Whole Life Soaps

To Reduce Plastic Waste, Use Bar Soap.

Bill McConnellComment

Reducing plastic in the environment is something, I’m sure, we all agree needs to be done, but being mindful and purposeful about it is often daunting because when we don’t see the problem, we forget it is a problem.

I’m sure you’ve seen those pictures of whales with plastic pouring from their mouths.

I’m sure you’ve seen those pictures of sea turtles with their waists constricted by plastic and rubber bands.

I’m sure you’ve seen those photos where marine life is choked by the plastic ring holes from your six-pack.

And, I’m sure you’ve seen photos of that huge plastic garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

That’s what we contribute to the environment when we use plastic, unfortunately. And we have all added to it—through tooth brushes, plastic bags at the grocery store, straws at restaurants—because any one-time plastic use item will end up in the middle of the ocean or in the middle of the forest or in the middle of a landfill where it stays seemingly forever. To us, it goes in a trash can and gets hauled away, literally to places like China, because American problems are generally solved when they are considered out of sight and out of mind.

That’s why we, at Whole Life Soaps, are committed to easing our (and by default your) reliance on single use plastic containers.

It’s why we don’t make liquid shampoo or liquid conditioner or liquid dish soap.

It’s why we wrap our bar soap in biolefin, a 100% recyclable plastic shrink-wrap that degrades within six to twenty-four months.

It’s why our scrubs, face masks, tooth powders, and deodorant pastes come in glass jars.

And by purchasing our products, you are minimizing your impact on the environment because you are purchasing items that are packaged in 100% recyclable materials.

We are not perfect in our endeavor, either, but we are trying. We still sell lotion and lip balm and beard oils and stick deodorants and body sprays that use plastic containers, and it kills me to put them in such containers, but I have not yet found a durable and quality alternative container for them. But I am actively searching for affordable, non-plastic packaging solutions for those items; and as soon as I find them, I will be using them. Perhaps I will stop making these in the future if I cannot find a replacement container, but for now, I’m still searching.

In advance, you have our thanks for buying bar soap. Please know that the plastic wrap that protects it will deteriorate quickly. Please know that it won’t choke a seal or a whale or a dolphin.

Reducing plastic in the environment is something, I’m sure, we all agree needs to be done, but being mindful and purposeful about it is often daunting because when we don’t see the problem, we forget it is a problem.

Just remember that even small changes in your lifestyle can make a difference over time.



Bill McConnell

Owner, Whole Life Soaps


Meet Kyra McNally Albers: 2018's Haiku Soap Winner

Haiku SoapBill McConnellComment
Kyra McNally Alber’s Poem embedded on a bar of    Cranberry Fig Soap   .

Kyra McNally Alber’s Poem embedded on a bar of Cranberry Fig Soap.

Once again, we are publishing the winner of our annual haiku contest onto our soap. In year’s past, we have printed the poem on every bar we sell, but due to increasing number of bars that move trough our store, this has become impractical.

This year, we have moved to having a specialized soap for the winner. We are offering our Haiku Bar with scents of cranberry and fig. It is currently a light rose color with golden swirl, but look for that color to darken to a deeper red and cappuccino swirl in future renditions.

We will carry this soap until July 31, at which time we will start our poetry cycle anew.

As with every winner, when we announce our publication release, we like to reach out and get the winner’s perspective on the contest, on writing, and on being published on a bar of soap. Really, though, we just want to put a face to the winner. So, without further ado, here is our winner, Kyra McNally Albers.

Her winning poem is as follows:

The dewdrops have a cherry scent

On the crooked tree branch

Where you used to sit

Kyra McNally Albers at her home in Texas

Kyra McNally Albers at her home in Texas

We reached out to Kyra and asked her a few questions about writing. The results of our interview are below:

WLS: What type of writing do you specialize in? Is it generally poetry, or do you write other genres?

KMA: Poetry is not my usual type of prose; I focus on screenwriting and fiction, but this soap poetry caught my eye!

WLS: What factors did you consider when writing this particular Haiku?

KMA: When writing haiku, I consider how the third line can introduce a surprising image or twist while still transitioning smoothly from the first two. For my poem, I visualized pink-tinted dewdrops in the crook of an oak tree on a summer’s day, a special tree that triggers the narrator’s memory of an old friend or lover who’s left.

WLS: What other publication experience do you have?

KMA: I don’t have a whole lot of experience [being published], but the way I see it, being published on a bar of soap is the highest form of publication. It's sweet and creative and handy. I’m excited to say this is my first time being published!

WLS: How does your environment shape or influence your writing? Do you consciously consider it?

KMA: I didn’t--and usually don’t--consciously think about my surroundings while I’m writing, but rereading the haiku I absolutely see the element of Texas. The Texas landscape is what I know best, so that’s what I naturally visualize while writing. 

WLS: In what way(s) is your writing a reflection of you?

KMA: My writing, just like me, is all over the place. I mainly write lighthearted stories, but I also have an interest in poetry and have been considering horror stories for a while. 

WLS: Who is your favorite author and what is it you enjoy about their writing?

KMA: I couldn’t possibly tell you my favorite author, but a few I’ve enjoyed recently are Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), A.S. King (Still Life With Tornado), and Elisabeth Tova Bailey (The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating). They each find ways to weave light, fun themes with heavy themes.

WLS: What are some of your writing goals, either now or in the future?

KMA: I hope to keep my spontaneity. I’d like to be able to write more happy-go-lucky, casual stories, even children’s books, and still write somber pieces.

WLS: Are there any final thoughts about winning the contest?

KMA: The runner ups' haiku are amazing! And thank you so much for this opportunity; I’m looking forward to reading next year’s poems!

Kyra McNally Albers is a writer in the great state of Texas. We look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in her career. Congratulations, again.

Winner of the 2018 Haiku Soap Contest

Bill McConnell

Each year, as Wrightwood tries to solidify itself as a place where arts thrive, we sponsor our soap haiku contest. We appreciate the writers who visit our small village for the annual writer’s festival, sponsored by Rattle Magazine, and it’s apparent that the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains rubs off in their prose.

This year, we had over 500 entries in our little poetry contest. To put that in comparison, we only had 26 entries the first year we started, so it’s becoming a popular annual event. I’d like to thank poetry editor Timothy Green for including our contest in Rattle’s newsletter. So many of our participants came from across the US and the globe, with entries coming from as far away as Nigeria, Thailand, and New Zealand.

There were a lot of really good poems, and although there can be only one winner, I’d like to share the top 15 poems. Numbers 15 through 6 are honorable mentions; numbers 5 through 2 are the runners up, and number 1 is the winner. We will begin with the honorable mentions. I hope you give all of these poems your consideration before scrolling to the end.

Honorable Mentions

#15 Kim Mannix

House hunting

in a stranger’s bathroom

we kiss

#14 Susan Whitley Peters

I bought you two bars

of soap—it smelled amazing!

I used the other one.

#13 Catherine Young

Cleano! one boy, once small

sang as we marched to the tub

to scrub mud pie play.

#12 Emily Dalton

Think how the shore feels,

scrubbed clean everyday by waves

of raw emotion.

#11 Daniel Kahan

The right smell can heal

anything. Somewhere, there’s a

smell to wake the dead.

#10 Emily Davis-Fletcher

Your eyes whisper to me

across a room trembling poetry.

The flower picks the bee.

#9 Michael Stalcup

let me love you like

soap does—give myself to you

until I am gone.

#8 Joyce Ray

My skin, your skin

scrubbed into one people—

Clean living.

#7 Melissa Dearden

You left a bad taste—

I washed my mouth with soap

like a naughty child.

#6 Lisa Periale Martin

Dig, desert woman—

yucca roots for washing

that man out of your hair.

Runners up

#5 Hilma Wolitzer

That irony of

old age, knowing far more

than you can remember.

#4 Jim Daniels

Even when we had nothing,

sheep scratched themselves against

our dead car rusting in the weeds.

#3 Nadia Hutton

Lovers always smell

of sandalwood and I have

never understood why.

#2 Marc Nair

Some things cannot

be saved by soap; heavy hands,

the lost ends of love.

The 2018 Soap Haiku Winner

#1 Kyra McNally Albers

The dewdrops have a cherry scent

on the crooked tree branch

where you used to sit.


I have emailed the winner. Please check yoru spam folder in case it did not go through.

Thanks for your participation. Even if you did not win, all of you are talented writers. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

A special line of soaps featuring this poem will be available by Mid-December to early January and be on sale through June 30, 2019.

Haiku Update

Bill McConnellComment

Hi Everyone,

I know you are anticipating the winner. We had a huge number of entries—as a result, it’s taking me longer to get through them. The winner will be up by Wednesday.

I do apologize for the delay.

Bill McConnell,

Owner— Whole Life Soaps

Winner of the 2018 Haiku Contest

Bill McConnell

The Wrightwood Literary Festival has come to a conclusion. All contestants will be notified of the winner of the Whole Life Soaps Haiku contest by November 1, 2018 via email

Thanks for participating. We look forward to reading your work.

We have over 500 entries, so please be patient with us as we sift through the emails and entries submitted via the festival.

Good luck to you. Check back here for updates.

2018 Soap Haiku Contest

Bill McConnell

Once again, Whole Life Soaps is a proud sponsor of the Wrightwood Literary Festival, which is held every September. This years literary festival will be held September 29th and 30th. Registration for the literary festival can be found here. https://www.wrightwoodlitfest.com/

Entry is simple.  If you plan on attending the literary festival, you can submit a poem at the event, or you can stop by in person and submit a poem at our storefront in downtown Wrighwtood, CA. We are located at 6013 Park Dr. across the street from The Village Grind and Pacific Crest Zip Line.

If you are unable to attend the festival, you may email your haiku submission to wholelifesoaps@gmail.com

Please write Haiku Contest 2018 in the subject line. Please submit only one entry per person. Entry is free, although we do encourage you to buy some soap as a way to support this fun contest.

Entries must include the following:

  • Name
  • a valid email address
  • a valid mailing address
  • a valid phone number
  • one haiku poem

Past winners are ineligible.  Winners will be notified by October 31, 2018, but all participants will be notified regardless of whether they win.

Winners will receive a $50 prize and publication on one of our lines of soap. In the past, we stamped poems on every bar we make, but as we continue grow and expand, this becomes logistically difficult, so we will create a special line just for your poem that we will carry  throughout the six months between January and June of 2019.

I just want to say how I view a haiku and what I look for in submissions. According to poet Ken Jones, “Many of the best haiku present unexpected and contrasting images. These can arouse profound and subtle emotions and can convey layers of subtle meaning. The Western convention is to write haiku in three lines, but haiku of one, two or four lines are acceptable where that makes the best “fit”. Often the first line sets the scene, within which the second line makes an observation. The third line then presents an image contrasting with the second line, throwing our normal expectations out of gear, as it were, and opening up a wider perspective which may be both allusive and elusive.”

I look for that elusiveness, that contrast between joy and grief. When I started this contest, I made it a point to look for those layers of meaning. I also look for Haiku’s that aren’t simply about my soap, but use natural elements to express an emotional contrast.

Good luck, and I look forward to reading your submissions.

What's the Deal with Activated Charcoal?

Bill McConnellComment

Currently trending in the soap world is the addition of activated charcoal to the natural or commercial soap base.  Activated charcoal has many uses in medicine and skin care, but more and more soapers use the ingredient for its health and beauty attributes, especially its ability to lessen the effects of oily skin and acne.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is made from wood, coconut husks, and other traditional forms of burnt coal.  When it is activated, the material is superheated to expand the surface area of the fine ash grains so that their absorptive power is expanded in relationship to their size.  This is important because food grade charcoal (activated charcoal) is used to absorb toxins both internally and externally.  Activated charcoal is effective at absorbing certain poisons, and it can also be used in air purifiers to pull toxins out of the air people breathe in their homes and offices.  Topically, it can remove toxins, like dirt and bacteria, from the hair follicles and pores.

Why Use It In Soap?

Activated charcoal is an excellent additive for soap.  Taking a natural cleansing agent and adding to it the oil absorbency power of activated charcoal makes for a super skin purifier.  For example, if you take a small amount of activated charcoal, add it to a cap full of your regular shampoo, and rub it into your scalp during your shower, you can help your body eliminate excess oils in the hair, giving your hair bigger body and shine.  It’s messy, but it works (although if you have blonde or dirty blonde hair, you should test it out to make sure it won't stain your hair). If it’s in a bar of soap, this becomes an easier element to use on the skin.  For oily, acne-prone skin, the activated charcoal will pull excess dirt and oil from the pores and leave the skin healthier.  Activated charcoal soap is an excellent soap for teenagers and adults who have acne problems or excessive oil in their skin and hair.  Removing this excess oil and dirt generally provides users like yourself more confidence because your skin will appear cleaner and blemish-free.

How Does Whole Life Soap’s Activated Charcoal Bar Compare To A Popular Brand?

So, who makes the best activated charcoal soap for the price?  The trendy, hip beauty store Lush sells a brand of activated charcoal soap called Coal Face, which retails for $7.97 USD and weighs 3.5 ounces.  It contains rosewood oil, licorice root extract, charcoal powder, coconut oil, and rapeseed oil.  These are healthy and lovely ingredients.  But their soap also contains sodium lauryl sulfate (foaming agent), sorbitol (humectant), EDTA/Tetrasodium Editronate (prevents color/fragrance changes).  I consider these ingredients to be not so lovely.

At Whole Life Soaps, we use the following ingredients in our activated charcoal soap: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, and castor oil, activated charcoal, and green tea extract. Our natural oils provide a rich creamy lather.  The castor oil and shea butter provide the humectant qualities for the skin.  As for color and fragrance changes, well, since we are a handmade product, each batch is unique, which is how soap should be in our view.  By the way, we retail our 5 ounce bars at $7.00, so you are also getting more bang for your buck.

We’d love you to try our soap and realize ours really is the best.  Please visit our online shop to buy one today for yourself or as a gift fro someone else.









Vinegar: Nature's Fabric Softener

Bill McConnell

Vinegar is probably one of the best natural substances you can have in your home.  It can clean, it can act as a pesticide, it can act as a weed killer, and it can even unclog those slow to drain showers and sinks.

But did you know that vinegar has a couple of other uses?  In our home we use it as hair conditioner and as a fabric softener.

To use it as a fabric softener, you’re going to need the following items: distilled water, apple cider vinegar, and hair conditioner.  The distilled water is recommended because it prevents extra mineral deposits from getting into your washing machine’s lines.  Natural hair conditioner that do not contain sulfates are preferable, but if you are on a budget, and are not as concerned about other chemicals, you can buy Suave, or any other cheap brand of conditioner for this process.

First, take a large mason jar with a plastic drinking lid.  I like these ones, because I can cover the hole to shake my jar and easily pour the contents through the straw hole.

Second, mix your ingredients in a 1:1:1 ratio.  That’s equal parts water, conditioner, and fabric softener. If you would like, use an unscented conditioner and then put fifteen drops of your favorite essential oil in the mixture.  I prefer lavender or lemongrass, but that’s me.

Use this mixture in the wash phase of your laundry.  My washer has a container for liquid fabric softener.  This stuff works great and will save you a lot of money, because you are using ingredients you’ve already got laying around your home.

Some Changes for 2018

Bill McConnell

Price Changes

 As much as it pains me to do so, I need to increase my prices. Several factors have led to this increase including the rising cost of ingredients (which have tripled for me since 2015), a higher minimum wage (which is now at $11/hour), and increases in other costs of operation.

The products affected are listed below. These modets price increases reflect changes to our base prices, so they do not include tax. Current California sales tax rates will always be added at the register, just as it is now.

These prices will also be what we offer at local farmer markets.

Remember, this is a handmade product. It is a natural product, and we feel it's worth your continued support. I know you can buy Dove, Ivory, Irish Spring, or even Nutragena for less at any local grocery store, but our quality is superior, and our products are chemical-free. These other soaps simply aren’t as good as ours. And if you are a repeat customer, you understand that.

All changes take effect on Monday January 1, 2018 both in-store and online. Thanks for understanding. I hope to continue to see you as a customer.

Bar Soap: increased from $6.50 to $7.00

Liquid Soap: increased from $7.50 to $8.50

Beeswax Lotion Balm: increased from $8.50 to $10.00

Shaving Soap Pucks: increased from $10.50 to $12.00

Shampoo Bars: increased from $7.50 to $10.00

Dog Shampoo: increased from $7.50 to $10.00

Hand and Body Lotion: increased from $12.00 to $13.00

*Soap Shavings: increased from $3.00/Bag to $6.00/Bag

*Friday 4/$20 Deal: increased from 4 Bars for $20 to 3 Bars for $20

* indicates not available online

Out with the Old and in with the New

Due to certain fragrances and essential oil blends being discontinued, we will no longer be making the following items:

·      Tea Rose Soap (after March 2018)

·      Avocado Mint

·      Pumpkin Spice

Of course, if our suppliers are able to find new sources for their scents, we will make these again in the future.

Our Avocado Mint soap will change to something else. It’s an avocado oil soap, so that’s easy enough for me to continue, but scent profiles for it will take some testing. Keep your eyes and nose peeled for its replacement this year, likely in the spring. Perhaps it will become the new base of our popular summer soap, patchouli spearmint.

I just made a 30-pound batch of tea rose, using my last bottle of scent, so it will go online and in-store as soon as it cures (likely in middle-end of January), but once it sells out, that’s it for a while. Pumpkin spice is holiday soap only, so once it’s gone, you will have to wait until November of 2018.

I don’t know about you, but for me, part of making soaps is taking my customers requests and creating new soaps for everyone to enjoy. I have discovered so many great soaps this way and made so many people happy along the way, too.

Three new soap scent profiles I am adding to my collection are Sandalwood Rose, Lemon Lavender, and Citrus Mint. The Sandalwood Rose scent is woodsy and sweet. The sandalwood pairs with the rose amazingly well, creating this earthy yet fragrant bouquet. It strikes me a s gender-neutral soap, much like our Patchouli Sage and Lavender Patchouli soaps are appealing to all genders.

The lemon lavender is a subtle blend of lavender and citrus. It stimulates the skin, wakes, you, up, clears your sinuses…it’s a pleasant soap to use on a daily basis. The Citrus Mint soap will cool the skin, yet the citrus will wake up the senses. Look for all three of these new scents in February.



2017 Soap Haiku Contest Winner

Bill McConnell

Read about our annual Haiku contest.  This year's winner is Cheryl Heineman, a graduate from San Diego State University's MFA program in creative writing. She has published two collections of poetry, Just Getting Started and something to hold onto. Both are available on Amazon.  Her poems have appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, San Diego Writer's Ink, 8West Press, 1001 Journal, the Magee Park Poets 2017 Anthology and the Round Top Poetry Festival Anthology, among others. She has won several awards from the Palm Springs Writers Guild.

How About a Bar of Beer?

Bill McConnell

Twice a year, I make beer soaps. I usually make them around St. Patrick's day and Fourth of July. I do this because it's my contribution to two holidays that seem to revolve around drinking. Whether that''s a good thing to promote is a a matter of opinion, but as a businessman, it makes sense to offer a seasonal product.

I always make my beer soaps out of whatever beer I happen to be drinking. I like to think I drink good quality beers. For beer soap production, I enjoy using IPA and stout. Both have exquisite, aromatic properties that provide the soap a woodsy, aromatic tincture.

This past February, I made two batches of beer soap (128 bars total). The first batch is an IPA beer, made from Stone Brewery's traditional IPA (the one in the green can...yum). This is a simple process. I gather all of my oils (a proprietary blend of coconut, olive, castor, and Shea butter) and when I make my lye solution, I substitute the water for beer.

The beer must be prepped, though. The beer must boil for about 20 minutes at a solid, rolling boil. When the beer comes to a full boil, that's when I start my timer. About five minutes into the boil, a thick skin of foam starts to build up on the surface. This is the alcohol burning off. It takes about ten minutes for this to completely happen. After ten minutes, I vigorously stir the pot and within a couple of minutes, a new head of foam starts, but this one continues to rise. This is the yeast burning off. It can fill the pan (and I use a 20 quart pot). I boil a 12-pack down to about 72 ounces (a 50% reduction). If I boil it too long and find that I need more liquid, I'll add a little distilled water to compensate.

Once the liquid has cooled, I add it to my melted oils, thicken it to trace with a stick blender, add any scents, mold it and wait for the magic to happen.   

This year, I added a blend of cedar and vetiver oils to my IPA soap. I found that the woodsy scents of these two oils complemented the slightly toasted scent of hops that remains in the finished product.

My stout soap is comprised of a blend of three stouts: American Stout, Coffee Milk Stout, and Xocoveza Stout (all by Stone Brewery). For scent, I add only a small amount of vanilla, as these beers have a natural chocolate-like, almost caramel scent to them. They are sweetly aromatic, not cloying. And, they have a faint spice texture to the nose.

The colors are just the natural color of the beer--nothing more. 

Aside from all of this, the benefits of beer soap include better lather, better hardness, and better oil-fighting ability.  A beer soap can fight off acne, soothe slight skin irritation, and can function as a shampoo.  The natural wheat proteins in beer are good for both the hair and the skin.

If you'd like to check out my IPA soap with cedar and Vetiver, or if you'd prefer our Vanilla Stout Soap. please click on our shop now link above, where you'll find these soaps as well as a bunch of other great products.

Thanks for stopping by.