Soap is something that has been around for thousands of years. Some of the earliest records of humans using soap date back to ancient Babylon somewhere around 2800 BC. And, of course, the Egyptians were big believers in soap as well. But we now know that soap is not necessarily the most gentle cleanser for the skin. This is why companies such as CRUDE Personal Care advocate for soap-free skincare.
Soap-free skincare is a philosophy of creating cleansing and moisturizing products that contain no soap or detergents. Soaps are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves; they are just not the best option for sensitive skin. They are designed to work in a specific way and, unfortunately, a way that interrupts the natural balance of the skin. A cleansing oil for dry skin is different in that it helps maintain that delicate balance.
The Chemistry of Soap
Soap gets its name from a process known as saponification. This process is actually a chemical reaction created by combining a fat with an alkali. For example, a soap maker might combine beef fat with lye to create the basis for a new soap formula. Additional things like moisturizers and perfumes can be added to the mix to make it more palatable.
The saponification process creates a substance that affects the surface tension of water. That’s how soap works as a cleanser. Reduced surface tension is that which makes it possible for water to penetrate substances it otherwise couldn’t in order to lift those substances away from whatever surface they are on.
At some point in your life, you have probably had greasy fingers. You know that running your hands under water is not going to help because the water cannot penetrate the grease. By using soap, you are reducing the surface tension of water so that it can get underneath the grease to form a layer between it and your skin. Once water gets under the grease, the grease easily wipes away.
The problem with soap as a skin cleanser is that it allows water to penetrate the skin’s naturally produced oil, called sebum. Just like the grease on your fingers, water penetrating sebum causes that oil to be lifted away right along with the dirt and debris. In short, soap actually removes the natural oil the skin needs to protect itself.
The good people at CRUDE explain that soap’s ability to strip the skin of sebum interrupts the balance nature intended. With most of the sebum gone, the skin must go to work to produce more oil. In the meantime, exposed skin dries out and flakes. Dryness sends out yet another signal to produce more oil. With every cycle, you have more sebum being produced followed by greater efforts to wash it away. The cycle ultimately leads to dryness, inflammation, and a variety of skin issues.
Soap-free skincare is better skincare because it does not seek to strip the skin of sebum. Rather, a cleansing oil for dry skin is used to remove dirt and debris from the skin without affecting sebum. The oil dissolves in sebum and binds to dirt, debris and dead skin cells so that can easily be wiped away with a good pull cloth.
A quality cleansing oil can clean the skin just as well as a soap – and even better in some cases – without stripping away sebum. This allows the skin to maintain its natural balance, thus reducing inflammation and dryness. When used in combination with an oil-based moisturizer and an organic detoxifying mask, soap-free cleansing oil helps to encourage healthy, radiant skin.