This post also appears at the Purely Primal Skincare Guide blog!
Happy Skincare Saturday!
We got some great questions for our Q&A feature, and we’re answering them right here on the blog.
For more information on each topic, be sure to check out the Purely Primal Skincare Guide.
Today’s Q: Do you know of a good moisturizing and healing hand soap? I use Dr. Bronner’s and it is too drying for winter. My hands are cracking and flaking. Help!
Unfortunately, “moisturizing hand soap” is a bit of a misnomer. While some soaps can be less intense based on the addition of emollients and oils, the true purpose of soap is to saponify oils – which basically means sweep away all the oils on your hands! This is amazing for when you’re covered in a bit too much coconut oil (whether from cooking or adventures in oil cleansing) but troublesome when you need all the natural oils and moisture you can get.
When a soap is labeled “moisturizing” and has added moisturizers, you’re probably just “saponifying” those extras and grabbing less of the natural oils from your skin, leaving your hands less intensely cleansed.
Depending on the ingredients, it’s possible that your moisturizing soap might be able to deposit extra emollients on your skin – it all depends.
What we really need to talk about is a safe strategy that takes into account WHY you’re washing your hands! Are you just needing to wash some dirt or cooking crud off in the kitchen? Or are you worried about getting rid of bacteria, say, in the bathroom? (Or worse, the AIRPORT bathroom?)
If you simply need a more gentle soap for everyday use, you can try diluting your Dr. Bronner’s (which is a full-strength soap that leaves nothing behind) with water in a foaming soap dispenser like this one. It’ll be gentler on your skin AND stretch your soap purchase!
From there, you can use a bit of shea butter post-wash to add extra moisture and nourishment to your skin. The benefit to adding that second step and rubbing in some shea butter? It will help HEAL your cracked skin while it nourishes and moisturizes. I like the Essential Depot shea butter (note: pure, unrefined shea has a strong, nutty aroma).
You can also choose a moisturizing soap like Ava Anderson’s hand soap or a bar soap, which I like because the ingredients tend to be more simple. Try soaps with goat’s milk or shea butter, like this one.
Dr. Bronner’s also has a new line of dilute “Shikakai” hand soaps you might look for.
Now, if you’re looking for anti-bacterial action (think airport bathrooms):
Traditional soap (think Dr. Bronner’s) has a purpose that’s a bit different from traditional antibacterial soap. In antibacterial soap, the potentially toxic antibacterial agents – like Triclosan – are actually responsible for the killing of bacteria, not the suds.
If your concern is getting rid of any harmful bacteria without using antibacterial soap, you’ve just got to scrub really well with hot water (sing the alphabet slowly and don’t stop washing until you’re done!)
Unfortunately, while this works, it’s obviously going to dry your skin.
This is where you definitely want to add moisture back after washing, especially during the winter. There’s no “moisturizing soap” that’ll serve the purpose you need here – you need a vigorous clean plus post-scrubbing moisture.
Again, I like to heal and protect my skin with pure shea butter. I fill a tiny jar like this one with a scoop of shea butter and carry it with me all the time! In a pinch, you can also use a great lip balm on the backs of your hands.
You can also try a probiotic cleanser, like this one from PIP Healthy Products, made especially to fight harmful bacteria. Note that this is a cleanser and not a soap; it uses mild, skin-safe surfactants and probiotics to do the job. (I’m told they’re almost out of stock, so hurry to grab your cleanser!)
If you’re a traveler and need some help in airport bathrooms, PIP also has a travel-size hygiene spray that I love.
Hope this helps!
Hi Liz! I have a question about blemishes that just won’t clear up. About 4 months before Christmas, I’d done a round of the 21DSD and my skin became blemish free. Over the Christmas holiday season, my skin started breaking out again. 5 weeks ago I started a 9 week Performance & Nutrition challenge at my CrossFit gym. One of my main goals was to clear up my skin, which I thought might just be breaking out from overindulging over the holiday period. I’m 80/20 paleo, but it’s been 5 weeks since I’ve eaten ‘strict’ paleo, i.e. Meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. I bought the Skintervention guide and this is what I’ve done so far:
– I eliminated all dairy and use ghee as my cooking fat
– I’ve been taking 1 teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil butter oil blend every day since the start of the challenge.
– I stopped eating nuts regularly, but have a 180 Nutrition’s Natural Protein Superfood shake on occasion (this brand contains almond meal).
– I eat 3 meals a day (no snacks) and make sure I include either raw sauerkraut or about 4oz of homemade kombucha with each meal. A typical day is 1 egg + 1 yolk poached in bone broth with ghee stirred in, and a salad with lots of veggies, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar/lemon/ACV and olive oil dressing. Lunch and dinner are the same except a protein instead of the bone broth.
– Every morning when I wake up I have a raw liver smoothie shot (4 x 1cm cubes of frozen liver) with a tiny handful of frozen strawberries and a splash of kombucha to blend (and hide the liver taste haha!).
– Apart from my morning liver shot, I rarely eat fruit.
– I use FatFace skincare products.
– I eat sardines 1-2 times a week (thanks to you and Diane!).
– I try and get at least 10 minutes in the sun daily for Vitamin D because I work in an office all day.
– I drink about 3-4 litres of water daily.
– I CrossFit 4-5 times a week, with a at least 1 rest day, 1 active rest day, and sleep 6-8 hours a night.
AND YET. The blemishes persist! The problem areas are around my jaw line/neck, on my chin and my temples, but I also get them on my forehead and cheeks. I get small pimples, big angry ‘blind’ pimples, and those whiteheads. Cry! I don’t know what else to do, it’s just so sore and won’t go away. I have seen a very slight improvement in the 5 weeks, but I miss having my clear skin. With the exception of the cod liver oil butter blend, I’m doing pretty much the same thing as I did 4 months ago on the 21 DSD. What can I do? Paleo harder? Thank you in advance!
Hey Allison! Don’t Paleo harder…just investigate what might better work for you <3 🙂 If the only thing that's changed food wise is the CLO/BO blend, you might get rid of that and see what happens. Put it in the fridge and come back to it later, it won't go bad! There ARE some people that are more sensitive to fermented foods, and FCLO could theoretically be one of them. I do like the CLO from Corganic.com if you wanted to try something unfermetned, but if I were you, to start, I'd just shelf the CLO for awhile to gauge what happens. The other thing I might try is to pull back on the fermented food a bit. You really, really don't need much to get positive effects. Kombucha and sauerkraut a few times per week might be better for you. And if you feel you're intolerant to them for whatever reason, you can change them out for a nightly encapsulated probiotic instead. When you were doing the 21DSD, what did your lifestyle look like? A certain volume of exercise and activity and sleep might work great for one person but be too much for another. Additionally, depending on where you live, it's possible that the weather conditions during the 21DSD were helping your skin too! Winter can be difficult, and in many parts of the world there is a "vitamin D winter" which means during certain parts of the year, vitamin D-producing rays do not make it to our skin. Northern latitudes really only get D rays during a few months in the summer. Also, depending on how you were taking care of your skin during the 21DSD (were you using Fat Face then?) that might make a difference. I know we all want to go non-toxic, but not every type of skincare works for everyone. Fat Face is FANTASTIC but like anything else it has to be right for you. It can be a process of trial and error whether you're using the natural stuff or just working your way through the drugstore shelves trying to figure out what works. I hope this gives you something to chew on! I'll try to check back soon before I go on maternity leave.
Liz! you’re amazing, I LOVE you site and your info. Can you please comment on your opinion of Ava Anderson products overall? Ive been thinking about switching to their shampoo, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen to try and go more natural/non toxic and I see you mentioned their handsoap here. Thanks!!!
Jessica – you are too sweet! Thank you! I have it on my list to review their other products as soon as I can, so I definitely will soon, I promise! Overall, though, it seems like they’re a very solid brand!