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You Have an Itchy Schnauzer to Thank For Camamu’s Calming Dog Rinse

The sustainable dog shampoo is made of diluted vinegar, herbs, and 100 percent compostable materials.

by Maia Welbel
October 12, 2022
camamu ichy dog cleaner
The Wildest

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

In 2022, it’s almost uncool to buy shampoo, hand soaps, body soaps, and detergents; making your own soap products isn’t a difficult earth-friendly effort. It is, however, not for everyone, and there are plenty of people making eco-safe products, so you can use your soap-making time to catch up on your favorite garbage reality TV show.

Stu and Anca Bailey, the husband and wife team behind Portland-based artisanal body-care brand Camamu, have been making eco-friendly soaps, skincare, shampoos, and more for over two decades.

They use sustainably grown and ethically sourced ingredients, such as calendula, honey, and cocoa butter, to create products that nourish and repair. Lucky for pet parents, Camamu believes our furry friends deserve sustainable products that feel and smell great, too. We talked to Stu about how simple natural pet care can help keep even the messiest or itchiest dogs healthy, clean, and shining bright.

How did Camamu first get started?

We’ve been around for about 20 years, and everyone who’s worked for us has had a creative background in one way or another. Before founding Camamu, I worked in branding and graphic design, and my wife was a clinical psychologist and then got a degree in organic chemistry and cosmetic formulation. Working with essential oils, butters, herbs, and spices from around the world is kind of like having an art studio — so it makes sense to me!

My wife, Anca, and I started the business by making bars of soap by hand and just seeing if we could pull it off. It grew organically from there. All of our soaps start with a therapeutic need, and we source the highest quality ingredients to maximize their benefits. Over the years we’ve added products as we’ve seen a need for them — a soap for acne, a soap to relieve itchiness, products for people who are super sensitive to certain oils — we mess around with different formulations and really have fun with it.

What led you to start making products for dogs?

We had a Schnauzer who had lots of skin issues from the day we got her, and when we took her to the vet, they would give us shampoos that would clear it up for a bit, but then the problems would come back worse than before. I got fed up with that and started researching whether we could modify Camamu shampoos to help her. We came up with a product, and after using it for a month or so, her skin issues went away for good. I’ve heard similar stories over and over and over from customers.

Now, we have our dog Frankie, who is a rowdy little guy, and his hair tends to get all matted. I’ve been testing a conditioner for him that helps untangle and is soothing on his sensitive skin. It’s common for dogs to develop rashes or allergies that cause itchiness — you can tell if they’re licking their paws or scratching a lot. That’s where our Itchy Dog Rinse comes in. It’s a diluted vinegar-infused [product] with herbs that calms down the irritation. And our dry shampoo, which is a powder blend of diatomaceous earth and dry herbs, is great for the summertime because you can fluff them up with it after they’ve been playing outside.

We want to keep our dogs off harsh meds when possible, and these remedies can be really effective. We hear from our customers that their pets love them, and they know that we’re always available if they have questions or feedback. That’s what Camamu is all about — a little bit of preventative, a little bit therapeutic, and all products that smell and feel good.

How does sustainability factor into your business?

We work directly with sustainable farmers, and we only source organic, so we know exactly where all of our ingredients are coming from, and that they are grown with care. Whenever possible, we package everything in 100 percent compostable materials. And we always try to work collectively with other sustainable businesses, both locally here in Portland and globally.

We have parents that come in with their kids, and we talk to them about what the soaps are made out of and how to compost the packaging. We are just one small company and we can’t solve the world’s problems, but we do think bringing people together around a shared goal can make an impact. 

How do your pet products differ from your people products?

We make everything with gentle, natural ingredients, so the differences really just depend on the specific sensitivities of the dog or the person. Since essential oils are super concentrated, we stay away from anything with a strong fragrance, like lavender for dogs with their sensitive noses. Just like how you might have certain allergies or smells you don’t like, you want to be conscious of how your dog is reacting to a new product. But since our ingredients are so simple, we rarely hear of either pets or people experiencing issues. 

Any special tips for how to use a shampoo bar, a dry shampoo, or an herbal rinse on our pups?

People get confused with the shampoo bars, but there’s no secret to it! For Frankie, I’ll warm up the bar under some water and gently rub it all over him. You can also foam the shampoo up in your hands first and apply it that way. Work it through the hair with your palms and then rinse it out.

For the itchy dog rinse, mix a couple of tablespoons of the concentrate with a few cups of water, and massage it onto the dog’s skin after you’ve shampooed. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse. They’ll smell so nice and clean afterward. And for the dry shampoo, I pretty much just sprinkle it on and fluff. We get that our products are a little different from what you might see at a pet store, so we have more detailed instructions for each on our website. But it’s really nothing complicated. 

We love simple and easy pet care! Is there anything else you think dog lovers should know about Camamu?

First of all, we love talking to customers, so if anyone is trying a product for the first time and has questions, I encourage them to reach out and we’ll be happy to walk them through it. More broadly, I know a lot of folks are taking steps to make more sustainable choices in their homes, and it’s gotten easier to do that with body care for humans. We want people to know that you can also consider sustainability when it comes to your critters.

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author Maia Welbel

Maia Welbel

Maia is a freelance writer focused on using storytelling to help people treat our planet with more compassion. She lives in Chicago with her perfect pets, Maxx the dog and Rubie the cat. Find her on maiawelbel.com and @mwelbel.