I was just reading the latest issue of Grit magazine and they are doing a whole spread on soap and soap making. One of their soap facts was about the average person coming into contact with over 100 chemicals in their morning hygienic routine before breakfast. 100 chemicals. That's crazy. Its no wonder we have people with cancer and immune disorders and alzheimer's and...You get the idea. So I am proposing that everyone look into the more natural. Like Hand Made soap for instance. It is definitely more decadent than buying a bar of Irish Spring and some handmade soap makers (like me) give discounts for bulk purchases similar to the way Costco gives discounts. You can always try your hand in making your own, but if you are a busy person this option may not be the best bet.
Although hand made soap does have sodium and or potassium hydroxide in it at the start of the process, once the soap has cured, these chemicals have evaporated out and what you are left with is a bar of salt capable of washing away the dirt, grime and bacteria. Yes, I said salt. When you mix one of the above chemicals with oil you get saponification and this process turns the once acidic oil in to the more alkaline salt, we call soap. By using handmade bath and body products you can potentially decrease your chemical exposure by more than 50%. You have to be careful though, even though some products are home made they may still have chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate and laurel sulfate, propylene glycol and phthalates. All of these you should avoid if you are looking for a healthier morning routine. By using a handmade shaving soap for example you can avoid triclosan which is a popular antibacterial ingredient. However, by using products with triclosan we are adding to the problem by creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. By using a hand made shaving cream you also avoid parabens (check labels to be safe). Parabens increase estrogen and have been found in breast cancer tumors. It is a known carcinogen and is in much of the store bought beauty items. Why? It is a preservative. But really, if you buy your handmade soap from a reputable person they will stand behind their products and if they are superfatting (making the bar more luxurious by adding more oils and less lye) then they will most likely be adding something like grapefruit seed extract as a preservative. This can extend shelf life to a year. If it is not superfatted then the bar can get away with no preservative and may last up to 6 months. Most of us don't have soap in our closets that long.
So do yourself and the rest of mankind a favor and buy natural handmade soap. Its better for you, your family, the environment and your sanity because you will know you are using a product that will benefit not only you, but the person that made it and the world around you.