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In 2021, there is no room for doubts about the fact that human activity is the biggest responsible for every change happening in the world: climate change, environmental changes, air or water pollution. Every decision a consumer makes contributes to evolving our planet in one direction or another. Last year, the total oil production reached more than 4 million tons, +7.4% compared to 2010. In 10 years, the usage of oil for plastics and different derivatives has never been so strong. Therefore there are simple things you can do to try to help to change it. And one of these things is to stop using Shower Gel daily. The usage of natural soaps is a much better alternative, and here are xx reasons why.

Reason number one: Stop using plastic bottles

Probably the number one reason people should stop using shower gel is the plastic bottle surrounding it. Every shower gel (and shampoo, by the way) use plastic bottles, and those plastic bottles have a single unique usage; and once the shower gel is over, the only thing you can do is throw it into the garbage.

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According to the US governmental organization for climate, only 32% of the total world population regularly recycle their wastage. This means that millions of tons of garbage are buried, burned or ends up in the sea.

A study done by the Daily Mirror in the UK shows that each British household use around 24 bottles of shower gel per year on average. With 27.8 million households in the country, more than 600 million shower gel bottles go to the garbage in the UK.

People could argue that plastic bottles can easily be recycled. Well, as mentioned previously, only one-third of people on average do recycle their waste. Not 100% of all the plastic materials are recyclable, injecting new plastic material each cycle. Last but not least, even though recycled plastic uses 50% less energy, it is still a lot of energy.

Reason number two: Shower Gel formula is generally dependent of the Oil-Economy

Now that we have talked about the packaging, let’s look at the shower gel formula. The shower gel is a derivative invention of liquid soap, which first appeared in the 1800s. In 1865, William Shepphard patented the formula behind the liquid soap, but the product gained eventual popularity with the rise of Palmolive soap in 1898 by B.J. Johnson.

The functional ingredients in a body wash are detergents (surfactants), and generally, anionic surfactants are used. These ingredients are composed of molecules that have portions that are compatible with both oil and water. The oil-loving (lipophilic) ends orient themselves with the oil particles, while the water-loving (hydrophilic) ends orient towards the water. Oil particles are then surrounded by surfactant molecules and lifted off the surface to be rinsed away.

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Secondary surfactants are also used to impact the foam characteristics along with the viscosity of the formula, and they can also make the formula less irritating.

Examples of ingredients that make body washes work include Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Cocamide MEA.

While most of the formula is water, at least 5% of the formula are surfactants, all derivative from the oil industry. Recently formulations have explored the usage of surfactants

Natural surfactants or biosurfactants are amphiphilic biological compounds, usually extracellular, produced by various microorganisms from various substances, including waste materials. There is increasing interest in this topic because of their unique properties such as low toxicity, functionality under extreme conditions, based on renewable substances and biologically degradable nature.

The diversity of these molecules supports their potential application in petroleum, medicine, agriculture, food, cosmetics etc. They are also effective in curtailing the greenhouse effect by reducing the emission of CO2. They can be termed ‘green’ because of their low toxicity, biodegradability and relative stability under a wide range of physicochemical environments. 

The commercial realisation of these eco-friendly biomolecules is restricted by low productivity, expensive downstream processing and lack of proper understanding of the bioreactor systems. But we expect that ure better reactor design and product recovery technology would be developed, and overproducer microbial strain would be sure in the future need. 

Reason number three: Soaps can be naturally made, but choose well.

People often ask if bar soap is natural. The answer is it depends what kind of soap you are using. 

Some of the solid “soap” bars you can purchase from your local supermarket or pharmacy contain surfactants and chemical agents to give you the impression that they can clean you as well as natural ingredients. One of the main additives is sodium lauryl sulphate or derivatives of it. I will not develop all the challenges that these additives procure, but there is one important thing you need to know: It is not because a soap bar looks natural that it is really the case.

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Real soap is somehow a surfactant, and it always results from a chemical reaction between a fat element and an alkaline substance (saponification). The finest grade soaps originate from cold saponification. The advantages of the oils and vegetable kinds of butter that will make up the soap are preserved by not boiling them: vitamins, fatty acids, and other antioxidants. Surgras soaps are also available, which include 100% of the glycerin obtained naturally during manufacturing. Oils can be added to soap to make it more luxurious.

Glycerin and oils help restore the skin’s natural protective layer that soaps can alter. They deposit a film on the skin that prevents water from evaporating, and the skin then stays hydrated longer. The active components in each vegetable oil are as follows:

  • Sensitive skin benefits from shea butter since it softens, moisturizes, and nourishes it.
  • Rapeseed oil has emollient, rejuvenating, and nourishing qualities.
  • Sweet almond oil hydrates and calms the skin.

As a result, you may select a soap appropriate for your skin type (oily, dry, etc.).When it comes to environmental protection, hard soaps that have been cold saponified are superior:

  • The artisanal method of cold saponification consumes little energy and discharges little wastewater into nature.
  • Solid soaps have a minimal environmental effect, emitting 25% less CO2 than liquid soaps from manufacturing to the point of disposal.
  • They wash longer: only 0.35 grams of solid soap are needed to wash your hands compared to 2.3 grams of liquid soap. Also, in the shower, we use a smaller amount of solid soap than shower gel, representing 45 € per year and person.
  • They require little packaging: they are usually packaged in a cardboard box or bulk. Exit the plastic bottle which, at best, will be recycled or, at worst, will be dumped in the sea.

When we wonder about the small things every person can do in one’s day-to-day life, using natural bar soaps is one of them. Rethinking what you buy and what you use is a great way to help to protect the planet, especially if the result of your action goes directly into the siphon of the bathtub.

José Amorim
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