The Good and the Bad of Soap

Why use "fake soap" when natural soap feels so good? A great question posed by our friends at A Wild Soap Bar...

How To Tell "Fake Soap" from Real Soap

Fake soap is defined as all those mostly synthetic, so called "soaps" that are full of harsh detergents and petro chemicals...the ones that fill the shelves of so many stores today. This includes the pretty clear (or sometimes opaque) "glycerin" soaps (many of them are made with cheap, harsh synthetic soap bases), most of the commercial shower gels and liquid soaps on the market, the highly touted "hypoallergenic" soaps recommended by main stream dermatologists (the word is meaningless), virtually all of those rock hard triple milled ooh-la-la overpriced French soaps (they're usually drying!), and even many of the supposedly "natural" soaps found at your local health food store! Check out the ingredients (if they bother to give you any) and you'll see just how many cheap oils & animal fats and synthetic petro-chemicals their so called "soaps" really contain. Don't buy into it!

You can't add a pinch of herbs and a natural sounding name and make fake synthetic soap real. Read labels carefully, ask questions, inform yourself. Even if you've been using these harsh commercial soaps for years, after you read this page and try our natural soaps, you'll know just how much better and safer your bathing experience can be!

Armed with a little bit of knowledge, real handcrafted natural soap is fairly easy to spot. It should say "soap" on the label. By law, fake soaps aren't supposed to use that term so they call it a "beauty bar" or a "moisturizing bar" or some other nonsense. Look for soaps with cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil as a main ingredient which is rich in antioxidants and revitalizing skin nutrients. Most commercial soaps contain very little or none because it's expensive, and those who do often use pomace olive, a cheaper inferior grade of oil extracted with harmful chemical solvents. Is your skin worth the very best? We think so!

You can use the microwave test to distinguish real soap from glycerine soap a.k.a. melt and pour soap or craft soap. A melt and pour soap will begin to liquefy after 10-15 seconds in the microwave. (They don't last very long in your tub or shower either.) Cold process soap won't melt that easily. Most of the melt and pour soap bases don't have as much skin care value as cold process soaps and many of them (especially the cheap ones) contain harsh and sometimes even harmful ingredients. I've got to give credit where credit is due though, there are some decent melt and pour soap bases out there now, and some of these beautiful soaps are miniature works of art, so it depends on what you're looking for. If you want superior skin care, choose cold process soap.

Avoid fragrance oils, perfume oils, potpourri oils, and nature identical oils which are all different words for synthetic fragrance oils. Many of them contain unknown or toxic ingredients, they pollute our environment, and they're one of the biggest causes of skin irritation and skin sensitivities today. Just because a product has a botanical sounding name does NOT mean it came from a plant either. Cranberry, watermelon, peach, pear, apple, strawberry, fig, pomegranate, and many others (the list is long) are synthetic scents made in a laboratory. Likewise, many soaps supposedly containing vanilla, jasmine, rose, lemon verbena, and sandalwood are also made with synthetic scents because the real essential oils, absolutes, or concretes are very expensive or even endangered.

The bottom line? If an oil doesn't have a latin botanical name, then it's not a true essential oil and it has no aromatherapeutic benefits. Ask the soapmaker what they use. Go to the health food store and smell the real essential oils. After a while, your nose will know the difference. Look for soaps made with essential oils which are extracted from plants that are safe and therapeutic when used properly. They're more expensive, but well worth it in terms of your health and the health of our planet. If the label just says "fragrance", "perfume", or "parfum" it's probably a fake synthetic scent. Steer clear.

Other synthetic additives to avoid are FD&C colors, dyes, antibacterial triclosan & triclocarban, EDTA, TEA, DEA, sodium laureth and sodium lauryl sulfates, to name a few. They're not kind to your skin, your health or our environment.

The real test will be when you use a well made natural soap. Notice I said well made, because all handmade soaps are certainly NOT created equal! If it dries your skin out or makes it feel tight or itchy, it may not be real or it may not be properly made. On the other hand, there's nothing like high quality, glycerin rich, handcrafted natural olive oil soap to leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and nourished. So if you're looking for skin loving soap, take the time to seek out natural handmade soap from AWSB. It may cost more, but you get what you pay for, and your skin will thank you for it, I promise.

So What About Goat's Milk Soap?

We like a good goat's milk soap as much as the next guy.  But some companies want you to believe that their soaps are made mostly of goat's milk or that goat's milk somehow dramatically lowers the pH of their handmade soap to make it more gentle than others or that only goat's milk soaps are moisturizing and mild. Nothing could be further from the truth! While goat's milk is a terrific ingredient to include in handmade soaps, you cannot make real soap without fats, oils or butters. (Case in point. If you look at the ingredient list, you'll notice that goat's milk is never listed as the first ingredient. If it is, they're lying.) And ALL true soaps are alkaline by nature, but that's OK. Your skin adjusts really quickly after using an alkaline soap product and in the end, no real harm is done. Plain goat's milk may have a pH level that's very near to skin, but once you combine it with fats/oils/butters and lye, the pH level changes. Now admittedly, goat's milk IS super moisturizing, and that's why we add it to our wild carrot soap and our honey oat fragrance free soap, but it's no more so than a myriad of other natural ingredients used by handmade soapmakers. Don't be fooled by the silly notion that goat's milk soap is somehow superior to all others. That simply isn't true.


Why Antibacterial Soaps Are A Bad Idea

Triclosan is the antibacterial agent commonly found in antibacterial soaps, lotions, toothpastes, acne products, cosmetics and other personal care products. It is classified as a pesticide by the EPA and as a drug by the FDA. The EPA considers it a possible risk to human health and to the environment. Triclosan is a known endocrine disruptor and a suspected carcinogen. Its overuse has contributed to bacterial resistance in the same way that widespread overuse of antibiotics has. Triclosan does not belong in the personal care products that we use everyday. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), there is no evidence that suggests that using antibacterial soap works any more effectively than plain soap and water. 

Care & Feeding of Natural Handmade Bar Soaps

Since our handmade bar soap is in its pure and natural state, it doesn't contain any synthetic preservatives or artificial hardeners. It doesn't need to. With just a little care and feeding, you can prolong the life of your AWSB bar soap and it will serve you very well.

  • Don't let your soap drown in water.
  • Feed your soap plenty of fresh air between uses.
  • Store your soap on a well drained soap dish.
  • Use a natural wash cloth or loofah to extend its life.
  • Use your fresh new soap within 6 months of purchase.
  • Store unused soap in a dark cool place like a lingerie drawer or linen closet.