Monday, May 27, 2013

Everything I Learned about Beauty I Learned From Soap

Reading my blog, you'd think I'm all about the soap since every single post has been dedicated to it. Yes, my primary focus is the soap, but there are so many things to do with all the lovely oils that make up these delicious recipes. Who knew that different oils would have such vastly different qualities!

I started down the natural beauty product road after a particularly nasty bout of dandruff and headlice courtesy of some younger relatives my daughter had a sleepover with. Me and Liv share a bathroom and often brushes, so there you have it. I was horrified, of course, and couldn't stop itching so I vowed to battle the wee-beasties as soon as possible. I have long thick curly clean red hair. Lice love me. I use very few chemicals in my household, so I wasn't too happy about having to do the RID treatment, but I needed them out. And the dandruff? What was with that? I"ve washed my hair daily since I was 12 due to excessive oiliness and at the age of 47, it  hadn't slowed down. My hair was oily and my skin even worse. My pores were large and clogged despite Retin-A and dermatologist recommended cleansers. There had to be a better way.

Shortly after this horrific incident, I went to a fall festival and bought some beeswax based all organic beauty products...a soap, a lip balm, and a lotion bar. This sparked my daydream of learning the soap making art my grandmother was so proud of. While I was learning my craft, I bought several handcrafted soaps from local masters, like Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve, including a shampoo bar I was intrigued with.

I read up on the virtues of shampoo bars, but quickly learned that there was much pain to reap until the pleasure of silky locks was realized. Apparently, modern shampoos contain numerous nasties like sodium laurel sulfates that strip our scalps and provoke them to produce more grease to reach equilibrium and so on and so on the cycle rinses and repeats--grease, wash, grease, down the drain and dried out hair! Well, this no-poo thing was very difficult. I was warned about the weird feeling your hair might have initially and no was weird. The only way I can describe it was my hair was clean and soft but still greasy looking, especially the under layers. The Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve lady said a rinse of diluted vinegar could help and it did, but my hair still felt weird. Several people said you need to try different shampoo bar formulations until you find the right one. I did and the weirdness persisted. I decided to compromise with  a sulfate-free shampoo, like Aubry Organics; all their shampoos did really well with my hair. I continued on with the diluted cider rinse, despite my daughter's distress that the bathroom smelled like a giant garden salad. After a few weeks of using the organic shampoo and cider rinse, no more dandruff and my hair was so soft and shiny!  I finally won over the girl by adding in a drop of two of lavender or cypress to the vinegar. If this stuff could win over a 14 year old, it must be good.

Here's a few other awesome beauty products I discovered as a result of being a soap maker. One of the first beauty blogs I ever read was Crunchy Betty. She's a huge advocate of the oil cleansing method. While I don't use oils to cleanse, I do use her oil advise for moisturizing, which goes against the grain of all advise brainwashed into me since puberty, that I should avoid all oils like the plague. Well, I was intrigued with the concept that modern skin oiliness is often an over-reactive compensatory mechanism to harsh soaps and detergent laden cleansers. Crunchy Betty has oily skin, so I tried her recommended blend of johoba with a small amount of tamanu oil. Tamanu is an oil recommended for acne and treating acne scarring. It's very dark brownish green and smells to me like
butter pecan icecream. For a one ounce blend I'll use .75 ounce johoba and .25 ounce Tamanu, fortified with essential oils known to be good to my mature, but oily, acne prone skin. My favorite essential blend is 20 drop per ounce blend of  carrot seed, lavender, frankincense, patchouli, and vetiver. Love it.

 And guess what? Since I've been using this oil as my moisturizer and cleansing grains or homemade soap for my cleanser, two major things have happened: my skin is much less oily and my pores are not visible from 3 feet. They aren't even visible at 6 inches! This is crazy stuff. I've been under dermatological care for 30 years and I never achieved this? My skin was so oily, I started to develop clusters of flat-like warts on my forehead which my laser pushing doctor said were massive oil glands, like oil glands on steroids, that could only be removed with laser. Well, screw that expensive stuff. I've tweaked my oil formula.; now, I use meadowfoam oil in place of the jojoba, which is similar in nature, but much more effective on my skin and much less expensive. Johoba oil is harvested from berries plucked off five year old bushes driving up the cost for those bushes to mature. Meadowfoam is harvested from a much more sustainable prolific northwestern U.S. apine flower.

I made a blend for my 76 year old mother plagued for years with pasoriasis. My mother has given me persmission to publish her robust testimonial that this stuff is amazing. Her skin looks an easy ten years younger with the crusty patches clearing up. She struts around the house feeling her soft smooth skins and giggling. It's so cute. I recently sent mom a large replacement bottle, 2 ounces, and dared suggest she share with my brother, her son, genetically cursed with similar skin, and she said, "Oh, he doesn't need that stuff!" So, I sent my suffering brother his own bottle. He reports good results so far.

What I want to say is not...hey, this stuff will cure's just that all that other commercial crap will do so much harm. Stop the harm and good things happen. You may disagree, and that's ok...I'm hooked!

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