News Flash: There Are More Benefits to Soy Beyond Protein—Here’s How To Use It Sustainably in Everything From Skin Care to Candles

Photo: Stocksy/Brat Co & W+G Creative
When you think of soy, what comes to mind? Is it the plant-based protein you get in foods like tofu and tempeh? The daily protein shake you can't live without (hi, soy protein isolate powder)? What about a sustainable alternative to some of your fave wellness essentials?

It's true: Soy is a good source of protein, but it's also the secret sauce for making your wellness practices—from the way you clean your home to your beauty, self-care, and hair routines—more sustainable. For tenth-generation soy farmer and U.S. Soy farmer-leader Shannon Tignor Ellis, it's these unexpected benefits of soy that inspire and excite her most.

“Soybean farmers are deeply passionate about caring for the environment, and we take pride in producing a sustainable crop that supports future generations,” Ellis says. “A key goal of U.S. Soy is to create a world where soy is a fundamental ingredient in solving the broad challenges of humanity, whether it’s providing food security or sustainable alternatives for everyday products.”

Alongside her fellow U.S. soybean farmers, Ellis is on a mission to identify sustainable farming solutions that support the planet, and to educate people on the many benefits of soy. For one, opting for soy-based products is an easy way to limit plastic waste, which can help support long-term goals for the planet, she says.

"Soy acts as a more biodegradable, environmentally friendly ingredient in a variety of everyday household products, such as cosmetics, face wash, sunscreen, candles, cleaning supplies, tires, purses, and more," she says. (Her favorite shoes are even made with a soy-based sole.) "I love that it’s so easy to integrate soy into almost every part of my life, and the fact that we can feel good doing so!"

To pave the way for more soy-centric, planet-friendly wellness practices, Ellis is sharing four simple ways to reap the benefits of soy that go beyond your morning protein shake. But if you feel like sipping on one while you read, don't let us stop you.

1. Try soy-based beauty products

For a happier, healthier complexion and a smaller carbon footprint, try incorporating soy-based products into your beauty routine. Soybean oil contains naturally occurring surfactant properties, which trap dirt to more easily remove it from your skin, Ellis says. This quality makes soy an ideal addition to your body wash or facial cleanser. (One example is this orange-blossom blend from Glossier, which can help create a totally divine shower experience.)

Another ingredient to look out for are soy isoflavones, which you'll find in lotions and creams. "Soy isoflavones can enhance the skin’s connective tissue, resulting in improved elasticity, smoother fine lines, and a reduction in the appearance of dark spots—leading to skin that appears naturally radiant," Ellis says. Burt’s Bees eyeshadow is a great example of a blend-friendly makeup product made with soybean oil.

2. Repair your strands with soy-based hair care

Did you know that your hair is made up of 90 percent protein? This means it's strong and healthy at the root—but as it grows, it loses moisture and nourishment (read: dry and damaged ends), so supplementing with hair products that contain protein is key.

“Soy protein, which is found in a variety of hair-care products, easily absorbs into hair strands to repair the hair shaft. With consistent use of soy-protein products, hair becomes less prone to breakage,” Ellis says. If your hair could use some extra TLC, this gentle conditioner made with soy protein will help repair your split ends and protect against further damage.

3. Relax after a long day by lighting a soy-based candle

When you're in need of a self-care moment, lighting a candle sets the *perfect* unwind vibe—that is, until you’ve burned through a brand-new wick in one night. For a glow that will last over time, try soy-based wax, Ellis says. “It has a lower melting point, which allows for a longer, cleaner, and more even burn." Plus, it can hold fragrance longer than other waxes, she says, which is why iconic candle makers like Le Labo opt for 100-percent soy-based blends. Permission to extend your self-care routine just a little bit longer after lighting this lavender and bergamot 100 percent soy wax candle.

4. Swap your cleaning supplies for soy-based products

If you want to make your cleaning routine more sustainable (um, yes please), look for a soy solvent called methyl soyate in the fine print on bottles and packages before you hit the check-out line. Derived from soybean oil, products like this cleaner and degreaser set are a planet-friendly way to avoid scrubbing with potentially harmful artificial ingredients, Ellis says.

When it comes down to it, taking a quick inventory of your everyday routines—and rotating in a few soy-based essentials where you can—is a low-risk, high-reward deal for your health and the health of the planet. So, whether it's skin care or candles, go ahead and try something new. Consider it a simple and sustainable wellness soy-lution.

Interested in learning more about soy-based solutions? Check out U.S. Soy's website, and connect on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn

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