Contents - Click a link to skip to the section you want to read
- 1 Why do traditional soaps use animal products?
- 2 What are some animal-based ingredients commonly found in soap?
- 3 What are the benefits of cruelty-free soap?
- 4 Okay, so what is vegan bar soap made of?
- 5 The best vegan soap
- 6 Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sugar Soap
- 7 Vi-Tae Organic Coconut Oil Soap
- 8 Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap
- 9 Activated Charcoal & Rose Clay Spa Bar
- 10 OM SHE Aromatherapy Moisturizing Hand Wash in Mango & Orange
- 11 Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar
- 12 Final thoughts on vegan soap
As with so many other everyday household items, the soap you use is likely to be made out of animal by-products. It’s an unfortunate truth, but many soaps contain a number of ingredients that aren’t vegan-friendly. Therefore, if you want to make sure you’re living the most ethical life possible, it’s time you switched to vegan soap.
Why do traditional soaps use animal products?
For almost as long as humans have been bathing themselves, we’ve been mixing animal oils and alkaline salts to create soap. This practice is thought to go as far back as 1550 BC, when Ancient Egyptians made soap for cleansing and for the preparation of wool. Since then, many cultures have used tallow, or rendered beef fat, to create soap and other cleansing agents.
Although the fatty acids found in animal by-products are one way to make soap, it isn’t the only way. Thankfully, there are now many vegan soap brands that create effective products without resorting to animal cruelty or using ingredients derived from sentient beings.
What are some animal-based ingredients commonly found in soap?
If you want to find great vegan soaps, you need to know what ingredients to watch out for and steer clear of. While it would be nice if every soap manufacturer explicitly stated whether their product was vegan or not, it’s not always that easy.
So you know, here are just a few ingredients commonly found in soap that vegans should avoid:
Stearic acid: While some stearic acid is derived from plant-based sources, most of it comes from animals and animal by-products, including herrings, sardines, and tallow. This fatty acid has a waxy texture, which is why it is so commonly used to produce bar soap.
Glycerin: This ingredient can come from soybeans or other plants, but when it’s present in soap, it is often derived from tallow or other animal fats. (Check out “Is Glycerin Vegan?” for more info)
Myristic acid: This fatty acid can be derived from spermaceti, which is found inside the heads of sperm whales, but thankfully the trade in such products was banned back in 1981. However, while most myristic acid is now derived from plants, there are still some instances of this ingredient being made from animal fats.
What are the benefits of cruelty-free soap?
There are a number of benefits to using cruelty free soap products. The primary benefit is using a soap product which meets vegan standards means no animals were harmed or affected before, during, or after the production process.
The animal ingredients used in soaps range from animal fat to animal by-products like beeswax. By refusing to use these soaps, you’re lowering your eco-footprint, being kind to animals, and supporting vegan-friendly businesses too. It’s a win all around.
Using vegan soaps may also benefit your skin as well. Many people find the foaming agents and fatty acids used in traditional soap production to be harsh on the skin. If your skin is sensitive, you may find that switching to vegan products leaves it feeling more hydrated and healthy.
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Okay, so what is vegan bar soap made of?
While traditional soap often contains animal fats, vegan-friendly soaps replace these fats with essential oils. Many vegan products contain olive oil or coconut oil, which are much gentler on the skin.
The saponification method, whereby triglycerides are mixed with sodium hydroxide to create soap, is still used. Instead of getting the triglycerides from fat, however, vegan products use oil to provide the triglycerides. This results in soap that is no less effective than its traditional counterpart.
As with other cleaning products such as toothpaste, vegan-friendly shampoo, laundry detergents, etc., the removal of certain chemicals (foaming agents like TEA, MEA, DEA, and cocamide) can lessen the amount of lather or foam produced by more natural soaps.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t affect the cleaning properties of the soap; it’s just something we’ve grown accustomed to. In fact, the inclusion of these chemical foaming agents serve no other purpose whatsoever, they’re just there to make us feel as though we’re getting cleaner.
Many vegan-friendly soaps also leave out unnatural fragrances and other harsh chemicals that further irritate the skin. So, if you want to be kind to the environment and your body, consider using chemical-free soap that meets vegan requirements.
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The best vegan soap
If you’re looking for the perfect vegan-friendly soap or cleanser, you’re in luck. Unlike days of old, there are now many great products available which meet both vegan and cruelty-free criteria.
It doesn’t matter whether you have sensitive skin or prefer bar soap to liquid, there’s now a vegan product that will suit your needs. Let’s take a look at some of best vegan hand wash and soap bars, shall we?
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sugar Soap
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sugar Soap is made from shikakai, which is derived from the pods of a type of Indian tree known as Acadia Concinna. For centuries, the people of India have used shikakai for its gentle cleansing powers. In Dr. Bronner’s formulation, the shikakai is extracted in grape juice and sugar, which serves to enhance the hydration. It is then mixed with a pure-castile liquid soap base, which gives the formula a pleasant lather.
This vegan liquid soap has many uses. It can be used to wash the hands, but it’s also gentle enough for your face too. Shikakai is also commonly used to wash and condition hair and, while remaining gentle, Dr Bronner’s product is potent enough to be used as a shampoo. It comes in a pump bottle, which not only makes using this smooth soap easy and pleasant to use, it also cuts down on wastage too.
Most users love this soap, and cite its mild scent, thick lather, and versatility as favorite attributes. Some users, however, feel that the soap leaves behind an unwanted residue and that the formula is runny. Therefore, if you’re looking for a thick liquid soap, this product may prove to be too thin for you.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Can be used as a hand, body, or face wash…even a shampoo!
✅ Certified organic
✅ Fair trade
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ A little on the pricey side
❌ Can be a bit drying
❌ Has a somewhat thin, but sticky consistency
Vi-Tae Organic Coconut Oil Soap
If you’re looking for vegan soap bars, as opposed to liquid hand wash, this product from Vi-Tae may be right for you. This bar has a smooth, luxurious formula that leaves skin looking and feeling hydrated and supple. It contains organic coconut oil, which infuses the skin with a hearty dose of moisture and it doesn’t contain anything that might irritate delicate skin, like fragrances, animal fat, petroleum, or parabens.
In fact, these vegan soap bars are made especially for people who deal with itchiness, redness, dermatitis, and psoriasis. The soothing power of coconut oil is also effective for people who want to reduce the signs of aging. It provides the skin with a defensive barrier, which protects against the harmful effects of free radicals and other environmental toxins.
Most users enjoy using this soap, and say that it is perfect for irritated, sensitive skin. Some even say that it helps to reduce or reverse the irritation associated with common skin ailments. Others users, however, did not see a noticeable decrease in skin irritation. Some disliked the formulation, and found that the soap bar broke too easily.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Smells great
✅ Hydrates the skin beautifully
✅ Softens and moisturizes dry skin
✅ Lathers well for a natural product
✅ Eco-friendly packaging
✅ No questions asked guarantee
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Quite expensive
❌ Doesn’t last long
❌ Bar can crumble quite easily
Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap
If it’s a liquid vegan hand soap is what you’re after, you should consider trying Puracy Natural Hand Soap. The sulfate-free formula contains a number of skin-softening ingredients, including vanilla absolute, lavender essential oil, Vitamin E, and aloe vera. These plant-based moisturizers sooth, treat, and hydrate the skin wonderfully well. Instead of washing your hands with harsh chemicals and animal by-products, you can get clean with this luxurious and natural cruelty-free hand wash.
This vegan-friendly liquid hand soap is formulated to provide a gentle lather and leave no unpleasant residue. Thanks to the inclusion of lavender and vanilla, it also has a lovely, gentle aroma. This soap is also biodegradable, and it’s gentle enough for all skin types.
Many people use this soap because it provides a gentle clean during harsh winter months. While traditional soaps may leave hands dry or cracked, this soap leaves skin moisturized and healthy. Some users, however, are disappointed by a lack of lather, but this is largely due to the fact that it’s a pretty natural product. If you like your soap full of suds, however, you may want to look for a different option.
I do love the fact that Puracy have a 64-ounce refill pack available too. Lowering the amount of packaging we use is always a good thing!
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Moisturizes, yet doesn’t feel oily at all
✅ Nice, subtle scent
✅ Great for sensitive skin
✅ Handy refill package available
✅ Made by a trusted, established manufacturer
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Not as thick as some other hand washes
❌ Packaging could be better for shipping, some bottles leak
❌ Doesn’t lather much (but that doesn’t mean it’s not cleansing)
Activated Charcoal & Rose Clay Spa Bar
Not all soap has to be drying. This cruelty-free bar soap from Splendor removes impurities from the skin without stripping it of moisture. It contains charcoal, which effectively removes dirt and grime from deep down in the pores. This means this product is an excellent choice for people dealing with oily or acne-prone skin.
This soap also contains rose clay, which helps to regulate the skin’s moisture level. This ensures that the soap draws out dirt without stripping the skin of necessary oil and moisture. It also provides a rich lather, has a pleasant scent, and leaves skin looking radiant.
Many users love this soap because of its acne-fighting powers. It’s often used as a way of maintaining smooth, clear skin, and many people say it’s gentle enough to use on damaged skin. Other users, however, feel that the individual bars are too small and the formula is a bit too harsh.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Calming for bumps and pimples
✅ Doesn’t break up, stays in one piece well
✅ Lathers nicely
✅ Palm oil-free
✅ Cleanses well without overly drying skin
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Doesn’t last long
❌ Bars aren’t uniform in size
OM SHE Aromatherapy Moisturizing Hand Wash in Mango & Orange
This cruelty-free hand wash from OM SHE contains a wide range of effective ingredients, including calendula oil, chamomile oil, aloe vera, and rosehip oil, and they work together beautifully to comfort and relieve dry, tired skin.
As you may have guessed by the name, OM SHE products are centered around Ayurvedic principles. This holistic health approach has been used in India for thousands of years and prioritzes prevention rather than reactive methods to wellbeing, which sits well with a plant-based lifestyle.
This vegan hand soap has a refreshing formula and a pleasant scent. Many users who love this product cite its nice lather and thick consistency as definite strengths. They also note that each bottle goes a long way, and that they often last for months.
Other users, however, feel that the bottle is insufficiently durable and that the scent is too strong. Personal taste and usage, I guess. One thing is guaranteed, though – you’ll be buying a product that hasn’t been tested on animals and is free from their by-products too.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Suitable for all skin types
✅ Affordable, decent sized bottle which lasts longer than most
✅ Smells amazing
✅ Moisturizes and hydrates
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Doesn’t cut through oil as well as other soaps
❌ Packaging could be improved upon
Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar
If you’re looking for vegan soap bars that can improve the condition of your acne, this Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar may be right for you. It contains Dead Sea mud (unsurprisingly!) and charcoal, which effectively draw impurities out of the pores and to the surface of the skin. It is also formulated with tiny grains, which act as a natural exfoliant. This leaves the surface of the skin looking clear, fresh, and rejuvenated.
While this soap is especially beneficial for people with acne, it can be used by people of all skin types. People who want to stave off the signs of aging will appreciate that it hydrates as well as cleanses, which helps to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also help people dealing with psoriasis and eczema too. Whether you want to tighten your pores or enhance the skin’s ability to naturally regenerate, this Dead Sea soap bar can help.
Many people use this skin all over their body thanks to its potent cleansing powers and effective acne fighting ingredients. Happy customers say that it makes their skin feel soft, clean, and healthy. Other users, however, dislike the lemon scent and felt that it didn’t improve the condition of their acne.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Multiple uses: Hand, body, face, shaving…
✅ Helpful for skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea
✅ Hydrating properties can reduces wrinkles
✅ Exfoliates naturally
✅ Actively draws impurities from the skin
✅ Gentle and refreshing
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Strong smell won’t appeal to everyone
❌ Quite messy
❌ Again, this is another soap that doesn’t last
❌ Some reports of allergic reactions
Final thoughts on vegan soap
There are many vegan-friendly cleansers and soaps, and if you have a specific skin concern like acne or eczema, you might find one that can help your condition considerably. Stripping away the unnecessary chemicals and harsh ingredients is a good idea for all of us, but results do differ. What one person swears by, another will dismiss as being useless.
If you’re looking for an effective, all-purpose cleanser, however, it could be argued that the best vegan soap bar is Vi-Tae Organic Coconut Oil Soap. Thanks to its ultra-hydrating formula and all-natural ingredients list, it’s great for people of all skin types. Whether you’re battling itchy skin or want to improve your skin’s moisture barrier, this coconut-based soap product can help.
It’s also great for people dealing with aging skin, as the moisturizing powers of coconut oil provide all-day defense against the toxins that damage tissue over time. Its versatility is another point in its favor, as it can be used all over the body. So, if you need a bar soap that meets vegan standards, try Vi-Tae Organic Coconut Oil Soap.
For those of you who prefer liquid hand wash to bar soap, Puracy’s Natural Hand Soap is hard to beat. Its biodegradable ingredients work well together to give you a clean sensation without overly drying your hands – important if you’re regularly washing your mitts. As I mentioned above, the fact that you can buy a large refill pack, which cuts down on packaging considerably, is a bonus. Well done, Puracy!
That’s it for our vegan soap list. I hope you found it informative and you give some of these a try. You never know, you might even land upon your new favorite cruelty-free cleansing product!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention.
She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living. Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
Lisa lives in Sussex with her husband and their three-legged wonder dog, Mable.