In science classrooms one of the things that teachers like to do is rub garlic on students feet to show that the human body absorbs things right through the skin. As students who have had this done can attest they taste the garlic in their mouths for quite awhile after the treatment. What I recently read is that this is because of the oils in the garlic. We absorb oils directly through our skin. In Deep Nutrition Kate Shannihan talks about how fats are used in the human body and the skin is one of the organs that packages up fats for use in the blood stream.
I have also read on many message boards (some great resources) for people with celiac that they can and do absorb gluten right through the skin. In the recent gluten summit, one of the speakers talked about cosmetics and shampoos preventing her clients from getting better on a gluten free diet. This tells me its not just oils that get absorbed thorough the skin.
My conclusion was that I can’t be putting things on my skin that I wouldn’t be putting in my stomach. Which led me to do some research about body products. Specifically, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and toothpaste. I don’t wear make-up or sunscreen. After a lot of research I came to the conclusion that I would have to make some compromises. There are a few things I use that I wouldn’t put in my stomach but I still think they are better than most of the alternatives.
Unfortunately soap is one of those things that has fats in it. To make soap, fat is mixed with lye which saponifys it. Its an old process. So really what I would want is soap made from animal fat rather than vegetable fat. Even at craft fairs and such like its impossible to convince people that animal fats are good and healthy and most soap is made using vegetable fats, so I usually end up just buying the best homemade soap I can and praying that it gets washed off fast enough that my skin doesn’t absorb too much of the oil.
I hope that eventually I will find a home made soap that is made with lard or chicken fat that doesn’t have scent. Perhaps I’ll give up looking and just learn to make it.
I used to use shampoo and conditioner to wash my hair, I bought special stuff that didn’t have scent because the scent drove my allergies through the roof. But eventually I had to admit even the co-op shampoos and conditioners are not that great for you (not just because of oils) and so I switched to using soap. The nice homemade stuff I buy. Using soap is a different process than shampoo. It’s a lot more drying for one thing. So I have to use some heavy conditioners. But the other thing is your hair really gets clean. Because of this I didn’t have to wash my hair as often. At first it was every few days, now I wash my hair every two weeks.
I use two conditioners, one before I shampoo. (1/2 cup milk, and 2 Tbs honey) The other is put on after I rinse out the shampoo completely. (8oz distilled water and 20 drops essential oil, I like lemon and tangerine)
This process works great, but washing my hair is a bit of a process. I have to plan it, so I can’t just jump into the shower and spontaneously wash my hair. I only sometimes miss that.
I didn’t know this but most deodorant has fats in it. It isn’t listed as fat, or even oil usually. It reads glyceryl stearate, Polysorbate 20, sodium stearate, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, steareth 2, or steareth 20. There are probably plenty of other labels too. But those are the ones I found on the deodorants in my home.
All of them are derived from fats and oils. Unfortunately we don’t know which ones because deodorants don’t have to list provenance. Some vegan products say plant derived so I generally avoid those.
I have to use deodorant. Otherwise I smell which I am not comfortable with. I’ve chosen one which lists sodium stearate rather than any of the other options because sodium stearate is supposedly what makes soap soap. I’m just not sure that what cosmetic producers call sodium stearate is the same stuff produced in home made soap. That said it is the best I can do right now. The deodorant I chose is called Natural for her by Herban Cowboy.
I have been most successful at removing oils from my toothpaste. For years I used baking soda to brush my teeth. It works great and its cheep. Its also incredibly salty tasting. So recently I invested in some magnesium citrate, betonite clay, and calcium citrate, which I mix in equal proportions with baking soda and grind with my mortar and pestle (just to make it a little smoother). I tried using charcoal but it is messy so that was thrown out of the recipe. All in all this recipe works very well, tastes much less salty than baking soda alone and contains no oils so all in all I’m pretty happy.
In fact I feel a lot better about the products I put on my body even if they aren’t all oil free.