Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Types of Soap

The manufacture and sale of soap is a multi-million industry and the cosmetics companies are constantly working hard to find new ways to convince us that they have produced a soap that surpasses all others. Unfortu­nately, their claims are based more on advertising hype than on scientific truth and the only result is increased confusion.

Ordinary soap is often dismissed as harmful and useless by beauticians who want to sell you something much more esoteric and expensive. This just isn't so. The purpose of any dermatological cleansing. (The sort of term favored by beauticians for a process most of us know as 'washing') is to remove dirt and grease. Ordinary soap, when used with water, does this very effectively.

Soap consists of two basic ingredients: fats and lye (an alkaline solution). The fats work particularly well as cleansers. The one unfortunate effect associated with soaps is that by removing natural oils from the skin they car) have a drying effect. I do feel, however, that this effect is over­emphasized by beauty experts. You are not likely to get too much of a drying effect from using soap as long as you use a moisturizing cream afterwards.

In their attempts to corner profitable sections of the soap buying market manufacturers produce many different 'special' soaps:

Transparent soaps
These are more difficult to make than­ ordinary soaps and consequently cost more but I have not been able to find any evidence to suggest that they are more effective or safer than any other type.

Super fatted soaps
Super fatted soaps these are sold for people with very dry skin. Again, I don't know of any evidence that these are worth buying.

Triple or hard-milled soaps
Triple or hard-milled soaps are ones that have been processed to a very hard consistency. I can't see why you should buy those either.

Perfumed soaps
Perfumed soaps many manufacturers add extra ingredients to their soaps. Some add perfumes and, indeed, some design soaps to fit into their range of products, incorporating the same perfume as the colognes and deodorants. I can't see any point in buying a perfumed soap because you should always rinse it off thoroughly and added perfume is merely a potential source of skin irritation.

Medicated soaps
Medicated soaps are equally unnecessary. The usual additives to medicated soaps are antiseptics or disinfectants but I don't believe these serve any useful purpose. I do believe, -however, that they can sometimes cause some skin irritation.

pH soaps
Since it is known that the skin is normally slightly acid whereas most soaps are slightly alkaline there are now soaps designed to help maintain the skin's natural acidic balance. I think that attempts to preserve the pH of the skin with soap are entirely worthless.

Moisturizing soaps
I don't think there is any point in buying soaps that contain a moisturizer either. You cannot wash your skin and put a moisturizer on at the same time.

Liquid soaps
Liquid soaps these are very popular with some sections of the soap industry but I don't know of any reason why you should spend your money on liquid soap rather than on an ordinary bar of soap. Liquid soap is simply likely to cost you more, because of its packaging.

Now for some positive advice. I believe that the best soap to buy is the cheapest, simplest non-scented soap that suits you. A soap that contains few added and unnecessary ingredients is less likely to cause allergy problems than one that is stuffed to the wrapper with perfumes and soon. Use water that is warm rather than hot and smooth the soap on quite gently in widening, circular movements. Then rinse off all of the lather, preferably using running water.

When you have washed, use your ordinary moisturizing cream.
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