What's in my shaving soap

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Almere, Netherlands
Boab asked me to shed some light on shaving soap, shaving soap ingredients and their function.

I've been scribbling away today to create an introduction to soap and ingredients so here goes, and please feel free to ask questions -- though I may not be able to answer them, I'm not a qualified cosmetics scientist...


 
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Wooaaahhh. Thank's Henk.

It seems that many of my favourite soaps contain tallow/lanolin...DR Harris, Tabac, MWF, Palmolive etc. Is there a specific property that the inclusion of animal fat brings to a soap or is it just conjecuture that I seem to get my best shaves using them?
 
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Brilliant post, I have only skimmed it but have marked it for a good read in the morning (i will get more out of it when not having had a beer)

Thank you for not only taking the time but putting in so much effort. I assume english is not your first language and im ashamed as you can use the language better than I.
 
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henkverhaar
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Location
Almere, Netherlands
antdad said:
Wooaaahhh. Thank's Henk.

It seems that many of my favourite soaps contain tallow/lanolin...DR Harris, Tabac, MWF, Palmolive etc. Is there a specific property that the inclusion of animal fat brings to a soap or is it just conjecuture that I seem to get my best shaves using them?

Tallow contains mainly stearic and palmitic acid, just as palm oil BTW. If you're restricted to making soap from fats/oils only, tallow, palm, and cocoabutter are the best choices for a good, hard, creamy lathering shaving soap. Tallow was traditionally the only one of the three that was readily available, so it is only natural that classic formulas are based on tallow. Now, once you have access to individual fatty acids (which come from hydrolysed fats and oils...), there is no real reason to still use tallow as main source of fatty acids, you can mix stearic acid, some palrmitic acid and some coco acids to get a soap that you would never be able to make from tallow alone. Using tallow is probably more playing to tradition than really necessary these days. Many commercial formulas have stearic acid and tallow, or even stearic acid and coco fatty acids as their main ingredients. I don't think there are commercial formulas that are tallow-only, although if you choose your fats/oils well and don't mind a softish soap, you can make a very good shaving soap without having to resort to single fatty acids / steari acid. Especially if you sneak in a little foam stabilizer...

Henk
 

Boab

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Excellent post Henk and very well written.Thanks a lot for taking the time and effort.I have no doubt this will spark quite a debate.
 
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West Yorkshire
OK, I've just read that properly, and since it's all hard science written by a chemist I'm happy to take it as uncontroversial fact. Which leaves me in the same position as Tony: slightly shaken but still convinced, however irrationally, that tallow soaps work best for me. Perhaps what we like about them is just the texture of the lather, though I swear that my skin is in better shape if I use Wool Fat exclusively for a week, regardless of what I put on afterwards.

Henk: how would you feel about giving us the lowdown on after shave balms and moisturisers which claim to address the problems you set out?
 
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