Marseille soap or Savon de Marseille in French is a soap that the French have always used extensively at home. It is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oils that have been produced around Marseille in France for about 600 years ago. If there is a single soap you’ll find in every French home, it’s definitely the traditional Savon de Marseille.
What Is Special About Marseille Soap
For centuries, Marseille’s famous soap makers used pure olive oil, alkali from sea plants, and seawater to create the Savon de Marseille, treasured for its purity and quality.
Savon de Marseille is traditionally green and made of at least 72% olive oil without animal products, artificial fragrances, coloring, or preservatives. This traditional French soap must only contain four ingredients: vegetable oils, water, salt, and soda. Dermatologists throughout the world recommend the Marseille Soap because of its ultra-moisturizing properties for the skin. Its incredible purity and moisturizing properties make it ideal for sensitive skin. In France, it has been trusted for generations to cleanse everything from linens to little faces.
Savon de Marseille is totally biodegradable, requires little packaging and its manufacture is environmentally friendly. Authentic Savon de Marseille has a stamp with its weight in grams. The fine white powder on the surface of the soap is a bit of the sea salt, which will disappear once the soap is wet.
Where To Shop The Traditional Marseille Soap
However, 95% of Marseille soaps are fake and made elsewhere: in countries such as Malaysia, Italy, Germany, Tunisia, and even in France. In addition, half of the cheaper imitations are even missing the main ingredient: olive oil. Why is this happening? Because there is no patent of protection laws in place. Meaning anyone, anywhere can make soap and call it Savon de Marseille.
If you want to buy the traditional Marseille soap there are only four genuine soap manufacturers that make the legendry olive oil-based soap.
1. Savonnerie Le Fer A Cheval
The Savonnerie Le Fer A Cheval is the oldest soap factory in Marseille. In 1856, on Chemin de Saint-Marthe, a candle manufacturer quickly and exclusively became a factory dedicated to producing Marseille Soap. Their soap comes in cube, bar, liquid, and flake form. They also make scented soaps, hand cream, and body lotion.
2. La Corvette (Savonnerie du Midi)
Founded in 1894, La Corvette is one of the last soap factories in Marseille using the traditional know-how of a master soap maker. For more than 120 years, the company has been perpetuating ancestral methods and passionately producing traditional Marseille soap. Today, they offer a range of authentic products for body care and for the maintenance of the house.
3. Savonnerie Marius Fabre
In 1900, barely 22, Marius Fabre founded his soap company in Salon-de-Provence. At that time, the abundance of raw materials in Provence (olive oil in the Alpilles, soda, and salt in the Camargue and oils (coco-nut and palm) coming in from the colonies via the port of Marseilles) had made possible the development of the soap-making industry. The family company managed to overcome many difficulties and the decline of the soap industry because of products for washing-machines and the creation of new soap companies in other regions. In 2010, the Marius Fabre soap company celebrated its 100th anniversary.
If you’re heading to Paris, don’t forget to visit Marius Fabre’s boutique in Le Marais at Rue de Turenne, to shop the traditional Savon de Marseille!
4. Compagnie de Provence
In 1990 two friends from Marseille came up with a brilliant idea and founded La Compagnie de Provence. Aware that the traditional Marseille soap cube held an important place in the cultural heritage of Provence, they decided to share this local treasure with people from all over the world. In 1999, Compagnie de Provence made an innovative move and introduced the very first liquid version of the Marseille soap. Inspired by the countless benefits of this iconic soap, Compagnie de Provence has been selling products enriched with plant oils since its earliest days. Its formulas are simple, natural, and effective, and provide solutions for all your everyday needs.
3 Ways To Use The Marseille Soap
1. Beauty Product
Le Savon de Marseille is a vegetable soap and is soft on sensitive skin. It is natural, gentle, and hypoallergenic. You can incorporate it into your skincare routine to cleanse your face, hair, and body. Dermatologists often recommend this soap for people dealing with eczema or psoriasis. What’s more, it is highly recommended for greasy or acne-prone skins: for deep-down cleansing and controls sebum.
As Marseille soap doesn’t contain any coloring, allergens, or synthetic additives, it’s best for babies and people with allergies. What’s more, it makes so much lather that it can even be used as shaving foam. It cleanses the skin and prevents ingrown hairs. I recommend using the traditional green soap with 72% of olive oil if you want to use it as a skincare product.
2. Laundry Detergent
If you prefer using a hypoallergenic, coloring-free, fragrance-free product with no additives to wash your clothes, this soap is for you. I’ll recommend using the Marius Fabre’s Laundry Soap Flakes. You can either add a few soap flakes directly into your washing machine or you can make your own laundry wash. To do so, just mix 25g of Marseille soap flakes with 1L of warm water. Once the soap has completely dissolved you can add 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and 5 drops of essential oil (lavender, citrus, orange). And you can use this laundry liquid on any fabrics, even on delicate clothes like silk, lace, wool. Finally, you can use the Marseille soap cube on stubborn stains just before washing. I’ll recommend the Marius Fabre Marseille Soap Flakes Washing Liquid as well.
Did you know you can clean your all house with just Marseille soap? Indeed, this soap can be used at home to clean kitchen counters, bathtubs, sofa, rug, floors, or any surfaces. Simply rub the soap on a wet rag or sponge or even directly on the surface you want to clean up and rinse well. You don’t need any more industrial chemicals or fake fragrances! You can even make your own natural dishwashing liquid with Marseille soap. Just mix 1/2 cup of Marseille soap flakes with warm water and add one or two drops of essential oils for a fresh scent.
To remove grease on ovens, hobs, extractors, frying pans, and other surfaces, the French use the olive oil liquid black soap. It’s a very effective natural liquid soap cleanser with 100% vegetable oils (high concentration of olive oil) with no added fragrance and coloring. To clean floors just mix 2 tablespoons of black soap with warm water. No need to rinse.
And you, would you incorporate le Savon de Marseille into your skincare routine? Or would you prefer to use it to clean your home and/or to wash your clothes? Please add your comment below.
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Bonjour! I’m Leonce, I’m French and I’m a Parisian expat currently living in the city center of Amsterdam (I previously lived in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, on the Ile-Saint-Louis). I created Leonce Chenal back in 2018 when I was living in London and missing my home country way too much. Because I truly believe you don’t have to be French or to live in France to experience the French art de vivre, Leonce Chenal is a French digital magazine to help you live your French life, wherever you are. Enjoy <3