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Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Six Soaps Leading the Clean Revolution

best ethical soaps

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Today I have a post from Ethical Consumer magazine on the best ethical soaps to look out for at a time when washing your hands is more important than ever.


Who would have thought this time last year that soap would be making the headlines?  

Strange days indeed and as we lather up a little more often, it’s never been more important to choose our soap wisely. Palm oil, toxic chemicals and plastics can all creep into our soap but there are some great brands out there keeping it clean. 

Jane Turner from Ethical Consumer Magazine reveals some of the best brands out there beating the bugs with good ingredients, minimal packaging, and ethical practices. 

Breaking It Down

The humble bar or splash of liquid soap is our most important weapon in fighting COVID-19. Using science that is thousands of years old, soap works by destroying the outer membranes of the virus, killing it and stopping it from spreading. Nothing else is more effective in this fight. But although soap has natural origins, some of the soaps available today are far from natural. 

Soap doesn’t need complex synthetic chemicals, plastics or exotic ingredients grown on deforested land. Here are the nasties to look out for in your soap and the brands that are leading a clean revolution. 

Ethical Consumer Recommends…

Following an intensive investigation into over 50 soap brands that are included in our ethical shopping guide to soap, we recommend the following six brands as our Best Buys. 

Lucy Bee

Lucy Bee is a business founded on the humble coconut, providing everything from milk to sugar, skincare, and soap. Lucy Bee soaps are organic, vegan, and Fairtrade and contain no palm oil or palm oil-derived ingredients or nasties, such as parabens, phthalates, or triclosan.

The whole range carries the Leaping Bunny mark and no ingredients are tested on animals. The soap bars come in generous 150g chunks in paper packaging with four delicious scents to choose from. 

Odylique

Skincare brand Odylique uses virgin olive oil to create plant glycerine as the basis of its organic, vegan, castile soap bars. Although the bars do have palm oil-derived ingredients, these are present in small quantities and are from RPSO-assured sources. Ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible and Fairtrade when sourced further afield. The bars are free from synthetic chemicals and come wrapped in non-toxic recyclable packaging. 

Friendly Soap

Friendly Soap certainly knows how to bring the fun to handwashing. Not only can you find a wide variety of bright, scented soap bars on its website, but also a range of travel soaps, shave, shampoo, and conditioner bars. Friendly Soap uses an ancient cold-press method, pouring, cutting, and stamping the soaps by hand and maintaining a small carbon footprint. 

The ingredients are biodegradable so there’s no waste; poppy seeds and hemp take the place of microplastics to gently exfoliate the skin. None of the products or ingredients are tested on animals. The soaps are Vegan certified, contain no palm oil and the shea butter is sourced from a women’s cooperative in Ghana. 

Bio-D

Bio-D supplies a wide variety of household and personal care products and the brand is sold on the high street, as well as in various independent health food and whole food stores. Vegan and cruelty-free, Bio-D soap bars and liquids contain no plastics. Although some products contain palm oil derivatives, Bio-D is actively reducing its use and uses only RSPO-accredited supplies. The liquid soap is sold in bulk online at just £18.99 for 5 litres, and is also widely available through refillable liquid soap stations. 

Caurnie 

Caurnie Soap uses organic herbs and essential oils to produce its rustic, handmade soaps. The bars and liquid soaps are chemical-free, containing only pure vegan ingredients and no palm oil or derivatives. Many of the ingredients are sourced locally. 

ALTER/NATIVE

ALTER/NATIVE is the own-brand soap line from wholefood collective Suma. Choose from a huge variety of vegan, cruelty-free bars and liquids and access refillable soap stations in health food stores.

Suma is a vegetarian company and uses only RPSO-accredited palm oil in its products. You won’t find any plastics in these soaps and all packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable, although we strongly advise the refillable route with the hand wash option. 

For more on these companies and to see the full list of brand researched visit Ethical Consumer’s guide to soap.

Make Soap a Hobby

If you’re looking for a new hobby, why not make your own soap bars? Take a base recipe, and then once you’ve mastered that you can experiment with different natural fragrances, and drop bars off as gifts for your friends and family.

What Else to Look Out For

If these brands aren’t easily available to you there are some top tips of things you can look for in some of the more widely available brands.

Plastics

Microplastics have been banned in soap in the UK since 2018 but companies can still use non-degradable liquid plastic polymers and petroleum-based chemicals. And of course, plastic packaging is a clear problem, especially when it comes to liquid handwash and non-recyclable pumps. 

We recommend bars of soap over liquid handwash. Bars work just as well and come in a fraction of the packaging (mostly paper) and some with none at all.

Animal Products

Although plant-based ingredients are just as effective as animal-derived products, some manufacturers continue to use substances like sodium tallowate and stearic acid, while glycerine may also be animal-derived. The good news is that there are loads of vegan brands out there, many from purely vegan companies.

Look out for the Leaping Bunny label endorsing cruelty-free soaps. Some brands carry this label across their entire product range, showing a strong commitment to avoid any ingredient that has been tested on animals. 

Palm Oil 

Although many companies source palm oil sustainably and are members of groups such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), these accreditations have been criticised for not doing enough to break links with deforestation. 

Whether to buy or boycott palm oil remains a controversial subject and you can find out more about the issues in our palm oil section. Palm oil-derived ingredients are trickier to identify but there are companies out there who use neither. See our palm oil free soap page for more.

Fairtrade

Many ethical brands choose locally sourced ingredients to cut their carbon footprint. For those who use ingredients such as coconut, cocoa or soy, look for the Fairtrade logo to be sure that the farmers are getting a fair price for their crops. 

You can find out more about all the companies and issues in our guide to soap on our website, where you can also find over 130 other ethical shopping guides covering everything from bread to banks.

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Remedies for Washed Out Hands

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I don’t know about you, but in our household, all this extra hand-washing is really taking its toll.

Whilst handwashing is one of the best preventative measures against infection, as well as staying home if you aren’t a key worker, constant washing is tough on hands. Here are some of my favourite moisturising soaps and moisturisers to help washed out hands in these dystopian times:

Dook Soap

Packed full of organic coconut oil and richly moisturising raw shea butter, Dook’s soap bars are a treat for dry skin.

Their credentials are pretty impressive too – with all of their soaps being free from palm oil and parabens, as well as being cruelty-free and plastic-free. Going that extra bit further, all their soaps are packaged in 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and card.

Dook’s soaps are made up of 50% salt, which sounds drying, but I’ve certainly not found this to be the case – each wash delivers a creamy lotion-like lather.

Whilst this is the most expensive bar in this roundup, at £9, owing to the salt content Dook’s soap bars are hard and very long-lasting. Some soaps go mushy after a week or two of use: not this one!

Little Soap Co.

We are using Little Soap Co’s, Eco Warrior Moisturising Hand & Body Bar (£4.50) at the moment to hydrate our hands, and it’s a hit with all of our hands – from the littlest to the oldest.

Made with 99.5% naturally derived ingredients and free from detergents, SLS, sulphates, alcohol, parabens, sorbates, silicones and synthetic preservatives, Little Soap Co’s range is also vegan and plastic-free, and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. I would prefer it to be palm oil-free too, but at the moment Little Soap Co appears to be making steps in the right direction.

Soap Daze

Soap Daze is a long-standing favourite of mine. I’ve always found their handmade soaps to be rich and moisturising, and this unscented Oatmylk Soap (£6.50) is a great choice for sensitive skins. Oatmeal is known to be an anti-inflammatory and can help calm skin irritations. What’s more, Soap Daze soaps are palm oil-free, cruelty-free, plastic-free and vegan friendly. An unpackaged bar is available if you wish to eschew packaging, and will save you £1 on your purchase too.

Hand Creams

To give dry and washed out hands a boost the product I swear by most is Skin Food by Weleda.

I’ve been using Skin Food for years and years and years (this post in which I first declared my love for it stems from 2013!), and I swear it’s magic in a tube. This incredibly rich and moisturising cream makes it a great choice for a facial night cream, but is equally great on elbows, knees, and, you guessed it, hands subject to a lot of washing. I tend to have a tube on me at all times.

Packaging wise, it’s packaged in a recyclable metal tube and a cardboard box. Please note, Skin Food contains beeswax, so it isn’t vegan friendly. If you’re after an effective vegan hand cream then do try this Weleda one.