Personal Care and Services

Published on August 17th, 2011 | by Guest Contributor

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Why Choose Natural Soap?

Loaf of Soap

Taking a Closer Look

As an example, let’s look at the ingredient listing of a popular commercial soap:

Stearic acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, 2, 6-Di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT), Sodium stearate, Trisodium etidronate, Sodium chloride, Water, Sodium tallowate, Titanium dioxide, Sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate, Coconut fatty acids, Sodium cocoate, Sodium cocoyl isethionate, Cocoamidopropyl betaine, Sodium palm kernelate, Sodium alkylbenzenesulfonate

Wow.  It’s a bit overwhelming isn’t it?

Let’s try to break that down a bit and see what some of these ingredients are.  We’ll start with a few of the easy ones.

Ingredients We Expect

Water –  Check….I think we’re all okay with that one.

Sodium Tallowate – the end product of the reaction of sodium hydroxide (used to make soap), and tallow (an animal fat).  Natural?  Yes.  Vegan/Vegetarian?  No.

Sodium Cocoate &  Sodium Palm Kernelate – As above, these are the reactions between oils (coconut oil & palm kernel oil) and sodium hydroxide.

Titanium Dioxide – naturally occurring oxide of titanium, often used as pigment

All the ingredients above can be found in many soap recipes including natural ones.  Now on to the more interesting ingredients.

Ingredients We Don’t Expect

Tetrasodium EDTA – “a chelating agent, used to sequester and decrease the reactivity of metal ions that may be present in a product”  (Skin Deep)

6-Di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) – “used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber,petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid” (Wikipedia).  Skin Deep lists this ingredient as having allergies & immunotoxicity concerns.

Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate – Frequently used in laundry detergent.  A cleansing agent and emulsifier.

Cocoamidopropyl betaine –  used in “cosmetics as an emulsifying agent and thickener, and to reduce irritation purely ionic surfactants would cause.” (Wikipedia) Skin Deep lists this ingredient as having allergies & immunotoxicity concerns. 

Sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate – primarily used in laundry detergent

I may be a picky person, in fact, I know I am. But a few of the ingredients above just don’t seem necessary to me.  My skin is not the same as my laundry.  I want to understand what is in my products and why they are included without having to do hours worth of research which often results in still being left a bit confused.

So, how do we know what to choose?

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