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Health and Beauty Benefits of Natural Vs. Synthetic Soap

Safety testing on the ingredients in your personal care products are lacking.

All Soap is Not Created Equal: The Health and Beauty Benefits of Natural Vs. Synthetic Soap

When you lather up with bar or liquid soap, you’re counting on that soap to remove dirt and germs from your body while gently cleansing your skin. You certainly wouldn’t expect that very same soap to contain ingredients that could potentially cause far more damage than the germs you’re attempting to remove ... yet if you use many commercial soaps, that is precisely what you’re getting.

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In fact, research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 57 percent of baby soaps - certainly considered to be among the most pure and gentle soap there is ~ contains 1,4- dioxane, a probable human carcinogen that readily penetrates your skin!

How can this be? The U.S. government does not require safety testing on the ingredients in your personal care products. As EWG explains:

“Cosmetics and other personal care products are an alarming example of government and industry failures to protect public health. Federal health statutes do not require companies to test products or ingredients for safety before they are sold. As a result, nearly all personal care products contain ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by any accountable agency, and that are not required to meet standards of safety.”

Common Toxic Ingredients in Synthetic Soap

Take a look at the soap and cleansers in your bathroom right now. If they contain any of the following ingredients, you may want to think twice about using them (the following ingredients are also among the top to AVOID when you’re looking for a new cleanser):

  • Fragrance: The chemicals in fragrance have been linked to neurotoxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and other health concerns. In fact, an investigation into fragrance, perfumes and colognes by EWG found several areas of concern:
  • 16 percent of the products they reviewed contained ingredients that may cause cancer
  • 5 percent may contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems
  • 18 percent contained penetration enhancers that increase exposures to carcinogens and other ingredients of concern
  • 98 percent of products contained ingredients not assessed for safety in cosmetics or with insufficient data
  • 76 percent contained ingredients that are allergens
  • 13 percent of products posed other potential health concerns
  • Triethanolamine: A fragrance ingredient and emulsifying agent that has been linked to cancer, immune system toxicity, allergies, organ system toxicity, and potential endocrine disruption.
  • Triclosan: This is the active ingredient in many antibacterial soaps. This chemical belongs to the chlorophenol class of chemicals, which are suspected of causing cancer in humans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, triclosan is a pesticide and was given high scores both as a human health risk and an environmental risk.
  • Parabens and Phenols: Used in body wash and many other personal care products, according to the National Institutes of Health phenol is toxic and people who are hypersensitive to it could experience death or serious side effects at very low exposures. Parabens have also been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.
  • Phthalates: These industrial compounds are widely used in hairsprays, perfumes and cosmetics. Animal studies on certain phthalates have shown the chemicals may cause a variety of problems, including reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, endocrine disruption and cancer.

In order to avoid harmful chemicals, you need to read the product's label before you buy. Avoid anything that has the chemicals listed above, including "paraben" (which may appear as methylparaben or others) or "phthalate" (which can be listed as dibutyl and diethylhexyl or just "fragrance").

What to Look for in a Natural Cleanser

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You should know that the government does not regulate what "natural" means in soaps labeled natural, so commercial soaps can freely claim to be natural while still using the synthetic compounds discussed above - and they do.

So finding safe and toxin-free soaps and body washes is not as simple as looking for the "all-natural," organic" or even "hypoallergenic" label, as these products can still contain dangerous ingredients. The term "hypoallergenic" can actually mean whatever a particular company wants it to mean, according to the FDA.

A general rule of thumb? The fewer ingredients listed, the better. Some generally safe and gentle ingredients are:

  • Organic oils (such as olive oil)
  • Essential oils
  • Castile soap
  • Aloe vera
  • Plant extracts

If you're looking for the creme de la creme in natural body cleansers, consider try an organic line of soap products. Often lasting about twice as long as conventional bars, organic soaps are extremely moisturizing and soothing. Your skin will drink in the conditioning, moisturizing goodness of this handcrafted soap.

Anyone with sensitive or hypoallergenic needs can really benefit and find immediate relief using organic soaps as well. They are a healthy, simple indulgence to help calm, relax and pamper yourself and your family.

Sample luxurious bar soaps are available in different varieties for all skin types:

  • Butter Bar - best dry skin bar
  • Citrus Sunrise -- all skin types
  • Honey -- gentle exfoliant for combination skin
  • Lemongrass ... all skin types
  • Oatmeal Lavender... dry skin
  • Oats & Aloe ... unscented for dry sensitive skin
  • Peppermint Magic ... oily/combination skin
  • Woodspice ... natural deodorant bar

Some are even available as safe and natural liquid organic soap, which will leave your skin feeling soft, moisturized, clean and refreshed - without a trace of chemical residues.

Sources

Environmental Working Group
Environmental Working Group
SafeCosmetics.org
Environmental Working Group

Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Dr. Soram Khalsa is an internist in Beverly Hills, California and is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He specializes in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition.

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