In a world with supermarkets full of all shape, colour and size of cheap, mass produced soap why would you bother to make your own? Have you ever noticed how, after a shower using many supermarket soaps, your skin feels tight and itchy? Some people find that after a while their eczema or psoriasis has flared up again and have come to the conclusion that all soap is not for them. Before jumping to this conclusion I like to challenge people to try a “real” soap. One made with good quality oils by a knowledgeable soap maker with at least a year’s solid addiction to their craft, and holding NICNAS registration.
But soap is soap right? Wrong.
Commercially made real soap is produced in large vats using a process very similar to that used by hand crafters, but may use a single, cheap oil such as palm oil or tallow. There is nothing wrong with these ingredients in blended oil soap, but sometimes lack other qualities when used alone. On many labels palm oil is often simply labelled as vegetable oil rather than declaring the oil used, making it sound much more glamorous than it is. Some “soap” is not soap at all. Syndet is a name often used – synthetic detergent. The bars claiming to be soap free are often detergents which may not be what you intended to use on your skin at all.
The greatest problem with many of the commercial soaps is the extraction of the glycerine from the finished product. Handmade soap does not remove this. Saponification of oil naturally produces glycerine in the soap bar – up to a massive 10% of it. In many commercial production facilities salt is added to the mixture which causes the soap to rise to the top, and the glycerine to sink to the bottom to be extracted for use in other applications. This allows their bar to be harder but much less moisturising than a bar with the glycerine left in. Glycerine is one ingredient you definitely want in your moisturiser. It is humectant (meaning it retains or preserves moisture) . When better to apply such a product than when you are surrounded by moisture…like in a shower?
If you have extra dry skin you may like to use a soap with additional capabilities. Naturally handmade soap can be taken to the next level with the addition of milk. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk are very popular additions to handmade soap as they take the creamy moisturising qualities to that higher level. Honey adds even more moisture drawing capability to your beauty regime.
If you are not interested in making soap yourself find an amazing hand crafter near you who can make a product you adore. Many soapers can be found attending markets to sell their amazing products to those who do not make their own. Strike up a conversation to ensure your stall holder really knows “their stuff”. Someone in the know can steer you to a soap to suit your needs to allow you to enjoy the season without the scratching.
You only get one skin and have to spend your entire life in it. Look after it.
I have been soaping for quite a while now, and the adventure has made for quite a soap opera.
Thirteen years ago my husband decided he wanted to keep bees on our semi-rural property, which we did successfully for quite some time. The issue arose as to what to do with the beeswax. Make soap of course!! he said. So, I studied, and I learned, and I played, experimented and fell under the spell of the varieties that soap making can offer. I was hooked.
I started having to buy larger and larger quantities of ingredients from a local supplier for whom I started teaching classes. When she said she was selling up and moving to Queensland the opportunity to jump had arrived. With my business partner, Julie, we bought ourselves a business and named it Heirloom Body Care (www.heirloombodycare.com.au). We wanted to be able to help all those out there with the same soap addiction to fulfil their dreams, to create the purple soap with green polka dots, or the stripped one, but most especially the soap that will ban rashes and dry skin forever!