Are You Bathing in Soap or Detergent?

Posted by Bob on 5/8/2011

Most bath soap is not really soap, but a combination of skin-drying alcohol, detergents and salts. Many of the same ingredients found in shower gels can be found in industrial cleansers such as engine degreasers. Genuine soap is made with natural ingredients that can be found in your kitchen pantry, and processed in ways that have virtually no negative impact on your skin or the environment. Unlike detergents, true soap is naturally moisturizing, non-drying and essential for good skin care.

When Did America Stop Using Real Soap?

During World War II, the shortage and rationing of natural oils and fats needed to create soap gave rise to the creation of synthetic detergents. These cleansers were designed in a laboratory to mimic the properties and benefits of soap across a number of applications, from body wash to floor cleaner. Most products on the market today calling themselves beauty bars, facial cleansers, body bars, shower gels - even some products calling themselves soap – are actually detergents born out of this era.

Today, most brand name bath bars and body washes are made from synthetic and petroleum-based chemicals and preservatives that are cheap to produce and used in a variety of industrial products, from antifreeze to paper. While these products are effective cleansers, they contain ingredients that have no inherent benefit to your skin.

For example, here is an ingredient list from a popular brand of shower gel:

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Polyquaternium-10, Disodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Green 3, Green 5, Red 33.

Did you ever wonder what these ingredients do? Here's a brief rundown:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (or SELS) is a foaming agent that does nothing but create lather. This chemical and its cousin sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are found in most brands of cosmetics and household cleaners. SELS and SLS are known to dry and irritate skin and hair in products containing a little more than a percent or two of this chemical
  • Sodium Sulfate – an industrial filler material
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – a thickening agent that can also reduce irritation caused by chemicals like SELS
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate– this is the “no more tears” chemical that acts as a counter irritant to presumably the harsher, skin irritating ingredients
  • Citric Acid – an organic acid used to balance the pH of the body wash
  • Sodium Benzoate – a preservative that is also used in pre-packaged food
  • Polyquaternium-10 – synthetic compound used in shampoos that create a film on hair to give it a glossy, moisturized look, but has no moisturizing properties.
  • Disodium EDTA – this chemical binds to impurities in water so detergents can clean more effectively
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone – a preservative used in a number of industrial processes from glue to paint that has antibacterial properties, but it irritates the skin, so it is only used in skin care products that are meant to be rinsed off rather than absorbed.
  • Methylisothiazolinone – a preservative with antimicrobial properties and a known neurotoxin in the same family as Agent Orange. While small doses in bath products may not be harmful, effects of prolong exposure are unknown.

Using Genuine Soap

World War II has been over for nearly 70 years yet "soap" manufacturers are still using the same, temporary replacement materials at a time when healthful, natural ingredients are in ample supply.

Genuine soap has been made for centuries by combining vegetable oils and fats with a liquid solution of milk and/or water and lye. When the oils and lye solution are combined, a natural chemical reaction called saponification occurs in which the fatty acids in the solution are broken down and converted into soap containing glycerin.

Some people fear using real soap because it is made with lye. Lye by itself is a caustic substance. However, saponification renders the lye neutral. Combining an acid (the fat) with an alkali (the lye) forms a neutral (the soap). In the finished soap, the caustic lye is no longer present because of this chemical reaction. What's left are fats and glycerin that are beneficial cleansers and moisturizers. All genuine soap is made from an alkali, even those marketed as being natural and organic. There is no such thing as a soap created from non-chemical methods. Soap is by definition the result of a chemical reaction.

Soap making methods and ingredients define one company's soap from the other. We make soap from pure, fresh goat milk combined with natural oils. Many handcrafted soaps are made from water bases or a mixture of milk and water. We use goat milk exclusively. Rich in emollients and unique triglycerides, goat milk is naturally homogenized which keeps fatty acids suspended in the milk. No other mammal milk has goat milk's specific properties that are as beneficial to the skin.

Try our genuine goat milk soap instead of your detergent body wash. Your skin will thank you.