Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Toxic-Free Natural Skin Care Review: Dr. Bronner's is my Favorite Soap!

More than soap... Check out the fascinating Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap story.

I recommended Dr. Bronner's soaps as my top Summer, 2016 Skin Care pick, but I wanted to do a full review here and make sure I reiterate that these soaps are perfect year round.  I also wanted to talk a little bit about the trouble with so many cosmetic and skin care products...

I don't know about all of you, but I'm trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible from my skin care and beauty routines.  Cosmetics, skin care and soaps are not held up to the same rigorous standards as food and drugs.  Why does that matter?  It's just stuff you put on your skin.  It's not like you ingest it!


Well, not exactly.

One of the most effective ways to transmit medication to the body is by transdermal delivery.  Yes, by putting it on the skin.  Everything from morphine to nicotine is easily delivered to the skin, where it is absorbed by the bloodstream.  I know that skin care, cosmetics and soaps don't have morphine and nicotine in them (alas!) but what they do have doesn't necessarily sit innocently on top of your skin.  In fact, our skin absorbs up to 60% of what we put on it.

If you want to dive deep into the research of what is and isn't good for topical application, check out these reputable sources:

The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

The David Suzuki Foundation Dirty Dozen of Cosmetic Chemicals

Treehugger's 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care and Cosmetics

Mind Body Green's Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

Now, before you decide that this information is too overwhelming, relax and keep reading.  You don't need to wash with plain water and use coconut oil as your only cosmetic.  Although I love coconut oil, there are a lot of great products that will eliminate many toxins from your skin care without making you feel like you're losing out on luscious products with great scents.

I always roll my eyes when a beauty blogger reviews a "luxury" brand of skin care, touting its natural ingredients.  Upon further inspection, you'll find that most of those expensive products are a petrochemical nightmare, including every no-no in the safe cosmetics database, with a token bit of essential oil or aloe vera thrown in.  (Lavender oil will just not offset 20 added carcinogens!)

Toxic-free bathing is the ultimate in luxury
I still use cosmetics that aren't toxic free, but I use less than I ever did before.  And while I just can't live without my Serious Skin Care Trio and Revlon Age-Defying foundation, I've taken many steps to reduce unnecessary, extra exposure to harmful chemicals.  Switching to a toxic-free soap was a no brainer.

I have absolutely fallen in love with Dr. Bronners line of organic, fair trade, all-natural soaps.  These are certified organic, castille-based and loaded with natural essential oils, coconut oil (there's that coconut oil!) and hemp.  There are no detergents of any kind, and the products are not tested on animals.  Not only will the ingredients and company philosophy appeal to your inner hippie, but the products are packaged with some of the grooviest messages you'll see outside of a revival of the musical Hair.

Dr. Bronners has been around for over 150 years, so the company knows a thing or two about old-world, natural soapmaking.  (For all the fascinating, unconventional details of this company's history, make sure to read The Undiluted Genius of Dr. Bronners.)

Not only can you bathe with Dr.  Bronner's, you can wash clothes and dishes with it.  This makes me feel like I'm getting away with something.

I can't live without the Almond Castille Soap.  It smells amazing.  I mean AMAZING.  It's great for washing skin, but I also use it for a smooth shave.  (I've even used it, in a pinch, as shampoo.)  Castille soaps leave your skin feeling squeaky clean but not dry, and I'm not sure how they manage to do that.

Click on any of the pictures for purchasing details.

The peppermint version is great on a hot day.  Your skin tingles after you get out of the shower.  Yes!  The cool feeling lasts for a few minutes even after you dry off, which is excellent for hot flashy pregnant mamas, perimenopausal girls or anyone overheating in the summer weather.

I use the rose soap on my face, and I love it.  I've always had super sensitive skin -- I either break out, or get a rash -- so I appreciate that these soaps are free of a lot of the things that irritate skin.  Your mileage may vary, but I'm very pleased.  I could use any of these for a face wash, but rose essential oil is noted for anti-aging properties -- plus, who doesn't love smelling like a rose?  (Don't worry, it's a mild, fresh rose scent.  You won't end up reeking of your great grandma's tea rose perfume.)

Dr.  B. even has a selection of pump hand soaps that are so much better for you than the chemical-laden variety we're used to.  These all organic, certified vegan soaps are are made with coconut sugar, grape juice, essential oils and an all-natural cleanser derived from shikakai -- a South East seed pod that has been used for millennia as a natural moisturizing cleanser.  The peppermint one is my favorite.

How about an all-natural remedy for those awful patches of dry skin?  I use Dr. Bronner's  unscented Magic Baby Balm.  It's main ingredient is beeswax, with nothing artificial added.  It's obviously great for delicate baby skin, and also delicate grown up skin like mine.  I particularly like this for the weird dry elbows that always show up for me in late August, or after a particularly dry Southern California winter.

My toxic-free moisturizer and makeup recommendations are coming soon!

For my favorite toxic-free shampoo and conditioner, check out my Beauty Picks for Fall, 2016.

For more information on the toxic story of cosmetics and skin care, watch the 8 minute documentary from The Story of Stuff Project:

The Story of Cosmetics: Toxic Ingredients in our Personal Care

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum to start a conversation!

The Doctor Bronner Story video by Adam Eidinger.
The Story of Cosmetics video by The Story of Stuff Project.