There is nothing like holding a fine bar of artisanal soap; the perfect weight, the herbaceous scent suggestive of early morning dew resting upon petals in the wilderness, and then the ritual of cleansing coupled with that small moment in time that is just for you....it can be a magical experience, indeed. Now speak to a soap maker, and the experience even deepens: selecting the oils, the mixing, the creative touch of herbs and colors....it's a fine work of love and art.
And for these very reasons my love affair with soap is trying so hard to turn me into a soap maker.
But unfortunately, soap is not good for our skin! Not even the ones made with moisturizing oils and rich butters. As proponents of soap would like to have you believe, those ingredients are not added to moisturize but simply because it is part of the chemical process of making soap. Now, in all fairness, some of those ingredients do assuage the intensity of the lye; and when added at the just the right time, these oils and butters can have a slight moisturizing effect, rendering some soaps softer than others. Whether your skin can withstand soap or not here are a few more things you should be aware of when using soap.
1. Soap in it's very essence, is drying to your skin. Soap strips away our natural oils (lipids )form our skin, damaging the stratus corneum (the outer most layer of our epidermis--the layer that protects us from the harsh elements around us). You may think this is great if you have oily skin or acne, but what happens is that stripping oils from your skin sets your body into sebum overdrive, which is not what you want when you have oily skin.
2. Soap kills our good bacteria. The good bacteria is the bacteria that helps us fight the bad bacteria to protect us from infections, illness etc. As soap strips away our natural oils, it also removes the antimicrobial properties found in these oils that work with our immune system to protect our overall health. Think of it this way, our gut houses our immune system, and so does our skin.
3. That acid mantle is precious! Your acid mantle is the thin acidic layer over your skin that protects it from foreign invaders like bad bacteria, viruses, and environmental chemicals. Our body has put several thing in place to work in unison to protect bodies. We are quite amazing! Sadly, soap strips that away, too. That is why when clients ask me about using soap on their face, I cringe because while it may be hard to see the negative effects of soap on your body, it's very easy to see it on your face. Here is why: soap is very alkaline and brings down (if not completely strips) the acidy level of our acid mantle---on our face, the acidity level must remain high (low pH of 4-5 whereas on the body it can have a pH of 5-6). When this happens, our skin becomes prone to breakouts as it is now vulnerable to harsh outside elements.
4. Lastly, It is said by some experts that soap inhibits the absorption of vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin. Some specialists say that it takes 48hrs for vitamin D to enter our blood stream and with the removal of lipids during this time, it can prevent absorption. It's worth considering but do note that there is not ample evidence of this just yet.
So the question yet remains: To Soap or Not to Soap? There are quite a few who would say to just stop soaping! Your naturally occurring good bacteria will be live and well, and will be able to fight the things you think you are fighting off with soap. Trust me, our bodies have it all set up perfectly to eliminate bad smell. We can certainly help it by washing vigorously with water alone, or by using sea salt scrubs, light loofah etc. I have several DIY face scrub recipes, too.
Soap is a hard thing to turn away from, I know. So at least start by reducing how often you use it. Or use it for the sake of touch and smell by applying it to your feet, underarms and behind the ears. And if you must, use it as you would normally but then be sure to replenish your skin with a nourishing body oil, and preferably one that has vitamin D (of course I have this!) But note, this will not help address the problem of low immunity.
What is your favorite soap? What do you love about it? I challenge you to go without using soap for 4 days. The first couple days may feel weird but your body will adjust. Please tell me how it was for you!
If you would like to read ore articles on any of the points I listed, you should visit this blogger's website. The author provides great sources and gives some scientific backing on some of the points I mentioned.
Thank you for visiting our website and blog. Through this medium, I hope to teach, enlighten, and inspire you about Mother Nature's wonders so that you can discover the true value healthy living. I want to foster a love for Nature so that we, as a collective, can take a stance to protecting our Earth as we indulge in the beautifying remedies Nature has in store for us!