Friday, July 30, 2010

Feedback Friday: Coconut Twist

This week's Feedback Friday is a bit late (sorry for the delay!). In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, Feedback Friday is when we feature one of our fragrances or flavors with an invitation to share your opinions (please leave your comments below). If you haven't tried the featured product, we make it easier by offering a sample that you can add to your next order.

There's something about summer--sand and sun and beaches--that just makes me crave coconut. Coconut lotion, coconut bath gel, coconut lip balm. And you know how the song goes: "You put the lime in the coconut..." That's what our Coconut Twist is all about.

Even if you're far from the tropics (like me, waaaay up here in Maine), wouldn't you like to have a tropical experience? A twist of lime in a coconut concoction, and right away you can feel the breeze and hear the palm trees swaying. It's a logical (and delectable) combination!

Our Coconut Twist is available in:
hand creams
lotions
bath gel (with green jojoba spheres for gentle exfoliation)
sugar scrub (also with green jojoba spheres)
bath salts
gift sets
lip balm

In our past Feedback Friday features we've offered free samples that you can add to your next order, but this Feedback Friday is a little different. We're offering free shipping on this Coconut Twist lip balm. You may add it to your order with other items and it will add no additional shipping charge. Or order this balm by itself and we'll pick up the (First Class) shipping. Please note that we aren't currently shipping outside the U.S. (we apologize for any inconvenience).

Have you tried Coconut Twist? Please let everyone know what you think of it by sharing your comments below!

You may be interested in these other Feedback Friday posts:
Lemon Blueberry
Lilac
Green Clover & Aloe
Apricot Freesia
Sweetini Spa
Lip Balm Tubes
Maine Woodland Berry

Monday, July 26, 2010

Word of the Week: Help

Yesterday I told you about a recently proposed piece of legislation. Today I'm asking for your help.

If you enjoy buying cosmetics and other personal care products from your local farmer's market or a small business in your area (or if you've purchased from my site), please consider signing this petition to oppose the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 as it is written. If passed as written, the bill will force many small companies out of business at a time when we really need as many jobs (and potential employers) as possible. If you know others who enjoy handmade soap or lip balm, too, please let them know about the petition!

For more information and other ways to take action, please visit www.opposesca.com. Thank you for your help.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

I know it must seem like I just wrote about safety in products, and that's because I did. A few months ago I wrote about a new law being proposed in Colorado to make personal products "safe" in that state. That bill was voted down because there was insufficient science to support it, but this week a new bill was introduced at the federal level. So here we go again.

This new law is The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (H.R. 5786). If you are so inclined, you can read the entire bill. When I tell you that I oppose the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, you may think that I oppose safe cosmetics. My blog subscribers and customers will know that over the years I have reformulated my products to make them less likely to cause allergic reactions or irritations. I've initiated these changes after my own research, not because I was forced to, and I believe these actions demonstrate my personal commitment to creating ever-safer products for my customers.

In reading through and thinking about this new proposed law, I decided that regardless of my personal opinion, I would stay committed to what is best for my customers. I figured that if I read the Act and believed it was in each customer's best interest, I would support the law, even if that choice forced me out of business. A close reading of this bill with my customers' needs and wants in mind, however, convinces me that The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 is as bad for my customers as it is for my company. Here's why.

Cost
Especially in this economy, one of the things that is important to my customers is price. The vast majority of my sales are for customized products, and I've been committed to offering very low minimum orders and per item costs; my customers can order a set of personalized favors for as little as $30. While this new law assesses a registration fee for companies grossing over $1 million (micro-businesses such as my own would be exempt), all of us smaller companies buy ingredients from larger companies that will have to pay the fee. Their additional costs will be passed on to us, and then to our customers. The result to my customers is higher prices and higher minimum orders to cover the increase. This would not be good for my customers.

Flexibility
My flexibility in customizing products at a moment's notice is another thing that's important to my customers. For example, one customer ordered lip balm favors for a bridal shower and requested her friend's favorite drink flavor. My lip balm line did not include that flavor, but after a quick check of my inventory I was able to formulate the flavor just for her. This type of custom work is a special service I offer, and one that many customers have requested.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 would require every product to be safety tested before it goes to market. Even products like my lip balm, which contains vegetable oils, beeswax, vitamin E, and mostly natural and organic, food-grade flavor oils (items that many could find in their kitchen cabinets) would need to be tested after formulation. If this law passes, you can say bye-bye to customization and filling of special flavor requests, because even if we could afford to test each product in the manner requested (which most small businesses won't be able to do) we certainly could not accomplish this within a quick turnaround time. This would not be good for my customers.

Responsiveness
One more thing that my customers often comment on is how quickly I respond to their emails or calls. Being available personally to answer questions about products or order details is challenging, given that I am also filling and packing the orders, doing the accounting and paperwork, and being chief "bottle washer," but I have always considered it important to be available to my customers this way.

This new law will require not only registration with the FDA (which I respect and comply with voluntarily), but also the submission of detailed information about every product, its ingredients (including minute quantities of incidental contaminants, determined after expensive testing), uses, directions, warnings, and contact information. Whenever a formula changes (imagine: every time I introduce a new lip balm flavor), I must update this database in a timely fashion. I must also monitor the lists of ingredients which are allowed for use in cosmetics, lists that could change at any time on the whim of any "authoritative...entities" the Secretary deems appropriate, requiring reformulations, redesigns, and additional database updating.

The more time I spend on paperwork to comply with regulations, the less time I have to answer my customers' questions or work with them on the details of their events. Just last week a customer told me, "You deliver awesome service." If this law passes, I'm afraid my time constraints will limit the "awesome" customer service I've been able to provide. This would not be good for my customers.

Safety
All of the above would just be necessary "inconveniences" if this new law meant I'd be producing safer products for my customers, but I honestly don't see where safety will be improved. How does it make my products safer to submit to the FDA (annually) my name and address, number of employees, and a list of every one of my vendors and every single product they supply to my company? How about submitting my gross receipts? How in the world does THAT make my products safer? Does it make my products safer to be asked to list, in declining order, the quantity of every constituent of, say, lavender essential oil? According to Dr. Duke's Phytochemical database (by way of Cindy Jones), there are 76 chemicals in lavender. Are you safer seeing them on my label? It's still lavender. Nothing has changed except the expense of the new label, the time (and therefore expense) to report it to the FDA, and how much more you will pay for the product once those new expenses are factored in. It's a lot of busywork, lots of database information, and no clear idea of what will be done with this information to keep us all "safer".

When I recently asked my customers what "safe" products meant to them, I got a variety of answers. Natural, environmentally friendly, and nontoxic were some of the words that came up. One said the following: "A clear understanding of where my product comes from, who makes it and how." Simple registration with the FDA provides this for customers, as does a product label and a statement on a website. These are all things I do already. What I also do is provide a high quality, custom (and yes, "safe") product that isn't available anywhere else, at a reasonable price, with "awesome" attention to my customers. I want to keep things that way, and that's why I am opposed to the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 as it's currently written.

Read more:
Safe Cosmetics Act NOT So Safe for Small Biz
Do you put chemicals on your face? I hope so.
The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 is not the solution
Comments & Concerns Regarding The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010
Oppose the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Financial Planning for Newbies

I'm amazed by the number of my friends and acquaintances who are having financial difficulties in this economy. Even those who are saving find that there aren't enough coins in the piggy bank to maintain the lifestyles they want. Many of us seem to really lack money management skills and knowledge, which has a huge impact on our lives. I concluded a recent blog post by asking, "Why don't we talk and think more about money? Or maybe I should ask, why don't we talk and think more about money in more productive, helpful ways?"

Since writing that, I've decided that in order to talk and think about money in more productive, helpful ways, I need to consult an expert. I'm grateful that my friend Robert Cooper, a Certified Financial Planner™, has generously agreed to answer some of my questions about financial planning. With over 15 years of experience in banking, finance, and financial planning, Robert had some great information to share with "newbies" such as myself, and I'm happy to share it with you.

What exactly IS a financial planner?

There are essentially two types of representatives in the financial business. For our purposes I’ll call them advisors and brokers. Laws are changing everyday regarding the responsibilities of these different roles. However, as the law stands today, advisors are people who give advice for a fee, and the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates them. Brokers sell investment vehicles, and they are self-regulated through the Financial Regulatory Agency (FINRA). Brokers can also give advice if it is “incidental to the sale of a security”.

So should I be looking for an advisor or a broker?
Without getting too detailed, it is important you seek out the type of representative for your needs. If you need advice, you should seek out an advisor. If you are comfortable with your decisions and just need someone to help manage your portfolio, you might find a broker is the way to go. Like many representatives, I can wear either hat depending on the situation and needs of my client. It is important that your advisor indicate what hat she is wearing, and how she is getting compensation (more on that later!)

How can you tell if you need a financial advisor?
When you have an ache or a pain and you are not sure how to treat it you call a doctor. When you are involved in a legal dispute or have a question on how to complete a trust or a will you consult a lawyer. When you have questions about how to manage your money, you should consult a financial advisor. Money is arguably just as important as health in maintaining our lifestyle. It is naive for many people to think they can solve their financial issues without some guidance. Even I, as a financial advisor, have someone else look at my plans periodically just to make sure I am on the right path.

Wait, can't I just read some financial planning books to find out what I need to know about managing my money?
Books, TV specials, and friends are good sources of advice. However, only a licensed and educated planner keeps up with all the changes in laws, and will be able to apply her knowledge to your specific situation. Just like reading online health articles, financial planning tips are found everywhere and are very helpful. But when the need for a checkup or more critical medical care is needed, we go to the doctor. Make sure you use a financial advisor as your financial “doctor”.

What if I'm not doing anything right? I'm not even sure what kind of advice I need!
A financial planner should be able to help you at whatever level you need. Some people just need to be reassured that their own actions are keeping them heading in the right direction. Others need to be helped with how to create a household budget and keeping track of expenses. Some people simply need help implementing a retirement plan or educational investing and want an advisor to help them. Whatever the need, a financial advisor should be able to help you.

Okay, I'm sold! How do I choose a financial advisor?
Regardless of your needs the most important thing about picking an advisor is finding someone you are comfortable working with. If your doctor makes you feel uncomfortable, you would change doctors. Similarly, if your financial advisor is making you feel uneasy, you should change advisors. You need to be able to reveal all your financial issues, good and bad, to your advisor. If you can’t do this, find someone else you can trust.

Make sure your advisor has the education and licensing required to help you. An excellent certification is the Certified Financial Planner™ or CFP® designation. These planners have required education, experience, testing, and ongoing education to ensure they can provide the best service to their clients. However, referring back to my first point, certification is no substitution for trust. Make sure you are comfortable and you trust your advisor.

What about compensation? How are financial planners paid?
Ask questions about your advisor and their practice when you meet with her. It is very important you understand all the ways your planner is compensated. Your planner may get an hourly fee, a fee based on your assets, commissions from financial instruments she sells to you, or a combination of any of these. There is no “right” method for all situations. The compensation your planner gets should be fair to both you and the planner. How she receives compensation needs to be clearly explained to you. If you feel confused on this point, keep asking questions. If your questions do not get answered, find another planner.

Thank you, Robert, for this introduction to financial planning. I look forward to sharing more of Robert's advice and insights in future posts.
--------------

About Robert Cooper: After 9 years at MBNA American in Camden and Belfast, Maine, Robert moved to Minnesota to join with his mother-in-law in the financial planning business. His family was looking to improve their quality of life by having a small business that better fit with the family activity and school schedule. Living in Faribault, MN with his wife, Amy Gragg and their daughter Amanda, Robert finds time to run, golf, and help manage Amanda’s busy summer schedule!

Robert now has over 15 years of experience in banking, finance, and financial planning. He enjoys working with entire families on their financial goals and has been especially successful working with small business owners and women in financial transitions. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan as well as several programs specific to financial planning. Robert is licensed for securities in multiple states and specializes in full family Financial Planning.

Capital Management Associates
1803 Legacy Drive
Faribault, MN 55021
Phone (507) 334-7433
Fax (507) 334-7433
rcooper@cap-mgt.com

SECURITIES OFFERED THROUGH CAPITAL MANAGEMENT SECURITIES, INC.
A Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA and SIPC

ADVISORY SERVICES OFFERED THROUGH CAPITAL MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, INC.
An SEC Registered Investment Advisor

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Word of the Week: Neighbors

My neighbor dropped by on Friday to "trade" these flowers for some of the cilantro from my garden. This is such a normal occurrence in my neighborhood that I take it for granted. I don't think all neighbors are like this. We should be.

I like having neighbors who call to borrow an egg. Or a ladder. Or the proverbial cup of sugar. I know they won't be bothered if I should call to borrow something tomorrow. My neighbors get irritated if they see us rent or buy something that they have. We feel irritated right back. You're not supposed to rent that! we say to each other. I have a rototiller (ladder, hedge trimmer)! Just borrow it next time.

We live in a tiny cul de sac, just a handful of houses very close together. I'd love to say that we always get on famously and never quibble, but that's also what neighbors are for. We're all loud at inconvenient times. Our dogs run away into each other's yards. We sometimes overlap in uncomfortable ways. My leaves blow on your lawn; your leaf blower breaks the blessed silence. We learn to be tolerant (we HAVE to be tolerant!), and to rely on each other. You watch my kids; I listen to you vent about yours. (And vice versa.) You bring me flowers; I pick a fragrant bouquet of cilantro for you to take home across the street. It's just being neighborly. Wouldn't it be nice if the "neighborhood" didn't end at the bottom of the street?

Isn't it nice to have good neighbors? Do you live in a neighborhood like mine?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lavender Lemonade


I've been making lavender lemonade lip balm for years now, but I'd never tried the real thing. All of this hot, humid weather we've been having is just perfect for lemonade, so I figured I'd give it a try. We were all pleasantly surprised (even my husband and kids, who were less than enthusiastic at first); it has a subtle flowery, herb-y flavor that is really delicious. Here's what you need:

3-4 lemons (or about 1/2 cup lemon juice)
1/2 cup sugar (more to taste)
1 1/2 cups boiling water, divided
2 Tbsp lavender buds (make sure it's culinary)
3 cups ice water and additional ice

Combine the sugar with 1 cup of the boiling water in your pitcher and stir. In a mug or tea cup, add the lavender buds to the other 1/2 cup of boiling water and allow to steep.

While the sugar is dissolving and the lavender is steeping, squeeze the lemons until you have about 1/2 cup of juice, then add this to the pitcher with 3 cups ice water, and stir. Taste the lemonade and adjust your quantities of water and sugar until you're happy with them. Then strain the lavender buds and add some of this "tea" to your lemonade.

I added about 5 Tbsp of the lavender tea, which gave it a very subtle flavor (I wanted my kids to like it, too!) but if I'd been making it just for myself, I would have added more. The remaining lavender tea (which is deep purple, and makes the lemonade a pale lavender color) can be refrigerated and used for the next batch—or added by the spoonful to adjust to each person's taste. This recipe will make between 1 and 1 1/2 quarts of lemonade, but of course you can double or triple quantities to make more! Top off each glass with lemon slices or a sprig of lavender, and enjoy.

I'm planning to seal up some culinary lavender buds in tea bags to make it easier to whip up my next batch. Let me know if you'd like me to send you one to try!

What do you think? Have you ever tried lavender lemonade? What other fruits or herbs have you tried in lemonade? Please share your comments below!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feedback Friday: One more week for Berries

We're offering Maine Woodland Berry for one more week in our Feedback Friday feature. Check out the original post about this fragrance and flavor for details about where to find it, how to get a sample, and how to enter our giveaway! Comment here for a chance to win a moisturizers gift set like the one pictured at left (ends July 31 at midnight EST, with the drawing on August 1).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Word of the Week: Variation

As I was putting together some sugar scrubs this weekend, I noticed a big difference between the color of the new lot and the previous lot. You can see the difference in this picture; the scrub on the left contains orange jojoba spheres, which also lend some color, but the color of the scrub itself is more golden, too. This is a great example of the normal variation that occurs when you're using "natural" and organic ingredients.

We all know what it's like to pick a handful of berries and have some of them taste really sweet while others are sour. Some might be redder, some bitter. This is just the normal variation we expect in nature. Ingredients like carrier oils and essential oils which are derived from seeds, fruits, flowers, and plants also vary in their properties. I've noticed this with the fragrance of different lots of lavender essential oil, for example, as well as many of the carrier oils (almond oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, etc.). Some lots will have a darker color or stronger odor than others. These slight variations have very little impact on the finished product. (Which is to say, don't worry if your sugar scrub or lip balm has a slightly different color from one order to another! This is perfectly normal and doesn't indicate a problem with the product.)

Some of the variations between carrier oils are caused by differences in processing and refining. In general, a cold-pressed, filtered carrier oil will have a darker color and stronger odor and flavor than an oil that is further refined. The refining, bleaching, and deodorizing of oils can increase their shelf life while minimizing the odor and flavor and reducing the intensity of their color—often considered desirable in cosmetics. Unfortunately, these processes can also destroy some of the oil's natural vitamins and introduce harmful free radicals.

In the case of my sugar scrubs, the difference in color was caused by the sunflower oil; the new lot contains organic sunflower oil (in the picture above, the organic oil is on the right) which is much darker in color than the other, non-organic oil that we'd been using. We are looking forward to using this organic oil, even if it does make our scrubs have a bit of a "glow"!

If you ever have any questions about a product you receive, please let us know! We'd be happy to let you know what "normal" or natural variations you can expect from our products.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Word of the Week: Independence

Yesterday was, of course, Independence Day. We did the usual hot dogs, watermelon, fireworks. Then I came home and read Chris Brogan's blog post A Day of Independence. He talks about how important independence is to us as Americans, with the exception of our financial independence. We seem to expect all of our financial security to come from one company, he notes. He says, "The most peace and content and happiness I’ve yet felt on this earth comes from the fact that I choose every project I work on, and that my future is firmly held in my hands." He goes on to talk about how his life has changed from worrying about where money was coming from to sharing with others, all because of this independence he has exercised as an entrepreneur.

His post made me think about this book I'm reading. Last week I picked up a copy of "Smart Women Finish Rich" (affiliate link) by David Bach. I'm not that interested in getting rich, to be honest. But I have been thinking a lot about money lately because I know so many people who are having serious trouble with it. Some are unemployed or changing jobs; others are going through bankruptcy, which has had a serious impact on their independence. When I saw this book in the library, I just felt like I needed to see what an expert would recommend. (Honestly, I felt like I needed to make sure I wasn't making big money mistakes!)

I'm not in the habit of reading books about money, so I'm not sure where this one sits in comparison with other personal finance books, but I'm finding Bach's book very helpful. What I like about the book is that it encourages the reader to start thinking about money by relating it to your values. He recommends that you ask yourself the question, "What's important about money to you?" By thinking about what money means to you, you start to think about your spending and saving in a whole new way.

For example, I have been self-employed since 1997, and for most of that time I've only worked part time (I've also been the full-time, stay-at-home parent for most of those years). My husband's job has supported us and provided us with health insurance, giving our family the security that has allowed me the independence to start two businesses. I realized as I was reading Bach's book that I would like to be able to return the favor, to provide financial security so my husband could become an entrepreneur, too. Having more money—by spending it differently, working more hours, saving in different ways—could offer him the opportunity to enjoy career independence. For me, it seems, money is all about independence.

I agree with Chris Brogan's assessment of self-employment: real contentment and happiness can come from being your own boss, feeling in control of your fate instead of being at the mercy of your employer and a victim of the next downsizing. But of course true independence can't come unless you are financially successful as an entrepreneur. And I think that understanding your relationship to money, what it means to you, and what you value, is important (if not absolutely necessary) to gaining that success and independence. I recommend David Bach's book if only as a place to start that conversation with yourself about what is most important to you and how money fits into your plans for achieving your goals.

I want my kids to grow up and be independent, and we don't often say it this bluntly, but so much of that depends on money! A friend who's going through bankruptcy told me that the mandatory class she was taking "should be taught in high schools." Why isn't it? Why don't we talk and think more about money? Or maybe I should ask, why don't we talk and think more about money in more productive, helpful ways? What do you think?

Photo by PIKSEL

Friday, July 02, 2010

Feedback Friday is Maine Woodland Berry

It's Feedback Friday, and you know what that means! (Or maybe you don't know what that means?) Feedback Friday is our way of sharing a fragrance or flavor you might not have tried before by offering a free sample that you can add to your next order. It's also a way for you to share your opinions if you've already tried it (or come back and share once you've received a sample).

This week I've been picking raspberries in my garden. The astonishing thing about this is that it's a full two weeks before I usually start picking. I may even be able to bake a raspberry pie for the Fourth, which is just unheard of.

Anyway, I have berries on the brain, which is why I decided Maine Woodland Berry would be the perfect flavor and fragrance to share this week. As a kid growing up in Maine, I took lots of walks in the woods, and I definitely remember picking berries. In my memory, every prickle-y bramble-y patch was heavy with fruit. I'm sure this wasn't really the case (and I definitely don't recommend that kids pick berries without an adult handy to make sure they're safe to eat), but I know that at least some of these walks were concluded with sweet fruit and juice-stained fingers.

Our Maine Woodland Berry fragrance reminds me of those walks. It's not overly sweet, but more like an earthy blend of wild berries, oak, and moss. As with many of our fragrances, we have a "matching" lip balm flavor; Maine Woodland Berry lip balm is a blend of raspberry and Maine wild blueberry flavors.

Maine Woodland Berry is available in:
hand creams
lotions
bath gel (with pink jojobas for gentle exfoliation)
sugar scrub (also with pink jojobas)
bath salts
gift sets
lip balm

The Feedback Friday sample is your choice of a 1 ounce bottle of lotion or a lip balm tube of Maine Woodland Berry. If you've already tried this flavor or fragrance, please feel free to share your comments below. If you haven't, please consider adding one to your next order and coming back to let us know what you think. (Just for clarification, the only thing you pay for with a sample is the shipping...so when I say "add one to your next order" that's just because I assume that customers won't want to pay for shipping to receive just the sample. But you know what they say about people who assume! So just know that you are welcome to add the sample with or without additional items.)

BONUS: I think it's time for another giveaway, don't you? So this time, if you participate in Feedback Friday, you will be entering to win a moisturizers gift set with lotion, hand cream, and lip balm in Maine Woodland Berry (see photo).

How do you enter?
1. Leave a comment below. (No purchase is necessary; just let us know what you think of Maine Woodland Berry, or another product you've tried, or Feedback Friday in general.)
2. For an additional entry, you can tweet about this giveaway (only once a day, please). Make sure you comment here each time so we count those entries.
3. You can also sign up for our newsletter. Again, add a comment here for this additional entry.
4. Another way to enter is to subscribe to our blog. You can choose to receive updates by email or in the reader of your choice by using the links on the upper right side of this page. Add your comment below for this entry, too.

This contest is only open to U.S. residents, please. Enter by July 31 at midnight EST; the winner of the gift set will be selected at random on August 1.

Thanks so much for participating! Be sure to let us know what you think!

You may be interested in these other Feedback Friday posts:
Lemon Blueberry
Lilac
Green Clover & Aloe
Apricot Freesia
Sweetini Spa
Lip Balm Tubes

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New preservative system

A couple of times in the past few months I've written about ingredient choices and changes we've made to formulations. We have one more change coming in the next few weeks.

Up to this point, our moisturizers (hand cream, body lotion, and our new facial moisturizer) have been formulated with a preservative which includes diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, with the chelating agent disodium EDTA also added. We initially chose this formulation because it was a paraben-free preservative, and we've had no complaints or reports of irritation. But we recently changed another of our product's preservatives to Optiphen, a paraben-free and also formaldehyde-free preservative system which doesn't require the addition of EDTA. In the coming weeks, we'll be switching our moisturizers over to this preservative, as well.

Optiphen contains Phenoxyethanol in a base of Caprylyl Glycol. Phenoxyethanol is an aromatic ether alcohol approved for use as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. Safety data demonstrated that it was "practically nontoxic via oral and dermal administration." Caprylyl Glycol is an emollient and humectant which adds a luxurious feel to the finished moisturizer. We believe that in products that must have preservatives (those that contain water), Optiphen is currently the best and safest option, with the least impact on human health and the environment.

If you have been using our moisturizers, you may wonder if you will notice a difference after this change. The only part of these formulations that will be changing is the preservative, and in our tests, we haven't noticed a difference in the way the lotion, hand cream, and facial moisturizers feel on the skin. Preservatives each have their own subtle scents, which are only noticeable when the products that contain them remain unscented. The scent of Optiphen is a bit different from the previous formulation, but it's not an unpleasant scent. This is the only difference we've noted.

Of course, as with any product, skin irritation is possible. We've been using Optiphen in our sugar scrubs for more than nine months with no reported problems, and in tests it is not shown to be a primary or cumulative irritant. However, if you should notice any irritation, please discontinue use and let us know the details.

Any questions about this change? As always, please just ask! Be looking for this change in products that are shipped within the next month.

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