4 Types of Raw and Natural Soaps for Your Skincare Routine
Keeping our skin clean is typically seen as a simple task since there are dozens of soaps on the market we can employ to wash our bodies in the shower or bath. While most of the soaps we can purchase can help us remove certain contaminants and dirt, some key differences between them determine which ones are considered the best.
Most soaps come from major brands with specialized recipes that maximize the benefits to our skin. Others are designed to cover niche issues like dandruff or dry skin without detracting from their ability to clean us. With the various brands available, people can select the soap they prefer, with most people having a brand they swear by. For other people, these mainstream brands are too harsh for their skin, causing them to seek gentler alternatives.
While most people purchase the soaps and body washes available at supermarkets and convenience stores, they are not necessarily the best for everyone. Some people prefer to avoid soaps with harsh synthetic ingredients that might harm their skin. This sentiment is most common among those with sensitive skin who fear exposure to harsher soaps might cause more damage.
Skincare routines are inherently complex due to the nature of skin and how it behaves compared to other components of our biology. Exposure to harsh elements can damage it and induce cosmetic issues that you likely want to avoid. Therefore, you might be curious about raw, natural alternatives to clean your skin and preserve its integrity.
Type #1: African Black Soap
Originally produced in Yoruba, Nigeria, African black soap is an interesting product that earned its name after it spread to Ghana and grew in popularity with the African populace. While the name might seem a little "on the nose," African black soap was originally known as ose dudu, sabulun salo, and ncha nkota (Yoruban phrases that translate to "black soap").
It only earned its new name after it reached Ghana and kept the moniker as the soap began its global spread. The soap in question earned its Yoruban name because of its distinct black color that occurs due to the ingredients.
African black soap is made following these steps:
- Plantain skins, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, and shea tree bark are gathered and dried in the sun before being burned to ash.
- The ash is harvested and mixed with water, fats, and oils (i.e., coconut oil) before being cooked and hand-stirred for at least 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, the soap is allowed to dry before being scooped from the bowl and left to cure.
The use of ash as the chief ingredient is the cause of the black color seen in ose dudu bars, but plants used are chosen for specific reasons. Plantains, shea trees, and palm trees all contain several nutrients our bodies actively use to improve our health and physical condition. African black soap is renowned for its various effects that can eliminate contaminants from the skin with the same efficiency as heavy-duty industrial soap.
The difference is that African black soap is gentler and more effective for people with sensitive skin. African black soap is highly praised because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics that protect the skin from harmful elements and reduce damage. These qualities have increased African black soap's popularity amongst Americans and made it a luxury product in the United States.
African black soap is made from natural ingredients, though the process used by the manufacturer you purchase from is subject to change. The modernization of African black soap led to different vendors altering the process to suit their production methods. Fortunately, African black soap is not the only option for people looking for raw soaps.
Type #2: Aloe vera Cleansers
Aloe vera is a substance we talk about regularly, but that is because it has significant benefits for human skin that transcend its typical uses. Aloe vera, unlike African black soap, is derived from a single plant and does not require you to burn the leaves to ash to produce an effective product. Rather, Aloe vera is a succulent with a natural gel-like substance trapped within the leaves that can be refined and repurposed for skincare.
The plant's byproducts already have a well-known reputation for handling sunburns and reducing the pain we experience because of them. Furthermore, Aloe vera's texture and qualities are reminiscent of liquids we consume to rehydrate the body. In a sense, Aloe vera is a liquid that has a viscous texture (though it can be refined into a smoother liquid akin to water or juice). Many are quick to discount Aloe vera's contributions because it is viewed as a sunburn treatment and nothing more.
While Aloe vera is primarily used to treat sunburns, it shares the same benefits as African black soap but is significantly easier to acquire. Furthermore, Aloe vera can be refined into other, more user-friendly tools such as cleansers, lotions, and soap bars. Aloe vera contains natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that accomplish the same functions as African black soap.
However, Aloe vera cleansers have an advantage that other soap bars generally lack without the proper ingredients. Aloe vera has natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, allowing it to clean the skin before any cleansing ingredients are added. As a result, Aloe vera can be used to clean the skin in its base form, whereas most soaps must combine natural compounds together to reach the same effect.
That said, we know that Aloe vera is not ideal for everyone, and you might prefer an alternative substance. Fortunately, other natural compounds and plants can take over for Aloe vera or even synergize with it to offer a deeper cleanse.
Type #3: Matcha Cleansers
You might have heard of matcha before, even if you have never used it. It might also be a surprising addition to this list, considering the main use of matcha is to eat or drink it. Matcha is a special type of tea derived from Camellia sinensis plants (otherwise known as tea plants). Matcha cannot be harvested from every tea plant and is only found on C. sinensis plants that grew in the shade and, as a result, developed higher concentrations of theanine and caffeine.
The increased levels of these nutrients affect the profile of the tea leaves, causing them to become more potent than traditional green tea leaves. Matcha's qualities are so valuable that it generated a sub-culture in China and Japan. While matcha is beloved for its properties, there are certain details you must consider when taking advantage of what matcha has to offer. Specifically, you must account for the matcha's quality, also known as its grade.
Matcha has 3 distinct grades that impact its nutritional and health value:
- Ceremonial Grade: Ceremonial grade matcha is considered the highest quality version of the plant. Ceremonial matcha was so beneficial and revered that it saw extensive use in tea ceremonies at Buddhist temples, which resulted in its moniker. Ceremonial matcha has the highest nutritional value and is never used for anything less than high-quality tea and nutritional supplements.
- Premium Grade: Premium grade matcha is a step below ceremonial matcha but is considered to be just as valuable. Premium matcha retains a high nutritional value that is second only to ceremonial matcha but is not used in religious ceremonies. As a result, the uses of premium matcha are more extensive than its ceremonial counterpart.
- Culinary Grade: Culinary grade matcha is the lowest grade and has the lowest nutritional value of the 3 matcha grades. Despite the lower nutritional value, culinary matcha is still beneficial and can be refined into other products. This includes desserts, snacks, and cleansers.
Insofar as matcha's value as soap is concerned, it shares most of the same benefits as Aloe vera and African black soap. Matcha also has similar antibacterial properties, making it a viable addition to your skincare routine. The real benefit of matcha is that it inherits all the effects of traditional green tea and enhances them because of its increased nutrient value.
Green tea has been linked to skin rejuvenation for years because it can rehydrate our skin and restore elasticity. As a result, green tea and matcha can restore a youthful complexion that would otherwise be lost due to natural aging. The main component of matcha's benefits is the catechins that naturally strip away contaminants like sebum, allowing matcha to prevent acne and inhibit further production.
Type #4: Turmeric Cleansers
Another common sight in several households is turmeric, used as a spice in several Indian and Asian dishes. Anyone who loves curry has likely used turmeric in their recipe due to the zest it adds to the recipe. However, turmeric is derived from a plant called Curcuma longa, a derivative of ginger plants packed with several nutrients.
The most powerful turmeric nutrient is curcumin, named after the plant from which turmeric is harvested. Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid in turmeric and is responsible for its health benefits. Unfortunately, curcumin has a severe handicap that makes it difficult to use as a supplement: it lacks bioavailability. The bioavailability of a substance determines how much of it we absorb when consuming it or applying it topically. Curcumin is infamous for its extremely low bioavailability, meaning our bodies struggle to absorb enough to take advantage of its benefits.
Fortunately, there are techniques we can use to enhance its bioavailability and restore its benefits so we do not waste an otherwise valuable product. Combining curcumin with black pepper has been scientifically proven to enhance its bioavailability by 2,000% thanks to the compound piperine.
When properly mixed with black pepper, curcumin can provide several major health benefits, but it is also capable of cosmetic enhancements related to the skin. This has turned turmeric into an unsung hero of the skincare industry, of which most people are unaware. Soaps that use turmeric as an ingredient can help you heal certain injuries to the skin since curcumin is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories in nature.
The biggest benefit is that it can help you reduce acne scars, so using it as a cleanser for the skin reinforces the anti-acne properties of other compounds. These same anti-inflammatory traits make turmeric a viable tool for treating major skin conditions like psoriasis, which make skincare difficult.
Turmeric is seldom used to create soaps directly but is mixed with other natural compounds to create hybrid soaps. That said, turmeric soaps do exist and are generally mixed with citrus or other natural plants to provide substance to the bar. Unfortunately, most raw soaps lack the piperine necessary to restore turmeric's bioavailability to full power. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge is finding someone who can provide a viable cleanser that uses natural and raw ingredients.
Finding the Right Blend
Soaps and cleansers are extremely important for skincare routines since they help keep the skin healthy and contaminant-free. Most raw soaps focus on a single compound to do the heavy lifting, incorporating other ingredients in a support role. The best soaps attempt to address multiple issues simultaneously rather than a single problem.
Any soap or cleanser you purchase should ideally meet this criterion, but if you have a specific issue, it is understandable to focus on a specific compound. Though not all are natural or reliable, the market is saturated with these cleansers and soaps. The biggest challenge is finding a reliable vendor for a cleanser made of natural substances.
We at Teami know that it is frustrating to try and find a natural soap or cleanser only to realize everything has artificial ingredients. That is why one of the main focuses of our product line is natural skincare to help enhance the health and appearance of your skin. One of our best products for this is our Gentle Superfood Liquid Cleanser, which contains Aloe vera, turmeric, and matcha.
Our cleanser allows these 3 compounds to work together to help your skin recover and improve its aesthetic. We encourage you to visit our website and assess the product personally so you can make an informed decision. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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