Another Reason to Go Green – Striving for Better Skin & Hair Care

Renee Vailes

What are sulfates? Should I be worried? Are they bad for you?  What other chemicals are in my soaps, shampoos and other health products?  This article aims to answer these questions and explain why going ‘green’ is not always a bad thing when it comes to your personal care. Sulfates are used in everything these days and using more natural products without these chemicals is the wave of the future.  An intelligent consumer will read not only what’s on the cereal box, but what’s in the shampoo bottle!

We all love the soapy, frothy bubbles we get from bubble bath, body washes, shampoos… but, do we really understand what’s in these products?  The primary purpose of any soap or cleansing product is to clean, get rid of grime or dirt, and leave a nice smell behind.  But, most commercial products nowadays leave our clothes faded, our hair dry and brittle and our skin screaming for moisturizer.  Read below to find out why!

What are sulfates? Should I be worried?

Sulfates like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are found in almost every body cleanser in the stores today; many others contain similarly named surfactants (sudsing agents):  sodium cocoyl isetheoinate, methyl cocoyl taurate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropylamine oxide, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, and alpha olefin sulfonate.  

SLS or SLES is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, etc.). It is an inexpensive and very Sulfuric Acid Warningeffective foaming agent made by mixing sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, and sodium salt. (Wikepedia: Sodium laureth sulfate)  Although claims have been made for the last 15 years that it causes cancer, it is still under debate. It is a known fact that surfactants are irritants and strip your hair and skin of their natural oils.  That’s why your eyes burn when you get soap in your eyes and your hair and skin stay dried out!  The jury is still out on the safety of these products, but as with many chemicals in our products today, it is best to err on the side of caution whenever possible.  The less we expose ourselves to harsh cleansing agents and other chemicals, the better off we will be.  Especially choose natural products for your children.

Products commonly found to contain SLS or SLES:

Bubble bath
Washing liquid / dish soap
Laundry detergent
Childrens soaps / shampoos
Stain Remover
Carpet Cleaner
Fabric glue
Body wash
Shave cream
Skin cleanser
Moisture lotion / Moisturiser
Sun Screen

What else is in my soap or shampoo?

Shampoo and other body cleansers can contain any number of the following ingredients:

Water is usually the first or second ingredient listed on a bottle or wrapper. It dilutes the detergent and makes shampoo and body washes go farther for the buck.

Surfactants are usually next.  We covered those in the above paragraphs.

Detanglers and anti-static agents are found in some shampoos. ‘Quaternary ammonium’ compounds are common.

Humectants attract and retain water. Found most often in shampoos for dry, damaged, or chemically treated hair, the most common of these include commercially made glycerin, sorbitol, and hyaluronic acid.

Conditioners soften hair and retain moisture. Examples include amino acids, collagen, panthenol, proteins, and elastin.

Emulsifiers are thickeners give shampoos viscosity and make them easy to handle. A commonly used thickening agent is hydroxyethyl cellulose.

Volumizers help give hair more body and bounce.They contain ingredients like hydroxyethyl cellulose, gum arabic, guar, xanthan and chitin.

Preservatives prevent contamination from mold or bacteria. Search the label for methylparaben, quaternium-15, or propylparaben.  They contain ingredients like hydroxyethyl cellulose, gum arabic, guar, xanthan and chitin.

Cosmetic ingredients – and this includes hair-care products – are listed in descending order. This means a product contains most of whatever ingredient is listed first, and least of whatever ingredient is listed last.  Fragrance oils and colorants usually come last on the label.

Should I go ‘green’ with my skin care and try natural or handmade soaps?

Natural and homemade soaps and lotions can provide you with a healthful alternative to chemical cleansers.  I don’t just mean using vinegar to wash your hair or baking soda for deodorant!  Our grandmothers did that, and while they are ‘natural’ remedies, you also want something that moisturizes and smells nice.  What I’m talking about are natural and non-irritating soaps made from coconut, soybean, olive, vegetable or hempseed oils.  Stay away from ‘sodium tallowate’ as these soaps are made from animal tallow or lard. 

Natural Soaps and shampoos can also be made from goat’s milk, cow’s milk, etc. and even contain fruit zest or peels, essential oils and butters like cocoa and shea.  Many may also contain avocado oil, emu oil, etc.  Most will use small amounts of cosmetic grade fragrance or essential oils, if any.  I personally like oatmeal and natural honey for the best soaps and moisturizers.  While you may pay a little more for your ‘all natural’ soap or shampoo, the benefits far outweigh the risks.  I have found that my skin and hair retain more of its natural shine and moisture when I am using natural skin care products.  That includes doing away with commercial moisturizers!

My husband and I make an all natural bar of soap. Each bar is made from natural vegetable oils, shea butter and goat’s milk.  You can read more about Goat’s Milk here on articles base.  Just click on my name for the rest of my articles.  Look for ‘Got Goat’s Milk? You should!’  or you can read it here at You can check our soaps out at

Do not believe that just because a product is labeled as ‘natural‘  that it is free from SLS or SLES. Most common brands of ‘Natural’ or ‘Herbal‘ shampoos and cleansers still use these harmful chemicals as their main active ingredient – check your labels!  Most handmade or homemade soaps and shampoos are NOT going to contain these chemicals.   

The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes. The information contained herein is not intended to be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional or medical advice.

Article Source:

date18 Aug

I’ve been too busy making soap to write blog posts! But I feel like I’m letting everyone down, so here is the first of several great articles by other soapmakers about our favorite topic – natural handcrafted soaps! Enjoy, and visit us online or in person to buy some wonderful soap handmade in Long Bay, Jamaica!

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Why Use Natural Handmade Soap?

Renee Vailes

The benefits of using handmade soap are many: simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals, natural vegetable oils instead of animal fats. All these things are important to many people today. The reasons to use a more natural, handmade product are not always obvious, however. Read on to learn more.

We live in a day and age where the technological advances are many. Cell phones, microwave breakfast, instant pototoes, digital TV, radios the size of a credit card…. Many of these advances are there to make our lives easier. However, when it comes to skin care and the ingredients you put on your skin, technology is probably not what you had in mind!

Why is Handmade Natural Soap so special?

Natural soaps are made in a time-honored fashion. It involves a very simple chemical reaction between oils (or fats) and lye (sodium hydroxide for bars). All soap is made with lye, but there is no lye in the finished product. The chemical reaction converts the lye/fat mixture to glycerin. The glycerin is a natural by-product and, as such, the relationship between the soap molecule and the glycerin means you have a cleanser with abundant, luxurious lather that cleans like nothing else. As a bonus, it does not strip your skin of its natural, protective oils.

Commercially made soap usually contains detergents, fillers, chemicals, petroleum, high animal fat content (read: sodium tallowate) and irritants like SLS or SLES (read our other articles about sulfates!). Commercially made soap tends to be less eco-friendly as well. While commercially manufactured soap usually costs less, the impact on your skin and the environment is shocking.

Natural handmade soaps are made with natural oils, have a high glycerin content, are better for the environment with no detergents, phosphates or sulfates, and are never tested on animals.

What is Natural Soap made of?

Shea nut after harvestingAt Nee Nee’s Soap Shop, we use all-natural vegetable oils in our soaps. Each oil is carefully chosen for its cleansing properties in soap. Soybean and Coconut oils are the only oils we use. Our soybean oil is partially hydrogenated, vegan and as natural as we could find for cosmetic use. Shea butter adds essential moisturizing properties to the soaps we make, aiding in keeping your skin soft and supple. Goat’s Milk (read our articles here about that, too!) is also a natural, skin-friendly moisturizer that helps your skin maintain its pH balance, thus making your skin more healthy and better protected. Essential and fragrance oils contribute each soap\’s unique scent; natural spices/herbs, oatmeal, and/or flower buds and plant leaves contribute texture. We use NO colorants or unnatural dyes in our soaps. What you see is what you get!

Why is Glycerin Important?

GlycerinGlycerin is a humectant. It attracts moisture and gives it back to your skin. In natural and handmade soap making processes, one molecule of glycerin is created for every three molecules of soap. Commercial soap makers often remove the glycerin from their soap and then sell it to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. With our natural soaps, however, all of the naturally occurring glycerin remains intact along with all its skin-nourishing benefits.

When and how did soap-making begin?

Until about a century ago, all soap was made from animal fats, and much of it was made at home. Families would save the lard from butchering animals to make soap. Lye was made from the ashes from the fireplace or pit. However, in 1916, the first synthetic soap (detergent) was made. This occurred because of a shortage of animal fats, or tallow, during World War I. From that point on, synthetic soaps became popular with women eager to free themselves from yet another exhausting household chore.

Today, however, we not only understand the process of natural soap making better, there are a wide variety of natural oils and ingredients available. Making handmade natural soap has never been easier, and you don’t have to use animal fats to do it. This is great news for vegetarians, vegans and those just wanting a more natural alternative to the ‘detergent’ we us on our hair, our skin and in the sink!

About the Author

We are located in the Piney Woods of East Texas. We are a small, locally owned and operated home business. Our products are all from the finest quality ingredients and many are made when you order them! All our lotions and soaps are handmade with fresh goat’s milk and the finest quality vegetable oils. We aim to provide Quality Skin Care at a fraction of the cost! God Bless You!

Article Source:

date13 Aug