After all these years in business, the most often asked question we hear remains, “Why is natural soap better?”
I have been using only natural soap on my face and body for over 11 years. It is the first product I learned to make. My skin has become so accustomed to the benefits of these lovely bars, that everything else makes my skin itch. Our soap bars travel with me everywhere I go. I even keep one-time-use scraps in my purse to use in public restrooms!
While I believe that many of the "reasons" listed below may apply to some natural handmade soap companies, I will focus on the one company with which I have intimate knowledge and experience-- S&E Natural Soaps LLC.
1. Handmade Natural Soap is Actually Soap
As you stroll down the aisles of the supermarket or drug store you will see an assortment of body cleansers to choose from that are labeled as body bars, body washes, cleansing bars, skincare bars, deodorant soaps, and even beauty bars. They are nothing more than detergents in disguise. Most of the soap you purchase today is a commercially manufactured chemical cocktail of ingredients. It is not natural and is not even really “soap.”
Here is what the FDA has to say: “Today there are very few true soaps on the market. Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products. Detergent cleansers are popular because they make suds easily in water and don't form gummy deposits. Some of these detergent products are actually marketed as "soap" but are not true soap according to the regulatory definition of the word.” Source At one time all soap was handmade.
The traditional soapmaking method was and still is, called the cold process method.
2. Natural Soap is Made With Natural Ingredients
The very best reason to use natural soap is the ingredients. A product is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. OUR skin-nourishing ingredients are USDA Certified Organic, sustainably produced, cruelty-free, and ethically traded, but most commercial "soaps" are actually synthetic detergents that offer no natural benefits to the skin.
Each of our soap bar recipes begins with a special blend of nutrient-rich, skin-nourishing certified organic oils. We use more costly organic virgin, unrefined oils, and butters whenever possible because they are less refined preserving more of their inherent nutrients. Inspired by our love of gardening we then make each soap bar unique by adding a variety of organic butters, purifying natural clays, organic herbs, seeds, grains, spices, flowers, vegetables, fruits, chocolate, and pure botanical essential oils to provide natural color, aromatherapy, texture, and gentle exfoliation.
The result of our painstakingly, meticulous soap-making process is a mild, rich, moisturizing soap that feels creamy in your hands, offers a magnificent long-lasting lather, and leaves your skin clean, soft, silky, and radiantly healthy. Our handmade natural soaps are made in small batches with materials found in nature, like pure plant-based oils, oats, honey, and goat milk. The end result is a safe and gentle product that is perfect for your skin. Your skin will notice the difference!
3. Natural Soap Is NOT Made With...
Our soap bars contain only the ingredients that they need—no extra preservatives that liquid body washes or commercial bar "soaps" require to increase their shelf life to years, and no foam boosters to make them lather.
Natural soaps contain:
no synthetic ingredients
no artificial fragrances or perfumes
no artificial colors
no synthetic preservatives
Commercial bar soaps and even some sold as "natural" are Syndet bars. Syndet is a blended word made by combining the words “synthetic” and “detergent.” Note that many of the newer shampoo bars on the market are actually syndets, not natural soap-based shampoo.
Gentle, skin safe ingredients mean that natural soap will not dry out skin or lead to the skin irritation often seen with synthetic ingredients. I often tell people that while we use awesome ingredients in our natural soaps, I believe that what is NOT in our soap is just as important! Why would you want to bathe with agricultural ingredients like plant oils that have been doused in chemicals? If commercial "soaps" add oils and butters to their bars, they are often ultra-refined. Unrefined, virgin oils and butters are much more expensive, and due to their natural scents and rich profiles, they are much more difficult to work with when formulating soap and other skincare products. Thus, while a product will tout that it is made with shea butter, olive, or natural plant oils, these ingredients have been so refined that they no longer provide the "advertised" skincare benefits.
4. Natural Soaps Are Moisturizing
Sadly many people have the misguided perception that all bar soaps will dry your skin. The problem is that most commercial bar “soaps” are detergents and not real soap. There are three main reasons why natural soaps are moisturizing.
Natural Soaps are made with Plant Oils and Butters
Of course, it's the ingredients! Natural soap made of pure ingredients derived directly from nature is a rare find these days. The strong detergents in commercial soaps may be great for dishes and laundry, but they strip natural skin oils which dry the skin and may contribute to irritated skin conditions like eczema.
Natural Soaps are Superfatted Our soap bars are formulated with lots of extra plant oils and butters in a process called "superfatting." Superfatting is the process of adding extra fats (oils or butters) when formulating a soap recipe, so there is more fat in the mixture than the lye can react with during the chemical reaction. This process leaves a portion of unincorporated oils in the finished soap, which ensures that our natural soap bars have superior moisturizing and emollient qualities. We superfat our bars at a higher rate than most soapmakers. Since adding extra oils and butters can decrease the shelf-life of a soap bar, commercial soaps sacrifice the moisturizing properties in favor of their "forever" shelf-life.
Natural Soaps retain their natural Glycerin
Glycerin is not added to a natural handmade soap recipe – it is created during the natural soap making process! The chemical reaction of making soap is called saponification. Once saponification is complete, the ingredients have combined and chemically changed into soap, glycerin, and a bit of water.
Glycerin, a precious and gentle emollient, is a humectant that draws moisture from the air to the skin creating a moisturizing protective layer.
Commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin from their soaps for two reasons. (1) Excess glycerin decreases the shelf-life of soap and (2) they can sell it or use it in products that command a higher price like the lotion your skin needs after using their glycerin-free detergent "soap."
Think about it! Commercial soap companies remove the moisturizing ingredient (the glycerin) which in turn creates a soap that dries your skin and then they use the glycerin they removed to sell you a skin-moisturizing lotion. Quite an ingenious profit-making strategy! Soaps without glycerin can be drying and often contribute to itchy skin. Handmade soap retains all the moisturizing natural glycerin which also helps produce a rich luxurious lather.
Thus skin-nourishing ingredients, plus superfatting and natural saponification create a soap bar full of moisturizing, natural oils, and natural glycerin.
5. Scented Natural Soap Provides Real Aromatherapy
Scented natural soaps are made with pure essential oils, not fragrance oils, and offer aromatherapeutic benefits. Essential oils have benefits beyond just scent. Step into the bath or shower and breathe deeply. The benefits of aromatherapy can help with everything from easing stress to invigorating your spirit.
The chemical composition of essential oils cannot be recreated in a laboratory. Fragrance oils are artificially created and, even those that are derived from natural components, do not offer the therapeutic advantages of essential oils. Only natural botanical essential oils can cause various neurochemicals to be released in the brain which can affect the body, mind, and spirit.
Synthetic fragrance oils may duplicate the smell of a flower or herb, but they have no aromatherapeutic value. Furthermore, the generic term, “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label can indicate the presence of up to 3,000 separate ingredients and the FDA does not require companies to disclose what is in a “fragrance,” because it is considered a “trade secret.”
6. Natural Soap Helps Maintain Healthy Skin
The body’s largest organ, our skin, is incredibly porous and absorbent. How we treat our skin can have a major impact on our overall health as well as the look and feel of our skin. I cannot count how many times customers have told us that our natural soap has not only helped improve their skin but has improved their lives by relieving itchiness, dryness, and easing skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Some people with sensitive skin really do not have sensitive skin at all. Their skin is simply reacting to some chemical irritant in their soap or other skincare product. Simple natural soaps tend to be more soothing for many skin types. Everyone wants healthy skin and your skin is not a fan of synthetic chemicals. If you struggle to find a soap that does not irritate your skin, switching to the daily use of a simple natural soap is an easy place to start. Your skin can tell the difference.
7. Natural Soap Provides Rich Lather Without Synthetic Foam
People absolutely love bubbly lather. Although we have come to associate the cleansing properties of our soap with the amount of lather it produces, this is a misconception. Soap does not need to create a lot of lather to do its job.
Since commercial brands make money by catering to customer demands, lots of foamy lather is an important property of any commercial cleansing personal care product. The foam, bubbles, and lather we know and love from commercial liquid and bar soaps are produced by surfactants--synthetic foam boosters, lathering agents, and detergents. These chemicals are often petroleum by-products like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its cousins, are very inexpensive to add to body cleansing products, and are also quite drying for the skin.
A properly formulated and cured bar of natural soap needs no synthetic additives to create a lather or to clean because natural soap is a natural surfactant. So it not only makes great bubbles and lather, but it also helps clean oily dirt from your skin--naturally! Nature’s ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil as well as the retained natural glycerin also help create a rich silky lather. The creamy silky lather from a natural soap is much richer than commercial soap.
8. Natural Soap is Economical
Some consumers are put off by the cost of handmade soap. You probably look at a bar of natural soap and wonder why it costs more. I mean, soap is soap, right? Both bars clean your skin, right? While I may agree that both bars clean the skin, the similarity goes no further. Simply put, commercial soaps contain synthetic ingredients that are very cheap to produce in a lab. But here are some things to think about! Commercial soap companies do not want extra oils or glycerin in their soaps because they decrease shelf-life. Without these extra oils to moisturize your skin, you must reach for that bottle of lotion! So, although a bar of commercial soap may cost less, what happens to the cost once you add in the price of all of that cream and lotion (which is also filled with chemicals) that you need to slather all over your dry, itchy skin? Also, many of the synthetic ingredients needed to create lather, colors, scent, and years of shelf-life are known to be skin irritants. If your soap is causing irritated skin conditions, the simple change to a natural soap may decrease a trip to the dermatologist or the prescription cream to help clear the irritation.
If you use a liquid body wash the main ingredient is water. You pay for water. A properly cured soap bar has very little water remaining, meaning you are getting exactly what you pay for. Natural handmade soaps may come with a higher price tag, but they provide a host of benefits when it comes to your skin. Natural soaps are made with higher quality ingredients:
Starting with natural and organic oils and butters
The scents added to natural soaps are pure plant essential oils, fragrance oils or "nature identical" oils
Natural soap colors come from natural juices, teas, spices, botanicals, or clays, synthetic micas or colorants.
Have a look at the labels on your favorite bar soaps in order to learn what you are actually paying for as well as what you are putting on your skin. I believe that old saying, "You get what you pay for," rings true when comparing a handmade bar of a natural soap to a commercial brand!
9. Natural Soap Has a Smaller Environmental Impact
Knowing that our actions have a profound impact on the world around us, S&E Natural Soaps LLC has always strived to be different. We want to be better. I find it odd that a product we use to keep our bodies clean is doing quite the opposite for our environment.
As we take a bath or shower with commercial "soap" bars or washes, we coat our skin with synthetic compounds like dyes, preservatives, and detergents. Now imagine the millions of people who use commercial soap each day. All of these chemicals, many of which do not naturally break down, have to go somewhere. They wash down our drains into our septic fields or water treatment facilities. Studies have found that these chemicals often end up in our water systems and accumulate in our ecosystems. These chemicals affect wildlife--from fish to birds and natural foliage to flowers.
Our soaps are made with organic ingredients. Organic ingredients mean organic farming and organic farming is better for the environment. It improves the quality of our environment by protecting our land and groundwater from contamination and by promoting the use of sustainable resources and the conservation of soil and water.
When it comes to the environment, there are other benefits when choosing a natural bar of soap. Packaging!
Natural soap companies like ours tend to use eco-friendly materials for