What is natural?
Many products on the market today claim to be "natural." But what makes a product natural? Most people have a common-sense definition of what "natural" is or should be. For example, natural to most people means being able to pronounce all the ingredients and not needing a chemistry textbook to understand them. The definition of "Natural" is important. It sets apart socially responsible companies from the rest. Synthetic ingredients can be toxic, and usually cost less than natural ingredients giving the mass-marketed multinational corporations a competitive advantage. The big companies know that the natural organic products market is growing by about 25% every year and consumers are demanding products that are healthier and better for the environment. These big corporations have jumped on the "natural" bandwagon and cranked up their marketing machines to benefit from green consumerism. Having a loose definition of natural is just what they want. Take a look at the supermarket shelves and you will see the multitude of "natural" claims. Their definition of natural includes manipulated and chemically altered ingredients. To them "natural" is just another marketing gimmick, not a way of life. With all of the bogus claims out there, how do we get consumers to realize our Soap Organics products are really natural?
Can any product claim to be natural?
Can any product claim to be natural?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the watchdog for bogus environmental claims. The FTC's guidance does not address "natural" marketing claims specifically. However, the guidance includes a section on general environmental benefit claims that states, "every express and material implied claim that the general assertion conveys to reasonable consumers about an objective quality, feature or attribute of a product or service must be substantiated." With so many products on the market claiming to be natural and so few government resources to enforce bogus claims, it is up to consumers to identify what is truly natural. Consumers should carefully read product labels including ingredient lists and then vote for their definition of natural with their buying power!
Are synthetics and chemical ingredients safe?
Some ingredients in mass-marketed soap including Isopropyl Alcohol, DEA, artificial fragrances, FD&C Colors, Propylene Glycol and Triclosan, have been proven harmful to human health and can cause severe skin irritation in some people. These ingredients are not natural. Some companies will include a trace of truly natural ingredients in a product with some of the synthetic ingredients above and claim the product is natural. Bogus!
What is your definition of natural?
Our definition of "Natural"
What does "Natural" mean at Effective Purity? It means no artificial colors and fragrances and no testing on animals. It means using Rosemary extract as a preservative, not a chemically-derived formula. Natural is about better choices and the responsibility inherent in those choices: organic before pesticides; botanicals before artificial colors and fragrances; vegetable-based before animal-based; and reusable before disposable. Natural is about big-picture thinking. It's about socially responsible business, It is about staying as close to the original form as possible. Natural is about developing an integrated long-term view of everything that we do.
What is Soap?
You take oils, which make you greasy, and turn them into soap, which make you clean. This process is called saponification (making soap). Soap is fascinating stuff. It is actually a salt that foams! This crystalline nature of soap allows it to be made clear as glass when boiled in alcohol with sugars. Now a salt is what you get when you mix an acid and a base together. The acids and bases neutralize each other and a salt forms in the process. Soap, is made from acidic oils and an alkaline solution. Think of it like a child's seesaw. Oil and alkali must be in balance to make the perfect bar of soap.
Any unsaponified oils are called "Free fatty acids", and they add to the moisturizing effect of high quality soaps. Use too much, and the soap will not lather, and it will have a shortened shelf life. Excess alkali, or "Free Alkali" is harsh and drying to sensitive skin. About 25% of us are estimated to get a dry skin reaction to free alkali in our soaps. At Vermont Soap Organics, we formulate for a little bit of oil and no measurable free alkali. This is part of the reason why our handmade soap is so mild. Here's a light version of how the chemistry of soap plays out:
How it works:
When you mix oils, alkali and water, they chemically react and turn into soap and glycerin. Our soaps the glycerin is stirred back in to add to the moisturizing qualities of the final product.
Where does alkali come from?
In the old days, rainwater was filtered through hardwood ashes (coconut husk and plantain ashes in Africa and South Pacific, oak and maple here in New England) to make a Potassium Hydroxide solution. Bar soaps are made from Sodium Hydroxide. This is what you get when you run electricity through salt water. Modern day Potassium Hydroxide is made from a similar process.
What makes it lather?
Soap is very unusual, acting like a snake with two heads. The oily head hates water and the alkali head loves water. When you mix soap and water, this love/hate relationship causes soap to lather.
Is glycerin good for my skin? YOU BET!
Glycerin is in fact more valuable by weight than soap. Milled soaps remove their glycerin by adding salt to their batch. Most glycerin in turn is used as a stabilizer in Food and Cosmetics production, as well as an inhibitor in cigarette paper which allows it to burn more evenly. With glycerin removed, the end result is a soap that dries your skin! That's because glycerin, mixed with a little oil and water left in the soap, creates a hand-lotion-in-soap effect. This allows us to create a bar that cleans and removes oils, while soothing sensitive skin.
What about glycerin clear bars?
True transparent soap is made by boiling the soap base in alcohol and sugars. Heat and pressure may also be used. Pluses are a high glycerin content and mild pH. Negatives are a bar that dissolves quickly, and often contains artificial colors, fragrances, and alcohol which can dry your skin. Propylene glycol (antifreeze) and triethanolalamine (TEA) are used to make the "melt and pour" soap base of many so called vegetable glycerin bars. Not our idea of natural!
What does "French Milled" mean?
One of the early uses for stainless steel was to run soap base between 2 rollers. They began experimenting with running hot and cold water through the rollers. French milled soap was born! Advantage is a milder, longer lasting bar. These higher quality bar soaps are not milder than handmade soaps.
What is the alternative Soap?
We recommend natural handmade or "poured" soaps. These traditional, poured and cured processed soaps last nearly twice as long as most mass market bars. Our soap is mixed in small batches and poured into wooden molds. The end result is an opaque premium bath and body bar that is mild enough for the most sensitive skin. Many sufferers of Dermatitis, Eczema, Psoriasis, and Chemotherapy can find relief from these types of soaps.
Problem: When alkali and oil fail to merge chemically, Alkali Salts (sodium hydroxide and oxygen) are left in the product. Alkali Salts have a high pH and are very drying to the skin. Many commercial soaps are full of these salts. It is estimated that about 25% of us are sensitive to this irritant.
Real Natural soap makers knew they would have to make a soap that had no alkali salts in it, but how? Translucent glycerin bars were low in alkali salts, but were short lived and frequently are irritating due to alcohol (or worse) used in their manufacturing. After months of research, 8 factors were identified in soaps which dry skin, they are:
Too high % of Coconut oil in the soap
Low quality base ingredients
Certain essential oils
Our Soaps are made of Certified organic oils of Palm, Coconut, Olive and Palm Kernel are blended and mixed at precise temperatures with an alkali solution. (Modern Alkali is made by running electricity through salt water.) The batch is mixed for hours, allowing it to thicken slowly. When it is ready, botanical concentrates and organic herbs, spices and grains are added. The batch is then poured into wooden molds and kept warm for about three days. As the soap solidifies, alkali salts begin to rise to the top like cream. Around the fourth day the soap, now solid in block form, is removed from the molds, skimmed of all alkali salts, and cut into individual bars. The bars are then placed on custom made oak and stainless steel screened drying racks and cured for about three more weeks. This process produces the mildest soap that can be made. Often lasting about twice as long as conventional bars, this soap is extremely moisturizing and soothing to your skin.
Various herbal extracts called essential oils are used to enhance and individualize the soaps, as well as to accommodate various skin types. Peppermint Magic, Balsam Swirl, and Citrus Sunrise contain natural astringents making them suitable for skin that is not dry. Lavender relaxes pores making it the perfect soap for normal to dry skin. Shea Butter creates a soap that works best on the driest skin types. Add organic oatmeal and you have Oatmeal Lavender, excellent for dry sensitive skin. Our Honey soap is great for combination skin combining the exfoliating benefits of cornmeal with the moisturizing properties of honey and the natural astringent properties found in clove oil. Woodspice is naturally deodorizing and stimulating and is great for normal to oily skin. Oats 'N Aloe Unscented is a mild and hypoallergenic bar, perfect for the most sensitive of skin types. This bar comes highly recommended from sufferers of Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dermatitis.
What is THE SULFATE CONTROVERSY?
Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate (SLS) is currently the primary foaming agent of Western civilization. It is usually found in combination with cocamidopropyl betaine (cocabetaine) and diethanolalamine (DEA), which itself has fallen under scrutiny of late. SLS is found in shampoos, bath gels, car washes, dish detergents, bar "soaps", laundry detergents, etc. It is a wetting and dispersing agent, emulsifier, degreaser and foamer. It also increases skin permeability roughly 100 times and is used in lotions to increase absorption of micronutrients through the skin.
Here are the potential negatives:
It is used in toothpaste to make it foam and also so the paste will stay together when coming out of the machines. Unfortunately it also aggravates the gums causing irritation. A University of Oslo (Norway) report states that individuals with gum disease had their symptoms cleared 40 times faster when non-SLS toothpaste was used.
There is a possible link between SLS and permanent damage to the eyes of infants. This definitely deserves further investigation.
May increase hair loss, and promote skin and scalp irritation in sensitive individuals. May produce skin and hair damage including cracking and inflammation. SLS is a known skin irritant and is used in lotion tests. First the skin is irritated with SLS - then the soothing effects of the lotion is tested on it.
A (remote) possible bladder cancer risk factor exists. But only if you hold your urine in your bladder for long periods of time (Trucker Syndrome).
Soap has been around for thousands of years. Chemical surfactants (foaming agents) for less than a hundred years. You can decide for yourself what qualifies as "natural". With 16 billion dollars a year at stake you can bet there will be a lot of denial over this one! Try natural handmade soaps - they are really GOOD for your skin. Try using castile liquid soap based cleaners and hand soaps. Many people find them milder than detergent based hand soaps. I also recommend using castile based fruit and veggie wash on your foods to reduce intake of topical pesticide residues, waxes and microorganisms.
Our soaps and othr items do not contain SLS or any other detergent based foaming agents in any of our products. We are in business to provide Nontoxic Alternatives for Life.