November 28, 2022

– by zedek

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What Is Vegan Soap & Is There A Difference?

With the recent ‘veganisation’ of many products, people have been left wondering why miscellaneous things like soap are now being turned vegan, however, my bet is that after reading this article you will leave knowing exactly why this is and whether you should care or not.

Vegan soaps are cleansing & sanitary products that do not contain animal ingredients such as lard or tallow and do not rely on animal involvement such as animal testing.

So essentially vegan soaps are the same as ordinary soaps but they use vegetable oils and vegetable fats instead of animal fats. This is because soap is made by mixing fats or oils with a base. (a substance that can react with acids and neutralise them.)

Animal fat is the standard because they make the soap hard which in turn helps the soap last longer. Although there is a practical application for animal ingredients, vegan soap often consists of aloe vera, castor oil, corn syrup or some other fat that doesn’t contain animal ingredients because veganism is concerned with the minimisation of needless animal suffering worldwide.

What is vegan soap made of?

Since ordinary soap is made by mixing animal fat with a chemical base, vegan soap is made by mixing non-animal fats with a chemical base. Because of this, there is a wide variety of ways vegan soap can be made.

Non-animal fats that are used to make vegan soap:

  • Glycerin (vegetable-derived)
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shea butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Palm oil
  • Castor oil
  • Laurel Berry Oil

For a better idea of what vegan soaps consist of have a look at this table:

Vegan Soap NameMain Ingredients
RawganicGlycerin & lavender
Sävp Cosmetics Bar SoapOlive oil & Shea butter
Dr Bronners Castile Liquid SoapCoconut oil, hemp oil, jojaba oil, glycerin
Friendly handmade soapPeppermint, poppy seeds & shea butter
Soapology  Vegan Soap BarFruit oil, peppermint, glycerin
UpCircle Chocolate Charcoal Soapglycerin, cocoa butter, charcoal, nutmeg

One brilliant example of a vegan soap is Sävp Cosmetics charcoal soap, which only uses natural fats and oils, like castor and coconut. It’s surprisingly neutral and light with a pleasant smell, however unlike animal soaps, the consistency is not as firm meaning the soap’s structure deteriorates much quicker over time.

How to tell if soap is vegan

The key ingredients to look out for are lard (pig fat) and tallow. (grazing animal fat like sheep or cow) Non-vegan brands contain these animal fats to create hard and long-lasting bars of soap. When it comes to other ingredients such as, chemicals and preservatives, you don’t usually have to worry as those are often animal-ingredient-free…

However, since brands do not have to disclose whether their products include animal parts, you should still keep an eye out for these ingredients:

  • Stearic Acid

Commonly found in soaps and moisturizers, it is a saturated fat often taken from the stomach of pigs. (There are plant-based derived stearic acids, but can be unclear if not explicitly stated.)

  • Squalene

Soap that contains squalene is less common but be careful as it is often extracted from the liver of sharks. However, it is a natural oil that can be synthesized from plant products like olives and wheat germ.

But similar to stearic acid the difference between vegan squalene and non-vegan is not always made clear on packaging so you may have to do further research for individual soaps.

You most likely won’t find any other non-vegan ingredients but feel free to check out this article for non-vegan cosmetic ingredients you should avoid.

Even if a product does not contain any animal ingredients, there is a possibility it was tested on animals. The best way to know that this isn’t the case is to find the cruelty-free checkmark.

If you don’t see the cruelty-free logo, download the leaping bunny app, which has a full list of brands that do and do not test on animals.

If you’re still unsure, your best bet is to find a quality vegan soap brand that is definitively vegan-friendly. However, if you are dead-set on sticking with a brand you love, the last thing you can do is manually research each ingredient, however, this is usually unnecessary since most ingredients are animal-free anyway.

brands that are not vegan-friendly due to ingredients or animal testing:

  • Dove
  • Irish Spring
  • Ivory
  • Dial
  • Palmolive
  • Softsoap
  • Pears
  • Lux
  • L’Occitane
  • Neutrogena
  • Aveeno
  • Olay
  • Purpose
  • Johnson’s
  • Caress

Which soaps are vegan?

There are plenty of vegan soap options, whether Castile, glycerin, olive oil, shea butter, laurel berry oil, tar soap, African black soap or papaya soap.

Here are a few vegan bar soaps I know and trust:

  • Dr Bronners Organic Almond Soap Bar – 140g – £6.41
  • Dr Bronner Organic Lavender Soap Bar – 140g £5.18
  • Vegan Sandalwood Handmade Cold Process Natural Soap – 40g £3.82
  • The Body Shop Shea Soap – 100g – £5.70
  • Faith in Nature Soap – Coconut Hand Soap – 100g – £2.75
  • Ecoleaf Hand Soap – Grapefruit Twist – 500ml – £4.19
  • Bio D Cleansing Hand Wash – Lime & Aloe Vera – 500ml – £4.50

Vegan soap brands:

As of right now, Faith In Nature seems to be the only 100% vegan soap brand I can find that does not sell any products with animal ingredients. But If you know of any more, please let me know in the comments so I can add them here and help more people.

Is vegan soap suitable for sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin your best bet might be vegan soap. The majority of vegan soaps do not contain irritants like parabens. Most of the ingredients are either nonabrasive cleaners or essential oils such as coconut and tea tree.

There are still many vegan soaps that contain chemicals and unfamiliar ingredients that could be problematic for your skin type. So if you are struggling with sensitive skin the next thing to look for is mild natural soap for sensitive skin, luckily many vegan soaps do fall into this category but not all.

If you are still unsure about how your skin type will react to a particular soap or brand, be sure to ask around online, or spot-check the soap on an area of skin that is similar but not as sensitive. For example for a face wash test it on your elbow crease or behind the knee.

In any case, talk to your doctor to be safe.

Is vegan soap better than ordinary soap?

If you care about the well-being of other animals, then vegan soap is better than ordinary soap. But in terms of personal usage and benefits, you won’t notice a big difference between vegan soaps and their ordinary counterparts. This is because the presence or absence of animal ingredients does not determine the effectiveness of the soap.

Instead, you have to look at other factors like whether the soap is suitable for your skin type, or how pure it is. From my experience, vegan soaps are more likely to be gentle and nonabrasive because they often have fewer inorganic irritants and toxins. Since ‘cruelty-free’ products aren’t tested on animals, vegan soaps often use already tried, tested, and safe ingredients.

One factor in favour of non-vegan soaps is how long they last. Since animal fats aid in creating a firm and long-lasting soap bar, some vegan alternatives don’t stack up as well in that area.

Does vegan soap kill bacteria?

Vegan soaps are exactly like ordinary soaps in that they attach to the bacteria, and the water you use washes the bacteria off your hand. This works because the soap molecules can attach to the bacteria more effectively than the germs can hold onto your skin.

You don’t even need anti-bacterial soap to kill off bacteria because plain, ordinary soap traps the bacteria, and the water washes it away. A good animal or vegetable fat combined with a chemical base gives you soap that can dislodge and ‘kill’ bacteria.

Thanks for stopping by ADPB!

Let me know what you think about this article. Leave your thoughts & comments down below, hope you enjoyed it!