Marcel’s Green Soap is dope
If you live in the Netherlands, chances are that you’ve already encountered Marcel’s Green Soap cleaning products on the shelves of your local organic supermarket. For the last few years, I’ve been almost exclusively using their cleaning products (and absolutely loving them) so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Marcel’s Green Soap released a new line of body products.
BUT FIRST, WHO’S MARCEL?
Marcel`s Green Soap is a Dutch sustainable 100% natural cleaning brand. The story began in Marcel’s kitchen as an experiment to create an eco-friendly soap that smelled beautifully and worked fantastically too.
Marcel Belt, a dad of three daughters who started his own company after 25 years working for major brand owners, has one big goal: back to basics with environmentally friendly cleaning products that consist of natural biodegradable ingredients and that smell nice. By setting this example, he hopes to inspire the major brands to follow suit. Each week 4 million cleaning bottles end up in the garbage bin in the Netherlands and most of them are made from virgin plastics. Marcel’s Green Soap was the first Dutch brand to use 100% recycled plastics for its packaging. By using recycled plastics for the packaging, Marcel says: ‘Clean your home and save the planet’.
Marcel Belt and his three daughters
SO WHAT’S NEW?
Marcel’s Green Soap has finally expanded the assortment to include a line of soaps for the shower. The new additions are: ecological deodorants, shampoo & shower bars. As these are new products (at least to me) I wanted to look in-depth into some ingredients, how they work and if they are really better than their liquid counterparts.
Marcel`s Green Soap: ecological deodorant
The main ingredient in this deodorant is soda. To understand how this deodorant works on our skin it’s important to understand what causes body odor in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, sweat is NOT the source of B.O. Sweat is odorless; the culprit is actually the bacteria that feed off of the sweat. Another little-known fact? Your body produces two types of perspiration: eccrine and apocrine. Apocrine sweat contains fat and proteins that bacteria love to feed on. And when they do, the waste they produce is what makes us stink.
What is baking soda? Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which was created 4 million years ago when salt lakes around the planet began to evaporate. It became a household staple in 1846 when two brothers-in-law teamed up to bring this powerful powder to people everywhere; Arm & Hammer orange box has been synonymous with baking soda ever since.
Because of its alkaline pH (that stands for “potential (or power) of hydrogen” to make something either an acid or a base (alkaline). With pH 9 baking soda is an alkaline substance), baking soda has the ability to neutralize acidic substances (pH of sweat is typically between 4.5 and 7.0). This comes in handy for controlling odors and helping cakes rise. But the alkalizing effect can also soothe indigestion and heartburn, treat insect bites and stings, remove stains, fight tooth decay and freshen breath. In addition to its everyday uses, baking soda has a variety of medical applications, including treating kidney disease.
It’s important to mention that the alkalizing effect might be harsh on some types of skin so it’s advised to do a patch test to make sure the soda doesn’t irritate or dry out the skin. For me, Marcel’s Green Soap deodorant worked really well, no irritations at all.
Why use baking soda in natural deodorant?
- Soda is a naturally-occurring mineral that is effective in fighting body odor
- It’s free of the chemicals and additives, such as aluminum chlorohydrate, found in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants
- The detoxifying effects help neutralize acid and alkalize the body
- It helps to balance and regulate pH levels in the body, which are often out of whack due to our modern diet of processed foods, for better overall health
But isn’t aluminum also a natural element? Why is baking soda healthier?
They might both be naturally occurring elements, but aluminum is one of the most toxic heavy metals on Earth. It’s been associated with everything from hormone disruption to tumors. Aluminum is used in many conventional deodorants and antiperspirants to block the pores and prevent you from sweating — not a healthy thing. Your body was meant to sweat, and the process eliminates toxins, excess salt and calcium.
What’s more, aluminum-based deodorants can actually make armpit odor worse. They kill very few odor-causing bacteria; in fact, they can cause bacteria to multiply. A truly effective natural deodorant will absorb sweat before it becomes fuel for odor and over time, will gradually reduce the body’s excess sweating.
Does soda based deodorant really work?
I can only speak for myself (and for my family) when I say a firm YES. I’ve been wearing it for a few weeks now to make sure to really test it in every condition possible and I’m quite surprised at its effectiveness. Even during the longest “active” day, I didn’t feel the need to re-apply it. One important thing to remember with all the soda deodorants that you’ll have to hold it to your skin for a minute or two to warm it up, otherwise it’ll crumble. Furthermore, I’m happy to report that it didn’t stain my dark clothes (which was another worry of mine).
Ok. I have to say that this one I couldn’t test myself as I have straightened hair and must use a very specific shampoo for it. I did get Nikolai and Maya to test it for me. What I did do is to look into the ingredients as I’m trying to generally understand what our beauty products are made from. So what’s in Marcel`s Green Soap shampoo bar?
Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a natural ingredient that is derived from coconuts, specifically coconut oil. The process includes mixing a natural sulfonic acid called isethionic acid with the fatty acids that naturally occur in coconut oil.
Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate is naturally derived, made from Sunflower Seed, Rape Seed or Caster Oil and RSPO certified segregated Palm Kernel Oil, which is a pale Yellow to Amber coloured liquid.
Panthenol is a chemical substance made from pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B-5. It occurs organically and can also be produced from both plant and animal sources. When absorbed into the body, panthenol becomes vitamin B-5.
What are the perks of a shampoo bar? Aside from being travel-friendly and seemingly longer-lasting than liquid shampoo, bars are touted as being able to get your hair back to its original, shiny, voluminous state by clearing away residue left from the chemicals found in traditional hair cleansers. Really, it’s all about trial and error and, of course, avoiding products with bad-for-hair ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate. (Really, any sulfates should be avoided). However, If you have dyed or bleached your hair, it’s best to avoid using an alkaline shampoo as it will cause the colour to fade.
Another perk is that both shower & shampoo bars are packaged in cardboard, saving you and the planet 3 plastic bottles each (if you are using liquid products). Average British household uses 216 plastic haircare bottles a YEAR so this does help!
The main ingredients in a high-quality bar of soap are typically oils and butters. The main ingredient in most liquid soap is, *drum roll*, water! Properly-cured bar soap has very little water in it, so you’re not paying for excess liquid. Besides saving plastic with these products, they also last longer. Marcel`s Green Soap shower bar contains vegetable glycerine for hydration and softness, it’s sulfate-free, at least 97% biodegradable, 100% vegan and 100% plastic-free.
How to store your soap bars for maximum use
The name of the game here is to keep your soap as dry as possible when you’re not actually scrubbing down with it. So when you store it use something that encourages air flow like a soap dish. This way the water can drain off and the soap can dry. The more air circulation, the better, so try to use a soap dish with lots of holes. Then, place the soap box at the far side of the shower away from the shower head so that it dries faster.
But what about hygiene?
I know that some of my friends find soap body bars less attractive because, to them, it seems like a less hygienic option. But is that true?
The bulk of germs on your bar soap are probably from your own skin. It’s estimated that about half the cells in the human body are bacteria, and a lot of those live upon your skin, helping to make up what’s known as your skin microbiome. Other microorganisms like fungi are also part of this environment. Your skin’s microbiome is essential to your immune system as it helps protect you from invading pathogens. So, it’s not a big deal to deposit microorganisms from your skin onto your soap, then back onto your skin.
If you use a washcloth or loofah, that can also deposit germs onto your bar soap. These items contain many nooks and crannies that can harbor more microorganisms (and skin cells that could serve as a food source for potential pathogens). Washcloths and loofahs can also stay moist for long periods of time, which promotes the growth of mold and [microorganisms such as] bacteria. This may also be true for the ledge or holder where you rest your bar soap. If it’s constantly wet, that can allow for better microbial growth that then transfers to your soap. The conclusion? Wash the soapy residue well of your soap and keep it dry. Easy peasy.
Ok, the science bit is out of the way. But what’s about the scents? Marcel’s Green Soap is offering us 3 smells to choose from:
Marcel’s Green Soap: ARGAN AND OUDH
Argan oil comes from the fruits of the argan tree or the Argania Spinosa. The argan tree has been around for centuries and it is even claimed that it is one of the oldest tree species in the world. It is a strong tree that can withstand drought, the roots sometimes reach to depths of 30 meters to find its food. Argan trees can grow to be 250 years old on average and often grow to about 10 to 15 meters high and wide. What makes the argan tree so special is that it does not grow everywhere. In fact, it only grows in Morocco and only in the southwestern part of Morocco.
Agarwood, aloeswood, eaglewood or gharuwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume, and small carvings. It is formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mold (Phialophora parasitica). Prior to infection, the heartwood is odorless, relatively light and pale-colored; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin, called aloes, agar or oudh.
Left: Tree-climbing goats feed on an Argania Spinosa, known as an Argan tree, in
Essaouira, southwestern Morocco. By eating the fruit and spitting out the seeds,
the goats help in the process of manufacturing Argan oil. | Photo @mosaaberizing.
Right: Black resin in the Agarwood.
This is my favorite scent out of 3. It’s sort of oriental, spicy and warm… perfect for the dark winter days.
Marcel’s Green Soap: TONKA AND MUGUET
Tonka bean, the seed of an Amazonian tree, is one of the widely used notes in perfumery today. Tonka bean has a sweet/spicy fragrance that is reminiscent of vanilla and almond. with undertones of tobacco. Amazingly, Tonka bean is actually a member of the pea family. The seeds – from the fruit of the Dypterix Odorata tree – are black and wrinkled, and when grated give off pleasant aromas of sweet spice, vanilla, praline and almond. The scent actually comes from an aroma compound called coumarin: traditionally, Tonka beans would be dried and cured in rum, producing small crystals of coumarin. Fun fact: eating tonka beans would cause a hallucinating effect 🙂
Lily of the valley or Muguet was one of the earliest memories of my childhood as we had them growing in abundance near our house in Russia. This is a delicate, feminine floral scent, evocative of early spring when there’s still a chill in the air. It’s such a lovely smell: it’s soft, but clear as well. Lily of the valley has a green-ness to it that balances out the creamy floral notes of Tonka.
Marcel’s Green Soap Tona & Muguet scent will probably appeal to men more (it’s definitely Nikolai’s favorite). It’s spicy (sort of smoky scent) but fresh at the same time.
Left: Tonka bean. Right: Lily of the valley or Muguet
Marcel’s Green Soap: VANILLA AND CHERRY BLOSSOM
This is definitely a romantic smell with the appropriate romantic legend behind it. According to the Australian Orchid Society, “Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. Unable to marry him due to her divine nature, she transformed herself into a plant that would provide pleasure and happiness – that plant was the Vanilla vine. This reputation was much enhanced in 1762 when a German study found that a medication based on vanilla extract cured impotence — all 342 smiling subjects claimed they were cured.”
- Vanilla’s reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac endures, and it’s often present in ‘sexy’,
- Medical experiments have shown that vanilla fragrance reduces stress and anxiety.
- Cancer patients undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging – a diagnostic procedure known
to be stressful – reported a massive 63% less anxiety when heliotropin (a vanilla fragrance) was administered during the procedure.
- Vanilla fragrance makes you calmer. A study at Tubingen University in Germany showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the startle-reflex in both humans and animals. The animal results indicate that the calming effects of vanilla may be due to some more essential property of the fragrance than the ‘positive childhood associations’ usually invoked to explain its universal popularity with humans.
Cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura in Japan, are the small, delicate pink flowers produced by cherry blossom trees. Sakura season is thus a highly visible sign of spring, the beauty of nature, renewal of life, and first love… but can also represent the transiency and fragility of beauty, life, and love. Japanese mythology often also connects sakura with death; a legend goes that originally, the flowers of the tree were white; after a body was buried beneath it, the petals turned pink.
Have you used Marcel’s Green Soap products already? What did you think of them?