Avoiding Fraudulent Orders and Scams that love to Target small Handcrafting Businesses! Protect Yourself!
As a natural handmade soap maker or Etsy business, you work hard to create your product, take great photos, spend time marketing by writing amazing product descriptions and rejoice as each order trickles into your business...then something wonderful happens!! You receive an amazingly huge order from overseas...YES! But NO...it may not be what it seems.
Unfortunately, fraudulent orders and scams often target small handmade companies, hoping to taking advantage of a small business owner’s excitement and dedication to growing their business. This happened to me only recently and I want to share my experience with you...just in case you too are targeted! I felt so excited when I saw the following email from the contact page on this website.
I want to order from you company to my store in Spain, And do you accept credit card as form of payment?
i will be waiting to read back from you at your earliest convenience.
I replied ...
thank you for your enquiry. I do offer payment via credit card. I would be happy to hear more from you and hope to be able to offer you what you need.
Sounds good so far:)
My main concern was how much I had in stock and postage costs. So I awaited a further response, and it was then that my alarm bells went off! You know those metaphorical alarms that reside somewhere inside your brain or gut or both...well they just began to have a party!
This was the email response I received...
Thanks for your reply back. Its a pleasure receiving your reply back. I want to order for the below items for my customer's here, I want you to reply back with the total cost plus shipping quote. We're ready and can't wait to receive these wonderful products of yours here.
Your utmost reply back with the total quote will be highly appreciated.
THE ITEMS I'M INTERESTED IN ORDERING FOR IS LISTED BELOW AND ALSO MY ADDRESS FOR THE SHIPPING QUOTE:::
Chocolate soap gift box
Australian Eucalyptus Soap with Lavender flowers, Eucalyptus soap, Lavender flower, Vegan Bar Soap, No Palm Oil, etsyau, Australian soap
Castile soap,Castile soap with Lavender, Lavender soap, Pure Olive Oil soap, natural vegan soap, etsyau, Australian seller, bar soap
Vanilla Body Lotion, Mothers Day, Vanilla Body, Vanilla body moisturiser, etsyau
Organic Antioxidant Facial Oil,Organic facial serum,organic skincare,Organic Antioxidant Radiance Oil, Certified organic oil
Gift box 3 Soap Set, Christmas Gift, Teacher' Gift, 3 Soaps in a gift box,Sampler soap Gift Set, Soap Gift Box, Australian seller, etsyau
Damask Rose Handmade Soap Bar, Damask Rose soap, Vegan Handmade soap, Rose Soap
Coconut Soap,Natural coconut cream soap with organic coconut, handmade natural soap, bar soap
...ADDRESS FOR THE SHIPPING QUOTE........
Calle de Atocha, 415, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Hope to read back from you with the total cost and we can proceed and finalized my order.
God bless you,
My first reaction was panic!! I can't possibly supply this much product in less than six weeks!! What to do? Then...my brain kicked in!
On re-reading I noticed what should have been immediately obvious...the grammar, spelling and punctuation, the cut and paste form, and the overly eager nature of the request.
So I did a bit of detective work.
Here is some information from the Modern Soap Making website that will help you, like me, be able to identify and avoid the scammer! Interestingly, the information below dealt with this exact same fraudulent scammer!!
Here’s some red flags you should look out for before you get too excited about large international orders:
Before fulfilling a large international order, you want to make sure that:
So, how do these scams and fraudulent orders play out?
Scammers use stolen credit cards to purchase your items, and pressure you to ship quickly. In the end, the scammer receives your products, while you receive no cashola (or worse, a giant chargeback.) Ouch.
Scammers may also request you to overcharge a credit card and pay a third party shipper or freight company (a fake one, at that.) When the chargeback on the card comes through, you are out your product AND the money you sent to the fraudulent third party.
When it comes down to it, listen to your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Well, I had a happy ending and did not fall into the too good to be true dollar trap! I replied to the above email with some strict guidelines as to how I would proceed with the order, stating I would only consider payment through direct deposit and tracked shipping with Australia Post...needless to say, all has been quiet from this scammer:)
Have you received any fraudulent orders? Or worse...did you find out when it was too late? I would love to hear your experience.
Thank you to these websites for their information and help in identifying this Fraudulent Purchaser.
I am so happy to say that I have a lemon myrtle range of bar soaps and liquid soap. I am so pleased with my finished Lemon Myrtle and Calendula soap bar! It smells wonderful and looks great. The fragrance of Australian Lemon Myrtle blended with Calendula from my own garden is a perfect combination in this bar soap. It gave me a lot of pleasure to plant and harvest my own Calendula for my soap.
I have also planted lemon verbena, lemon myrtle, lavender and roses to use in my Spring and Summer soaps. It looks like it is going to be a fun season for soap making!
I completed making a Lemon Myrtle Liquid soap which I think is amazing. Not only does it smell great..it feels amazing on my skin! I didn't realise how different liquid soap felt to the detergent based hand washes until I made my own liquid soap. The difference can be felt immediately! The texture is slippery, silky and sudsy all at the same time. I really like this liquid soap...but a caution to any budding liquid soap makers...Potassium Hydroxide is hard to come by. My nearest stockist is about 12 hours drive away! As it can't be shipped by post in Australia...it is very hard to get.
Both these soaps are available for purchase from my Etsy store. I will place the links here for you:)
I have just finished making two new soaps: A cold process Lemon Myrtle & Calendula, and a Hot Process Damask Rose scented soap.
The Damask Rose soap, being a Hot Process soap is ready to use immediately, however, I am letting it get a little harder before wrapping. I think that I will wrap it in a red polka dot scrapbooking paper tied with a pink ribbon. It sounds like those two colours will clash, but I am trying to use the same colours as the soap and the petals. I think that it will work.
The Lemon Myrtle & Calendula soap is curing and needs another 4 weeks to ensure its mildness. I used the Calendula from my garden. It is a lovely feeling to pick my own flowers, leaves and herbs to use in my soaps! I have also planted Lemon Verbena, Lavender and my own Lemon Myrtle tree so that I can use fresh leaves and flowers from my garden. So I am looking forward to Spring!
I will not categorise these soaps as 'Natural' Handmade soaps as I have used a fragrance Oil. I only label soap as natural if the fragrance used is essential oil. Otherwise, both these soaps contain lots of skin loving oils such as Extra Virgin Olive oil, Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, and Coconut Oil. My favourite is the Lemon Myrtle as I love the lemony fragrance. I think that is why I am partial to Verbena and citrusy scents in general.
I will post pictures of both soaps after wrapping and labelling so that you can view the finished product. So check back in a few days for the Damask Rose soap and in a few weeks for the Lemon Myrtle soap.
Which scents do you prefer. floral or citrus? Leave a comment.
Our family has been using my Peppermint Soap for the past couple of weeks and I am loving it! It is fresh, invigorating and not an overpowering scent. It is sort of like having a fresh pick me up every time I have a shower!
I heard my husband talking to one of his friends the other day and I was totally amazed when he said that he really liked using my Peppermint Soap! I mean...my husband does not talk about soap! It is sort of a "no go" zone for him...so I was surprised to say the least, and also a little bit happy. That was affirmation for me, even though I overheard a conversation that wasn't meant for me.
This got me thinking about Father's Day and catering my soaps for the men in our lives. I had not actually thought about that before! After hearing how my hubby really enjoyed using the Peppermint soap, I thought that this soap would make a fantastic and inexpensive Father's Day gift.
Next, I looked in my soap stack and saw the Australian Eucalyptus soap and it was another 'light bulb' moment! Here I have two perfect soaps for men!
So often, men get stuck with the heavier scents like Vetiver, Heavy Spices and Bergamot...Fresh invigorating Peppermint and Eucalyptus is a welcome change!
So now my new project!
Make more fresh invigorating soaps that appeal to men and also to the women in their lives!
Package them for Father's Day and I will have the perfect gift for my husband and yours!
In the meantime, you can purchase these two soaps from my Etsy shop and see what you think!
Let me know if there are any other fresh masculine scents that I could be using for that special man in your life!
Father's Day is just around the Corner.
If you have a spare 20 minutes then this documentary from New Zealand is interesting and informative with regards to Fair-trade coffee.
Do you love the aroma of freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning? I know that I do. Even though I am not a coffee drinker, I still love the aroma of coffee. It smells so inviting, comforting and yet invigorating all at the same time!
That is one of the reasons why I decided to make a lovely coffee soap. Using Fair-trade organic coffee beans ground and brewed, and then the coffee grounds, gave my coffee soap a beautiful colour and gently exfoliating texture.
I do have a few rules when it comes to coffee, tea or chocolate...they must be Fair-trade...preferably organic, but that is not as important to me as being Fair-trade. When I purchase Fair-trade, I am in a very small way, helping to make my protest against the use of enforced child labour, enforced or unpaid labour, and unfair, dangerous practises in many areas of the world. For me, buying Fair-trade is my ethical and moral choice in a world where we chase the cheapest product without thinking about the human cost that went into the making of our cup of coffee, bar of chocolate or cup of tea.
I have uploaded a lovely story for you to read if you wish to learn how Fair-trade has helped one coffee farming couple from Papua New Guinea. There are also some links for you if you would like to read a little more about how your purchase of Fair-trade products, helps to support others in our global community and create a fairer world.
Lavender Soap in a lavender Muslin bag with Lavender flower buds
Sometimes, the old favourite scent of Lavender is just perfect! No chai latte scent, or baked caramel apple or bubblegum...just fresh, natural Lavender!
I made this lavender soap four or six weeks ago. I used my non-stick friand baking pan as my mould. To release the soap, I placed the mould in the freezer but left the soaps in too long, as you can see by the slight mottling effect on the soap. I actually don't mind this effect, it reminds of a glazed pot after Raku firing and the effect of crazing a glaze on ceramics.
I don't like a too heavily scented soap, so I try not to overdo it with the essential oil. I prefer a subtle fragrance...and of course a lightly scented soap is less likely to cause skin irritation.
Packaging the Lavender Soap
The shape of this soap posed a packaging problem for me. When wrapped it just didn't look right...So I went and purchased some lavender muslin bags and dried Lavender flower buds. I then just popped the soap in the bag and put some lavender flower buds in with the soap and presto! ....a soap and lavender scent bag in the same package!
This lavender soap is made with a blend of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin olive oil, Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil, Lavender Essential oil, lye and water.
It is a very moisturising soap and has been super-fatted at 5%...so lots of good nourishing oils available for your skin!
This soap is available now on my Etsy store.
Re-use and Recycle your Kitchen containers to make Soap Moulds!
When you begin to make soap it is often very tempting to go and spend money on expensive wooden moulds, silicone moulds and fancy moulds from many soap supply sites. Don't get me wrong...these moulds are fantastic and one day you will most probably need them when you begin to make soap in larger quantities. But...your Kitchen cupboards and recyclable packaging make fantastic soap moulds! The Lavender soap in the above pictures was made using an empty Pringles packet. No need to buy an expensive mould. This way you get to eat the Pringles and make soap!
Recycle, Re-use and Re-think
I am sure we all agree it is good to recycle...that is why we place our empty milk cartons, yoghurt containers, paper, cardboard and butter containers in our recycle bins!
Now, I want you to look at these containers differently! Look at them and see soap moulds! Yes...empty long-life milk cartons make fantastic soap moulds! Some of my best soap has come out of a milk carton. Once again you and your children get to drink the healthy milk, and you get to make some great soap and be kind to the environment at the same time! Of course you will end up placing the demolished milk carton in the recycle bin after you un-mould your soap...but you have value added to that humble cardboard milk carton. Below are just some of the once throw out containers that I now use as soap moulds.
I don't endorse any of these brands as I'm sure you have your own favourites. They are simply to illustrate the possibilities.
I have also used my bakeware. I have found that my silicone cup cake moulds make excellent soap moulds and the soap is very easy to remove. I have had success with non-stick bake ware such as my loaf cake tin, friand moulds, and patty cake tins. In fact, you can use anything in your kitchen for a soap mould! As long as it is plastic, wood, silicone or non-stick. I don't advise using your good bakeware all the time!! It is just sometimes fun to experiment with what you have on hand. You can always line your cake tins and loaf tins with greaseproof paper or baking paper to protect them. If you use the non-stick cupcake pans, put the soap in the freezer just before un-moulding and they will pop out very nicely.
There is really no limit to the many ways in which you can use everyday containers as interesting soap moulds...and you don't have to spend any money!!
Soap making is fun...but it can be expensive! The cost of essential oils, oils and butters for making soap, Lye, clays, micas, packaging materials and your time adds up, and if you can cut your expenses just a little by re-using and recycling material...then it just makes soap crafting even more fun and creative!
I hope that you have enjoyed some of the ideas in this post.
I would love to hear from you and learn how you have re-used and recycled containers in your kitchen. Add a comment and contact me via the contact page!
How Can Natural, Handmade Soap Compete against the cheap supermarket brands? How does it compare to the mass produced product?
I was in the supermarket today...waiting patiently at the checkout and just gazing around as people are want to do when standing in a line. My gaze happened to catch the latest Big Brand Natural Soap promotion decked out beautifully and placed strategically at eye level...and then I saw the price...$2 for two bars!
I couldn't resist going over to the display and check out the ingredients on the back of the Natural Beauty soap wrapper. This is what I read:
Natural? I can't even pronounce most of the ingredients!
I shook my head and then compared it to the ingredients in one of my bars of soap, where anyone could list the ingredients on one hand, and understand what they were! Here goes...
How can any mass produced soap with ingredients that need a dictionary and thesaurus be marketed as natural?
How could I possibly compete against the brand, the price and the marketing? How could any natural soap crafter? There is no way a soap maker, crafting cold process or hot process soap, could possibly sell their bars for $1 each!
My answer came to me very quickly, while I handed my credit card over to the girl at the checkout...I couldn't!
I could never compete on price, and point of purchase sales, and neither could I compete with branding...the only thing that would sell my product is:
A Closer look at Petrolatum one of the Natural Ingredients in the 'Natural Beauty Bar"
Petrolatum is more commonly known as petroleum jelly, mineral oil jelly or mineral oil, and Vaseline. Petrolatum is a petrochemical derived from crude oil. It may run the risk of being contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),1 which are possible human carcinogens found in crude oil and its byproducts. The Environmental Working Group labels petrolatum as a low to moderate hazard, but with the potential for contamination from PAHs, it becomes high risk.The European Union, has banned petrolatum for use in cosmetics unless the manufacturer can show a full refining history and prove that the petrolatum wasn’t produced from carcinogenic substances. Meaning, manufacturers have to prove the product isn’t contaminated by PAHs.2
The following is a quote from the David Suzuki Foundation, "But this petrochemical can be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The European Union considers it a carcinogen and restricts its use in cosmetics. Download our wallet-sized Sustainable Shopper's Guide so you can avoid petrolatum and the other eleven toxic ingredients commonly found in your soap, shampoo, and deodorant."3
While researching Petrolatum, I did find one website that promoted its use as a moisturiser, (and also advertised for Vaseline), however, Petrolatum is an occlusive moisturiser and keeps moisture in your skin. This website concluded by stating that Petrolatum is not petroleum – and cosmetic-grade petrolatum is, by and large, safe.4 By and large safe? What does that mean? It's mostly safe or it can be a little bit unsafe?
So what should the natural soap crafter do against such odds?
Perhaps the small scale soap crafter, like myself will never be financially viable...but does that mean we should stop producing what we know to be better for our skin, your skin and the environment?
I have been thinking on this and trying not to feel totally defeated by something so ubiquitous as large companies, with countless resources and funds, who use key emotive words like natural, organic and beauty, while peddling off an inferior product.
No...I will keep creating my soap because I know that it is better!
Download the Sustainable Shopping Guide from David Suzuki.org
Preservatives and Liquid Soap
If you are thinking about making liquid soap as part of your soap making experience, and especially if you are thinking of selling it, then the question of whether to use a preservative or not is a hotly debated topic!
Some sites and soap makers say no, while others will say categorically yes! Well which one is correct?
So let's look at some of the information out there!
My recipe for liquid soap does not have a preservative, but if you decide to use one, then it is easily incorporated into the recipe. Your main decision will be on deciding which preservative to use. However, the information in this post should be helpful for you. Choose a preservative that works in an anhydrous solution.
I have used information from three very useful and informative soap making sites that I believe are reliable and know their products. Each of these sites is listed in the Reference section of this post.
So why use a preservative in your product? Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in our products, which can cause separation of our emulsions, speed up rancidity of our oils and butters, and cause weird smells. Contaminated products aren't pretty and they're dangerous. There are countless reports of unpreserved lotions causing contact dermatitis, rashes, and worse1.
When should you use a preservative? If you make a product with water, you need a preservative. Anhydrous products don't need preserving, although products that might come into contact with water, like scrubs or in shower lotion bars, require preservatives.2
'Cold process soap (made with sodium hydroxide) does not need a preservative. For other high pH products such as liquid soap, generally if the pH is above 10 a preservative may not be required. If the pH is below 10, an expert microbiologist advises liquid germall plus can be used (despite the supplier recommended use below pH8). Alternatively, Suttocide A or Glydant Plus can be used.'3
It’s a common myth that anti-oxidants like vitamin E, Grapefruit Seed Extract and rosemary extract are preservatives but they are not – http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/when-should-you-use-preservative.html Oxidation of oils and butters leads to rancidity and anti-oxidants slow down this process. These anti-oxidants do not prevent bacteria, yeast, or mold from spoiling your product. (Yeasts and moulds are fungi).4
The following information is taken from 'Talk it out Tuesdays' at http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/lotion/talk-it-out-tuesday-preservatives/
What kind of preservatives are out there?
Many people like their products and soaps to be all-natural, but sometimes there just isn’t a way to make everything 100% natural. Currently there isn’t a good quality, affordable, all-natural preservative on the market for home crafters. I (Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Brambleberry Soap Making supplies) have done quite a bit of research into this and come up with what I think is a great range of preservative options:
Germaben – It is also great preservative to use when you are making lotions, as it helps to keep them nice and creamy. Usage rate:.3-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 140 degrees.
Optiphen – Optiphen is a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative. It is best to use in your oil-based recipes like shampoos, conditioners, and some lotions. Found out how to use Optiphen when making your own homemade conditioner. Usage rate: .5-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Optiphen ND– Optiphen ND is a water-soluble, broad spectrum preservative. This preservative works best in surfactant based systems, shampoos, conditioners, gels, creams, and lotions. Usage Rate: 1% of the total weight of your recipe and must be used at a temperature lower than 176°F.
Optiphen Plus – Optiphen Plus is a water-soluble, paraben- and formaldehyde-free preservative. You can use Optiphen Plus in any recipe your are using water in and it helps to protect against bacteria, mold growth and even yeast! Usage rate: .75-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Phenonip – Phenonip is a liquid preservative that helps to suppress the full range of microbial growth in your cremes, lotions, salt scrubs, dusting powders and liquid soap bases. When making products at a higher temperature, this is going to be the preservative you are going to want to use. Usage rate: .5-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 200 degrees.
What is NOT a preservative!
An anti-oxidant is not a preservative. It lacks the anti-microbial qualities that other actual preservatives (Phenonip, Germaben, and Optiphen) possess. Many people get confused when they are researching preservatives and what is or isn’t a product that can help preserve their lotions and scrubs. We believe that a full-spectrum preservative (like Optiphen, Phenonip or Germaben) must be used to truly prevent mold and bacterial growth in your lotion products.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – Grapefruit Seed Extract (commonly known as GSE) is a thick and golden antioxidant that helps to prevent your oils from going bad in your lotions and lotion bars, but is not a preservative. We never recommend using GSE as the only preservative in your products. But if you are looking for a great anti-oxidant, GSE is the one to go with!
Rosemary Oleoresin – Rosemary Oleoresin, also known as Rosemary Oil Extract or ROE is an oil-soluble, all-natural extract that is used to prevent rancidity in lotions and oil-products. It helps to extend the shelf life of your product, but as with GSE, will not preserve it.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a thick and viscous oil that is super easy to mix into lotions, liquid oils, and even bath bombs for its skin-loving properties. It is a wonderful anti-oxidant, but it isn’t considered a preservative because it has no antimicrobial properties to it. Many home crafters use it thinking it will preserve their products, but all it can do is extend the life of the oils in your product (similarly to ROE and GSE).
What products need preservatives?
You wouldn’t want to find that your fabulous sugar scrub went bad after a few weeks, would you?
Any recipe that includes water in it or any product that may get water in it needs a preservative.
That includes most lotions and cremes, sugar or salt scrubs, and some types of body powders. Preservatives aren’t generally necessary in liquid soaps, but can be added if desired.5
As a natural soap crafter, you want to not only make natural products, you also want your products to be Safe! It can be dangerous to wash your self or lather yourself in nasty bugs that can cause serious skin conditions or even infections. So...I would ere on the side of caution and use a preservative like Liquid Germall Plus or Phenonip in your liquid soap to ensure that it remains safe to use.
Aussie soap supplies has a good list and supply of preservatives to choose from. You can find them at the following website http://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au//catalogsearch/result/?type=catalog&q=preservatives
An excellent source of information on preservatives, and well worth reading is an article on Making Skincare. You can find this article at http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/.
3. Reviews of 27 preservatives http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/
Do you use preservatives in your liquid soap? If so...which ones? I would love to hear from you.
This soap smells wonderful, but I am disappointed with the white spots caused by the Titanium Dioxide. I mixed the titanium dioxide in room temperature oil, but next time I will warm the oil up so that it disperses well. It ruins the look of the soap I think...so I will either leave it out all together or make sure that the oil is warm.
I love using peppermint essential oil...it doesn't take much to create a lovely fragrance. I also used Australian Pink Clay for the colour. Clay is very conditioning and cleansing and gives soap a lovely smooth feel.
This soap is still curing but I am sure that it will be ready by Compassion Day! If you want one then please contact me via the contact page.
Don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter...you just might find it interesting!! :)
Hi! Welcome to my Soapy Conversations about Soap and AllSorts of other Topics! I live in NSW Australia and I am a mother of five, Grandmother of Five and I sponsor seven children through Compassion Australia. I love making soap, reading, teaching English, and being an Advocate for children and women living in poverty.
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AllSorts of Soaps