Why your shaving routine is all wrong (and how you can fix it)

For some of us, shaving is part of our regular, sometimes daily routine.

It’s been a part of human hygiene for centuries — hair removal is recorded as early as 100,000 years ago, when facial hair was actually considered a liability  (because it could freeze and stick to skin). Our earliest ancestors are believed to have pulled their hairs out, “using seashells like tweezers.”

Luckily we have more options now, but that doesn’t make it any less of a chore — oftentimes we scramble to get ready in the mornings, so spending time on this part of our personal care isn’t always possible.

What’s more, we’re probably shaving all wrong in the first place.

But no need to fret! There are a few adjustments you can make to your shaving regimen so that you’ll get the smoothest results.

Get a better razor.

More blades don’t necessarily mean a better shave.

Multiple blades pull back the skin and cut the hair below skin level, which can cause irritation, ingrown hairs, and razor burn. That’s no fun!

Find a quality razor that stays sharp — you might have to splurge a bit more if you’re used to buying the cheap disposable razors, but you’ll be happier in the long run .

Soften your hair before you shave.

lea0039.t5If you’re shaving your face, take care of that task after you shower. The hot water and steam helps to open up pores and soften your hair, which is much easier to work with than hair that’s dry and scratchy.

You can use conditioner to help soften the hair more, which can help if you’re cleaning up a beard. LEAP’s Shave Oil for Men will also help to soften your hair and skin while you shave.

Exfoliation is your friend.

We’ve said it before (in our post about men’s skin care) — scrubbing away dead skin helps to clean the skin and prep for a smoother and closer shave.

Clean your razors!

Making sure you’re working with a clean, bacteria-free razor to start with will help prevent razor burn and skin irritation.

Moisturize!

acure foaming shave gelClassic shaving cream that foams up can leave skin dry. When you start dragging a sharp razor across that, it can damage skin and cause razor bumps.

Choose a cream that moisturizes and provides a smooth surface to work with. We love Acure’s Foaming Shave Gel, with soothing ingredients like aloe and chamomile. 

 

 

Make it a point to care for your skin before and during your shaving routine, and you’ll be happier with the results!

 

 

The Dry Hair Conundrum

Feeling frazzled about your dry hair? You’re certainly not the only one.

Especially in more arid climates, or if you’re using heat to style your hair, you might encounter dry hair on a regular basis.

And while using a quality conditioner can help, there are some other factors to consider when caring for your ‘do.

Your scalp isn’t producing enough oil to lubricate it.

If you’ll remember our post on dry shampoos,  your skin and scalp have tiny little glands all over them that secrete oil, or sebum, called sebaceous glands.

Sometimes hair doesn’t produce enough oil — and as we get older, our sebaceous glands stop producing as much sebum. This can lead to not just dry hair, but a dry scalp, as well (which is what causes dandruff).

Your hair isn’t keeping moisture in.

Each strand of hair is protected by a cuticle, shielding the strand from heat and other types of damage. The cuticle also helps to lock in the sebum that your scalp is generating.

When the layers of cuticle start to separate, oil escapes and leaves the hair exposed.

Excessive dryness can also cause split ends, where the hair shaft splits or frays due to heat applications or “mechanical stress” (like using a curling iron).

Good news!

Some of this damage can be prevented and repaired, with a few adjustments in your hair care routine.

Stop washing your hair daily. This strips the hair of its natural oils and can actually lead to  the overproduction of oils, disrupting your hair’s natural balance.

 

Seaweed Bath Company Argan Citrus Shampoo
Smoothing Citrus Shampoo from Seaweed Bath Company

 

Use a shampoo that’s less harsh on your hair — and especially shampoos with  toxic ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate or synthetic preservative. The Seaweed Bath Company handcrafts their shampoos using quality ingredients that feed and nourish damaged hair.

 

 

Deep Conditioning Root Repair Hair Mask
Deep Conditioning Root Repair Hair Mask from Acure

 

 

 

Try a deep conditioner on your hair every now and then. We’re big fans of the Deep Conditioning Root Repair Mask from Acure, which locks in moisture and protects your hair cortex.

 

 

 

 

And of course, our  diet and physical health will also make a difference. Eating whole foods with lots of vitamins and minerals will help to ensure your hair is getting the love it really needs.

How do you prevent or repair your dry hair woes? Leave your suggestions and comments below!

 

Improving your skin through sleep

Let’s say you have a solid skin care regimen. You exfoliate when appropriate. All of your products are toxin-free and made with quality, wholesome ingredients. You’ve picked the right kind of products for your skin type. You drink plenty of water and eat food rich with nutrients.

So what’s missing? What else could you be doing to help with your overall health and, more specifically, your skin?

Something that we all probably need more of — sleep!

Sleep is Fuel

That’s right — your body needs sleep, about 7 to 9 hours a day (according to most), which most of us have been told many times over.

But your skin REALLY needs sleep.

When we sleep, our bodies go into repair mode. Cellular renewal happens more quickly at night, and a number of metabolic and hormonal processes happen while we sleep.

Lack of sleep can cause blood vessels to dilate, which leaves those dark circles under your eyes on occasion. And anything that disrupts your sleep can impair skin rejuvenation, especially after a late night of partying and drinking.

Tips for Better Sleep

To help ensure that you get a good night’s rest, set yourself up for some sleep success.

1. Go to bed at the same time every night to set a regular sleep rhythm. Set an alarm to wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends).

2. No caffeine right before bed. And if you enjoy exercising in the evenings, you might want to do it early enough to give yourself (and your brain) time to wind down afterwards. Both caffeine and vigorous activity can make it difficult to fall asleep.

bed-731162_12803. Find a mattress and pillow that support your body. Many experts recommend sleeping on your back.

“If you sleep face-down the blood vessels will become constricted and the circulatory system releases congested fluid from tiny flaps in the walls of these vessels,’ says cosmetologist Colette Haydon.

4. Make sure your room is dark and quiet. “Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide-awake.” And if you can’t keep your room quiet, you might consider finding a source of white noise, to help drown out any sound.

5. Keep the room as cool as possible. “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD. If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point, which can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

acr0058.t5So while we’re asleep, our bodies are repairing cells and rejuvenating. And we can help our skin while we’re sleeping — it’s a great opportunity to replenish the skin with vitamins and nutrients, especially those found in night creams.

Night creams help to repair elastin and often include rich ingredients like argan oil, to feed and nourish the skin after a long day. Products like Acure’s Night Cream contain Chlorella Growth Factor, which helps to strengthen your skin’s elastin fibers and collagen.

ksc0036.t5And don’t forget those lips! Our lips dry out faster and are damaged more easily, so they especially need help with repair. We love KIND’s Goodnight Kisses lip treatment, with lavender oil to help soothe you to sleep.

 

How do you make sure you’re getting enough rest?

Bugs Be Gone! Natural Insect Repellents for the Summer

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

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.

Rosemary

natural insect repellent
Badger Anti-Bug Balm

We love rosemary for all kinds of reasons (you can check out our previous blogs on the rosemary plant here), and, of course, it’s just as helpful as a natural insect repellent. You can make a simple repellent spray by boiling dried rosemary in water and pouring in a small squirt bottle.

Or you can find rosemary in the Badger Balm Anti-Bug Balm, proven to be effective for up to 3 hours.

Mint

Another one of our favorites! Any member of the mint plant family (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, etc.) can be used to help ward off insects.

Citronella

natural insect repellent
Baby Bug from Acure

Citronella oil is obtained from a species of lemongrass plant, and you’ll recognize the smell in some candles used to repel mosquitoes (especially during summer cookouts).

You can also find citronella in Acure’s Baby Bug repellent — safe enough to use for the kiddos!

Flower Repellents

flowers-369666_1280Chrysanthemums, marigolds, petunias — you can plant these lovely flowers near your garden to protect from all kinds of pests.

 

What about you? How do you prevent bug bites and pests when it’s warm out?

 

THE GREAT DEBATE: Bar Soap vs. Liquid Soap

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.

soap ad
Image Credit: Flickr

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?

If you’ll remember our previous post on bar soaps, “castile soap” became the generic name for the hard soaps that we still use today.

The process for soap making hasn’t changed much – fats get boiled with alkali, which then produces soap and glycerin. But there are so many different kinds of bar soaps too choose from now, it’s hard to pick a favorite! (Personally, I’m loving the Bluebonnet Bar from A Wild Soap Bar.)

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.

Bar Soaps

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.

Sea Salt Zum Bar
Sea Salt Zum Bar from Indigo Wild

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!

Liquid Soaps

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.

Prickly Pear Castile Soap
Prickly Pear Castile Soap from A Wild Soap Bar

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!

 

 

Esperanza International: Addressing Poverty by Creating Real Opportunity

It’s important to us at Soap Hope to make a greater impact.

Our mission incorporates both our dedication to providing natural and safe products for our customers, as well as our commitment to making opportunities available to underprivileged women around the world.

We do that by partnering with organizations like Esperanza International, a nonprofit that focuses on freeing children and their families from poverty.

Bienvenida’s Story

When we first partnered with Esperanza, our cofounder, Salah Boukadoum had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic, to witness the impact that our organizations were making in communities in underserved countries.

That’s where Salah met Bienvenida, an entrepreneur who was able to grow her business through her own determination and with support from funds that she received.

“She started with nothing but vision and commitment,” Salah said. “With the support of a few small loans and training, and through her own hard work and dedication over many years, Bienvenida now has a convenience store, a restaurant, and a home anyone would be proud of.”

Bienvenida is a shining example of how entrepreneurship can change lives
Bienvenida is a shining example of how entrepreneurship can change lives

Bienvenida chose to build her home in the neighborhood she was a part of, demonstrating her own commitment to strong community and hope for the future.

Esperanza Means Hope

Eighty-seven percent of the loans that Esperanza disburses goes to women. Strictly from a business standpoint, women are more likely to pay back their loans and are less of a credit risk. Women like Bienvenida use their earnings to help educate their children and do good in their community.

Women like Bienvenida are key players in ending poverty and building up communities that are underserved.

“People do break out of the cycle of poverty,” says Esperanza International’s founder, Dave Valle. With financial support from organizations like Esperanza, serious issues like poverty can be addressed in the Dominican Republic.

And Esperanza doesn’t only provide microfinancing for these individuals. Their “microfinance plus” model is designed to address poverty and community development through a combination of financial services and health and education initiatives.

“It is designed to address the cultural, social, spiritual and economic forces that frequently prevent families from breaking the chains of poverty, so that they can be free to create their own brighter futures.”

Esperanza implements a number of programs focused on vocational training, literacy, health and hygiene. Health screenings and dental care are also made available in the communities where Esperanza works, helping individuals to “prevent various infections and illnesses, make nutritionally-sound dietary choices, create STD and HIV awareness, conduct self-exams for breast cancer, and encourage participation in cervical cancer testing.”

Esperanza recently announced that they’ll offer micro-insurance, the first product of its kind in the Dominican Republic.

“We are always looking for new ways to help children and their families and we know that one of the most vulnerable areas for our associates is their health. This is due to a deficient healthcare system in the DR, especially within the public hospitals.  This service will give them to the ability to go to private clinics for treatment.”

And it’s through the opportunities that Esperanza makes available to women like Bienvenida that we can start to tackle widespread issues like poverty and education. It’s through these opportunities that we can spread hope.

To learn more about Esperanza International, visit their site here.

To learn more about Soap Hope’s mission, you can click here.

And remember — every dollar that you spend at Soap Hope goes towards a program like Esperanza. You can shop and spread hope by visiting our Soap Hope store.

 

(Image credit: Esperanza International)

Better Life: Safe AND Effective Natural Cleaning Products

For the last several months, Soap Hope has been on the lookout for cleaning products that we feel safe using and selling to our customers.

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 screenshot
You can watch Better Life on Shark Tank by clicking here.

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!

4 Ideas for Self-Care That You Can Use Right Now

It’s been a long week, with errands filling up every free moment that you thought you’d had, surprise repairs needed on the car, and a toddler who seems to be sniffling an awful lot lately.

Sound familiar?

All of us get swept up in our daily tasks and minor crises — and it’s easy to fall into that mindset of constantly moving and staying “productive.”

But not catching our breath or slowing down every now and then can lead to some serious burnout. A high level of anxiety leaves our bodies more susceptible to illness and can cause long term complications like heart disease or stroke.

However, setting aside just 20-30 minutes a day for self-care can go a long way.  In fact, studies have shown that taking time to relax or meditate consistently has the potential to reverse negative effects from stress, like high blood pressure.

“We know stress is a contributor to all the major modern killers,” Dr. Charles L. Raison at Emory University points out. “It’s hard to think of an illness in which stress and mood don’t figure,”

So, set down your phone, turn off the TV, and take a little bit of time to do something that will pay off big time. The dishes in the dishwasher can wait.

Need ideas for self-care? Here are a few you can try out right now!

1. Start by breathing.

Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most efficient ways of slowing down your body and stilling your mind.  Even just five minutes of abdominal breathing can help — the goal being to calm the mind by increasing oxygen to the brain (which helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system).

person-802090_1280“Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”

2. Take a bath.

duck-701147_1280Fill up the tub and hop on in — research has shown that relaxing in a bath on a daily basis can be more effective at reducing anxiety than taking a prescription drug.

If you take a bath before bedtime, chances are you’ll sleep more soundly, too, as “it temporarily raises your body temperature, after which it gradually lowers in the cooler air, cueing your body to feel sleepy. ”

Add in yummy-smelling bath salts or a bath bomb for a luxurious and therapeutic soak!

3. Sing/dance your cares away.

The benefits of listening to music are far reaching, so put together a short playlist of your favorite songs and shake what your mama gave you.

music-791631_1280“Music’s neurological reach, and its historic role in healing and cultural rituals, has led researchers to consider ways music may improve our health and wellbeing,” states a recent article from Huffington Post.

“In particular, researchers have looked for applications in healthcare — for example, helping patients during post-surgery recovery or improving outcomes for people with Alzheimer’s. In some cases, music’s positive impacts on health have been more powerful than medication.”

4. Have a cuppa.

living-room-690174_1280Tea is the second most widely consumed drink in the world, and it’s been around forever.

Green tea is especially popular, perhaps for the positive effects that it has on cardiovascular health. A recent study found that drinking green tea “significantly lowered the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. (31% lower risk in women, and 22% lower risk in men.) The risk of dying from stroke was even lower: 62% lower in women and 42% lower in men.”

Test out different varieties of tea and pour yourself a cup.

After all, you’re worth it.

 

Here are a few products from Soap Hope you might consider for your self-care routine.

The Soap Hope Team: Meet Craig

Building a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a person with a certain kind of gumption to navigate the risks that come with owning and operating a business.

Starting Soap Hope

Craig Tiritilli is no stranger to the world of startups. He met Soap Hope cofounder, Salah Boukadoum, in their previous business that together they managed, grew and later sold. After that experience, they realized that they wanted to start another company together.

Craig Tiritilli“We spent a lot of time coming up with business ideas. The idea of Soap Hope and Good Returns evolved over time – the original pillars of our mission remain, but the implementation has been refined over time,” explains Craig.

He’d always been concerned with healthful living, and liked the idea of natural products, but starting a business like Soap Hope was a new experience.

Soap Hope is a Good Returns company, meaning every dollar of profit is used in programs that support women. Those dollars spend a year doing good for women (both abroad and right here in the U.S.), and are then returned to Soap Hope.

“Cash is a major consideration in any startup, but in one that carries inventory, the issue is significantly magnified. We had to balance the financing requirements with the desire to use our profits to serve our social mission,” says Craig.

“As we got started, there were things we didn’t anticipate. We had to refine the Good Returns program to enable us to grow our business and make resources available for our mission. Eventually the program reached a point that would work not only for Soap Hope, but for a lot of companies of varying sizes.”

Behind the Scenes

Working on Soap Hope and growing it has bled into other areas of his life. He’s a big fan of the products that we carry here at Soap Hope, and uses them in his own household regularly.

“I love the Seaweed Bath Company products and A Wild Soap Bar soaps. And I’m looking forward to using the Better Life cleaning line at the house, too,” says Craig.

When he has spare time (which can be hard to come by when growing a small business), Craig likes spending time with his family and friends. Health and fitness have always been important to him, as well, so he enjoys exercising and staying active.

The Future of Soap Hope

“It’s exciting to see how much we’ve grown and accomplished in this past year,” says Craig, “especially in these last few months. Our team is growing, and the industry is really hitting its stride.”

And it’s important to everyone here at Soap Hope that we continue to fulfill the mission that the company was founded on.

Responsible Business

“I believe it’s really is up to businesses to be an example when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility,” says Craig.

“Governments and traditional aid organizations can only handle a portion of the burden of addressing the world’s most challenging problems, and the number of individuals with the resources to make a significant impact is relatively small. That leaves businesses,” says Craig. “So being a part of a company that is designed from the ground up to impact communities and larger issues like poverty has been extremely fulfilling.”

“Being attached to that bigger purpose, with people that care deeply about what we are working to achieve, has been really important to me,” says Craig.

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You can learn more about the Good Returns business model here.

And check out some of these “Craig-approved” products in our store!

A Lovely Senti-Mint: The Many Everyday Applications of the Mint Plant

Widely used for centuries, mint is one of the easiest plants to grow, and has more uses than you could shake a stick at.

You can drink the mint plant as a tea, by steeping its leaves in hot water, or as a refreshing addition to your water during the summer months. (It’s great in a cocktail, too, but that’s another blog post.)

The oil from the mint plant is also used in a range of natural products because of its calming effects.

peppermint-tea-1109_640There are dozens of mint varieties, including spearmint and peppermint, and you’ll find that mint can be used in more ways than just as an after-dinner palate cleanser.

Digestion

There’s a reason you’re offered a mint after a meal. Its aroma helps to activate our salivary glands, which helps with digestion, and can soothe nausea or indigestion.

Cold and Cough

Mint can help to relieve congestion and soothes inflamed tissue in the respiratory system.

Headaches

Applying balms with mint oil can alleviate inflammation and temperature rise associated with headaches and migraines.

Fatigue

Need a pick-me-up? Mint is a natural stimulant, and can help you recharge if you happen to find yourself in a funk.

Skin Care

mosquito-719613_1280Its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe irritation and redness associated with acne and rashes. You’ll also find mint oil in bug repellents, because they hate the strong aroma.

Dental Care

As a natural germicide, mint helps to kill off bacterial growth that can lead to infection.

How else do you use mint? Feel free to share remedies or recipes that you love in the comments below!

 

And here are a few awesome products here at Soap Hope that contain mint: