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More and more of today's great soaps are being made with a variety of vegan bases. Many say that vegan formulas lather better in hard water. Some say that began formulas tend to be cheaper to produce. 

Some of my best post-shaves have come from tallow soaps, such as Stirling who's main ingredient is tallow, to XXX by RazoRock. On the other hand, Soap Commander delivers a fantastic post-shave experience with a vegan base. 

So, why does it seem that many artisans shy away from tallow? Is it the challenge of making a tallow soap, the low cost of making a vegan formula, or hard water concerns? Keep in mind very seldom do soaps such as XXX and Tabac have serious reports of wide-spread lather issues, and Stirlings latest generation seems to have resolved any lather issues with their formula.

Los Angeles
There are many things to consider, mainly what your customer base is. When we were in Europe, everyone preferred vegan products, every manufacturer that was still doing tallow had to go through one hell of a ride with cosmetics commission.

Now, that we are here, we are very close to releasing our tallow base soap, because that's what the customer wants. It's not cheaper to produce, well maybe a little. Main expense is still the essential oils that go into scenting a product.

On the other hand, vegan soaps do lather better in hard water (that's what I hear anyway). There are many things to consider, like allergies, some even have a bad reaction to Lanolin.

You know that YMMV thing? Same applies here Big Grin

Freddy likes this post

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
Frankly, I'm past the point of worrying if a soap is tallow or vegetable based.  If it offers up a good smooth comfortable shave then I don't care which it is, vegan or tallow.  Two examples of quality shave soaps for me: Provence Santé (vegetable base) and Mickey Lee Soapworks La Belle du Sud (tallow base).

j-mt and Lipripper660 like this post

There's a fairly large gap in the market between basic vegans and vegans that mimic higher end tallows.

When people talk about the noted difference in feel between a tallow and a vegan soap, it's my belief that it comes down to Oleic and Linloleic acids. Both are considered to bring a moisturizing/conditioning quality to a lather and both are largely absent from most vegan soaps. Saponified shea butter can bring that back to the table, but it's missing the Palmitic acid of beef tallow, requiring additional ingredients, etc. At this point you're probably starting to realize how complicated a vegan soap that exhibits the qualities of a tallow soap is to create and that it's going to be more expensive in the end. And it's that realization that generally leads artisans towards tallow.

The most prominent crop of artisan vegan soaps are derivatives of Martin de Candre. It's a simple recipe and the step by step instructions and ingredients are readily available on the internet. In regards to tallow, there are some limited resources available out there, but creating a good tallow soap can be a crap shoot for someone that's just starting out. Not to mention that rendered tallow isn't always cheap (in limited quantity) or easy to acquire.

As it pertains to hard water, I don't feel there's too much of a difference.

  • A vegan that mimics a tallow costs more to make than a tallow
  • The ingredients and recipe for cloning a highly regarded, simple/easy vegan are readily available
  • Rendered tallow isn't as easy to acquire
  • Tallow shave soap recipes are harder to develop/require trial and error 

Freddy, SoapSmooth and Walter like this post

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
Thanks for the clear explanation. I always assumed, wrongly, that vegan would be less expensive to make than tallow.

(06-30-2015, 03:21 PM)Freddy Wrote: Thanks for the clear explanation.  I always assumed,  wrongly, that vegan would be less expensive to make than tallow.

I don't think you're wrong, per say. Fragrance aside, the most dominant vegans (MdC derivatives) are cheaper to produce than even a basic tallow.

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