What is Natural Soap?

In general, there are two types of soap - natural soaps, and industrially made bar soaps. Industrially made bar soaps originate as natural soaps.The core difference between them is the amount of moisturising glycerine that they contain. Glycerine is naturally created during the soaping process. In natural soaps the soap will not be processed further, but in industrial soaps the glycerine is extracted and sold on for profit.


Natural Soap

  • Oils or fats mixed together with Lye, which creates soap core and glycerine mixed together
  • No further refinement


Industrial Bar Soap

  • Oils or fats mixed together with Lye, which creates soap core and glycerine mixed together
  • The glycerine is separated from the soap core
  • The glycerine is sold on to other more expensive products such as shower gels, hair conditioners and creams
  • The soap core is sold as bar soap. Without the glycerine this is only a cleaning product, and not moisturising at all.



Two bars of soap on a marble background with a crack, one green bar soap and one cream bar soap


Healthy Skin:


Everybody is searching for healthy skin, and there are thousands of products on the market. While every skincare ingredient has its benefits, the needs of our skin can be summarised by two points:
  • Skin needs humectants inside of the skin. Humectants hold water and keep the skin’s natural processes running properly
  • A skin barrier made of oils. This prevents water from escaping through evaporation, and also protects the skin against irritants from the environment
Humectants inside of the skin:
Eating a healthy balanced diet should keep your skin healthy from the inside, and your body will produce humectants inside of the skin on its own. Interestingly, diet is a much better way to achieve healthy skin than drinking tons of water each day. While drinking water is healthy, too much water can push too many nutrients out of your body. If your diet provides you with enough humectants in your skin, drinking a normal amount of water is sufficient to provide you skin with the water that it needs. However as we age, the body produces less and less humectants in the skin. With less humectants, our skin can hold less water, which makes our skin drier, thinner, and more prone to wrinkling and not looking as youthful anymore. 
The 500-Dalton Rule:
In order to actively add more humectants into our skin, we need to add them from the outside. However humectants have a range of sizes - measured in Daltons. It is a general rule that for molecules to enter the skin, they need to be less than 500 Daltons large. Here are some humectants and their sizes:


  • Hyaluronic Acid - 4000 to 8,000,000 Daltons
  • Sorbitol - 182 Daltons
  • Propylene glycol - 76 Daltons
  • Glycerine - 92 Daltons
  • Urea - 60 Daltons


Hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate the skin, and just sits on top of the skin. This can actually draw water out of the skin, leaving it dried out. The humectants that are smaller than 500 Daltons can go into the skin, and hold moisture there. These are the best humectants for skin moisture and hydration. 
While any of the small humectants are great for skin, glycerine, and lots of it, is naturally produced when making natural soap.


Shadowy picture of a woman in the bath with her hand on her knee


Natural Soap and Healthy Skin:

With so much glycerine in natural soaps, this makes cleaning your skin a part of your skincare routine! When you foam up, many processes are happening at once:
  • Pure soap is surrounding the dirt and old oils on your skin and cleaning them away
  • Glycerine is entering your skin, because the molecules are small enough, and will draw water into the skin and hold it there
  • Plant oils in the soap leave a new thin oil layer on your skin, which compliments your skin barrier. This helps keep water locked into your skin, and provides a defence against anything that could harm your skin. If a new oil layer was not left on your skin, the soap would clean away your dirty skin barrier, and without a new oil layer your skin could lose water to evaporation and could become irritated due to contact with your surroundings. The oil layer replaces your old skin barrier, so you do not have to wait for your skin to eventually produce new oils to protect your skin. 
Everything that your skin needs is found in Natural Soap!
Shower Gels:
Shower gels are synthetic and damaging to the environment:
  • The cleaning part of shower gels is usually a highly refined surfactant called SLS. It can either be produced from petroleum, or from coconut or palm oil. If produced from a plant oil, it has to be mixed with chemicals to be refined. 
  • Shower gels contain glycerine, the same glycerine that was extracted from bar soaps! The glycerine is now more expensive. 
  • Microplastics and silicone, which is made from petroleum, are often part of shower gels. There is currently no microplastic ban in Europe. Microplastics and silicones which do not biodegrade wreak havoc on the environment, and make their way eventually up the food chain back to humans.
  • Plastic packaging for shower gels is only used for a few weeks or months and then thrown into the recycling container or trash can. Which plastics can generally be recycled, not all pieces which are put into the recycling bin are recycled by the recycling facility - they are often sent to landfill or burnt. If the shower gel bottle does end up being recycled, it requires a lot of energy, chemicals, and new plastic in order to be remade into a new bottle. Plastic cannot be indefinitely recycled - the recycled bottle will end up in landfill, where it will take at least 400 years to break down into microplastics, and never fully degrade. It is much better for the environment to avoid plastic packaging altogether. 

Three brown plastic bottles on a white background with microplastics scattered on the surface

Natural Soaps and Palm Oil:
Palm oil is grown in monocultures - farms which only grow one type of crop - which is damaging to the local nature. Coconuts however are grown in mixed cultivation, which is a lot better for the environment than palms - biodiversity, different sized plants, plants that flower are all necessary for a balanced natural environment. None of my soaps contain palm oil, and I actively avoid buying any products which contain it in my private life. I would like to have avoided coconut oil in my natural soaps because it is not regional to Europe, however coconut oil is really one of the best cleansing oils once saponified - other oils don’t even come close. This is why most soaps are made with coconut oil, and two of my soaps which needed a bit more cleansing action in them against oily skin contain coconut oil - Cedar & Activated Charcoal Natural Soap for oily skin, and Juniper Wood Natural Soap for combination skin. You can read my blog article about Palm and Coconut Oil here.