Why get all lathered up about soap skin care? Because, not all soap is created equal. A good bar soap balances fatty acids to maximize hardness, lather quality and moisturizing ability. All of this is accomplished by the ingredients that make up a bar of soap.
The basics of soap consist of a mixture of fats and lye.
Lye –All soap is made using lye. In a properly produced soap, no lye remains in the final product. Lye is consumed in the saponification process. Superfatting further assures that all lye is consumed and no harm to you.
Fats – All oils are made up of fatty acids. The fatty acids required to make soap are supplied by tallow, grease, fish oils, and vegetable oils. When these oils are saponified (oil and lye are mixed), a chemical reaction results in molecules of soap leaving glycerin behind. Glycerin is a natural part of vegetable oils and a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin. Some soap companies retain all glycerin produced in the saponification process while others remove it to sell to other companies who make lotions and moisturizers. Glycerin is a highly profitable substance. Some may keep trace amounts just to put it on their soap label.
The soap is then screened and colored. Other chemicals may be added to enhance the performance of soap. These chemicals can be irritating to your skin and even harmful for your body.
Synthetic Scents – The soap may contain fragrances which are synthetic compounds that may dry out or irritate your skin. Fragrances can have hidden ingredients such as phthalates which are linked to serious reproductive problems in studies of people and animals.
Artificial Colors – Artificial colors are mostly petroleum based chemicals. Keep in mind that your skin is porous and will absorb whatever it comes in contact with.
Chemical surfactants –Sodium laurel (or laureth) sulfate may be added to increase the lather quality. The Journal of The American College of Toxicology (ACT) in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous."
The Healthier Option –
The healthier alternative is to use soap created with vegetable oils, scented with essential oils and colored with herbs and plant extracts. Other added plant based oils like cocoa or shea butter will moisturize and soften your skin. Ingredients should be certified organic if possible to assure that the plants were grown without toxic chemicals.
Keeping the ingredients simple, natural and organic lead to a perfect bar of soap that will not harm you or the environment.