When Your Soap Is Not Real Soap.

They come in disguise. Beauty bar, body bar, cleansing bar, body wash or even deodorising bar. They even look like one, smell like one and lather like one, but guess what, most store-bought soaps are not real soaps.

What is soap?

In the world of soap making, soap actually has a very specific definition. According to FDA, true soap is composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids” –  the material you get when you combine fats or oils with an alkali, such as lye.

In layman’s term, when fats or oils mix with lye (an alkali) and water in the right proportions, a chemical process called saponification takes place to produce soap. It is this chemical process that defines the true nature of soap. If a “soap” is not made from saponification, then it is not a soap.

To get around this technicality, companies get creative and use a wide range of names such as beauty bar, cleansing bar or deodorising bar to substitute for a product that looks a bar of soap, smells like a bar of soap but is not a bar of soap.

As stated on the FDA website, there are actually very few true soaps on the market today unless you seek out soap makers who specialise in handmade soaps.

Did you say … detergent?

So if the majority of the “soaps” on the market are not real soaps, what are they?

We are sorry to say most store-bought “soaps” are made of detergents and synthetic ingredients. They are also known as syndet bar – a term derived from synthetics and detergents.

While it is a bit shocking for the uninitiated, but if you think about it, it makes perfect commercial sense. 

Handmade soaps are not cheap. Counting the cost of high-quality oils and fats, labour and time involved, handmade soaps can be pricey. So to maximise profits, many businesses use chemical and synthetic ingredients to manufacture their syndet bars.

Do these synthetic beauty bars work? Yes, they do.

They work really well removing oils. In fact, they are great for laundry and dishwashing. The problem is they are not too kind to our skin as they are also good at stripping oils from our skin. This is the reason why our skin often feels dry after using commercial bars.

So what makes handmade soaps special?

There are many benefits of using handmade soaps. Because of the ingredients used, handmade soaps are kinder to our skin compared to store-bought bars.

  • Handmade soaps contain glycerine.

If you don’t know it already, glycerine is gold. It is a humectant that maintains water balance by attracting moisture to our skin. During the commercial process, glycerine is removed from the manufacturing process and is saved for other more expensive personal care products. Bars without glycerine are drying and can be harsh to the skin.

Handmade soaps, during their manufacturing process, naturally produce and retain glycerine. This is why handmade soaps produce rich and luxurious lather and less drying, making them wonderful for daily use.

  • Handmade soaps are gentle to the skin.

Depending on types of fats and oils used to make them, handmade soaps are milder compared to commercially produced beauty bars because of their natural nourishing ingredients.

For example, soaps like Earth On Fire Moisturising Artisan Soap contain natural ingredients such as mango butter and shea butter in their formulation. These natural ingredients are nourishing and gentle to the skin..

How do l know my soap is real?

Take a close look at the label. Does your label come with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate? If yes, chances are your bar contains synthetic ingredients and detergents – a good indication that you may not be holding a true soap. 

On the other hand if you see ingredients such as sodium hydroxide (also known as lye) on your label, you are looking at one of the essential ingredients of making true soaps.

Lesson of the day

It may look like one, smells like one or even lathers like one, but it may not be a real bar of soap. Take a few seconds to check out the label to understand what you are buying – true soap or a bar of detergents and synthetic chemicals.

We hope this article has made choosing your skincare a little bit easier. Do you have a question or two about natural skincare yourself? Send us your questions and let us pull our collective brainpower together and help answer the question. 

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