How much do you value your skin? Well, I for one am obsessed with beautiful, soft, glowing skin. For a lucky few, achieving great skin requires no effort. But for the rest of us, we need to exercise and eat right, avoid the sun, drink water and basically jump through hoops to achieve flaw-less skin. A lot of people, however, seem to overlook the products they use to cleanse, tone and moisturize their skin. Do you really know what you are slathering and lathering onto your body? I’d like to focus on one particular product that we use every day, soap.
We need to be clean so we use soap. You may not put much thought into whether the soap you use is really good for your skin but take a moment to consider this. Maybe take a look at the ingredients list on the back of the packaging. Recognize anything familiar? Probably not! So my goal here today is to highlight some major downfalls of commercial bath soap as compared to organic soaps.
To be honest, can we even call the mass produced products soap? I mean, most commercial soaps are stripped of the good stuff only to replace them with harmful chemicals. There are a lot of potentially risky synthetic compounds in commercial soaps but let me focus on three; Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Fragrance.
Triclosan is a main ingredient used in antibacterial products. The irony in this is that there is a growing concern that Triclosan actually decreases the body’s own ability to protect itself. Simply put, this substance does not discriminate between good and bad bacteria so it strips the body of the bacteria that we require to survive thereby exposing us to illness and infection. It also does almost nothing to prevent most illnesses since colds and flues are typically viral.
Another rather concerning trait of Triclosan is that it is absorbed through the skin. I think at times we forget that skin is porous and breathes and therefore absorbs both good and bad elements. Triclosan is absorbed into our bodies and shows up later in both breast milk and urine. It impacts hormones, fertility and breast cancer risk. Other concerns regarding Triclosan are that it;
· Dries skin
· Kills skin cells
· Aggravates existing skin disorders, e.g. eczema and acne
· Has been detected in rivers, streams and other bodies of water
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, is one of the most dangerous chemicals added to most personal care products like soap, shampoo, conditioner and cosmetics. If you feel that your shampoo is causing you to have an itchy scalp, your facewash dries your skin, or that your toothpaste is giving you mouth ulcers, SLS is most likely the reason. There have even been studies proving there are significant correlations between SLS and contact dermatitis. It, like Triclosan, has skin penetration characteristics even at low use concentrations. The most worrying effects of SLS are that;
· It emits toxic fumes when heated
· It has corrosive properties including the corrosion of fats and proteins that make up the skin and muscle and the corrosion of hair follicles leading to hair loss
· It helps other chemicals get into the body
· It pollutes our groundwater
The last of the potentially harmful chemicals used in commercial soaps are fragrances. Most chemicals used in fragrances are petroleum based synthetic compounds. A lot of them are not tested for safety as manufacturers are only required to print ‘fragrance’ on the label. Even unscented or fragrance-free products may contain a masking fragrance and marked ‘without perfume’ to avoid stating that fragrance has been added.
So, how do we protect ourselves from the harmful effects of chemical-ridden soap? Go organic. Organic soaps are made using vegetable oils and butters rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. By using organic soap you might be able to avoid, or at least reduce, the skin problems caused by chemical ingredients. Organic soap contains ingredients that are not, and have not been produced with, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Switching to organic soap benefits not only our bodies but also our environment too. They are cruelty free as they are not tested on animals. Finally organic soap is not stripped of glycerin.
Glycerin is good for so many reasons, amongst others; it is a humectant which means it draws moisture from the air to the skin keeping it soft and supple, it helps the skin retain water, reduces problems caused by oily skin and even acts as a sunscreen (to an extent). Glycerin is a colourless, odourless, sweet-tasting, thick sugar-alcohol widely used in hair and body products. Glycerin can be synthetically made using petroleum however it is also naturally derived from fats and oils and is a natural by-product of the soap making process. While commercial manufacturers remove glycerin from soap for use in more profitable products, like lotions and creams, organic soap retains glycerin making it healthier for your skin.
Most people wait until their skin is problematic before switching to healthier skin care products. The truth is, even if you do not suffer from acne or eczema, for example, the chemicals found in commercial products dries our skin causing it to be itchy and irritable. Our skin is the largest organ in the body and it is worth taking care of. What better way to reduce the toxins in your home than to start by replacing your personal care products. The product quality and benefits of making this switch far outweigh the extra buck you might spend on going organic.
I hope this post has made you think of your health as more than what you put into your body. Please feel free to comment and ask questions below, I’d love to discuss this topic further with you.