Relief for Dry Itchy Skin

Scratching Hands

The more you scratch, the worse it gets!

Winter used to be an especially drying and trying time for my skin.  Unfortunately, I now find that Fall, Winter, AND Spring are all especially drying times for my skin. I have a little patch of eczema on one of my hands that drives me nuts! So, this past winter, I went searching to see if I could make something that would give me some relief from the itching. As a result, I’m please to say that we now have a new product: All-Natural Eczema Relief Salve.

I read up on skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. I dug through books on essential oils. I read everything I could find on the web.  Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Bad News First

Let’s get the bad news over with. There seem to be several  suspected causes of eczema and itchy dry skin. According to a WebMD article, the most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, is not an allergic reaction. Current thinking focuses on a combination of factors that include:

  • Genetics (A major risk factor is having relatives who have or had eczema, Asthma or Seasonal allergies.)
  • Abnormal function of the immune system
  • Environment (such as colder climates)
  • Skin sensitivity causing activities (such as prolonged exposure to water, especially water that’s too hot or too cold)
  • Skin barrier defects that allow moisture out and germs in

Since there are multiple causes, it can be difficult to treat. I found some more good advice in the series of WebMD articles that begin here.

Good News

Eczema Relief Salve contains a combination of skin moisturizing oils and essential oils known for their healing properties. You don’t have to have eczema to appreciate the benefits of this salve.

Good skin care is key to treating eczema, especially if the eczema is mild.

Mild soap that’s not drying and a good moisturizer are a great place to start in taking care of your skin.

I did find a number of recipes for moisturizers, salves, balms, butters, etc that I thought might be able to add some relief. I spent a few months mixing and matching ingredients, testing them out on myself and  on my itchy-skinned friends and family, and came up with a recipe that combines a number of organic and all-natural ingredients. And it has an amazing scent too! It isn’t a cure. It didn’t make the bumpy and itchy spot on my hand go away. It did, however, stop it from bothering me so that I stopped scratching. Scratching tends to make the bumps spread and itch even more.

I sent my cousin, Stella, home with a jar of relief salve for her husband whose hands are so dry that they are cracked and sore. I heard back from Stella a week or so later. She sent me an instant message that read, “I have been using the eczema salve on my hands and cuticles and think my nails have gotten stronger and my little bit of eczema cleared up.” I looked up the oils in the salve, and I’ll be darned! They have properties that are beneficial to nails too! You may wonder if her husband ever got to try any of the salve on his dry, cracked hands. I wonder too. LOL

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6 Facts About Calendula Milk Soap

Calendula Milk Soap Round Soap

Calendula Soap is cured for months, not weeks, to ensure the soap hardens naturally and lasts a good, long time.

Calendula has been used in skin care products for many years. However, the natural goodness of Calendula may be outweighed by all the additive, preservatives,  and other unnecessary chemicals that are normally added to soaps. Even many handcrafted soaps have added ingredients to make the soap harder, to give it a longer shelf life, or to add color.

Here are six things about Maine Soap Works’s Calendula Soap that make it so special:

  1. 75% Olive Oil: Rich in vitamins and minerals. Olive Oil nourishes the skin. It creates a soap that is extra gentle and mild.
  2. Sweet Almond Oil: This is food-grade oil pressed from edible almonds. It provides extra vitamins, including A, E and B6. This oil is easily absorbed by the skin and is known for being anti-inflammatory.
  3. Calendula grown in my garden with no pesticides. Hand picked and dried. Infused into the Sweet Almond Oil and allowed to steep overnight to ensure the anti-bacterial and healing powers of the flower petals are incorporated into the oil and end up in the soap.

    Calendula

    Here’s one of many Calendula patches growing in my garden during the summer of 2016.

  4. Lemongrass: anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal. Smells wonderful too.
  5. Cow’s Milk: Milk has been used in skin care for many, many years. The low concentration of lactic acid, which comes from the milk, serves as a natural exfoliating agent. This helps the skin shed dry skin cells, so the skin looks healthier. For more information on the benefits of milk in soap, read, “Milk Soap Benefits” from the livestrong.com website.
  6. Saponification: You cannot make soap without using lye. Lye and oils go through a chemical process called saponification. This process turns the lye and oils into soap. We carefully calculate the amount of lye and oils to ensure that a percentage of oil remains in the final product. This is called ‘superfatting’. Unlike many commercial soaps that are stripped of  glycerin and may be mostly chemicals and detergents, we leave the chemicals out and the goodness in our soap. This is why our soap cleans but doesn’t dry out your skin. Instead, your skin feels silky smooth.
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Dandelions: If You Can’t Beat ’em; Embrace ’em

Dandelion BlossomMost people think of dandelions as that bothersome weed that needs to be eradicated from their lawn. Not so here at Maine Soap Works. The dandelion is our friend!

You can use every part of the plant.  I grew up eating dandelion greens in the spring. My mom and I went into the hay fields with a special knife that she used to cut the greens just below the surface of the ground. She then cleaned them,  removed any blossoms, cooked the greens, and served them. (Honestly, I remember not really liking them as a kid as they were bitter. However, if they are picked before they start to bud out, they are not supposed to be bitter.)

Dandelion Tea, made from the roots and greens, contains vitamins (A, C and D), as well as lots of zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. The dandelion even contains more beta-carotene than carrots (per Livestrong.com).Dandelion Quote

Let’s not forget about that yellow blossom. As I kid, I remember picking a bouquet of blossoms and putting them in a vase, only to cry when they closed up at night. Now I pick them to make salve! When the blossoms are harvested right at their peek and laid out to dry for several days, their healthy benefits can be infused into oil, which can then be made into salve.  We make an extra-rich, extra moisturizing Dandelion Salve for dry, cracked skin.  We infuse the dandelion into olive oil and then add Jojoba oil, Calendula Oil, Avocado Oil, and Bees Wax to make our salve. Because of the richness of this salve, a little dab goes a long way.

Every night, I put a little dab of salve on my feet, hands, and elbows. I no longer have white, cracked heals and elbows or red, itchy bumps on my hands (from eczema, which I get when my skin gets too dry).

Click here to go to our shop and learn more about this extra special, all-natural product.

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3 Ingredient Recipe for All-Natural Makeup Remover

Why make your own Makeup Remover? Commercial Makeup Removers can contain a number of chemical ingredients that you probably don’t want to put on your face. I had a bottle of what was called  Camomile* Gentle Eye Make-up Remover from a well know chain that sells body products. After spending 10 minutes peeling off the back label so I could read the ingredients, here’s what I found:

Water, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Coca-Glucoside, p-Anisic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Anthemis Nobils Flower Extract.

After finally finding and reading the ingredients, I will never put this stuff on my face again!

*Please note that I did not misspell “Chamomile”.  “Camomile” is how it’s spelled on the bottle.

My 3-Ingredient Natural Makeup Remover RecipeAll Natural Makeup Remover Ingredients

Here’s a very simple recipe for a natural makeup remover that even removes my mascara.

1/2 Cup Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp Vitamin E Oil (liquid)

5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Do this 15 seconds at a time. Add in the other two ingredients and use a hand mixer to whip them together. (A hand mixer may seem like overkill, but it does a great job at blending oils.)

All Natural Makeup Remover

I use these small 4 oz. jars for my Makeup Remover. Wal-Mart sells a 4-pack of these jars in their canning section.

Wash, Tone, and Moisturize after Removing Makeup

The coconut oil may feel so good you may not want to wash your face after using this recipe. However,  removing makeup is only the first step in a healthy routine. I highly recommend that after removing makeup,  you wash your face, tone, and then moisturize.  I’ve found that the coconut oil  is very drying on my skin if I don’t follow it with the other 3 steps in my facial cleansing routine.

The original recipe I used came from a pin I followed on Pinterest, which lead me to this recipe; however, I’ve adjusted it over time to get the right mix that works for me. I encourage you to start with a small batch to see  how it works and then adjust as needed. Sometimes, you just have to experiment a little to find what works best for you, your skin, and your makeup.

Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize

Wooden Spatulas to dip into all natural Makeup Remover

These small (about 2 1/2″ long) wooden spatulas are fantastic for dipping into creamy, all natural products, such as this Makeup Remover.

When making all-natural products, it’s important to wash your hands, work surfaces, jars, and tools before beginning. (I spray mine down with alcohol then allow them to thoroughly dry.) This all natural makeup remover isn’t filled with germ-killing, impossible to pronounce chemicals like the commercial stuff. Therefore, you want to create this makeup remover in a sanitized area and in small batches that get used up fairly quickly. I also recommend using little wooden spatulas to spoon out the mixture instead of sticking your finger into it. 100% cotton balls or cotton makeup remover pads work great too. It may take me a little more work to use all natural products, but they feel so good on my skin that I think it’s well worth it!

 

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Reading Soap Labels

Making our own soap means we read a lot of soap labels. Andrea and I can be found lurking in the soap isles at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and every specialty store that sells soap, checking out the labels…and making disgusting grunts! Have you read your soap label lately? Most commercially made soap is really nasty stuff. And I’m only talking about the first ingredient in at least 2 most common commercial soaps: Sodium Tallowate.

Sodium Tallowate

This ingredient is what’s left over from packaging beef, most likely at the big slaughter houses. My guess is that this is the unwanted fat, bone, and hide pieces that just aren’t edible.

Avoid It

There are a number of soaps on the market that don’t contain tallow-related products. By reading labels, you can avoid tallow and all those other unnecessary, unhealthy ingredients that many commercial soap makers put in their products. Check out this comparison chart to learn what else is lurking in one of the major commercial soap bars:

Commercial Soap Label Ingredients compared to Maine Soap Works

 

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