I was recently interviewed by Beth Byrne about using botanicals in soaps for an article in The Saponifier. This is a summary of that interview.

1. Name, location, business name, any other background info.

My name is Cindy Jones. My business name is Sagescript Institute and I’ve recently started calling my line of products “Colorado Aromatics”. We moved to a 9 acre property in Longmont CO (45 min north of Denver) almost 3 years ago after spending several years on a large lot in one of Denver‘s older suburbs. It was my love of herbs that played a big role in my interest in skin care products. It started off as a hobby making products for friends and family and eventually grew into a business when I realized it really encompassed most of my loves including chemistry and physiology.

2. What are some of the botanicals you use most in soapmaking?
Calendula is my favorite and I use it in soap to give a nice color. I use the petals either whole or ground added at trace. Calendula is a wonderful herb that contains a variety of carotenoids. Calendula has been found to improve wound healing so is great for regenerating epithelial cells of the skin. The calendula soap I make also has oatmeal in it and customers have told me it helps their eczema. It makes a very mild soap. Other herbs I use in soap include mint, rosemary, lavender and rosehips. Actually I also just made a chocolate soap with choke cherry skins in it, sort of a Black Forest Soap! I love thinking of herbs to put in soap.

3. Why do you use them?
The main reason I use herbs is because I love them and love growing them! My business has evolved as an agricultural business and to be part of my local farmers market requires that my products be agricultural and so they all contain herbs that I grow. Since herbs have many beneficial properties for skin this has been easy. Of course the benefits of herbs in a wash off product like soap is not going to be as much as a leave on product. But the idea of herbs in soap is definitely aesthetically pleasing and we all know that is important with skin care. Herbs are high in antioxidant flavonoids which are water soluble and extracted in a tea. Flavonoids are stable in high pH like lye so their benefits should come through in a soap. You can use a tea to replace any or all of the water in your soap. Ground herbs used in soap is slightly exfoliating.

Extracts of herbs can also be used in leave on products where they provide more benefits. I sometimes use tinctures because that way I know any microbials have been destroyed. Green tea and rosemary are two that I use frequently as tinctures. Infused oils and water extracts can also be used. When using herbs in skin care though its important to remember that whatever is good for your skin is also good for bacterial or fungal growth so preservation is important. And of course, you know that microbiology testing is another thing Sagescript does!

4. Where do you get your botanicals?
The reason we moved to our farm was so that we could grow plenty of herbs. I am working towards growing all my own herbs but am not there yet. It takes a few years to get good growth on many herbs so patience is important. I am also limited by the amount of time and energy I have and trying to fit everything else in. I grow calendula, mint, comfrey, yarrow, lemon balm, clary sage, plantago, parsely, lavender, fennel, feverfew, sage, thyme, oregano, rose, artemisia, raspberry, rosemary, prunella, hops, chamomile, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten. I also grow rose geranium but not alot since it is one that has to go in my sunroom/shed/greenhouse during the winter. I also use these herbs to distill. I love to use the aromatic distillates alone or with added herbs as a toner or haircare product, or in a lotion/cream. When I don’t have enough of something I first search for someone local who will let me harvest and if that doesn’t work I purchase it from a supplier.

Information from this interview (and others) was published in the May/June 2010 issue of The Saponifier in the article “How You Can Use Botanicals in Soap and Cosmetics” by Beth Byrne.