Ever wondered how to decipher a soap bar label? Scientific names can be hard to interpret if you’re not a chemist or biologist. Not to worry — we’ll tell you how to recognize which ingredients are all-natural ingredients and which aren’t, so you can choose the best natural soap for you!
Ingredients Derived from All-Natural Sources
Sometimes, when you look at an ingredients label for a skincare product, it doesn’t exactly scream “natural”. In CleanO2’s case, that’s because we use product names based on the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), which is the global standard. On our soap boxes, where space is limited, that’s all you’ll find, an INCI list of ingredients.
But on our products pages on this site, where we can wax poetic about the ingredients, we list the common name (in brackets) with the scientific INCI name to make it easier for you to understand what’s in our all-natural soap bars, For example, coconut oil is listed as sodium cocoate (coconut oil) on our product pages.
You can learn more about the all-natural ingredients we use on Our Ingredients page, but here’s a quick overview of the types of things you will see on a CleanO2 natural soap ingredients label.
Essential oils are the fragrant, all-natural ingredients that give our soaps their wonderful scents. These are natural oils that are extracted from plants using a steam distillation or solvent extraction process and are named for the plant they come from.
We use a variety of essential oils to add delightful scents to our all-natural soap bars that you can enjoy while you lather up. These include citrus, floral, herbal, and wood-derived essential oils.
When you see essential oils listed on this site, they’ll include both the common name of the plant species they come from plus the species’ scientific name too. So, for example, you’ll see spearmint essential oil listed with its scientific species name Mentha spicata (in Italics) on the page for our refreshing Enviro Mint Body Bar. Similarly you’ll see tea tree oil and its scientific name Melaleuca alternafolia on the ingredient list for our popular Activated Charcoal Body Bar.
On a CleanO2 box, essential oils are listed only by their scientific species name in italics (INCI standard and tight space, after all).
You might notice ingredients with asterisks beside them, like “linalool” and “citronellol.” In accordance with the EU Fragrance Allergen label guidelines, these are specific molecules (still natural) found in essential oils that studies have shown may trigger skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people.
Solvents are a key ingredient in some of our carbon soaps since they are what break down grease and grime. Two natural solvents you might see on our ingredients label are d-limonene and propanediol. These names may sound strange or processed, but they are actually all-natural ingredients.
For example, d-limonene, one of the solvents in our Restoration Scrub Hand Bar, is extracted from the peels of citrus fruits and in many soap bars, it acts as an essential oil. But in high concentrations, it’s great for lifting grease off the skin — if you’ve ever been at a fancy meal where they use citrus finger bowls, you’ve experienced this!
Surfactants help to reduce the surface tension of liquids, allowing them to spread, trap dirt, and cleanse surfaces more effectively. An all-natural ingredient we use in our Restoration Scrub Hand Bar is sodium cocoyl isethionate, a surfactant made from coconuts (we use a palm-free version). This substance is so mild that it’s known as “baby foam”, but it still adds extra cleansing properties to our carbon capture soap.
Parfums are mixtures of safe synthetic scent molecules that create uniquely pleasant aromas. Some parfum mixtures contain natural essential oils but are typically made up of synthetic scents. We use parfum in our Renewable Rose, Montane Meadow, Sustainable Spice, and Earthly Almond Body Bars. All parfum used in our soap is phthalate-free.
What’s (Proudly) Not on the Label
We are proud to use all-natural ingredients in our carbon capture soap. Now that we’ve seen some ingredients you might find on a CleanO2 soap bar label, now let’s take a look at what you won’t find on our ingredients labels.
The global demand for palm oil is contributing to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, unethical labour practices, and climate change. CleanO2 is committed to sourcing sustainable natural ingredients for our natural soap, so we aren’t comfortable using palm oil until it can be proven that it doesn’t have a harmful impact on people, animals or the environment.
Parabens are preservative chemicals that can pass through the skin into the body and have been linked with hormone disruption. These are found in many cosmetic products, from shampoo to face creams. Though the evidence is not conclusive, CleanO2 prefers not to use ingredients that contain parabens.
These chemicals can be used as solvents in cosmetic fragrances or to make plastics more durable. Like parabens, phthalates have been associated with harmful biological effects so we use only phthalate-free fragrance oils in our soaps.
Just like the name suggests, these are artificial colourants created in a lab. Many synthetic dyes have been shown to be carcinogenic or cause skin irritation or allergies. That’s why CleanO2 only uses natural colourants like coffee, charcoal, chlorophyll and clays.
But What About…?
You can see a full explanation of what goes into CleanO2 soaps on Our Ingredients page. For instance, we haven’t even touched on the botanical base oils that are the biggest ingredients in our bars!
But you’ve covered the broad strokes and you’re equipped to interpret a soap bar label. So you can make sure you’re lathering up with a soap that is made with all-natural ingredients!