Wednesday, April 3, 2013Congresses

Marseille: the soap war

© L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

What is a "true" savon de Marseille (Marseille soap)? What are the criteria it shall comply with to get this name? Which code of ethics it shall refer to? The battle is raging close to the Vieux-Port, where the soap-makers are fighting, traditions against industrial life. The 13th Regulatory Meetings organized by the French association Cosmed, opportunely in … Marseille, have been the frame in which the dirty linen has been washed, a bit. A report.

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Marseille soap comes with a long story. Laurent Bousquet (from the ADEPRO consultancy company, and an expert in soaps) told it to CosmeticOBS-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques.

Soap is known since the Ancient Times. The first soap factories were launched in Marseille as soon as the XIIth century, and the city, from then, has been the cradle of a renowned soap. In 1688, it gets a monopoly right, after an edict by Colbert (then, a famed Louis XIV Ministry of Finances), a kind of the first quality guidelines of the so-called Marseille soap. A lucrative monopoly, for the French state that provides the authorizations to practice the job, and levies taxes, and the soap-makers, who have all the benefits to be alone.

The cheap soap of the lavandières (washerwomen)

Two criteria make then the savon de Marseille the "best" soap in the world: its efficiency and its affordable price.
In these times, it is not a habit to have a thorough personal hygiene, to put it mildly. Wash is mainly only through scraping one’s skin, to get rid of grime, prior to using perfumes to mask inconvenient smells. Soap is used only for house and industrial cleaning. It is the cleaning product …

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