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Exfoliation, not so new but is it good or bad?

Exfoliating Hand scrub brush

What is exfoliation ?

Exfoliation is the removal of the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Exfoliation can be performed mechanically by using abrasive scrubs on the skin or chemically by using scrubs that dissolve and remove the dead skin cells.
What is Exfoliation
As we age, the process of cell regeneration slows down. This means that the body is slower to shed skin cells and generate new ones. When old skin cells start to pile up on the surface of the skin, it can leave skin looking dull, rough, and dry. Even in mature people this can result in excess oil and clogged pores leading to blemishes and spots.
Exfoliation (desquamation) is the shedding of the outer layers of the skin. For example, after sunburn (never good), there is desquamation. This word comes from the Latin, “desquamate”, meaning to scrape the scales off a fish!

Whilst it is something that sounds like we should do enthusiastically each day, scrubbing (mechanical exfoliation) away skin with abrasive materials and harsh chemicals can do significant harm especially for people with split / broken skin or skin conditions. It best to do this only once a week, as over exfoliation will end up doing more damage than good.

History of exfoliation

The Egyptians not only practiced exfoliation but that they had several different methods. Royalty used wine as an exfoliating agent. The tartaric acid contained within the wine worked as the active exfoliating agent. One popular exfoliant documented in the Ebers Papyrus listed a recipe for an exfoliant, of one part each of: sea salt, natron, powdered alabaster and honey. Pumice stones were popular abrasives as well as scrubs made from sand and the aloe vera plant. This early version of a gommage exfoliator, a gel that is rich in enzymes. was used frequently by men who wanted a more youthful appearance.

Cleopatra is famously said to have regularly bathed in the milk of donkeys. Whilst it may sound purely decadent, there was a lot of science behind it. The milk was sour and fermented to yield a high concentration of lactic acid (alpha hydroxy acid) also known as AHA, still used in modern day exfoliants.
China The Chinese made exfoliating masks from oils and minerals

Polynesian people would use crushed seashells.

Native Americans Exfoliation was widely recognized in many Native American tribes. The most used exfoliant was dried corn cobs rubbed over their body. Like the way in which we would use a dry brush today. The Comanche tribe used sand from the bottom of a river to scrub their skin because the sediment contained more minerals and compounds.

In the Middle Ages, old wine was commonly used as a chemical exfoliant, and it was extremely effective due to the high concentration of acids in old wine. We deal with naturally occurring acids each day and are found in cane, fruits, wine, and milk.

Until the early 1800s, many ingredients that naturally contained a high level of AHAs were used as chemical exfoliants. The popularity of this died down once a German dermatologist Gerson Unna began scientifically formulating the earliest forms of chemical peels. His pioneering research with salicylic acid is still used today.

During the 1970’s, exfoliation became increasingly popular in the Western world, when spas and dermatologists began offering a process called gommage. A special enzyme infused cream would be applied to a client or patients face, left to rest for a few minutes until it hardened, and would then be removed through a process of rubbing the skin. It was an effective method for its time but was rather messy. Since then, a variety of substances have been used to peel, exfoliate, and rejuvenate the skin. These include the use of acids, poultices of minerals and plants, and direct irritants such as fire and sandpaper like materials.
Should we Exfoliate at all?

As we age, the glue like intercellular cement holding the cells together becomes thicker. This results in a build up in the layers of skin cells. The skin sloughing process then becomes more difficult to accomplish and the skin has a thicker, less-toned appearance. This process can be influenced by the environment, hormones and vitamin deficiencies (A and D). By eliminating the build up of dead regeneration of new skin cells is stimulated, resulting in an improved appearance, tone, and feel of the skin.

In recent years, retinol (vitamin A) has been included in exfoliation formulas because the skin converts retinol to retinoic acid, a potent skin exfoliation and anti-aging agent. When used daily, studies show that retinol improves the signs of photo-aging as well as normal chronological aging. Other studies also showed that retinol slowed down the degradation of collagen in the skin due to sun exposure

Are natural methods the best?

Not necessarily. A lot of “natural” exfoliants use) or a substance (i.e. salt, sugars, corncob meal, rice bran, oatmeal). These cause microdermabrasion which is the most forceful of the mechanical methods. It loosens and reduces the outer layer of cells when friction and abrasion are applied. The outcome varies depending on the amount of friction applied and the abrasive used. It is important to note that excessive abrasion can result in skin irritation.

Therefore, the International Dermal Institute does not recommend the use of crushed fruit pits, shells, or similar substrates.

Other considerations:

If you are using Retin-A, Renova or any other exfoliating product, you should discontinue for at least two weeks before trying another form.

If you are taking acne medicine or have taken acne medication within the last six months, you should not have any kind of exfoliation treatments.

Do not perform or receive any type of exfoliation on burned or irritated skin, or skin that has been waxed within the past 24 hours.

Also, the dead outer layer of the skin acts as a sun shield; with less of the layer, you are more susceptible to sun damage. It then becomes more important to use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 after an exfoliation treatment.

Whether you choose a mechanical or chemical means of exfoliation, each can be of benefit and provide enhancement for your skin. Consistent exfoliation prevents clogged pores, acne, ingrown hairs, and certain types of infection. It can also prevent scarring blemishes and help to reduce the appearance of existing scars. Exfoliation can also increase circulation and help to make the other steps in your facial regimen (i.e. toners, cleansers, and moisturisers) more effective by unblocking the pores for better absorption.

It is worth the time to find the right exfoliation agent for your specific skin type and needs. And of course, always use caution and heed the warnings associated with the exfoliation process of your choice.

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Dead Sea Mud

Dead sea mud

It does seem rather odd for a product like soap intended to clean, we deliberately add mud to it. However, it isn’t just “mud” this is Dead Sea mud which has a unique blend of compounds and minerals.  At its simplest our “Dead Sea” soap blended with Olive Oil is formulated to remove dead skin cells and impurities whilst the olive oil restores softness, balances the skin’s oil production and pH level.  However, it is much more than that. The minerals and salts within Dead Sea Mud have been used for thousands of years to ease several skin conditions:

Psoriasis Researchers have found that the high concentrations of salt and other chemical compounds in the mud can be used to treat psoriasis effectively. 

Acne Dead Sea mud has been tested and proven to have an antimicrobial effect on strains of bacteria that live on human skin. Since bacteria can lead to acne, it’s one of the reasons why Dead Sea mud has been used to treat breakouts since biblical times.

Dry skin Dead Sea mud can work to remove impurities and dead skin on your body. An additional benefit is the salt and magnesium can improve your skin’s functionality by making it more elastic and have a better protective barrier

Whilst Packaged in a convenient bar to prevent the mess associated with cleaning pure mud off skin, towels and out of sink and bath plug holes!

History of the Dead sea compounds

Dead Sea Mineral Mud is formed when fine-grained sediment consisting of mountain silt and sand flows down from natural springs that pass through the northern mountains, then through the Sea of Galilee, and finally down the Jordan River Valley before being deposited to the shores of this inland sea, where it settles. Dead Sea Mineral Mud is a natural element yielded by and harvested from the mineral-rich Dead Sea, a small body of water nestled in the Jordan Rift Valley between Israel to the East and Jordan to the West. The area is also known as: Sea of Salt, Stinking Sea, Sea of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Devil’s Sea and Lake Asphaltites.

Hot, dry desert air over millions of years have evaporated the water, condensing the natural salts and minerals into the mud. Whilst the mud can be “enjoyed” at the water’s edge, for cosmetic use it is filtered and purified before being included in products

According to legends, the Queen of Sheba acknowledged the healing powers of the Dead Sea leading to other rulers taking her lead. Queen Cleopatra travelled from Egypt to build one of the world’s first spas.  King David and then Herod the Great allegedly built their own spas on the lake. 

The mystical powers of the Dead Sea have been incorporated into the Egyptians process of mummification.  The Dead Sea provided bitumen or “asphalt” or mūmiyā which has then evolved into “mummy”

For hundreds of years, Dead Sea Mud has been known to exhibit therapeutic benefits and general well-being. From the 17th to the 19th centuries Mud Therapy was commonly practiced in Europe, where chronic illnesses were treated with mineral water and mudpacks of varying compositions. The region continues to be known as a “fountain of youth” due to the historical use of the mud within cosmetics.

Alongside its hydrating and beautifying properties, Dead Sea Mineral Mud maintains its reputation for having cleansing and purgative properties. These are known to relieve various symptoms of health issues ranging from skin ailments such as psoriasis to musculoskeletal ailments such as arthritis.

Dead Sea mud minerals and salts

A natural exfoliator: The texture of Dead Sea mud makes it an excellent exfoliator and is highly rich in the minerals which help in cleansing, detoxifying and restoring a healthy status quo to the body

Magnesium.  Detoxifies and cleanses and promotes cell metabolism to assist in healing damaged or inflamed skin.

Calcium. Promotes skin growth and regeneration and moisture retention through the production of sebum. It also stimulates the production of antioxidants.

Sodium. Cleanses and exfoliates and neutralise free radicals which can degenerate skin cells. It can also relieve sore muscles.

Zinc. Heals and rejuvenates the skin, controls acne and protects the skin’s lipids and fibroblasts cells that create collagen.

Potassium. Assists in keeping skin moist and plump and reducing puffiness.

Sulphur. Cleans pores and is excellent for acne. It also has powerful healing, antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

The main chemical constituents of Dead Sea Mineral Mud are: Dead Sea Water, Organic Matter, and Minerals (expressed in Oxides: Silicon Dioxide, Calcium Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Oxide, Potassium Oxide, Iron (III) Oxide, Aluminium Oxide, Phosphorous Pentoxide, Titanium (IV) Oxide, Sulphur Trioxide, Manganese(II) Oxide, Zirconium Dioxide, Chromium(III) Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Nickel(II) Oxide, Copper Oxide, Indium (III) Oxide, Chloride, and Bromide).

See our other guides for more background information on our ingredients

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Argan oil, a product that is good for you, improves the environment and promotes equality

Argan oil nuts and open centre

Many people have heard of Argan oil as it is often used in shampoo, but why is it put in there? Few know about its unique properties.  Argan is one of the most underestimated but also ecologically beneficial crop.  Mainly grown in Morocco where it provides a food source for humans and animals, fuel, shade, provides independence for female workers and helps resist climate change, prevents soil erosion and desert encroachment.

Argan oil is eaten like olive oil. In Morocco, Amlou, a paste like peanut butter, is used locally as a bread dip. produced by grinding roasted almond and argan oil using stones, and then mixing the argan oil and almonds in honey. Argan oil is also drizzled on couscous or pasta.


Argan oil nut

The fruit of the argan tree is small and round. A thick peel covers the fleshy pulp which surrounds a hard-shelled nut containing one to three oil-rich argan kernels. Extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels, depending on the extraction method. It takes an estimated 2.3kg of argan kernel to produce a litre of the oil.

The months from July to October are busy for members of a local women’s co-operative, who wake early to collect the fruit which fall from the tree. Leave it later in the morning, goats will eat the fruit. A tradition in some areas of Morocco was to allow goats to climb argan trees to feed freely on the fruits. The kernels are retrieved from the goat droppings, considerably reducing the labour. We don’t use oil collected by this method! Instead women crack the shells by hand in a tradition going back centuries.
The Argan kernels are divided between those destined for cosmetics and culinary use. The only difference is that culinary Argan is roasted before pressing giving it a brown colour and nutty smell and taste. Cosmetic Argan oil is colourless.argan oil tree

Environmental Benefits

The argan tree provides food, shelter and protection from encroaching deserts. The argan trees are interspersed with almond, olive and jujube trees deep roots help prevent desert encroachment. The leaves of argan trees also provides shade for other agricultural products. The leaves and fruit provide feed for animals. The argan tree also helps landscape stability, helping to prevent soil erosion, providing shade for pasture grasses, and helping to replenish aquifers (underground water reservoirs). Even the production waste is pressed into cattle cake and the shells are burned for firewood.
Producing argan oil has helped to protect historic argan trees from being cut down. The local government has funded the annual planting of around 300 hectares of saplings to protect this valuable industry for future generations.


Much of the argan oil produced today is made by women’s co-operatives. Employment in the co-operatives provides women with an income. Many have used to fund education for themselves or their children. It has also provided them with a degree of autonomy in a traditionally male-dominated society and has helped many become more aware of their rights. Whenever an order is placed, it is designated to one of the village groups which produce it in full. This ensures that each delivery batch can be traced back to the workers who prepared it. This certifies that the oil produced is high quality, traceable and fresh. The co-cooperative arranges training and monitoring for each co-operative to help them all reach ECOCERT organic and FairTrade status.

Argan oil benefits and properties

Argan oil

Argan oil is primarily comprised of fatty acids and a variety of phenolic compounds. Approximately 29–36% of the fatty acid content of argan oil comes from linoleic acid, or omega-6, making it a good source of this essential oil
Argan oil is a rich source of oleic acid, though not essential, makes up 43–49% of the fatty acid composition of argan oil and is a very healthy fat (monounsaturated, omega-9 fat). Found in avocado and olive oil as well, oleic acid is renowned for its positive impact on heart health. The oleic and linoleic acids that make up the majority of argan oil’s fat content are vital nutrients for maintaining healthy skin and hair. Argan oil is often directly administered to skin and hair but may also be effective when ingested.,
Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E (tocopherol), whi ch is required for healthy skin, hair and eyes. This vitamin also has powerful antioxidant properties to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals.

Argan oil nut

Argan oil has quickly become a popular ingredient for many skin care products. Some research suggests that dietary intake of argan oil may help slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may support reduced redness and irritation of the skin caused by acne. Some studies show argan oil both taken orally and administered to the skin to be effective for increasing skin elasticity and hydration in postmenopausal women

It may also support repair and maintenance of healthy skin when applied directly to your skin, thus reducing visual signs of aging. Some research indicates that argan oil can also be applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation caused by injuries or infections. Argan oil is frequently used to prevent and reduce stretch marks, although no research has been conducted to prove its efficacy You can apply argan oil directly to damp or dry hair to improve moisture, reduce breakage, or reduce frizz. It is also included in shampoos or conditioners. If it’s your first time using it, start with a small amount to see how your hair responds. If you have naturally oily roots, apply argan only to the ends of your hair to avoid greasy-looking hair.

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Introducing Tiwlip the bear our brand mascot

Tiwlip is our mascot and comes to all our public events with us and greats all our customers and passers by. Naturally, she is a great favourite with the kids, who hug and have pictures taken with her.

So if you see Tiwlip on her travels come and say hello.

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Why buy handmade soap instead of mass produced soap?

handmade soap block

Why buy handmade soap ?

Why buy handmade soap

Handmade natural soap and mass-produced soap may serve the same purpose but that is about where the similarity ends. Even some of the well-known soap and bath product brands state that they are ‘natural’ or ‘full of nature’s bounty’ yet have a long ingredient lists containing poor quality, cheap ingredients. Other ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and the family of parabens (chemical preservatives) found in mass-produced bath & body products fall into a more dubious category of substances to say the least.

Handmade Soap

Saponification is at the heart of soap-making. It is the chemical reaction in which the building blocks of fats and oils (triglycerides) react with lye to form soap.  Glycerin is a natural biproduct of the saponification process and a wonderful moisturiser. However, because if its value for skin moisturisers, most commercial soap makers remove it from the soap during manufacturing. With handmade soap all the Glycerin is left in the soap for superior moisturising capabilities.

Rather than use fragrance oils (synthetic fragrances manufactured in the laboratory) we prefer to use essential oils (the very essence of a tree, plant, herb or flower) that carry known therapeutic properties alongside their scent. By adding essential oils to our soaps, we can offer products that can alleviate or reduce the symptoms of common skin complaints such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema; restore balance to skin complexions; have natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and soothe inflamed areas amongst a host of other benefits. See our soaps for more details on their properties.

We have no need to bulk out our soaps with fillers such as SLS (see below) or use parabens to ensure long shelf lives. We add generous amounts of vitamin E and use oils such as wheatgerm that are high in antioxidants to achieve this.

Mass-Produced Soap

Next time you shower or bathe, have a look at the ingredients lists on the back of the bottle, jar or box. The chances are that you will find Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate and one or more parabens on the list.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

In the cosmetics industry, SLS is used as a cheap filler to bulk out many types of products such as shampoo, soap & toothpaste. It also has the added advantage of lathering up readily and degreasing surfaces which is why it is so favoured in the mass-production of bath and body products.

There are lots of rumours and myths about SLS some may or may not be true. However, SLS is known to dry out the skin and hair follicles. For sensitive / dry skin, products containing SLS are best avoided and if you do not need it why include it.


These chemicals are readily absorbed and stored by the body and have been found in cancerous tissues. Yet, studies are not conclusive enough to make a categorical link.

However, for us where there is doubt, leave it out!

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Safle adeiladu newydd gwych ar gyfer Emporiwm Sian

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Oherwydd problemau gyda’n cwmni Hosting, collwyd ein gwefan. Yna darganfuom nad ydynt yn cefnogi gwefannau cwsmeriaid yn rheolaidd – nid o gwbl ! Felly mae’n rhaid i ni nawr ddechrau eto ac adeiladu gwefan newydd ar ein platfform cynnal newydd.

Wrth edrych ar y pethau cadarnhaol bob amser, rydym wedi ailystyried ein gwefan, wedi clirio’r hen gynnyrch a’r annibendod.

Gan ein bod yn gwmni sydd wedi’i leoli yng Nghymru, rydym hefyd wedi ymrwymo i greu gwefan gwbl ddwyieithog gyda’r Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.

Dros yr wythnosau nesaf bydd y safle’n tyfu wrth i ni ychwanegu’r gorau o’r hen gynnwys a’n cynnyrch newydd ar gyfer yr haf.

Mae’r wefan hon yn cael ei hadeiladu gyda WordPress a byddwn yn ymgorffori llawer o nodweddion newydd i ddarparu mwy o wasanaeth i’n cwsmeriaid. Felly wrth iddyn nhw ddweud “Gwyliwch y gofod hwn

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Fantastic new build site for Sian’s Emporium

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Welcome to the new build site for Sian’s Emporium

Due to issues with our Hosting company, we lost our website. Then we discovered that they don’t back up customer websites regularly – not at all ! So we now have to start again and build a new website on our new hosting platform.

Always looking at the positives, we have rethought our website, cleared away all the old products and clutter.

Being a company based in Wales, we are also committed to creating a fully bilingual website with Welsh and English.

Over the next few weeks the site will be growing as we add the best of the old content and our new products for the summer.

This site is being built with WordPress and we will be incorporating a lot of new features to deliver more service to our customers. So as they say “Watch this space”