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.

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!

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?

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.

Stories of Hope: Pastora

From our latest stories of hope at Soap Hope, we learn about Pastora – the King of Refrigeration.

A born entrepreneur, Pastora’s story of hope began a few years ago. Pastora ran a small business selling food items to members of her community in the Dominican Republic. However, without the capital to make repairs and ensure the safety of her food supply, she was forced to close down her business.

In 2007, Pastora’s life changed when she obtained her first loan of 7,000 Dominican Pesos (about $185 USD) from Esperanza International and opened a tiny ‘tienda’, or shop, selling shoes.

Esperanza: Creating Stories of Hope

Esperanza’s mission is to eliminate poverty in the Dominican Republic. Their approach is to provide more than just financial support. They also support their microfinance loan recipients with education, training, health, and hygiene services.

Esperanza’s mission to help children and families facing poverty pairs perfectly with our mission at Soap Hope. Today, our partnership is fruitful and thriving, as evidenced by other stories of hope like that of Bienvenida.

As a result of the partnership between Soap Hope, Esperanza, and You, we are able to impact the lives of women around the world – women like Pastora.

The Rest of Pastora’s Story

Pastora in her refrigerator repair shop.Pastora has a knack for understanding the needs of her community. She has been able to adjust her business model to the changing demands of her customers and the resources available to her.

She still recalls closing her first venture due to food spoilage – a huge problem for businesses in the hot climate of the Dominican Republic. That’s why Pastora decided to open a shoe business with her loan, a product that would not have to contend with the Dominican heat.

A few years after opening her tienda selling shoes, Pastora expanded her lines of business to sell refrigeration repair equipment. Today, “The King Refrigeracion” is thriving, and Pastora has more plans to expand in the future.

In addition to the loans Pastora received to launch and grow her businesses, she has benefited from other services provided through Esperanza — benefits like dental and health insurance for her family —  things that would otherwise be difficult to come by in her area.

Pastora also loves attending the business trainings that Esperanza organizes near her home. She is thankful to the organization for providing her with “abrir una puerta para trabajar,” or, “an open door to work.”

A Partnership of Hope

Esperanza is committed to alleviating poverty in and around the Dominican Republic. Soap Hope is dedicated to lifting women from poverty through organizations like Esperanza. Together, we are able to impact the lives of women like Pastora. But we can only do it with you.

A single bar of soap can fund a woman’s business for two days. Imagine how many days you could fund simply by skipping the store and purchasing all of your body care and house cleaning products online at Soap Hope.

When we make the choice as business owners and consumers to direct our money into world-changing social causes, we write a new chapter in the stories of hope for women who may not have had a chance to escape poverty otherwise.

Esperanza, Soap Hope, and You – making the greatest impact, together. What stories of hope will you write today?

The Ugly Box: Soap Hope’s Upcycled Product Solution to Unnecessary Waste

Businesses are struggling to deliver customer orders in an environmentally-friendly method, either through upcycled product packaging or recycled materials. With the ecommerce industry on the rise (and, by default, the shipping industry too), the need for sustainable packaging solutions is greater than ever.

A Growing Need for Upcycled Products

We all know the feeling. You place an order for the perfect pair of shoes or that new dry shampoo you’ve been wanting to try, and before you know it the shipping box is sitting on your doorstep.

Chances are you’ve placed quite a few Internet orders in recent years. You’re not alone. Cyber Monday in 2015, for instance, was America’s biggest ecommerce sales day ever, with U.S. online orders totaling $3.07 billion.

When More Convenience Means More Waste

Our culture and economy are shifting towards all sorts of “on-demand” products. With just a few clicks, you can order groceries, clothes, beauty products — just about anything your heart desires.

There are some pretty serious consequences that come with this kind of convenience, however.

“From a sustainability perspective, we’re heading in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Dan Sperling, from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. In a recent interview with the New York Times, he explained that this trend — while convenient for consumers — is ultimately damaging.

In 2014, 35.4 million tons of paperboard materials were produced in the United States, “with ecommerce companies among the fastest-growing users.”

The numbers are pretty daunting. It’s clear that significant change is needed to shift the impact of consumer waste.

The Problem with Recycling

There is, of course, the option of recycling, but even that process poses its own issues. Not all materials are recycled in the same way or use the same resources.

“Each material has a unique value, determined by the rarity of the virgin resource and the price the recycled material fetches on the commodity market,” states environmental journalist Amy Westervelt. “The recycling process for each also requires a different amount of water and energy and comes with a unique (and sometimes hefty) carbon footprint.”

In short, not all materials are worth recycling.

The Upward Trend of Upcycling

So if recycling isn’t always sustainable, what other options are there?

While individuals can make changes to lessen their carbon footprint, it’s the businesses that are creating these products (and their packaging) that can create a bigger impact.

For the average consumer product sold today, nearly 10% of the finished and shipped product contains packing material which is normally unusable, and therefore dumped.

The concept of upcycling or upcycled products isn’t a new one in business — if you shop on Etsy, you’ll see a wide range of goods made from discarded materials that would have otherwise been tossed aside: jewelry made from old vinyl records; tables crafted from wooden baseball bats. The possibilities seem endless when it comes to turning “junk” into something you can flaunt.

This same concept can be applied to shipping, and Soap Hope has found an upcycled solution that customers are thrilled about.

For our planet. The Ugly Box.

Enter the Ugly Box

At Soap Hope, we’ve made it our mission to end poverty for women worldwide. But another value we hold close is our dedication to protecting our planet.

We ship all customer orders in upcycled product packaging, made with barely used scraps of cardboard and packaging material from local businesses. This is what we call the Ugly Box.

The standard shipping practices of ecommerce retailers create two unnecessary consequences:

  1. They use new cardboard boxes, which means more trees cut down and more environmental waste.
  2. The boxes used by these retailers are often many times bigger than necessary to fit the product(s) being shipped. You may have experienced this phenomenon from another ecommerce retailer who shipped you a small product in a box that was large enough to fit four or five times the amount.

Our Ugly Box addresses these two important problems:

  1. The cardboard we use is an upcycled product, which means it has been gently used — usually only one time — by local businesses who would have otherwise thrown the cardboard away.
  2. The Ugly Box minimizes the amount of cardboard needed to wrap a product, because it is built to fit the exact size of the products being shipped.

While the Ugly Box may not be the most attractive package you receive in the mail, it does its job of keeping your products safe during shipping and eliminating the need for new cardboard.

With that said, many Soap Hope customers have expressed their love of the Ugly Box.

A photo posted by Soap Hope (@soaphope) on

The Future is Now

While there is still much ground to cover in waste reduction, it’s promising to see that there are new and outside-the-box (pun intended) methods of upcycling, packaging, and shipping your favorite products right to your door.

“Ugly” Box or not, there is hope that businesses are capable of creating a positive, worldwide impact.

The Myth of Natural Anti-Aging Treatments: 5 Tips for Your Best Skin at Any Age

Are there any natural anti-aging treatments that actually work? That’s what we’ve set out to find in this article.

The skin care industry is flooded with natural anti-aging products that promise to lift, firm, smooth, highlight, and perfect our skin. It is nearly impossible to sort through every product that promises a younger look or “your best skin at any age.”

But there’s good news! Healthy, natural skin isn’t limited to the young. It can be achieved through more than just expensive skin care treatments.

Maintaining healthy, natural skin is simpler than it may seem. It can be achieved at any age by simply taking care of both the inside and outside our bodies.

Natural Anti-Aging Tips - In Your Body

Natural Anti-Aging Treatments – In Our Bodies

Hydration:

Did you know that most people are chronically dehydrated? It’s true.

By some estimates, up to 75 percent of Americans suffer with chronic, mild dehydration. It’s a condition that interferes with cell growth, digestion, brain function, memory, and you guessed it, even the appearance of your skin.

We’ve all heard the old “eight glasses of water a day” adage. The truth is that you may only need half that! But, it can be difficult to know exactly how much water your body truly needs to stay hydrated.

Proper hydration adds support and firmness to your skin. It increases your body’s ability to flush out waste, and it has many other benefits for your entire body that we don’t have time to mention.

If you’re unsure how much water your body needs, remember this simple formula:

  1. Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half.
  2. The resulting number is how many ounces of water you should drink in a day.

Remember to drink more water in especially hot weather or when exercising, and limit your intake of sugary and caffeinated beverages that can actually contribute to dehydration.

Nutrition:

Good nutrition offers many anti-aging benefits for your skin, not just for the rest of your body.

When you eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and veggies, you’re not only taking in essential vitamins and minerals, but you’re also contributing to your daily intake of water. Raw fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes are made up of more than 90% water. Plus, they are high in vitamins and antioxidants that keep you looking and feeling fresh.

Natural Anti-Aging Tips - On Your Body

Natural Anti-Aging Treatments – On Our Bodies

Hydration:

Hydration is not only an important natural anti-aging treatment for the inside of your body. It’s extremely important for the outside of our body as well.

Our bodies lose moisture throughout the day, but we often lose the highest water volume at night while we sleep. Here’s an explanation of how this happens, according to HowStuffWorks:

Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream from Pacifica
Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream

Overnight, there are two processes that cause you to lose water gradually. The first is respiration. Each time you exhale, you lose a little bit of water (exhale onto a cool piece of glass and you can see this moisture). The second is transpiration through the skin, also known as sweating. Over the course of a night, both of these processes eliminate quite a bit of water.

Daily moisturizers like Pacifica Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream can help your body retain more moisture throughout the day or night by rehydrating skin cells that have been stripped of their natural oils due to the constant barrage of harsh elements like the sun’s UV rays.

Protection:

Sunscreen, or more specifically natural sunscreen, is one of the most important natural anti-aging treatments for your skin. In fact, it may actually be the most important form of skin care protection for your face.

Even if your face is exposed to the sun for only a few minutes each day, it can still lead to premature wrinkling and sun spots, and it can increase your risk for skin cancer.

Many natural skin care makers have come to understand the need for SPF protection in their products, so make sure you are using a natural, broad spectrum daily moisturizer that has SPF protection as part of your daily skin care routine.

Tinted moisturizers and beauty balms like Pacifica’s Ultra CC Cream not only include SPF protection, but they are available in both tinted and clear versions to match your skin tone, mood, and lifestyle.

Cleansing and Exfoliation

The options for facial cleansers are endless. Gone are the days when we used harsh chemicals and drying products to find the perfect anti-aging treatment. Gentle is the word of the day now, especially when it comes to maintaining your best skin at any age.

Pure Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub from Deep Steep
Pure Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

Oil cleansers are quickly growing in popularity as a gentle cleansing solution for your face. Oils are especially good for sensitive skin since they cleanse the skin without stripping it of the natural oils that are present. Badger Balm Unscented Face Cleansing Oil cleans your skin without the irritation of artificial fragrances.

For a more advanced anti-aging treatment, try exploring the world of masks and scrubs. These products exfoliate your skin, helping to shed dead skin cells and improve the regeneration of new skin cells.

Argan Stem Cell and Chlorella Growth Factor Cell Stimulating Facial Mask from Acure
Cell Stimulating Facial Mask

If you’re just starting an advanced skin care regimen, start simple with once or twice weekly exfoliation. Deep Steep’s Pure Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub combines the luxe moisture of pure coconut oil with the exfoliating power of a scrub for soft, deeply hydrated skin.

If you’re not a fan of the abrasiveness of a natural scrub, try a product like Acure’s Cell Stimulating Facial Mask. It goes on like a mask and rinses like a foamy cleanser, leaving behind softer, brighter skin.

Give Your Skin a Little TLC

No matter how you choose to approach your personal skin care routine, Soap Hope has gentle, natural anti-aging options for everyone. But looking and feeling your very best can be achieved without cleansers, oils, or exfoliants. Embrace your beauty – inside and out – at every stage of life. YOU are beautiful.