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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Personal Care 101

Last time I gave you a healthy alternative to deodorant.  Today, the topic will be natural soap.


This is an area that I splurge a little on.  Natural soap will cost you more than the store-bought fare.  This is because the soap you buy at the store is made with cheap ingredients and chemicals.  (But you might save on lotion if you switch to natural soap, read on.)


The truth is that the soap you buy at the store isn't really soap, it's detergent--none of them, not Ivory, not Dove, none!  Detergent is much harsher on your skin.  It strips your skin of its natural oils.  This is why I pay more for natural soap now.  My skin would get so dry and itchy in the winter, but that changed when I switched to natural soap.


Detergent bars found in the local grocery store and drug stores are made from petroleum.  In the process, the glycerin is removed.  Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it will pull moisture from the air into your skin.  The detergent maker's remove the glycerin to sell separately.  Without glycerin in the bar, your skin is much drier.


Detergent bars also contain sodium laureth sulfate and/or sodium lauryl sulfate.  They are added to make the bar lather well, but there is debate on whether they are safe.


Check out this article on chemical levels in our kids.


Natural soap will not lather as well as detergent bars, but they clean just as well.  And your skin will thank you.  Another benefit is that the ingredients are from renewable resources.  We can grow more coconut and olive trees to produce their oil, but we can't create more petroleum.


Soap made with coconut oil will produce the best lather, but it can be a bit more drying to the skin (not as much as detergent bars, though).  Soap made with olive oil will moisturize the skin better, but it will hardly lather.  You just have to find a bar that you like and you may have to get used to the idea of less lather.


There are a lot of great natural soaps available, at your local health food store and online.  You can support your local economy by finding a soapmaker in your area.  (Just ask them if they make their soap or if they melt and pour--meaning they bought a pre-made soap base and just added color and fragrance.)  If you are in Oklahoma, you can buy a range of natural personal care items through the Oklahoma Food Coop.


I use Kiss My Face brand Olive and Aloe bar.  (I use it as a body bar.  I will detail what I use on my face in a later post.)  It is primarily made with olive oil, so it moisturizes, and it was the most economically priced bar at my health food store.  The price on this bar is almost the same at Whole Foods, here in Oklahoma, and on Vitamin Shoppe.com.

Kiss My Face

I have also used Dr. Bronner's Lavender bar.  This is a bar made primarily of coconut oil and so it does lather better, but it doesn't moisturize as well as the Kiss My Face bar.  And it is a little more expensive than the Kiss My Face bar.


I like to keep foam pump dispensers in my kitchen and bathrooms for hand washing.  I really like to use Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds.  Sal Suds is a super concentrated liquid soap.  It is all-natural--no harmful ingredients, fragrances, or colors.  It is gentle on your skin.  


I switched to the foam pump dispensers when I had cracks on my hands and dermatitis.  Turns out the dermatitis was caused by stress, but switching to foam soap also helped.  Washing with full-strength soap was too harsh and was stressing my skin by drying it out.  The foam pumps dilute the soap, saving you money in the long run.


When my kids were babies, I used Sal Suds to wash their laundry, instead of Dreft.


I would like to try my hand at making some soap this year.  If I do, I'll let you know how it turns out.


Stay tuned for more personal care alternatives, coming soon!


  1. I agree! I have switched to all natural/handmade soaps through the Oklahoma Food Coop and my skin is much less dry. Plus the soapmakers always have different fun scents! The difficult part is choosing. One of the soapmakers even has a foam soap.

    I think I may even feel more strongly about my personal care products than I do about my food. After all, the food has to make it through my digestive system, but anything I put on my skin goes right into my body.

    Thanks for doing this series!


  2. I use Mamma's Soap that I purchased at Natural Farms. I'd like to try Kiss My Face.

    I'm really looking forward to what you use for face soap and makeup remover!!

  3. [...] personal care products, toothpaste, triclosan In this series, I have covered natural deodorant and soap. Today I want to tell you my alternative for [...]

  4. I am wondering how much soap I would go through with a family of four. Also, did I miss the post on what you use to wash your face with? I haven't been checking blogs as often as I like. I have sure enjoyed getting caught up with yours....as usual. :-)

  5. Kim,
    Do you use bar soap already? It should be the same amount if you switch to a natural bar soap. If you use body wash, I don't know how the comparison would be. Plus, I think the natural bar soap varies from brand to brand on how long they last.

    I have not done the article on the facial products I use yet. Soon. I think that will be next in the series.

  6. [...] entry in Personal Care 101.  To read about deodorant, click here.  To read about natural soap, click here.  To read about toothpaste, click [...]