Much is being said lately about the benefits of not using soap. Experts are now beginning to examine this issue more closely. Apparently, soaps are designed to disaggregate oils and fats. When we are really dirty this is essential to be able to get rid of dirt, but what if we are not so dirty? It happens then that the soap removes our natural body oils and the sebaceous secretions that emanate through the pores of the skin. And, the problem is that those sebaceous secretions help moisturize the skin and maintain the correct pH, as well as maintain a complex microbiome (a world of miniature bacteria and multiple species) in our skin that experts are just beginning to understand.
Having an unbalanced skin pH can cause inflammation and dryness, and while we learn more about the skin microbiome all the time, professors like Dr. Jack Gilbert say that eliminating it can also influence immune responses and inflammation. “Diseases like psoriasis are often associated with an alteration of these skin and microbiome properties,” according to Jack Gilbert, a renowned professor of microbial ecology at the University of California and co-author of the book “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.”
James Hamblin, a physician and author of “Clean: The New Science of Skin” says we didn’t really know how much was going on in our own skin until about 10 years ago. All of that is starting to change now that genomic sequencing allows scientists to see the bigger picture regarding the entire biome and how many bacteria are actually there.
According to these authors, keeping the skin microbiome balanced also prevents the appearance of skin eczema and acne. “The idea is, if you stop destroying those microbes or constantly changing their habitat, you get them to reach a kind of steady state, more similar to gut microbes, Hamblin says, and then the microbiome becomes more balanced”.
The problem with soap, then, is that it basically destroys this natural skin microbiome. The skin becomes dry, sterile and temporarily lifeless after a decent application of soap. That said, both Hamblin and Gilbert want to emphasize that they still use soap to wash their hands, especially in these days of the pandemic. Logically, when the skin is dirty or in danger of infections, it is necessary to wash it well.
But is it possible to do it with milder soaps, such as the well-known “soaps without soap”, which lately are starting to spread everywhere.
And while it is true that after all this new information from scientists and experts, some people with atopic skin or affected by dermatitis prefer to shower only with water, this, in the long term, is a bit counterproductive because, how could we avoid using some soap to wash our hands when we touch something very dirty or, for example, when we use the toilet?; or how could we avoid using some shampoo on our hair so that it does not present that dirty and greasy appearance that concurs when we have not been able to wash it for a few days?; or how could we avoid washing our armpits or our parts to avoid bad odors when we come from the gym and we have sweated abundantly?…
It is for this reason that we want to insist on our blog on the preparation of homemade natural soaps, much softer than commercial soaps. Or, also, the well-known glycerin soaps, less alkaline even than cold saponified soaps, or the already known “micellar water” based on soft and natural surfactants to wash the skin of the face.
Dermatologist Dr. Laura Wheller often advises her patients to abandon commercial soaps. For certain patients, such as infants, the elderly, and people with sensitive skin, soap can be “extremely irritating.” But instead of giving up soap altogether, he recommends soap-free alternatives.
Unlike commercial bar soaps, there are milder surfactants that don’t contain strong alkaline compounds, Says Dr. Wheller. The surfactants in these “softer” products are closer to the skin’s natural pH (around 5.5). They are also less likely to contain potential allergens or irritants, thereby drying out the skin less. If we have sensitive skin, according to this doctor, we should also avoid fragrances and preservatives.
Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, opines that 80% of germs and bacteria that can cause odors will clean themselves simply with water. However, stopping using soap altogether would be an unnecessarily drastic measure since there are numerous soaps that contain mild surfactants and cleansers (such as micellar water) that can eliminate the risk of drying out the skin while also avoiding the likelihood of developing eczema.
Dr Clare Ballingall, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in Tasmania, believes that while washing hands with soap is vital to preventing the spread of disease, using soap on the rest of our body has less merit. If we remove the natural oils from our skin (and the “amazing ecosystem” that lives in it), we leave our skin dry, irritated, and vulnerable to infection. When it comes to “dirt” (or other contaminants), Dr. Ballingall recognizes that soap can be helpful. But, he adds, most people don’t wake up dirty, or come back dirty from their office jobs. It’s also important to avoid soaping up parts of the body that don’t need as much attention. For example, he says that the arms and legs contain little oil, so they need nothing but water. Instead, the groin and armpits contain bacteria that can smell when sweat particles break down, so if we’re going to use soap, she suggests we focus on those areas.
CURRENT COMMERCIAL PROPOSALS
At present, therefore, many proposals for biodegradable shower gels and shampoos are appearing that are not only less polluting for the environment but also, as with all biodegradable hygiene products, are kinder to the microbiome of our skin.
This shower gel, for example, is suitable for all skin types.
It contains no parabens or SLES and is fully biodegradable.
It also does not contain preservatives or artificial colors, so its pH is totally neutral.
This other indicates that its composition is of vegetable origin in 99%, so it is also totally biodegradable.
As we said, these new soaps “without soap” are not only kinder to the environment but also, in general, to our skin because it is proven that everything that is harmful to the environment and the aquatic life is equally harmful to our body, and vice versa.
OUR BIODEGRADABLE HOMEMADE BATH OIL PROPOSAL
We are going to use a vanilla maceration in sunflower oil that we have previously elaborated together with an ecological and biodegradable emulsifier such as Gelisucre.
To make this vanilla in oil macerate, we simply used a chopped vanilla bean so that the properties could pass more easily into the oil and we had leave it to macerate for a few weeks.
You can read a more detailed explanation of how a macerate is made at this link:
Vanilla maceration 20 ml
Macadamia vegetable oil 60 ml (combined with vanilla maceration a very pleasant aromatic result is obtained without the need to add synthetic fragrances)
Organic emulsifier Gelisucre 20 ml
1 / Put in a bowl phase A (oily vanilla maceration + macadamia vegetable oil).
2 / In another bowl put phase B (emulsifier geli-sucre).
3 / We will gradually add phase A to phase B, mixing vigorously between each addition with the mini-whisk.
The mixture will begin to gel and, then, we can transfer it to the container we have chosen.
PRODUCT STABILITY: Under normal conditions, this shower and bath oil is kept for a minimum of three months, so it is very likely that we will run it out before it can spoil and, in this way, it is not necessary that we add preservatives.
ABOUT THE EMULSIFIER GELISUCRE: The emulsifier Gelisucre, as with other new generation emulsifiers such as the polyglycerol 4 caprate, has the ability to form new textures of rinseable oily gels, which are emulsified with water and oils to form very soft creamy milks and emulsions, as well as micellar waters and, in this case, a bath oil. This emulsifier is especially interesting to make shower oils that nourish the skin in a natural way because it is an emulsifier made from organic ingredients. The bath oils made with this emulsifier lighten perfectly without leaving a greasy effect and are very soft on the skin.
INCI of Gelisucre: Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis oil (sweet almond), sucrose laurate, citrus aurantium Dulcis fruit water (orange); * made from organic ingredients) …
LET’S SEE THE COMPOSITION OF A COMMERCIAL BATH OIL
In the line of our speech, and “as everything that glitters is not gold” we want to show you the composition of a commercial shower oil of the old generation, that is, of the “non-biodegradable”.
Nivea Bath Oil INCI: Aqua, Glycerin, Triisostearin, Octocrylene, Isopropyl Stearate, Talc, Cetearyl Alcohol, Methylpropanediol, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Glyceryl Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Panthenol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Oleic Acid, Myristic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Sodium Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Glyceryl Glucoside, Trisodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Citronellol, Geraniol,Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Parfum, CI77891, CI 77491, CI 77492
And, although Nivea is one of the most reliable trademarks (excluding, of course, natural cosmetic brands such as Weleda or Dra Hauschka) that exist, don’t you think that this Nivea bath oil could do without a few less components? In addition, it has the dreaded preservative phenoxyethanol, which is beginning to be banned in the legislations of some European countries, especially in its use in hygiene products for babies and infants.
HOW TO MAKE NATURAL BATH OIL WITH TWO INGREDIENTS
We have another proposal to make a very easy and biodegradable shower oil with only two ingredients: an emollient or skin softening agent (vegetable oil) and a surfactant with cleaning power (sulfated castor oil).
To make this shower oil, it is important that we make sure to obtain a sulfated castor oil that is natural and biodegradable.
In any case, this is a very interesting proposal for the stability of its formulation, which does not require any type of preservatives or added agents to remain stable for months. Surely, we will run out of shower oil sooner that it can spoil.
As we said, the surfactant that we will use to prepare this natural bath oil is sulfated castor oil, which should not be confused with vegetable castor oil. In English it is called “Turkey red oil”. It is a water-soluble surfactant. This feature makes it a preferred ingredient when it comes to enriching shower gel formulas and shampoos with oil. It also allows essential oils and other vegetable oils to disperse in water; therefore, it is very useful for formulating bath oils. And it is also often used in the formulation of micellar waters.
THE SULFATION PROCESS
Sulfation is the act of attaching one or more “sulfate” groups into a molecule. Castor oil is predominantly composed of ricinoleic acid and the particular structure of this fatty acid allows for easy “sulfation” of the oil. Sulfate is a hydrophilic (negatively charged) anionic group (which has good affinity for water); the sulfation of castor oil will therefore give it a hydrophilic part that makes it soluble in water.
An oil is normally hydrophobic and cannot be mixed with water. Therefore, sulfated castor oil has surfactant properties, that is, it has a certain affinity for oil and a good affinity for water.
Turkey oil is a PEG that, however, has been used for decades without toxicity problems, it seems.
As an emollient agent we will use natural vegetable oils rich in properties and vitamins for the skin. We have chosen almond oil and wheat germ oil that, in addition, serves as an antioxidant due to its high content of vitamin E, but you can choose the ones that are more of your preference.
We will prepare our bath oil with a maximum of 20% oily preparation for 80% sulfated castor oil.
EXAMPLE OF BATH OIL
Sulfated castor oil surfactant 80 ml
Vegetable almond oils, for example, 10 ml
Vegetable oil from wheat germ, 10 ml, or a few drops of vitamin E oil to enrich the mixture.
A few drops of your favorite essential oil. We have chosen Litsea Cubeba for its incredible citrus aroma, which is also very relaxing at bath time!
First we will transfer all the ingredients to a dosing bottle stirring them well so that they integrate.
At this point we can add the droplets of essential oil, which will always be optional.
We can now bottle and start using it. It’s that easy!
How to use: There are people who add a tablespoon of this oil in the hot water of the bathtub to take an emollient and restorative bath.
It is also possible, with a suitable dispenser, to simply use a few drops in the shower.
Almond oil, combined with the surfactant of sulfated castor oil, brings softness to the skin. Wheat germ oil, in addition to acting as an antioxidant in the mixture, provides vitamin E.
This product is very stable and does not need preservatives. The addition of essential oils is always optional and, in this case, for the purpose of aromatizing.
RECIPE FOR BATH LOTION WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
These soap-free lotions are very interesting for the most delicate skin because in addition to not being irritating, essential oils provide them with restorative properties.
To prepare this type of bath and shower lotions, which would also serve as micellar waters and homemade make-up remover lotions, an emulsifying agent is used that combines essential oils with vegetable oils in bath water.
Depending on where we buy this emulsifying agent, it will have one name or another. For example, in the AROMA-ZONE store they call it Solubol, although itis also possible (respecting the prescribed doses for each emulsifier) to use sulfated castor oil, Gelisucre emulsifier or even Bellin Wax…
AN EXAMPLE OF A BATH FORMULATION WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
Normally, for an amount of about 25 ml of bath oil, 20 ml of vegetable oil and 5 ml of emulsifier are dedicated:
Composition for 25 ml of bath oil:
20ml of apricot kernel vegetable oil, for example.
5ml of Solubol type bath emulsifier
Between 12-15 drops of a combination of essential oils according to the therapeutic result we want to obtain.
*We, for example, as we wanted a combination of oils for “a warm foot bath“, have used:
6 drops of ginger EO
3 drops of anise EO and
3 drops of incense EO
A RECIPE FOR BATH OIL WITH BELLINA WAX AS AN EMULSIFYING AGENT
Belline wax 3 g
Vegetable glycerin 42 ml
Fractionated coconut oil 5 ml
Rosemary essential oil, for example, 30 drops
A few drops of antioxidant vitamin E
Melt the belline wax and glycerin in a water bath over low heat and remove from heat.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well between each addition.
If we immerse the mixture in a cold water bath (in a separate container) and beat well, the preparation will become cloudy and thick.
All of them are luxury bath oils, we hope you like them:)