If, like me, you are trying to reduce your consumption of single-use plastic in the bathroom, then don’t go getting yourself in a lather over it. Here at Vegan Mum, you won’t be ‘soaprised’ to know that we can help you clean up your act…
Ok, I’ve got that out of my system now, so no more soap jokes, I promise. Not intentional ones anyway.
I have been trying hard to reduce single-use plastic consumption in all areas of my life over the last few years and plastic shower gel bottles were quickly consigned to my ‘never-buy-again’ pile. So, I decided to go back to the good old bar of soap, but which one?
I hadn’t realised just how many soap brands there are available, and was blissfully unaware of the animal ingredients that soap bars often contain. Consequently, I had to do quite a bit of research before I was able to successfully make the switch to a cruelty-free, vegan soap bar.
Another successful change I’ve made on the single-use plastic front is switching to a sustainable deodorant – read my review of Fussy Deodorant to find out more (and benefit from a discount code too!)
And…did you know that some of the soap brands below also make shampoo for you furry pet friends? See my vegan dog shampoo review for more info on that.
Is there Animal Fat in Soap?
Well, in a lot of soap bars, yes there is. Unless your soap brand states that it’s vegan, I’d suggest you steer well clear. Many contain sodium tallowate, an animal-derived fat that is a popular ingredient with soap-makers because it tends to:
- be hypoallergenic (depending on what else the soap contains, obviously)
- make the soap lather well
- last for longer because the animal fat doesn’t break down easily
You can read more about the use of animal fats in soap manufacturing on Healthline.com if you’re interested. However, if you’d prefer to hang out with me, I’m about to tell you which vegan soap bars I’ve tested – much more useful. But first…
What is vegan soap?
Vegan soap bars should contain only plant-based ingredients and you will find products using castile, glycerin or tar as a base ingredient. It is these oils that contribute to the vegan soap’s cleansing, lathering and moisturising properties.
Castile and glycerin (also known as glycerol, its chemical source) are often obtained from plant-based oils but BEWARE – this is not always the case! Whilst castile generally comes from olive, coconut or almond oil, glycerin can sometimes be derived from animals. If the label says ‘vegetable glycerin’, then the chances are it’s ok. However, even when something is derived from plants, that doesn’t always mean it’s sustainable – palm oil can be a villain of the peace in the ‘vegetable oil’ arena.
The moral of the story here really is to read the label – I tend to look for something on the product that definitively states that it is suitable for vegans. Even better is if it is approved by an organisation like PETA or the Vegan Society.
It can be tricky keeping clean as an ethical vegan, can’t it? But worth it. As always, do your research and satisfy yourself that you are happy with the ingredients and their source. You won’t get it right every time because there is so much confusing and conflicting information out there, but you can only do your best!
My Favourite Vegan Soap Bars
Hopefully, the following list is going to help you out a little because these products are all vegan soaps, although I should add the brands themselves are not necessarily all vegan.
Dr Bronner’s soap bars are my outright favourite in terms of scent, moisturising properties and ‘latherability’. They are at the more expensive end of this list, but in addition to a quality product, you are paying for their sustainability credentials, organic ingredients and recycled packaging. This is a nice product that lasts well too.
RRP £5.50 – £5.75 depending on scent (£4.11 per 100g) Available at Ocado
Faith in Nature
This soap is lovely and with its price range, it is good value for money too. I find it doesn’t lather as well as some of the others – this may be something to do with the ingredients being ‘natural’, but that doesn’t prevent it from making you clean and smelling better! There is a great choice of different scents too. Overall, you’re buying a good product from an ethical company, and I do love the fact that they have appointed ‘Nature’ as one of their Directors! The soap is packaged in cardboard, so fully recyclable.
Buy Direct from Faith in Nature
RRP £2.75 depending on scent (£2.75 per 100g) Available at Ocado
I really like the Original Source soap bars. The scent lasts all the way to the end and lathers well. The soap bar is very ‘square’ with hard edges when it first comes out of the packet but becomes more comfortable to use after a few washes. Comes in a recyclable cardboard box, is good value for money and is a frequent purchase in the Vegan Mum household.
RRP £3.00 (£3.00 per 100g) Available at Ocado
Baylis & Harding
Vegan Society approved, these vegan soap bars have lovely, heady scents and are really good value. The sustainability of ingredients like sodium palmate aren’t so clear, but in terms of packaging, the soap bar does come in a recyclable cardboard box. Definitely the cheapest on this list, but don’t let that put you off this very popular brand.
RRP £2.50 (£1.25 per 100g) Available at Ocado
Little Soap Company
Another soap approved by the Vegan Society and it’s a B Corp too so certainly a brand that’s living its values. There’s a good range of scents available, although I personally find them to be a bit inconsistent and not very strong. That, and the ‘lather’ quality, is lacking for me and I prefer some of the other soaps on my list. However, if sustainability is high on your list, definitely give these soaps a try. It’s a lovely product and NO plastic packaging at all.
RRP £2.95 – £4.00 depending on scent (£2.95 per 100g) Available at Ocado
Another offering from the Little Soap Company that looks like it has a slightly different audience in mind when you look at the packaging. They do a range of soaps for bathing, shaving and face-washing, so some good options. Again, lots of commendable, eco-friendly credentials so a great choice if sustainability is top of your list. I have only tried the coconut hand and body bar and to be honest, the scent wasn’t for me. However, I am not a huge fan of coconut scents in personal products, so don’t let my view put you off. This was a good product in every other sense, although definitely one of the more expensive products on this list.
RRP £4.50 depending on scent (£4.50 per 100g) Available at Ocado
Now for a soap with a real heritage – about 200 years to be precise, although with Unilever as its parent company. It is an example of a soap bar that uses glycerin and it doesn’t feel as ‘drying’ as some other soaps I’ve tried. Pears state that it is a vegan-suitable product, so we can assume it is a plant-based glycerin, and they also confirm that all their packaging is fully recyclable too, so not a bad option. There is quite a list of ingredients, not all of them recognisable, but it is by far the cheapest vegan soap bar on this list so good value for money in that respect. Maybe it’s because I can remember the product from years ago (although not 200 years I hasten to add!), but it just doesn’t smell as nice as it used to, and I do find the ingredients list a bit long for my liking.
RRP £1.50 depending on scent (£0.75 per 100g) Available at Ocado