Are Soaps Really Safe?

Exercise is one of the best ways of losing weight. Together with a healthy chemical free diet it is how to get fit and stay fit. There is nothing like a shower after a brisk jog to make you feel all is right with the world. Or you do until you read the back of the soap packet.

Then you find there are more chemicals in a bar of soap than in a fast food take away and you have just put them on your skin. It is easy to think of soap as a healthy pleasant product. It was at one time when soap was made from natural ingredients, but now much of what we use in the shower owes more to the laboratory than to nature. Soap bought from our local store can only loosely be described as soap.

These are some common ingredients.


A high proportion of liquid soap and a third of bar soap contains triclosan for its anti bacteriological qualities. The US Environmental Protection Agency classes this chemical as a pesticide which could harm the environment. It is bad news for bacteria but also bad news for humans as is it suspected of causing cancer.

Artificial scent:

It would be nice to think our soap is naturally scented, but it is not. Scents in most of the soap we buy come from petroleum based synthetic compounds. These can trigger allergic reactions and reproductive problems in humans.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):

This is used as a foaming agent. Concentrations as low as 0.5 percent can cause skin irritation. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30 percent. Shampoos containing SLS have been reported as causing scalp and eye irritation, problems with hair and facial swelling.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):

This is milder than SLS and is used for the same purpose, SLES can cause damage to hair and skin and cause eye damage in children. It cannot be metabolised by the liver and so stays in the body longer than SLS. These are not the only potentially dangerous chemicals in artificial soap products, but they should be enough to make us worry about what we are using every day.

These chemicals are not only found in adult soap, some also occur in baby soaps and shampoos. Of course millions of people use these products without problems, and the manufacturers say they are safe. But do you really want to wash your baby’s hair with Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which is commonly found in baby products?

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There are alternatives to using artificial soaps, natural soap made from healthy products is available as are herbal shampoos and shower gels. It is no surprise that natural soap is more expensive than artificial soap, but you may think it money well spent for peace of mind.

Read the small print on the packet, some soap sold as natural or organic still contains the chemicals we are trying to avoid. So how safe is soap? Some is not as safe as you may have thought. But there are healthy soap products available; it is for you to decide if you need to use them.