Hope you are doing fine!

By now, we all know the drill ...

"wash your hands with soap and water for 20s"

... rinse and repeat when you reach home, before you eat, before you touch your face, etc.

With so much hand washing, it would surely dry my hands and redness on my skin is normal.


Washing your hands does not need to dry your hands and cause skin irritation. And, it simply comes down to choosing a hand soap that does not contain ingredients that are harmful to your skin.

So, let's begin ...

What is soap?

Soap is the substance used for cleaning, i.e. washing, bathing, etc.

Soap is a salt or fatty acid that "dissolves" particles or grime from surfaces, which can then be washed away by rinsing with water.

Soap is able to kill bacteria or viruses by breaking down the membrane of the microorganism, which makes it anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

What is considered good soap? What is SLS/SLES?

Soap can be made from a variety of ways.

  1. Naturally occurring in from plants such as soapnut berries, soapworts, yucca, etc; soap is produced when mixed with water,
  2. From animal fats by mixing fatty acids with an alkali substance to produce soap,
  3. Synthetically extracted from coconut or palm oil,
  4. Synthetically extracted from petroleum oil.

Method (1) of producing soap is the safest and best as there is no chemical process and is as natural as it gets.

Method (2) has also been a traditional source of soap and used for centuries. However, it is declining in popularity as it is derived from animals and the yield is not high.

Method (3) and (4) both yields soap substance SLS and SLES.

Through method (3), SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) can be considered plant-based and, hence, biodegradable and eco-friendly.

However, numerous reports indicate that SLS and SLES causes skin irritation for people with sensitive skin. While being gentle on the environment, it might not be the safest option for you.

Also to note: Sodium Coco Sulphate is SLES, the same chemical structure but with a different name.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Choose a plant-based soap, but without SLS/SLES.

Are anti-bacterial hand soaps better?

As explained earlier, plain old soap already kills germs and viruses naturally.

Chemical germicides, such as triclosan, which are added into anti-bacterial hand soaps, are not proven to be better at preventing bacterial infection that just soap and water. These chemicals are also drying and may cause irritation on your skin.

Some hand soaps uses natural tea tree essential oil as it has natural anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Choose a regular hand soap without anti-bacterial chemical additive.

What fragrance should I choose?

Don't choose a hand soap with fragrances or perfume.

Fragrances or perfume are a powerful concoction of chemicals, typically containing 100+ different chemicals that creates a strong scent. The chemicals used in creating a fragrance have been reported to cause endocrine and health issues. Additionally, regulatory bodies do not require companies to disclose the chemicals they include in fragrances as it is argues to be "proprietary information", so we don't really know if there is anything harmful in these fragrances.

essential oil - soapnut republic

A natural alternative for scent is to use essential oils, which are plant-based and distilled from flowers, leaves and fruits.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Choose hand soaps that use natural essential oils as scent, or those with no scent at all.

Bar, Gel or Foaming hand soap?

bar soap - soapnut republic

Recently, bar soaps are becoming more popular with the rise of zero waste lifestyle. If you live by yourself, or you have exclusive use of your soap bar, then that is a great idea. The thought of communally sharing a bar soap with family and friends, doesn't sit well with me.

Gel soaps have an additional thickening agent, to create viscosity of the soap. It's one more ingredient that doesn't really help with the cleaning. Moreover, you tend to use more soap with gel and more water rinsing too.

liquid soap - soapnut republic

Foaming hand soaps are foaming by virtue of the foaming bottle pump. There isn't an additive ingredient that makes it foam. Using a foam to wash your hands, also helps the soap go into all the nook and crannies of your fingers and under the nails. Additionally, you use less soap per wash and also less water for rinsing.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Choose a foaming hand soap to save soap and water.

Summary: How to choose your next hand soap?


  1. Choose a plant-based hand soap, with no SLS or SLES, so it's safer on your skin
  2. Choose hand soaps that do not have chemical germicides
  3. Choose hand soaps that have tea tree essential oil, which has natural anti-bacterial properties
  4. Choose hand soaps with no fragrances or perfumes, instead go for those with natural essential oils
  5. Choose a foaming hand soap to save soap and water


Soapnut Republic Foaming Hand Soaps are 100% plant-based, with soap produced from soapnut berries, naturally anti-bacterial with tea tree essential oil and naturally scented with lemongrass, lavender or mint essential oils. It comes in a foaming bottle and last 70% longer than regular gel hand soaps.

Check out Soapnut Republic Hand Soaps

October 21, 2020 — Edwin Ting