When you step into the shower in the morning – or, for those of you who enjoy a good tub soak, into the bath – you might not think that much about the soap you’re using. You just reach for whatever’s handy, lather it on and go about your day.
But while soap can seem like a pretty mundane product to make such a difference in your life, it isn’t. In fact, mass-produced soaps have been linked to skin dryness, cancer and other health issues … certainly not something you would willingly invite into your life, or your family’s. Even soaps labeled natural soap or organic soap are often filled with harmful additives and ingredients.
So what’s a bathing-oriented person (in other words, everyone) to do? Well, using natural handmade soap comes to mind. Made with whole, unprocessed ingredients, they bring a wealth of benefits to all users. Like what, you’re wondering? Good question. Here are few of the main ones to consider.
The Real Deal
People have been using handmade soap for thousands of years. In its natural state, it is a combination of fats and lye. These fats can come from animals or from vegetable products such as coconut or olive oil. Mixing the two together results in saponification, or the creation of soap. One of the most important ingredients of the mixture is glycerin, a product that smoothes skin and keeps it moist.
On the other hand, many synthetic soaps are made from highly processed ingredients and lab-manufactured chemicals. In many recipes, the glycerin has been removed to sell on its own (it is valuable) or is added to other, more expensive products that can fetch a higher market rate. To compensate for the lack of this vital component, manufacturers add in detergents to clean skin, chemicals to create foam, unnatural fragrances, dyes and more.
Many of these are carcinogenic. Two of the most common ingredients, even in “natural” soaps, are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which dries skin, and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which contains potential carcinogens. While such soaps do strip your skin of dirt and debris, they also strip it of natural oils and protectants.
Good for Your Skin, Good for You
Losing your skin’s natural oils and moisture is a bigger bummer than you might think. For one thing, when your skin is continually dried out, it begins to overproduce oil to compensate. If you’ve been washing … and washing … and washing, only to notice your skin seems oilier than ever, this is why. Sadly, this can lead to acne, flaking, rosacea and other conditions, often when people were washing expressly to avoid them in the first place.
Plus, removing this oil also diminishes the naturally protective barrier created by your skin. As the largest organ, the skin covers an average of about 22 square feet on the body. The number is hard to imagine. Just think about all that access the toxins and diseases of the world have with all that space to work with. That’s why your skin is so important, and why it matters a lot when its functionality is reduced by stripping products such as unnatural, laboratory-manufactured soaps.
Handmade natural soap, on the other hand, helps replenish natural oils, smooth your skin and strengthen this shield. It not only doesn't contain cancer-causing agents or toxins that can affect the nervous system, it actively protects against such elements. Plus, the essential oils, fruits and vegetables, herbs and other ingredients added to a natural soap bar have many other health benefits, like soothing stress.
Environmental Friendliness for the Win
Natural soap, moreover, is much friendlier to the environment. Most soaps are made in small batches, mixed and packaged by hand. Organic soap ingredients are naturally sourced from eco-conscious suppliers or homegrown by artisanal makers. Moreover, they’re free of the fillers, binders and additives necessary to make fake soap appear like the real deal.
The absence of synthetic or harsh chemicals not only protects your skin, it’s easier on the streams, rivers and groundwater into which runoff from manufacturing ends up, protecting wildlife and vegetation. In turn, this mindfulness protects whole ecosystems, and ultimately the entire planet.
The majority of handmade soap also uses recycled packaging, reducing the impact on trees, minimizing the chemical processing needed to make paper, and decreasing overall your footprint on the Earth when you purchase it.
Uniqueness and Beauty Rule the Day
Lastly, natural soap tells a story. It is beautiful and unique, made with a huge variety of grains, herbs, natural essences and more. It may be swirled with color or studded with oatmeal. Its smells and vibrancy harks to its origins – what in the wine industry might be called terroir – while the intricate details of its individual and environmentally responsible packaging makes a lovely statement in bathrooms and kitchens.
If you are looking for gorgeous soaps to add a little health to your life, beauty to your home and spring to your step, natural is the way to go. Each and every time.