Every 20 seconds a tub of Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter ($15) is sold somewhere in the world. Positioned as an accessible luxury brand with high performance formulas, Soap & Glory does, I’ll admit, have brilliant packaging that is somehow witty, accessible, cool and nostalgic all at once. Even so, does its iconic body butter deserve to have cash registers continuously ringing?
At first glance, Soap & Glory has got a few things right. None of the ingredients are steller, but there are certainly a few natural emollients such as shea butter (the most dominant ingredient after water), cocoa seed, which also provides some antioxidants along with rosehip oil.
But then it all looks a lot less righteous. First up is PEG-100 stearate, an emollient, about which should not be used on damaged skin due to toxicity concerns. Chemical fragrance can cause irritation, as can the preservative phenoxyethanol, which may also be a neurotoxin. Another fragrance ingredient is butylphenyl methylpropional, which is regarded as an allergan by the EU.
For a brand called Soap & Glory, it is perhaps unsurprising that its body butter should include an ingredient commonly used in soap manufacturing. Unfortunately, potassium hydroxide is very corrosive and toxic. The severity of effects depends on the concentration, but it is worth noting that the EU restricts its use in the workplace.
A particularly controversial ingredient is the preservative, BHT. There is tons of data on this ingredient, much of it contradictory as to whether it is carcinogenic or not. It is worth noting that the state of California lists it as a carcinogen. Linalool is also cytotoxic, but it is likely listed because it is a component of one of the other ingredients (in Europe, it has to be listed even if it is only a compound within another ingredient and not included on its own). Of lesser concern are dipropylene glycol and hexyl cinnamal, which although both irritants are likely used in low enough concentrations to mitigate concerns.
With half a dozen or so dodgy ingredients, the good in Soap & Glory’s The Righteous Butter is not outweighing the bad and it seems like wishful thinking to assume that they are all in concentrations that are safe. Hope & Gory seems a more apt name.