SOOTSOAP for when soap doesn’t cut it
When SOOTSOAP approached me to try their product out, I was thrilled. I had started following their work a bit earlier. The black packaging and intense portrait photography on their site and Instagram made for a convincing first impression. SOOTSOAP is also a Canadian endeavor and Style4men is all about getting the word out about the impressive things created in Canada.
But the intense photography was hiding a tremendously deeper objective. It is about the cold and hard reality of our front line workers. The men and women who day in and day out run out to make a difference in our lives at moments when it means the most.
For these front line workers, Firefighters in particular, the fight is not over when the fire is out. They go back to their homes and families with many remnants of their day. The amount of toxins that can be found in modern day constructions is mind boggling. Now imagine setting all of these chemical coated items on fire…God only knows the hell they might unleash. It’s nothing short of a chemical nightmare. This stuff is getting on their gear, skin, and hair. And we’re not talking about what’s getting in their lungs.
We want to think that upon their return to the station people and gear go through some sort of decontamination shower before they head home. The gear does get special attention but these contaminates are getting through and seeping into the skin. For Firefighters there is no deep cleaning soap available. They have access to the same things you and I pick up at the grocery and/or pharmacy.
SOOTSOAP is the result of a long and determined quest of a Firefighter’s spouse, Dee. After a “live” fire drill her Firefighter Pete came home. As he still smelt of fire, Dee inquired why he didn’t wash up before his return. She was told that he had already taken 3 showers. At this point Dee realized that regular soaps weren’t cutting it. They were not actually cleaning much off. The smell of smoke was a loud ringing bell saying that many things that should have been washed off were still there.
Something had to be done and she set her mind to find a better, healthier solution. It was obvious that just making another soap was not the answer. If you are trying to wash away chemicals, the last thing you want do is make another soap packed with chemicals. It was clear that it had to be natural. In this quest she came to discover that Binchotan Charcoal (White Charcoal) was the answer she had been looking for. White charcoal is made from the branches of the Japanese oak tree.
As you might already know, charcoal is the new Rock Star in personal hygiene. It is a highly absorbing substance that can essentially pull dirt and toxin out of your skin. It is available in body washes, shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants and even hair pomades. I am a big fan of charcoal based products. Every such product I have tried has impressed me.
Considering that the target audience are Firefighters, it is a bit ironic that the healthiest natural base substance for the body wash was no other than charcoal. This goes to say that the answer is sometimes right in front of you.
OK so charcoal is the Captain of the Team, but who are the other players:
What?!? Yep, this is a proper natural experience!
- 100% biodegradable
- Firefighter tested/approved (not animal tested)
- Safe for your skin, hair and our environment
As most of you know, I am a software Tester turned blogger in my spare time. I am not a Firefighter. I am not coming home covered in toxic ashes. I also very rarely need a soap that can get rid of a foreign stench. In that light, I want you to know that I am trying these products out in a “normal” guy scenario. The dirtiest I get is when switching out the winter tires for the summer ones. The last thing I want is to come across as being disingenuous. I can’t pretend to know what Firefighters are living through. Take my comments as somebody just trying these products out and giving his 2 cents.
So here we go…
SOOTSOAP is aiming to do a number of things:
- Clean all the crap off of ya!
- Do it using natural products.
- Do it without leaving your skin and hair feeling totally dried out (squeaky clean)
HAND & BODY SOAP
The first product I tried was their hand & body soap. As a hand wash it does very good. You should know that the liquid comes out black, in case you hadn’t already figured that out. It lathers nicely and offers an excellent wash. I was expecting this deep cleaner to also come with the typical side effect of most deep cleaner which is to dry you out. This wasn’t the case and it earned extra point for that. The liquid is almost gel like. Somewhere between liquid and gel. A typical hand wash gel requires a fair bit of water to get the lather going and then to rinse it off. I liked that this soap required very little water while offering what felt like a very thorough wash. The rinsing was also quick leaving no residue.
The second test was to use this product as a body wash. Our hands are somewhat de-sensitize as a result of always being the ones interfacing with everything. The rest of our body is not getting as much exposure and needs a bit more pampering. So it’s shower time and I squirt a shot about the size of a quarter in my shower sponge and we are off. A nice lather is again created with minimal effort. The soap is gentle and you feel it cleaning and I am pleased to report that it didn’t feel abrasive in any way. That small amount of soap was more than enough to wash me. Volume wise I am 6′ tall and some 200 lb, so a fair bit of mofo to wash.
Once done, rinsing was a breeze and again leaving no residue, greasy or dry feeling. My skin felt cleaned and refreshed but not dehydrated or itchy.
Scent wise, I want to say that there is something there but it is so minimal that I am tempted to simply go with unscented. The good thing about that is that it leaves the terrain wide open for your cologne or aftershave.
Being an older man and being fortunate enough to still have lots of hair, shampoo is the grooming product I am perhaps most critical about. My number one objective is to keep the hair I have nice and healthy for as long as possible. Call me vain, but I have a full head of hair! 🙂 So basically any shampoo that makes my hair dry or tangled and then difficult to comb out (read that has my brush being full of pulled hair), doesn’t get my approval. I am also a big fan of conditioner as I believe this is one of the big contributors to my still having a good mop. – Product idea for SOOTSOAP: A Conditioner!
This morning I was washing out 3 days’ worth of pomade and salt spray. Somewhat of a sticky and oily mess. I poured about the size of a quarter of the black shampoo. Yeah it’s black too. How cool is that? I was thinking that this somewhat liquidy shampoo might not be thick enough to lather up like what I am use to. I was convinced otherwise when my head was turned in a lather Afro. So many suds it was ridiculous, but that’s my own fault for over doing it. I would suggest no more than a pea size drop for hair shorter than 2″. The shampooing was surprisingly smooth. I could feel the product doing its job but much gentler than a degreasing shampoo for example. Within less than 2 minutes I could feel that the hair was clean and rinsed the whole thing out. Again, a quick a clear rinse.
My hair was not a dry tangled mess. Since my mope is rather long, it’s pretty much a given that I follow that up with a conditioner, but I probably wouldn’t have needed that. My hair on top is about 8″ at the moment because of the current social distancing. I normally sport an uppercut with nearly shave sides and back and see my Barber Lady on a very regular basis.
I was expecting this shampoo to be solely focused on the deep cleaning and to strip nearly all life out of my hair, but was seriously impressed with the results. A deep and thorough wash delivered by a smooth operator.
At first I assumed that this product was a finishing touch to the body wash and shampoo, as in a nice smelling body spray. It’s actually a bit more practical. It’s an odour fighting spray for your cloth and gear. I tried it in my boots and shoes. Nice! Eats up bad smells with a fresh peppermint and a touch citrus. I wouldn’t be ashamed to take my boots off next to my lady now. It works well and I don’t have to be worried that what I just sprayed in there is full of: formaldehyde, phthalates, petroleum distillates, benzene, styrene, terpenes, alcohol, bleach or ammonia, just to name a few of the recurring guests in air fresheners. Three days after, my shoes still smelt of peppermint.
This product line impressed me on a number of levels. First, I was moved by Dee’s story and her drive to make a safe, healthy and effective soap. Not many brands can claim to have this clear of a mission. Firefighters take so much on that the very least they should be able to get is a proper and thorough chemical free wash after a shift. Secondly, one would assume that making an all “natural” product should be a straight-forward process. Sadly, we still live in the chemical age and going natural is complicated and expensive. Fortunately, we now know that “Better living through chemistry” (Dupont slogan) wasn’t so accurate after all and making conscious efforts to find healthier solution is not only commendable but it is also the only way forward. Thirdly, making natural products that actually work and work better than the current stuff on the market is quite an achievement.
Thank you Dee for having me try the SOOTSOAP suite.