Before realizing I needed to take better care of my skin, I didn’t care what kind of soap I used, as long as it smelled good. While scent is important for many of us, the actual ingredients used to make soap is equally, if not more, important.

To ensure you choose the right kind of soap, there are some key ingredients to look out for.

Avoid two cheap bubbly substitutes that dry your skin

Steer clear of cleansing products made with sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryth sulfate (commonly referred to as SLS). Manufacturers choose to use SLS because it produces an abundant lather and is a lot cheaper than using natural oils.

The problem with SLS is that it over-cleanses and strips away the skin’s natural oils. As a result, your skin becomes dry and itchy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SLS is irritating to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract. And with repeated use, it can cause dermatitis.

Despite the fact that SLS can irritate the skin, it is used in many industrial cleaning products, beauty and household products, including bubble bath, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and dishwashing soap.

Look for soap with natural oils, which include glycerin

The vegetable fats and oils used for soap making contain glycerin, which helps make skin soft and smooth. However, there are more profitable uses for glycerin, including hair conditioning serums, so many manufacturers separate the glycerin from soap and sell it to other companies. They may add cheaper moisturizing ingredients to soap as a replacement, but nothing provides the same moisturizing benefits as glycerin.

Some of the more popular oils in soap that contain glycerin include soybean, canola, olive, coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils.

Handmade, natural soap makes all the difference

With handmade natural soap, you can be assured that you’re using a pure, moisturizing soap. It’s made with only natural oils to produce an abundant lather. And, the glycerin stays intact.

For these moisturizing reasons, more and more people are turning to handmade natural soap, which can be found online, at health food stores, farmers markets and stores that offer locally-made products.

For a handmade natural soap that smells amazing, consider Elemental Blue soap, a treat for your senses! Elemental Blue offers a variety of soaps online and a monthly subscription option with free shipping, so you can get your lather automatically.

Protect your skin in other ways!

To help protect your skin, here are some other things to consider:

  1. Use less hand sanitizer – Sanitizer may get rid of germs, but it gets rid of your skin’s natural oils, leaving it dry and cracky.
  2. Use all natural moisturizers – Form a barrier between your skin and natural drying elements with a moisturizer made with natural oils.
  3. Avoid hot showers – Hot water can strip your skin of moisture.
  4. Cover up – When it’s cold and windy, make sure to wear gloves and clothing that cover up your skin.
  5. Turn on your humidifier – Heating your home causes dry air and dry skin. A humidifier adds moisture back in.
  6. Keep drinking water – Water hydrates the skin, which keeps it more plump and resilient. Hydrated skin protects our bodies from UV radiation, microorganisms and toxic agents.
  7. Take chapstick with you everywhere you go – Use moisturizing lip balm throughout the day and before bedtime to keep those lips soft.
  8. Don’t shampoo every day – Shampooing strips your hair of natural oils which keep your scalp moisturized. If skipping shampoo makes your hair feel gross, try spraying some dry shampoo. There are lots of options available now – even at your grocery store.
  9. Avoid shampoos with SLS – Now that you know how drying SLS can be, check the ingredients and steer clear from shampoo with SLS.