When it comes to skin care, soap is one of the most important decisions you can make. What happens when you apply a chemical to your skin? It is absorbed and taken into your body. You know this from the patches doctors use in treating certain conditions. Yet we continue to use soap that is damaging to our skin and our body. Take a close look and see what ingredients are in soap and if they sound like they are good for skin care. We will look at a soap on the commercial market that claims to be a beauty bar, break it down, see what it contains and if it is good for skin care or not.
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate: This is a chemically synthesized detergent that is used in soap as a detergent, emulsifier and wetting agent. Some MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) list this ingredient as a medium to mild skin irritant. While it may clean you, including the oils you need on and in your skin, it can cause skin irritation and may dry the skin. So this does not appear to be very good for skin care.
Stearic Acid: This is produced by treating animal fat with water under high pressure and temperature and is used as a hardener in soap. It is deemed safe by MSDS and the FDA, however some studies have shown it to cause problems in people with allergies. This ingredient does not appear to help or harm with skin care but it can intensify allergic conditions.
Sodium Tallowate: This is produced when a solution of lye and water are mixed with animal fat. Normally cattle fat is used, however other animal fats may be used. This process is called saponification and creates what we normally consider soap. It is cheap, readily available and deemed safe by all government agencies. There are some recent studies that have suggested all the antibiotics, growth hormones and other things feed to cattle are deposited into the animal’s fat, possibly causing allergic reactions and other problems. Sodium Tallowate does contain large amounts of glycerol (glycerin) but in commercially prepared soap products this is normally removed before it is used in the soap and sold as additives for skin care products. This additive could be beneficial or harmful to your skin care and your body according to what raw materials were used and if the glycerol is removed or not.
Sodium Palmitate: This is produced the same manner as sodium tallowate with the saponification process of adding lye and water to coconut palm oil. It is deemed safe to use. Palm oil is a great soapmaking oil but must be used in the proper proportions or it will dry the skin.
Sodium Isethionate: It is an amphoteric detergent used in detergent bar soaps. It makes a dense lather in addition to the lather made by the soap. It is mild on the skin, and non-drying. It works equally well in soft or hard water. There is no known health risk and it is deemed safe for use. It appears to be good for skin care.
Water: Water is used in combination with lye to combine with the plant or animal fats to cause the saponification process.
Lauric Acid, Sodium Cocoate and Sodium Palm Kernelate: These are naturally occurring acids found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil and are produced by the saponification process. All three produce a hard soap with lots of fluffy lather that cleans well but can be drying to the skin. It is good for cleaning the skin but not great for skin care and should be used in very small amounts.
Sodium Stearate: This is normally produced in a laboratory and according to numerous MSDS “Skin contact may cause irritation with symptoms of redness, swelling, itching and pain.” also the MSDS states “This product is hazardous under the criteria of the Federal OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200.”. Good for skin care. I do not think so.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: This is a laboratory made synthetic compound that some studies have found to be an allergen in fact; Cocamidopropyl Betaine was voted 2004 allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It is used as an emulsifying agent to physically interact with both oil and water stabilizing them. Is it good for skin care? Does not look like it but we do know that it is an allergen for some people.
Sodium Chloride: This is plain ordinary table salt and it is used as a thickening agent. Think about wetting your skin and rubbing table salt into it. If that would not dry it out I do not know what would. So is it good for skin care? No.
Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate: Both of these are basically the same. Another laboratory made synthetic compound that is used as a chelating agent and preservative. It holds and binds metals to it so it helps in removing soap scum. There are some clams that it very easily penetrates the skin and carries these metals into your body or when entering the body is soaks up the metals your body needs to complete the bodies processes. It is deemed to be safe by all government agencies but there are a lot of independent tests that do not think so. So is it good for skin care, no it does nothing to help the skin.
Maltol: This is a naturally occurring organic compound that is used primarily as a flavor enhancer. It is found in the bark of larch tree, in pine needles, and in roasted malt where it gets its name. It seems they use this as an odor masking ingredient. The MSDS has this to say “Chronic Effects on Humans: May cause damage to the following organs: blood, kidneys, bladder, gastrointestinal tract. Other Toxic Effects on Humans: Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant). Routes of Entry: Absorbed through skin, Eye contact, Inhalation.” It does not sound as if it is good for skin care or the general heath of your body.
Titanium Dioxide: This is a natural occurring oxide however there is a lot of chemicals that must be mixed with it to make the pure form that is used. It is used in soap making to give the pure white color to the soap. Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ”possibly carcinogen to humans”. So is it good for skin care? Not at all.
Our skin is the largest of all human organs and we know that what we apply to it will wind up in our body. So can we trust these ingredients to keep us healthy or should we expect that they may contribute to some health problems? I will let you be the judge of that; but a lot of them are not good for skin care.