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As a soap maker, I am always concerned, not only with how my products look, but how they work. People might say how pretty and nice my soaps smell, but am I doing right by my customer. Does my soap actually help my customers with sensitive skin. Some people actually have hand soap allergies. I want to know that I am doing my best for my customers, and leading them to the best hand soaps for their needs.

My Mother loves how nice my soaps smell, but she can’t use the ones with fragrance as they make her sneeze. My friend loves my soaps that lather so well, but then his skin reacts with red dry patches kind of like eczema.

The point is, just because I have this wonderful handmade soap that smells good, lathers great, and looks amazing, well, it just isn’t the correct hand soap for everyone.


Doctors, Nurses, Moms, Dads, Teachers, even commercials tells us to wash our hands. My house has a bar of hand soap at every sink. Most people do I think. We know that proper daily hygiene can reduce the spread of germs. So, this advice is good, but the repetitive action of washing our hands can create issues.

Classrooms, workplaces, churches, and any public place will present an array of eager germs just waiting to be passed along to the next person. Washing our hands will certainly cut back on the viruses passed on through the flu and cold seasons. But, what if washing hands causes allergic reactions because of harsh chemicals, fragrance, color, or other ingredients?


I have personally observed how often workers in Care Facilities wash their hands. Every contact with a resident or patient requires fresh hands. Great care is given to the protection of the resident/patient. People who are injured or recuperating have a lower immune system and makes it tougher for them to resist disease. Hand washing is a natural defense.

Repetitive hand washing may seem the answer, but it can also create other unwanted symptoms. It has been stated that up to 30% of healthcare workers such as Nurses, Caretakers, and Doctors develop hand rashes due to excessive hand washing during their daily rounds.

I can understand this statement, as most hand soaps use harsh chemicals and detergents, including alcohol which is a drying agent. Many people develop rashes, redness, flaking, dry skin, cracking skin and even blisters. This will create pain along with the itching that surely comes with the rashes.


When someone with sensitive skin breaks out, itches, develops a rash from something that they came in contact with it is called contact dermatitis. This is an allergic reaction to something that offends the skin. It is an irritant. Many people with sensitive skin deal with such allergies to products on the store shelves. That is one reason I like to make my own soap. I have control over the ingredients.

For my customers, I then desire to do right by them and strive to make hand soaps that are gentle and pleasing to the skin.


If you have sensitive skin and deal with allergies, I have found five ingredients that often cause an irritation. These are definitely ingredients to look out for when choosing your soaps.

1. Fragrance: Fragrance doesn’t actually contribute to skin cleansing: however, it is one of the most common contact allergens in soap. Many people, including my Mother, have very strong reactions to smells. Most people will buy a product because it smells so good, but not everyone can handle it. Sensitive skin often reacts to fragrance as an irritant.

2. Essential Oils: Essential Oils are drawn from plants. These oils are highly concentrated and extracted from aromatic plants such as lavender and rosemary. The most common way to extract the oil is distillation. I will use essential oils to naturally add scent my soap. But, just like artificial fragrance, essential oils can trigger a skin reaction in sensitive people.

3. Lanolin: Taken from the oil glands of the Sheep, this ingredient though very softening to some, will create a strong allergic reaction in many people with sensitive skin.

4. Oats: Oats generally are thought to be a great ingredient for soaps, but anyone with an oat allergy will typically experience red, blotchy spots on the skin.

5. Coconut: So many soaps use coconut oil because it helps create a stable lather and makes nice bubbles. And, those bubbles make me so happy! There is a large group of people who have skin that is sensitive to coconut.

These are most likely not the only things that sensitive skin reacts to, but I find these are the most common. Because of this, when making soap, it is really important to me that I am aware of these hand soap allergies.

6. Colors: Any colorant added to a soap may cause contact dermatitis; however, reds, purples, and yellows seem to be the ones that cause the most damage.


My favorite choices for those of you who have skin that is especially sensitive, would be Goats Milk Glycerin soap. It is my all time number one choice. No colors, no fragrance and so gentle. I consider this a very low risk product for people who have hand soap allergies.

The glycerin is a natural occurring part of soap making and similar to the cream that tops the milk. Glycerin is the special substance that comes from the saponification of soap. It actually has a lower pH than other soaps and so helps keep the skin moist. The natural color may be clear or white.

Of course, goats milk glycerin soap would naturally have goats milk as one of the ingredients! Kind of funny how that might work, right? Goat milk contains alpha-hydroxy acids that help remove dead skin cells lying around on the surface of your skin. This creates smoother and younger looking skin… remember Cleopatra who loved milk baths.

Overall, I feel people who have sensitive skin will benefit most when using Goats Milk Glycerin soap. It is the perfect remedy for those who have hand soap allergies!

If you would like to discuss this article, feel free to comment below and we can talk.

Happy In Bubbles

Miss Linda

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  1. Hi Linda, thank you for a very interesting article on hand soap allergies. I really enjoyed reading it and I learnt a lot from your article.

    I was however surprised to read that coconut oil can also cause irritation. Whenever possible I try to find coconut oil soap as I just love the smell of coconut.

    A friend mentioned olive oil soap to me, what are your thoughts on olive oil soap?

    • Moni,
      Coconut oil is not an irritation to everyone, just a possible cause of allergy for some. I highly recommend olive oil soap, also called castile soap. You will find it to be very gentle but not providing as much lather as the coconut oil soaps. I also love the smell of coconut oil. It seems so tropical.

      Thank you for all your attention to my post. I will write on Olive Oil Soaps so be sure to stay tuned!

  2. Linda,

    I love this, it’s very informative. My 4 year old has very sensitive skin and her hands break out in scaly red patches when she washes them often. Could this be an allergy? I assumed it was a form of eczema, I have been moisturizing after and it seems to help.

    • Amanda, if moisturizing after your child has washed, it is most likely there are allergies involved. Something in the soap you are using is creating an irritant to her skin… Contact Dermatitis. Is it store bought or handmade soap? Check out the ingredients as often you will find harsh detergents and alcohol in the soap. Such young skin is definitely sensitive!

      Thank you for stopping by and I hope we will meet again. Miss Linda

  3. Very informative. I always thought oat soap was mild and chosen if one had allergies. Didn’t think of those already sensitive to oats. Your article brings great awareness. Thank you.

    • I’m please that you enjoyed the article. Allergies can change with age and sometimes we don’t really know just what is going on when our skin reacts to something we have been using for years. I appreciate your time and your comment. Thank you.

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