Trying to survive in the 21st Century/ To soap or not to soap
There are quite a few blog posts out there in the stratosphere written by people with dry skin, greasy hair, spots and body odour who have found relief from their problem by giving up soap. Most of them use nothing but plain water now, although succumb to washing their hands with soap after going to the toilet etcetera.
Being an adventurer and a bit of a kook by nature I decided to try kicking the soap habit myself. I didn’t fancy using nothing but H20 and started to research other ways to cleanse myself.
The first thing I learned was that every readily available manufactured soap product has an essential ingredient called Lye, also called sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda. That’s right, every single product on the shelves that produces a lather has caustic soda as part of its essential ingredients, ‘a white and highly caustic metallic base’. It is the kind of substance that is often depicted with a skull and crossbow on the packaging, and most of us happily use it on our skin, our hair, the dishes we eat from and the clothes we wear. We are slowly corroding and damaging ourselves in order to keep clean.
Well, that did it, no more soap for me. But what could I use? Even homemade soap recipes advocate using Lye. With more research I discovered that bicarbonate of soda gets rid of stains, coconut oil is an anti-bacterial, many essential oils add fragrance and have cleansing properties and lemon makes a good astringent.
I experimented a lot then settled on a mixture of coconut oil and lemon for my skin and bicarbonate of soda scented with rosemary or patchouli oil on my hair. I started about nine months ago and the result is that I no longer have dry skin, my hair is in better condition than it has been for many years, and most importantly, people are not moving away from me on the train. I have also saved many pounds on expensive and excoriating products. The downside is that making these concoctions is a timely affair and every time I come to the end of a homemade tub my heart sinks because I have to melt, stir, blend and make a big mess in my kitchen.
However, just recently, I have been introduced to soap nuts by my gym friend, Angela. Soap nuts are dried fruit shells imported from The Himalayas that contain soap naturally. You can put 5 or 6 in a little linen bag, tie it up with string, and throw it into your washing machine. I bought some from The Natural Gardener and they work brilliantly. You can also buy preparations made from soap nuts to cleanse your person from a company called Living Naturally. They even lather and leave your skin feeling fresh and smooth. It really is the biggest thing since fried skin.