During these summer months, while you’re out swimming or camping or picnicking, there’s good chance you’ll have some unwelcome guests.
Whether those guests are in the form of mosquitoes, houseflies, or ticks, chances are you’ll want some kind of protection from them, so that your summer fun isn’t ruined. And ideally, you’ll want a natural insect repellent to help with that.
Details on DEET
Any discussion around insect repellent inevitably leads to the topic of DEET. Developed as a pesticide by the U.S. Army, it appeared to be highly effective in protecting humans from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other biting insects.
You’ll find a large number of insect repellents on store shelves contain DEET — but they come with some pretty serious warnings.
DEET has been found to be toxic, and is a known skin irritant. Manufacturers recommend NOT using DEET under clothing or on damaged skin, and that once you don’t need a repellent, you should wash off the application.
Oh yeah, and DEET is a solvent. It can actually DISSOLVE materials like plastics, rayon, and synthetic materials.
But luckily there are safe, non-toxic options available that won’t dissolve plastics. Check out these natural insect repellents below!
Basil is effective in repelling house flies and mosquitoes — and it tastes great in salads and a number of dishes!
You can use basil by placing containers near doors (where bugs like to sneak in), or you can apply a solution of basil-infused water and vodka to your skin to prevent bites. Yes, vodka.
For years, the only option for working up a good lather in the shower was limited to one item: bar soap. These days, there are thousands of options for getting clean: scrubs, washes, oils, and all kinds of lovely bar soap to choose from.
The two big players are liquid soaps and bar soaps — both have their redeeming qualities, but just what is it that makes them unique and different?
Bar soaps are awesome, but there are just as many reasons to love liquid soaps, so we thought we’d enumerate all of the great qualities about both.
1. Less waste: Bar soaps don’t get wasted as quickly. People typically overestimate how much liquid soap they use and go through their bottle a lot faster.
2. Built-in exfoliation: When you rub your skin with soap, this helps to remove debris and dead skin while you wash, especially if you use soaps like the Sea Salt bar from Indigo Wild.
3. Ease of use: Bar soap is pretty straightforward — just remove any packaging and get to cleaning up!
1. OOPS: You’re not going to accidentally lose an ENTIRE bottle of liquid soap down the drain, like you might when accidentally dropping a bar of soap in the shower.
2. A better lather: Liquid soaps tend to work up a better lather than bar soap, which some folks just can’t do without! The luxury of a super sudsy clean can feel great after a long day.
3. Variety of uses: If you’ve got a liquid castile soap in your house, you have an arsenal of cleaning power behind you. Castile soap can be used for cleaning you, your kids, your dog, your floor – just about anything.
So which side do you fall on, when it comes to getting clean? Let us know in the comments below!
We heard about Better Life (and you probably have, too) because they were featured on Shark Tank last year and made quite the splash on national television.
Better Life pitched their line of natural cleaning products to the investors (they got offers from all of the Sharks), and impressed them with their safer, effective cleaning solution.
Since then the company has grown in size and in the number of products they offer.
They’ve installed solar panels on the roof of their manufacturing facility, and were named the 503rd fastest growing company in the US by Inc. Magazine last year.
Tim Barklage, cofounder of Better Life, took the time to chat with us about the company and why they’re in the business of clean.
The Beginning of Better
He and high school buddy, Kevin Tibbs, started Better Life in 2008.
Before they launched the brand, there weren’t many options on the market. The available cleaning products claiming to be “safe” were really just less dangerous than the other alternatives.
“When my wife and I started having kids,” says Tim, “finding a solution for cleaning products became more crucial. And I wanted to find something that was safe from the ground up — not just ‘less dangerous’ than other options out there.”
Any product that they created had to meet their requirements: it needed to be safe enough for kids to use, safe on household surfaces, and needed to perform at the same level or better than other products out there.
“Once we realized we could do all of those things, we knew we had something to sell,” says Tim.
Building on Better
Creating quality natural cleaning products and maintaining control over the integrity of the brand has not come easily. The company was bootstrapped for the first several years.
Any entrepreneur will tell you how intense building a company like this can be, but Tim explains that bootstrapping “allowed us to stay in control of our business and focus on the products.”
Since the company has grown, they’ve found more stability and added more products, built out their team further, and are expanding their international presence.
Better Life was recognized by REAL SIMPLE for their Simply Floored cleaner as their top pick for all-surface cleaners, and the company was featured on the Today Show for their quality products.
“We’re really excited about the growth, and the fact that we’re creating jobs and opportunities for more people has been amazing,” says Tim.
On his favorite Better Life Products: “I use the No Regrets Liquid Hand and Body Soap everyday,” says Tim. “And I do the laundry in the house, so I’m a big fan of the Spin-Credible Laundry Detergent.”
On the future of Better Life products: “We can’t wait to share more products with our customers — we have some great things in store for everyone this year!”
You can shop for Better Life items at Soap Hope. Here are some of our favorites!
We make it part of our Soap Hope mission to only offer soaps and products that we feel comfortable using. This means that we only work with brands we trust, and who use ingredients that are wholesome and safe.
Maggie Hanus, founder and “Soap Bartender” at A Wild Soap Bar took a moment to talk with us about why she’s so passionate about the work she does and the products she offers.
Soap Hope: How long have you been in business?
A Wild Soap Bar: 20 years.
SH: Why did you start making soap?
AWSB: I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands, so when I ran across Sandy Maines’ first little book about soap making, I decided to give it a whirl.
I eventually became good at it through trial and error and I haven’t been able to stop ever since. My son Jory makes all of our products now, but I still stir up a batch of soap every now and then, just for grins.
SH: What do you love most about making your products?
AWSB: I get so excited when I hear how our products are helping people with skin problems they’ve had for years! Making a difference in someone’s life, that’s what it’s all about. Being your own boss is incredibly hard work, but hearing from our satisfied customers makes it all worthwhile.
SH: What’s your favorite soap/scent/product right now?
AWSB: I designed all of our products, so naturally, I like them all. It’s hard to pick just one, but I’d have to say that my all time favorite soap bar is our Warm Wishes Holiday Soap that’s only available Oct. – Dec. (I actually hoarded some from last year.) The intoxicating vanilla spice scent drives me wild! Other favorite soaps are Desert Sage, Sassafras, Prickly Pear, and our Yucca Root Shampoo & Body Bar.
SH: What makes A Wild Soap Bar different from other natural skin care products?
AWSB: Our line is based around wild native plants, so that makes our products unique to begin with. For instance, everybody makes a lavender soap, but who makes a Bluebonnet Soap with real wild-crafted Texas bluebonnets in it? Everybody makes a mint soap, but who makes Horsemint Soap from locally gathered horsemint plants? There may be a few others doing it now, but we were the originals.
Other than the native botanicals, I believe our ingredients really set us apart. Every one is carefully chosen to be effective and sustainable. Our pure and natural essential oil blends are rich and complex, not the single notes used by many other soap makers. Compare our ingredient lists to others and you’ll see what I mean.
We use a wide range of natural and organic ingredients and we’ve been tweaking our ingredients for over 20 years now.
SH: What’s your most popular product?
AWSB:Black Willow Bark Soap for Acne, hands down. I can’t tell you how many people have written to say that it’s cleared their acne or at the very least, vastly improved it. How awesome is that?
SH: Why are all-natural ingredients so important in A Wild Soap Bar products?
AWSB: Our goal is to make products that are safe for all living things and a joy to use. What we put on our skin is important. What we dump on our earth is important. What we leave behind for our children and our grandchildren….is important! Why use synthetic chemical filled products that are poisoning our bodies and our earth when safe natural ones are just as effective?
SH: What responsibilities do you think businesses have, when it comes to community and social responsibility?
AWSB: Businesses can make all the difference in the world! If even 1/3 of the businesses adopted some form of environmental and social responsibility it would make a HUGE difference in our hurting world.
Businesses can and should step up to the plate. It’s all about the triple bottom line…people, planet and then profit.
SH: Why do you work with businesses like Soap Hope?
AWSB: Soap Hope has been a huge inspiration to us! They’re our ideal retailer because they’re not just in business to make a buck. We know they care because they put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Salah’s brilliant Good Returns model was one of the sparks that initiated our own Kiva lending team, wild about good.
If every business did something similar, no matter how small, just think of the mountains we could move! We’re super proud to have Soap Hope in our family of fine retailers and we hope that more businesses will take their example to heart by creating sustainable business models that empower people to improve their own lives.
Businesses MUST take the lead if we hope to change our world and Soap Hope is a shining example for us all.
Over the last few months here at Soap Hope, we’ve been working to find the perfect all-natural cleaner — safe for your home, and for all of the people that live in it.
“It’s been quite the process,” said Craig Tiritilli, Soap Hope’s cofounder. “We’ve been researching and testing a variety of different brands and products.”
The quality of products that we carry here at Soap Hope is especially important to us. We won’t sell items that we wouldn’t use ourselves or in our own homes.
Which is why, throughout our extensive research, we found that most household cleaner brands with the “all-natural” label weren’t actually ENTIRELY natural.
“There are a lot of quality brands out there with the ‘green’ or ‘natural’ label,” says Craig, “but after digging a little further, we found that a lot of cleaners still contained some kind of sulfate or petroleum-based ingredient. Sometimes they disclosed that information, sometimes they didn’t.”
What we have been able to find, however, is the safest product that we feel is out there on the market.
Meet Better Life — or maybe you already have, if you’ve seen Shark Tank. The team from Better Life pitched on the popular TV show last year, and it’s been exciting to see their progress and growth since being on the show.
Better Life has an important philosophy — one that aligns with our own here at Soap Hope. They develop all of their products in-house, formulating the safest and best performing products that we came across.
Because of their transparency in business and commitment to quality ingredients, we knew we wanted to include them in our line of safe-for-you products.
So while some of their products include a synthetic preservative, we’ve found that Better Life products DON’T include toxic ingredients that most household cleaners use (including many “green” or “natural” brands).
It’s worth noting that the preservative used in some of their cleaners prevents them from having to raise the pH levels of the water (part of an alternative way of extending shelf life), which can actually damage cleaning surfaces, wood furniture and your skin.
Also noteworthy: Better Life discloses information on ALL of their ingredients, which we found wasn’t always a common practice with other manufacturers out there.
And, ultimately, the decision is up to our customers. We’ll continue to research and test products to find the safest option for our customers, and we’ll fully disclose what goes into those products.
“We’re thrilled to have found a solution for our customers that we’re comfortable with,” says Craig.
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.
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.
Wish your wonderful natural products would last a little longer? Here are some tips to get more from the natural products you love.
We love soap bars made from goat’s milk, olive oil, and other natural nourishing ingredients – that wonderful aroma and big creamy lather. But sometimes they can seem to “melt away.” These simple practices will make them last longer.
Keep your soap away from water. This might sound obvious, but many people don’t realize that they are holding their soap bar under the water for much longer than they need to. Just get the bar wet and lather, keeping the bar away from the stream of water under the shower or sink. Kids are especially guilty of this – teach them to lather and put the soap away.
Soap bars can “melt” when you aren’t using them, if they are wet. Use a soap stand to help your soap bar air dry as fast as possible, and to keep your counters clean. (Try a Spire from Spire Home Products. They are stylish and will lengthen the life of any bar).
If you buy bars on sale in quantity, keep them in a zip-top bag until you are ready to use them. The essential oils in natural products will escape into the air. In a sealed bag, soap bars will last as much as four times longer than out in the open.
The one natural ingredient that big commercial manufacturers use in their products isn’t very useful to the product: it’s water. Body wash, laundry detergent, shampoo – those commercial varieties try to make consumers think they are getting more product, when they are just getting more water.
Natural product makers don’t work that way. They infuse their products liberally with essential extracts of a variety of natural elements. A little goes a long way. So always use a small amount of product first, and see how much you really need. You may have to “untrain” yourself after years of using commercial products that were mostly water.
For instance, just a small amount of Acure Organics facial cleanser is enough to thoroughly cleanse your face and impart its nourishing ingredients. If you double the amount, that’s just washed off!
Same with Indigo Wild’s laundry detergent – just one ounce is plenty in a high efficiency washer to thoroughly clean all your clothes. You should be getting 64 full laundry loads from that 64-ounce bottle!
Light is great for people, but not for essential oils. Keep your products in the cabinet or drawer, or at least out direct sunlight. They will retain their powerful properties as long as possible that way.
Shake It Up
Natural product makers also refrain from putting unnecessary binders in their products – so they should be shaken. Give your natural shampoo, spray mist, and facial toner a shake to ensure all the oils are mixed evenly before use. That way you’ll get the full benefit of your product throughout its use.
If you found these tips useful, your friends will too. Share with others using the social sharing buttons at the bottom of the page. See you next week!
Learn the keys to beautiful, manageable hair in this week’s Good Life from Soap Hope.
“Keeps hair looking healthy, strong, and shiny.” “For stronger healthier hair.” “No more loose ends and frizz!”
You’ve heard it all when it comes to hair conditioner. But what’s really true? And what is conditioner, anyway?
What Makes Beautiful Hair
The elements of hair that make it beautiful and manageable – or when missing that can lead to “bad hair days” – are many. That’s why most conditioners have a lot of ingredients in them – they must address a great many different needs of your hair.
Here are just a few of the roles a good conditioner should play:
Acidifier. Your conditioner should create a slightly acidic environment for your hair that gives it the manageability you want. (That’s why homemade conditioners call for lemon juice or vinegar.)
Moisturizer. Good conditioners contain ingredients that moisturize hair and lock in that moisture (humectants).
Reconstructor. Your conditioner should contain ingredients that form a protective coating over hair and can even compensate for damaged hair.
Your conditioner also should have ingredients that act as a detangler and lubricant, allowing hair to glide freely; as a glosser, adding shine and reflection; as an antistatic agent to immunize hair against static electricity… so you can see that creating a great conditioner takes deep expertise and knowledge.
Natural and Healthy
It’s not hard to make a conditioner with all these elements if you don’t care what ingredients you use. There are all kinds of artificial chemicals that can perform these functions. But do you want them on your scalp and hair all day? Do you want them absorbed into your system?
Creating a natural hair conditioner that serves all the purposes we’ve discussed is extremely challenging. Only top makers are able to pull it off. Keep reading to see three top-performing conditioners.
It’s Up To You
As with most of what we talk about at Good Life, beautiful hair isn’t just about what you put on your hair – it’s also about what you put in your body. Even more important than the products that you use, be sure you remember the basics:
Hydration. You need to drink plenty of water every day to support the healthy function of your scalp and hair system.
Nutrition. For strong, healthy hair, your body needs a wide array of nutrients.
Clean Living. Toxins in the environment, pesticides in low-quality food, and chemicals in mass produced body care products all take away from your body’s ability to perform at its peak. You’ll see the results in hair, skin and nails when you give yourself the gift of natural and organic living.
Soap Hope customers prefer these hair conditioners:
It happens in the winter when the air is dry. It happens in the summer when allergies come around.
So how do you keep your lips luscious and looking great? Many of us have turned to lip products without realizing that the very product that is supposed to help, actually harms. Read on!
Lips are Special
The very top layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum, has special protective properties to keep your skin moist and to protect you from light, heat and bacteria.
But your lips have a different makeup than most of your skin. The stratum corneum is just one-fifth as thick as your facial skin. There are no hair follicles or sweat glands either to provide moisture and protection. That makes lips a very sensitive, vulnerable area.
Do No Harm!
It’s shameful that many lip products use ingredients that provide very short-term relief, but damage the lips further – requiring you to reapply over and over. If you’ve ever had the feeling of being “addicted” to a lip product, that’s what is happening.
If you see any of these ingredients in a product that supposedly protects or heals lips, run! These ingredients may make your lips feel softer very temporarily, but you’ll find yourself in a never-ending cycle of applying more product to keep getting short-term relief.
Lip Product No-No’s
Sometimes we get caught up looking for miracles when it’s really the basics that will solve our problems. Before you even think about what products to use on your lips, take these common-sense measures:
Drink enough water. Your lips are among the first parts of your body that are affected when you fail to drink enough water. Keep your body hydrated!
Get proper nutrition. Your skin’s resiliency, including lips, depends on a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. A well rounded diet rich in nutrients and free of artificial chemicals will help your lips stay healthy and beautiful.
Don’t lick or bite your lips. Saliva contains elements that your body has designed to break down foods. It’s rough on your lips! Biting damages already delicate lips. Become aware if you have these habits.
Use a good lip balm. Apply a top quality natural lip balm and allow it to absorb before applying lipstick. The lip balm will serve to moisturize and protect your lips, and will not affect the look or staying power of your lipstick.
Ingredients! Look at the ingredients in every lip balm, lip gloss or lipstick that you apply. Avoid anything with the five no-no’s above, and any artificial flavors or colors. But also look for nourishing ingredients. Acure Organics’ Lip Lush lip glosses for example contain many nourishing ingredients like argan oil, echinacea, and edelweiss plant stem cells.
Back to Basics
In the end, it boils down to the basics: lots of water, great healthy foods, and clean lip care ingredients are the fundamentals. If your lips aren’t feeling healthy, it’s a sign to look at the fundamentals of health in your life.
Share your thoughts and experiences with us about lip care: leave a comment below. And share this blog with friends using the sharing buttons below (click the Facebook button, for example).