Think about all the times that you use hand soap in the day. We come into contact with the substance after going to the bathroom, before and after cooking, after taking the trash out, while cleaning our house, after doing the dishes, and many other instances! Now that you have thought about all the times that you use hand soap, do you know what ingredients are in it? Are you actually aware of what you are putting in your hands and the possible toxicity of these ingredients? Wouldn’t it make sense to just use the best, natural or non-toxic hand soap? But how can you be sure if you don’t really know the ingredients in it? Let’s talk about it!
The ingredients in liquid soap serve a specific purpose, whether to improve the function of the soap or just its appearance. The first in a list of basic soap ingredient in any liquid hand soap is water. Water allows the soap to maintain a liquid form rather than a dry, solid form like bar or powdered soap. If you’re looking in an ingredients list of liquid soap for water, it may be listed as "agua" or "eau," the Spanish and French words for "water," respectively. In addition, liquid hand soap may contain a number of oils. Modern major brands of liquid soap often contain oils such as Cocamide MEA and glycerin. On the other hand, natural liquid soap brands may contain glycerin as well, but the majority of the oils in natural soaps are usually essential oils like lavender, tea tree or jasmine. Other natural soaps, like oatmeal soap or goat milk soap also have the addition of those extra ingredients for fragrance, softness or other particular reasons.
In terms of how is fragrance obtained, most natural or homemade liquid soaps get their fragrance and color from ingredients such as essential oils. However, synthetic or commercial liquid hand soaps add additional fragrances and colors such as yellow number 5 and red number 4. The addition of these ingredients produces a more brightly colored and strongly scented soap. Synthetic soaps often include dyes to make them match consumers' perception of the scent; for example, an ocean-scented soap may have a blue tint, etc.
Moreover, in the chemical composition or formulas of soap detergents and surfactants are of the most important (and harmful) of ingredients, since they’re the ones in charge of getting rid of substances such as grease, oil, and dirt from your hands. You may find ingredients like Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, and Triclosan listed on your hand soap bottle.
However, some of these ingredients have adverse effects on your health and skin. For example, Triclosan, which is supposed to reduce the spread of bacterial infection, has been known to bioaccumulate in fish and to show up in breastmilk, and can upset the hormonal balance of humans. SLS is the active ingredient in many industrial-grade cleaners and has been linked to skin and eye irritation and organ toxicity. Topical Parabens have been detected in human breast tumors and mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, which can encourage the growth of human breast tumors.
So, more than seeing which fragrances are imitated in your hand soap, it’s important to read what the active or inactive ingredients are in your soap and what possible effects they may have on your health. Now that you know and understand what the ingredients in your hand soap are, we guarantee you will start paying attention to that overlooked label on the back of your bottle. Trust us, it contains a lot of useful information that may help you determine which is the best soap for you and your family.