Skincare Fact vs. Fiction Day 3 – Ingredient Fear

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Maybe I’m a little hungry, or maybe I’m a little crazy, but this pizza perfectly illustrates the skincare concepts that I want to talk about today.  And if you are vegan, please use your imagination and pretend this pizza is made with soy cheese and tofurky pepperoni… everything I say will apply to your pizza also.

Bloggers across the world are extolling the virtues of skincare products with fewer ingredients (somehow five seems to be the maximum acceptable number), and telling us to avoid all ingredients that we cannot pronounce.  “Chemical” is becoming synonymous with “toxic” and “naturally derived” has become a code word for “safe”.  Broad categories of ingredients are labeled as “bad”, regardless of what the ingredient really is (isopropyl alcohol is an entirely different animal from cetyl alcohol) or the purpose of the ingredient (preservatives will be tackled in the next blog).  Next we will take a closer look at some of these concepts.

Skincare Products Should Have Five or Fewer Ingredients

Why?  I’m really not sure where this concept came from, but let’s take a look at our pizza for help.  At first look our pizza perfectly fits into the five ingredient criteria… crust, cheese, tomato sauce, pepperoni and olives make five, right?  Ummm, not really.  Pizza crust contains flour, oil, yeast and salt, and if white flour is used it will most likely contain niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid.  Uh oh, we’ve passed the five ingredient mark and haven’t even put a topping on our little pizza yet.  Does that make pizza a bad food?  Never!

For the same reason an abundance of good ingredients make our pizza better, an abundance of good ingredients enhance our skincare products.  At Daisy G’s we take pride in our formulas, using as many ingredients as it takes to create products that effectively perform their desired function.  Although we do make one soap for extremely sensitive skin with only three ingredients, our standard soap recipe uses our exclusive blend of four oils and two butters.  Each of these oils and butters was selected for a specific reason, and we are happy to explain our choices whenever asked!

Some skincare companies will hide ingredients, much as listing “crust” on our pizza would hide an assortment of ingredients.  Listing a combination of ingredients such as “essential oil blend”, “soap”, or “colorants” as one ingredient is not only deceptive, it is illegal.  The FDA provides strict guidelines on cosmetic labeling.  These guidelines can be complex at times, however proper labeling is crucial to helping consumers make educated and safe choices.

If You Can’t Pronounce an Ingredient it Isn’t Safe

Back to our pizza, did you know that most black olives have added ferrous gluconate?  Some people may see this on a label and look for another brand of olives, only to find that upon opening the new can that the olives are somewhat greyish and not black as expected.  Some people understand that the ferrous gluconate is iron that has been added to keep the olives a bright black color.  And I’m sure most people just buy the can of olives that is on sale!

The fact is, ingredient safety is not tied to pronounceability.  Many of our customers struggle with pronouncing “jojoba” and “verbena“, and that’s OK.  Just ask, and we will be happy to help you pronounce these or any ingredient names you are struggling with, it’s our job.  We will also be happy to tell you why each of our ingredients makes the product better… if an ingredient doesn’t make a product better we would simply not include it.

Chemicals are Toxic but Natural and “Naturally Derived” Products are Safe

Yikes!  This is a real minefield, I can’t believe I’m actually tackling this one.  First, let’s get some definitions out of the way.  Our bodies are made of chemicals, we breathe chemicals, our food is made of chemicals, and so on.  But I understand that many people define “chemicals” as “lab created” or even “toxic” so I’ll try to be as clear and specific as  can so there is no ambiguity.

The easy part of this statement to disprove is that “natural” means safe.  Rattlesnake venom, oleanders, rabid bats and arsenic are all natural and all toxic.  There is nothing inherently safe about natural substances.  Additionally, there is no universally accepted definition of what cosmetic ingredients are “natural” and what are not.  At Daisy G’s we define “natural” as one step of refinement from start to finish.  For example, lavender essential oil is lavender plant material that has been distilled to extract only the oil from the plants.  We consider this a natural ingredient.  Soy wax, on the other hand, is considered natural by many people, however the manufacturing process requires the oil from the soybeans (which are genetically modified) to be extracted with hexane, then hydrogenated by a chemical process to form hydrogenated soybean oil, or soy wax.  At Daisy G’s we do not consider this to be a natural ingredient (and by nature of being derived from a genetically modified plant we do not use it).  Many of our products are made entirely from natural ingredients, and are clearly stated on the front of the label.

The flip side of this side is the safe use of artificial ingredients.  In some cases there is no natural ingredient to give the desired effect in a product, so safe lab created ingredients may be called for.  One of these cases is in the case of preservatives, which will be addressed in our next blog post.  Another example is the allantoin that we add to our lotions and creams.  Allantoin is found naturally in our bodies, however we use a lab created version to ensure purity.  Allantoin is used to increase the water content and improve the appearance of skin by smoothing the outer layers of the skin.  Natural oils can form a barrier, but because they do not contain water it is impossible to actually moisturize the skin.  We fully believe that our lotions and creams are superior to non-moisturizing oils.

How does this relate to our pizza?  Well, did you know that tomatoes in our pizza sauce are in the same plant family as deadly nightshade?  Belladonna (deadly nightshade) is both a deadly toxin, and a powerful medicine depending on how it is used.

Broad Categories of “Bad” Ingredients

Some categories of ingredients are considered by many to be “bad” in the entirety:  alcohol, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and formaldehyde are some categories that are commonly mentioned.  Product labels boldly proclaim “alcohol free”, “paraben free”, and so on.  At Daisy G’s we do not use parabens, sulfates, or phthalates and we will not address the safety of these ingredients (although many forms of these are entirely safe to use in proper amounts).

The ingredient of ours that draws the most skepticism is our cetyl alcohol.  Consumers tend to equate alcohol with rubbing alcohol and are unaware that there are a wide range of alcohols.  Cetyl alcohol is a “fatty alcohol”, a solid waxy substance derived from vegetable material.  I call cetyl alcohol my “fluffifier” because it provides a thick but “fluffy” feel in a lotion or cream as opposed to a stiffer feel that is more difficult to spread on the skin.

And if you want to avoid parabens, you will need to pass on eating any of our pizza.  Both onions and tomatoes (along with strawberries, blueberries and many more foods) contain parabens.

Our next blog post will tackle the issue of preservatives, if you are interested in learning more please subscribe to the blog!

Further reading:

Compound Chemistry:  Natural vs. Man Made Chemicals http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/05/19/natural-vs-man-made-chemicals-dispelling-misconceptions/

Are You Eating Parabens?  http://www.herbhedgerow.co.uk/are-you-eating-parabens/

Cosmetic Ingredient Review http://www.cir-safety.org/

FDA Cosmetic Labeling Requirements https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/labeling/

 

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Skincare Fact Vs. Fiction Day 2 – Essential Oils

At Daisy G’s we love essential oils for so many reasons, there is no artificial fragrance that can replace the mouthwatering scent of fresh mint or the floral/herbal scent of real lavender.  But the use of essential oils requires a much higher skill level than the use of artificial fragrances, and a much higher awareness of safe combinations and applications for each oil.

In addition to safe usage rates we research the method of extraction, pesticide use and environmental impact of each oil we use.  Examples of oils we do no use include rose oil, which not only contains traces of pesticides used on the crops but is solvent extracted as well.  True sandalwood oil smells delicious, but the majority of sandalwood oil marketed today comes from endangered sandalwood trees in SE Asia, therefore until renewable sources in Australia become more readily available we do not use actual sandalwood essential oil in our products.

Essential oil usage has skyrocketed over the past few years, fueled both by public interest in natural healing and by numerous newer essential oil companies that heavily market their products for purposes ranging from well-being to the cure of deadly diseases.  In the marketing of these essential oils we hear many amazing claims, often based on misleading or untrue “facts”.  Here are just a few of the “facts” about essential oils that can be easily debunked:

Claim #1:  Essential oils have been used since ancient Egyptian/Biblical times.

Fact #1:  Essential oils are volatile oils that have been Oils Infusingdistilled from plant material, and the process of distillation of plant materials did not exist before the 11th century.  (Note that citrus oils are cold pressed, and some modern techniques allow for solvent extraction of oils that cannot be distilled).  Prior to the 11th  century, and certainly during ancient times, oils from plants were extracted using heated water to make teas or by infusing in carrier oils such as olive oil.  Since most plants used for essential oils contain about 1% volatile oil it is clear that the compounds used during ancient times were much less concentrated than the essential oils used today, and usage of these oils cannot be compared.

Claim #2:  Essential oils are safe because they are natural.

Fact #2:  Essential oils are frequently touted as being antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.  These qualities are a result of the ability of essential oils used in high concentrations to cause cell damage and death.  Toxic reactions to improper use of essential oils include not only cell death but seizures, liver damage, skin irritation, breathing difficulty and fetal damage (including abortion).  Most adverse reactions are a result of ingesting essential oils or applying improperly diluted essential oils directly on the skin.

Claim #3:  Therapeutic grade essential oils are purer/safer/better than non-therapeutic grade essential oils.

Fact #3:  There is no system in place in the United States for grading essential oils.  Any claim that an essential oil is “therapeutic grade” is false and should be considered a “red flag”.  Companies making false claims are not reputable and should not be patronized.

At Daisy G’s we take safety seriously.  We thoroughly research the safety of each of our ingredients and the integrity of each of our suppliers before we ever purchase a sample for product development.  We encourage our customers to use the following practices when using essential oils:

  • Purchase essential oils only from established reputable essential oil suppliers.
  • Consider consulting a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) before using essential oils for therapeutic reasons.
  • If you notice any irritation or other adverse reaction to essential oil use discontinue use immediately.
  • Do not use essential oils as an alternative to conventional medicine.  If you are under the care of a physician, or take medication, you will want to discuss how essential oil usage may interact with your medication.
  • Pregnant women should be especially cautious with essential oil use, consult a physician if you have any questions or concerns.

Sources:

Tisserand R., Young R. Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition.  Churchill Livingstone Elsevier 2014.

National Institute for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) http://www.naha.org

Skincare Fact vs. Fiction Day 1 – Should I Worry about Chemicals Absorbed Through my Skin?

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In this first day of our five day series on Skincare Fact vs. Fiction we are examining the common claim that 60% of all “toxic chemicals” applied to the skin are absorbed into the skin within 28 seconds (or many similar variations).  In reality this is simply not true.

Our skin is a remarkable barrier against all sorts of external invaders such as bacteria and fungi, along with harmful environmental toxins and ultraviolet rays.  Using a system similar to a brick wall our outermost skin layer, the stratum corneum, not only protects from invasion from the outside, it protects us from excessive water loss from the interior of our body.

Extensive studies have been conducted regarding absorption rates of various chemicals into the bloodstream via the skin, with rates per hour varying from .008% to 3.5%.  While it is clear that some chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream, the much higher rates that are commonly quoted are clearly not true.  If we truly absorbed high rates of toxic chemicals through our skin we would all surely suffer from chlorine poisoning after swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool (not to mention blowing up like a puffer fish due to all the water we would absorb)!

Ongoing education and research is vitally important to ensure that our skincare products are safe and effective.  At Daisy G’s we use and support evidence based research and do not rely on unsupported claims and scare tactics.  We make every effort to be aware of the concerns of our customers and to offer solid research to support the safety and effectiveness of our products upon request.

The following articles were used as reference, and may be accessed without cost:

Brown, H. S., Bishop, D. R., & Rowan, C. A. (1984). The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. American Journal of Public Health, 74(5), 479–484.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1651599/

Lee, S. H., Jeong, S. K., & Ahn, S. K. (2006). An Update of the Defensive Barrier Function of Skin. Yonsei Medical Journal, 47(3), 293–306. http://doi.org/10.3349/ymj.2006.47.3.293
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2688147/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Skin Exposure and Effects
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Castile Soap / Using Our New Custom Molds

The soap business has been going well, and the soap molds we’ve been using for the past 3 years have become a little small… so a couple days ago the UPS driver delivered 4 beautiful custom slab molds and one handy-dandy log splitter!  After extensive research we selected For Craft’s Sake, a small business in Minnesota, to make our molds.

Daisy G's Soap Mold
Our new soap mold!

Each custom mold will produce 4 logs that are equal in size to our current logs, so each mold will make 44 bars as opposed to the 11 bars each of our molds currently makes.  This tutorial is the story of the maiden voyage of our new molds, and the making of one of our finest soaps, pure castile soap made with organic olive oil.  (And if you think a certain “doctor” makes real castile soap, um, no not so much).

Making fresh batch of Daisy G's 100% Olive Oil Soap
Just starting to mix oil and lye solution.

Castile soap dates back to the days of the Crusades, and originated in Spain.  The story goes that the finest soap in the world was made in Aleppo (the very same place that is sadly besieged) using olive oil and laurel berry oil.  When the crusaders pushed into Spain there was no available laurel berry oil, so a soap was created using only olive oil.  True castile soap is white (or very light green), hard, long lasting and extremely gentle.  To reach perfection a cold processed castile soap must be aged for 6 months or more, so the soap in this tutorial will not be available for sale until sometime late spring or early summer of 2017.  Now that’s advance planning!

Daisy G's 100% Olive Oil soap poured into mold.
Fresh castile soap batter just poured into mold.

To start with the soapmaking process we measured out over 10 lbs of extra virgin organic olive oil, and mixed our lye solution which we allowed to cool to room temperature.  Then we added the lye solution to the oil and stick blended, took a break to wrap soap, stick blended some more, fixed supper, stick blended a while longer, and finally the mixture began to thicken and reached a very light trace.

Then we poured the soap into the mold, and put it away to rest for 48 hours and waited patiently.

 

 

Daisy G's Castile Soap
Unmolded Castile Soap

After unmolding our block of soap it is transferred to the log splitter to be cut into 4 soap logs.  Each log will then be cut into 11 individual bars.  Our recipe for castile soap is simple, just organic olive oil, purified water and lye (sodium hydroxide).  We recommend purchasing your organic olive oil from a trusted supplier, many extra virgin olive oils are not pure, they may contain oils obtained from the second pressing of olive oil, or worse, oils that are not olive oil at all.

Daisy G's 100% Olive Oil Castile Soap
Beautiful pure Castile Soap in the curing rack, ready for sale in about 9 months!

We are including our recipe to allow you to see our ingredients.  We do not recommend making soap in this size batch unless you have had successful experience making smaller batches.

Recipe:

168 oz. organic olive oil
33 oz. purified or distilled water
21.3 oz. sodium hydroxide

 

Purchase Daisy G’s Castile Soap made with 100% Organic Olive Oil here.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section.  Thank you!

 

Dryer Balls

Finished dryer balls

Dryer balls are always an eye catcher at our shows, and I’m often asked how I make them.  Feel free to giggle at any time during the narrative… I totally understand 🙂

Dryer balls are an all natural, cost saving alternative to expensive fabric softener and dryer sheets.  They also help your clothes dry faster, saving money on electricity, something we all love to do.  Dryer balls are naturally unscented, however by adding a couple drops of essential oil it is possible to naturally add fresh and pleasant scents to your clothes.  They are a vital part of our all natural laundry system.

Here’s what you need:

1 oz wool for each ball (I use carded wool for the core and merino roving for the cover, but you can use wool yarn if you wish)
Soap
Wool yarn
1 Hot water
Nylon (knee high or pantyhose)
String or acrylic yarn

And here is my step by step method to make the dryer balls:

Step 1:  Pull off a large hand full of carded wool (about 3/4 oz).  If you have non-machine washable 100% wool sweaters you can cut strips and wind into a ball instead.  If you are using 100% wool yarn (not superwash yarn) you can skip to step 3.

Making dryer balls step 1

Step 2:  Dip each ball of wool into very hot water long enough to thoroughly wet the wool.

Making dryer balls step 2

Step 3:  Wrap each ball of wet wool tightly with wool yarn, making as close to a ball shape as possible.  If desired you can continue to wrap yarn to completely cover core, then skip to step 5.

Making dryer balls step 3a

Step 4:  For outer covering, pull about a 6 inch length of wool roving, with accent colors if desired.

Making dryer balls step 4a

Step 5:  Wrap roving completely around ball.  Using a generous amount of soap and warm water, work up a lather and rub ball until the roving shrinks around the core.

Making dryer balls step 5

Step 5:  Put the ball into a nylon and tie between each ball using a piece of string or non-wool yarn.

Making dryer balls step 6a

:Step 6:  Run the nylon full of dryer balls through 1-2 wash and dryer cycles until they shrink by about 40% and the wool fibers felt together.  Hint:  If using a high efficiency washing machine I find that it is best to soak the nylon full of dryer balls thoroughly before washing as the machines do not contain enough water to properly wet the balls.  Remove the finished dryer balls from the nylons and enjoy!

Finished dryer balls

I like to use bright colors for the dryer balls so they are easier to find when pulling the clothes from the dryer.  Dryer balls work well with our all natural laundry soap and essential oils.

Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

Father’s Day Soap – Molasses and Bay Rum

Mother’s day is behind us and I survived the rush… between the perfect weather, the holiday, and the fact that our Uptown Farmer’s Market was named one of the top 50 farmer’s markets in the nation it was a VERY good week for me!

So, now the attention turns to Dad. Mr G. loves his Molasses and Bay Rum shaving soap, and has been anxiously awaiting the bar soap to match… and now he has it! (Well, after it’s fully cured that is).

Not only is this a really great smelling soap, it was a fun one to make, so I thought I’d share the process here on my blog. I started knowing that I wanted the Molasses and Bay Rum coloring and fragrance, but I also wanted a little pop to this soap. My favorite brown colorant for soap is cocoa powder, which not only colors the soap a rich, dark, chocolaty brown but also adds antioxidants and magnesium.

Yummy!
Yummy!

The first step in making this soap was to make a small batch of cocoa brown soap, then cut it into cubes to mix with the main batter. Then the main batter was mixed, and a little bit of molasses was swirled in for color and big fluffy bubbly lather. I swirled in a little more molasses on top, well just because.

Looks like chunky chocolate pie, right?
Looks like chunky chocolate pie, right?

After a night’s rest under a towel, the soap was cut into slices.

Slice me straight please :)
Slice me straight please 🙂

I love the look of this soap, just like chocolate chunk cookies!

Cut and Ready for Cure

A little trimming, and this one’s ready and waiting for Father’s Day!

Molasses and Bay Rum soap, ready for Father's Day!
Molasses and Bay Rum soap, ready for Father’s Day!

If you can’t wait, visit my website at http://www.daisygsoaps.com to find many beautiful soaps ready for immediate purchase.

Sugar Scrubs for Soft, Glowing Skin

Warm weather is here in the Sonoran Desert, we haven’t quite hit 100 yet but we know it’s coming… and with the warm weather it is time to dig out the shorts, tank tops and sandals.  Are you ready to show some skin?

One of the best ways to remove flaky, dry skin to uncover your fresh, glowing skin is with a sugar scrub.  Just a minute or two at the start of your shower to rub a fragrant mixture of oils and sugar into your skin gently exfoliates and leaves behind a silky, soft layer of highly conditioned skin.  Or, if you need a little extra punch to your scrub try a sea salt scrub, perfect for those stubborn heels and elbows.

You can easily make a basic sugar or salt scrub at home using ingredients your probably have on hand already.  All you need is some oil, sugar or salt, and fragrance (if desired).  Here is a recipe to get started with:

Basic Vanilla Sugar Scrub

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Mix thoroughly and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  This recipe should last for 1-2 uses.

Daisy G’s takes this basic scrub to a different level with our exclusive blend of oils, butters and special ingredients.  We use sunflower oil because although it is a light oil that rinses off without feeling too greasy it is highly conditioning with a high level of vitamins and nutrients for your skin.  We use shea butter for even deeper conditioning, and cocoa butter for both the antioxidants and for a thicker scrub.  We also add vegetable derived emolients and emulsifiers to keep the scrub from separating.  Finally, we understand that you will be using your scrub in the shower, so we add a skin safe preservative to keep you safe.  Our scrubs are paraben free, formaldehyde free, vegan and not tested on animals (our cat and dog politely declined our request to use them for testing).

Whether you make your own scrub or use one of Daisy G’s we know you will be happy with the results and ready to show off that glowing, silky soft skin!  Follow this link to shop for your favorite Daisy G http://store.daisygsoaps.com/t/scrubs