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soap (sohp): noun

A cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes, or liquid form, made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.

alchemy (al-kuh-mee): noun

Any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

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Soap Alchemy Glossary


alchemy (al-kuh-mee): noun

Any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

almond (al-muhnd): noun

Small bushy deciduous tree native to Asia and North Africa having pretty pink blossoms and highly prized edible nuts enclosed in a hard green hull; either eaten as a nut or used for extraction of an oil for flavoring; cultivated in southern Australia and California.

almond oil (al-muhnd oil): noun

Pale yellow fatty oil expressed from sweet or bitter almonds. The sweet almond oil is obtained from the dried kernel of the plant. This oil has been traditionally used by massage therapists to lubricate the skin during a massage session, being considered by many to be an effective emollient.

anti-inflammatory (an-tee-in-flam-uh-tawr-ee): adj.

Preventing or reducing inflammation.

antiseptic (an-tuh-sep-tik): adj.

Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.

antiviral (an-tee-vahy-ruhl): adj.

Destroying or inhibiting the growth and reproduction of viruses.

apricot (ap-ri-kot): noun

Asian tree having clusters of usually white blossoms and edible fruit resembling the peach.

apricot oil (ap-ri-kot oil): noun

Pressed from the kernels of the Prunus armeniaca (apricot). The kernels have an oil content of 40-50%. The oil is similar to almond oil and peach oil, both of which are also extracted from the kernels of the respective fruit. Apricot oil is used in cosmetics to soften skin and is also used in the manufacture of soaps, cold creams and other preparations of the perfumery trade. Specifically, apricot oil can be used on the scalp to improve its condition.

avocado (av-uh-kah-doh): noun

Also called alligator pear. a large, usually pear-shaped fruit having green to blackish skin, a single large seed, and soft, light-green pulp, borne by the tropical American tree Persea americana and its variety P. adrymifolia, often eaten raw, especially in salads.

avocado oil (av-uh-kah-doh oil): noun

An edible oil pressed from the fruit of the Persea americana (avocado). It is used as a food oil, as an ingredient in other dishes, as well as a cooking oil. It can be frequently found in cosmetics where it is valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties. It is high in Vitamin E.

Avocado oil is pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit.

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basic (bey-sic): adj.

Of, pertaining to, or forming a base; fundamental.

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castile (ca-steel): noun

A variety of mild soap, made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide.

certificate (ser-tif-i-kit): noun

A document serving as evidence or as written testimony, as of status, qualifications, privileges, or the truth of something.

chamomile (kam-uh-meel): noun

A composite plant, Chamaemelium nobile (or Anthemis nobilis), native to the Old World, having strongly scented foliage and white ray flowers with yellow centers used medicinally and as a tea.

The external uses of chamomile include blending its essential oil with lavender or rose for scenting perfumes, candles, creams, or other aromatherapy products intended to calm or relax the user.

Other external uses of chamomile include topical preparations for the treatment of bruises, scrapes, skin irritations, and joint pain. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile make it a widely used external treatment for acne, arthritis, burns, ulcerated areas of skin, and even diaper rash. The German E Commission, regarded as an authority on herbal treatments, has recommended chamomile to "combat inflammation, stimulate the regeneration of cell tissue, and promote the healing of refractory wounds and skin ulcers."

citrus (si-truhs): noun

Any small tree or spiny shrub of the genus Citrus, of the rue family, including the lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, citron, kumquat, and shaddock, widely cultivated for fruit or grown as an ornamental.

cocoa butter (koh-koh buht-er): noun

A yellowish-white fatty solid obtained from cacao seeds and used as an ingredient in cosmetics, tanning oils, chocolate, and soap.

Cocoa butter contains natural antioxidants. The smooth texture, sweet fragrance and emollient property of cocoa butter make it a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products, such as soaps and lotions.

coconut (koh-kuh-nuht): noun

The large, hard-shelled seed of the coconut palm, lined with a white edible meat, and containing a milky liquid.

coconut oil (koh-kuh-nuht oil): noun

A white, semisolid fat or nearly colorless fatty oil extracted from coconuts, used chiefly in foods and in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, and candles.

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essential oil (uh-sen-shuhl oil): noun

Any concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants, which are called aromatic herbs or aromatic plants. They are also known as volatile or ethereal oils, or simply as the "oil of" the plant material from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. The term essential indicates that the oil carries distinctive scent (essence) of the plant.

Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes and cosmetics, for flavoring food and drink, and for scenting incense and household cleaning products.

Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical applications proposed by those who sell medicinal oils vary from skin treatments to remedies for cancer, and are often based on historical use of these oils for these purposes.

eucalyptus (yoo-kuh-lip-tuhs): noun

A myrtaceous genus of trees, mostly Australian evergreen trees or rarely shrubs, that have rigid entire leaves and umbellate flowers and are widely cultivated for their gums, resins, oils, and useful woods. Many of them grow to an immense height, one or two species exceeding the height even of the California Sequoia.

evening primrose (eev-ning prim-rohz): noun

Any of various North American plants of the genus Oenothera, characteristically having four-petaled yellow flowers that open in the evening. Also called sundrops.

evening primrose oil (eev-ning prim-rohz oil): noun

A liquid from the plant Oenothera biennis whose flowers open in evening and are a source of y-linolenic acid, used as an herbal treatment and dietary supplement for various disorders.

exfoliating (eks-foh-lee-eyt-ing): adj.

To remove (a layer of bark or skin, for example) in flakes or scales; peel.

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floral (flawr-uhl): adj.

Of, relating to, or suggestive of a flower.

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geranium (ji-rey-nee-uhm): noun

Also called stork's-bill. any of various plants of the allied genus Pelargonium, native to southern Africa, having showy flowers or fragrant leaves, widely cultivated in gardens and as houseplants.

gift (gift): noun

Something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

gift certificate (gift ser-tif-i-kit): noun

A certificate entitling the bearer to select merchandise of a specified cash value from a store, usually presented as a gift.

ginger (jin-jer): noun

Any of a genus (Zingiber of the family Zingiberaceae, the ginger family) of herbs with a pungent aromatic rhizome that is used as a spice and sometimes in medicine; especially : a widely cultivated tropical herb (Z. officinale) that supplies most of the ginger of commerce.

goat milk (goht milk): noun

Milk from the doe or female goat, In soap making, it is used for super-fatting soap which creates a more emollient bar and creamy lather. Goat milk contains 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B-6, 47% more vitamin A, 34% more potassium, 35% more niacin, and 27% more selenium than cow milk. Goat milk is also higher in chloride, copper, and manganese.

The milk is naturally homogenized since it lacks the protein agglutinin. The curd is much smaller. The milk also has a more similar makeup (percentage of fats, etc.) to human milk than cows milk.

grape seed (greyp seed): noun

The seeds of various varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes.

grape seed oil (greyp seed oil): noun

A vegetable oil pressed from the seeds of various varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes. A preferred cosmetic ingredient for damaged and stressed tissues, possessing regenerative and restructuring qualities which allow a better control of skin moisturization.

It can help skin retain the normal structure of epithelium cells and nerve cells via supporting the cell membranes. It is noted to be especially effective for repair of the skin around the eyes. Used as an all-over skin moisturizer, grape seed oil is known to reduce the look of stretch marks. A light, thin oil, grape seed oil leaves a glossy film over the skin when used as a carrier oil for essential oils in aromatherapy. It contains more linoleic acid than many other carrier oils. Grape seed oil is also usable as a lubricant for face shaving.

green tea (green tee): noun

Tea made from leaves that are not fermented before being dried.

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hempseed (hemp-seed): noun

The seed of hemp. Hemp seeds are comparable to sunflower seeds, and may be used for food and milk, tea, and for baking, like sesame seeds. The hemp seed is actually a very tiny nut covered by a thin shell.

Hemp seeds are one of the worldÂ’s richest sources of a complete protein (second only to soybean) comprising 23% of the seed composition and 34% dietary fiber. Whole hemp seeds contain a rich array of minerals, particularly phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulfur and calcium, along with modest amounts of iron and zinc. It is also a fair source of carotene, a "Vitamin A" precursor.

hempseed oil (hemp-seed oil): noun

A vegetable oil pressed from the seeds of Hemp. This highly polyunsaturated oil has uses similar to that of linseed oil, but also has been employed as a raw material for soaps and detergents and as an emollient in body-care products. Hempseed oil contains both linoleic and linolenic essential fatty acids.

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jojoba oil (hoh-hoh-buh oil): noun

The liquid wax produced in the seed of the Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) plant, a shrub native to southern Arizona, southern California and northwestern Mexico. Jojoba oil makes up approximately 50% of the jojoba seed by weight.

Unlike common vegetable oils, jojoba oil is chemically very similar to human sebum. Most jojoba oil is consumed as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products, especially skin care and hair care. The make up of the oil is very similar to that of human sebum. It aids in the healing process.

Jojoba oil is also used as a replacement for whale oil and its derivatives, such as cetyl alcohol. The ban on importing whale oil to the US in 1971 led to the discovery that it is "in many regards superior to sperm oil for applications in the cosmetics and other industries." Jojoba biodiesel has been explored as a cheap, sustainable fuel that can serve as a substitute for petroleum diesel.

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lavender (lav-uhn-der): noun

Any of various aromatic Old World plants of the genus Lavandula, especially L. angustifolia, having clusters of small purplish flowers that yield an oil used in perfumery; The fragrant dried leaves, stems, and flowers of this plant.

Lavender is used both externally and internally in healing. Externally the essential oil is used in aromatherapy as a relaxant and to improve mood. Aromatherapy can be facilitated through massage, used in the bath, in potpourri jars, and burned in specially-designed oil burners. Lavender is also used to treat fatigue, restlessness, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping.  Lavender oil applied to the forehead and temples is said to ease headache.

lemon (lem-uhn): noun

One of the citrus fruits, from a tree (Citrus limon) of the family Rutaceae (orange family), probably native to India. A small tree (to about 15 ft/5 m tall) with thorny branches and purple-edged white blossoms, it requires a mild, equable climate.

The fruit is high in vitamin content (especially in ascorbic acid, or vitamin C.) Lemon oil, or the essential oil extracted from the skin, usually while green, is manufactured mostly in Italy and France. It is used in the making of lemon extract, perfumes and cosmetics.

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meal (meel): noun

A coarse, unsifted powder ground from the edible seeds of any grain or any ground or powdery substance, as of nuts or seeds, resembling this.

mint (mint): noun; adj.

Any aromatic herb of the genus Mentha, having opposite leaves and small, whorled flowers, as the spearmint and peppermint; made, scented or flavored with mint.

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natural (nach-er-uhl): adj.


Having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives.

natural brown sugar (nach-er-uhl broun shoog-er): noun

A name for Raw Sugar which is a brown sugar produced from the first crystallization of cane. Raw sugar is more commonly used than processed white sugar. As such "natural brown sugar" is free of additional dyes and chemicals. There is more molasses in brown sugar, giving it a higher mineral content.

neem (neem): noun

A fast-growing broad-leaved evergreen, Azadirachta indica, native to India and Myanmar. Its extracts have been used for centuries in Asia as pesticides, toothpaste, medicines, and health tonics.

In India, the tree is variously known as "Divine Tree", "Heal All", "Nature's Drugstore", "Village Pharmacy" and "Panacea for all diseases". Products made from neem have proven medicinal properties, being antihelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-infertility.

Neem twigs are used for brushing teeth in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This practice is perhaps one of the earliest and most effective forms of dental care. All parts of the tree (seeds, leaves, flowers and bark) are used for preparing many different medical preparations. Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, shampoo, balms and creams). Neem Oil is useful for skin care such as acne, and keeping skin elasticity.

neem oil (neem oil): noun

A vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of Neem (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian sub-continent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It is perhaps the most important of the commercially available products of neem.

Neem oil is not used for cooking purposes but, in India and Bangladesh, it is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, hair products, body hygiene creams, hand creams) and in Ayurvedic, Unani and folklore traditional medicine, in the treatment of a wide range of afflictions. The most frequently reported indications in ancient Ayurvedic writings are skin diseases, inflammations and fevers, and more recently rheumatic disorders, insect repellent and insecticide effects.

Traditional Ayurvedic uses of neem include the treatment of fever, leprosy, malaria, ophthalmia and tuberculosis.  It has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of tetanus, urticaria, eczema, scrofula and erysipelas. Neem Oil is useful for skin care such as acne, and keeping skin elasticity.

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oat (oht): noun

Any of various grasses of the genus Avena, especially A. sativa, widely cultivated for their edible grains.

oatmeal (oht-meel): noun; adj.

Meal made from ground or rolled oats; made with or containing oatmeal.

olive oil (ol-iv oil): noun

A fruit oil obtained from the olive (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae along with lilacs, jasmine and ash trees), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is healthier than other sources of alimentary fat because of its high content of monounsaturated fat (mainly oleic acid) and polyphenols.

Topical application is quite popular with fans of natural health remedies. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the preferred grade for moisturizing the skin, especially when used in the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). OCM is a method of cleansing and moisturizing the face with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, castor oil (or another suitable carrier oil) and a select blend of essential oils.

Jeanne Calment, who holds the record for the longest confirmed lifespan, reportedly attributed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance (for her age) to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed into her skin.

oil (oil): noun

Any of numerous mineral, vegetable, and synthetic substances and animal and vegetable fats that are generally slippery, combustible, viscous, liquid or liquefiable at room temperatures, soluble in various organic solvents such as ether but not in water, and used in a great variety of products, especially lubricants and fuels.

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palm oil (pahm oil): noun

A yellow butter like oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm and used as an edible fat and for making soap, candles, etc.

palm kernel oil (pahm kur-nl oil): noun

A vegetable oil derived from the oil palm fruit seed and used as an edible fat for making soap, candles and processed foods.

palm red butter (pahm red buht-er): noun

Butter or oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm and used as an edible fat and for making soap, candles, etc. Palm Red butter is referred to as either a butter or an oil as it can be in solid to semi solid or liquid form depending on the temperature it is stored.

When compared to regular palm oil, it has been found to be more healthy due to the fact that Palm Red butter/oil contains the following nutrients either not present in, or present in lesser amounts than regular palm oil: carotenoids, giving the butter/oil its beautiful orange/red color, tocotrienols, co-enzyme Q10 (ubiquinone), squalene, Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

patchouli (puh-choo-lee): noun

A small shrubby mint-like plant (Pogostemon cablin or Pogostemon Patchouli) of the East Indies, yielding an essential oil from which a highly valued perfume is made.

peppermint (pep-er-mint): noun

An herb, Mentha piperita, of the mint family, cultivated for its aromatic, pungent oil. Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata).

Peppermint can be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin. It is said that it helps against upset stomachs, inhibits the growth of certain bacteria, and can help soothe and relax muscles when inhaled or applied to the skin.

Other health benefits are attributed to the high manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A content; as well as trace amounts of various other nutrients such as fiber, iron, calcium, folate, potassium, tryptophan, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, and copper.

pineapple (pahy-nap-uhl): noun

The edible, juicy, collective fruit of a tropical, bromeliaceous plant, Ananas comosus, that develops from a spike or head of flowers and is surmounted by a crown of leaves; the plant itself, having a short stem and rigid, spiny-margined, recurved leaves. The juice from the fruit is rich in vitamins A and B.

pure (pyoor): adj.

Free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter.

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rose (rohz): noun; adj.

Any of the wild or cultivated, usually prickly-stemmed, pinnate-leaved, showy-flowered shrubs of the genus Rosa; scented like a rose.

rose geranium (rohz ji-rey-nee-uhm): noun

A woody plant (Pelargonium graveolens) having rose-pink flowers and fragrant, deeply palmately lobed leaves with a rose like scent, used for flavoring and in perfumery.

rosemary (rohz-mair-ee): noun

An evergreen shrub, Rosmarinus officinalis, of the mint family, native to the Mediterranean region, having leathery, narrow leaves and pale-blue, bell-shaped flowers, used as a seasoning and in perfumery and medicine: a traditional symbol of remembrance.

rosewood (rohz-wood): noun

A high-quality wood scented like roses, because of the presence of aromatic gum. It is obtained from various trees of the genus Dalbergia, native to the tropics and subtropics, which have pinnate leaves and pea-flowers.

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safflower (saf-lou-er): noun

Eurasian thistlelike herb (Carthamus tinctorius) of the family Asteraceae (aster family). Safflower, or false saffron, has long been cultivated in S Asia and Egypt for food and medicine and as a costly but inferior substitute for the true saffron dye. In the United States, where it is sometimes called American saffron, it is more important as the source of safflower oil, which has recently come into wide use as a cooking oil.

safflower oil (saf-lou-er oil): noun

A vegetable oil pressed from Safflower seeds. Safflower oil is flavorless and colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine. It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement.

There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Currently the predominant oil market is for the former, which is lower in saturates and higher in monounsaturates than olive oil, for example.

saponify (suh-pon-uh-fahy): verb

To convert (a fat) into soap by treating with an alkali.

shea butter (shey buht-er): noun

A slightly greenish or ivory-colored natural fat extracted from fruit of the shea tree by crushing and boiling. Shea butter is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer and an emollient.

It is also a known anti-inflammatory agent. Shea butter can be effective at treating the following conditions: fading scars, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, severely dry skin, blemishes, dark spots, skin discolorations, chapped lips, stretchmarks, wrinkles and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis. Shea butter provides natural UV sun protection, although the level of protection is extremely variable, ranging from none at all to approximately SPF 6. Sun-sensitive persons should not rely on shea butter for protection. Shea butter absorbs rapidly into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.

soap (sohp): noun

A cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes, or liquid form, made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.

sodium lactate: noun

A Sodium salt of Lactic Acid that can be produced by natural fermentation of the sugars from corn or beets. Sodium Lactate is listed by the FDA as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). Considered a skin conditioning agent, acts as a lubricant on the skin surface, giving the skin a soft and smooth appearance. It is a humectant, a hygroscopic substance, which absorbs water from the air. Sodium Lactate is a known component of the stratum coreum, the outermost layer of the skin. In soap making, it is thought to produces a harder bar as well as adding humectant properties.

Soap Alchemy LLC uses Sodium Lactate produced from the natural fermentation of corn or beets.

spearmint (speer-mint): noun

An aromatic Eurasian plant (Mentha spicata) having clusters of small purplish flowers and yielding an oil used widely as a flavoring.

It is used as a flavouring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps. In herbalism, spearmint is steeped as tea for treatment of stomach ache.

Recent research has shown that Spearmint tea may be used as a treatment for mild hirsutism in women. Its anti-androgenic properties reduce the level of free testosterone in the blood, while leaving total testosterone and DHEA unaffected.

sunflower (suhn-flou-er): noun

Any of various composite plants of the genus Helianthus, as H. annuus, having showy, yellow-rayed flower heads often 12 in. (30 cm) wide, and edible seeds that yield an oil with a wide variety of uses.

sunflower oil (suhn-flou-er oil): noun

Oil expressed from sunflower (Helianthus annuus) seeds. Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient. Sunflower oil also contains lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids and waxes.

Sunflower oil is high in the essential vitamin E and low in saturated fat. Sunflower oil may also have suggested skin-health benefits. Sunflower oil, like other oils, can retain moisture in the skin. However, it may also provide a protective barrier that resists infection. Studies using sunflower oil have been conducted involving pre-term infants that are often susceptible to infection due to their underdeveloped skin. Research suggests that pre-term infants with low birth weight can benefit from sunflower oil skin treatments. Infections decreased by 41% in infants that received a daily skin treatment of sunflower oil. The sunflower oil provided a protective barrier against infection that was not otherwise present on the infant .

superfatting (soo-per-fat-ing): adj.

Leaving some of the oils and fats in the finished soap producing an emollient soap bar.

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tea tree (tee tree): noun

A tall shrub or small tree, also known as the Melaleuca Tree, Leptospermum scoparium, of the myrtle family, native to New Zealand and Australia, having silky foliage when young, and bell-shaped, white flowers: often planted to prevent beach erosion.

tea tree oil (tee tree oil): noun

An extraction from the Melaleuca tree believed to have beneficial cosmetic and medical properties (including antiseptic and antifungal action).

Tea tree oil has been recognized as a potent antiseptic in Australia anecdotally for much longer than there has been scientific evidence. However, recent studies support a role for tea tree oil in skin care and treatment of various ailments.

Tea tree oil is a known antifungal agent, effective in vitro against multiple dermatophytes found on the skin. In vivo, shampoo with 5% tea tree oil has been shown to be an effective treatment for dandruff due to its ability to treat Malassezia furfur, the most common cause of the condition.

Tea Tree Oil is used in medically used cosmetic products also. Some references are there to suggest its role as antiviral. Effectiveness of topical tea tree oil preparations for Candidiasis is supported by their ability to kill Candida in vitro.

In the treatment of moderate acne, topical application of 5% tea tree oil has shown an effect comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide, albeit with slower onset of action. Tea tree oil is also effective for treating insect bites, boils and minor wounds. It has also been known to help soothe sunburns, poison ivy, ear infections, and bee stings.

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vanilla (vuh-nil-uh): noun

Any tropical, climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, esp. V. planifolia, bearing podlike fruit yielding an extract used in flavoring food, in perfumery, etc.

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Definitions and descriptions in the above glossary and in the sidebars on this website were taken from one or more of the following sources:,, or



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