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Ingredients: The Bad. The Good. The Why.

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Our day to day lives are often jam packed. From morning workouts and back-to-back meetings to rush hour traffic and kids’ activities, it can be hard to find the time to think about the little things, like the ingredients in your soap.

But ingredients matter. Just as you make healthy eating choices, you also want to make informed, healthy decisions when selecting products that go on your body.

When you cook, you choose fresh, quality ingredients. When you bathe, you choose…well? What do you choose?

It can be hard to know what is good for your skin and what isn’t. Labels are full of scientific names that mean little or nothing to most of us. But those ingredients are going directly onto your skin, which means they’re also being absorbed into your body, and have a variety of repercussions, from irritating your skin leaving it dry, flaky and/or itchy to causing internal damage to your organs. Knowing what ingredients to avoid will set you down the right path.

The Bad: Ingredients to Avoid.

SULFATES (Especially sodium lauryl sulfate)
Sulfates generate lather. Unfortunately, many of us associate a good lather with a good cleaning. While sulfates do in fact clean your skin, they also remove nearly all oils, leaving your skin dry and potentially irritated. And not all sulfates are created equal: Some are gentler than others. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are two to avoid when possible.

SOME ALCOHOLS
Many soaps contain alcohol for one of two reasons: to help other ingredients penetrate your skin or to preserve the soap itself. Ethanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat, and Methanol can cause dryness, irritations or even breakouts. But again, not all alcohols are bad. Cetearyl, Stearyl, Cetyl and Behenyl Alcohols are are “fatty alcohols,” which are used as emollients and actually protect your skin and help it stay moisturized.

FRAGRANCES
If you see the word “Fragrance” on a label, you should avoid it. Ingredients in fragrances aren’t required to be disclosed and do nothing to improve the efficacy of your soap. Fragrances do, however, pose risks to your health. Skip the fragrance.

METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE & METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE
These preservatives are sometimes used to inhibit bacterial growth in soaps. In addition to irritation to your skin, they may also pose dangers to your lungs and respiratory system.

The Good: Ingredients to Look For.

PLANT OILS
Look for soaps containing oils that come from plants, such as coconut oils, vegetable oils, cocoa butter, olive oils, aloe vera, jojoba, etc. These natural oils shouldn’t irritate and allow your skin to retain moisture rather than stripping your skin of what it needs to stay hydrated.

GLYCERIN
Glycerin naturally occurs in plant fats and oils and helps your skin retain moisture for hours after you wash. The saponification process bonds glycerin with soap molecules and helps keep your skin feeling soft and supple. Many commercial soaps actually remove the pricey glycerin and sell it as a separate element, leaving your skin to pay the price.

ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are more than a great substitute for fragrance: they also provide their own unique benefits. Different essential oils do different things, so do a little research when choosing!

ROSEMARY EXTRACT or VITAMIN E OIL
Preservatives aren’t always a bad thing. If soap will have any shelf life, it’s important to make sure it stays usable. Rosemary Extract or Vitamin E Oil may be used as a natural preservative with no harmful side effects.

We believe in the fighting power of natural soap. We also believe in removing a layer of toxicity from your lifestyle. Take the time to learn what goes into the products you use every day and reap the rewards.

Offense is the best defense: Wash with soap and water.

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Soap, which has been around for centuries, is the most effective cleanser we can use, even today. In fact, one of the earliest uses of soap was as a doctor’s tool to treat diseases. Soap is simply a mixture of fat or oil, water and a basic salt.  When combined, these substances go through a chemical process called saponification. 

How Soap Works

Soap isn’t meant to kill germs. It is meant to remove them, washing them away forever. The saponification process creates molecules that have a hydrophilic head (meaning it bonds with water) and a hydrophobic tail (meaning it prefers to bond with oils). As you know, water and oil don’t mix, but the qualities of soap molecules give it the unique nature of attracting BOTH water and oil. 

And that’s how it works: When soap is used with water, it binds the water to the oil molecules on your skin (like bacteria, germs, etc.). To be most effective, work up a lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds. The friction creates an emulsification process that helps lift the grime from your skin. When you rinse off the soap-water-grime combination, everything makes its way down the drain, leaving your skin clean. And don’t forget to dry your hands – wet hands are more likely to spread germs than dry hands.

Now, while soap isn’t meant to kill germs, it can actually cause them harm. The emulsification process works to destabilize the entire environment, which in turn can rupture virus or bacteria membranes. A ruptured membrane is essentially dead and can no longer infect cells. 

Water Temperature & Scrub Time

Wash often and wash for at least 20 seconds. That’s the hard part. But water temperature? That part is easy. A recent study suggests that water temperature has little to no bearing on the efficacy of soap. All that matters is that you use soap with water (any temperature) and scrub. This same study also found that a 10-second scrub works, but we’re sticking with the CDC recommended 20 seconds. 10 seconds isn’t even long enough to get a good tune stuck in your head! 

Here are a few tunes to consider while you wash: 

  1. Happy Birthday
  2. This Land is Your Land
  3. Take On Me

Antibacterial Soap Isn’t More Effective 

Antibacterial soaps work in the same way as regular soap, but have added ingredients that are intended to penetrate and kill virus and bacteria membranes. While that sounds nice, studies indicate that those added ingredients do not improve the efficacy of soap. In fact, the FDA  issued a rule in 2016 stating that antibacterial soaps cannot be marketed to the public.

What About Hand Sanitizers?

Hand sanitizer is a good backup for soap and water, but it’s just that: a backup. Soap and water is the most effective way to clean your hands, but if that isn’t possible, you can use a hand sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of 60-95% to kill off germs living on your hands. 

Hand sanitizers do not kill all bacteria and viruses, though. And they leave any residue on your hands, so any molecules that weren’t killed are still able to do their damage. Additionally, hand sanitizer doesn’t work to clean super dirty or greasy hands. 

What we’re saying is soap is your best bet. Use it with water and say goodbye to dirt and harmful germs! 

Father’s Day Cocktails & Mocktails: Caffeinated

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Father’s Day is coming. And while flowers and breakfast in bed may not quite cut it, we have a few suggestions for adding some energy to Dad’s day. We like caffeine. And every now and again, we enjoy an adult beverage. We think Dad might, too.

Check out these 5 caffeinated cocktails and mocktails to make Father’s Day a little extra special this year!

1. Bourbon Sweet Tea

This refreshing cocktail pairs perfectly with freshly grilled veggies and steak on the back porch. And it’s sure to give Dad a little extra energy to take on whatever Father’s Day has thrown his way.

Ingredients

3 cups water
½ cup sugar
2 or 3 black tea bags
1 orange, sliced into wedges

1 lemon, sliced into wedges
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1 cup bourbon
Lemon wheels for garnish

Instructions

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, pour the mixture into a jar and add the tea bags, allowing the tea to steep for 5-10 minutes. The longer you leave the bags in, the stronger the tea will be! When the tea is to your likeness, remove the tea bags and add the orange, lemon, lime wedges. Add the bourbon and stir. Cover and chill. Enjoy the chilled cocktail in a small glass, garnished with lemon wheels if desired. Recipe makes 6-8 servings.

2. Kirsh Au Café

If Dad enjoys espresso, this fine drink mixed with brandy is sure to be up his alley!

Ingredients

1 oz cognac
¾ oz Kirsch
¾ oz cherry heering
½ oz simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water)
½ oz egg white
Ice
1 oz freshly brewed espresso

Instructions

Combine cognac, Kirsch, cherry heering, simple syrup and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Shake until frothy. Add ice and espresso. Shake again and strain into small cocktail glasses.

 

3. Kahlua Espresso Martini

Ingredients

⅓ cup kahlúa
⅓ cup vodka
⅓ cup espresso

Instructions

Combine Kahlúa, vodka, espresso, and ice together in cocktail shaker. Shake for approximately 10 seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass.

4. Cosmic Slushy

Ingredients

2 oz. vodka
½ oz. triple sec
2 oz. Red Bull
¼ oz. lime juice
Lime wheel

Instructions

Combine vodka, triple sec, Red Bull and lime juice into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel, if desired.

5. Mocktail: Caffeinated Mai Tai

Ingredients

3 oz. cold brew concentrate
¾ oz. orgeat
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. orange juice
Ice
Mint leaves

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice into an Old Fashioned Glass. Garnish with mint, if desired.

6. Mocktail: Cold Brew Sour

Instructions

2 oz. cold brew concentrate
Juice of ½ lemon
1 oz. simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar)
Ice
Lemon wedge

Instructions

Combine cold brew, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice. Mix well. Garnish with lemon wedge, if desired.

7. Cold Fashioned

Ingredients

2 oz. cold brew concentrate
½ oz. simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar)
A few splashes of orange bitters
Ice
Orange wheel

Instructions

Combine cold brew, simple syrup, orange bitters and ice. Stir well and top with orange wheel, if desired.

Why use natural soap?

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Natural products are a hot topic right now, and for good reason. More and more research suggests that our bodies perform best when treated with quality ingredients. That holds true for your skin, too, with scientific studies proposing that the majority of ingredients in soap are absorbed directly into the skin. What you put on your skin matters. Here are some reasons why.

 

1. Soap is different than detergent.

The FDA states that “there are very few true soaps on the market. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products.” But what does that mean?

Detergents suds up nicely and often come at a lower price point, which makes them attractive to consumers. They are also comprised of a variety of chemicals that allow manufacturers to produce higher quantities at a lower cost. Detergent is actually regulated as a cosmetic – not a cleanser – but is legally labeled as soap. Detergent products dry out the skin and serve to mask odor as much as they cleanse.

Soap, on the other hand, is created by creating a base of fats or oils combined with an alkali. The reaction between the two is called saponification, and what was once a liquid becomes a solid. The process creates no waste, and additional ingredients can be added to achieve the desired results. For example, shea butter can be added as a moisturizer. In our case, natural caffeine is added to give your mind and body an extra boost.

 

2. It’s all about balance.

One time, maybe long ago, you took a chemistry class. In that class, you likely learned about pH levels. Your skin is your body’s barrier to the world. It’s your armor. And your armor functions best when it is in balance. Using the wrong products or eating the wrong foods can affect your skin’s pH levels, leaving it angry (AKA wrinkled, inflamed, sensitive…you get the picture). In a nutshell, if your skin is dry, itchy and red, you’re likely too alkaline (basic). If you tend to be oily and often suffer from breakouts, you’re likely too acidic. 

Your skin should be at a pH of about 5.5. Natural soap typically falls between 8-9 on the pH scale. Because showering dries the skin, a soap with a higher pH level will help balance out the effects of showering.

 

3. Essential oils mean more bang for your buck.

Many essential oils offer benefits to your mind and body. You can turn your home into a spa with some of the most popular essential oils, many of which you can find in natural soaps:

  1. Eucalyptus is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, providing relief from joint and muscle pain, and for the cooling, refreshing effect that helps reduce stress and mental exhaustion.
  2. Lavender Oil also acts as an anti-inflammatory for your joints, with aromatherapeutic advantages as well. The aroma of lavender helps alleviate stress and can help relax the mind to improve sleep quality.  
  3. Peppermint is one of the oldest medicinal plants. Containing menthol, it helps alleviate pain and inflammation and ease the pain of aching muscles. Additionally, the aroma of peppermint oil stimulates the mind and is thought to aid focus, memory and general mental performance.
  4. Since the days of ancient Egypt, Chamomile has been used to relieve pain. The aroma is also known as a sedative that calms, helping to reduce stress and encourage sleep

 

4. The planet is your friend.

Natural soap isn’t just good for your skin, it’s good for your planet, too. Because ingredients come from nature, they do no harm to nature when they make their way through the system. For the same reasons, natural soaps also don’t require animal testing. Even the manufacturing process for natural soaps is better for the environment! It’s a win, win, win. And if you can win three times, we say go for it.

 

5. Glycerin.

Glycerin naturally occurs in plant fats and oils and helps your skin retain moisture for hours after you wash. The saponification process bonds glycerin with soap molecules and helps keep your skin feel soft and supple. Many commercial soaps actually remove the pricey glycerin and sell it as a separate element, leaving your skin to pay the price.

 

6. The Experience.

Natural soap elevates your shower, and post-shower, experience. The naturally occurring aromas paired with the sensational cleansing power of quality ingredients can transform your day to day.

 

7. No parabens. No sulfates.

Parabens and sulfates are not good for you or your skin. Parabens are used as a preservative and sulfates offer cleansing and foaming. Used in moderation, they may not cause harm. However, parabens and sulfates are used in many, many products. Choosing to use products that do not contain either chemical removes one layer of toxicity.

Summer Skincare for the Athlete

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The sunshine is back and we can’t stop smiling! Long days, long workouts and summer races are right around the corner. Training and nutrition are already top of mind, but be sure to take a minute to think about your skincare in these changing conditions.

Sunscreen.
Sunscreen is good for more than weekends at the beach (although we hope you get a little beach time in). Not only is sunscreen is a powerful defense against painful sunburn, it is also a great way to ward off skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer before the age of 70.

As an athlete, you need to take extra care. It’s essential to find a sunscreen that is water-resistant, and even then, you may be reapplying frequently if you tend to sweat a lot. Additionally, you’ll want a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Juice Beauty‘s all-natural formula is a great option for the ingredient conscious, but check out The Daily Burn’s list of their favorite sport sunscreens for other options.

Clothing.
There are a variety of garments constructed from fabric with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. These items are sure to fend off harmful sunlight. But if you don’t care to invest in UPF clothing, there are plenty of options within your own closet. Look for tightly woven fabrics – they do a much better job of protecting your skin. As an athlete, you’re in luck: synthetic fabrics such as polyester and Lycra tend to perform well in UPF tests.

One of the most protective items of clothing is a hat. Unfortunately, your favorite baseball cap doesn’t offer the most protection. While it might not be practical to run in a sombrero, opt for wide-brimmed hats when you’re going to be out in the sun for long periods of time.

Sunglasses.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight can burn your eyes, much like it can burn your skin. The damage to your eyes can cause long-term problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Fortunately, sunglasses are stylish. When you’re shopping for your next pair of shades, be sure they have UV 400 protection. Ideally, they would also be impact resistant to withstand your active lifestyle!

Shower Routine.
During summer months, it’s important to consider your shower routine. If you’re planning to spend long days in the sun, try using Replenish and Relax. The lavender and chamomile found in Relax will help sooth your skin, and the hydrating qualities of Replenish will restore your skin without over-hydrating. Exfoliation is important, but you might want to reduce your weekly dose during the summer as new skin is more susceptible to sun damage.

Lip Balm.
Don’t forget your lips! Keep your lips hydrated and protected with a protective lip balm. Reapply regularly!

 

 

Winter Skin Care Tips

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As temperatures drop outside and the heat turns up inside, your skin begins to dry out. Despite cold weather, your skin doesn’t have to remain cracked or rough through the winter months. Try out these skin-care tips so you look bright and well-rested all year round.

More Moisture

You’ll want to shop for a different kind of moisturizer than you’d use during other seasons of the year, like spring or summer. In the winter months, look for an oil-based ointment rather than a water-based one. The oil in your winter ointment will create a protective layer that helps your skin retain more moisture than other lotions or creams. To make sure your skin doesn’t become a haven for acne, look specifically for non-clogging ointments, which will be made from avocado, mineral, primrose, almond, and other safe-for-skin oils.

Save the Hot Water

Hot bath or shower water will actually begin to accelerate the breaking down of lipid barriers in your skin. You want to keep those lipid barriers intact during the cold months! If not, your skin will begin to lose moisture and have difficulty retaining it. For poor winter skin, a warm bath with essential oils can help to mend the dry, itchy skin.  A bath with our  Relax Bar can help you recover after a long day in the elements.

Hands Get Hit Hard

To prevent winter colds, you might find yourself washing your hands more often, which can add to the chapped skin already a part of those chilly, windy months. Use a wipe-off cleansers and alcohol-free hand sanitizers to prevent chapping, and apply lotion after washing. Wear gloves to prevent cracking of your skin, and if you wear wool gloves, try slipping a cotton glove on first to protect your hands from any uncomfortable, scratchy irritation.

Skin So Sweet

In the winter cold, your body diverts blood from your skin in order to keep your core warmer. If you experience rough, dry elbows and knees, use products containing coconut oil and palm oil, these two essential oils moisturize and reduce inflammation.

Gentle Exfoliation

Dead skin abounds in winter time. By using a gentle exfoliator, such as the jojoba beads in the DirtyBird soap bars, on your chest, back, arms, and legs, you make it easier for your skin to absorb and retain moisture. Your skin will remain brighter and softer despite frigid temperatures.