Monday, October 6, 2014

What You May Find in Our Soaps ... and Why

The seasons can be harsh on the skin.. the products you put onto your skin are just as important that is why when making our soaps we chose the oils and butters very carefully. Not only do they have to be very high quality, they had to come from fair trade and sustainable resources.  Many of you may be aware of the orangutans and the destruction of their habitat for purposes of harvesting the Palm Oil that is used in many soap recipes ... it is for this very reason that we have reformulated all of our soap recipes so that they do not include Palm Oil ... it is not reasonable for us to utilize an ingredient when it involves the destruction of a species or natural habitat.

The ingredients used in our soaps are carefully selected.  You will not find milk products, tallow, lard, or hydrogenated anything in our ingredients listings. Many soap crafters incorporate the use of Crisco or tallow in their soaps, accompanied by low-grade corn, canola, or safflower oil ... ingredients found at your local grocery store.  These products have been chemically altered and we believe that they may not necessarily be the best ingredients for use on your skin.

This is the list of the biofriendly ingredients we use in our soaps and WHY we use them:

Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Hempseed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil.

Coconut oil (Cocos Nucifera) contains mostly fats, so it acts as an emollient providing a softening and soothing effect. Small wounds (caused by acne or pimples) also soften and heal quickly. Soothes itchiness and dryness (effective for dermatitis and psoriasis) Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids which are absorbed into the skin, where they can be directly utilized for nutrition and energy. This provides all the energy your skin needs to heal and maintain itself. Coconut Oil is also an antiseptic and microbial, is a powerful antioxidant to sooth away to sooth away winkles, and can help you look younger by improving the quality and appearance of skin through the elimination of dead skin cells. Our cold pressed coconut oil is sustainably sourced from Canada.

Olive oil (Olea Europa) is closer in chemical structure to the skin’s natural oils than any other naturally occurring oil. The regenerative power of olive oil also helps in stimulating the process of skin healing. It can be used to soothe and heal skin irritations. The same property also helps in treating sunburn. Just apply olive oil on the affected area directly. Is considered to be the best remedy for dry skin as it helps to exfoliate dead cells and flaky skin. Its moisturizing properties help to soften the skin texture, leaving you with beautiful glowing skin. Olive oil soap cleans your skin without stripping away the natural oils -- so you don't end up dry and flaky after it's use. Olive oil also allows the skin to sweat and shed cells naturally; commercial soaps that contain synthetic cleaners and fragrances can block your pores and cause irritation. Our cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil is sustainably sourced from Spain.

Hempseed oil (Cannibis Sativa) is one of the world’s most richest sources of polyunsaturated fats, including both of the essential fatty acids (Omega 3 & Omega 6) and GLA, making it an unequaled natural emollient and moisturizer.  Hempseed Oil helps heal: sunburn, scrapes, acne, burns, wrinkles, aging, drying or chapped skin, stretch marks and damaged skin! Clinical studies have shown that dry skin defects such as scaling or cracking can be reversed by skin care products containing Omega 6 Fatty Acids.

Hempseed Oil is one of the richest sources of EFA’s and Vitamin E in the entire plant kingdom.  These healing enzymes and vitamins can be absorbed directly into the skin to replenish the missing oils, instead of sitting on top, as do saturated oils.  With regular use, Hempseed Oil body care products can help slow down the effects of skin aging, reduce skin discomfort by soothing and restoring dry or damaged skin, and leave the skin smooth and moisturized.  The Hempseed Oil we use in our products is cold pressed and sustainably sourced from Canada.

Raw Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissima) has been used to improve skin and hair both by ingestion and by topical use. Studies have shown that both intake and topical application of avocado oil can reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Avocado oil is high in a substance called sterolin, which studies have shown to facilitate the softening of the skin and to reduce the incidence of age spots; Avocado oil is rich in antioxidants, making it useful for healing sun-damaged skin. Antioxidants like vitamins A, D and E in avocado cause the skin to be suppler, and are particularly good for dry or aged skin.  Our cold pressed, virgin avocado oil is sustainably sourced from Spain.

Castor Oil (Ricinus Communis) is beneficial when it comes to skin problems like sunburn, acne, dry skin and stretch marks. It also helps evade infections like warts, boils, athlete’s foot and chronic itching. Castor oil is rich in Ricinoleic acid (formally called 12-hydroxy-9-cis-octadecenoic acid is a fatty acid. It is an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid), which fights off the acne-causing bacteria. It effectively penetrates the skin layers, making it an excellent remedy for acne. Castor oil is a wonderful moisturizer and lends itself to boosting a soap's lathering abilities when combined with coconut oil. The highly concentrated fatty acids penetrate the skin easily, helping to remove dry patches and restoring hydration of the skin. Only a small amount of castor oil is required for this purpose.  Our expeller-pressed castor oil is sustainably sourced from India.

Meadowfoam Seed Oil (Limnanthes Alba) is a fully refined, triglyceride composed of over 98% fatty acids with chain lengths of 20 carbons or more and also has higher quality triglyceride levels when compared to other vegetable oils.  In addition, it has three long chain fatty acids that were previously unknown prior to its discovery.

The feel of this oil is distinct from many other natural oils. This is due to the novel chemistry of its fatty acids, which contain more carbon atoms than fatty acids common in edible oils such as soy, almond, sunflower and olive. As a result, Meadowfoam Seed Oil provides good emolliency without being overly greasy.  It also has amazing moisturizing and rejuvenating capabilities, is very stable, and the high level of oxidative stability means Meadowfoam Seed Oil is less likely to go rancid, even when handled at high temperatures and in the presence of oxygen and other conditions that cause natural oils to degrade.

Our Meadowfoam Seed Oil is derived from the seeds of commercial meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba) fields in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Mosqueta) is widely regarded as one of the most important oils for fighting wrinkles and premature aging and repairing damaged skin.  It also has subsequently been identified as an effective treatment for stretch marks, eczema, psoriasis and dry and damaged hair.  The essential fatty acids in rosehip seed oil can help reduce scarring and promote skin regeneration. Its essential fatty acids are emollients and as such, improve skin flexibility and permeability. Emollients also aid in skin repair. Vitamin A may also play a part in rose hip oil's affect on scar tissue due to its ability to improve skin texture and tone. While it carries similar health benefits as our Meadowfoam Seed Oil, it is not nearly as stable.  Our cold pressed, rosehip seed oil is sustainably sourced from Chile.

Shea Butter (Vitellaria Paradoxa) is a super food for the skin and is hand-extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree, which grows in Ghana. What makes shea butter an extraordinary skin care and amazing body healer is its richness in precious constituents, which include unsaturated fats and a large proportion of “unsaponifiable” components, essential fatter acids, phytosterols, vitamin E and F, provitamin A and allantoin. All these are natural and make shea butter a super food for your skin and hair. Shea butter is one of the best anti-ageing agents for your skin by stimulating the production of collagen-strengthening your skin; keeping the pores of your skin and hair shaft clear. Shea butter helps to make your skin more supple, alive, nourished and radiant.

Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao) contains a number of different antioxidants that can kill off a wide range of different free radicals and superoxides, including hydrogen peroxide.  It also contains phytochemicals (posh name for plant chemicals) such as flavanoids that are also strong antioxidants. Polyphenols are very effective at neutralizing free radicals, and the cocoa mass polyphenols are particularly effective.  In fact, cocoa butter contains a much higher antioxidant concentration then even blueberries and other so-called superfoods.

It has been scientifically proven that cocoa butter will prevent skin degradation due to the harmful effects of the UV light in the rays of the sun - UV radiation generates free radicals that are very effective at destroying skin.  Just look at the effects of sunburn!  However, there is more to cocoa butter than just that, since it contains a large proportion of minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and iron, all of which are in a highly bioavailable form that render them more effective that commercial vitamin supplements. Not only that, though. It also contains tryptophan, involved in the formation of serotonin, the 'feel good' neurotransmitter, and also dopamine and phenylethylamine, all good substances. It is a brain food as well as food for your skin.
Sodium Hydroxide, to put into layman's terms, is lye.  When mixed with liquid, whether water, goat's milk, tea, or any other form of liquid, a chemical reaction is created which is essential and absolutely necessary to turn butters and oils into soap.  Bar soap cannot be created without the incorporation of sodium hydroxide.  The beauty of this highly volatile ingredient is that, provided the weights and measurements are precisely calculated, there is absolutely no lye remaining in the finished product.

We create exceptional, unrefined, biofriendly products that incorporate plant and mineral ingredients of natural origins in their simplest forms ... products that you will feel as good about using on your family as you do yourself.

We seek out natural ingredients that are as good for the earth as they are for your skin. All ingredients used in our products are researched as to their origins, how they are derived, and what impact they will have on our lives and on our planet.

We believe that every place in the world is local to some where ... and consciously work to ensure that the monies we spend on our ingredients  will provide the greatest benefit to the communities that the sales of these ingredients support.

We continually explore new methods of processing while maintaining the quality found in small batch manufacturing ... even for tried and true ingredients, there is always an ingredient that is of greater benefit to our bodies.

As our world evolves, so will our our company and our products ... continually striving to bring to you products that deliver outstanding results.

Our Philosophy is simple:  when it's time to leave, make sure that what you leave behind is better than what you originally found. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Fresh and clean as a whistle" ... or is it?

This morning, I discovered a bar of Irish Spring tucked away in the dusty recesses of an unused bathroom cupboard drawer.  I dragged it out with the intent of tossing it into the trashcan.

But, as a soap maker, curiosity got the better of me ... and so, I turned it over to read the ingredients label:

There are a number of ingredients with which I was not familiar ... even though the internal shudder that coursed through my body certainly has become a familiar feeling whenever I read the ingredients labeling of so many commercially made products being sold on today's grocery store shelves.

So ... I fired up the computer and headed for the interwebs.

BTW - the internet is a beautiful thing, really.  Twenty years ago, research such as I was about to undertake would have required a library card, a sack lunch, and a degree in chemistry.  But not any more ... with a little typing and a good browser, you can find whatever you seek, whenever you wish.  It's like it's MAGIC!

But, I digress ...

So let's take a closer look at those pesky ingredients:
Soap (sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, and/or sodium palm kernalate), water, hydrogenated tallow acid (skin conditioner), coconut acid, glycerin (skin conditioner), fragrance, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate, pentalerythrityl, tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate (can I buy a vowel, please), titanium dioxide, D&C green #8, FD&C green #3.

Ugh.  I make soap ... and I've never, ever heard of any of this stuff.

Well then ... let's break it down, shall we?

Sodium tallowate:  Sodium tallowate is a true soap made by combining the fatty tissue (or tallow) of animals, such as cattle and sheep, with lye, typically sodium hydroxide.

Okay ... I get that one.  

Sodium cocoate:  Sodium cocoate is the sodium salt of fatty acids from coconut oil; lauric acid is the primary component of this oil.  Function:  Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent

This is NOT coconut oil (Cocos Nucifera) ... this is a byproduct that they are classifying to be the same as coconut oil.

Sodium palm kernalate:  Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from palm kernel oil.  Function:  Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent -Aqueous; viscosity controlling.

Not to be confused with palm kernal oil, which we don't currently use due to the sustainability and the orangutan issues surrounding the sourcing of this inexpensive oil.

Hydrogenated tallow acid - a mixture of saturated fatty acids which are produced from animal fat by hydrolysis and then treated by hydrogen at high temperature and pressure in a presence of special catalysts.

We use stuff like cocoa butter and/or shea butter, coconut and olive oils ... and we leave the glycerin IN the soaps that we make, keeping the natural conditioning ingredients where there are supposed to be, which is IN the soap.

Coconut acid - Coconut acid is obtained from the meat of the coconut and used in soaps because the extra fat it contains helps ensure the lye is fully reacted, and it gives the soap a good feel and more lather.

This is the closest ingredient to the real thing that I've seen so far ...

Glycerin (now, this is a fun one) - produced by synthetizing sugar or different propylene based substances OR is a byproduct in the biodiesel making process.

In conventional soap making, glycerin is a naturally-occurring substance that is created during the soapmaking process and is absorbed back in to the soap as it cures.  It is what makes your skin soft and is what helps your skin absorb moisture from the air.  Glycerin is hydroscopic ... meaning that it pulls moisture from the air and brings it to your skin.  

It is during the commercial soapmaking process that salt is added to the soap mixture, causing the soap to separate from the glycerin; allowing for ease in the extraction of the glycerin to be used in other things like skin care products, medicines, and other alimentary products.  Without glycerin, soap can be very drying to your skin ... so companies add it back ... only it's not the same glycerin that they removed in the first place ... it's a chemically-derived substance.

Makes sense ... 'cuz Glycerin (aka Glycerol or Glycerine) is also used in the tobacco industry as a humectant; in the food industry as an additive; in the pharmaceutical industry as an excipient and formulation aid; in chemical substances as an intermediate; in the cosmetic industry as a skin moisturizer and humectant; as an anti-freezing substance in cell and sperm preservation; and as a lubricant in hydraulic fluid.  There's lots of money to be made off of this stuff ... no wonder the stuff is so precious that they need to siphon it off to use elsewhere.

Sodium chloride - regular ol' table salt

Pentasodium pentetate - used in soaps as a water softener, and to protect dyes and perfumes from combining with metals in a solution. It is considered a chelating agent.  It's full name is Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid.

(Pentaerythrityl) tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate - an antioxidant [used in the manufacture of soap] that inhibits reactions promoted by oxygen that could cause unsaturated fats to become rancid.

IMO - if manufacturers stayed away from animal tallow (fat) in the first place, this ingredient would be unnecessary.  Yes, I am aware that the use of animal fat in the making of soap has been around since the beginning of Time ... but this isn't Babylon ... we've come a long way in our knowledge of making stuff from other stuff that is healthier to place in and on our bodies.

And then ... there's all the rest of the stuff ... titanium dioxide, a whitener added to get this chemical mess white so that the colorants can be added, along with a vague reference to a fragrance that is not of natural origins, but will leave you "Feeling Fresh and Clean as a Whistle".

BTW - after I researched all this information, I stumbled across a webpage wherein the author already did the homework:  I suppose I could have stopped ... but today, it seems, was a day for learning.

And so ... on that note ... the soap's being chucked in the trash.
I'll do it on my way to the shower ... where I plan on using my own stuff.


Oh My Meadowfoam!

One of the main ingredients in our lotions and perfume oils is meadowfoam seed oil ... a relatively new oil on today's market that boasts a long chain fatty acid structure which delivers good barrier formation and helps to lock fragrance onto the skin, while also helping to prevent the rapid absorption of natural creams and lotions that may sometimes be perceived as "drying".

Our nourishing hand and body lotion is perfect for keeping your skin soft & smooth. Loads of meadowfoam seed oil and vitamin e will pamper your skin without leaving a heavy, greasy feeling behind.

bio-friendly ingredients: meadowfoam seed oil, distilled water, beeswax, vitamin e, essential and/or fragrance oils.

You can find this amazing stuff ... and so much more ... in our online store!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bio-friendly Deodorant

With the rise in breast cancer (not to mention the hyperactive advertising being done to raise awareness) reaching an incredible level of 1 in 4 (when I was a teen, it was 1 in 8), we've taken a completely different approach to creating a deodorant that works as good as your regular brand, without all of the dangerous and questionable chemicals.

Kokum butter helps to regenerate skin cells and is the hardest of all the butters currently on today's market.  Coconut oil and raw beeswax are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.  Arrowroot and baking soda to absorb wetness.  In our No Sweat! products, we use a proprietary blend of essential oils that are designed by nature to regulate your body's production of sweat.


You can find all of these great products ... and more ... in our online store.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Challenge Accepted

These were the words uttered by the teenaged boy when asked if he could please rinse off his plate and utensils after using them.
A plate, knife and fork.
I don't care how great your imagination is ... that's not a "challenge".

Doing dishes for a family of 5 every single day ... sometimes twice in the same day ... that's a challenge. For the record, we once let them go for an entire weekend to see if the kids got the hint that we could use some help with washing them ... I never knew that a can opener and an ice cream scoop could be used in lieu of a knife and fork when the clean ones are gone ... and that (in a pinch) cake pans make for really good cereal bowls.

Mowing the 8 foot tall weeds out in the chicken yard ... so we can actually see the chickens ... that's a challenge.

Washing, drying, and folding 47 loads of laundry on a weekly basis ... that's a challenge.

Taking the compost bucket out to the garden and dumping it ... without puking in the gooseberry bushes ... that's a challenge.

But washing your own plate, knife and fork?
And then, putting it away?
A Challenge?

Mind you ... this same boy asked why I didn't get out my Sharpie and start labeling the dishes and silverware with his and his siblings' names.
He wanted to make sure that no other person in the house used his dishes.
His because he washed them after using them.

I'm waiting for the day when he actually asks to be challenged around here ...
there are about a half dozen hens out in the chicken yard that can't see the henhouse for the weeds.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Elegance - January 4, 2014

An interesting draw for today - Elegance. 

See the beauty that is in yourself, others, and your surroundings even when things are not perfect. Find your rhythm and glide upon the waves of Life.

I have to admit, this card left me a bit befuddled this morning when I drew it.
You see ... last night, Jocelyn made the decision to move out ... away from home and in to the home of her dearest friend.

How does a parent ... a person ... respond or react to that?

Don't get me wrong ... there is a long history of unhappiness when it comes to her and the blending of two families over the course of the last three years.  The stories are many ... and they are not all mine to tell.

We are not a "perfect" family ... we are a family filled with love and joy, challenges and tears ... we are a messy family.  Quite possibly the very best kind.

But Jocelyn hasn't been happy being part of a messy family.  
Her preference is a nice house in the 'burbs ... money to spend without question on whatever strikes her fancy that particular day ... not having to vie with four other siblings for the attention of either one or the other parent.

There's more to this whole story ... so many undercurrents and sidetracks, it could easily turn in to a miniseries.  But the bottom line is that Jocelyn made a choice nearly two years ago to be unhappy while living in this house.  Unhappiness with Jocelyn can easily lead toward friction within the family ... usually between her and I.  Friction allows her to justify her continued feelings of unhappiness ... it also supports stories that she has created about how the stepmother does not love her and wants her gone from the home.  It has been a difficult living situation.

Jocelyn is happiest when she stays with her best friend.  She is then the middle of three daughters.  Her wants and needs are completely satisfied ... without question.  She has always expressed the desire to live with this family ... in both times of jest and times of stress.

Last night, she made the "I'll just move out" statement ... to which her Dad pretty much said "if that's what you want to do, I'm okay with that" ... to which I responded with "running away from your problems does not solve them, sometimes they need to be faced".

We were up late last night, discussing the evening's events ... loudly ... angrily ... so very many words shared, filled with hurt and remorse.  So much history brought to the surface ... to be loved and cleared.

We thought a night's sleep would allow her a change in choices made during the heat of anger.
Nope.  She finished packing boxes this morning.  She was picked up before noon.  We spoke with the parents of the best friend ... we are playing this all by ear right now.

We didn't yell at Jocelyn for the choice that she made ... we honored it.  We didn't ground her to her room for the next month ... which may have been what she wanted for us to do, because that would prove to her that she was "wanted" ... that she was loved.

We told her that we loved her ... because isn't that really what we're supposed to do as parents to our children ... to guide them toward being able to make their own decisions, their own choices ... to simply love them, despite how messy it all becomes?  As parents, we cannot make our children happy ... we cannot make our children love themselves as much as we love them ... we cannot even make them like any single part of the whole ... we can only love them enough to allow them the freedom to make their own decisions, regardless of the potential outcomes we as parents have already experienced.

And whether they are six days shy of being 15 or they are over 40, our children deserve all of the love that we have to give ... without question ... loving the choices they are choosing to make ... and hoping that we've taught them enough that they are able to eventually discover just how much we really do love them, even when we didn't agree with the choices they made.

Elegance is the troubled youth that believes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence ... it is found in the muck just below the surface of a lily pond ... it is allowing yourself to gloriously feel every emotion as it washes through you ... it is your smile as she moves the last box into the trunk of a waiting car when you'd rather just curl up in a corner and cry ... it is learning how to recognize that the choices other people make are not your responsibility ... it is in choosing not to be a victim of your circumstances.

There is peace in our home.
And I hope that Jocelyn, who single-handedly managed to manifest her version of a Perfect Life, is finally happy.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Rebirth - January 3, 2014

For Christmas, my darling husband gifted to me a set of Magical Times Empowerment Cards.

A deck of cards, similar to Tarot Cards ... each card carries a beautiful image and a positive message.

Today's card ...

And the accompanying message:  Today I will be grateful for my trials and recognize them for the many gifts that they bring.  I know that I grow stronger in the broken places.  I know that the world will turn in my favor.  I know that I have ended things well and am ready for this new beginning.  I will shine, because the whole universe is mine.

The irony of this card cannot be ignored.  Today was a day filled with endings and beginnings.

The job to which I'd applied in the Corporate World last year, was rescinded in the new year.
Honesty is not always the best of policies when it comes to completing applications within which the only way to actually get the job is if you falsify the information on the application and/or background check.

I completed and filed paperwork to change orders in old court paperwork from my divorce and child custody hearings in Phoenix, AZ.  It's time for the old ways of doing things to be done differently.

The image shown on this card is of a Phoenix rising from the flames of rebirth.

Coincidence?  Not likely.

2014 is a time of rebirth ... awakening to the positive manifestation of All Good Things.