Natural Soap Compared To Commercial Soap

You are trying to decide whether to purchase a bar of handmade natural soap or a commercial brand of soap.

Organic Natural Carrot Soap

The natural soap bar costs more than commercial soap. So you ask yourself, "Is there really a difference between commercial soap & natural soap? I mean, soap is soap, right? Both bars clean your skin, right?"

While I may agree that both bars clean the skin, the similarity goes no further. Obviously, I am quite biased in favor of natural soap--I admit it. But I believe it to be true with all my heart! 

There are major differences between natural handmade soaps and commercially produced bar soaps when you consider the ingredients, the manufacturing process, the environmental impact, the effect on your skin and I could go on and on.

In this blog I would like to focus on the question, "soap is soap, right?


Is Your Soap Really Soap Or Is It Detergent?

We probably use the word “soap” every day to simply mean some sort of cleansing agent. What we do not realize is that most of what we call “soap” is actually not soap at all!

Look at the label on your bar of commercial soap, shower gel, or facial cleanser. Is it called "soap" on the label, or is it a “beauty bar,” “cleansing bar,” or “deodorizing bar?”

If it does not say "soap" then it is not really soap!Natural Soap

Commercial bar soaps are produced on a large scale with harsh chemicals, synthetic ingredients, cheap fragrance oils, and artificial colors all of which can irritate your skin.

Today there are very few true soaps on the market and even fewer natural soaps. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products.

Detergent cleansers are popular because they make suds easily in water and don't form gummy deposits.

Some of these detergent products are actually marketed as "soap" but are not true soap according to the regulatory definition of the word.

The word "Soap" actually has a legal definition provided by the FDA. Most commercial brands are not called soap because they are detergents and do not meet the legal definition of soap.

Both soaps and detergents are surfactants (a blended word that comes from "surface-active agents"). A surfactant decreases the surface tension of water which allows grease and water to mix.

But, soaps and detergents are NOT the same.


Handmade Natural Soaps are made of materials found in nature, like pure plant-based oils, oats, honey, and goat milk.

Detergents are synthetic--made from synthetic surfactants, petrochemicals, and other cleaning agents.

Detergents were developed during World War I in response to a shortage of the animal and vegetable fats and oils needed to make natural soap.

So, most products you think of as "soap" are actually synthetic detergents or "syndets."

Synthetic Detergent Soap SyndetsSyndet is a blended word made by combining the words “synthetic” and “detergent.” Read our blog, "What are Syndets?"

The word was invented by the personal care industry to make their products that contain synthetic detergents sound more attractive to consumers who tend to shy away from synthetic skincare.

A "synthetic detergent bar" does not sound very appealing, while a "syndet bar" sounds like it is something special. They are often fun colors, pretty scents, and lather very well due to the synthetic foaming agents in the detergents.

Detergents are good for one thing--removing oil. Detergents may be good for cleaning laundry or dishes, but NOT for cleaning your skin!

Commercial detergent bars strip the natural moisturizing oils from your skin. So after you take a bath or shower with commercial soap you reach for that bottle of expensive lotion, to put back the moisture that was taken away by the commercial soap.Natural Goat Milk Oatmeal Soap

The label of ingredients on a bar of commercial soap has a long list of unpronounceable chemicals.

Whether or not these synthetic chemical additives are bad for you and the environment may be up for debate, but chances are you are better off without them.

The chart below compares Chagrin Valley Natural Soap with a popular moisturizing brand.

Compare For Yourself


Chagrin Valley
Goat Milk Oatmeal Honey

  • organic sunflower oil
  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • organic coconut oil
  • organic sustainable palm oil
  • organic virgin shea butter
  • organic cocoa butter
  • organic canola oil (non-GMO)
  • organic castor bean oil
  • goat's milk
  • water
  • organic  honey
  • organic oatmeal
  • organic oat flour
  • organic cornstarch
  • organic rosemary oil extract 
  • sodium hydroxide*

    * Used during saponification Process to turn oil into soap. None remains in the finished product. All real soap is made with saponified oils.



  • sodium cocoyl isethionate (synthetic detergent)
  • stearic acid (hardener)
  • sodium tallowate (sodium salt of cow fat)
  • water sodium isethionate (detergent/emulsifying agent)
  • coconut acid (the sodium salt of coconut oil)
  • sodium stearate (emulsifier, also used as a cheap stabilizer in plastics)
  • sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate (synthetic detergent, skin irritant) sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernelate (sodium salts of coconut or palm kernel oils)
  • fragrance (synthetic scent, potential allergen, common skin irritant) sodium chloride (table salt used as a thickener)
  • titanium dioxide (whitener, also used in house paint)
  • trisodium EDTA (stabilizer, used in industrial cleaning products to decrease hard water, skin irritant)
  • trisodium etidronate (preservative, a chemical that is used in soaps to prevent soap scum)
  • BHT (preservative, common skin irritant)






And...Dove Is The Bar Most Recommended As A Mild Soap.

Why do commercial soap companies add these undesirable chemicals to their soap? They are cheap (which of course means more profit) and they provide the soaps with a very long shelflife (if they don't lose soap they don't lose money).

Natural Organic Aloe Soap
Every day, people take baths or showers lathering up with commercial “soap.” Keep in mind, our skin is the body's largest organ, and like a sponge absorbs many different chemicals.

In fact, today many medicines are now given in "patch" form to be absorbed through the skin.

Now Read The Label On A Bar Of Your Favorite Commercial Soap!

The body’s largest organ, our skin, is incredibly porous and absorbent. How we treat our skin can have a major impact on our overall health as well as the look and feel of our skin.

After comparing ingredients ask yourself . . .

So, what do you want to put on your skin?

For more information please read our blogs, "Why Use Natural Handmade Soap Bar?"  and  "The True Cost of Commercial Soap"