Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Basics for Body Care

Castile Soap

Castile soap is my miracle soap. Right now I use Dr. Bronner's brand (even though the over-the-top religious rhetoric printed on the bottle creeps me out a little) but this weekend I'm planning to make my own for the first time - good or bad, I plan to blog about it. Castile soap has an alkaline pH of 9 (that means you shouldn't set the bottle down too hard while it's open so that it splashes in your eyes because it really hurts - not that I'd know). The higher pH worried me at first because most manufacturers strive to create body cleansers that have a neutral pH of 7. Either way, I can tell you that castile soap has worked wonders for my skin! It is now the only soap I use - even for my face. It has been incredible for my skin allergies and sensitivities (yes, I'm the geek with the allergies) and almost immediately after I started using it I noticed my face wasn't as oily. It's all natural, hypoallergenic, environmentally friendly (you can use this when you go camping) and it is the only soap I know of that lathers in salt water - don't ask.

Baking Soda as a Face Scrub

I noticed once, after buying a HUGE box of baking soda, that it had tips on the back of the box that listed possible household uses. One of the suggestions was to use baking soda as a gentle exfoliant. I've tried it and it's really gentle while still being effective. And even though the baking soda method ("no-poo") thing was a total fail, I've found that adding a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo once a week gives your shampoo a great lather and your hair more body and volume.

Unrefined Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer

I use unrefined coconut oil after every shower as an all over moisturizer. It's made almost entirely of medium chain fatty acids - just like the oil your body naturally produces - and it's loaded with antioxidants. Because of it's high level of antioxidants, it even offers some UVA/UVB protection. I would advise combining it with zinc oxide powder for sun protection if you plan to be out for awhile because natural antioxidants are neutralized when they combine with free radicals (meaning the UVA/UVB protection won't last for more than a couple of hours at best). I was hesitant to start using coconut oil on my face because I'm already prone to breakouts, but I'd read so many positive reviews from people using it specifically to control acne that I thought I'd give it a try. Miraculously, it hasn't caused me any problems. I apply a thin layer on my face to wear under my makeup and a heavier layer before I go to bed at night. It's also great as a substitute for shaving cream or gel.

Shea Butter as a Hand Moisturizer

Shea Butter is a natural derivative of karite trees that grow in Western and Central Africa. It has a great texture and a very mild, neutral smell. Considering the number of times I have to wash my hands every day (I'm a nursing student), I find that unrefined coconut oil is not heavy enough of a moisturizer or convenient enough to carry around and use as hand cream. Before I started using shea butter as a hand cream my hands were getting cracked and irritated. Now, even though I only remember to use the shea butter at night, my hands feel great!

I hope these simple tips are helpful!


Valerie said...

I keep hearing about coconut oil lately, but I didn't know it had antioxidants. I think I'll try it soon.

Amii said...

Okay- in regards to the coconut oil sun screen I think it is a fabulous idea! but I am very sensitive to the skin (no offense :) ) and get burned very easy, so how much zinc do I add, where do I get said products and approximatly what do you think the SPF is? I have been using nutragena spf 85 to 100. Also could I premake it and it would mantain its spf factor?

Tara said...

Totally offended...I think? :D Here is a link if you want to know exact SPF levels I generally just add a couple of tablespoons of zinc oxide to 1 Cup of olive or coconut oil and it seems to do the job. I got a HUGE bag of zinc oxide online. The shipping was expensive, but it could easily last me 10 years.
If you buy it, don't get the micronized zinc oxide - studies have shown that it provides good sun protection for about an hour before it turns into a carcinogen and actually causes more sun damage than if you weren't wearing any sunblock in the first place. It is also easy to inhale particles of the micronized zinc oxide when you are making the sunscreen (which also has known potential health hazards).
The reason some people prefer the micronized zinc oxide (as opposed to regular zinc oxide powder) is for cosmetic reasons - it has been broken down into such fine particles that it doesn't appear white when mixed in with cosmetic products.
Also, you can premake this sunscreen - it will retain it's SPF. However, if your skin is so sensitive that you need more than an SPF 50, you may want to go with a chemical sunblock :(

jamiesutter said...

I am SO excited to have found your blog. I am on a mission to phase out all of the toxic every-day products we have been using and to begin making my own or finding simple, one-ingredient solutions :)
I have read a few of your blogs and am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for the great information and inspiration!

Tara said...

Thanks, Jamie! I'm always excited to meet someone else who is as excited about this kind of stuff as I am :D
I checked out your blog - congrats on the new baby! What did you end up naming him?