Putting Soap Under The Microscope

Putting Soap Under The Microscope

Soap! We love soap!

It will be no secret to our regular readers and followers that we are big advocates of soap. If looked after, soap can last much longer than showergel and does not require any packaging at all. From feedback we realise that soap isn’t a one stop shop for some so we do also stock shower gel as refill option for those that prefer that. 

Soap has been used by the generations before us for pretty much everything. Washing, cleaning, laundry. Mostly derived from animal fats soaps started to get some bad press. There are many alternatives available now and many soaps are made from alternative fats such as coconut oil. 

Where does your favourite soap come from? We’ve picked out a few brands to look at to see what we could find out.

Dove Soap

I don’t know why but I thought Dove was a British brand, turns out I got that completely wrong and it actually is an American brand owned by Unilever. It appears to be manufactured in every country apart from the UK.

Manufactured in
Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Russia and the United States.

Made from?
Dove is primarily made from synthetic surfactants, vegetable oils (such as palm kernel) and salts of animal fats (tallow). In some countries, Dove is derived from tallow, and for this reason it is not considered vegan, unlike vegetable oil based soaps.

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Aqua, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Parfum, Sodium chloride, Zinc Oxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Alumina, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Coumarin, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, CI 77891

How much is Dove soap? 

The dove soap cream bar 100g is 60p. 


The soap bars seem to vary, they either come in that thin plastic wrap, a cardboard box or a coated paper wrap. They do appear to be committing to going less waste though. We shall see how long that takes….

Eco plan: 


L’occitane Soap:

I chose this one because it has a rep for being a luxury brand. It is pricey but it is also a big bar weighing in at 250g. https://www.marksandspencer.com/shea-butter-lavender-soap-250g/p/hbp60498457

Manufactured in:

Made from?
This product appears to be made from fair trade and  /or organic based products. I’ve struggled to find something they use that isn’t. It may be pricey but it is ticking all the right boxes for a good quality, good for us, good for communities product. 

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, stearic acid, palmitic acid, sodium hydroxide, aqua/water, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, parfum/fragrance, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, sodium chloride, citric acid, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, linalool, limonene.

How much is L’occitane Soap?
£9.00 for 250g bar


100 percent recyclable wrapper.

Good stuff:

According to the company, it does not conduct animal testing, and no animal product or by-product, except for beehive products are used in the manufacturing process. L’Occitane develops most of its products and ingredients in line with the organic cosmetics specifications of Ecocert (from Wiki page)

Dr. Bronner’s Organic All-One Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile Soap Bar:

This is a popular type of soap as it claims to have many uses. We haven’t tried them ourselves but whichever website I look at the ratings are always good. We are considering stocking liquid Castile soap for the same reason, it will have many uses.

Manufactured in:

The major ingredients (mainly vegetable oils, lye, and essential oils) in Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps products are organic and fair trade.[10] The company has developed a number of fair trade and organic production systems in Ghana, Sri Lanka, Samoa, India, and Kenya through its sister LLC, Serendiworld. (from Wiki)

It was founded in America but I haven’t been able to find out if it is manufactured there. The company featured on a podcast I listened to and I’m sure he said they are still based and operate form the U.S but don’t quote me on that.

Made from?

  • Natural or Organic Ingredients
  • Fair Trade
  • This product contains Glycerin.


Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Lavandin Extract, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol, *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS, **None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.

How much is Dr Bronner Soap?

£5.50 per bar (£3.83 per 100g) 

It does change depending on which scent you buy. This is the price of the Lavender one.


100 percent biodegradable in a 100 percent post-consumer recycled wrapper.

Climate Pledge Friendly:

It has this listed on Amazon under a climate pledge icon: Climate Pledge Friendly uses sustainability certifications to highlight products that support our commitment to help preserve the natural world.

Imperial Leather:

I finally found a UK brand. But as much as this was a household name once upon time it doesn’t appear to fair very well in the review sections for their good old bar of soap. With an average rating of 2.3 /5 stars.

Made from?

This is all I could find: 

  • A Mild and Creamy Bar, Enriched with Vitamin E for Sensitive Skin

Manufactured in:

The brand originates in Britain and is now available in a number of other countries including Nepal, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and Zambia. The brand is not widely available in the United States but can be obtained via online sales and in some speciality shops.

PZ Cussons is a major British manufacturer of personal healthcare products and consumer goods. It operates worldwide, especially in Africa and Commonwealth nation. (from Wiki)

However, the product I looked at said ‘Made in Thailand’


Sodium Palmate, Aqua, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Talc, Glycerin, Parfum, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Etidronic Acid, Coumarin, Eugenol, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, CI 77891, CI 77220, CI 11680, CI 71105, CI 74260, CI 12490

How much is Imperial Leather Soap?

Cheap as chips £1.75 for a pack of 4 


I think the bars themselves are wrapped in a thick paper or thin cardboard but the multi packs come wrapped in plastic.

Good stuff?

As this is a British brand I wanted to find something to make it sparkle. But I can’t, the reviews are bad, looks like most of it is made overseas, the packaging is half and half but it is really affordable.

So, there you have it. A few popular brands to look over. I’m a bit disappointed there are not more with positive things to shout about. The L’occitane bar is certainly the best in regards to sustainability and ingredients. They have a great ethos and a good strong brand. At £9 per bar it is a bit pricey for every day soap but it is a huge bar at 250g. I would be tempted to cut up my dinky hands wouldn’t be able to hold it!

Save Some Green Uno Bars

These are the bars we sell so if we are to put other brands under the microscope I thought we should do the same with the ones we sell. I asked the suppliers some questions so we could find out more and you could get to them a little better. First, we are starting with James, from Save Some Green.

Tell us a bit about where the soaps are made, where they are distributed from and who makes them for you?

I have them made for me by a lady in the UK, very nice she is too.  She has been making them for me more or less since I started.

All the soaps are tested and comply with current regulations EU and UK.

I chose her as we were starting out at the same time and she was selling soap at a show where I was selling my bits and pieces.  So wowed by them I had to start selling them too.  They are completely plastic free through out the process.

Tell us a bit about you and your company?

Save Some Green came about after I had had enough working in the “professional” world.  I had some wisdom teeth removed and watched 2 seasons of “river cottage” back to back as I lay there moaning and throbbing.  The idea of driving for 2 hours for a 15 min meetings and other such nonsense became too much.  I wanted something that fitted more with my plans for an eco lifestyle.

I was fed up and more enamoured with caring about where my food came from and eschewing the excesses of modern lifestyle. 

Not all the plans worked as I haven’t built my earthship yet but I now have a business that I can run and still look after my family, school runs etc.  My kids are my main priority and the company evolved around being able to look after the kids and grow my own veg and have chickens etc.  Which is pretty tough to do by yourself.  They are good kids though

And the eco side of things?

I don’t really have eco credentials as such.  Just being in this industry for nearly 15 years kind of forms you.

We are as eco as we can be though.  Plastic free where ever possible.  Recyling everything possible, including almost all the packaging that arrives.
Also finding more products to supply an eco industry.. Got to be slightly good.

A note from AmberCouch:

James is really easy to deal with, he works hard to ensure orders are met quickly and efficiently. His soaps are a hit, we use them ourselves.
They tick many boxes for us and with only the label for packaging they are very low waste. His delivery turns up in a cardboard box packaged with paper tape too. As a bonus they smell delightful, the lime and green tea and the minty spa are new additions chosen by Richard.


We also contacted Gráinne from Aromawakening. I used to work with Gráinne many moons ago at Chapter Arts Centre. When we started No Waste Living I was looking for people I know to support and ta da! There she was. Gráinne is based in Cardiff so these soaps are super local to our area. I was instantly drawn in by her soaps and her passion for what she does. I love her black rose soap, it’s one, of the first ones that caught my eye when decided what to order.

Tell us a bit about where the soaps are made, where they are distributed from and who makes them for you?

My soaps are all handmade here in my small workshop in Roath, Cardiff. I make all the soaps myself.
Making cold process soap the old fashioned way from scratch, enables me to include any medicinal plants and essential oils that I choose.

I am a perfectionist about every small detail, each and every ingredient has been carefully sourced for its healing power, wonderful fragrance or vibrant colour. Each and every soap has been carefully crafted with love and attention. 

Tell us a bit about you and your company?

My soaps are made using natural ingredients and locally foraged medicinal plants. Some I find growing wild here locally such as mugwort, plantain and nettle, I then infuse these in oils to extract the healing properties of the plants.

From the joy of gathering fresh flowers, drying them, making oil infusions and then incorporating these into my recipes. There is something ancient and deeply rooting about connecting with these herbal allies.

And the eco side of things?

My soaps are gentle and natural, suitable for very sensitive skin. They are also the perfect eco swap for plastic shower bottles. If cared for properly and dried between uses they will last a long time. They do not contain any palm oil and they are all vegan.

I am a qualified aromatherapist and all of my products have been safety assessed by an approved chemist to meet the EU cosmetic safety directives.

A note from AmberCouch:

Gráinne has always assisted me and was one of my first suppliers I committed to when we started No Waste Living. From asking her husband to deliver on his way home to save on postage and reduce the carbon footprint to lowering the minimum order quantity over lockdown for me. We will be ready to put in an order soon and I can’t wait to get some new delights in from Aromawakening. Lavender and Calendula will be back in stock and I’ll be adding in a couple of new ones too.

You can now buy a selection of our uno and aromawakening soaps on a subscription, 3 delicious bars at a time. We’ve reduced the price for the subscription so you can have your favourite bars at a little bit less. Take a look at the subscription page.


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