Soap vs DetergentRead The DRY SKIN DILEMMA - How Detergents Damage Your Health for a more detailed look at how your cosmetics can harm you!
Most 'soaps' are not soap but detergent:
Usually these products are labeled as beauty, facial, or cleansing bars, and sometimes even as soap. Detergents are made from petroleum products and consist mainly of surfactants, foaming agents and alcohols. Since these chemicals have a disagreeable odour, detergents are usually heavily scented with cheap, synthetic, artificial fragrances. Detergents also contain preservatives and antibacterial agents so that they do not spoil. All these chemicals are frequent causes of allergic reactions, penetrate far below the surface of the skin, and reside in your body tissues. The most common type of preservative (parabens) was recently found to be present in breast cancer tumours. While this does not mean that these preservatives actually cause cancer, their presence in the tumours is disturbing enough. One facial bar manufacturer has a 'hypo-allergenic formula' approved by 'a dermatologist' that has as the primary ingredient the chemical that causes the most allergic reactions in people of all the chemicals present in cosmetics today (TEA-triethanolamine). Does that sound like false advertising? Check with Health Canada to see what information they have on the subject and how they explain that there is nothing wrong with this (Buyer Beware!).
Soap vs Detergent information: What are true soaps made from?
Versus detergents, true soaps are made with natural products (fat and lye) and require very little energy in the production process. It is possible to make them without having leftover by-products that tend to go to the landfill, and the soap that flows down the drain while washing is bio-degradable. These soaps have a pH that is between 9.5 and 10 (alkaline), which makes them effective cleansers and eliminates the need for harmful preservatives and antibacterial agents. Not all natural soaps are created equal however, as there are many different ingredients that may be in such a soap. For instance, many mass-produced soaps are made with beef tallow (fat) because this is a generally unused by-product from meat processing, and can be obtained very cheaply. While saponified beef tallow can produce a satisfactorily sudsing soap, there are substances in tallow that do not saponify, and may contribute to skin breakouts and acne. When we worry about hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides that may be in our steak or hamburgers, it is no stretch of the imagination to assume that these chemicals are also present in the beef fat that is made into soap. If I don't want to eat these chemicals, why would I want to rub them all over my skin? High quality soaps are made with oils such as coconut, palm, castor, or olive oils, and retain the natural glycerin, instead of removing it and selling it for profit, as mass producers generally do.
What does pH balanced mean?
A common advertising ploy is to lead consumers to believe that cleansers are automatically better if they are pH-balanced. pH-Balanced cleansers match the pH of the skin, which is slightly acidic (<7). Because they match the pH of the skin, solvents and grease strippers are used to achieve the cleaning action. The problem with this is that the skin's natural oils are not just removed from the upper layer of skin, but also from many layers below. You know that tight, itchy feeling after using detergent shampoo, body wash, or cleansing bars? Your skin is trying to tell you that it has been dried beyond its ability to repair. Usually the first thing you reach for after you dry off from the shower or bath is your skin moisturizer, which is also made by the manufacturers that first dry your skin out with detergent. Most people don't realize the vicious cycle they are in. It is time to break free from it by taking care of your skin in a natural way. Most people don't have dry skin, eczema or dermatitis, they just use too many harsh cleansers whose toxic fragrances and colouring agents cause allergic reactions.
How are natural soaps effective cleansers?
True soaps have a pH of between 9 and 10, which is alkaline on the pH scale (0=most acidic, 14=most alkaline). True soaps are effective cleansers because of their pH. Oils and dirt are removed from the surface of the skin and carried away by water. Natural soaps clean the surface and leave the other layers below alone so that the skin takes care of itself. Detergents that strip oils from layers deep beneath the surface of the skin can cause the body to produce a much greater amount of natural oil to make up the difference, causing skin breakouts. Natural soaps do not trigger this reaction. For most people, improvements in 'skin feel' are noticeable after a couple of days of using natural soaps, depending on how much damage the skin must repair first. Mass producers of detergent based cleansers claim that the high pH is hard on the skin, but results speak for themselves. The skin is an amazing organ, capable of repairing itself when naturally cared for.
Don't forget to read The DRY SKIN DILEMMA - How Detergents Damage Your Health for a more detailed look at how your cosmetics can harm you!