Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Soap--I'm Watching Tivo

Getting the Dish On Soap (this is from Fine Living)

Although most soap is made from the same fundamental ingredients, the basic formula has been modified to create thousands of products with different specific uses. Some soaps help to moisturize dry skin, others aid in controlling oily skin, and still others are designed to make bath time more pleasurable and soothing. So which soap formulas are best for which purposes? We asked an expert for the inside scoop on soap.

While working for a commercial real estate firm in Los Angeles, Texas native Shelley Maxwell began reading and experimenting with aromatherapy, creating scents and products that she was unable to find in stores. With a friend, she started the successful natural bath products company Soap scum, which led her to a new career path. Two years later, she founded a new boutique and a bath products company called Luxury Laboratory, with product lines selling in stores throughout Los Angeles and the United States. We asked Shelley, what is soap really made of, and what makes one kind different from another?

* Basic ingredients. According to Maxwell, all true soaps contain the two basic ingredients of fat and alkali. The alkali is usually lye.
* Animal. Most commercial soaps are made from animal fat, also called tallow. Tallow results in a nice hard soap.
* Vegetable. A better type of fat to use, in Maxwell's opinion, is vegetable fat, in the form of palm oil, olive oil, coconut oil or other vegetable sources. Soaps made from these fats, rather than tallow, tend to be creamy and give a good lather.
* Glycerin. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of soap making, and all true soaps contain it. The clear glycerin soaps that you get at the store, claims Maxwell, are not usually pure glycerin, but regular soaps mixed with ingredients, like sugar and alcohol, that make them translucent. Sometimes these soaps have more chemicals and additives that regular soap and can be more drying to your skin.
* Additives. Not all additives are bad, of course, and some can be quite benign. Many shower gels and bubble baths, for instance, contain sodium laurel sulfate, which is a surfactant that creates extra bubbles. Maxwell sees nothing wrong with synthetic additives like this.
* Preferences. The key is to look at labels and decide what you want, and what you don't want, from your soap. Once you find a soap that you love, says Maxwell, use it as often as you like.

Now that you know what goes into soap, how do you know which is right for your skin type? To help you decide, here are some basic types of soap and their uses:

* Milk. Before you buy soap, you should know your own skin type. If you have dry skin, says Maxwell, milk soaps may be a good choice for you. Milk calms your skin down and makes a nice, luxurious soap.
* Oatmeal. Oatmeal soap is another good choice for people with dry or problematic skin.
* Almond. Almond soaps, claims Maxwell, are great for exfoliating and won't clog your pores.
* Tea tree oil. If your skin is on the oily side, soaps made with tea tree oil might be a good choice. This ingredient can help cut skin oil and is good for those with acne and eczema.
* Alcohol. Soaps with fragrance oil are fine, says Maxwell, but you should stay away from anything that's alcohol based. Alcohol can dry your skin out, so look for it when reading a product label.
* Normal skin. If you're lucky enough to have "normal" skin, you can choose from a wide variety of soap products. Look for something that smells nice, or makes you feel good when you use it. Once you figure out which ingredients you really like, you can look for them whenever you buy soap.

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