All posts by Salah Boukadoum

Salah is is a social entrepreneur, co-founder of Soap Hope and co-inventor of the Good Returns model. You can see his TED talk at http://salahsTalk.com or read his thoughts at http://salahsBlog.com.

Yes, Honey!

In today’s post you’ll find a recipe to boost your health daily, see how honey beats pharmaceuticals,  and learn how master makers take advantage of the healing properties of honey.

(Image: honeycomb. Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, under license.)

Beehive Yourself

If you are health conscious and don’t already incorporate honey into your diet, you definitely might want to start now. Here’s are some of the amazing properties of honey:

  • Cancer and heart disease preventative
  • Naturally antibacterial and antifungal
  • Cholesterol regulator
  • Probiotic
  • Skin moisturizer and humectant
  • Natural cough suppressant
  • Heals cuts and burns

How does honey have such powerful health benefits for humans? It starts with its dense nutrition: honey naturally contains 18 amino acids, potassium, calcium, B complex vitamins, and antioxidants.

When we consume the flavonoids in honey, they remove oxidants from the body that can damage capillaries and collagen. You can go on a regimen of artificial drugs from pharmaceutical companies that have tried to reproduce the compounds in honey – or, if you are like us, you might prefer just incorporating raw organic honey into your daily diet.

Honey is also antibacterial, beginning with an enzyme that bees put in honey that creates hydrogen peroxide. A recent medical study found that dressing burns with honey is more effective than using silver sulfadiazene – honey makes wounds sterile in less time, enhances healing, and reduces scarring better than the drugs.

Your Daily Healthy Dose

Get started with honey using this simple morning tonic. (This tonic also incorporates apple cider vinegar, which has wonderful health benefits that we will discuss in a separate post for you.) It’s really easy:

Each morning, put one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (we like Bragg's organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar for its purity) in a tall glass. Add one heaping tablespoon of organic raw honey. Stir it quickly until the mixture is smooth.  Fill the glass 3/4 with filtered water. Then if you like, top it off with a few ice cubes.

The benefits? You get flavanoids into your system, lots of nutrients, a morning energy boost, and a dose of probiotics (some varieties of honey contain as many as 10 species of friendly bacteria that help regulate your digestion). Make it a daily habit, and see how your energy level and overall health improves.

Ahem

A study in 2010 compared honey with cough suppressant drugs like dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine. Guess which one did better? A dose of honey before sleep is more effective than those cough suppressant drugs. 

(Although honey is truly effective for alleviating cough and sore throat, it is a myth that consuming local honey will help prevent allergies. No studies have ever shown that consuming local honey has a measurable effect on allergies. But there are still plenty of other reasons to eat it!)

Sweet!

With all its nutrition, antioxidant power, and healing properties, honey is of course abundant at Soap Hope. Here are some great uses of honey that our master makers have created:

KIND Soap Company Honey Almond Brown Sugar Scrub. This sweet scrub smells delicious and will leave your skin silky smooth. Dig your fingers in for little scoopfuls and gently massage onto your skin in circular motions. Allow the organic raw brown sugar, almond oil, honey and mango butter to work their magic for a couple of minutes. When you rinse clean with warm water, you will be amazed at how soft your skin feels.

KIND Soap Company Honey Almond Brown Sugar Scrub
KIND Soap Company Honey Almond Brown Sugar Scrub

A Wild Soap Bar makes a fantastic Honey Oat  Organic Soap Bar – the only aroma in this bar is the warm scent of raw honey. We love its soothing and moisturizing effects.

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Honey Oat Organic Soap Bar

Rose Geranium Face and Body Bar by Badger blends honey with rose geranium and calming lavender in a beautifully scented bar, with fine ground organic oatmeal for exfoliation that is gentle enough for sensitive facial skin.

Rose Geranium Face and Body Bar at Soap Hope
Rose Geranium Face and Body Bar at Soap Hope

Indigo Wild’s Grapefruit Zum Kiss Stick uses honey and beeswax to moisturize and heal lips.

Indigo Wild’s Grapefruit Zum Kiss Stick
Indigo Wild’s Grapefruit Zum Kiss Stick

We hope you’ve learned something new about honey today with us. Do you have a favorite recipe, regimen, or story about honey, or a thought about Soap Hope? Share in the comments below!

Mind Your Beeswax: The Natural and Sustainable Power of Bees

Image: Honeybee Landing on Milk Thistle. Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos under license.

Bee Helpful

Recently a photo vent viral online of the “world’s first beekeeping donkey.” A creative beekeeper in Brazil not only dons his own beekeeping suit for the workday, he fashioned a suit for his donkey as well, who helps carry the gathered honey to market.

Honeybees are incredibly important to humanity and all of nature. Bees pollinate almost all of the almond, apple, orange, cherry, peach, tangerine and grapefruit in the world.

Unfortunately, many of the pesticides used on crops are deadly to bees. In the last several years, the honeybee population has collapsed. The European Union has banned many chemicals that are known to be harmful to bees, but the United States has not followed suit. (When you buy organic foods and products, you help support the entire ecosystem, including bees, by rewarding chemical-free farmers with your business.)

Bee Grateful

Bees also create wonderful natural ingredients that we use every day in food and body care products. This week we’ll look at beeswax (and be sure to come back next week to learn about honey).

Beeswax is nutrient-rich, non-allergenic, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), and never goes bad. Medical science is even looking at beeswax as a tool to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, as a pain reliever, and for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.

Zum Face Under Eye Butter by Indigo Wild
Zum Face Under Eye Butter by Indigo Wild

Beeswax has the wonderful property of being emollient and keeping skin moist, while still allowing skin to breathe and without clogging pores. It’s full of healing and restorative Vitamin A. (That’s why Indigo Wild uses organic beeswax in its Under Eye Butter.)

Beeswax is also anti-bacterial. Chapped or damaged lips? Beeswax will not only moisturize and soothe, it also provides natural antibacterial protection. Lip balms from Indigo Wild, LEAP Organics, Badger Balm, and Mahya Cosmetics all take advantage of beeswax.

Bee Natural

Beeswax is a humectant, helping skin retain moisture. But unlike mineral oil, which builds up under the skin and prevents the skin from absorbing nutrients, beeswax keeps skin moist naturally and safely.

Gypsy Rose Solid Perfume by KIND Soap
Gypsy Rose Solid Perfume by KIND Soap

For those looking for nontoxic deodorants, beeswax is a natural fit: Nourish Organic uses it as a primary ingredient in all their organic deodorants, along with cornstarch and plant enzymes, for dryness and odor protection.

KIND Soap Company uses beeswax to create beautiful solid perfumes. The beeswax serves as a long-lasting base that allows the intoxicating aromas to stay with your skin all day.

LEAP Organics uses the wonderful emollience of organic beeswax in shaving cream, and you’ll find it in Acure’s Baby Buns Diaper Lotion for diaper rash.

All The Buzz

Now when you see “beeswax” on an ingredient list, you’ll know it means natural, emollient, nourishing, and all-around good. That’s why beeswax is so popular with our makers – in fact, you’ll find beeswax in over 100 products at Soap Hope.

Stay tuned next week for a look at the benefits of honey. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

What’s In A Neem

If you read ingredient lists as fervently as we do at Soap Hope, you’ve seen the words Neem Oil – in body soaps, cleansers, hair care and anti-aging products. You may even have noticed that neem oil seems always to be present when a natural product is focused on helping with dry skin, psoriasis, scalp problems, or anything related to inflammation. Let’s see why.

Neem oil comes from – you guessed it – the fruit of the neem tree, also known by the more elegant name Indian Lilac. Neem has powerful healing and protecting properties: it has been used as an antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial, a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory.

Medical science is just now catching up to centuries of traditional wisdom (in India, the neem tree is called “the village pharmacy”), with studies of the use of neem for conditions from psoriasis to HIV. It seems that the key may be the special form of vitamin E found in neem.

By the way, neem fits right in with our focus on sustainability at Soap Hope: this tree can live for over 100 years, and the oil is harvested sustainably from the seeds of its fruit.

If you smell the wonderful aroma of its flowers, and with all of neem’s amazing properties, you might think every skin and hair care product would use it – but there’s a challenge for makers: raw neem oil has a medicinal aroma. It takes a master maker like The Seaweed Bath Co. or Nourish Organic to get the perfect blend of neem into their formulations: just the right amount and in combination with the ideal complementary natural ingredients.

So how do makers incorporate neem into their products? Let’s look at a few key uses of this wonder oil at Soap Hope:

  • Seaweed Bath Co., with their focus on protecting and healing scalp and skin, uses neem oil in their body washes, hand, foot and body butters.
  • Nourish Organic blends neem into its Moisturizing Face Cleanser – not surprising, since neem oil is known to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and is a natural antimicrobial.
  • A Wild Soap Bar’s intensely therapeutic Pine Tar Neem Oil Organic Soap Bar is a daily requirement for those who have scalp or skin irritation, itching or redness.
  • KIND Soap Company understands the cleansing and anti-aging properties of neem for skin – that’s why it’s in their Honey Hand Spa.

    So “what’s in a neem?” When you think neem oil, think healing, cleansing, and protective. It’s on Soap Hope’s list of favorite ingredients.

  • Let us know if neem oil is a part of your body care regimen – we would love to hear about your experience. Comments are open below.

    Hair’s Best Friend: Moroccan Argan Oil

    Miracle Oil

    By now you’ve certainly heard of argan oil. It’s been called “the miracle oil” and “liquid gold,” and while it’s a relatively new discovery in the beauty industry, the benefits of argan oil have been known for centuries in northern Africa. In the arid environment where it grows, argan has always been used to keep hair and skin soft and supple. Rich in nutrients, argan was also used topically for skin ailments and to fight infections.

    Argan oil is one of the rarest oils on the planet, because it comes from the fruit of the argania spinosa tree which grows in only a very small part of the world.

    Focus on Hair

    Argan oil has powerful applications for skin, face, eyes, and nails, and as you will learn today, for hair.

    Many people who try argan oil for the first time are amazed by its effects. It helps with both oily and dry scalp conditions because it regulates the activity of hair follicles. Argan is used to counteract the root causes of dry or damaged hair. For those with dull or rough hair, it can create shine and smoothness.

    Argan oil is rich in the nutrients that your body and hair need – antioxidants, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acid, linoleic acid and oleic acid to name a few. Hair absorbs and retains this oil to create shine and body – but argan is light and does not build up, so hair gets the benefit of these great properties without being weighed down.

    Argan oil penetrates the hair follicle and even protects from UV rays and environmental pollutants; it is definitely recommended for color treated hair and to strengthen styled hair.

    Everything Good

    At Soap Hope we always encourage practices that support our “Everything Good” motto. We love that most argan oil in the world is produced by fair trade women’s co-operatives. Environmentally, the argan forest in Morocco is a designated protected biosphere to ensure that argan fruit production remains sustainable.

    I Want It!

    Soap Hope’s brands recognize the importance of argan oil in their top of the line hair products. You’ll find it in over 70 products at Soap Hope. You’ll find argan-focused hair products from Seaweed Bath Company, Acure Organics, and Hugo Naturals. You can also get pure organic argan oil at Soap Hope from Acure Organics, and we carry a great argan oil blend with pomegranate seed and rosehip oils from Nourish Organic.

    Do you use argan oil as a part of your hair regimen? Share your experiences with us in the comments below – we want to hear from you.

    Vetiver and Valentine

    You may not know the name vetiver, but you’ve almost certainly noticed its intoxicating aroma if you have ever smelled cologne – vetiver is present as a base note in the majority of perfumes and cologne today. Its smoky, musky, exotic aroma is said to be an aphrodisiac.

    The vetiver plant (Vetiveria Zizanoides) is a grass that is grown widely in India and Haiti. The tall grass grows up to six feet tall. In India you’ll find thatch roofs, mattresses, and curtains made of this special plant, as it cools and scents rooms and keeps insects away.

    Vetiver’s essential oil is extracted from its roots by steam distillation. The oil has powerful benefits. Academic research has shown that vetiver essential oil is a potent antioxidant that scavenges free radicals. Vetiver is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It is used to treat blemishes, blemish prone skin, scars, stretch marks and burns. Vetiver is also a natural aphrodisiac that is said to increase libido and desire.

    You wouldn’t know by looking that the roots of this tall grass contain such a special essential oil – but people have known for thousands of years about its valuable properties. It’s a perfect ingredient for this season of love and romance.

    If you’re curious about the seductive aroma of Vetiver, Soap Hope is featuring a line of Valentine’s Day products that highlight the exotic aroma of this wonderful natural essential oil. Indigo Wild has had some fun with this scent, blending vetiver and lavender for their limited run Ooh La Zum bar soap, candle, mist, candle, massage oil, and lip balm.

    USDA Organic – The Basics

    Soap Hope is about to launch a new product line called Nourish Organic with the unique claim to fame that the entire company is Certified USDA Organic.

    But just what does Organic mean? What’s the difference between Organic and USDA Organic? And does organic matter for skin care?

    The Meaning of Organic and the USDA Seal

    If a product is labeled 100% Organic, by law every single ingredient in the product must be 100% USDA certified organic (except water and salt). Since 100% organic ingredients are not allowed to contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), 100% Organic products are also automatically non-GMO.

    If a product is labeled Organic, it can contain up to 5% non-organic ingredients. But those non-organic ingredients must adhere to strict guidelines – for example, no synthetic preservatives or petrochemicals are allowed in the final product.

    Watch out for products labeled Made With Organic Ingredients. They are allowed to contain up to 30% non-organic ingredients, and there are no restrictions on what’s in those 30%.

    Only products in the first two categories – Organic and 100% Organic – are allowed to display the USDA Organic seal. That means when you see the seal, you know the product has 95% or more organic ingredients, produced without toxic pesticides or herbicides, artificial preservatives or colors.

    Is Organic Important for Body Care?

    Most people who are seeking to live a natural life don’t want pesticides on their skin – but if the product isn’t organic, how do you know if there are pesticides in it? That’s why so many of the products at Soap Hope are certified organic: we know many folks like you want the guarantee of purity that comes with certified organic products.

    Later this week you’ll learn more about Nourish Organic, the first beauty company in the world to receive 100% USDA-organic certification from the government. You can also look for organic products from our top makers like Leap Organics, A Wild Soap Bar, Badger, and By The Grace of Tea.

    Here’s a link to organic labeling rules for body care products on the USDA website.