Happy Sunday! If you missed this week’s posts check out the benefits of Almond Oil and some tasty Burrito Bowls that make a great mid-week, low prep meal. Today, take a look inside a favorite Etsy shop of mine with an interview between owner Kathy Young and myself. Her company, Good Earth Essentials, creates natural face and body care products for every skin type. This interview was originally to be posted this past Friday, but what better way is there to read this than on a lazy Sunday morning with your coffee or tea in hand! Check out Kathy’s mission and why using natural products may be right for you.
I’ve been posting for a while now about how I am trying to reduce the amount of chemicals I expose my body to daily. In making my initial switch, I turned to Etsy for naturally hand made body care products that were made in small batches and with integrity. It became important for me to read up on WHY these shops initially started and what they felt their true mission was in the heavily saturated skin care category on the Etsy website.
One of the shops that resonated with me on Etsy in my search for a natural face wash for oily/acne prone skin was Good Earth Essentials. Kathy describes her products thoroughly and with her experience in the health industry, I felt I could trust and believe in her products. Boy, was I right! I have not used any other face wash regularly since first purchasing her Activated Charcoal Face Wash back in 2012.
I reached out to Kathy through Etsy originally just asking a few questions and that lead us to the following interview. Kathy is truly inspirational and honestly cares about her customers’ well being.
Interview with Kathy Young from Good Earth Essentials
The Paisley Kitchen: Hello Kathy! I have been using your products for years now. I am an advocate for chemical free products and I try to buy skin care that is made from naturally derived ingredients. What initially sparked your interest in creating natural skin care products? Were your products, at first, just for personal use or did you already have an interest in creating them for others?
Kathy Young: Once there was a young, 19 year old, brand new mother. She held court in her hospital bed and was lavished with hugs, gifts and exclamations like “He is the most perfectly beautiful baby I have ever seen!” Her mother, the grandmother, gifted her with a most decadent treat. A gold box with three beautifully wrapped soaps from France. They were yellow, octagonal in shape and scented with Heavenly Jasmine.
I was blissfully happy, pampered and flying high on that mysterious cloud that new mothers ride. Ten fingers and ten toes and my purpose in life suddenly became clear. For 3 days I stayed and each morning I took a long, lazy shower using the fragrant Jasmine soap. The scent, the overwhelming love for my baby and the gratitude to God for His blessing was burned into my brain.
Decades later, sniffing a beautifully scented jasmine soap would transport me to that time I felt so blessed and special. Oddly, a specially made soap would often lift my spirits and even offer some comfort. But they were rather expensive for our very small budget and I was not able to indulge very often.
More years passed and I became a RN. I shopped at our local co-op and farmer’s markets and started noticing that some people were actually making soap at home. This was amazing to me! I eventually challenged myself to learn how to make soap. I wasn’t stupid, I told myself. So I bought myself a book (did not have internet at the time) for Christmas and on Jan 1 I made my first batch of soap – oatmeal honey.
After it was cured, I took my first shower with it. I remember yelling at my husband, “It’s lathering!” I was beyond excited and started thinking about making many more, Heavenly scented soaps. I shared my homely looking pieces of soap with my co-workers. I passed soaps out to any of the doctors and nurses who wanted them.
After using my homemade, all natural soaps for a while, I noticed my itchy, dry, flaky legs were soft and not dry and itchy anymore. I read the label on the very popular, highly advertised bath bar I used to use and realized there was nothing natural about it. No wonder my skin had always been so uncomfortable!
Soon, the doctors and nurses at the hospital started asking for more soaps. They said they wanted to “buy” my soaps! So my soap making passion/business was born!
TPK: That is so beautifully written! I love that you had such a connection to these products and how they were helping those who were using them. When did you first begin selling your products? What products did you first begin making?
Kathy Young: I started selling soaps at holiday bazaars and farmer’s markets. I learned to make lotions and sold them. People started sharing with me about their skin problems and I started researching for answers. The nurse in me wanted to heal. I had been fascinated with herbal healing for years and grew many herbs in my garden. I started taking a course in Herbalism.
Eventually, I dipped the first calendula flowers into melted shea butter and let them infuse for several weeks. After straining, I offered it to a man who had a chronic skin problem on his leg. He came back a week later with big eyes and wanted more. I called it Calendula Butter and I still grow the flowers, make it and sell it.
TPK:I love that you would research different skin problems and the natural solutions to find relief. You were and are truly healing others and enhancing their overall well being. You mentioned how after using your hand made soaps you felt relief from the itchiness and dryness of your skin. My skin often gets this way, too. What makes hand made soaps so soothing for our skin compared to many common store bought products?
Kathy Young:Before I became a “soaper,” I used a very well known, commercially made soap. For many years, I fell for their claim that each bar contains 1/4 moisturizing cream. But even so, my skin was dry and itchy and if I didn’t use lotion after my shower, the skin on my arms and legs would be flaky. I switched to their unscented bar, thinking it would be milder, but still my skin was very dry and itchy.
My interest in soaps was sparked by the hand cut, herbal scented, unwrapped bars I saw at local farmers Markets. I realized that these vendors were making their own soaps! Extremely curious, I purchased some and took them into my shower. Before the first bar was gone I knew I had to figure out how to make soap for myself. No longer was my skin dry and itchy. I did not even need to apply lotion to my legs anymore!
One could write a book about the complicated chemical process that occurs when soap is made. There are many variables that decide whether the soap is hard or creates rich lather, or is super moisturizing. All the different oils one might use, like olive oil and shea butter and cocoa butter, require their own calculated amount of lye to be mixed with. And if the wrong amount is used, your soap can be too harsh or too fatty.
There is a violent chemical reaction that occurs in the soap pot. The ph of lye is a very strong alkaline (13.0). Fats have a very acidic ph, around 4. When you add lye to your pot of olive oil, coconut oil and butters, you stir them together for sometimes half an hour or longer. Imagine the storm of acidic and alkaline molecules rubbing against each other. Finally, a new product is formed and that is soap! During this process, a by product called glycerin is also formed. And that is the secret to handmade soap.
When I make soap using the Hot Process Method, I see a layer of thick, clear fluid floating on top of the thickened still soft soap. That fluid is wonderful glycerin that formed when the soap was made. We stir that glycerin back into the soap so it works its magic, keeping our skin moisturized and soft. Glycerin is a humectant as it attracts moisture from the air and protects our skin from dryness.
The difference between handmade soaps and commercially made soaps? The commercially made soaps have had the glycerin removed so it could be sold and used in other products! READ THEIR LABELS! They also have synthetic foamers, stabilizers, “fragrance” and other additives that handmade soaps do not contain. If you haven’t tried a bar of handmade soap yet, I highly recommend you do. I think you will find that your skin will know the difference.
TPK: So, the switch of soaps seems pretty obvious. I also hope everyone tries a home made bar themselves. Thanks so much for sharing all of this information with me.
Be sure to check out Kathy’s Etsy shop, Good Earth Essentials, for soaps, lotions, masks, and even baby products.
I hope you have a wonderful Sunday and enjoy the beautiful day. Check back this week for an amazing Chick Pea Lunch recipes, and stop by tomorrow for the PowerHouse Purchase for the week.