Friday, January 16, 2015

Why Use Handmade Soap?

I have a fear, which inevitably, is going to come to fruition.  One day I'm going to be selling my handmade soaps at a craft fair or farmer's market, and someone is going to ask me what's so great about handmade soap that they should pay $6.00 a bar for it, rather than just picking up a bar of Ivory at the drug store for $1.49.  I know the question is coming, and my fear is that I'm going to talk the poor person's ear off with more information than they asked for!

To be a responsible business owner and salesperson, I can't tell them that my own skin now requires a fraction of the lotion that it once did, or that my handmade soaps helped my son's itchiness from eczema improve, or that a family's member's acne improved (even though it's all true!).  I'm not selling snake oil here, and I certainly don't want to impart the idea that handmade soap is going to cure every person's every dermis-related ill.  

Personal anecdotes aside, there are many, many compelling reasons that paying that $6.00 per bar for lovingly made, natural, handmade soap is worth it!  Below is an excerpt from an article that eBay user bubearjrs wrote (which they have graciously allowed me to reiterate here in my own blog) outlining some of those reasons.  Make sure to check out their eBay store!


Why use natural handmade soap?

The benefits of using handmade soap are many: simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals, natural vegetable oils instead of animal fats. All these things are important to many people today. The reasons to use a more natural, handmade product are not always obvious, however. Read on to learn more.

We live in a day and age where the technological advances are many. Cell phones, microwave breakfast, instant potatoes, digital TV, radios the size of a credit card.... Many of these advances are there to make our lives easier. However, when it comes to skin care and the ingredients you put on your skin, technology is probably not what you had in mind!

Why is Handmade Natural Soap so special?

Natural soaps are made in a time-honored fashion. It involves a very simple chemical reaction between oils (or fats) and lye (sodium hydroxide for bars). All soap is made with lye, but there is no lye in the finished product. The chemical reaction converts the lye/fat mixture to glycerin. The glycerin is a natural by-product and, as such, the relationship between the soap molecule and the glycerin means you have a cleanser with abundant, luxurious lather that cleans like nothing else. As a bonus, it does not strip your skin of its natural, protective oils. 

Commercially made soap usually contains detergents, fillers, chemicals, petroleum, high animal fat content (read: sodium tallowate) and irritants like SLS or SLES (sulfates). Commercially made soap tends to be less eco-friendly as well. While commercially manufactured soap usually costs less, the impact on your skin and the environment is shocking.

Natural handmade soaps are made with natural oils, have a high glycerin content, are better for the environment with no detergents, phosphates or sulfates, and are never tested on animals.

Why is Glycerin Important? 

Glycerin is a humectant. It attracts moisture and gives it back to your skin. In natural and handmade soap making processes, one molecule of glycerin is created for every three molecules of soap. Commercial soap makers often remove the glycerin from their soap and then sell it to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. With natural soaps, however, all of the naturally occurring glycerin remains intact along with all its skin-nourishing benefits. 

When and how did soap-making begin?

Until about a century ago, all soap was made from animal fats, and much of it was made at home. Families would save the lard from butchering animals to make soap. Lye was made from the ashes from the fireplace or pit. However, in 1916, the first synthetic soap (detergent) was made. This occurred because of a shortage of animal fats, or tallow, during World War I. From that point on, synthetic soaps became popular with women eager to free themselves from yet another exhausting household chore.

Today, however, we not only understand the process of natural soap making better, there are a wide variety of natural oils and ingredients available. Making handmade natural soap has never been easier, and you don't have to use animal fats to do it. This is great news for vegetarians, vegans and those just wanting a more natural alternative to the "detergent" we us on our hair, our skin and in the sink!