Product added to basket

0 Items | £0.00 | View my basket

Soap – Why it’s not the bad guy (a tale of two soaps)


I Choose What I Use Soap Comparison

Over the years, soap has been demonized as the worst thing ever to use or wash your face with and for a while we believed this too.  Now we know the issue is not with soap itself but the quality or type of soap you use.


If you have been buying the usual suspects from the supermarket or high street chemist then you have most likely found the soap to be drying on your skin.  Why?  Quite possibly because the ‘soap’ you’ve used is a cocktail of detergents and synthetics, far removed from traditionally crafted soaps they’re attempting to emulate.


Vegans have to be cautious too because animal ingredients can be found in soap.  Goats milk and honey are obviously derived from animals and sodium tallowate (animal fat!) is a definite no-no but some ingredients can be derived from animals or plants and you can’t tell from the name so, it’s important to do your research and check the soap is vegan before making a purchase.


One of the most controversial actions of commercial soap production is the extraction of glycerin (or glycerine) during the soap manufacturing process. Glycerin is a humectant which means it helps to attract and retain moisture so it should ensure that your skin does not dry out when you use your soap (downside – it’s also what makes soap go soggy!).  This makes glycerin a very valuable commodity for other skin care products which is why it is extracted and may be replaced by less skin friendly synthetics.


To demonstrate how many unnecessary ingredients are added to commercial, mass produced soap here’s the ingredient lists from, on the face of it, two similar ‘shea butter’ soap bars designed for washing your face with.  We only sell one of these, can you tell which one???



Soap One – Dove Shea Butter Beauty Bar


Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate (synthetic surfactant/detergent)

Stearic Acid (hardens soap, may be animal derived)

Sodium Palmitate (cleans, creates lather.  A saturated fatty acid combined with sodium hydroxide. Could be animal or plant derived but most likely from Palm Oil)

Aqua (Water!)

Lauric Acid (a sufactant and cleansing agent. Occurs naturally in some vegetable oils, most likely to be derived from Palm Oil)

Sodium Isethionate (surfactant, derived from coconut oil, combined with sodium hydroxide)

Sodium Stearate (emulsifier, stops oils & water separating, also helps to create foam.  Combination of stearic acid and sodium hydroxide – may be animal derived)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (sufactant, detergent & foam booster. Derived from coconut oil or petrochemicals)

Parfum (fragrance, can be of synthetic or natural origin)

Sodium Palm Kernelate (palm oil combined with sodium hydroxide)

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Oil (by-product of the production of shea butter)

Glycerin (humectant – may be natural or synthetic)

Propylene Glycol (synthetic humectant)

Sodium Chloride (salt, used as a thickener, can make a product drying on the skin)

Zinc Oxide (helps create opacity)

Tetrasodium EDTA (made from formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. A chelating agent (binds metal ions) and penetration enhancer. Enhances the absorption of other ingredients. Helps soften water and preserve formulas)

Tetrasodium Etidronate (A chelating agent and emulsion stabilizer. Prevents soap scum)

Alumina (aluminium oxide, can be a skin irritant, used for whitening)

Benzyl Alcohol (from fermentation of sugars and starches. Used as a pH adjuster and preservative)

Benzyl Salicylate (can be naturally or synthetically derived.  A preservative and fragrance)

Butylphenyl Methylpropional (a synthetic fragrance, can be an allergen)

Coumarin (a chemical compound which occurs naturally in some essential oils but can be synthetically produced. Fragrance.  Can be an allergen)

Hexyl Cinnamal (naturally derived from chamomile or synthetically produced. Fragrance. Can be an allergen)

Limonene (natural constituent of essential oils. Can be an allergen)

Linalool (natural constituent of essential oils. Can be an allergen)

CI 15985 (synthetic dye, sunset yellow)

CI 19140 (synthetic dye, tartrazine)

CI 77891 (titanium dioxide, whitening pigment)



Soap Two – Friendly Soap Shea Butter Cleansing Bar


Butyrospermum parkii butter (shea butter)

Sodium olivate (olive oil mixed with sodium hydroxide)

Sodium cocoate (coconut oil mixed with sodium hydroxide)

Aqua (water!)


There are a lot of things we could say about marketing vs actual ingredients for the Dove Soap but this blog would be even longer!  What we will say is that it is choc full of synthetic ingredients and is produced on a massive global scale which means the cost of producing each bar is incredibly small.  As a result they can sell four bars for only a small amount more than the cost of a single bar of soap two.  We’ll take quality over quantity, thanks all the same.


A note about lye.  Lye (sodium hydroxide/caustic soda) is a pretty hazardous ingredient which most people wouldn’t want to be a part of the soap making process BUT it’s a vital ingredient in soap making – natural or synthetic.  The chemical reaction it creates is needed for the saponification process (which turns all the ingredients into soap and glycerin).  No lye, no soap!   The good news is, once the soap making process is complete and it has has cured, there is no lye left in the soap.


Now you’ve read all this are you interested in sourcing quality, natural and ethically produced soaps?  Why not take a look at our selection of liquid and bar vegan natural soaps.  Know what you’re using :)


We are I Choose What I Use, the 100% vegan, cruelty free, natural and organic beauty and skin care online store.




  1. Amy, August 17, 2015:

    Friendly is beautiful soap made by beautiful people!

  2. I Choose What I Use, August 17, 2015:

    We couldn’t agree more Amy! Thanks for your comment :)

  3. Del Brown Approved!, August 27, 2015:

    Excellent article here! If you’re interested in this, you’ll love some of the stuff I’ve discovered and written about over at

Leave a comment

© 2012-2017 I Choose What I Use | Privacy and cookies | Website by Twizzlebird