MARSEILLE SOAP OR SAVON DE MARSEILLE.
Traditionally a cube soap, it has become a Provençal icon and a leading product of the Mediterranean basin. Its virtues are so well known that it is now emulated all over the world. Marseille soap is the preferred product of those who wish to combine cleanliness with softness and ecology.
As a matter of fact, Aleppo soap is the ancestor of Marseille soap and it appears that it was brought back by the Crusaders who would have distributed it in all the Mediterranean countries. The cultivation of the olive tree in Provence and the abundance of soda and salt in Camargue have made the production of the famous soap effortless in this region which acquired very quickly a title of “eminence” of the soap industry. As for Marseille, it was in the 17th century that the city became the first French soap producer. At that time, there were seven factories in the city of Marseille which, despite producing 20,000 tons of soap each year, were unable to satisfy the demand for this product, used for both household and personal hygiene.
Already at that time, counterfeits were flooding the market and to stop these fakes, Louis XIV set an edict (called the Edict of Colbert) outlining the rules of manufacture for the "real" Marseille soap, in 1668.
Fortified by this edict, the Marseille soap industry boomed. It was further reinforced by the invention of caustic soda in 1789, which enabled a higher oil content, and the advent of palm, groundnut and copra oils in 1840, which gave the soap a white color as well as enhancing its moisturizing and foaming properties.
In the 19th century, there were still several dozen soap factories in Marseille before the industry began to decline with the development of body soaps and laundry detergents made from chemicals. But Marseille soap since the 1980s has made a lasting comeback, as its characteristics - respect for the environment and natural skin health - are aligned with the trends.
How it’s made.
The real Marseille soap must contain at least 72% vegetable oils, a little water, salt and soda. To make Marseille soap, there are several saponification methods: cold, hot, continuous or discontinuous. Saponification is simply the chemical reaction that transforms fats into soap, and in the case of Marseille soap, it is often olive oil, known as the "elixir" of the Mediterranean basin. Marseille manufacturing process is discontinuous, meaning that the paste is washed several times and cooked in a cauldron at 100 or 110 degrees, and no more. This is a delicate and precise method that requires up to twenty days of work for a single cube of soap. By respecting this ancestral method, it guarantees a high-quality soap that lasts a long time.
What’s special about it.
Soft, hypoallergenic and 100% natural, Marseille soap is a versatile product to wash skin, face and hair. Marseille soap is very beneficial and soft for the skin, hydrating it with every use. Exceptionally pure and natural, it is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin or certain intolerant skin types. It is recommended for babies and for people who cannot tolerate soaps or gels containing artificial products. Its exfoliating action offers the skin a luxurious ritual for a smooth effect and an ultra-pleasant sensation. Among its many virtues, Marseille soap also plays the role of sebum regulator, essential for the acneic or male skin, which have a tendency to be oilier. Thus, it can be used as shaving foam for a perfect skin and a soft regrowth. Marseille soap is also ultra-beneficial for dry hair and hair damaged by coloring; its known nourishing action gives hair an invigorating sensation of nature.Because of its pure composition, Marseille soap is completely biodegradable, and therefore environmentally friendly.