What the heck is "hard lotion"?

I can’t have lotions in my house. 

Well, unscented and mild lotions are allowed. But anything from Bath & Body Works can’t cross my doorway. I am just that sensitive to some synthetic fragrances. I can’t even walk by that type of store without coughing, and those Yankee Candle kiosks in malls feel like an assault. 

As you can imagine, this was a problem when we had a teenage daughter. The fruitier and pinker the better, that was her motto. Many skirmishes were fought over my request (repeated a million times) that she only apply lotion OUTSIDE. 

Hey, if fruity and pink is your jam, go for it. But please don’t stand too close to me. 

And have you looked at the back of a lotion bottle lately? It’s a very long list of unpronounceable chemicals. Lotion has water in it to hydrate the skin, and therefore it must have some of those chemicals as preservatives. Water opens the door for all kinds of bad stuff: bacteria and mold are the main culprits. Without preservatives, lotions would be a fuzzy, bacteria-laden mess within days. 

Chemicals are hugely important in preservation, and can help keep us healthier and safer in many ways. I don’t think it’s wise to always be anti-chemical and think natural is always pure and safe. Arsenic is natural. Lead is natural. And conversely, many chemicals created in labs are based on natural substances. 

But we are so bombarded with chemicals in modern life, and we don’t really and truly know how they’re affecting us. So I try to stick to natural when I can; besides, pink and fruity makes me cough. 

That’s why I love my Hard Lotion bars so much. 

Well, one of the reasons. I also love that I smell wonderful all day, since the hard lotion has essential oils and doubles as a solid perfume. And I love that I don’t have to use plastic bottles (and the tins are so adorable).

So what the heck is Hard Lotion, and how is it different? Also known as lotion bars, hard lotion is anhydrous, meaning it contains no water. Since there is no water, it does not require a preservative. Mold and bacteria must have moisture present to grow. (Salves are also anhydrous, just a bit softer.)

What this means is that hard lotion can be very pure and simple: just natural nourishing oils and butters, beeswax, and essential oils. That’s it. Some people might add an antioxidant to keep the oils from going rancid, but it’s not really necessary as long as the oils are fresh and have a pretty good shelf life. 

Hard lotion, like salve, melts onto the skin as you rub it on. It feels different than lotion; some find it more, well, oily feeling, since it is simply oils. But I’ve always found many lotions to have a bit of a slimy feel that personally does not appeal to me. 

However, lotion has that one ingredient that makes it very different: water. Anything that claims to hydrate the skin must contain water; this means it adds moisture back into the skin. A moisturizer is different in that it lays a protective barrier over the skin so no moisture will escape, but it does not add additional moisture. 

But there’s a trick for that. 

You can still hydrate the skin without all the chemicals, which can be irritating to sensitive skin. Just leave some water on your skin, and apply the hard lotion over. It seals in the extra moisture. So simple! 

And no irritating synthetic fragrance oils or chemical preservatives. Pure, natural, simple, nourishing. And no fruity pink in sight. 
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