My interest in the making of cosmetics started with an interest in a self-contained lifestyle and from a will to make things myself using materials form my own surrounding. How would I wash myself, what would I eat and what would be my special skills if the current world ended? Would I know anything without the newes smart phone, google? While researching these topics, I also became acquainted with the manufacture of traditional soap which was made from animal fat, birch ash and water.
Back in the days everything from domestic animals were utilised: visceral organs, skins, bones, horsehair, hooves and fats. People of the past were in other words a quite consciuous zero waste community or was it just a matter of practicality and respect for animals?
In my own soaps I use Finnish highland cattle tallow, that I have myself collected from the organic farm and cleansed into a raw material. The animals can spend their lives according to what is natural for them, take care of their offspring and e.g. grazing outdoors all year round. The animals are not bread for their tallow and therefore the utilisation and further processing of this material represents an environmentally friendly circular economy, were the amount of energy and excess product is minimized. A majority of the fat generated as a by-product of the meat industry is wasted and often the farmer even pays to have it taken away.
I cannot think of a more ecological raw-material than a kind that would otherwise be thrown in the trash.
An Underrated Ingredient
Tallow has been used throughout history in soap making and not in vain. It gives the soap excellent features: the silky foam cleanses gently and its hardness brings convenience and prevents a fast wearing down of the soap. A soap made out of 100% tallow gently smells as traditional soap and is pure white. Inspired by this the Original Soaps have also been born, in which tallow is the main ingredient. The raw materials in these soaps are a staggering 95% local Finnish ingredients.
Tallow is a stable ingredient and in its purified form can be preserved at room temperature for almost a year. It does not become rancid as easily as many vegetable oils and it contains many vitamins and fatty acids that are good for the skin. The tallow of a grass-fed animal is full of antioxidants, vitamins such as A, D and K, and beneficial fatty acids - even linked to cancer prevention, fat burning and improved brain function. In skin care the fat profile of tallow is close to the skins own oil (sebum), which amount correlates with the skins moisture. Tallow is also a fat that does not clog the skin and may therefore have been a primary ingredient in facial creams of the past. In the middle ages tallow has been commonly used even on the skin as cream and it has i.a. ben infused with calendula and used as wound ointment.
The most popular option to replace the properties of tallow in soap making is exotic, far away produced palm oil, which is a commonly used raw-material in vegan soaps. Palm oil is used a lot also in food- and cosmetics industry, because it is very cheap i.e. because of unsustainable farming and harvesting practices, ways that destroy rainforests, leaving endangered species such as Orangutans without habitat.
-Hanna, Kolme Cosmetics