Grandma was Right – Soap is Alright


What do g-strings, body wash, poker straight hair and brazilian’s (wax, not the people) all have in common? They’re all trends that are sooo last year. Replacing body wash is good ol’ soap. Soap is a beauty and hygiene staple and comes in so many different forms.  From its humble beginnings in the Roman bathhouses of 312 B.C. — when soap was made out of goat’s tallow, wood ashes and salt — we’ve come a long way.

Why liquid body wash is out

Ok, so it’s not entirely out of vogue, but eco-conscious shoppers are making the switch back to bar soap. When you buy liquid body wash you’re buying mostly water, and water is pretty heavy. Transporting liquid soap around is far less efficient than the concentrated soap bar – you can pack way more soap in the same space/weight than you would pack bottles of liquid soap. Less transportation = less CO2 emissions.

Also, soap bars have less packaging (sometimes none), so there are no plastic bottles or containers to dispose of in landfills,

But there’s a few more reasons than just the environmental factor that’s making bar soap so popular right now. Let’s take a look.

All Natural Soap

All Natural Soap

Why bar soap is in

A little history…

Traditionally, bar soap was made from beef drippings/tallow or oil and  then treating them with a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide (often called “lye”) or potassium hydroxide in a process called saponification. End result, you’re left with a lump of soap and while none of the base remains. According to Wikipedia, liquid soap was not invented until the nineteenth century. In 1898, B.J. Johnson developed a soap (made of palm and olive oils); his company (the B.J. Johnson Soap Company) introduced “Palmolive” brand soap that same year.

Most bar soap you’ll find in supermarket’s isn’t the kind of soap originally made – it’s similar, but different. Nowadays’s it’s packed full of nasty chemicals, harsh detergents and less of the good fats/oils that would leave your skin feeling tight and dry. Hence why liquid soaps became so popular – they promised to counter this (although it was generally just by adding more chemicals).

How organic and natural bar soap is different…

In fact, it’s different to the commercial supermarket stuff, but actually a lot more similar to the stuff your great-Grandma might have made. What’s old is new again!

Here’s what you can expect from these soap bars:

  • Non toxic ingredients
  • Nourishing formulas, packed full of oils that are good for your skin
  • Natural fragrances from essential oils
  • They’re really economical compared to liquid soap – which is frustrating when you’re paying for mostly water!

Non-toxic, Natural Soaps To Try Today

Tip: The best way to store used soap bars is in a tray with perforations in the base which prevents water (and bacteria) from accumulating on them.

In no particular order:

Dr Bronner’s Original Bar Soap – Almond

Dr Bronners Bar SoapOne of the originals. Dr. Bronner’s is a great go-to soap because of its wide availability. Warm, comforting and slightly sweet – like marzipan or amaretto! Dr Bronner’s Almond Pure-Castile Bar Soap is made with certified fair trade ingredients and organic hemp oil for a soft, smooth lather that won’t dry your skin. 100% biodegradable in a 100% post-consumer recycled wrapper.

All the varieties score a 1 on Skin Deep. The only ingredients of slight concern are tocopherol (Vitamin E) and citric acid, but I feel comfortable with both of them.

Buy 140g bar for $7.95 from Flora & Fauna. 

Green + Kind Rosalina & Lemon Ironbark Soap

Green + Kind Rosalina & Lemon Ironbark Soap

This fresh, moisturising soap is made with Australian Essential Oils and has a definite Australian scent. Moisturising, Calming and Fresh this soap is gentle enough for the face. Rosalina is relaxing, refreshing and calming. It is similar to Lavender but a fresher alternative. An earthy aroma. Lemon Ironbark is a fresh, gentle, lemon and lime aroma with antibacterial properties.  It leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft, never dry.

Buy a 100g bar for $7.95 from Flora & Fauna.

Life Basics Activated Charcoal Face & Body Soap

Life Basics Activated Charcoal Face & Body SoapNourished Life is one of my favourite shops – not ‘favourite natural shop’, not ‘favourite online shop’, favourite shop, period. It seems like only a natural progression that they would start making their own range of awesome products*. This Life Basics Activated Charcoal Body Soap is gentle and unscented for use on both face and body.

The Activated Coconut Charcoal content with its powerful absorption attributes helps to removes dirt and suck up impurities, gently cleansing dirt and excess oils from the skin. At the same time the moisturising oils of Olive and Coconut Oils plus Shea Butter nourish and soften, so skin is left comfortably hydrated and smooth. Suitable for all skin types, including on the face.

Buy a 120g bar for $7.95 from Nourished Life.

*Note: I am not affiliated with or have any other relationship with them other than as a loyal customer.

Salt & Glow So Loved Soap

Salt & Glow So Loved SoapThis is the fancy version of a bar soap.

Salt & Glow So Loved Soap combines skin-firming Pink Clay and soothing, gently exfoliating Pink Himalayan Salts with the loving aromas of Rose Geranium, Grapefruit and Bergamot in this natural, non-drying soap. It really does smell amazing! Enriched with moisturising Shea Butter and plant-based oils, including Coconut and Safflower, your skin is left feeling soft, smooth and glowing.

Made in Australia, handcrafted in small batched for freshness. No animal testing.

Buy a 100g bar for $8 from Nourished Life.

Priya Soap Bar Goats Milk

I tried really hard to find a bar soap you could readily buy instores, rather than online. It was frustratingly hard! This was the best I could find – available in most supermarkets.

Made from the finest quality goats milk and vegetable oils, this natural soap creates a luxurious wash, gentle enough for both face and body. The moisturising properties of Goats Milk and Vitamin E leave your skin smooth and moisturised.

On their website they state, “Priya products are mindfully formulated, premium quality and Australian-made. We strive to ensure that all of our ingredients are ethically sourced and we guarantee our products will never be tested on animals.” I hope this means the palm oil they use is from sustainable, orangutan-friendly sources.

It does contain fragrance though and I can’t confirm what kind (i.e. natural or synthetic). But if you need soap in a hurry or on a budget, this one’s not too bad.

Buy a 100g bar for $2.09 from Woolworths.

 Alternatively, check out your local markets

Homemade soaps are also becoming increasingly common, thanks to this soapy trend. You can find them at most local markets (even in my small, regional town!). This is the super green option as you can pick up locally made soaps – often with local ingredients, cutting out all the additional transportation costs. Just ask a few questions of the seller before buying, to ensure they’re 100% natural.


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2 thoughts on “Grandma was Right – Soap is Alright

  • Kristina

    I grew up using homemade organic soap and actually remember when we first bought the mid-green Palmolive soap. It lathered! It smelt nice! It wasn’t a dull yellow! It felt nice! Not a bulky square block but a rounded soap that could be easily grasped. Homemade soap goes rock hard and loses any lather that it had.
    FYI—olive oil based soaps are creamy whilst coconut oil based soaps are sudsy and bubbly which is why when we visited Fiji I came home with a stash of coconut oil soaps.

    • abishead Post author

      You might be pleasantly surprised by these reinvented, contemporary soaps! They’re packed full of nourishing, hydrating oils and really perform.