Know your soap

Health Wise
Last Updated 21 February 2013, 14:23 IST

Buying a soap for washing hands or bathing is not a simple process anymore. Enter any grocery store and you are inundated with a mind boggling variety.

There are bar soaps, gel-based soaps, liquid soaps for showering, anti-bacterial, herbal, aromatherapy and many other kinds. It is but obvious to be confused as to which one would suit your needs.

Doctors though, say that it is very important to be informed about the soap that you are using since it comes into contact with your skin on a daily basis. Soaps are cleansing agents made by mixing animal or vegetable fat. Ordinary commercial soaps have pH levels between 9 to 11, which increases the skin pH level leading to

Aesthetic physician Dr Neetu Saini from LesCosmedics Skin Clinic says, “First of all, one must always remember that soaps are not to be directly applied on the skin. They should be mixed with water and the lather produced thereby should be applied on the body. Extra care must be taken while cleaning areas where perspiration or itching is more.”

“Secondly, soaps and cleansers shouldn’t be used frequently on the face as they can make the skin dry and irritable. Of all the soaps available in the market today, anti-bacterial soaps especially, should only be used for washing hands as they have an added anti-bacterial agent called triclosan or trichlo carbon. Their pH is high
and drains all the moisture from the skin.”

She further informs us that anti-acne soaps - those with anti-bacterial, exfoliating and comedolytic (blemish formation inhibiting) properties are best used on the face, chest and back where acne is more prevalent. You may use them even twice a day in case of severe acne but overuse can cause red flaky patches on the skin.
On the other hand, herbal and moisturising soaps contain gentle herbs and plants like chamomile, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, oatmeal and avocado. Olive oil and shea butter are also used in these soaps. Olive oil, known for its skin-regeneration and radiance properties, contains vitamins and antioxidants that keep skin damaging free radicals at bay.

Aromatherapy soaps contain essential oils, jojoba and sunflower oil, extracts of chamomile, jasmine and ylang-ylang. They are said to promote a sense of wellbeing and relaxation.

Cosmetologist Dr Karuna Malhotra of Cosmetic Skin and Homeo Clinic adds that one should always buy a soap keeping their skin type in mind. She says, “For dry skin, natural soaps with aloe vera, cocoa butter, avocado or vegetable oils are the best. For people with oily skin, antibacterial soaps or specific face cleansers are good. Soaps containing lavender, chamomile and thyme are also effective for oily skin.”
“In case you have sensitive skin which is prone to infections, then medicated soaps are best to prevent and treat skin infections. Glycerin-based soaps like Pears suit people with a combination skin type. If any soap you are using causes allergy or infection, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.”

(Published 21 February 2013, 14:23 IST)

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