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 May 1993

April 1995

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...Haircare pages:    Anti Dandruff Shampoos   Dry Hair Styling    Hair Sense    substandard soaps   Shun Shampoos   Unfair Trade   
Easy reference pages:    Hairy Assumptions    Haircare faq1    Haircare faq2    haircare basics.pdf   [PDF file: Dermatology basics]



  Substandard Soaps  


This page was written years back to expose the deliberate efforts made by The Indian Soap makers Association / its members to lower the quality of Toilet Soaps.

It was expected that surfers would grasp the fact that there can be unstated / understated facts with reference to Shampoos, tooth pastes and so. 

Some of the widely known big companies may not be as reliable as people normally assume. Please refer to the page J & J Baby Oil and or Unfair Trade. The nauseating cheapness of some acts will become clear.

Newspapers, Magazines and TVs do not mention/ convey these facts. Visitors to this page have missed / chosen to ignore the message behind this page. So I have shortened the page on 3rd February 2016. 

What is a  Soap?

Toilet Soap is the reaction product of a vegetable oil / glyceryl fatty acids, say coconut, Palm or Olive Oil and caustic Potash / alkali - roughly 5 kgs of oil reacted with one kg of caustic gives Soap, the Potassium salt of a long chain Fatty Acid. 

Oil is 5 parts to 1 part of Alkali. That is, Oil / Total fatty matter / TFM in a soap can be about 83%. 

TFM means Total Fatty Matter. TFM is an indicator of the Quality standard of a Soap.  If the TFM of a Soap is below 60%, it is a Toilet Bar and is not a Soap in the historical and established sense of that term. 

pH is not an indictor of the Quality of the Soap as Hindustan Unilever pretends and attempts to misguide the public. TFM is a more pertinent parameter


Emolliency / suppleness / TFM

Emolliency means the ability to soften, supple, smooth, lubricate, less itchy, etc. Vegetable Oils are very good Emollients. Low TFM / total fatty matter means the emolliency is compromised. 

Toilet Bars are inferior in Quality -2 proofs

1. 'Godrej Soaps has always believed in providing its consumers with high quality products. The company has taken a conscious decision to manufacture & market only high TFM toilet soaps as against low TFM bathing bars which are being marketed by many FMCG companies in the Indian market'... 

2. Business World 30-6-93 to 13-7-93 page 82 'Froth without Substance?

 "if the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) implements its norms, nearly 80% of the Soaps produced in the country each year [3.8 lakhs tonnes in 1992] would be declared Substandard and fail to qualify as Toilet Soap."....

BIS failed to implement its norms and allowed itself to be manipulated by the Soap makers association

Toilet Bars and Soaps

Bath / Toilet / body washing Soaps with less than 60% TFM, are now called Toilet Bars. Dove is a toilet bar


Hindustan Unilever lowers the quality / TFM standard of its Soaps


Toilet bars, an inferior version of Toilet Soaps, are sold more in India after 1993

Hindustan Unilever lowered the TFM of some high volume soaps - Business World, 1993

Hindustan Unilever's Brands

 TFM % in 1985

 TFM % in 1993

Percentage drop / reduction in TFM 
















The Soap makers and BIS colluded to fool the Public. The perfidy continues for 20 years now. No one is ashamed. 


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Is Dove an inferior product ?


Hindustan Unilever tried to clear one consignment of 'Dove' Soaps that came from Dubai. They paid  lower Customs Duty applicable perhaps to second level quality of soaps. The Customs Department, going by the claim of 'high quality soap for Dove in TV advertisements' demanded 'higher tax amount / rate of duty', as applicable for high quality soaps, to clear the consignment. This happened in 1998. 

Hindustan Unilever 'convinced' the Customs department that the lower amount paid is correct, as applicable to Toilet Bars / lower quality of soaps. They did not pay extra duty or any fine.  These are published details, as I can recollect.  The finer details will be with the Customs Department.

What does this say?


Duping    Dove Advertisement - April 2016

[Advertisement - National Geographic Channel - 2050 hours - 6th April 2016: This advertisement is shown in many other TV Channels as well]

Message: The pH indicator paper does not turn Blue with Dove Toilet Bar. So it is not alkaline and harsh like some other soaps. In the background, one can see 5 other soaps without wrappers. I noted the oval shaped Mysore Sandal soap. 

TFM and not pH is a more relevant factor for assessing the quality of a Soap.


We are fooled / insulted


Hindustan Lever lies brazenly


The pH paper can only indicate the acidity or the alkalinity of the product. It is not at all a measuring scale to assess the harshness of a product on the skin. 

So Lever misrepresents a 'chemical test' to mislead / confuse the public. It is a cheap practice

pH of the blood is about 7.4, and it is slightly alkaline. Does it mean harsh, because it is alkaline? Ascorbic Acid may test acidic with pH indicator papers having 5 to 9 pH range. Would that mean acidic or risky? No, it is our Vitamin C. 


Lever is a culprit by its own words


Let us take a Surf or Rin detergent cake made by Hindustan Unilever to wash a handkerchief. Let it be cleaned in 2 litres of water. The washed waste water will have a pH of 8.5 Just recollect that it is Hindustan Lever talking about pH for the safety of our skin.

Let us rinse the hand kerchief again in 2 litres of fresh water. Even that rinsed waste will measure nearly 8.5 pH. You may have to wash it again. For a bigger apparel like Shirt, the 3rd or the 4th washed waste will have neutral pH

[ I did this test 6 years back [2005] when Lever advertised earlier, this cheap 'pH' paper gimmick]

Hindustan Lever, by the pH test and 'harshness' message only tell me that they are unreliable - hypocritical, mercenary product seller. They are not bothered about our hands getting spoiled by harsh, alkaline Surf / Rin bars. 

Our hands can get spoiled a bit when we use detergent cakes like RIN. They can become a bit rough and susceptible to feel pain easily. Apply a bit of oil after the use of detergent cakes. 


Additional Comments


For a purse snatcher, burglar and such other minor thieves, the punishment increases with every subsequent offences. I do not know why similar yardstick should not be used for Corporate offenders. I have not got a satisfactory answer to this question in the last 47 years / after 1969, after I started noting such things 


Can you take Unilever's message in face value ?    No


1. Hindustan Lever, as a major sellers of Soaps in India, had a part in the lowered quality of Indian Toilet Soaps. 

2. They blabber about a pH test for Dove. Why did they not do it for their Surf and Rin Washing bars and advise the public suitably ? 

3. Pepsodent claimed 102% anti bacterial activity compared to Colgate Dental Cream. Refer Unfair Trade. Till 2016, it has not been proved.

4. Dove soap quality - refer Bombay Customs notice mentioned earlier in this page

5. Amaze - The over claim reached absurd heights. Brain boosting power was a claim. Sharad Yadav, as a Minister, stated in the Parliament that Lever has been asked to withdraw the claim

They are habitual offenders.  But they have never been punished for making such claims. So the fooling goes on.  Refer 'cracks and breakages' page


I wrote this page perhaps around 1994 after reading Business World. Some additions and subtractions have been done in subsequent editing. It was written to vent out my anger against Lever for having duped me simply because I trusted them in good faith. I am only highlighting the other side / exposing their shallow business practices. I have used Lifebuoy, Sunlight from 1952 to 1969] Pepsodent [1979-71]and Clinic plus [1969 to 1985].

I do not bother to know the exact tfm level of soaps. They do not help a common man. In my view, trustability of a company / its product is more relevant. Even though I hold a Master's degree in Chemistry, I cannot run a lab to check and infer anything from the declared TFM levels. How many of us can infer much from the nutritional value that they print in small fonts on Biscuit wrappers?

If you wish to know about the popular Toilet Soaps in the market and their TFM / Quality and other details, please refer to Consumer Voice, Delhi. In Google results, you would get the link for key word 'quality of toilet soaps'. Given below are 2-3 sentences from their site.

"The most important factor to be considered in soap quality is its total fatty matter (TFM). Higher the TFM quantity in the soap, better is its quality. As per BIS, Grade 1 soaps should have 76 per cent minimum TFM, while Grade 2 and Grade 3 must have 70 per cent and 60 per cent minimum TFM, respectively." - from Consumer Voice

25th March 2017 - Business Standard

Hindustan Lever has objected to Amul for misrepresenting the facts about 'frozen desert and Ice Creams'. I was not aware till recently that the ice creams of Lever, Vadilal contain oils and not totally milk fats. If Amul is right and I think they are,

Lever has short changed the public for years.



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