The answer is of course subjective, but what is it specifically that makes soaps different?
The fundamental differences are above all
1) Choice of ingredients
2) Choice of manufacturing method
3) Responsibility and sustainability
Soap is made by a process called saponification. The technique has been around for centuries and involves 3 main ingredients: fat / oil, water and lye (caustic soda) in different proportions depending on the base fat / oil used. In addition, ingredients can be added that will help in moisturizing the skin, an exfoliating content and/or scents.
In principle, the harder the soap, the longer it lasts. Some base fats provide a natural firmness. Where others do not, fats are then mixed or wax is added to create a hard soap.
One of the things many people like is a really thick foam from the soap. Well-known names in soaps have for many years capitalized on that desire by using palm oil and adding Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS creates a good foam, is cheaper than natural materials and is a synthetic product that can be easily produced. It cuts down on the manufacturing cost and saponification process and makes it possible to make a (low quality) soap at express speed. On the other hand, it is not said that it can be very harmful to your skin and your well-being.
Soaps based on coconut oil foam nicely, have a creamy consistency and are quite heavy in consistency. But it may surprise you that coconut oil tends to dry out your skin. Therefore, it is almost always mixed with additional ingredients to give moisturizing effect to the final product.
Cocoa butter soaps are typically harder and durable. They soothe and soften the skin and have a delicious creamy feeling. They are naturally low-foaming, so they are usually mixed with supplemental fats, which give a higher lather.
Shea butter is much softer than cocoa butter. The higher the proportion of shea butter, the softer the soap. Here you get soaps that do not last terribly long, but in return they compensate with their superior moisturizing effects. Do not expect them to lather very much.
Olive oil soaps do not give a thick lather either. In general, the more expensive first-pressed olive oil soaps take longer to produce, more than a year of ripening, as the saponification process is longer. But the result is a very high quality hard soap with skin moisturizing properties that helps seal the skin's natural moisture. Mixed with laurel oil, Aleppo soaps provide fantastic skin care, where the best from the olive oil and laurel oil can repair even severely damaged skin and keep it from drying out.
Palm oil soap is (unfortunately) by far the world's most common and cheapest oil, especially those that come from vulnerable areas and with criticized social conditions. Suztain offers no palm oil soaps as the problems are well known, although we recognize that RSPO palm oil may be ok. Palm oil gives a weak foam in a hard soap that lasts a long time. Typically, palm oil soaps are fortified with synthetic content.
Exfoliating content can be several natural things, eg sesame seeds, nigella seeds etc. Be aware that several washing products / bodywash still use plastic pieces as exfoliation, and this is of course highly critized.
Fragrances mostly come from essential oils. It can be lemon, orange, lavender, roses and many more. The majority of them are of course unsuitable for allergy sufferers, but are sought out by others who prefer fragrance. It can be difficult to determine the social responsibility in production, which to a very significant extent comes from India and China.
Moisturizing content is typically used in soaps that do not have enough in the base oil. The ingredients are typically NOT VEGAN (If you want a 100% vegan soap, moisturizing soaps such as Shea butter and Aleppo soaps are the good choice). Here, for example, goat's milk, donkey's milk, honey and beeswax are considered.
It is important to monitor the skin's moisture level. The hydrolipid film on our skin is a mixture of the skin's own moisturizers and fats, which protect your largest organ! It has therefore been problematic for many years to have synthetic ingredients that have damaged the skin's defense mechanism and to a large extent been to blame for allergic reactions and problems with dry skin.
Industrial soaps and mainstream soaps are all made in a hot process, as opposed to natural - and quality soaps, which are made in the cold process method. Hot process is comparable to cold process manufacturing as fast food is compared to a Michelin restaurant.
By cold process manufacturing, the natural effects, scents and qualities of the ingredients for your skin are preserved. Suztain only has soaps that are made using cold process methods.
RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY:
The responsibility behind the content is demanding. It is easy to sort out palm oil, but coconut oil can also be a new problem due to increasing demand. Suztain collaborates with well-known quality manufacturers to ensure the best possible. It costs extra but is worth it to us all.
We also look at accountability in packaging. We strive to the highest possible extent to have compostable packaging, alternatively (for liquid soaps) to have recyclable packaging.
From an environmental point of view, we prefer solid soap bars.
If you want to learn even more about soap and some common misconceptions, check out Suztain’s recent IGTV series Kaffe med Jørgen on Sæbe – Mythe & Fakta. Available only in Danish, you can see it:
on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMEouoXpYPM/
on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLuWiG0g5Ok
Prices are tax included