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seatree cosmetics natural glycerin rich, palm oil free soap range

Is natural soap antibacterial? 

Is all soap antibacterial? 

Yes, all soap is antibacterial. Soap works by reducing the surface tension between the skin and bacteria and allowing the bacteria to be washed away.  
All soap is also able to break down fatty lipid layers of the bacteria’s cell membrane which protects the harmful pathogens within. 
All soap’s have these abilities, whether they are made naturally with the process of saponification or if they are made with harsh chemical surfactants
To simplify this, basically soap makes a surface slippery and allows the bacteria to be washed away. They also break down the protective layer of the bacteria at the same time. 
So yes all soap is antibacterial as it stops the bacteria from hanging on to your skin, but there also other ways in which soap can be antibacterial. 

What makes soap antibacterial? 

Antibacterial soap can contain specific ingredients or chemicals which can make them antibacterial. 
In the majority of over the counter antibacterial soaps the key active ingredients is triclocarban. Most antibacterial soaps have triclocarban in them as the active antibacterial ingredient. 
The problem is triclocarban is a potential carcinogen and a definite endocrine disruptor. Which basically means it disrupts hormones and potentially causes cancer. 
Evidence also points towards this particular chemical contributing to bacterial resistance, similar to the overuse of antibiotics. 
As well as being a potentially harmful, triclocarban can be extremely harmful to our marine habitats. 
When it is exposed to sunlight it turns into a dioxin, a highly toxic compound which can cause developmental issues, damage the immune system and disrupt hormones as well as cause cancer. 
Triclosan was the chemical used before it was banned in 2017 from biocidal products in the EU. 
Most products now contain Triclocarban now instead of Triclosan in the EU and United States but outside of these regions the chemical is still in use. 
Always check the label for triclosan when using an antibacterial products from outside these areas. 
Triclosan and Triclocarban are extremely similar in their make-up and both cause the same problems for body and environment. 
If you’re wondering if there are any ingredients which can be added to soap to make them antibacterial naturally then you’re in luck because there are lots! 
Essential oils are nature’s antibacterial agents. Lots of essential oils have amazing antibacterial qualities. 
The best antibacterial essential oils are usually from citrus fruits. In particular Orange and Lemon essential oils are highly active and potent. 
The last ingredient that makes soap antibacterial is more of a metaphorical one. It’s elbow grease. 
Now we know elbow grease is technically not an ingredient, but it is proven that scrubbing your hands rather than just rinsing is critical for the removal of bacteria. 
This makes sense as soap just makes things slippery. You actually need to put effort in to dislodge the bacteria into the bubbles and lather to allow it to be carried away when washed. 
So now you know about the ingredients with antibacterial properties, you need to know why natural soap is more effective at fighting bacteria. Find out here. 

Is natural soap antibacterial? 

Natural soap has the same abilities as chemical based soaps that you can find in your local supermarkets or pharmacies. 
They can reduce the surface tension between your skin and bacteria, allowing it to be washed away easily. They also break down the lipids that protect bacteria. 
The reason natural soap has an advantage over normal soap in its antibacterial properties is that it doesn’t dry out the skin due to its key moisturising ingredient, glycerin
You see, bacteria on your skin, does not mean that you will become ill. Millions of bacteria cells live on your skin daily. 
The main reason for becoming ill from bacteria is if it penetrates the skin or any other way inside the body (mouth, nose, eyes, anus, and genitals) causing an infection. 
Once inside the body it has the perfect environment to spread and grow, causing illness and potentially worse. 
The reason natural soap has an advantage over normal commercial soaps is that its moisturising ingredient glycerin prevents your skin from being dried out. 
Dried out skin or eczema has breaks in the layers which means it’s easier for bacteria to penetrate this layer. 
Natural soap is great because it keeps your biggest asset against the fight against pathogenic bacteria entering your body (your skin) in good condition without any breaks in it. 
Antibacterial soaps from the pharmacy or supermarket are usually made with ingredients that are cheap and drying. 
These ingredients can include chemicals such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate, mainly used in solid soaps) or SLES (sodium laureth sulphate, mainly used in shower gels and hand wash). 
Other ingredients to look out for that are drying and can appear in both chemical and natural soaps is palm oil. If a soap is made up of mainly palm oil as most of the cheap ones are, it can be incredibly drying for the skin. 
With a lot of us washing our hands more regularly since the coronavirus pandemic started, it’s important that you know how long to wash your hands for and how you can keep them protected. Find out more in our next section

How long should I wash my hands for? 

This question has been particularly well publicised during the coronavirus pandemic and the official guidance says you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. 
Although this is a good guide and singing happy birthday to yourself is another way to guide your hand washing habits, some of the most brilliant minds on the planet recommendations are slightly different. 
Research from Harvard University says that washing hands for 15 seconds reduces the amount of bacteria on your hands by 90% and washing for 30 seconds reduces bacteria by 99.9%. 
So if you want to completely rid your hands of bacteria and viruses you need to wash your hands for 30 seconds using soap and water. 
Regular washing with drying chemical soaps, commonly used in public bathrooms, hospitals and other public environments and work spaces can lead to your hands being dried out, cracked and more susceptible to infection. 
Using a natural soap with moisturising glycerin prevents your hands from drying whilst also keeping bacteria and viruses at bay. 
If you are in a profession that has to regularly wash their hands such as a hospital employee or work in the preparation of food then we would recommend using a natural soap instead of a harsh chemical one. 

Why is natural is better than chemical antibacterial soap 

It’s better because it protects the skin from drying out and becoming more susceptible to infection by keeping the skin from becoming dry and cracked. 
It’s also better for our environment. Triclosan and triclocarban are extremely toxic to some species of algae and when exposed to sunlight can turn into the deadly chemical, dioxin. 
Triclosan also used to be used in other products that claimed to be antibacterial such as chopping boards and food preparation materials. 
In 2010 the EU banned the use of triclosan on anything that comes into contact with food. 
The chemical is still used today in things such as well as spot cream, hand sanitiser, athletic sportswear, toothpastes, shower gels and many other products that make claims of killing bacteria and sanitising surfaces. 
Natural soap is already antibacterial as it loosens the bacteria and viruses on your skin and washes them away when you rinse the suds off your hands. 
When natural soap contains additional antibacterial ingredients, particularly essential oils that have antibacterial properties it is a much better and more environmentally friendly choice to make. 
Natural soap also isn’t as harsh as chemical soaps which remove’s the natural grease that ties our skin cells together. It keeps our skin as a barrier to moisture loss and also as a barrier to infection. 
Dry skin is more prone to infection. When you wash with soaps, shower gels and hand wash that have chemical surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulphate or naturally harsh ingredients such as palm oil you are more likely to dry your skin and cause a break in the barrier. 
This is where the bacteria and viruses can enter and cause infection. That’s why we would say natural soap provides more antibacterial protection for you, than a chemical antibacterial soap. 


The conclusion to this article is to say that yes, natural soap is naturally antibacterial and can protect you against bacteria. 
Naturally antibacterial soap is good because it doesn’t dry out the skin and leave gaps which can allow bacteria to get inside the skin. 
This is due to the glycerin that is produced in the natural soap making process. Glycerin is a humectant and naturally draws moisture towards the skin, keeping it soft, smooth and moisturised. 
This moisturising ability alone is one of the key factors to keeping bacteria from entering our skin. 
Now you may have seen glycerin on your soap ingredients list. But one way that we know it has been removed is if there is the presence of one other ingredient. 
That ingredient is sodium chloride, or salt to you and me. If there is glycerin and sodium chloride both on the ingredients list it means that the glycerin has been 99.9% removed from the soap. 
A lot of larger companies and some smaller ones do this as they can sell it on separately for use in; foods, moisturisers and even medicines such as heart medication. 
Our last point to reiterate is that soaps that contain mainly palm oil or palm kernel oil are extremely drying and can have a similar effect as harsh chemical soaps. 
This is because these oils are widely used in cheap soap as they are extremely cheap oils. 
When used in high quantities as they no doubt are in the mass produced soaps that you can pick up in the supermarket and pharmacies, they are super drying and can leave your skin susceptible to bacteria. 
Using a naturally antibacterial soap with glycerin is the best choice for an antibacterial soap as the soap removes bacteria, the essential oils also combat the bacteria and the glycerin keeps your skin protected and moisturised after washing. 
If you’re looking for a recommendation for a natural antibacterial soap, we highly recommend our Sweet Orange Soap, made with only 100% natural ingredients and essential oils. 
If orange isn’t your thing, but you still want something with great antibacterial benefits we recommend any citrus soap, such as Lemon, Lime or Bergamot
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and we’d love to hear what you thought in our comment section below. 

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