What’s In Your Soap?

I don’t ride bandwagons or hype-trains. I was never one to tout “all natural” or “organic” because it was trending. So, several years ago, when I started my research into making my own soap, it was out of the sincere need to help my husband’s struggle with psoriasis and eczema.

At that time, prior to moving in with my husband, I was using Dove soap. I never thought about it – well, actually, at the time, I thought I was using the best quality soap, so, when I say I never thought about it, it’s more like I wasn’t aware enough to start reading ingredients.  When I learned that detergents and certain surfactants might be irritating for my husband’s psoriasis and eczema, I started reading.

These are the ingredients of Dove soap from their website on 3/27/19:


All ingredients on American packaging, according to the FDA, must be listed in order of percentage from highest to least, with colorants at the end.

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate – This first ingredient is a detergent/surfactant.  As soon as I noticed this as the first ingredient, I realized this may be why my husband’s skin wasn’t improving – it’s possible he was still being irritated by this soap which claims to be for “sensitive skin.” (Source)

Stearic Acid – Common source of fatty acids that have already been saponified (made into soap). This is used in many cosmetic products and very unlikely to cause any irritation.

Sodium Tallowate – This threw me for a loop. This is the saponified version of tallow – which is traditionally beef or pork fat. I was completely grossed out.

OR Sodium Palmitate – OR saponified palm oil?   Palm oil is great in soap (if it’s responsibly sourced), but why is this an OR?

Lauric Acid – This is a common fat, usually found in coconut oil. Totally normal for soap.

Sodium Isethionate – This is a cleanser and skin conditioner. It’s a normal ingredient in cosmetic products and not a cause of concern.

Sodium Stearate – A naturally occuring fatty acid of stearic acid.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine – According to the EWG website: “[CB] has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.” This could have also been a source of irritation for my husband’s skin.

Sodium Cocoate – Saponified oils of cocoa butter. Common.

Sodium Palm Kernalate – Saponified oils of palm kernal oil. Also common for soap.

Fragrance – Perfectly safe and common.

Sodium Chloride – This is simply salt – could be used for hardening the bar?

Tetrasodium Edta (Same as tetrasodium etidronate) – This is a chelating agent. That means it reacts with metal ions to make the product water soluble. A safe, common cosmetic ingredient, also sometimes used to keep the fragrance and color of products stable.

Titanium Dioxide – This is a white colorant – super common (use it in lots of my soaps).

After I did my research and analysis of Dove soap, there were two possible irritants for my husband’s skin because of the detergents. To be clear, these detergents are incredibly safe and common for soap, he just happens to be incredibly sensitive.  What shocked me the most, personally, was the Sodium Tallowate. While I’ve come to learn that many soap-makers use tallow (beef/pork fat) in soap-making, it was something I was personally ethically against. This was the final determination for why I chose to make my own soap.

To compare ingredients, let’s take a look at the ingredients of our best-selling bar soap, the Balance Bar:

Ingredients: Olive Oil, Water, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Calendula Flowers, Lemongrass Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, French Green Clay, Sodium Lactate.

Olive Oil – This serves as a conditioning agent. I use mostly olive in this soap because it’s amazing for soft, healthy, moisturized skin. In soap, it protects the moisture.

Coconut Oil – Big, fluffy bubbles. According to WebMD, coconut oil may help psoriasis and eczema symptoms. I use it for the bubbles in soap, but glad to hear it has good buzz, anyway.

Palm Oil – Amazing hard oil for soap. Keeps skin moisturized, while making a strong, stable bar. I only use responsibly sourced palm oil, by the way.

Sodium Hydroxide – This is commonly known as lye. It’s what makes soap, soap. It creates the saponification process by chemically bonding to the oils.  (In the above example, they say “sodium palmitate” – it means those oils have already bonded with the sodium hydroxide.)

Calendula Flowers – I use them because they’re a pretty, natural decoration for soap, but calendula is said to have many medicinal properties.

Lemongrass Essential Oil – This smells like bright, lemony, green sunshine!

Lavender Essential Oil – Beautiful, floral, uplifting, lavender essential oil is known for its calming properties.

French Green Clay – A natural colorant which I add for its exfoliating properties.

The main differences are the minimized ingredients of the two soaps. Our approach is simple and VEGAN. At Scents the Moment, we aim to use science and nature to awaken your senses and love your skin.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

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