Natural vs Unnatural Soap

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YDB

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Hello!

This may be a weird or simple question, but I’m looking for a scientific answer possibly. I’ve been making natural soaps for a while now and I know that it’s better than soaps loaded with harmful chemicals and artificial ingredients, but I’m trying to find a good explanation as to why it is. I only use essential oils because I know fragrances are carcinogenic (Since it’s washed off almost immediately is that still considered true? Is smelling it what makes it bad)?. Considering some of the oils’ properties in natural soap don’t survive the lye (not including the SF) and the soap only stays on skin for a couple minutes, how would you try to explain to someone why it’s better?

I’ve just been reading online that since it’s immediately washed off the soaps with chemicals don’t really harm the skin, not sure if that’s correct.
 
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Arimara

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Seriously speaking- EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals. Water is a chemical, the oils you use for soap are chemicals, and those EOs that people mistakenly tout as safer to use have several different chemical compounds in there, some of which are actually more dangerous that FOs in higher amounts. There's no escaping chemicals- all you can do is educate yourself on which ones are safer than others and which ones are detrimental to use (please remember, even high amounts of water can kill you and I do not mean via drowning).

Please do not take this as an attack on you- I have not intention to. However, I am not one to let misinformation go unchecked on my level at the least. As far as your question is concerned, as long as the soap is properly made and cured, soap does not harm skin. Of course, there are cases where soap can do a bit of damage. If a soap is lye heavy or improperly formulated, no matter what ingredients you use, they can harm your skin.
 

atiz

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Granted what Arimara said, your question may be why lye-based soap is better than one with synthetic detergents. In general, it may not be, and whether it is or isn't will depend a lot on your skin type.
I know people who have all kinds of allergic reactions to syndets but can tolerate lye-based soap. In the winter, I can't use lye-based soap often because no matter how gentle it is, it really dries out my skin, so I use syndets mostly. Some people can get away with using lye-based soap on their hair; some people (including me) can't. Lye-based soap is not necessarily better; it's just different.

There seem to be some tendency to regard lye soap as more natural because at least most of the ingredients are more familiar (a lot of people know what olive oil is but not necessarily know what cocamidopropyl betaine is). But again, olive oil is also a chemical (it in the sense of being a chemical compound), just like everything else. And while olive oil may be something that you "come across" in nature (well, not quite but close enough), the same is not necessarily true of the lye most soap makers use.

It seems that FOs are quite strictly regulated for safety. I do not think any bath-safe FO is "bad for you" just because you smell it. Whether you use EOs or FOs or both is a choice, but there do not seem to be any proven beneficial property of either.
 

IrishLass

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Ditto all the above. I have found that whether lye-based soap is better or not, truly depends on the person using it and their particular skin type. Even if properly made and formulated with a specific fatty acid profile in order to be as gentle as possible to those with more sensitive skin types, some folks' skin still cannot handle lye-based soap, but yet they do remarkably very well with synthetic detergent soap (syndets).

Speaking only for myself, I find that the term 'natural' is very overused out there in the marketplace.......and is more often than not so misused that I tend to cynically roll my eyes whenever I hear it. lol I probably should say at this point that I like to stick to the dictionary meaning of 'natural', i.e., "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind". As a result I don't view the lye-based soap I make as being natural, because the lye I use is made or caused by humankind.....and the oils/fats I use had to be extracted and/or rendered and purified by humankind from their source plants or seeds or animals. When people ask me if my soap is natural, I like to say, 'No, it's handmade by me in my kitchen'. :)


IrishLass :)
 

YDB

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Thanks for the responses! I’ve been staying away from FOs because I’ve heard so many negative things about them, but if it really doesn’t make a difference (being carcinogenic or unhealthy) I suppose I can experiment with them.
 

KiwiMoose

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Natural is in the brain of the beholder. I generally use the term 'handmade' for my soap which implies that it's more 'natural' than commercial soap. I think everyone has covered answers to your questions. I started out only using Eos because I wanted my soap too be more 'natural', but when I discovered that the smells don't 'stick' and also how much they cost given the quantities I was using, I moved to FOs.
In some of my research I noted that some chemicals - such as cocamidopropyl betaine - can exacerbate eczema and skin allergies which is why I guess people find commercial products a bit harsh. But people can equally be sensitive to 'natural' oils such as olive, nuts etc. No matter what you do - there will always be something that someone can't tolerate. Just find what works well for you and run with it.
 

Cellador

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I'd also like to mention that your skin is your body's barrier from the outside world. It's not a sponge and will not/cannot "soak-up" everything that's put onto it (how much water weight would we gain after a bath or shower if it all absorbed?). Yes, certain chemicals can and will get into the blood system but usually not a significant amount for a rinse off product.
 

Arimara

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In some of my research I noted that some chemicals - such as cocamidopropyl betaine - can exacerbate eczema and skin allergies which is why I guess people find commercial products a bit harsh. But people can equally be sensitive to 'natural' oils such as olive, nuts etc. No matter what you do - there will always be something that someone can't tolerate. Just find what works well for you and run with it.
I can't tell you how many shampoos I had to go through find a line that did not make my head (and body) itch. My daughter would be considered weird by the soap bloggers in that she has been doing best with a commercial brand (Not Dove) that is marketed for sensitive skin. The unscented soaps I made/bought for her were to harsh for her.
 

penelopejane

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Lots of things in soap make me itch all over generally until I wash them off with other soap but sometimes that doesn't cure my reaction: high amounts of coconut oil in soap, peppermint EO (this also caused me to have breathing difficulties for ages after a shower), spirulina and lots of other "natural" things.
I am better off using FOs than EOs.
I don't think the fact that soap is a wash off product makes any additive or ingredient "safe".
It all depends on the user and I am sure I'm not the only one who has weird reactions to wash off products.
 

CatahoulaBubble

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Essential oils can be just as harmful as fragrance oils. Just because somthing is natural doesn't mean it's not harmful. Natural just means it's found in nature which means that soap itself is not natural. And everything is made of chemicals and has the potential to be harmful. There's really no way to claim that your soap is all natural or that it's chemical free.
 

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