Monday, 18 February 2019

The History of Soap

In the world of personal hygiene, getting clean is big business. From shower gels to cleansing bars and from face washes to body scrubs to name but a few. But what about our old faithful: the humble bar of soap? It seems to be enjoying a bit of resurgence not only in the personal hygiene products market but also in the eco-friendly products market. The latter is mainly because traditional soap does not involve unnecessary packaging or bottling, least of all in the use of plastic such as liquid soaps, and being biodegradable, waste is not a problem. This sits well with many consumers worried about plastic pollution and excessive production of non-recyclable waste. Moreover, the seemingly endless varieties on a tried and tested basic soap formula provide much choice to consumers. So how and where did it all start for soap?

Read the full article here: http://www.soapmakingmagazine.co.uk/blog/index.php/2019/01/23/the-history-of-soap/

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Alternatives to Palm Oil

Image result for palm oilWith current concerns about the use of palm oil and the consequences on the wildlife, there are a number of campaigns that have been promoted to examine the use of palm oil. So what could we use instead by way of alternatives to such a valuable ingredient from foods to the cosmetics and skincare industries?



It is important here to mention the difference between Palm oil and Palm kernel oil. Both come from the palm oil tree, palm oil is pressed from the fruit and palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed. Both can be used in soap making and offer different qualities in a finished product.

Palm kernel oil  is used to make a white coloured, harder bar of soap that provides a fluffy, bubbly lather. This oil is in a solid state at room temperature, which contributes to the hardness of a soap bar.

Palm Kernel alternatives:
Image result for palm oil kernelTwo good choices for alternatives are coconut oil and babassu oil. Palm kernel oil is actually chemically more similar to coconut oil than palm oil, which is probably why many soap manufacturers use both ingredients as both give different properties. Babassu oil on the other hand is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the babassu palm and is indigenous to Brazil.


Palm Oil
Palm oil is used to create a hard soap bar with a stable lather, and is often used to make something more long-lasting and resistant to melting. Using palm oil in  soap will provide a moderate amount of cleansing and conditioning properties. This oil is solid only at cooler temperatures, and is sometimes used as a formula stabiliser in cosmetics. Palm oil is also used in candle making and a key ingredient in soap making because of its excellent lathering and hardening properties. However, in recent years palm oil has gained a bad reputation due to its questionable sustainability.

Palm Oil alternatives:
Some say there is no ‘perfect’ alternative to Palm oil in soap making because of its exceptional results but as always, it is down to product development and personal preferences. When searching for a replacement, we need to take these properties in to account as well as cost and of course, sustainability.

Below are some of the most widely used and acceptable substitutes to palm and why:
  • Shea Butter
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Animal Tallow
Shea Butter
Possibly one of the best alternatives and a favourite amongst those manufacturers concerned about our environment and sustainability. Also known as Karite butter, Shea Butter is made from the nuts of Karite nut trees that grow in the Savannah regions of West and Central Africa. It has the following properties that make it idea for soap making:
    Image result for Shea Butter Cocoa Butter
  • Oil type – Hard (same category as Palm)
  • High in oleic acid – conditioning and lathering properties similar to that of palm
  • Excellent moisturising properties
  • Softens skin
  • Palmitic acid present to contribute towards soap ‘hardness’
  • Organic variation available

Cocoa Butter
This is a vegetable fat which has a fantastic chocolate-y aroma. It is extracted from the cocoa bean and is also very popular in cooking as well as soap making. All the following factors mean it is a close second to palm oil in soap making.
  • Oil type – Hard
  • Provides moisture- good for eczema, dermatitis, stretch marks
  • High in antioxidants
  • Stable even levels of palmitic, stearic & oleic acids- gives hardness, a creamy lather & good conditioning.

Animal Tallow
The traditional roots were such that before palm oil, fatty oils such as beef tallow (fat from rendered beef) or lard were used, mainly due to their large availability being an animal by-product. Most historic soap recipes would usually call for tallow or lard because of their properties, which are listed below. This may not be a great alternative for everybody, because vegan products are now also talking over in popularity from animal products.
    Image result for Shea Butter Cocoa Butter Animal Tallow
  • Oil type – Tallow and Lard are both hard oils (same category as Palm)
  • Not vegetarian/vegan friendly…
  • However, it’s making good use of animal by-product
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent creamy lathering qualities
  • Traditionally used to create a hard bar of soap (Similar to reasons for using palm)
About Palm oil and ‘RSPO’
The RSPO - The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil. Members of RSPO, and participants in its activities come from many different backgrounds, including plantation companies, processors and traders, consumer goods manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products, financial institutions, environmental NGOs and social NGOs, from many countries that produce or use palm oil. The RSPO vision is to “transform the markets by making sustainable palm oil the norm". If it’s grown sustainably, palm oil production can benefit local communities, and help to protect valuable species and forests. By using sustainable practices, farmers can increase their income by making more palm oil from less land”

Why is this important?
Related imageThe palm oil supply chain, from the tropics to its use as an ingredient in retail products all over the world, is complex. It can be hard to know exactly where the palm oil in the final product has come from. To ensure the credibility of the sustainability claim at the end of the supply chain, all organisations that take legal ownership and physically handle RSPO certified sustainable oil palm products need to be supply chain certified. Transparency and credibility are assured through RSPO Supply Chain Certification and RSPO Principles and Criteria Certification.


It is also worth noting, as this is a ‘hot’ topic at the moment, that as humans in general we are using the earth’s resources to the point of destruction, if it’s not Palm oil plantations, then it’s soya or Shea. By boycotting one product, this will naturally put more pressure to produce larger amounts of another, so we should really be looking at how we can use highly renewable and sustainable products as we move into the future and start caring for our planet so the next generation (humans and animals alike) will still have a home.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Liquid Soap vs Solid Soap

Image result for liquid soapFor a long time, when it came to personal cleanliness, there was only one frontline fighter: bar soap. Of course, bar soap came in many guises -- square bars and rounded bars, scented and unscented, clear and opaque but its essential look and function went unchanged for hundreds of years. Then other cleansers -- both soap and non-soap formulas -- began to appear. Bar cleansers were joined by liquid products, which were first used primarily for hand washing. The market eventually became flooded with shower gels, also known as body washes, which quickly became a popular alternative to bar soap.

If you've spent any time in the skin care aisle at your local store, you know that figuring out which products to buy, soap and non-soap cleansers included, can be a very time-consuming task. So which is better -- bar soap or liquid soap? You might be relieved to know that at a very basic level there is no real difference between the two. All types of true soap are composed of the same essential components -- alkali salts of fatty acids and detergent properties. The detergent in soap, which is called a surfactant, allows oil and dirt to mix with and be washed away by water.

Related imageLike so many health and beauty products, there are advantages and disadvantages to both bar soap and liquid soap. One of the main complaints about bar soap is that it washes away more than just dirt. Harsh bar soaps can deplete your skin of the moisture it needs to stay healthy. Liquid soaps, on the other hand, often contain moisturisers, but they're also more likely to have fragrances and other additives that can make sensitive skin crawl.

If you're thrifty, you may find that bar soap is friendlier to your pocketbook than liquid soap. However, if you're not too fond of the slimy mess bar soap can leave in your soap dish, you might think liquid soap is worth the extra cost.

Over the last few years, a debate has flared up over which is better: stalwart bar soap or showy shower gel. Before you choose sides, keep reading to learn more about the main contenders.

Pros and Cons of Bar Soap
Bar soap has been around longer than liquid, but it often gets the short end of the stick when compared with its supposedly more glamorous cousin.

One claim against bar soaps is the bacteria factor. Because people sometimes share the same bar of soap, fears concerning the transfer of bacteria have emerged. However, studies have shown that although bacteria levels on previously-used bar soaps are slightly higher than on unused soaps, there have been no detectable levels of bacteria left on the skin's surface after using the soap. Bar soap users who are still worried about spreading germs can always make sure that each person has his or her own soap.

Another con of bar soaps is the fact that many have a higher pH level than liquid soaps. Because of this, some bar soaps can be more drying to the skin. Dried-out skin is not only uncomfortable but also heals more slowly when injured. What most liquid soap enthusiasts fail to take into account is that there are many different soaps on the market that have low or neutral pH levels, which are less drying.

Image result for solid soap in a soap dishBar soap enthusiasts are quick to point out that most bar soaps contain glycerine, which is good for people with dermatological problems like eczema. It can even help people who just have dry skin. Also, for people who are allergic to fragrances, bar soaps can be the most convenient option; there are many bar soaps on the market that are fragrance-free. Fragrance-free liquid soaps, on the other hand, are a little harder to find.

So, are you convinced to return to bar soap? Not so fast -- the next page has some compelling liquid soap facts that might change your mind.

Pros and Cons of Liquid Soap
As with bar soaps, there are also pros and cons to using liquid soaps. One strike against liquid soap is waste. With bar soaps, it's fairly easy to know when you have acquired enough on your washcloth or loofah to get the job done. Because liquid soaps usually come in pump-action or easy-to-squeeze bottles, overuse is common. Factor in the higher cost for liquid soaps, and you end up with a lot of waste that you don't typically get with bar soaps.

If you're a body wash enthusiast, though, don't give up hope. There are some pros to using liquid soaps. Unlike their bar-shaped counterparts, you never get that mushy pile of soap scum that often occurs when bar soap is left in standing water, although you can mitigate that problem with different soap saver products on the market. And while it's easy to lose bar soap down the drain, you're less likely to lose a bottle of liquid soap. In addition, liquid soap tends to create a richer lather, which many people prefer over thinner bar soap lathers.

Related imageStrong bar soaps, especially those designed to act as deodorants, can be too harsh for some people, stripping away important oils and leaving the skin irritated. Many liquid soaps and body washes contain moisturisers, however, and they tend to be milder than bar soaps. Women can benefit most from liquid soaps containing moisturisers - their skin is typically more sensitive than men's, and using a deodorant bar soap can leave dry spots and cause itchiness.

The bottom line is that using liquid soap or bar soap is a personal choice. More than the method of delivery, the most important thing for you to be aware of is how you react to certain additives, such as fragrances and moisturisers. Whichever one you choose, note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2016 that the benefits of using antibacterial soap haven't been proven and that the antibacterial active ingredients triclosan and triclocarban also have not been proven to be safe for daily use.

References:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "Moisturizing and Cleansing Key to Treating Atopic Dermatitis." (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/moisturizing_cleansing.html
  2. Baranda, Lourdes, Roberto Gonzalez-Amaro, Bertha Torres-Alvarez, Carmen Alvarez and Victoria Ramirez. "Correlation between pH and irritant effect of cleansers marketed for dry skin." International Journal of Dermatology. (Sept. 2, 2009) http://pt.wkhealth.com/pt/re/ijdm/abstract.00004342-200208000-00007.htm;jsessionid=KfRbrY6MCLSLNQTcVLn4CLMzXsM0v2ThGYpKmyXmLDK2jjBP28x6!224925659!181195629!8091!-1
  3. Bartels, Eric. "Liquid soap vs. bar soap." Portland Tribune. (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.portlandtribune.com/sustainable/print_story.php?story_id=120793661306810000
  4. Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for a Soft Body." WebMD. (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/moisturizer-toning-cream
  5. Cosmetics Info. "Soap." (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/product_details.php?product_id=36
  6. Ivory. "Pure Fun: History." (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.ivory.com/PureFun_History.htm
  7. Heinze, J. and F. Yackovich. "Washing with contaminated bar soap is unlikely to transfer bacteria." Dial Technical Center. August 1988. (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3402545
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)" (Sept. 2, 2009) http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm074201.htm
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Antibacterial Soap? You Can Skip It -- Use Plain Soap and Water." Sept. 2, 2016. (July 26, 2017) https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378393.htm

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Soap Bar or Liquid Soap?

Image result for soap flowers latherSoap and shower gels are both designed to cleanse the skin, but more often than not that’s where their similarities end. For a long time though, when it came to personal cleanliness, there was only one frontline fighter: bar soap. Of course, bar soap came in many guises - square bars and rounded bars, scented and unscented, clear and opaque -- but its essential look and function went unchanged for hundreds of years. Then other cleansers, both soap and non-soap formulas began to appear. Bar cleansers were joined by liquid products, which were first used primarily for hand washing. The market eventually became flooded with shower gels, also known as body washes, which quickly became a popular alternative to bar soap.

If you've spent any time in the skin care aisle at your local store, you know that figuring out which products to buy, soap and non-soap cleansers included, can be a very time-consuming task. So which is better - bar soap or liquid soap? You might be relieved to know that at a very basic level there is no real difference between the two. All types of true soap are composed of the same essential components -- alkali salts of fatty acids and detergent properties. The detergent in soap, which is called a surfactant, allows oil and dirt to mix with and be washed away by water.

Pros and Cons of Bar Soap
Like so many health and beauty products, there are advantages and disadvantages to both bar soap and liquid soap. One of the main complaints about bar soap is that it washes away more than just dirt. Harsh bar soaps can deplete your skin of the moisture it needs to stay healthy. Liquid soaps, on the other hand, often contain moisturisers, but they're also more likely to have fragrances and other additives that may not be the most suitable for sensitive skins.

Related imageBar soap has been around longer than liquid, but it often gets the short end of the stick when compared with its supposedly more glamorous cousin. One claim against bar soaps is the bacteria factor. Because people sometimes share the same bar of soap, fears concerning the transfer of bacteria have emerged. However, studies have shown that although bacteria levels on previously-used bar soaps are slightly higher than on unused soaps, there have been no detectable levels of bacteria left on the skin's surface after using the soap . 

Washing with contaminated bar soap is unlikely to transfer bacteria
Recent reports of the isolation of microorganisms from used soap bars have raised the concern that bacteria may be transferred from contaminated soap bars during handwashing. Since only one study addressing this question has been published, an additional procedure was developed to test this concern. In our new method pre-washed and softened commercial deodorant soap bars were used. Sixteen panelists were instructed to wash with the inoculated bars using their normal handwashing procedure. After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands.

Thus, the results obtained using our new method were in complete agreement with those obtained with the previously published method even though the two methods differ in a number of procedural aspects. These findings, along with other published reports, show that there is little risk or danger of infection in routine handwashing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for handwashing to prevent the spread of disease. Bar soap users who are still worried about spreading germs can always make sure that each person has his or her own soap.

Another con of bar soaps is the fact that many have a higher pH level than liquid soaps. Because of this, some bar soaps can be more drying to the skin. Dried-out skin is not only uncomfortable but also heals more slowly when injured. What most liquid soap enthusiasts fail to take into account is that there are many different soaps on the market that have low or neutral pH levels, which are less drying.

Image result for liquid soap pouringBar soap enthusiasts are quick to point out that most bar soaps contain glycerine, which is good for people with dermatological problems like eczema. It can even help people who just have dry skin. Also, for people who are allergic to fragrances, bar soaps can be the most convenient option; there are many bar soaps on the market that are fragrance-free. Fragrance-free liquid soaps, on the other hand, are a little harder to find.

Pros and Cons of Liquid Soap
As with bar soaps, there are also pros and cons to using liquid soaps. One strike against liquid soap is waste. With bar soaps, it's fairly easy to know when you have acquired enough on your washcloth or loofah to get the job done. Because liquid soaps usually come in pump-action or easy-to-squeeze bottles, overuse is common. Factor in the higher cost for liquid soaps, and you end up with a lot of waste that you don't typically get with bar soaps.

If you're a body wash enthusiast, though, don't give up hope. There are some pros to using liquid soaps. Unlike their bar-shaped counterparts, you never get that mushy pile of soap scum that often occurs when bar soap is left in standing water, although you can mitigate that problem with different soap saver products on the market. And while it's easy to lose bar soap down the drain, you're less likely to lose a bottle of liquid soap. In addition, liquid soap tends to create a richer lather, which many people prefer over thinner bar soap lathers.

Image result for liquid soap pouringStrong bar soaps, especially those designed to act as deodorants, can be too harsh for some people, stripping away important oils and leaving the skin irritated. Many liquid soaps and body washes contain moisturisers, however, and they tend to be milder than bar soaps. Women can benefit most from liquid soaps containing moisturisers - their skin is typically more sensitive than men's, and using a deodorant bar soap can leave dry spots and cause itchiness.

The bottom line is that using liquid soap or bar soap is a personal choice. More than the method of delivery, the most important thing for you to be aware of is how you react to certain additives, such as fragrances and moisturisers. Whichever one you choose, note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2016 that the benefits of using antibacterial soap haven't been proven and that the antibacterial active ingredients triclosan and triclocarban also have not been proven to be safe for daily use.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The benefits of shower and body oils

Not to diminish the benefits of a good 'ol body lotion, but it may be time to switch to something more substantial and more fluid... like a body oil.

Oils have a locking and protective nature as they improve cell cohesion, meaning that they can limit transepidermal water loss. While lotions and creams can also provide moisture, a change of formula might be exactly what the skin needs. The skin's ability to retain moisture becomes compromised with time, so despite liberal application of a rich moisturiser, the skin can still feel dry.A good beauty oil is formulated to seal in moisture and humectants which may limit any feeling of dryness.

Image result for woman applying oil to bodyDespite their name, body oils are non-greasy, lightweight and incredibly hydrating. As a bonus, the scented versions leave your skin gently perfumed.There are many choices on the market for body oils which gives variety to the experience depending on skin type and fragrance preference. For example, the properties of rose oil extends not only to its superb healing factors, but also to its hypnotic fragrance. Needless to say, many user do not use this oil for healing purposes, but it never fails to lift the mood.

For another take on florals, there are many lavender-scented body oils. Safflower, macadamia and jojoba oils soften, while chamomile adds radiance. Many brands also many complementary massage oils to go with their body oils which can extend and heighten the fragrant experience not to mention soothing both the skin and the senses.

Essential oils are made up of very small molecules, making them able to penetrate into our blood stream and different oils deliver different benefits; chamomile eases inflammation, while lavender relieves bruising with its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.Stiffness is relieved with a co

In summary, body oils nourish dry skin and protects against further dryness. Focus on areas like elbows and knees that may need extra hydration.Massage oils on the other hand, are great if muscles are feeling tired and tight. It leaves your skin feeling hydrated and smooth. Choose a calming blend and you’ll feel like you’ve just had a day at the spa.

Some body oils are blended to help with stretch marks as they nourish the skin and help promote elasticity. Body oils absorbs quicker and deeper than most lotions, which promotes healing of the skin and helps to fade your stretch marks.

If you intend to choose a bath oil, then it's important you make enough 'me time' to create a luxurious bath experience. Add a few drops of a decent bath and body oil to your bath water. Choose a calming blend to create a relaxing, spa-like experience in your own home.

Additionally, body oils can be useful of protecting against razor burns so if you are prone to razor burn (small red bumps that appear after shaving), then protect your skin by using a body oil first. It helps to hydrate skin and the high lauric acid content will protect it from razor burn. Simply rub on your legs prior to shaving.

Using body oils especially those blended with essential oils noted for their insect repellant properties are great for protecting your skin against those pesky insects and flying mites. Insects don’t like the feeling of oil on the skin and are more likely to stay away from you if your skin has been treated with a body oil first.

Image result for woman applying oil to bodySo many makeup removers on the market are full of chemicals and ingredients that are drying to the skin but a decent body oil is always a bonus and a natural solution that will remove your makeup without drying your skin. Your skin will feel hydrated, nourished, and clean.

As a hair treatment body oils can be applied to treat dry split ends. Simply rub a few drops onto the ends of your hair to help hydrate your dry parched strands. It is also amazing  for the hands and feet, softening dry cuticles and dealing with rough skin especially on the soles of the feet or indeed cracked heels. Apply the body oil to your fingers at least twice a day for beautifully soft cuticles. Apply the oil to clean feet before bed, put fresh socks on over top and keep them on overnight. You’ll awaken to soft, smooth feet in the morning.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Top Tips for Dry Skin

What is dry skin?
Image result for dry skin face black skinA slowing down in sebum production results in dry, flaky and easily chapped skin. The problem is exacerbated by environmental factors such as strong sunshine, wind, cold, extremes of temperature (two-thirds of women in the northern hemisphere suffer from dry skin in the winter months), air conditioning, central heating, atmospheric pollutants and strong exfoliators, which strip the skin of moisture. Harsh cosmetics, alcohol-based personal care products and excessive bathing with strong detergents such as Sodium lauryl sulphate all add to the problem.  Dry skin can be a sign of dietary deficiencies, especially of essential fatty acids and vitamins A and B complex. Alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics and can dehydrate the skin. Dry skin can also be the sign of an under-active thyroid. Certain medications, such as diuretics and antihistamines contribute to dry skin.

Dry skin care

  • Avoid going from very hot to very cold environments
  • Keep rooms moist, especially in winter by placing bowls of water by the radiators, or use a humidifier
  • Avoid excess exposure to strong sunshine, and apply a good sunscreen to exposed areas of your skin
  • Get plenty of sleep, as cellular repair is at its greatest when you are at rest
  • Regular exercise will nourish and cleanse your skin from within
  • Choose a gentle, alcohol-free cleanser, such as an organic cleansing balm rich in nourishing oils
  • Avoid harsh exfoliators, strong detergents and very hot water
  • Dry skin needs regular stimulation with massage and a balancing facial oil rich in ingredients such as Rosehip and Pomegranate
  • A natural moisturiser fortified with skin-balancing plant actives increases the water content of the skin and gives it a soft, moist look
  • Use an alcohol-free facial mist or pure mineral water to freshen your face during the day
  • Always apply moisturiser to face and neck with light, tapping, upwards motions while the skin is still slightly damp. This helps lock in moisture and stimulates the circulation
  • If you are aged 35+, try a rich cleansing balm or cream product. Follow with a tiny amount of facial oil and facial serum. Once a week, use a facial mask to clarify the skin and remove dull, dry surface skin cells 

Related imageDiet for dry skin 

  • Drink lots of filtered water and non-diuretic herbal teas
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which have a diuretic effect and can aggravate dry skin
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids from evening primrose oil
  • Snack on sunflower and pumpkin seeds and nuts
  • Include plenty of oily fish in your diet or buy unrefined, cold-pressed vegetable oil such as flax seed oil. These oils can be used daily on salads and baked potatoes, or mixed into cold dishes
  • Eat plenty of yellow and orange vegetables and fruits, rich in antioxidant vitamins C and beta-carotene, green leafy vegetables and wheat germ, sources of vitamin B5
  • Increase your intake of vitamin E (found in avocados, wholegrains, nuts and seeds) which is an antioxidant that protects the skin from ageing and maintains elasticity
  • Ensure your diet includes zinc, which is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions essential for skin health. Natural sources include oysters and sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • Garlic, onions, eggs and asparagus are high in sulphur, which helps to keep the skin smooth and youthful
  • Avoid fried foods, animal fat and hydrogenated vegetable oils, which increase the production of destructive free radicals
  • Avoid soft drinks, sugar, chocolate, crisps, or other junk foods

Friday, 24 August 2018

Making sandalwood sustainable

Background
Sandalwood is one of the longest-established medicinal aromatic plants, and has had a continuous history of human use for at least 3,000 years. It is mentioned in the Nirukta, a Vedic commentary likely written about 500 BC. Sandalwood charcoal dating from 1,200 BC has been found in India. Sandalwood is referred to in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, two poems of Indian epic literature. As early as 900 BCE, powdered sandalwood was used in personal care, both in bathing and as a paste applied to the skin.

In the Dhanvantari Nighantu, a Sanskrit materia medica completed in 1,000 – 1,100 AD, candana (sandalwood) is described thus: “It destroys bile, blood, poison,thirst, fever and worms, it is heavy, and makes the body thin. All candana is bitter and sweet and most cold.” The cooling nature of candana is referred to frequently in ancient texts. The benefits of sandalwood to the skin are referenced in Ayurveda’s foundation text Charaka Samhita (circa 100 AD), in which it is said to be “complexion-promoting”.


Image result for sandalwood essential oil ancient egyptAncient Egyptians imported the wood and used it in medicine, embalming and ritual burning to venerate their gods. Buddhists used Sandalwood as a therapy for depression, anxiety and insomnia and in Tibet, monks have used it to relax the body and focus the mind. In China it was an important incense ingredient and was recognised as an aromatic medicine during the Tang dynasty (581 AD) when it was used to treat respiratory disorders.

The essential oil has been in public use for the last 200 years. In the nineteenth century, Indian sandalwood oil was added to pharmacopoeias of Britain, Germany and Belgium, notably for cystitis and venereal disease. For example: “The Essential oil obtained from Sandal wood (Santalum album) is prescribed for Gonorrhoea. Dose: Thirty minims”. A minim is about one drop. Although sandalwood oil is no longer a conventional remedy for venereal disease, this use may be revisited in future.

The sustainability problem
When I first started buying Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) oil – which I will refer to as SAO – for re-sale in the mid 1970s in the UK, I was paying the equivalent of $35 per kg. Today, it’s over 100 times more expensive. This is a massive increase, even for an essential oil. The main reason is supply-demand dynamics. Prices have risen in direct relationship to the increasing scarcity of the raw material. Twice, during those years, the Indian government shut down export of sandalwood for several months, and when it did come back on the market, the wholesale price had about doubled. These periods of sandalwood famine emphasised the fact that, for this essential oil, the world was dependent on the major producing country – India. And India had a problem.

Image result for sustainability of sandalwoodOne supplier told me in the 1980s that if India didn’t get its act together, in 30 years time there would be no more Indian sandalwood oil. His estimate was based on the fact that it takes at least 30 years for a tree to mature sufficiently for essential oil to be harvested. S. album has to be cut down completely for oil distillation, and no new viable sandalwood plantations were being created. On top of this, smuggling – stealing and/or illegally exporting – sandalwood trees or cut wood has been a problem the Indian government has made great efforts to control, but ultimately with little success.

S. album does grow in other parts of the world, primarily Sri Lanka and parts of Indonesia, but illegal exporting and sustainability have been problematic in those areas too. S. album wood and oil exports from Sri Lanka are currently illegal, and the following accounts (2013-2016) reveal that desperate attempts have been made to circumvent this.

In late 2013, Customs Bio-Diversity protection Unit (BDPU) found a series of illegal sandalwood exports worth over 15 million rupees (about $23,000).  In 2015, twenty suspected sandalwood smugglers were shot in Andhra Pradesh, India  And in a July 2016 case, Indian police seized a cache of sandalwood valued at $15 million. Even authorities charged with overseeing trade practices get their hands dirty, as is shown by a forged certificate for sandalwood export, issued by the Indian Board of Investments.

Some of the oil being produced in Sri Lanka is from the roots of trees that were cut down years ago, but the roots were not previously harvested. Production of Sandalwood oil in Indonesia (East Timor) has all but ceased. There are some export licenses for Indian sandalwood oil but these are limited, and only a few hundred kg per year are legally exported today, compared to many thousands of kg in previous decades.

And so, over the last few years, we have tried to make peace with the fact that Indian sandalwood would become a “lost” essential oil, to both the fragrance industry and to aromatherapy. The only glimmer of hope was the “Australian experiment” (see below).

Sandalwood species
Sandalwood is a common term applied to a number of fragrant woods mainly of the Santalum species. Of these, the main types used for commercial oil production are shown in Table 1. Unfortunately many of these species face challenges, and I have rated “Sustainability and crop management” on a 5 point scale from very poor to very good. S. lanceolatum, S. paniculatum and S. austrocaledonicum in New Caledonia are all harvested from wild grown trees with no significant new growth. New Caledonian sandalwood is subject to rampant smuggling. There are some plantations in Vanuatu where new trees are being grown, but volume is very small.

Non-Santalum species that are referred to as “sandalwood” include:
Amyris balsamifera – Amyris, or “West Indian Sandalwood” – a term little used today. Osyris lanceolata and Osyris speciosa – both referred to as “African sandalwood”. Brachyleana hutchinsii – Muhuhu, sometimes also called “African sandalwood”.
Erythroxylum monogynum – “Bastard sandal”

Image result for sandalwood essential oil ancient egyptS. yasi may also be a small source of commercial essential oil. Other species of sandalwood grow in Australia and Pacific islands, but none are harvested for commercial production. A constraint of all Pacific Island sandalwoods is limited land space. In fact the only area this does not apply is Australia, where there is almost unlimited land – the principal challenge there is water supply.


The Australian experiment and sustainability
There are several challenges with cultivating Santalum album. It is a semiparasitic tree, and requires specific “host trees” to grow, such as acacia. The essential oil is only found in the central portion of the trunk, the “heartwood”, and in the roots, so trees have to be felled for oil production. In the wild, trees do not produce viable amounts of essential oil-rich heartwood until 30 years of maturity.

In the late 1980s the Western Australian Forestry Department began trials to grow S. album in plantations in Australia’s tropical north. Following this success, TFS (Tropical Forestry Service) was established. TFS was renamed Quintis (quintessential Indian sandalwood) in March 2017. The company found that by replicating the natural environment of India’s forests, plantation-grown Indian sandalwood trees produce heartwood and oil naturally. After 16 years of cultivation, the first batches of commercial Australian SAO were produced by Quintis in 2014.

A Quintis representative comments: “Our researchers have found that a minimum trunk diameter is required for heartwood initiation to occur, so we focus on selective breeding and natural forestry management to produce larger trees and ultimately greater yields of heartwood and oil. We also use an abundance of optimal host trees that provide water and metabolites essential to the growth of the parasitic Indian sandalwood tree.”

The selective breeding program involved identifying “plus” trees for a seed orchard and establishing a progeny trial to validate the superior growth of the selected trees. These trees achieved up to 18% greater growth and yields compared to other trees of the same age. Since 1999, Quintis has invested in research of soil types, a key determinant of sandalwood quality, host tree management, tree breeding, land preparation and irrigation. The need for host trees creates challenges during cultivation, as foresters must work to balance the water requirements of up to six different tree species. The company monitors water usage and irrigation as part of its ISO 9,001 (Quality) and ISO 14,001 (Environment) certification. This approach has helped it identify and manage the environmental and financial risks associated with excessive or insufficient watering.

With rotations to maturity numbering decades in the wild, the harvest of wild trees for commercial purposes creates questions about sustainability. Some conservationists argue that limited regeneration, prolonged cycles of maturity and growing global demands for essential oils mean commercial use of wild-grown trees is inherently unsustainable.

Santalum album was classified as “vulnerable” by the IUCN in 1998. In a November 2104 letter to Quintis (then TFS) the IUCN clarified the following point: “The listing of Indian Sandalwood as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species refers only to the status of the wild populations in the native parts of its range (China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines). Cultivated plants (especially those grown in areas outside of the native range like Australia) are deliberately excluded from the assessment as these are not wild…All efforts to cultivate Indian Sandalwood to meet the demand for timber, oil, etc. are strongly encouraged by IUCN as these help to reduce the need for harvesting from the wild populations.”

Quintis now has 5.4 million sandalwood trees covering 12,000 hectares, and in 2016 the company harvested 32,000 trees yielding 300 metric tonnes of heartwood. It turns out that cultivated S. album trees only need 15-20 years to mature, compared to 30-50 years in the wild. A related species, S. spicatum, is native to Australia, and is also now extensively cultivated. Australia lost the eucalyptus oil industry to China, but it looks likely to dominate the sandalwood industry for the foreseeable future.

Quality control
Indian sandalwood oil may be adulterated by the addition of sandalwood terpenes and fragrance chemicals, Australian sandalwood oil, African sandalwood oil, Indian bastard sandal oil, amyris oil, bleached copaiba balsam, and non-odorous materials such as polyethylene glycol, castor oil, coconut oil and DEHP. The problem of adulteration, along with the sustainability issue and unstable pricing, have combined to make SAO an unattractive option both for practitioners and for clinical research. Although “standardization” may sound unnatural, it has allowed the tea tree oil industry to flourish, and the same applies to many herbal preparations.

The FDA has issued guidelines for the development of traditional medicines derived from plants. Such botanicals are often mixtures of numerous active compounds acting via multiple mechanisms of action. In general, if the mixture’s composition is under tight control, botanical extracts can be studied in clinical trials as mixtures and can receive marketing approval as long as they are shown to be safe and effective. This avoids the laborious, even impossible process of testing multiple single constituents for safety and efficacy, and represents a viable way forward for many essential oils.

For SAO, the base level of standardisation means meeting the ISO standard for Santalum album oil, but this still leaves room for substantial variation. What Quintis has been able to do is cultivate trees that produce a standardised SAO that meets FDA requirements for a botanical medicine. The Quintis project is in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP, ICH Q7), a quality assurance system used to regulate pharmaceutical production to control and monitor oil quality during the manufacturing, storage and distribution processes.

Not only is cultivated Santalum album a sustainable option, but it’s also one that promises scientific progress for other areas and we are already seeing this in practice. I will explore the research in Part Two, focusing on clinical trials already in progress with SAO in relation to skin diseases.

Calming effects and psychodermatology
Image result for skin effects of sandalwoodMental and dermatological health are linked in many ways. Psychodermatology is the study of the complex inter-relationships between mind and skin. In terms of aromatherapy, it has been shown that inhaling a sedative aroma such as rose or valerian improves skin barrier function, and has a healing effect on eczema patients. Non-sedative aromas did not have this effect.

SAO was not used in these tests, but in aromatherapy literature it is regarded as calming and sedative. This is supported by research in humans and mice demonstrating a sedative effect on inhalation. In a double blind inhalation study of 220 subjects, SAO was rated the most sedative of 12 essential oils or fragrances by measuring electrodermal activity, and it was rated the second most calming odour by self-assessment.

In an uncontrolled study, 29 patients taking benzodiazepine medication for sleep for at least six months, and who had been unsuccessful in reducing their dosage, inhaled a natural fragrance to aid sleep. Over the eight weeks of the study, 26 were able to reduce their medication either partly or completely. One year later, four patients had not resumed benzodiazepine use. The fragrance consisted of sandalwood 35%, juniper berry 12%, rose 8% and orris 6%.

In a pilot study of palliative care patients, either massage with 1% SAO, or SAO diffusion, reduced levels of anxiety measured by STAI, compared to plain oil massage. In another small study, researchers found that SAO used as a perfume was calming throughout the day to a person feeling anxious or overwhelmed, but for someone already feeling relaxed or simply OK, it either produced no change or induced a feeling of wellbeing. When transdermally absorbed but not inhaled, SAO was also calming, reducing blood pressure and heart rate in healthy subjects. Therefore SAO is calming both via inhalation and transdermal absorption.

Reference: http://tisserandinstitute.org/santalum-album-oil-rejuvenated/