further soapy goodness

A continuation to another one bites the dust, from a fortnight (or so…) ago. Three updates!

UPDATE 1: hurray: my A-Derma supplies arrived (c/o kind neighbour: postman had delivered to them by mistake, they were away, just returned). So it’s back to my favourite old cleansing bar.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is The Soap To Beat:

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

UPDATE 2: SOME BAD NEWS (an update to this post, later in the morning… )

PrettyL on MUA’s Green Board received the following response AT SODDING LONG LAST (they’ve not replied to avironneur or me) about the animal testing in China situation. The news is not good.

Seit dem 11. September 2004 sind Tierversuche für kosmetische Fertigprodukte EU-weit nicht mehr erlaubt. Weiterhin ist es verboten, kosmetische Mittel zu vermarkten, wenn das Endprodukt am Tier getestet wurde.

Endprodukt und Rohstoff sind allerdings differenziert zu betrachten:
Endprodukte unterliegen dem Kosmetikgesetz, Rohstoffe dem Chemikaliengesetz.
Für ein Endprodukt ist die Testung am Tier verboten.
Für Rohstoffe sind Tierversuche allerdings rechtlich vorgeschrieben.
Nach geltendem Recht muss die vollständige, gesundheitliche Unbedenklichkeit der in Kosmetika eingesetzten Rohstoffe belegt werden. Im Rahmen der Chemikaliengesetzgebung, die auch für kosmetische Rohstoffe gilt, sind Tierversuche sogar gesetzlich vorgeschrieben. Einige der im Chemikalienrecht geforderten Sicherheitsprüfungen können derzeit leider nur im Tierversuch durchgeführt werden, da noch keine geprüften und sicheren Alternativmethoden zur Verfügung stehen.

Was das Unternehmen PIERRE FABRE DERMO KOSMETIK betrifft, so sind wir schon seit vielen Jahren bestrebt, aktiv Alternativmethoden mitzuentwickeln, um Tierversuche zu ersetzen.
Die Entwicklung zuverlässiger Ersatzmethoden zu Tierversuchen ist allerdings eine enorme wissenschaftliche Herausforderung: Es muss sichergestellt werden, dass die alternativen Testsysteme eine mögliche Schadwirkung auf der Haut zuverlässig vorhersagen. Der Ersatz einer einzigen tierexperimentellen Methode erfordert in der Regel eine Kombination von mehreren alternativen In-vitro-Methoden (Tests im Reagenzglas, nicht am lebenden Organismus).

Derzeit gibt es eine Reihe erfolgsversprechender Ansätze zur Entwicklung alternativer Methoden mit Zielterminen in der näheren Zukunft. Allerdings gibt es andere Endpunkte, für welche auch langfristig ein vollständiger Ersatz von Tierversuchen nicht absehbar ist.

PIERRE FABRE DERMO KOSMETIK wendet bereits folgende In-Vitro-Alternativmethoden zu Tierversuchen routinemäßig an:

Durch Zytotoxizitätstests (Untersuchung auf Zellgiftigkeit) an Bindegewebszellen (Fibroblasten) werden die Reizwirkungen chemischer Substanzen festgestellt.

Ermittlung der Phototoxizität eines Produktes durch Zytotoxizitätstests an Zellkulturen in Kombination mit simulierter UVA / UVB-Strahlung und sichtbarer Sonnenstrahlung. Damit wird geklärt, ob Sonnenlicht eine toxische Reaktion mit dem zu untersuchenden kosmetischen Inhaltsstoff auf der Haut auslöst.

Mit dem HET-CAM-Test (Zellkultur-Test) werden Augen- und Schleimhautreize am Gewebe befruchteter und bebrüteter Hühnereier gemessen , um Irritationen am Auge nicht mehr am lebenden Kaninchen testen zu müssen.

Ermittlung von Reizwirkungen einer Substanz am Hautkultur-Test, eine Untersuchung an 50mm2 Human-Hautstücken).

Messungen der perkutanen Penetration an Humanhaut ermitteln den Grad der Aufnahme eines Rohstoffes über die Haut.

Ermittlung von Hautirritationen durch Tests an freiwilligen menschlichen Probanden.

Untersuchungen zur Hypoallergenität der Produkte an freiwilligen, polysensiblen Probanden.

Wie Sie sehen, sind wir seit langem von der Notwendigkeit alternativer Methoden, die Tierversuche ersetzen, überzeugt und setzen uns aktiv für die Anwendung von Alternativen ein.

Leider können wir ihnen keine Informationen über die chinesische Kosmetikverordnung geben, aber bestimmt wird dort nicht jedes eingeführte Produkt nochmals am Tier getestet werden.
Wir hoffen, Ihnen mit unseren Angaben behilflich gewesen zu sein.
Sollten Sie noch Fragen haben, sind wir selbstverständlich jederzeit gerne für Sie da.

My immediate comments:

PROS

1. they’ve been mostly honest, though there might be some mis/reinterpretation of the letter of the law on the need for testing (it’s new ingredients), and it looks like the German version includes a clunky retranslation into German from other materials (the originals there were in English) on “why a FCOD policy is a good thing because most ingredients have been tested on animals at some point in the past.”

2. they’ve been using alternative testing. Admission time for me: I’ve been a human test-subject (I have usefully sensitive reactive skin). In 1998, I did this in Grenoble (France) while working there as a translator; there’s various big labs there, and I did human volunteer testing for one that produced some products for the Pierre Fabre group, Clarins, and the Chanel group.

CONS

1. slowness of response (and no response to avironneur)

2. unsatisfactory reply re. testing in China

3. like you, I dislike the “it’s out of our hands” tone here. Pontius Pilate etc.

I’m stopping buying. I’ll use up or give away my backups…

*sigh* and Scheiße!

So it’s off with the A-Derma soap. BUGGER.

UPDATE 3: SOME GOOD NEWS

Remember this one?

  • Vanicream Cleansing Bar
    INGREDIENTS: sodium cocoyl isethionate, stearic acid, water, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium isethionate, sorbitol solution, ceteareth-20, propylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl monostearate, white petrolatum, simethicone, polyethylene glycol monostearate, titanium dioxide, sorbic acid, BHT

No good on face, due to zittification. Mix of irritation (red itchy bits, start of swelling) and clogging. But: absolutely fine on body. And nice and moist. So that’s another one that stays in the shower.

In other good news: my usual shampoo, Free & Clear shampoo, works as a decent face-wash. Compare the ingredients with those in the Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser (actually intended for face & body):

  • liquid cleanser ingredients:
    purified water, disodium lauroamphodiacetate, glycerin, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium chloride, sodium laurate, isostearamidopropyl morpholine lactate, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, potassium sorbate, citric acid, tetrasodium EDTA
  • shampoo ingredients:
    purified water, lauryl glucoside, coco glucoside, acrylates copolymer, disodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium cocoyl glycinate, glycerin, sucrose cocoate, panthenol, pentylene glycol, 1,2-hexanediol, sodium cocoyl glutamate, disodium EDTA, caprylyl glycol, sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride

Pretty basic cleansing base; slightly acidic; but the shampoo has slightly more in the way of moistening/humectant loveliness (ex. glycerin & panthenol).

In further good news: despite this being the start of a major new allergy season, mine seem to be pretty OK and some of my allergens have been demoted to “OK in low dose, patch-test as always” status. Low concentrations of various chamomile derivatives are back on the menu. Huzzah.

UPDATE 4: THOSE CONTINUING EXPERIMENTS?

ONE SUCCESS
One success, in the form of an unscented shea butter and goat-milk bar from an Etsy seller. You’ll find the one if you look on Etsy for, well, the words in its description. Cost me the princely sum of $4.25 (plus shipping; that’s always the killer on an experimental purchase, though things balance out if you find something you like, buy in quantity each time, thus spreading the shipping costs over the items…)

OPTIMISM… WITH NO JUST CAUSE EXCEPT OTHERS’ GOOD REPORTS…
I’ve also placed an order with Chagrin Valley for some samples of soaps.

AND THE REST
Some further fails otherwise, though, I’m afraid. Verdict for all those below:

  1. nice lather, felt lovely
  2. which raised my hopes
  3. rinsed off skin. Skin dry. Beyond the merely squeaky-clean. I mean: dry dry dry, while still under running water. But do bear in mind that I have thin fragile skin, inc. not having the world’s best skin barrier. My skin thrives in cool damp weather: useful environmental adaptation for us redheads from the (East) Atlantic Archipelago…
  4. Needed immediate lubrication: applying oil, rubbing it around skin like an oil cleanser, rinsing off, then reapplying and leaving it on.
  5. Conclusion: FAIL as moisturizing cleansing bars. No better or worse than any other “classic old-fashioned true soap”: savon de Marseille, Castille soap, olive oil soap (like Kiss My Face and the other 101 varieties in granolemporia and Mediterranean delis), Dr. Bronner.
  6. Dr. Bronner is a staple in our household, and I love the stuff (the unscented version) dearly. I love it for laundry and other household uses. I’ve tried it on my skin (especially when hiking etc.) and it’s a disaster on me. My skin is actually better not being washed at all. Well, that’s not terribly surprising: my skin’s usually better off being washed at most once aday, and when desperately unhappy, not washed “properly” for a few days running. In skimergencies I just re-oil it as and when needed, no water-based cleaning at all. So: Dr.B is the gold standard against which I’m measuring the soaps listed below.

The Gold Standard Against Which All Soaps Should Be Judged:

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (unscented baby mild)

  • INGREDIENTS: Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol

If you’re looking for a plain soap, just do yourself a favour, make your life easier, and go for the obvious choice.

I don’t mean to sound flippant, or trivialise things, and please don’t kick me or shout at me: but: it’s just a bar of soap.

No-one can see (or care) what the label says, or how fancy it is, how rare and exclusive and recherché your source; unless of course you frame it and put it on the wall above the bar of soap as it resides in stately repose in the world’s most appropriately luxurious soap-dish in your bathroom.

But then again, that whole malarkey might justs make you a bit of a git.

So the best that the sensible ethical consumer can do, really, is just buy a bar of soap that does what it says on the tin (on which they’re mostly much of a non-whelming muchness) and does so whilst causing as much good and as little harm as possible. Least harm to your pocket. Not hurting other people elsewhere. And the good Dr. B (RIP) has fair price and fair ethics on his side: cruelty-free plus ingredients are not only organic and sustainably-produced, but most of them (* in the ingredient-list above) are fair trade too.

On the other hand, if you want something to clean your face without removing the skin on it, drying it out, and stripping it down in the long term by wrecking the acid mantle and your whole skin barrier: none of these are any damn use, inc. The Gold Standard above. A-Derma does the trick. And a plethora of liquid cleansers, milks, creams, and cold creams. Looks like I’ll also have work ahead on testing out Etsy sellers’ soaps, and re-testing L’Occitane’s high-shea milk bars… but otherwise I’ll be staying with the old trusty stuff that works and helps to keep body and soul together my skin on my bones.

And now, back to those other soaps. Like I said: much of a muchness compared to Dr. Bronner’s; no better, no worse. Badger’s offering is very slightly moister, just a smidge, but still leaves (my) skin unhappy.

Aubrey Organics Rosa Mosqueta Bath Bar

  • INGREDIENTS: 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.
  • A CS-bot tells me their palm oil is organic and virtuous. They sounded so thick but sweet that I’m not entirely convinced. Do try and see if you can get any more sense out of them… good luck…

Badger Unscented Body Soap with Organic Shea Butter and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • INGREDIENTS: 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.
  • This was the least drying of the bunch, but still left skin dessicated. Smells delicious though!

Hugo Naturals Shea Butter and Oatmeal Soap

  • INGREDIENTS: 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.
  • STUPID ME: I tried this out as I thought maybe the formula had changed, as the packaging claimed this contained only sweet almond oil; same ingredients as on the Hugo Naturals website. That ingredient list contains at least one error: this soap still contains bitter almond oil, stinking unmistakeably to high heaven of bitter almond essence (like marzipan). Not correctly labelled on the bar itself. I don’t know if that’s just true of bars sold in Canada, or we got a lousy batch. But: look carefully before you buy. Unless of course you like marzipan. And sopas that dry your skin out.

Hugo Naturals Unscented

  • INGREDIENTS (from packaging) 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.
  • INGREDIENTS (from MF website): Water, glycerin, cocos nucifera (coconut) oi, stearic acid, sodium hydroxide, titanium dioxide, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, tocopherol.
    I don’t know which ingredient-list corresponded to the reality of my bar of soap. Again: unfiable, but harder to prove here. Didn’t matter anyway, as this stuff was as drying as the other epic fails. Bar of soap was donated to my recipient for rejet soaps (that’s a long story in its own right: suffice it to say that the soaps are not simply thrown in the bin/trash, they are repurposed to good use…)

Out of Africa Organic Shea Butter Soap (unscented)

  • INGREDIENTS: Organic shea butter, palm kernel oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, purified water.
  • This was a real test: claims to contain 20% shea butter, but vague as to when in the soap-making process it’s been added. Given the dryness of the end result, my guess is: part of the mix. Which makes no blinking difference to the moistness of the soap: you might as well just use bulk olive oil or Crisco for your base.
    Big difference is when the damn stuff is added afterwards. If you want a really lovely moist shea soap, sorry guys: it’s L’Occitane and the like. I’ll be testing some Etsy ones out over the next while (this may be rather a long while, and I might get bored or distracted along the way. So don’t get too excited.), that’s the other area of remaining optimism.

Weleda Rose Soap

  • INGREDIENTS: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Cocoate, Water (Aqua), Sodium Olivate, Glycerin, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Rosa Damascena Extract, Sodium Chloride.
  • Verdict: in feel, very like the AO one above but less drying, similarly rose-scented but with some other essential oils (jasmine and something citrussy): not going near my face, nor any other more sensitive and reactive parts of my anatomy…

Re-arranged in order, from least-drying-of-a-drying bunch to most drying:

  1. Badger & Dr. Bronner’s
  2. Weleda (but EO problem)
  3. Aubrey Organics
  4. Hugo & Out of Africa

This next one, I’m afraid, was another no-go on me, ages ago; though not too stripping. While my recollection is that it wasn’t too drying (though not exactly mosturising either), I haven’t used it recently, nor in a proper fair test against other bar soaps. It’s a glycerin soap (and slightly acidic) rather than a traditional, alkaline, “pure” soap. The rest of their chocolate range is exquisite.

Sodium palmate*
Sodium cocoate*
Aqua
Glycerin*
Theobroma cacao extract**
Vanilla planifolia fruit extract*
Sodium chloride
Sodium citrate*
* Vegetable origin
** organic ingredient
° from essential oils

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