Many of the personal care products sold in retail stores contain harsh chemicals that can be hard on the skin. Ingredients include detergent, dyes, preservatives and synthetic fragrances. These harsh substances can dry out the skin and cause allergic reactions, especially in individuals who are sensitive to certain chemical compounds.
Synthetic soaps contain detergents, which strip away the natural oils that protect skin. Commercial soap makers remove glycerin, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, because it decreases shelf life. Glycerin is a humectant and draws moisture to the surface. Organic soaps contain glycerin, which aids in hydration and prevents dryness and flaking.
The animal oils used in making commercial products are heavily saturated. They clog the pores and interfere with the body’s natural detoxification process of excreting waste. Plant oils, including nut, palm and olive oil, are lighter and allow skin to breathe naturally. The higher the oil content is in the recipe, the softer the bar. If the oil content is too low, the bar is hard and brittle.
Commercially manufactured products use synthetic fragrances and chemical additives to add scent. Essential oils extracted from plants are water-soluble and add fragrance without the use of synthetic ingredients. Certain oils have healing properties that provide additional benefits to users. Oils commonly used for this purpose are eucalyptus, rosemary, spearmint and lavender.
Eucalyptus oil is a natural antiseptic that is useful for healing wounds, burns and cuts. It is also effective for relieving symptoms of insect stings and bites. Some individuals use it to treat various skin infections.
Products that contain rosemary oil have a fresh, herbaceous scent. They can soothe acne symptoms and are good for use on oily skin. Many natural hair care products contain this essential oil.
Like eucalyptus, spearmint oil has antiseptic properties. Menthol, caryophyllene and myrcene components can help heal wounds. Spearmint is also an effective insecticide that repels ants, flies, moths and mosquitoes. It blends well with lavender, rosemary and jasmine.
When added to skin products, lavender soothes and speeds up healing of rashes. It can help reduce inflammation and balance oil production. In some cases, it can prevent scarring.
Consumers who want to avoid using products containing chemical additives can use handmade organic soap as an alternative. These products will not irritate sensitive skin and can provide therapeutic benefits. Like commercial products, organic soaps are available in a wide variety of scents and colors.