Soap - the Cause and the Cure for Acne?!?! a Quest for a Cure

By: Thomas E. Reitz

Is Soap the cause or the cure for acne?
Ever since I was a youth, I had bad acne. And all I seemed to get from people was genuine concern and advise. But there was no consistency in their advice and absolutely none of them worked anyway. I recall going to the doctor including the dermatologist. Drugs were dispensed and I was told not to get any sun. I even stayed indoor for 1 month and that sucked! Again, nothing seem to work. 

Over the years I began a quest to learn about acne, nutrition and exercise, and also found a bunch of nonsense throughout this as well. I discovered something about how soap had changed in the last century and got another piece of the puzzle when I learned, anecdotally, that people back on the farm can't ever remember anyone with acne. My grandfather is 100 next month (June '07) and he told me about this a few months back.

Myths about what causes acne abound.
Let's look at some common myth on the causes of Acne. From chocolate to hormones, but what is the truth. Let's examine each and expose the truth.

  • Chocolate:
    Poor little chocolate. Chocolate is healthful. Hasn't everyone heard of flavonols? There are a ton of them in chocolate. There is nothing wrong with chocolate. HOWEVER, the fake synthetic fats that are all contained in most chocolate candies are bad for you. These are called partially hydrogenated oils or margarine. These we'd recommend you completely avoid for other health related reasons, but these also don't cause acne. I removed these completely from diet years ago but it didn't impact my acne.
  • Dairy:
    The idea that dairy products causes acne is flat out dangerous. Calcium and the related nutrients found in it are vital to anyone! Now, we'd recommend against eating lowfat or no fat calcium products, as the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) can't be utilized and calcium can't be deposited on your bones. And until the day you die, your body needs calcium to keep your bones strong and resistant to breakage. Whole milk is not the problem! However, you need to be sure to eat from a wide variety of dairy products. However, there is nothing in dairy that can cause acne.
  • Soda 
    We have a lot of problems with soda but acne isn't one of them. Firstly, we recommend you not have a soda without a meal just to keep your blood sugar steady from it. For many years, I was massively affected by rising and falling blood sugar levels, but by simply having an occasional soda with a meal has simply cured this. The phosphorous contained in a soda is a brittle metal (according the Periodic Table of Elements), and competes for calcium in your body. If you aren't getting enough calcium and pouring in a ton of phosphorous then your bones will pick up this phosphorous and cause early osteoporosis. And lastly, the high fructose corn syrup in sodas will deplete your body of B vitamins but this again doesn't directly affect acne, even if you get dehydrated. I've experimented with this and it did nothing for me.
  • Lack of water
    Not drinking enough water is a big problem for many people. How much do you need? According to the water cure: (www.watercure2.org), you need to divide your body weight by two and drink that many ounces of water each day. Plus you need an effective sea salt (check out www.realsalt.com) to use this for your food and help maintain hydration. But, alas, this also will not directly affect acne, it can certainly help but not with any clear connection. I've seen no association with this either.
  • Fast food
    Where to start here? If we talk about simply eating your food really, really fast, then this is certainly a problem, but not really for your skin. If we look at the food and additives itself, then we may start to get a problem. A lack of healthful nutrients whatsoever can certainly put a drain on you and deplete you of the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, essential oils, and various other to be discovered nutrients that only come from fresh food (foods that spoil fast). However, this also doesn't directly cause acne. I've known people who eat fast food constantly that have nice skin, however they will eventually have other problems.
  • Stress, hormones or genes:
    This seems to be a cop out. 'We can't seem to find anything directly related to this so let's blame stress, hormones or genetics.' I think this is a factor combined with everything else I've mentioned above but again it is not directly correlated.
  • Modern medicine:
    Modern medicine is pure chemistry folks. Chemists barely look at how food interacts with your body. Instead, they look at how food interacts with their drugs. This is hardly any help because food clearly affects your chemistry but does it directly affect your skin? Unfortunately, no or at least, not for me.
  • Magic potions:
    Snake oil salesmen abound. They are all over the internet and will prey on your insecurity and lack of knowledge. All of these things are shams. They'll either work for a brief period of time or not work at all. Or worse yet, they'll tell you that you need to use more of it (pay them more $) for a longer period of time and that eventually it will start to work. Ugh! (And if it doesn't work, then you are the culprit, not them!)

The real problem with Acne is
Nobody is looking from the outside in. To really understand soap and your skin, we need to understand how soap is made;

Commercial Soaps

  • Historically, natural soap was made by mixing animal fats with lye. Before commercially-produced lye was commonplace, it was produced at home for soap making from the ashes of a wood fire. In modern times, the use of soap has become universal in industrialized nations due to a better understanding of the role of hygiene. By the 1950s, soap had gained public acceptance as an instrument of personal hygiene.
  • Later-on, it was discovered that we could easily substitute the animal fats with cheaper alternative oils like tallow or chemical detergents. The soals can be easily manufactured. Eventually fat-based soaps are superseded by modern commercial soaps. 

The disadvantages of commercial soaps are:

  • Most commercial soaps have had their glycerine removed for use in other industries, which deprives the skin of the natural, moisturizing glycerine and generally leaves the skin feeling dry. 
  • Some antibacterial soaps have antiseptic chemicals that can kill 'healthy' bacteria that live symbiotically on the skin's surface and contribute to skin health. 
  • Commercial soap based products often contain the additive sodium laureth sulfate. Research has found that they are harsh on skin. This product is also present in many non-soap cleaners for personal hygiene (shampoos, bathfoams, toothpaste, etc.). 
  • To this day, we continue to use chemical based detergent soaps on our skin. We then think that the sun is stronger or something as our skin reacts worse to it.

Soap is Cause and the Cure
Soap is both the cause and the cure of skin problems. Chemical soaps cause problems and natural soaps cures it. So what do we consider to be a chemical soap and what do we consider to be a natural soap?

Chemical soap
Any mass produced common brand name soap. Look for complicated chemical names in the ingredient list. Anything you can't pronounce, you should not ingest nor put onto your skin. Please remember that your skin absorbs things. Everyone knows that moisturizers absorb, so why shouldn't the chemicals in soap? These chemicals are being absorbed into your skin and damaging your skin and pores.

Natural Soap
Soaps that are simple and free of chemicals or any complicated words in the ingredient list. The base of soap should be animal fat as this is the most similar to human skin. Simplicity is generally the best solution and with something placed on your skin daily, you need to trust that your soap is naturally pure and clean and will therefore make your skin clean and natural as well. If your soap cleans up your skin and doesn't leave any chemicals on it, then it can finally get clean and be clear of acne

Acne
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