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Just airing some soapy thoughts after a multi-bar very scientific shower study

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CatahoulaBubble

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Those are some really good points and they got me to realize something: I like it that I have been able to experiment with different basic recipes to develop something I like. I have control over this part.

With fragrance, not so much. I'm new enough to all this that I'm always trying a variety of FOs and EOs and combos, some I like, some I don't. The sellers' descriptions of FOs make them all sound exquisite, but some are certainly better than others in reality. Even reading others' reviews, it takes a lot of experimentation to really get to know what's good -- which gets expensive considering the cost of both the oils and the fragrances. It's more trial and error to find the good ones, while developing basic recipes has a larger component of quantifiable chemistry that I can tweak to get what I want. It's frustrating when I make a batch of "good soap" but the fragrance didn't come through as I'd hoped.

I so very much appreciate this board and all the thoughtful responses I've gotten to my soapy thoughts!
Fragrance descriptions to me are like a sommelier talking about the notes in wine. I mean I can smell that fragrance and it smells nice but I don't smell the 15 note combination that they describe. I can also drink the wine that a sommelier says tastes or smells like cherries and apple wood with a hint of the spring rains of timbuktu but really I just taste wine. Fragrances are so subjective too. I have customers that constantly buy lavender and I personally do not like the scent of lavender in things. I like fresh lavender in the garden but fragrance and EOs do nothing for me. I also have people request patchouli and I can't stand the scent. It will never cross my doorway and I will never make a soap with patchouli. To me it's a fine balance of what I can stand to smell vs what people like. When I make lavender I do it all in one day and then it goes in a covered rack with an air purifier and a dehumidifier so that it cuts down on the scent permeating the house.
 

TheGecko

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Fragrance descriptions to me are like a sommelier talking about the notes in wine. I mean I can smell that fragrance and it smells nice but I don't smell the 15 note combination that they describe. I can also drink the wine that a sommelier says tastes or smells like cherries and apple wood with a hint of the spring rains of timbuktu but really I just taste wine.
I understand the concept of high, middle and low 'notes', but I can't smell them per se. I mean...I can't sniff a bottle and tell you that its top notes are a mixture of fruit and spices, with mandarin orange, plum, clove, coriander and pepper, as well as bay leaf, I just know whether I like it or not, whether it smells like its name or evokes a memory. Lemon Verbena...never been around the bush, but when I smell the FO, it reminds me of Lemon Drops and my grandpa who always had a dish of them.
 

Guspuppy

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Fragrance descriptions to me are like a sommelier talking about the notes in wine. I mean I can smell that fragrance and it smells nice but I don't smell the 15 note combination that they describe. I can also drink the wine that a sommelier says tastes or smells like cherries and apple wood with a hint of the spring rains of timbuktu but really I just taste wine. Fragrances are so subjective too.
This is so me!! 😂 I tried a sample of Nurture's 'star showers' because of the rave reviews, but all I can smell in the cured soap is grape candy. So not a rave for me. In fact I gave it all away at work. Lol

To the original question, yes I make soap with certain recipes I really like after much testing, but even my own skin-loving soap I want to smell fantastic when I'm using it.
 

Becky1024

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My only customers who ask about ingredients are those with skin conditions and allergies. I think most customers have the expectation that handmade soap will contain ingredients that won't harm their skin and will leave them feeling clean without being overly dry or oily. My customers never ask about color (like can I buy a pink bar) and they don't ask for anything that looks fancy. I'm from the midwest so that may have something to do with it. Scent is what they are after! If it doesn't smell, it doesn't sell.
 

AliOop

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I also have people request patchouli and I can't stand the scent. It will never cross my doorway and I will never make a soap with patchouli.
Former patch hater here who used to say the same, i.e, it will NEVER be in my house for ANY reason.

Two things happened to change that:

1. I got ahold of some good aged patchouli. Smells totally different than the cheap stuff, which would make me gag.

2. I mixed it at VERY low percentages in blends, like patchouli lime, or the gentleman's lavender blend from EOCalc.com (which doesn't smell like patch or lavender, btw, but is a huge hit with everyone who smells my soaps with that blend).

I don't know how or why patch doesn't smell like patch in blends, but it doesn't. It just adds a depth to the scent and helps it to stick, too. I'm still not crazy about smelling it straight - waaaayyy too intense - but it's now a staple in my fragrance cabinet.
 

KiwiMoose

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@JoyfulSudz - I hear ya! It seems a shame that it only comes down to fragrance in the end, BUT, if customers bought your soap only because it smelled good, and then didn't like the feel of the soap on their skin, you would never have repeat business. You've done it the right way round - formulate your recipe/s and then once you have the qualities you want, you can throw about different fragrances that people will like too.
A case in point: My aunt-in-law bought one of my beer soaps once that had only just cured. She will now never buy another because she said it didn't last long enough. She buys a whole lot of others regularly, but never another beer soap. I'm sure if she tried another beer soap that has aged sufficiently she will be presently surprised - but no, she won't do it.
 

JoyfulSudz

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@KiwiMoose - You're so right, and that goes even when the basic soap is good. I've had a few soaps that turned out usable but ugly or not-so-great fragranced. My first thought was to use them as giveaways, but then I think 'I don't want anyone to think this is the quality of all my soap.'
 

dibbles

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@JoyfulSudz - A case in point: My aunt-in-law bought one of my beer soaps once that had only just cured. She will now never buy another because she said it didn't last long enough. She buys a whole lot of others regularly, but never another beer soap. I'm sure if she tried another beer soap that has aged sufficiently she will be presently surprised - but no, she won't do it.
Aw, just give her one. Tell her you are sorry she didn't like the first one, but this is better and you hate to have her miss out on the goodness of beer soap!
 

The_Phoenix

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Even so, I wish more people would ask or be excited about the skin-nourishing ingredients instead of just the fragrance :)
Pre-soap-making, I remind myself, I didn't care much about the recipe of the soap or how it looked. I'm a hardcore sniffer (I'm dead serious when I say this: I smell everything). I do geek-out on customers on the qualities of the soap and why I choose the ingredients that I do. But most people don't care...until they actually use the soap.
 

JoyfulSudz

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@The_Phoenix So true. Pre-soapmaking I never gave a thought to what soap might be made from either.
And the fragrance is how others remember the soap later: They might say "I'd like more of that lemony soap," but they never ask me for more of that great shea butter soap even though it's the ingredients and soap performance that has them asking for more in the first place.
 
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