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Wholesale Supplies Plus Article Library includes handmade business articles, inspirational soap making ideas, and specialty product trends.

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Fatty Acids and Rancidity

Our natural oils are composed of triglycerides, three fatty acids connected by a glycerin backbone. A fatty acid can be saturated, meaning it has no double bonds between carbon atoms in the chain; unsaturated, with one double bond; or polyunsaturated, with two or more double bonds. Rancidity occurs when these double bonds are broken and newer, smellier compounds are created.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Saffron In Skincare

Saffron is a culinary spice derived from the stigma of the flower of Crocus sativus ("saffron crocus"). The saffron crocus plant grows up to 8–12" and bears up to four flowers. Each flower displays three bright crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. These stigmas, called threads, are collected and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in culinary products.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First Impressions Matter: Get Your Brand in Order Before the Holiday Rush

The pre-holiday season is your chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, so you can make a positive and lasting first impression that will wow holiday customers. Here are three critical questions to evaluate your brand before the holiday rush begins. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crystal Power

Last month we explored the phenomenon called “soda ash,” a layer of sodium carbonate that forms on the surface of raw soap whenever unreacted sodium hydroxide comes into contact with carbon dioxide in the air. The result is a layer of white powder that can be easily washed off with water, and easily prevented by covering raw soap with plastic film. But occasionally soapmakers come to me with a “soda ash” problem that does not wash off with water, and which forms despite covering the soap. While it appears similar to soda ash, this white layer is simply soap that is lighter in color than the soap surrounding it. Figure 1 shows white soap crystals that have formed in a bar of palm oil soap colored with maroon oxide. Figure 2 shows a cross section. Unlike soda ash, these crystals are not just a surface feature—they appear on the interior as well, and they do not wash off with water.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tips and Tricks to Stay Organized and Sane During the Busy Season

Do the busy fall/winter seasons sneak up on you year-after-year? It may be simply due to a little lack of preparation on your part. 

Ramp up now by getting organized, making decisions and doing a little research. From finding happy solutions for the demands of family, to hiring seasonal help, there are many things you can do now to make this season productive, organized and profitable. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Science of 'SPF'

What is sun protection factor (SPF)? It’s a measure of how well a sunscreen can block ultraviolet B or UVB rays from damaging your skin. The sun emits all kinds of radiation, but the ones that worry us the most are the ultraviolet A and B rays. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer, while UVA rays penetrate deeper into our skin to cause all the physical signs of photo-aging, like wrinkling and sagging skin. UVA rays increase the damage UVB rays can cause, and may also be a cause of skin cancer. When choosing a sun protecting product, we definitely want to look for a broad spectrum, multi-spectrum or full coverage product that contains both chemical and physical sunscreens.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chemistry 101: Ashes To Ashes

Handcrafted soapmakers sometimes encounter a layer of white crystals that appears on the surface of soap, a phenomenon they call “soda ash.” One might imagine that the term “ash” describes the ashy appearance of this layer, but it actually goes back to the dawn of industrial chemistry. Long before there were giant multinational corporations or huge manufacturing complexes, alkaline materials (lyes) were produced in the service of three commodities: glass, paper, and soap.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Simple Secrets: Creating the 'In The Pot Swirl' Technique

The Goal: 

The 'In The Pot Swirl' is one of the easiest swirls to accomplish, and helps bring your soap making bragging rights from hobbyist to seasoned crafter. Before swirling, make sure you are using a tried and trusted cold process soap recipe with important consideration on your fragrance. You'll want a slow moving fragrance and colors that complement the scent. If you haven't swirled before, be warned that it easily becomes an addiction, and you'll soon realize why so many soap makers consider swirling soap one of their favorite pastimes!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How To Attract The Best Millennial Employees

Planning to hire additional help to support your business at summer festivals, farmer’s markets or during the holiday season? Consider hiring millennials (the portion of the population that’s currently between the ages of 18 to 34). Not only do they account for one out of every three workers in the United States, according to Pew Research Center, they’ve represented the largest segment of the working population since 2015.

Here are a few ways to attract the cream of the millennial crop to your business and keep them inspired, productive and engaged employees.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Good Manufacturing Practices: FDA Guidelines Part I

Rigorous adherence to good manufacturing practice minimizes the risk of adulteration or misbranding of cosmetics. The following cosmetic establishment instructions, excerpted from FDA's Inspection Operations Manual, may serve as guidelines for effective self-inspection. A good inspection score means that an establishment follows good manufacturing practice.  The FDA has a checklist of 10 guidelines they use for inspection.  This article addresses guidelines 1 and 2. Use this month to focus on these two guidelines.  Next month we will address Raw Materials and Lab Controls.

Friday, August 5, 2016

It’s Becoming the World’s Most Powerful Selling Tool. Are You Cashing In With Instagram?

You may think of it as sheer entertainment, but with 500 million dedicated users, Instagram is one of the world's largest mobile ads platforms. Social-savvy businesses, large and small, jumped into this community of visual storytellers because they saw the potential to grow their fan base and increase sales conversions.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Good Manufacturing Practices: Adverse Reporting Form

Implementing Good Manufacturing Practices in your business is an important part of growing a sustainable company.  As part of a quality program you will want to develop a system for recording adverse event reports.  If you have nothing to report it is recommended that you close the year with a single line item that states "No adverse event reports received in the year of xxx."  For received adverse events we recommend this tracking form: www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/calculators/adversereportingform.xlsx

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cucumber For Skincare

Cucumbers are scientifically known as Cucumis sativus and belong to the same botanical family as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe) and squashes (including summer squash, winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin). Cucumber is very high in water content and very low in calories, making it a popular staple at health clubs and spas. It is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are used as culinary vegetables. Having an enclosed seed and developing from a flower, botanically speaking, cucumbers are classified as pepoes, a type of botanical berry. Much like tomatoes and squash they are often also perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables. Even though the long, dark green, smooth-skinned garden cucumbers are familiar vegetables in the produce sections of most grocery markets, cucumbers actually come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes and textures. You can find white, yellow, and even orange-colored cucumbers, and they may be short, slightly oval, or round in shape. Their skins can be smooth and thin, or thick and rough. The human olfactory response to cucumbers seems to vary. Most people report a mild, almost watery flavor or a light melon taste, while others sense a bitter taste with perfume qualities, attributable to the chemical compound, cucurbitacin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Proper Labeling Guidelines

A product is considered “mis-branded” if the Name and Place of Business are not properly stated on the product label. When selling a "private label" product the "distributor" is listed. These rules apply to both full size and sample products.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pinterest Woes + Facemask Fails

You may have seen pictures on Pinterest or Facebook of a turmeric face mask fail that turned someone’s skin orange. Why’d that happen? We can thank the tetraterpenoids in turmeric called carotenoids, specifically xanthophyll and carotene, for the color. We see these compounds in bright and orange yellow oils like rosehip, carrot tissue, and sea buckthorn. They’re pre-cursors to Vitamin A, which can help with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and behave as anti-oxidants, scavenging free radicals and preventing lipid peroxidation. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chemistry 101: Glycerin Rivers

In a previous column I discussed the amazing work of Clara Lindberg (AuntieClaras.com) using the partial gel effect for artistic purposes. This month features her pioneering work exploring the phenomenon of Glycerin Rivers, a crackling of soap texture seen by some as an annoying problem and by others as an exotic feature. Clara’s experiments have gone a long way toward finding the conditions under which rivers appear, but many interesting questions remain unanswered. This article reports my progress on these issues, working with my students, Myshak Abdi, Adam Christenson, and John Sheffield.

Monday, July 11, 2016

6 Ways to Use Summer as a Business Strategy

You don’t have to be in a seasonal business to leverage summer as a business strategy. Here are six simple ways to use summer to build morale, improve sales, and enjoy life as a small business owner.
Banish indoor meetings. Now that we live in a mobile world, there’s no reason to hold an indoor meeting in the summer. Aside from the fact that walking meetings can help you reach your recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day under the Department of Health & Human Services guidelines, researchers have foundthat brief exposure to sunlight can provide enough Vitamin D to ease depression, and reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular illnesses and diabetes.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Club: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

This book is a self-wisdom book that helps guide the reader to a life of personal freedom and happiness through individual growth and stress management.
Debbie May’s Favorite Quote from this Book:
“You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

7 Sizzling Summer Activities to Heat up Your Business

Many micro business owners choose to slow their business activity down during the summer months. For crafters who busy themselves with summer fairs and farmer’s markets, the weekends stay hopping, but those lazy-day summer temptations can still set in during the week. If you're building a lifestyle business, or simply striving to bring extra income into the household, a lengthy seasonal break probably fits right into your plan. For business owners who wish to expand, it's just not realistic.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Good Manufacturing Practices: Formula & Batch Records

Batch records are a critical part of maintaining Good Manufacturing Practices. This excel spreadsheet is an easy way for you to keep track of your own records at home. Simply print the formula record and as you make the product fill in the data. Keep the record in a safe place such as a file cabinet. In the event of an audit or customer complaint it will then be readily available for review.

Download this as an Excel Sheet, Click Here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Substituting Oils in Handmade Soap + Cosmetic Recipes

When I first started making bath & body products, nothing captivated me more than emulsified products like lotions and hair conditioners. I spent days scouring my favourite fora, suppliers’ sites, and manufacturers’ formularies looking for recipes I could try next. I’d find a lotion recipe entitled something lovely like “Sweet almond & aloe body cream”, rush down to my local supplier to buy all the ingredients, then rush back to my workshop to make it. Then I’d find another one, “Apricot kernel & shea butter hand lotion” or “Grapeseed oil & mango butter foot soother”, and I couldn’t wait to get all the ingredients to make those, too.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Chemistry 101: The Indigo Swirls

For most of human history, indigo has not been just another blue dye, it has been the blue dye. While we now have many blue dyes available, indigo still puts the blue in “blue jeans.” The chemistry of indigo is quite interesting and introduces a concept new to most soapmakers, that of oxidation and reduction. Oxidation is a process familiar to everyone. When wood burns, it is oxidized. When iron rusts, it is oxidized. When a cut apple turns brown, it is oxidized. When anything reacts with oxygen (usually from the air), it is oxidized. Less familiar to most people is the reverse process—reduction.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How Do You Stand Out From Your Competition

Setting yourself apart from the competition doesn’t require a significant investment, change in strategy, or earth-shattering product idea.  In fact, you’re already armed with most of the tools you need to start creating a brand identity that customers will notice, and remember. Here are few simple ways you can stand out from your competition.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Indigo is traditionally regarded as a color on the visible spectrum, as well as one of the seven colors of the rainbow: the color between blue and violet. It is counted as one of the traditional colors of the rainbow, the order of which is given by the mnemonic Roy G. Biv.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Branding Tips To Make Your Product Sell

Every three months, along with my fellow radio show host Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks from Shark Tank, I have the honor of speaking at an Innovator’s Think Tank known as Shark Finds. During this two-day event we offer insights to inventors about their marketing direction, branding, and investor pitch. We see a fair number of beauty lines, including luxurious soaps, candles, creams, and age defying serums. 

These products often stand out to me, but not only because they look yummy. They also stand out as lacking in a solid brand identity. While many of these products are worthy of attention, they are not attention grabbing. The creators often pour all of their passion and imagination into the product itself and neglect to place similar enthusiasm and resources into the very first thing prospective clients and investors experience: the brand. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Proper Labeling Guidelines for Color Additives & True Soap

We are introducing a new series of featured articles that highlight various aspects of proper labeling guidelines for handmade soap and cosmetics. Look for a new installment of this featured column each month online and in Handmade Magazine. If you don't subscribe to Handmade Magazine, sign up today! Click here

Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Review: Me Before You

This book is a romance novel. The love story is about the relationship between a paralyzed man named Will Traynor and a 26 year old girl named Loiusa Clark. 

 Debbie May’s Favorite Quote from this Book:
“You make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful.” 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Understanding pH Balance in Handmade Cosmetics

What does “pH balanced” mean for our skin, hair, and homemade products?
Healthy skin is covered in a fine film called the acid mantle that measures pH 4.7 to 5.9. (Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 8 is alkaline, with water measuring pH 7 or neutral.)  If our skin deviates too much from this pH range, we’ll see an increase in scaling, a decrease in hydration due to transepidermal water loss, a decrease in stratum corneum lipids (like ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids), and a delay in lipid barrier formation and barrier repair, all of which result in dry and damaged skin. We might also see an increase in bacterial and yeast infections due to our skin’s inability to chemical or microbial assault.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Review: The Must-Have Customer

The “Must-Have Customer” is an old-school business book that every emerging or growing business should read. It takes you set-by-step through the process of identifying three critical customer groups and inspires you to find ways to serve their needs. In my opinion, this book is nearly an entire MBA program rolled up into 300 valuable, easy to read pages.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chemistry 101: Partial Gel On Purpose

I am frequently asked to diagnose problem soaps. One recurring “problem” that I see is a bar whose center is slightly off color from its exterior, a problem often referred to as a “crop circle,” or “partial gel.” In the last installment of this column, we saw that two parameters determine whether a soap reaches gel phase (the term used in the handcrafted community) or “neat soap” (the term used in the commodity soap industry). The first of these parameters is temperature; the second is water concentration. Typical cold-process soaps melt into gel phase at temperatures near 140º F.  My diagnosis of the partial gel is that the warm interior of the log went through gel phase while the cooler exterior did not. If you want to ensure complete gel phase, you can increase the temperature of the oils or insulate the mold, thus increasing the final temperature of the soap. If you want to avoid gel phase altogether, you can decrease the amount of water in the formula by using a more concentrated lye solution.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

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