Tag Archives: psoriasis

Your oil guide for skin bliss

Oil is fat, and fat has a very bad connotation these days!  Just like sugar (another ‘bad’ word), fats are essential to the body’s main functions.  Without fats and sugar, the brain cannot be ‘fed’ and symptoms like seizures or unconsciousness may occur.

Of course I’m not saying you should indulge in fried hamburgers and cup cakes!  Sugar and fats come in many different forms, and one should know the difference.  Your body, including your skin, will appreciate if you do!

The skin is the largest organ of our body, and it secrets oil (‘sebum’) to prevent dehydration and dryness.  This is part of the body’s natural functioning.  When this function becomes unbalanced, the skin can become dry or oily.  ‘Ageing’ could be seen as a sort of skin imbalance, as sebum production is reduced, causing the skin to become dry and wrinkly.

So, if the skin produces its own protective oil, it makes sense that vegetable oils can contribute enormously to skin enhancement.  By mimicking natural sebum, the skin’s look and texture can be improved drastically.

Vegetable oils are usually extracted from fruit kernels (apricot, peach), nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, etc), seeds (sesame, kiwi), and sometimes, flesh (avocado). Oils can be thin or thick; easily or slowly absorbed; sticky, leaving a protective film on the skin.

Coconut, palm, cocoa or shea ‘butter’ are ‘solid oils’ at room temperature.  Although butters have their own beneficial properties, they’re not discussed here because they’re highly comedogenic, i.e., they promote the formation of ‘blackheads’ – so I consider them inappropriate for any facial product.

Be careful about food allergies – if you’re allergic to nuts, you’ll react to products that contain nut oils in their formula.  Remember to always check the label.

Extra-virgin olive oil, simply the best

Extra-virgin olive oil, simply the best

Here is a list of what kind of vegetable oils to look for in your skin care and cosmetic products.

Oily skin

It may sound odd to treat oil with ‘more’ oil, but the less you strip your skin off its natural oil, the less oil it will produce.  By choosing the right oils, the oily skin can be brought back into normal balance.

Jojoba – it’s probably the main oil used to treat oily skin.  Jojoba oil is, in fact, a liquid wax and it’s very similar to skin’s natural sebum.  It is easily absorbed by the skin, and leaves it with a velvety feel.  It helps with breaking down grime in clogged pores, and it’s great if used as a make-up remover.  Specially good in hair packs.

Hazelnut – it’s considered a ‘dry’ oil which is also astringent (constricting, good for enlarged pores), and rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to the skin, a bonus benefit.

Other oils used to treat oily skin include hemp, kiwi, and strawberry – latter considered to be a very luxurious one!

Sensitive and other skin problems

Oils that are good for sensitive skin and other skin conditions are oils which counteract skin inflammation and irritation.

Again, what works in a healthy diet works for a healthy skin too! The best vegetable oils with anti‑inflammatory properties are the ones packed with essential fatty acids.  The problem with these oil is that they ‘go off’ really quickly, so products that contain these oils should be as ‘fresh’ as possible, as they will have a short shelf-life.

Evening primrose – well known for its ‘hormonal balancing’ properties, it’s easy to find it in capsules which you can use to ‘pimp’ up your usual night moisturiser, for example.

Wheat germ – rich in vitamin E, it soothes skin that is cracked and dry, so it’s a good choice when added to products to treat ‘dry’ eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.

Dry x dehydrated skin

Most people think that dry and dehydrated skin means exactly the same.  In fact, it’s much easier to deal with dehydrated skin – which is lacking water.  Few fine lines may appear, for example, the morning after an alcohol-fuelled night!  As soon as the body and skin are replenished with enough water, you should see these lines go – it’s a reversible, momentarily painful sight!

Dry skin is lacking oils, and it is much harder to feed the body with enough healthy oils.  Diet will certainly play a major role here, and including oily fish in your meals should help.

Avocado – very thick but quickly absorbed, it’s especially good in night creams.  It leaves a protective film on the skin, so it works its magic on those windy, dry and cold days too.

Macadamia – rich, thick, ‘sticky’ and slowly absorbed, its high content of palmitoleic acid, which occurs in natural sebum, makes it the oil of choice for dry and ageing skin.

Olive – thick and a bit sticky, like avocado oil, it forms a protective film on the skin, and it’s highly moisturising, soothing and nourishing.  It works well for sensitive and problem skin too.

Scar tissue or mature skin

Mature skin has similar characteristics to dry skin, so oils that help with dry conditions (check above) will also benefit mature skin.

Rosehip – produced in Chile, this makes a luxurious addition to your skin care regime for its unique regenerative properties.  It contains high levels of retin A, linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6) acids, so it benefits sensitive, inflamed and irritated skin too!


Although very few people are lucky enough to have a perfect complexion, they still need to take good care of their skin to maintain its healthy lustre!

Almond, apricot or peach – with very similar characteristics, they’re all light, easily absorbed, nourishing and moisturising.  These form the ‘bread and butter’ of anyone’s skin care regime, as they’re all good for any skin type.


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Filed under Bespoke skin care, Recipes

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