When a blog friend Sudha brought to my notice things like parabens and sls in soaps, and sent me back to Mommygyan’s article on choosing soaps and shampoos for kids, my first thought was to make soap at home. Then I went about my research online and was horrified to find that every soap, no matter how mild always has lye. Lye is another name for Sodium hydroxide or Caustic soda.
Then I read this article in Wikipedia about sodium hydroxide which made me wonder. On one hand, here is a chemical which is so widely used in everyday life and we don’t even know it. On the other hand, it is used as a tissue dissolver for farm animals. On one hand, no soap however mild is made without lye. On the other hand it is used as an industrial cleaning agent. I remember my mother using this to clean the bathroom floors.
My mother-in-law told me that her mother used to go from village to village showing them how to make soaps from lye. But these soaps were used to wash clothes. They were too hard on the skin.
Think about it, caustic soda when mixed with water, the reaction is highly exothermic and releases toxic fumes which mandates the use of safety kits while handling it. I don’t want such fumes anywhere near my kids for sure.
But then what can be done? Almost no soap, handmade or otherwise can be made without lye. Which got me thinking. Do kids really need commercially available soap or can I use something else?
That’s when I remembered this. My friend Deepali had shared this recipe with me a long time ago. I wondered why I never followed it. I am following her advice now, and a wholehearted thanks to you Deepali!
It has completely natural and organic ingredients and no soap at all. It doesn’t lather, but we have become so used to lather that we can’t imagine soaps without it. We feel our bodies aren’t cleaned properly unless our soap yields a rich lather.
But think about the benefits. It is absolutely chemical free and if it doesn’t do any good, it definitely won’t harm your baby’s skin.
- 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
- 2 tbsp ambehaldi powder (mango-ginger powder) You can find this at your local grocer’s
- 2 tbsp chandan powder (sandalwood powder)
- sweet almond oil (available with most chemists as Rogan Badam Shirin)
- milk cream (fresh)
Grind the masoor dal in a dry blender till it becomes a fine powder. To this powder add ambehaldi powder and chandan powder. Store this powder in an airtight container. Before the baby’s bath, give the baby a nice warm oil massage. Mix one tablespoon of this powder with one tbsp cream and a little almond oil to make a paste. Apply this paste on the baby’s skin and give it a nice rub. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Done!
- Masoor dal powder is a great exfoliant. It gently removes the grime, dirt and dead skin cells from your baby’s body without harming it. But make sure that the dal is powdered really fine or baby may rebel against the texture.
- Ambehaldi is known in ayurveda as being skin friendly. It is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. It protects the skin while giving it a healthy glow. Some suggest that ambehalad also removes the tiniest facial hair. It might be good for my daughters then.
- Chandan powder softens the skin (not that babies need it really) I also read somewhere that it is a natural insect repellant. It reduces blemishes and scars and is helpful for treating sunburns too!
- Almond oil (pure) is a great moisturiser and has a plethora of vitamins, especially Vitamin E. It nourishes the skin from deep within, and is much better compared to the commercially available baby oils which have mineral oil.
- Milk cream as a skin care regimen is known throughout India. I remember when my lips would get chapped in winters, my mother would apply milk cream or ghee on my lips and they would look and feel so baby soft! I wonder why I stopped doing that, and traded them for the chemical lip balms.
However, as with any new product you use on your baby’s skin, I’d suggest you do a patch test for this cleansing scrub as well.
Take a small amount and apply it to the inside of the your baby’s wrist, or knee and watch for 24 hours for any allergic reaction. If your baby tolerates it well, you can rest assured that this is one of the few good things you can do for your baby. If it has no chemicals, and no artificial colors and fragrances, isn’t it really worth it?