Riddle: What goes on your hands, face, armpits, and important parts, sometimes all within five minutes, and comes out clean?
Answer: hopefully nothing toxic.
Soap. We use it EVERY DAY. And for all too many people, this household miracle of hygiene can contain scary, harmful chemicals and additives that can cause anything from rashes to respiratory complications (not to mention, they can be difficult to pronounce).
It hasn’t always been this way. The earliest recipe for soap, found on a Babylonian tablet dating back to 2200 BC, contained only three ingredients: Ashes, Cypress Oil, and Sesame Oil. While this may have been a prototype, the modern obsession with a germ free culture has gotten us so far away from this origin, that the average household bar used to clean Billy’s mouth out, can contain six times that many ingredients, without being even vaguely related to a natural product.
There are three very common (and scary) ingredients that you want to watch out for when making your sudsy selection:
1. Tirclosan- this compound is found in almost all things labeled “anti-bacterial.” The antibacterial myth is, well, just that. This chemical does very little to prevent illness and disease, as most common colds and flus are viral, not bacterial. Additionally, the long term results from using products made with triclosan can include anything from a Lowered immune system, to dry skin, to the presence of triclosan in a mother’s breast milk. (I’m sure if Gerber® found out, we’d see it in baby food) The antibacterial rage has been so widespread that the stuff can be found in rivers and streams, in a quantity dangerously high for the survival of plant life. Thus contributing in one more way the decay of our planet, without protecting us really, from those nasty germs.
2. Sodium Laurel Sulfate- While you may find this in EVERYTHING related to hygiene in your house, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. At all. You’ll catch this substance moonlighting in floor cleaners and engine degreasers. I mean, I guess you could wash your face off with that? And now Johnny, the list of problems SIS can afflict: Hair Loss, Susceptibility to bacteria; possible brain, heart, spleen and liver harm; eye, skin and mouth irritations; potential harm to cell function. Awesome.
3. Fragrance- sneaky, isn’t it? I mean, you see the word fragrance, you think of flowers and oils and incense, right? NOPE. this vague and misleadingly named aspect to your soap is petroleum based 95 percent of the time. It is rarely tested for safety (and if it is, it’s most likely on some cute bunny.) In the words of the EPA, “Products that contain petroleum distillates should be used carefully. Wear gloves to avoid skin contact and avoid breathing vapors of volatile compounds.” Yup, on your soap, on your private bits. Yup.
By now, you must be scared witless and tossing half of your household cleaners you once thought were benign. But wait! before you throw the baby out with the bathwater and swear off soap altogether, there IS a solution.
Today, there are many all natural soap products available, anywhere from your mom and pop shop (Like Bambu Batu, for example) to your major super market. We recommend Herbaria Soaps. Each variety contains only a handful of ingredients, all of them completely natural and organic. Every kind has a different function, including aromatherapy for epilepsy… and, of course, they. smell. amazing. For more information visit www.herbariasoap.com or come see us at Bambu Batu 1127 Broad Street. Until then, keep it clean San Luis Obispo.