Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Simple Suggestion #259... Stick with soap bars
Then there's aqua, sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, lauramide DEA, glycol stearate, sodium chloride, cocamidopropyl betaine, citric acid, parfum, DMDM hydantoin, polyquaternium-7, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, tetrasodium EDTA, glycerine and hydrolized silk.
Seems almost like another language, doesn't it? But it's actually the ingredients that make up the liquid "soft" soap in my bathroom. I know that Aloe Barbadensis is an aloe plant, and who hasn't heard of glycerine? Aqua is water in Italian, right? And citric acid can be found in any citrus fruit. Sodium chloride is NaCl if I remember chem class -- salt? But the rest? How can something with that many chemically-unintelligible names be good for me? If I'm living simply, can't my soap be simpler?
Actually, our soap has been simpler for a few years already. Back in 2009, my youngest child had very dry hands and brown rings around her wrists. I mentioned it to my mom, who happened to mention it to my aunt, who said, "tell Maria to get rid of liquid hand soap. It's full of chemicals that have given my grandchildren the same symptoms, but when they started using bar soap, they improved dramatically."
So I brought out the old soap dish and got Julia to use bar soap. As my aunt said, the brown wrist rings and dry hands improved dramatically. But the rest of my family liked the convenience of soft soap, especially in the shower, so I left it there, and kept using it myself.
What's interesting is that this fall we also installed a soap dish in the shower, and since I've started using bar soap instead of the soft soap there, the winter eczema I've always had on my lower legs hasn't appeared as it usually does when the weather gets cold. It's the first time in years that the skin on on my calves hasn't erupted into itchy welts that last until spring. So even just washing my upper body with that liquid soap and having the suds rinse down my legs was having an impact I didn't realize.
What can I think except that all those fancy soft-soap chemicals listed above are a poor substitute for solid soap with fewer ingredients, the kind that comes in many colours and essential oil fragrances at a farmer's market, or in a little box at your grocery store. And a little box or ribbon around a soap bar is much less packaging for the earth to reabsorb than what you get from plastic soft soap dispensers and bottles. (I've noticed that kids' toothpastes are also using pump bottles now, even though our landfills already groan with all the plastic they hold.)
So, today's suggestion: Let's do the earth and our bodies a favour. Use bar soap, preferrably locally made. It costs the earth a lot less in packaging and transportation, and it's probably a lot better for our skin.
P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.