If you are like most people, you believe that bar soap -- the oldest cleanser around - is harmless. So, you may be quite surprised to learn that today's popular commercial soaps contain synthetic compounds that are loaded with health risks.
Two Potentially Risky Synthetic Compounds
While there are a number of chemical concerns, there are two synthetic components in commercial soaps you need to be most concerned with: 1) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and 2) Triclosan; Most of the commercial bar soaps (and liquid and other forms) on the market today are composed of these and other chemicals.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
One of the most dangerous chemicals being added to virtually every personal care product you can imagine, including soap, shampoo, conditioner, and cosmetics, is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS is an anionic surfactant and the most commonly used chemical in car soaps, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and personal care products. SLS has been found to have many side effects:
Eye, skin, and mouth irritations
May be harmful for the brain, heart, spleen, and liver
Chronic irritant contact dermatitis
Compromising the overall integrity of your skin barrier, rendering it open to exposure to bacteria
May actually harm cell function
Can corrode the hair follicle and cause hair loss
The first antibacterial liquid hand soap exploded onto the market in 1995, claiming to be ten times more effective at eliminating disease carrying germs than regular liquid soap. In the eleven years since, antibacterial soaps have become a 16 billion dollar a year industry, adding shampoo, dishwashing detergent, toothpaste, and various household cleaners to the "antibacterial" list.
Today, 75% of liquid soaps and over 30% of bar soaps in the US are antibacterial, all containing the synthetic chemical triclosan.
Triclosan is the main ingredient in antibacterial products. The intention of triclosan is to prevent bacteria from reproducing, limiting the number of bacteria on your skin, thereby decreasing illnesses.
Yet a study published in March 2004 found that people who used antibacterial soaps and cleaners developed cold and allergy symptoms as often as those who used regular soaps and cleaners, offering little more protection than ordinary soap against the most common germs.
Current research is showing us that if the widespread use of anti-bacterial soap continues in such an overused frenzy, we could be faced with super germs we cannot get rid of.
What the Antibacterial Soap Makers Do Not Tell Us
The triclosan in antibacterial soaps does NOT discriminate between good and bad bacteria. But we need good bacteria to survive, to help defend us against bad, harmful bacteria. Our immune systems are being left increasingly vulnerable with the use of antibacterial soaps.
Children especially should be exposed to some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their immune systems, but the primary marketing target of the commercial antibacterial soaps is parents with young children. Children who are not exposed to these common bacteria -- because they are being wiped out by antibacterial soap -- may be more prone to allergies and asthma.
Numerous studies have also found that the ongoing use of triclosan:
Has been shown to kill your skin cells
Dries your skin
Can aggravate skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis
Does nothing to prevent most illnesses, since colds, flues and more are typically viral (and antibacterial only kills bacteria, not viruses)
Dioxin, a highly carcinogenic may be formed during the manufacturing process of triclosan, making it a likely contaminant.
Finally, triclosan has now been found in 3 out of 5 women's breast milk. It is also one of the most detected compounds in rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, often in high concentrations, and is highly toxic to a number of different types of algae. This could have very destructive effects on aquatic ecosystems!
Most Commercially Made Soaps:
Dry the Skin: Due to Alkali Salts and Lower or No Glycerin Content
Contain: Preservatives, & Alcohols
Have Possible Allergenic Concerns
Can Be Unkind to Environment
Can be Toxic
Are made with sodium tallowate (hydrogenated tallow using sodium hydroxide, water, and animal tallow) - it is cheap, processes quickly and produces a hard bar of soap.
Strip away your skin's natural moisturizers.
Use over 5,000 chemicals in personal care products.
Are usually made in huge batches (250,000 pounds or more at a time)
Remove their glycerin adding fillers including synthetic detergents
The itchiness from these soaps is also due to the excess alkali left in the soap
These are some of the most common health symptoms that studies have linked to ingredients found in common commercial soaps and commercial personal care products: