I have always wanted to try making my own body and hair products at home but have never really tried. Hubby and I did make some massage bars a few years back which were very successful and similar to the ones you can buy in Lush but apart from that and some unsuccessful candle making as a teenager I haven’t really ever bothered. I found a wonderful studio at Quinta do Cobral located in Oliveira do Hospital and only a 35 min drive from our casa. The Studio at Quinta do Cobral offers a wide range of courses. I signed up for the Natural Body Care Course but they also offer courses in: Soap making (solid bars and liquid), Natural Health, Stained glass (traditional and copper foil), Metal Embossing with lead-free Pewter and Copper, Nuno felt making, Batik and they run a special Christmas course too. The studio space is based on the farm close to the main farm house. It is airy and light with wonderfully inspiring views across the farm and the surrounding countryside. There is also accommodation on site if you live a little too far to drive.

The cost of the day course I attended was €95 which included a vegan and gluten free lunch. The day soap making course start from €65 and they can offer 1:1 tutoring too. I got the opportunity to make 8 different luxurious, natural body and hair products. All reusable containers were supplied which can then be filled up again and again at home. The products use beautiful natural ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil etc. I made two amazing solid shampoo and conditioner bars that last for over 80 washes, require no plastic packaging and are suitable for all hair types. The packaging to seal them can go in your compost bin. Just think of all the plastic you could save over a year! The lovely recipes are sustainable, travel-friendly, eco friendly, biodegradable and great for your hair, body and the environment. Many of the ingredients are vegan friendly too. I was amazed at how easy the products are to make even for me with my poor memory and clumsy body. It’s basically like following a baking recipe but don’t eat it! The tutor asked us if we use many products. I had to be honest and explain that I don’t really use any products here or make-up just shower gel, shampoo and conditioner as I spend most of the time outdoors. Most days I don’t even wear a bra so I’m not bothered about a beauty regime and expensive creams such as under eye cream (ha ha). Although I don’t wear make-up here I do want to start using some lotions and potions like a good moisturiser as my skin is quite dry and the river beaches and sun from the summer months has likely damaged my skin. My tan is also fading fast so a good moisturiser might help me cling onto my tan lines for a few more weeks.

After quick introductions and some tea and coffee Betti the tutor led our small group of 5 through the recipes for making the products and demonstrated the correct techniques. Most of the recipes used the double boiler method sometimes known as bain Marie. Some recipes have 1 stage to follow but most have 2 and some have 3. I am quite a messy person and I managed to get one of the ingredients which resembled a white powder all over my scales and counter top. It’s a good job I’m not a drug dealer as half my profits would be wasted and end up on the floor (ha ha). Once you have made the base of the product you get to chose which fragrance you put in. There are many different essential oils and aromas to chose from which all have a different therapeutic benefit. As well as essential oils there are fragrances such as gingerbread and nutcracker (nutty aroma) which are perfect for Christmas. There is also a safe glitter which is very fine which can be added to products if you want to be covered in glitter for the next 4 years! I highly recommended adding a bit of glitter to a product if you have a butch man in your house and want to experience some basic fun. It gets everywhere and they will have beard glitter for months which I find hilarious especially if they are a ‘man’s man’ (ha ha). I love that I could personalise the products to my individual needs. I also loved the fact that we got to discuss some science behind the products. We tested our solid shampoo bars for PH levels. It’s not good to use a regular bar of soap on your hair as it has a high PH which can damage hair. Shampoo bars should have a PH of between 4-6.

I had an amazing day in the studio making new friends. Betti is a very patient teacher who is very passionate and talented. The host Ishbel is also very talented and is tutor for many of the other courses. Her passion is soap making and she is the best ever chef. The benefit of making your own products is that you know exactly what ingredients has gone into it. There are no nasty chemicals and only natural ingredients are used. You can buy already made soap, shampoo and conditioner bars from Ishbel’s website. She also sells all the ingredients to make your own products at home including a soap making kit which is great as some of the more specialised ingredients are hard to find on Amazon and locally. Printed out handouts are provided on the day so you can recreate the products from the comfort of your own home. Cute labels were also provided which transformed my products into professional looking delights. Also this avoids your hubby trying to eat your face cream. My ex hubby once ate my free sample of oatmeal face mask from Lush as I stored it in the fridge and he thought it was humus. He enjoyed it and no harm done, he is still alive and kicking too (ha ha).

For those of you who don’t know me, I trained as a Holistic Therapist several years ago and have a passion for Aromatherapy and natural healing so this course was right up my street. It was so great to meet so many similar minded people from all parts of the world with the same holistic approach to life as me. It was lovely to have a chat with the other ladies as due to covid I haven’t made many friends here yet. Having a laugh with them was just the tonic I needed and makes a change from the usual tonic that I add to my gin (ha ha).



Products I made:

Solid shampoo bar.

Soild conditioner bar.

Foot scrub (Sea salt) – Lavender, peppermint and tea tree.

Deodorant – tea tree.

Face cream.

Whipped body butter – Basil and Neroli blossom.

Clay based purifying face masks X2: Healing, relaxing and Herbal with Chamomile and Rose. Anti-ageing seaweed with Rosehip and Spirulina.

Lip balms – 3 types: Peppermint, Herbal and Citrus.



Lunch was in the main farm house and we shared the most wonderful vegan and gluten free lunch. The main course consisted of a dish made with buck wheat and sweet potato in an infusion of spices and was so tasty we all had seconds. There was also a chickpea salad, green salad, stuffed cheesy peppers, mango chutney and a chilli sauce. dessert was a vegan and gluten free chocolate tart and a gluten free lemon drizzle cake (not vegan as it contained eggs). OMG the desserts were mouth watering. All the recipes can be found on Ishbel’s website. Most of the ingredients used are homegrown on the farm. The pets on the farm are adorable and very friendly. I had great fun listening to peoples stories of escaped goats.

Me trying out the spirulina face mask

I look like Shrek (ha ha). Apparently Spirulina is a dietary supplement obtained from cyanobacteria, a class of single-celled organisms formerly known as “blue algae”. Maybe I shouldn’t have cleaned all that algae of the roof tiles, I could have used it as a face mask (ha ha). Take a good look as when this comes off you won’t recognise me as I will look 10 years younger. My 18 year old and 27 year old children will look like my brother and sister (ha ha). I mixed the face mask dried ingredients with an olive oil base as that is all I had in the kitchen cupboard apart from extra spicy piri piri sauce which may have burnt my eyebrows and moustache off (ha ha). The mask was surprisingly quite difficult to get off due to the olive oil. I made hubby laugh and had a slight 2 minute panic when the green face mask did not want to come off. Use of a facial wipe and some warm water and all good now, thank goodness. My face is so smooth and I smell gert lush!

I am super proud with the products I made and my daughter thought they looked very professional. I am so looking forward to attending more of Ishbel’s courses in 2021.

I’m off now to enjoy some self-care and well deserved me time!

Happy Thanksgiving day to all my American followers X