Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lavender Success

Oooooh, Mother Nature heard me and yesterday turned out glorious -- sunny, warm and full of life. And today looks to be even better! Nevermind the rest of the week's cooler weather, showers and gray skies again. I'm going to get outside for a bit and enjoy this little break. I am SO a slave to the sunshine.

Yesterday I made another big batch of French Lavender soap. I think I have finally found a scent blend that I am happy with. It's a combination that evolved a few months ago, and seems to be holding up and developing into a really nice lavender scent that I don't have to be embarrassed about.

With some trepidation, I will admit this -- the lavender soap has been the one scent that I've had the most trouble with, ever since the beginning. And there have been times when it just hasn't been something I was comfortable with. My very first batches when I started out were just plain lavender essential oil. I figured this must be so easy, just dump in the obvious stuff and voila. But it never smelled quite like the lavender oil after it cured, and it always faded much too quickly. I tried other lavender oils, even lavandin oils, and then started searching for lavender fragrance oils to boost the essential oils and last longer. There have been literally dozens of formulations over the last ten years. So many of those fragrance oils were lousy -- more granny-hankie than live lavender plants. And I was trying to capture the real thing. Something that at least bore some resemblence to the lavender sachets that were sitting next to it. Sheesh, it seemed like everyone and their mother had a nice smelling lavender soap, and I just couldn't get the hang of it.

But I carried on and persevered, trying scent anchors (cedar, patchouli), trying other essential oils to round it out, or pump up the slightly tart grassy notes (rosemary, palmarosa). And now I've got a blend that has a really deep lavender oil, a slightly lighter lavendin oil, which is a variation of the same plant, a teeny bit of litsea cubeba, which is a sort of lemony verbena type oil that freshens it up and holds it togther, plus a few drops of patchouli (shhh, don't tell) which is too small in quantity to recognize, but is the ultimate scent anchor, making the whole fragrance last longer with a good foundation and base for all the other lighter top notes. It was really important to me this year to make sure it was an all-natural blend of essential oils, because I really want to commit to getting away from fragrance oils unless they are absolutely necessary.

At least all the batches I made through November and December seemed to turn out beautifully. Maybe six months from now, I'll find the scent didn't hold up well enough. It's a little hard to predict at the moment because I'm selling it all so fast. But that's a heck of a lot better than having folks pick it up, stare me in the eye and say "this doesn't smell like lavender -- it doesn't even smell at all." Gah. That hurts. No more of that.

I've sort of gotten used to people saying I have the best soap on earth, or the nicest smelling soap they've ever tried, or something along those lines. So when someone tells me it's no good or that they don't like it as much anymore (like one of my long-standing loyal customers did last summer), I fret and stew and double my conviction to make it better than everyone else's. I really hope this does the trick.