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Archive for the ‘Skin’ Category

Soap and Soap Pump for Cooking

In Skin on February 17, 2014 at 11:34


This rare skin post is highly related to food!

Liquid hand soap and dispenser.

At home, I prefer to use bar soaps since the ingredients in making bar soaps are generally cleaner and often times better.

I used to have dry skin feeling all the time regardless of how much lotion I used.

Until one day, my friend told me that some ingredients in liquid soap and sometimes bar soap too, would strip moisture away from our body.

Chemicals such as propylene glycol would dehydrate our skin.

As a result, researching ingredients in the soap became important.

She recommended me to use these soaps that were made with natural ingredients, oil and essential oils, and the soaps would be moisturizing .

I then had the lucky opportunity to attend a soap making session with my friends.

All we used was good natural oils (shea butter, olive or coconut oil), essential oils and lye, which was sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.

Lye was needed for saponification, the process of making soap, converting oil into soap.

Since I tried the good soap with simple and good ingredients, I had never turn back.

No more dry skin.

I bought my bar soaps from art fairs or farmers markets.

They were hand-made by folks and most of the times the ingredients were very clean (of course, always check!).

A piece of the good soap runs about $4 a piece, and on the surface it seems expensive.

However, with proper storage and usage (not letting water pound on the soap while showering, avoid having the soap sit in water, letting it dry out between uses), a piece of bar soap lasts a very long time.

I have ours simply sitting on an IKEA soap dish that has a slotted top tray which allows water to drain to the lower tray, and the dish sits away from the spraying area of the shower head.

After the conversion to bar soap, I realized I did not want to use bar soap in the kitchen because I found the thought of my raw meat/fish contaminated hands touching a bar of soap did not seem to be all that hygienic.

I was left to hunt for good healthy-ingredient liquid soap which proved to be harder than I thought, especially when price was factored in.

From my research, nearly all liquid forms of the products faired worse than its powder or solid counterparts, whether it was laundry detergent, hand soap or dish soap.

At first I used Method’s hand wash, and found that they had ingredients that was potentially cancer or allergy causing; Method also used fragrance except the fragrance-free option (fragrance free option EWG rating 3, scented ones ranging from 4-5).

Then, I switched to using Ballard Organics’ (unfortunately out of business now, they made really clean ingredients products) all-purpose concentrated liquid soap.

It was a very powerful soap.  They claimed that it could be used to wash hands (diluted), dishes and etc.

What I found was that it was so powerful that it was drying my hands as well.

I finally landed with EO hand soap, lemon and eucalyptus.

The product was scented with natural essential oils.


It was not perfect, and had a rating of 3 from EWG, but price point was good especially buying large quantity online.

The soap did not dry my skin even after frequent hand washing from cooking and cut through cooking grease really well.

However, I just looked online and it appeared that the company had reformulated for the worse (when I bought it, it had a rating of 3, the new formulation had a rating of 4, which put them just on par with Method).

Seventh Generation was a good choice (EWG rating around 2) but it was also quite a bit more expensive.

Unfortunately, I would have to do research again when I used up this big jug of old formulation EO hand soap.

Meanwhile, I would love to share my recent love of Joseph Joseph soap dispenser called C-Pump.

My soap pump from the glass soap dispenser broke, and I was on the market for a new one.

I bought soap pump tops online to replace, but I was sent with some sub-par products which broke within 4 months.

I was hesitant to spend more money to get short-lived pumps.

So much about consuming less.

Came across this at Fred Meyer.


It looked like such a great idea!

Particularly from a hygienic point of view, I did not even need to press the soap pump with my meat/fish contaminated hand!

I was hesitant to use it right away without more research, perhaps too good to be true?

The verdict was split at Amazon.

Some people loved it and some people had problem with the soap dispenser staying put while pumping; some users also claimed that they could not dispense soap or that it was messy.

Well, I love this!

It worked really well with the consistency of the EO hand soap.

I had no pumping or messy concerns.

There was a rubber ring at the bottom of the bottle, and it was staying put for me on my kitchen sink counter.

I had a smile on my face every time I used this soap pump.

I had it for about a month now and hope it was built well and would last for a long time!

What a fantastic soap pump for cooking!


Body Lotions and more Sun Protection

In Skin on August 13, 2013 at 10:38


Finally used up Avalon Organics’ Lavender hand and body lotion (EWG rating of 5).  I made a mistake buying this without checking EWG (believing it was a recognized brand and “organic” that it could not go wrong), and was disappointed later when I discovered it had a moderate hazard rating.  I have learnt over time that not only I have to check each new product I intend to purchase with EWG, I have to check EWG every time I repurchase products I am already using.  Companies constantly reformulate.  A new formulation sometimes increases or decreases a product’s hazardous level.

After I found out about the Avalon Organics’ lavender lotion, I was going to purchase their unscented version.  At the time I was doing research, the unscented had low rating (EWG rating 2).  Since then, the company has reformulated and now it has a moderate rating (EWG rating 3).

Normally I use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion (EWG rating of 2, $9.59 for 12oz., and can be cheaper at Costco).  It is cheap and good.  However, I do find it feels sticky on the skin on warm summer days.  After spending lots of time researching, I have settled with Acure Organics Energizing Body lotion (EWG rating of 1, $8.49 for 8 oz.).  It is more expensive than Aveeno but it is lighter on the skin and still leaves the skin feeling hydrated.  Personally living in the NW, we treasure our far and few hot days.  I figure I will use the Acure Organics lotion in small quantity, and I can justify the spending.

Another good candidate is EO Everyday Lavender Body Lotion (EWG rating of 2, $6.19 for 8 oz.).  The only down side is this lotion takes a long time to absorb.  I have to rub it into the skin deliberately, and cannot lazily put it on with board-stroke.

I have mostly been listing lavender products because DH and I both like lavender.  These products offer other scents as well but be sure to check with EWG.  Sometimes different scent ends up with different ratings.

Finally, more on sun protection.  Recently purchased Devita products and LOVE them!  I use the Protective Moisturizer (EWG rating of 1, $14.99 for 2.5oz.) for face and Solar Body Moisturizer (EWG rating of 1, $18.39 for 8 oz.).  Both products have SPF 30.  Both products feel really light and smooth on the body, smells good and goes on the skin really easily.  I am still my normal skin color!  This is not a sports product, and it is not sweat or water proof.  I use it on regular work days so I have sun protection in the car or running errands.  I hope the company will keep their formulations or formulate for better!  Good products are hard to find!

Sunscreen – First Skin Post!

In Skin on July 30, 2013 at 09:57


Every time I had to buy new skincare product, I ended up spending huge amount of time researching for products that did not contain harmful chemicals and would not break my bank.   My information largely comes from the non-profit Environmental Work Group.  They have tremendous amount of information on many consumer products.  Products are rated from a scale of 0-9.  0-2 products are low hazard, 3-6 is moderate and 7-9 is high hazard.  I used them to understand the toxicity of consumer products and then compare many online vendors for pricing and product reviews.

Sunscreen is the first topic.  I mainly purchase sunscreen that has physical blocking agents (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) rather than chemical blocking agents (for example, oxybenzone is particularly hazardous).

Nearly finished the Beyond Coastal Mineral Sunscreen.  It is unfortunately not listed on EWG.  Looks like the company may have reformulated or repackaged as Beyond Coastal Natural Sunscreen (a rating of 2 from EWG; $8.99 for 4 oz. or $2.25 per oz.).  It is a decent physical sunscreen and repels water really well.  It is easy to apply.  The only downside is that it does turn a person ghostly white.  This is, however, a far superior product then the Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen ($12.79 for 3.4 oz. or $3.76 per oz.; with an EWG rating of 2 as well).  The products left white specks grains on the skin and it was curdly.  It was difficult to use and did not smell particularly pleasant.  Vanicream ($14.95 for 4 oz. or $3.73 per oz.; EWG rating of 2) is excellent as well.  It is very easy to apply and does not turn the person white.  It does feel greasier on the skin.

Of course, there are other brands that are very good.  Badger sunscreen ($14.19 for 2.9 oz. or $4.89 per oz.; EWG rating of 1), California Baby ($17.99 for 2.9oz. or $6.20 per oz.; EWG rating of 1 or 2) are all excellent products, and they are at the pricey end for me.