Is there a difference? Yes! If you look at the packaging of commercial soap found in most grocery stores (bars, shower gel or facial cleanser), it’s likely that you wont find the term “soap” on the packaging. When a soap is labeled with chemical detergents, hardeners, and synthetic lathering agents it’s not actual “soap”…it’s a detergent. The word "Soap" has a legal definition provided by the FDA. Most commercial brands do not meet the legal definition of soap.
Detergents are good for removing oil which is not ideal for your skin. Commercial detergent soap strips your skin of their natural oils leaving your skin irritated, dry and dependent on lotion to put back the moisture that was just stripped. Some other harmful ingredients that you’ll find in commercial “soaps” include:
Parabens: may mimic estrogen and act as a potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptor
Petrochemicals: cause brain, nerve and liver damage, birth defects, cancer, asthma and hormonal disorders
Phthalates: Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer
Synthetic fragrance: There are NO laws requiring the ingredients in fragrance need to be disclosed to consumers. Over 3k additional chemicals can be hiding under that labeling loophole. It's also associated with reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, and much more!
Trisodium EDTA: While they are not found to be toxic, it breaks down the outer layer of the skin to enhance the dermal penetration of other ingredients contained in a product. This is of major concern when toxic ingredients are part of the rest of the formula.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Over 16,000 research studies have linked SLS to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, and even cancer.
BHT: the United States Department of Health and Human Services lists BHT&BHA as known carcinogens
So what makes a bar of soap REAL? Let’s talk about the science of soap making. In order to make soap you need the following formulation: Triglycerides (fatty acids) + Sodium hydroxide = Soap + Glycerin Once the oils and lye (sodium hydroxide) react with one another, they create a solid mass that consist of soap and glycerin. This process is called saponification. You may be thinking “Janel, I don’t want to put lye on my skin.” I agree! I would never want to put lye on my skin either. When the oils and lye are calculated correctly, there is no lye leftover in the soap because the saponification process turns the lye and oils into soap! Pretty cool, huh? Real soap is full of conditioning, moisturizing, and cleansing properties along with small amounts of glycerin. Glycerin is a natural skin softener that attracts water from the surrounding air. Most commercial soaps actually strip glycerin from their soap and sell it to manufactures to add in lotions and other products. A REAL bar of soap should only include:
Saponified fats (coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, sustainable palm oil, etc.)
Essential oils for scent
Natural additives for colorants and exfoliates like clays, herbs, oatmeal, honey, etc.
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Love your skin. Buy real soap. 💚✌🏼 xo, Janel Nay.