When you shop for soap, what do you look for? You probably go to your closest drug store and find the cheapest bar of soap that has a tolerable smell. Although this soap may do the trick, especially if you don’t have very sensitive skin, but what you may not know is that this soap will not properly nourish your skin. In fact, it has the potential to irritate and dry it out causing flakiness, cracks, or in some cases, excess oil.
Why does ordinary commercial soap have this effect? The answer lies in the process the soap goes through to be made.
The process to make soap involves heating fats and oils to their melting point. Commercial soap then adds ingredients to the mixture that separate the glycerin from the curdled soap. They then use the curdles to mold into the soap that’s seen in the stores.
What does this mean for us, as consumers? Why does it matter that the glycerin is separated from the soap? Well, the glycerin contains most of the moisturizing properties in the oils and fats. This means that those ingredients are not making their way into the soap on the shelf.
Additionally, commercial soap is designed to clean surfaces that contain oil and grease. It is designed to strip surfaces, not just wash them. Your skin, even if it’s not very sensitive, is delicate and needs to produce natural oils to keep the pH and bacteria at normal levels. Completely removing everything from the surface of the skin does not allow it to heal or regulate itself. It will either dry out and irritate the skin or cause it to over produce oils and grease.
Lastly, the artificial fragrances and colors can have a severe effect on human skin. Although many brands are offering lines that do not use artificial fragrances or colors, the majority of soaps still do.
The reason that many commercial brands do this is to preserve the soap and increase its shelf life. When you make thousands of batches of soap every day, and they need to be shipped all over the country, each bar needs to be able to go through the shipping process and sit on the shelf a while before it is used.
All of these processes and additives in commercial soap allow it to serve its purpose, but it does not make it the best choice of cleaner for the human skin. In fact, it makes it fairly irritating and damaging.
What is the alternative?
The alternative is natural handmade soap! Although not all-natural handmade soap is created equal, majority of natural handmade soap makers prioritize the health of their consumers’ skin more than they prioritize the profits or shelf life of their bars of soap. Thus, they produce cleaner, more nourishing bars of soap that will help your skin rebuild and revitalize itself! Here are some things you should look for in handmade soap to make sure you’re getting the best possible product!
Small batch producers that hand make their own soap use a much more natural and skin-focused process. Firstly, they do not curdle the fats and oils and skim it. Instead, they use whole products that include the glycerin thus including all of the beneficial moisturizing properties that are so important to healthy skin! Typically, a soap maker will heat up the base oil ingredients and add their natural fragrance and other add-ins. They will then completely skip the curdling process and pour the mixture directly into their molds. Once the soap is hardened for 24-48 hours, they will take it out of the molds, in some cases cut it into bars, cure the soaps 4 to 6 weeks and then package and sell it. This process makes the soap so much gentler on the skin.
On top of that, they usually use essential oils or natural fragrances that are natural and beneficial on the skin. Additionally, they are helpful with aromatherapy as well! This is not always the case as some brands of soap still use artificial scents, but you should be able to read the label or ask the soap maker directly if you are concerned about it!
Another huge benefit of small batch producer is that they have complete control over what exact ingredients go into their soaps. They can add more nutrients, more beneficial additives, customize cleansing and moisturizing qualities, and much more according to the batch they are currently desire for the consumers. This is huge as each person has different variations in their skin that call for specific properties in their soaps.
Lastly, handmade soap is not meant to completely stripped your skin of all-natural oils. It’s simply meant to gently cleanse the surface to allow for clearer pores and healthier skin. The goal is to get rid of the bad but leave the good. You want to wash away the excess sweat, dirt and grime but you don’t want to scrub your skin raw. Handmade soap allows you to smell nice, feels clean and still retain naturally healthy and moisturized skin.
So what does all of this mean for handmade soap users? It’s meant to be specially formulated or created by someone who cares about you and the health of your skin.
The shelf life of the soap may not be years from the day it was made, but the benefits of handmade natural soap are so worth buying. Not only you are supporting small business owner and artist, you are also contributing to help preserve the environment. As you look for places to buy your handmade soap from, here’s a couple of parting words to keep in mind.
Not every soapmaker is the same, thus, they won’t use the exact same ingredients. One soap maker may prioritize organic ingredients, or fully 100% natural ingredients, or sustainable ingredients, or a medley of other types of ingredients, so it’s important to find someone whose standards and ingredients fit what you need.
Another consideration is the aromatherapy qualities of your soap! Are you looking for something that will help with your stress levels or digestion issues? Essential oils in soaps are a great way to incorporate aromatherapy into your daily life. We even have a blog post dedicated to aromatherapy and soap if you want to learn more! A shower or a bath should be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. Why not increase that relaxation with a lovely lavender or peppermint scent?
The bottom line is that handmade soap is a much better option as it is designed for the skin and not for the shelf. There is a wider variety available allowing you to tailor your soap to your skin, and you don’t have to settle for the commercial brands that irritate and disrupt the balance of your skin. Although we always encourage consumers to read the fine print and labels and make a decision that is best for them, handmade soap is much more beneficial to the overall health and well-being of your skin as long as it’s made with the correct ingredients using the correct process. Commercial soap serves a purpose, but if you really want to take care of your skin, it may not be the best option. Explore what’s available to you and then decide if you want to go back to drugstore soap!