By: Alexis Atkins
When it comes to bath time, there’s no debate. Shower gels are infinitely more popular than bar soap.
It’s crazy to think that bar soap was once a household staple but the data doesn't lie. In a study featured by CNN, Mintel Group (a marketing research group), found that bar soap sales declined by 5% between 2010 and 2015.
Although that percentage may seem small, the fall in sales for bar soap continues to grow as time passes. The main reason that bar soap is remaining on the shelves and less in our homes is because bar soaps are associated with numerous negative connotations. The biggest misconception being that bar soaps are unsanitary.
The truth is that body washes have their fair share of cons that often go unnoticed. Have you considered the environmental impact of body washes? Or what about the number of toxic chemicals that go into our body washes?
In this post, I am going to break down how toxic body soaps can be, and the benefits of switching to natural bar soap.
Bar Soap Myths Debunked
As previously mentioned, bar soap sales declined because there are several misconceptions about bar soap.
The top three complaints about bar soaps are:
- It’s unsanitary.
- It’s inconvenient.
- It’s for the older generation.
The truth is that none of these complaints hold any weight. For example, in the same study highlighted by CNN, “48% of consumers think bar soaps can be a haven for bacteria and other decidedly unclean stuff.” However, although it’s possible to find a small amount of bacteria on soap, it’s highly unlikely to be harmful. Furthermore, the key to keeping bar soap sanitary is to always allow it to air dry in between uses so that it’s not moist for extended periods of time.
In regards to bar soap being inconvenient, it’s a matter of preference. Of course, bar soap has to be lathered in your hands or with a washcloth before you can wash your body. But that’s no more of a hassle than having to flip or twist the top of a shower gel bottle.
Last but not least, hygiene is not an ageist. Bar soap is designed for everyone to use no matter what age.
False assumptions aside, no one in these studies seemed to question the contents of their favorite soaps and how they can be jeopardizing their health.
What Makes Traditional Bar Soap Toxic?
Whether you shower or bathe, cleansing our bodies is often considered an intimate and sacred time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to include anything toxic in my skincare routine.
But the truth is, every day we unconsciously use our buying power to purchase personal care products that are formulated with potentially harmful chemicals. This becomes even more important when it comes to picking our bar soaps because we rub them onto our bodies and our washcloths.
Some of the most common toxic chemicals found in many bar soaps include:
Fragrance: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that despite many companies using a small number of natural essences for their fragrances, many also use something upwards of a dozen other synthetic chemicals to produce those popular scents that we love. In many cases, those fragrance cocktails are potentially hazardous and detrimental to our health. To make matters even worse, fragrance formulations are considered a trade secret under the Fair Package and Labeling Act of 1966. By law, companies are not obligated to share the ingredients in their fragrance. In many cases, synthetic fragrance cocktails can lead to asthma, severe migraines, allergies, skin irritations and more.
Paraffin: Paraffin is derived from petroleum. But when it comes to skincare, paraffin is known to soften the skin which is why it’s common in bath and body products. It also provides a slip so that things like bar soap and liquid soap can glide easily over the body. Even though it can be found in plenty of name brand soaps, paraffin is linked to several health concerns. Paraffin has been shown to cause clogged pores and skin irritations.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfates: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant often used in soap to produce a foaming lather when combined with water. It is also the reason that we feel “squeaky clean” after using soaps with SLS. However, that clean feeling is SLS stripping our skin of its natural oils. This leads to additional minor to moderate skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema and dry scalp.
Titanium Dioxide: Titanium Dioxide is found in everything from paint to body soap. It’s added to soap for its ability to lighten the color of traditional bar soaps. Although this chemical is generally acknowledged as safe for use, there are concerns from agencies like The European Chemicals Agency about the possible carcinogenic properties of this ingredient when inhaled.
Luckily, there are a variety of non-toxic soaps that completely avoid ingredients like the ones mentioned above.
Benefits of Natural Bar Soap
Unlike traditional bar soap, natural bar soap is derived from plants. Natural bar soaps contain plant-based oils like olive, palm, coconut and shea butter as the soap base to eliminate carcinogenic ingredients from bath time.
blade + bloom is an all-natural apothecary that specializes in plant-based soaps. All of their soaps are made in small batches to ensure that each soap is made using high-quality ingredients. Instead of using potentially harmful ingredients like titanium dioxide, blade + bloom uses olive, coconut and sustainable palm and castor oils for their incredibly moisturizing bar soaps. Additionally, blade + bloom fragrances their natural soaps with essential oils and dried flowers as opposed to using undisclosed chemical mixtures to scent their soaps like large companies.
The best part is that these soaps are packaged in recyclable and reusable packages. So unlike the 8 million metric tons of plastic that end up in the ocean every year, these soaps are eco-conscious.
Don’t think that bar soap is only limited to facial and body use. Natural bar soap enthusiasts have expanded to also include shampoo bars in their product assortment. Bask and Bloom has an amazing non-toxic shampoo bar with all the same benefits as traditional shampoo, but without the risk of chemical skin and scalp irritation.
Still not ready to part ways with your beloved liquid shower gel? Check out our bath and body shop here to learn about more non-toxic skincare products.