Latest News, Products, Ingredients and Recipes

Everyone Should Have a Hobby or 2..... April 12 2015, 0 Comments

Everyone should have a hobby or two. Something you really love to do without the pressures of work or other commitments. For me, one of my hobbies is baking especially types that invite creativity. One of my favorite things to do is to make decorated sugar cookies - a creative outlet that is greatly appreciated by many (nom, nom, nom....) These past few weeks I have refined some of my royal icing techniques to create some unique spring and summer designs.

 

 

What do I do with all these cookies you ask? Well some get eaten here, some go to friends and family, some are sent in care packages to our college students (college students LOVE getting any type of care package) or donated to charitable events.

I love this hobby of mine and I think others do too.

~ Faith


Product Spotlight - Solid Hair Conditioner Bars June 03 2014, 0 Comments

 What is so great about solid hair conditioner bars?  

  - No waste. Liquid hair conditioners are mostly water (60% - 80% based on formulation) which is what gives them their liquid consistency. The thicker the product, the less water in it, the thinner, the more water in it. Solid hair conditioner bars have no water - just all the good conditioning and nourishing ingredients. You use the water from your shower to help distribute the product. One 3.8 ounce conditioner bar will lasts for months with everyday use.  Length of hair and conditioning needs will increase or decrease this too.
  - Easy to travel with. Small and compact.
  - Easy to use - just glide the bar over your very wet hair starting at about in inch from the scalp. Use your fingers and/or a wide tooth comb to distribute the product. Leave on for 0 - 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
  - Limited product packaging - no big plastic bottles.
  - No liquid mess, no leaking, no spillage.
  - Long lasting.

  - Cost effective - lots of repeated uses for a very small investment.

Some people have a difficult time transitioning from a liquid to a solid hair conditioning product. It does take some adjustment, but the benefits are truly worth it.

I create my solid hair conditioners with the finest conditioning ingredients, nourishing oils and butters (argan oil, babassu oil, extra virgin coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter and cupuacu butter) and hair loving additives (silk protein, wheat protein, panthenol, silicones) each offering different benefits to the hair. They also contain ingredients to detangle the hair, improve wet combing and reduce static electricity. All on a compact little flower shaped bar which fits so nicely in the palm of your hand. They are offered in a variety of formulations and scents using both fragrances and essential oils.

Many people also use these conditioner bars as a conditioning shampoo.  This is especially useful for those with very dry hair who need to limit the amount of cleansing to prevent over drying their locks.

If you have never tried a solid conditioner bar - what are you waiting for.

Feedback from current users of these conditioners:

   "Smells great, feels great, changed my whole outlook on hair products"

   "Beautiful and handy. Tired of wasted product that spill. Looking forward to my next trip."

   "Amazing conditioner- made my hair feel weird until I figured out I only need to use it past my scalp. I also rub a bit of extra stuff off of the bar onto the ends of my hair, and it weightlessly prevents split ends, and makes my hair not fray out at the bottom as it used to. It also smells incredibly amazing- I will most definitely be buying this again!"

   "Tangle free conditioning, love it!"

   "This is a fantastic product for my long, dry hair. The conditioner bar moisturized and detangled better than any other all-natural product that I had tried before. I will be definitely be purchasing this again!"

   "Smells and works great as always- thank you!!"

   "My hair is completely changed after using this conditioner. I don't have any split ends after just a few uses!"

   "I've purchased this one twice already and hasn't disappointed me. It makes my hair feel light and detangled. I don't have to use a lot of it too. Just few strokes on my hair, and some water, and it's enough. I have long thick hair up to my hips."

  "This is my second order on this bar. Talk about a wonder conditioner! After shampooing with an all natural shampoo bar, then using this for the alotted 5 minutes, after rinsing and drying, I take this bar, rub it in my hands, and lightly coat the bottom 1/2 of my length...makes a WONDERFUL leave in without being over oily or weighing down my now bouncy curls! Thank you!"

 


Almond Butter Cookie Recipe May 21 2014, 0 Comments

I am a firm believer that excellent baked goods do not need to be complicated or created from exotic or hard to find ingredients and this recipe is a prime example.  These almond butter cookies use basic ingredients and are excellent.  They are delicious and elegant enough to be a gift.

 

Ingredients
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces almond extract (yes, 2 ounces, this is not a misprint)
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 egg, beaten

Large granular sprinkling sugar (can be found in the baking aisle of your local hobby and craft store or grocery store)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light
3. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mixture will be crumbly.

4. Add almond extract and heavy cream.
5. Mix until dough forms.

6. Split dough into 3 equal portions and form into logs about 7" x 1 1/2" x 1 1/2"

7. Refrigerate logs for at least 15 minutes.
8. Place each log on an ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Beat egg add brush onto tops and sides of each log. Sprinkle with decorator sugar.
8. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Logs will spread.
9. Cool logs for about 20 minutes. You can remove them from the cookie sheets at this point. If you have trouble due to sticking from the eggs, take a long sharp knife and slide it underneath each log to loosen from the cookie sheet and transfer to a cutting board.
10. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees F.
11. Slice each log into strips about 3/4" wide. Cooling them makes this part easier
12. Place each strip back on the cookie sheet side up


13. Bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes. Longer for crisper cookies, shorter for chewier cookies.

Enjoy!

~ Faith


Looking for "Natural" Bath and Body Products? April 19 2014, 0 Comments

I often get people asking me if my products are "natural" and I often have a very hard time answering that question.  Not because I am trying to hide anything but because the word "Natural" has no legally defined meaning in its application to the products we both use and consume.   The definition of "Natural".

 

Does the above definition help you?  Probably not as you read through the ingredient list on your favorite shampoo and realize that you cannot even pronounce many of the names yet, the bottle says that it is "100% Natural".  Well, how can that be?  How can manufactures market their products as being "natural" when you know that ingredient list contains things that are chemicals?

Well, the FDA has the authority to admonish manufactures whose labels and marketing efforts make false and misleading claims, but it has never imposed a standard definition for many healthy sounding terms used to market consumer products.  Therefore, the term "natural", "100% natural", "naturally derived"  etc. can be slapped onto any product out there without any repercussions from the FDA.  Not so with the term "Organic" which has strict guidelines for its use in product labeling and marketing.

So, I have to ask these inquirers, what do they mean by "natural" or what is is that you are looking for?  Most of the time they have no idea what I am talking about or what they are really looking for.  Many of the ingredients in bath and body products sound natural (olive oil, cocoa butter, essential oil) but none of these are used in their truly natural, unrefined state.  They are created from something else.  Olive oil is derived from olives, cocoa butter from the cocoa bean and essential oils from plants.  These ingredients don't magically transform from their natural state into their usable state, but have to be processed and/or extracted - meaning created by people and machinery.  The extraction process used to take an ingredient from its natural state to its ingredient state is accomplished via several methods including mechanical and chemically with solvents.  So, would these ingredients be considered natural?

I personally only consider an ingredient "Natural" if it is in its original state or was derived or extracted from its original state without the use of chemicals or one that is not synthetically created in a lab (fragrance oils for example).  In fact the creation of pure soap is from the chemical reaction of mixing oils with an alkaline (Sodium Hydroxide) - it is the only way to make pure soap, but is the end result then "Natural" or is the use of the term to be based on just the ingredients used to create the end product?  This is why the question is not easily answered.

So, be cautious when seeing the terms "Natural", "100% Natural", or even"Naturally Derived" being used on your bath and body (and even food) product labels and in marketing.  The product could still be filled with chemicals (and not all chemicals are bad - in fact many are necessary to insure a safe product.)  Read ingredient lists, research ingredients and understand what is in the products you buy. Don't be fooled by this marketing tactic and don't be fooled by manufactures that insure you their product is natural (it may only include a trace amount of ingredients that would technically be considered "natural").  Decide what you are looking for in a product (no artificial or chemically created fragrances, colors, detergents, conditioners, and on and on).  Many of the ingredients necessary to create a bath and body product and to keep it safe, must be chemically manufactured.

~ Faith


Recipe - Homemade Vanilla Nut Granola with Cherries and Chocolate Chips April 02 2014, 0 Comments


This recipe for homemade granola can easily be customized to your liking but substituting ingredients.  The dried cherries and chocolate chips can be replaced with other ingredients or left out all together.  If you find this too sweet, omit the brown sugar.  I have chosen macadamia and almonds for my nuts but feel free to choose your favorite nuts too. Agave can be substituted with honey or even half honey, half agave - whatever you choose.

This granola is great in yogurt, frozen yogurt or ice cream or just to snack on.

Vanilla Cinnamon Fruit and Nut Granola

2 ½ cups old fashioned oats
½ cup steal cut oats
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon 
dash nutmeg
1 cup shredded coconut
1/8 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup agave (light)
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped dried cherries
½ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Mix first 9 dry ingredients into a large bowl
2. Mix together liquid ingredients in a smaller bowl
3. Pour liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well to break up all clumps and fully coat all dry ingredients.
4. Spread granola into a 15” x 10” jelly roll pan
5. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 35 – 40 minutes turning the granola 1 or 2 times to evenly brown and toast granola
6. Remove from oven and mix in dried fruit and mini chocolate chips
7. Cool completely and place into a sealed storage container


Ingredient Spotlight - Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) March 20 2014, 0 Comments

 

Solid Conditioner Bars

Panthenol - I am sure many have heard of this ingredient referred to as either Panthenol or Pro-Vitamin B5 when it comes to hair care, but did you know it offers many benefits to skin too. What is panthenol?

Panthenol is the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and is thus a provitamin of B5.  You will see it referred to as Panthenol, Pro-Vitamin B5 or Vitamin B5.

Panthenol is a humectant (keeps things moist by attracting and retaining moisture from the air), emollient and moisturizer (keeps layers soft and more pliable by increasing hydration due to reducing evaporation or loss of water).  Panthenol offers us these wonderful benefits without creating oiliness or greasiness on the skin or hair.  It is an excellent addition to hair and skin care products.

In hair care, panthenol binds the hair follicles and coats and seals in moisture which is great for dry hair or to prevent dry hair and scalp.  If builds a very thin layer of moisture along the surface of the hair to add shine, softness and pliability without added oils or greasiness.  Some studies have also shown that it swells the hair shaft giving more volume to your hair.  This benefit is best seen when products are left on the hair for at least several minutes making it a great addition to hair conditioners.  You will get some benefit from panthenol in shampoos, but as they are wash off products designed to remove substances from the hair it is not as enhanced. You get the most benefit from panthenol in hair conditioners as those products are designed to deposit ingredients onto the hair.

In skin care, panthenol offers similar benefits of moisturizing and sealing in that moisture by adding hydration to the skin and then sealing in that hydration without oils or creating greasiness.  It it easily absorbed by the skin and converted to Vitamin B5.  It penetrates the epidermis instead of sitting on top of the surface of your skin making it an excellent moisturizer.  Studies (Topical Use of Dexpanthenol in Skin Disorders) have also shown panthenol to:

 - Reduct redness and inflammation

 - Increase wound healing

 - Sooth itching and minor skin irritations

You will find panthenol in our hair care products (shampoos and conditioners), body lotions and even some of my liquid body washes.  There are no negatives to panthenol and we use it where it gives the most benefit to your skin and hair.

~ Faith


Product Spotlight - Lip Balms February 09 2014, 0 Comments

Not sure about your part of the world, but here in the Chicago area we have been having one heck of a brutal winter with record snowfalls and brutal cold (wind chills in the -10 to -40 range).  Not only does this cold, dry weather wreck havoc on your skin and hair, it does a number on your lips too.  Taking care of your lips is essential year round but can become painfully obvious in this type of weather.  Lip balms are great for adding extra moisture to the lips and sealing that moisture in using a blend of nourishing vegetable based oils and butters.  My lip balms are made with beeswax which not only creates the structure of the lip balm but softens and hydrates the lips while adding a protective barrier. 

Other ingredients in these lip balms:

Oils (Coconut, Almond, Olive, Rice Bran, Jojoba, Castor, Avocado, Babassu) - The base oils in lip balms sink and absorb into the lips quickly to hydrate and soften the lips providing immediate comfort.  These oils contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fatty acids - all of which benefit one's lips.  The composition of each oil is different, but they all provide the hydration and softening benefits found in lip balms.  Some oils create a bit of glass (castor oil) and some help create barrier protection (jojoba oil).  Each lip balm is created from a combination of these oils to get as many benefits for the lips as possible.

Butters (Shea, Cocoa, Mango and Cupuacu) - Vegetable butters also provide hydration and lip softening but in addition, they create a protective barrier to prevent the loss of that hydration, keeping moisture in.  This is especially beneficial for dry, chapped lips.  Each lip balm has 1 - 2 of these butters in their formulations.

Flavor - Flavors oils used in lip balms are not actually flavor, but edible or lip safe fragrances that use the strong connection between taste and smell to create the sensation of flavor.  The only time a lip balm will have an actual "flavor" is if food items (cocoa, honey, food extracts) are used, otherwise, the flavor is coming from the lip safe fragrance connecting your sense of smell to your sense of taste.  Some of these flavors are sweetened with an artificial sweetener giving it a sweet taste (not a flavor though).  Using sweetener in lip balm could create additional problems though as many people tend to lick their lips more when a sweetener is use thus creating more opportunity for chapped lips (Remember, licking your lips aggravates the problem of dry, chapped lips).   These ingredients are labeled as "flavor" in the ingredient list. 

Here at Alaiyna B. Bath and Body, we create 29 different flavored and unflavored lip balms and a 6-pack gift set.  One can really never have enough lip balms.

http://alaiynab.com/collections/lip-balms

~ Faith

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