Category Archives: Ingredients We Love

Three Steps to Quench Winter Dryness

3 Steps to Quench Winter Dryness

Moisture, moisture, moisture! Where does it go and how can you get it back?

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a healer if I did not clarify that diet is fundamental. The less healthy fats you have in the diet, the worse it gets. In the body, each skin cell is wrapped in a protective fatty membrane that helps to seal in moisture and ward of irritation from chemicals and toxins in our environment. If you don’t have enough fatty acids nutritionally supporting your body, you cannot effectively replenish this protection in the skin. This leads to faster evaporation of moisture from the skin and dryness. This also depletes elasticity, which is what allows your skin to snap back like a rubber band and remain smooth and supple.

Step #1: Eat your moisture-makers!

Loads of beneficial Omega-3s, otherwise know as Alpha-linoleic acids (ALAs) can be found in delicious fatty fish like wild-caught salmon and sardines. Eggs have the perfect balance of omegas (yolk and all) and the perfect touch of useful protein. Grass-fed butter and ghee are fabulous sources of healthy fat without all the antibiotics and toxins. Coconut oil is one of my very favorite cooking oils and sources for healthy fat because of its natural anti-fungal properties, healthy omega ratios and high heat capabilities during cooking. Avocado, hemp, flax and sprouted walnuts are also fat-fabulous!

Another moisture-major factor is to address your environment. Weather, indoor heating, and pollution can really deplete. As your skin’s capillary system works hard to accommodate the blood flow response from extreme cold and heat, higher levels of moisture are lost from the skin in the process. The light, oil-free moisturizer you use in summer may not be the best fit for winter. A refreshing gel cleanser might be a smidge too astringent once the weather turns cooler and you are not producing quite as much oil.

Step #2: Listen to your skin and adjust your regimen based on seasonal needs and environment.

If you are experiencing more depletion in winter months, look for cleansers with a creamier consistency versus a gel. I feel the cleansing step is often the most stripping culprit. Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy Cleansing Milk With Coq10 & Rosehip contains soothing components like lavender, arnica, and my favorite…licorice root extract. For moisture, you find rosehip, sunflower seed, borage, and kukui nut oils all in one pump, to deliver high plant-based omega fatty acid content. CoQ10 supports healthy cellular replication and Aloe makes up the base of the product, giving an added boost of nutritional and hydrating efforts. All of this protects the skin’s barrier function and natural oils while deeply cleansing.

Use a toner to support healthy acidity in the skin, hydration and optimal product penetration. Your skin is best at a more acidic 4-5.5 pH. Those natural sweat and oil secretions in the skin create your natural barrier function, called the acid mantle. Even water can be too alkaline and strip the skin! So the best action is to fortify with a refreshing, hydrating blast of toner after cleansing and before applying your moisturizing products. Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner works to acidify the skin while delivering loads of humectants, which pull moisture from the air into the skin. Additionally, you get the added benefit of vitamin C to boost radiance and help protect the skin from pollution, weather elements, and other free-radical attacks.

Add a humidifier to the room. Indoor heating is the worst at drying the skin and moisture resources. A good humidifier can be an inexpensive way to put a bit more moisture back into the air and help to alleviate dry skin, chapped lips, nose bleeds and other pesky cold-weather conditions. It’s even been known to reduce some snoring! Just be sure to clean them properly and refresh the water often.

Most heavy moisturizers tend to have a very fat molecular structure. The crazy thing is, those fat molecules are often too big to penetrate the pore! That means, your “nourishing cream” is simply sitting on the surface, hydrating dead skin cells, but never efficiently delivering nutrients to where your skin can actually use it to balance and change its moisture concentration. That’s why many folks have used the same heavy cream for years and their skin is still dry!

Step #3: Heavier isn’t always better!

Look for hydrators and moisturizers that absorb readily but embody powerful nutrition to support the way the skin is functioning and retaining natural moisture. One of my favorites is ACURE’S Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturizer. It penetrates easily and relies on the power of essential fatty acids from argan oil and lilac extract, in combination with powerful plant cultures like chlorella, clinically proven to support moisture, cellular rejuvenation and optimal collagen and elastin.

Add nutrient-dense face oils like Avalon Organics’ Intense Defense Antioxidant Oil With Vitamin C to your moisturizer. I call it cocktailing in its highest form! Before applying your favorite lotion or cream, add 2-4 drops of this oil to create a more beneficial boost to the skin’s moisture value and support system. Apricot, raspberry and argan oils, all rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids, absorb quickly to reinforce the skin’s natural lipid barrier and lock in moisture. Absorbable vitamin C protects the skin against environmental stressors.

As an added treatment while you sleep, layer on ACURE’s Magical Wonderfluff Hydrating Booster Mask before going to bed. With gardenia and argan extracts and a concentration of high omega-rich oils, you get a light-weight treat that replenishes while supporting more rapid turnover and healthy collagen regeneration.

 

Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has been used for thousands of years and you can get the benefits of using tea tree oil and the many uses that are extremely effective.   Tea tree oil’s antimicrobial prowess is powerful.

Some of the traditional uses for tea tree include being used to heal:

  • Acne
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cold sores
  • Earaches
  • Fungal infections
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Head lice
  • Psoriasis
  • Dry cuticles
  • Itchy insect bites
  • Sunburns

There are also many household uses of tea tree oil such as:

  • Anti-microbial laundry freshener
  • Insect repellant
  • Natural deodorant
  • Acne face wash
  • Removes foot odor
  • Removes mold

Check out the many products packed with the power of tea tree oil that you can use everyday to access the benefits both for body and home. 

Some Everyday Uses for Castile Soap

This natural soap is definitely making a comeback! With good reason! Castile Soap has tons of uses, from body care, household cleaning, laundry, pet care, and more. Plus, this soap is very concentrated and goes a long way. Castile soap is made all-natural, with chemical-free ingredients. It is one of the most trusted soaps around and Dr. Bronner’s is one of the most popular and known producers of Castile soap. Today, Castile is one of the most popular European soaps and has gained a ton of popularity in the US. We sell Dr. Bronner’s products at Soap Hope and here are our top methods for using Castile soap.

Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soaps are made of pure coconut, olive, hemp, and jojoba oils. The product is concentrated and completely biodegradable that is gentle, but effective – with a ton of uses, making it an excellent value (despite the higher price tag.) Remember a little goes a long way!

We sell Dr. Bronner’s products at Soap Hope and here are our top methods for using castile soap:

Dish Soap
Just replace your regular store-bought dish soap with castile soap and a few drops will take care of those dirty dishes.

Laundry Detergent
Castile soap is a pure laundry detergent and will allow your clothes to last longer since they aren’t exposed to harsh chemicals. It will also aid in irritation of the skin from the heavy dyes and perfumes along with a list of other unnatural ingredients found in store-bought versions of traditional laundry detergents. Here’s an easy recipe:

  • 1 cup liquid castile soap
  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • 2 ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • ¼ finely grated sea salt

Dissolve the baking soda and salt into warm water. Pour into a gallon container and add the liquid castile soap. Fill to the top with water and mix. Use just about ¼ cup per load, meaning that this recipe should last about 64 loads.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
Add 1/4c of castile soap to a quart of warm water, stir in well. Add your favorite essential oil for added scent, cleaning and disinfecting power. Put the solution in a spray bottle and use it to clean any surface in your home!

Fruit and Veggie Wash
To rid fresh produce of any harmful pesticides or other dirt, you can spray a simple and effect spray with castile soap to make them ready to devour. Add ¼ tsp of castile soap to a bowl of water and stir. Submerge your produce into the bowl, rub with your hands to remove dirt or debris, and then rinse under cold water.

Ant Spray
Add 1/4c of tea tree soap to a quart of water and stir to mix. Place in an easy to use a spray bottle and spray indoors or outdoors, wherever those creepy crawlers are spotted.

While there are some creative uses for castile soap, Dr. Bronner’s has tons of products from bar soaps to body care, shaving soap to hair care, toothpaste to lip balm, and more. Definitely, a brand to check out.

Navigating the Natural and Organic Terrain | Do you know what you’re buying?

Sometimes we can get overwhelmed trying to figure out what is natural and organic and what is not. With so many misleading ”organic” and ”natural” claims found in thousands of beauty and household products, how’s one to navigate the terrain?

Yesterday my girlfriend Rachael and I were having coffee and she shared a story with about her most recent trip the grocery store. She said she saw a shampoo that really caught her eye. It was aesthetically appealing and its name had a variation of the word “organic” in it, with a slogan talking about how pure and simple the product is. At first, I thought to myself this might be an interesting product for Soap Hope to carry, but then she showed me a photograph she took of the back of the bottle with a long list of ingredients on the back. Rachael continued in frustration that not only might the name make you think that it must be organic, but it also has that simple slogan. In addition, the words on the back state it is a “Unique blend of Natural & Sulfate Free Surfactants for renewed softness,” one would think this is a natural product. I took her phone and started to analyze the image of the ingredients I found that it had DMDM Hydantoin – a formaldehyde releaser that we would never allow in a product – and Red 4 and Yellow #5, two artificial colors!

After reading this I quickly handed the phone back to my friend and realized that many of us are drawn to products with a quick glance, not realizing what we are putting in our bodies, on them, or in our homes. There must be an easier way to sort through the ingredients that are acceptable, and that reminded me of Soap Hope’s Good, Better, Best rating system for the products we sell on our online marketplace. With that in mind, I told Rachael I was going to make this our next blog so others could learn and ask questions, so here we are sitting with Soap Hope’s Fulfillment Manager Jeremy Porter for a quick interview.

H: Jeremy thanks for visiting with me, I’ve got some questions for you. In a market where consumers are increasingly seeking and buying ”Organic” and ”Natural” products, how does Soap Hope meet that demand?

J: Hi Heather! Regarding the demand, we’ve got our Good, Better, and Best rating standard. We inspect every single ingredient in every single product to determine if we will sell that product and what its rating will be.  We wanted to offer a sort of guide to let customers know that:

  1. We have very high standards for the products we carry.
  2. We can show them exactly how those standards work. The rating tiers are really just a way to explain the ingredients and let people know that we are paying as much attention to them as they are, or even more so. We also want to be completely transparent, so it’s a good way to put everything on the table.
  3. Anything that isn’t at least Good is something we won’t use or sell at Soap Hope’s Marketplace.

H: That’s great Jeremy! But what does that breakdown on rating look like?

J: It looks like this and can be found on our website under our ingredients philosophy, as well as indicated on every single product in our inventory. You can find the rating for all of your favorite products just by visiting our online store.

A rating of BEST is reserved for those products that meet the strictest of criteria. For a BEST rating, every ingredient must be 100% natural and 80% or more must be certified organic.

To be classified BETTER, a product must contain 100% natural ingredients, but not necessarily organic.

Products with a GOOD rating include one or more ingredients that, while considered safe to use, are not 100% natural. For example, some of our makers’ products use phthalate-free fragrance oil or may include a preservative necessary to keep liquids fresh.

H: On average, what percent are good, better, or best in your product inventory?

J: Currently the percentage breakdown of our product based on the rating system is Good: 57%; Better 24%; and Best 19%. So you can see that Best is pretty elite. There’s a secret level beyond Best called “Legendary” but even I’m not sure what that is.

H: Do any of your products have the following ingredients: Parabens, sulfates, chemical sunscreens, petrochemicals, glycols, phthalates, PEGs or PPGs, DEA/TEA, synthetic polymers, formaldehyde donors or 1, 4-Dioxanes?

J: The brand Everyone has some Bath Soaks that contain Magnesium Sulfate, which is just an Epsom Salt, and then I think a few other products that have a little Sodium Coco-Sulfate as a foaming agent, but both are safe.

H: On average, what percentage PCR (post customer recycled) is your packaging? Are they recyclable?

J: We put forth as much effort here as is practically possible. The tissue paper we use to wrap products is 100% recycled. The post office packaging is post-consumer recycled. About 90% of the cardboard that comes into our building is reused, usually to make an Ugly Box. The Ugly Box was just a perfect combination of being cost-effective and eco-conscious, and it’s one of my favorite things we do. I have this daydream about being in a sort of MacGyver situation where for whatever reason someone needs to make a cardboard box and I get to jump in. It could happen. We also made a video to show how an Ugly Box is made: https://youtu.be/24LnICCkK3A

H: Are your products tested on animals?

J: Never. NEVER. I mean, we do sell some soaps that are specifically intended for dogs, so I can’t with 100% certainty say that there have never been some trial baths, but baths aren’t tests, although dog baths can be tricky…

H: Jeremy this has been extremely helpful and honestly, I wish more companies rated their products based on quality and ingredients. How much easier it would be for the consumer! Now for a few personal questions, I mean, while I have you!

What are your favorite products and/or brands at Soap Hope that you use?

J: I really enjoy A Wild Soap Bar and Kind Soap Company. I don’t know if I’m just basic or lazy for picking brands with the word “Soap” in the name, but they’re cool products. A Wild Soap has such original ingredients and gets bonus points for being Texan. Kind Soap smells amazing, and I’m a sucker for anything Sandalwood Rose. I am also highly susceptible to a weekly Bath Bomb indulgence.

H: What about Soap Hope drives you in your work?

J: Well, there’s the base level of a paycheck and doing work well because it’s, well, work, but as far as a bigger drive it’s just nice to be with a company that tries beyond bottom lines and profit. It’s tempting to be cynical and jaded, especially in this current climate, but I do get to catch my breath and read about the women and families that have been so positively affected by the programs we support, so that’s really what takes it to that next level. I’m also excited to see how we can branch out and further embrace/earn the banner of “Empowering Women”

H: Any other personal tips for living a more natural life style?

J: Just everyday mindfulness. Stuff like that usually comes down to a personal line, moral or otherwise, and as you feel a little more stable in your convictions or pursuit of health, be it mental or physical or spiritual or whatever, you’ll find the area where you best sleep at night. For me, it’s important to decide that you’re going to pay attention, and then finding that line becomes a personal choice.

H: Do you support reforming our federal laws to protect public health from toxic ingredients?

J: I do, and I really hope that within the current realm of issues which require massive federal attention, public health and the environment can remain high.

Find out more about Soap Hope’s ingredient philosophy and our mission.

6 Benefits of the Goji Berry: A Tiny, Totally Awesome Fruit

Small, slightly sweet, and packed with antioxidants, the goji berry packs so many benefits that it may just be your new favorite fruit. It’s been used for centuries around the world as a dietary supplement. But the benefits of this unassuming little fruit go beyond the diet, and some of the health benefits might surprise you.

The Healthy Goji Berry: Small But Powerful

We have other favorite fruits at Soap Hope, but the goji berry just might top our list. A goji berry is about the size of the tip of your pinky finger. This fruit is a member of the nightshade family of plants — an important family of flowering plants that range from annual and perennial herbs to vines, shrubs, and trees. The bright, orange-red berry is mostly commonly grown in China, but can also be found in increasing frequency in countries like the Canada and the United States.

Occasionally referred to as wolf berries, they are often damaged during picking. As a result, you’ll often be able to find goji berries in a dried form as a way to preserve them. The most common dietary uses for goji berries are eating the dried fruit or drinking them as a fruit juice. When it comes to goji berries and skin care, the oil from the berries is extracted and used because of its high concentration of minerals and essential amino acids, as we’ll explain below.

6 Benefits of the Berry

This infographic highlights six benefits of the goji berry, including: as a natural remedy for diabetes, immune system boost, healthy & glowing skin, reducing fatigue, antioxidant properties, and amino acid powerhouse.

1) Natural Remedy

Goji berries have been used as natural remedies for diabetes, hypertension, and even malaria. That’s because this little fruit is a natural antioxidant and full of nutrients that support bodily functions.

Antioxidants counteract the chemicals caused by free radicals, substances that occur naturally in our body. When free radicals are produced in excess, it can cause cell damage.

From WebMD: “Chinese research has shown a standardised dose of goji berry extract given over a month-long trial helped boost levels of protective antioxidant liver enzymes, and reduced by-products of oxidative damage in the blood by almost 10%.”

2) Immune System Boost

Because of its antioxidant superpowers, goji berries can help boost your immune system and its functions. The berries also contain vitamin A, which supports your body’s ability to fight off sickness.

3) Healthy, Glowing Skin

Many have praised the goji berry for its anti-aging potential. The fruit contains 11 of the 22 essential dietary trace minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc, along with amino acids. All of these vitamins and nutrients make the goji berry a powerhouse of skin care. This berry supports skin hydration and improves the tone of your skin.

4) Lighten Up the Mood

For many years, goji berry has been used in tonics or as an extract to improve mood and overall well-being. Goji berries contain complex starches (Lycium barbarum polysaccharides) which benefit immune function and reduce fatigue.

5) Aging Gracefully

The goji berry has a reputation for preserving long life. In China’s first herbal encyclopedia, “Shen Nong’s Materia Medica,” the goji was deemed a “superior tonic.” People used the berry in teas and tonics to strengthen the liver, purify the blood, protect healthy vision, and promote higher energy.

While there is not yet enough medical research to support the goji berry as a “fountain of youth,” the antioxidant properties, amino acids, and vitamins contained in the berry all support healthier bodily functions and even protect against age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

6) Overall Powerhouse

The goji berry contains essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are important for the growth and recovery of muscle tissue. While our bodies can make some of these building blocks (called non-essential amino acids), we have to obtain others (essential amino acids) from food or supplements, like the goji.

Small Berry, Big Benefits

All of these amazing properties make the tiny goji berry a powerful addition to any health or skin care regimen.

Natural ingredients like the goji berry deliver so many benefits to the human body. So, it’s no wonder we look for them in our skin and health care products here at Soap Hope.

(It’s important to note that the goji berry isn’t for everyone — people who use blood thinners or other medication could have a negative reaction. You should consult with your doctor first before trying any kind of natural remedy.)

Is this your first time learning about the goji berry? If so, what questions do you have for us?

Not Puppy Love: Why is Formaldehyde in Shampoo

When you last went to the store, did you buy soap or shampoo? Have you recently purchased shampoo for your dog or cat? If so, did you even consider that there might be formaldehyde in shampoo, soap, and other skin care products you use every day for your pets, your baby, or yourself? This is the sad, but sometimes true reality of the products we have in our homes. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Really, there’s formaldehyde in shampoo?!

By now you’ve probably seen the adorable pictures that blogger Jessica Shyba took of her son Beau napping with the family dog Theo.

Puppy and baby got us talking here at Soap Hope about what goes into products for kids and pets.

We picked up a bottle of dog shampoo at the local pet store and had a look at the ingredient list. It started off fine – water, honey extract, and chamomile extract seemed like winners to us — but why was artificial fragrance, DMDM Hydantoin, and Tetrasodium EDTA in dog shampoo?

Formaldehyde is for the Dogs

DMDM Hydantoin is a preservative that works by releasing formaldehyde into the product continuously over time. Formaldehyde does a great job inhibiting the growth of mold; but it’s also a known carcinogen, and most people don’t want it on their bodies or on their pets – especially when the puppy is snuggled up with the kids.

The consumer goods industry in the U.S. has a lot of leeway. If they want formaldehyde in shampoo, for example, but you don’t want to tell their customers, they can just add DMDM Hydantoin instead. The DMDM Hydantoin will slowly break down into formaldehyde in the shampoo throughout the life of the product. Problem solved!

(In the European Union, companies can’t get away with this trick: if an ingredient in their product breaks down into formaldehyde, they have to write “contains formaldehyde” on the label.)

In the Dog House

It’s not just Theo’s shampoo we think about at Soap Hope, it’s young Beau’s as well. Until 2014, Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo had Quaternium-15 in it. You guessed it – Quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde in shampoo and other products they designed for babies. Years of public outcry finally caused Johnson & Johnson to reformulate their baby shampoo.

J&J Removing Formaldehyde in Shampoo
J&J removes formaldehyde-causing ingredients in their shampoo.
Image Source: NYTimes.com

Shampoo needs a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria. Big manufacturers don’t care that Quaternium-15 and DMDM Hydantoin produce formaldehyde; they care that they are very cheap and give their products a shelf life of over a year. These manufacturers know they can put pretty pictures on the products and make commercials with happy kids and pets, and that most people won’t look any further.

“No more tears!” Not quite.

Better Ways

There are better ways for manufacturers to preserve shampoo rather, than putting formaldehyde in their products. They can use a low-risk food-grade preservative like potassium sorbate, which has the same toxicity level as table salt. Even better, they can use vitamin e (tocopherol).

Some manufacturers don’t even require a preservative. For your pooch, try the totally natural Woof Wild Dog Shampoo Bar. Hand made by Maggie Hanus at A Wild Soap Bar, this shampoo bar has organic oils, aloe, oats, clay, sea salt, essential oils, yucca root and horsemint. It will leave your dog’s coat soft, shiny, and smelling great.

For moms and dads looking for a safe shampoo, we recommend any products from Acure Organics.

For baby’s bath time, try Hugo Natural’s Chamomile Vanilla Shampoo and Wash, followed by Badger’s Chamomile & Calendula Baby Oil, which contains nothing but certified organic essential oils.

What other ingredients are you worried about in your body care products? Let us know.

What is in Coconut Oil? 5 Things that Make it So Good

It seems like every few years there’s a new buzzworthy ingredient in natural health and beauty products, like argan oil and rosemary. The popular ingredient these days appears to be coconut oil. But what is in coconut oil that makes it so good for your face and skin?

I’ve heard that “coconut oil is the new duct tape; it fixes everything.” And while you may not be able to fix a broken bumper with it, coconut oil is being buzzed about for very good reason.

It’s touted as the ideal ingredient for lustrous hair, luminous skin, strong nails, and healthy digestion. In this article, we’ll focus on the benefits of coconut oil for your skin.

So, What is in Coconut Oil?

Much has been said about the benefits of coconut oil as a dietary supplement, but its benefits go beyond only internal. Here’s a quick breakdown of the naturally occurring elements of coconut oil that make it beneficial to the human body in so many ways:

  1. Antioxidant properties of Vitamin E contribute to healthy skin growth and renewal, and aids in prevention of premature aging.
  2. Proteins aid in cellular health and tissue repair, improving healing time of damaged tissues and ensuring healthy cell replacement rates.
  3. The natural pH balance of raw coconut oil is 7.3, a near perfect balance for the human body.
  4. The type of fatty acids in coconut oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, are more easily digested and used by the body than other types of more common fatty acids.
  5. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial, making it an excellent cleansing agent for the skin.

They’re Even Better Together

All of the elements in coconut oil make this natural ingredient a fantastic health and beauty aid all by itself. But in combination with other natural, gentle elements like exfoliating scrubs or other moisturizing agents, the complimentary effects can be greatly enhanced:

  • With a body scrub or exfoliant, the natural oils aid in clearing skin and pores of sebum and increase cell regeneration for healthy, glowing skin.
  • In a moisturizer, coconut oil offers deep hydration very similar to the natural oils in our skin. It also helps to soothe and prevent dry, cracked skin, and heal acne.
  • In hair products, coconut oil moisturizes and hydrates, adding luster and shine back to dry, damaged hair.
If you’re ready to add coconut oil to your health and beauty regimen, check out our favorites from Deep Steep’s collection of coconut based products.

As an added bonus, here is a wonderful DIY Coconut Oil Hair Treatment, courtesy of Hair Love on Pinterest:

Deep Conditioning Coconut Oil Hair Treatment

(Article written by guest contributor Amy Wynn)

Why a Clean Kitchen Isn’t Always a Safe Kitchen: A Case for Natural Kitchen Cleaner

(Article written by guest contributor Amy Wynn)

As a kid, I always knew when my mom had been scrubbing the kitchen. Not just by how the sink sparkled and the floor shined, but by the pervasive smell of bleach and noxious blue window cleaner.

Like many of us, I grew up thinking that it’s not a clean kitchen unless it “smells clean.” But that particular “smell of clean” can also be the scent of damage to your body.

Toxic Clean

The American Lung Association warns of the dangers of many commercial household cleaners. The risks are plenty:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), bleach, and ammonia are known lung irritants that worsen the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
  • When products containing household bleach and ammonia are mixed, they emit dangerous toxic gases into the air that have adverse effects on the body when inhaled.
  • New research shows that fragrances used in household cleaners, when mixed with ozone (O3), can create carcinogenic formaldehyde particles in the air.

Because of all of the risks associated with the use of harsh chemicals in our house, don’t you think it’s high time we reconsider the old “tried and true” cleaners as the benchmark of cleanliness?

Natural Clean

In all honesty, I never liked the smell of bleach or any other industrial cleaner when I was growing up.  As I’ve grown up and taken on the responsibility of managing the care of my own home, I’ve come to love the fresh and light aromas of pure plant extracts and essential oils found in natural kitchen cleaning products.

Products made with safe, natural ingredients instead of artificial chemicals can be just as effective at cleaning and sanitizing your home. And, you don’t have to give up “the smell of clean” just so you can get a product that’s safe enough for even the smallest hands and feet (or paws) in the house.

If you’ve ever caught your toddler (or pooch) eating food off the kitchen floor, you can appreciate the overall safety of a natural kitchen cleaner like Better Life’s All Purpose Cleaner.

Anti-Bacterial or Anti-Effective

When considering the effectiveness of natural ingredients, take for example the recent attention on the overuse of anti-bacterial soaps.

Once lauded as an aid in preventing illness and increasing safety, Triclosan, which is found in many anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers, has been shown to have no demonstrable benefit in preventing everyday illnesses. In addition, triclosan may pose additional health risks, like the contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and causing adverse hormonal effects, when used long-term.

Top to Bottom

Even though my mom may not have had it entirely right with the “smell clean, is clean” mantra, she taught me that when we know better, we do better. It’s time to do better with our kitchen cleaners.

So when it’s time to clean your kitchen again (When is the kitchen really ever clean?), avoid the temptation of the “old smell test” and instead, opt for the refreshing aromas of natural ingredients that won’t overwhelm the olfactory receptors of your family. They will thank you, and your kitchen will thank you as well.

Here are a few of our favorite natural kitchen cleaners at Soap Hope.

Ingredients We Love: A Damascus Rose By Any Other Name…

(Article written by guest contributor Amy Wynn)

One of my favorite forbidden treats as a little girl was the delicate glass jar on my grandmother’s vanity, filled with fragrant, pink-tinted rosewater.  I would dab just the faintest drop of the blushing potion beneath my nose so that the heady but soothing aroma of rose lingered well after the car ride home.

It wasn’t until much later, on my own journey that I discovered the benefits of that sweet elixir went far beyond its aroma. As my own path meandered towards natural and plant based solutions for both health and beauty, I came to understand the lasting allure of the rose for both mind and body.

The Symbol of Love

The symbol of love, The Queen of the Flowers, the rose draws countless references in art, history, and culture. With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day, roses have been absolutely everywhere.

Damascus Rose Face Oil by Badger
Damascus Rose Face Oil by Badger

From ancient Asia to Rome and Greece, this flower is steeped in mythology and revered as a most precious botanical. It was said that in India, Vishnu built his bride, Lakshmi, out of 108 large and 1008 small rose petals.

Nearly everywhere you look in ancient history, the rose is revered. What you may not know about this bud, is that it is honored just as much for its health and beauty prowess as it is for its appearance and aroma. In particular, the rose hybrid known as rosa damascena (or the Damascus Rose) offers wonderful benefits for the mind and body.

Not Just a Pretty Flower

The aroma alone of the Damascus rose carries a potent combination of both relaxing and uplifting properties. As an aromatherapeutic, rose oil is touted for improving and helping to stabilize the mood of regular users. I have to admit, even though I’m not wild about highly floral scents, I am unable to close my eyes and take a deep breath with my face buried in a rose without coming out the other side almost mystically happy.

Damascus Rose Beauty Balm by Badger
Damascus Rose Beauty Balm by Badger

But the reasons roses have been used for health and beauty for centuries go far beyond a pretty smell.  From controlling acne to maintaining moisture in dry or maturing skin, rose oil has many phenomenal benefits:

  1. CLEANSER: Like many essential oils, rose carries both antiviral and antibacterial properties, making it an outstanding cleanser.
  2. MOISTURIZER: As we are learning in the world of natural health and beauty, oil cleansers carry many benefits for maintaining moisture in the skin. Rose is particularly helpful to those facing dry conditions or wishing to maintain their skin’s moisture as they mature.
  3. ACNE: It may seem like a contradiction for something that hydrates so deeply to also help prevent and control blemishes on the skin, but rose oil is known for both of these things, making it an ideal ingredient to have in your routine in all stages of life.
Damascus Rose Facial Cleansing Oil by Badger
Damascus Rose Facial Cleansing Oil by Badger

If you’re interested in the benefits of Damascus Rose for health and beauty, take a look at our selection from Badger’s Damascus Rose skin care line.

 

Ingredients We Love: The Ever-Useful Eucalyptus

Finding natural remedies is kind of our thing here at Soap Hope. Whether you suffer from a condition like eczema or want to relieve headaches without medication, we’re pretty convinced there are a variety of treatments available if we just look at the natural world around us.

One of those natural wonders is the eucalyptus tree. Specifically, the essential oil that comes from the eucalyptus plant.

Eucalyptus is a type of flowering shrub, of which there are hundreds of species. Most of those species are native to Australia, with only 15 species existing outside of the Land Down Under.

koala-668720_1280The leaves of the eucalyptus are typically poisonous to most animals — except the adorable koala bear, of course, whose unusually long intestines help it process the toxins in the leaves. Fun fact: koalas can eat up to THREE POUNDS of eucalyptus leaves in one day.

While the leaves are toxic to most organisms, the oil produced from eucalyptus is safe in lower doses.

In fact, eucalyptus oil can be found in a number of skin care and aromatherapeutic products, because it’s just that useful!

Inflammation Be Gone

We discussed inflammation and its complications in a previous post, and it’s a condition that everyone suffers from at some point. Luckily, the oil from a eucalyptus plant is an analgesic, which means that it’s a pain reliever. When applied, eucalyptus oil has a cooling effect, which helps to reduce symptoms of inflammation like swelling and redness.

Immune System Booster

Eucalyptus oil is capable of preventing and stopping infection — its antimicrobial properties make it effective at killing germs and preventing any further infection.

“When administered, this oil [strengthens] the response of macrophages (the cells that kill infections). Moreover, it also helps the immune cells within the body to produce their own innate protective mechanism,” reports a recent study.

No More Pests

You’ll find eucalyptus oil in a number of insecticides and repellents. Its strong aroma makes eucalyptus oil perfect for keeping insects like mosquitoes and flies at bay. The oil is also frequently used to prevent and kill lice, and is an excellent alternative to mainstream lice treatments that are severe and damaging to the hair.

Fresh Breath and Sparkling Smiles

You might find eucalyptus oil in your mouthwash, if you read the ingredients. Because of its impressive germicidal qualities, the cineole compound in eucalyptus makes it great at fighting germs and preventing cavities.

hydrosol-939216_1280Cough and Cold Relief

The next time you’re congested, try a steam inhalation treatment with eucalyptus oil for near-instant relief.
“[It’s] due to the antibacterial qualities that wipe out even drug-resistant bacterium from the respiratory tract. Moreover, the vapours of eucalyptus oil act as a powerful decongestant which when inhaled help in relieving the symptoms of bronchitis and a congested nose.”

Mental Clarity and Brain Power

Eucalyptus oil is often used in aromatherapy for stress relief and mental exhaustion. The oil is a stimulant, and helps to increase blood flow and circulation when used. Incorporating eucalyptus oil in aromatherapy helps to not only clear nasal passages, but helps to increase blood flow and bring more oxygen to the brain.

So the next time you’re sneezing, or exhausted, or wanting a natural remedy for pain relief, give eucalyptus a try! What other treatments have you used eucalyptus oil for? Feel free to comment below.

 

Check out some of our favorite Soap Hope products that contain eucalyptus oil here!