Soap - to use or not to use, that is that question! Many people are completely opposed to it whilst for others it's the only way to wash. Here we look at which soaps are the best and how to make your own.
There is a delicate acid-alkaline balance in and outside of the body, with the hair and skin being slightly more acidic. This acidity comes from secretions, such as those from the sebaceous glands. These secretions protect and lubricate the skin. When you see the pH listed on a skin care product, it is referring to it's degree of acidity or alkalinity.
pH is measured on a scale of 0-14 with the pH of the skin generally measuring around 5.5. Skin in peak health measures between 5.4 - 6.2 which is mildly acidic, meaning it is well-protected from infection by bacteria. Bacteria that lands on the skin cannot survive on this acidic environment. pH of 6.2 - 7 is more alkaline and thus is more prone to infection. Those with sensitive skin will likely have a pH of below 5.4 which is too acidic.
The alkalinity of soap is one of the things that makes it such a good cleanser, and nothing beats the fresh feeling of using a good quality, organic soap with water to wash away the days dirt! Castile soaps (made with olive oil) or glycerine based soaps are recommended, especially for those with delicate, flaky skin.
HOT TIP: To help correct the pH balance of the skin, wash with soap and water and then follow with an apple cider rinse
Weleda Gentle Cleansing Soaps are a perfect choice, made from 100% vegetable sources like pure organic oils, plant extracts and essential oil. They are free from synthetic fragrances, colours, preservatives and raw materials derived from mineral oils. They leave you feeling clean, fresh and moisturised (speaking from personal experience!). There are two types:
This mild, gentle and yet luxurious soap, with a delicate natural fragrance, gently cleanses the skin with a creamy lather from organic oils. Made with balancing bio-dynamic iris root extract, viola and precious lavender oil it calms the senses and soothes the mind.
Perfect for delicate and sensitive skin and containing plant extracts from organic calendula and chamomile which are known for their soothing effects on the skin. This product is suitable for children.
If you're feeling a bit DIY then here is a simple recipe to make your own lovely soap:
Oatmeal and Lavender Soap (good for greasy skin)
120g dried organic lavender
1 cup filtered water
120-500g castile soap (flakes if you can get them)
2-3 drops of lavender essential oil
Place the dried herbs in a pot, cover with the water and place a lid on the pot.
Simmer very gently for ten minutes then leave to infuse overnight.
Strain (use a coffee filter, nut bag or muslin cloth) and add mixture to the soap flakes.
Use between 120g to 500g of the soap - the more soap you add the firmer your soap will be.
Melt the soap in an enamel pot over low heat, stirring vigorously with a balloon whisk to thoroughly mix in the herbal extract.
Let the mixture cool a little then add in the essential oil.
Pour the soap mixture into greased moulds or a small, wet, wooden box lined with wet cotton cloth.
Leave the soap to dry - this may take anywhere from four hours to one week.
Once dry, un-mould the soap and cut it up into bars. Wrap it in grease-proof paper and let the soap age in your linen cupboard (or somewhere cool and dry) for at least one month. The longer it is left the nicer it will smell (and your towels and linen will smell nice too).
Keep in mind the consistency of your final product depends on the herbs used and the manufacturer's formulation for the castile soap. Don't be afraid to experiment and once get it right, make a note of what you used/did!