This mad chemist makes super soap

Sarah Iliev sells her handmade soaps, salves, lip balms and bath bombs from her Flippin’ Awesome Handcrafted Artisan Soaps booth in the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photos by John Gregory)

This mad chemist makes super soap

Inside the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market sits a booth. In that booth is a woman who is a Scripps Ranch resident and a mother of children who attend the nearby Innovations Academy. This woman sells soap at the Farmer’s Market. It all seems rather mundane except for the notion that this woman might as well wear a wizard’s cap because she experiments with all sorts of exotic ingredients — micas, chick weed, kombucha, calendula, shea, turmeric and possibly eye of newt and toe of frog — brewing them up in her home to produce soaps, salves and balms.

Her name is Sarah Iliev. Her home-based business is called Flippin’ Awesome Handcrafted Artisan Soaps. Her husband has called her a “mad scientist.”

Whether she’s a mad scientist, chemist or wizard, take a moment to listen to her describe her products and it’s obvious that she is quite ingenious.

“When I first started making soap, I was using all-natural ingredients and clays and pigments for colors, and after a while the allure of the bright colors and the fancy fragrances became too much to resist for me,” she said. “I use really, really high-quality fragrance oils. They are synthetic, yes, but they are developed in a lab specifically to be used in soap and on skin products, so they’re safe. I use mostly micas for colors. I also use some stuff like cocoa powder and turmeric. This one has activated charcoal in it, which gives it that nice, inky-black color.”

Iliev enjoys experimenting with her ingredients to see what she can create.

Sarah Iliev creates an assortment of colorful handmade soaps.

“One of my passions is making soap with different, unusual ingredients, so I’ve got a kombucha soap that I make from my own home-brewed kombucha,” she said. “Kombucha is a fermented tea. It’s made with sugar and tea and it ferments down and it turns into this wonderful, bubbly probiotic drink. But when you use it in soap, the natural sugars in the kombucha actually add tons of lather to the soap. So, it actually makes a really, really awesome soap.”

Iliev also makes a whisky soap and another soap made with hard apple cider, and both have the natural sugar in them that makes for a really bubbly soap bar.

She makes herbal salves with lavender, calendula and chick weed. “It’s really soothing for irritated skin and bug bites,” she said.

She makes solid lotion bars for rough and dry skin. Just rub it in your hands and the natural oils melt.

Iliev also makes facial soaps and lip balm.

“My lip balms have coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil, shea butter and cocoa butter in them,” she said. “So, when you rub them on, it actually sinks in and moisturizes.”

The Flippin’ Awesome booth carries an array of all-natural facial soaps.

In addition, Iliev makes bath bombs that she sells for $2 each.

“Kids love these,” she explained. “It’s basically baking oil and citric acid, so when you dump it in the water, it fizzes. It’s also got some oil in there that moisturizes your skin and makes it feel really soft.”

The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is open for shoppers from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every single Saturday at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit

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