Modern science has proven what was already assumed through common sense: toxins from our environment are, in large part, absorbed through our skin.
Soap, since it is purposely rubbed on our skin – all over our skin in fact – should be of primary concern when we consider this reality. Once we take due care in the water we drink and the food we eat, what we expose our skin to, should be the top priority when it comes to physical health.
One way to reduce exposure to potentially harmful toxins is to use an organic, natural soap.
Body Soap vs. Body Wash
Many products that are advertised or displayed using terms like ‘cleanser,’ ‘body bar,’ ‘body wash,’ ‘beauty bar,’ ‘skincare bar,’ and even ‘deodorant soap’ are actually detergent based products, and not really soaps at all. They are designed to remove dirt and oils from the skin with chemicals called surfactants.
The Negative Effects of Conventional Soap
Surfactants are broadly divided into two categories: soap-based surfactants and synthetic, detergent-based surfactants (also known as syndets, short for synthetic detergent).
Soap-based surfactants can be bad for your skin. They can:
- Cause dryness, redness, and irritation
- Strip away the skin's natural moisturizing factor (NMF)
- Undermine the skin’s natural barrier function
When the skin barrier is compromised, it lets toxins, bacteria, and other unhealthy substances penetrate deeper into the skin, where they can do long-term harm.
In those deeper layers, soap-based surfactants come in contact with nerve endings and trigger a response from the immune system. That leads to inflammation, itching, and irritation.
Commercial 'Soaps' Can Make Skin Conditions Worse
Acne and eczema are two common skin conditions that may get worse when you wash your face and body with commercial soap. Part of the reason lies in the health of your skin microbiome, but other actions of soap-based surfactants play roles, too.
In acne, hair follicles in the skin become clogged with oils and dead skin cells. That leads to pimples. It may seem counterintuitive, but stripping the oils and moisture from your skin can make acne worse.
That's because, when you remove your skin's natural oils, it responds by increasing oil production to make up for what's been lost. More oil production means more acne.
Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is an inflammatory skin condition. Symptoms include:
Dry, itchy skin
These symptoms are the result of a weakened skin barrier (the surface of the skin), which is supposed to keep things out of the deeper layers.
The surfactants in soap can damage that already sensitive part of the skin, making eczema worse.
Using Handmade Soap Protects your Skin and Body
In summary, the surfactants in commercial soap are hard on your skin, causing dryness and irritation, throwing the skin microbiome out of balance, and contributing to skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Natural, handmade soap (without surfactants) is better for your skin. When washing, use these products with warm water, pat your skin dry, and use a moisturizer.