In general discussion, a lot of people I meet ask at some point, "what do you do?". My initial reply is, "I make Olive Oil Soap.". Some seem surprised, some amused, some indifferent - but often the question comes, "So, why did you start doing that?"
The first thought around my venture into making olive oil soap and other products started with a casual view of the soap products that I was currently using, from a relatively simple product, I thought that the ingredient list was extremely long and unnecessarily complex. I wondered about this and then trusted some web searching to look up each of the ingredients and their uses.
What I found was somewhat shocking, many ingredients that I looked up were banned in many countries and side effects ranged from irritation to the skin and eyes through to organ system toxicity.
All of this did not sound good, my thought immediately centred around why so many companies put this in their products. After making some enquiries (to no avail), reading other sources online, I concluded that these chemicals were used by many companies as cheap fillers and preservatives for their products.
Some general information on these chemicals is summarised on a great website: https://www.forceofnatureclean.com/choosing-chemical-free-hand-soap/
Parabens are preservatives that are used in a wide array of different personal care products, including hand soaps. They mimic the behavior of estrogen in the body and are associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, and developmental toxicity. They are also toxic to the environment. To avoid parabens, avoid hand soap containing ingredients ending in –paraben.
SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate is used as a surfactant and emulsifier to add foaming & sudsing benefits in hand soaps. The health concerns with this are organ system toxicity and irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs. Even more concerning is the contaminant that can form as a by-product of the manufacturing process called 1,4-dioxane. This nasty chemical is a known carcinogen.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is also a surfactant common in hand soaps, meaning it helps reduce surface tension and increases foaming power. Health concerns with this one include irritation to the eyes, lungs, and skin. Studies have shown concerns about non-reproductive organ system toxicity. Aerosolized products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate or that are used around the eyes and skin have been classified as human irritants by Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments, and some studies have linked sodium lauryl sulfate with developmental, endocrine, or reproductive issues. The CDC lists several negative health effects that can occur as a result of exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate depending on the type of exposure. When this ingredient is inhaled, it can cause coughing and a sore throat. Contact with the skin or eyes can cause redness or pain. Ingesting sodium lauryl sulfate can lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It’s hazardous to the environment, particularly aquatic life. We think those suds and foam that make hand soaps prettier to look at aren’t worth the risks and that skipping them can be a big step towards a toxic chemical free hand soap.
METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE & METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE
Methylisothiazolinone & methylchloroisothiazolinone are preservatives used to inhibit bacteria growth in lots of personal care products including hand soaps. Some of the health risks associated with these preservatives include skin irritation, lung and respiratory issues and neurotoxicity. When you’re searching for chemical free hand soaps, make sure to check for this common preservative, as sometimes they are used in more “natural” products to replace other nasty preservatives, like parabens.
Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic detergent and surfactant that is used to increase the foaming action of cleansing products and moderate the viscosity of liquids. As a synthetic surfactant, cocamidopropyl betaine is found in a number of personal hygiene products including hand soaps. Health concerns around cocamidopropyl betaine include allergic skin reaction, contact dermatitis and environmental toxicity. Increasing rates of sensitization in the population led to cocamidopropyl betaine being named Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. This one can show up under different names so to avoid it, look for a chemical free hand soap that doesn’t have these ingredients listed: CADG, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine, Cocoamphocarboxypropionate, Cocoamphodiproprionate, and Disodium cocoamphodipropionate.
Triclosan is a substance that’s used as an antibacterial agent in hand soaps. You’ve probably read that the FDA finally banned this nasty one in Sept 2016 and gave manufacturers 1 year to either re-formulate or pull their product using this chemical from the market. That means that you probably shouldn’t have to watch out for it too much longer, but we felt we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it. Risks are that it can accumulate over time in the body and cause hormonal imbalances and organ system toxicity.
As soap is something we use every day, I focussed on developing a soap that was natural and free of any of the above chemicals.
After close to 12 months of research and experimenting with 'soap recipes,' I released my pure olive oil soaps and the company, The Olive Leaf Co.
Only extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is used for soap making as I believe that EVOO has great properties for skin, including vitamin a, d, e and k - which are all great for the skin. All extra virgin olive oil is sourced from South Australian suppliers.
There are no chemical additives, preservatives or any unnatural ingredients added to any soap products made by The Olive Leaf Co and only essential oils are used for scents.
If you are still reading and have seen the ingredient list on The Olive Leaf Co soap products, you may ask, "Hey, you still have chemicals, what is this Sodium Hydroxide?". Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) is used in all soap making, without Lye, there is no soap.
Lye is typically made from salt. In simple turns, to make soap, a reaction of Lye with oil occurs (can be any variety of oil but we only use olive oil), creates soap - the chemical process is called saponification. Over time (curing) the Lye is neutralised and only soap remains.
Well, that is a short summary as to the main reasons for starting this business, The Olive Leaf Co. We look forward to developing and releasing new products all of which will be natural and handmade.
Our products can be ordered online through https://theoliveleafco.com.au/
If you have any queries, please feel free to get in contact via our contact page https://theoliveleafco.com.au/pages/contact-us
Tony - The Olive Leaf Co