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2 In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Natural Soap is Best: Part 1

natural bar soap doylestown, pa

Rebatched Honey Almond Soap

Instead of writing a thesis on all the reasons, I’m going to write this as a series.  The first installment has to do with glycerin.

The quick insight is….natural soap is best for your skin because it retains glycerine, naturally created during the soap making process (saponification.)  When making soap, you primarily use three ingredients:

1) Fats/Oils
2) A Hydroxide (could be sodium or potassium or a combo of both)
3) Water

Then of course you can (and should) get fancy and add in lots of fun stuff like essential oils, botanicals, exfoliants, etc.  But, the essential ingredients are just the oil, lye and water.  So, when these chemically come together you no longer have oil and lye.  Instead you have soap and glycerine, with some water and maybe some extra oil.   Soap made this way is very gentle on the skin, it doesn’t strip the skin of all its oils and leave you with a dry itchy feeling.  On the contrary, it leaves you feeling moisturized and, depending on your climate, you may not even need lotion or any other body moisturizer!

One of my friends that started using my soap experienced this “transitioning” and said she thought it was some sort of scum on her skin as she was used to that squeaky-clean-dry feeling.  But she realized after a few uses that the soap was actually leaving her skin moisturized, so much so she didn’t need to slather on a bunch of body oil.

So why do we care about glycerin?  It’s a humectant which means it draws moisture to the skin.  The extra oils and glycerin from a natural soap will keep your skin from that itchy dry feeling most people associate with soap.  The humectant retains moisture while any remaining oils in the soap trap it in.  You’ll feel the difference right away.  For my soap, I formulate it in such a way where there’s always some extra fatty acids floating around; that’s one reason it’s so gentle.

The typical commercial soap you see in grocery stores REMOVE glycerine as part of their soap making process to use for other products; or to sell off.  It’s kinda like how the tobacco companies remove the nicotine but then add it back in.  Some things are better left alone.  And I guess, some things you just need to leave alone – period.

Now, what about glycerin soap you ask? Well now dearest, that’s a WHOLE other discussion.  Let’s just say the use of the word “glycerine” is more than a bit misleading.  I’ll address that in another post.

In the meantime, get yourself some of our soap, your skin will be so happy! 🙂

In blog/ skin care

The Dark Side of Melanin: Hyperpigmentation

Ever heard the phrase “black don’t crack”?  It refers to the fact that darker skinned folk have fewer wrinkles; it takes longer to develop wrinkles thanks to melanin – the substance that give our skin, hair and the iris or our eyes color. melanin and hyperpigmentation Melanin’s primary benefit is to protect the skin from the sun.  As a result, melanin:

  • Reduces likelihood of getting sunburn, skin cancers, etc.
  • Keeps skin looking younger – longer (fewer wrinkles, finer texture of the skin); and
  • Potentially protects against skin damage from free radicals.  In one study, it was found to scavenge and fight these free radicals

However, now that I’m over 40, I can see the sun damage to my face coming through; not any wrinkles but I do have spots and unevenness in my skin tone.  (I’ll address this more in another post.)

So what’s the downside, those of us with browner skin are are prone to hyperpigmentation.  Yup – I’ve got some major hyperpigmentation I’m dealing with now.   The same melanin that protects also overproduces when we have any trauma to the skin like a scratch, belmish, or cut.  Browner skin is highly reactive.  So if you get a bump, you’ve got a spot.  It fades but takes some time. The hyperpigmentation I’m dealing with now is from a pretty large scar from surgery I had a couple years ago.  I thought I was going to have to just live with it, maybe try to cover it up with a tattoo (but I really don’t want any tattoo’s…)

After trying some over the counter skin lighteners I decided to give IPL (Intense Pulsed Light – kinda like a laser but not technically a laser) a try.  I had my first session this week which caused the hyperpigmented areas to get even browner.   It went from a cocoa brown to a dark chocolate kinda brown with a bit of pink.  I’m hopeful this will get rid of the hyperpigmentation as the scar itself is barely noticeable – it’s the melanin that gave me a hard time.  As I write this the treated area is kinda bubbling up, it’s supposed to dry up and then flake off.  Crazy.  I’ll post updates along the way – hope no one is grossed out but I thought it was worth sharing my experience with this just in case you have any hyperpigmented areas you want GONE.

In blog/ skin care

Why Should You Exfoliate?

In my humble opinion, exfoliation is the best thing you can do for your skin.  It’s also just one of those things we know we need to do but often neglect.   This article helps answer the question “why should you exfoliate?  Plus, I hope it gets you motivated to make exfoliation a regular (if not daily) part of your routine.

So let’s start off by reviewing exactly what exfoliation is: it’s simply the removal of dead skin cells. This is important for skin health and not just for the ladies.

You probably already know that your skin is the largest organ of your body.  It does an amazing job of protecting our insides from harm and takes quite a beating in the process.  Our skin encounters sun damage, environmental toxins, scrapes, grime, wind and more.   The results can be flaky, bumpy, blotchy, dry, clogged or dull skin.  The great news is, exfoliating just a few times per week is plenty to renew, refresh and reveal that lovely skin underneath.

Did you know my experiment with exfoliation led to the name Bubs and Scrubs?  No?  Well, let me explain… In my early soap making days I made a number of scrubby soaps; a few were REALLY scrubby.  I added crushed apricot kernel seeds and crushed walnut seeds and when you add enough the soap feels a bit (a lot) like sandpaper. I decided to give these a try to see if they helped clear up some trouble areas.  Here’s  a picture of the one of my first exfoliating soaps (I’ve come a long way baby!):

Smooth Bumpy Skin with Exfoiating Soap

Well, I used these every other shower and they completely renewed areas that have troubled me my entire teen/adult life – no exaggeration.  My upper arms in particular always had these little bumps and so I never wore sleeveless shirts and I never let anyone touch my arms.  In about two weeks or so I was soft and smooth like never before.  I wish I had before/after pics but I didn’t think that far in advance.  Seriously, it was that simple.  I just had to slough off the dead stuff that had been clogging my pores – who knew?!?

A smooth bar for when you don’t want to exfoliate or for areas you’d rather not exfoliate.  The exfoliating soap bar is handmade with loads of natural loofah fibers that do an amazing job of cleaning and scrubbing your skin.   The loofah bars work hard but are still gentle enough for everyday use.  I actually use the scrub bar daily on my legs, arms, elbows and knees.  One of the benefits of using an exfoliating soap instead of a traditional sugar scrub is you don’t lose most of the product down the drain!  Plus, your shower doesn’t get slippery and don’t have any oily residue to wipe off your skin.

 

 

 

In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Smooth with the Roughness

Our exfoliating soaps are making a come back.  I’ve decided to do away with our sugar scrubs and instead offer a variety of scrubby soaps.  The first compliments our best selling Virgin Coconut soap and is loaded with skin renewing natural exfoliants like shredded coconut shells and crushed jojoba seeds. Here’s a sneak peak at our Virgin Coconut Exfoliating Soap Bar, made fresh and just sliced and stamped:

Virgin Coconut Exfoliating Soap by Bubs and Scrubs of Doylestown PA

Fresh handmade scrubby goodness!

This is not for the faint of heart – it truly is scrubby.  The key is to let the soap and the exfoliants do the work – no need to mash it into your skin unless of course you have some major grime you need to remove.  I plan to offer these as a bundle: the smooth and the scrubby version (hence the original concept behind Bubs & Scrubs – the Smooth with the Roughness). 🙂

Here’s another view; a close-up of the top before the slab was sliced…

Virgin Coconut Natural Soap by Bubs and Scrubs of Doylestown, PA

Close-up of fresh slab of scrubby soap.

Once these are cured and ready to sell; I’ll announce here and on Facebook.  If you haven’t yet –  like our Facebook page to stay tuned and connect with me personally.  CLICK HERE 

Questions or comments?  Just leave a note below and I’ll respond shortly.

Proverbs 2:8-12  He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.  http://bible.us/116/pro.2.8-12.nlt

2 In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Cleaning up Acne with Tea Tree Soap

I never really had a problem with breakouts – even when I abused my face as a teen.  I would use cheap make-up and sleep with it but amazingly I never had a bad case of acne.  As I approached  my mid-30’s I started getting more breakouts.  I don’t know if it was hormones, that my skin was changing so needed a new routine, or both?  Either way, I consistently had a flare up here and there that I’d have to cover up with makeup (at least us gals have that as an option.)

It wasn’t until I started using my own handmade all natural soap that it cleared up.  I made a bar soap with tea tree, neem and bentonite clay with the intention of selling it as a facial bar.  So I began using it and my face – and this is the honest truth – has never been more clear.  I only get a little break out when I stop using it.  That’s not from a dependence on any substance – it’s just apparent that given the daily onslaught of toxins, dirt and bacteria my skin faces everyday – it really needs the extra fighting power of tea tree.   Hmmm, now that I think about it – maybe that’s what changed – the environment was becoming a bit much for my skin to fight off – who knows!

One of my best friends from childhood (I’ve known her since we were five) raves about it too.  She has struggled with breakouts too and this has been the only remedy that consistently keeps her face clear.  We had a silly falling out not that long ago and she admitted she was concerned about not having her  tea tree soap hook-up!  🙂  My teenage daughter has also used it with good results; it cleared up a really nasty breakout she had over the summer.  She’s my sensitive child and she didn’t have any bad reaction to the soap either.

So don’t be afraid to try an all natural soap on your face – it works for your body too.  Most all natural soaps are made with loads of olive oil so they don’t dry out the skin at all.  (It’s a really bad misperception about soap – don’t confuse the all natural stuff with the big-company detergent bars you see in your grocery store.)  Our bars are made food grade extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and more skin-loving goodies.

Of course – I recommend giving our tea tree soap a try which you can see here.  This lasts 1-2 months if you’re justing using for your face and allowing to dry in between each use.  We’re working up a liquid version too as lots of folks prefer liquid soaps over bars (keeping it all natural and loaded with pure tea tree essential oil of course.)

tea tree soap for acne by Bubs and Scrubs

 

2 In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Choose Natural Skin Care

Okay, here’s the dirt on commercial detergent bars…they’re not good for you or the environment in so many ways.  Notice, I’m not even dignifying the product by calling it soap.  In fact, according to the FDA – many of your favorite bars aren’t technically soap so they CAN’T use that term either! It’s not just the bars, it’s also the gem colored shower gels, etc – all kinds of synthetics in most of the most popular bath and body items out there.  I’m going to have to break this down in multiple posts to help create a full picture here so stay with me.

In order to provide some context, we first have to understand our skin, it’s function, proper care, etc…so let me start here.  Once you have an improved understanding of the skin your in you can then develop an appreciation for natural and organic body products.  We all know skin is an organ – just like our heart, liver, etc. – and it performs a number of functions for us.  Some include maintaining homeostatis (maintaining constant temperature via sweating/shivering); it provides a layer of protection from abrasions, against pathogens, radiation from the sun, metabolism of vitamin D, and much more.  Bottom line, it keeps us safe and is a critical layer of protection.  Plus, healthy skin just looks and feels good!

Skin Care and Soap

Cross-Section of Epidermis

Despite all of this great protection, skin is highly absorbent.  It will absorb whatever it comes in contact with which then goes directly into the blood stream (hence all the patch programs now – nicotine, birth control, etc.).   Our skin is inundated with chemicals, preservatives, and all sort of toxic substances.  Our bodies are certainly designed to combat what gets in but why not safeguard our health with better choices?  As we begin to take more care regarding the food we put in our bodies (go organic, no pesticides, no cloned food, no gmo’s, etc), the same amount of care should be taken with what we put ON it.  Because what goes on, is highly likely to go IN.

Many of the ingredients in commercially made bath and body products are just not good for skin despite all the marketing.  They are fairly cheap to produce and they make a hard/lasting bar; the low price comes with a cost and that’s in the quality of the ingredients  used and the chemicals used to preserve shelf life.    All of these additives, chemicals, and preservatives go from our skin and into our bloodstream.  Not good.  Stay tuned for additional posts on ingredients to look out for and avoid if possible.

In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Activated Charcoal Soap

activated charcoal soap by Bubs and Scrubs of Doylestown, PA

 

I love the look of this activated charcoal soap.  There’s something really elegant about wearing all black.  (Personally, I wear a little too much black and have been adding more color into my wardrobe over time – in fact – I have on a pink Life Is Good shirt today!  I’ve come a long way.)   Anyway – I love the simple beauty of this soap.  In the beginning of my soap making days I was somewhat undecided about the look and feel of my soap – I call it my soap identity.  I’ve settled on a simplistic form and a focus on the beauty from our natural ingredients  (not glitter, swirls, or do-dads).  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these designs, I admire the creativity and skill it takes to make these amazing soaps.  I just desire simplicity in every aspect of my life and my soap design reflects this.

So this simple yet elegant soap is loaded with activated charcoal and black lava salt.  It may be used for face and body but of course test it out.  Activated charcoal is known for its detoxifying properties; the same for black lava salt which is sea salt infused with activated charcoal.  It’s activated charcoal squared.   Stay tuned for my next post on activated charcoal benefits for the skin.

In blog/ skin care

Use Clay Masks for Enlarged Pores

Another aging skin discovery worth noting, clogged skin creates enlarged pores.   If you’re starting to see enlarged pores it most likely means they are congested with dirt/oil so act fast to get that stuff out of there.  Once your pores are cleaned and cleared they will most likely reduce in size.  BUT, if they are in this clogged state for a prolonged period, they may remain enlarged.

Clay Mask Bubs and Scrubs

We all know to cleanse, exfoliate, tone, and moisturize.  The crucial but often overlooked step is to use a clay mask.  Clays have the unique ability to get down into all the nooks and crannies of your skin. they go where no washcloth, sponge or brush can effectively reach.   Clays get down in there and as they dry, they pull up and out all of the oil, dirt, and excess sebum that overtime causes trouble.  To make  them even more effective, steam the skin prior to applying the mask.  This opens the pores wider so the clay can get in there even better.

Let the mask sit on your face until it’s totally dry and rinse off.  Your skin will feel sooo nice and smooth; it really makes a huge difference once you add this to your regiment.    Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the types of clays like french green, dead sea mud, kaolin, and bentonite.

In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Is All Natural All Good?

Use preservatives to kill germs in natural body products

So...is all natural all good all the time? Simple answer – not always.  All natural products are preferable for so many reasons but as a bath and body maker myself – they do have their limitations.    Where all natural falls short is with ANY product that requires preservation.  Products that are made with any kind of water OR have the potential to be introduced to water – must be preserved.   It’s not my intention to write a thesis on why we should use preservatives as this has been covered by many credible resources.  Rather, I’d like my customers and followers to understand my point of view on why and when they are included.

So here’s how that breaks down generally…

Products that do NOT need a preservative:

  • Natural bar soap does not require a preservative as it’s so highly alkaline; mold, bacteria, etc can’t grow in it
  • Body butters made from only butters and oils
  • Lotion Bars
  • Lip Balms
  • Body Oils and Hair Oils

Products that DO require a preservative:

  • Body creams or lotions
  • Hair conditioners, leave-ins, and gels
  • Body or face scrubs as wet fingers often dip into the jar or the container is left in the shower (introducing water into the product even though the ingredient list doesn’t contain any water)

Check out this video below for comparison between a lotion with and without a preservative (queue the spooky music for emphasis):

Here’s another example from the Soap Queen’s blog: When Mold Strikes

For the science behind preservation see this blog: Point of Interest

In order to preserve product – you only need to add a teeny tiny amount (usually around .5% of the weight of your overall ingredients).  It varies by preservative type but notice the placement of the decimal.  It’s 1/2 of 1 percentage point and sometimes up to 1% on the high end.   It’s miniscule; yet it serves a critical function.

So with all of that being said, I’ll continue to use a paraben-free preservative as necessary and remain on the look-out for all-natural preservation methods.

1 In blog/ hair care/ skin care

Benefits of Watermelon Seed Oil

watermelon seed

One of my suppliers “From Nature with Love” (FNWL) was running a special on an oil I haven’t tried before and sounded pretty interesting : Watermelon Seed Oil.  There is such a wide variety of interesting oils out there and I do intend to try most if not all in my lifetime; whether for hair, skin, soap or some other use.  There’s the obvious ones like sunflower, olive, coconut, avocado and then we get apricot kernel, prickly pear seed and even egg oil (who knew?!?).  So back to watermelon oil – here’s the description and some of the listed benefits of watermelon oil taken from FNWL:

“Watermelon Seed Oil is also known as Ootanga Oil and Kalahari Oil. In Africa, watermelon seeds have been prized for the highly nutritive oil that they contain. Traditionally, the seeds are removed from the rind and then allowed to dry outside in the sun. Once dried, the seeds are then pressed to extract the beneficial oil. We provide the highest quality Watermelon Seed Oil available, carefully sourced and packaged to maintain the purity, freshness and beneficial properties of this highly nutritive oil.

The light texture, moisturizing capabilities and stable shelf life of Watermelon Seed Oil lends it to be a highly suitable addition to natural baby oil formulations. Unlike mineral oil that is a common ingredient in commercial baby oils, Watermelon Oil does not clog pores or prevent the body from naturally eliminating toxins through the skin. The rich composition of essential fatty acids contained in Watermelon Seed Oil helps to restore elasticity to the skin. It, therefore, is also a wonderful addition to skin care formulations for all skin types, including dry, oily, acne-prone or maturing skin. Watermelon Seed Oil is also a perfect choice for inclusion in hair care formulations as it is non-greasy yet highly moisturizing.

Watermelon Seed Oil Properties:

  • Light in Texture
  • Non-Greasy
  • Penetrating
  • Absorbs Quickly
  • Highly Moisturizing
  • Emollient
  • Rich in Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids and
    Omega 9 Fatty Acids
  • Dissolves Sebum Buildup
  • Stable Shelf-Life”

I’ve seen other natural and curly hair care experts like Curly Nikki  use this with a good result.  So that’s my plan to give this a try for with me and my girls.  Gonna try it on both wet hair and dry hair straight to see how it soaks in or seals.  My hair needs something very light so I’ll try it in a mist too if the neat approach is too much.  I’m willing to give the benefits of watermelon oil a fair try.  Maybe like the fruit – this is a great summer oil for a more warm and humid atmosphere.  We shall see!

Have you ever used watermelon seed oil for your hair or skin?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think?

2 In blog/ skin care

How To Smooth Bumpy Skin

exfoliate away bumpy skin

Figuring out how to smooth bumpy skin has been bit of a quest of mine most of my adult life.  I thought this was just the way my skin would always be which was a bit of an embarrassment in my early youth.  I’m referring to those little bumps on the back of your arms and sometimes your thighs.  I wouldn’t wear anything sleeveless and would avoid at all costs anyone touching me there.  Soft silky (and slender) arms just weren’t in my DNA (so I deceived myself anyways.)

The bumpy skin problem wasn’t from lack of washing and in all honesty it wasn’t until I started using my scrubby exfoliating soap that I started to see a major improvement.   I started using these early in my soapmaking days – it was actually a very ugly batch – soap was good; just ugly.  Here it is below.  The calendula petals moved around too much and you can see the apricot kernel seeds speckled throughout.

Smooth Bumpy Skin with Exfoiating Soap

Messy Side of My Almond and Coconut Oil Soap

Prior to trying this soap, I would use sugar or salt scrubs occasionally; but only once a week.  I think if I had used these more consistently I wouldn’ve seen an improvement.  I’m convinced that consistent exfoliation (real exfoliation) is a necessity for proper skin health; so make it a habit to exfoliate bumpy skin – but be gentle.  (I did get VERY aggressive exfoliation once with a pumice stone in a scar area that had some nerve damage and ended up ripping off a bunch of skin before I realized it – oops.)  So anywho – after just a couple weeks of consistently using this soap (at least 3-5 times per week) – it totally cleared up.  Seriously.  Why didn’t I stumble upon this sooner in life?!!!?  The key was increasing the frequency of exfoliating, the quality of the exfoliant, and choosing high-quality natural body creams to minimize irritation and further build-up.  This was a big inspiration for me behind Bubs and Scrubs – I wanted to help others rid themselves of this embarrassing condition too and now evangelize the benefits of exfoliation.

So of course I figured I wasn’t the only one with the issue so I did some research.  Apparently this skin condition is very common and is referred to as Keratosis Pilaris; often  referred to as “chicken skin”.  Sounds lovely.  Apparently, almost half of Americans have this condition and it tends to affect women more than men.  It’s really just the result of clogged pores – that’s it!  Your body’s natural protein (keratin) builds up around these clogged pores and creates a cluster of chicken skin.

Keeping these bumps at bay is not a one-and-done deal;  you have to keep up the exfoliation consistently although you may be able to decrease the frequency.   I found mechanical exfoliation with a scrubby soap was sufficient to smooth my bumpy skin.  If you find this still isn’t enough, additional remedies include:

  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid
  • Vitamin A treatments
  • Urea
  • Other chemical peels

Now that you k now what it is – understand that you’re one of MILLIONS affected by this and that you can totally treat it.  Either on your own or with the help of a dermotolagist.