another one bites the dust

As the wise and attentive reader (or, at least mej5s) may have observed, I’m not currently using the A-Derma bar but have returned to another long-term favourite, Everyday Shea unscented moisturising body wash, for general all-over cleansing purposes.

Reason: I’m out of the A-Derma and awaiting supplies. Also, the Everyday Shea is great stuff. In between, I thought I’d also do some experimenting with other cleansing bars. My ideal washing thing would be a solid version of ES, but moister. I like the A-Derma bar as it is indeed moist, without leaving a cloggy film. So: looking for something with shea butter; not just a castille soap (ex. Dr. Bronner’s, Kiss My Face, and loads of plain olive oil soaps) but with extra oil included and a lower (more acidic) pH. No sodium tallowate. And palm oil and its derivatives only if sustainably produced.

Not much luck so far. There are several oaty bars out there, but they all contain ingredients that are amongst my common irritants: the main culprits being lavender, chamomile, and some other essential oils.

  • A-Derma Soap-Free Dermatological Bar with Oat Milk ingredients:
    Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Corn Starch (Zea Mays), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Oat Flavour (Avena Sativa), Aqua, Paraffin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Ceteareth-6, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Dulcis), PEG-45 Palm Kernel Glycerides, Titanium Dioxide
  • Everyday Shea Moisturizing Body Wash (Unscented version) ingredients:
    Water, Aqueous Neem Leaf (Azadirachta indica) Extract, Handcrafted Shea Butter Soap (Saponified Shea (Butyrospermum parkii) Butter* and Virgin Coconut (Cocos nucifera) Oil), Cocamidopropyl Betaine


  1. Check ingredients.
  2. If ingredients are all fine—absence of my own idiosyncratic cloggers, irritants, and full allergens; scents I subjectively dislike; nothing I dislike for ethical reasons emu oil, dodgily-sourced palm oil and derivatives—start testing.
  3. Wash hands using the soap. Dry. See how soon skin starts feeling dry and about to crack and split. If a soap is drying (this is unfortunately true of most bar cleansers), my skin wil not only feel uncomfortable, it’ll also be dry to the touch and visibly papery, with fine wrinkles on thinner parts on the back of my hand and backs of fingers. If it’s in decent shape, it’ll be slightly moist and supple. Test: pinch skin on back of hand and see how fast it snaps back. If it’s extremely dry, not only will it not bounce back, it’ll be slightly red and scratched from the pinch.
  4. If all is well: test on one side of neck, from below the ear down to collar-bone. This is one of my more irritation and eczema-prone areas, but not conspicuous if I suffer any experimental accidents.
  5. If that goes well, test split-body and split-face in shower, using my current regular cleanser on the other side. If reactions start, I’ll rinse off immediately. Rinse off, apply oil, pat self dry with large fluffy towel, moisturise face as usual.
  6. I’ll often do that in the evening, so as to give skin the night to see how it will react.
  7. Rinse and repeat as needed. If the cleanser has some very new ingredients (new to me, that is), I’ll continue split-body testing for a while, continuing to use the same items on the same sides throughout (A on left, B on right).
  8. Check progress after 24 hours, 48, 72…
  9. then end of the week, end of two weeks, …
  10. and after four and six (the time for a full monthly hormonal cycle).


No good on me—some combination of fragrance, too much exfoliation, and undeclared palm-oil sourcing—but might be good news for others:

  • Chagrin Valley Avocado Oats & Shea Soap: Saponified oils of  sunflower, avocado,  organic palm, unrefined shea nut butter, olive, coconut, canola (non GMO), castor bean; water; organic avocado; organic oats; raw honey; essential oils of ginger, lime, ylang ylang, lemon; organic cornstarch; rosemary oil extract
  • Grandpa’s Old Fashioned Oatmeal Soap: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Palm Oil, Water (Purified), Vegetable Glycerin, Rolled Oats, Talc, Essence of Oatmeal
  • Hugo Naturals Shea Butter and Oatmeal Soap: Glycerin, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, aqua/water, sodium cocoate, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, sorbitol, sorbitan oleate, tocopherol, prunus amygdalus amara (bitter almond) kernel oil, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, titanium dioxide.
  • Nature’s Plus Oatmeal Exfoliating Cleansing Bar: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Cocoate/Sodium Palm Kernelate, Purified Water, Glycerin, Aromatherapeutic Essential Oil Complex [Cymbopogon martinii (Palmarosa) Oil, Citrus aurantiumdulcis (Orange) Oil, Thymus vulgaris (Thyme) Oil, Citrus medica limonium (Lemon) Peel Oil, Pimenta acris (Bay) Leaf Oil, Juniperus virginiana (Cedarwood) Oil, Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Mentha arvensis (Cornmint) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus globus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil] Avena sativa (Oat) Bran, Titanium Dioxide, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Iron Oxides… and LOVE
  • Nubian Heritage African Black Soap: African black soap base, coconut oil and/or palm oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), avena sativa (oat) kernel meal, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, plantain extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), vegetable glycerin, mineral pigment or vegetable color, essential oil blend.
  • Reviva Labs Oatmeal Soap: Sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, water, glycerin, avena sativa (oat) kernal meal, sweet almond meal, titanium dioxide, fragrance, lecithin, retinyl palmitate, sodium chloride, olea europea (olive) fruit oil, iron oxides, tetrasodium EDTA.


with fragrance:

  • Alaffia Cocoa & Shea Butter Luxurious Body Soap: Saponified shea (butyrospermum parkii) butter*, virgin coconut (cocos nucifera) oil*, virgin palm (elaeis guineensis) kernel oil*, virgin cocoa (theobroma cacao) butter*, ground cacao (theobroma cacao) powder* (exfoliant), vanilla extract.
    [From the home company of the Everyday Shea brand.]
  • Aubrey Organics Men’s Basic Cleansing Bar: Sodium Palmate*, Sodium Cocoate*, Water, Glycerin*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Sodium Citrate, Menthol.
    [yes: MENTHOL. *facepalm* why do AO keep doing this? make a perfectly good product then screw it up? there is an exeption coming up further down though…]
  • Aubrey Organics Unscented Ultimate Bath Bar: Sodium palmate*, sodium cocoate*, water, glycerin*, butyrosper­mum parkii (shea butter)*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil*, sodium citrate, menthol crystals.
    [NOTE AND NOTE WELL: this is NOT unscented!!! It’s the exact same stuff as the Men’s one above. Harumph.]
  • Aubrey Organics Evening Primrose Soothing Bath Bar: Sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, aqua, lavan­dula angustifolia (lavender) oil, glycerin, palm acid, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil*, sodium chloride, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), palm kernel acid.
  • Aubrey Organics Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Bath Bar: Sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, aqua, santalum album (sandalwood) oil, glycerin, palm acid, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil*, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) oil, sodium chloride, palm kernel acid.
    [sorry, this isn’t the exception: I can’t put sandalwood on my face…]
  • Chagrin Valley Avocado Oats & Shea Soap: Saponified oils of  sunflower, avocado,  organic palm, unrefined shea nut butter, olive, coconut, canola (non GMO), castor bean; water; organic avocado; organic oats; raw honey; essential oils of ginger, lime, ylang ylang, lemon; organic cornstarch; rosemary oil extract
  • Chagrin Valley Coconut Cream & Shea Soap: Saponified oils of organic extra virgin olive, organic coconut, organic virgin shea butter, organic sweet almond, organic canola, organic castor bean; organic coconut milk; water; organic ground lavender buds.
  • Chagrin Valley Honey Butter Soap: Saponified oils of unrefined cocoa butter, sunflower, coconut, virgin shea butter, organic palm, apricot kernel, mango butter, castor bean; aloe vera; water; raw honey
    [Quibble: mango and how much aloe there might be, remembering that I’m OK with a little but not much.]
  • Chagrin Valley Olive & Shea Soap: Saponified oils of organic olive, organic virgin shea butter, organic castor bean; organic goat milk; water; organic lavender buds
  • Dr. Mercola Shea Butter Bar Soap: Saponified organic oils of palm, coconut, olive and palm kernel, organic shea butter, organic calendula extract, organic rosemary extract.
  • Melvita Extra-rich Soap, fragrance-free: Sodium Palmate*, Sodium Palm Kernelate*, Aqua [Water], Cocos Nucifera Oil [Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil]*, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter [Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)]*, Sodium Chloride, Argania Spinosa Oil [Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil]*, Sodium Hydroxide.
  • Melvita Bath Soap Bar (Savon de bain ultra-riche): Sodium Palmate*, Sodium Palm Kernelate*, Aqua [Water], Cocos Nucifera Oil [Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil]*, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter [Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)]*, Sodium Chloride, Citral**, Argania Spinosa Oil [Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil]*, Limonene**, Litsea Cubeba Oil [Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil], Sodium Hydroxide, Linalool**, Geraniol**.
  • Melvita Cold Cream Baby Soap: Sodium Palmate*, Sodium Palm Kernelate*, Aqua [Water], Glycerin, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil [Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil]*, Parfum [Fragrance], Butyrospermum Parkii [Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter]*, Gossypium Herbaceum Seed Oil [Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil]*, Persea Gratissima Oil [Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil]*, Sodium Chloride, Octyldodecanol, Cocoglycerides, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Cera Alba [Beeswax], Hordeum Vulgare Extract*, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.
  • One With Nature Shea Butter Soap: Saponified palm and palm kernel oils, shea butter, vegetable glycerin, natural fragrance, dead sea salt, citric acid, salt, vitamin E.
  • Out of Africa: an unscented one (see further down) plus the regular Shea Butter African Black Soap: Organic shea butter, palm kernel oil, aloe vera, olive oil, plantain skins, essential oil, purified water. [There are various other scented ones too.]
  • Pure & Basic Honey Shea Natural Bar Soap: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Cocoate, Water, Glycerin, Botanical Fragrance, Honey, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus Amygadalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Titanium Dioxide and Sodium Chloride.
  • South Of France Moisturizing Shea Butter Soap: 100% vegetable oils: palm oil and/or coconut oil and/or palm kernel oil and/or olive oil, vegetable glycerin, organic shea butter, mineral pigments or natural colorants, blends of fragrance, natural oils and essential oils.


INGREDIENTS: Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil*, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil*, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil*, melia azadirachta (neem) seed oil*, aqua/water/eau, sodium hydroxide, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil*, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract.
* Made with certified organic ingredients

Looks like it’s got shea and neem. Good news, right?Nice in theory. In practice, there are two problems:

  1. the neem smell. Admittedly, this is only very temporary. It’s still a bit much on my face, seeing as how that means next to my nose. It’s a really bad idea to get this up your nose. Unless of course you like the scent of neem.
  2. very drying: discomfort and tautness even when rinsing the soap off, while still in the shower; that’s about as dry as it gets.

Oh dear.

And the other Organix South cleansers are worse; even the face one. Overloaded with essential oils of the wrong sorts for my skin. Bugger.


  • Badger Unscented Body Soap with Organic Shea Butter and Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Saponified oils of *olea europaea (extra virgin olive), *cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *elaeis guineensis (palm) fruit oil, *elaeis guineensis (palm) kernel oil, *ricinus communis (castor) oil, *cera alba (beeswax), and *butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter.
    There are 159 results for the search “unscented shea soap,” another 59 (with some overlap) for “unscented oat soap“; many also contain goat milk and/or honey, splendid things on my skin
  • Out of Africa Organic Shea Butter Soap (unscented): Organic shea butter, palm kernel oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, purified water


  • Aubrey Organics Rosa Mosqueta Bath Bar: Sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, aqua, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), glycerin, palm acid, rosa rubiginosa (Rosa Mosqueta) seed oil*, sodium chloride, palm kernel acid, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, borago officinalis (borage) seed oil, medicago sativa (alfalfa) extract.
    [Depending on the palm-oil source.]
  • Chagrin Valley Goat Milk Honey Oatmeal Soap: Saponified oils of olive, organic palm, coconut, virgin shea butter; sunflower; canola (non GMO), castor bean; goat’s milk; organic oatmeal; raw honey; organic cornstarch
    [The big issue is that while the soap itself is a very decent price, shipping to Canada is not.]

Anything else I should be thinking about on the oaty and/or shea front? If anything comes to mind, do leave a comment!


(for the abovementioned Happy Dance)

One comment

  1. gingerama

    UPDATE: hurray: my A-Derma supplies arrived (c/o kind neighbour: postman had delivered to them by mistake, they were away, just returned). Back to my favourite old cleansing bar in the meantime. There will be a post soon on experiments with other cleansing bars…

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