Friday, August 29, 2014

Root Beer Soap & Lemon Vanilla Shampoo Bar Giveaway

Root Beer body soap by Aquarian Bath is a body soap made with an essential oil blend which includes Birch and Mint

Yesterday we posted an ingredient spotlight about Benzoin Resin, which has a sweet Vanilla like aroma. Today we are starting a giveaway for some odds and ends bars that we have here which have Benzoin resin as an ingredient.  One winner will receive one of our Root Beer soaps, but the bar we are giving away is an extra large bar with a slightly irregular shape. We are also giving 2 of our Lemon Vanilla Shampoo bars.  These two bars are normal sized, but they are are end of loaf bars, kind of like bread butts.  This contest will run for 1 week and is open to US and Canadian residents. You can enter to win using the rafflecopter widget below.  If you don't see the widget right away, try refreshing the blogpost or from a different web browser.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Botanical Ingredient Spotlight: Benzoin Resin

One of our favorite natural aromatic ingredients for our Aquarian Bath shampoo bars and soaps is Benzoin resin. Benzoin has been important as an incense and medicinally since ancient times. It a botanical resin from the trees Styrax benzoin (Sumatra) or Styrax tonkinensis (Siam). Styrax trees grow in Thailand, Loas, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra and Java. The dark sap of the tree is harvested starting when the tree is 3 years old and is harvested once a year over the next 7-9 years. Trees produce around 1 pound of resin per year. We are currently using Benzoin resin from Loas. When I list this ingredient in our soaps and shampoo bars on our website, I call it Benzoin Botanical resin so that it is not confused with Benzoin, which is a completely unrelated chemical compound. Benzoin resin has a sweet vanilla like aroma due to its unique composition of benzoic acid, cinnaminic acid, and smaller percentages of vanillin, styrol, styracin, phyenyl-prophyl, cinnamate and benzaldehyde. Cinnaminic acid is also found in shea butter and has a honey-like aroma. Benzaldehyde gives bitter almond it's characteristic almondy aroma. Different researchers have found varying chemistries between these two Styrax species, with some finding no cinnaminic acid in Siam varieties. The difference may be due to innate differences between the species, different extraction methods, different growing conditions, or the time of harvest of the resin.

This is our Lavender Vanilla Shampoo Bar. The dark color is from Benzoin resin.  We also make Lemon Vanilla Aloe Shampoo bars. Despite the sticky nature of Benzoin resin, the ingredient leaves no awkward build up in the hair or on the skin, even with hard water. It may provide a slightly volumizing effect for hair, but we need more customer feedback on that point to say with confidence.

Whenever you see an Aquarian Bath shampoo bar or soap listed with the name "Vanilla," we are using Benzoin resin as a substitute. The reason that we prefer Benzoin resin over Vanilla Oleoresin is because Benzoin resin has other very special properties. For many years Benzoin resin has been used an antioxidant for preserving fats and oils. What this means for soap and shampoo bars is that our "Vanilla" soaps and shampoo bars made with a high concentration of Benzoin resin have an extremely long shelf life. I have never seen one of our Vanilla soaps or shampoo bars become rancid, even those tested for years on the shelf. This makes the Vanilla bars very good candidates for ultra-prepared customers who like to buy in quantity. But why would anyone want to have old bars of soap hanging around? Actually, the soaps that have cured the longest, tend to stay harder and last longer in the shower. This is because more water has evaporated from the bar. Some people like to cure their soaps for a longer period of time after receiving them. You can do that very easily by storing your soaps naked in a dry well ventilated place that does not get too warm. Because of its great antioxidant qualities, we also use Benzoin resin in smaller amounts in many of our other soaps and shampoo bars to help extend the shelf life. We have even started adding a very small amount of Benzoin resin to our unscented Castile soaps to extend their shelf life. Benzoin is one of the top ingredients that I have suggested to soap makers in countries where there is high humidity and no air conditioning available. A testament to its ability to endure, the resin has been identified from a more than 200 year old shipwreck.

Vanilla Chai soaps are scented with Benzoin Resin, Clove bud and Cinnamon essential oils
Benzoin resin also acts as a fixative in natural perfumery. We use it in this capacity in our soaps and shampoos to better anchor lighter and more volatile essential oils. A few examples of these bars are Tea Tree, Key Lime Salt Soap and Root Beer Soap. Styrax tonkinensis is the species used most often in perfumery.  You can also find powdered benzoin listed as an ingredient for potpouri or incense formulas.

Thanks for reading our Benzoin resin ingredient spotlight. Hope you enjoyed it and be sure to check out one of our soaps or shampoo bars made with this ingredient by shopping at Aquarian Bath. Please feel welcome to leave a comment.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Front Porch Pickings of Daytona Beach now offers Aquarian Bath soaps

Front Porch Pickings is a subscription produce delivery service business in
Daytona Beach, which offers local and Organic produce to customers. In
addition to Daytona Beach, Front Porch Pickings also delivers to Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Palm Coast, St. Augustine, DeLand, Deltona, Orange City, Debary, Deleon Springs, Edgewater, Sanford, Lake Mary and New Smyrna. We have been a customer since earlier this year, and are very happy with the produce. The subscription boxes are customizable, so you can get exactly what you want each week from the available offerings. In this way it is somewhat different compared to many CSAs, which just give you a box of what they have available. The produce boxes are delivered with cold packs, so you don't have to worry if you aren't home right when your box is delivered. Aquarian Bath is pleased to announce we are now offering a limited variety of body soaps as add ons for Front Porch Pickings deliveries. The variety will change over time with our inventory levels, and we plan to have holiday seasonal soaps accessible during the Christmas and Hanukkah. Please remember to let Front Porch Pickings know that Cory from Aquarian Bath sent you when you sign up. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After Swimming Hair Care Tips

What is the best way to take care of your hair after swimming? I'm sharing tips here today for hair care after ocean, pool and Florida springs swimming. The focus is on shampoo bars since that is what we make here at Aquarian Bath.

Ocean Living near the ocean we are in the water very often. Due to the salt and minerals in the water, I have found it best to wash you hair twice after swimming in the Ocean. This doesn't have to happen right away, you can wait a couple days if you like, but when you do wash your hair wash it twice.  This will help get all the salt and minerals out of your hair which can otherwise bind with the shampoo bar lather and leave somewhat of a residue. After washing comb or brush your hair out as usual. If you feel like your hair may be drying out from lots of sun exposure, you can also apply a small amount of leave in serum to smooth and nourish the hair. By the way, a very easy way to get dread locks is to let your hair lock up naturally after a few days ocean swimming. It's a great way to get a surfer style dreads. If that is not your style, then I wouldn't wait for more than a few days of ocean swimming to wash and brush out your hair.

Conventional Chlorinated Swimming Pools If you are swimming in a conventional pool, I also recommend washing you hair twice and also immediately after swimming. Leaving Chlorinated water in hair damages it, and can even turn blond hair green if done repeatedly. Washing the hair twice has been my standard recommendation before I even started using shampoo bars. I learned this tip somewhere along the way when I was  swimming competitively in school, lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons. A single wash, even with shampoo designed for after swimming can still leave a Chlorine smell in the hair. Also, pool chemistry is a delicate and not all pool managers have mastered the art of using minimal chemicals. For some pools a single wash may be adequate, but to be on the safe side do a double wash, especially if you detect a strong Chlorine smell at the pool. Those who swim often may also find a leave in serum beneficial if they are finding that their hair is becoming damaged. Also, I should mention, swim cap is very helpful for preventing exposure to the chlorinated water, but they can be feel awkward to put on and wear with dry hair. In that case you can put the cap on in the shower with wet hair before getting into the pool. In that way you can pretty much avoid the Chlorinated water on your hair altogether.

photo via Kevin Tuck,

Spring Water Florida Spring water comes from deep underground rivers fed by Mountain snow melt. The water is very pure, cold, and delightful to swim in. No special care is required after swimming in Spring Water.  I generally wash my hair with a shampoo bar once, as usual, a day or two after swimming in spring water.

I have less experience with hair care after swimming in sulfur springs and oxygen pools. I would suspect though that and extra shampooing might be required after swimming in sulfur springs due to the mineral content, though the sulfur can be beneficial to scalp and skin for some people.  

Do you use shampoo bars after swimming? We would love to hear your after swimming hair care tips.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is the difference between Aquarian Bath's two activated charcoal soap formulas?

Both of Aquarian Bath's charcoal soaps contain activated charcoal and bentonite clay. What is the difference between Aquarian Bath's Black Magic Clarifying charcoal soap and the Zeolite Detox soap?

The Black Magic soap is our original formula formulated for oily skin types. It includes shea butter and has a stronger lather than most of our other soaps. This means the formula is more cleansing for oily skin compared to our regular soaps. This soap is one good option for oily and acne skin types, though I personally tend to prefer our salt soaps for acne skin types. I say this is a personal preference, because many customers with acne skin types have reported good results with this formula.

The zeolite soap is a milder formula. It is okay for normal and even dry skin types, elderly and kids. It includes cocoa butter. The lather is milder, so not as strongly cleansing. In addition to the activated charcoal and bentonite clay, which is also found in our original charcoal soap this soap also contains fine zeolite powder. Some larger Zeolite particles are also included, which makes the bar a slightly exfoliating. Zeolite is a specialty ingredient that is used specifically for clean up of toxicity and deodorizing. Sometimes I use small pieces of our Zeolite Detox soap in our Zero Waste Soap Saver bags for washing vegetables. 

Here is a detailed summary comparing both bars:

Both bars: Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil, Organic Coconut oil, Olive Oil Pomace, Castor oil, Activated charcoal, bentonite clay, vegan, non-GMO, SLS-free, not tested on animals

Black Magic bar: strong lather for oily skin, raw unrefined Shea Butter

Zeolite Detox Bar: moderate lather for normal skin, formulated to be gentle enough for kids, elderly and those with dry skin, Organic Cocoa Butter, Zeolite, somewhat exfoliating

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Product Recommendation: High Frequency Device for Slow Hair Growth and Stubborn Acne

At Aquarian Bath we have many shampoo bar and soap products which customers have found useful for acne and problem scalp. However, when people ask me about what products are best for hair loss or very stubborn acne, I try to always let them know that sometimes dietary changes may be required, for example, to lessen acne, cutting out coffee, fried foods, sugar or alcohol can help. Also for thin hair or balding, don't expect extraordinary results with shampoo bars. Although some customers have reported that their hair grows significantly faster when they switch to our products, I think that probably has more to do with something low quality in their former shampoo products. Some people have indicated that there is a 'detox period' for using shampoo bars where the scalp adjusts to having to produce less natural oil to compensate for the harshness of other shampoos. So, I do wonder if some generic shampoos may be clogging pores and somehow slowing down normal hair growth. If you have thin hair, and you do see improvement in growth after using our shampoo bars, that is great, but there may be more you can do. Since we don't have a product specific for promoting hair growth, and some customers have asked, I wanted to make a quick review of one product from another company that I think may be helpful for promoting hair thickening. It is also great for stubborn acne patches and deep boils. This product is a High Frequency device. Many estheticians use them, but you can purchase them without a licence. The brand and model that I have experience with for about 2 years is a D'arsonval, HF4, and you can usually find them on Ebay for under $40. This device is essentially a small resonant Tesla coil operating at high frequencies.  The electrical arc is discharged through a gas filled tube, and is similar to "violet ray" electrotherapy devices popular in the early 1900's. The device comes with different attachments. The mushroom or spoon can be used on deep boils or stubborn pimples, or even as a part of your weekly skin care regimen. There is also a comb attachment that can be used for the scalp. This, and most other attachments, produce no discernible plasma arc to the skin, instead presenting a glowing "crown" discharge which is painless and virtually invisible under normal lighting conditions. I have seen results of hair thickening from our VP who used this comb attachment for male pattern balding when used regularly. Like everything else though, you have to use it regularly to get good results. Now that he hasn't used in a year or so the hair growth is back to the previous rate. I do not have experience or knowledge as to whether this is helpful for more dramatic hair loss, as in cases of Alopecia. Another interesting way that this device is used is for wart removal. I do know someone who has used this device successfully with repeated treatment for removal of warts. This was done using the "lightening bolt" attachment bi-weekly over a period of months. Overall it is a nice to have if you have recurring problem skin conditions, though if you take care of your diet, and use good quality products, you may only need to use it a few times a year. I am a big fan of spot treatment with clay overnight on pimples, but for people who may have an aversion to clays or find them messy, then this device may be a good alternative. The use of this device is contraindicated for skin cancers.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Recipes and Uses for Geranium Essential Oil

In my previous blog post about Geranium, I shared information with you about the whole plant Pelargonium graveolens, and also about what you can do with different scented cultivars of Pelargonium. In this blog post I will continue with the essential oil of Geranium, a highly versatile oil used in many of Aquarian Bath body products.

The whole Pelargonium graveolens plant, with leaves, tender stems and pink flowers are steam distilled to produce Geranium essential oil, also known as Rose Geranium essential oil. Rosy and sweet with a touch of mint, the scent is uplifting and refreshing. This oil blends well with Lavender, Rose and Citrus. At Aquarian Bath I use it most often together with Lavender essential oil. Geranium essential oil has a middle range evaporation rate compared other essential oils. So what that means is if you have a blend of essential oils like peppermint, rose geranium, and cedarwood, then you will smell the top note, peppermint, first. As the peppermint smell fades, you will then smell the geranium. As the geranium evaporates, last you will smell cedarwood, the base note.

Some of the main constituents of Geranium essential oil include: geraniol, borneol, citronellol, linalol, terpineol, limonene, and pinine. These constituents help contribute to its beneficial use in skin and scalp care and for emotional balancing. Insects also hate the smell.  As with all essential oils, it should never be used undiluted on the skin.

Skin Care

Geranium essential oil is used in skin care blends for improving skin tone. Even sluggish oily skin can benefit from Geranium, and this oil would work well in a bentonite clay mask. Overall Geranium is considered a balancing essential oil, which means it is a great choice for moderately dry or oily skin types. For all these reasons we include Geranium essential oil in our Skin Regeneration Balm.
Aquarian Bath's Skin Regeneration Balm is made with garden fresh scented Geranium leaves, Geranium essential oil as well as other 
herbs and essential oil beneficial for the skin.

Since Geranium essential oil is so safe and versatile is actually a perfect essential oil to use together with the Aromatherapy Lotion Bar recipe that comes with our Lotion Bar Kit

Aromatherapy Lotion Bar
1 oz by weight Raw Unrefined Shea Butter (2 Tablespoons packed)
1 oz by weight Raw Organic Cocoa Butter (3 Tablespoons of chocolate chip sized bits)
1 oz Candelilla Wax (5 Tablespoons)
2 oz by weight of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (¼ cup)
½ teaspoon Geranium essential oil

In a clean dry ceramic, enamel, or heat safe glass pot melt Shea Butter on low heat. Continue heating on low for an additional 10 minutes. The additional heating time is an important step when working with raw unrefined shea butter.  It prevents bars from becoming grainy at cooler temperatures. Add Cocoa Butter & Candelilla. Stir until ingredients are completely melted. Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then add add ½ teaspoon of Geranium essential oil just before pouring into the molds.

Tick Repellent
My late friend, Barbara Hall (Lady B), an herbalist and professional gardener from New York discovered an amazing use for Rose Geranium essential oil. It was absolutely imperative that she find an essential oil to repel ticks, having suffered multiple bouts of Lyme disease. After testing many different essential oils, she found that Geranium was a potent tick repellent. Barbara developed the following recipe specific for repelling ticks. She used this spray in her professional gardening work. Reapplication is required when the scent fades:  
Rose Geranium Tick Spray Recipe by Barbara Hall
1 tsp Rose Geranium essential oil
1 tsp vodka
8 oz water
Pour into a spray bottle

Geranium calms the emotions
Geranium essential oil  is sensational when used in Aromatherapy for calming the emotions. This may be due to its ability to stimulate the Adrenal cortex. Geranium essential oil helps bring improvement to emotional balance by relieving nervous tension, anxiety, and stress. It is also thought to have a mild mood improving effect.

3 Simple Tips for using Geranium essential oil:
1. Add a few drops of the essential oil to your central air filter to calm down an irritable   household
2. Add a drop to a tissue for inhalation
3. Add 15 drops to 1 ounce of Jojoba or Grapeseed oil for massage
Even without the distilled essential oil, you can still get a mood boost by crushing the scented geranium leaves from your garden between your fingers and inhaling the aroma.

Many Aquarian Bath Products include Geranium

 Rose Geranium is paired with French fine high altitude Lavender essential oil, 
another uplifting essential oil, in our Lavender Rose Roll On Perfume.
We use Geranium essential oil in three other products which are shown below. These include our Lavender Rose Lip Balm, Lavender Rose Geranium body Soap. We also bundle our Lavender- Rose Geranium products into a nice gift set. 


Hall, Barbara. Lady Barbara’s Garden 
Price, L. and Price, S., (2000). Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Second Edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston.  
Tisserand, Robert B. (1997). The Art of Aromatherapy.  Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. 
Wildwood Chrissie. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.