Why do so many commercial soaps, handwashes, shampoos, etc. not make the cut for people who suffer from eczema? Then what is it that really works as the best soap for eczema?
In this article, we zoom in on
- soap vs detergent chemistry
- our favourite soap brand
- the other things we do with it
If you would like to skip all these technicalities and just find out our recommended soap for eczema, click on the button below to go to our review page:
Soap vs Detergent Chemistry
Soap and detergent are entirely different things, in terms of how they are made, and hence their chemistry, functions, and effects on our skin.
How soaps and detergents are made
Soaps are made from natural ingredients, by mixing fats and oils with a base. These can come from animals or plants. Some people prefer their tallow soap (usually made from beef, or lard from pig, or even sheep), while others love their plant oils (coconut, olive, hemp, jojoba, etc.).
Detergents are made from synthetic chemicals, and can be formulated for all sorts of cleaning purposes around the home, or in industries. They are generally much harsher than soaps, as they are meant to cut grease and oils. Almost all commercial household cleaners use detergents, from dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent to toilet cleaners, wood cleaners, floor cleaners, and glass cleaners.
So, soaps for the skin and anywhere on the body, and detergents for everything else. Sounds good? Think twice…
Detergents are everywhere
In fact, the surfactants used in detergents are almost always found in commercial skincare products! Surfactants are surface active ingredients, which, in simple terms, has one end of its molecule attached to water, and the other end to oil and grease, hence being very effective in cleaning.
Common surfactants found in personal care products like body wash, hand wash, facial cleanser, shampoo, etc. include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), among many others. I give special attention to SLS because it is highly irritating to people with sensitive skin, and can even irritate the eyes and lungs. So these can’t be good for eczema warriors.
Take a walk along the aisle of personal care products, pick up random brands and chances are you will find SLS or some other surfactant on the ingredients list. We really don’t need harsh chemicals to clean ourselves. In fact, many times I just shower with tap water, just water and nothing else, no soaps even. And I feel clean!
Manufacturers of personal care products have brainwashed us, and have us believing that we need those bottles of chemicals with fragrances (which are also irritants by the way) in order to feel clean and fresh. That is not what nature intended for us.
If you look at the ingredients list of your ‘body soap’ or ‘hand soap’ (in fact those aren’t even real soaps as what we have defined here), you will find chemicals names that you mostly don’t recognise, that tells you to chuck it into the bin, it’s really no good for your eczema skin.
And we have not even started discussing all the other bad stuff lurking in there, from preservatives to fragrances, which is really best left for another post.
The best soap for eczema skin is Dr Bronner’s
Why is Dr Bronner our recommended best soap for eczema? The answer is very simple:
- it is made purely from plant oils, with zero additives.
- it is versatile, as it comes in the form of bar soap, as well as liquid soap.
- its liquid soap is concentrated, so dilution is required for all our uses, which means it is very cost-effective.
- according to the labels, it has 18 uses, all the directions for use are stated clearly, like the dilution ratio, etc.
- our entire family has been using it for one full year, on our bodies and everywhere around the house. It has worked great for everyone, with or without eczema.
To elaborate on the last point, I left my job to stay at home so that I can work on my eczema warriors’ health this year. So I have shouldered the load of all the household chores for the whole year, from laundry to toilet scrubbing, from cooking three meals a day to washing of dishes. This is certainly not to brag, but to bring across the point that I’m exposed to household cleaning products on a daily basis.
I’m so glad we found Dr Bronner’s, and overhauled all our household cleaning products into DIY ones, throwing out all the commercially bought ones. We use simple kitchen items like baking soda, vinegar, and of course Dr Bronner’s soaps, to make everything on our own.
Despite daily exposure, lots of it, to the soaps, my hands feel soft and smooth. They totally give no clue that I’m a homemaker. In comparison, before this year, when I was working a full time job, and hardly did household cleaning as we had part-time help, at most I cooked dinners and did the washing up afterwards. But we were using dishwashing detergent. It was harsh! Made my skin dry, rough and cracked, and all wrinkled.
So I am living testimony to the mild, nourishing and protective qualities of Dr Bronner’s soaps.
Other cleaning products around the house
So you see, not only do eczema warriors have to choose the best soap that suits their sensitive skin, even household cleaning products matter a lot. Because they will come into contact with the surfaces that we clean using those products, from the floor to tabletops, from windows to toilet seats, and even their clothes that we laundered.
All these come into direct contact with their skin. So these demand the same stringent criteria that we give to their personal care products. The 18 uses labelled on Dr Bronner’s soaps include whatever household cleaning you could think of. But for some of them, I have formulated my own DIY recipe, which you can refer to in the links below. These still have Dr Bronner’s as one of the ingredients.
The other attribute that makes detergents more popular than soap is that they do not leave a residual film like soap does, hence you get the squeaky clean feeling after rinsing off the dishes, while washing with soap tends not to give the assurance that it is cleaned effectively. So the trick is finding the right formulation when making your own dishwashing liquid.
Here are all the DIY recipes that I have posted about before:
Oh and I have made my own DIY body wash too, which adapts Dr Bronner’s soaps in it as well.
Soaps are great because they are natural and biodegradable, allowing us to do our part for conserving the environment. Equally importantly, Dr Bronner’s is the best soap for eczema skin, because it is pure plant oils, with zero additives, and is versatile as you can use it for all household cleaning. I feel great knowing that my home is cleaned naturally, and chemical-free.