November 16, 2015

Wash the Day Away Soap: Gentle Bath Bar for Sensitive Skin.

My daughter is four. She has just started school. She is traversing the social world on her own for the first time and I am both amazed and terrified for her.

She has friends. Little people who get her hugs and devotion. They are the topics of dinner conversations, bathtime conversations, and before bedtime conversations. They are the ones she mimics and learns from. They are an integral part of her development.

There is one little girl in particular who is terribly unkind to my daughter. She tells my daughter on a daily basis that she doesn’t want to be friends; and then later, on that same day, declares her undying loyalty to my daughter. It is confusing and painful for her to be continually rejected and later accepted. I have witnessed the rebuff: my daughter says hello, and the girl gives her a cold stare, a roll of the eyes, and then continues on as if my daughter isn’t worth a hello in return. I watch my daughter’s face fall as she tries to make sense of the dismissal. I am helpless, caught between trying to protect my daughter, and allowing her to discover the reality that people aren’t always kind. I grit my teeth and push my hands deep in my pockets to prevent me from stepping in and starting a rumble. I don’t know if the girl behaves this way on purpose. If, at this young age, she really understands the implications of the hurt she is dispensing on my daughter. However, in the end, it doesn’t matter, really, because it’s not about her. She’s just a subplot. Rather, these experiences are about my daughter, and how she sees herself and how she will navigate a sometimes cold and hateful world.

I tell my daughter everyday that she is kind, and generous, and loving, and smart, and brave. I tell her how much I love her and how proud I am of her. I feel like Abileen Clark in The Help with my mantras of “you is kind, you is smart, you is important”. But these are truths, and ones I want her to value in herself and seek out in others.

It is hard to watch my daughter be drawn to this girl, knowing she will be rejected again and again, and with complete disregard for the hurt, is totally desperate for that acceptance. What is it about the human condition that makes us want those who don’t want us? I feel sick thinking about my childhood and the many rejections that felt so big and so insurmountable at the time. I was often the victim of the cool kids: one day I was in the group, and the next day I was out. The pain of being made to feel not good enough was overwhelming and has, over the years, become inextricably tied to how I see myself now. In hindsight, of course, I can look at it rationally and understand that those kids probably didn’t have a real reason for rejecting me, it was just something to do to lessen their own angst and I was simply a good target. From the perspective of adulthood, I can grasp more fully that even though my daughter will be the victim of many refusals and rejections over her lifetime, they are those dreaded character-builders that give us depth and complexity and richness. They hone and shape us in ways that a life without pain may never do. And unfortunately, these painful moments don’t really ever stop, they just become more sophisticated. When you are an adult it is no longer as simple as “I don’t want to be your friend”, rather it is systematic dismissals, oversights, and thinly veiled jokes, that others inflict on you for the same reasons that kids do it to each other: to, for a moment rid themselves of the angst or insecurity they are feeling.

I wish I could hide my daughter away from the hurt and pain. I would eat the pain for breakfast everyday if I could, so she wouldn’t ever have to feel the sick-in-the-stomach ache of rejection. But I can’t. And it kills me to let her go and face the cruelty of others, even in her small kindergarten-sized world. While I can’t bubble-wrap her or hide her away, I can be there to cocoon her in my arms everyday and whisper in her ear that she is good, and kind, and strong, and brave. I can teach her that these are important qualities to cling to. I can show her through my relationships that being around others who make you feel good is essential. I can’t hide her from the ugliness of the human condition, but I can be a haven for when the hurts get too big to carry.

Each night, as we have our good night cuddles, I inhale deeply the smell of my daughter’s innocence: the warm, dampness of clean skin, infused with sunshine and fresh air, laced with the inherent, unidentifiable quality of her. Some nights as I’m washing her, I think, if only I could send all her troubles down the drain with the bathwater. I wish people weren’t so inherently unkind. I wish we didn’t strive to step on others to quell the rage of insecurity. I wish we could just embrace instead of isolate.

But until that is the case, I will continue filling my daughter with lessons of positivity and inclusiveness. I will continue to tell her that she is good, and smart, and fearless, and generous. That she is funny, and curious, and is always willing to share. That she is quick to hug, and slow to anger. That she sees people’s pain and tries to help, that she never hurts others with her words, but embraces them with kindness. I will continue to bathe her, every night, and cling to the daydream that the soap will wash away all the hurts the day has brought, until all that is left is that sweet smelling innocence that is my beautiful daughter.


gentle bath bar for sensitive skin. Recipe at

Gentle Bath Bar

15% Castor Oil

28% Olive Oil

20% Lard

17% Cocoa Butter

15% Shea Butter

10% Coconut Oil

5% Jojoba Oil

Superfat 6% (superfatting means I’ve added extra fat/oil to my soap. It is more than the lye can react with so it remains separate within the soap mixture. It creates a very creamy soap with great moisturizing benefits. The lather becomes a bit smaller, but it is still cleansing, and more importantly, gentle, for young skin)

Light Fragrance: 10g per pound

5g Lavender

2g 10 fold Vanilla

3g Benzoin

This recipe is just a guideline. Soaping is serious business and this recipe is not a soap making instruction guide, but meant for those who have made soap before and have basic soaping instructions available to them. Lye is dangerous and making soap shouldn’t be attempted without the proper protective attire (gloves, protective eye wear, protective clothing). Please use a soap calculator for amounts and for lye/water weights. I have been really happy using It gives you more info/ratios than you probably will ever need, but it’s interesting to check the values of your soap’s hardness, cleanliness, etc.

If you’re using It’s really easy: just select the lye you’ll be using (NaOH), add the total weight of the soap you’d like to make (1lb is a great standard weight, which should give you 4-6 bars of soap), change the superset ratio to 6%.

Next select and add the oils you’ll be using in the recipe, then, using the percentage boxes, input the percentage for each oil.

Finally, click on the calculate recipe button.


Now on to the soap:

Use a digital scale to measure your ingredients. Makes life so much easier. I put my soap pot on the scale so I can measure the oils right into the pot. Much less clean up.

Place the soaping pot, with the oils in it on the stove and, over medium heat, melt all the oils together. Keep an eye on the oils as they are very quick to turn. Remove pot from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

Combine lye and water, always adding lye to the water. Not the other way around. Allow to come to room temperature.

Keep the lye somewhere safe and out of reach of little ones or animals. I do my soaping in the garage, so I’ll do the lye and water outside, and then bring my soaping pot of oil to the garage when it’s ready to be mixed, that way, I never have lye in the kitchen and have to worry about spills or cleanup.

I find allowing both to cool off to somewhere around 70-80 degrees is much easier than trying to keep the oil and lye at around 100 degrees. The soap will turn out fine and still saponify. I promise!

gentle bath bar for sensitive skin. Recipe at

Once both the lye mixture and the oils have come to roomish temperature: add the lye mixture to the oil. Using an immersion blender, blend until soap comes to trace. This recipe is slower to come to trace because of the olive oil, but it will, just give it some time. Once light trace is reached, add essential oils and continue to blend for two minutes. Pour soap into lined mold, wrap the mold in an old towel, and leave in a dry, room temperature place for 24 hours for the initial cure.

gentle bath bar for sensitive skin. Recipe at

After 24 hours, the soap will be ready to unmold and cut into bars. Place bars on a lined tray and leave to cure for 4-6 weeks, turning the bars daily to allow for even curing.


gentle bath bar for sensitive skin. Recipe at

The bars will smell very strongly of cocoa butter initially, but the smell will mellow with age, and by the 4 week mark should smell more softly of a sweet vanilla-lavender cross.

It is an incredibly gentle soap, great for kids as well as those with sensitive skin.

Yield: 1lb 4-6 bars


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