I have really sensitive skin – what products can I use?
In terms of “irritants”, many things both natural and synthetic can be – we all have our individual fingerprint of what our bodies can and can’t tolerate. Lavender essential oil, for example, is a known irritant to those with extreme sensitivities, however this doesn’t automatically black list it and make unsafe/non-organic or toxic. To be clear, none of our products are independently tested or classed as hypoallergenic nor being sold as “allergy free”. To do this we would not be able to produce a synthetic free product, which has always been my aim. However, we have our ‘Unperfumed Sensitive’ range so we would recommend trying these first before trying the smellies…. but without all the usual nasties you may find you are good to use our fragranced ones too!
What’s the difference between natural and synthetic fragrances?
‘Fragrance’ has become a euphemism for the nearly 4,000 or so different chemical ingredients that are used in many ‘scented’ products. Most ‘fragrances’ are not natural, they’re synthetic, petroleum-based and with a chemical structure that tries to mimic scents found in nature. Unfortunately, these substances are also toxic to our bodies. Here at Little Soap, we therefore use only essential oils to fragrance our products. Essential oils are very different to synthetic oils. They are extracted from plants with a labour-intensive distillation process and bring the aromatherapy benefits of the plant with them.
Your products use essential oils – could I be allergic?
Over the last few years we have seen a rise of customers with allergies to various essential oils or, more specifically, the naturally occurring allergens in essential oils – Limonene and Linalool being some key offenders.
Whilst allergens occur naturally in the plant essential oils, they are still ‘actives’ and as their name suggests, can cause irritations or allergies in some circumstances. There are also some skin conditions that cannot tolerate any kind of essential oil, either temporarily or permanently, which makes life very difficult if you want the smells!
For such intolerances we have created an unperfumed range – an Organic ‘Everyday’ bar soap (Unperfumed Sensitive Bar) an Organic Unperfumed Liquid Hand Soap, and two Natural Bar Soaps – packed with Olive Oil or Avocado Oil.
What is the difference between “Natural” and Organic?
In the UK there are no government regulations for skincare as there are for food; together with different ‘standards’ between certification boards it is easy to become confused…we aim to be as clear and transparent as possible by listing all our ingredients clearly on our products – we have to use the Latin name but also put the ‘common’/English name for clarity. We personally choose to follow the Soil Association guidelines and adhere to them.
‘Natural’ has become such a misused and misleading word in the beauty industry – for cosmetics and toiletries to be considered a “natural beauty product” it may contain as little as 1% naturally grown ingredients, and may or may not contain organically grown ingredients. Any non-organic products we use are of a high quality, non-toxic and biodegradable. We do not use any synthetics in our products. Suffice to say we list the % of ingredients on all labelling and when we call a range natural it truly is.
Organic: developing naturally: occurring or developing gradually and naturally, without being forced or contrived.
This is one definition of organic. The % of organic materials in each product we clearly state on each label. We believe this is a far better indicator than simply stating it is natural which doesn’t really mean very much. We have invested in chemists and extensive research on every single product. We are very transparent on our site and list every single ingredient here and on our packaging as well. We are very proud that all of our ingredients are organic, safe and considered “natural” under the conditions mentioned above and we stand by everything we have said regarding the safety of our products.
You use RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil in some of the bar soaps – why?
When I first created Little Soap Company back in 2008 I was only too aware of the controversy over the use of palm oil in a wide range of consumer products. Because of this, and my genuine passion about and commitment to the environment I heavily researched the topic and from day one have carefully sourced all our oils from sustainable organic plantations and in the case of palm oil from accredited organic, RSPO-certified sustainable plantations. Yes this has made our soap more expensive but also allowed me to produce the most wholesome, rich and lathery organic, natural soap I believe is possible without the need for SLS and synthetics.
See our palm oil statement about this: https://www.littlesoapcompany.co.uk/palm-oil-statement/
So RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil – is it REALLY Sustainable?
I too shared the scepticism about certification, however I believe the view that “there is no such thing as sustainable palm” to be incorrect, indeed to replace palm in the supply chain for food and other products would require something in the order of eight times the land to be farmed.
On that basis I believe that truly sustainable palm is to be encouraged and supported, whilst working to expose the dreadful practices that have and are taking place in certain parts of the world.
The leading light in sustainable palm is in the opinion of one of the industry leading producers of organic and sustainable personal care ingredients is Daabon in Columbia, this opinion is based on the CEO of the business personally going to Columbia to see for himself the farming methods, someone I work very closely with. We need to create a voice on using palm oil sustainably… for more info on our Palm Oil Policy and why we use it please see here.
Are your soaps PH balanced?
Everyone’s skin pH is different, with many factors (including gender, age, diet, health) playing a part in each person’s level, so ‘balanced’ is different for everyone. Soaps made with natural ingredients tend to have a higher pH but even water can increase our pH….and we believe that a natural (full of oils and natural glycerin) soap is more gentle and less drying than a ‘synthetic detergent’ cleansing bar which is ‘pH balanced’.
I have a nut allergy – are any type of nut used in the making of your soaps?
We do use nut oils in some of our products. Where this is the case, they are clearly labelled in the ingredients. Although the protein that causes most of the reactions is largely removed through the manufacturing process, there may still be a risk of a reaction from using toiletries which contain nut oils by someone with a nut allergy or sensitivity to nuts. For clarity, our ingredients clearly list what is in the actual bar soap and to note our factories also use Walnut shell, Apricot shell, Hazelnut oil, Almond oil, Macadamia nut oil, Shea butter and Kukui nut oil, so there may be a possibility for trace elements to be found in our products through contamination.
Do you test your products on animals?
Little Soap Company Ltd. is proud to be a cruelty free company. All of our own brand cosmetic products are certified as not tested on animals under the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny programme (2018), the international gold standard for products that are free from animal testing. A lot of work went into this process! We adhere to a fixed cut-off date policy and proactively monitor our suppliers to ensure that our products continue to adhere to the Leaping Bunny criteria. Our supplier monitoring system is also open to independent audit. For more information about the Leaping Bunny and Cruelty Free International, please visit http://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/
Why our bar soap boxes are larger than the soap?
The simple answer is…. just so the soap can genuinely breathe! All our 100g and 110g soap bars are a totally natural product and we leave the natural glycerine in, this means the soap can sweat in both very cold and hot temperatures. Unfortunately as we have no control over the warehouse, supermarket depots and haulage, we have to make allowances for this. Due to our natural ink dyed packaging, if the soaps are to sweat due to temperature the boxes can become damp and the ink can bleed onto the product making it unusable, so the slightly bigger packaging solves this. We are not trying to make you think the bar is bigger than it is and we press the soap at 10% more than the weight labelled as we know it has a small % shrinkage weight as it cures…. so what we can promise is it will definitely be the weight on the label (if not a bit more!).
My online order came wrapped in bubble wrap/plastic air packs – why don’t you use biodegradable packaging?
The only time we use plastic wrapping or bubble is if we are up-cycling packaging we’ve received from incoming orders here and we can not bear to throw it away, so we add it to the packaging room to prevent it going to landfill. We never specifically order plastic wrapping or unrecyclable products. We use paper wrap, shredded zig zag paper and corrugated cardboard – which is all biodegradable and recyclable.
Are your glossy new organic soap cartons recyclable?
Yes, our cartons are recyclable and the ‘shiny laminate’ is made from a recyclable resin. It does not contain any GMO (genetically modified organisms) with no added colour.
Why do you use PET plastic bottles not glass?
What kind of plastic bottles are we using?
First, it’s important to mention that bar soap in recycled, recyclable packaging is the heartbeat of our business. It’s the vast majority of our sales. We know that consumers are worried about the plastic pollution crisis. So are we. This year, we’re listening to that and we are ending production of a number of our liquid product lines which are necessarily packaged in plastic. We created the Eco Warrior range to eradicate unnecessary plastic bottles from bathrooms and wash kits by putting that same functionality into a plastic free, solid bar alternative. Here we have created a shampoo bar, shave bar, exfoliating prep bar, face wash, body wash, hand and body soap. We listen to you and put our money where our mouth is to the extent we are ending production of a number of our small batch liquid product lines, quite simply as Eco Warrior supersedes the need…
On to the plastic bottles. We’ve looked into this issue repeatedly. We use PET plastic, which is the most commonly used plastic for bottles. It’s also highly recyclable, and of all the plastics we could use, PET plastic breaks down the fastest and takes around 50 years to do so. So out of all the plastic options, it’s the most common, but also the has the highest eco-friendly potential. Initiatives to take PET and recycle it are increasing now, as awareness of the plastic pollution problem grows.
Because we use essential oils, certain types of plastic are not suitable for our products as the oils would react with the plastic, so we are more limited in our options. This applies to some recycled plastic products at this time. However, we’re open to using recycled product options when these become viable for us.
Why haven’t you switched to glass packaging?
We know there are brands out there using glass instead of plastic. To be honest, we see this as a kind of greenwashing. People have a perception that glass is better, but our research tells us that’s simply not the case.
Firstly, creating PET in the first place has a much lower carbon footprint than the creation of glass. So making glass as a product causes more environmental harm.
Secondly, recycling PET has a lower carbon footprint than recycling glass. In fact, transportation of PET in general has a lower carbon footprint than that of glass because it’s lighter, so during the usage of the product, PET is lower impact than glass.
Thirdly, PET is a more versatile substance for recycling. It can be applied to more uses than glass. As recycling becomes more commonplace, PET will be more useful to us than glass.
Please see our blog piece here: https://www.littlesoapcompany.co.uk/choosing-pet-plastic-over-glass-what-you-need-to-know/
Do you use lye/NaOH/Caustic Soda/Sodium Hydroxide in your bar soaps?
All REAL soap is made with lye or NaOH/sodium hydroxide/caustic soda or lye or whatever you want to call it mixed with a liquid (usually water, goats milk, beer etc). Any soap product made without sodium hydroxide is not ‘soap’, it is detergent (big difference – proper soap nourishes the skin, detergent strips it and gives you that tight feeling afterwards!).
Once the chemical reaction of making soap, called saponification, is complete, the lye and oil molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and this magical thing called glycerin appears.
Providing all the ingredients have been measured correctly (we have tight QC, don’t worry and legally all our recipes have to be safety assessed and stability tested) all of the lye is used up in the saponification process to turn oil into soap meaning there is no lye present in the finished bars of soap. While all real soap must be made with lye, no lye remains in the finished product after saponification.
All our bars (our original Artisan Handmade bars and our Organic/Mediterranean/Naturals ranges soap bars are all made with lye even though the words “sodium hydroxide” or “lye” do not appear on the labels.
Once saponified, the ingredients legally have to be listed such as these so we can see it has been used by the way the oils are described: