Even when soap smells heavenly, it’s not always good for our skin. Soap can dry out the skin excessively, which can cause it to crack and flake. For others, this leads to an over-production of oil. So either way you end up too dry or too greasy.
The PH-value of soap is usually a lot higher than that of our skin so with regular contact, it destroys our natural, protective layer of oil (the sebum). This is exactly as cosmetics manufacturers would have it: we use soap which dries out our skin, thus to re-moisturize we need lotions that restore the oils we just washed away. They’re making a bundle off our naïveté!
Some skin irritations and even eczemas are caused by too much soap. Since our skin is an essential part of our microbiome, this loss of oils affects our whole immune system.
If your child has sensitive or irritable skin, consider fewer baths, or not washing with soap every time.
Soap can also interfere with the absorption of vitamin D. Sunlight transforms chemicals in our skin into vitamin D3, which then gets processed by our liver and kidneys into an active form of vitamin D. Scientists have found that the oils in the skin’s sebum play an important role in vitamin D intake. When we remove these oils we can disturb the whole mechanism, which takes 48 hours from the time the sunlight hits us to the appearance of active vitamin D in our systems.
Studies that found Hawaiian surfers with extremely low levels of vitamin D hinted at the problem: water sports and bathing a lot might be just as bad for our skin as washing with soap.
The consequences of vitamin D deficiency are serious enough (from respiratory illnesses, higher risk of cancer and mental illness, to bone and muscle weakness), quite without the harm to microbiota on our skin that help us fight off infection.
It might be worth adjusting your bathing routines and leaving the soap in its dish. Or think about buying organic soap with fewer chemical additives, if you can afford to. And then, only lather up where it’s necessary: between the toes, the groin, and armpits. This gives your skin more freedom to do what it’s really there for: protect you from diseases, large and small.
And just think, shampoo has the same effects — and problems — as soap (also to the delight of the cosmetics industry)… Might be time to consider letting our whole bodies do their natural, healthy thing more often. They’re actually pretty good at it!