A non-toxic beauty blog focusing on botanical ingredients, honest reviews, affordable options, lifestyle musings, and more than a touch of humor.
"I now look back fondly at those being the most constructive years for preparing me for life in the real world...You have to have pretty thick skin and you have to have big shoulders." - Tom Curley

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Tribute to Soap

So I know that I've completely neglected this blog and I am truly, deeply sorry. It pains me at night to think of the countless anonymous internet users who may have missed out on my wisdom regarding grapeseed oil or exfoliation techniques. But have no fear! I plan on revving things up in earnest here. Partially because I need an outlet for my obsession with all natural health and beauty, but mostly because I have too much free time on my hands right now. Plus, whenever I try to talk to my wife about this sort of stuff, she gets this odd glazed expression on her face. I'm not sure it's healthy.

To really kick things off with a bang, I am composing a tribute to soap. Soap is amazing. It's simple, effective, and altogether incredible. Don't listen to those stupid Dove commercials.

Contrary to what this Unilever brand would like you to think, soap does not, in fact, leave residue. For those not in the know, many of bars of soap-like material found in grocery stores and other shops (including those most likely used in this commercial) are not actually soap. Rather, they are detergents mixed with lathering agents that strip your skin of healthy oils and our natural protective layer of cells and moisture. These products might be labeled as beauty bars, cleansing bars, facial bars, etc. They may give you that "squeaky clean" feeling in the short term, but in the long run they dry out your skin and cause a number of other maladies like increased oil production, acne and blemishes, wrinkles and fine lines, and generally dull-looking skin. It's good news for the companies though, because then they can hock expensive greasy creams and other snake oil products to us.

While natural, well-made soaps are composed of healthy fats and oils, herbs, milks, and other shiny, happy ingredients, beauty bars like Dove are made of petrochemicals and things like BHT, Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tetrasodium EDTA, and Fragrance. Even if all of those ingredients aren't terribly harmful, they definitely don't sound so fresh and clean, now do they? To top it all off, these "beauty bars" are the ones that actually leave more residue! Here's another way to look at it: soap has been used for thousands upon thousands of years to cleanse our skin. Detergent has always been used for dishwashing and laundering. Only recently has it invaded skin care as a faster, cheaper alternative to soap.

In short, detergent is for dishes, laundry, and kitchen counters. Not for skin.

If you're looking for more info about soap v. detergent, check out these fancy links:

Soap vs Detergent: things you should know from Clearwater Soap Works
The Dry Skin Dilemma & How Detergents Damage Your Health from Clearwater Soap Works
Soaps and Detergents from Healthy Cleaning 101
Soap vs Detergent from Bubble and Bee (great brand btw)
How to Read a Label, Part 2: Soap vs Detergent from Earth Mama Organics
Soap vs. Detergent: What are YOU Soaking In? from Earth Mama Organics

If you want to learn more about what's in beauty bars like Dove and other products, I highly recommend the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database.

You know folks, it's times like these that I'm thankful for delightful soaps like these:

A Wild Soap Bar Yucca Root Shampoo & Body Bar

A Wild Soap Bar Black Willow Bark Shaving Soap

J.R. Liggett's Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo Bar

W3LL PEOPLE Charcoal Soap (sorry, no picture!)

Fleegal Farms Gardener's Bar

Happy Soaping!


  1. Fleegal Farms and JR Liggett all the way! Those are what I have been using recently when I decide it is time to actually wash. I love them.

    What do you think of Dr. Bronner's?

  2. I like Dr. Bronner's a lot for general household usage, but it tends to be a little drying for me to use on my skin. Dunno why. Makes a great shampoo, though!

  3. Sandalwood works against itchy skin, acne, prickly heat and helps with clear complexion....
    Luster Cosmetics