A common ingredient in bars of soap is sodium tallowate, made from rendered animal fat. Stearic acid and glycerin in soap may also be animal derived, whilst honey, lanolin and milk can be added. We have a short article looking at animal products in cosmetics and toiletries where you can find out more.
Brands which are suitable for vegans have been marked on the score table with [Vg].
Vegan soaps and shower gels are now offered by ALTER/NATIVE and Ecoleaf by Suma, Astonish, Avalon Organics, Baylis and Harding, Bentley Organics, Bio-D, Bulldog, Caurnie Soap, Conscious Skincare, Cuticura bar soap, ECOS, Faith in Nature, Friendly Soap, Honesty, Jason, Little Soap Company, Lucy Bee, Lush, Pure Nuff Stuff, Lavera, Organii, Green People, Weleda, Urtekram, Neal’s Yard.
If you are vegan you may also wish to buy soap from a totally vegan company: Bio-D, Caurnie, Friendly Soap, Honesty, Little Soap Company, Lucy Bee and Faith in Nature.
Cruelty free soaps
Although the testing of cosmetics on animals has been banned in the EU, this is not the case everywhere else in the world. But the REACH legislation has complicated the issue. See our feature on animal testing in cosmetics for more information about animal testing.
Ethical Consumer rates all companies selling cosmetics on their animal testing policy. Companies will score a best rating if they have a policy not to test on animals, have a fixed cut-off date (a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals), and are not selling to markets where animal testing of products is required by law. A clear rating in the Animal Testing column indicates this.
The following companies were certified by the Leaping Bunny standard, one of the certification schemes for cruelty-free companies: Astonish, Avalon Organics, Bio-D, Conscious Skincare, Lucy Bee, Faith in Nature, Friendly Soap, Jason, Neal’s Yard, Honesty, Little Soap, Natura (Body Shop).
However, the Leaping Bunny logo on a product does not always mean it's vegan - it can still include animal products e.g. lanolin; but it won't have ingredients which have been tested on animals. The table in our guide to cruelty free and animal testing certification schemes has more information on this.
So if you see the wording 'cruelty free', look to see if this just means no animal testing, or if it also means no animal products.