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Sulphate Free, Detergent Free, Soap Free: Whats the difference?

What is the difference between: soap free, detergent free and sulphate Free Soap?

Hi good morning. Heres a question i got asked so i decided to write a short article explaining the difference:

If you dont already know; go to any drugstore/ supermarket and you will see these terms. But what does it really mean?


Now before i get into details on what is what; please know that the real soaps are made using oils/ fats, treated with sodium hydroxide (lye) to result in soap + glycerin as the by product. Thats what real soap is and it goes through a process called saponification (the word ‘sabun’ came from this too🤣).

Over the years; due to higher profitability; soaps has been replaced with surfactants (lay man: detergents) and over time; ‘soaps’ no longer have fats and lye in, only detergents.

Is detergents/ surfactants bad? Well it depends on the surfactants used. Some are derived from plants and some are not. Those from plants are generally ‘milder’ but its very costly so most big companies dont use them unless they are charging a hefty amount for it.
Example of surfactants are sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium cocoyl isothionate and so on (will write post on this soon as it will be covered in my  shampoo & conditioner making class). 

So anyways; now that you know the basics; lets go deep into the terms.

Soap free

Soap free literally means ‘soap free’. It means that it doesnt have soap. There is no ingredients inside the ‘product’ that contains lye or fats and it doesnt go through any saponification process. What it also means is that the soap free product has ‘detergents’ or in scientific term: surfactant. Wether thats harsh or not; you have got to read the labels.

Detergent Free

Like ‘soap free’; ‘detergent free’ literally means there isnt any detergent/ surfactant inside. It means that all ingredients are made from saponification process. All our cold process soap, natural soap base, and hot process soaps are ‘detergent free’ so you can easily make these at home. Its slightly more expensive to use these than the ‘soap free’ ones because of the ‘fats’ involved. Using coconut oil, olive oil etc is soaps are way more expensive than using detergents.

Sulphate free

Sulphate free means that the ingredients inside the product doenst have sulphate based ingredients that went through sulfonation process. There is nothing wrong with the ‘process’. Its just that sulphate based ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate, ammonium lauryl sulphate are generally ‘stronger’ than other detergents. But its also very ‘cheap’ comoared to other surfactants. Therefore a sulphate free products is preferred as its much ‘premium’ than the ones you find commercially. 
A sulphate free product could also mean its detergent free.

So here it is. Hope it clarifies some of your doubt. For those who are selling these products; make sure that you get the terms right so that it doenst confuse your customers:)

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions; do leave a comment below❤️

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