This particular subject is one I frequently come back to over and over, mainly because new ideas, updated information comes to light after yet another study is released. But some things just don’t change as much and for that, I’m forever grateful!
Many people ask why we use what we use in our soaps, lotions, body butters and body washes, mainly the beneficial elements they offer, but sometimes it’s about how the soap feels.
For most soap makers, we don’t make any sort of medical or cosmetic claims, we just say our products clean, but if due diligence is researched properly, the individual ingredients we use start to become clear enough to understand.
As previously mentioned, we state it’s just soap and it cleans. End of sentence, but well, not so fast. Look between the lines and you come to understand that I choose sweet almond oil, olive oil and coconut oil for very good reasons. Olive is a classic for soap makers and Castile bars are renown for their mildness thanks in large part to the beloved olive oil. I like to use the light salad oil, more golden in color rather than the greener types (mostly virgin and extra virgin). Over time it becomes an extremely hard bar which equates to a long-lasting bar. Sweet Almond oil moisturizes gently, sinks in quickly, produces a marvelously lustrous lather that’s dense & creamy. It’s particularly good for very sensitive skin, troubled skin or older skin. Coconut oil produces big fluffy bubbles and a very hard bar that’s snowy white in color, that is until you add a color to it. When mixed in ideal proportions, you have a hard, light-colored, bubbly yet moisturizing bar, which everyone enjoys!
Some of the delightful extras I love to blend in include skin safe colorants and/or clays, milks of various types, usually goat or coconut and silk, preferably bamboo or humanely, sustainably harvested Tussah silk. Fragrances are typically either essential oils, fragrance oils or a combination of the two but used with a light hand to keep that gentleness of the bar going strong, keep it focused on giving the skin the TLC it deeply deserves. So what would be the purpose of silk and how does it get into a solid bar of soap? When added to the liquid portion of the soap during production, it dissolves leaving those all-important amino acids behind that bring a silkiness to the lather that slithers over your skin in the shower or bath leaving you soft & smooth almost like satin. The milk, with the extra fats found in the coconut milk in higher levels than most other types of milks except for heavy whipping cream, lends something we call superfatting. Superfat creates creamy dense lather, gloriously rich, abundant. Pure luxury in its simplest form. It was such a formulation that had me hooked on handcrafted bar soaps so many years ago, leading me down the path of creating artisanal soaps for myself and others. After one use of a superfatted, handmade bar soap, there was no mad rush to the lotion bottle. The skin is left soft, clean, lightly scented, hydrated and thoroughly loved. Spoiled even. As for clays….they are great oil absorbers good for troubled or overly oily skin, perfectly suited to individuals that are bothered with acne, blackheads or whiteheads. Activated charcoal is also an excellent additive that has deep cleansing, detoxifying benefits that many appreciate in a facial soap.
These are just for starters, but as you plainly see, there are valid reasons why I use what I use in my bar soaps. Further reading of our labels would show you what we incorporate in the liquid or cream soaps, while slightly different ingredients are used in lotions. Why? They’re a leave-on application and that is a topic for another day. Making your own lotions or soaps is not that difficult but requires a bit of study and preparation, care and respect for the use of certain materials. Real soap is made with a liquid mixed with sodium hydroxide. Without these, there will be no soap. Soap requires either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps or a combination of the two for a cream soap. Lest you hear otherwise, keep in mind a true soap has the glycerin intact which is why they’re such delightfully moisturizing bath treats. They are soaps, real soaps. Store bought items are not soap. They are detergents or syndets as we know them. Chemicals that lather up and clean you off but likely do so a bit too well. Your skin can feel tight, itchy, in need of lotion immediately after stepping out of the shower. That makes no sense to me. You should feel better after a bath not worse. Find a maker of soaps and find out the difference a real soap makes (that is, if you haven’t already) and you’ll never go back to store-bought again.