Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vegetable Glycerin Soap Is A Gentler Alternative

By Kerri Stout

Consumer preferences and buying trends are important to personal-care product makers. In a market filled with a vast number of choices, buyers have begun to avoid personal cleansing products containing irritating, damaging chemical additives, marking a genuine change in sentiment. Vegetable glycerin soap has become a significant alternative to standard formulas that often result in redness, dryness, and discomfort.

Glycerin is not a new discovery. It has been used for years in hospital settings to help burns heal, to make suppository use more comfortable, and in the manufacture of products such as shampoo, lotion, and other personal-use items. Made from plant oils derived from palm and coconut trees as well as soy, it becomes a natural mixture of fatty acids, and resembles other thick, colorless liquids such as corn syrup. It is sweet, and widely used in food products.

In the world of cosmetics, it is known as a humectant, or substance that attracts and sustains moisture on the outer epidermis. This moisturizing characteristic can be especially desirable for promoting facial-care products, with an emphasis on those ingredients that actually prevent dryness. While some skin cleansers contain humectants derived synthetically, cleansers containing vegetable glycerol are considered more natural, and use fewer additives.

When the external layer of the epidermis is moist and supple, it not only looks better, but also benefits from extended cell life through strengthened outer membranes. Many commercial face soaps actually accomplish the opposite, mainly because they closely resemble detergent, and are made from petroleum-based formulas. A few contain small quantities of lye, requiring added lotions to counteract the resulting dryness.

In its unadulterated form, the substance is considered to be hypoallergenic. The pervasiveness of environmental chemical toxins makes life complicated for people who live with skin allergies, and the same is true for those who suffer from eczema or psoriasis. Part of the daily routine is avoiding common chemicals that can trigger a flareup, including soap. Alcohol-based hand-cleaners are popular, but can be harsh.

Even though glycerin products contain fewer hazards, they are not all fragrance-free, and even small amounts can generate reactions in some individuals. Individual skin sensitivities are unique, and finding the brand that is most comfortable for personal use may require testing several products. While higher glycerol content does not necessarily mean better cleansing, it usually means fewer reactions.

Fewer chemical stabilizers used during manufacturing means that individual bars often fade away more quickly than other products. Storage in warm locations is not recommended due to melting, and soap dishes need adequate drainage. Long-term air exposure has the ability to cause shrinkage due to evaporation. Natural glycerin soaps also do not produce as much lather as traditional, detergent-based products.

Many people have begun making their own product at home. There are Internet links detailing that relatively simple process, including the necessary materials, molds, and instructions on safe production. Those who prefer to buy the completed product can choose between liquid and bar forms, and there are even vegan-certified brands that use no peripheral animal products whatsoever. Properly hydrated skin not only looks better externally, but reflects good health internally.

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