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Hand Eczema Under Control

16 May

Hands

Got hand eczema? Me too.

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This is what my hands have looked like everyday since I was a child: extremely dry and rough. I tried many moisturizers, lotions and products without improvement. My Chinese grandmother always shook her head as I held her hand. She would tell me that my dry hands told a future of a very hard life.

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In my recent years, this is what my hands looked like on bad days (though not the worst). Open wounds would appear especially when I used products in someone else’s house or in public places. Even if I looked at the ingredients on packaging, it was difficult to determine how exactly my skin would react. Fissures, like the one on my left pinky (above), are terribly painful. Just one use of a commercial hand soap and my rough skin would flare up and fissures would appear within hours. Unfortunately, it could take weeks to reverse the reaction.

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My son took this photo of my hands today. I don’t remember my hands ever being this smooth and soft before. What have I done differently? In the past few months, I have discovered how to create my own soaps. More importantly, I learned to make the mildest and gentlest soaps. No more rough and dry skin for me. No more fissures. I wish my grandmother could feel my hands as they are today. She would tell me that my soft hands tell a future of an easy life.

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Sensous Sandalwood Soap

7 Oct

I wanted to create a Sandalwood Soap with the look and feel of wood, as well as the sensual fragrance of sandalwood. Here it is!

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Recipe:

  • 10% avocado oil (for a more moisturizing soap)
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 65% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 1/3 T Sandalwood fragrance oil/pound and 0.5% of ingredients of grapefruit oil as a preservative. Divide the batch into 3 and to:

  • 1/3, add 1 T activated charcoal/pound
  • 1/3, add 1 tsp red clay/pound
  • 1/3, add nothing.

Sandalwood Soap

I used a cardboard box as my mold and lined the inside with a plastic bag:

  • pour the red clay batch in first
  • top it with the plain and charcoal batches in lines down the mold
  • use a thin tool to make circular patterns on the top of the soap for the design
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold and cut after 48 hours
  • cure for 4 – 6 weeks

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap with Olive Leaf Powder

14 Sep

I read that the quality of olive oil one uses in soaps drastically changes the final product of soap. There is a lot to read about Castile Soaps on the internet, but I wanted to experiment on my own to verify what I read.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap with Olive Leaf Powder.

Well, it is true: plain olive oil produces a creamier texture, while extra virgin olive oil produces a more brittle soap. I noticed that plain olive oil also creates a silkier finish and is easier to handle. Now, I have 4 to 6 months of curing left before I can actually use them to assess how they differ as soaps.

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Plain Olive Oil Castile Soap (top) and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap (bottom)

Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 tsp olive leaf powder/pound of oils. Olive leaf is said to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. It is also full of antioxidants and helps heal wounds faster.

I used an old soymilk carton as my mold (my fave as there is no washing up and I can still recycle it):

  • pour batch into your mold
  • spray top with alcohol to prevent formation of soda ash
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold after 48 hours and slice
  • cure for 4 – 6 months

Homemade Moisturizing Hand Lotion

5 Sep

Indulge in your own homemade hand lotion. You can make it as light or heavy as you want. You can personalize the scent and the oils that you use. Best of all, you control the ingredients.

I’m not going to lie and tell you this concoction is not greasy. It is, but only for a while. There’s actually a trick so that it moisturizes well, soothes the skin, and the rich creaminess dissipates into your skin quickly.

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Recipe:

Melt the following in a double boiler:

  • 3T olive oil, extra virgin (don’t even get me started… I ditched all my high-end facial creams for olive oil and my skin is so much happier)
  • 1 1/2 T shea butter, unrefined (great moisturizer for dry skin and reduces inflamed skin reactions)
  • 1 T avocado oil (relieves dry and itchy skin, naturally boosts collagen production, retains water)
  • 1 T jojoba oil (similar to our skin’s natural oils, it is easily absorbed into our skin)
  • 1 1/2 T your choice of wax (there is soy, Carnauba, or Candelilla wax for vegans and beeswax for vegetarians, this is added to help blend and solidify the oils)

Take off the heat, add and mix well:

  • 1T honey, raw (optional, but I love honey on the skin and hair. Honey fragrance is an extra bonus.)
  • 10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil (or choose your own, but if you believe in EO, Frankincense has anti-aging properties and speeds up healing)
  • 10 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil (or choose your own, added for antiseptic, astringent, and amazing fragrance)

Refrigerate for 10 minutes until it solidifies somewhat. Place in your container of choice.

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When you want to use it, simply take a dab or two with a finger. It will feel greasy.
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What you want to do is rub it all over your hands with a few drops of water. It will feel like regular lotion. In this way, you are in control of how light or heavy this lotion will feel on your skin, as well as how much you want. By not adding water to our lotion, we are also preventing mold.

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Enjoy it on your hands, elbows, and knees.

Ylang Ylang Castille Soap

29 Aug

Ylang Ylang Castile Soap

Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)

At trace, add

Pour into molds. Unmold after 24 – 48 hours. Cure for 4 – 6 months.