrances is Harajuku Lovers. I've seen the Harajuku Lovers collection in Sephora. The bottles look like little dolls and are just too darn cute.

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    We'd Eat Here ... Even Without the Gift

    My husband and I are regulars at Yamada, a local Japanese restaurant. They know all of our idiosyncrasies, like my husband not being able to eat sesame seeds, and me liking extra teriyaki sauce. A few weeks ago we gave our waitress, Fang, a few bars of handmade wasabi scented soap as a small token of our appreciation for all the staff does for us throughout the year.

    What happened the next time we ate at Yamada took us totally by surprise. At the end of our meal we were presented with a big beautifully gift wrapped box and wished a Happy New Year. Inside was a stunning framed Chinese embroidery. Needless to say we were overwhelmed. We gave the soap not wanting nor expecting anything in return. I even joked that we'd eat here anyway, even without the embroidery.

    If you're looking for good Japanese food in a casual atmosphere, visit the folks at Yamada, 3811 East Tremont Avenue in Bronx, NY (718) 409-3528. Reservations are not necessary. We're big fans of the noodles that come with their hibachi dinners.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    As Seen on Majestic Mountain Sage's Blog

    I was so excited when Andee from Majestic Mountain Sage sent an email to let me know my soap was featured on their blog!
    The Scent Lady. Template by Exotic Mommie Illustration by DaPino