France is generally seen as the destination for high-quality and world-class beauty and personal care products.
If you are a beauty junkie in particular, French soaps should be included in your list of beauty products. What’s so special about French soaps, anyway? The French themselves, of course, would boast that their soaps are like no other soaps in the world. And the world seems to agree.
The Marseille soap – the soap with a history
Marseille soap – or Savon de Marseille — is a hard soap made from only the most natural ingredients. The famed city of Marseille in southern France has been producing the soap for thousands of years, and every year it rolls out about 5,000 tons of soap.
The traditional methods of making the Marseille soap have unchanged up to this day.
Marseille soap is 100% all-natural and cruelty-free. The soap’s traditionally solid cube shape has been unchanged for centuries. A bar of Marseilles soap comes in various weights that range from 300 grams to a kilo, but nowadays you can find the Marseille soap usually sold at 100 grams per bar.
Marseille soap is so coveted that even French law (decreed in 1688) only allows soaps to be made within Marseille’s boundaries to be truly called Savon de Marseille.
There are two types of genuine Marseille soap: green (olive oil-based) and white (palm oil-based). The Marseille soap is always made with vegetable oils, which give it its natural color. The palm oil is actually a more recent addition in soap making in Marseille, as French law now allows for it to be incorporated as well. The palm oil gives the soap its creamy beige color, which makes it popular among buyers.
What makes a Marseille soap an authentic Marseille soap (aside from the fact that it’s made straight from Marseille)? Let’s take a look at the factors:
- It is made from 100% natural vegetable oils.
- It does not contain saponified animal fat (sodium tallowate).
- It has no added fragrance.
- It has no artificial colors.
- It should contain 72% of extra pure olive oil (which is the mandatory amount).
- It has no artificial preservatives – as the soap ages, its colors will naturally into pale white, beige or brown.
Despite its lofty place in soap history, the recipe of making Marseille soap is surprisingly simple and has virtually unchanged throughout the centuries: olive oil, Mediterranean seawater and ash. These ingredients are then boiled and constantly mixed together in a large cauldron for a matter of days.
Marseille soap is also versatile – it can also be used as a shaving soap, as a laundry detergent, a moth repeller and even a toothpaste. It lasts as twice as a regular soap that you usually buy from groceries – for instance, a 250-gram bar of Marseille soap is good for a couple of months of everyday use. Despite the high price tag (a bar can cost up to $10), Marseilles soap is otherwise economical.
If you buy a genuine Marseille soap, not only you support the local soapmakers and respect its history, but you also do a great favor to the environment. The soap is biodegradable and free from artificial preservatives, fragrances and colors. Plus, it’s not tested on animals.
If you have a skin sensitivities, you will find a best friend in the bathroom in Marseille soap. Since it doesn’t use harsh chemicals, Marseille soap is hypo-allergenic and thus will not cause skin irritation.
French milled soaps
French milled soaps are also popular among beauty and wellness fans. Like theMarseilles soaps, French milled soaps are made from the natural, plant-based components. Typical ingredients include shea butter and essential oils like lavender and sandalwood (learn about out the many benefits of Sandalwood), and a variety of herbs and spices. These ingredients contribute to these soaps’ delightfully subtle aroma that also has calming and relaxing properties.
French milled soaps are also called “triple milled soaps” because, as you may have guessed it, they go through the soap milling machine at least thrice. This is to ensure that the soaps come out as not watery nor dry, and to make them longer-lasting. French milled soaps also give a rich and luxurious lather, making your bubble baths more indulgent and enjoyable.