September 3, 2013 by thesoapalchemist
With the ever-growing popularity of all natural health care products, there are thousands of companies offering all-natural soaps. Coupled with the immense popularity of the internet and the relative ease with which one can sell their products on line, there has really never been a better time, or more convenient way for the ingredient-conscious soap shopper to try out what’s available. Since every soap maker has their own specialties and preferences, there are certainly many choices available to consumers. Here, I present some useful considerations for the handmade soap shopper.
For starters, I prefer soaps made with vegetable oils rather than animal fats. The reason is simple: I started making soaps with vegetable oils, and they did exactly what I wanted them to. Olive creates an incredibly conditioning bar of soap. Palm lends hardness to the bar. Coconut is known for creating loads of lather and fluffy bubbles.
Luxury oils and butters can also be added for additional benefits, including antibacterial properties, anti-aging benefits, or intense moisturizing. Some luxury oils to look for include shea butter, mango butter and cocoa butter.
Often, people shop for natural soaps at the suggestion of their physician. Olive oil soaps are known for being very mild and gentle and are commonly recommended for those with skin sensitivities or other issues. People with known allergies to fragrance can often find 100% fragrance free natural soaps at craft fairs, or locate soapmakers through the Handcrafted Soap Maker’s Guild who are willing to custom formulate unscented soaps for them.
For those people purchasing natural soaps for exfoliation or therapeutic effect, look for soaps with natural botanicals, herbs and even spices in them. Oatmeal, blueberry seeds and dried lavender buds are excellent exfoliators. They remove dry, dead skin, helping to expose healthy new skin instead. This is especially good for your complexion. The addition of kaolin clay, such as French Rose and Green Clay can also serve as a gentle exfoliator and will also help to absorb excess oil from your skin. The selection of certain essential oils can also be therapeutic. For example, peppermint essential oil is particularly helpful for relieving the stuffy symptoms of a headcold.
A final thought concerning your decision to purchase natural soap– be sure you have a draining soap dish! Natural soap contains quite a bit of glycerin, which will “melt” out of the soap if it is kept in wet conditions. Truly natural soaps do not contain artificial hardeners, and will need a little bit of TLC to perform to their highest potential. It is important to allow them to dry between uses. I like to stand mine up on end when not in use. But, don’t worry if your bar does get wet and turns into a mushy lump. You can form it into a ball, squeeze some of the water out, and let it dry. After it has a chance to dry, it will be as good as ever, although a bit misshapen!
Beyond those suggestions, have some fun. Select something that sounds a bit interesting or unique. A lot of soapcrafters out there are pretty creative people and you may discover that a soap that sounded odd turns out to be your new favorite. Finally, be sure to tell the artisan what you think of your selections once you use them. Most of us love to receive constructive criticism. If you have a suggestion for a new recipe, send us a note. You may end up seeing that new soap on our site!