Whether you like ’em simple or fancy, each item in our list of the best natural vegan soaps will leave you clean!
By Lora O’Brien
If you want to be as healthy as you can be, hygiene is obviously important. And the most basic step towards good personal hygiene is hand washing with a good soap.
A drop of ordinary soap diluted in water is sufficient to kill many types of bacteria and viruses – even Covid. The reason for this may be, according to the New York Times, is that soap is made of pin-shaped molecules, each of which has a hydrophilic head that easily bonds with water, and a hydrophobic tail, which avoids water and links up with oils and fats. These molecules interact with other molecules soapy foam and assemble themselves into little bubbles called micelles.
The Times states: “Some bacteria and viruses have lipid membranes that resemble double-layered micelles. These have two bands of hydrophobic tails sandwiched between two rings of hydrophilic heads. These membranes are studded with important proteins that allow viruses to infect cells and perform vital tasks that keep bacteria alive. Pathogens wrapped in lipid membranes include coronaviruses, H.I.V., the viruses that cause hepatitis B and C, herpes, Ebola, Zika, dengue, and numerous bacteria that attack the intestines and respiratory tract.”
In short, you can easily kill any viruses on your hands by simply washing with soap and water.
Soap’s Cruel Beginnings
But did you know that most bar soaps are made from animal products? Shocking, but true. As a byproduct of the meat industry, animal fat is cheap and useful. That’s why it’s used in a wide variety of products, ranging from crayons to cosmetics. And soap.
The discovery of soap probably began accidentally thousands of years ago, when it was noticed that when rain mixed with the fat and ash from animal sacrifices, it formed a lather with a remarkable ability to clean skin and clothes. Plants and flowers were probably only added later for their scent. But now we know there’s absolutely no reason to use animal fat in soap when plant based fats are just as effective.
If you see the words tallow, sodium tallowate, stearic acid, lard or glycerin on the label, it’s safe to assume you’re washing your face with slaughterhouse byproducts. Even so-called ‘cruelty free’ soaps often contain unsustainably sourced palm oil, which is killing the rainforests as well as all the animals in it (namely, the orangutan).
Bad For Animals, Bad For Us, Too
Besides being cruel to animals, soaps can be cruel to your skin, too. Added artificial perfumes and chemicals can seriously dry out your skin.
And antibacterial soaps are even worse! They contain toxic Triclosan, which kills not only the nasty bacteria you may pick up in public places, but ALL bacteria, including the ‘good’ kind on your skin, resulting in pH imbalances, redness, flakiness and even serious health issues. Triclosan is a suspected carcinogen.
It seems like buying something as simple as soap can be an ethical and health minefield – but never fear! We’ve found 15 of the best natural vegan soaps that are kind to your skin, animals AND the planet.
12 Of The Best All Natural, Cruelty Free Soaps
If you’re looking for a non-drying, very gentle soap, then Fifth Origin’s range is perfect for you. 100% natural, vegan and handmade from cold-pressed ingredients, these soaps will purify, nurture and invigorate the mind, body and sense with every use.
The rhododendron and rose is a powerful pairing that will start your day off with a dose of serenity. But there are also plenty of other delicious combinations to try, including anti-inflammatory neem and turmeric, or refreshing lemongrass and nettle, for example. No matter what you choose, these pure soaps are the perfect way to put a spring in your step.
Best for: Natural soaps that will connect you with nature with every wash.
Pangea is a well-known brand in the area of organic cosmetics, thanks to the consistently high quality of their products. Obviously, none of their stuff contains harsh, synthetic chemicals, but germaphobes will be pleased to know this gentle, pine-scented hand soap contains an all natural antimicrobial and antiseptic, thanks to the magic of white sage leaves.
Best for: Natural antibacterial action, keeping in the bathroom beside the sink
This awesome clean beauty company produces everything from makeup to skin and body care. Their products are, as it says in their name, 100% pure, especially thanks to various pigments derived from natural fruit.
The creamy blend of ingredients in this Coconut Butter soap will leave your skin feeling hydrated after every use – just wet the bar, lather up and massage over the skin. It’s even safe enough to use on your face: try a face massager when the skin is still wet to increase circulation and deep clean pores.
Best for: Everyday use for sensitive skin
Luxury perfume and soap brand Ortigia is the creation of Sue Townsend, the founder of the quintessentially British brand Crabtree & Evelyn, but this label comes with a chic, Italian twist.
Ortigia prides itself on the exquisite quality of its products that are made using only natural ingredients. Inspired by the aesthetics, colours and scents of Sicily, their hand soaps make for a fabulous accessory in any bathroom. We also love that you can choose to buy the product with or without packaging.
Best for: Gifting; showing off in the guest bathroom.
Not only are A Wild Soap Bar’s products biodegradable, cruelty free and minimally packaged, but their Black Willow bar of soap also helps to prevent acne. It even doubles as a deodorizer!
Featuring essential oils, activated charcoal and bentonite clay, this soap is popular in the Middle East. It’s super detoxifying for the skin. And if you scrub with it under your arms, you’ll not likely need to put on deodorant that day.
Best for: Detoxifying the skin, multipurpose action
Stored in traditional amber bottles, Aesop’s stylishly designed natural vegan soaps are protected against UV degradation, and the dark bottle also minimizes the need for preservatives. This beautiful hand washing gel cleanses the skin, protecting it against the elements without drying it out.
The anti-bacterial properties of mandarin and rosemary cleanse the skin, whilst lavender oil helps to leave you feeling soothed and hydrated. Every time you wash your hands, the resulting fragrance is just heavenly!
Best for: Men’s gift giving, or looking stylish in unisex bathrooms
This may well be the most popular of all the American natural vegan soaps, thanks to its effectiveness, diversity of natural ingredients and various cleaning characteristics. It can be used as a facial wash, a shaving foam, a shampoo, a makeup brush cleaner and can even be used to sculpt brows to perfection!
There’s a scent to suit everyone, including a scent-free variety for those who like their soap super simple, or who are allergic to perfumes.
Best for: Travelling, everything, really – this one soap bar really does serve many purposes!
Pacifica truly caters to the needs of a women; they make everything from skincare to perfume, all of which are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pacifica Natural Soaps are all handmade with their signature perfume blends, which are comprised of essential and natural oils. Their Indian Coconut Nectar blend is both sultry and sensuous, transporting you to a faraway island.
Best for: Gentle, everyday use; gorgeous summery scent.
Handmade in Lebanon, Senteurs d’Orient’s ‘Hammam’ natural vegan soaps follow ancient Middle Eastern soap-making traditions. They are all deliciously infused with scents based on pure essential oils for a complete mind and body experience, and packaged in a luxurious, origami-inspired box that’s perfect for gifting.
Made with real roses, shea butter, olive oil and vitamin E, this pure soap is a truly sensual experience on a rope. ‘Rose of Damascus’ is as simple and fresh as it is elegant and romantic. Also available in these gorgeous aromas: Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Jasmine of Arabia, or Amber.
Best for: Fancy gift giving, a beautifully scented everyday treat
Based on botanical ingredients, this gentle soap can be used on the face and body. It’s enriched with steam-distilled essential oils. There’s also soothing aloe vera to help protect and heal the skin.
Natural coconut oil is just one of several healing essential oils here. But there’s also mandarin and sweet clementine to ease tension, and mood-boosting geranium. The probiotic content ensures the natural balance of ‘good’ bacteria on the skin is not disturbed, whilst ‘bad’ bacteria is washed away.
Best for: Those with sensitive skin or acne.
10. Osmia Organics
Osmia makes natural vegan soaps from hydrating, cleansing plant based ingredients. One of their most popular scents is the Zucca Spice bar. It’s packed with organic pumpkin – known for its conditioning properties. It also has powdered rosehips, which gently exfoliate. There’s a delicious autumnal scent, thanks to the organic coriander seed essential oil and spices – it’s pretty much pumpkin pie in a bar!
Best for: Everyday use for all skin types. This thick bar will last for months!
This makes the perfect gift! Arthouse Unlimited is a collective of artists living with complex epilepsy and learning disabilities. The artists work alongside instructors to create designer products for sale.
One of those items is this refreshing Lime, Basil and Mandarin perfumed soap. Its painterly paper package depicts the artist’s friends and companions.
What we love most is the fact that this luxurious organic, triple milled soap comes with a positive message! It could be: Be Happy, Be Proud, or You’re Special (below). Each one will surely make your recipient a little bit happier every time they use this soap.
Best for: Giving a gift that really ‘says’ something to someone you care about. Also for giving you little affirmations throughout the day!
12. Level Naturals
Want to get clean through the power of nature? This bar packs a serious cleansing punch! That’s thanks to its activated charcoal infused blend. It gets even the dirtiest of hands clean, while hydrating your skin with pure coconut oil, soybean oil and vegetable glycerin. Of course, there’s a good dose of natural vanilla oil to make this soap heavenly scented, too.
Best for: Natural vegan soaps like this offer a thorough cleaning thanks to the power of plants!