We know that our customers are conscious of what they’re putting on their bodies. That’s why we make our full ingredient lists available on each product page.
But sometimes it’s not clear to an average person what these things are, and why we use them in our products. So here’s a list (in alphabetical order) of each ingredient we use, and what it contributes to your favourite Tubby Tabby goodies!
Activated charcoal (carbon)
Activated charcoal is a totally-natural, plant-derived charcoal product. Basically, it’s what happens when you burn something like bamboo (which is where ours comes from). Some folks think it’s got great skin benefits, but we use it primarily as a colouring ingredient in our soaps.
Alkanet root extract
Alkanet is a natural plant colourant that we use to colour the purple portion of our Lemon Lavender soap. This allows us to keep the soap 100% natural for folks who don’t feel comfortable using synthetic colours.
Aluminum hydroxide most commonly appears in our ingredients list as part of a colourant. It has a white colour and is a form of aluminum commonly used as a pigment. It’s naturally-occurring and harmless to you and the planet. It’s actually sometimes used in medication. We don’t really recommend eating it, but like…why would you want to?
Ground apricot seed makes an appearance in some of our soaps. This is the shell of the fruit’s seed, ground up into small pieces. We use it as an exfoliant in our soaps, and sometimes for visual appeal, as it speckles the soap!
For many centuries, people in North Africa (especially Morocco) have known that argan oil is nourishing to the skin and hair. More recently, it’s made its way into Western bath and body products—including ours!—because it’s said to help hair stay shiny and strong and may reduce frizz. We primarily use argan oil in our solid conditioner bars for these very reasons.
Aroma is the internationally-approved word for cosmetic packaging, but in everyday speech, we’d just call it flavour! This is the ingredient that gives our lip balms their tasty flavour, for example. We use only lip- and skin-safe, non-toxic flavour oils for our lip balms so that there’s no need to worry about kiddos putting it in their tummies (among other things).
Arrowroot is the same stuff we feed our babies in biscuits! It’s a totally-natural, edible, plant-based starch that doesn’t have much flavour or odour. We use it in our products (typically body butter) in small amounts to improve consistency and make it easier/more pleasant to apply.
It’s what it sounds like! Oil from the avocado we know and love. We use this in our products because avocado oil is super nourishing for the skin.
Babassu oil comes from the seeds of the babassu tree, which mostly grows in the Amazon. The oil itself is moisturizing in non-soap products (we use in our solid conditioner bars, for example), while it behaves pretty similarly to coconut oil in soap. We use babassu when we’re looking for a coconut-free option, for the most part.
We use unrefined, all-natural beeswax from our friends at African Bronze Honey in some of our products. This B Corp is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, so we feel great about sourcing our beeswax from these folks! We usually use beeswax in our lotions and balms.
Behentrimonium Methosulfate is a biodegradable surfactant (cleanser) that is derived from Canola oil. You’ll see it in the ingredients list of some solid shampoo bars because it’s part of a conditioning agent we use: BTMS-50. Contrary to what the name sounds like, this product isn’t actually a sulphate and is a gentle and eco-friendly ingredient.
Bentonite clay is a naturally-occurring clay that comes from volcanic ash. We like to use it because it adds slip to soaps, as well as very gentle exfoliation. It’s also very absorbent, so it may help with skin that’s particularly oily.
Bis [glycidoxyphenyl] propane / bisaminomethylnorbornane copolymer
This is a long and scary-looking name, but it’s just a biodegradable, lab-made ingredient that makes our neon blue colourant appropriate for use in nail polish. (But we only use it in soap, of course.) It poses no known risk to you or the environment, and we use it in very small amounts in any case.
Butylene Glycol is a solvent used in a pre-mixed ingredient we use in our conditioner bars: BTMS-50. This solvent is biodegradable (it’s actually used to make bio-plastics!).
Cane sugar is the less-refined version of white sugar, making it a little more nutrient-rich and a golden colour. Ours is Fairtrade Certified and also organic. We add it to some products because it helps to naturally boost lather.
Caprylyl Glucoside is a fancy name for a very gentle, plant-derived cleanser. It’s ECOCERT compliant, meaning it’s fully biodegradable and safe for water ecosystems. We add this ingredient to some of our household cleaning products (especially laundry detergent) to improve dirt and oil removal.
Castor oil is pressed from the seeds of the castor bean plant, which (as it turns out) actually isn’t a bean at all! (Rather, it’s a beautiful, flowering plant with huge leaves, native to eastern Africa.) We use castor oil in all of our soaps because it helps them have a more stable lather.
Cetyl alcohol is derived from coconut and is biodegradable. It’s used in some of our shampoo bars because of its conditioning properties.
Citric acid is an edible ingredient you’ve probably enjoyed on sour gummy candies! Derived from lemons, it’s a totally-safe ingredient that helps make our soap have a little extra cleaning power and avoid soap scum.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a gentle, biodegradable liquid surfactant (cleanser) that’s derived from coconuts. Even though the name sounds very technical and scary, this ingredient helps us keep our solid shampoo bars gentle and more environmentally-friendly, while also offering great cleaning power.
Cocoa butter is the solid oil that comes from cocoa beans. It’s very hard and that’s partly what makes chocolate so firm. We use it in our soaps because it helps make the bars hard and it’s also super moisturizing. As a bonus, it makes the soap smell very slightly chocolatey if we don’t scent it!
Sometimes, coconut extract is used in our products as part of other ingredients. One example is the AMTicide Coconut preservative that we use as a natural protection against mold and yeast in your products.
Coconut milk (or coconut milk powder)
Coconut milk is made from coconuts, as you’d expect! It’s a great vegan alternative to cow’s milk and is also nourishing and moisturizing like cow’s milk or goat’s milk. We use it for that reason in some of our soaps.
Coconut oil is the very same coconut fat that you’ve probably used in a DIY sugar scrub or vegan brownies recipe! We use this amazing oil in our soaps because it creates big, beautiful bubbles and has better cleaning ability than most other oils (when made into soap, that is).
Sometimes, when scientists come up with a colourant (lab-made or naturally-derived), they simply call them something like red 28. These are what we’re referring to when we say colour numbers. In our soaps, the colour numbers we use are skin-safe, synthetic colours. We do not use lake dyes (which are usually referred to with “lake” added to the end of the name), as lake dyes are known to cause environmental issues. Our synthetics are, to the best of our knowledge (based on the scientific research that’s currently out there), not going to harm you or the planet when our products are used as intended. (As in, please don’t eat our soap. We promise it smells better than it tastes!)
This is the same ingredient you likely eat in your favourite sauces, gravies and even pastries! We occasionally use corn starch when we’re molding pieces of soap by hand, particularly when they’re a bit too sticky. (Kind of like how you dust your rolling pin when you bake.)
Limonene is the name for a the type of oil that makes up most of the oils in citrus peels. D-limonene specifically is the one from oranges and it has an orangey scent. You’ve probably used it in natural cleaners before! It has a great ability to cut grease and get things clean, which is why we use it in some of our household cleaning products (like our dish soap bars). Since it’s derived from orange peels, it’s totally natural and not going to harm you or the environment.
DL-panthenol (pro-vitamin b5)
Panthenol is also known as pro-vitamin B5, and it helps keep the hair hydrated and protected from the elements. We use it in our solid shampoo bars for this reason. (Remember those Pantene commercials? That’s where you’ve seen this ingredient before!)
Essential oils are very concentrated, aromatic extracts from various plants. Each type of oil is said to have therapeutic uses, but with a wash-off product like soap, we feel it’s not worth mentioning in most cases (though we will on the product page, if applicable). We use a number of different types (such as rosemary and lavender), but overwhelmingly, it’s just for natural fragrance.
Fragrance (also called parfum) is just what it sounds like. We use fragrance oils in some of our products, as the scent stays much better than with essential oils, and our fragrance oils are actually gentler on the skin and hair than some essential oils. (Cinnamon essential oil, for example, can burn the skin if used in a high enough concentration to hold its smell in the final soap.) We very carefully select oils that are skin-safe and high-quality, so that our products smell amazing!
Goat’s milk (or goat’s milk powder)
Goat’s milk is what it sounds like—the milk that comes from goats. Sometimes we use this in our soaps because the natural sugars in the milk enhance the lather in the final soap. But more often, we use it because it’s very moisturizing and nourishing for the skin.
This is the very same sweet treat you might enjoy on your breakfast! We use honey in our products because it’s a natural humectant (a fancy word for something that draws moisture to it, helping your skin stay hydrated). The natural sugars in the honey also boost the lather of the soap. We use a brand called African Bronze Honey, which is fair trade, organic, raw and sustainably harvested from wild forest bees.
This rice protein is added to our solid shampoo bars because it adds to shine, volume and softness of the hair. It’s derived—as you’d imagine!—from good, old-fashioned rice! Other proteins like this exist (quinoa, oat, etc.), but rice is one of the most readily-available ones, so that’s what we use.
Iron oxide is a naturally-occurring substance that you’ve definitely come across before! The most famous form is common rust (what happens when iron meets the oxygen in water and/or air for long periods). There are several (naturally-occurring) types, all of which are beautiful, vibrant colours like orange, yellow and black. That’s why we use them as natural colorants.
Of the plant-based oils found in nature, jojoba is said to most closely resemble the oils our bodies produce. For that reason, it can be very nourishing to the skin, hair and nails. We mostly use jojoba in our lip balms for extra pampering (since Canadian winters are a whole situation, am I right?).
Kaolin clay is a naturally-occurring clay that comes in a few different colours. Usually, our kaolin is white, but we also sometimes use red, pink and purple kaolin in some of our soaps. We add them for very gentle exfoliation and sometimes for natural colour as well.
Kelp is a type of seaweed that can be dried and powdered for cosmetic uses. Kelp is believed by some to reduce inflammation and it contains lots of antioxidants. Just in case that’s true, we put it in our extra fancy soaps sometimes. You’re welcome!
Lactobacillus is basically what you find in your yogurt and fermented foods: good bacteria! In the context of our products, we use it as part of a product called AMTicide Coconut, which helps us to fight yeast and mold growth in our non-soap products that may be exposed to water. Since only our soap has a high enough PH to naturally combat these microbes, we use this natural preservative to keep your other products safe!
Leucidal liquid (leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate)
Leucidal liquid is a naturally-derived preservative that originates in the humble radish root! Basically, they’ll ferment radishes to create a preservative that can then be used effectively in some products to prevent bacteria growth. We use this ingredient in our non-soap products like conditioner bars, as soap is too alkaline for leucidal liquid to be effective,
Mango butter comes from pressing the oil out of mango seeds. It’s extremely moisturizing, which is why we use it sometimes in our soaps to give them a nourishing boost.
Mica is a shiny, naturally-occurring rock that can be split into very thin layers. When it’s ground into a powder, it works as an extremely fine glitter of sorts, that also gives colour. We use mica powder to colour our products.
Milk (or milk powder)
When we say “milk” we mean cow’s milk by default. Sometimes we use cow’s milk (or skim milk powder) in our soaps because it’s very moisturizing for the skin. The natural sugars in the milk also boost the lather in our bars when we use it.
Neem is a tree native to India and the oil from the fruits and seeds is called neem oil. This oil has been said to help out with keeping fungus at bay, so just in case that’s right, we’ve included it in some of our hair care products where warding off dandruff might be helpful.
Oatmeal (colloidal oatmeal)
Oatmeal makes an appearance in our soaps occasionally. It’s a wonderful, natural, gentle exfoliant, as well as being moisturizing. “Colloidal” just means it’s ground up finely.
This is the very same ingredient that you’ve likely had on a beautiful salad recently! Our olive oil isn’t extra virgin or anything, as flavour isn’t our concern when we’re making soap. Rather, we use it in our products because it makes them nourishing and moisturizing to your skin.
Palm oil (red)
Palm oil comes from the fruit of a specific type of tree called—you guessed it!—an oil palm. Because there can be a lot of social and environmental abuses in palm production, we only source palm that is RSPO certified, meaning it’s sustainably produced. We use red palm oil in a select few products to give them a beautiful, peachy-orange colour and also give a stable lather to the soap.
Polybutylene terephthalate is a biodegradable synthetic resin (similar to an eco-plastic). This ingredient is in the biodegradable glitter that we sometimes use on our soaps to add a little sparkle!
From time to time, to get a particular colour, we use what are called polyester colours. The most common in our soaps is for the neon pink colour we want for our Unicorn Poop soap, for example. It’s a synthetic colour that is considered skin-safe and generally doesn’t cause environmental issues.
PolyLactic acid is an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum plastic. It’s derived from plants (most often corn) and is fully biodegradable. This ingredient is in the eco-friendly glitter that we sometimes add to our soaps for some sparkle!
Potassium hydroxide (lye/caustic potash)
Potassium hydroxide is a type of lye that makes a soft final product, so it’s what we use in our liquid soap. In order for oils to turn into soap (a process called “saponification”), they need either this lye or sodium hydroxide, another type of lye. So we put potassium hydroxide in all of our liquid soaps. Without lye, there would be no soap!
This synthetic substance is a cousin of alcohol, and absorbs water, helping to make it harder for microbes to grow. When propylene glycol appears in our ingredients list, it’s because the product in question could develop bacteria, mold or yeast over time, so we’ve added a small amount of preservative to make sure it’s safe. (Any water-based product is at risk of growing microbes, so we’d rather be safe than sorry!)
Pumice is a totally natural ingredient that comes from volcanic rock. We use ground pumice in some of our soaps to give them extra exfoliating power.
Salt (sodium chloride)
We sometimes use regular table salt (coarse or fine) in our soaps for decoration, or to help harden our bar soap. Typically, we choose sea salt, as it’s more environmentally sustainable than mined salt.
Shea butter is one of nature’s most nourishing and skin-loving oils! Ours is fairly traded, hand-processed and unrefined. This helps it keep all its natural goodness so it can pass that onto your skin! We typically use shea in moisturizers, lotions and body butter for maximum effect.
Sodium carbonate (washing soda)
Sodium carbonate is commonly known as washing soda. It’s a totally natural powder that’s chemically close to baking soda. Our grannies have been adding washing soda to their laundry for many decades to help boost the cleaning power of the detergent. We typically only use this ingredient in our laundry products.
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)
SCI is a very gentle surfactant (cleanser) that helps boost the cleaning power in solid bath products. It’s used in eco-friendly cleaning products like shampoo bars because its PH is lower (which the scalp needs). It’s so gentle that it’s often used as an alternative to SLS or SLES in baby products because it’s so much milder. SCI is fully biodegradable, so we use it as a more eco-friendly surfactant in our solid shampoo bars.
Sodium hydroxide (lye)
Sodium hydroxide (commonly called “lye”) is a crucial ingredient for soap-making. This is basically a salt that transforms fats into soap! On its own, it’s quite caustic, so we’re sure to use proper safety protocols during soap-making. However, when the process of converting oils into soap (called “saponification”) is complete, the lye is all used up and you end up with a perfectly safe, mild and moisturizing soap. This is the magic of chemistry! All of our soaps contain either this lye or (for liquid soaps) potassium hydroxide, a different type of lye. Without lye, there would be no soap!
Sodium lactate is a naturally-occurring liquid salt that is clear and odourless. It’s sometimes added to food as a natural preservative (kind of like table salt). We add it to our products because it helps make soaps harder (if solid) or thicker (if liquid). It’s also what’s called a humectant, which is a fancy word for something that draws moisture to your skin or hair, helping it keep hydrated.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA)
SLSA is a gentle surfactant (cleanser) that’s derived from vegetable oils like coconut or palm. It’s used in eco-friendly cleaning products like shampoo bars because its PH is lower (which the scalp needs). It’s also a safer alternative to SLS or SLES. Unlike these harsher surfactants, SLSA is fully biodegradable and gentle enough to use even on sensitive areas like the scalp without irritation. We use SLSA in our shampoo bars because it’s safer for people and planet.
Stearic acid (sodium stearate)
Stearic acid is a naturally-occurring, oil-like acid that is found in plants like palm and coconut. Ours is always sourced sustainably, so if it’s palm-derived, it’s from a RSPO-certified source. Stearic acid, once combined with lye, becomes sodium stearate. We use stearic acid in our shaving soaps because it’s the best at creating a lather that will stick around for the whole time you’re shaving.
Sweet almond oil
We specify “sweet” almond oil because there’s also a bitter one. Bitter almond oil is like a very concentrated essential oil, with a strong almond scent. But for soap, we use sweet almond oil, which is just the fats extracted from the almond nuts. (You can also use this for cooking, though it’s more expensive than things like peanut or canola oil, so that’s why it’s less common.) Sweet almond oil makes our soaps very moisturizing, and that’s why we love adding it to our bars!
Titanium dioxide is what happens in nature when titanium oxidizes (ie. is exposed to oxygen). This white powder is used for a ton of things, including whitening food and colouring paint. In our soaps, it serves to give the final product a lighter colour, so we use it to adjust colours as needed.
Ultramarines are pigments that were traditionally made by grinding up lapis lazuli. Nowadays, they’re regularly lab-made to preserve some of our natural resources and make them more affordable. They’re beautiful, vibrant and typically available in lavender and the brightest royal blue you can imagine. When we use ultramarines, it’s to give a beautiful (usually blue) colour to our soaps.
Glycerin is a natural by-product of making soap. When you mix lye water and oils, the results are soap and glycerin, which is naturally very moisturizing. A lot of companies remove the glycerin from their soap (glycerin is valuable, so they re-sell it), leaving behind what is basically a detergent. Handmade soap makers leave the skin-loving glycerin in to make sure their soap is nice and nourishing. Sometimes we also add glycerin to liquid soap because it’s extra moisturizing and helps keep the soap shelf-stable longer.
Vitamin E (tocopherol)
Vitamin E (usually in oil form) is used in some of our topical skin products, like our body butter. Its technical name is tocopherol and it’s a naturally-occurring group of compounds that are said to help repair skin. So that’s why we use it!
Water (usually distilled water, specifically) is crucial to soap-making, and most of our products have good, old-fashioned water as a substantial ingredient.