Sometimes I feel like tearing my hair out over all the disinformation there is out there. Especially when it comes to people’s willingness to believe what marketers and commercial-makers tell them. Maybe it’s because I used to be one of those people.
Take, for instance, the issue of personal cleanliness – especially in regard to soap! Members of my family and extended family suffer from horrible, scaly dry skin. In the winter, it also gets rough and red. I took the time to research out what could be causing this problem. The truth is that most skin problems do not have an external cause or an external solution. Most skin problems are caused by a problem in the liver. The liver is the body’s filter, if you will, and it’s job is to clean out all the gunk that doesn’t belong inside us in the first place. Unlike a car filter or a furnace filter, we don’t usually get the chance to have a new liver – we’re stuck with the one we were born with for life. When and if that liver fails, so do we – it’s as bad as the heart or the brain going out. SO what do we do, instead of guarding the purity and integrity of our livers? We smear on petroleum based soaps, lotions and beauty goo – all over the largest organ of our body, the skin, which takes these toxins directly where they’re supposed to go: to the body’s front-line garbage dump, the liver.
It shouldn’t seem like such an amazing thing, but it was for us at first. When we stopped using mainstream soaps, shampoos, shaving creams and lotions, and instead replaced most of these things with products by Dr. Bronners, Weleda and Young Living, everyone’s dry skin problems disappeared.
To shave, my husband uses Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap
which is simply made from water, saponified organic coconut and olive oils, organic hemp and jojoba oil, peppermint oil, wild mint oil, citric acid, vitamin C. All ingredients are pronounceable, edible, and natural. Switching from his trusted foamy mainstream brand was a big deal to him, and I am thankful that, because of my hypothyroidism and accompanying chemical sensitivities, he was willing to sacrifice this product for my sake. No junky gunk outside means no junky gunk inside… and since he’s so wonderful, that means a lot to me.
For showers and bath, we use Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps
usually the Peppermint kind. Again, the ingredient list is short, sweet, and from the surface of the earth (and not from beneath it, like petroleum). We usually get it at our local food coop or health food store when there is a sale running. It’s a good way to stock up.
We used to use Dr. Bronner’s bar soap at the sink, but one day they came out with Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Hand Soap, and it was on sale. We tried it and we love it. Our favorite scent is Shikakai Peppermint. Again, we watch for sales and stock up.
(UPDATE: After this post was written, my husband and I discovered that foaming hand soap works really well for small children, especially those learning to take care of their own personal hygiene. We recommend Young Living Lavender Foaming Hand Soap. Here’s why: UPDATE 6/2015: We have discovered that ANY foaming hand soap pump works with about 2 Tbsp of Bronners Peppermint liquid soap with the rest of the pump being filled with water. Voila, el cheap-bo!)
Now, I know that sometimes the label on Dr. Bronner’s soaps can be a little bit kooky. Dr. Bronner has since passed away and his son runs the company. The Russians have long believed in men they called holy fools. Sometimes holy fools know nothing about anything, except for one thing. Maybe Dr. Bronner was a holy fool – maybe his life’s mission was to bless the earth with the best soap on the planet – and that’s good enough for me. You can learn more about him from the documentary, Doctor Bronner’s Magic Soapbox.
Good: Weleda Skin Food
About 2 years ago, I found two tubes of Weleda Skin Food on clearance at my local Walgreen’s, along with a ton of other Weleda stuff. I was impressed when I read the ingredient list on the box. I figured the skin food hadn’t sold because the locals, who keep 4 Dollar Stores open, probably thought the lotion was too expensive. (i.e. their long-term health was simply not worth the money it costs to maintain it through quality intake in the first place.) So I bought both tubes and took them home to try on my “guinea pigs”; the ones who suffer from winter dry skin. This stuff is AWESOME. It’s thick, it works, it smells good, it isn’t greasy and the skin just drinks it right up, like it really does perceive it as food. Here’s the non-gunky-junk-in-a-bottle-of-who-knows-whatsit ingredient list: water, sunflower seed oil, alcohol, beeswax, glycerol linoleate, essential-oil-derived fragrance, pansy extract, rosemary leaf extract, chamomile flower extract, calendula flower extract, etc…
BETTER: Worker’s Cream by Montana Emu Ranch
UPDATE 6/2015: We’ve also discovered the wonderful effects on the skin of virgin coconut oil. This is the #1 “lotion” we use on our kids, for everything from chapped lips to sunburn. Sometimes you can find hand-crafted balms containing calendula, and they work awesome too, especially for skin that is sore, cracked or irritated. Other options include lanolin-based products (like the stuff sold to breastfeeding moms for cracked nipples). But, by far, in our experience, the very best substance for working man hands is emu oil. This testimonial comes from our family, whose main breadwinner works outdoors, in every kind of weather, Monday through Friday, all year round. These challenges are on top of the very dry skin condition he inherited genetically. Though the Weleda would delay it, his hands and fingers cracked and bled by February every single winter I have known him until he began using this particular brand of Worker’s Creme. We get ours from these folks. My husband refuses to use anything else now.
Is what we use with our pre-teen children. We really like the scent of this stuff. It’s very mild and just a teensy bit will foam up and lather like a quarter-sized portion of the store brands. We just finished up the one small bottle that we bought for him about a year ago. Young Living also makes a KidScents Liquid Soap. It’s such a relief to know that my kids are not soaking in petroleum by-products when they have their baths.
Everyday Coconut – Moisturizing Shampoo & Body Wash
2016 UPDATE: Since we quit being distributors for Young Living, we have discovered a new product line for the kids by Alaffia
SHAMPOO FOR EVERYONE ELSE
As for me and the rest of our household, I honestly haven’t settled on what shampoo I like and will stick with. This is probably because I haven’t tried Young Living’s shampoos yet. For the past few years, I’ve just gotten what’s on sale at the health food store. But not all shampoos are created equal.
I’ve learned to avoid Nature’s Gate products, as they seem caustic to my hair, and to me, their shampoos smell just like that awful smelly hand soap used in public restrooms and highway rest areas. I chalk most but not all of the Bath and Body Works products right down there with Nature’s Gate because they commit the cardinal sin (in my opinion) of mixing natural extracts with the same chemical & petroleum gunk that the rest of the mainstream uses. This means the skin initially takes in the product, but with the healthy ingredients it must also take in the toxic. What bad form! In addition, some of the Bath and Body Works products are SO heavily scented, they make me gag – which I’ve learned by experience signifies that not all of that scent is naturally derived. Right now, my favorite shampoo brand is Avalon. When I can’t get that, I like Kiss My Face or Aveda(sold in Douglas J. Aveda salons), but quality has a way of changing when companies are bought out. I used to like an almond-scented shampoo made by Tom’s of Maine, but it was discontinued when Colgate bought it out. 😦
So that’s me and my soapbox. I’m breathing clean and easy, my skin is happy, and so is the run-off water (the graywater) that leaves my household for the local water treatment facility and the seas that chlorinated, fluoridated, pharmaceuticalized water will eventually reach beyond. The great oceans of this world are not some great big composting toilet where all the chemicals and petroleum by-products magically decompose and disappear, as most would like to believe. I am glad to know that my family’s consumer choices are not adding any more harm to an already serious global problem.