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The Suds Report Newsletter
April 2002



Hello All:


Happy Spring! Here in North Carolina, it has definitely sprung. I for one will be happy to say goodbye to dry winter skin and hello to lighter, fresher warm weather scents.


We've added two new articles this month. First, read my review of Cowgirl Skin Care, a truly original line from Colorado. Then, check out some fun products to help you get in touch with your Inner Diva.


Not Afraid of Commitment?

I've never really been one to shop at those "warehouse club" stores where they sell salsa by the gallon and toilet paper in 60-roll packs. Likewise, I was a little hesitant about committing to a gallon of cream or lotion. But when I calculated the incredible savings, and considered that I could use it on myself and my daughters, I decided to give it a try.

To get some idea of the savings, consider this: I bought a gallon of luxurious body cream for $40, including shipping. A gallon is 128 ounces, so this translates into a price of $.31 per ounce. By comparison, drugstore-brand Cetaphil cream-also a wonderful product-is about $.69 per ounce. Fresh Soy Formula Body Cream sells for close to $7.00 an ounce.

I invite you to "do the math" with your favorite body cream or lotion. For me, an added benefit of buying these larger quantities is that I tended to apply the cream more generously, since I was not concerned about being "almost out!"

I recently tried products from two companies: The African Shea Butter Company (AfricanSheaButterCompany.com) and Essential Wholesale (EssentialWholesale.com).

As its name suggests, the African Shea Butter Company specializes in shea butter products. They offer several variations, including shea with cocoa butter, shea with mango butter, and shea with goats milk and honey.

Essential Wholesale has a wider selection, including cucumber lotion, hemp lotion, rose water crème, shower gels and bath oils. In fact, shea butter is one of the few things they don't have. They offer sizes ranging from 1/2 gallon to 5 gallons.

Both companies offer reasonably priced sample packs of their products so you can try them out before purchasing a larger quantity. After trying all the samples, I finally decided to order a gallon of Shea and Aloe Cream from African Shea Butter Company.  The gallon cost me $30, plus $10 for shipping (it weighed about 7 lbs).

One nice thing: the cream was labeled "made January 2002", the same month I ordered it. To help preserve its freshness, I am storing the gallon in my refrigerator, and refilling a smaller tub as necessary.

Most of these products come unscented, which also works well for me. I don't add any fragrance to the cream for using on my children, and I can custom-scent mine in smaller quantities however I choose. In my experience, the best place to buy fragrance oils for scenting bath and body products is Sweetcakes.com.

They have an incredible selection, and the descriptions are so, well, descriptive, that you have a great idea of what the oil will smell like. Their minimum order is $25, which means you'll probably end up buying at least 4 fragrances. A little goes a long way with these oils, so they are really economical.


Made in Japan


I recently tried some mineral bath powders imported from Japan called Tabi no Yado, which means "Traveller's Inn." These powders were apparently inspired by Japan's natural hot springs and passion for bathing. They are imported by Fast River Systems, a company in Vancouver. There are two series of powders: Moisturizing Bath Series and Milky Bath Series. A "Series Pack" sells for $25.

When my packet arrived, there was an information sheet in English, but the envelope  of powders was completely in Japanese. By matching the characters on the envelope to those on the information sheet, I figured out that I had the Yuzawa: milky white color with mountain cherry fragrance.

The small envelope was enough for my regular-sized bath tub. It turned the water a milky white; no fizz or bubbles. The scent was a subtle floral. To be perfectly honest, there is nothing particularly original about this bathing experience. But, if you value authenticity, this line is definitely worth a look.



Old Meets New in Apothecaries


The April issue of Lucky magazine included an article featuring a "Pro" (Tarte Cosmetics founder Maureen Kelly) shopping for bath and body indulgences. To me, more interesting than what she bought was where she went shopping: C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, an ancient pharmacy in New York's West Village. Said Kelly: "You feel like you're stuck in a time warp - except they've got all this new, cool stuff!" 

I had a similar experience last summer when I visited Merz Apothecary in Chicago, a charming old-fashioned setting (that really is old) chock-full of fantastic products from handmade soaps to exotic imported goodies... it must be how my daughters feel in the toy store.

So, here's the really good news for those of us who don't live in New York or Chicago (and even those of you who do): both stores have great online stores too. Merz' online counterpart is Smallflower.com. One of the greatest features of this site is the ability to search for products in a variety of ways, including by scent. Although they don't have pictures of many of their offerings, the selection is impressive.

C.O. Bigelow recently went online as well, with BigelowChemists.com. They carry a nice assortment of lesser-known lines, as well as some of their own products.

In person or online, these two stores are definitely worth a visit.



And the Winner Is


Congratulations to our March giveaway winner: Vanessa Hubbard from Charlotte, North Carolina, who won a $25 gift certificate from Alabu Soaps, makers of handmade, natural goat milk soap, bath and beauty products.

For April, we're giving away a trio of luxurious products from LauraMercier.com: Creme Brulee Honey Bath, Spiced Honey Creme Body Wash and Spiced Honey Luxury Soap.  These goodies retail for close to $100, so keep your fingers crossed!


In the Works

In the next few weeks, we'll have a review of some fun novelty soaps. Later, we'll have articles on kids bath products, tea-scented products, dessert-scented products, the Rachel Perry product line, profiles of small online beauty merchants, handmade soaps and more.

Well, that’s about it for now. As always, please e-mail us with any comments or suggestions.



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