New Blog!

So I know I’ve been lax on the whole updating front.  The thing is, I’m not doing much crochet these days.  I have a persistent pain in my wrist that flares up after a night of stitching, and I’ve cooled it on the fine manual work in the hopes that it will clear up.

This blog is so focused on crochet that I didn’t think I could repurpose it to cover my more general interests.  I mean let’s face it, these recent soap/shaving entries are way out of place.  So I started a new blog.

It’s called That Thing I Like and you can find it over here, if you’re interested.  So far I’ve talked a lot about my nails, a little bit about shaving, and a bit here and there about cooking and my kids.  I may talk crafting when the mood strikes, maybe even crochet.  Either way, I don’t have much to add to this blog for now.  Come find me in that other place!

How to Shop for Soap

How to shop for soap?  What do you mean how to shop for soap?  Go to the grocery store and go to the soap aisle!  Haha oh you silly non-existent nay-sayer, it’s not that easy.

First of all, most of what you find in a grocery store or drugstore “soap” aisle is going to be detergent based.  They’re cheaper and faster to manufacture with less fuss.  If you’re fine with that, fine. The rest of this article isn’t for you.

If you want soap soap, really actual real soap, you’re going to need to read ingredients.  But before that, you’re going to need eyes.  Using your eyes, look at the product.  Is it solid or liquid?  Liquid?  Probably a detergent.  Not true in all cases, don’t yell at me Dr Bronner’s fans.  You can find liquid soap, but that means the soap has been diluted in water.  If convenience is your demand, go for it.  I like concentrated block soaps.  I’ll dilute it my damn self, thankyouverymuch!

Soaps

So take those big bottles of liquid cleansers and chuck them out.  Find bar soaps.  You’re probably staring vacantly at a 6-pack of Dial Gold.  Look at the ingredients.  Hm… wait a second, that’s not soap at all!  That’s a detergent bar!  Remember the slogan from my previous entry: Soap: It’s 2 Things.  Neither of those 2 things is listed.  No sodium hydroxide, no oil, NO SOAP!  Right?

Now, to be fair (and I’m editing to be fair because I felt a little guilty about skimming over this information) the ingredients list sodium tallowate and sodium coconate.  That’s another way of indicating the results of saponified tallow and coconut oil.  Yeah, it’s soap, but the addition of the remaining items in the list make it less soap and more soap-ish.  It’s soapish.

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Soap vs Detergent, Round 1. FIGHT!

In my last entry I talked a bit about what makes soap soap.  And clarified that most commercial cleansing products are not soap, they’re detergents.  So the big question is: so effing what?

Here’s the thing, what ends up on your skin affects how your skin behaves.  Most of us want calm, evenly toned, un-hurty skin.  There’s no one path to that goal, but what you use in your journey can affect how hard it is to get there.  So let’s talk about skin.

Your skin is more than just skin.  Meaning, it’s not just that pink/tan/brown stuff that covers your bones and keeps the blood in.  It’s a barrier comprised of various features that ultimately seek to keep harmful bacteria and gunk out.  You’ve got hairs, you’ve got living cells, you’ve got dead cells on top of that, you’ve got sweat and sebaceous glands.  Your personal hygiene routine should accommodate all of those things.

Western culture has taught us that squeaky clean is ideal for skin and hair, but that’s simply not true. Zest “soap” commercials even featured an actress squeaking her finger down a glass shower door to show how “clean” you could be.  But there’s a cost to being squeaky clean.  it leaves you oil-free, sweat free, sebum free, and more receptive to microbial invaders.

That’s right, oil you’ve been taught to fear actually keeps you healthy.  Which doesn’t mean you should just quit showering entirely and walk around all greasy every day.  There’s a healthy balance.  That healthy balance is your acid mantle. To put it in the most basic terms, the acid mantle is a combination of sweat and sebum that forms an ultra-fine coating on your skin and keeps it waterproof and resistant to bacteria.  What’s sebum?  It’s the oil that is excreted from sebaceous glands through tiny ducts in your hair follicles.  I want to point out that all of these blog posts started because of shaving, and here we come back to the importance of those dastardly hairs. Curse you, mammalian biology!

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The Scoop on Soap

I broke up this rambling thought process into multiple entries because the first was more about shaving, and this one is more about soap.  Why?  Because I used to do a bit of trade in hand-crafted artisan cold process soap (see my long-dead Etsy store for proof.  Sorry for the highfalutin product descriptions, but they really seemed to click with buyers).  In other words, I have a passion for soap, skin care, and all that good crap.

Question: Why should you give a damn about soap?
Answer: Because what you put on your skin affects how your skin looks and feels.

Let’s start with the basics.  What is soap?  Most people use the word “soap” the way they use “kleenex.”  Rather than referring to a very specific product, they’re referring to a product category.  To get technical, soap is the result of a combination of an alkali and a fatty acid.  More specifically, it’s usually the combination of sodium or potassium hydroxide and some kind of oil.  Let’s use one of my simpler recipes as an example.  Don’t worry, I’m out of business so I make no money by promoting my stuff:

Ingredients: Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Coconut Oil, Lavender Tea, Sodium Hydroxide, Wildflower Honey, Grapeseed Oil, Salt, Lavender Buds, Lavender Essential Oil

Let me break that down.  You have a blend of fatty acids (Olive oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil) and sodium hydroxide.  Congrats, It’s soap!  In addition you have lavender tea (the water base in which the lye is dissolved), wildflower honey (sugar promotes lather), salt (salt improves hardness), lavender buds (exfoliator) and lavender essential oil (smells good).

Lavender Buff Soap

The bottom line: When you look at the ingredients of a true soap you should see two ingredients: Sodium or Potassium Hydroxide and at least one oil.  Everything else is bonus.  Take away the fragrances and exfoliants and other additives and you’ve still got soap.  Take away the sodium hydroxide and oil and you’ve got a yucky mess that won’t clean a damn thing.  Here’s a slogan for you: Soap: It’s Two Things.  Snappy.

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Soap, Shaving, and Other Non-Crochet Things

This has nothing to do with Xanadoodle or crochet but since this is the only blog I’m currently maintaining I decided to put it here.

Last fall I discovered a fabulous subreddit called /r/wicked_edge.  At the time I was looking for a birthday present for my husband and I’d gotten fixated on the idea of his daily shaving routine.  He’s a big guy with a tough beard and he also happens to shave his head.  That’s a lot of hair removal that he does fairly frequently.

I’ve stood in the grocery store shaving aisle with him as he grimaced at various multi-blade cartridge razors, and tried to help suggest products and ingredients for pre- and post-shave skin care.  What I gleaned from all of this was a sense that shaving wasn’t comfortable.  It was a laborious task that had to be done and more often than not left him feeling bumpy and raspy.  He wasn’t getting the results that the chore deserved.

Now, I’m a bit of a bath product junkie.  I’ve often said that if I won the lottery my first big purchase would be the entire contents of a Walgreen’s store, just so I could try out every product.  I’ve even made and sold my own hand-crafted artisan cold process soaps (proof: my old Etsy store).  I’m not a particularly appearance-focused gal, and in spite of how it sounds I’m actually extremely low maintenance.  I like hygiene products and processes but I don’t like over-engineered solutions.  And there’s nothing more over-engineered than a multi-blade cartridge razor.

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Xanadoodle Reporting for Duty

It’s been about 5 months since my last update, although I have a good excuse.  My job changed a bit and as a result I have very little time for crocheting and blogging.  That’s not the good excuse, that’s the mediocre excuse.  The good excuse is that I’ve been grappling with a bit of wrist pain that flares up when crocheting.  I did a commissioned project over the summer and after 5 dollies I ended up with quite a bit of pain.  It’s been a struggle to get back to pain-free crafting.  But I took a break in my break by doing an homage to Breaking Bad.

Li'l Breaking Baddies, Breaking Bad Amigurumi

Heisenberg Walt, Jesse and a baggie of blue meth

It’s a small effort, considering the large projects I was doing last spring.  But it’s better than no crochet at all.  I’m probably going to have to keep the scale small for a while until my wrist is fully operational again.

Oh and by the way, I created a Google Plus page.  Wanna see?  There’s not much there yet but I like the platform.