Every time I head to the department store or drug store, I am overwhelmed by the number of cosmetic products that have flooded the market today. There are so many options available that making a choice seems like an impossible decision. Take soap, for example. Which one am I supposed to buy? The pretty pink one, the lovely looking translucent one, the one that promises eternal youth or the one that my favorite celebrity endorses? The truth is that buying soap is no longer as simple as it used to be. So while different brands promise different things, I decided to return to the basics and find out what works and what doesn’t.
Soap has been used since 3,000 BC, when the Babylonians first started making soap. Initially, soap was made from natural ingredients using either animal or vegetable fat, extracts from plants such as soapwort, and fragrances, such as cinnamon, lavender, and rose water. But as time passed, soap also evolved and along with so many other things, additional additives such as detergents and petrochemicals were added to it.
At one time, soap was unarguably the best way to cleanse the skin. But, some people tend to suffer from soap allergies. Soap allergies can occur because of a number of reasons. Since many soaps contain formaldehyde, phthalates, phenol or glycerin and fragrances, people allergic to one or any of these ingredients can develop skin problems such as:
- Skin rashes
- Itchy bumps
- Skin redness, scaling
Certain chemicals present in soaps can also trigger:
- Itchy eyes or blurred vision
Also, we all are waking up to the reality that what we put on our skin will get absorbed into our bloodstream. Here are some of the widely used chemicals in soaps that one must avoid:
Diethanolamine (DEA): A wetting and thickening agent that has been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, etc.
Ureas: Can release formaldehyde and cause contact dermatitis, weakened immune system, and joint pain.
Synthetic Colors: These are derived from coal tar and contain heavy metal salts, which cause toxin deposition on the skin and leads to skin irritation and allergies.
Synthetic Fragrance: These contain phthalates that have been known to tamper with the endocrine system. Avoid soaps that have fragrances that are not derived from natural and essential oils. Going fragrance-free is also a safe bet.
You need to be label smart even when you are picking up a “natural” or “organic” soap off the shelf. You need to be absolutely sure that none of these potentially dangerous agents are lurking in disguise. Do thorough ingredient searches and carefully read labels before you pick your soap. Go green when buying soap and look for organic, natural, and non-toxic products. Be good to your skin and stay safe.
What’s your soap story? Write in and tell us.