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Shopping Tips For The Fall

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 19th August 2014

The Frugal Diva wants to share a great guide for fall shopping tips.  Check out what is most cost effective for October.  Who knew that wine was a good buy in early fall. I like this guide because it not only tells you what is a good buy, it tells you why. Let me know if your experience bears this out.

FreeShipping.org’s “Best Time to Buy Guide”

Fall Highlights:

Air Conditioners
The price of air conditioners rise and lower with the temperature. Most old air conditioners expire when the temperature goes up which creates a high demand in the summer months.

If an air conditioner is a must buy right now, then begin looking for discounts today on last years models. If you have a unit that can make it through another season, then the best option is to wait until stores are clearing their inventory at the end of the summer. As temperatures cool the prices will drop and you can find great deals to keep you cool next year.

You can save money on the purchase of a new air conditioner by having your current system serviced. Early in the season is the best time to find deals on service for your air conditioner. In the heating and air conditioning business, the summer months are the most profitable. Many companies will offer discounts on air conditioner service before the heat arrives to stay busy.

Best time to buy an air conditioner: October
Best time to have your air conditioner services: February

Big Appliances
The new models for large appliances roll out in September and October, so stores will be working to make room by discounting previous models.  Some stores will keep older inventory in stock through the holiday months and then reduce what ever is left at the beginning of the new year.

During the rest of the year look for holiday sales around Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Best time to buy big appliances: October and January

Cars
New model year vehicles are typically introduced in late summer. The end of a model year can be a great time to get bargains on a recommended model as dealerships are making room for new models. Vehicles remaining on the lot at the end of the model year are considered to be “leftovers”. They have been on the lot the longest and can generally be negotiated for considerable savings.

The end of the month can be a good time to buy a car also as many dealerships establish monthly quotas and salespeople may be willing to take much less than asking price in order to make a sale to earn their bonus. The best way to save on end of the month purchases is to walk onto the dealership with a good idea of what you want to buy. Some salespeople may try pressuring you into making decisions about a car you are not prepared to buy if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Throughout the year, manufacturers offer rebates, incentives and cheap financing which often coincide with a holiday, long weekend, or special promotion. Sales incentives can be worth investigating to see how much money you can save.

Best time to buy a car: October, and end of the month

Gas Grills
Gas grills are in high demand during the summer and prices rise to match the demand. This makes Fall and Winter the best time to buy a new grill. Companies like Home Depot and Walmart will cut prices on summer grills when winter merchandise arrives.

Best time to buy gas grills: October

Jeans
There’s a double bonus if you buy new jeans in October: You miss back-to-school crowds and can take advantage of clearance sales scheduled before holiday shopping season. You’ll also have less of an audience to squiggle into new jeans if the store has one of those communal dressing rooms.

Best time to buy jeans: October

Toys
Early winter is the best time to begin your wish list if toys are what you want for Christmas. Retailers will be trying to maximize holiday sales by reducing prices and pushing sales as early as October. Your chances of finding cheaper games and puzzles are especially good during this time.

If you simply can’t wait to buy toys but you still would like to find a bargain, then August will be the best time to look for discounts. With holiday shopping on the horizon, retailers will be reducing prices on current stock to make room for the seasons hottest toys. Retailers will be willing to let items go at huge discounts in order to make room to stock newer items.

Best time to buy toys: October and November

Wine
The best selection of wines will be available after fall harvest. The latest vintages are released by most vineyards at this time. This is also the best time to find good buys on “cult wines”.

Many wine retailers are trying to keep a low inventory in these uncertain times and are marking down prices to sell off overstock. There are great deals being offered on wines of all quality so today may be the best day to buy your next bottle of wine.

Best time to buy wine: Early Fall (though with the earthquake in Napa this might not be true in the coming months).

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September Is National Coupon Month

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 18th August 2014

Ironic, coincidence, or  just the inevitable star crossed event – September is National Coupon Month and the month The Frugal Diva was born.   How appropriate that my birthday falls in the month for celebrating savings.  Coupon usage continues to rise and as a nation we are very interested in keeping more of our hard earned paychecks.  When economists tell us to spend more they never tell us where to get the money.  For those who are not trust fund babies, lottery winners, or living off the grid, coupons and budgeting help keep us ahead of higher prices and able to maintain our lifestyles.

While they put up this site in 2013, all the rules still apply.  The I Love Coupons site is right in sync with the our philosophy for strategizing  coupon savings.  And the most important rule is number 4 – if you don’t need it, don’t buy it!  The most expensive item you own is one you never use.  Even if it was half off  with a 30%  discount, there is no point to buying an item that will sit in your closet, stay in your pantry, or be relegated to your garage.  Check them out every day this month for everything you ever wanted to know about coupons and more.

There are others out there helping you save and Daily Finance has some great tips. Before you shop, hit up my two favorites Coupon Cabin and Coupon Sherpa.

On September 6th this year I will be in Los Angeles enjoying brunch, some pampering, and being ever so grateful for my relationship with The Frugal Dude.

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Student Savings

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 17th August 2014

Gift Card Granny has 81 student discounts savings.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 19-million students enrolled in higher education institutions across the country. Whether you’re gearing up for your first day on campus or are counting the days until graduation, make sure to take advantage of your status as a student while it lasts.

Besides the prize of a degree or just learning something, students get to partake in many savings around town and around the Internet. Here are some other ways to save as you pay your way through school.

JourneyEd.com has all the best software and fantastic prices for those enrolled at a degree giving institution.  They will need verification of your student status and then you are free to roam this site for Microsoft, Adobe, and some good deals on hardware.

Before you start the school week in Los Angeles, take a break with the Laemmle Sunday Night Student deal.  For all shows that start after 6pm on Sundays, Students with ID are $7 and  popcorn is $1 for the small size.

Amtrak will help you get home for the holidays with a student discount.

Yapta.com will make sure that plane ticket is the cheapest even after purchase. Track prices for free.

Get the the Student Advantage Card, the nation’s largest student discount program, giving students access to thousands of discount locations across the country, near your campus and online. Get a full year of savings for only $20.

Stores and restaurants near your campus have plentiful discounts and coupons for students.  Remind them you are a struggling student who needs every break they can get.

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Made In The USA – Stuff

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 22nd July 2014

There is still stuff being made in America. Let’s give them our support.

Burt’s Bees natural, earth-friendly personal care products are made in the US. They not only make great products, they try to package them with a view towards sustainability.

In California, we love Dr. Bonner’s products since they are organic and smell delicious.

Buy organic teething clothes manufactured here in L. A. by my friend Sasha Taylor for her company Bodhi Babies.

Your pet should also buy American with these Amish pet supplies. They are great accents for a craftsman style home.

While we are shopping for Fido, let’s get him some fresh food at Freshpet Natural Pet Food.

We started these sports so lets support American made gloves for baseball, softball, and football. The Nokona Athletic Goods business plan has historically emphasized buying raw materials in the United States, while employing highly skilled leather crafters from the small town of Nocona, Texas, who assemble each glove by hand from more than 20 individual pieces of leather.

Let’s add to this list. Send me more companies that you know about!

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Johnson & Johnson Coupons

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 24th June 2014

These savings come with an added bonus – support in the fight against bullying. Hats off to Johnson & Johnson for supporting this great cause.

Half of all children are bullied at some point in their school years.  The statistics are even worse for LGBT youth with it rising to nearly eight out of ten.

To help combat this epidemic, Johnson & Johnson created the Care with Pride campaign to raise awareness of bullying’s negative impact on all youth - by the end of 2014 they will have donated over $500,000 to three charitable organizations that are working to fight bullying – PFLAG, Trevor Project and Family Equality Council.

This year, my savvy readers can help by simply redeeming J&J Care with Pride coupons worth $55. The coupons are available for downloading at carewithpride.com.

They can also send an additional donation by uploading a photo via the Donate a Photo app.  J&J will donate $1 for each photo uploaded, up to one photo a day, every day until the goal is reached or the donation period ends.

Take advantage of this opportunity today!

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The Broke Grad’s Guide to Thriving in the Real World

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 20th June 2014

Email this guest post to your new grad.

Graduating college is an exciting moment, right? Maybe not.

Total student debt has topped $1 trillion this year and the average college graduate owes more than $33,000 in outstanding payments upon commencement. So, it’s understandable why young adults are filled with more fear than joy about earning their diploma and entering the real world. While finding a good job is paramount, learning how to budget and discovering ways to save on everyday expenses offers the best chance to surviving life after college.

If you or a recent grad in your life faces this same scenario, consider these top money moves for making the switch from college to real life manageable.

Optimize your repayments. Get a handle on what you owe by reviewing all your accounts. If you find you’re struggling or falling behind, get help before it’s too late. Making late student loan payments (or missing them altogether) will negatively impact your credit score which can take years to rebuild. For help, check the Student Debt Repayment Assistant from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can often negotiate a repayment schedule that fits your budget or even get your loan payments deferred.

Lower your rental costs. You may be eager to live on your own, but roommates offer a significant financial relief for rental costs. The more roommates you have, the cheaper your total living expenses will be. Keep in mind that location matters, too. The closer you live to the city center, the more expensive rent will be, so look for a place located further from the hot spot of town. To avoid broker fees, use sites like Craigslist and Apartable.com for no-fee listings.

Join a credit union. Credit unions offer the same services as regional and national banks but typically have less fees and lower loan rates. Credit unions also typically pay higher savings yields and are more sympathetic toward struggling borrowers. To find a credit union that suits your needs, review this list.

Search for coupons before you pay for anything. Whether you need new shoes, food for your pooch or an oil change, search for coupons before pay. Free mobile tools like the Coupon Sherpa mobile app make this task easy, offering savings for our half a million physical locations in the U.S. You can also use your phone to compare prices with the Pricegrabber barcode-scanning app or earn rewards while you shop with Shopkick.

Get savvy in the kitchen. Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner will seriously drain your paycheck and leave you with just enough to cover basic living expenses. Get in the habit of preparing lunch and cooking meals for yourself. Cook one large meal like this Roast Chicken to give yourself plenty of options throughout the week, including chicken salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Live without cable and prepay your cellphone. Cutting the cord on pricey cable bills is easier to do these days thanks to free online video streaming services like Hulu that hook right up to your TV. For more programming and newer release options, check out Hulu Plus and Netflix for just $8 per month — a cheap bill when split among roommates. You can also hook up an indoor HDTV antenna to get more channels than basic cable with no monthly bills. When it comes to your cellphone, consider switching to no-contract, prepaid wireless services to avoid hidden fees and punitive charges. This way, you pay for what you use and nothing more.

Become a second-hand shopper. A wise man once told me that no one will know the shirt you’re wearing was bought at the Salvation Army. This is a great principal to live by considering buying used can reduce your total spending by up to 90 percent. Whether you need professional clothes, kitchen goods or furniture for your new apartment, search gently-used options at garage sales, local consignment stores, speciality sites like RecycleYourFashions.com and thredUp.com or more mainstream sites like eBay. Don’t forget, this is a great time to sell clothing and other goods you no longer use for funds towards a future purchase.

Get a side hustle. At this point, maximizing your cash flow will help you pay down debt faster. Take on an extra gig after hours like waitressing, bartending or freelancing. Or consider doing other people’s “to-dos” via TaskRabbit, where you can peruse tasks in your area and submit offers for such activities as grocery shopping, dog walking and even photography. If TaskRabbit is not available in your area, check the “gigs” section on Craigslist for options ranging from labor to writing to creative.

Build your credit wisely. Opening a new line of credit may seem counterintuitive while paying down school debt, but building a healthy credit score now will ensure you receive the best rates on future mortgages, insurance and other expenses. To help manage your credit card wisely, treat it like a debit card and only charge transactions for which you have the cash to cover. Pay off the balance in full each month so interest doesn’t overwhelm any rewards. For help finding the right credit card with low APR, consult Nerd Wallet’s list of the best credit cards for 2014.

Save for the future. It’s tough to think about retirement when you have student-related debts to pay. However, if your employer offers a 401k match plan, turning it down is like leaving money on the table. Even if you can only match the percentage they’re contributing, you’re doing your future self a financial solid. Most experts agree that young people have a distinct advantage over everyone else when it comes to saving for the future: time. Don’t waste yours!

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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10 Ways to Save on Gadgets for Dad

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 9th June 2014

Here’s a guest post to help with your Dad’s Day shopping!

If a new gadget is on your shopping list for dad this year, you aren’t alone. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey, consumers will spend $1.6 billion on electronic gifts like smartphones and tablets for their fathers.

While a new gadget may send Dad over the top, it can quickly do the same to your budget if you’re not careful. Consider these 10 ways to save on tech gifts for Father’s Day and show your favorite man how much he’s appreciated.

Haggle. Retailers have realized that consumers are driven by bargains these days and more are willing to negotiate. A recent study by Consumer Reports shows shoppers who haggled saved an average of $82, so clearly there’s little to lose by just asking. If the sales associate isn’t able to budge on the price of the gadget, ask if he or she can throw in a value add like a protective case for that new tablet or smartphone.

Snag a daily deal. Before you buy anything online, browse daily deal offers available through popular discount electronic e-retailers like TigerDirect, Newegg and Overstock. Recently, I saved 70-percent on a keyboard case for my iPad Mini through Tiger Direct’s Daily Deal Slasher. I’ve found other notable deals across the Web on everything from TVs to tablets to gadget accessories. Sign up to the site’s newsletter so you don’t miss out on these huge discounts.

Power up your smartphone. Retailers are highly competitive and will match other stores’ prices, so equip your smartphone with the PriceGrabber app to get instant price comparisons and request price matches. Before you check out, look for coupons on the free Coupon Sherpa mobile app, or hit up their website for coupon codes when you shop online. For example, you can save $12 off your $99 order from Brookstone through August.

Skip the warranty. One of the biggest upsells at any electronic store is the extended warranty. Considering that most gadgets have a rapid depreciation value and often cheaper to replace than fix, warranties end up being a waste of money. Instead, swipe a credit card that offers multiple levels of consumer protection including an extended warranties and return policy.

Discount the discount. So you scored a great deal on a sale item or even redeemed a coupon for dollars off your purchase? Don’t stop there. You can save even more by applying funds from a discount gift card. At sites like GiftCardGranny.com, you can find up to 20-percent off gift cards to popular electronics retailers. For instance, score a Radio Shack gift card for 15-percent off and save on a gadget for Dad like the AUVIO Portable Bluetooth Speaker.

Buy last year’s model. Manufacturers are constantly releasing new models of their latest gadgets, often with minimal updates. The latest gadget on shelves today will be old news next month, so it doesn’t make sense to splurge on the newest options. Instead, search for deals on previous models or even go as far back as last year’s model to save big. Many stores will be more motivated to move these older goods which means you may have more power to negotiate a better price, too.

Search for open box. Many electronic retailers sell returned gadgets at a discount even though there are no defective issues with it. You can often find such deals through the store’s “open box” section to save anywhere from 20 to 60 percent off the regular list price. Get a head start by reviewing open box and clearance items online at sites like Best Buy where they list deals at the store closest to you. When buying a gadget for Dad, make sure it’s something he wants and will actually use; otherwise, you may get slapped with restocking fees for any returns, especially for those products that have been opened.

Get the extras online. Nearly every gadget calls for something extra, whether it’s a protective case, power cords or connector cables. Though the retailer may have extended a big discount on your electronic purchase, you typically won’t find any savings on accessories. I always find the extras online via Amazon and eBay for 30 to 50 percent less, so avoid buying them at big-box stores.

Spruce up his favorite gadget. If Dad recently upgraded his TV or smartphone, consider sprucing up his favorite new gadget with a few extras like wireless speakers, bluetooth headset or a cool new case. Since these tend to be less expensive than this bigger electronics, it’s a great way to give him something he will enjoy using without breaking your budget.

Cash in. Whether it’s a genuine effort to reduce waste in landfills or just an attempt to get customers to upgrade sooner, electronics retailers are increasingly offering exchange programs. From Walmart to Amazon, you can trade in your old gadgets for cash or gift cards good toward new purchases. If you have an old cellphone, video game console or desktop you no longer use, cash in via one of these electronics trade-in programs and use the funds toward a new gadget for your dad.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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Entertainment Book

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 15th May 2014

It has been a long time since the Frugal Diva toted around the Entertainment Book. I had lost touch with the great savings that could be had by buying a membership. Everything from dining to car washes to hotels are available at a discount. The best news is that they have moved into the digital age with a user friendly app.  If you are traveling to the East Coast, receive the 2014 book now for only $5 and they will send your 2015 Greater New York City & North Jersey Entertainment® Book next year for $5 off the retail price with free shipping. PLUS, as an Annual Renewal Member, you get early access to great member benefits!

Families especially love the Entertainment Book , not only do they have many kid friendly restaurants, they also have tickets to a variety of attractions, fun activities like bowling, theater tickets, and exercise classes just to name a few.  With summer vacation coming up this is an especially good time to take advantage of the coupons for a day of paintball and a pizza for dinner afterwards. Or treat Mom to a spa day while the kids sign up for Brazilian Jujitsu.

Disclaimer: I received a free activation code in order to research this article.

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Mother’s Day Shopping Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 7th May 2014

Great guest post for Mother’s Day shoppers!

Seasonality doesn’t just affect the weather; prices across a wide range of products can change on a month-to-month basis as demand fluctuates. Considering millions of consumers will shop for Mother’s Day gifts this week, being aware of these best and worst buys can help you make smarter purchasing decisions that delight Mom and keep your budget intact. Take a look at these worst buys and consider gifting a best buy for Mom.

WORST
Sadly, many go-to gifts for Mom represent the worst buys of the season! Avoid these cliche gifts in favor of better buys.

Flowers – Mother’s Day is the third busiest day for florists behind Valentine’s Day and Christmas, and over 66 percent of consumers plan to buy a bouquet for Mom this year. However, you’ll pay more for flowers now than you will just a couple weeks from now, making them a bad buy. Labor, supply and demand are all factors contributing to this price increase, as florists have to fulfill a high volume of orders in a very short time frame. If you have your mind set on flowers, opt for a flowering plant or head to the grocery store for cheaper prices.

Jewelry – Something sparkly may seem like just the thing for Mom, but it’s definitely not the right choice for your wallet. According to some sources, select jewelry items actually cost more around Mother’s Day despite being advertised as a sale price. That’s because demand is high: an estimated $3.6 billion will be spent on jewelry for Mom, and retailers want to compete for your business without cutting into their profit margins.

Perfume – Like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, Mother’s Day is another popular occasion for fragrances. Though you’ll likely score free samples or a free tote with your purchase, you won’t find any good deals on fragrances until after Mother’s Day. Of course, you may never buy designer perfume again after you read this exposé from DailyFinance. Those who receive a specific request for fragrance should check discount retailers like TJMaxx and Marshall’s for up to 50-percent off designer and name-brand scents.

BEST
It is possible for Mom to enjoy gifts that don’t sparkle or smell sweet! According to the same NRF survey, practicality is highly valued by both consumers and their mothers this year. Enjoy these gift ideas that both your mom and your bank account will love.

Gift Cards – There’s nothing more practical than giving Mom the gift of choice, and the stats agree: over 43 percent of consumers will buy gift cards for their mothers this year. Avoid paying full price by ordering cards from GiftCardGranny.com, where you can save up to 25-percent off face value. For example, you can score an Ann Taylor gift card for 25-percent off, or gift Mom with a SpaFinder gift card for 21-percent off.

Experiences – Your mom likely has everything she needs and wants, so gifting her with yet another coffee mug or ceramic tchotchke just creates clutter. Consider the gift of an experience — a popular choice this year, as consumers are expected to spend $1.5 billion — by purchasing a daily deal through Groupon, LivingSocial or Amazon Local. You can treat your mom to a spa day, wine tasting or horseback riding adventure for over 50-percent off. You can even schedule her a free makeover at Sephora, where experts provide complimentary makeup and skin consultations, plus provide deluxe samples.

Dinner – Consumer spending on dining out for Mom is expected to reach $3.8 billion this year. Before you empty your wallet on a pricey feast, show Mom how money-savvy you are by using restaurant coupons from apps like Coupon Sherpa to save on dinner. For example, you can shave $10 off any two entrees from Buca di Beppo, or score a free appetizer from Carrabba’s with entree purchase. You can also check Restaurant.com for discounted dining certificates for eateries in your area.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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All You Need Is Less

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 8th April 2014

The Frugal Diva likes the style of this book – easy solutions for living a greener life which inevitably costs less.  Madeleine Somerville has a breezy way of helping you concoct your own shampoo, laundry detergent, circumvent the flu, and all manners of taking care of your garden, baby, and sex life with the best environmental outcomes.  Yes, even your sex life can be more eco friendly.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.

Short Excerpt From Chapter Two – Body “Basic Hygiene Boot Camp (And I Mean Reeeally Basic)

All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville

It goes a little something like this: Use soap.

Oh, I know you are a clean person and you probably smell nice too. In fact, I have no doubt that your personal hygiene is beyond reproach.

But choosing to use plain old bar soap instead of that pump hand soap, body wash, shower gel, or super-expensive foaming, miracle-moisturizing mousse you got on sale can do wonders for your skin, your local landfill, and the crowded shelves of your shower caddy too.

People tell me that the reason they use body washes instead of soap is that soap is too drying or too harsh on their sensitive skin. With conventional bar soaps this is often true, and I mean, fair enough, no one likes walking around in a skin suit that feels two sizes too small. Nevertheless, I didn’t usually have this experience and am a huge fan of natural bar soaps, so I wanted to find out why so many people were passing them over in favor of the plastic-packaged stuff.

Because I sometimes like to pretend that I am a girl detective like Nancy Drew, I hunted down some answers from my very own soap lady, Kirsten French of Be Clean Naturally. Kirsten was a regular at the farmer’s markets in my old hometown of Squamish, BC. Starting with soaps and gradually working her way into shaving creams, laundry detergents, and other personal care and home products, she always sought to use minimal packaging, offered product refills when possible, and had a real passion for getting clean the natural way. She helped me get to the bottom of The Case of the Natural Bar of Soap (aka, Why good-quality natural soap is actually better for your skin than anything found inside of a bottle and also, Why do you have to be so lame, Madeleine?)

“Typically, commercial soaps and shower gels are made from a detergent base, which strips the natural oils away from our skin, leaving us dry and scaly,” French explained. “This causes many people to then slap on skin cream to combat the itchy, tight post-shower feeling. Detergents are very inexpensive to make and are derived through a laboratory process. They also have a lower pH than traditional soap, which means that they need synthetic chemicals, such as triclosan, added into them to make them antibacterial.”

After briefly mocking me for pretending to be a girl detective, Ms. French went on to explain that triclosan is rapidly accumulating in our oceans and impacting the ability of whales to reproduce (save the whales!). And whereas shower gels are often laden with synthetic fragrances and preservatives that can be irritating to the skin, sinuses, and eyes, soap is inherently antibacterial without needing anything nasty added.

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