Clean Beauty Rut #6: Pros, Cons, pH values of SOAP + a Hints For Dog Owners

Soap’s long been to beauty mavens what soup was to foodies; ill-famed as unelegant/cheap, bashfully reimagined under new names. Now, both are back – in all their simple glory. soap-opera-vegan-palmoil-free-soap-opener


Soap is one of the most ancient discoveries of mankind: once upon a time in Babylon somebody found out that oils blended with potash – plant ash, or potassium carbonate – created a slippery, alkaline mixture.

If we now omit all the historic facts that you can look up on Wikipedia (funnily, there are small historic nonconformities in the German and English versions), we’ll see that alkaline is key here. Soap’s function is simple: it dissolves oil and fat that are otherwise insoluble in water; dirt and sebum can then be rinsed away. Synthetic detergents operate in the very same way but aren’t necessarily as alkaline.

Still, soap long had the reputation of stripping skin of sebum – while synthetic detergents were marketed as super-mild, super-soothing, and super-soft for a long time. Irony, much?

Soap isn’t soap though; soap qualities and its pH value depend on vegetable oils used and on the fatty acid those oils produce. Typically soap is made of palm oil (a completely non-vegan no-go these days -> recap here, why exactly), coconut oil, laurel oil, or olive oil. Pure olive oil soap is known as Savon de Marseille and Aleppo Soap and considered rather soft.

Still, classic soap is always alkaline (pH value of 9-11). Our skin has a pH value of about 5.5. So it seems, the best solution to cleanse the skin is a clean, non-tox liquid soap with a pH value around 5, that’s based on mild natural detergents.


Don’t be EVER tricked and fooled into buying a “pH-neutral” soap for your little monster!

Dogs’ skin has a naturally alkaline pH-value around 7, so washing dogs with your best, mildest, most exclusive pH-neutral shampoo will only cause skin problems. dog-shampooTrue story: as I asked a maker of pH neutral dog shampoos what on Earth they were thinking as they created their range of “mild, soft, pH neutral dog shampoo for everyday use” (!!!111), they got confused and stopped talking to me. To be honest – in hindsight, I was way too polite and too diplomatic towards that bunch of ignorant lamers.

So yeah, we’re being tricked by everybody. We’re doomed, and so are our dogs.

In case you didn’t notice:
I’m actually really, really angry about this. You and I, we can guess and research that it’s a salon shampoo that gives us flaky and dry skin; a dog can’t.


If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll remember my experimental change of beauty routine that started here -> click.

Briefly, my beauty routine now only allows for oils and thermal water (sometimes a toner like this one) + peeling masks by Dr Alkaitis, my beautician in a jar, and by Dr Hauschka that I apply religiously once in a month.
I cleanse my face thoroughly only if I wear makeup, but in the morning, it’s only a whiff of thermal water and an eyepad.
The evening cleansing is a double-cleansing: first – an oil, then – a liquid soap (and my dear charcoal Konjac spongy-sponge). My skin has never looked better. Well, in the last 20 years.

Now, as the days got colder and I used slightly more oil to protect my skin from the cold, I noticed that my pores could use a deeper cleanse – not as a peeling I treat myself to once in a month, but maybe a deeper rinse once a week.

And so I ended up buying a black cumin seed soap by Jislaine, which is a Hamburg-based company specialising in classic soap from traditional manufactures, ayurvedic dental care and natural oils. The website is in German, but you could just have a look at the self-explanatory range -> click.

jislaine-nigella-sativa-seed-soap-packagedjislaine-nigella-sativa-seed-soapThis soap is made of just five ingredients: sodium oleate, sodium laurate, water, nigella sativa seed oil, and sodium hydroxide. It is recommended to allergy sufferers. It’s vegan, palmoil-free, fragrance-free, and cruelty-free.
And it REALLY strips the skin of anything that has to do with fat. Bare. All gone.

1. It really cleanses the skin.
2. It’s amazing prior to a steam bath, helping unclog the pores.

1. Definitely not for daily use – make sure to prep your skin with a few additional drops of oil; the oil will protect the skin so you can have the best of both worlds. ANd if you are in for a deep cleanse, you’ll need to dab your skin afterwards with a pH-neutral or slightly acidic toner.
2. Despite saying it’s good for the most sensitive skin, if your skin is very dry, I wouldn’t recommend. I wouldn’t recommend it for very greasy skin either. Greasy skin is out of balance, and stripping it of all sebum will wreak havoc on it.

For daily use, it’s still my organic liquid soap with lavender.
Which I probably should review next 😉

Winter time is flu time; flu time is hand washing time. Just not with antiseptic soaps. 

And what’s sitting on the side of your sink? Soap bar? Liquid? Scented or pure? 
Shall we talk about flu time at all? Questions upon questions… 😉

15 Comments on “Clean Beauty Rut #6: Pros, Cons, pH values of SOAP + a Hints For Dog Owners

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  4. Wait, is that your pupper??? I need to know!
    And I am happy to read this because I love my rose Aleppo soap from Syria for when I need a good cleanse. It leaves my skin super soft too. Good to know that some soaps are better than others…as always, thanks for the explanation!

    • it’s my mum’s 🙂 a zwergschnauzer. who by the way is taken care of properly 😉
      rose soap, mmmh, sounds fabulous. this one I use smells simply of soap.

  5. how we have missed your reviews while we sped around the globe!

    that soap looks strangely wonderful.

    and we’re tickled pink that you can spot the discrepancies between wiki entries 😉

    we only carry hand luggage (heads up: this is a Laundry Soap anecdote) so we have to do (or ask kind people if we may give them money to do it if in a hotel) Laundry while on our travels.

    this means that our clothes have a scent of other countries while abroad (and when returning home).

    but we had an amusing moment in South Africa (cape town) – we paid for the lovely boutique hotel staff to do a small bag of laundry and we waited with baited breath to see what laundry scent was in their country.


    colonial brands appear to have held fast – it was the british formulation of Ariel – unmistakable.

    we were a Tiny bit disappointed.

    • thank you for the kind words! 🙂

      and the laundry story is adorable. globalisation, hm? totally understand your disappointment.

      doesn’t one always bring home smells from abroad? whenever I open my valises after a business trip (short) or a holiday (weeks), the scent of my temporary home is in there: design hotel’s cool scented candles; rented house’s old woodwork.

      besides, don’t you take something scented with you, to remind you of home or to help unwind? a tiny candle, or a soothing oil? recently I’ve fallen for tata harper’s flight kit (or similar name) and the amazing essential oils of her magic potions.

      • hello

        we used to travel with things from home but decided to fully Experience the World instead so apart from scented lavender sachets in the Valise, we bring nothing that would interrupt our Global Gestation.


        _tg xxx

        • wise! (I only have a candle in case a room has too unpleasant a smell. once I had to spend a night in a hotel room on the montmartre, and it smelled of not-very-delicious exotic cuisine and that smell of a mix of spices in old fat, yikes…)

    • yup, it’s a dorky little salt’n’pepper zwergschnauzer called perry 😀

      (as in: perry mason)

        • not AFAIK. we just looked for a dog for mum who’d be a good companion in the city, and not too big, not too quirky. she likes terriers and schnauzers. we thought of dog shelter first, but she really can’t handle traumatised dogs; and this little guy here was a kindle “leftover”, reserved and forgotten despite his pedigree, and grew too old to be sold to “normal” dog lovers and the breeder really didn’t know what to do with him. so mum thought it was perfect and bought him.