Even though soap’s invention dates back to the times of the Babylonians, it’s use and form has changed over the centuries to suit the times. Additions of certain oils, either animal or plant, infusions of herbs and teas, and even grinding it down to flakes to make it multi-purpose, soap is a very versatile substance. Since ancient times, variations of soap have been deployed for cleaning everything from cooking pots to statues, but at its most basic foundation today, soap is a cleanser for the skin.
Ask any small batch soap-maker today, and they’ll offer you a litany of reasons why theirs is the one you need. The truth is, most will do the job, and that is, to clean off dirt and rid the skin of the germs and microbes that might be there. Left unfettered on an unwitting human host, these germs and microbes can blossom into full-blown disease, which can harm not just the individual, but for those with which they come into contact. But here’s the good news: according to the CDC , washing the hands with soap is one of THE most effective ways to remove these harmful residues from the body.
Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed . – CDC
Given it’s such a simple thing to do, why not wash regularly and often? Some will complain of drying of the skin when washing frequently, and that’s where a good quality soap stands apart from the regular bars. A simple soap, with recognizable, pure ingredients can be your skin’s best defense, not only against harmful germs and microbes, but can possibly decrease the drying and cracking of over-washed skin. Follow your washing with a high quality lotion or cream, and your skin will be kept healthy and soft in between cleanings.
And just a sidenote: there is quite a bit of misinformation about “anti-bacterial” soaps. The CDC ruled several years ago that that term could not be applied to household soaps, and could be only relegated to true healthcare-grade soaps and cleansers, as well as sanitizers of that nature. If you’re unable to get an actual hand-washing done, hand-sanitizers are a fine interim method for keeping germs in check, but are still no replacement for a thorough hand-washing, as sanitizers still don’t lift the grime from your body.
Need help with a good technique for hand-washing? Soap enthusiast Alton Brown provides a great and fun video on its finer points, in addition to discussing why bringing your own soap on the road is a good idea!