August 11, 2009

Handmade

This is a toast to handmade products, and the individual artisans out there creating beneficially organic ingredient body scrubs and butters and soaps. Many are infused with the scent of beneficial essential oils that persists even after rinsing. This is the real season for them, now that it's so hot and humid that I end up having two showers a day. That sheerness in fragrance may be one of the nicest ways to inhale the herbal/terpene tone of many essential oils such as lavender and citrus and a good volume of scent for sweltering days. I also find that handmade products tend to be stronger, in that the emollient quotient is higher, the exfoliants are more serious, and the level of salts or other active ingredients more generous than in commercially manufactured products.

One that I really like is Cocoa Butter Walnut Scrub by Sacred Herbals. It has a dense texture that is not really rough like so many that use crushed nut shells. The milling is finer and it acts more like the quality of a heavy rough cotton washcloth, suffused with super emollient cocoa oil and a woody-clove incense fragrance that is noticeably long lasting even after using it on hands that then go on to be washed again later. It creates a moisturizing barrier on the skin while exfoliating, and this is especially nice for the hands and feet in the summer. Wearing open sandals for a couple of months, especially in the city, is tough on the skin and your feet need almost as much attention as your face in the summer.

The handmade aspect generally seems to result in a denser composition of purer quality ingredients. Even a big commercial operation like Lush, (why did I come so late to that particular party?) being handmade, with lots of real ingredients, ratchets up to a much higher level of immediate action, at least in the products I have tried. I recently went through the smaller size Buffy Body bar within two weeks, because it melts on your skin so pleasantly it's not easy to stop using it, and also because two showers a day requires some serious moisture replacement. The Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub contains a lot of salt, lime, grapefruit and coconut in vodka, among other things, and is indeed coarsely salty and feels clean and purifying. Following this with the Lemon Butter on hands and feet makes for an instantly velvety texture. I look forward to trying more of the line, especially the solid shampoos and vegan skin products like King of Skin, a solid moisturizer bar for application while still wet from the shower.

Another surprise is how well priced these handmade products are, especially in comparison to finer commercial ones that are anywhere near comparable in quality of ingredients. It seems like they generally run about half the price, possibly because of the direct marketing from the maker to the consumer. This is especially nice in these days of being more careful about spending on luxuries. I feel like I am getting much more for the money. It also feels good to support the making of handmade products of such quality that you can immediately tell are working. At this point, word of mouth, such as on here, and browsing Bath and Beauty on Etsy , a site where many artisans have opened their own e-commerce storefront, are the best way of finding these products. People are experimenting and refining and we are all the beneficiaries of this creative use of e-commerce. The handmade artisanal methods are again thriving because there is this direct outlet for them to the many who appreciate them.

5 comments:

chayaruchama said...

It feels far more 'personal' to support artisans !

At least, the 'little guys' seem to appreciate our support, and I agree-
Often, the quality / price point gives excellent value.

Lucy said...

Yes, it's so cool that people are doing this now, the choices are much wider these days...

Trish said...

Lucy,
The Scared Herbals perfume roll-ons look lovely as well. I might have to order the sample pack!

Looking forward to NYC :-)

~T

Lucy said...

Yes, me too, Trish,

I do like portable perfume...

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