Monday, May 20, 2013

Raw African Black Soap is Unscented

My Search for Unscented Products Continues

In my search for unscented products, I stumbled upon raw African black soap at Sola's African & Carribean Food Markets in the San Fernando Valley on Sepulveda Blvd.  At first glance, this product appeared moldy.  I didn't know what to make of it or its composition and hesitated to purchase so I sought more information.  Most importantly, I had verify that it did not contain soybeans or fragrance.  

For more information, I went to YouTube and found the video "De-mystifying African Black Soap" by Duchess Gabrielle.  Gabrielle explained how the product is processed and generally what it contains.  I say "generally" as she explained, depending what on the region African the soap is derived, some of the ingredients could vary.  Mainly the soap contains plantain, cocoa ashes, palm oil, and shea butter.

Additionally, I found that this soap was easy to liquefy as I was looking for an alternative soap for my hand soap dispensers.  Previously, I used Method Home (free of dyes and perfumes) liquid soap.  However, I did not like the sodium lauryl sulfate in the their product as it dried my hands.  

How I Liquefy

What I do to liquefy the African black soap is to break it off into pieces (or you can grate).  Next, I add room temperature distilled water to a container.  I then place the soap pieces in the container and after approximately 30 minutes, the soap is liquefied.  You can shake the container or stir the ingredients.  I have seen other YouTubers boil the water, add glycerin, but for me, just adding to the distilled water was sufficient.  I found that with the African black soap it did not dry my hands as they Method home products.  I now use it to cleanse my face and have noticed smoother skin, less acne and it has lightened facial dark blemishes.  I don't particularly like it as a shampoo, but I may rethink and try it again. 

Does it Have an Odor?
Remember, I need unscented.  I definite must for me is that a product be free of perfumes, fragrance and dyes especially if I use around the facial area. As for the odor, the African black soap is free of perfumes and fragrances.  I detect the odor of the ingredients to be herbal or earthy.  With the African black soap, I do not have any reaction of symptoms as I would with a product that has fragrance or chemicals.

Many companies now are marketing the African black soap in liquified form.  I saw one such company, Alaffia, (see photo) at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim.  This company, though, added an essential oil, which made the soap completely unusable for me.  The citrus essential oil odor invoked a headache and nausea.

It seems that many companies are quick to commercialize certain ingredients as many people continue to search for natural or organic products.  For more than 8 months or so, since my purchase at Sola's African Market, I have been using the African black soap in this unscented form.  Additionally, in this way, I can use it for other unscented uses and it is more economical.  My next use for the soap will be as a sugar scrub to exfoliate my skin along with coconut sugar.

Where Can You Find?
First of all, I would check to see if there is an African market in your area.  Secondly, you can check Amazon or Etsy.  

This is another item that will aid you in becoming savvy and scent free.  When you use it, I would love to know your thoughts and leave a comment below? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Soy-free Mascara and Eyeliner Find!

At the National Products Expo in Anaheim, California there were hundreds of vendors who came to pitch their products to retailers and the media.  I must say I have been educating myself for years, out of necessity (goal to stay alive).  Yes, chemicals, odors, fragrances, yes "even truly natural fragrances", i.e. a live jasmine or lavender plant, can stimulate adverse symptoms.  My body does not react well to chemicals, period.  So I must read the labels.  When a product has petroleum or a petroleum byproduct it is not natural (See post at Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal!). 

I can't emphasize the importance of reading the labels.  Learn what is in the products you purchase.  When you are literally knocked down by a product ingredient you quickly find out how important your knowledge is.  You have heard it before "knowledge is power".  

That being said I was disappointed to find products at the Expo that were not in my definition of "truly natural" and products I knew that I would have an adverse reaction.  However, I was excited to make some terrific finds. 

I had been searching for soy-free mascara and eyeliner for some time.  I found that many companies use soy lethicin as emulsifier in cosmetics.  In simplistic terms, an emulsifier is used to make certain ingredients merge together, i.e. water and oils.  I like to use the term "creamy".  However, for me, soy in any form is an allergen/intolerance.  Whether it is the soy ingredient or some other ingredient, I found that with many of the mascaras and eyeliners from mainstream cosmetic companies make my eyelids swell and fun.  

Earthlab Cosmetics Raw Mascara and Vegan Eyeliner
Subsequently, among the hundreds of vendors at the Expo, I was very happy to find Earthlab Cosmetics.  I was given an sample from one of the owners.  She stated it was soy-free and I was estatic to try the product.  Happily I have not had a reaction.  I still find that my lashes are not as defined or as with other mainstream cosmetic companies.  However, that pales in comparison to having itchy eyelids.  

I also pinned the Raw Mascara and Vegan pencil at Pinterest under soy-free.  Before sampling, I emailed Jen MacDougall to determine the source of the lecithin and vitamin E, as at times, have found that with some products the source of lecithin and vitamin E can be soy.  Jen quickly returned my email and stated the following:  "The Raw Mascara and Vegan Pencil formulas are gluten free, soy-free, and non-gmo. The source of both those ingredients is sunflower.  The only product that would not be considered soy-free would be our Natural Lip Gloss formula. We do use soy-wax which is a bit different but it keeps the product from bleeding. Please note we will be coming out with a Vegan Lip Stick this summer –which will be soy free."  

I do detect an odor which dissipates quickly (for us scent-free savvy persons).  I also find that I have to make several applications to define my eyelashes.  In addition, I was concerned about the toxicity one of the ingredients, a preservative, phenoxyethanol.  Therefore, I again contacted the company.  I spoke to Jen who explained that a preservative is required by law on all mascara products.  However, their preservative is derived from sage and they use 1/10 of 1% in the product. This sage preservative is the least toxic that works with their mascara formula.  Overall, I must say, I'm pleased.  I can finally get some definition to my eyelashes without the itchy, swollen eyelid look.  

With Earthlab you get a product that is soy-free, gluten free, and non-gmo with great customer service. In addition, they are eager to share information about their products to assist persons like me to continue to live soy-free...way to go Earthlab!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let's Get Started with Scent Free Savvy Life @ Blogspot

This is Scent Free Savvy Life at Blogger.  My Blogger posts will incorporate product reviews, my own creations or scent-free product tweaks and my mad-scientist kitchen experiments.  I've learned that in living fragrant, egg, soy and now gluten free, you must make changes.  You must adapt.  This is not always an easy task as change can be an immediate change or a journey.  Either way it should be for the good. I hope you will laugh with me or at me whatever suits you.  Anyway it goes, I hope you continue to navigate the fragrant world around us and be savvy and scent-free, egg, soy and now gluten free.  That is a mouthful.

Here I hope you will be a bit more forgiving of my grammatical infractions, typos and faux pas as my friend, Tenisha (grammatical editor), will not always have an opportunity to review or edit what is written here. This blog is intended, at times, to link you back to for more information.

As with any blog, this too has a disclaimer and some rules.  

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, so I cannot give out medical advice. I am not a scientist; but will provide links to scientific information and references when available.  I have not attended culinary school so I may get portions incorrect (I like to eyeball).  At times I am acutely sensitive to odors & smells and can detect them when others cannot. While this ability can be viewed as a curse, I view it as a blessing. I have stories~~and I'm ready and eager to share. This website and our product recommendations are not to take the place of medical or any other professional advice. We (other scent-free savvy contributors) will recommend products (and their sources) that we have used with success. I may get free items to give my opinion.  It is my opinion, if you don't want to know...don't ask. 

The products that I share will be products that I can tolerate without getting ill and some products that I love. I know that as individuals we have different tolerances and preferences, so check out each product before purchasing. I can not emphasize enough READ THE LABELS, familiarize yourself with ingredients. Be an informed consumer. And to be blunt, smell it first! After all, “the nose knows.” If you have found a product that you would like to recommend, by all means, submit it. If I haven’t tried the product already we will gladly check it out.

Rules:  If you choose to comment:
  • Keep it clean.  No four letter words especially those beginning with "f" unless you are talking about "food". 
  • Be nice (you may not agree with me and that is acceptable.)  You too, are entitled to your opinion.
  • You can use this space to vent, cry or whine, however, if I am currently whining you will have to wait your turn.

So let's get started, shall we...

I had the privilege to attend the National Products Expo as Press/Blogger in Anaheim, California March 8-10, 2013.  It was somewhat an overwhelming experience as I tirelessly searched for egg, soy and unscented products.  I came to many conclusions in my journey that weekend; all-in-all it was a successful.  I came home with much bounty which I will share.

First of all, I must also say with much gratitude to the folks over at Lyfe Kitchen, who provided breakfast to those who attended the press briefing breakfast on Friday, March 8, 2013.  Before the briefing, I emailed Lyfe Kitchen to discuss my concern regarding my food intolerances and finding soy-free alternative for breakfast.  Miriam O'Donovan of Manager of Quality Assurance & Product Development, Retail returned my email with the allergen menu and alternatives.  This allowed me to make a safe decision as to what I could eat at the press briefing without incident.  Throughout the event, Lyfe Kitchen was genuinely concerned about their product and the attendees.  

My take on an old favorite!
I was a bit disappointed though, that there were less soy and egg-free alternatives.  In the end, the only item I could eat was the steel cut oats.  The entree was not your typical oatmeal as this entree contained cinnamon spiced steel-cut oats mixed with quinoa, sweet & juicy peaches, apples & pineapples, topped with coconut and almonds.  I loved it!  This sparked my creativity ... in the kitchen with breakfast.  Oatmeal can have a bit of flair and didn't have to be just oats, sugar and cinnamon.   See a recent photo of my take on an old favorite.  I included rolled oats, quinoa, chia seeds, pineapples, pink lady apples, dried cranberries and juice from blood oranges.

Breakfast and the briefing was just the beginning ... more to come.  Look for a sharing of the wealth with a give-a-away.  Subscribe and stay tuned.