Because our skin is bombarded daily with foreign influences such as scorching sun, drying winds, biting cold weather, bacteria and dirt, our distant ancestors learned quickly that preserving the health of skin is a way for better and longer life. As our civilization slowly evolved from Stone Age into modern times, advancements in technology, chemistry and medicine enabled the rise of soap - multipurpose cleaning tool of skin, clothes and the area that we live in. Created from the countless variation of ingredients, all soaps have two main components - animal oils or fats and alkaline solution that enables the process of saponification. During the last few thousand years, process of soap creation received numerous upgrades and tweaks, mostly by adding natural additives of color and smell, but in modern times also many new industrial substances that increase soap's performance in cleaning and lubrication.
The existence of first soap like material that can be proven in 4800 year old archeological digs of ancient Babylon, but scientist are speculating that those material consisting of boiled animal fats and ashes were used as a hair gel. More detailed accounts of soap use came from 3500 year old Ancient Egypt, where soaps and aromatic oils were not only used for washing but also as important medical cure for many skin and muscle diseases. The tradition of using soaps continued to live in Roman civilization, where several medicinal instruction books clearly stated that use of soap is beneficiary for health and long life. Sadly, after fall of Roman civilization tradition of personal, living quarters and eating hygiene was abandoned (except in Asia, where hygiene remained respected and enforced by tradition). This enabled spreading of many deadly diseases across Europe, and shortened the average length of human life to only 35 years.
Benefits of soap finally managed to appeal to wide European population in 17th century, and since then tradition of maintaining high personal hygiene experienced only constant growth. Advancements in technology and science enabled soaps to become more useful in cleaning and received many more medicinal uses as time went by. Sadly, introduction of heavily industrialized and mass produced soaps and detergents brought many unhealthy substances into soaps, which had a potential to cause skin irritation and other harmful effects on human body. As the era of environment friendly and natural products is sweeping around the world, many international manufacturers of solid and liquid soaps try to shift their production in a direction that will satisfy all modern customers who demand safe, biodegradable and cheap products.
With it beneficiary medical use, ability to clean our clothes and disinfect our surroundings from harmful bacteria and dirt, soaps remain one of the most useful and fundamental hygiene tool that mankind ever created.