Previous “Ingredient of the Month” columns have focused on topical ingredients to avoid, generally petrochemical based materials and specific preservatives like Triclosan ™ and Butyl Parabens.
Let’s talk some GOOD ingredients to look for, like plant-based vegetable oils.
Remember; “Good ingredients” are non-irritating, healing; renewable/plant based and remain stable in product formulations.
Some oils are solid at room temperature; we call them stearins or butters. Shea butter, coco butter, pig fat (if that is all you have); you get the idea. These oils melt when applied to skin and help to keep one smooth skinned and young looking.
In Africa, the people I met who used shea butter cosmetically appeared 20 years younger than their counterparts. THAT got my attention! I am now an official “shea nut”, one crazy about organic, village made shea butter.
Some oils are liquid at room temperature, olive oil, sunflower oil, soy oil – that kind of thing. I remember the word oilein because they sound like olive oil, which stays liquid at room temps. Oleins also help to keep one smooth skinned and young looking longer when used inside and out.
So, thousands of years of data suggests that under most conditions (exception: never oil a skin fungus, it will spread), oiling skin with whatever is around is better than not at all.
You can oil yourself with petrochemicals like petroleum jelly too, but there are many potential irritations and reactions that can happen over time with this these products. The obvious bias of this column is to encourage the use of plant based ingredients as much as possible. The closer to the plant the better! Here’s why:
The closer to nature a material is, the closer to YOUR nature it is. That means lessened chance of reaction, better chance of a gentle healing effect, greater absorption, and lower carbon footprint.
Years of experimentation and use have showed me that certified organic oils have some different properties than their agrichemical-processed brethren. I have observed directly that topical applications of organic olive oil or shea butter are dramatically more anti-inflammatory and healing than refined oil based alternatives.
This makes sense because a higher percentage trace botanical based molecules remain in the organic product (listed as “other” in the analysis table).
Molecules travel in packs – just like we do. They like to stick close to their buddies.
When a plant produces a vitamin or an antioxidant it doesn’t just produce one specific type of molecule. It produces a bundle of related molecules exhibiting a broader range of effectiveness than that achieved by one single member of the bundle alone.
This is pretty much the opposite of the current pharmaceutical approach. Oh well!
Thank goodness we are still allowed a choice.
Many plants make oil based molecules that will come out of the plant and into the oil when the plant is steeped in it for a month. Calendula and St. John’s wart oils are renowned for their ant inflammatory properties, especially in organic olive oil. Put this into soap for example, and you have a milder soap. Put it into a salve or lotion and it has an even greater soothing effect.
This is the Soapman signing off for now. Remember: Living naturally is a process – not a result. (And pay attention to the molecules!)