Tag: Winters Apothecary

The Lotion Trials: Day Whatever


I’m officially done making Batch #3.2 (Batch #3 with changes). And it felt drying to my hands but was better than Batch #5 which I HATED WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING AND GRAPE SEED OIL CAN GO TO HELL.

Which is why it’s too bad that I have an enormous bottle of it. I sent Philip off to get some and the only grape seed oil he found was a giant plastic bottle of imported Italian grape seed oil. I only needed 2 tbsp. I don’t trust this bottle of oil. I didn’t like the cut of its jib the minute I saw its giblets shaking – oh hell – I don’t trust it so much that I’m mixing up my metaphors.  My plan is to mix it with olive oil for salad dressing.

Anyway. I’m far from concocting the perfect natural recipe for lotion but I’m learning a lot in the process and having fun.


Notes on lotion making so far:

Preservatives are necessary. When you start making your own body products and natural medicines you begin to understand that “preservative” isn’t necessarily a dirty word.

Batch #2 developed mold less than 2 weeks after it was made. I’m leaving all my lotions at room temperature to see how long they last. See note above about importance of preservatives.

If you make a lotion using aloe vera gel but don’t add a humectant (such as glycerine) it will make your skin feel dry because it has a mildly astringent quality.

I dislike the smell of rose hip seed oil. So does my mom. But the lotion that worked the best for me (until it molded) had some in it.

Most (all I’ve read so far) lotion making instructions have you add the oil to the water in a thin stream. I had a better result adding the water to the oil.

I truly deeply forcefully hate the way shea/cocoa/coconut oils feel on my skin in their solid state. I also hate the way they smell. I love the smell of coconut milk but coconut oil is -NO.

Grape seed oil can fuck right off.

There’s a lot of science behind even the most natural of lotions and it’s very interesting and makes me want to get into the percentages but that would require a lot of brushing up on math skills and I feel pressure to get on with other product testing and refining as well as setting up the rest of my business. Since I’m not planning to be a lotion company it doesn’t warrant retaking a math class. So I’m trying to work within recipe proportions already developed by others and then changing the oils out and playing with different herbal infusions, etc.

The way Batch #2 turned lumpy was weird. Little tiny lumps but it hasn’t (so far) actually separated.

The foot cream (Batch #4) smells really good and the texture shockingly doesn’t repel me. It’s a variation on a recipe my friend Angela (Cottage Magpie) wanted me to make. I don’t know yet if she likes it or not, but it turned out very stiff but melts when you rub it into your feet. Very greasy finish, however. So for me it’s not great. Philip loves it. He’s taken the rest of the batch upstairs to his and Max’s lair.

I’m beginning to wonder if I possibly just don’t like any of the “butters” and might try making a lotion without any of those.

I don’t love the smell of benzoin. It’s kind of sweet, that’s what I don’t like. I love the smell of frankincense in lotion.

I guess I better get my butt back into the kitchen to clean up for the next batch. Wish me luck. Buckets and buckets of it!


The Lotion Trials: Day 1


Yesterday marked the beginning of the great lotion trials as I test recipes to develop a great all purpose lotion. I’m super picky about what lotion I will put on my skin. It isn’t about purity (though part of the reason I’m working to make my own is because I don’t want petroleum on my skin) it’s about texture. I have really dry sensitive skin. I like a thick rich lotion that isn’t greasy and absorbs quickly and doesn’t smell too strongly or weirdly. Right now I’m using Trader Joe’s Creamy lotion and it’s great. Except for the ingredient list. It’s cheap and that’s not something a handmade lotion will ever be.


Making new things, embarking on new adventures always puts me in a deeply procrastinative state. Making creams is an art. Not a complicated one, necessarily, but it requires emulsifying two ingredients that want nothing to do with each other: oil and water. So instead of making my first batch I took weird selfies as the Mad Apothecary.

This is how I have discovered that my front teeth are chipped. I don’t mind how it looks right now, but WHAT IF THEY KEEP CHIPPING UNTIL THEY’RE NOTHING BUT NUBS AND I HAVE TO GET DENTURES AND THEY NEVER LOOK REAL, DO THEY?


So this was my first batch. I’m calling it “Batch 1”. Very thick, somewhat tacky feel to it and a little bit greasy.


I took this selfie for my friend Debz who thought the other one was creepy. See? You can trust me to make you feel better. Come heeeeeere to fat mama with the drama! Haha. Can’t help myself, I’m still creepy.


Batch 2 was much thinner, less tacky or greasy, smelled good, but didn’t absorb fast enough for my comfort. Philip liked it. Max said it was “okay” but mostly he just means it was better than the first batch. He liked the smell. My mom liked batch 2 quite a bit. I liked it on my face (it’s technically a face cream anyway) – it made my face feel nicely hydrated.

Today I hope to make at least 2 more batches. There’s also a foster kitten coming too so probably won’t make more than that. I’ve got 5 more batches in the queue to make before I start refining. But even then I may need to make a lot more. This is product development stage and it’s a lot of fun.

Notes on the first day of the lotion trials:

I dislike the smell of plain natural oils. Companies work hard to manufacture scentless lotions. I think they probably have a chemical scent called “scentless”. Basically they use ingredients that are refined to the point where they lose their natural odor. So my lotions will have to have scent, all of them. The good news is that I don’t have to use much essential oil to cover the odor of the main oils and it doesn’t make my skin smell.

I hate – HATE – oils that are solid at room temperature and melt on contact with warm skin. That is a sensation that makes me so grossed out I can’t handle it. Like, literally, I may need to start wearing gloves when handling them. Cocoa butter and coconut oil both do this. It is disgusting. Just like cold butter that melts when you touch it. *SUPERDRAMATICRETCHINGNOISESFOREVERANDEVER*

Okay, I don’t hate the oils that are solid at room temp, I just hate touching them. I know more than one person (THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF THEM) who loves putting these oils directly on their skin. *skeeeeeeeeeeeeevy*

My sister is super picky about lotion too and she apparently likes the same kind of feel in a lotion because she’s the one who suggested I try Trader Joe’s lotion when St. Ives suddenly started drenching all their formulas with perfume. So I was thinking about her pretty much the whole time I was making batch 1 and batch 2. I kept thinking “I’m going to come up with a great lotion for us, sister!” Though, to be honest, I’m concerned that the ingredients I’m willing to use (meaning: no overly processed, synthetic, or petroleum ones) will make this goal difficult to reach.

The shelf life on these lotions will necessarily be shorter than store bought. But I think that I may be able to offer some customization options and when people buy my lotions they will be getting super fresh batches. I’ll only be making them to order – at least at first. The only way anyone will be able to get a fresher lotion is if they make it themselves.

The label you see above is the round label, ready to print! It’s been decided that we will get labels printed with the logo (such as you see above) and then I’ll hand write product info on each because we can’t afford to have small runs of labels made for every individual product. I’m really pleased with the design now.

And no, there is no missing apostrophe in the label. Philip accidentally added one in the last round but it’s “Winters” because that’s the last name of my main character in Winter; cricket and Grey. I have named my real apothecary business after my fictional apothecary’s business.




Irrational Irritation is More Irritating Than Stale Coffee


Jax, the foster super-kitty caught in a mighty  yawn roar.

As my first week of unemployment comes to a close I have some fears and irritations to chew on along with my not-so-quiet happiness at being home again.

Fear #1: MONEY. Lack of it. I only got a day-job because we really needed the money. I’m so happy to be home every day again but the sharp shadow encroaching on my happiness is knowing how short lived it must necessarily be. Soon I have to look for another part time job, unless by some miracle people really start buying my apothecary products.

Actually, I just spent a half an hour looking at available positions on Craigslist. So it has already begun.

Fear #2: My apothecary website is still unfindable even by a url search. This has never happened to me before and I don’t understand it and an online business relies heavily on one main thing – BEING SEARCHABLE AND FINDABLE ON SEARCH ENGINES. So, fuuuuuuuuck!

Irritation Numero Uno: The company that laid me off is now back in business and have rehired my one friend at that job. That’s not at all what irritates me. I’m relieved she got her job back because even though they treat her horribly she really needs the money. Like, more than I do. She deserves WAY better but at least this will tide her over for now. What irritates me is that I wasn’t offered my job back. I know what you’re thinking “But Bitch, you quit your asshole of a job just last week. What’s your damage?!”* First of all, I actually unquit my job an hour after quitting in hopes that when the dust of our company move settled, things would be much better and I could stay at my job. Second of all, they offered someone their job back who stole confidential documents, padded her time card (and was caught doing both these things, by the way), and who did very little actual work for many months. They offered HER her job back. A shady person who also has the distinction of having caused the company (inadvertently, it must be admitted) to shut down temporarily. They offered her a job back and not me. She pissed off everyone – that’s more people than I pissed off!

So yes, I’m irritated that they value someone who steals, is lazy, and lies more than they value the hard work I did, the honesty I brought to the job, my unwillingness to take advantage of the company even when I was invited to do so on occasion by a person who’s name will remain _________.

What I need to remind myself through my irritation is that while they have dished out the ultimate insult to me, it is also deeply revealing of the owner and the managers’ ethics. I also need to remind myself that if I have to work outside the home I deserve to work for people who share MY ethical standards and who appreciate and respect employees who bring that high standard to their work every day.

In the meantime I have much to work on. I have a lot to do to get my house back in order. I need to clean, organize, and clear the air of fears and irritations. I need to fill it with confidence, order, and love. That’s right, I’m getting all metaphysical on your ass!

I need to find out how to fix the invisibility of my website. I  need to work on my label design some more. It’s not quite right, not quite good enough. I need to sort that out. There are three super important things about making a successful apothecary business and here they are in order of importance:

  1. Make a superb line of products. This is the foundation and heart of a business – the quality of the product being made and offered.
  2. Eye-catching packaging and label. This isn’t just window dressing. This is the difference between being remembered or forgotten. This is the difference between a product being purchased or passed over for a more promising looking product. Before a customer has your product in their hands they only have the image of that product and the copy attached to it to make a decision with.
  3. Visibility/Findability. Your product has to be visible to your target market. Whether you put it on store shelves (I’m not doing wholesale so this won’t be me) or you operate from an online store – customers have to be able to find you.

I have some fantastic products. I’m working on more. But my labels and visibility to my target market are not good. So that’s where I’m at with my business. I’m reminding myself daily that impatience isn’t going to get me where I want to go. Building a good business takes time. There are a lot of details that have to get put in place first. You get there by taking one step at a time. The pressure of needing money might be a useful motivator but I think it can also get in the way of good decision making because if I let it get to me I’ll hurry things that need time to develop, I’ll skip things that shouldn’t be skipped, and I’ll settle in ways that don’t reflect the strong foundation I’m trying to build.

Talking that out made me feel calmer. More focused. How about you? Are you working on something impatiently? Are you battling fears and irritations? How are you dealing with them?

Don’t feel you have to answer. I’m going to go feed my dog, get dressed, and work on labeling as well as write a post on my website that you’ll get to read when the universe/domain handlers/IT people stop hiding it from everyone. Have a great Saturday!

*People don’t talk like that any more, do they?