There are so many personal hygiene products to choose from, we tend to forget the natural alternatives that humanity has relied on for hundreds and even thousands of years, such as Aleppo soap.
While your regular shower gel or soap may have an amazing fragrance, an irresistible creamy consistency and produce lots of foam, it’s also full of chemicals and usually made with cheap oils that provide little or no benefits to your skin.
What is Aleppo soap?
Aleppo soap is a natural hard soap made using an old traditional method and obviously no colorants, preservatives or cheap fillers.
This soap’s ingredients are olive oil, laurel bay oil, sodium hydroxide (also known as lye) and of course, water.
The origin of Aleppo soap cannot be pinpointed to a specific time, but it is said to be the oldest soap in the world. While this could be an overstatement, it does originate from the Levant region (Aleppo being one of the most important cities there).
The traditional way of manufacturing this soap was using the “hot process” method but the modern version of the soap is made using a “cold process” method. Today manufacturers also add other ingredients to this traditional soap such as essential oils, plant-based oils, clay, various salts and other natural ingredients that are good for the skin or simply add a pleasant fragrance.
The pure Aleppo soap looks and smells like the classic home-made soaps, with a scent of laurel which can vary in intensity depending on the concentration of the laurel bay essential oil used in the soap making process. Typically it ranges between 2 – 30%, which also determines the final cost of the soap. Its color also depends on the concentration of laurel oil. If the soap is a pale yellow or ivory it means it has a low amount of laurel oil, if the color is more towards golden or brown it means it is rich in laurel oil. However, the inside of the soap remains green and you can see that for yourself if you buy one and cut it in half.
After the mass of soap is left to cool down and harden for a day, workers cut it into cubes, stamp them with the manufacturer’s brand name and place them on racks in special underground chambers and left to age for several months up to a year.
During the aging process, any alkaline content that didn’t react during saponification slowly breaks down in contact with air and water content gradually decreases, making the soap bars harder.
Aleppo soap benefits and uses
Aleppo soap can be used by anyone looking for a natural, chemical-free soap, but it can also help in a variety of skin problems. The olive oil used to make this soap gives it a creamy consistency and makes it especially gentle and moisturizing.
Virgin olive oil contains valuable antioxidants, helps restore your skin’s natural balance, it has a mild anti-inflammatory effect reducing redness and irritation and it is usually well tolerated even by the most sensitive skin types.
Laurel bay oil is what makes Aleppo soap potent when it comes to healing various skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, herpes, bacterial dermatitis, fungal infections, irritated skin but also for scalp problems like dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis and others.
Laurel bay oil can help with all of these ailments because it is a natural but also strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. Even if you’re already on a treatment prescribed by a certified healthcare practitioner, Aleppo soap can be an effective complementary remedy.
If you don’t have any particular skin problem, the laurel oil in Aleppo soap still makes it a more effective disinfectant than regular soap but it also doesn’t over-dry your skin or cause irritation. Nevertheless, it is much safer than the advertised antibacterial soaps which contain antibiotics and long-term use can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria and various health problems.
You can use Aleppo soap like any regular soap, to wash your face and body. As a shampoo it can be effective for oily scalp, itchy scalp and dandruff caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis. It might not be suitable for you if you have dry hair. Some are also using it as a shaving cream and even as a natural laundry detergent (you can find it as flakes for that). Also, you can buy Aleppo soap in liquid form, or make your own. To make it at home all you have to do is grate a bar and pour hot water over it.