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AliciaE

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Hi all!

To say I’m new to the art of cold pressed soaping would be an understatement. My husband decided out of nowhere that he thought we should get into soap making and start a small side hussle at the local market for fun. Being the DIY, craft crazy nut I am, I jumped right on board.

That being said, there is always A LOT to learn with any new craft. All and any input from y’all would be very appreciated. Here are some of my questions:

1. What do y’all use for coloring? I have gotten a beautiful bright orange out of turmeric in one batch. Then I asked a friend what she used to color her lavender bars the pretty purple she said she used purple sweet potato powder, I got some and tried it but my soap turned brown when I added it, as it was hardening in the mold it looked like it was getting a slightly greenish hue but not purple. Will it change much more in the mold? Or did I botch the coloring somehow?
What other colors are easily accessible and work well?

2. Those of you that produce to sell, do you buy your oils in bulk? Since this is so new to use we only have three oils right now, olive oil (which is used as the majority for now), coconut oil, and grapeseed Oil. Basically the three cheapest I feel like, but for now while we figure out the craft I want to keep costs as low as I can. Is there any oil that does well for soap and isn’t going to break the bank for now? And if I keep using this much olive oil, can I just buy bulk from a restaurant supply company?

3. So far I’m noticing one common concern with every batch I make, that’s my trace getting thick super fast. It’s not seizing, and I can still pour it in the mold, but it’s too fluffy for a flat pour, which would be a problem if I wanted to layer and I’m worried about air bubbles. It seems like it starts off fine but once I get to the trace I think I want, it starts to get thicker and thicker while I’m trying to work with it before pouring it in the mold. By the time I’m ready it’s almost like mayonnaise. Is it because I’m using too much coconut oil? My last batch was 30% coconut oil I think.

4. Do you buy your oils in bulk? I have a ton of essential oils but they are all the little jars with the droppers one them, it’s fine for now but when I get to a level where I need to be measuring oil out and not just playing with it, I’m not sure how that will work with these.

I’m sure this won’t be the last y’all hear from me, but I think that’s I’ll I have got for now!! Thanks in advance for any input you can provide.

Happy soaping!

Alicia
 

lsg

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Welcome to the forum. As for buying oils in bulk, some I do and some I don't . I buy palm, coconut oil, high oleic rice bran oil, olive oil, jojoba and some butters in bulk. Oils like canola, grape and sunflower have a short shelf life. I don't use them in soap because of DOS. If your soap traces too quickly or becomes thick too soon, you might look at the ratio of oils/fats you are using. A high percentage of oils or fats that become hard at room temp. can cause quick tracing. You might try using more fluid oils. The temp. your oils and lye solution also may be too high. I buy most of my bulk oils from Soaper's Choice or Wholesale Supplies Plus. For Wholesale Supplies Plus, wait until they have a sale on bulk oils before ordering and you will get a better deal. I use CP safe micas from Nuture Soap, titanium dioxide and oxides as most of my colorants.
 

dixiedragon

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Welcome to the forum! We generally recommend one year of soaping before jumping into selling.

Regarding color - while natural colors sound really appealing, they are unreliable, inconsistent and a pain the butt. Even so, some folks think it is worth the trouble! I personally don't.

I am assuming your friend who used the purple potato was doing MP (melt and pour) and not CP or HP. When making soap from scratch (using lye) the lye monster is a vicious beast and will gobble up most natural colorants and turn them brown. You can Google and find some good articles with pictures of different natural colorants if you are interested in that.
Some easy ones -
calendar petals - not really a colorant, but the petals stay yellow int eh soap. Most botanicals turn brown. Lavender buds will look like mouse poop.
Clays - French green (very pale/soft green), rose clay (pink, this is a gorgeous color and my favorite!), Moroccan red (terracotta orange/red), Brazillian purple - earthy purple/lavender.
Activated charcoal - grey. If you go all the way to black, you'll have grey suds and it might stain. You can get this in capsules in the supplements section.

But if you aren't married to natural colors, buy online from a soap supplier. Lots of colorants for soap, such as those from Amazon, are meant for MP and not CP or HP.
- Nurture Soap
- Brambleberry
-Wholesale Supplies Plus
 
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dibbles

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If your batter is getting thick too fast with 70% soft oils, you are most likely stick blending too long. You can try using your stick blender in short (2-5 second) bursts and then stirring for awhile before another short burst with the stick blender. Once you reach emulsion or light trace, stir only and that should slow things down. You didn't mention the temperature you are soaping at, but you could try soaping cooler. This is a video that helped me:
https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/stickblending-to-emulsion.60618/

You are likely to get some push-back about selling too soon in your soaping journey. Here are a couple of threads to read that might help:
https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/are-you-ready-to-sell-your-soap.16002/
https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/smf-culture-and-tone.56833/

I don't use grapeseed oil because of the short shelf life. I only used it a couple of times very early on and the bars were used up quickly after they cured so I don't know if DOS would have been a problem or not. I do trust the advice of the experienced soap makers here though, and have since used oils with a longer shelf life. I use high oleic sunflower which is less expensive for me (I buy it at Trader Joe's). High oleic canola, high oleic safflower and rice bran oil are also inexpensive alternatives.

There is a lot to learn in order to make a good cold process soap. Read as much as you can and ask questions when you have them. Welcome to the forum.
 
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I have done a little bit of research and I found that micas are naturally occurring minerals and oxides. Except if the mica is colored with FD&C colorants, the mica is not considered natural.

So being new to soaping I don't understand why people who do natural soap stay away from them.
 

amd

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How long have you been making soap? You really should make soap for at least a year before you start selling so that you know how your soap keeps as well as scent longevity. Many people who buy don't use the soap right away - I have several customers that I only see once a year and they buy enough to last them the entire year. (Because I offer a bulk discount) I also have customers who have a favorite soap so they will order a custom batch, so those soaps also need to survive long term storage. I hard test my soap recipes under a variety of storage conditions because I don't know how my customers will store it. If it goes bad because they stored it in a bathroom closet (exposed to humidity) they won't come back for more.

What other colors are easily accessible and work well?
I use mostly micas for colorant. Most natural colorants have a short shelf life and will start fading. Some of my inventory hangs around for a year or more, so the colors need to be constant. You can find soap colorants at most soap/cosmetic suppliers, just make sure that they are labeled "soap safe" or "pH stable".

Those of you that produce to sell, do you buy your oils in bulk?
Yes.

Since this is so new to use we only have three oils right now, olive oil (which is used as the majority for now), coconut oil, and grapeseed Oil. Basically the three cheapest I feel like, but for now while we figure out the craft I want to keep costs as low as I can. Is there any oil that does well for soap and isn’t going to break the bank for now? And if I keep using this much olive oil, can I just buy bulk from a restaurant supply company?
A word of caution for the three oils you're using: a high olive oil soap (more than 40%) will need a longer cure time (3+ months) to mellow out the slimey factor that comes with high oleic soaps. Coconut oil can be drying in soap, so to make it more user friendly for all skin types, we recommend 20% or less coconut oil. There's a few exceptions to that suggestion, but those soaps also go through a long cure time to allow the soap to become milder. Grapeseed oil is prone to becoming rancid, which will cause your soap to go bad quickly. Use grapeseed oil with a light hand - 10% is typically recommended, and what I've had good luck with.

A few recommendations for oils that aren't crazy expensive are Sweet Almond Oil (again, low percentage), Rice Bran Oil, and you may want to consider adding castor oil at 5%, as you drop you coconut oil amount, the castor oil will help create bubbles. (Castor oil doesn't make nice soap on it's own, it acts as an amplifier for the other oils in your recipes, that's we recommend a low usage rate.) Of course, I've used a lot of very nice soaps that don't have any castor oil, so depending on the other oils in your recipe you may not need it.

So far I’m noticing one common concern with every batch I make, that’s my trace getting thick super fast.
You're over mixing. Don't run the stickblender for the entire time, short bursts of 10-20 seconds with an equal amount of hand stirring (with the blender, you don't need to take the blender out of the pot), will get you better results for stopping at a lighter trace, or slightly before trace (emulsion, no oily streaks in the batter and a consistent color throughout, slightly thicker but not at trace).

Do you buy your oils in bulk?
I assume here you mean fragrance oils/essential oils. Yes, many that sell buy in 1lb or greater qty. You get a good price for the FO, but if the fragrance isn't popular it may mean you're stuck with a fragrance and nothing to do with it.

So while I did take the time to answer your questions, I'm really going to caution you to spend more time soapmaking, developing and testing recipes before you start selling. I made soap for approx 18 months before I started selling and I still had so much to learn after I started selling. It wasn't fair to my customers to put them through that learning curve.
 

Curtis

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I'd recommend watching some YT channels (Soaping101 is good) and/or buying a few books. I hope you have insurance...
 

shunt2011

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Hello and welcome!

I have to echo much of what amd stated above. It sounds like you may be putting the horse before the cart. I wouldn't recommend purchasing large amounts of oils until you've made enough batches to even know if you like making Cold Processed Soap....You need to learn about different oils, their shelf life, what they bring to the party. Then you need to test different recipes and see how they perform/last long term.

There's more to having a business than just making soap.
 

Zing

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Welcome and have fun soaping!

I have had luck with tumeric, paprika, and charcoal. I do like micas also. Brambleberry sells sample packs that you can try before committing to bulk orders. And I love titanium dioxide.

I use essential oils. Again, Brambleberry sells samples so you try them first. And I wait for their sales on all essential oils to get bargains.

And I'll put a plug in for castor oil -- it was a game changer for me!

Keep us posted.
 

TheGecko

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Hi and welcome.

To say I’m new to the art of cold pressed soaping would be an understatement. My husband decided out of nowhere that he thought we should get into soap making and start a small side hussle at the local market for fun. Being the DIY, craft crazy nut I am, I jumped right on board.

That being said, there is always A LOT to learn with any new craft. All and any input from y’all would be very appreciated.
Yes there is. I spent months researching and watching videos before making my first batch; Brambleberry’s Beginner’s Cold Process Soap Kit. Four oils, a tried and true recipe, scent and a mold. Several months later I had an opportunity to sell at a local craft fair. While I did well and it was an enjoyable experience, I knew that I wasn’t ready. There is much more to it than making soap.

1. What do y’all use for coloring? I have gotten a beautiful bright orange out of turmeric in one batch. Then I asked a friend what she used to color her lavender bars the pretty purple she said she used purple sweet potato powder, I got some and tried it but my soap turned brown when I added it, as it was hardening in the mold it looked like it was getting a slightly greenish hue but not purple. Will it change much more in the mold? Or did I botch the coloring somehow?
What other colors are easily accessible and work well?
I use Micas, Oxides, Clays, Powders and Ultramarines. The thing with using ‘natural’ colorants is that the color doesn’t always turn out or it can fade.

2. Those of you that produce to sell, do you buy your oils in bulk? Since this is so new to use we only have three oils right now, olive oil (which is used as the majority for now), coconut oil, and grapeseed Oil. Basically the three cheapest I feel like, but for now while we figure out the craft I want to keep costs as low as I can. Is there any oil that does well for soap and isn’t going to break the bank for now? And if I keep using this much olive oil, can I just buy bulk from a restaurant supply company?
I currently purchase my Olive and Coconut Oil (by the case) from Costco, and if my Avocado Oil recipe turns out well, I will buy it there too. I get my Palm and Castor Oils from BrambleBerry; a gallon of Castor goes a long way at 5%. Cocoa and Shea Butter in 5lb lot from Rustic Essentials. It should be noted that I am not going through all of this every week or every month...I have a budget and so I order about 3 months worth at a time and rotate what I order monthly. So like in February, I will order my Cocoa and Shea Butter, in March I will order Palm and Castor, in April I will get more Olive and Coconut Oil. It keeps my oils/butters fresh and lessens the stain on the wallet. This of course will change depending on the flow of business.

And speaking of wallet...while it’s good to be cost conscience, you want to make sure you use quality ingredients. One of the things I am ordering next month is some Palm Oil from a new supplier...I will purchase a small quantity of it and run some test batches first.

3. So far I’m noticing one common concern with every batch I make, that’s my trace getting thick super fast. It’s not seizing, and I can still pour it in the mold, but it’s too fluffy for a flat pour, which would be a problem if I wanted to layer and I’m worried about air bubbles. It seems like it starts off fine but once I get to the trace I think I want, it starts to get thicker and thicker while I’m trying to work with it before pouring it in the mold. By the time I’m ready it’s almost like mayonnaise. Is it because I’m using too much coconut oil? My last batch was 30% coconut oil I think.
It’s not the Coconut Oil. It can be that you’re soaping too hot with 70% soft oils or it could be a simple as you’re stick blending too much. Cool your oils and lye solution down to room temp or somewhere between 90F-100F; after you pour your lye solution, give it a bit of a stir with your stick blender, then give it a couple 3 second burst/pulse, stir it a bit more, then a couple of more small bursts. You want a thin trace, just to make sure that your oils and liquids are emulsified.

4. Do you buy your oils in bulk? I have a ton of essential oils but they are all the little jars with the droppers one them, it’s fine for now but when I get to a level where I need to be measuring oil out and not just playing with it, I’m not sure how that will work with these.
I think the largest battle of any any EO I have boughten is 7 oz; FOs has been 16 oz. But only after I have purchased Sample quantities and tested.
 

bookreader451

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Okay I am going to chime in with a different take on setting up a business. I am an accountant and a soap hobbyist. If I was going to start selling my soap I would first create a business plan, who is my target consumer? Is it young people who want all natural vegan soap? Is it older people looking for mild soap that is kind to older skin? Am I going to stock several formulas that will satisfy different consumers?

Soap is a manufactured product and any business producing soap should use the cost accounting method. Your accounting basis is COGS (cost of goods sold) you need to figure the cost of each batch based on variable and fixed costs. You need to consider WIP (work in progress) - soap that is curing and is not for sale. Are you going to value inventory based on FIFO or LIFO?

I know most people here probably don't run their business like this but small businesses are ripe for audits and unless you have a clean set of books you could suffer serious financial consequences.

Give your soap away to friends, family and co-workers before you try to sell to anyone.
 

cmzaha

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Okay I am going to chime in with a different take on setting up a business. I am an accountant and a soap hobbyist. If I was going to start selling my soap I would first create a business plan, who is my target consumer? Is it young people who want all natural vegan soap? Is it older people looking for mild soap that is kind to older skin? Am I going to stock several formulas that will satisfy different consumers?

Soap is a manufactured product and any business producing soap should use the cost accounting method. Your accounting basis is COGS (cost of goods sold) you need to figure the cost of each batch based on variable and fixed costs. You need to consider WIP (work in progress) - soap that is curing and is not for sale. Are you going to value inventory based on FIFO or LIFO?

I know most people here probably don't run their business like this but small businesses are ripe for audits and unless you have a clean set of books you could suffer serious financial consequences.

Give your soap away to friends, family and co-workers before you try to sell to anyone.
I will not say much other than I am not about to run my tiny little soap sales as a COG company, and many soapmakers will not since most sales generate from vending at open-air markets and fairs. Yes, been there and done that when we owned a large manufacturing company. If I had an actual manufacturing shop and not my kitchen I would do differently since I would have an establishment license, business license etc. This is also why I do not have my insurance with my homeowner's company but with the Guild. Which brings up another issue if a fire happens. Fortunately, for me, the lot my house sits on is worth more than my house. So there is more to soapmaking than selling supplies, there is the risk of storing supplies. I worry the most about earthquakes. We all have to think about the risks we take. Very Very few are going to have more than a hobby side money type business with soap. There are just too many soapmakers and most come and go in a couple of years. There are less than a handful of brick and mortar soap shops that are still in business, and they opened years ago during the beginning of the fad for handmade soap.
 
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Nona'sFarm

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I will not say much other than I am not about to run my tiny little soap sales as a COG company, and many soapmakers will not since most sales generate form vending at open-air markets and fairs. Yes, been there and done that when we owned a large manufacturing company. If I had an actual manufacturing shop and not my kitchen I would do differently since I would have an establishment license, business license etc.
I have to agree, I would go with the cash method vs matching method of accounting.
Yes, you will want to get some good products developed before you start selling. If you want some "fast start" products you may want to start with Melt & Pour soaps and lip balms. You can start with these while testing and building expertise in CP soap making.
 

bookreader451

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I have to agree, I would go with the cash method vs matching method of accounting.
Yes, you will want to get some good products developed before you start selling. If you want some "fast start" products you may want to start with Melt & Pour soaps and lip balms. You can start with these while testing and building expertise in CP soap making.
I understand just the accountant in me.
 

Claire Huddle

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How long have you been making soap? You really should make soap for at least a year before you start selling so that you know how your soap keeps as well as scent longevity. Many people who buy don't use the soap right away - I have several customers that I only see once a year and they buy enough to last them the entire year. (Because I offer a bulk discount) I also have customers who have a favorite soap so they will order a custom batch, so those soaps also need to survive long term storage. I hard test my soap recipes under a variety of storage conditions because I don't know how my customers will store it. If it goes bad because they stored it in a bathroom closet (exposed to humidity) they won't come back for more.


I use mostly micas for colorant. Most natural colorants have a short shelf life and will start fading. Some of my inventory hangs around for a year or more, so the colors need to be constant. You can find soap colorants at most soap/cosmetic suppliers, just make sure that they are labeled "soap safe" or "pH stable".


Yes.


A word of caution for the three oils you're using: a high olive oil soap (more than 40%) will need a longer cure time (3+ months) to mellow out the slimey factor that comes with high oleic soaps. Coconut oil can be drying in soap, so to make it more user friendly for all skin types, we recommend 20% or less coconut oil. There's a few exceptions to that suggestion, but those soaps also go through a long cure time to allow the soap to become milder. Grapeseed oil is prone to becoming rancid, which will cause your soap to go bad quickly. Use grapeseed oil with a light hand - 10% is typically recommended, and what I've had good luck with.

A few recommendations for oils that aren't crazy expensive are Sweet Almond Oil (again, low percentage), Rice Bran Oil, and you may want to consider adding castor oil at 5%, as you drop you coconut oil amount, the castor oil will help create bubbles. (Castor oil doesn't make nice soap on it's own, it acts as an amplifier for the other oils in your recipes, that's we recommend a low usage rate.) Of course, I've used a lot of very nice soaps that don't have any castor oil, so depending on the other oils in your recipe you may not need it.


You're over mixing. Don't run the stickblender for the entire time, short bursts of 10-20 seconds with an equal amount of hand stirring (with the blender, you don't need to take the blender out of the pot), will get you better results for stopping at a lighter trace, or slightly before trace (emulsion, no oily streaks in the batter and a consistent color throughout, slightly thicker but not at trace).


I assume here you mean fragrance oils/essential oils. Yes, many that sell buy in 1lb or greater qty. You get a good price for the FO, but if the fragrance isn't popular it may mean you're stuck with a fragrance and nothing to do with it.

So while I did take the time to answer your questions, I'm really going to caution you to spend more time soapmaking, developing and testing recipes before you start selling. I made soap for approx 18 months before I started selling and I still had so much to learn after I started selling. It wasn't fair to my customers to put them through that learning curve.
I LOVE how clear, thorough, and specific your replies are. You answer questions that I haven't even thought to ask yet. This forum is so awesome. Now excuse me while I go ask a question that HAS occurred to me! :)
 

TheGecko

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Okay I am going to chime in with a different take on setting up a business. I am an accountant and a soap hobbyist. If I was going to start selling my soap I would first create a business plan, who is my target consumer? Is it young people who want all natural vegan soap? Is it older people looking for mild soap that is kind to older skin? Am I going to stock several formulas that will satisfy different consumers?

Soap is a manufactured product and any business producing soap should use the cost accounting method. Your accounting basis is COGS (cost of goods sold) you need to figure the cost of each batch based on variable and fixed costs. You need to consider WIP (work in progress) - soap that is curing and is not for sale. Are you going to value inventory based on FIFO or LIFO?

I know most people here probably don't run their business like this but small businesses are ripe for audits and unless you have a clean set of books you could suffer serious financial consequences.

Give your soap away to friends, family and co-workers before you try to sell to anyone.
I'm a staff accountant with a CPA firm and yes I have a 5-year Plan, but that's because I'm an accountant, a former Jaycee/Jayceette and a Virgo and that's the way I roll.

My advice to anyone wanting to make soap as a business is to FIRST make some soap. You may find that you don't like it, so writing up a business plan is simply a waste of time. SECOND...take the time develop a quality soap recipe. Without knowing what kind and quantity of ingredients you are going to need, you can't possibly know what your costs are going to be so writing up a business plan is simple a waste of time. THIRD...do the research. There is a LOT more to soap making as a business than mixing together some oils and lye and getting rich quick; you NEED to know this stuff BEFORE you sit down to write a Plan and prepare a Budget. What are the laws? Do you need a business license? Are you allowed to make soap out of your home? What about insurance? Are your neighbors going to get pissed off? Katie Carson with Royalty Soaps had bought a home and built a soap studio only to end up being served with a Cease & Desist and having 30 days in which to move her entire operation because of "hazardous materials" (lye). And mind you...she is already an established soap maker and she messed up.

While your advice is good for large companies...the majority of soap makers on this forum are making soap out of their kitchens, or garages, or basements. They are selling at craft fairs, at local "farmer's" markets, maybe they have an Etsy shop. They don't have employees or warehouses or a shipping department...they just have themselves. They don't care about FIFO, LIFO, COGS, P&Ls, WIP, inventory valuations, depreciation, amortization and Balance Sheets...they run a check register (money out, money in). And at its core...that is all accounting is.

The IRS doesn't really give a **** about the majority of small businesses because they are a business too and it isn't cost effective to audit a small business. That isn't to say that you shouldn't keep good records...I have quite a few clients that bring me their bank statement and a bag/box of receipts and then I waive my magic wands and return a nice manila envelope that they can put in a file cabinet or closet shelf. Small business accounting/consulting is my specialty and I advise all my clients to follow the KISS rule of record keeping.
 
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Noreen Moore

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Fascinating thread! Love this forum!
Yup my first Soaps I learned that I was blending too much! Made pudding! Now I am getting it well and having a blast with swirls!
I am still learning! Search anything! It's on here! And the people here are AMAZING!!!! Very helpful!!!!
 

Rsapienza

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What does DOS stand for?
Dreaded orange spots

I have done a little bit of research and I found that micas are naturally occurring minerals and oxides. Except if the mica is colored with FD&C colorants, the mica is not considered natural.

So being new to soaping I don't understand why people who do natural soap stay away from them.
I was under the impression that most micas are nature identical as true mica has heavy metals and such in it. I would not consider mica natural. I mean you don't find magenta mica hanging out in nature. They almost always have other ingredients.
 
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BoSA

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Dreaded orange spots


I was under the impression that most micas are nature identical as true mica has heavy metals and such in it. I would not consider mica natural. I mean you don't find magenta mica hanging out in nature. They almost always have other ingredients.

Ahhhh, gotcha!!
Thanks Rsap
 
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