Digging the Earth: Why We Use Natural Clay in our Soap

Digging the Earth: Why We Use Natural Clay in our Soap

Everything you need to survive can be found on or within the Earth. Yup, everything. From food, water, energy, to skin care and beauty. It’s no wonder Indiana Jones was such a phenomenon, and why eco-companies are booming right now. The Earth, when unadulterated, is a perfect eco-system of supplies for survival and beyond.

This is exactly why, when possible, we look to the Earth for additives in our soap. We especially love working with natural clays because they are rich in minerals derived directly from the crust of our planet. Along with soap-making, clays are often used in face masks, body rubs, and some are even edible! While all clays have similar properties, they are not all the same. Let’s take a look at some of the clays we use in our soap:

French Green Clay

French Green Clay is found deep in the pits of stone from France. Along with being a natural light-green colorant, French Green Clay has high absorbency properties. The molecular structure of this clay allows it to draw out oil, dirt, and toxins from the body. When used in soap, it provides a gentle exfoliation and is especially good for oily skin, but can be used on any skin type. French Green Clay helps balance the pH of skin. In addition, green clay has been known to boost blood circulation in the skin while removing dead skin cells. We use French Green Clay in our Balance Soap, along with lavender and lemongrass essential oils, to create skin balance.

Rose Clay

Beautiful Rose Clay has a pink color and fine texture. For your skin, rose clay actually helps to reduce inflammation, remove dead skin cells, tighten pores, fade hyperpigmentation, and it also removes harmful toxins. Rose clay is also a great exfoliant for the skin, it reduces irritation, increases circulation, regenerates collagen, promotes new cell growth for skin, and also regenerates elastin within the skin. The pink-sands inspired Beach Bumming Soap we create uses rose clay to add all of these wonderful properties to this customer favorite.

Bentonite Clay

A light gray color, Bentonite Clay has many wonderful properties including making a silky bar of soap. We especially love using Bentonite Clay in our shaving soap, Black Tie Affair, because it makes the lather smooth and slick, easier to shave. On top of being able to draw-out toxins from the body, the clay itself has a range of nutrients. Bentonite clay is known to have an abundance of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium.When the clay touches any type of fluid (normally water), it takes on a different charge and is thought to bind to any present toxins within the fluid. It’s a perfect clay for sensitive skin types because this clay is known to calm irritation and reduce inflammation on skin.

We absolutely love clays and all of the wonderful properties they bring to skin care. We will continue to use them in our soaps and are exploring and testing other types of clay to bring our customers even more benefits when they purchase one of our bars of soap.

The Ancient History of Perfume and Fragrance

The Ancient History of Perfume and Fragrance

If someone has never smelled frankincense and myrrh, how would you describe it to them?  It’s a difficult smell to describe: the slight burning of a light wood, smoky, but not rich, instead embodied by a sweetness.  Or, if someone is familiar, you could say the scent of a Roman Catholic Church. Through time and history, cultures have always used different fragrances for ceremony, for ritual, for funerary rites, and for worship.

History

In ancient history, the art of perfuming was a scholarly effort. The purpose was far greater than creating a pleasant fragrance around a person (but with the comparison of hygiene practices from then and now, it certainly helped that area, too), but also medicinal, demonstrative of wealth and power, and beauty. Unlike today’s perfumes, ancient perfumes were based in carrier oils, most often olive and almond, which is why we create our aromatherapy roll ons with carrier oil, as well. The art of mixing oils and oils of fragrance (essential oils) was the reason it was a scholarly feat; there is much study involved to understand the properties of each oil and how they work in tandem to create the desired outcome.

In the story of Jesus’ birth in the New Testatment, the Magi (the three wise men) brought Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Theologians and biblical scholars believe these three gifts were standard gifts for a king: gold for wealth, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil. As see in the famed carol We Three Kings, the three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. But the use of frankincense and myrrh is dated much older, with evidence that it was used in ancient Egypt and Babylonia for the same purposes, clearly a powerful mix of culture.

Frankincense and Myrrh
Frankincense and Myrrh – Photo credit Farmer’s Almanac

Sandalwood oil dates back to ancient Egypt and ancient India. With the difficulty of extraction, the value of sandalwood oil has always been extraordinarily high. As stated in the Aromatherapy Library: “In Ayurvedic medicine, sandalwood was used for respiratory and urinary infections and for the revitalization of skin; in Chinese Medicine, sandalwood was used for skin complaints, stomachache and vomiting.  The Japanese used sandalwood to honor Buddha.  Sandalwood also earns a mention in Discorides’ De Materia Medica, a reference book of many medicinal plants of its time.”

Sandalwood
Sandalwood

Cinnamon (or cassia oil) was one of the most sought-after spices of the Silk Road. The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon oil as part of the embalming process, as it is found that cinnamon functions as a preserver. It is also mentioned in the Old Testament that along with myrrh, cinnamon was part of the anointing oil.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

Jasmine and rose were popular flowers used in ancient perfumery. From the careful expeller-pressing of these flowers, perfumers would gather the oils to mix with base oils. The value of these oils has not changed since the times of ancient Arabia, as it takes a considerable number of flowers to produce the smallest amount of oil. Rose and jasmine were not only popularly used for ancient perfumery, but because of their believed antiseptic and antidepressive features. Only the wealthiest people would be able to enjoy these oils.

Chamomile, found often in textual references of ancient Rome, was always valued for its uniquely medicinal properties. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The dried flowers of chamomile contain many terpenoids and flavonoids contributing to its medicinal properties. Chamomile preparations are commonly used for many human ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.” While there is currently science to evidence the use of chamomile essential oil, the ancient Romans used chamomile for the same purposes.

Chamomile
Chamomile

Valuation

The valuation presented here is based on modern prices, and depending on resources and crops, these prices always have potential of being increased. Unlike ancient times, modern science has allowed distribution of the masses of these scents with the development of synthetic fragrance oils to match the scent of their essential oil counterpart.

Based on current industry averages of one ounce of oil:
Frankincense Essential Oil – $45.00
Myrrh Essential Oil – $41.00
Sandalwood Essential Oil – $148.00
Cinnamon Essential Oil – $37.00
Rose Absolute Essential Oil – $170.00
Jasmine Absolute Essential Oil – $195.00
Chamomile Essential Oil – $148.00

The prices of these oils are almost as intense as their scent, which explains why aromatherapy products made with pure essential oils are often seemingly expensive.


Are there any oils you would like to learn more about?  Do you find yourself attracted to any of these scents?

Ten Ways to Boost Your Immune System and Feel Better

Ten Ways to Boost Your Immune System and Feel Better

I am inspired to write this blog post because I have a tendency to get sinus infections. I used to get around three a year when I was in my twenties, but for the last couple of years, I’m harboring around six and they’re coming with fever plus a congested cough. I’m not a doctor, but my guess is antibiotic resistance paired with an increasingly hostile  air environment. (As soon as we move into the new house, I’m investing in one of those mega-air purifiers.)

In the meantime, there are a few tips and tricks that you could do right now to help you get well soon if you’re suffering from a typical cold or light flu.

1. Eat more Vitamin C. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information: “vitamin C deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain pathogens whilst a higher supply enhances several immune system parameters.” Getting an adequate amount of vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold, but it may help reduce the length and severity.  Natural ways to obtain vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), green, red, and chili pepers, kale, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pineapple, kiwi, and mango.

2. Get some exercise. This doesn’t have to be intense; as described on WebMD, moderate activity, such as walking for 20-30 minutes a day, can help prevent illness.   If you’re already sick, exercising may not be a great idea; you really have to listen to your body. If you’re taking decongestants, they already raise your heart rate, so be careful with too much cardio after taking over-the-counter medications. If you have a fever, you’re body is already under strain, it may be best to just get some rest.

3. Hit the shower and soak up some steam. Steam helps alleviate mucus by encouraging nasal drainage. Mixing steam with some aromatherapy, particularly the essential oils of basil, eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary, such as the upcoming Breathe Green Shower Steamers, may boost your overall well-being.

4. Get some sleep! Adults need between 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. The Mayo Clinic warns that a consistent lack of sleep will make you more susceptible to catching virus, and more susceptible to long-term disease. If you find yourself having a hard time sleeping from stress or anxiety, try spending more time outside during the day, try taking a walk, and breathe in lavender and chamomile essential oils.

5. While essential oils won’t cure your illness, breathing in different blends of quality aromatherapy may ease the respiratory system. The Breathe Green aromatherapy blend has been specifically crafted to help ease the respiratory system. This specific combination of essential oils, including peppermint, basil, rosemary and more, work together to improve the balance and quality of every breath you take. It maintains feelings of clear airways and easy breathing and helps minimize the effects of seasonal threats.

6. Your Mom was right, chicken soup! In a report by CBS, Dr. Keri Peterson, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, explained that “soup can help open up congested sinuses.” But never fear, my vegan friends, Dr. Peterson goes on the explain that any type of broth-based soup will do the same. As stated in the article, the hot liquid helps to dilate blood vessels which helps mucous flow.

7. Learn to say no. You’re tired, you’re busy, and you’re stressed out. Stress, along with all of the long-term side effects such as mood disorders, depression, anxiety, weight gain, and heart issues, reduces your general immunity. Saying no to unnecessary obligations is a great way to reduce your stress level. It’s okay if you can’t work full time, raise kids, run a household, and be expected to be the PTA president – you don’t have to.

8. Check the air quality in your home. We don’t realize how polluted our indoor air can be. Between cleaning products, smoke, pets, paraffin candles, dust, and fragrance sprays full of phthalates, we are often making our indoor air more polluted than our outdoor air. Try switching to soy candles with cotton wicks, essential oils for cleaning, smoking outside, and vacuuming more often, you can reduce the number of pollutants irritating you in your home.

9. Wash your hands and sanitize your workspace like a mad person. This is especially true if you’re often around a lot of people, or used shared workspaces. To do this quickly and cheaply, grab yourself a spray bottle of the highest-level isopropyl alcohol you can find (99% is ideal, but 91% at the local drugstore will be just fine). If you can’t get to washing your hands right away, just douse your hands and rub, spray your keyboards, your cell phone, your work phones, doorknobs – you get the picture. When you can wash your hands, make sure you sing the whole alphabet while rubbing your hands vigorously with warm, soapy water. By the way, you don’t NEED antibacterial soap, regular soap does the trick without drying your hands.

10. Avoid alcohol and sugar. In an article from Prevention, it’s explained that “like alcohol, sugar inhibits white blood cells from engulfing bacteria and viruses.” Instead of opting for alcohol and sugar, up your protein; protein boosts your amino acids which directly affects your T-cell count – a lower T-cell count means a greater chance for opportunistic viruses and bacteria to get into your system.

What are some ways you try to combat getting sick?

 

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

Ditch the Funk: Natural Ways to Eliminate Odor

Ditch the Funk: Natural Ways to Eliminate Odor

The most common question we receive from people is “How do I get rid of XYZ smell?”  That XYZ has been filled with numerous variables from smoke, to fish, to feet, and more. Hey, let’s be real here, not everything always smells quite like it should. As a teacher for ten years, I am all-too familiar with the masking of gym funk with body spray, and as you can imagine, that mask mixed with the funk just equates to one odious classroom!  The good news is that there are healthy ways to eliminate odors without increasing the amount of toxins by using air fresheners, body sprays, or paraffin candles.

Let’s look at why these different additives are toxic first. The main reason is the use of phthalates, which have been linked to common respiratory illness such as allergies and asthma, but even linked to greater problems over time such as reproductive failure and hormone interference. To be fair, the CDC explains that there needs to be a high level of phthalates in order to cause these issues, but when you start noticing that your air fresheners, detergents, candles, perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, soaps (the list goes on), all contain phthalates, you may start to wonder if you really are being exposed to a high level, just because it seems to be everywhere.

Before you freak out and start throwing away everything you own, read the labels. If it’s unclear whether or not the item uses phthalates, we recommend you call or email the company directly.

So, how can you eliminate odors in a natural, vegan way?

  1. One of the simplest, cheapest, and easiest ways to eliminate odors is to open your windows! One of my closest friends in the world lives in Munich, Germany, and he came to visit over last Christmas break. He was opening the windows to air out his guest bed. I quickly started stripping the sheets in preparation to wash them for him, and he pushed my hands away saying that “Americans need more fresh air!” Apparently, this is quite common in Germany, but there is a factual base behind the thinking. Sometimes the air in our homes is even more polluted than the air outside. So go ahead, and let the funk out by opening your windows.
  2. Essential oils! From lavender, to peppermint, to eucalyptus, the use of essential oils is an excellent and natural way to eliminate some funk. Be careful how much you use, though, these can be pretty strong! To get rid of some base funk, such as in bathrooms or in stinky shoes, I use a cheap spray bottle and mix about 10-20 drops of essential oil to about 1-1.5 cups of water.
    1. Essential oils can also be used for cleaning! Mix 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops of citrus blend or lemon, 5 drops of lemongrass with about 2 cups of water, you have a natural anti-viral cleaning agent. You can replace lavender with tea tree oil for an anti-fungal.
  3. Baking soda! Baking soda is excellent at removing funk in small spaces such as closets and refrigerators, or on carpets. For the small spaces, all you really need to do is open up a small box of baking soda and leave it there. You want to replace it about once a month. For carpets, you want to spread it out evenly over the carpet and let it soak in for about 15-20 minutes and then vacuum it up. No harm to pets or kids!
  4. Classic distilled white vinegar is another great solution for eliminating the funk. To get the funk out of the air, soak up a clean cloth with white vinegar, ring it out, and start swinging it around the room. You may look like you’re waving the white flag, but you will be debunking the funk. Distilled white vinegar also acts as an excellent cleaning agent, and can often be used to replace bleach when cleaning super-funky places like kitchen sinks and bathrooms. Not keen on your toilet smelling like your salad, no worries, mix the vinegar in a spray bottle with several drops of your favorite essential oil (use as much or as little as your nose would like).
  5. Light a phthalate-free candle! If you have some time to let it burn, an undyed soy candle with a cotton wick is a natural way to make your air fresher. The oil we use is even skin-safe, but we don’t recommend using this candle on your skin – we just want you to know about the purity level.
  6. Lemons are a natural deodorizer! If you have some funk in the kitchen, slice up a lemon and rub it in anything that needs freshening, follow with a damp cloth to wipe up any excess lemon – this is perfect for funky hands! Funky microwave? No problem – just nook the lemon for about 25 seconds and the freshness will emanate through the microwave.
  7. If you have some sweaty gym shoes that are starting to reek, grab up wads of newspaper and stuff those sneakers. Leave them stuffed for a day or two, and the newspapers will absorb the sweat and most of the odors (if they still stink, a few drops of peppermint essential oil in each will do the trick.)
  8. Dropped a burrito in your car? Leave an unlit soy candle in one of the cup holders and the heat of the sun and closed windows (while you’re parked) will melt the wax naturally and help deodorize the car. This will work during warmer days, when the outside temp is around 75+.

Ditch the funk and go fresh! Do you have any natural, effective ways to make your home fresher?

Perfect Little Moments- The Happy List

Perfect Little Moments The Happy List

Today, August 1, 2016, we celebrate one year of being in business! I am truly proud and incredibly grateful for all of the love and support shown by our friends, family, and of course, our beloved customers. We would have never made it without you!

As a tribute to our original vision of embodying the best moments in life through scent, I have decided to make a list of exactly those little moments in life that sometimes go unappreciated, but when we stop to think about it, they are everything. When I think about it, this idea was actually born about fifteen years ago when I began college. My best friends, Pam, Diane, and I would write a list called “The Happy List” which mentioned these precise little moments. We would make a new one for each year. Writing this blog post has sparked me to search through my old scrapbooks and find the lists, and rereading it, I can truly remember and feel that joy all over again.

I invite you to take a trip down little-joy lane with me, as well as share your own favorite little moments by commenting. In no particular order, these are the most perfect, little, under-appreciated moments of life:

  1. Coming home from work and throwing on sweatpants.
  2. Finding money in your laundry.
  3. Throwing snowballs.
  4. Over-worn and beat-up college hoodies.
  5. Getting phone calls from people you actually want to talk to.
  6. Finding a meter with time still available.
  7. Receiving a handwritten note.
  8. Fresh, warm, cuddly blankets.
  9. Plans getting canceled when you didn’t want to go.
  10. Getting dressed up.
  11. Dress down day at work.
  12. A sink free of dishes.
  13. John Snow really being a Targaryen.
  14. Daenerys’ dragons!
  15. Your favorite song on the radio.
  16. Free wi-fi.
  17. Putting the staple in your paper when you’ve finished writing.
  18. Finding the missing sock.
  19. Hot cocoa with real marshmallows.
  20. Apple picking.
  21. Babies laughing.
  22. Puppies playing.
  23. Baby and puppy videos on YouTube.
  24. Leaves changing in the fall.
  25. The last day of school.
  26. Acing an exam or work review.
  27. The quiet.
  28. Pizza.
  29. Spending time with your family.
  30. Making something from scratch.
  31. Taking yourself for a spa day.
  32. Flowers on a random Wednesday.
  33. Making someone laugh.
  34. Being ahead on your bills.
  35. Teaching someone how to do something.
  36. Unclogged drains.
  37. Summer sun showers.
  38. Rainbows.
  39. A dinner party with no cell phones.
  40. The smell of fresh Christmas trees.
  41. Kids at Christmas time.
  42. Going to the movies in the middle of the day.
  43. The feeling after a workout you really didn’t want to do.
  44. Taking “Which Harry Potter house are you?” quizzes online.
  45. Not needing the air conditioner or the heater.
  46. A full tank of gas.
  47. Strangely spelled words (colonel, knife, hor d’oeuvres)
  48. Fireplaces.
  49. Putting your legs up on the couch.
  50. The smell of old books.
  51. Hearing and saying the words “I love you.”
  52. Hot soup in the winter.
  53. Having coffee with an old friend.
  54. The sound of waves crashing.
  55. The smell of the beach.
  56. Watching animals in the wild.
  57. Early morning walks.
  58. Beating the hardest level.
  59. Shopping online.
  60. Remembering to wear sunscreen.
  61. Board games.
  62. Fresh cut grass between your toes.
  63. Warm, clean sand.
  64. Figuring out the mystery before it’s revealed.
  65. Bubble baths.
  66. Glitter.
  67. Watching bees pollinate flowers.
  68. 5:00 Happy Hour!
  69. Having a good hair day.
  70. Beautiful shoes that are also comfortable.
  71. Watching a favorite childhood movie.
  72. Chocolate anything.
  73. Getting a full, uninterrupted night of sleep.
  74. Hitting no traffic.
  75. Going to bed in fresh sheets.
  76. Waking up just before your alarm clock.
  77. A bar of beautiful handmade soap.
  78. Summertime barbecues.
  79. Making a new friend.
  80. Dancing.

 

Celebrate Bath, Body, and Candle Moments Birthday