Thursday, April 25, 2013

Silky Smooth Lip Balm

With springtime upon us in all its glory, now is the time to start spending more time outdoors.  Activities such as camping, gardening, and beach-going are no longer just a distant, foggy memory of the past!  Many of us are now planning vacations and little getaways for us and our families.

Spending more time outside means that you need to start better caring for your skin to protect it from wind, sun, and other elements.  We have devised a new formula for a lip balm that does just this!  Lip balms are just a simple blend of waxes, butters, and oils that help to nourish, protect, and heal the delicate skin on the lips.  This formula that we created is super high in protective Cocoa Butter, and has the addition of healing Calendula oil and ultra rich Avocado oil.  The Vitamin E will not only extend the shelf life but will add valuable skin care benefits.  Here's the formula to make 150 grams:

23%            Beeswax         34 grams
20%        Cocoa Butter       30 grams 
8.5%         Shea Butter       13 grams
25%        Avocado Oil        37 grams
23%        Calendula Oil       35 grams
.5%        Vitamin E MTS 50    1 gram


1.  Weigh out all the ingredients except for the Vitamin E in a heat-safe container.  

2.  Melt it in the microwave or in the double boiler until only a few of the beeswax pastilles remain, then stir until they melt. 

3.  Wait for the balm to cool down until your hand can comfortably rest on the bottom of the measuring cup, then add the vitamin e.  

4.  Add essential oil or flavour if desired (we added about 40 drops of peppermint essential oil).  At this point you can add mica or other pigments of your choice if you want the balm to have colour.  TIP:  Try adding about half a tablespoon of Oil Soluble Micronized Zinc Oxide to your balm to give it some added sun protection value.  

5.  Pour into the lip balm containers of your choice.  

We used the 1.2" white round label from Online Labels for that adorable "finished product" look that's great for giving away to family and friends.  The labels are inexpensive and the templates are super easy to customize using the Maestro Label Design software, otherwise Avery has a huge selection of labels and customizable templates.  Just make sure you use the right label for your type of printer - inkjet or laser.  

It's that simple!  A few ingredients, some packaging, and a label and you have silky smooth lips ready for puckering!  

Joyous Springtide from all of us at Voyageur

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Friendly Liquid Soap Part 2

Last week we showed you how to dilute our Castile soap paste, this week we'll be focusing on how to make toxin-free natural cleaners for your home.

When you think of cleaning the house the images that come to mind are thick rubber gloves, white powders and foams, bleach, and strong fumes.  Cleaning does not have to be this way!  Natural cleaners can certainly do the trick with less chemicals and more economically than buying commercial products.  Simple ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, and citrus oil can be used to degrease and lift dirt, and chances are they'll already be in your cupboards!  We've devised 3 recipes using our Castile soap that will help make a cleaner home and happier inhabitants.

First is our recipe for a Natural Dish Soap.  This soap combines the gentle cleansing action of our Castile soap with two natural surfactants that increase foaming capabilities and help to wash away dirt.  It also contains d-Limonene, a natural cleanser derived from the rinds of citrus fruit, to help lift grease and stuck-on food.

For 1 x 500 ml Bottle:

Part A

31%      Purified Warm Water    155 grams
35%      Natural Castile Soap     175 grams
15%         Decyl Glucoside         75 grams
10%           Amphosol          50 grams

Part B

3%         d-Limonene      15 grams
6%     Polysorbate 20    30 grams

To make:  Combine Part B in a small container, mixing well.  Mix Part A together in a separate container, whisking gently until all products are combined.  The decyl glycoside we used had partially solidified, you can see it settled at the bottom here:

It will melt with the heat of the warm water.  After whisking for a couple seconds you'll start to see an immediate change in texture, the mixture will seize up to a gel-like viscosity.

This is due to a reaction between the castile soap and the amphosol.  It's actually quite fascinating and would be a great project to do with kids!  Add the polysorbate/essential oil mixture to the soap and whisk well.  You'll see that instantly the mixture turns to a milky, watery substance!

The polysorbate blows the viscosity of the soap and turns it creamy.  Whisk well and package into our 500 ml Natural Bottles with Push/Pull Plug!  Use this soap as you would a traditional liquid dish soap.

The next recipe is for an All-Purpose Spray Cleaner with antibacterial properties, great for all kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Both Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and Tinosan is also a natural antimicrobial preservative and deodorant that kills harmful bacteria and fungus.  Originally used in hospitals, Tinosan has since been approved for use in body care products as a natural antimicrobial preservative.  

For 1 x 500 ml Bottle:

Part A:

83%         Distilled Warm Water        415 grams
8%         Liquid Castile Soap          40 grams
2%         Borax 10 mol Powder      10 grams
0.5%                  Tinosan              2 grams

Part B:

2%        d-Limonene   10 grams
4%     Polysorbate 20       20 grams
0.5%  Blend of Tea Tree & Lavender Essential Oils    2 grams

To make:  Combine Part B in a small container, mixing well.  Mix Part A together in a separate container, whisking gently until all products are combined and the Borax is completely dissolved.  

Add Part B to the mix, then package into our 500 ml PET White Oval Cleaner Bottles! *Please Note* Tinosan is very light sensitive.  If it's exposed to light for extended periods of time it will turn black and lose its effectiveness.  To avoid this, always package your products that contain Tinosan in opaque containers that don't allow any light in.  

Our last recipe is for our Enzymatic Soft Scrub.  Soft scrubs have grown increasingly in popularity over the past couple of years with the huge population of do-it-yourself-ers.  This soft scrub is a semi-solid paste that works especially well on heavy grime, such as bath tubs, ovens, ventilation hoods, garbage cans and toilets.  It can also be diluted and used in the laundry, as a stain remover, and in all-purpose sprays!  This recipe contains a high percentage of Enzymatic Concentrate which is comprised of natural fast acting bacteria that digest organic matter such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins, urea, etc.  Enzymatic Concentrate will remove odour and is completely biodegradable.  

For 1 x 4 oz Jar (220 grams):

Part A

71%        Sodium Bicarbonate    156 grams
5%        Borax 10 mol         11 grams
5%        Washing Soda         11 grams

Part B

11%        Castile Liquid Soap      25 grams
7%         Enzymatic Concentrate       15 grams
 1%             d-Limonene             2 grams

To make:  Measure out Part A into a container and mix well.

Add Part B and mix slowly until a paste is formed with an even consistency.

Tip:  To use, cut a lemon in half and rub a quarter-sized spoonful of the paste on it.  Use the lemon to scrub the item you're cleaning, it will help dissolve hard dirt and scum and leave a fresh scent!  If you don't have a lemon on hand a regular scouring pad will do.  

These are just a few ways we can cut down on the chemicals you use around your home.  Try using half a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle as a laundry softener, or diluted with water for a window glass cleaner!  Try using olive oil and lemon juice as a wood polish, or baking soda as a deodorizer for pet bedding!  This Earth Day let's all take action to support the beautiful planet we live on!

All the best,

The Voyageur Team

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Photo Contest

A couple weeks ago we launched a photo contest for the most spring-inspired bath and body care product.  We received many fantastic submissions, it was so difficult to pick just one!!  We would like to wish Marsha Coppola and her team at Da Bomb! Bath & Body Products a huge congratulations for their entry of their gorgeous cheerful Key Lime Pie Bath Bomb!

The colour certainly embodies springtime and nothing is more refreshing than key lime.  Way to go Marsha!  You can find all her products at  Here are a few other submissions that made a big impression on us:

Top Row from Left to Right:  Lea Edgar, Marisol Dionne, and Sondra Clark Parsley Elkins

Middle Row:  Heather Robinson-Campbell from Sweet Body Treats, Beth Thomas Greening at Little Bit Soapworks, and Karen Pettinger from Plum Creek Soapworks

Bottom Row:  Darlene Sandau from Mountain Farms Soap, Bree Penfold at Mrs. P's Nail Potions, and Sandra Labossiere from DIY Bath and Body Shop

Thank you so much to everyone who entered, it's so wonderful to see the beautiful finished products that come from your creative minds!

The Voyageur Team

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Earth-Friendly Liquid Soap Part 1

Here at Voyageur we try to be very conscious of being environmentally friendly and leaving as small of a carbon footprint as possible.  With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, and it's got us thinking of ways that we can help our customers be environmentally friendly as well!

A huge way that we can all do better for the environment is by reducing the amount of chemicals used in our homes.  Taken from Health Canada:  "Chemicals can enter the air, water, and soil when they are produced, used or disposed. Some chemicals can be harmful if released to the environment even when there is not an immediate, visible impact. Some chemicals are of concern as they can work their way into the food chain and accumulate and/or persist in the environment for many years.".  Using products that are high in synthetic chemicals can cause negative effects for the environment and for the health of you and your family.  In this two part blog post we will be using our Natural Castile Soap Paste to create totally natural and safe products to use in the home with no chemicals!  This post will focus on the dilution phase and next week we'll post some great recipes using the diluted soap.

Castile soap is made traditionally with just olive oil.  It is one of the most popular natural soaps around right now because of how well it cleanses and how gentle it is on the skin.  It is incredibly versatile and can be used in body washes, shampoos, cleansers, hand soaps, dish soaps, laundry soaps, and to clean the bathroom, kitchen and more!  And the best part about our castile soap is the cost.  To make about 3.6 litres of liquid castile soap from 2 lbs of soap paste (which is the recipe below), the cost is about $4.75 per litre.  Compare this to a very popular castile soap that is on the market for $17.00 per litre!  All it takes is a little time and patience and you will have a product worthy of being on a store shelf.  


To start the dilution process you will need a large double boiler, or you can use a large pot, with a lid as well as a large whisk and a clean work space.  Start by weighing out your water into the pot and castile soap paste into a separate container.  (Note: for those of us living in the lower mainland, regular tap water is just fine because the quality is so fantastic.  For those with hard water or water with a high mineral content we recommend using distilled water.)  The ratio of water to paste is roughly 3 parts water to 1 part castile soap paste, which will produce a soap of about 20% actives.  

                                                        25%  Castile Soap Paste - 908 grams
                                                        75%  Water - 2705 grams

Start by pouring the water into the pot.  Making sure the lid is on, heat the water on high until just before it starts to boil.  

Add the castile soap paste to the water by breaking it up into small pieces with your fingers.  It is time consuming, but try to break it up into as small of pieces as possible.  Turn the heat down to medium.

After you finish breaking up the paste the pot should look like this:

Give the mixture a good whisking (but not too vigorously as this will cause lots of bubbles!) and put the lid back on.  

Continue to check up on the soap every 15-20 minutes, whisking regularly, until the soap has little to no chunks left.  Try not to have the lid off for too long at a time, you don't want a lot of moisture to evaporate.  Depending on the temperature and how small the paste chunks are, this process could take anywhere from 1-4 hours.  This is the soap after about 45 minutes:

Once the paste is completely dissipated, whisk it, put the lid back on, and turn the burner off.  Keep the pot on the stove and cover with a towel or two.  This was the soap ready to cool down after about an hour and 15 minutes:

Leave the pot on the stove overnight, or for at least 12 hours (no peeking!). After that, peel back the towels and take a look at your soap!  

The soap should be slightly thickened in viscosity and there might be a thin film on the surface.  If there is simply whisk it back into the soap.  If you are finding chunks of the soap paste that did not get dissolved, strain them out of the soap and add them to about 50 grams of boiling water.  Whisk the mixture with a fork until the clumps dissipate, then pour it back into the soap in the pot.  And there you have it; the soap should be crystal clear, golden yellow in colour, and quite thin in viscosity. 

If you want a thicker castile soap which is similar to commercial soaps you can thicken it with a borax solution; this is done at the beginning of the dilution process.  To thicken the soap add 11 grams, or 0.3%, Borax 5 mol into the hot water before the soap paste goes in.  Whisk the water until the borax dissolves, then add the soap paste as usual.  Borax is potentially an irritant at levels greater than 0.5% so be cautious to not over measure.  This part is totally optional, if you don't mind the thinness of the soap or if you'll be putting it into a foaming bottle you don't have to thicken it!  

The picture above is how much soap you get from using two pounds of soap paste.  It is so easy to use and inexpensive, it's crazy to be buying your castile soaps pre-made!  Check back next week to find recipes using the diluted castile soap!

All the best,

The Voyageur Team 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Using Herbs and Florals in Facial Care

Herbs are an incredibly valuable addition to skin care products.  They frequently have amazing therapeutic benefits for the skin and can do wonders to help skin problems.  Incorporating extracts, infusions, teas, and tinctures into facial care products will show you first hand how wonderful the benefits can be!

Spotlight on Popular Herbs & Florals:

Witch Hazel is derived from a shrub that is grown across North America.  The leaves are distilled to produce a hydrosol which contains a high concentration of tannins, which gives witch hazel its astringent properties.  This astringency does wonders for the skin, including tightening loose tissue, reducing redness and inflammation, and removing excess oil from the skin.

Chamomile flowers are well-known within the skin care industry.  They are said to help calm inflammation, soothe sensitive skin, and are widely used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Calendula petals are hugely popular in skin care for their cell regenerative properties.  They are used in skin care to help heal dry, chapped skin and to diminish the look of fine lines.  Calendula also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Rosemary is widely used in skin care because of its natural astringent properties.  It is said to be great for acne prone and oily skin, for reducing puffiness and swelling, and improving the condition of dry and mature skin.

Chickweed has healing properties and contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, C & D.  It is used in skin care to help calm itchy skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Neem is used for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it valuable for acne treatment.  It is also an analgesic, helping to ease pain, and an anti-inflammatory.

Lavender is one of the most widely used flowers in skin care.   It is said to be beneficial for most skin conditions as it promotes the growth of new cells.  It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is  said to have a healing effect on burns and sunburn, and can be helpful for use on eczema, psoriasis and acne.

Horsetail has been used for centuries to treat numerous conditions including wounds, inflammation, and skin disorders.  It is high in vegetal silica which assists in providing smooth and supple skin. It is said to improve blood circulation and cell regeneration.

How to Incorporate Herbs into Skin Care Products:

The easiest way to incorporate the benefit of florals or herbs into your water-based skin care product is to make a decoction, or tea, with the leaves or flowers.  To do this use about a tablespoon of herbs per cup of water.  Boil the herbs in the water then turn the heat off and let it stand for at least 30 minutes to an hour.  Strain the tea with a coffee filter after it has cooled, then use in your creams or lotions, hair care products, or soap!

Facial Toner Recipes:

Facial toners are designed to close the pores after cleansing, tighten the skin and control sebum production.  You use a toner after you cleanse your face and before you moisturize, and for many people it is a necessary part of their daily skin care routine.  Because toners are a leave-on product your skin will absorb any nutrients and vitamins, so it's important to get the most out of your toner!  Here are a few toner recipes individually formulated for specific skin types:

Toner for Dry Skin - 1 x 8 oz Bottle

60%   Witch Hazel                           144 grams         
5%     Aloe Vera Extract                   12 grams
32%   Chamomile Tea                       77 grams
.5%    Honeyquat                               1 gram
.5%    Rosewood Essential Oil            1 gram
1%     Polysorbate 20                         2 grams
1%     Geogard                                   2 grams

Toner for Mature Skin - 1 x 8 oz Bottle

55%      Witch Hazel                          132 grams
1%        Seaweed Extract                   2 grams
24.5%   Calendula Tea                       59 grams
17%      Neroli Floral Water               41 grams
.5%      Carrot Seed Essential Oil         1 gram
1%       Polysorbate 20                        2 grams
1%       Geogard                                  2 grams

Toner for Oily or Acne Prone Skin - 1 x 8 oz Bottle

60%     Witch Hazel                          144 grams
18%     Rosemary Tea                        43 grams
19%     Peppermint Floral Water         46 grams
.5%     Tea Tree Essential Oil                1 gram
.5%     Lemon Essential Oil                   1 gram
1%      Polysorbate 20                          2 grams
1%      Geogard                                    2 grams

Instructions:  Make your herbal tea using the method mentioned above.  While it is steeping, measure out the Polysorbate and essential oil into a small container, then mix well.  Measure the rest of the ingredients into a measuring cup, then add the tea and the Polysorbate/essential oil combination.  Whisk gently to combine, then package into the bottle of your choice.  To apply, moisten a cotton ball with the solution and gently wipe over T-Zone and cheeks; or alternatively package into a bottle with a mister so the solution can be spritzed hands-free!

Incorporating herbs and florals into skincare is not difficult and the benefits are numerous.  Try using a herbal or floral tea in your next recipe!  

All the best,

The Voyageur Team

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