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Detergents Vs. Soap: Why Your Skin Is Oily, Dry, or Both

In every natural grocery store I go into I see mostly fake soap. FAKE as in not real soap. Not saponified fats and sodium hydroxide to make a soap molecule. But rather surfactant bars.

Almost any bar of "soap" that’s mass produced is typically a surfactant bar. If you notice these "soaps" aren't allowed to put the word soap on their label. They aren't soap. They'll call themselves "Cleansing Bars" or "Facial Bars" or just about anything but soap. And then some of the big ones run national television ads with the message that real soap is bad. Ridiculous misinformation!

So then what are they?

Surfactant bars are cheap detergents (grease strippers). Soap on the other hand is more expensive to make. You have to start with natural oils that are good for the skin and others that make nice lather - like Coconut Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, and Kukui Seed Oil, and we all know they’re somewhat expensive.

But you know what is cheap? Sodium Laurel Sulfate, essentially a lathering agent and grease stripper that does a great job of obliterating everything on your skin.

So it's cheap and it's not soap but it "cleans" and so companies have been putting this in their "soap" for years and spending millions in marketing so now we think that's what soap is. But it's not soap it's a detergent.

As more people become aware of the nasty side effects of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate companies are coming up with variations of it with slightly different names like Sodium Lareth Sulfate. But they're all detergents-pretty much the same.

hand-made artisan soap

Most real soap bars are soft enough to break in half with your hands.

Soap actually has a very specific definition with specific ingredients. It's made of fat (from animals or in our case plant and seed oils) and sodium hydroxide.

They come together in a wonderful process called Saponification to create a new molecular structure we call soap.

So why should I care what is real soap vs. detergents?

Well, using detergent bars can have some nasty side effects. One of the most common ones that I see every day is imbalanced skin.

We all are genetically predisposed to make more or less oil, but when we strip the natural oil our skin produces to protect itself, our skin either makes too much to compensate or not enough.

Which is why so many people have dry, oily, or combination skin. It's just from using bad cleansers with detergents.

Another big reason to stop using surfactant bars, is that they exacerbate all skin conditions like Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and Rosacea.

These are all skin conditions that cannot be cured externally but can be made much more comfortable with gentle products. Don't use detergents on them!

The last and possibly most important reason not to use surfactant bars is that the fragrance or masking scent in them is carcinogenic.

Most companies do not disclose the ingredients in their fragrance, because there is a legal loophole called trade secret. (Read more about that here) But it's well documented that carcinogenic and reproductive toxins are standard in both fragrance and masking scent in soap.

And that's just crazy.

Surfactant bars probably won't kill you but I think you agree, there's a better way.