Is Your Soap Doing You Dirty?

Supermarket shelves are hidden behind “beauty bars” “moisturizing creams” and “hand washes,” all sold to consumers as cleansing products. But are they as luxurious as they sound?

While all of these products may sound like glamorous soaps, they are forms of synthetic detergents masked by fancy titles to entice consumers. While synthetic detergents function as cleaning agents that diminish some of the most stubborn blemishes, they’re comprised of some of the most skin-harming ingredients. The most commonly identified are known as petrochemicals.

What are petrochemicals?

Petrochemicals are unsustainable (non-renewable) chemicals derived from petroleum and natural gas, two agents found in asphalt, automotive gasolines, fuel oils, and kerosene, all of which are highly toxic and flammable.

In order for petroleum-based products to be approved, petroleum needs to undergo a refining process to rid it from carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. However, due to the amount of carcinogens it contains, there is no precise method to ensure that all were removed.

Identify petrochemical products

Petroleum-based products are typically those labeled as “moisturizing,” as petroleum acts as a sealant between skin cells, “locking-in” moisture. However, this method clogs pores and prevents skin from releasing toxins in the body through sweat glands.

To prevent from using petrochemicals, avoid:

  • Packaging that claims the product “seals” or “locks-in” moisture
  • Products that contain mineral oilparaffin, or petrolatum

When searching for a soap, liquid or bar form, opt for products:

  • Labeled “soap”
  • That contain minimal ingredients
  • With natural oils such as olive oil or coconut oil

Brands that often use petrochemicals:

  • Vaseline
  • Avon
  • Olay
  • Old Spice
  • Dr. Harris
 Is Your Soap Doing You Dirty? Photographed by Jessica Toscano