lotions, lip balms: for many people, these items are necessary luxuries
for everyday living. Their soothing softness and delicious scents have
the ability to transport even the most tired and irritable person to a
place of relaxation and serenity.
others, though, these simple luxuries may cause misery. Allergies to
scents and chemical compounds turn what should be a cleansing calm into
an ordeal of itchy, cracked skin, clogged sinuses and watery eyes.
Ritchie faced skin dilemmas that commercial soap and lotion products
could not soothe. She turned to soapmaking for a solution to her
problems. Now, she cleans up in a business that shares those
scentsational solutions with customers who flock to craft shows, local
boutiques and Web sites to achieve their own version of personal hygiene
of New Market started her business, Total Bliss Gourmet Soap, LLC
in 2003 to help her husband find relief.
Painful skin problems sent him to the dermatologist every three
or so months, she said, and no medication or soap product seemed to
work. Desperate for a comforting solution, she said she searched for
homemade soap recipes.
found the recipes, and much more. Most commercial soaps aren’t even
technically soap, she explained, they contain detergents, petroleum
products, preservatives and other chemicals that leave a skin-irritating
residue. These products also rely heavily on inexpensive and low-grade
scents, which often irritate sinuses and eyes, she added.
Ritchie says she uses only natural products, including essential oils and
herbal extracts, olive and palm kernel oils, cocoa butter, natural
preservatives and cosmetic-grade scents in her soaps, lotions and lip balms.
These ingredients, Ritchie says, lather richly, rinse easily and leave only a
light, fresh scent on skin.
her own soaps, Ritchie says she was able to solve their skin dilemmas. But the
process isn’t as easy as baking a cake.
said her husband hasn’t been back to the dermatologist since she began
making soap. Interest piqued and she began creating different soap formulas
and combinations of scented oils. Some worked, some didn’t, she said.
way, Ritchie tested
her products on family and friends, and delved into lotion, lotion bars and
lip balm. The soaps were a hit, and Ritchie began marketing her
soapmaking has turned into a full-time job which has taken her from the
kitchen to a studio in the back of her house. She said she enjoys coming up
with new scent combinations; she’s up to 60 or more, including Baby Powder
and Apple Jack. She’s also developed a lotion bar for problem dry skin
areas, soaps to treat acne, wrinkles and dry facial skin and lip balms. She
sells her products at craft shows and in Rocktown Gift Shoppe as well as the
Shoppes at Mauzy, Strasburg Emporium, the Luray Antique Mall and A Basket Case
in New Market. A Web site, www.totalblissgourmetsoap.com, gives her a venue
for national sales.
As long as
people want a healthy clean that makes them feel good, Ritchie says her soaps
will continue to sell well.
getting wise to ingredients that irritate or cause disease, Ritchie said.
People want pure, natural ingredients that make the skin feel better.
underestimate the power of scent, Scents make you feel happy, she said.