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This time of year, when you’re scrambling for gift ideas for family members, friends, co-workers, teachers and holiday party hosts, you can’t go wrong with bath and beauty products. From soaps and lotions to lip balms and candles, the Arkansas makers below are producing small-batch goods that make the perfect gift or stocking stuffer.
Little Rock-based GrayMoon Soap makes handmade organic soap from scratch in an effort to help those who are conscientious about what they put on and in their body. Based on the slogan “natural soap meets modern alchemy,” their soaps are scented with pure essential oils, made with organic base oils, made without synthetic chemicals or pesticides, and packaged with recyclable materials. Their intriguingly named scents include boho lavender, peppermint coal, hello sunshine, lemon wildflower and citrus basil. They are available for purchase online or at these Arkansas retailers: Arkansas Yoga Collective, Ava Bella Day Spa, Bella Vita, Dandelion Home and Garden, The Essential Oil Shoppe, The Green Corner Store, and Meditating Market.
If you’ve been around farmers’ markets, craft fairs or festivals in Arkansas over the years, chances are you have seen Tammy Sues Critters. The small dairy goat farm in the Cato community on the Pulaski-Faulkner County border uses goat milk to make their soaps, lotions, and a host of other bath and beauty products. The business began in 2007 as a small booth at a local farmers market and has expanded to two online farmers markets, a wholesale business that sells to retailers around the state, an online store, and a shop on the farm.
“Over the years we have built a large loyal customer base, and they are the backbone of our business,” owner Tammy Pope said. “There is so much gratitude for these faithful folks.”
Pope’s favorite gift items are the goat’s milk soaps and lotions, as well as beeswax lip balms. There are about 60 soap scents, 20 lotion scents and 15 lip balm varieties. All the milk for the products comes from their goats, and everything is made without dyes, chemicals or petroleum byproducts. The body soap bars are literally available in scents from A to Z: autumn fig to zesty calendula, and everything in between, such as calming lavender, citrus rosemary and spring meadow. Scents like cocoa express, frankincense and myrrh, perky peppermint, and vanilla joy are ideal for Christmas.
“Some of our favorite soaps are sweet and creamy oat, midnight pomegranate, peppermint, autumn fig and of course the lavenders,” Pope said.
If you’re looking for a gift but are unsure about the recipient’s scent preferences, the loofah scrub or salt scrub would be great options. The loofah scrubs are made with loofahs grown on the farm, surrounded with a citrus rosemary soap, which is made with shea and mango butters, and olive, coconut, sunflower and castor oils.
The lip balms give Bonne Bell vibes in flavors like cherry fizz, fizzy pop, orange sorbet and watermelon and would make great stocking stuffers, as would the cuticle salve in unscented or spearmint eucalyptus or the lip scrub made with locally sourced honey mixed with brown and white sugar.
The “beauty” of many of these products is their multipurpose nature. The eye balm by Skin Balm Apothecary is a great case in point. The eyelash and brow balm in a tube nourishes eyelashes and brows to encourage hair growth, helps hold an eyelash curl, and hydrates skin around the eye. But you can use it on any area of the skin that needs some extra TLC or even to tame baby hairs around your face.
The company started when CEO Chelsea Henderson formulated the original eyelash and brow growth balm in a lip balm tube in 2010. Since then, Skin Balm Apothecary, based in Conway, has expanded with other ethically sourced products made with organic ingredients. Other tube balms include one for treating and healing blemishes and lip balms in lavender and orange, peppermint, and orange peppermint. Another multipurpose balm is their Sweet Dreams glow balm, which has a pretty pink tint and is available in unscented or lavender options. In addition to all-over skin hydration, it can be used as a cleansing balm, on hands and cuticles, as a lip plumper, or under the eye area with a reusable eye mask.
Hot Springs-based Ouachita Botanicals has products that would encourage anyone to settle in for the most luxurious long winter’s nap. Two of the best-sellers are the wild rose body oil and smiling eyes roll-on face serum. The latter targets fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots. All the herbal ingredients in this line of products are either wild-harvested, grown or purchased from organic growers by owner and creator Brandi Searcy.
“As an herbalist, I offer effective herbal formulas using high quality or wild harvested ingredients,” Searcy said. “I believe skincare should be fresh and that everything we put on our bodies should be just as good as what we put in.”
In retail shops such as Little Rock’s Green Corner Store and in Ouachita Botanical’s Etsy shop, customers can purchase hand-poured soy wax candles in seasonal scents such as evergreen, rosemary sage, candied plum and cinnamon sugar cookie. A sea and clay dry scrub, lavender rose bath salts, and winter wellness tea blend would complete the beauty and bath lover’s ideal gift basket.
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