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How soap works

What is soap?

Tres Spa Organic Soap - Harmony

As defined by the FDA, the governing agency in the US, true soap is the alkali salt of fatty acids. That’s it. End of definition.

It really is pretty straightforward and anything else is not considered to be soap at all, it would be a detergent. This is the case for soaps and shampoo. Most body and hair cleansers out there are fortified with synthetic chemicals to enhance lather and alter the cleaning process so much to the point they are no longer a true soap at all. They would be treated Very few soaps are true soaps. In fact, beyond handcrafters like Très Spa, I’m not sure if there is any large scale manufacturer of true soap.

How is it made?

Traditional soap is made by combining fatty acids (oil) from either plant, animal, or mineral with an alkali (lye) of either potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. At Très Spa we only use certified organic plant oils and, since we do not make liquid soap, sodium hydroxide to formulate all of our soap and shampoo.

Once the acid and the alkali are combined they begin to react and combine eventually creating a solid block. The chemical reaction of the two is called saponification. The result is a alkali salt or what we all call soap.

How does it work?

There’s a lot more going on than just pretty bubbles when you activate your soap!

Soap is a a perfectly balanced yin and yang of hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules. One loves water and the other is repelled by it. This nature is what allows the soap to act as an emulsifier allowing liquids to diffuse together.

So lets say you rubbed a bar of soap against your skin or a bar of shampoo across your scalp and hair when water is present. You need the water in order to get the soap to jump into action and line up accordingly. One end points away from the water and grabs hold of anything but water. So dirt, oil, and any other surface debris gets surrounded on all sides by the soap. Eventually the water comes by and the hydrophilic ends of the soap catch the wave pulling the debris and surface oil away from the surface and down the drain.

No matter what the application is, soap works the same every time.

What happens to your skin after soap

Your skin’s top mantle is slightly acidic, balancing between 4+ to 6+ on the pH scale . Soap is slightly alkali dancing between 8 to 10. There is no way to know for sure exactly what the pH is of your handcrafted soap since it continues to change as it ages, but they usually fall in a range that is ideal for cleansing the top mantle of the skins protective layer.

Once the soap passes over the skin, the mantles pH is temporarily adjusted. Don’t panic, it will turn back to normal in a short time. In fact, you may not even notice since . If your pH is high you may feel a bit dry. Très Spa Organic Soaps are super-fatted at 5% so that when you use them, your skin feels soft and supple. Less disruptive to the natural balance of the skins mantle.

What happens to your face after soap

The skin on your face operates just like the rest of your body. Likewise, it responds the same to soap, a momentary shift in pH then a re-balancing. Your goal is to keep the pores unclogged and clean while not damaging the balance.

Très Spa Organic Face Cleanser is formulated with exfoliates to help clear out debris, dead skin cells, and unclog pores. They also include more super-fatting than our bar soaps so this will leave a more moisturized feeling. Limiting your face washing to once a day, before bed, should be all you need to maintain a fresh healthy face.

What happens to your hair after soap

Digital StillCamera

When it comes to washing your hair, there are two areas to look at. One is the scalp, which is very similar to the rest of your skin when you wash with soap. The lather carries away the dirt, debris, and excess oil. The other area is the hair shaft. The lather wraps around the hair cuticle then carries away the dirt, debris, and excess oil. While the skin on the scalp reacts much the same as everywhere on your body, the hair follicles also respond to soap. The act of washing the hair temporarily adjusts the porosity of the cuticle by making it softer and more receptive to absorbing nutrients and moisture. Très Spa Organic Shampoo’s are specifically formulated with plants that are beneficial in supporting strong healthy hair.

To keep the hair system healthy and stable, we recommend adopting a specific routine to suit your specific needs.

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The beautiful truth

Beauty does not exist

At least there is no one fixed interpretation of what is beautiful. Is it a look, a smell, a touch? It is actually a combination of all of these things and more. But here is the most interesting truth about beauty, it is always open for interpretation. Like a work of art, you are beautiful. Everyone might not agree with us, but that is okay. They have their own internal definition of beauty and how it looks or acts.

The lens of what true beauty is is heavily influenced by a persons internal perceptions and experiences in life as well as the societal norms. For some people really long earlobes and blackened teeth are quite fetching, but that look is not for everyone. Some love the smell of lavender and others are revolted by it. I once knew a person who loved the smell of stinky feet. Can you imagine that?! Go figure!

Beauty requires diversity

Each of us determines the level of attractiveness for ourselves. We may have some similar interests that stem from primal survival and our desire to preserve. But how we pull them all together is unique for the individual. Thank goodness we live in such a diverse world with such wonderful variety of humans.

With so many people on the planet, we would guess that there is at least one of every kind and at least one admirer. But you don’t need to wait for validation from the outside world. Sure, it’s nice to have it. But you can feel beautiful and accepted all on your own.

Beauty is a feeling

We can all agree on this one thing; The most important characteristic of what makes you beautiful is how you feel about yourself. And, quite frankly, how you feel about you and how you treat yourself is the most important loving relationship you can form. After all, this is how you will express love and care for others. So beauty starts from within and it begins with you.

But feeling beautiful does not come easy for many of us. Some of us may feel discounted and over looked by the world around us. Some of us who have suffered ridicule may have an even harder time and struggle to even feel half way decent. So saying you have to feel beauty on the inside might pose a problem. Try these tips to help you spark your inner beauty.

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What Is A Body Powder For?

Tres Spa what is a body powder forWhat are the uses for body powder or dusting powder

and is there a difference….

I’m always stunned when I hear this question, but if you are asking it, you are not alone. I had assumed everyone had learned about powder until I introduced the Très Spa Organic Dusting Powder product line. I was amazed at how many questions I received from people who never learned about the advantages of a good dusting powder. So I created this post is for you.

First, let me clarify, powder is powder no matter what you add to the title: Body Powder, Baby Powder, Dusting Powder, Skin Powder, Magic Powder, whatever you can think of. They all share one over-arching purpose and that is to create a silky barrier for the skin to wick away water and oil and to prevent rubbing irritation.

Now, having said that, all powders are not created equal. Each manufacturer chooses what they will use.  At Très Spa we choose organic botanical as our foundation for several reasons. You can read more about that later.

My first introduction to powder

When I was a baby, I had very fussy skin. Prone to rash and eczema, I even sported the signature red rosy cheeks!

At the time, doctors encouraged mothers to help keep baby’s bottom dry with a dusting of baby powder. The product that dominated the market was made with talc and, at the time, they did not realize the hazards (or potential ones) of using talc.

We know better than that now. There are more than one class of materials that can be used to make a body powder. But there were some significant benefits to using body powders. Namely keeping my skin dry and friction free.

Some things you never outgrow

Clearly powders can be used to keep baby’s bottom soft and dry, but it turns out that powders can also help grown-ups keep their nether regions cool and comfortable. Ask anyone who has ever worked a kitchen (especially men). They will tell you they had their own box of cornstarch and that little box saved their family jewels.

Use a body powder to keep you fresh and cool

OK, now I am going to get really real here  but you should know this: There are two regions on the adult body that require special consideration. All of us humans have areas that tend to heat up. Due to the fact that hair is also present, our sweat glands pair with sebaceous glands to release both water and oil.

Unfortunately, these areas of the body are less apt to be able to catch a breeze to help them cool off and dry out. They may need a little help. If you saw the experiment of three powders, look to the phase 2 and the images in step 4 and step 5. You can imagine how this would be on your skin. You can see why powder will help to keep you cool and comfortable and prevent friction.  It’s kind of like this…

Use as a deodorant

Depending on the season or how much you sweat, you can even consider using powder to protect those pits. It’s my preferred “go to” in the winter and I use it with my body stick in the summer (a one-two punch) on really hot days. Other factors play a role, too, such as how much or how often you shower, whether or not you shave, if you work out, if you shower daily, what you eat (curry fans and garlic fiends know what I mean. Hard to hide that love affair!), clean clothes, etc.

Use at the gym

If you lift weights, you know you do not want your skin to catch and pinch on the bar. You need a smooth slick surface or you run the risk of ripping your skin. Chalk is a type of powder. You could say it is powder in cake form. Typically, it is also talc powder, so if that concerns you, I suggest you pack your own body powder. An obvious choice would be Très Spa’s Gun Powder.

As a marathon runner with very sensitive skin, I was always prone to rubbing and chaffing from my feet to my inner thighs to under the bra line and the inner bicep. Body Powder is how I spelled relief both before and after a run. Even though I may have a rubbed rash after the 26.2 miles, once I showered and dusted off I could literally feel my skin sigh with relief.

For the best sleep of your life

If you have never had the chance to know what it feels like to sleep naked on silk sheets, then here is a treat for you and way more eco-friendly than silk (don’t do it). Get some astronomically large thread count organic sheets or, better yet, an organic cotton and bamboo blend. Take those lovely sheets and dust them with a organic botanical powder. Slip into the bed and into the most luxurious feeling of soft bliss.

For fresh healthy feet

There is nothing worse than stinky feet. Well, maybe stinky feet with athletes foot. Yuck! Use a powder to help keep your feet cool dry and comfortable! A good foot powder with tea tree and peppermint oil can also help keep your shoes and feet fresh all day long.

Some other unconventional uses

Powder off after a day at the beach. The powder will help separate the wet sand from your skin. So pack that powder when you head to the beach. And if you’re a surfer, you definitely could use powder! Head to toe!

Use it as a dry shampoo.

Remove oil stains on clothes.  Depending on the type of powder, it can help “pull” oil out of fabric. Simply dust the area with the body powder and let it work its magic. Brush away the powder and repeat if needed.

Powders can also create a safe barrier between you and crawly bugs. Did you know you could create a line of powder across your doorway or window sill and ants won’t cross it? Spiders don’t like powder and they get especially peeved if there is peppermint present.

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Is Talc Powder Bad For Me

Tre Spa Is Talc Powder Bad for me

No hype, is Talc powder bad for me?

I know there are lots of articles out there and at times there seems to be a great deal of hype and blustering around talc powder, alarmist and extremist. I try to sift through it and present you with information so you can make your own decision.

Talc powder has been around and in use for a very long time and has been widely used for a very long time. It is found all around the globe in veins of deposits. It is a mineral that was formed when magmatic rock, rich in magnesium, experienced a hydrothermal reaction. When liquid rock meets super heated water and pressure? Transformation! Talc a very soft mineral. In fact, it is the softest measuring, only 1 on the mohs scale. You can flake it away with your fingernail; so, you can imagine, it doesn’t take much to mine and gather talc powder. However, there are some things to note here.


Mineral deposits are rarely pure. There is usually some cross-contamination from other deposits and minerals seeping over. For example, many of the talc veins run very close to asbestos, a known carcinogen. Now, not all veins do and there is pure talc, you just need to trust that the suppliers have properly processed and tested the purity. Call me a cynic, but I think this might be problematic.

Cancer link and Pulmonary Disease

In all fairness to talc, there is no conclusive evidence linking pure talc to cancer. Last time I checked the American Cancer Society page on talc, there were no conclusions on links to cancer when the talc did not have asbestos. OK, but you can make the leap: asbestos might be present if the talc was not tested properly.

Having said that, I will note one major US brand has been hit with several major lawsuits sighting a direct link to their powder (talc) and ovarian cancer. I have not read the cases all the way through but the company and their supplier were fined. This makes me think there must be something amiss. Like some testing was done wrong or ignored. They lost three major cases (and more are on the way) but recently won one so you be the judge. You can read the cases for yourself and let me know what you find. Seems to me that each time the winner declared the science was on their side!?

As far as lung disease, miners and millers are the most at risk because they can be exposed to trace amounts of carcinogens when they handle the material in its raw, unrefined state. Miners are also exposed to radon so it’s difficult to find a conclusive, direct link. Also, due to it’s ultra fine powder it is very easy to unintentionally inhale talc powder. Talc powder in the lungs can cause pulmonary disease. This is the key reason that most if not all doctors caution it’s use around infants.


Talc powder is a mineral that does have a finite supply. Any item that is mined or pumped from the earth is not sustainable, plain and simple. The geothermal reactions that created the deposits happened long before we showed up and they aren’t going to be repeated. Once it runs out, it is gone forever.

Naturally designed for living organisms

I don’t know how else to say it: Our bodies are not designed to process talc powder. It is not a mineral that has any advantages to the human organism. It is not digestible or biodegradable so if it gets in, there is no way to convert talc powder into anything usable for the body. So if it cannot be converted what’s it going to do. Perhaps your body, with it’s natural defenders, may be able to flush it out somehow, but what if some gets stuck. On a molecular level it would be like inviting an invader into your home that just stays and festers…forever. You hope it never causes trouble, but there is always a chance.

So why use it when you can use plant powders to do the same thing? This is my biggest hang up about talc powder; it offers no additional value, it is not sustainable, it acts as a foreign invader if it ever gets inside the body. We know that plant starches can do the job of helping to keep us dry and cool almost as well. Our bodies know what to do with plant starches and we will either use it to our advantage, convert it to something we need, or purge it out. So why risk using talc powder? To save a few bucks?

What would you rather use?

For those of us at Tres Spa, we would much rather use a pure botanical solution. One that the body naturally knows what to do with.

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What Is The Best Body Powder To Use

Vegetable vs. Mineral, What’s The Best Body Powder To Use?

What is the Best Body Powder To Use, Tres Spa Organic PowderThe whole purpose of any powder is to cover the skin with a light silky coating. The goal is to create a protective layer and to wick water away from the surface.  This is how powders work no matter what their chemical structure is.  But they don’t all work exactly the same and some of them have some pretty big caution flags for personal care use.

Traditional Talc

This is a Talc MineTraditionally, powders were made with mined  minerals or clays. The most common mined mineral is Talc and you can find the use far and wide from industrial to pharmaceutical to cosmetic. Talc is  hydrated magnesium silicate, a very fine substance and rates only a 1 on the MOHS scale of hardness for minerals. That means it is so soft you can actually flake it with your finger nail. It can be found in veins  all over the globe and was formed hydrothermal alteration of magnesium-rich magmatic rocks. The mines are plentiful and it’s fairly cheap raw material. It also has a shelf life of eternity. All those factors make it very appealing for manufacturing. Unfortunately, it is usually found near asbestos veins as well but not always so not all talc contains trace amounts of asbestos.  And recently there have been a few lawsuits citing Talc as a leading cause of cervical cancer. There are also some studies that link pulmonary disease with talc which has caused many pediatricians to recommend against using it for children.

I checked the American Cancer Society to see where they stood on the matter and they had stated that there was no conclusive evidence linking Talc to causing cancer as long as there was no asbestos present in the talc. remember we talked about the fact that it is common to find the veins run close together. Here is a link to their article for you: Talcum Powder and Cancer

Clay: The Other Mineral

Next are other minerals we will just lump into one major category called Clay. There are a several different groups of clay based on the chemical combination of the minerals. All clay is hydrous aluminium silicates, made up of ultra fine mineral particles and some minor impurities. They can become plastic like when wet.

Fun fact on clay. Did you know that water had to be present in order for it to form? That makes clay rare in the solar system.

Clay is used in many products from creating ceramics to paint filler to rubber, plastics and hi gloss paper manufacturing. But the ultra fine grade is used in cosmetics. Just about every dry powder formulation and even in some wet ones like scrubs and face masks can be made using clay in part or as a whole. Still used today by aboriginal tribes, it can also work as  a sunscreen. For skin care, the most common clay is the purified white kaolin, with and ultra fine texture that feels like silk to the touch when it is dry.

You can read more about my experiment and the observable differences here: I personally haven’t seen anything against it other than the fact that any mineral may have impurities and it can be “plastic like” when mixed with water and it felt goopy sticky when I mixed it with oil. Again, clay is pretty bountiful and fairly cheap to come by which makes it an common filler used by some to keep manufacturing costs down.

Pure Natural Botanical

Pounding Roots Into Pulp For PowderMore recent in the skin care world and less common are powders made entirely from plant starches. Personally I think it’s pretty fantastic how starch is made. Plant sources for starch powder can be anything from tuberous plants to seeded ones. The most common plants are corn, wheat, and rice as a seed version. Less common would be coconut, beans and peas. Arrowroot, potato, and tapioca  are all examples of starchy tuber plants. You can read more about how the starches we use in Très Spa formulations are created: From lush green plant to delicate soft white powder

Plant starches are used in many products including pharmaceutical and paper making but most common are food based products. There are so many  varieties of plant starches to choose from and each one has a slightly different texture and behavior. With such a variety there is a seemingly endless array of combinations when you add in other powdered food ingredients like honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut. Hmm that has me thinking of a future product…..  Plant starches are renewable and sustainable, they are digestible (your inside and your outside can deal with it), and they can qualify as certified organic. But they are way more expensive to formulate with and there is a variance in the texture and behavior based on the plant so that is probably why most manufacturers shy away from using pure botanical.

Hybrids, A Little Of This And That 

There are some formulators that combine two groups into a hybrid mash-up. For example one may use talc with corn starch or maybe kaolin with rice powder. I do not know why other than to cut cost by using a cheap filler with a higher priced plant ingredient.

So What’s It Gonna’ Be?

Given all the information, which powder is the right powder for you comes down to a personal choice. And in some cases, what you are willing to risk. Personally, I would only use talc as a bug deterrent (sprinkled on the floor or window sills, works great to keep ants out of the house). Clay seems okay for masks and scrubs but based on my observations, I’m not sure how good it would be as a body powder. Seems like you would have to have a plant starch with it. Then there are the possible impurities and the fact it could never be classed as organic. Which aren’t to intimidating if it all stays on the surface but it doesn’t just stay on the surface.If there is one thing the recent multi million dollar lawsuits should demonstrate it is that what goes on the body goes in eventually.

Personally I have other things in life to worry about, the last thing I want to worry about is my body powder. That is why I kept it simple when I created the Très Spa Organic Dusting Powder  I use only plant based ingredients so if what goes on the outside ever gets to the inside, I have nothing to worry about.

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