How to use soap for the shower

Shower soap, naked shower gel

Soap for the shower isn’t a new thing (obviously), and soap themselves have been around for as long as 6000 years around the time of the Babylonians (around 2800 BC).

Gels and liquid soaps have long since taken over the shower space for around 100 years , offering what’s seen as a more convenient and better feeling product than the traditional soap bar which in most cases has been considered to be somewhat drying and sticky during use. When gels were devised there was however no consideration on what happens to the plastic waste… it becomes someone else’s problem until the end of the line which no one really knew where it was, until very recently.

Our Totally Solid shower gels (aka soaps for the shower) aim to overcome the key problems with traditional soaps such as that sticky feel during usage and the fact they can be really drying. We’ve created (what we think is) the perfect product if you want to get away from those plastic bottles and add a bit more sustainability to your life. It’s the best of both worlds… great feeling showers with none of the plastic.

It might seem obvious, but there are some fundamental usage differences if you want to make the switch to our solid shower gels.

Washing yourself using soap for the shower

Washing with a soap for the shower compared to using a shower gel is quite a different experience. Gels are generally a fair bit quicker to bubble up due to the amount of water already within the product (and chemicals), so you will generally need to activate a bar product a bit more under the water.

From there you will get a creamy and bubbly lather, allowing you to wash yourself like you would have with your gel. Where Shower Blocks differs from other soap options is that they have a similar skin feel to a gel through the whole process, from creating a lather through to rinsing it off. It’s that easy.

Storing your soap

When you store your traditional shower gels, it’s true to say that it’s just easy. Stick them on a shower rack, whack them down in the corner, or stick them the other side of the bath. The outcome is the same every time. No mess.

Soap in the shower does have a little more thinking to do around how you keep them. It’s important to keep them dry after usage to avoid most of them turning to much, so definitely don’t leave in a wet pool in the corner.

Luckily there’s a number of handy products available to help you keep your bathroom tidy.

A Wooden Soap Dish: It allows you to keep the side of the bath looking neat and tidy, and gives maximum air circulation to allow your soap to dry off.

Wooden soap dish

A travel tin: For those of you on the go, this is perfect if you’re taking it through airports etc. No plastic bottles to worry about either.

Travel soap tin

Magnetised soap hangers: This is our personal favourite. Attach them to the side of the shower, attach the magnet to your soap, and then hang after use. The soap drip dries very quickly, and is out of the way in as tidy as possible fashion. You can get them in all kinds of materials and designs to suit your needs too.

Magnetic soap holder, soap for showers

Naked Shower Gel? Isn’t it just a bar of soap?

naked shower gel, soap for shower

Naked shower gel has been around for some time, and here at Shower Blocks they’ve been of great influence to our mission. Historically though, they’ve been very costly and so not so much of a viable option for many people wanting to replace their standard shower gel with a solid alternative that doesn’t break the bank.

They’re not really the same as what you’d consider your regular bar of soap. They do use similar ingredients in places, but if you think of how you shower, lather up and wash off the bubbles, there’s different needs for how the product and your skin reacts at each stage. A general bar of soap is usually a palm, coconut and olive style base, and on their own they can be very drying or ‘squeaky’. Naked shower gels aim to give you the same great feeling as the bottled stuff.

Why bother making it naked in the first place?

Now more than ever people are becoming more and more sustainably conscious, and plastic bottles have become a real bone of contention.  In the UK there’s approximately 200 million bottles used annually for shower gels… if we can impact even 1% of that we’ll be very happy.

There’s other great benefits of using Naked shower gel, in that they become easier to transport in your luggage for holiday, and they also use less water in their production. All that carbon footprint on their shipping is not wasted on water too.

Will Shower Blocks work as well as regular shower gel?

Absolutely. We spent a long time formulating the perfect ingredient blend to replicate a gel feeling at every stage. In particular the moment you wash the suds off is just as you’d expect. There’s no sticky and squeaky feeling you’d associate with a regular soap bar. Combine that with big bubbles, creamy lather and punchy fragrances there’s a lot to love.

Once you’ve used your Shower Block and feeling ready for your day, you simply put it on the side to dry out before the next use.

Are Plastics Bad?

are plastics bad, soap for the shower

Plastics in retail have been under heavy scrutiny over the last few years, and it’s fair to say that a key catalyst for this, particularly in the UK was the most recent series of Blue Planet with David Attenborough.

Being able to see baby whales caught up in plastic waste in part of the ocean that you could never imagine was an extremely sobering sight for many people, myself included.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between what is a single use and potentially unnecessary plastic, and one that has longevity before we start to look at whether they are all bad or not.

I think we can all agree that plastic bags from the supermarket are the worst kind of plastic… their usage is for the most part for little over a few hours of a day before they’re thrown away, or if you’re like me, on the occasion that you do have one, it then spends years in a cupboard with the other ones, because you know, you’ll use it some day. Right… right?

Other types of disposable plastic that you might find in store are plastic bottles (at the heart of the Shower Blocks mission), food wrapping, cellophane, inner box packaging, blah blah endless list.

Can all of those be overcome?

Fresh food wrapping is a great challenge for the retail sector to overcome due to just how good it is at preserving food. When you start to weigh up food waste versus plastic waste it gets complex. Use something as an alternative, you may end up with a lot of spoiled food. Too much spoilage would inevitably lead to price hikes to cover the loss, so it’s understandable that retailers are finding this a challenge to find a more sustainable alternative for.

Our mission surrounds ‘recyclable’ plastic bottles. Now, seeing as the bottles are recyclable why should you care? At the moment just 59% of all plastic bottles are recycled according to the British Plastics Federation. We could assume that this might be a nicely massaged number given the source, but we’ll go with it.

The shower market is worth around £290 million a year, and a shower gel is approx. £1-2 a bottle. We can therefor assume that there is at least a total of 145 million product sales yearly, if not more. If 41% (a low estimate) of those are going to landfill, then we’re talking 60 million plastic bottles that are not recycled.

That’s a staggering amount of wastage that does not need to be there when we have viable alternatives. This is the reason we created Shower Blocks, to provide customers a viable product that could replicate the experience of a shower gel, but in soap form… totally solid shower gels.

What about other kinds of plastics? Kids toys, appliances etc.

The fact is that plastic is a very fast and cheap method of production. Think of that kettle you have in the kitchen. Now, mine is currently a plastic one. I have had it for 8 years so far and it’s still going strong. In term of usability I have much preferred using that on a personal level than the previous one I had which was aluminium. If you’ve had a metal one or do have one… you can easily burn yourself. When it comes to the end of the lifecycle, they both have a similar problem in that they would need to be broken down into their sum parts. That’s not a material problem, that’s an appliance problem that’s a lot harder to overcome.

Kids toys are a similar story. They get recycled in their ownership over and over again and whilst they do take a long time when it comes to decomposing and is a problem that needs looking at from a long-term perspective, they don’t post the same risk to the sustainability of our ecosystems as single use plastic consumption.

We believe that plastics in general can have their place, but as a society and business community we should be doing as much as we can in providing viable options to reduce needless consumption of fast turnover packaging.

Here we use cardboard boxes as our retail packaging, and we’re always looking at what is available to improve things further.

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve things, by all means get in touch. We’re always listening.

Words: Neil Whippey, founder Shower Blocks

Sunflower Oil In Soap

Sunflower oil in soap

Sunflower oil is something you’ve probably had in your kitchen, or if not your parents’ kitchen. It’s the classic oil for a good old fry, but sunflower oil in soap has got some pretty amazing properties.

Sunflower oil is very high in Linoleic fatty acids. These kinds of fatty acids are incredible for moisturising the skin and are also known to make a silky lather that feels great. Like many other oils, sunflower oil is also useful for a hard bar of soap.

Finally, it’s high in vitamin E which is great for nourishing and protecting the skin.

Olive Oil In Soap

olive oil in soap

Olive oil has been used for centuries in the soap making process, so it’s not just something that you cook with or put on your salad!

Olive oil is known to have great properties for soap products, such as providing a creamy lather and being extremely conditioning. As a soft oil, it can take a lot longer to cure but still makes a really hard bar of soap, like for example a castile soap.

Under hot water on it’s own, an olive oil soap will simply melt away, so it isn’t the best for a long lasting product.

Palm Oil In Soap

Palm oil in soap

Palm oil is used in 35% of the world’s vegetable oil applications, a staggering percentage.

It’s another oil that is good enough to eat, having a presence in a large percentage of ready to eat foods you might find on supermarket shelves.

Using palm oil in soap is really key for us at Shower Blocks. Whilst Palm oil has moderate cleansing properties, a key function of it is in making a hard and durable product, making it perfefct for forming a good base to build from.

Palm oil is extremely high in the fatty acid, Palmitic acid. Palmitic acid can also be found in small quantities in other things, such as cheese (yes really) and coconut oil.

At Shower Blocks we only use RSPO certified sustainable Palm Oil. We regularly check the status of our suppliers’ certifications.

Coconut Oil in soap

coconut oil in soap

Coconut oil is a versatile product that is used across both food and cosmetic products. Ingredients that are good enough to eat sound like the perfect thing to put on your skin, and that’s generally true.

What makes coconut oil great in soap?

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a key fatty acid that contributes to a block that is both has a foamy lather and has some nice bubbles. It’s also a highly cleansing oil, so very important for keeping you clean.

As a hard oil, it also contributes to making a nice hard bar of soap, although there are other factors that go into a hard bar of soap too, such as the presence of another fatty acid – palmitic acid – which is not present in coconut oil.