When it comes to personal hygiene, we all fall into one of two camps - those who prefer a body wash and those who prefer a bar of soap. In the pursuit of honesty and openness, I must confess - my goal with this blog post is to convince all of you to join Camp Soap. Every single one of you reading this article. And to sweeten the deal, I've added a coupon code at the end of this post for 20% off all soap bars.
Let's begin by discussing a few myths about soap (that have been forwarded by the massive advertising budgets of the body wash conglomerates).
Soap will dry out your skin. Sure - those mass-produced and inexpensive bars of Ivory or Irish Spring are certainly drying, but that is because the moisturizing glycerin (which occurs naturally in the soap-making process) has been extracted out from the soap and sold as a by-product. Handmade soaps still contain glycerin. This is an important fact because glycerin is a humectant that keeps your skin hydrated - the opposite of dry. Handmade soap also contains oils that moisturize your skin. A well-made bar of soap is very moisturizing and nourishing to your skin.
Soaps leave a film on your skin. This is a popular myth started by an old Dove advertisement and I'm really at a loss to explain what "film" they are referring to. As I explained above, handmade soaps contain glycerin and oils that moisturize your skin. I don't believe these leave "a film" on your skin, but I do believe that no one wants their skin stripped bare of moisturizing oils.
Soap Contains Lye/Soap is harsh on skin. To explain this one, we need to delve a little into the chemistry of soap making. Fact #1. You cannot make soap without lye. When you mix lye with oils or fats, they combine to become soap. Fact #2. When mixed in the correct ratios, there is absolutely no lye remaining in the soap. In the olden days, people lacked the ability to be precise with their measurements so sometimes they added too much lye which resulted in a harsh soap. This soap was fine for washing clothes, but not very good for your skin. Today, the correct ratio of fats to lye is carefully calculated and measured using electronic scales to insure the exact balance. Furthermore, the PH level of the soap is tested to make certain there is no lye remaining in the soap. Fact #3. Handmade soaps are not harsh on your skin - they are very mild and moisturizing.
Now let's consider Body Washes. A Body Wash is not a soap - it is classified as a detergent - which means it's made using chemical surfactants. Have you ever read the ingredients on the bottle and researched what exactly all those big words are? I have. And while I won't go into specific ingredients (because those lists are long), I will state that some are known environmental contaminants. Some are toxic to aquatic life. Some are linked to cancers. And some are linked to reproduction issues. And what do we do with our body wash? We spread it all over our skin, then rinse it down the drain and into our water systems! If you want to delve deeper into the ingredients, a good source of information can be found at the Environmental Working Group https://www.ewg.org/. Also, the David Suzuki Foundation has listed "The Dirty Dozen" common cosmetic ingredient you might want to avoid.
Did you know that the ingredients must be listed in order from the largest ingredient to the smallest? And the very first ingredient on every bottle of every brand of body wash is always "water". Water increases the weight and volume of the product, and increases the amount of fossil fuel needed to transport it from the manufacturers to the retailers. If you care about burning fossil fuels, it is worth taking that into consideration.
And on to the plastic bottle. I hate plastic. I mean - I REALLY hate plastics. You won't find a single Jezebel Apothecary product in a plastic container. But that's just me. I'm a confirmed tree hugger and I know you don't all share my beliefs. Besides, after we rinse our body washes down our drains and into our ecosystems, we can toss the plastic containers into our recycling bins, right? But do they really get recycled? Is there not a limit to how many times plastic can be recycled? Or will those body wash bottles still litter our planet a thousand years from now?
Finally, let's discuss self-care. Doesn't the silky, creamy lather from a good bar of soap feel so much nicer on your skin than a slimy body wash? Isn't a handmade bar of artisan soap more luxurious than a plastic bottle? These ideas fit under what I categorize as "Using the Good China" which means adding and appreciating little luxuries in our everyday life. Not only does it add a bit of loveliness to our daily lives, but it also nurtures our spirits by pampering ourselves a little. We can choose to jump into the shower with a plastic bottle of chemical surfactants, get clean, get dressed, and hurry off to work. Or we can take time to mindfully enjoy bathing and make cleansing a little daily ritual that grounds us and prepares us for the day ahead. With a nice bar of soap.
And as promised - here's the coupon code for a 20% discount off all Jezebel Silk Soaps:
(Sale ends March 4. Limit 4 bars per customer. Online orders only)