It seems logical to me to begin this handmade beauty series at the beginning of the beauty regimen: cleansing. I don’t know anyone who applies make-up, or even clothing, prior to cleaning their skin. So I would like to explore with you the properties of handmade soap.
Handmade soap is different from commercial soap in two ways.
- Many commercial soap bars are actually detergent not soap.
- Those commercial soap bars which are actually natural soap, have often had the additional treatment of glycerin extraction. Glycerin, which is moisturizing to the skin, occurs naturally during the soap-making process.
The process of soap making, saponification, involves a chemical reaction of fat and lye. Lye sounds harsh. Until you consider that the alternative to soap (made with lye) is detergent which typically includes sodium lauryl sulfate and petroleum products. If you remember sodium lauryl sulfate from chemistry class; then you might remember that you had to wear rubber clothing and a mask to get near it.
While researching this article, I felt more and more justified about the additional dollar (usually shipping), that I spend on handmade soaps. Not only do I feel better (because my skin is not irritated); but I have a whole laundry list of nasty ingredients to read off to my husband about what is in that innocent looking commercial “soap” bar.
But on to the good stuff. Handmade soap is made in small batches, probably in a kitchen near you. Popular fats used in soap making are olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, hemp oil and shea butter. Soaps made entirely with olive oil as their fat are sometimes called Marseille soap or Savon du Provence.
One word of caution, many handmade soaps contain avocado oil. That’s great if you love avocados. It’s not great if you are allergic to latex; because avocado has some of the same allergens as latex. So read the label to be certain that the soap you choose doesn’t have anything in it that would cause a reaction in you. If you can’t eat it; make certain that you are not putting it on your skin.
Two handmade soaps that I can recommend are White Tea and Ginger Moisturizing Soap from Dress Green. I received it as a sample with an order. In addition to having a nice creamy feel, it smells divine. I must have more. And the Chamomile Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oil Facial Soap from Heathen’s Hearth cleans my skin without drying it out. That is something I could not say about commercially prepared tea tree soaps.
Lastly, a note on journalistic integrity, I will not mention here any product which I have not personally tried, which is why I have mentioned the above vendors last week and this week – the orders placed since last week’s article and this one have not arrived and been used by me.
Next week, more handmade beauty. Happy soaping.