Not All Bar SOAP Dries Out Your Skin!
Don't Let Commercial SOAP Frame Your Perception of Bar SOAP
This topic needs to be addressed. I feel kind of silly for being passionate about raising SOAP awareness, but commercial SOAP manufacturers are ruining the reputation of bar SOAP and very possibly damaging your skin. It's kind of sad that so many people think all bar SOAP is bull$h!t. I'm writing this post to clear the air a little and distance handcrafted soap from crappy commercial soap. With anything I write about, I encourage readers to conduct their own research and studies to make their own definitive conclusions. However, I will touch on a few discoveries we made during the research and development of our products that are pretty blatant. Sorry about the aggressive attitude in this particular post, I am usually very positive.
A Little Tid Bit on Saponification
Its important that you know just a little about real the SOAP making processes. Actually, there is only one process for making real SOAP and its called Saponification. This is not a made up word, even though your computer might put a squiggly red line under it. Saponification is science, and if a company is not utilizing this process, it's not making SOAP. Triglycerides are mixed with sodium hydroxide (potassium hydroxide for liquid SOAP) to yield SOAP and glycerin. The process is a little more involved than just mixing all the ingredients together, but the basics are simple chemical reaction. Ratios, ingredients and quality of ingredients determine the variety and quality of the final products. The picture below shows a basic saponification reaction. Sorry if the pic is a little distorted for mobile users.
Be Aware of "Wormy" Marketing
I call marketing strategies of commercial SOAP manufacturers wormy because they use clever terms and description to wiggle around the truth of what their products really are. There is only one way to make real SOAP and the majority of products on grocery store shelves are not utilizing this process for multiple reasons that all point to profits. If a product does not say SOAP on the label, its probably not SOAP. Instead, its probably a "cleanser / antibacterial" , "moisture bar", or "detergent". Okay, but who cares? Well, we definitely care about what we expose our bodies largest organ to. Most all of these products contain questionable chemicals that intend to mimic the properties of natural ingredients while preserving the product for a ridiculously long shelf life. If you buy these products thinking they are SOAP, you will probably end up disappointed. Moisture bars, in general, don't actually clean you skin, detergents are packed full or skin irritants and cleanser / antibacterial bars often utilize a chemical called Triclosan as a cleansing mechanism. Triclosan is an synthetic antibacterial currently in the lime light for its potential carcinogenic and toxic properties. We will write more about Triclosan in another post. Some companies are quietly removing this chemical from their products to avoid future scrutiny from the FDA and public as a case is build against the use of Triclosan. Yikes, i'm saying a lot here. Give it a google if your interested in more information.
The "Double Dip" is a Real Bummer
Sometimes the companies who utilize Saponification to make SOAP are the worst of them all (in our opinion). Let me explain before you think I'm a total jerk! The "double dippers" are those who give bar SOAP the worst reputation for drying out skin. As I briefly mentioned earlier, saponification of triglycerides and lye yields SOAP and Glycerin. Glycerin is the part that makes your skin feel soft, moisturized and healthy and is extremely valuable in the cosmetic industry. Because Glycerin is such a valuable moisturizing molecule, its often removed from the final product for resale or reuse in other products. I will say, this was a pretty smart way to fool the consumer. Props to the dickheads who figured this one out. If a company is doing this, they are "double dipping" and often using "wormy marketing" at the same time to get you to buy two products. Glycerin is removed from the SOAP and put into a moisturizing product that is marketed to replenish skin after using soap that dries our your skin. This is ridiculous. If Glycerin was never removed from the soap, it would not have dried out your skin to begin with. Pretty silly stuff. They are trying to say "yea, bar soap dries your skin out, but we got you covered with this moisturizer". Unfortunately, they look like the good guys sometimes, like they are looking out for the health of your skin. If that was not bad enough, lost characteristics from glycerin removal are compensated for with additional synthetic chemicals.
Stay Away From the Fakers
Okay, I probably sound like i'm throwing the entire cosmetic / SOAP industry under the bus by now. Let me say, there are a lot of amazing small companies making true, handcrafted SOAP that we respect for their transparency, honesty and dedication to providing quality products. We are not the only ones making real SOAP (although, I'm confident we are one of the best). With that being said, don't take companies who claim to be handcrafted and real for their word. Be sure to look at the ingredients of each product and look for methods they used to make their SOAP. If the product does not say 100% saponified, or has a laundry list of ingredients that you can't pronounce, they are probably not making real soap and might be using a "melt and pour" base. Melt and pour bases are unfortunately pretty common among handcrafted soap makers. If you have ever bought a transparent glycerin SOAP, you probably bought a melt and pour product. This means that someone bought a brick of pre-made product, melted it, added some scents and botanicals, then poured it into their mold. Might sound pretty innocent, but there pre-made bases packed full of preservatives and chemicals that actually fall more into the category of detergents than actual soap.
Give Bar SOAP Another Chance
Its not often that we include call to actions in our blog posts. But the only way to bring bar SOAP back to life is by giving them another chance. We know what we are doing, and we are damn good at making natural, real SOAP. You can shop our products, or shop around on the internet for other handmade SOAP. Be sure to choose a company with a money back guarantee, read ingredient labels and stay informed. Be good to your skin!
Give me Your Thoughts
This information is based on the research & development of Gaia Bodyworks™. I encourage readers to contribute to this conversation through questions, comments or criticism. All forms are welcomed. If there is something we have wrong here, we want to know about it. If there is something you want clarification on, we will expand.
About the Author
CEO / Lead Craftsman / Director of Solutions