The choice of which soap to use seems harmless but be aware that human skin is porous and absorbs whatever contacts it. Continual exposure to chemicals causes the body to store them in body fat and sometimes the brain. With the accumulation of too many toxins, the body becomes ill.
The planet also suffers when chemicals from soaps wash down drains ending up in water supplies. Studies like one in 2009 by UK's Royal Society of Chemistry reported synthetic toxic chemicals like phthalates and parabens from soap and other healthcare products made it through water purification plant filters into streams, rivers and lakes.
Some things to know in choosing the best soaps:
- Opt for local organic bar soaps. Buy natural soaps at places like the local farmers' market and avoid chemicals like triclosan which has been shown to be a hormone disruptor.
- Choose vegetable soaps that contain ingredients like shea butter, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, glycerine and aloe.
- Look for the word "soap" instead of names like beauty bars, body bars or moisturizing bars because they are detergents and cannot legally call themselves soap. Synthetic lathering agents and harsh chemicals have replaced the valuable ingredients like glycerine produced during soapmaking and they are sold to other companies for lotions and moisturizers.
- Any plants used in the soap should say certified organic.
- No synthetic chemicals like artificial colors and fragrances should be listed.
- For scented bars, organic essential oils should be used for fragrance.
- For colored bars, natural organic colorants should be used.
- Look for the ingredient Bentonite clay which has a strong negative electromagnetic charge that when activated by water acts like a magnet pulling metals and toxins from the skin. It also affects the skin's pH and provides vital minerals. It is added for increasing soap lather. Read Bentonite Clay 101 for the different types and which ones to use.
- Use soaps that have the least amount of packaging and avoid any plastic bottle body washes.
- Avoid "melt and pour" soaps, usually transparent glycerine-based soap.
- Avoid "hot process" soaps that use heat after the soap-making has occurred.
- Choose "cold process" soap, or CP soap, which takes the longest and produces the quality soap combining oils or fats and lye. The lye creates glycerine as it interacts with the oils or fats and its causticity is removed. Which oils or fats determine how well the soap lathers and its hardness or softness.
What is best for your skin will probably not be found in a supermarket aisle. Consider making your own soaps with many recipes on the Internet such as The Natural Soap Chef . Soap that is best for the face may not be the same as what is best for the rest of the body.
Or if Brad Pitt is your idol and you really want to be kind to the planet, avoid using soap altogether. Watch the video to see what he is using in place of soap and how it is working out for him.