Category Archives: The Healthy Life

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. 

Get Glowing Protocol

Are you ready for this? I have selected some specific Soap Hope products that work together to support the skin’s optimal turnover, circulation, healthy boost, and supple balance. Sound good? Then follow this AM/PM protocol 1-2 times a week to revive the skin, even out the tone and get it glowing for the next holiday party, special occasion or just because you’re feelin’ it!

P.M. ROUTINE:

At night, your skin is solely focused on rejuvenating itself while you sleep. The following heroes set the stage for success, starting with a super yummy pre-cleanse…my favorite part!

The Pre-Cleanse with Badger’s Sea Buckthorn Face OilSea Buckthorn CO2 Extract, which contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, along with Omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids, is awesome to soften and soothe. Massage 2-3 pumps of oil into damp or dry skin to loosen makeup, dirt, and soften debris in the pores. Use light, upward strokes to the face, neck, and chest to stimulate healthy blood and lymph flow, which helps the skin hydrate and detox more efficiently.

Full Cleanse with Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon + C Creamy Cleanser. Lather up a nickel-sized dollop of cleanser with water and work it over using only your fingertips. Rinse with luke-warm water and gently pat dry. Vitamin C and juice from Meyer Lemons naturally work to brighten and Manuka honey protects moisture balance and healthy microflora on the skin.

Enzyme Exfoliation is never better than with ACURE’s Brightening Vegetable Peel. Pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes digest and loosen the dead, damaged layers, and decongest the pores. Chlorella Growth Factor And Kale dive deep to feed active skin cells firming superfood power to even skin tone and boost collagen regeneration. Apply a thin layer to face, neck, and chest for 4-8 minutes (depending on your sensitivity level). Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Tone with Zum Face’s Lemon-Geranium Zum Face Gentle Facial Toner.  A good toner is key to bring your skin pH back to a more acidic happy place. This one engages aloe, marshmallow root and rosemary to help soothe inflammation, redness, and bring lovely hydration. Apply to an organic cotton ball or cotton round and lightly spread to face, neck and chest.

Moisturize using Olivina Age-Defying Day & Night Face Rescue (a line designed for men but excellent for ladies too!). As the skin works hard rejuvenate while you sleep, it’s also losing a lot of hydration in the process. That’s why I love this light application of omega 3,6 and 9 through two of my favorite oils…Olive and Hemp Seed! They help draw moisture from the air into the skin with their humectant properties. Also full of essential amino acids they help support younger, smoother-looking skin and reduce inflammation. Plant-derived squalene acts as a natural lubricant and skin barrier to protect and slow moisture loss. It also helps boost penetration of other ingredients.

Now sleep tight, beautiful!

A.M. ROUTINE:

Once you wake, it’s key to cleanse all that your skin has shed and purged overnight, and apply optimal acidic protection and support for the day.

Cleanse/Exfoliate with the ACURE’s Pore Clarifying Facial Scrub. Moroccan red clay helps gently draw impurities from the pores as black jojoba beads softly slough away the dead skin cell layers you loosened the night before. It helps improve skin clarity and elasticity, stimulate collagen support, and most importantly, soothe inflammation to moisturize, remineralize, and brighten!

Tone once again with Zum Face’s Lemon-Geranium Zum Face Gentle Facial Toner. Remember, the skin is happiest at a more acidic pH. Even water can be too alkaline and stripping, so a toner like this helps to re-establish your acid mantle and pull more hydration into the skin with aloe and glycerine. Apply to an organic cotton ball or cotton round and lightly spread to face, neck and chest.

Moisturize using Olivina Age-Defying Day & Night Face Rescue. A bean-sized amount will do and don’t forget to apply to your neck and chest too…hey, that rhymed!

Seal the deal with an additional pump of Badger’s Seabuckthorn Face Oil. This extra kick of nutrition in a lightweight oil delivery adds brightening, plumping and skin firming radiance. 1 pump pressed into the skin on top of your moisturizer, protects your hydration and supplements your barrier function for optimal support from the weather, pollution, and irritations of the day….now that’s what I call the perfect cocktail for the skin!

You are ready for the day…glow on with your bad self!

Three Tips to Tame Thanksgiving Indigestion

When this time of year rolls around, gratitude is in the air. Even if we’ve weathered some storms over past months, we’re thankful for so much. But that stomachache or hazy food hangover that follows a holiday meal? Not so much.

Yes, there is a dark side to the holidays that few take seriously but most feel internally: gastrointestinal distress. When you approach the holidays as permission to overindulge, a pleasant occasion can precipitate minor discomfort or degenerate into physical agony—and every gradation in between.

This isn’t merely unpleasant. According to the healing tradition of Ayurveda, which minces no words when it comes to indigestion, this is the root of all disease. Moreover, indigestion impairs fertility and compromises the nutrition of the children you might already be nourishing. It’s a multigenerational problem!

So you do well to mind your tummy this holiday season, for your future health as well as your temporary comfort. These 3 simple tips can help.

Chew your food

This is a fundamental, easy, but often overlooked step, yet the mouth is central to human digestion.

While Ayurveda has lauded saliva for thousands of years, modern scientists are finally latching on. In fact, one researcher built a laboratory simulator of the human digestive system and though confronted with all the wonders of our internal structures, concluded that chewing is the single most important step in the process. It allows saliva to moisten food and mix with enzymes that begin the breakdown of starch. It’s also critical for the proper production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), which contrary to popular opinion is deficient in 90 percent of people experiencing heartburn.

So do yourself a favor and avoid acid blockers for digestive distress; they actually do more harm than good (but that’s a topic for another day). Instead, try chewing your food.

Aim for 25 to 50 chews for each mouthful of food, or simply make the food a paste or liquid in your mouth. Follow the adage “chew your liquids and drink your food,” meaning that even beverages should get active mastication and your solids should be liquid before they’re escorted down your esophagus.

Drink this tea

If digestion is seen as a fire, then cold substances put out that fire, impairing the whole process of metabolic breakdown, absorption, and assimilation of nutrition, ultimately creating a breeding ground for disease.

Tea to the rescue! Warm beverages stoke that digestive fire, and enlisting the aid of herbal helpers makes them exceedingly effective.

Cumin, coriander, and fennel (CCF) are powerful digestive spices that create a synergistic blend. As a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for a number of gastrointestinal symptoms, CCF tea deserves a place at your holiday table. Sip it mindfully (read: no chugging) before, during, and after that Thanksgiving feast for less distress.

New mothers also love this drink! In addition to gently removing gas, relieving abdominal distension, and enkindling the digestive fire, the CCF combination aids hormone balance and milk production. Mildly laxative and diuretic, this easy-to-prepare tea benefits both mother and baby, since fussiness may be due to digestive discomfort.

Ginger is also a well-known digestive aid. Gently warming with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, fresh ginger features liberally in autumn and winter fare, as well as postpartum cooking. In fact, Ayurveda affectionately dubs it the “universal medicine,” so throw in a few slices regardless of your season in life!

Cumin-Coriander-Fennel Tea

Ingredients

  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring seeds, water, and optional ginger to a boil on the stove.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes or more.
  3. Strain and serve hot.

Offer thanks

Not merely reserved for holiday gatherings, a prayer or word of thanks to inaugurating eating encourages optimal digestion.

Pause to breathe deeply (more on that here) and express gratitude before a meal. When done with intention and awareness, this practice switches the body from a state of stress (the sympathetic nervous system) to a state in which we can rest and digest (the parasympathetic nervous system). It not only turns off the stress signal and better regulates immune function but also releases more digestive enzymes and bile, helping your body assimilate the food that comes next. Likewise, pausing for a moment at the end of the meal preserves that parasympathetic state and allows for a more lasting sense of satiety and gratitude.

Conscious breath and a centered heart encourage mindful eating and being fully present, a rare state in our lives of busyness and multitasking. So set the to-do list aside, turn off that football game, and enjoy the sensory engagement and pleasant conversation of a slow meal shared. Your digestion—and your overall well-being—will thank you for it.

Gratitude really is the best attitude—for optimal digestion and so much more. Invite it to your table this season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you want further support, Soap Hope carries products that improve digestion and more. Have you tried these?

Stacy Claxton is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner (FDN-P) and an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner (AHP) specializing in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum care. She offers a range of services that merge the laboratory investigation of her FDN training and her foundational background in Ayurveda and yoga. As an educator and a clinician, she believes strongly in the transformative power of diet and lifestyle and desires to inspire wise stewardship in the realm of holistic health. Stacy is one half of the dynamic duo behind Preparing to Parent (P2P), where she and her identical twin, Erin, are “growing families with purpose…on purpose.” To learn more about Stacy’s private practice and the mission of P2P, please visit www.preparingtoparent.com.

Pumpkin & Spice | Autumn’s Natural Remedies

Pumpkins traditionally herald the arrival of autumn, taking center stage when it comes to fall decorating. But how often do you put this perennial favorite on the menu, apart from the classic Thanksgiving dessert?

While they tend to adorn more doorsteps than dinner tables these days, pumpkins can respectably round out the main course, no fancy holiday meal required. Whether cubed and baked, boiled and mashed, sautéed into saucy dishes, or pureed into savory soups, pumpkins, like other winter squashes, have an esteemed place among seasonal fare.

And for good reason: pumpkins are nutritional superstars. They are among nature’s richest sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene and provide a host of other vitamins and minerals, including more potassium than a banana with much less sugar. If you’re game for maximizing the whole plant, those seeds inside are a great source of zinc, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, iron, protein, and fiber, in addition to being potent anti-parasitic.

So don’t wait until Thanksgiving to feature pumpkin on your dinner table; welcome it into your home for a simple weekday meal. Try your hand at this autumnal favorite, a warming blended soup featuring pumpkin or squash.

Of course, if you prefer your pumpkin camouflaged into something sweet and sliceable, go right ahead! But may I suggest a healthier alternative that still satisfies the sweet tooth? This Creamy Pumpkin “Cheesecake” is not only refined-sugar-free but also dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free…and freely approved by at least one die-hard sugar fiend!

Perhaps you noticed something in those recipes or from your experience with traditional pumpkin pie?

Spice!

In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the healing modalities I study and practice, herbs and spices are simple yet powerful medicinal healers. In fall and moving into winter, we favor warming spices that support the body’s naturally augmented need for heat, improving digestion, absorption, assimilation, and circulation and thereby immune function.

While recipes vary, pumpkin pie spice classically includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and clove—all warming spices that maintain a prized position in Ayurvedic medicine for their numerous benefits.

  • Cinnamon improves digestion, eliminates toxins, enhances circulation, and thins the blood, helping prevent heart attacks. It’s also a known blood sugar regulator, effective especially in those with diabetes or diabetes risk but equally beneficial for the average person when consuming a carbohydrate- or sugar-rich meal. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and can be used medicinally with a pinch of clove and a teaspoon of raw honey in cases of cold, congestion, and cough—the quintessential winter maladies.
  • Ginger likewise rates high as a digestive aid, an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, a decongestant, a blood thinner, a blood sugar regulator, an infection fighter, and an all-around tonic that deserves a place in your daily diet.
  • Nutmeg, acting first as a stimulant and then as a sedative, is both analgesic and hypnotic, meaning it soothes pain and induces sound sleep.
  • Allspice, a potent antioxidant, eases digestion and helps balance hormones, especially related to the female menstrual cycle.
  • Clove deemed the “best” natural antioxidant by researchers given its superior activity against free radicals, reduces inflammation, relieves pain (especially in the oral cavity), supports wound healing, and targets unwanted bacteria and fungus.

You need not whip up a pumpkin dish to enjoy these classic pumpkin pie spices. Sipping herbal tea is a quick, comforting way to invite the power of spice into your life this season. And Soap Hope’s wide collection of teas makes that easy. Have you tried any teas like these?

And with all the internal benefits of pumpkin and spice, how about showing your outer layer a little love? Plenty of personal care products press into action these healing ingredients. Check out these favorites.

  • Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask from Andalou Naturals provides fruit stem cells, glycolic AHA, and vitamin C, combined with beta-carotene-rich organic pumpkin and manuka honey, delicately sweep away and dissolve dry, dull surfaced cells, all the while resurfacing and exfoliating the skin for a brighter complexion, smoother texture, and more even tone.
  • Ultra-Hydrating Coconut + Pumpkin Body Wash by Acure Organics is great for skin conditioning during this winter for the whole body, deeply hydrating body wash that smells a little like a cool winter evening – in a good way. With omega rich Organic Argan Oil, Organic Pumpkin, and cell boosting Argan Stem Cells, all serve to make your skin it’s healthiest while making you smell great.

Stacy Claxton is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner (FDN-P) and an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner (AHP) specializing in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum care. She offers a range of services that merge the laboratory investigation of her FDN training and her foundational background in Ayurveda and yoga. As an educator and a clinician, she believes strongly in the transformative power of diet and lifestyle and desires to inspire wise stewardship in the realm of holistic health. Stacy is one half of the dynamic duo behind Preparing to Parent (P2P), where she and her identical twin, Erin, are “growing families with purpose…on purpose.” To learn more about Stacy’s private practice and the mission of P2P, please visit www.preparingtoparent.com.

Surprise Those Puffy Eyes! 3 Ways to Detox the Skin

Most people forget or never realized the role your skin plays in the body’s natural detox process. It is designed with over 3 trillion pores to secrete fluids from the body…sweat to cool, oils to lubricate and protect, and toxins to help purge unhealthy substance from the system.

I educate every day on how your internal digestion and body function has a direct impact on the appearance of the skin and one sure way to see how your body is cranking in the detox department is the under-eye area of the face. Do you wake up puffy? Deal with dark circles more often than you like? Constantly struggle with dehydration in the delicate skin around your peepers?

According to traditional Chinese face reading, the eyes are connected to your kidneys and your kidneys filter and facilitate removal of excess water and unwanted waste from the body. Coagulated blood and lymph, the fluid in your body that carries toxins, pool under the eyes and contribute to darkening, tone and texture change.

So, if you have a lot of alcohol during your night out, expect a couple of puffy presents under your eyes when you wake up the next day. The same can happen with excessive salt or sugar intake, processed foods, long-term stress and lack of sleep. These things place added pressure on your kidneys and adrenal glands.

Here are some excellent Soap Hope tools you can use to help keep the kidneys kicking, the skin purging and those eyes bright and tight!

ACURE Brightening Eye Contour Gel – licorice root, cucumber and arnica cool and depuff while red and brown seaweed extracts work to inhibit leaky, dilated capillaries and improve texture of the delicate skin (aka smooth your fine lines…yay!). Additionally, a special argan extract has shown immediate tightening boost in 15 minutes. This gel is the best to put on the minute you wake up and let it soak in, refresh, and boost. TIP: Toss it in the fridge for added cooling benefit upon application…you’ll thank me later!

Timber and Coal Blackland Soap – activated charcoal and bentonite clay are the best at not only drawing impurities but also re-mineralizing the skin at the same time. Give your body a swift once-over with a dry brush, using quick upward strokes towards the heart. This helps shed dead skin cells (another form of detoxification) and stimulate healthy lymph and blood circulation. Hop in the shower and follow with this power bar to facilitate deep cleansing of the skin. Be sure to concentrate in the underarms and creases of the thighs where your lymph vessels and detox pathways are most concentrated.

Pukka Herbs’ Cleanse Tea – nettle leaf, dandelion root, fennel seed…all the best to support kidney function in the maintenance of healthy fluid levels and effective elimination of waste. Nettle leaf is a master at enhancing blood purification and contains lectins that help neutralize toxic agents, and it also helps with allergies.  While you relax and sip, slap a couple of the used, cooled tea bags on the eyes for added support!

Amy Halman is an award-winning skin therapist, speaker and product development specialist. As the owner of EcoBlend Therapies, she connects each client’s diet, lifestyle, body wellness and stress levels to imbalances reflecting on the skin. Utilizing this information, she designs topical, nutrition-packed treatments to feed the skin’s ability to re-engage and optimize. Learn more about her services at ecoblendtherapies.com

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.

The Natural Way to Plan your Summer Trip | Your Must-Haves

It’s that time of year again, where the days are longer and the excitement of fun in the sun is in the air. Summer always makes me think of my childhood.

As a child, I was always in awe of lightning bugs and their green glow, trying to catch them late into the evening, long after the sun went down. Running outside to the ice cream truck, getting to pick out what I wanted, and paying for it myself like a boss from that money made from my own enterprise running a lemonade stand.

There were afternoons playing war with super soaker water guns and water balloons with friends in the sprinkler. Pool days, swimming = summer in my mind. My favorite days were lived in my swimsuit. Finally, was the long-awaited road trip,  getting in the car for that one summer family trip. I’m sure we all have our own memories. They might be similar, but either way, there is just something special about summer. Don’t you agree?

Those pool days were the best too. I remember that each time I would come in the house my mother would lather me, or rather slather me in sunblock and bug spray to ensure my safety. She told me it was my “armor” as I went on my adventures. While annoyed at the delay in my play, one can never have too much “armor” on childhood adventures.

As an adult, I still look forward to summer, but for different reasons. Lounging by the pool in the backyard is definitely one of them, drinking a nice glass of wine by the fire pit with friends and family in good conversation, and I still get goosebumps when planning that special summer trip. This summer my husband and I are going hiking in Redwood Forest National Park outside of San Francisco. I’ve already started packing and we don’t leave until the end of July! The kid in me always comes out. Too excited!

But growing up changes how you view what you slather yourself in. I remember the sunblock my mother used smelling slightly like coconut and very oily. The smell was indeed strong! Nothing natural about that smell. Now I choose the products that are right for me and my family – high-quality natural ingredients. In Soap Hope’s marketplace of over 3,000 items, you’ll never find parabens, petroleum derivative, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or anything that doesn’t meet the Good, Better, Best Standards.

As we venture into our own summer trips, travels, and adventures this year make it as natural as possible. If you’re all about making lists, then you know how magical they can be. To bring a little magic into your summer and save you time, I’ve put together a great short list of items to get you started as you shop and pack.

MY SUMMER ESSENTIALS
If you don’t pack anything else, pack these.

Sun Protection
A summer trip without sunglasses is a crying shame and so is not to slather that beautiful skin with sunscreen periodically.

First Aid supplies
Bring along bug repellent, bandages, lip balm, ointments, and hand sanitizer.

Toiletries
My don’t leave home without essential makeup, makeup bag, dry shampoo, deodorant, and a nice travel bag to put all your items in.

Food
If you want to avoid greasy, unhealthy food and save some money, pack your own snacks. I know I do! I recommend these non-messy containers to pack your fruit, pretzels, granola bars, crackers, etc. Also, be sure you have plenty of water with a beverage container.

For me, I keep packing simple, I know you’ll have items to add to your own personal checklist, but I hope this gave you a good start. Be sure whatever you put on your list its good for you, your family, and your body.

I’d love to hear from you and have you share some of your summer essentials.

Express Yourself: Self-Care Activities to Express Your Creativity (and Clear Your Head)

We’ve all heard about the importance of maintaining a regular self-care practice. The long term benefits of a self-care routine are wide-ranging, including better sleep habits, improved mood and overall health, just to name a few positive results and overall health benefits.

But if self-care activities like yoga or meditation aren’t your thing, what options do you have if you’re looking to take better care of your mental health?

Self-Care Activities to Try Today

“There are so many ways to practice self-care,” writes Margarita Tartakovsky, MS. “One of my favorite ways is to connect to my creativity.”

What follows are just a few ideas for self-care activities that will help you express yourself and do your well-being some good.

Doodle away

Doodling is one of the easiest ways to get creative, and literally anyone can do it. While it seems trivial, the act of taking pen or pencil to paper and doodling does more good than you might realize, however. “Doodling increases your visual literacy,” writes Emily Potts, “and helps you process ideas, even when you are not trying! Experiment with different materials, and draw whatever comes to mind.”

Write it out

No need for the grammar police — take 30 minutes and just start writing. Fill up a few pages with whatever comes to mind and get your thoughts down on paper. Artist Julie Cameron takes time every day for her Morning Pages:

“There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

Make a List

Often we have so many ideas, tasks, and concepts swirling around in our minds that we lose track of what is actually a priority for us.

Take some time every evening to jot down a list of what’s floating around there in your head. Pick a general theme: what you need to do tomorrow, your short term goals, or activities that you’d like to participate in but haven’t gotten around to trying.

Getting these things out of your head and onto paper can help to clear your mind a bit, and provide some extra motivation to tackle some of those goals you’ve written out.

Brainstorm a Big Idea

Sometimes thinking through a concept can feel like untangling a stubborn knot. You can work through an idea or build out a plan that you haven’t fully thought through by first making sure you have a journal with you at all times, and, second, jotting down those ideas as they come to you.

You don’t necessarily have to write out an entire strategy or blueprint in one sitting. In fact, it’s best to just write out ideas – even if they’re not complete or fully fleshed out. Getting those thoughts on paper can help provide you with a different perspective when you see it in black and white, so that you can come back to them later and build on what you’ve come up with.

Tune Into Yourself Again

Self-care matters because we give so much of ourselves to our friends, families, jobs, and projects. Making more time and saving energy for yourself is crucial, so that you’re able to take care of the other important people in your life.

According to Kim Boivin,  a registered clinical counselor with a Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology, “We are interdependent, so what I do to take care of myself has an impact on all who I interact with. When I care for myself, I care for others better too.”

Journaling and list-making are just a few ways to help sort through the jumble of all that our brains work through on a daily basis. Making the time to sit down, with pen and paper, and write out your thoughts can do wonders for anything that you might be worrying about.

And if you’re searching for the perfect journal, check out the Michael Roger notebooks that we’ve got in stock here at Soap Hope! They feature fun and quirky designs to fit your personal style, and use 100% post-consumer-recycled pages and soy ink printing,

What are some self-care activities you’ve started recently? Share in the comments below!

Applying Mineral Makeup: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s likely that you’ve seen ads or commercials touting its many benefits, but you might be wondering: what makes natural mineral makeup different? Or, you may have recently purchased some mineral makeup and you’re thinking: Is there anything different to applying mineral makeup versus “regular” makeup?

Applying Mineral Makeup

Before We Start Applying Mineral Makeup

Let’s first look at what is in mineral makeup.

Mineral makeup has been around for several decades now as a beauty product, and it’s known for its light finish and “barely there” feel.

Mineral makeup contains many of the same ingredients as other types of makeups — just without the preservatives or skin irritants that can be found in a lot of other brands. In fact, many dermatologists recommend applying mineral makeup on skin disorders like rosacea and eczema, because it doesn’t contain fragrances or oil that can cause breakouts or redness.

And even better — you can find natural mineral makeup for your whole face. From foundations to eye shadow, you can nail that night-on-the-town or everyday look that you’re going for.

Setting the Perfect (Mineral) Foundation

Natural Medium Beige Foundation from Mahya Cosmetics
Medium Beige Foundation from Mahya Cosmetics

Starting your look with the right foundation is key — and especially during the warmer months, having a foundation that still lets your skin breathe is a bonus!

Before you begin applying mineral makeup, you’ll want to start with clean, moisturized skin. Throughout the application process, you will be adding layers of powder to your skin. If your face is too dry, you might wind up with a “powdered” look.

Once you’ve got a clean and well-hydrated face, applying the mineral foundation is easy — just swirl a makeup brush in the foundation, tap away any excess, and apply as usual. If you prefer more coverage, you can always add an additional layer.

Note: You’ll want to stock up on some quality brushes that will last you a good while. You can generally find a brush set with all your basics just about anywhere. Mahya Cosmetics offers a sweet 7-piece set that’s great for everyday use, even when you’re traveling.

Covering and Concealing

Pure Beige Concealer from Mahya Cosmetics
Pure Beige Concealer from Mahya Cosmetics

For any unwanted blemishes or scars, mineral makeup has you covered. A mineral concealer is perfect for minimizing the appearance of any spots or lines, without clogging your pores.

These concealers also work on dark circles under your eyes, leaving you with a brighter, fresher appearance.

The concealer is applied by using a smaller brush, for a more focused application on blemish areas. Dip the brush in concealer, tap away excess powder, and gently “dot” the area that you want to cover up. Be sure to blend the area a bit so that the look is consistent and not “patchy” looking.

You’re Making Me Blush

Crazy Glimmering Blush from Mahya Cosmetics
Crazy Glimmering Blush from Mahya Cosmetics

Everyone loves some color, and no look is complete without a great blush to highlight those cheeks. You can choose from matte applications or a blush with some sexy shimmer to it.

From fresh and youthful to sultry and dramatic, there are dozens of color options for you to choose from. Remember — mineral makeup is highly pigmented, so you’ll want to use a lighter hand when applying the blush to your cheeks. You can always add more!

The Eyes Have It

You and Me Glimmering Multi-Purpose Minerals Eye Shadow from Mahya Cosmetics
You and Me Glimmering Multi-Purpose Minerals Eye Shadow from Mahya Cosmetics

No look is complete without the perfect eye! Whether you’re heading into the office or out with your friends, there’s a mineral eye shadow for the occasion.

It’s worth noting that mineral eye shadow will stay on the skin longer if a primer is used before you apply it. Don’t have any primer? Just a bit of moisturizer or some of your foundation applied to your eyelid will give the eye shadow something to stick to. Have fun!

Bronze Away!

Istanbul Bronzer from Mahya Cosmetics
Istanbul Bronzer from Mahya Cosmetics

Give your look some additional glam with a gorgeous bronzer. You can use the bronzer to add more color to your skin, enhance your cheekbones, or add highlights and contouring to your look — get creative!

The bronzer is applied just like your foundation, with a larger brush to cover more surface area. Use a light hand here, as well. You can always build on more powder if you’d like the effect to be more dramatic.

Finishing the Look

#2 Mineral Veil Finishing Powder from Mahya Cosmetics
#2 Mineral Veil Finishing Powder from Mahya Cosmetics

After you’ve put the time into creating your perfect look, you’ll want to make sure it stays put, right?

Grab one of your larger brushes after you’ve applied the rest of your makeup, and gently dust your face with the finishing powder. This sets the mineral makeup and leaves you with a soft finish to your look.

So if you’ve been curious about applying mineral makeup, maybe it’s time you gave it a try. Start with something fun like an eye shadow or blush, then branch out into the foundation, bronzer, and finishing powder. Your new look is just a few brush strokes away!

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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.