Monthly Archives: April 2010

Why is castile soap so good for your skin?

True castile soap is made purely with olive oil.  According to Wikipedia, castile soap was produced in Castilla, Spain, during the period of Muslim rule.  They had to keep clean as part of their religious rituals.  Olive trees where abundant in the region.  An ancient form of soap was produced by boiling olive oil, abundant in the region, with plant ashes.

Many castile soaps in the market are made with a combination of olive oil and palm and/or coconut oil.  Although these other oils may have their own beneficial properties, palm oil production has been on the news recently for raising concerns with deforestation, and endangering orangutans in Asia.

Coconut oil, which in large quantities can be drying to the skin, is generally added for extra lathering because consumers believe that if it doesn’t foam, it won’t clean either!… This is a negative misconception, and in fact, the more foam a product makes, the more it will strip the skin off its natural oils, causing the skin to get even dryer, and making it feel ‘tight’.  If used in oily skin, it will stimulate even more sebum production, exacerbating the condition, and leaving the skin shinny rather than glowing.

Curing time...

Curing time...

Saponification, the chemical reaction induced to produce soap, starts off as a harsh process.  The acid, olive oil in the case of true castile soap, is neutralised over time by an alkali, usually caustic soda.  The soap ‘cures’ for 4‑6 weeks, while it hardens and neutralises.  If other ingredients are added to the soap while saponification is in process, it is very likely that this harsh reaction will break them down, wasting precious skin-pampering additives.

When soap is handmade, a softening and hydrating by-product of soap‑making process – glycerine, is retained in the soap.  A luxurious ingredient, it is more lucrative for commercial soap manufacturers to extract glycerine from soap and sell it for other uses.

Glycerine dissolves easily under warm water.  Due to the high content of glycerine in olive oil soaps,  we recommend that soap bars should always be kept in a drying rack after use – or you soap may turn into an unrecognisable, transparent, gooey mass that will melt away easily!

Skin BistroTM soaps with added ingredients are all hand‑milled – which means that the soap base is made into a bar, grated, cured, melted, to only then ‘receive’ additives such as essential oils, dried herbs, powdered nuts, seeds or spices, etc.  The soap is guaranteed to retain the valuable extra benefits these ingredients have to offer.

Of course this makes the whole process a lot more laborious but the result is so worthwhile!  The soaps smell incredibly fresh, and feel very smooth and soft on the skin.  To reward oneself with such an extraordinarily good soap is certainly a luxury!

Choc & cupuaçu soap

Choc & cupuaçu soap

Our castile soap is made with organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.  A little amount of organic, unbleached beeswax is added, just enough to make the bar hard.  Lye is dissolved in water, and this solution is mixed with the olive oil and beeswax.  When saponification (neutralisation) is complete, the bar of soap is ready to be used or milled (for adding ingredients).

Olive oil produces a very gentle soap with a creamy lather – so it doesn’t foam much.  But it’s this very quality that makes it mild on the skin.  It doesn’t strip the skin off its natural oils, and it will actually help moisturise the skin.  It leaves a velvety feel on the skin.

Castile soap is especially good for dry, itchy, irritated, or sensitive skin, and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.  It works well in oily skin and acne by helping with balancing oil production, and for not clogging pores.  It is so mild even babies can use it.

It is probably easy to recognise the ingredients listed on Skin BistroTM soap labels: they all come from natural sources.  We only use ingredients that will provide benefits to the skin, and nothing else. Soaps don’t need preservatives, and ‘become’ colourful or scented just by adding herbs, nuts, seeds, clays, and essential oils.  Skin BistroTM soaps have no artificial colourings or fragrances, no preservatives, and no synthetic ingredients.

We’ll soon launch an online shop where you’ll be able to buy our castile soap.

If you want a personalised product, please contact us for a quote.  Shower gels are also made-to-order only.



Filed under Castile soap

Preparing your skin for the heat wave!

So, it’s the London Marathon weekend, and after almost a week of volcanic ash, now your skin will have to deal with the heat wave that is coming our way!

I’ll share here a few tips for your skin not to shrivel on the next couple of days:

–       Drink plenty of water, fresh juice, iced tea, and eat watery fruits such as watermelon, melon, pears, apples and cherries.

–       Feed your skin with a body cream or oil, as it will help skin to keeps its moisture.

–       Use sunscreen and remember to put it on at least 30 minutes before going in the sun.  For your face, I’d recommend a SPF of at least 30. The sun is the worst culprit for skin ageing; everyone should use sunscreen every single day.

–       Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses!

–       If possible, avoid direct sun light during the hours of 10am to 3pm, when sun radiation is peaking.

–       After sun exposure, take a cool shower and use an aftersun lotion.

–       For your face, try a cooling mask as an extra care.

The best natural ingredients to look for on aftersun quenching products are the ones that have soothing, healing, calming and cooling properties.  Many of these ingredients will also be anti-inflammatory and moisturising, so they will help reduce redness and dryness in cases of over exposure to the sun.

These are the natural ingredients you most want listed in the label of your sun care products:

–        Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

–       Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

–       Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

–       Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

–       Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Remember: always check the label!

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Filed under Natural x organic