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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Soap vs Soap

I have a pet peeve.  Ok, I have many pet peeves but the one I'm referring to has to do with soap.  I can't tell you how many articles I've read where "skin-care experts" advise not to use soap.

Don't use bar soap while shaving.
Don't use bar soap to wash your face.

Almost all the articles mention that bar soap is drying.  In fact, many recommend using body wash instead!

Are they right? Yes and No.
I can only assume because none of the articles I've read differentiate between store bought soap and handmade soap, that they are referring to store bought soap.

So when is soap not soap?
Real soap is made with oils and lye through a process called saponification.  Saponification uses a triglyceride (a fat) with sodium hydroxide (lye) to yield soap and glycerin.  Now, re-read that last sentence..the process of saponification yields soap and glycerin.  No lye remains in the soap.  Glycerin, however is present.  Glycerin attracts moisture to your body.  It's whats referred to as a humectant.   Humectants are good for your skin because they are moisturizing--not drying!  In fact, many body washes have added glycerin for this very reason.  Real soap has been made this way for centuries. 


Store bought soap is very different.  Beginning in World War I, there was a shortage in fats and oils and a substitute for soap was needed.  Synthetic detergents were then invented.  Although these detergents are good to clean clothes, they are made of harsh chemicals, including petroleum products, that can and do irritate skin.  With few choices at the neighborhood store, detergents gained in popularity.  By the year 1953, the sale of detergents in the US had surpassed those of soap.  What you buy at the store is most likely not soap but detergent.  The word soap is highly regulated.   In fact, companies are not allowed to use the word unless their product is real soap, made through the process of saponification. That's why you'll see store bought soap being referred to as beauty-bars, moisturizing bars, cleansers and even body washes!

Don't be fooled!  Use of these beauty-bars, moisturizing bars, cleansers, and body washes are not only harsh on your skin but also on the environment, leeching chemicals into our waterways.  Make a better decision




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