Science

Pope on a rope

This week I discovered something about my antibacterial soap, Cidal. I was amused and frankly a little shocked (given the secular nature of the UK) that the strap line on the packaging is…

I get what they’re going for, sort of. In mythology a guardian angel is a heavenly creature which overlooks a particular individual. We’ve all seen It’s A Wonderful Life. The idea dates back to Plato and beyond, and although there isn’t a definitive modern agreement by religions on the existence of such beings, the theme endures. How many of you know someone who has had a brush with death or a lottery win and attributes it, even jokingly, to their guardian angel looking out for them?

So, you have an angel looking after your body and soul. That’s sort of like soap! Without the soul part, and without any sort of consciousness (unless the ring around my bathtub has enough life in it to quicken the soap). Er…also, soap ebbs away the more you use it, and smells of grapefruit, unlike guardian angels who stick with you til death and smell of ambrose and nectar.

This particular soap smells of grapefruit because it contains Citricidal, a “broad spectrum antimicrobial compound synthesized from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit.” According to this document, it’s an effective antibacterial agent, although it’s interesting that my instinct was to shun it because it’s ‘natural’. Foolish, if it works, and I believe it does. I don’t want to go into too much detail about backne and the horror that is the occasional cleavage zit, but suffice to say I prefer an antibacterial soap and I find that Cidal is effective.

My understanding is that the jury is somewhat out on this topic, with no clear evidence either way regarding the efficiacy of antibacterial soaps (let alone Cidal) in clearing or preventing body acne. I don’t really mind, as it works for me, is really cheap and smells great. I could probably use a regular grapefruit soap and get the same results but my supermarket doesn’t sell one. It doesn’t matter because the soap makes no claims in this regard. What is fascinating is that the one claim they choose to make is divine in nature. My own personal Pope on a rope.

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6 Comments

  1. When I was a kid there was a radio commercial with the song – “Praise the lord! For the meat you can afford!”

    All this in the secular UK. God sells.

    Well meat and soap anyway.

  2. Antibacterial soap are evil.

    Except in some very particular cases, you do not need antibiotic in a soap. Their detergent power is more than plenty to drop the bacterial level below the level of significance.

    On the other hand; bacterial resistance are already developing fast enough without us distributing useless antibiotic on the side of each sinks. Especially considering that the Streptococcus and Staphylococcus that are on the first line are already among the most likely to pick up a resistance anyway…

    Run away; my children; run away from the soaps!

  3. To be fair to the soap advertisers, it’s a simile, not a metaphor. They aren’t claiming their soap *is* a guardian angel, or even that guardian angels exist. They are simply comparing themselves to a concept. Certainly, as you point out, their comparison is flawed, but then it’s advertising. Outrageous claims and comparisons are the name of the game.

  4. I work in that particular game, though, and I’ve not seen this before. It’s a really unusual one. They are sort of implying that guardian angels exist, otherwise they’d be saying their soap doesn’t care for you at all because it doesn’t exist :D

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