Please. I am begging you. Put down that bottle of castile soap, step away, and listen to me. For the love of God, stop using castile soap for skincare purposes.
I promise you, it’s not doing your skin any favors. In fact, it could potentially result in damage that is difficult to reverse.
One reason for castile’s soap rise to fame is that the natural space has praised it in all its natural, non-toxic, multipurpose glory. People recommend combining it with your favorite essential oils to create a customized face or body wash thinking the homemade mixture is safer than any store bought alternative.
It literally pains me every time I see this recommended, so I’m going to explain why it’s a bad idea to use castile soap for skincare.
what is castile soap anyway?
Originally an olive-oil based soap from Spain, castile soap is now a household staple in every wellness junkie’s cabinet. Very simply put, it is a soap created by combining a mix of vegetable oils with potassium or sodium hydroxide in a process called saponification.
This results in an all-natural soap that works effectively cleans just about anything. If you’ve ever read the label of a Dr. Bronner’s bottle, you’ll see that it markets itself as a product that can clean everything from your roof to your floors, and from your head to your toes.
But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
just because it’s natural, does not mean it’s safe
The use the word “safe” here requires context. Is this product toxic? No. Is this product harmful? Not exactly. Is this product overall safe? Yes. However, just because it’s natural, and just because it is a soap, doesn’t mean you should cleanse your skin with it.
With that, I nervously tell you that no – castile soap is not safe for your skin.
While I believe wholeheartedly in living a life in the pursuit of wellness, and using the cleanest, safest, and most natural products on and around my family, sometimes that concept falls short.
it boils down to simple science
Science. Ohhhh yeah, science. Don’t get me wrong, I like nature. But I also like science. I like nature even more when science supports its cause.
As a licensed esthetician, skin health is my #1 priority. Every decision I make in my career – every recommendation, every consultation, every product developed – all comes back to one simple question: “is this going to be safe for the skin?”.
Not safe for floors. Not safe for laundry. Safe for the skin.
While many things make a product safe or unsafe for the skin, the particular subject of importance here is regarding pH.
To refresh us all on some basic chemistry, the pH of a substance tells us how acidic or alkaline it is. A pH of 1 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline, and 7 is neutral.
Your skin is naturally between a pH of 4.5 – 5.5, meaning it is slightly acidic. This is important in understanding overall skin health, because your skin has what is called an “acid mantle”, which is a slightly acidic ‘film’ that exists on the surface of our skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, environmental aggressors, and any other junk that wants to make its way into the body. This is also sometimes referred to as the skin’s “protective barrier”.
The pH of castile soap, however, is in the range of 9 – 11.5, making it quite alkaline. This is a significant pH difference between the skin and the soap, and is the primary reason why castile soap is not healthy for the skin.
why is pH so important?
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s responsible for many crucial functions, the biggest being a protective barrier to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. It’s so important to take care of your skin and protect its most basic functions, and believe it or not, but cleansing is a simple action that can make a huge impact on your skin’s overall health.
The acid mantle, or “protective barrier”, is a key contributor in your skin’s ability to maintain a strong defense. When we start to expose our skin’s barrier to substances that pull it out of a place of health, it slowly starts to lose its strength. When it starts to lose its strength, we start to see a plethora of skin conditions arise.
- Dryness and flaking
- Redness and irritation
- Breakouts and acne
- Broken capillaries
- Lines & wrinkles
Shall I go on?
Some of this damage is really hard to reverse, such as broken capillaries and wrinkles. Which means maintaining your skin’s barrier is even more important, because damage that cannot be undone is not something you want to deal with.
You may be thinking, “I’ve used castille soap for a while and my skin is fine”. But just because you haven’t experienced any damage yet doesn’t mean you won’t. To visualize, imagine a new brick wall in which you see something strong that cannot be permeated. However, after years of rain, wind, snow, and heat the mortar starts to crack and crumble, bricks may come lose, and the wall can start to fall if the damage is not properly addressed.
Think of your skin in the same way. Just because the impact doesn’t occur immediately, does not mean you’re exempt from what can happen with long term use of the wrong product.
despite all that, is it not safer than the store-bought alternatives?
You might be wondering if castile soap for skincare is still better than the options available to you at the drugstore.
Fortunately, natural beauty care has come a long way over the last decade. You can walk into any beauty retailer and find not one, but multiple natural, effective, safe and non-toxic facial cleansers. These cleansers typically use plant-derived surfactants (not sulfates) that provide gentle cleansing without disrupting the skin’s natural pH. Additionally, you can pack an punch by finding a cleanser that leverages other beneficial extracts, oils, or vitamins to further address your skincare concerns.
Simply put, there are effective, safe, and natural options available to you.
my personal favorite cleansers
I am a slight cleanser junkie and I rotate a few cleansers in my routine.
- For nightly makeup removal I double cleanse by first using an oil cleanser. This option is very gentle and has a super simple formula, making it great for sensitive skin types.
- I love a Vitamin C Cleanser to wake my skin up in the morning and revive my complexion. Vitamin C instantly brightens the skin and this cleanser foams with the use of plant-based surfactants, nothing harsh or stripping!
- If I am feeling lazy, my favorite face wipes are infused with hibiscus and remove everything with a single wipe.
- Occasionally, when my skin is breaking out or looking depleted, I boost my routine with a Glycolic Cleanser. Just like the Vitamin C, this cleanser uses plant-based surfactants instead of sulfates such as SLS or SLES.
So between the options available, and the science to explain, there is no excuse to use castile soap for skincare.
Be sure to comment below and let me know your favorite cleanser, or a cleanser that you’re looking forward to trying!