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ken_mcgowanToday my guest is Ken McGowan, founder of Sinfully Wholesome. He creates amazing luxurious skin care products, “handmade from wild fruits and their precious oils.” Soaps, oils, and even laundry products that will leave clothing and bedding soft against your skin. We’ll be talking about the importance of eliminating toxics from your skincare regime, why they chose their luxurious wildcrafted ingredients and special packaging material, and what it means to be social and environmentally responsible. Ken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur and the former Leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia.







Beyond Organic Skin Care

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Ken McGowan

Date of Broadcast: April 09, 2015

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic free. It’s Thursday, April 9th, 2015. And today, we’re going to talk about a very interesting topic. I say that, but every time I say that, I say, “All the shows are interesting and they all are interesting.”

Today, it’s interesting in a different way. We’re going to be talking about soap, which we’ve talked about before. But this soap is so different. When I first heard about it from one of my readers, he wrote to me and he said, “I think this soap is in a class by itself.” And I got some and I tried it and I totally agree.

So we’re going to learn about soap, we’re going to learn about skin care, we’re going to learn about interesting ingredients and we’re going to have a great show today.

My guest is Ken McGowan. He’s the founder of Sinfully Wholesome. And that’s what these products are. They really are sinfully wholesome. He creates these amazing, luxurious skin care products that are handmade from wild fruits and their precious oils. Doesn’t that sound good? They even make laundry products so that your clothing and bedding will be soft against your skin and not irritate your skin. So this is going to be very interesting.

Hi, Ken! How are you?

KEN MCGOWAN: Hi, Debra. I’m doing well, thanks. And thank you for having me on your show. I admire all of the pioneering work you’ve done.

DEBRA: Thank you so much. I appreciate you being here. You have one of the most pure products that I’ve ever seen. And I’m always looking for the purest everything with the least amount of toxic chemicals.

So first, start off and tell us how you got interested in doing this.

KEN MCGOWAN: That’s a long story, but we’re going to try and keep it as short as possible. It revolves around in epiphany I had shortly after a heart attack in 2003. And the heart attack, by the way, almost killed me. I don’t really blame the heart attack, I blame my lifestyle before the heart attack.

DEBRA: Ah! Yes, that’s very good.

KEN MCGOWAN: Like most people in North America, I live the life that we all live and bought the products that we were all told to buy by the various advertising companies and chemical companies that are promoting a better life via this chemical or that chemical and “just add this to your detergent and you’ll have whiter whites… eat this food and you’ll be better.”

Well, none of that stuff really is true. It got me on an operating table. And afterwards, the epiphany I had was that I had to change my personal lifestyle and start integrating more healthy products that I both ate and washed myself in. I also started thinking about what sort of legacy I would be leaving behind prior to the heart attack to put a finer point on it.

One of my friend’s jokes, I was a running dog capitalist pig. I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life and I’ve owned a number of difference businesses from the ’80s on. My primary goal was chasing after the economic dream almost to the exclusion of all else. That certainly wasn’t the healthy thing that I needed. That got me, as I mentioned, on the operating table. And it wasn’t the kind of legacy that I wanted to leave behind.

So after the heart attack, I became involved in politics out of a desire to change the world, and ultimately became the leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia and was involved in trying to convince people to change their behaviors both personal and how they interacted in the financial method on a worldwide scale. I quickly realized that politics isn’t necessarily the best way to go about doing that. Sometimes, you have to walk the talk and lead by example.

So shortly after resigning from the Green Party, I created a natural skin care product company. And it came about from a rather convoluted way insofar as a friend of mine who is originally from Syria (and owned a few small businesses in Nova Scotia) approached me with a bar of Aleppo soap. Aleppo, of course, being one of the major cities in Syria and perhaps one of the longest-sustained occupied cities in civilization.

DEBRA: Hmmm… I didn’t know that.

KEN MCGOWAN: He came to me and he said, “Try this soap out” because he knew I was interested in natural products, both food and personal care. I did and I went, “Wow! This stuff is pretty amazing. What is it?” And he said, “Well, it’s Aleppo soap, and it comes from my home country of Syria. And I’m thinking about bringing it into Canada. But I don’t know anything about imports and exports. Can you help me with this?” And I said, “Yes, I probably can.” So we started investigating the possibilities of importing Aleppo soap.

And this was just prior to the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. In fact, we got caught in the outbreak insofar as we had arranged to import some Aleppo soap from Syria at about the same time that both the Canadian and US governments imposed sanctions on Syria and shut down the whole trade between the two countries.

We lost a shipment of soap as a result. But not to be deterred, I decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to import this great soap, I would import the knowledge and reached out to the families that make the soap. It’s primarily a family or was primarily a family-run business in Syria where you had certain families that were making soap for up to a thousand years. One family was making the soap for more than a thousand years.

Aleppo soap is famous for a number of really compelling reasons. It’s the first hard bar soap ever made by humankind. Its recipe goes back unchanged almost 2500 years. It’s renowned in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, although it’s very little known in North America. It is so highly sought of in Europe that dermatologists frequently prescribe it to their patients who have skin conditions of a variety of kinds.

And so being stymied by the prohibition on importing goods from Syria drove us into the area where we were going to start actually manufacturing the products here in North America. Now, I have a degree in molecular biology so it wasn’t a big leap for me to figure out how to make soap and use the various ingredients to their optimum benefits.

And in fact, I invented a proprietary system of making soap. And let me explain. There are two primary methods of making soap. One is called the hot process. Very simply put, it involves a lot of heat. For example, when making Aleppo soap the traditional way, you would boil the oils and the two oils that are used in Aleppo soap. This has not changed for, as I said, more than two-and-a-half thousand years. The two oils are olive oil and laurel oil.

DEBRA: I need to interrupt you for a moment because we need to go to the commercial break. But when we come back, I want to hear all about this.

KEN MCGOWAN: Okay, we’ll come back and do laurel and olive oil then.

DEBRA: Good! That sounds great. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Ken McGowan. He’s the founder of Sinfully Wholesome. They make these great soaps as he has been telling us about. We’re going to hear all about this. His website is and we’ll be right back.



DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Ken McGowan, founder of Sinfully Wholesome. And he makes these – he used the word, amazing soaps. And it is amazing soap.

Ken, before you go on, I just wanted to tell about my experience using this soap because I haven’t even told you this. But what happened was that I got the soap from you and it took me a few days to get it from my desk into the shower. But then I started using it all over my body, my face, and the rest of my body. And a few days later, I looked in the mirror at my face and my skin looked completely different. I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t trying to see what it was going to do. I was just using it.

I was surprised to find how different my skin looked within just a few days. And the way it looks different is that it seems to be – well, I don’t quite know how to describe this. It looks softer. My skin definitely looks softer. And it has a bit of glow to it that it didn’t have before. It seems to have a smoothness that it didn’t have before.

You know how when you do something and it’s so different in terms of your experience that you weren’t ever even trying to achieve that effect because you didn’t even know that it existed and then it happens? I’ve had experiences like that in my life where I was just so astonished when they happened because they had never happened before.

And this is one of those things. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my skin. And then I used your soap and I saw, “Oh, my God! My skin could be so much better.” But you don’t ever see it. You don’t ever it. And so it’s not like I’m walking down the street going, “Oh, look at her skin. I’d like to have skin like that.” My skin is different than anything I’ve ever seen.

KEN MCGOWAN: Well, thank you. The reason that has occurred for you is because of the two oils that are in the Aleppo soap that you used. As I was mentioning to your listeners just before the station break, we were talking about different methods of making soap and then I touched on the ingredients in Aleppo soap.

The basic ingredients that you put in a soap is very, very critical to the outcome that you’re going to get for your skin. As you know, Debra, today, modern soap-making has been industrialized and we’re putting all sorts of things into our soap and we’re taking things out of it that we shouldn’t. And this has really at a profound level that it’s happened without them even noticing.

For example, it’s hard to take on specific brand names, and I’m reluctant to do so.

DEBRA: And you don’t need to mention any specific brand names. Just say whatever you’d like to say in general.

KEN MCGOWAN: Well, I’m going to mention one specifically. And it’s targeted at men. It’s a product line called Axe. It’s made by Unilever. The reason I mention this on air without any qualms is because the information I’m about to share with you is in the public domain anyway.

The State of California has sued Unilever for air pollution in their products.

DEBRA: Oh, my God!


DEBRA: I love hearing that.

KEN MCGOWAN: It sounds like a really bad joke and you’re going to wait for the punch line. The punch line is really very simple. There are so many toxins in the Axe product that the State of California sued them for polluting the air.

DEBRA: But are there more than normal?

KEN MCGOWAN: Maybe they picked on Unilever out of one of thousands of different companies they could have, I don’t know. It might have been a test case. I really don’t know the answer to that. But it’s in the public domain. All you need to do is, Unilever Fined for Polluting California Air with Axe Deodorant Spray. It’s out there.

DEBRA: And it’s so ironic that they’re suing about a deodorant spray that’s supposed to be reducing odors.

KEN MCGOWAN: It’s designed so that you don’t stink. And yet, California sued them for polluting their air. That’s how bad the personal care industry has become. We can do a whole show on personal care industry.

But the personal care industry, things like soaps and cosmetics, it is part of – and this is almost a joke too – a self-regulated industry, which essentially means there are no regulations at all. So these cosmetic companies and the companies that make all of these products that we put on our body every day, and the average person puts on nine different personal care products, with a total of about 126 different chemicals, every day, you put this on your body.

Now, each one of these products that you put on your body, all of the manufacturers claim that they fall below the areas where these particular chemicals become dangerous. Well, that maybe true for one product, but you’re putting nine of them on. And you get this chemical soup that you’re bathing yourself in on a daily basis.

And the skin is your body’s largest organ. It’s voraciously hungry. Sixty to seventy percent of the things we put on our skin are absorbed directly into our bodies.

And so for putting things on our skin that pollute the air in California, it’s no wonder that people’s skin doesn’t look as healthy as it should.

So when you eliminate these toxins that are in the personal care products and you start bathing in things that are actually good for you, there’s a profound change that takes place and you’ve noticed that.

DEBRA: And I should say that I already was using natural products for a good 30 or more years.

KEN MCGOWAN: I know you would have been. There’s no question about that. But not all natural handmade soaps are created equal.

DEBRA: No, I agree.

KEN MCGOWAN: And it comes down to the selection of the oils that you use.

DEBRA: Before you go on, I’m hearing the music so we need to go to break. We’ll be right back. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest is Ken McGowan, founder of Sinfully Wholesome. He’s at And when we come back, he’ll tell us more about soap and the ingredients. We’ll be right back.



DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Ken McGowan, founder of Sinfully Wholesome at We’re talking about his skin care products hand made from wild fruits and their precious oils.

Okay, Ken, go on with your story.

KEN MCGOWAN: Okay, we were talking about the different kinds of oils that you can put into handmade soaps or natural soaps. And not all oils are created equal. I should mention right now, Debra, that before we actually went in to production and started making soap or even sold a bar of soap, we did two years of research into the various oils and their skin care properties.

We have two basic principles that we established our skin care line on. Number one, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Number two is that we wanted it to be as close to nature as possible. And that’s why we selected to go wild-crafted as opposed to organic.

DEBRA: Well, now tell me why those two are different.

KEN MCGOWAN: Wild-crafted is the art of harvesting, in our case, the fruits from nature and then hand-making the oils from them. And because we started with Aleppo soap, I’m going to continue on that one. We’ll talk about other oils. But for example, the laurel oil that we use in our soap is gathered from the laurel forests that still grow around the Mediterranean. And laurel, by the way, is something everybody is familiar with. And you all eat it whether you know it or not. Every time you make spaghetti and you put a bay leaf in your spaghetti sauce, bay leaf is a laurel leaf. So you eat it all the time.

You can make a sauce out of laurel berries. We make our soap out of laurel berry. You can get oils from various parts of the laurel tree, but the best oil for making soap is laurel berry oil as opposed to laurel leaf oil.

DEBRA: Now, let me ask you a question here. I know that some people are listening and saying, “That stuff sounds great.”

KEN MCGOWAN: I’m sorry, I’m not hearing you clearly.

DEBRA: Oh, can you hear me now?


DEBRA: So I know that some people are listening and thinking, “This soap has a fragrance.” And I’ll just say, there’s no added fragrance to this soap. But it does have a smell. I don’t want to say, I don’t know what word to use here, because I don’t want it to sound it’s an unpleasant smell because it isn’t at all. But the ingredients, the oils themselves have their own fragrance.

KEN MCGOWAN: That’s correct! And there are a lot of people that really enjoy the natural aroma from the laurel berries.

DEBRA: Aroma, that’s a good word. I like that. And so I just wanted to ask you, is what I’m smelling the laurel berry?

KEN MCGOWAN: Yes, that’s correct. With the Aleppo soap, you’re smelling laurel.

DEBRA: Good. I enjoy it very much. I have no problem with it at all. But it was very different when I first smelled it. I thought, “What is this?” Not in a negative way, but it was just a pleasant smell. And so it’s just the same thing that you would smell when you’re putting a bay leaf into your spaghetti.

KEN MCGOWAN: We don’t put anything in our soaps at all in the way of fragrances. If it’s not good for your skin, it simply doesn’t get into our soap. We add no colors, no fragrances, natural or otherwise, and we always use the minimum number of oils in order to achieve a desired outcome. And we’ll stick with Aleppo soap for the moment.

Those two oils are olive and laurel. And when we get our research into determining which oils that we would select to make our product line, we came up with what we believe are the three best skin care oils in the world. I’ll itemize them for you – olive oil, laurel oil and oregano oil. All of our products in soaps are made from those three oils and none other.

And when you mentioned earlier that you’ve been using natural products before, but you still noticed the difference when you used ours, it’s because of the oils that we’ve selected. For example, I’m going to mention palm oil. Palm oil is the most heavily used oil in handmade products of all. It’s used for two primary reasons by most people who make handmade soaps. Number one, it lends hardness to the bar of soap, and that’s a desirable outcome for a lot of people. And number two, it’s very inexpensive. But it has absolutely no skin care properties that are of any value. And that makes up the vast majority of a bar of soap that’s handmade today.

Unfortunately, the use of palm oil in handmade soaps is devastating the rainforests in Indonesia and destroying Orangutan habitat. And even though many people claim that they are using sustainable palm oil, only 1% of all the palm oil generated in the world today is sustainable. If everybody claims that they are using sustainable palm oil, so where’s the other 99% of the palm oil going, it makes you wonder.

But anyway, having said that, our philosophy is very simple. If it’s not good for your skin, it doesn’t get into our products. And so everything that you bathed in when you were using our product is good for your skin.

DEBRA: Well, I think that’s a key thing because I think that most people, when they’re buying soap, they’re thinking of cleanliness. Is it going to get the dirt off my hands or is it going to get the oiliness off my face or is it going to remove my makeup or something like that. I think that most people in the world today are not thinking about nourishing their skin any more than they’re thinking about nourishing their bodies.

KEN MCGOWAN: Soap is the single, best thing, if you use a good one, that you can use for your skin care regime. And if you think about it, it’s obvious. We use it every day. We shower from head to toe in it. We’re constantly washing our hands with it. And if you’re using a toxic product, the end result is that you’re going to be prematurely aging your skin or creating skin problems.

We have an epidemic in the western world of childhood eczema. Child eczema is at 22% in the west. When we were doing our research into Aleppo soap – and it was because of my background in science that allowed me to do what I referred to as a little bit of armchair ethnobotany insofar as I went and I read all the available published information.

DEBRA: Before you go on with your next thought, I need to interrupt you again because we have to go to our last break here. And we’ll be right back and you can finish your sentence.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Ken McGowan. He’s the founder of Sinfully Wholesome. His website is And we’ll go to break and we’ll be right back.



DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Ken McGowan. He’s the founder of Sinfully Wholesome at And Ken, go ahead.

KEN MCGOWAN: Okay, I just want to pick up where we left off on the epidemic of childhood eczema in the west. And while researching the oils for soaps, and specifically, Aleppo soap, I did a quick PubMed research. And Syria, bear in mind, is the home of Aleppo soap. The study that I came across was July of 2010 where the incidents of childhood eczema in Syria are 3.3% to 4.2% versus 22% in the west.

DEBRA: Whoa!

KEN MCGOWAN: And it’s because most of the people, prior to the civil war (the civil war effectively ended soap production in Syria, which is a bit of a sad story, we won’t go there today), the 3.3% to 4.2% incidents of childhood eczema in Syria is directly attributable to the types of soaps that they use.

The 22% incidents of eczema in the west among children are also directly attributable to the kinds of soap that we bathe in and the chemicals that are in these soaps, these industrial, commercial soaps.

So it’s very small wonder that you notice the significant change when you use Aleppo soap. And the reason being is that olive oil is one of the greatest skin care oils ever. We look back over the centuries and if we look at Ancient Athens or Ancient Greek civilizations, they were using olive oil as a skin care product for the longest time. In fact, Democrates is famous for saying, “Let us bathe our insides in honey and our exteriors in olive oil.”

DEBRA: Oh, I love that.

KEN MCGOWAN: And the very first hand cream or cold cream ever invented was by Galen, a Roman physician of Greek origin who created the very first home cream, cold cream and he used olive oil, beeswax, and rose water. And that’s been going on since the 2nd Century AD.

Today, there’s this rush to put all sorts of other things into products, even homemade products or handmade products. We’re adding colors, we’re adding fragrances, we’re adding this oil and that oil for reasons that have nothing to do with skin care.

We made a conscious effort when we started creating our product line, “If it’s not good for your skin, it doesn’t go into our products. And if you can’t eat it, you don’t put it on your skin.” So those things drove us in the selection of oils and why we narrowed down that selection to the three oils that I mentioned to you earlier, olive oil, laurel oil and oregano oil.

Laurel oil is especially important in the Aleppo soap insofar as, and you mentioned cleanliness. Laurel oil is a deep cleaning agent. It also has antibacterial properties, antifungal properties and antiviral properties. It’s a very, very wonderful oil. Modern science now has a huge body of evidence to support the use of laurel oil with a number of different things and it’s great for a huge variety of skin care problems that include eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, all the tinea infections, which are fungal infections. It promotes wound healing and it reduces wrinkles.

DEBRA: Oh, is that why my wrinkles disappeared? No, I actually don’t have very many wrinkles for my age. But I’m sure that I’m very happy that this soap is going to even prevent wrinkles from appearing.

KEN MCGOWAN: Well, what we found is that our best customers are the people who have the worst skin conditions in the world. And when we meet a customer for the first time via the internet or wherever we do a show, the very first thing that I tell them is that if you want to improve your skin – and this is in keeping with your philosophy too – you have to do a lifestyle change. And that means you have to eliminate toxins from your personal care products.

But that also means that you must eliminate toxins from your laundry products. And people have scratched their heads and they wonder why we sell soap nuts on a skin care site. The reason is very, very simple, and it’s obvious, and everybody, they have dents in their foreheads from smacking themselves in the foreheads when I tell them it’s really simple. You wear your clothes all day. And you sleep on your bed linens all night. And if you are wearing clothing that’s impregnated with chemicals and you’re sleeping on it, especially your pillow, you are exposing your skin to these harsh chemicals that actually prematurely age your skin.

So simply stopping using those things automatically is going to improve your appearance, the elasticity of your skin, how your skin feels and it’s going to also reduce the flare-ups and many of the conditions and symptoms that people experience with eczema, psoriasis, et cetera.

So if you just simply stop using the industrial chemicals that are in commercial soaps and commercial detergents, your skin is going to improve. But if you then go the extra step and identify a product that is designed, and the oils are selected specifically for their skin care properties, then you get that little extra boost that you noticed when you used the Aleppo soap for the first time.

DEBRA: And that is a principle that I apply to everything because if you want to improve any part of your body, first, you eliminate the toxic chemicals that are causing damage. So then, right there, if that’s all you do, you’re going to have an improvement because you’re not being constantly bombarded with the toxic chemicals.

But then if you can go beyond that and then find something that nourishes and heals that part of your body, in this case, the skin, it has an opportunity to work because the toxic chemicals are not working against it.

I think that most people can’t quite see this yet. A lot of my listeners, I know must see this because I say it a lot. But you’re really doing all of those steps in your products and really, not to say again, I’ve been doing what I do for more than 30 years and this is not only the most pure soap, but the most nourishing soap I’ve ever seen.

KEN MCGOWAN: And it’s famous worldwide with the exception of North America for some reason. That’s slowly changing. I think we have a small perk in that insofar as we’re increasing the profile of Aleppo soap and specifically, laurel oil in the marketplace.

I hate touching on this civil war in Syria, but it effectively ended soap production in that country. Many of the people and the families that were making it are refugees now. Some of them have set up smaller soap-making productions in Lebanon and some in Turkey, for example, some of the outlying countries where they’ve gone. But for a very brief period of time, perhaps for a year or so, I think I was the only person in the world making Aleppo soap.

DEBRA: Well, I’m so glad you are. I’m going to cut you off here. I’m sorry to interrupt, but we’re coming very close to the end of the show and I don’t want to have to say, “Oh, stop,” mid-sentence. So we have about a minute left and I want to make sure that you have that time to say any final thing that you haven’t said that you want to make sure you get in.

KEN MCGOWAN: Well, the thing that I would like to reiterate for your listeners is if you’re experiencing skin care issues of any kind, if it’s eczema, psoriasis or simply premature aging of your skin, do a lifestyle change. Get rid of the toxins in your personal care products, get rid of the toxins in your laundry products, and you’re going to notice a difference. It will make a difference in how you feel the health of your skin and how you look. You can take years off your appearance simply by eliminating the toxins in your personal care products.

DEBRA: I totally agree with that. And I’d just like to thank you so much for being on the show today.

KEN MCGOWAN: Thank you.

DEBRA: You’re welcome. And I really appreciate your work. I really appreciate people who start with doing the right thing rather than starting with how we’re going to make millions of dollars. It’s not that I have anything against money, but I think that we need to always start with doing the best thing.

And again, you can go to his website, You’ve been listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. You can go to and listen to other shows. And thank you for listening. Be well.



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