It’s no secret that I have been a fan of handmade soap and soapmaking for many years. What started as an obsession with colourants, fragrance oils and fancy designs has slowly evolved into a passion for natural skincare and skin nourishment.
When I started making soap my biggest surprise was how much better my skin felt just after one use. It felt incredible! I knew what all the handmade soap lovers were on about! But I was more focused on the aesthetics of the soap. Of course I formulated my soaps to be amazeballs for the skin, but I never really appreciated just how good it truly felt.
After a long period of being run down and getting sick often, I finally decided I to make some changes and work on my health. Over the past year I have become incredibly aware of what I am feeding my body and to nourish it every day with fresh food, protein and lots of water.
I am feeling the same way about my skincare too, becoming aware of what I’m feeding the outside of my body. Nourishing it with fresh, natural “skin food”. There is nothing quite like taking timeout for a shower with an all natural bar of scrummy handmade soap, or using an all-oil serum under your eyes and knowing you are not using any preservatives, detergents or harsh ingredients.
So what is soap exactly?
Saponify! Sounds like something out of Harry Potter, and as much as it is magic to me, soapmaking (and saponification) is a science. A chemical reaction between fats (vegetable oils or animal fats) and a lye solution (sodium hydroxide).
The lye binds to the fat molecules and turns into soap. This chemical reaction is called Saponification.
Don’t worry, if made correctly there is no lye left over in the soap and you are left with a nourishing and moisturising bar of lather heaven! In fact, a good soapmaker will ensure that there are fat (oil) molecules left over to provide extra nourishment and mildness. This is called superfatting.
But doesn’t soap dry out skin?
It is safe to say that many people believe soap is drying and that they cannot use it on their skin. And it appears to be true with commercial soap. You see, some commercial soap manufacturers generally remove the glycerine (a naturally occuring and incredibly moisturising bi-product of the soapmaking process), and use it in other skincare products. It seems they also use large percentages of coconut and palm oils which makes for a drying bar of soap when too much of these oils are used. If they also formulate their bars to be longer lasting and harder, the end result may be a very drying bar of soap.
That doesnt sound very tempting does it? My soul doesnt sing when I think about using commercial soap. They have given soap a bad rap.
Okay, What’s the big deal with handmade soap?
When it comes to Handmade soap, I feel a fire in my belly. Just as I am passionate about feeding my body well, I’m passionate about handmade soap. Whether its about the soaps I have made, or another small soap biz, Iget super excited and I want to tell the world to…
Go on, try handmade!
When you use handmade soap made in small batches, you are using a product that has been carefully formulated to be balanced and gentle on the skin. Properties such as moisturising levels, hardness and lather have all been factored in. It retains glycerine and is made with passion and love. Handmade soap doesnt contain SLS, SLES (detergent like surfactants that can be irritating and drying to some skin), nor does it require the use of a preservative (parabens are an example of a preservative).
So what kind of oils might you see in handmade soap?
Olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, sweet almond oil, macadamia oil, shea butter, cocoa butter – and that’s just to name a few! Don’t they sound just scrumptious? I know my skin is squirming with excitement just listing these oils.
Often a soapmaker has “gotten into” soapmaking due to experiencing skin conditions themselves, or they have family, such as children, with skin conditions and allergies. Many of them cannot find a commercial product that helps and can only find relief by using handmade soap. (This isn’t to say that handmade soap cures anything, but simply to higlight that handmade soap – if formulated well – can be used on sensitive skin).
For me, I have never really experienced skin problems, but since using my handmade soap I can feel the difference between it and say a body wash. I feel moisturised and my hands don’t feel as dry. I feel nourished on the outside. It’s food for the skin. I feed my insides with beautiful fresh food, so it’s only natural to feed my outsides with nourishing “skin food” too! Remember your skin is your largest organ! Please take time out to care for it.