Back to Bath Basics: Natural Soaps from Indonesia

My sister is the type of person who buys organic apples and makes her own soy milk. Her new-found hippie ways have also moved her to her own toner, so she’ll be happy to learn that I’ve been upping my search for earth-friendly bath and body products too.

The basic bar soap is a bath product that I never really cared for, until I ran  into — and fell in love — with these two Indonesian-made brands. Both are rooted in a strong philosophy that respects natural ingredients for products that are free of preservatives and colorants.

First off, a herbal soap from a Surabaya brand called Keyra: this particular soap is its Red Rice Bran variant, which works to help give you bright, radiant skin. There are four other variants in addition to this one (blackseed, honey, pomegranate, and mangosteen skin), and all are made without preservatives, detergents, or colorants.


Listed on the back of this economical (and environmentally sound!) cardboard box packaging are the ingredients, which are as follows:

Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, sodium hydroxide, red rice bran extract, fragrance

I love how rich in oils this particular soap is, but I do wish that they listed what exactly goes into the “fragrance.” When you the word “fragrance” in an ingredients list, it most likely means “artificial fragrance,” a laboratory-synthesized chemical that can be made up of anything from tree bark to animal urine. But since Keyra promises sticking to an “all-natural” philosophy, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that “fragrance” just means a scented oil of some sort.

Next up, I ran into a bar soap from a Bali-based brand called Sensatia Botanicals. Their About Us page mentions that “Our product development goal has been to always use fresh, 100% natural, basic ingredients you know and understand, ingredients that you might find in your mothers kitchen.” SOLD.


I love the perfect square shape of the soap, and the debossed logo and tree add a nice touch too. Sensatia Botanicals soaps are handmade in Bali and sold all over the world — their website boasts language options in English, Russian, Japanese, and Mandarin. Their complete catalog includes a very impressive range bath, body, and skincare products at very reasonable prices too.

The Tea Tree & Yellow Clay soap includes the ever-potent Australian tea tree oil “…[to help] fight infections of all kinds and helps clear the skin.” The yellow clay, meanwhile, serves to draw out impurities in skin and help stimulate circulation. The product ingredients are as follows:

Ingredients: coconut oil, water, palm oil, sodium hyrdroxide, cocoa seed butter, tea tree oil, kukui nut oil, kaolin, yellow clay.

There’s a very clearly-labeled “best before” date to hammer home the idea that this is a perishable product derived of natural ingredients, much like the way you see expiration dates on Lush products. The scent on this soap is sharp — it smells like an antibacterial, which I’m putting down to the tea tree and doesn’t bother me too much.

I’m going to be abandoning liquid soaps in favor of lovingly-handmade bar soaps like these for a while, I think. Are you a fan of bar soaps, and do you think you could jive with the idea of using socially and environmentally responsible handmade soaps?