Why Natural Soap?
Because it is soap! Unlike commercial mass produced personal care products, most of it can not be considered soap chemically and/or legally. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop commercial producers from labeling or marketing their product as soap. According to the FDA "Today there are very few true soaps on the market. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products….Some of these detergent products are actually marketed as "soap" but are not true soap according to the regulatory definition of the word."
So what exactly is soap then? To be considered as soap a product must be composed mainly of the "alkali salts of fatty acids", which is what you get through the natural process of saponification, and it should be the material responsible for cleaning. If a product is made, and cleans because, of synthetic detergents then its not soap and classified as a cosmetic (but can still be labeled as soap!).
Why is this distinction important? Cosmetics producers in most cases don’t have to test their ingredients, or even disclose them if they claim intellectual property like in the fragrance used to scent them. Unfortunately out of the thousands of chemicals in commercial use only a small fraction has been tested thoroughly for safety. This is a major concern as our skin absorbs about 60% of what it comes in contact with. Natural soap will not have any synthetics in its ingredients, you know exactly what went it into it and that its absolutely safe to use.
So what are natural soaps made from? Typically vegetable oils and butters that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that can repair, nourish and maintain a healthy skin. When detergent soap makers use oil it is not pure oil but soap stock, a byproduct from purifying raw vegetable oil into edible oil. It contains contaminants that are not allowed in edible oil. Natural soap also contain essential oils, they don't just add scent and aroma but also their own therapeutic effects. Cosmetic detergent soaps use fragrance for scent, chemicals that are often not disclosed and have negative health effects. In addition, natural soap contains glycerin, which gives it a huge advantage over synthetic detergent soap.
Why is glycerin good in soap? The process of making soap creates glycerin, this is good because glycerin is a humectant (it draws moisture to it) and an emollient (softens the skin) making it a great moisturizer. However, cosmetic detergent soap producers remove glycerin from the soap they make to sell or use in higher value products like lotions and moisturizers. This can lead to dry, itchy and ashy skin. Natural soaps on the other hand retain glycerin, so they don't dry your skin, they moisturize the skin leaving it hydrated and soft.
The benefits and advantages of natural soap are not just related to its use, but its production and after use effects. Natural soap producers tend to source ethically, they opt for organic material whenever possible and ovoid problem materials like palm oil. If it is hand made it is also greener in terms of energy consumption, compared to industrial or assembly line production. At the other end of its life cycle natural soap will not introduce harmful synthetics and chemicals into the environment as it washes down the drain. Detergent synthetic soap on the other hand will introduce the various chemicals and preservatives that went into making to the environment at large.
Why natural soap? Because its good for you and good for the planet.