All posts by Soap Hope Good Life

Here’s the Lowdown on Dry Shampoos

Us humans can get especially particular about how we wash, trim, curl, dry, or style our hair.

And it makes sense! Our hair can say a lot about our personality.

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When it comes to hair care, many of us include shampooing and conditioning our manes as part of our daily routine. What we’re discovering, however, is that this might not be the healthiest for our hair.

All About Sebum

Our skin and scalp have tiny little glands all over them that secrete oil, or sebum, called sebaceous glands.

We secrete sebum for all kinds of cool reasons — and we started forming sebaceous glands during fetal development, as a means of protecting and nourishing our skin.  Sebum also helps to provide our skin with vitamin E.

The Greasy Hair Conundrum

Because our bodies naturally produce this oil, you might find that, after a day or so, your hair looks or feels slightly more oily.

Which, for a lot of us, might feel gross. In reality, it’s our body trying to maintain it’s natural, healthy ecosystem.

So keeping your hair squeaky clean and washing it on a daily basis not only prevents your hair from getting the natural oils that it needs, but also triggers overproduction of sebum.

So how can you help keep your hair’s natural oils and maintain a fresh appearance?

The Miracle of Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos are all over the place these days, and they’ve especially grown in popularity in the last few years. But they’ve been around for centuries — the first mention of dry shampoo was around the 15th century in Asia, where the style-savvy were using clay powder in their hair.

Dry shampoos are great, because they help to control the production of oil, but don’t trigger the scalp’s overproduction of sebum, like washing it can.

So your hair looks fresh AND you get to skip a day of washing and drying!

There are a ton of products out there to choose from, but if you’re looking for a dry shampoo that’s going to be good for you AND the environment, here are a few tips:

  • Check the label! Avoid any sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or petroleum.
  • Make sure the packaging is biodegradable, like Acure’s dry shampoo, which we love!
  • Look for nourishing ingredients like argan and CoQ10 — the dry shampoo will help manage oily hair, but will replenish with good oils, too!

Do you use a dry shampoo? What tips do you have for using this in your hair care routine?

The Many Health Benefits of Rosemary You Need to Know About

Rosemary’s uses date back as far as 500 BC in Greece and Rome, when it was commonly used to stimulate and strengthen memory. Throughout centuries the fragrant herb has been used in various mystical and religious applications.

While these uses are less commonly employed today, many of the historical uses of rosemary have carried into modern times.

The Many Uses of Rosemary

Promoting healthy skin and hair: Rosemary contains riboflavin (vitamin B2) which is part of what makes it a stimulant. When applied to skin and hair it aids in the regeneration of healthy cells. Using rosemary in shampoo encourages faster-growing and stronger hair. When soap or body wash made with rosemary is used skin tends to look and feel younger. Rosemary is also an astringent, which aids in maintaining the buoyancy of skin.

Inciting memory and increasing mental activity: Certain research indicates that rosemary helps to prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the brain. In a study conducted by Dr. Mark Moss of the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, results showed that workers in rosemary-infused cubicles exhibited better long-term memory and reported feeling more alert than those in untreated cubicles. For this property, Rosemary has been nicknamed the “herb of remembrance.”

Detoxifying: Rosemary’s antiseptic properties help remove toxins from your skin and hair.

Healing: Rosemary also has anti-inflammatory properties, which help heal skin conditions such as acne, eczema and dermatitis. It is also known to ease puffiness or swelling.

The Importance of Antioxidants

Rosemary is perhaps best known for its preservative qualities as an antioxidant.

The plant and its essential oils have been used as natural “preservatives” for centuries, most commonly for meat and other food products. Today it is also widely used as a protecting element in all-natural body care products.

For the same reasons antioxidants are useful as preserving elements in all-natural products, they are also useful for keeping your body healthy. When applied topically, rosemary’s antioxidizing abilities can keep your skin, hair and body looking and feeling young.

Antioxidants are known to “preserve” youth and although the aging process is inevitable, there are ways in which antioxidants maintain health and protect your body from harmful external elements:

  • Stimulate cell growth: Help hair grow faster and stronger and are even known to slow premature graying
  • Protects skin: Shield skin from UV rays to prevent skin damage, keeping skin looking young for longer
  • Stimulate circulation: Aid in lowering blood pressure
    Incite memory and slows memory loss: The alerting scent of rosemary can promote mental stimulation
  • Slow onset of Alzheimer’s: Research conducted by Dr. James Duke, former researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicates that the dozen antioxidants in rosemary can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Detoxifies: Many clinical studies have demonstrated strong links between chemical carcinogens and cancer. Research conducted by Dr. Keith Singletary at the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition indicates that the antioxidants in rosemary have significant impact on the removal of chemical carcinogens.

To help you remember all of these great benefits, we came up with this handy infographic to share with your friends!

Rosemary Health Benefits (1)

 

 

Want more rosemary in your skin care routine? Check out these great products from Soap Hope that include all of the benefits we’ve talked about!

Please note that another version of this post was published previously on our website. 

What the heck is a microbiome?

At the end of last year, Fortune Magazine predicted that 2015 would be the Year of the Microbiome,  because of advances in medical technology and the progress around discovering what’s behind some of our trickiest medical issues.

But just WHAT IS a microbiome?

Maybe you remember biology class, and studying microbes — they’re basically any organism too small to be seen with the naked eye.

The microbiome is the collection of all of these tiny living things that live on and in our body. And what scientists are discovering is that the little guys play a HUGE role in our overall health and how diseases might impact us.

Our microbiomes are also constantly evolving, making it increasingly tricky to figure out just what a “normal” microbiome might look like. What we’re discovering is that “it is reasonable to characterize the microbiome as a newly recognized organ, with a great range of metabolic activities.

Why does the microbiome matter?

Well, those little creatures that live on your skin are noted as being not only the most diverse, but also some of the most important defensive players when it comes to our health.

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“New evidence suggests that commensal skin bacteria both directly protect humans from pathogenic invaders and help the immune system maintain that delicate balance between effective protection and damaging inflammation.”

So, yeah, taking care of the ecosystem that lives on our body is really important!

Show your microbiome some love

But here’s what we’re also learning — besides the fact that it’s always evolving, my microbiome is probably different than your microbiome. There are, of course, some similarities, but the differences mean that there isn’t just ONE way of caring for one’s microbiome.

Stay away from antimicrobial products

A few ways that we can take care of the communities of microbes living on our skin involve protecting that balance that they’re creating. That means eliminating antimicrobial products that kill off the bacteria that are actually good for us.

One of the biggest offenders is triclosan, which has  been found to be “no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms and reducing bacterial levels on the hands.” Not only that, triclosan (found in a wide range of antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps) has been found in water supplies and sewage treatment plants, and has been linked to altering hormone regulation functions in wildlife. 

Go for oils over moisturizers — that means no parabens!  Antimicrobial preservatives like parabens consist of wax and water that might make your skin feel hydrated but result in irritations.

Oils, on the other hand, are able to penetrate and clear out pores, dissolving other oils and other gunk. We’re a huge fan of castile soaps and products containing other awesome oils (argan, coconut, olive, etc.).

And of course, eating nutrient-dense, whole foods can ensure that you’re healthy from the inside out. It’s all about that balance!

Want products that are good for your microbiome, and leave you feeling fresh? Here are a few we’d recommend!

Why we love castile soaps

If you do a quick Google search on castile soap, you’ll find it has just about as many uses as a Swiss army knife.

Soap making has a long history, spanning several centuries and a variety of production methods.

The chemical process for making soap has not, however, changed all that much. Fats are boiled with alkali, which then produces soap (yay!) and glycerin.

Castile soap: a brief history

The quality of soap produced is especially dependent on the ingredients used. Early attempts, for example, relied on ash. In Spain, the salsola plant was burned to produce an ash called barilla.

“This, used in conjunction with locally available olive oil, offered a good quality soap which, by salting-out or “graining” the boiled liquor with brine, allowed the soap to float to the surface, leaving the lye, vegetable colouring and impurities to settle out. This produced what was probably the first white hard soap: Jabon de Castilla, or Castile soap, also known to pharmacists as Sapo hispaniensis or Sapo castilliensis.

Eventually, “castile soap” became the generic name for the hard, white, olive oil soaps, which we still use today.

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“Aleppo soap 03” by Bernard Gagnon

Castile soaps can also be made with coconut oil, palm oil, or any other quality vegetable-based oil — and castile soaps also come in liquid form. The liquid soaps use potassium hydroxide to saponify the vegetable oils, while the hard bar soaps use sodium hydroxide.

Just like the food that we eat, it’s crucial that the products we use on our skin are nutrient-rich. Which is why we’re especially big fans of castile soap!

Made of goodness

Castile soap is made with olive oil, which contains all kinds of fatty acids and antioxidants, along with vitamins E and K — all good things!

Vitamin K has been found to help prevent the calcification of our skin’s elastin (the protein that gives skin the ability to spring back). Fatty acids are known to reduce the body’s production of compounds that cause inflammation.

All kinds of remedies

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Castile soap (as mentioned before) uses olive oil, which has long been used as a remedy for skin care and health. Greeks, for instance, used olive oil during massage, to help prevent injuries, relieve muscle fatigue, and eliminate lactic acid buildup. Olive oil has also been recommended as a treatment against skin diseases like eczema and dandruff.

Versatile AND healthy

peg-238525_1280Castile soap doesn’t just clean and nourish your skin — you can use it for washing laundry, cleaning carpets, and scrubbing your vegetables!

There are a host of reasons to love and use castile soaps, and we’ve only named just a few here.

 

How else do you use your castile soap goodness? Comment below!

 

Some of our favorite castile soap products: