Inside Bath Soaps

Bath Soaps have always been a core aspect of your personal hygiene routine and it is one of the most fiercely fought battle ground of Personal Care Products Industry. So, in this article, I will share with you information about it so that tomorrow morning when you go for a bath you will know your product more than what you do today.

First a little history of soap….

Soap has been used since ages but its current form came into being in the nineteenth century.

Candle-maker William Proctor and Soap manufacturer James Gamble came together and founded Proctor & Gamble in 1837.

In the nineteenth century, Italy, France & Spain were the soap capitals of the world.

In the 1970s, liquid soap was invented as luxury products and in the 1980s it was rolled out for everyone.

Composition of Bath Soaps…

When we talk about soap, what keywords come to your mind instantly – cleaning, foam, hard cake, water to rinse it, etc, right? These characteristics are due to one or many of its ingredients. Some ingredients act individually and some in combination with other ingredients.

So, let’s understand it. Bath soaps are made by combining an alkaline substance with fats. This process is called saponification. The alkali reacts with fatty acids to make a long molecule whose one end is hydrophobic (water-hating) and the other end is hydrophilic (water-loving). This molecular structure gives the soap its cleaning properties. The hydrophobic end is attracted to oil and grease and the hydrophilic end is attracted to water. Mixed together soap pulls oils into very small globules creating an oil-water suspension that is washed away from surfaces with the help of water. Alkali used is sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (commonly known as potash). The former is used for harder soap and the latter is used for liquid soap. A combination of the two is used for softer soaps also called cream soaps.

Fats are obtained from animals and vegetables. Animal fat is Lard or Tallow obtained from beef or pork. Vegetable fat is obtained from coconut oil, palm oil, peanut oil, olive oil, and soyabean oil. Soap made from animal fats is hard. On the other hand the bath soaps made from coconut oil is soft. A combination of various fats gives varying degrees of hardness and lathering during the use of soap.

Additional ingredients are added to enhance soap characteristics. These include Aloe, Honey, Perfumes, Fragrances and colorants.

The foam/ lather seen during the use of soap is due to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

To give smooth texture and hydration to soap, Glycerine is included which also acts as an emollient (skin softener). To a large extent, the same purpose is served with Sorbitol also.

The slippery nature of soap is due to its ingredient called Sodium Stearate.

To provide opaqueness and whiteness to the soap cake, Titanium dioxide is added.

As soap contains oil, it is important to prevent it from becoming rancid (foul smell), so preservatives are added – BHT/ Triclosan.

Sodium Palmitate and Sodium Lauryl Isethionate are added to ensure that fats and liquid ingredients blend well.

 Herbal Bath Soaps…

Harsh chemicals that constitute soap may have an adverse impact on the skin over a while. This realization led to the development of another niche variety called organic soap or herbal soap. These have lesser chemicals and are inclined towards the use of herbal ingredients (extracts of various herbs found in Ayurveda).

Bath Herbal Soaps Healthy Skin
Herbal Soap


The herbs infused in these bath soaps have therapeutic and healing characteristics. Different herbs used in making these soap includes – burdock, comfrey, eucalyptus, hyssop, oat straw, plantain, red clover, rosemary and witch hazel. Herbal soaps do not contain a chemical preservative (that has health hazards), rather tea tree and peppermint oil for the same purpose. Most herbal soaps have pleasant smells because the herbs themselves have a good invigorating smell.

Chamomile as a herb is used in healing cuts and burns. It helps relieve stress and trauma. Peppermint helps clear airways. Lavender helps to soothe sunburn and make mind peaceful. Sandalwood hydrates dry and aging skin. It also helps relieve irritation and itchy condition of skin.

If you have dry skin, you should select a soap that is made of oatmeal or avocado extracts and containing lavender, peppermint and spearmint oils. If you have oily skin, look for a herbal soap made of almond oil and calendula oil. Soaps containing teal oil are also found to be effective in curing oily skin conditions.

Concluding remarks…

Ok, so pick up a fresh piece of soap and read its ingredient list. I am sure you will be able to relate to what you read above. Love your soap and enjoy bathing.

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