You Won’t Believe this Stuff is in your Soap.

“I always wear gloves when I wash my hands,” says trouble-making writer Jarod Kintz. 

And maybe you and I would too, if we just knew what goes in that soft, pretty-smelling bar of ours—or bottle, or shampoo, or body-wash, you name it. All toxic chemicals feed off our life.

It’s hard to tell if the very products that are meant to cleanse you, ironically leave even more toxins behind. How generous of them. The dirt they take is equal to the dirt they make. 

But what they do to you doesn’t seem to matter as much as the fact that they smell good and someone famous uses them and they look pink and blue and red and sparkly (all natural colors extracted directly from mother nature’s pigments, don’t you even doubt it) and when nobody’s watching, you walmost want to eat them.

Yes. Today’s most popular hair and bodywash products— soaps and shampoos almost fit our Beauty Alchemist Mantra: “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Except that they are only edible in potential.

Imagination is a powerful tool. It helps with sales.


So here’s another thing that’s wrong with the world.
(And I don’t mean to ruin your day, but wouldn’t you rather know?)

We could technically say, without exaggerating that most soap is fake, because it defies its very purpose: that of actually cleansing you. It may look like you’re clean(er) on the outside — just as it “feels” like you don’t stink if you use aluminum-based antiperspirants.

But our body goes both ways and our adventure with the world starts on the inside: we have another subcutaneous ecosystem to take care of — the one that curiously feeds and originates all our upper world problems, the one the skin protects and nurtures on.

As one of my favorite writers of all time, great Saul Bellow put it: Dirt Enters At The Heart (DEATH). Any significant change, damage, good or evil, revolution, evolution or de-evolution starts inside. Your headquarters are not what the world sees—not even visible to you.

Most conventional soap, shampoo and body-wash products are made from harmful ingredients, with harsh detergents and petrochemicals at the base.

And please, somebody explain to me why the word “hypoallergenic,” the most abused and misunderstood marketing expression for bodycare products—still has a soothing and almost hypnotizing effect on us. Its definition is medically unclear but in our toxic cosmetic culture it basically means that said product causes “less” allergic reactions.

And that, to me or any other thinking human, is very reassuring. Compared to what? Sulfuric acid? Does this meaningless reassurance dumb us down a little? Or is it all the chemicals combined? I just can’t tell anymore.


Time to run for our lives and inevitably, into this jungle, armed with a little bit of truth.

Your first step? Read the ingredients before you buy anything.

If the label reads a long list of unpronounceable gibberish compounds (with apologies to the Toxic Chemicals Community), stay away. It’s that simple.

Logically speaking, do we really need all that stuff to clean ourselves? If you practice a regular, daily hygiene I doubt that even at your dirtiest you’d need to peel off your skin with cancer-causing acids.

Can you see the insanity in this, once you step outside and look at yourself? I can and it scares me. It makes me doubt our collective logic. 

It also makes me wonder, how did all the the previous generations cleaned themselves until fifty years ago? Did the world literally stink and rot for at least 6,000 years of documented civilization?

Your ideal soap, shampoo or body-wash should not contain more than a few ingredients (four to five readable words at the most). If it has more, make sure you can understand what they are and where they came from and if they claim to be truly natural, make sure this claim is valid and certified.


The Natural Trap.

The word “natural” is one of the most unnatural and hypocritical combinations of letters in history. We should rescue it from the money-monster corporate hands that have succeeded in turning our own language (and as a result our understanding, and the most sacred temple–our body) against us.

When something is labeled as Natural, take it as a warning, not as a sign. And double-check the ingredients.

The fact that a soap bar is handcrafted, does not make it natural. Man can also handcraft weapons of mass destruction. If you choose so, you can add poison to anything in this world—with your bare hands.

By law, soap manufacturers are not allowed to use the name “soap” on synthetic, fake soap. So they call it things like “beauty bar”, “moisturizing bar” or “whatever-floats-your-misinformed-boat bar.”

When it comes to body-wash or shower gel, they don’t need to lie as much, because no one expects it to be “soap” or contain “soap” — but think about it, shouldn’t your shower gel (a.k.a. liquid soap) contain some actual soap-based ingredients?

If it doesn’t, what the heck is in it?  

Well, according to the cosmetic industry, it shouldn’t. And neither should soap.

To make the business even more profitable, most commercial body wash products don’t even contain glycerin, let alone natural oils. Natural fat is the soothing ingredient in soap that counteracts the corrosive, cleansing chemical component and protects our skin. Take that out and what do we have?

A chemical magic bath that literally burns and prematurely ages your skin, messes up your hormonal cycle, and fills your lungs with unwanted toxic fluids. We think it’s okay, because they’re killing us softly, instead of suddenly, and meanwhile they let us get high on the inebriating scents.

But why should a slow death and degeneration should be more legal than a sudden one? If you administer someone poison for a decade and that person’s body finally gives up, why is it less of a crime than if you just poisoned them instantly? 


What’s in your soap and what shouldn’t be. 

In essence, all soap is created equal: it contains (or should contain) lye (sodium hydroxide or its equivalent), water and oil. The soapish (saponified) consistency is acquired when the lye (an alkaline substance) mixes with the oil (a fat).

Additional natural ingredients could be any essential oils or herbal scents you might want to add — which will not change the consistency but only enhance it.

Now, somebody please explain to me why it’s not enough with the above and why we need to add a long list of deadly chemicals—known for their exceptional carcinogenic and hormonal imbalance properties—such as:

DEA, Isopropyl, Alcohol, BHT, Triclosan, FD&C colors, dyes, Triclocarban, EDTA, TEA, sodium laureth, sodium lauryl sulfates among the most popular. 

Why antibacterial products are also anti-you? 

Well, judge for yourself. They’re high in Triclosan—in the above Death List—used in most antibacterial soaps, acne products and other cosmetics. Triclosan is classified as a drug by the FDA and as a pesticide by the EPA as well as an officially recognized risk to our health and the environment.

It is equivalent to the most dangerous toxic chemicals currently used: PCBs, Agent Orange and dioxins. Its production releases dioxin, one of the most powerful, cancer-causing and hormone-disruping toxic substances ever known, with a chemical toxic effect in the parts per trillion (equivalent to one drop in 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools).

I mean, kindly, honestly and respectfully, what the fuck? Do you also chop your head off to cure a migraine? Or, even crazier, drop nuclear bombs on cities full of innocent people just to “strike back”?

The truth is simpler and scarier because the madness has no limits. It’s solely about profit. Not health. Not beauty. Not your friends. Not fair.

It’s troubling enough that we have to die someday, we might as well die on our own terms. Not pay someone to kill us. Not what I signed up for. Not cool.

But, does it smell good?  

Sadly, for many people, that’s all that truly matters when it comes to soap.

Unless stated otherwise, strong scents in bodycare products are usually synthetic, and synthetic scents are harmful to our lungs, known carcinogenics and hormone disruptors.

Anything that is labeled as: “parfum”, “perfume” or “fragrance” is usually synthetic and toxic. They are one of the main causes of skin irritation, and they pollute our environment.

Just as you wouldn’t eat plastic fruit only because it looks like fruit, don’t buy scents that sound or smell like nature but they could not be further away from it.

Natural scents like vanilla, jasmine and rose or other exotic and remote scents are usually very expensive and hard to extract. It doesn’t make any sense that they’d sell gold for the price of dust, does it? Unless it’s not gold.

If you stop buying scented material for a month, your sense of smell will be greatly refined and you’ll become more sensitive and able to notice the natural scents from the synthetic ones, without the need of any misleading label.

I stopped using chemical, toxic perfume four years ago. Instead, I use a few drops of essential oil every now and then (orange is one of my favorites).

It is remarkable and quite amazing what this has done for my sense of smell. I don’t usually shop at big malls or stores, but when I must, I naturally stay away from the cosmetic and housecleaning sections. I hide. I can’t believe there was a time when I was able to inhale that chemical shitstorm and actually enjoy it.

I feel like a true cat now, more animal, more me. I’m amazed by the fact that I haven’t actually made full use of my sense of smell for two decades and by how much richer the world grows when also inhaled.

If you think you can see, try smelling.


A bubbly world? 

There are people who advocate that we should stop using soap entirely. That our bodies are self-cleansing.

I would have agreed with them before the Industrial Revolution (or while Adam and Eve were still naked, living in Eden and eating fruit off trees and talking to flying snakes).

But at the speed at which our world has mutated, I don’t trust my hands as my grandma would have trusted hers.

We are, without a doubt, more full of it than our ancestors, with years of generational and environmental toxins accumulated under and over our skin. So, with your permission, dear grandma, I’ll keep on washing my hands, especially when dealing with food.

But I will not wash them twenty times a day with Delusional Marketing Bars, but only a few times and with a good old three-ingredient, truly natural grandma’s soap. For the rest of your washing, use plain, good old water. It works magic.

Another puzzling thing is all the different kinds of soap (and shampoo, and body-wash and lotions). It used to be the other way around: ones soap for all uses.

Now there are bodycare products not just for (mostly made-up) different types and sub-types, hypo-types, super-types, ultra-types of skin but for any kind of emotional, mental or physical issue you might encounter in a lifetime. You name it, we’ve got just the right thing for you.

Thank you. I’ll have the Beyond Hope Irritated with a Devilish Mutant Grin Beauty Bar please! How did you know my skin type? I’m complicated.

But the truth is, you’re not. We share 95% of our DNA with monkeys. And we look fairly different than monkeys… Now, let’s do the math between us, humans: how can it possibly be true that we each need 20 different bodycare products, one for every possible sigh, heartbeat and wrinkle we experience?

Do I truly look like an idiot ape? Because apes aren’t idiots, they’d never even consider agreeing to this self-destruction. But, truth be told, I am—or I have been one for twenty years. Yet it’s never too late to say: fuck off, is it? As long as you still have a pulse. 

In fact, most of our voting power comes out of our pockets. So let’s use it. Legislation is harder and slower to change, though that battle should be fought too.

But I can say No to your sickening products right now. I don’t need to wait for a politician to veto my shopping decisions. We can exercise our human right on the most basic, economic level: choosing what we buy, every single day.

If our freedom of choice has sadly been reduced to choosing one brand over another, let’s use it in the best way possible—by making our own handmade-homemade cosmetics or by spending on truly conscious, human-friendly brands.

You vote for your presidents and politicians once every four years (or certainly not every year). But you vote on your life, your health, your wellbeing and ultimately, your happiness, your only reality, your You—every single hour and with every dollar you spend. How is this not more political than just remotely choosing a small group of people to represent a country? Have we accidentally misunderstood politics, as well?

Sometimes I’m afraid of what would happen if we took our human rights seriously and decided to creatively exercise the full use of our power. I’m afraid of the individual and collective importance we each have and of the consequences of one single mindful act or decision (or the lack of).

I’m afraid of the honest search for truth and of what would come to be if we decided to consciously abide by what we find. And I’m afraid of how much our lives would change and of all the amazing things we could still do on the same heartbeaten planet if we stopped and paid attention.


In essence…

– Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. I dare you to open your bathroom cabinets, start reading ingredients and mercilessly throw away all your 50-euro lotions, French soap bars and Magic shampoos. And I know you most likely won’t (for now). But at least start reading.

– Start learning what all these words mean, investigate, record what you see — it’s the first honest step in recreating your own face and body.

– Look for soap, shampoos or body-wash products that contain virgin cold-pressed olive, coconut and argan oil (among the most common and accessible hand-crafted natural soaps). Fake soap doesn’t last long. It melts quickly.

– Your ideal soap or shampoo should contain four to five ingredients at the most—if more, they should be additional equally natural certified ingredients, such as essential oils.

– When it comes to actual soap bars, they should have the word “soap” on the label, otherwise don’t even consider it.

– Stay away from synthetic fragrance oils: perfume oils, nature identical oils. If you’re up for a Smell Rehab, stop using scented products (including cologne, perfume or harsh, heavily scented cleaning products) for a month, in order to readjust your sense of smell to a more natural threshold. Our senses, if trained right, are our best allies.

– When they tell you that a product is magical or it contains snake-larva, angel-tears, witch-extract or moon-dust powder, do not believe it, unless it costs millions. And even then, it might be a shameless marketing effort. Truly, nature is not that expensive. And “she” will always make herself available to you in one way or another, if you just take off those thick sunglasses and start noticing her and understanding how she works.

– If a product is supposedly natural and it contains more earthly-identifiable ingredients (such as more rare, difficult to extract and expensive essential oils), only believe it if properly labeled—with the original botanical word for each oil—and certified. You’ll also notice this by the price, though the price of a product should not be your ultimate guide to its quality.

The good news is that you don’t need the most expensive stuff to re-create yourself. If you adapt to nature, nature answers back and adapts to you.

You are the free-willed individual here. Nature’s only will is to protect life. If you align with that life, she’ll do the best she can with what you have left. Each one of your needs will be supplied in proportion to your knowledge, will and circumstances.

You can’t afford everything but you can afford something. Begin with that something. (Now).



Coming next on The Beauty Alchemist: The problem with sunscreen, How to make your own lotion, shampoo & other recipes, The make-up dilemma, I don’t know what to do with my hair, Teeth & Mouth care, Deodorant & Sweat-Fighters, etc. 

Want to join the homemade-handmade beauty revolution? Don’t keep your wisdom and beauty to yourself. Send us your natural bodycare recipe, suggestion or article to 



More Beauty Alchemist: 

>> If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on yours skin {Beauty Alchemist Intro & Four  recommended oils for your face}.

>> Biutiful Maladies.



{Soap-Fight for your Right.}



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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.


  • Mamaste
    Mamaste commented on November 7, 2012 Reply
    I love this series, Andréa. What fun I’ll have going to the market for fruits & veggies to use as skin care. xoxo Mamaste
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
      Wait, more fun if you go with me. We’ll get kicked out and put in solitary confinement.
  • S commented on November 7, 2012 Reply
    Personally I can’t be bothered wasting the time, energy, money, petrol and everything else to go and buy commercial products – shampoos, soaps, beauty products, household cleaners, detergents …. I just make my own – it’s really simple. Alternatively, I can obtain organic, handmade, ethically produced, NOT tested on animal products from my friend Eileen Mallard at … it will change your mind about how you care for yourself, your animal friends, and the planet. Seriously.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
      Thank you for recommending that, S.! Looks yummy. I’ll check it out and maybe try it.The main problem is that, as consumers, we don’t know that we can, not aware of the power in our hands… once we realize that we can and that it’s easier than we thought, there’ll be no stopping us from owning our faces and bodies.
  • Soap Maven commented on January 23, 2014 Reply
    Finally! Someone who gets it. I will never get off of my “soap box” promoting wellness and skincare and simplicity…but it is WONDERFUL to see someone else who is passionately speaking out on this topic. Bravo, my dear. Keep up the good work.

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