Do you step out of a refreshing shower only to find that your skin is already dry, stretched and dehydrated? Do you have to slap on body lotions and moisturisers even though you have oily skin? You’re not alone. Traditionally, our grandparents used soapnut powder, rice powder or gram flour to wash off the grime and dust of the day. These ingredients cleaned the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. So what’s different in our showering regime? The soap – or as it should be called – detergent bars.
My soap is a detergent bar? Huh?
Soap is produced through the process of saponification. That is a simple chemical reaction between a fat (oil) and an alkali. The byproduct of this chemical reaction is a salt we call soap that is rich in glycerine. For a product to be labelled a soap by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), it needs to meet certain specific criteria. The quality of the soap is measured by its Total Fatty Matter (TFM). The higher the TFM, better (and gentler) the soap. A soap usually contains between 60-76% of TFM and the commercial soaps contain only 40-60% TFM. This is because commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin from the soap and use it to manufacture body lotions and moisturisers — products your skin desperately need after a shower.
Whoa. So my skin is dry and damaged because of that?
Yes, and no. it is also because of the ingredients. To make soap, you need only two ingredients. Everything else is unnecessary. Numerous other ingredients like phthalates, parabens, sulphates artificial colourants and fragrances are added during commercial manufacturing to make the soap more aesthetic, fragrant and long lasting. These additives are potentially toxins. The damage can be surface level and can also go deeper. The skin is like a sponge. It absorbs micro-particles it comes in contact with and releases it into the bloodstream. With prolonged use of these bathing bars, these toxins get stored in various parts of the body — even the brain. If you’re wondering how much damage it can do to your body in 15 minutes of shower, then ask yourself if there’s any other skin-care product you use more than soap.
How will I know if the soap is handmade?
It will say so on the label. Double check the ingredient list, and ditch any soap that uses artificial colourants and fragrances. Most soapmakers use essential oils for a light fragrance and enhancing the healing properties of the soap. Also look for cold processed soaps — they’re the best soaps you can find.
Okay, but you still haven’t told me why they’re so expensive.
Cold processed (and most hot processed) handmade soaps use only high quality organic carrier oils, butters, essential oils, clays and natural colourants. Even the lye (Sodium hydroxide) used for the process is of the highest purity. Once the soap is poured, hardened and cut, it is left to ‘cure’ for 8-10 weeks. The curing process makes the soap gentler and more effective. All this comes at a cost for the manufacturer. That’s what you pay for. A handmade soap anywhere costs between 150 and 750 depending on the ingredients used.
But they don’t last long.
That’s true. Since there are no additives or fillers, handmade soaps melt faster than the commercial ones. But you can extend their life by storing them properly and completely draining the water from the soap dish after every use.
Handmade soaps are not a luxurious purchase. They are your first step towards conscious and toxin-free living. GoNative showcases a wide range of organic, cold-pressed handmade soaps. Experiment with different soapmakers and choose a soap that matches your skin type and concern. You’ll be proud of your healthy skin in no time.