Soap … we wash our hands with it, shower with it, bathe our babies in it, and it resides in almost every household around the globe. We each have “our” favorites based on color, consistency, qualities, and fragrance. There are endless choices for body wash and soaps and many companies create catchy tag lines to entice their customers like Dial soap; “Aren’t you glataglines Dial? Don’t you wish everybody did?”
Where did we get so many kinds of soap and what ingredients make up these body washes and bars of cleanliness? We often just grab that bar on our sink or squeeze out the creamy liquid from the tube in our shower without even thinking of what we’re using on our skin. Let’s take a look at where soap comes from and what most commercial soaps are made of.
The earliest evidence of soap comes from Ancient Babylon archeology digs that revealed a material similar to today’s soap along with indications this substance was used for body washing. The original ingredients were animal fats and ashes, and the time dated back to 1550 BC. Other ancient discoveries of civilizations included finds resembling soap made with animal oils, plant oils, and alkaline salts by the Ancient Egyptians and plant ash mixed with crushed seashells by the Chinese around 700 to 220 BC. These primitive forms of soap are of course, far from the soap we use today.
But is out soap and body wash safe and beneficial for our skin? If you were to research the ingredients of a bar of soap or a squeeze of liquid body wash, you’d realize these personal cleaning products contain many unwanted and unhealthy substances. Be aware of harsh ingredients such as parabens which are used as petroleum-based preservatives and have prefixes like ‘propyl’ and ‘butyl.’ These parabens are considered instigators for breast cancer, skin conditions like itching, scaling, and blistering, and even impaired fertility.
Another common soap additive is sodium lauryl sulfate and propylene glycol. These two ingredients provide foam and fluffy lather is bar soap and body washes. They’re both derived from petroleum and can not only cause skin irritations, they have the ability to change your skin’s cellular makeup and send toxins into your body and blood stream. Other toxic additives in commercial soaps include phthalates, dyes, and artificial fragrances.
The United States Food and Drug Administration states, “Today there are very few true soaps on the market. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products.” FDA Soap FAQs With the risk of toxic exposure, allergic reactions to artificial fragrances, and ingredients that may dry your skin instead of nourishing and moisturize it, natural soaps and body washes are the better choice.
Companies who supply natural, organic, and hypoallergenic personal cleansing products are more aware of ‘green living’ and toxin-free lifestyles. They choose their soap ingredients to benefit their customers not only with proper cleansing, but create their products free of irritants and substances that may cause illness.
The most basic and purest form of soap is made from oil or fat and lye. These two ingredients combine to create a process called ‘saponification’ and the end result is a product of soap and glycerin. The oil used will determine what elements come into contact with your skin; olive oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil for a few examples. Ingredients like Shea butter are added to moisturize and nourish your skin and oatmeal exfoliates resulting in a natural, good-for-you solid soap or wash.
There are so many fragrant natural oils, butters, plant extracts, and natural substances to use for scrubbing off dirt that there is no need to use commercial soaps made with chemicals. Vitamin E is sometimes used in natural soaps for its skin healing properties and antifungal elements are derived from oils of eucalyptus and peppermint plants. Many natural plant and fruit oils are invigorating and calming, cleansing, and relaxing. These ingredients are not just for cleansing, but promote better health and mood.
Why should you use natural body wash and soaps? Gentle ingredients won’t dry out or irritate your skin. They won’t cause allergic reactions from artificial perfumes and coloring. Natural body products don’t contain toxins that can be absorbed by your skin—the body’s largest organ. And organic and chemical free cleansing products will give you a clean feeling with soft skin, leaving you feeling healthy and refreshed!