I get this question a lot. I also get “how did you get started in soap?” So I thought I would take some time to answer these questions.
Let’s start with how I got started. Well I read about melt and pour soap in a craft magazine and thought that would be a cool handmade present for my mom and my sister for Christmas. I had already done the candle thing and for me candles took too long to see results. I am an instant gratification kind of person and melt and pour with a 30 minute set up time looked right up my alley. I started out with a few basic molds, soap color, soap fragrance and some soap base from the local craft store. I set up in my kitchen and started experimenting. That was about 9 years ago, back before handmade soap was “hip.” My first year of soap making was pretty basic. I was afraid to try anything wild and crazy.
What got me to branch out was reading all the great information on my favorite online soap supplier (http://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/). They had so much information on their website that I felt ready to try new things. I think my first real experiment in soap was a coffee soap, nothing real daring just soap base and ground coffee. (A great soap for in the kitchen to remove odors from your hands or in the shower for that pre cup of coffee, coffee hit.) Everyone in my family loved my soap and my friends were all impressed as well. They all encouraged me to start selling but back then I was not ready for that. Mainly I made soap for friends and did some special requests like favors and gift sets. Around the holidays I would bring to work a basket of soap to sell as gifts. From there even more people told me I should sell my soap.
With all this encouragement I started branching out even more with my soaps. I collected an array of soap molds and supplies. I tried clays, herbs, exfoliating additives and fragrance blends.
I was hooked on soap! I stopped buying commercial soap and only used bars I made. I began to notice my skin improving in condition. My skin was hydrated, smooth, and healthy. I began to have less razor burn issues and other irritation. My husband’s skin stopped flaking everywhere. It was great.
So now to the next question, Why handcrafted soap? Well, now remember I am not a scientist, I am pro handmade soap because it makes your skin feel great. It is great way to know just what is going on your skin. I use glycerin based soaps and I make my soaps from a premade soap base. Sorry, but I do not mess with lye. The soap bases that I use have high glycerin contents and are derived from coconut oil. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of the saponification process and is normally extracted from the rest of the “soap” during commercial processing and used in more profitable applications then the finished soap bar. Leaving the commercially made bar of soap with only minimal amounts of natural glycerin left. Commercial soaps use synthetic detergents in place of the natural glycerin that was removed. They also add fillers, binders and hardeners to the bars to make them last a long time and to bulk up the weight. With a handcrafted soap you don’t have all that stuff. The soaps I make are softer than your commercial bar of soap; they don’t last as long as commercial bars because there are no fillers and all my soaps are detergent free.
Back to glycerin. Glycerin is a natural humectant. Humectants are substances that attract and retain moisture. This attraction helps to hydrate the skin and leave it moist and supple. Glycerin also dissolves easily in water, which makes glycerin soap easy to rinse off in the shower or bath. As a result, the soap does not leave behind a layer of film on the skin that can be drying. These wonderful properties combined with goat’s milk or shea butter leads to a rich, creamy bar of soap. A bar of soap that leaves your skin feeling clean and wonderful.
Now don’t you just want to go buy a handcrafted soap so you can get that commercial film off your skin? Check out http://www.artfire.com/users/SoapsNStuff for some great handcrafted soaps, scrubs and salts!
For a list of commonly used ingredients check out my detailed list on Face book http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=122695054416283&topic=145