For a lot of people, there are no noticeable problems from using brand name, commercial soap. It has been used for decades, and it is cheap and easy to get.
So what's the problem?
Parabens are an artificial ingredient added to products to prevent the degradation of other ingredients. The problem is that parabens are absorbed and metabolized in your body. They mess with your endocrine system, disrupt hormones, and impact the reproductive system. This results in fertility issues, shorter periods, and more pre-term births. They can speed up the growth of breast cancer cells. They can irritate and dry out the skin.
Daily use of parabens compounds the levels within the body.
How to spot parabens: look for methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, or isobutylparaben.
They are in most commercial personal care products like sunscreen, shampoo, and soap (yes, even commercial bar soaps).
Homemade soap does not need parabens -- the use of lye destroys the environment needed for bacteria to grow. Once the lye has transformed into soap (a process called saponification), it is completely harmless and in fact the very thing needed to clean. Natural soap will see loss of ingredient effectiveness about a year from when the soap was made, but will still be usable.
Lastly, most (if not all) commercial soaps contribute to single-use plastics -- plastics that are used once and then thrown away (or hopefully recycled). However, even recycling plastic is not very efficient as there is a limited number of times a piece of plastic can be recycled. It takes centuries to decompose, and when it does it leaves behind microplastics. Microplastics are officially in any bite of seafood we take, and every piece of plastic ever created still exists. We are still learning about plastics, but know that plastics are linked to certain cancers.
You might never notice a problem using products that contain these ingredients. You might also notice happier, hydrated skin (and better hormonal health) if you switch!
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so it is important to take care with what you put on it.
Consider supporting small business, the environment, and your own health by making the switch!