Skin, Lip and Body Care

Soap Can Be Drying and Toxic-Choose Gentler, Safer Brands When You Have Compromised Skin

+ CV Skinlabs Team

Old fashioned bar soap. You’d think of all the personal-care products, this one would certainly be non-toxic, right? Think again!

Not only is soap extremely drying to the skin but it can also has some questionable ingredients. Below are some of the ingredients that may be lurking in your regular, everyday bar soap. Of course, there are some made with more wholesome alternatives-but if you are suffering from dry skin, I would stay away from soap bars all together and use safe (read your labels) and more hydrating liquid hand and body washes.

Synthetic fragrance. The National Academy of Sciences says that 95 percent of the chemicals used in fragrances today are petroleum-based synthetic compounds, including those with potentially harmful effects. As we’ve mentioned before, when manufacturers put “fragrance” on the ingredient list, that means they’re keeping something secret-namely, the chemicals used to make that fragrance smell the way it does. After all, if they’re not using real lavender essential oil, but the scent is supposed to be lavender, they’ve mixed something together in the laboratory to make it so! Avoid soaps with “fragrance” on the ingredient deck, and choose those that say “fragrance-free” instead, or those that use natural sources like essential oils or extracts to create scent.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). It’s what makes the soap so foamy, but did you know SLS is also in products used to clean auto engines and garage floors? It’s harsh, can irritate the skin, and even cause dry skin. (Definitely not something you want if you’re going through cancer treatments.) Slightly less irritating is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), but this chemical still causes skin drying.

Triclosan. We’ve mentioned this one before, and here it is again. In fact, we’re exposed to this antibacterial ingredient again and again in our hand soaps, bar soaps, dishwashing soaps, and more. Triclosan has shown in lab studies on animal and human cells to be an endocrine disruptor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested. You don’t need this risk. Studies have found that soaps containing triclosan are no more effective than plain soap and water in removing bacteria or slowing the spread of disease.

Lye. A concentrated, watery solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, lye is often combined with animal fats to make bar soap. Unfortunately, it’s very harsh-also known as caustic soda, because it’s so corrosive. Put this on your skin, and you can suffer itching, irritation, even burns. You need something much more gentle while going through cancer treatments.

Polypropylene. It’s a possible carcinogen, and may be found in your baby soap. Keep an eye out!

FD&C dyes. We like things that are colorful, and soap is no different. However, some commercial brands are colored with synthetic dyes made from petrochemicals that can cause allergies, skin irritation, even hives and respiratory problems. Choose brands that use natural colorants.

Have you stopped using soap and noticed a change in your skin? Please share your story with us.

Photo courtesy Horia Varlan via

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