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Lotion allergies

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So as the end of my 35 year quest to have my own pottery studio draws nigh, it suddenly occurred to me that the last time I was able to work much, I did not yet know about (and they were not yet as serious then as they are now) my allergies to anything derived from coconut and any other palm.

Basically this boils down to no lotion for me.  To date the only thing I can use is beeswax mixed with mineral oil, or hemp oil (not the druggy kind, the eating kind).  It had not occurred to me until late last night (and yes, this was one of those rare sit-up-in-bed moments where you wonder why the thought of whatever hadn't crossed your mind much much earlier) that this could be a problem for my aged soon-to-be-again potters hands.  I used to use a lot of hand lotion. 

Maybe this is silly - but would anything bad happen to the clay from any kind of contamination from having mineral oil and beeswax on my hands?  Its not like a moisturizer, its just a barrier that helps keep my skin from drying out (even more) so I use it a lot more often than you would lotion.  I am likely to have it on my hands most of the time.  I'm wondering if I should avoid using it pre-throwing.


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Posted (edited)

You know it occurred to me at first that we do use wax resists so ... the beeswax shouldn't hurt anything ...

Then I realized (AFTER reading here) that it was likely to act just like the resist only when and where you don't want it.  LOL!

Thanks.  I'm hopeful I can start making my own moisturizer once I get settled, but it will take some experimenting.  I have one or two recipes for a moisturizer that might work but I have to change the emulsifier they use in the recipe I have because it is palm based.

I went and looked at the bag balm, I hadn't even thought of that.  I checked the ingredients on every product they have (not expecting the soap to pass the palm-free stricture because modern commercial soap always has palm content, where palm means any member of the palm family including coconut). 

There is one soap that doesn't have any palm products on the label.  "Kiss My Face" 86% olive oil soap.  Now they keep telling us that 86% of the ingredients is olive oil and the rest is salt and water, only that isn't how soap is made.  Some people with palm allergies have reported problems with this soap, and I am one of them.  It doesn't happen every time but there seems to be just enough of something I'm allergic to in it that I occasionally get a very mild allergic reaction if I use it on my face.  I'm guessing they use something to artificially harden the soap, something they don't have to proclaim as an ingredient for some reason (like not having to claim lye as an ingredient because it is supposed to be all transformed to soap in the finished product). Olive oil soap is notoriously long-curing, up to a year for it to be fully cured, which I am 100% positive the makers of this soap are not waiting that long to sell the stuff.  Plus I have noticed that this soap does not continue to age as it should.  So for now I use it because it is as close as I can get to palm free until I start making it myself.  I just try to rinse it off as fast as possible LOL!

The one thing besides the soap out of their line that I need to avoid is the "daily hand lotion" moisturizer in the white squeeze tube.  It has at least 10 definitely or most likely palm containing products in the ingredient list.

But everything else they make looks safe.  I do have to laugh at their attempt to jump on the CBD band wagon.  $20 for a 2 oz tin of bag balm with CBD added.  LOL!

I had totally forgotten about bag balm.  I used to use that to help keep ticks out of my horse's ears.  I've actually been using the wood butter for a wooden aromatherapy device on my lips and elbows - it is about 1:4 beeswax/mineral oil and I soften it with a little more mineral oil.  I wouldn't do that with a commercial wood butter, some of them have carnauba wax in them which is a palm.  But this was made by friends of mine so I know what is in it.  Another thing I need to work on, making my own beeswax based stuff.  

Thanks for answering my silly question.


Edited by Pyewackette
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I pour some apple cider vinegar in my palm and spread it all over my hands.   I do this after I have quit for the day and washed up,  the cider replaces the chemicals that the clay pulled off.    Your hands may smell like vinegar for a few minutes,   but it is worth it.  do not rinse off.  My dog loves the smell and follows me around until it wears off.  I use Vasoline if I need any lotion but that doesn't happen very often.     Denice

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, neilestrick said:

@Pyewackette I found THIS SITE that says they're palm free, and list all of their ingredients in case there's something else in there that's bad for you.

Thanks.  They are RED palm free - that's a big deal because of tropical deforestation to put in red palm plantations.

But it contains COCONUT palm derivatives.  It is REALLY REALLY hard to find soap or shampoo without ANY palm content, of ANY species.  I found one conditioner, Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle.  And the only totally palm free shampoo I found was a $30 per 8 oz version of the same hair rinse I make from scratch, using soapnuts and other Indian herbs.  For $30 I make gallons of the stuff LOL!

Don't feel bad.  I was shocked when I found out how widespread the use of various palm derivatives (including coconut) had become in the Western cosmetics/personal care industry.  They are used to make emulsifiers, foaming agents, to increase the absorption of paper products,  to DECREASE absorption, detanglers, stabilizers, you name it, if it can be made from a plant, I guarantee they are also using coconut and palm products to produce it.  The stuff is in toilet paper, paper towels, lip balm.  It is so ubiquitous that for the first year or two after I figured it out, I was still "cheating" because I had no choice.  At first it was just the coconut, then I got some soap that was totally coconut free and had a reaction.  Yeah.  Allergic to the 2 palm derivatives they used in their coconut-free soap LOL!  2 palm products and goats milk.  I know I'm not allergic to goat's milk LOL!

I had a soapmaker get upset with me because she just couldn't grasp the idea that being allergic to one palm product makes it far more likely that you are allergic to others.  Knowing that I am allergic to TWO - red palm and coconut - pretty much guarantees I'm allergic to them all, and in any case - trying it to see what happens is not going to happen LOL!.  That's like telling someone who is allergic to peanuts to "just try this Reese's cup, maybe you're not allergic to it!" LOL!  Well not quite.  But still not going to "experiment" any more.  Every time I have to break my no-palm rule, I have a reaction, and they are getting worse.  I had half-body hives just from trying on a pair of shorts LOL!  (probably something palm related in the sizing)

"Try babassu oil" ... that's a palm.  Murumuru - that's a palm.  Carnauba wax is palm derived.  Illipe - a palm.  Once someone suggested aloe butter because it has a high myristic acid and Lauric acid component (makes soap harder) - that's because it is made with mostly coconut oil LOL!  Pretty sure buriti oil is also a palm product.

A few soapmakers make coconut and palm free soaps, and charge the earth for them.  Well I wasn't too bad at chemistry in my day, and I'm not afraid of a little lye.  Once I get moved I'll figure it out for myself LOL!  I've already got a few potential recipes and lard soap is totally safe and totally allergen free, so I'll start with a standard lard soap and experiment at something less meaty from there LOL!

I've got soap, "shampoo", and conditioner pretty well taken care of, or will soon.  I manage with the 86% olive oil soap as long as I'm careful (so far) and after I get moved I'll see about some 100% olive oil soap and get rid of the other and its occasional problems.  Once I get started making soap that'll be well in hand also.  

It's just an actual moisturizer that is the problem because so many of the emulsifiers are palm based.  Lips and skin, I do ok with beeswax + mineral oil and hemp oil until I can do the mad scientist thing with some moisturizer recipes.

I've already sourced everything I will need.  There is an emulsifier that is derived from olives, so that one is safe, but all my recipes call for one of the emulsifiers that contain palm (including coconut).  So ... we'll see how substituting that works out for me.

You guys are the best!

Edited by Pyewackette
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16 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Oh, I see. Now I get it. I appreciate you explaining it. I knew palm oil was a problem environmentally, by I didn't realize there were that many variations of it.



Ummm ... I do still wash ... just not with commercially available products (by and large)


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Don't know what country you are in, but if you are interested the UK has other olive oil soaps, Olivia for one.  Ingredients are:

Smoothly avoiding mentioning lye, and presumably the sodium chloride is from "salting out".

PS At one time I spent some time reading soap labels as my late wife's family had skin issues. Found olive-oil soaps worked by accident (freebie at a meeting in Greece). Then found that coconut oil was equally acceptable to them, and  available at local supermarkets.

PPS I believe that some mass-produced  modern soaps are not made directly from  triglycerides, but from fatty acids.  (At high pressure and high temperatures triglycerides  react with water to produce fatty acids and glycerine - which can be sold as a by-product.)  The fatty acids react more quickly and completely with alkalis, I suppose they use a stoichiometric amount of sodium carbonate.

Some sellers on UK eBay  sell "stearin", mainly for candle making. The products they sell vary wildly, when I looked some didn't even seem to be fatty acids. Some do claim to be stearic acid  C17H35CO2H. This could be true-ish (fractional crystalisation?) but might really mean tallow-fatty-acids. If true it could be used in  an easier synthesis.

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@PeterH Yeah I've come across a wide variety of things like that ("stearin" vs "stearic acid" and when it isn't actually what they are calling it and other stufz of collision between the worlds of soaping v candlemaking).  There are several versions of hydrogenated soybean oil sold on several candlemaking sites that a lot of soapers are using to make soap with - because we can't find the hydrogenated stuff anywhere else.  Unless you want a tankful.  Some of it has additives intended for making candles burn better or more evenly or other candle-y things, but some people use the stuff anyway.  There is a version that says it has no additives and personally that's what I'm aiming for.

We're not even sure HOW hydrogenated the stuff is - the manufacturers won't give out the fatty acid profile or what's in it besides soybean oil or even how hydrogenated it is.  Fully hydrogenated soybean oil is sought after as a replacement for coconut and other palm oils because its "hardness" factor is higher than any other vegetable source that isn't some kind of palm (including coconut).  But the partially hydrogenated stuff, while still higher than usual, has a lower "hardness" the less hydrogenated the stuff is (like 27% hydrogenated v 38% hydrogenated v fully).

But people use it anyway, largely by guess and by golly.  Considering the amount of math involved, soaping has an awful lot of by guess and by golly.

The partially hydrogenated soybean oil you can get at Costco and such - that has 2% anti-foaming agents in it.  So it doesn't boil over in your deep fryer.  Some people even use that.  I will be passing on those versions.   :wacko:

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