What COVID Taught Us
First of all, I recognize that it has been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a post. Sorry about that. It’s been a tough couple of years for my family and for me personally—not even including the pandemic of 2020. But I was still making soaps and body items, experimenting with product formulations and I’m ready to put in more hours in the soap studio. (I’ve got a deodorant spray that I am loving—particularly as it’s gotten hot and humid in the Mid-Atlantic—and I plan to release it for sale soon, in addition to the roll-on solids; I’ve also tweaked my bath truffle recipe, and have made it a bit softer and incorporated an additional moisturizing element.)
So, speaking of the pandemic, one thing that has been broadcasted everywhere is the importance of getting germs off of our hands, thereby washing away the pathogens that can cause viruses. Seems like a “duh” topic, because every cold & flu season we are told to wash our hands by every morning show and news outlet.
But hand washing is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a proper hand washing with soap and water is the best defense against germs (as well as not touching your face until you’ve washed your hands). Completely wet your hands with warm water, and then suds up. Cover your hands with lather, and then incorporate between fingers and the backs of your hands, then rinse. That’s it. Don’t overlook drying your hands thoroughly, though; germs are transferred more easily between wet hands.
But something I wanted to bring up is that many commercial items to wash and sanitize our skin actually strips moisture from it (the primary ingredient in sanitizers is alcohol, afterall). And since we are washing and wiping and sanitizing our hands so frequently, well, I’ve heard many friends say their hands are really dry and chapped.
Keeping our hands clean is something taught to us as basic hygiene. But refer to the label listing the ingredients in your cleansers—many are actually detergents and can even cause skin irritation. Some things to avoid: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Polyethylene glycol (PEGs), Cocamide monoethanolamine (or MEA) and sodium sulfate, to name a few. Some mass-produced bars may even contain formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative. Also worth mentioning: Sodium tallowate (or tallow—rendered beef fat) is wonderful when incorporated into handmade soaps. In commercially made/mass produced cleansers, it is cause for concern, however. Typically the fats more than likely include a lot of unwanted slaughter house waste products and are cheap. Some people can even develop acne and/or skin reactions from it.
Additionally, be cognizant of what is in antibacterial liquid soaps; a common ingredient, triclosan, can be irritating to people with sensitive skin, particularly children. Regular bar soap and water is effective at eliminating germs, according to many medical sources.
Try to source smaller batch soaps that have milks (goat, coconut, oat, etc), moisturizing vegetable oils, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables (pumpkin, carrot, avocado, etc), or rendered animal fats from locally and responsibly sourced suppliers. Your skin will thank you. A while ago I wrote an overview of wonderful ingredients I often use in my soaps that are great for thirsty skin, so check that out.
Particularly for frequent hand washing and for those with sensitive skin, make sure you follow up cleansing with an emollient to minimize skin irritation. As for small-batch soap and moisturizers (like lotion bars and body butters) to keep your skin clean and soft, check out the Simplí SHOP page, because I’ve got a variety of items and will keep making more!
I WILL GET OFF MY SOAP BOX NOW. Thanks for reading. ~Julie
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