When I was growing up, if I even looked in the direction of the kitchen, my grandmother made me wash my hands.
To this day, I’m one of those people who sneak off to the restroom to wash my hands before eating, and I still recall my dad admonishing not to touch anything on the way out (especially the bathroom door handle!) to avoid defeating the purpose of our hand-washing trips.
Maybe that’s a little TMI, but flu season is just around the corner, and we’ve got a primer on soap and handwashing as small daily act to bolster your first line of defense.
The Ballet of Hand Hygiene
Did you know that the practice of washing your hands is the "the single most important factor for infection control"?
When it comes to maintaining good health, washing your hands — or “the ballet of hand hygiene” as infection researcher Jacqui Reilly calls it — is one serious, life-changing practice you don’t want to pass up.
Seems so simple, and even if you follow the WHO’s six steps, it takes only 42 seconds! Truly, it is a small act that has powerful implications for our skin and health.
Handwashing as a daily practice rates so low on our to-do list that we apparently needed a Global and a National Handwashing Day to raise awareness for its importance.
Today’s hand-washing statistics are simply appalling — people wash their hands only 19% of the time after using the toilet or changing a diaper, which is horrifying if you consider all the places we touch throughout any given day.
Any Cheap Brand Will Do, Right? Um, No…
Picking the right soap can be tricky, so here are 7 soap savvy insights to keep in mind:
- Although we consumers have been trained to look for “magic” ingredients, truth is, real soap — vegetable or natural oil soap — gets rid of pathogens and helps maintain our wellness without harsh effects and toxins
- Whether you prefer bar soap or liquid soap, choose soaps that are made from natural oils and ingredients, like Castile-style soaps
- Castile-style soaps are nontoxic, biodegradable and don’t lose their potency with time, so they’re good for you and the environment
- Ad campaigns tout antibacterial ingredients as a reassuring panacea, but scientific studies show that the opposite is true — antibacterial soaps contribute to the growing scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- The harsh additives in cheap soaps can have a drying effect and provide additional pathways for infection through rough, ashy or cracked skin and brittle or broken cuticles
- Many of our skin issues actually result from the way our skin reacts to the products we use to clean it, not from having sensitive skin
- Skin cleansers that are too drying can cause further irritation which makes moisturizing ingredients even more important if you have eczema or sensitive skin
Many widely used body and hand soaps today have been found to contain questionable and potentially harmful ingredients, such as:
- Triclosan is a pesticide that has antibacterial properties, which is believed to contribute to antibiotic resistance
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) is used to produce lather and bubbles in soap but permeates outer layers of the skin easily and is a skin irritant for people with sensitive skin or eczema
- Cocamide DEA sounds OK because it comes from coconut oil, but it is one of the top skin irritants—and some hugely popular and natural-sounding brands and soaps still contain it.
The Case for Investing in Good Quality Soap
Quality soaps like Eu2Be’s Shower + Soak Soap are made using 12th-century soap-making traditions that originated in the Spanish region of Castile.
Made with natural oils and ingredients — not skin cleaning detergents which are so popular in today’s shower gels and body wash products — Castile soap is an amazing, high quality and versatile cleansing agent.
Cleaning detergent blends found in many popular body washes and shower gels don’t actually contain real soap at all, but they do make a show of the quick, big bubbles and lather which we’ve come to equate with “good cleaning.”
According to a 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, soaps that are formulated with higher levels of fats or lipids, including those made from emulsified petrolatum, form more of a protective layer on your skin.
Eu2Be soap is real soap, made from saponified oils of olive, coconut, castor and organic palm. Then we infuse even more fatty goodness by adding skin-loving emollients like Babassu, Maracuja, Rice Bran and Buriti Seed Oils. And that golden color comes naturally from Buriti Seed, the Brazilian Tree of Life oil.
Gentle, moisturizing and naturally derived ingredients like these clean without stripping the natural oils that keep your skin protected which is especially important for sensitive skin.
Eu2Be’s soap is designed to clean it all — with added moisturizing benefits — from head to toe: Hands, face, body, hair, soaking in the bath, and great for maintaining a healthy clean while traveling.
An Original Girl Boss
When we think about modern history’s greatest pivot points, those moments that forever changed our lives for the better, major inventions are top of mind, like antibiotics, the first printing press, the airplane, the iPhone — and of course, the spork.
But some of our most powerful change agents don’t come in the form of technology or science, they happen in the quiet power of changing one’s mindset or habits.
Up until 150 years ago, few people gave it any thought. Yet, today we know that the simple act of hand-washing prevents millions, perhaps billions of cases of disease every year.
And we have none other than the great Florence Nightingale — an original 19th-century “Girl Boss” and founder of modern nursing — to thank for imploring people to make handwashing a healthy habit in the mid-1800s.
Before Florence, no one routinely washed their hands when preparing food, after handling animals, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, before delivering babies – and even doctors performing surgery didn’t scrub-in.
So if you want to make a big difference with your skin and wellbeing in a way that has rippling effects, develop the habit of washing your hands.