Did you know that most soaps you find at grocery stores, drugstores and big chains are actually just chemical detergents rather than real soap? In fact, most of them aren't true soap at all. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
“Today there are very few true soaps on the market. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products."
Let’s take a closer look at what the difference is between natural and commercially produced soap is, and why it matters.
In this post you'll learn:
- The difference between commercial and natural soap
- The history of how soap has evolved and changed over time into what it is now
- The major problems of commercial store-bought soap
- The reasons you should switch over to natural soap
Natural Soap vs. Commercial Soaps
True natural soap is created by the process of saponification, which occurs when mixing together oils or fats and lye. The result is soap with naturally occurring glycerin, which is extra moisturizing and nourishing. Ultimately, the end product is an all-natural, bubbly and ultra-nourishing bar of soap. There is simply no need or purpose to add synthetics, chemicals or toxins. There are many types of oils, butters, and fats that could be incorporated into the soap. For example, at Bubbly Soaps we love to use olive oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, and organic shea butter. Sometimes we add oats for its exfoliant properties or activated charcoal for its purifying properties.
On the other hand, commercial "soaps" are mass-produced with synthetic, toxic chemical detergents. The soap is made and then stripped of all it's glycerin and skin-loving properties. To make things worse, they add synthetic foaming agents that irritate the skin, detergents that dry out the skin and toxic chemicals that pose health risks. Could it get any worse? Unfortunately, yes. Once the glycerin and skin-loving properties are removed, they are then sold in higher margin products such as lotions with more fillers to get the most profit for the lowest possible cost and quality.
History of Soap
Since 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon, soap was always handmade in a traditional way, called the cold process. The cold process method is simply combining salts and fatty acids to saponify and pouring them into a mold and then cutting and curing them for a month until they are ready to use. The best part about cold process is that it results in a natural true bar of soap. This is how we make our soaps at Bubbly Soaps.
During the 19th century, manufacturers and companies discovered that they could extract the naturally occurring glycerin and skin-loving properties from soap. This revolutionized the soap industry for the worse. With large chain companies increasingly mass-producing in outsourced factories, they began to extract the beneficial glycerin and the best properties and sell it separately in higher margin products such as lotions and fill it with synthetic toxic chemicals. As for the soap, what's left is simply blocks of chemical detergents and synthetic fillers. Technically, it's not actually considered true soap anymore by the FDA. Have you noticed many popular brands marketing their soaps as "body bars"? They aren't really true soap anymore.
Problems of Commercial Soaps
Simply take a look at the ingredients in your average bar of soap at your local store. Here's an example list of ingredients of a very popular soap bar widely sold at stores everywhere.
"Ingredients: Benzalkonium Chloride · Aqua (Water, Eau) · Lauramidopropylamine Oxide · Glycerin · Lauramine Oxide · Cetrimonium Chloride · Sodium Chloride · PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate · Citric Acid · Sodium Benzoate · Zinc Sulfate · Myristamidopropylamine Oxide · Parfum (Fragrance) · Dimethyl Lauramine · Tetrasodium EDTA · Alcohol · Dimethyl Myristamine · CI 19140 (Yellow 5) · CI 14700 (Red 4) · Butylphenyl Methylpropianol · Coumarin · Linalool"
Let's preface this discussion by noting that the average woman puts 515 chemicals on her skin every day. After reading this ingredient list, we can see there are at least 20 chemicals in this average bar of soap. Another unfortunately common ingredient in commercial soap is triclosan. It is classified as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency. Most commercial soaps contain it because it's thought to synthetically replicate antibacterial properties of true soap. By the time you wash it off, some of it has already gotten into your skin and the rest then flows into the water pipes which ultimately leads to our oceans. This pesticide disrupts natural photosynthesis and fish when it has reached our oceans. Studies have shown that triclosan in bar soaps can disrupt the normal development of the reproductive system and metabolism. Additionally, in a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found triclosan in the urine of 75% of the people surveyed. Therefore, demonstrating the fact that your skin absorbs what you put on it and it travels throughout your body. Did we mention that most of these mass-producing "soap" factories test on animals and are not cruelty-free nor vegan? That's a whole other topic for another post.
Why It's So Important To Use Natural Soap
More than 64% of what we put onto our skin (our bodies largest organ) is absorbed within seconds. This is why it's so important we become more aware of what we're putting on our skin. A good rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce the ingredients or know where it comes from, it's probably not good for you. Pro tip: The ingredients with the highest contents are listed first to last in that order.
Now that we understand why what we put on on our skin is so important, why should we use natural soap in particular? To avoid commercial "soaps" sold at your local stores which are mass-produced in factories and filled with toxic chemical detergents. These cause irritation, linked to health issues, and severely dry out your skin. This is why it's so important to use natural soap!
Natural soap won’t dry out your skin or cause any other skin irritation because all of the ingredients are gentle and safe. It also doesn’t contain any synthetic ingredients, which are absorbed by the skin and go into the bloodstream causing health problems.
Want to try out a natural soap? Bubbly Soaps are made of natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals. Plus, they are 100% vegan and plant-based too! All of our soaps are made of olive oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, organic shea butter, and aloe vera. We also love to add other natural additives like oats, activated charcoal, and essential oils. Can't decide which soap to choose? Take our Soap Quiz to help you find the perfect soap for your skin!