How to read the ingredients in order to decide what soap to use?

How to read the ingredients in order to decide what soap to use?

Another important thing is to check the ingredients list. Now that is easier said than done. The worldwide legislation obliges ingredients to be listed with their INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients) names, which means their names following the chemical reaction that occurs during saponification. These names do not mean much, if anything, to the average consumer. So here are a few tips on what to look for.

If the ingredients are not listed do not use the soap, unless it is made by someone you trust.

If the ingredients contain anything in the form of SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate), or SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate) avoid using them as they are synthetic, and are known to be skin irritants. They are basically cleaning agents that are harsher than natural cleaning agents – so why replace the natural ones with synthetic ones?  ot for quality reasons, but for costs issues.

If you see Sodium Tallowate, know that this is the saponified term for animal fat, something most of us are not willing to use. In older times, when more people cultivated plots of lands and raised animals, when people used to make most of what they consumed, then it made sense to use animal fat, together with wood ashes mixed in water (a natural lye solution) to make natural soap. But in today’s times where most animals are mistreated from birth to death, using animal fat is not ideal nor ethical.

Natural oils are usually stated in their saponified version making it hard to spot. For example, Olive Oil will be Sodium Olivate, Coconut Oil will be Sodium Cocoate. The same goes for the essential oils, which names will be more difficult to recognise, so you will need to be a little research.

The order in which the ingredients are listed says a lot about the soap. The first ingredient listed is the main one, and the further down the list you go, the smaller the quantity. This is useful to know because there are a lot of soaps in the market labelled as natural, but when you look at the ingredients you will see that SLS derivatives are first on the list and somewhere near the end you might find one or more naturals ingredients, which are present in small quantities, making hardly any difference in the quality of the soap. The same goes for the term “organic”. Again, legislation is such that a soap can be credited with the qualifications of “natural” and “organic” regardless of whether it is 100% so or only 5%. The power of marketing.

The choice of ingredients used in soaps sets apart socially responsible companies from the rest, and of course makes the difference between an excellent soap, a good one and a bad one.

By the way Cool Soaps & Mood of the Day soaps are all natural, made from plant oils: olive oil combined with coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, avocado oil, shea butter and palm oil from sustainable sources (in some soaps). Most of our soaps are scented with essential oils, some with fragrance, and we use natural preservatives. And we do all this with care and respect for the whole environment.


The best is to buy natural and handmade soaps.