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Why hard soap lather is harsh on skin?

by Autumn Shelton |

Let's talk about soap lather and how it affects and dry out our skin.

We often associate the effectiveness of our cleaning products with the amount they lather. But What most people don’t realize, is that soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other cleaning products (both personal and household) don’t need to have a lot of lather to do their job.  Soap lather, which suspends dirt by creating greater surface tension in water, traps dirt for easy removal through rinsing.  But we don’t require a ton of lather to get the job done.

Many personal care products have a foaming agent added to them. That’s how we get that frothy lather we know and love. The most commonly used foaming agents are cocamide DEA, MEA or TEA. These particular chemicals serve no purpose other than to make shampoo thick and foamy.

Most soap lather is artificially created because of customer demand, not because it is needed for cleaning.  Retailers of soaps and shampoos see the opportunity to make their products look better by claiming that more lather equals cleaner body parts.  It’s very inexpensive to put chemicals into soaps to make them lather unnecessarily, and the result is that we end up smearing more toxins onto our bodies than is healthy, all for the misconception of being cleaner.

Not only do commercial soaps contain harsh chemical additives that make them lather, they also contain perfumes and fragrances that are known to cause irritation.  These fragrances aren’t extracted from naturally aromatic sources, like the label wants you to believe.  They’re produced in a factory, using a host of cancer-causing chemicals, which allow them to stay fragrant much longer.  The generic term, “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label can indicate the presence of up to 3,000 separate ingredients.  Studies have shown that some of the chemicals used in soap fragrances can cause skin diseases, birth defects and even liver damage in animal testing.

Then there’s the chemical sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as sodium laureth sulfate).

The reason sodium lauryl sulfate is used in soaps and shampoos is because it is an inexpensive detergent and it makes substances lather.  Studies have indicated that with use, sodium lauryl sulfate actually leaves a residue in the heart, liver, lungs and brain from skin contact.  That means once it enters your body (which it most certainly does before you have time to rinse it off) some of it never leaves, causing a slow build-up of chemicals inside you.

Detergents are one of the most troubling ingredients in products. Many detergents are made from the chemical alkylphenol ethoxylate, which harbours a cancer-causing impurity that’s harmful when absorbed into your body, and released down the drain.

You can recognize shampoo ingredients containing ethoxylated detergents and related ingredients by looking for these words on the bottle: PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, eth(as in sodium laureth sulfate), or oxynol.

But wait.  Doesn’t the government regulate products to make sure they’re safe before they can go onto shelves? Nope! Major loopholes in federal laws allow the cosmetics and skincare industries to put as many chemicals as their hearts desire, into the products we use. And there’s no required monitoring of health effects, no required testing, and they don’t even have to list them on the label! Hidden behind the claim that their formulas are trade secrets, manufacturers don’t have to label anything they don’t want to.

Ok, so that’s a lot to think about.  The good news is that there are alternatives.  Shop our all natural & organic catalog today!