While the coronavirus pandemic continues, we're all being extra careful about washing our hands regularly. And it got us thinking - just what is so special about soap?
Here's some insider info on how soap is made, why it's so important, and which ingredients to look out for in handmade soaps.
How soap works
Soap is important for hygiene because it has multiple healthy effects. It can remove oil and dirt from your hands, at the same time as killing germs and other microorganisms.
It works by surrounding and separating the particles of dirt and oil, so that they can be lifted away from the skin with warm water. Viruses and bacteria are partly made of a fatty membrane, so the soap attacks these germs by dissolving the fat that holds them together.
How soap is made
The soap we use to wash with is called toilet soap, and it's usually made with sodium or potassium salts. These salts are mixed with oils, such as coconut oil, to create the soap. Sodium soaps are usually hard, while potassium soaps are very soft.
The type of oil also affects how hard or soft the soap is. For example, if you've ever used Castile soap or Marseille soap, you'll know that it's very gentle. That's because it's made with pure olive oil.
Ingredients to look out for
When you wash your hands very frequently, then soap can start to dry out your hands. So we recommend looking for soaps which contain extra moisture. For example, our Eau Fraiche soap by Monsillage includes shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and olive oil. If you have sensitive skin, you could also look out for soaps which have a "natural pH". This means they're less alkaline than other soaps, so they give your skin some extra protection.