Companies that produce commercial soap or beauty bars like Dove, Ivory, or Oil of Olay use expert marketing techniques in their advertising. They promote emotional concepts and ideals, focusing on warm and fuzzy feelings, while avoiding any unpleasant details about the product itself.
Dove has it's self esteem campaign, Ivory - The name you can trust for good, clean fun for the whole family, and Oil of Olay - love the skin you’re in.
There's no doubt that self esteem, family fun and loving the skin your in are all important and wonderful things, but they have nothing to do with the chemical concoctions these soaps are made of.
What do you need to make soap? Only 3 ingredients - lye, water (liquid), and fat. That's it. What you get is a pure soap with the natural glycerin (mouisturizer) retained.
The ingredient list below is from a specific commercial “beauty bar”. Compare it with our online ingredient lists and we’re sure you’ll see the “handmade and sensibly simple” difference right away.
The first thing to note is that most commercial soap makers do remove the glycerin from soap. There is more money to be made by removing the glycerin and selling it to be added to other more expensive cosmetic products like lotions. Then, they add cheaper synthetic chemicals or substances to thicken, colour, add foam, clarify, enrich, and scent the soap. Glycerin is a great moisturizer that attracts moisture to the skin and is best if just left naturally in the soap.
So, what’s in your large corporate commercial “Soap”? Although they both have emulsifiers and surfactants, soaps are very different from detergents. Soaps are made from fat or vegetable oils that have been saponified with sodium or potassium hydroxide. Some manufacturers also add other ingredients such as scents and botanicals. Detergents use different types of surfactants. One might wonder why I chose to put soap in quotations. The reason is that just because it comes in a bar form or even liquid doesn’t mean it’s true and natural soap instead of a synthetic detergent laden mix or simply a detergent most people think if it cleans it’s soap and that simply is not the case. Soap is soap and washes are detergents. In short if it doesn’t say soap specifically, it isn’t and even if it is, it’s most likely stripped so bare bones and full of other un-needed additives that it is most likely your skin irritant culprit. Ask your dermatologist why they always ask what kind of soap your using before asking anything else. It’s because it’s important in diagnosing many skin issues.
On this page you will find some of the ingredients contained in some of the multiple brands of “soaps” on the market and a brief analysis of each ingredient. Keep in mind that just because some ingredients are listed as "potentially irritating" or "may dry your skin out" doesn't mean they will. Skin irritation depends heavily on a lot of variables like your own unique skin, and the concentration of that ingredient on your skin. Many people can tolerate certain ingredients, some cannot. If you are interested in cosmetic ingredients you may want to consider picking up a copy of A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter, M.S. This book is a great resource and has helped me in my journey as a soapmaker.
Unscented Beauty Bar Ingredients:
- Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin and may dry it out. (Surfactant, Detergent, Cleansing Agent).
- Stearic Acid Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin, and may sensitize you to allergens. Most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring. (Our Stearic Acid is used as a thickening/hardening agent and is vegetable derived).
- Sodium Tallowate Summary: This inexpensive and readily available soap ingredient cleanses and moisturizes your skin, but may worsen or cause acne. Any time you see the words sodium X it usually refers to the fact that there is lye in the production of the soap. We choose not to fool you and to add either sodium or potassium hydroxide to our labels so you know exactly what ingredients have been used to make your soap bars. Sodium Tallowate usually refers to animal fat of some form.
- Sodium Palmitate (Palm Oil : We Choose Sustainable Oils) Summary: This ingredient cleanses your skin, but may dry it out.
- Lauric Acid Summary: This ingredient cleanses your skin. It may irritate very sensitive skin. A derivative of coconut and other oils.
- Sodium Isethionate Summary: This ingredient is mild on the skin and non-drying. Another Sodium Salt derived from coconut oil.
- Water Summary: Water/Aloe is used as a means of dissolving the oxidizer (the thing that combines with the oils to make soap).
- Sodium Stearate Summary: soap ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. Sodium stearate is the sodium salt of stearic acid. This white solid is the most common soap.
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine Summary: This ingredient cleanses your skin. It may also be an allergen. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a chemical found in many personal care products, including shampoo, toothpaste and body wash. The chemical is derived from coconuts and is used to make products produce more foam. Because cocamidopropyl betaine originates from coconut oil, even some personal care products labeled as natural still contain it. Although the government regards the ingredient as safe, some people do have negative reactions after exposure to it.
- Sodium Cocoate Summary: This ingredient cleanses your skin. Sodium cocoate is a generic name for the mixture of fatty acid salts derived by reacting coconut oil with sodium hydroxide. Package labels refer to sodium cocoate using the names coconut oil, fatty acids, coco and sodium salts. It is a surfactant and emulsifying agent. Like sodium palmate, it is a critical ingredient in soap making. (AKA) Coconut Oil
- Sodium Palm Kernelate Summary: This ingredient cleanses your skin. (AKA) Palm Kernel Oil
- Sodium Chloride Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. Salt. Used as a hardener not only to harden but lengthen the use.
- Tetrasodium EDTA Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin.
- Tetrasodium Etidronate Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. Tetrasodium ETDA (which stands for ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a water-soluble ingredient used as a “chelator,” which means it binds to certain mineral ions to inactivate them. Through this action, it can prevent the deterioration of cosmetic and personal care products, as it stops the growth of mold and other microorganisms. Tetrasodium EDTA also helps maintain clarity, protect fragrance compounds, and prevent rancidity. One of its main uses it to help personal care products work better in hard water. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that disodium ETDA and related ingredients (including tetrasodium EDTA) were safe as used in cosmetic ingredients and personal care products. The panel also said the ingredient was not well absorbed in the skin. They did note, however, that since the ingredients are penetration enhancers, formulators should be careful when combining these preservatives with other ingredients that may be hazardous if absorbed.
- Maltol Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. It might be used as a fragrance, but maybe not considering the company claims this bar to be unscented. It is a white crystalline powder that is soluble in hot water, chloroform, and other polar solvents. Because it has the odor of cotton candy and caramel, maltol is used to impart a sweet aroma to fragrances.
- Titanium Dioxide Summary: This ingredient does not appear to have any beneficial properties for your skin. It may cause skin irritation. The most important application areas are paints and varnishes as well as paper and plastics, which account for about 80% of the world's titanium dioxide consumption. Other pigment applications such as printing inks, fibers, rubber, cosmetic products and foodstuffs account for another 8%. The rest is used in other applications, for instance the production of technical pure titanium, glass and glass ceramics, electrical ceramics, catalysts, electric conductors and chemical intermediates. It also is in most red-coloured candy.
So there you have it. Some soaps may have fewer ingredients, some even more. I'll stick with the aloe, lye, fat (vegetable origin) ingredient list that we use here at Skinchanted. It doesn't have to be quite so basic though. There are so many essential oils and herbs that offer wonderful scents and skin benefits without the toxins. I should mention that the fat in good soap will be from vegetable oils such as olive oil (We use grade A food version olive oil in all our soaps).
I hope I've inspired you to check the ingredients on your favorite soap and perhaps consider a more healthy, earth friendly soap. Maybe you'd even like to try making your own soap? Even if you don’t buy our soap, please use handmade soap. Your skin will thank you for it.