Why Buy All Natural Handcrafted Soaps?

Contents:
What is Soap?
True Soap vs. Synthetic Detergent
Handcrafted Soap vs. Commercial Soap
Essential Oils and Herbs vs. Fragrance Oils and Additives
What is Superfatting?

Intro

There are many types and kinds of soap, cleansers and detergents. In this article, I will try to define the differences between them and explain why all natural handcrafted soap is the best choice for those who are concerned about the health of their skin. Before we begin the discussion of why to buy natural, handcrafted soaps, we must first define what true soap really is.

What is Soap?

Soap is made from a combination of oils and an alkali (such as lye) and water. When these are combined, a chemical reaction called saponification is produced and the result is soap and glycerine.

Some people may question the use of lye in handcrafted soap. The fact is that all soap is made with lye. What needs to be made clear is that once the process of saponification is complete, the lye molecules and oils molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and glycerine. There is no lye present in the finished bars of soap.

True Soap vs. Synthetic Detergent

Many of the commercial bars of “soap” on the store shelves are not really soap at all. They are called syndet bars, or synthetic detergent bars. They are made from synthesized chemicals and are usually much harsher than soap. They are (As far as I am concerned, Syndet is not really suitable for personal use. On the other hand, true soap is made from natural oils (such as olive, coconut and palm) and is a gentle cleansing product more appropriate for use on skin than is detergent.

Now that we have an understanding of what true soap is, the next question is why you should buy handcrafted soap?

Handcrafted Soap vs. Commercial Soap

One of the biggest reasons to buy handcrafted soap is that small soapmakers leave the glycerine content of their soap in their soap. Most commercial soap manufacturers extract the glycerine to sell separately, sometimes at a higher price than the soap itself! Glycerine is important to skin care because it is a humectant. Humectants draw moisture from the air, which, in turn, moisturize your skin. The glycerine content of the soap is what makes handcrafted soap softer than commercially made soap.

Another reason to buy handcrafted soap is that most of them are made in small batches, so you can be assured of the quality and the attention given to each bar of soap. Many handcrafted soapmakers have small family run businesses that you can feel good about supporting.

The next point needing clarification, when considering which soap to buy, is that not all handcrafted soap is made with all natural ingredients.

Essential Oils and Herbs vs. Fragrance Oils and Additives

Some handcrafted soaps are scented with fragrance oils. These are synthetic chemicals that are mixed together to imitate a particular scent. They have contributed in many cases to chemical sensitivity in some people. They also have no aromatherapy benefits. They may smell good, but they do nothing to promote health and may actually be detrimental to it. Essential oils are the fragrance emitting components of plants and are at the heart of aromatherapy. They have many beneficial effects on the body, mind and spirit. Makers of all natural handcrafted soaps use essential oils to scent their bars.

You may also see handcrafted soaps that contain dyes, colorants or other additives that are synthetic. All natural soaps contain herbs and other natural botanical ingredients to add color, skin benefits and exfoliation.

It is extremely important to read the ingredient labels if using all natural handcrafted products is important to you. Most handcrafted soapmakers list all of their ingredients on their labels even though it is not required. They want you to know they are only using natural ingredients. They want you to be aware of what you are putting on your body.

One last factor to consider is superfatting.

What is Superfatting?

Superfatting is when a soapmaker incorporates extra oils in a batch of soap. This does two things – it ensures that there is no excess alkali in the soap, resulting in a milder bar of soap and it provides added emollience to the finished product. The extra oil is virtually suspended in the soap and applied to your body as you use it. Most handcrafted soapmakers superfat their soap to varying degrees.

Finally, if you have any questions about a bar of soap, how it was made, what is in it, etc. most all natural handcrafted soapmakers are not only more than happy to talk about their soap, but will encourage your inquiry and your pursuit to educate yourself about their craft.

©2014, Herbs of Grace.

This article is copyrighted by Vanessa Nixon Klein, the proprietor of Herbs of Grace, who is a Traditional Naturopath specializing in medicinal herbalism, nutritional therapy, homeopathy and aromatherapy. If you would like to reprint this article, either online or in print, please contact us.  vanessa@herbsofgrace.com

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