Soap Additive – Kaolin Clay

Soooo…after many refusals from the men in my life to bring me a kilo of finely ground white powder on their overseas trips {I really wonder why 😀 } I finally shipped in some Kaolin Clay.

Kaolin clay is a gentle white mineral powder with many cosmetic applications but it’s also found in many household and industrial applications. It’s used widely in mineral makeup, as a thickening agent in toothpaste, etc. it exists in nature but it can also be manufactured in a lab.

I use clay in soap for a luxurious glide it brings to the party and for pore cleansing; but I’ve been using bentonite clay {awesome in facial soaps for oily skin} which has been darkening my soaps a little. I also think it’s been a waste in all-over body soap for regular daily use but that’s just my opinion.

Now I have my fluffy white clay, I can also repeat my homemade deodourant as I’ve almost run out of my ‘accidental detox’ one made with bentonite clay. Yay.

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African Black Soap

It makes me smile when read the way ‘Westerners’ describe African black soap. It’s currently one of the most talked about soap in beauty blogs with many soap makers interpreting their own versions based on a basic ingredient list.

For me, using black soap as a pre-teen was like punishment because it was so sticky and stained everything! But I had a skin condition and that was what was prescribed.

In my teens I started mixing it with honey and lemon juice because intuitively I new it would be good for my acne :D. It was. As soon as I could though, I dumped the black soap and began my ‘use anything I can lay my hands on’ skin uncare routine.

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My issues not withstanding, black soap is quite amazing. For eons, it’s been used to bathe new born babies and everyday by everyone in West Africa. Whether it was the intention or not, it’s simple formulation of burnt plantain skins, coconut husks, palm kernel/ palm oil/ Shea butter mix is brilliant for clearing up almost every named skin disease!

I’m probably never going to make black soap from scratch because its available in abundance where I live, but I have and am going to continually customize it for different types of applications.

For a cleansing root boosting shampoo here’s a quick recipe:

200g raw African black soap (the brown crumbly type)
2 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried sage (if you have it)
1 tbs dried thyme (I’d be shocked if you don’t have it 😀 )
500g boiling water

Break up the black soap into small chunks and place in a large jug. Break up the dried herbs a little in a mortar and pestle or however you can crush them lightly. Add the herbs to the black soap.
Cover the mix with boiling water, stir very gently and leave to steep covered overnight.
Stir the mix to break up any final clumps of soap and strain the herbs out in a fine mesh sieve. Pour into a shampoo bottle and enjoy not more than once a week.

***Please note that as there’s no preservative added, you’ll want to use this up within a couple of weeks. Water provides a friendly environment for bacteria to grow so a general rule of thumb is to make small batches that you will use up quickly.

Herb profile: Rosemary

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Rosemary was a pretty, popular girl in my secondary/high school but it wasn’t long after that i heard of the pretty popular herb. According to WebMd, Rosemary is used topically (applied to the skin) for preventing and treating baldness; and treating circulation problems, toothache, a skin condition called eczema, and joint or muscle pain such as myalgia, sciatica, and intercostal neuralgia. It is also used for wound healing, in bath therapy (balneotherapy), and as an insect repellent.

My ‘Shea Force’ hair creme {formulated to help with dandruff, stimulate hair growth and keep hair under control and happy} is made with powdered rosemary, rosemary infused oil and rosemary essential oil!!! Dried rosemary contains about 20% camphor so I also use it in my homemade vapor rub.

It’s often used in manufacturing cosmetics for its fragrance, which is quite pleasant. I’ve used it for this purpose several times.

However, for Pregnant and breast-feeding women, Rosemary is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. Rosemary might stimulate menstruation or affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of applying rosemary to the skin during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, it’s best to avoid rosemary in amounts larger than food amounts.

If you are breast-feeding, also steer clear of rosemary in medicinal amounts. Not enough is known about what effects it might have on the nursing infant.

Food for Skin: Honey

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Honey is a one-ingredient wonder!!! In addition to eating it, it has amazing skin benefits.

Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. This makes honey a natural fit in a variety of moisturizing products including cleansers, creams, shampoos and conditioners.

Honey also contains antibacterial and skin healing properties and has been reported to be useful for acne treatment. It can be used on its own as a face mask, mixed with some baking soda for gentle face and body exfoliation, or with banana for an indulgent face mask for dry thirsty skin.

According to Kim Wallace here are four of the main skin-saving properties of honey.
•Acne: Honey is naturally antibacterial, so it’s great for acne treatment and prevention.
•Aging: Full of antioxidants, it is great for slowing down aging.
•Complexion boost: It is extremely moisturizing and soothing, so it helps create a glow.
•Pores: Honey is clarifying because it opens up pores making them easy to unclog.

A cousin just bought be a huge bottle of raw mountain honey that is going to feature in some of my soaps, face masks and lip balm soon.

Herb profile: Calendula

Anecdotal evidence dating back many years claim Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers.

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Preparations {tinctures, infusions, hydrosols, succus, extractions, etc} of Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis). Source

I use calendula in my ‘baby’s bottom’ salve, hand/lip balms and body butters for its skin healing properties and currently have two batches infusing in olive oil and coconut oil.

Here’s another good article about calendula and its uses.

Herb profile: Neem

I recently came back from a short-turned-long trip to a neem/olive oil infusion I started just before my trip. I was quite nervous that I would come back to a rancid spoiled conduction. Thankfully it’s maintained it’s integrity! Phew. It’s now ready to go into healing and soothing balms in time for harmattan season.

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Neem products have been observed to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative. Neem products are also used in selectively controlling pests in plants.

Neem is so common in my area, a little plant just started itself in my mum’s vegetable patch! Unfortunately it needs to be removed because it took root at the edge of a fence and it will damage the fence as it grows 😦

If you’ve never heard about neem, here’s a link to read about its amazing benefits what wikipedia says about neem