Know Your Practitioner, Part VII: Shaila Suleman, LMP

Know Your Practitioner is your chance to meet our great LMPs and help you decide which one will best suit you. You might even learn something about the practitioner you’re already seeing. Our practitioners love building long term relationships with their clients and getting to know their specific needs.

By the way, do you have a favorite practitioner at The Good Life Massage? Leave us a review, and make sure to mention them by name. Your review will help others find the treatment they need from the practitioner who’s right for them. Plus, it’s a great way to say thank you for a job well done.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaila (Shy-luh) Suleman, LMP. She’s early in her massage career, but wow, do we feel lucky to be in on the ground floor! She does outstanding work, and we’re confident she’ll only get better. Shaila’s style is extremely versatile. Her skill and sensitivity will have you rolling off the table in a relaxed, euphoric haze. So let’s get to know her better! You can read the interview below, or watch the video.

Book your next massage with Shaila now!

So, first tell us about yourself. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I really like to go hiking as a hobby. I like being outdoors and I love just enjoying natural beauty at its best. I like hanging out with my friends and family when I can.

How did you get involved in massage? Tell us about the journey that lead you to GLM.
I started massage school back last year. I’ve always been interested in the body and how the body works, as well as different medical conditions. So, I went to school and I started learning about different modalities and practices: chinese cupping, gua sha treatment, moxibustion, Thai massage, and a couple of different other modalities. It just fascinates me so much that all these modalities work towards making your body better and helping improve the status of your health. So, I enjoy doing that and learning more, and getting that ancient wisdom and knowledge.

What do you like about this job? What gets you excited to work with your clients?
What really excites me about work is just seeing people smile and happy after a massage, and knowing that I helped contribute to that–I helped contribute to them becoming happier and healthier and just helping people in general. Because there are so many things in the world that can cause people to be sad or upset or stressed, and I get to be part of that one thing that makes things better for them.

What makes your massage style unique?
I like using a lot of deep pressure. I like using mostly treatment work, but I’ve been told by numerous people that I have healing hands, a healing touch. So, my spectrum of massage goes from very light pressure and really relaxing and soothing to treatment and therapeutic deep pressure.

Pick a superpower: flight or invisibility. Explain your answer.
Out of the superpowers between flying and invisibility, I would choose invisibility. The reason why I like the concept of invisibility is that You can hide away from things! With invisibility, it can be very beneficial to observe and watch things without interferrupting the status or the way things are.

What’s your favorite health habit?
I practice hot yoga in the mornings. I go and do hot yoga for an hour, and it really just helps get my muscles relaxed while being able to stretch further than you can normally stretch. I do practice the modalities I mentioned. I practice cupping on myself, an do practice mostly stretching.

Is there a client you’ve worked with in the past who really stands out in your memory?
When I was in massage school I had a client that I worked on for the first time and she was very sensitive to touch, and she had a couple of health issues regarding her legs. Pressure was a constant problem for her. I wanted to do treatment work and I was used to going in really deep and trying to exercise my strength. But with her I knew I had to go very light and easy. I had to monitor and pay attention to her a lot. At the end of the massage, she was just really ecstatic that I was very nice and used a gentle touch. As the course began to move forward, she would always return to be a client of mine, and she just really appreciated how I would take time with her and talk with her before we got the massage started and listened to her. I paid attention to what she needed and what we wanted to focus on for the day. It really made me feel good that she wanted to come back continuously with me. It was always a pleasure on my end to work with her.

Finish this sentence: “I wish my clients knew …”
I wish my clients knew the importance of stretching and how beneficial that is for everyday life.

Thanks, Shaila!

Have you had a massage from Shaila? Leave a review and be sure to mention her by name! Facebook is our favorite place to read your reviews, but you can find us on Google and Yelp as well.

If you haven’t had a massage from Shaila yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Book now.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can contact him or hire him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

How to Start a Workout Routine–One That Sticks This Time

How to start a workout routine

Mark Twain said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

His point is as well taken now as it was more than a hundred years ago: change is hard! The same can be said of breaking a bad habit or picking up a good one. As of this posting, we’re at that point in the year where New Years resolutions to be more active are a distant memory. Now that the weather is improving, many of us are starting to think about getting taking another crack at it.

But how do you break out of the start-and-stop cycle with your workout routine? What can you do to really make it stick this time?

You may want to begin by thinking about the common obstacles that break your routine and bring your efforts to a silent halt. All these obstacles can be described with the blanket term Resistance. Resistance comes in many forms, and appears whenever you’re trying to make a significant personal change. It swallows your initial burst of enthusiasm with unforeseen circumstances or feelings that can easily derail your efforts and leave you frustrated. Its appearance is inevitable. But if you know it’s coming, you can be ready.

You know the drill
Routine can be key in maintaining an exercise habit long term. This can work really well if most of your days have a steady rhythm. Do you leave work at pretty much the same time each day? Make that unwinding period your gym time. If before work is better for you, then do that. The key to this strategy is consistency and predictability. If your lifestyle isn’t so steady, it might be very difficult to make this strategy work for you.

Your workout won’t take much will power if it’s all part of the plan. If it’s built into your day in a way that’s almost automatic, it will be much easier to punch through the resistance phase and just do it because it’s what’s next on your schedule.

Who’s got your six?
One of the many forms the Resistance takes is the people who are closest to you. Ever try to cut back on your fat intake, only to have your spouse or significant other bring home some form of temptation along with the milk you had them pick up? Ever set a date to hit the gym only to have to cross if off the calendar to do a favor for a friend? Your loved ones aren’t intentionally trying to sabotage you (usually), but when you live with and around people with different needs, their interests inevitably clash with whatever change you’re trying to make in your life. It’s like trying to go the bathroom in an airplane: chances are, meeting your needs is going to mean someone else is going to be inconvenienced.

How do you get past this? It may not be realistic or helpful to announce to everyone in your circle the changes you’re trying to make and ask for everyone’s support. Sure, the bigger the cheering section you have, the better, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Pick at least one person who’s willing to help you be accountable. Tell them when you plan to go exercise and have them check in with you every week or every few days to see how things are going. You’re not asking a lot, and a best friend or romantic partner will probably be happy to help. Better yet, if you have a friend with similar goals, support each other! Keep each other accountable and committed.

If you’re not having fun . . .
You’re doing it wrong! If working out is a miserable experience you dread every time, you’re simply not going to be able to keep it up. Even if you’re just bored and you’re doing it just to do it, you could be in trouble. Sure, you won’t ‘feel like it’ every time, but go anyway. That’s good! The Resistance hates when you do that. But the motivation has to be there. You have to want it, not just for the promised results, but for the experience itself. Try different things! Sign up for various lessons. Find a sport or a class you truly enjoy and make it a part of your who you are. Routines come and go: passion is forever.

Practice makes perfect? No!
Actually, perfect practice makes perfect. Go into each workout with a problem solving mentality, or with a goal to improve. In weight training, that might mean improving your form or raising the amount of weight. In basketball it might mean perfecting your jump shot. Engage with the activity, not just with your body, but with your mind as well. You will see better results from what you’re doing, and skipping out or giving up will be the farthest thing from your mind.

Payoff
Make sure you’re rewarding yourself for sticking with it. Keep track and reward yourself for reaching milestones. (Wherever possible, make sure these rewards don’t involve calories, so as not to compromise your goals.) Massage, it turns out, is both a fantastic non-food reward you can treat yourself to, and a great way to take care of your body. You can even purchase the reward ahead of time as a gift card or in a prepaid package and use it whenever you’ve earned it. It’s easy to place buy a package or gift card online or by phone (425-243-7705). You can also book your appointment online.

A final thought on the Resistance …
If you’re still struggling after trying all these strategies, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Is there some underlying issue, some lurking thought error or negative belief about yourself that’s quietly undermining your motivation? A great first step in that direction is to look the Resistance in the eye and recognize it for what it is, no matter what form it takes. If you can name it, you can get around it.

So get out there and stay with it! This time, things are going to be different.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to handle your content and social media marketing needs by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage . . . for Kids?!

Massage for kids

Can my kid get a massage?
Kids aren’t the first thing you think of when you think about massage and spa treatments. It’s true that we serve herbal tea, not soda, and cartoon characters aren’t typically an element of the decor. But can your kid get a massage? Absolutely.

Something for everyone
It’s tempting to feel like there’s something particularly adult about getting a massage. You disrobe (though not necessarily), and there’s a sense that the aches and pains of having a grown body are what massage was invented to relieve. But when you think about it, touch therapy is something that can be beneficial to everyone.

Touch has great physical benefits, aiding in circulation, easing muscle soreness or stiffness, and most of these benefits are associated with what happens when a body begins to get well used and worn out. But the muscles of children and youth need some TLC as well. Growing muscles may not have to put up with the same pain and strain, but kids play hard and sometimes sustain injuries and accidents. The therapeutic benefits are there for them as well.

The psychological benefits also can’t be ignored. As social beings, we’re wired to respond positively to touch. Healthy touch assures us that we’re going to survive because we’re surrounded by people who will care for us. Do kids need to feel that any less than adults do?

It’s never too early to learn
Touch therapy can also help kids establish a stronger sense of self-love as they get through their awkward growing years. You remember adolescence–the persistent feeling that there’s something abnormal about you, the discomfort with your own changing body’s size and shape. All of these can be mitigated with regular massage and touch therapy in a professional setting. Massage helps establish a stronger mind-body connection for kids and adults alike.

Having your child or adolescent get a massage also helps them see touch therapy as a positive part of a self-care routine, and to see that self-care is an important part of a person’s life. Sure, they’ll follow your example, but why not start them now in the habits that will help them lead the happiest, healthiest life possible?

Safety is our priority
While massage has so many of the same benefits to kids as to adults, we do have to take some special measures on our end to ensure they have a safe, positive experience. Every minor client must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The parent or guardian must be in the treatment room during the session. In fact, if you like, the session can be booked as a couples session with the parent on the other table! It takes a little more notice to arrange, this can be a great way to have a good experience with your child.

We will not perform massage on a minor without the signed consent of a parent or guardian. Our clinic policy is that, whenever possible, minor clients are treated by massage practitioner of the same gender.

Aside from this, we also try to go out of our way to make our youngest clients feel comfortable. We’re mindful of their vulnerability in this setting, and the nervousness they might be feeling. We take extra care to let them know that they have total control over their massage experience, just like any adult. We show them how they’ll be draped to protect their privacy, and talk through exactly what parts of their body will be touched and how. Young clients should know that there’s nothing about a massage that they should have to tolerate or endure. The client or their parent are free to terminate the session at any time.

Yes, children and youth getting massage is rare. But maybe it shouldn’t be.

Tom Gunn is a the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can reach him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

The Wellness-Mindfulness Connection

The Wellness - Mindfulness Connection

How are you?

No, really, how are you? Do you really have the information to answer that question? Maybe this is a question you should be asking yourself more often. Anyone experienced in meditation will tell you–answering that question thoroughly can be the quest of a lifetime, and takes more effort than you might think.

We live in a distracted time, so much so that most of us have no idea how to be anything other than distracted–bouncing through our lives like a pinball from one obligation to the next, resorting to our mobile phones or some other bad habit when even the slightest boredom or discomfort threatens our equilibium.

Is this you? If so, what are you afraid of? What’s got you running to cheap thrills every time you feel uncomfortable?

This is how bad habits and addictive behaviors take root in our lives. Some experts think addiction and compulsiveness begin way back in the development of our brains. Inspired by this prospect, a kindergarten in Germany is experimenting with a classroom in which the children are given nothing at all to play with–a room with some simple furniture and some blankets and pillows. Teachers observe, but do not interfere. The children are given no direction in what to play or what to do.

Harsh, you might say, but it’s based on an addiction study which found that, for many, addictive behaviors began in early childhood. In many ways, toys do for kids what bad habits and addicting behaviors do for us: they thoroughly distract us from our bad feelings–at least for a time. The idea is to allow the children to come up with their own games–to give them a chance to find fun in themselves and in each other. The hope is that the children will develop key skills that will help them cope with the adult world–skills like empathy, critical and creative thinking, and above all, self care and healthy self regard.

Could you use a little more strength in any of these areas? (Is there anyone who couldn’t?)

Are you trying to kick a bad habit, lose weight, or just be happier with yourself generally?

Your journey begins with an understanding of how your brain really works as it does its best to keep you happy and breathing. You’ll need a sense of curiosity–adventure, even. Mindfulness isn’t as much a destination as it is a journey into the unknown.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

First, you should understand that your brain is wired to flee pain and seek pleasure. It’s not bad. This instinct helped our ancestors survive. For example, when you find good food–especially high-calorie food–your brain goes out of its way to remember what you ate, how good it was, and where you found it. It doesn’t care that the food is cheap and easy to get, that too much of it might kill you, or that it’s filled with additives that might harm your health. Survival is the priority.

From there, it’s not a big leap to go from satisfying hunger for the sake of survival to soothing other kinds of pain or discomfort. Before you know it, there’s no bad day that can’t be made a little better with pizza or a slice of chocolate cake. The same mechanism works for other kinds of bad habits or addictions. Your body receives a visceral, memorable payoff for engaging in the behavior, and eventually you’re going to it without even thinking.

And the grownup “toys”? They’re everywhere: cheap high calorie foods, social media, alcohol, gambling, narcotics, TV, pornography, and that’s just the beginning. It’s not to say that all these things are bad all the time–there’s nothing wrong with giving a child a toy once in a while. But these distractions, if mistaken for something essential to survival, can destroy your life.

So what’s the solution? Practice mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
When was the last time you ate a meal–and focused only on the food in front of you and maybe the company you’re keeping in that moment? That’s mindfulness.

Meditation is one method of developing mindfulness. The task in meditation–what makes it such a challenge for so many–is doing and thinking literally nothing. It’s tougher than it sounds. No sooner have you tried to clear your mind than a jingle for laundry detergent or a bill that needs to be paid soon comes flooding in to fill that void.

The trick is to observe yourself calmly and with a sense of curiosity. When mastered, you’ll be able to observe your body and mind working, holding your own consciousness at arm’s length for a moment.

While meditating, one way to gently dismiss thoughts is to picture yourself by a small stream with fallen leaves drifting by on the water. When an intrusive thought comes into your mind, pin that thought to one of the leaves and watch it drift away. When another thought inevitably intrudes, pin that thought on a leaf and watch it drift away.

Are you thinking “this is hokey and hippy-dippy and dumb”? Pin that thought to a leaf and watch it drift away. You can do this with sensory intrusions as well–that car alarm going off, the sound of the heat kicking on, your watch ticking, your phone buzzing at you–pin these to a leaf and watch them drift away. Set a timer and give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to practice this every day. This may feel like a waste of time; it’s anything but. It gets you ready to live in your skin for the rest of the day.

Out there in the trenches of your life, this exercise starts to pay off. You’ll find that when you get a phone notification while you’re driving, you won’t automatically have to check it. When you’ve had a rotten day at work and you suddenly crave cheese fries, you won’t automatically have to give in to it.

These occasions are opportunities to observe yourself, to be curious and collect data about how your body and mind react when a craving comes on. As you work at this, the more intense urge becomes not satisfying the craving, but curiosity about the craving to see what you can learn from it.

Even if you go for that dopamine hit, whatever form that takes for you, observe! You have an opportunity to watch your mind and body as you give in to a temptation. Pay attention to how those cheese fries really taste and how they make your body feel afterward. Ask yourself questions about whether that notification was really worth risking a car accident to check, and what you really got out of the experience. For extra credit, write down what you observe. Journaling adds an extra layer of self-awareness to the exercise which can help develop mindfulness even faster.

The ultimate payoff
Thinking in this way, over time, has a cumulative effect. Your brain is like a muscle. CAT scans of experienced practitioners of meditation show clearly that certain areas of their brains light up more than for the average person. Their ability to observe themselves has grown like a muscle after years of working out. It has an impact on their personality, and these individuals show lower incidence of compulsive behavior and addiction, better focus and concentration, and can better cope with stress.

While it’s true that meditation isn’t a one-and-done proposition, adopting it as a regular practice for even a short time can begin to show significant benefits. In this way, it’s a lot like massage: it feels great once or twice, and can have great benefits long-term, but you have to give it some time.

Honestly, this is just a toe-dip in a vast pool of what there is to know about meditation and mindfulness. There is so much to learn. What’s nice is that if you only want to take it so far, you can. This isn’t a panacea, and there are cautions to consider as you go forward, but just being more aware of your thoughts and your body’s needs is crucial to building more wellness into your lifestyle.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with your content marketing and social media by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage and Pain Relief — Does it really work?

In terms of our work here at The Good Life Massage, we have found that massage therapy can have a significant impact on certain kinds of pain, especially when the source of that pain is strained muscles or repetitive stress on a certain area.

Sure, thank goodness for aspirin, but if you want to feel better in the long term, there’s no substitute for treating the underlying source of the pain. Massage has long been known as a good option for getting to some of the underlying causes of the persistent pain that can result from injuries, or just the everyday stresses of life.

But massage can also play a role in helping you get control of pain above and beyond the familiar aches, pains, and minor injuries.

The last thing you need is headaches
Headaches generally fall into one of two categories: tension headaches and migraines. Massage can help both, but the approach is somewhat different for each.

Tension, or muscle contraction headaches come from tightening of muscles in the neck, head, and face. This can come from stress or poor posture. Massage can loosen those tight muscles and release the tension that builds up because of poor posture. If posture correction is your goal, keep in mind that it will take time, both in practicing the correct posture, and in using massage therapy to help retrain your muscles to find a new, more natural position.

Migraine, or vascular headaches come from a slight build-up of pressure in the head, which can somewhat restrict oxygen-rich blood flow. By soothing and relaxing the muscles of the face, head, and scalp, massage can help reduce this kind of pain

A substitute for heavy pain killers?
As a piece of the overall picture in health care, the subject of pain and how to help sufferers get control of it has been through a lot of ups and downs in the past several years. With the introduction of stronger opiate pain killers, things seemed to be looking up for patients. Now, practical experience and studies have shown these wonder drugs to be highly addicting, and have triggered a plague of addiction across the country.

As a result, doctors have gotten much more strict and careful about prescribing opioid pain killers like oxycontone. Protocols at hospitals and clinics have tightened up to keep these drugs in the right hands, but no system is perfect. It’s probably true that many have been protected from addiction because of these measures. Unfortunately, as a result, many patients are finding it difficult get the pain relief they legitimately need.

The system isn’t likely to budge on this any time soon since the widespread addiction is only getting worse. So how can patients get the pain relief that they need?

Recent studies show that non-traditional treatments, such as massage therapy, can provide significant and noticeable relief, either in conjunction with medication, or as an alternative.

One study conducted in a hospital setting showed a decrease in the average pain levels in patients by 28.5%–a significant improvement. This study also showed that patients showed improved sleep and a greater ability to cope with physical and psychological challenges as a result of receiving massage.

Right hands, right time, right place
And not just any massage will do. A literature review of several studies found that empathy, an on-going connection with the massage therapist, and even the setting and time of day were all significant factors in the massage’s effectiveness. The takeaway: the best results come from regular care from someone you trust rather than a cheap one-and-done experience.

At The Good Life Massage, we do our best to create a relaxing, healing environment for all our clients. Our therapists want to build a relationship with every client. Whenever we can do that, we find that we’re able to provide customized care with the best possible results. Learn more about our staff of massage practitioners on our staff page.

Personal experience
We know of what we speak. Our own Amy Gunn, LMP suffered terrible abdominal pain for years before finally researching a massage solution to the problem. Her research resulted in a new treatment regime we offer to clients called visceral manipulation that has helped her and others like her. Read her story.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

What non-medication methods have you used to get pain under control? What has worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Do you struggle with pain regularly? Have you considered regular massage treatment as a part of your arsenal in fighting it?

You can book with us online or by phone:

425-243-7705

Tom Gunn is a freelance writer and social media marketing specialist. He is also the Marketing Director for The Good Life Massage. You can see more of his work, or even hire him at www.TGunnWriter.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @elmanoroboto.

4 Early Warning Signs You Need A Massage

4-warning-signs-that-its-time-for-a-massage

Is it time for a massage? Don’t answer so fast. Your body could be telling you, and you don’t even know it.

They say ignorance is bliss, but it can also be very expensive. That pain in your neck could become debilitating, preventing you from working and enjoying your life. Consider the cost of doing nothing, and you’ll see why it’s wiser to take care of yourself from the beginning.

Exhaustion
Are you getting to the end of a normal day feeling like you just did a 50 mile hike? Do you seem to fall asleep the moment you get comfortable? Your body may be working harder than it has to. This could be due to bad posture, poor sleeping habits, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, or all of the above.

Regular massage can help you feel like yourself again and boost your energy by improving circulation. Massage can also help correct poor posture, making it easier to rest and move your body more naturally.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, massage is one of the best treatments for that. A study by the Mayo clinic found that patients reported better sleep and lower fatigue than a control group. It really does help.

Loss of muscle control
For athletes and musicians, control is everything. Power and energy in using your muscles is important, but control is what turns that power into inspiring wins or beautiful music.

You may not be in pain, but if you’re noticing control errors in your playing, it might be time to schedule an appointment.

Pain that goes away–for a while
Headaches are the most common form of this, but pain can be your body’s way of sending you subtle and not-so-subtle messages. You may try temporary measures to find relief (aspirin, hot or cold packs), and you feel better…for a while. But if the pain keeps coming back, you’re not getting the message.

The message almost always has to do with self-care, but how to best interpret that message depends on the situation. If you just had a massage yesterday, you probably need to rest your body from the usual strain, and probably need additional treatment down the line anyway. But if it’s been some time since your last massage, and the pain keeps coming back, it might be a good time to schedule your next one.

Loss of emotional control
Your feelings are like lightning calculators, taking the input your brain receives and manifesting a tidy sum response to that input. What most people forget is that your feelings are responses–not just to what happens to you–but what’s happening inside you as well.

Pain can be like an annoying sound in the background–you may almost forget it’s there or how irritating it is–until, suddenly, it’s gone. Your body can develop a tolerance for it, a numbness. But your feelings and emotions aren’t so easily distracted.

Irritation in the body can come out as irritability with friends or with yourself. Are you feeling more sad for no apparent reason? Are your responses to things more dramatic than usual, in either a happy or sad/angry direction? Do you ever feel like you’re watching yourself react, but can’t stop the reaction?

Regular massage can help you stabilize your emotional responses by reducing the input your mind is receiving from within–quieting that noise of the body so you can respond to the stresses of life in a balanced and healthy way.

Do any or all of these describe you? Consider a massage. It really isn’t just a luxury, and you really don’t have to be rich to get it on a regular basis. And it could be a lot less expensive than trying to go without it.

When you come in, be open with your practitioner about what you’ve been going through and what you need. The more you tell them, the more effective the treatment will be.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is a freelance writer and social media editor. He is also the editor of this blog and the marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can see more of his work or hire him at www.TGunnWriter.com

Why Handmade Soap is Coming Back

Did you know that anti-bacterial soap could be bad for you? The FDA has just banned the sale of soaps containing certain antibacterial chemicals. They stated that there is no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps are safe for long term use, or that they are even as effective as traditional soap in killing bacteria and preventing disease. Click here to read the FDA’s full report.

Antibacterial soap made its debut in the late ’70s, but the antibacterial properties weren’t really pushed heavily until the late ’80s. It was sold as a healthcare miracle. Many ads touting the benefits of antibacterial soap were aimed at parents. They even cited pediatrician recommendations. This tactic wasn’t without merit at the time because pediatricians were recommending and using these new soaps. Keep in mind is that soap does not need approval from the FDA to be sold. The FDA can, however, remove soaps or certain chemicals from the market if there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate their safety or effectiveness.

this-side-of-paradise-cover-photo
Our detergent-free handmade soaps are available in our Renton clinic or online at http://goodliferenton.com/products.html

This is a case where it has become clear that there is no verifiable benefit to using these ingredients, while at the same time, there is some concern (though little in the way of conclusive proof) that these ingredients might actually be causing harm.

That said, it’s still important to wash regularly, especially during cold and flu season. UNICEF estimates that 2.3 million children die every year from diarrhea and pneumonia-related illnesses every year–deaths that in many cases could have been prevented by this simple habit. In fact, UNICEF has also said that hand washing is “more straight-forward and cost-effective than any single vaccine” in preventing illness.

More regular washing can instantly have an impact on your personal health. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in the general population regular hand washing reduces respiratory illnesses, such as colds, by 16 – 21%. It should also be noted that most of the illnesses that hand washing is meant to prevent come not from bacteria, but from viruses. Understanding that washing and hygeine are important, this has lead to a new golden age for handmade soap.

Handmade soap bubbles back to the surface
Before soaps became a mass-produced commodity, soap making was a common handicraft that used chemicals and materials commonly found in most homes and farms–primarily rendered beef fat called tallow. While some soap makers stick to the old methods, most handmade soaps today are saponified vegetable based oils. The main problem with this uptick in the production and popularity of handmade soaps is variation of quality, and even safety.

Yes, soap is soap. It’s sanitary function is fairly uniform across the spectrum. But that doesn’t mean handmade soaps are all created equal. In terms of how soap works on your skin, there can be a world of difference between bars depending on a number of factors including ingredients, manufacturing methods, and even the climate you’re in.

At The Good Life Massage, we sell handmade soaps made with as many natural ingredients as possible. They contain no detergents, which can cause irritation. To learn more about our soaps and other handmade skin care products, visit our Products page. We also strongly recommend you like the This Side of Paradise Facebook page.

Tom Gunn is a freelance writer and is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. To hire Tom or to see more of his work, visit www.tgunnwriter.com.