Bath & Body Inspired by Nature

German Soap Box:  Vegan, Gluten and Cruelty Free

It's so easy to offer fabulous vegan and gluten free products - even bath and body products!

This would have been a difficult claim to make thirty years ago but we now have so many exotic products available to us which we couldn't have imagined years ago.  Of course, thirty years ago we also knew very little about gluten sensitivity so we have come a long way!

If you look at bath & body and cosmetic labels more closely you will notice a number of animal sourced ingredients, and some are not so obvious.  If you prefer to stay vegan you may want to take a closer look at the ingredients...

Vegan/Plant vs Animal Source

In our soaps:  A German Soap Box soap only uses plant based oils and butters.  However, you can still find many soaps listing Sodium Tallowate as a main ingredient.  This is simply a chemical description of the saponification reaction that occurs when fat from cattle or sheep (tallow) is combined with lye to make soap.  Soap can also be made using lard (rendered pork fat) which may be objectionable to some people for religious reasons.  

vegan logoGlycerin:  This humectant may be either of animal or vegetable source.  We are happy to say that all GSB glycerin is plant based.  We generally do not add glycerin in our soaps since they already contain more than 10%.  Glycerin is naturally produced during the soap making process and while some manufacturers remove it for use in other products, we would rather you enjoy a gentle, skin-friendly soap!

Colorants:  You wouldn't think of a coloring agent to come from animals but yep, one exists!  The red carmine pigment is produced from the cochineal insect.  These little insects are dried and then boiled in water to extract the carmine acid to which alum is added to produce a vibrant red.  Somehow the thought of bathing with the color of dead insects doesn't appeal to us.

Carmine could be listed as a variety of different names such as cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, carmine lake, natural red 4, CI 75470 or E120.  We think the earth produces so many gorgeous natural mineral pigments and clays for coloring options.  We kinda like the vegan option better.

Cetyl Alcohol & Esters:  These are ingredients frequently found in lotions and creams and have nothing to do with drying rubbing alcohol or even intoxicating alcohol.  Quite the opposite is true!! These alcohols have a soft, buttery emollient feel to the skin and are used as oil substitutes and emulsifiers.  Cetyl alcohol was first discovered in 1817 when the waxy substance obtained from whale oil was heated.  The word itself - cetyl - comes from the Latin cetus, meaning whale.  Today cetyl alcohol/esters come from palm and coconut sources. 

Animal Products We Do Not Use:

German Soap Box products are also free of:

  1. Honey
  2. Royal jelly, this is a secretion from bees.  It's called "royal" because the worker bees use this secretion to nurture the queen bee.  Some people call it simply bee saliva, ugh.
  3. Beeswax - Cetyl esters, acetyl alcohol and stearic acid can also impart firmness to a product.  Butters such as cocoa butter have a stearic acid content as high as 28-45% and are super rich emollients.  A little formulation creativity allows for all kinds of great vegan options!
  4. Lanolin (comes from sheep wool).  Capuacu butter from Brazil has shown to be an excellent vegan substitute for lanolin.  Capuacu butter attracts and holds moisture and is a fabulous skin conditioner and we also love it in our shampoo bars!
  5. Goat Milk (popular among some soap crafters)
  6. Casein, whey or other milk proteins
  7. Egg protein, egg yolks
  8. Silk, silk powders

Fortunately, most ingredients now have great vegan substitutes.  Squalene used to come from shark livers but we are now able to create it from olives!  Animals used to be a popular source for proteins but we find Quinoa protein to be wonderful in both skin and hair products!

Gluten Free

Gluten can be in bath & body products when you see the following on labels:

  1. Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  2. Wheat germ oil
  3. Vitamin E, especially when the source is not disclosed

Gluten free sealVitamin E can be processed from wheat germ oil but at German Soap Box we opted for a synthetic vitamin E.  Although the risk of a gluten reaction is low, we thought it best to avoid a wheat germ source especially for lip balms that have potential for ingestion.

As mentioned earlier, we prefer to use Quinoa as our vegan & gluten free protein source.  Quinoa has demonstrated enhanced nourishing hair & skin penetration as well as protective film forming abilities.  This gluten free grain protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 8 essential amino acids.  We especially love it in our shampoo bars because it offers conditioning and cuticle protection for improved volume & better wet/dry comb out.  We love Quinoa (could you tell?)!

Although wheat germ oil is known for its high vitamin E content, other emollients such as mango butter, soy butter, jojoba oil, palm oil and argan oil also offer vitamin E for luxurious formulations.

Animal Cruelty

Lucky the Yellow Lab of German Soap BoxWe don't know if there is really much we can say here.

Having had hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, cats and dogs - many from shelters or found injured on the street - we simply can not imagine animal testing.  The photo montage on the left is of our lab Lucky.  We found her hit by a car and suffering from a broken leg & jaw.  We think she did it on purpose just so she could get adopted by us!  Ed always refers to her as The Princess so we think she made out pretty well.

We test all our formulations on our own bodies and the occasional family victim - they usually don't mind because they love the free products! :-)