Imagine restoring a youthful, clear, healthy complexion by bathing with soap formulated with all natural, wholesome ingredients that was specifically made just for you.
You absolutely can revitalize and notice an almost immediate improvement in your skin (face AND body) when you make a commitment to use handmade soap (and other body care products derived from raw, natural ingredients) on a daily basis.
There is an abundance of anecdotal evidence and numerous testimonials made by people who virtually healed skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis from bathing with natural, handcrafted soap.
I am one of those people.
When I was around 11 years of age, I began to break-out.
At first, the break-outs appeared as tiny little "heat" pimples and annoying whiteheads, that would seem to clear themselves after a hot bath.
By the age of 13, I had full-fledged acne and hot baths no longer were enough to clear up my blemishes.
As well, I knew I wasn't alone. Many of us go through the darkness of acne skin eruptions.
Approximately 50,000,000 Americans suffer from acne.
That's more than rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis COMBINED.
Moreover, a whopping 95% of all people will experience acne at some point in their lives!
To say that the condition of my skin left me with questionable self-esteem and a lack of confidence would be an understatement. Already naturally introverted, my oily, pimply skin didn't help me climb out of my shell and become more outgoing.
It's bad enough dealing with the awkwardness many of us experience during our teenage years. Having blemished, scarred skin sure doesn't make that pivotal time in our lives any better.
Adding to my insecurities, I'm a fair-skinned black woman, and (to this day), no matter how small or minute a problem my skin experiences, it will be clearly decipherable because of my light complexion.
Fast-forward to adulthood...
While matriculating from my teens to my mid-twenties, apparently the conventional wisdom of teenage break-outs subsiding when we reach adulthood didn't apply to me.
I was STILL DEALING WITH BREAK-OUTS!!!
I was pissed! Nothing was working.
But again, I wasn't alone.
Adult acne is just as prolific.
According to acne.org,
Adult acne affects 25% of adult men and 50% of adult women at some time in their adult lives. 1/3 of adults affected with facial acne also have acne on their back and body.
And nothing in the STORES was working for me. I tried just about every over-the-counter product for break-out prone skin available at the time.
Since the time I was a teenager (late 80's), and into the 21st century, there has been extraordinary growth in skin care product development >>> clinical and medical technological advances, dermatologically-tested cosmetics formulated with higher quality ingredients, the emergence and widened availability of exotic, esthetic beauty therapies and treatments.
Not to mention the societal awareness of how important it is to make healthy lifestyle choices not limited to consuming a plant-rich diet, regular oxygenating exercise, and a thorough hygiene regimen.
How important is soap to our everyday lives?
I mean, VERY, right? Crucially mandatory even.
In and of itself, the concept of soap is a pretty mundane topic, yes?
But is it really? Well, not in the context of dollars and cents.
That's a lot of bubbles.
And not so mundane. Soap is and will continue to be a mainstay in our lives.
So what does the importance of soap have to do with my break-outs?
Well, a lot.
Because it was soap that eventually saved my skin.
But not just any soap.
Natural, herbal handcrafted soap.
As I already mentioned, to treat my blemished skin, I didn't want to use antibiotics, medications, or chemically-ladened cleansers.
I wanted as natural an alternative as possible to those methods.
So I bought a book on natural soap making.
And the rest is proverbial history.
Now I'm a full-fledged #soapivore.
What is a soapivore, you ask?
Why do I celebrate natural, handcrafted soap making, and think you should too?
- Just as handmade soap and other natural body care products cleared up my acne and blemishes, daily use of these products also improved the overall texture and tone of my skin.
- Old zit scars faded.
- The tone of my complexion evened out, revealing a smooth, supple appearance.
- And the glorious coup de gras: the blemishes didn't return. It's almost like using natural products encouraged that dastardly acne to kick all the rocks and exit left out of my life.
Needless to say, NOT using handmade, herbal soap was no longer an option. My life had forever changed.
For the beautiful better.
Many of us are becoming more aware of our wellness and consciously taking better care of ourselves, advocating more for our health, eating better, protecting the environment, etc.
As well, more of us are extolling the value of using handmade soap and natural body care products (widely considered luxury or premium body products) to care for our skin, hair, and our essence>>> our tangible aesthetic energy.
We want to be able to pronounce and understand the ingredients on the labels of the soap and other products we use everyday.
And we are willing to pay for this ability.
After I purchased my first soap making book well over 20 years ago, I couldn't absorb what I was learning fast enough. I found the entire soap making process fascinating, from the reconnaissance and sourcing of ingredients, to the giddy anticipation of taking a shower with a new formulation.
Yeah, that's right. I said giddy. I was giddy.
After I made my first batch, that was it. I was hooked.
Any soap maker can pretty much give you the same testimony.
Soap making is an addictive and rewarding endeavor.
I am going to share with you what I believe to be the most essential ways handcrafted soap will enhance your life, and why you should make, and forever and always use, natural, handmade soap.
1. Handmade soap made with natural ingredients is kind, soothing, and a wonderful catalyst of healing for all skin types.
If I had to pick my favorite benefit of making and using natural soap, this would be it.
Perhaps that's why it's the first one.
What I mean by "catalyst of healing" is...remember when I said that after regular use of natural, handmade soap, blemishes resisted reappearing, and over time my overall complexion improved?
That's what it's all about with any type of skin care product, right?
We use skin care products on our skin to get results, and...
...in most cases, with wholesomely-made soap and skin care products, you get RESULTS.
Positive, what-you've-been-waiting-for RESULTS.
2. You get to employ the healthiest, most wholesome ingredients.
Unlike in the commercial soap making industry, the ingredients employed in natural, handcrafted soap making are pure, simple, and easily obtainable.
The highest quality herbs, oils, and essential oils are generally affordable and can be purchased locally, or are just a click away.
The chart below is a mere representation of the types of ingredients from which natural, handmade soap is made.
Don't they all look pretty together?
- Silky carrier oils
- Nutrient-rich butters
- Botanicals of every stripe: herbs, flowers, barks, seeds, the list goes on
- Many varieties of whole milks: goat milk, nut milks, coconut milk,...even breast milk (yes, it's true!)*
- Essential oils. Aromatherapy and skin care are a match made in heaven.
- Clays. Dead sea, bentonite, and Brazilian are commonly used in soap.
- Whole grains. Oats are like first aid for dry, irritated skin.
- Pureed produce like cucumbers or carrot juice are wonderful ingredients and lend soft, opaque green and orange colors, respectively, to soap.
These ingredients are what make natural, handcrafted soap so special.
Although organic ingredients may not always be available or feasible, it's always preferred to go organic whenever possible.
*Making soap with breast milk has its detractors, and I've personally never made it or used it. If you want to experiment with making soap with breast milk for your own personal enjoyment, I say go for it; HOWEVER, I do not recommend purchasing breast milk soap off the internet or from anyone you are unfamiliar. It should go without saying that because breast milk is a bodily fluid, soap made with it could contain bacteria and other pathogens. Take precaution, or better yet, steer clear.
3. Soap making is an inspiring creative outlet.
People who craft and make art have several characteristics in common, and the act and skill of soap making target many of those characteristics head-on.
Elements of soap making that appeal to crafters and creatives:
➾ Fulfills the DIY spirit we creatives typically have in spades.
We see something in our wheelhouse of capability that appeals to us, often our first thought is "I can make that!".
Soap making also provides a formidable marriage between art and science.
You will utilize both sides of your brain to implement any formula from start to finish. Choosing your ingredients, deciding on if or how you want to color your soap, blending a fragrance for scent - all tasks tap into your artistic flair and design style.
Conversely, due to the chemical process called saponification, which transforms raw ingredients into soap, soap making is also scientific in nature.
The soap making process is essentially summed up with this formula:
Fat/Oil + Alkali + Liquid = Soap
Just from employing wholesome ingredients into this elementary equation, we get a changed life and complexion.
➾ Activates our flexibility and resourcefulness.
Think about it.
Crafters and creatives are usually considered the MacGyvers of the family. We can improvise with the best of them when it comes to being innovative and making something out of nothing.
Soap makers typify the idea of doing the most with least.
We may only have a few ingredients at our disposal, but we can still turn out soap that your skin will fall in love with.
➾ Requires that we be observant.
Soap making is as visual as it is physiological or fragrant. Choosing ingredients, weighing ingredients, taking notes, blending and mixing - all tasks, when doing them accurately, require some focus and attention to detail.
Being observant will beckon a quality product - wear your thinking-cap while doing anything creative, especially soap making.
➾ Soap making exercises our patience.
Waiting for soap to trace while in the pot and waiting for cure time to be over so we can bask in our creation are two areas that unquestionably flexes any soap maker's patience muscles.
But honoring these processes with mindfulness is important and easy to implement.
If I'm in between batches or don't have handmade soap of my own to use, I support other soap makers who are in business by purchasing their soap.
Although nothing beats the freedom and intrinsic purpose of making your own soap and toiletries, there are some incredible makers of natural handcrafted skin care out here whose products are available to all of us.
Supporting small businesses of natural body care just spreads and expands the love these products were intentionally made with.
➾ Freedom and control. From beginning to end.
Mastery of the soap making process and a working knowledge of the raw materials used to make soap allow unparalleled autonomy when it comes to quality control of ingredients and independence from commercial manufacturers.
If you want to use unscented soap that has muru muru butter and a chickweed herbal infusion, well guess what, you can have it. You can make it yourself.
(By the way, the thought of using a soap with the winning combination of muru muru butter and chickweed makes my skin smile and applaud.)
If you want your soap to be a lovely light shade of purple, smell like French lavender, with a marbled effect from white clay prettily swirled in, you can have that, too.
Once you get a handle on the soap making process (which I show you how to do in my ebook series Soapivore Soap Making. Click here to see what I'm talking about.)
Making your own soap will set you free from commercial soap.
Free from dry, flaky, blotchy skin.
Free from a not-so-supple appearance and complexion.
You WILL be free to display smooth, enviable, flawless, healthy skin.
4. Economies of scale
Over time, you can save money by making enough soap to last you several months, for less than what it would you cost you to purchase the same amount of soap retail.
As a new soap maker, on average, you will incur costs in 4 areas:
1. A digital scale and basic kitchen equipment to weigh and mix ingredients
2. Safety gear like gloves and eye protection
3. Molds and soap setting supplies
4. Raw ingredients >>> oils, butters, liquids (mostly distilled water), sodium hydroxide, etc.
After the upfront costs of gathering equipment and setup, and the ingredients you need (which, as we've already discussed, are simple, affordable, and obtainable), without breaking the bank you can crank out a nice stash of soap that could last you and a family of four through a full season or more (depending on the size of your soap batch, of course).
Once you purchase what you need to get started on the outset, your incurring costs will generally just be ingredients. If you buy ingredients such as oils, butters, and sodium hydroxide in bulk, you won't have to purchase them as often.
Of course, should you start a business selling your soaps, your oils, butters, and sodium hydroxide purchases will be more frequent, and you will be factoring in other variables besides supplies and ingredients in your costs and expenses. I'm just referring to soap making as a hobby in the context of costs here.
Want to know what's really helpful with understanding exactly what your initial soap making costs and expenses will be?
A "Getting Started Soap Making Cost Estimate Worksheet", of course!
And guess what...I made one just for you. Click the image below to get your worksheet.
How to Use the Soap Making Cost Estimate Worksheet
➾ The cost estimate worksheet lists the basic tools, supplies, and ingredients you will need to get started making soap.
After opening the spreadsheet in Google Drive, make a copy of it so that you can enter in the cost information as you investigate and plan out the ingredients and supplies you want to start with.
As far as the kitchen supplies needed, you may already have many items on hand that you could, for zero cost, adopt into your soap making.
➾ The types of oils and butters, and how you wish to purchase, will initially depend on the size of your soap batch.
Refer to the Soapivore Soap Making ebook series to learn how to develop a soap formula and make it from scratch, and for other soap making and packaging how-to.
➾ You can use this worksheet to plan for one batch of soap, or to stock-up on all categories of ingredients. It's your world.
Feel free to add or delete rows as you deem necessary, and certainly don't feel pressured to purchase every single item listed.
The INGREDIENTS are listed as categories, which enables you to be specific when researching prices and product types.
Enter in the Ingredient Name and the other product details. When you see your totals, and according to what your budget will allow, you can add or delete rows to get to the cost dollar amount you are most comfortable with.
➾ When entering information in the applicable fields, to keep the calculations accurate, be sure to enter in the QTY and COST columns.
If you are just buying 1 of something, enter a 1 in the quantity column so that the total column will calculate automatically.
➾ The totals for each section will be automatically transferred to the SUMMARY OF COSTS.
The summary of costs gives you a snapshot of what your total investment is looking like while you complete the cost estimate.
➾ Depending on the size and type of your monitor, you may have to zoom out to view the entire spreadsheet.
My wish for you is to use this spreadsheet in good health and clear skin, and may your budget and your love of soap making be a match made in saponified heaven.
5. Soap making is a life-long skill that affords you the ability to be independent of large beauty industry conglomerates whose main objective is the health of their profit margins, not the health of your skin.
I won't go on a rant about the ills of commercial, mass-produced beauty products that claim to be "natural" when the only natural thing about them is their recycled packaging.
Don't have the time.
But I will say this...
Handcrafted soap made from natural ingredients, in my most humblest opinion, is FAR MORE superior in quality than mass-produced soap ubiquitous on the market today.
Just read the list of ingredients on the packaging of any popular brand of soap sold in the Health and Beauty section of your typical big box store.
Many of these ingredients are actually surfactants and detergents. (Yes, detergents! As if we are bathing and washing ourselves in the heavy-duty cycle of our washing machines! Do we need to pour fabric softener over ourselves, too??)
Not to put these ingredients on blast because, really, we can't blame them. Surfactants and detergents have their places in civilized society, but not in our soap, right!
I think I might be ranting after all, so check it out for yourself. Let's take that ubiquitous oval-shaped soap we all know, Dove®, for example. Particularly the Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar.
Here's a screenshot of the soap packaging and the list of ingredients.
Now, let's take a (brief and quick) look at these ingredients and assess what benefit, if any, to skin care they provide (oh, and by the way, good luck with pronouncing some of these words, mmmkay):
|Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate||A surfactant that enhances the foaming action of commercial soap|
|Stearic Acid||An animal- or vegetable-derived saturated fatty acid that helps create a hard bar of soap and make it last longer. In a commercially manufactured soap such as Dove, it is more likely that the animal-derived variety is used.|
|Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate||
Tallowate is saponified tallow. Tallow is fat extracted from cows and is used as a cheap alternative to palm oil because it helps create hard soap bars.
Soap with tallow is thought to cause blemishes and acne when used consistently. (And yes, soap is used consistently.)
Palmitate is saponified palm oil. Palm oil IS naturally-derived, but is a source of controversy in the handcrafted soap making world because it is apparently being over-harvested.
Take note of this, so that when you are sourcing palm oil to use in your soap, you purchase palm oil that has been ethically cultivated and harvested.
|Lauric Acid||A saturated fatty acid found naturally in hard oils such as coconut and palm kernel that contributes hardness and lather to soap|
|Sodium Isethionate||A synthetic detergent to boost lather|
|Water||The alkali in soap making is dissolved in water so that it can interact with the oils to make soap.|
|Sodium Stearate||A thickener and emulsifier that helps bind together all ingredients in the formulation|
|Cocamidopropyl Betaine||A surfactant added to create thick foaming action|
|Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate||Saponified coconut oil and saponified palm kernel oil, respectively.|
|Sodium Chloride||What we all know as table salt is added to commercial soap making formulations to add hardness to bars|
|Tetrasodium Edta||A formaldehyde containing preservative regarded to be a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance)|
|Tetrasodium Etidronate||Also a preservative used to stabilize the color and scent of a formulation|
|Maltol||Although this compound lends fragrance to the soap, it has no skin care benefit.|
|Titanium Dioxide||A pigment that gives Dove soap it's pure white color.|
And again let me just say...I don't mean to diss these compounds; it's not their fault they are cheap substitutes for rich, nutritious oils and butters that our skin basks in.
Their development was strictly intended to boost the soap manufacturer's profit margin while concurrently giving the consumer (us) the familiar characteristics of the cleaning and foaming action of handmade soap. But doing so without the utilization of high quality ingredients.
Genius for them!!
Not so wonderful for us.
The problem with the Dove company's methodology is that their "Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar" robs their customers of any real skin care benefit.
Your sensitive skin might be "clean", but it's also rough like a tumbleweed, itchy like you had a fight with a mosquito, and, over consistent use of the soap, may even break-out due to the dubious ingredients!
Your own handmade soap eliminates that ordeal instantly.
6. Soap making is a life-long skill that can be taught to others.
Aside from the numerous benefits provided by handmade soap made with high quality ingredients, from one's fresh appearance and physical energy, to healthy skin and self-confidence, natural soap making is also a viable source of revenue, both as a physical product (selling the soap itself) and as a skill (teaching how to make the soap).
Many makers who sell their soap also conduct demonstrations, classes, and workshops for enthusiastic students who want to learn the craft of soap making. These events usually sell-out fast, are fun and lively, and students typically take away their own soap and their imaginative wheels turning.
Back in the day, right before the advent of the internet (is the early 90's considered "back in the day"??), many creatives and makers got their knowledge by pouring over books on the subject.
This selection of book titles are coveted in the trade, and are still go-to resources for professional soap makers today:
The niche market of handcrafted soaps is still in the building stages, which is great news for those who are still learning the craft.
As we've already discovered, the natural body care market sees growth each year.
People aren't just interested in using these products, they want to learn how to make them as well. And they should. So why not teach them and get paid well doing it?
In my experience, and in getting to know other soap makers and formulators of natural cosmetics, I've found that they tend to be people of high integrity.
More often than not, they began crafting soaps and natural body care products for the sole purpose of creating something beneficial and useful for themselves and others (meaning, not necessarily motivated by profit).
Moreover, similar to the reasons why I started to make soap, many of these makers had skin conditions that led them to research and ultimately find a solution that is largely based in using products with naturally-derived ingredients.
This is carried even further to makers who start natural soap and body care businesses to create and share high-level, premium quality products. These products make a significant impact on the lives, confidence, and self-esteem for the people that use them.
Makers of these products put a lot of thought, love, and care into their formulations, from how the ingredients are sourced to how the products are packaged. These products are made with humans (and often times their pets) in mind, with the intention of making our lives better.
Ultimately making a positive moral impact for all of us.
And isn't that what the world needs more of?
8. Start (or support) a small business that sells handmade soap.
To piggy-back on reasons #6 and #7, if you can make soap, you can sell what you make or you can teach others how to make it.
Conversely, if you want to use handmade soap, there are wonderful soap makers you can support with your dollars who offer beautifully-crafted, gloriously-scented soap, made with one-of-a-kind ingredient combinations.
Want to learn to make soap? There are soap makers who teach soap making in local community centers and natural shops.
The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild is an awesome resource for information on how to start a soap making business.
It also has a directory of certified soap makers for those who want to patronize an artisan soap maker.
9. One word: glycerin. The moisturizing compound that is retained in handcrafted soap.
Glycerin serves us, and serves us well.
Because of moisturizers.
Lotions and creams are big business, and although they are wonderful additions to our skin care routine and regimen (I highly recommend using moisturizers!), handcrafted soap lessens our reliance on them.
Because of glycerin.
Handcrafted soap retains this skin softening humectant and byproduct of the saponification process. Hence, consistent and continuous use of handmade soap will encourage our skin to remain supple, moisturized, and glowing without the requirement that we also use lotions and creams to compensate.
Statistics show that the US toiletries industry generates over $7 billion in annual revenue from the sale of lotions, creams, and oils.
Just from lotions and creams!
That's a lot of ashy!
So as you can see, commercial lotion and cream manufacturers (and by extension commercial soap makers) make big bucks off of your dryness.
10. Endless possibilities of oil, butter, liquid, and fragrance combinations.
I mean, who doesn't love a good, luscious body butter that's been smacked up, whipped and rubbed down on our total entire body??!!
For a quick primer on a selection of delectable oils and butters that I really love in soap and in other body care products, check out this blog post.
There are so many choices when it comes to, really, the most crucial ingredient in ANY soap formulation, whether handmade or not.
Hard butters, semi-soft butters, fruit butters, dark oils, light oils, nutty oils, herbal oils...
And scent that bad boy with an aromatherapy blend from an endless smorgasbord of...
Essential oils and resins!!
We deserve, okay?
Then factor in the...
Liquid phase of soap making...
One of the many beautiful things about handcrafted soap is that the artisan has innumerable liquid options to dissolve the alkali needed to activate saponification.
Not just water...oh no no.
Flower and herb water infusions, nut milks, goat milk, fruit juices, vegetable purees...
Not to mention, you literally have your pick of...
Nutrients and additives to take your formulations to the next level...
Clays...HONEY...powdered oats...powdered herbs...flower petals...
Your skin is licking it's chops just thinking about the abundance of luxury available to it.
Making your own soap gives you the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE your ingredients, from every phase of the process.
YOU are in control. YOU get what YOU want.
11. Soap batches can be customized in a variety of ways to address specific needs of the user.
Like I just said a second ago, you are in control.
You get to customize and structure your soap formulations based on factors that matter most to you, whether those factors are associated with:
- your, or whomever will be using the soap's skin type
- your preferred color
- the scent that most appeals to you (or you can leave your soap unscented)
- you wanting to implement a new soap making technique
- making soap in an unusual shape
- the size of the bars - do you want little mini soapettes, or do you want 10 ounce monster soap chunks
As well, customization and/or unique, not often or ever seen combinations of ingredients and techniques, are huge unique selling propositions for soap making businesses.
You can structure your product lines to appeal to specific segments of your market, and promote your soaps to those niche markets in ways that resonate with them.
For instance, strategically promoting your unscented goat milk and oat soap to customers who have sensitive or aging skin, or marketing soap scented with a sexy, deep fragrance during a Valentine's Day sales campaign.
There are an infinite number of ways to be creative when customizing your soap batches, and just as many creative ways of finding customers who will buy and love them.
12. Need a last minute gift? Your extra soap could be that gift.
When you make soap, you will undoubtedly have a stash of inventory on hand at any given time.
Beautifully scented, cut, and packaged soap makes a warmhearted, thoughtful gift.
Occasions to share your beautifully packaged soap:
- Birthday gift baskets
- Mother's Day gift baskets
- Hostess gifts
- Christmas stocking stuffers
- New mom recovery baskets
- House warming gifts
- Recovering after major surgery
- Going away gifts
- Off to college
- Summer camp
- Many, many more
So I've been going on and on about the wonders of handcrafted soap.
I've outlined 12 distinct reasons why, if the body, mind, and heart are willing, soap making is an honorable skill to develop, and even take to market.
Click the image above to get your soap making cheat sheet sent to you IMMEDIATELY!
I've talked about how energetically uplifting handcrafted soap is to use.
How it improves the tone and texture of your skin.
That it has the capability to soothe a variety of skin conditions.
What I haven't touched on is how to MAKE your own handcrafted soap, did I?
Well, I have an awesome resource for you, that will not only show you how to make your own soap, but also other products can you make that include your natural soap as an ingredient...
The Soapivore Soap Making Series will help you get your total life.
The information in this blog article has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or conditions of any kind. This article provides the reader with practical information regarding handcrafted soap making, on the premises of basic soap making science and ancient anecdotal practices of health and beauty. In no way should the contents of this article be regarded as medical advice. It is recommended that the reader perform a patch test before using any formula described. The author and all invested parties will not be held responsible for any allergic or adverse reactions, contraindications, or ill effects from the manufacture or use of any products described in this article.