Occasionally, we'll get the "Why should I buy handmade soap" question, Believe me, I asked the same thing before I found myself covered in a horrible rash from contact dermatitis that sent me to ER! NOT pleasant at all.....After that massive reaction to a "gentle" name brand product, I felt differntly, and started doing my research. Here's what opened my eyes!
The next time you walk down the soap aisle at your favorite store enjoying the fresh, fruity, excotic, clean scents and the bright colorful packaging, pay attention, big attention. Look at the labels. The vast majority of the products on the shelf don't say 'soap' on their labels. They might be called beauty bars, moisturizing bars, or body bars, but not soap. That's because these bars aren't actually soap and can't legally claim to be; they're detergents. The manufacturers have removed most of the 'good' stuff that occurs naturally in the soap making process, and replaced it with synthetic lathering agents and harsh chemicals. These cheap, plentiful detergent bars are not only bad for your skin, but they're also bad for the planet, too. And we like our planet.
One of the main ways your body aquires nutreints, other than eating, is transdermally-through the skin. Your skin is your largest organ-22 square feet on average- and 60% of the substances you put on it are eventually absorbed into the bloodstream. This semipermeable membrane allows us to absorb vitamins and minerals, but, unfortunatley, it absorbs harmful chemicals we put on it, too. Chemicals in soap are no joke. They can disrupt our hormones, promote allergies, lead to reproductive issues and increase risk of some cancers. With serious side effects like these, we need to be particular about what we put on our skin
What's so bad about it?
Commercial soap manufacturers make it a practice to remove the glycerine that is produced during the saponification (soap-making) process. The glycerine is a highly profitable substance, often sold to other companies who use it to make lotions and moisturizers, which your skin, now dried out from the harsh detergent 'soap,' desperately needs.
Most commercially produced bars contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors, and a slew of chemicals we can't even pronounce (big scary words). Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Consumers are, therefore, exposed to triclosan for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their hands or face.
Always remember that your skin is porous and absorbent. It absorbs whatever it comes in contact with, much the same as sticking something in your mouth. Chronic use of chemical laden products will cause the body to store the chemicals in the body fat or even in the brain. With enough accumulations of toxins in the body, illness can occur.
These nasty chemicals and toxins are now finding their way into our eco-system. Every time that lather goes down the drain, those pollutants are going with it. A recent report by the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) revealed that synthetic chemicals from soap, body washes, shampoos and other healthcare products were sneaking through the filters at water purification plants. The list of offenders included phthalates, which are linked to reproductive disorders in both humans and animals, and parabens, a preservative, which links to cancer.
What's the alternative?
All natural, organic, handmade soap. There are several small businesses selling extremely high quality, all natural, organic soap - yes real soap. Sure, these soap bars generally cost more than the detergent bars you'll find at Wal-Mart. But the difference is these soap bars are actually good for your skin, and are good for the planet.
Choosing the right soap
Just because it's handmade doesn't mean it's always good for you, however. You need to understand a few things about the soapmaking process to know what to look for.
There are basically three ways to make soap. One common way is called "melt and pour" soap. There are even melt and pour kits you can buy to make cute soap shapes with your kids. These are generally glycerine based transparent soaps. They're not as harmful (usually) as the commercial bars, but they're not what we're looking for here.
The other two methods are "hot process" and "cold process." The hot process method utilizes heat after the saponification process has taken place, while the cold process method does not. The cold process method takes the most time, but is undoubtedly the best method for producing the highest quality soaps.
Now, we need to discuss the ingredients. Cold process soap bars are made using a combination of oils or fats and lye. Lye sounds a little scary, but all the caustic qualities of the lye are removed during the saponification process. When the lye interacts with the oils or fats, it creates glycerine. The type of oils and fats used make a difference in how hard or soft the soap bar ends up being, and how well it lathers.
With handmade soaps, just like with commercially manufactured bars, you need to read the labels. You want to find soaps that use only pure, organic oils or fats (the good stuff). And stay away from synethic chemicals or artifical colorants. Far far away! You don't want them on your skin or going down your drain.
If you want a colored or scented soap bar, look for one that uses organic or high quality essential oils and natural, organic colorants.
To sum it up, the best soap for your skin and our planet is a handmade, organic, all natural soap bar. Once you've tried one of these lathery treasures, we promise, you'll never again be satisfied with 'store-bought' bars. So do yourself and your world a big favor and start using REAL soap. We have one body, so lets be kind to it!