How The Right Bar Soap Can Actually Soothe And Moisturize Your Skin (According to an MD)
News Flash! Bar soap can calm and moisturize your skin when it’s formulated the right way – a top medical doctor sits down with Beautytap to share everything you need to know about this classic beauty staple.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a boutique shop that sells specialty soap, you may relate to what I’m about to say. Strolling through an artisan shop is like walking through a gallery. Every creation has its own aesthetic appeal, whether it be its color, scent, or shape. From slices wrapped in simple cigar bands to those cradled in gift-worthy boxes, the artisan makes choices every step of the way with your pleasure and his or her own in mind.
For over 20 years, I’ve had a fondness for handmade soap and have gathered up favorites in all of my travels, so speaking with Sarah Villafranco, MD of Osmia Organics rekindled a love that’s been quietly smoldering in my periphery, especially when she explained that “The chemistry of soap is pure science: if you get it wrong, you end up with #notsoap.”
Soap Versus #Notsoap
At its most basic level, soap is a combination of water, oil, and sodium hydroxide (lye). “All soap is made with lye,” Dr. Sarah explains, “but the molecules rearrange in the [saponification process], leaving only hydrating glycerin, cleansing soap molecules, and skin nourishing clays or oils in a finished bar of cold-process soap.”
Many commercial soap producers speed up the hardening process to get their products to market, but doing so often includes incorporating harsh chemicals that cause the irritation consumers often experience in the form of dryness. Osmia cures their soap for 6–8 weeks. “The pH of the bar should be fairly stable after a week, so the ‘mildness’ should be the same from that point forward. But the hardness of the bar increases with cure time, making them last much longer in your shower.”
Bar Soap Doesn’t Have to Strip Your Skin
If you’re using body wash or have an aversion to bar soap due to the stripping or drying feeling it often leaves behind, you may think all soap is the same. Commercial producers take a lot of liberties with their formulas, and some of those choices make their products less than optimal. “Most commercially produced soap has had ingredients added or removed for one reason or another, for hardness, color, or fragrance,” says Dr. Sarah, and the end result is a bar that is “more irritating and less nourishing for the skin.”
The Right Soap Won’t Cause pH Panic
Many skincare enthusiasts use pH strips to test their cleansers to ensure that the product won’t harm their skin. Cleansers can run from acidic to alkaline, and cleansers that produce thick clouds of lathery foam tend to skew toward the alkaline side of the spectrum. While fun to use and play with, that foam often produces a “squeaky clean” sensation as well as residual tightness. Osmia’s lather hovers around pH 8, but Dr. Sarah reminds us that “you rinse it off with water that’s probably closer to 5 or 6, so the mild alkalinity is not an issue. Grandma’s lye soap from the 19th century probably lathered up at a pretty drying pH of 10 or 11 since she didn’t have her chemistry quite right, so that’s another reason soap got a bad rap!”
Ready to learn more about Osmia and what sets their soap apart from other brands? Stay tuned for part two!