Cleaning the hands, the face, the body and the hair are gestures that belong to our skincare routine. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the products we are using, to know what that soap with a wonderful fragrance contains or to understand the ingredients of the shampoo that makes a lot of foam. It often happens, indeed, that the detergent products may be too aggressive on our skin since they include in their formula strong surfactants, able to irritate the skin and remove the natural protective barrier, or synthetic fragrances that may cause allergies. We have already seen the beneficial properties of natural soaps such as Aleppo soap, prepared with extra virgin olive oil and laurel oil, and in the section Video blog you can watch step by step the preparation of a natural hand soap, nourishing and moisturizing, made with Castile soap that is a soap prepared with just olive oil. Today we’ll see the properties of a really special plant that can be considered a true natural soap, the soapwort.
Soapwort, scientific name saponaria officinalis, is a plant belonging to the Caryophyllaceae family, which includes also the carnation. Its detergent action has been known since ancient times and its name, soapwort, comes from the Latin term sapo, that means soap, since it produces foam when mixed with water and rubbed. This detergent action is due to some substances, the saponins, contained in the plant and especially in the root (Moniuszko-Szajwaj et al, Nat Prod Commun, Dec 2013). Scientific studies (Jurek et al, BBA, March 2019) have shown that extracts of soapwort’s root rich in saponins are able to act like synthetic surfactants, that you find in commercial soaps, by penetrating into the lipid layer, such as the sebum of skin and hair, and removing it gently.
Decoction of soapwort, shampoo for hair and detergent for skin
The decoction of soapwort’s root is obtained by bringing to the boiling a liter of water together with two tablespoons of chopped soapwort’s root. The soapwort’s root can be easily purchased in herbalist shops. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat, leave to brew for 5 minutes then filter. The lotion is a gentle detergent for sensitive skin or with acne, dermatitis, psoriasis but it is also a shampoo for dry and brittle hair or with dandruff (Kapoor et al, Research Journal of Medicinal Plants, 2011). If you use it as a detergent for the skin you should just apply on the face and massage, then rinse. Otherwise, if you want to use it as a shampoo, take a tablespoon of product and massage on the scalp and then on wet hair, rinse and repeat the process. However, be always careful, even if soapwort is a natural substance, it may cause irritations to mucosa. For this reason, pay attention, when you use it to clean face and hair, that the eyes don’t come into contact with it. Don’t drink the decoction since the saponins, if ingested, may result toxic.