You take a first look at it, and it might not look like much. Light brown in color, a bit dirty looking, with a stamp in arabic on the top that you might not understand. It might be quite unevenly cut and you might find it lying in a box with tons of others, without any packaging. You pick it up, and it smells of earth and hay. But then you might cut it open, and you will be greeted by a beautiful deep emerald color. And then you might use it, and your will fall in love.
The product I’m talking about is one of the oldest cosmetic products there is. The traditions of Aleppo soap making is over a thousand years old, and is by some considered to be the first hand soap ever made.
Aleppo soap is a composition of olive oil and laurel oil. Laurel oil has stong antibacterial, antifungal and anti-itching properties. This in combination with the nourishing and moisurizing properties of the olive oil makes Aleppo soap the perfect mild soap to use for a whole variety of purposes. Aleppo soap is said to help wound and scar healing as well as treat acne, rosacea, psoriasis and insect bites. It has even been found to inhibit skin and breast cancer cell growth!
Buying the right Aleppo soap
You can find aleppo soap in some oriental markets, or online. If you buy it from an arabic shop it will probably be a lot cheaper than you can find online, however, there can be a big difference in quality.
Generally, the finer the aleppo soap is, the more laurel oil it contains. Aleppo soap can contain everything from no laurel oil up to about 40% laurel oil. You might think, like I did, that the greener the inside of the soap is, the more laurel oil it contains. That’s actually not the case. Usually it’s often the other way around – a soap that is very green on the inside is usually cheaper and contains less laurel oil. The longer the soap is aged, the more the green color will fade in favor of brown.
You can test the soap by putting it in water to see if it floats. Proper Aleppo soap is one of the few soaps that actually floats in water.
Like you saw above, laurel oil is a very potent ingredient, but that also makes it very strong. Some people therefore actually prefer to buy an Aleppo soap with lower laurel oil content, as it is milder and better suited for their sensitive skin.
Using Aleppo soap
Aleppo soap can be used in a whole variety of ways.
- Hand soap Aleppo soap is a perfect everyday soap to wash you hands with.
- Body wash The soap is also very good to use as your regular body wash
- Baby skin and intimate care Especially the soaps with lower laurel oil content (>20%) are mild and perfect for sensitive skin.
- Face wash/face mask Aleppo soap is perfect to use as a daily face wash for any skin type, even sensitive skin. Leave on for a minute or so to get more effect.
- Shampoo Use Aleppo soap to wash your hair! It’s much more handy than any shampoo bottle, and milder. The result is shiny, clean and fullbodied. Just rub the soap over your scalp, work up a lather, rinse and repeat if necessary.
- Shaving cream The antibacterial properties of the laurel oil makes aleppo soap the perfect shaving cream. Work up a lather with a shaving brush or in your hands.
- Liquid soap Liquid aleppo soap is perfect to use as a hand soap, or any other of the uses mentioned for that matter. To make liquid aleppo soap, grate the soap and pour hot water over it. Best stored in a pump bottle.