Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ingredient Highlight- Olive Oil

With all the awesome and skin loving ingredients in our soap studio I thought it would be great to start highlighting the important properties of them to help explain why we choose to use certain ones in our products.

To kick this off I wanted to write about a very common one, in fact, you probably have it in your kitchen pantry it's so common.

OLIVE OIL  - (Olea europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil)- This is a liquid oil that ranges in color from yellow to green in color.

History: The olive tree dates back to between 5,000-6,000 years ago the actual location of origin varies by what story you read. It was discovered anywhere from Southern Asia to  Israel and spread to Europe and Northern Africa from there.  It has been used for centuries for everything from religious ceremonies to healing and cleansing. A plant that has survived this long through so many different climates, wars, rulers and plagues certainly deserves a nod.

Olive Oil in skin care: It is high in oleic acid and is a good skin cell regenerator. It is traditionally included within soap, cream, balm, body butter, herbal infusion and hair care formulations. Olive Oil attracts external moisture to the skin and still permits the skin to properly release sweat, shed dead skin and release sebum. It is a good oil for inclusion in massage oil formulations and it helps to sooth inflamed skin. Olive oil has a pH of around 5.5 which is very close to the skin’s natural pH.

Recommended skin types: all

Bubble on my friends
~ Your Soapsmith

Friday, February 4, 2011

Home Skin care Part II

home oasis
In our previous home skin care post we explored the basics of skin care, three steps that should be done at least twice daily.  If you are looking to augment your regimen here are some additional steps that can be incorporated periodically to really pamper your hardworking skin and make you feel great!

These steps are:
  • Exfoliate: 1-2 x weekly
  • Steam: 1-2 x times weekly
  • Mask: 1-2  x weekly
What is Exfoliation?

Dry, dead skin cells block your pores, leading to blackheads, whiteheads, acne, ingrown hairs and more. When that dead skin is removed, the new healthy skin is revealed and skin care products can better penetrate and keep this new skin healthy and radiant. Exfoliation can sometimes help remove sun damaged and discolored skin, too.
Regular exfoliation can result in:
sea salt exfoliation
  • Reduction in the appearance of wrinkles
  • Fewer ingrown hairs, especially for men
  • An even, more uniform tone
  • Fewer blotches and discoloration
  • Less noticeable scars
  • Brighter, more youthful appearance
  • More even make-up application and coverage (think no flaky or dry looking spots
The face isn't the only area of the body that deserves exfoliation. You should exfoliate your entire body including your hardworking hands and feet.

Types of exfoliation:
There are two main types of exfoliation methods.  Abrasive and chemical.  Home exfoliation is generally abrasive and if you are in a pinch and need to exfoliate STAT you can find ingredients right in your kitchen to help you out.  Sugar, salt and oatmeal are three examples of exfoliants found in the home.  While you are trying to remove dead skin cells make sure the exfoliant you choose is abrasive but NOT SHARP so as to avoid irritation and skin damage such as micro tears in your delicate skin.

Home exfoliant recipes:
Gentle Sugar Facial Exfoliant
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp grape seed oil (can also use almond oil)
5-10 drops essential oil if you would like.  (we really like lavender here)

pamper tip: you can gently warm this up prior to use

Mix well
Apply to damp face and gently rub in circular motion (this will also feel great on your lips!)
Rinse off, pat face dry (do not rub too hard), tone and get ready to steam (or moisturize as normal and you are done!)

Body Sea Salt Scrub
1/2 C Sea Salt (can use dead sea salts, or just sea salt.)
1/2 C grape seed oil or oil of choice
10-15 drops skin safe fragrance or essential oil if desired (please note, fragrances used to make candles are NOT skin safe)

Combine ingredients in a NON BREAKABLE container.  Hop into the shower and exfoliate away, please be careful as the shower floor will be slippery from the oil.

To make your home exfoliants more "dry" feeling simply add less oil until you have a consistency that you are happy with.

About the oils.  Both grape seed and almond oils are great to make scrubs with because they are very light and soak into the skin fast not leaving a heave slidy feel on your skin.

Home Steam
refreshing and natural
Most everyone enjoys a good steam when they have a spa day, but what about those times in between?  Well you can treat yourself to a nice little steam at home too without too much effort.

To prepare:
Send children and pets to another room to play, remember you are dealing with something that is hot and don't want anyone to get hurt.
Tie your hair back and gather the following items:
large bowl
tea kettle (with water)
clean hand towel
dried herbs (you can cheat and use a couple of tea bags such as chamomile)
10-15 drops of essential oils if you would like (eucalyptus is great if you are feeling a little congested)

Cleanse your face and pat dry.
Boil the water in the kettle and pour into your large glass bowl with your herbs and essential oils
Place the towel over your head and lean over the bowl to allow the steam treatment to begin
Relax and enjoy yourself for 10-15 minutes*
Pat your face dry, tone and move onto your facial mask (or moisturize and you are complete)
* note, if you have sensitive skin or broken capillaries, you might want to start with a shorter time and work up to what you feel is appropriate for your skin type

so many masks, so little time
There are SO MANY different kinds of masks on the market what one is right for you?!?  So what goal are you trying to achieve with your mask?  Depending on their ingredients they can do the following:
tighten and tone
draw out impurities
clear up blemishes
calm and soothe
brighten the complexion

Some other factors to consider are that there are non-setting masks which are more cream or gel based and setting masks which are clay based.  A fun kind of mask that can be made at home are biological masks which are  - you guessed it made from ingredients you can find in your kitchen.

Let's talk about biological ingredients and their benefits:
avocado - rich in vitamins and oil; beneficial for dry and sensitive skin
cucumber - soothing and healing; can be used as a mask or simply as eye pads
egg - egg whites can tone and tighten the skin and egg yolk has a nourishing and softening effect (good for mature and dry skin)
herbs - many herbs and teas such as chamomile are used for masks and compresses
honey - hydrating, toning and tightening
papaya - exfoliating with enzymatic properties
potatoes - used for oily skin or to reduce puffiness in the eye area
yogurt - cleansing and mildly astringent

Other items which are great include
pineapple - citric acid (helps to dissolve oils)
banana - nourishing
oatmeal - hydrating
milk - lactic acid (good for complexion, think - Cleopatra)
apples - malic acid (gentle exfoliant)
grapes - tartaric acid (gentle exfoliant)
mushrooms - kojic acid (skin brightening, good for hyperpigmentation)
sugar cane - glycolic acid (aids in exfoliation)

soothing, nourishing banana mask
Here is a quick and easy recipe for Normal type skin:
1 ripe banana
1 tbsp honey (slightly warm)
1 egg, beaten

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.  Apply to face and neck and leave on 10-15 minutes.  Rinse off, tone and moisturize as normal. Your skin should feel soft and moisturized after this mask.

Be adventurous and play around with biological ingredients until you find a combination that your skin absolutely loves, remember it's your personal time to pamper yourself so don't stress, just enjoy!

Bubble on my glowing friends,

~Your Soapsmith

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Preservatives Part III- Parabens

Let's talk about parabens.  

First a little history:  Parabens are a family of synthetic preservatives widely used in cosmetics around the world since the 1920's because of their efficacy, low risk of irritation, and stability.  This family includes butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben, with the last two being the most commonly used. All of these parabens are effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms, including most fungi and most bacteria.  They prevent growth of other possible contaminants such as yeast and mold.  They are used in quantities of 0.1 to 0.5 percent of total formulation, and it is estimated that 30 percent or less of the total amount of paraben used (0.03 to 0.15 percent) may penetrate the skin.

In 2004, the safety of parabens and preservatives became and issue.  This was the result of a UK study that focused on the use of paraben-containing deodarants.  It evaluated if long term use of parabens was biocumulative and thus somehow related to breast cancer.  Since then, cosmetic chemists who are familiar with the skin-penetration activity of parabens maintain that accumulation of parabens from topical application is not possible because once parabens enter the skin, they form metabolites that are incapable of mimiking estrogen. Other studies indicate that after entering the skin, parabens are metabolized in para-hydroxbenzoic acid with only a small percentage remaining as the original paraben.

The most recently conducted studies seem to invalidate the claim of potential breast cancer risk when using cosmetics with parabens. Studies have shown that parabens are 1,000 to 1,000,000 times LESS estrogenic than estradiol, the major estrogenic compound in the body. Lets put this into perspective a little bit more. Phytoestrogens, substances from plants that have estrogen-like qualities including soybeans, clover, strawberries, sage, red clover, pumpkin, and rosehips (among others), and are considered to have natural estrogenic effects 1,000 to 1,000,000 times STRONGER than parabens. 

According to the American Cancer Society:
Other studies have found some form of parabens in the urine of about 99% of US adults. This would suggest that people are getting parabens from more than one source. But so far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer. There are also many other compounds in the environment that mimic naturally-produced estrogen.

The bottom line is that larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on breast cancer risk.

I recently heard someone comment that parabens have been banned in the European Union.  Upon further researching this comment I found it to be another bit of mis-information which is floating around.

It's a shame that parabens get such a bad rep off of a study which was done and ruled inconclusive.  This family of preservatives has been around and studied for 91 years!  That's quite a track record for something which is perceived as being so very dangerous.

In conclusion, are parabens bad and will they kill you? No, but if you feel that they are a threat at least do your own research and come to your own conclusions instead of jumping onto the bandwagon of mis-information which is driving around out there.  


Milady's skincare and cosmetic ingredients dictionary, 3rd Edition By: Natalia Michalun and M. Varinia Michalun

Stay bubbly my friends

~Your Soapsmith

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Preservatives Part II "Natural preservatives"

Edit: I originally wrote this post in 2011. Since then many "natural" preservatives have hit the market. I use quotations around the word natural because it is not a regulated word and pretty much anyone can claim "natural". That is for a different post on a different day though. The common thread regarding natural preservatives is that you need to use multiple of them in order for the preservative to actually be able to combat gram positive and negative bacterias as well as mold. This seems silly to me when there are perfectly good synthetics out there that do the job just spectacularly. I am placing a link to a cosmetic chemists web site, she explains this perfectly and even has a neat chart of the wide variety of both natural and synthetic preservatives currently available to smaller businesses. At the end of the day though, the only way to know if the product you have made or are using is properly preserved is if it has been tested. Here is her site: <<< She is one smart cookie ;)

....and my original post begins here, it's still a good read, I just wanted to update about the new preservatives floating around the industry. Enjoy!

Don't be fooled by ingredients that sound too good to be true.

According to The Green Beauty Guide there is one completely natural preservative.  It is: Suprapein.  The book also states that, Lemon peel oil, grapefruit seed extract, vitamin C and vitamin E can prevent oxidation which is true but makes no sense being squashed into a paragraph about preservatives and is VERY misleading. 

The ingredients for Suprapein are: Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Thyme Extract, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Lavender Flower Extract, Lemon Peel Extract, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Golden Seal Root Extract, Olive Leaf Extract.

I am still looking for an MSDS sheet on this, in the meantime I did find a study done on this ingredient but it was unfortunately done by the company who formulated it.  Of course they find this product to be an effective replacement to and synthetic preservative but their patent is still pending.  When I find more information and reliable studies I will post the results here.

Let's look at the ingredient names which the green beauty guide so slyly put into the chapter on preservatives as these are commonly mistaken for actual preservatives.

Grape fruit seed extract- ingredients: grapefruit seed extract and glycerin.  Normally used as an antioxidant to help prevent rancidity in lotion and lotion bars.  This means that it will delay the breakdown of the oils.  It will not protect against bacteria, mold or yeast.  This is NOT a preservative.

Vitamin E oil- again this slows the oxidation process of oils which delays rancidity.  It is also a good anti-oxidant but is not a preservative.

Vitamin C- Same, it will delay oxidation but will not protect against bacteria, mold or yeast, not a preservative.

Rosemary Oleoresin Extract AKA- ROE- This is also commonly mistaken as a preservative but it is not.  It is an antioxidant.  Pregnant women are recommended to avoid using rosemary due to its abortion inducing properties. Even nursing mothers should avoid its use without consulting a physician.  Also, intake of rosemary oil extract in large doses have been found to cause seizures in otherwise healthy people. Regarding the last sentence we remind you that anything taken in large doses (even water) can be dangerous.

Let's look at the last item in green beauty guide's list: Lemon peel oil.  This ingredient like many essential oils have natural anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties which will help to delay rancidity of the product however in order to keep a product absolutely safe a lab tested and approved preservative is always needed.

Now, why is a preservative needed if essential oils and base oils have natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial qualities?  The answer is this: if the product you have purchased comes in a little tub, i.e. you dip your fingers into it you are always going to be introducing new bacterias, molds and not to mention air-borne yeast into your product, there is no guarantee that the oils can fight these off, in fact we don't know what bacterias and microbes they can battle against, but I will bet you that they would lose a fight against Staph or even worse MRSA (and even more resistant form of staph if you can believe it!).  If your product comes in a pump container it most likely contains water, a lovely breeding ground for all sorts of nasties and remember we can't see microbes with our naked eye and may not know they are there.


Milady's skincare and cosmetic ingredients dictionary, 3rd Edition By: Natalia Michalun and M. Varinia Michalun

The green beauty guide By: Julie Gabriel (for the MSDS sheets and ingredients)

Stay bubbly my friends

~Your Soapsmith