My mom used to buy packs and packs of Irish Spring bar soap because that was what my dad liked (and it was cheap). That sharp, waxy smell is forever imprinted in my mind. And I despise it.
Rubbing that bar of soap on my body almost made me feel like I was rinsing a layer of my skin off. My hand would slide too quickly over my body parts and they would feel dry even though I was getting wet with the shower water beading off of me. (My dad still says to this day it’s the only way he feels clean.) I was in middle school and was tired of smelling like a 30 year old man, so I talked my mom into buying me my own body wash. The lather the first time I used it….OMG. How does this get SO SUDSY??? I didn’t ever want to stop….
….until I got older and realized that those suds are produced by chemicals. Chemicals that (most of the time) I couldn’t pronounce. And why were my arms and legs getting red patches on them? “I HAVE to be getting clean with the amount of suds my plastic loofah and body wash create!” I started to research.
Sulfates are common additions to personal care products because they are inexpensive foaming agents. I mean, who hasn’t seen the Herbal Essence commercials back in the early 2000’s with the moaning women with heads full of white suds? We have been PROGRAMMED to WANT that. Body washes are FILLED with these chemicals and they are basically like a detergent to our skin….they strip it. That means they also can strip skin of its natural oils and good stuff. That was happening to me. I felt, “Hey, but I’m paying up to $6 on this brand name crap and my arms are STILL dry and patchy!” I could have been paying $20 and all I was doing was stripping and over drying my super sensitive skin.
I took to my health foods store and switched over to natural and organic body washes. To my surprise, I was not getting that foamy loofah I had been before but it was because they were lacking the chemicals that cause the suds. I decided I would give a few different brands a try. I finally decided to revert back to bars of soap. But, would I be transported back to those childhood Irish Spring showers of the past? I hoped not….
My first bar of soap was purchased from a local vendor at the co-op and contained milk, honey, and oats. It was naturally exfoliating and hydrating. I missed my bubbles, but I couldn’t get over the improvement in my skin. I was hooked.
These days, I peruse local art shows for natural soap makers and stock up. I also go to Etsy to find soap artisans that craft their soap in small batches and include healing herbs and essential oils. I have noticed a huge difference in the texture and appearance of my skin, especially my upper arms. What I once thought was a gluten allergy was actually my bottled sulfate-soaps irritating the heck outta my skin. I have yet to look back from my new bars of soap to my bottled body washes. And, no, I have never had that Irish Spring soap experience again.
The following picture is a new bar I just purchased on Etsy from Soap Revolt Naturals and will definitely buy again. It contains the activated charcoal and tea tree oil in just the right healing amounts.
If you are combating dry, itchy, patchy, and sensitive skin maybe consider switching up your soaps or shampoos. You can check out the Good Guide website to see how products are rated according to their health hazard levels as well as their environmental risks. See how your current soap is rated!
You may, at first, be surprised to find that one bar of soap is going to cost you anywhere from $4.00 (which is pretty cheap!) to $8.00 depending on the vendor and ingredients used. This may seem pretty steep, but really, a bar of soap lasts quite a while if you take care of it. Place is somewhere where water is not going to run over it constantly. Place it on something that will let moisture drain away from it. If it sits in a puddle of wetness, chances are you are going to lose a lot of the soap on the bottom this way because it stays soggy and will wash away from the bar itself.
My next goal is to go to shampoo and conditioner bars. Many contain herbs and oils to help moisturize and strengthen hair. What’s YOUR experience with mass-produced, brand name soaps and shampoos? If you have already made the total switch in your hair care, any advice you would pass to a newbie?