What is natural soap and should I be using it?

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Soaps can come in many different sizes and shapes, scents, colors, and ingredients. There are moisturizing soaps, facial soaps, beauty bars, and more. We use soaps daily when washing our hands or getting in the shower. However, all soaps are not created in the same way or with the same ingredients. In general, there are two types of soaps: natural handmade soaps, and commercially made soaps.

What is natural soap?

The definition of ‘natural’ is important. It sets apart socially responsible companies from the rest. 

When Island Blu Studio calls our soap ‘natural’, we mean that the ingredients used to make it are naturally derived. If it comes from a plant or is a plant, vegetable, or mineral, then it’s natural. Our bar soaps are also vegetarian, meaning that there are no actual parts of animals (lard or cochineal) in any of our soaps!

Natural soaps are made using various forms of natural sources, which also include organic ingredients. These soaps are usually made by blending butter and plant-based oils that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients. These are the kind of natural ingredients that originate from the earth, such as clays, salts, and botanical extracts.

Two very different types of soap

Island Blu Studio’s soap is made with a pure glycerin soap base.  Glycerin is known for hydrating your skin. We also add ingredients such as coconut milk and oil for skin nourishment. Nothing should be removed and no synthetic chemicals need to be added.

On the other hand, mass-produced synthetic soaps are what you will find on the shelves of your local store. The most valuable ingredient in soap is glycerin, which is removed from most commercial bar soaps. A natural humectant, glycerin attracts moisture to your skin and is a soothing emollient. Commercial soap makers separate the glycerin from the soap to sell or use in more expensive products. They often add synthetic ingredients, detergents, foaming agents, and chemical fragrances to the glycerin-lacking soap to simulate the properties of what was removed.

Read the ingredient list

Just look at the ingredients for your average bar soap in your local store. It could contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an anionic surfactant used in laundry detergents that will dry out and irritate your skin. It may also have sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), a cheap foaming agent that can be contaminated with the suspected carcinogen Dioxane while being manufactured.

Synthetic ingredients can be toxic, but they usually cost less than natural ingredients. This gives the mass-produced soap companies a competitive pricing advantage. These companies know that the natural products market is growing every year and people are demanding healthier products that are better for the environment. Just take a look at the packaging. The front may say ‘natural’ but when you look at the ingredient list, you will see that their definition of natural includes manipulated and chemically altered ingredients. 

The scary thing is that even if it says ‘soap’ on the packaging, that does not mean it is real soap. There are no laws that stop manufacturers from describing their product as soap, even if it is just a chemical-laden imitation of real soap. It’s up to you to check the label and make sure you’re purchasing soaps that contain only natural ingredients, just as real soap should.

There are so many natural oils, butters, plant extracts, and exfoliants that can be used in real soap. These ingredients are genuinely good for your skin. Take coconut oil for instance! We use it in all of our bar soaps because of its moisturizing and disinfectant properties. Real soaps don’t have to just clean you, they can make your skin healthier and you feel a whole lot better too.

Our bar soap ingredients

By law, we have to list all the ingredients our soaps contain in INCI format (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) so that they can be understood by everyone anywhere in the world.

That’s why some of our ingredients look like weird Latin. I know it doesn’t look very friendly, but we want you to see exactly what is in our products! We won’t hide behind a ‘natural’ label without giving you all of the raw ingredients.

Sodium Hydroxide

This sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? Chances are you’ve actually eaten this. Just Google olives or pretzels and you’ll find it there. Pretzels aren’t that scary!

You can’t make bar soap without it and humans have been making soap with it in various forms for 1000s of years. Our sodium hydroxide is produced for us in a very controlled manner so that we know its concentration. It’s production methods date back to the late 18th century and is the invention of French chemist LeBlanc.

Moisturizing ingredients

In case it hasn’t been mentioned enough, we use coconut milk, coconut oil, and glycerin in our soaps due to their hydrating and moisturizing benefits. That’s why you feel so good after taking a shower with our soap.

Natural soaps are unique

Store-bought soaps are mass-produced in plants that focus on maximizing profits. One of the ways they do this is to make each bar identical. This is simply not possible with our soaps. Why? Because we handmake each and every bar (seriously!).

That’s part of what makes Island Blu Studio so different from other companies. Not only do we have natural ingredients that are known to have great benefits, but we also make no two bars look the exact same. While we make each bar perfect as can be for you, we refuse to use machines to mass-produce our products.


‘Natural’ is NOT a marketing gimmick to us. Natural is about making better choices for you and this planet we are lucky enough to call home. Our soap making process is different from store-bought bar soaps because we are concerned with making quality natural soaps that contain real ingredients.

Try some of our favorite natural soaps here.


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