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The Journey of a Natural Powder & How It’s Made

Tres Spa Natural Body PowderWhat it takes to make a purely natural powder

We designed our natural body powders by carefully selecting food grade plant based powders that we blend to perfection, creating a unique and effective body powder and a safe alternative to talcum. But before the powder becomes a part of our organic dusting powder, it starts as a lush green plant. This is the journey those lush green plants go through to becoming a silky natural powder.

It’s all about the starch

Starch is what makes the natural powder after all. The leafy green part of the plant manufactures glucose during photosynthesis. Excess is sent to a “holding place” for the plant to use when it needs it. Billions of chloroplasts filled with life sustaining “go juice” in the form of starch just waiting for the time the plant may need it. For tuberous plants like potatoes, arrowroot, tapioca (cassava) and the like, it is in the tuber underground.  For other plants like corn, rice, and wheat it is stored in the seeds. Sago stores it in the pith of the palm leaf stem.

The key to supporting life

A plant will create an enzymatic reaction to break down the cell walls in order to release the starch and support the plants life. We can do this with our internal enzymes when we consume the seeds and the tubers. Our bodies convert the starch to sugar which we then use for energy or store the excess as fat reserves for later use. For our purpose, here at Très Spa, we aren’t interested in eating as much as we are interested in feeding your skin in harmony with nature.. So we want the natural powder form of these botanical manufacturers starch reserves.

Then you harvest the store

The plants are harvested once they reach a maturity that yields a significant starch storage. For tubers, it’s the size of the root and for corn, wheat , and coconut it’s the endosperm that provides the starch. For corn, think about the ear loaded with kernels.  When it comes to coconut, it’s the “meat” and the water inside the hard shell.

Once the plant is harvested the process is to go through a series of rinse + sift, rinse + grind and rinse + dry the starchy pulp until you get the fine natural white powder starch in the end. That may sound simple but it is laborious.

What does the process look like?

Currently, we use Organic Cornstarch, Organic Arrowroot, and Organic Tapioca. So what does the process look like for these plant starches to be processed into one of our choice natural powders? I think a picture speaks a thousand words so here is the process broken down for you

First things first, you need to grow the plant

Arrowroot plants

Then, when it is developed enough, you harvest the mature roots

Arrowroot freshly harvested
Cleaning the fresh harvested arrowroots

Then you need to clean and prep the roots 

softening the arrowroots

Then you start the process of a series of soaking stages in order to soften the cell walls 

Pounding the pulp of the arrowroot

Grind the roots to a pulp over and over will eventually seperate the fiber from the starch

rinse and pound, rinse and pound the arrowroot

Rinse and repeat as many times as you need with each step yielding a finer material 

drying the pulp

Dry the fine pulp and grind 

grinding the pulp to the finest powder

Finally grind it to the most delicate light fluffy powder. Now it’s ready! 

In the end, we here at Très Spa feel the extra work (and cost) is worth it. Not just for the fact we really think plants are better for you, but because done responsibly and organically, this process can be repeated over and over and over making plant starches very eco-friendly sustainable planet friendly ingredient to use for our Organic Dusting Powders!

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Keep Your Cool With Talc Free Powder

This little Ellie knows, a splash of powder can do wonders to keep her nice and cool in the heat. It looks like she has a lovely pile of clay, and possible talc, to fluff on. You have better choices at your disposal.

Keep Cool & Comfortable

What is the Best Powder To Use, Tres Spa Organic PowderWhen I was a young girl I learned an amazing trick from my grandmother on how to keep cool in the sweltering heat. A dusting of powder over your skin can help keep you feeling cool and comfortable. The powder helps wick the water away from your skins surface and it creates a silky barrier to friction. Even though it can be messy to use, I highly recommend it for any man women or child to try. Trust me, you wont regret it.

Back In The Day….

Back in the day before climate controlled housing with air conditioning, there was very little you could do to escape the sweltering summer heat. You could sit in front of the fan, which often times felt like opening the door to the oven. You could take a cool shower only to emerge and get covered in sticky sweat all over again. Neither if these options worked for people on the go. But, when you used powder you could be comfortable. Now it did not stop you from sweating but the surface skin could cool faster thereby keeping you more comfortable.

What Goes Into Other Powder?

The vast majority of commercial powders on the market today are made in whole or in part by Talc.

So what is Talc? It is soft clay mineral deposits of magnesium silicate that are found in bands of deposits all around the world. The mineral is not water soluble and is very easy to grind into a very fine powder that feels silky or “greasy” to the touch. These are probably two of the big reasons that it became so pervasive in commercial products: ease of use and cheap to mine.

Talc Is Cheap

Since it is abundant and cheap, it took off in mass manufacturing. You can find Talc used in any number of industrial, pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic applications. It can be found in rubber and plastic to pills to baby powder. It is every where and is considered by the FDA to be a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient. Talc is cheap to mine, and easy to use with a high predictability of performance. And before you ask, the EU allows unrestricted use of magnesium silicate (talc) but has restrictions on talc (magnesium silicate). Yes I am just as confused as you so if you figure this out, let me know.

What’s The Fuss About?

Well, there have been some suspicions raised as to the link with certain forms of cancer. namely Ovarian cancer and Lung cancer and to other pulmonary issues. While science studies have been mixed, they have linked plausibility of talc’s contribution or causation of cancer. And if that weren’t enough, there is also the link to asbestos. Strips of magnesium silicate are often found next to or near stripes of asbestos ore. There is a class grading system of industrial, cosmetic, and food grade. They say this grading system seems to do the trick in keeping traces of asbestos out of the higher grade talc.

Recently, Johnson & Johnson just lost a highly publicized lawsuit to a family in Alabama who had lost a mother to ovarian cancer. More lawsuits are waiting in the wings. Yet with all the legal hoopla,  talc is still used commercially and that probably wont change. For them, the risk is worth it. Talc is cheap to mine, and easy to use with a high predictability of performance.

So What About Très Spa Dusting Powders?

Personally I don’t like to gamble with life so I never bothered with Talc. When I formulate I like to think in terms of living in harmony with the world as much as possible. My first preference is to look for renewable ingredients that are sustainable. You can grow and harvest and re-grow plants but once you mine a mineral it is gone (not to mention the scars left on the land behind). That is why the powders we make at Très Spa are 100% botanical with a long history of human safety and no “suspicious” findings.  It’s more expensive and it is more challenging to formulate but we feel you are worth it. So if your Tres Spa powder doesn’t feel like talc, there is a good reason, it’s because it isn’t. It is water soluble and made from the finely ground plants that are used in food you eat.

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Cruelty Free Skin Care, Is It?

Cruelty Free Skincare

Très Spa logo and tag lineYes! Of course Très Spa is cruelty free skincare. I would think our logo and our tag line would be a ‘give-away’ but we know it is important to make the statement clear and loud. So there is no doubt about it, we only use plant based ingredients. There is no need to test our products on anyone or anything to know its potential side effects. Our ingredients have been used for centuries so the record is very long! In some cases hundreds of years long.

Being Cruelty Free is something you may tend take for granted, we kind of did, but turns out it’s a pretty big deal after all.  With the advances we have in software and other technology, it’s hard to believe that animal testing still exists. But, sadly it does. It’s still practiced in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry (as well as others) and sometimes that bleeds over into skincare (since it is a cosmetic) where they share some similar ingredients.

What Does Cruelty Free Mean

So what does it mean when a company says their products are cruelty free? It means that no animal was tested using the product. It is not a controlled claim in that there is no governing body but it is generally accepted and a common practice. However, the cruelty free standard only goes so far. It does not expand beyond the manufacturer of the finished goods. Historically it did not reach into the entire supply chain for each and every one of the ingredients that goes into that end product. So the claim falls a bit short of the mark in our opinion (but we do have some pretty high standards).

Synthesized Compounds Must Be Tested

Think about it. Every time the scientists take to the lab and cook up that new enzyme or synthetic compound to make you look younger or sexier, they have to test it. It has to be tested for effectiveness and safety.  How do you think they do this? Unfortunately, they turn to subjects that cannot speak out for themselves. However, there is new ground being made in farming human skin to test cosmetics on.

New compounds designed in a lab don’t have the same advantage as natural ingredients do, century’s worth of human “hands on experience”. Nature, in its unaltered state or un-isolated,  the totality is well known and records have been well established. Now, there are some that would argue that testing has been done in the past and they may be correct. But that testing would have been decades ago.

Beyond the testing requirements for the new science, we wonder about the collateral damage these new concoctions may have. They need to be manufactured so what kind of waist is created? And what happens when the synthesized compounds reach the eco-system? Did you know that there are places in the world that have banned some skin care products due to their deleterious effects on the environment?! Sun screens and Bug repellents are notorious. *If you want an environment friendly bug repellent, you should check out our Hiker’s Heaven line. 

We Are 100% Cruelty Free Vegan Company

At Tres Spa, we’re glad we chose to go 100% natural. No additional testing required by the supply chain to know the safety and effectiveness of our ingredients. Since all of our natural compounds are well known, the only testing we ever do is on willing customers interested in trying new blends.

Taking control of the Cruelty Free claim

With the advent of a couple of self policing verifying agencies, consumers can have a little more confidence when choosing brands to support. Groups like CCF, Leaping Bunny, and PETA do look beyond the finished product. They verify the ingredients that go into the finished product be cruelty free. They have managed to stretch the reach of cruelty free so when you see the logos on products or marketing material for a company, you can have more confidence about their stance on Cruelty Free.

We verified and double checked all of our vendors and ingredients from the very beginning. Eventually we reached out for certification. That is how we became recognized by PETA as a Vegan and Cruelty Free Company. You can read more about that here.

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Hypoallergenic Skincare. Is it?

Hypoallergenic Is It Even Real

We have all seen the labels and the marketing material stating that a product is hypoallergenic. What makes it so, what does that mean, and why say it? It’s a marvelous word signifying the product is less apt to cause an allergic reaction.  It sounds so clinical, official and sterile. Like nothing bad could happen to you if you used this product.  The word hypoallergenic makes you think that this is skincare you can trust.

Invented By Marketing

In fact, there are no definitive tests or standards to test for such a thing. It is not a medical or scientific term, it was a term coined by a cosmetic company in the 1950’s. They wanted to convince consumers that the product was less likely to cause an irritation than the other product. It sounded good from a marketing angle and lots of folks grabbed a hold of it from there and ran with it. Many people think that it means that the products will not cause allergic reactions but with the complexities of allergies it is impossible for any manufacturer to make a claim of “no allergic reaction” or “allergy free” .  To claim a product is hypoallergenic means that the manufacturer is claiming the ingredients are less apt to cause an allergic reaction than others.

Word Play

So let us run a hypothetical situation. Let’s pretend that you are a manufacturer of cosmetics. You make a line of foundation make up. You have a long list of ingredient compounds that go into this foundation product. Say you start getting feedback that there is a part of the population that is having an allergic reaction (usually slight redness, heat, or itchiness). You want happy customers! So you go back to your lab and you isolate the compound that may be the perpetrator and you either change your formula a bit and re release as “Re Formulated” or you run a new line with a new set of compounds and call it “Hypoallergenic”.

I have often been perplexed by cosmetic companies who have a “hypoallergenic” line. As opposed to what? a High Allergy line. But then, I am a boutique and I carry one line, an all natural line. I can see though, why large manufacturers would want to use the term and I like to try not to be cynical and believe they are trying to create a more gentle line rather than using hype to deceive the consumer.

Keep It Simple, Keep It Natural

With Très Spa, we feel natural plant based is the best for you and for the planet. So we create products in Harmony with Nature and we disclose all of the ingredients on our website as well as our labels. Très Spa products serve a broad spectrum of customers and some that suffer from allergies to various ingredients as well as those with particularly challenging skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. So even though Très Spa products could be considered hypoallergenic, we choose not to actively market that. We feel it is far better to use natural and botanical ingredients in our formulations and disclose what each ingredient is then let you, the consumer, choose what works best for you.  After all, you know what you are allergic to.

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Creation, How Essential Oils Are ‘Born’

At least how essential oils are created! Told by one of the most amazing, kind, gentle souls.

It’s no secret and I am not ashamed of it, I love love love essential oils. I find them to be completely fascinating. Perhaps I am wired a bit odd but when I experience an oil, a universe unfolds for me. The power they have in supporting us in Mind, Body, and Spirit is undeniable. The history of their effectiveness is as old as time. Now, I am the first to admit that I am not the most sciencey in explaining them.

I do have an appreciation and a desire to really understand the practical science behind each of the ingredients I use to formulate. So I take the time to read and research and listen to wise people like Robert Tisserand.

I have been a huge fan of his for many years and started reading his books and his on-line content before I ever launched Très Spa. He has a gift for explaining the complex in such a graceful way. He is not emotional about it and doesn’t give into artificial hype or commercialism. I find I can truly trust his insight.

I had to share this with you. So carve out 12 minutes and listen to this brilliant man share  How Essential Oils are Created in Plants. *At the 7 minute mark he starts to talk about peppermint and the journey…..fascinating!


Here are a couple of books to add to your reading library:

This is the first book I had ever purchased on Aromatherapy

The most recent and amazing guide book

Robert now has a web based “university of learning” called the Tisserand Institute. Check it out here