How to oil your hair (natural conditioner)

Note: this post is modified from something I wrote some years back BUT thought it was still just as relevant today.  

Anyone Indian will probably look at this post, and think – TELL ME SOMETHING NEW! But non the less, this is something I only really discovered after I came to India. So, let me just say, it doesn’t take much time here in India for a woman (or this woman at least) to start wondering how all the woman here have such beautiful, long, silky, shiny hair. HOW?! Considering that I need to pour at least half a conditioner in my hair to give it the same look as them, I thought ‘there must be another trick to it’. The trick is so simple – oil, oil and oil! It is not that I¬†haven’t heard of hair oil, but at home in Denmark it was at least 5 times the price of a conditioner, and mostly going under¬†exotic names with a page long¬†ingredients list, that made it seem impossible to replicate it on my own.

Man, was I wrong Рmaking your hair oil is as easy as buying an oil. Many oils can actually be used on their own, or in a two to three oil combination. In the South of India Coconut oil is used for almost anything, including as a hair oil. A friend of mine once told me that when women in the South of India are out of oil, they just squeeze some oil from their hair on the pan! Oiling your hair is cost effective but can also help prevent hair fall, treat dandruff and fungal infections, stimulate hair growth, treat split ends and overall keep your hair strong and healthy.

How to choose oils

There are a number of oils I use in my hair oil, alone or in combinations. For me I follow a few criteria when I choose my oils – the oils should be:

  1. Indian sourced – I follow this mainly for Environmental reasons, but there’s a lot of social benefits attached to this as well. Sourcing oils that are native to your country, and even better to you’re local community both lessens the carbon footprint (because of less transport) and supports the local economy, which you can amplify by supporting small scale businesses. For this reason I do not use Olive oils, even though it is supposed to make for a wonderful hair oil. I don’t think though I’m missing out much since there’s a number of equally wonderful oils I can choose from.
  2. Cold pressed –¬†This has several benefits; cold pressed oils are only minimally heated (mainly from the friction when pressed), which best retains the nutrients of the oil. Other processes of extracting oils involves extensive heating of the oils, resulting in loss of nutrients. What is known as ‘Refined’ oils additionally treats the oils with a number of processes that damages the oil, and thereby making it less healthy.
  3. Organic –¬†The boom in use of Pesticides has been immense in this Century. Many don’t think about the fact that buying natural products, doesn’t mean there’s no toxins in them. Pesticides are carried in the produce it’s applied to, and oil is no exception.
  4. Cost effective РThe prices of oils are often set according to the cost of the process of extraction, not how nutritious it is. Many super cheap oils are super healthy and nutritious.
  5. Targeting the problem area –¬†Everyone is different, and that applies to our hair too. Using super moisturising oils on already oily hair might make the problem worse. So it’s important to choose an oil that will serve the purpose you’re looking for. This mainly comes from trial and error in my experience.

Keeping these in mind, I use a mixture of the following oils. I’ve made two categories 1) thick oils that has to be ‘diluted’ with other oils 2) Light oils to be used alone or mixed with a thick oil.

Thick oils

Castor oil

Castor oil is one of the most conditioning oils available as well as having¬†antibacterial and¬†anti fungal properties. I’ve come across quite a few articles that swears by Castor oils ability to promote¬†hair growth, because it accelerates blood circulation to the scalp. I¬†won’t swear by its abilities to speed up hair growth, but it does make my hair feel healthy, strong and look beautiful.¬†Besides that, it is one of the cheapest oils of such qualities. Because of it’s thickness though it has to be ‘diluted’ with another oil.

Butters 

Butters is another option, and something I’m only recently started¬†exploring. Butters like Mango butter or Kokum butter are extremely nutritious, and known to make for fantastic personal care products. The only hassle is that butters need to be melted, but that makes for a great opportunity to take your oiling to the next level – hot oil! Anyone that has tried a hot oil head massage knows that its one of the most relaxing and soothing activities possible. Even better if you convince a friend or loved one to apply it for you.

Light oils

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a very popular oil in Southern India, and is also a popular oil for hair. As an oil Coconut is super nutritious, conditioning and strongly antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti fungal. This makes it a great oil to treat dandruff or irritations on the scalp, as well as for general moisturising. It has a very light feel and sweet scent, which makes it comfortable to apply on the hair and keep over night. Thicker oils like Castor can feel a little sticky to keep in too long, even when mixed with another oil. Coconut can be used with a thick oil or on its own.

Neem oil

Some dont like this oil because it has a very strong smell. Though Neem has strong medicinal properties, as well as being a very moisturizing oil. Its also quite a cheap oil, which is a bonus. It has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties and is an analgesic (painkiller) that can bring relief to discomfort from eczema and other skin ailments. Additionally it treats dandruff, is a natural remedy and prevention for lice  and promotes hair growth. Be aware it might stain since it has a yellow colour. Can be used alone or added in smaller quantities to a mix of three oils, to avoid the strong smell.

Sweet almond oil

Personally I like sweet almond because it is a super light oil. It makes it a great oil to add on days when you don’t feel like having to wash your hair several times to get the oil out, or just as a leave in on dry ends. Its on the expensive side so when using it I usually mix it with castor or simple use very small amounts. An interesting thing I’ve read is that it’s a sealant and hair protector, meaning it penetrates the hair and seals in the moisture, while also protecting it against damage. Which means it can be used before straightening, blowdrying and other treatments where the hair needs some extra protection.

Mix, Use, Wash .. Repeat!

Now¬†once you’ve narrowed down your oil mixture, you simple gather it in a bowl. I would use 1/4 of a thick oil, and 3/4 light oil. You can add your favorite essential oils, to add extra properties to the mix. I use Lavender, sweet orange and peppermint regularly. Now this is how to go about applying it:

In the evening..

  1. Get out your oil of choice, a comb and a towel (if you want to protect your clothes)
  2. Part your hair and apply a little oil to the parting, massaging it in thoroughly to ensure it reaches your scalp.
  3. Keep parting your hair, applying the oil to the scalp, massaging it.
  4. Once you’ve covered the¬†whole scalp massage it gently until yoiu feel like its evenly divided over the whole surface.
  5. Now start applying the oil to the rest of your hair, ending up combing your hair back in a braid.

The morning after.. 

  1. Wash your hair thoroughly. You will experience that the oil will  keep your shampoo from lathering like it would normally, and I always wash my hair twice or thrice to ensure all the oils is out.

Now, enjoy your Loré-oily moment!

//Louise.

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3 Coconut Soaps – for hair, body and clothes

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My soaping adventure has taken me through a number of different experiments with soap, but till date one of my favourites is to make pure Coconut soap. In this post I will go through three different recipes of pure Coconut soap, using the same method (cold process), but creating soap bars for three different uses:

  • As a Shampoo bar
  • As a Face & Body bar
  • As a Clothes Washing bar (for hand wash and machine wash)

If you are new to soap making, you can start by reading How to make natural soap to understand the basics of Cold Process soap making and Coloring soap naturally to learn how you use natural colourants in soap.

Why Coconut Soap?

I originally started making Coconut Soap because I was struggling to find a combination of oils in my soaps, that reached my four criteria 1) they should be Indian sourced 2) They should be Organic 3) They shouldn’t be too expensive 4) They should make a hard, cleansing and moisturising bar of soap. Three oils in particular are known to make very hard, balanced and moisturising soap bars – namely Olive oil, Palm oil and Coconut oil. Since Olive oil can’t be sourced from India, and Palm oil isn’t available from Organic and sustainable sources, I was left to find other alternatives. Even though I found many different combinations, I couldn’t really get the soap bars as hard as I wanted them, without doubling the price of my materials. Then one day I came across a post on making pure Coconut soap bars, something I had never even thought about. Today I have probably made more pure Coconut soap, than of other recipes, and I’ve found a number of up benefits and a few downsides to it:

Benefits:

  • It makes a super hard bar of soap that doesn’t get soft after use
  • It has great thick creamy lather
  • It is super cleansing and moisturising (if superfatted properly)
  • Its versatile – can be used for hair, body and clothes
  • It has a beautiful white colour if no colour is added, and gets a very rustic look if it is added
  • Its naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial
  • Its relatively cost effective since Coconut oil is a medium priced oil (here in India)

Downsides: 

  • It does have a very rustic look, and leaves a white coating on top of the soap that hides the colorant used – and is thereby not very suitable for making soaps with colours, patterns and swirls
  • It does disappear relatively fast, maybe because of its great lathering

All in all I think the upsides outweigh the downsides.

3 Coconut soaps – for hair, body and clothes

Because Coconut Soap is very cleansing, making a bar without superfatting it will make it very drying. Though by controlling the superfat % you can also modify it to serve the purpose you have in mind.

Superfat is the amount of oil left in the soap that isn’t saponified. It’s calculated in percentage, and will in most soaps vary from 5 to 7 percentage.

0% Superfat for a Clothes Washing bar 

Pure Coconut soap without any superfat makes the perfect clothes washing bar, because it is very cleansing. Make your soap like you normally would, with or without essential oils. You can cut them as bars to use for hand washing, or follow this Washing powder recipe for Machine wash:

What you need:

  • A bar of Coconut soap
  • 1/2 Washing Soda
  • Essential oil of choice (apply by drops until it smells like you want it to

How to make it:

  • Shred the Coconut soap with a normal kitchen shredder
  • Mix the soap shreds with the Washing Soda
  • Drop your essential oils until it has the desired smell
  • Optional: mix with a few power turns in a mixer grinder.

10% Superfat for Shampoo bar (12% for dry hair) 

Coconut soap makes for a great shampoo bar because it lathers a lot, giving you the same feeling as using regular shampoo. When making you’re recipe superfat by 10% for normal hair, and 12% if you’re hair is dry. Make your soap like you normally would and add your favourite essential oils to leave your hair smelling fantastic. You can also add softening or cleansing powders such as Amla, Shikakai, Soapnut or Arappu. Make sure to cure the bars (leave them to rest) for minimum 6 weeks after making them. Only use additives that will help soften or clean the hair – such as Soap nut, Amla, Hibiscus, Shikakai etc.

20% Superfat for a Face and body bar

For face and body you need some extra moisturising ¬†to make sure it doesn’t dry out the skin. Superfat by 20% and otherwise customise the soap according to your wishes. There’s is mostly not much difference between a face and a body bar, unless you’re trying to solve an issue you’re having on a specific part of your body – like acne, dryness etc. When superfatted this much it will take the soap a little longer to harden in the mould, but since Coconut already hardens pretty fast it won’t take very long (1 day max).

I hope this was useful. Do let me know if you give it a try, or have more know more ways of making or using Coconut soap.

//Louise

 

 

Dangers of Antibacterial Soap (Dettol)

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Coconut soap is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial

Disclaimer: this post is inspired by one of Wellness mama (whom I’m a big fan of), also describing the dangers of antibacterial soaps. I have used the same studies as her, but tried to see it from the perspective of India.¬†

Dettol soap is probably the most popular hand washing soap here in India. At least you can’t go long without either hearing their commercials or coming across one of their soap. A Scandinavian colleague of mine always puts an additional piece of soap in the office bathroom, because she says she’s ‘not gonna use that toxic stuff’. She’s referring to the Dettol soap. I don’t use commercials soap by principal, because I don’t trust their transparency and sincerity, but after looking a little closer at Dettol, I couldn’t agree more with my colleague’s choice of words – toxic stuff. Let me walk you through it.

What’s inside a Dettol soap

To understand what’s so bad about Dettol soap, we need to understand what it contains. Later I will only focus on a few of the ingredients, but if you want to read more on the toxic ingredients found in many commercial soaps, you can start by reading¬†Commercial vs. Handmade soaps. Lets look at a typical Dettol soap:

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Sodium Palmate – saponified palm oil. Like I’ve mentioned in my earlier post, commercially derived Palm oil is very damaging to the environment and destroys the habitats it’s harvested from. It’s used in soap because it’s cheap and makes a super hard and moisturising bar.

Sodium Palm Kernelate – saponified palm kernel oil

Aqua – water

Glycerin – what they sometimes refer to as added moisturiser. Note that Glycerin wouldn’t need to be added if it had been handmade soap, because real soap contains glycerin naturally

Perfume – manufacturing a scent takes up to 3000 different chemical compounds. Most of these are made from synthetic compounds derived from Petroleum, whereof many are known toxins linked to a number of serious health issues and hormonal disruptions. Many of them are still untested for possible harm

Benzyl Salicylate – a chemical compound that helps scent last longer. Can cause irritation on the skin. Listed as an allergenic by European Cosmetic Directive

Butylphenyl  methylpropinal Рfragrance compound

Citronellol –¬†a natural scent additive to add citrus or floral notes. Occurs naturally

Geraniol – fragrance compound, that also occurs naturally

Hexyl Cinnamal –¬† fragrance compound

Coumarin –¬† fragrance compound associated with allergy and contact¬†dermatitis

Linaloo –¬†fragrance compound

Palm Acid – biproduct of palm oil

Sodium Chloride – salt

Tetrasodium EDTA –¬†is a preservative and a known¬†carcinogen (agent known to cause cancer), and is also a penetration enhancer – which means it breaks down the skins natural barrier, making it easier for harmful chemicals to penetrate the tissue and even enter the blood

Ethidronic Acid – an inorganic acid used as a binding agent

Triclocarban – antibacterial agent

Titanium Dioxide – added for the white color

Sodium Carbonate¬†– also known as ‘Washing soda’. Its similar to Baking soda ¬†in composition, but is caustic and used as a cleaning agent.

Sodium Sulfate – sodium salt often used in detergents

There’s a number of ingredients on this list that is of concern. I will focus on Triclocarban (in solid soap) or Triclosan (in liquid soap), which is supposed to be the antibacterial component in Dettol. Before we get deeper into that, it’s important to understand something much more basic – there is no proof available that Antibacterial soap is any way is more effective than normal soap, or even natural handmade soap.

Antibacterial vs. Normal soap

The biggest selling point of Dettol soap is that it’s antibacterial – like it says, it kills 99.9 % of bacteria! We are made to believe that it’s superior to normal soap, and will protect us better against disease and infections. Though this doesn’t seem to be the case. Last year the FDA (US Food and Drug Association) released it’s final ruling on the effectiveness and safety of Antibacterial soap:

Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water. In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.

Data suggested that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products ‚ÄĒ for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) ‚ÄĒ could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.

This highlights two important points: 1) there’s no proof Antibacterial soap will protect you better than normal soap 2) even if it did, health concerns linked to ingredients such as¬†Triclosan or Triclosaban¬†might outweigh the benefits. If you want to read the final ruling of FDA, you can find it¬†here. Though, this is not the only points to keep in mind. Let me explain.

There’s clean and there’s too clean¬†

Bacteria might be associated by many as something bad, but we are becoming only more aware of how incredibly important bacteria is for us to stay healthy. Especially the gut bacteria plays a crucial role in keeping the body’s systems in balance. In recent years studies have shown that people with less varied gut bacteria are much more prone to getting sick. We receive this bacteria through a number of ways throughout our life. For bonus info I can tell you that one of them is through birth, which ultimately means that children born by C-section often lack this gut bacteria diversity. Though, we also obtain these bacterias through our life, by the different exposures we come in contact with (food, environment etc.). Now, it’s important to understand that while it is the good bacteria that keeps us healthy, being exposed to bad bacteria is essential for our body to build up our immune system. Essentially that’s what vaccines does – they expose us to a tiny amount of the disease, to make our own body produce antibodies to protect us against future exposure.

So what happens when we use antibacterial agents? Just like when we use antibiotics, strong antibacterial agents doesn’t distinguish between the good and bad bacteria. It’s simply wipes out all of it – good and bad. I absolutely agree that there can be situations where this is necessary (for example after visiting a hospital or other places where dangerous bacteria might occur or in the case of using antibiotics to fight dangerous disease), but if used on a daily basis we diminish the natural exposure we need to grow a strong immune response and bacterial diversity to stay healthy.¬†This post¬†for example shows some of the research done, linking use of Antibacterial agents to immune related sensitivities:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a study in the 2012 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology where they found that children with high levels of triclosan, a common component in everything from cleaning products and toothpaste to pizza cutters and countertops‚ÄĒanywhere ‚Äúantibacterial‚ÄĚ properties are marketed), were at significantly higher risk for developing seasonal allergies, food, drug, and insect allergies, hay fever, and other immune-related sensitivities.

Super bugs and drug resistance

Again it’s important to understand what happens inside our bodies. Most diseases occur when an imbalance in the body in combination with exposure to a virus or bacteria, makes a favourable environment for a bad bacteria or virus to go into overgrowth. For example, a yeast infection that many women might have experienced, happens when the balance of the natural bacteria is disturbed, causing overgrowth of yeast (which occurs naturally). This can happen when using harsh soap that removes all the bacterias, or overuse of Anti-biotics that essentially does the same. Now this is important to understand, because by using antibacterial agents, we might be making a favourable environment for so called “superbug” to develop, and in combination with the growing drug resistance (caused by overexposure to for example antibiotics) we are looking at nothing less than a health emergency. Recent news report ¬†on ABC new¬†explains:

Indeed, recent research suggests these products may encourage the growth of ‚Äúsuperbugs‚ÄĚ resistant to antimicrobial agents, a problem when these bacteria run rampant, turning into a dangerous infection that cannot be treated with available medication.

Similar growth of drug-resistant strains has already occurred with antibiotics. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led to several drug-resistant microbes, such as streptococcus pneumonia and strains of E. coli.

Dr. Stuart Levy, president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and a professor of molecular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, believes antibacterial soaps are dangerous.

‚ÄúTriclosan creates an environment where the resistant, mutated bacteria are more likely to survive,‚ÄĚ says Levy, who published a study on the germicide two years ago in the journal Nature.

Charles Rock, a researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hosptial in Memphis, Tenn., also published work in Nature last month supporting the resistance theory.

‚ÄúThe use of triclosan in these products will lead to the emergence of resistance,‚ÄĚ he predicts. ‚ÄúThere is no strong rationale for [its] use.‚ÄĚ

Increased risk of infection

Oh the irony, but some studies show that use of Triclosan causes build up of Staph aureus bacteria in nasal passages and other parts of the body, which leads to higher risk of infection. Read the full study here,

Triclosan, a chemical found in the majority of anti-bacterial hand and dish soaps, was picked up in the nasal passages of 41 percent of the adults sampled by researchers at the University of Michigan. Those with triclosan in their noses were more likely to also have colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (commonly referred to as ‚Äústaph‚ÄĚ).

Most importantly though, was that researchers found a potential link between the two: Triclosan appears to help the staph bacteria grab hold and bind to proteins in the nose.

‚ÄúI think we have been seeing a lot of this over the past few years, that perhaps these antimicrobial soaps are doing more harm than good,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Melissa Osborn, an infectious disease specialist with MetroHealth Medical Center. ‚ÄúWe know that one of the reasons that staph aureus colonizes some people‚Äôs noses is that it adheres to some of the proteins in the nose. Triclosan actually promoted that adhesion.‚ÄĚ

Having staph aureus in your nose ‚ÄĒ which is the case for about 30 percent of people ‚ÄĒ is not necessarily a problem in and of itself, but is a risk factor for getting other infections such as surgical site infections, boils, catheter site infections in people on dialysis and diabetic foot ulcers.

Additionally..

This is just a fraction of the research emerging on the dangers linked with use of antibacterial soaps, gels, cleaning products etc. Studies also show that chemicals like Triclosan disrupts hormones as well as is of major environmental concern. So what should we go? For me it’s simple. Soap is not the issue – washing your hands with normal soap is proven to cut a number of dangerous disease in half. Wash your hands and body in good old, natural soap. As for Hand sanitisers, where water is not available, there is a number of DIY natural versions out there. The other day I saw my colleague squeeze a lemon into his hand, which in fact is also antibacterial. I will be sure to follow this post up with one on how to make you’re very own, safe antibacterial hand sanitiser.

Until then.

//Louise

Commercial vs. Handmade soaps

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For me the perfect bar of soap is made with love for all living

For most of my life I had a sore spot for beauty products. I knew nothing better than to go down to our local beauty shop, and use my pocket money on a new nail polish, face mask or shampoo. Like so many others have tried, especially as teenagers or young adults, I was gripped by commercials showing beautiful people and the products they ‘used’ to look like they did. Now I can laugh at those days, but I do think that there’s a very critical point to be taken – that is universally relevant. The point is this: when it comes to commercial products, not much is as it seems, and if consumers aren’t on their toes and educate themselves – they will be at the mercy of what companies want them to know – not what we should know!

For me this train of thought started when I decided to make my own products, because suddenly I had to figure out what these products actually contained. It was a domino effect – the more I found out about the products I had been using for years, the more I wanted to know. I started reading on the back of every product I came across, and researching the ingredients I found. Still today it’s hard for me to wrap my head around, how utterly clueless I have been about thing I used on a daily basis. To illustrate this point I will go through what I have learned about the ‘soap’ that is sold commercially today, but please note that the same goes for so many of the products we use today – even a good share of the ones advertising to be natural. Let’s get down to business.

The illusion of ‘Soap’

In my post:¬†How to make natural soap¬†I’ve written what soap is. To sum up –

Soap consist of liquid, fats and sodium hydroxide (lye), mixed together causing a process called saponification. If done in the right measurements there is only soap left once completely saponified.

Now this is an important point, because if you look at the back of most commercial soaps you will find about 35 additional ingredients – and at times sodium hydroxide won’t even be one of them. So if soap is liquid, oil and lye, then what are what are these bars if not soap? The answer is detergent and chemicals. If you pay attention to the names of such bars, it’s often not soap – but body bar, face bar, beauty bar or cream bar. The reasons for not selling natural soaps that I’ve been able to deduct are the following:

  1. Natural soap can’t be mass produced – the process of natural and/or handmade soap is such that it can’t be easily mass produced. Detergent on the other hand can.
  2. Detergents are cheaper – natural soap needs oil, and most oils don’t come cheap. This is also due to the fact that many cheap oils can’t be used in high quantities, because they will make a soft or sticky bar. Soya oil for example, that is a very cheap oil, can’t be made into a soap bar without adding other oils.
  3. Detergent makes for a ‘better’ bar – when I say better, I mean that they hit some desired points that is not easy or cheap to replicate in natural soap. This is for example stable and abundant lather, eternal shelf-life, strong scent and uniform look.

Now some might think, what is the problem if the bar cleans my body? The problem is simple. Detergent bars work against the body, not with it. Our bodies are made to keep it’s natural balance, and can regulate a number of the disturbances brought on by exposures we come in contact with during the day (harsh weather, dust, pollution etc.). Though if exposed regularly to something as strong as detergent, that drains the natural moisture and nutrients from the skin, the body gets thrown off balance. This means that it can no longer regulate itself, and a number of problems will start to appear – such as oily skin, dry skin, pimples etc. Now it might sound strange that you can get oily skin from a very cleansing bar, but its true – if you continuously deplete the moisture from your skin, your body will respond by secreting more oil to try to get back in balance.

Glorious Glycerine

Glycerine is a natural bi-product of the soap making process. You might have heard the term ‘Glycerine soap’, which is somewhat misleading, because all soap contains glycerine. Glycerine is a natural moisturizer because it attracts moisture from the air to your skin, and is therefore a very valuable commodity. This means that its often removed from soap and added to other and more expensive products such as face and body creams. Without the glycerine, the soap bar will most likely dry out the skin, even though it might clean it. One thing I have noticed after using handmade soap, is that I don’t need to use moisturizer as much as I did before. Actually I only rarely use moisturizer on my body, and my skin only rarely feels dry, and that living in New Delhi – where I’m exposed to a lot of pollution every day.

Smells like chemicals

Dove has won a lot of market here in India, as well as world wide, and it’s likely that a lot of you reading this has a Dove bar in your bathroom. So I realize I might be stepping on some toes to make this popular bar the center of my point – since ‘information is power’, I’m gonna take my chances. When Dove advertises that ‘it doesn’t dry out the skin like ordinary soap’, it’s important to understand two things: 1. Ordinary soap doesn’t dry out the skin if it’s made naturally and with the right oils 2. Even if it a Dove bar doesn’t dry out the skin, it contains a number of questionable chemicals that you might want to be aware of. Lets look at the ingredients of the Dove White Beauty bar:

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate Or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891). (2)

  • Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate – is a¬†detergent
  • Stearic Acid – a hardening agent made from plant or animal fats
  • Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate –¬†this is actually quite misguiding since these are two different ingredients but are listed together. Sodium Tallowate is derived from Animal fats or Tallow. Now this might be important information to the many vegetarians in India, that wouldn’t want to use animal products. Sodium Palmitate on the other hand is Palm oil, which even though it is a wonderful oil, has a number of environmental concerns because it’s cultivation and harvesting ruins natural habitats causing major harm the nature and animals living there.
  • Lauric Acid –¬†a lathering and hardening agent
  • Sodium Isethionate – also a detergent
  • Sodium Stearate –¬†also a hardening agent
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine –¬†a synthetic agent added to increase lather, associated with irritation and allergic reactions such as eczema. According to some studies its often contaminated with¬†nitrosamines, which is linked to cancer.
  • Sodium Cocoate Or Sodium Palm Kernelate –¬†Saponified coconut oil and saponified palm kernel oil
  • Fragrance –¬†again quite misleading, because manufacturing a scent actually takes up to 3000 different chemical compounds. Most of these are made from synthetic compounds derived from Petroleum, whereof many are known toxins linked to a number of serious health issues and disruptions. Many of them are still untested for possible harm.
  • Sodium Chloride – salt
  • Tetrasodium Edta- is a preservative and a known¬†carcinogen (agent known to cause cancer), and is also a penetration enhancer – which means it breaks down the skins natural barrier, making it easier for harmful chemicals to penetrate the tissue and even enter the blood.
  • Tetrasodium Etidronate – added to prevent changes in colour, texture and fragrance
  • Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891) – a whitening agent

Now, first of all, on their website it says each bar has 1/4 moisturizing cream, which is what makes it less drying than soap. I cannot figure out which of these should be the moisturizing cream. Second of all, there is not a lot of these ingredients that actually has any known positive effects on skin. Most are added to let the bar last longer, look uniform, have abundant later and maintain a strong smell. This is just one example – there are many more dangerous chemicals to add to the list if we start exploring commercial shampoos, creams, lip balms etc.

The environment down the drain

When using soap, most of us don’t think about what happened before and what happens after we use a bar of soap. I am no exception. It has taken me years to start thinking along the lines I am about to write. For me it’s simple now, if something shouldn’t go on my body, then it shouldn’t go into nature. Many detergents and other chemicals are as toxic to the flora and fauna as it is to us, and after it runs down the drain it finds its way to the earth and water. Additionally, or maybe even more importantly, the chemicals used in many commercial bars are made from unsustainable practices that pollutes and depletes nature of its natural resources. With the enormous boom of consumerism of commercial items, the consequences are now becoming more and more serious. So what does one soap bar change? Nothing. But if one bar becomes to millions, I believe that it will make a difference.

All this is my personal opinions from my own experiences, observations and research. I am always looking to broaden my horizon and always acknowledge I can be wrong. For now though, this is what I think.

//Louise