Magic Soap

I am a big fan of soap.  I’m into the handmade variety (as I also make it) instead of the mass-produced stuff.  If I had to choose one (and only one) reason alone for endorsing the use of real soap instead of body wash (aka detergent) I would rest my case on this simple fact: soap does not remove oil and dirt.  Such a statement sounds surprising, sure, but it is true.  The makers of various body washes would have us believe that soap strips and dries the skin while body washes are gentle and moisturizing.  They aren’t telling you that they are referring to mass-produced bars of soap which use a host of strange ingredients including beef tallow (which is one of the more harmless additions, let me say).

Like I said, soap (the real stuff) does not remove oil and dirt; it dissolves it.  For a body wash to work, it has to remove everything from the epidermis (including the natural good oils) and try to put some kind of moisture back in so your skin doesn’t feel stripped.  Soap doesn’t have to strip your skin because is breaks down impurities and dissolves them.  Your skin feels clean without feeling chapped and dry when you step out the shower.

Liquid Castile soap has become a staple in my home.  It lathers beautifully, cleanses without stripping, and a little goes a long way.  My favorite liquid Castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure Castile soap.  I particularly like the Lavender and the Rose liquid soaps.  Dr. Bronner’s is made with organic ingredients and has been ever since the beginning.  The soap was organic even before it was the ‘in’ thing to do.  Recently, I started using Dr. Bronner’s soap to wash my hair instead of shampoo.  I’ve been pleased with the results.  My hair and scalp feel clean without the use of an SLS shampoo, and I get the lather I crave when washing my locks.  There are loads of uses for this soap, as any one who has ever read reviews for the product can tell you.  People use it in their dishwashers, to clean the house (it cleans the bath tub with incredible ease) and even as tooth paste, although I can’t say I’m interested in using it for that purpose.

The whole story behind the soap maker and the company (now run by his son) is an interesting read.  A lot of people say Dr. Bronner brings his own particular brand of crazy to the world, but I’m more focused on the actual product, which is great.  I will say this, it takes guts to stamp your life’s philosophy on the label of your product.

What’s in my toothpaste?


Here’s a question: how many of you know that most toothpaste out there (Crest, Colgate and company) is poisonous? That’s right, I said it. It sounds crazy, I know. After all, we put it in our mouths 2-3 times a day, every day, until we say ‘good-bye’. (At least, we should be brushing that often. Some people…don’t.) I think just about every one knows about Sodium Fluoride. Quick recap on history: it was deemed as one of the greatest discoveries in terms of dental health. Tap water has fluoride in it as a result of this discovery. I’m not against fluoride per se. I mean, before its discovery, the population had a lot more gaps in their smiles. However, too much of any good thing can be bad, and this is no exception. I don’t think I need it in my toothpaste because it’s every where else: the water, some chewing gums, mouthwashes, etc. Another ingredient regularly found in toothpaste is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Most of us know about SLS because it’s also commonly found in shampoo (and body washes, handsoap, bubble bath and on and on). Basically, if it foams, there’s probably SLS in it. SLS serves the same purpose in toothpaste as well: it foams. I have issues with this ingredient (and to be totally honest, I do use SLS sparingly in one particular bath product I make, but it is not a product meant to be used on a daily basis.) My problem with SLS is that if you use it too frequently, it can affect your health. Even if SLS is in tiny amounts of every product you use, by the time you use many of these aids (on a daily/weekly basis), you’re accumulating a lot of it in your system. SLS has been linked to liver problems, cysts and sores on the head and in the mouth, hormone issues for women and even possibly, cancer. I don’t want this stuff in my toothpaste because no matter how great you may think you rinse, in is inevitable that some of it will be ingested. I find it worrying that on almost every tube of toothpaste there are directions as to when you should call the Poison Control Center. I have children, and I wonder how much toothpaste they inadvertantly swallow. I recently decided to buy ‘natural’ and shun the regular pastes. Easier said than done. A lot of so-called ‘Natural’ toothpastes have SLS or something else I don’t like in their ingredients. I recently bought a tube of Dr. Ken’s toothpaste from Bed, Bath & Beyond. The packaging looked tacky, I must say, but the ingredient list was impressive. So I brought it home and have been using it ever since. We are almost finished with this first tube. It takes some getting used to because you notice the lack of foam when you brush (no SLS, right!). My mouth still felt clean at the end of it. I don’t know whether I’ll stick with Dr. Ken or try another brand, but I do know that whatever I do use, it will be non-toxic, with ingredients that I can actually pronounce.