Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why is Hand Made Soap Superior?

I confess that I recently watched a bunch of Hulu.  It was because I got a tiny bit addicted to Smash and just couldn't stop watching the show and trying to figure out in what universe Katherine McPhee can even begin to compete vocally with Megan Hilty. 

Gee folks, which one of these ladies looks more like Marilyn and can sing her butt off? 

But what was I saying?  Oh right...soap.

One of the commercials that plays during those Hulu "limited commercial interruptions" is a Dove bar soap commercial during which two women (presumably friends) are asked to take showers using each others soap.  Putting aside the extremely interesting undercurrents of the commercial (the showers were wheeled into the room and are attached and they are clear people...clear).  I was intrigued by the selling points for Dove in the ad.  It doesn't leave a film, it is less harsh, it doesn't make your skin feel tight.  And it made me think about why I made the move to handmade a few years back. 

I've posted before about the ingredients in a bar of Dove White versus those in a typical bar of handmade soap.   And while Dove is not the worst thing in the world, many of the reasons they tout their own wonderfulness is why I don't use them.

Earlier this week I had occasion to use someone else soap and my hands felt tight all evening.  I like feeling moisturized without having to slather on something greasy (I don't like lotions...that might make another good blog).  I enjoy a unique scent or design and I love knowing that someone created it with their own hands.  I derive great pleasure out of my soapy creations. 

So I have been doing some research into why handmade soap is just so much better and I think we are all due for a refresher course.

1.  Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients.  Handmade soaps don't often require preservatives like Tetrasodium EDTA which, I am not sure I agree is a carcinogen, certainly isn't a necessary part of the shower function.   Also, many handmade soapers are sourcing amazing essential oils that come from real plants.  They are coloring their products with things like flowers and stuff or, at the most extreme, dyes that are safer.  Many soapers insist on organic ingredients.  These soapers are making smaller batches because they aren't as concerned about bulk ordering or having to outsource work.  So what you get often contains ingredients that were lovingly selected by someone who is not just working, but making art.  How awesome is that?

2.  Speaking of those soapers...when you buy soap from a small distributor on Etsy or through their web site, you may be making a real difference.  Whenever I tell friends that they MUST buy from DeShawn Marie Handmade Soap or my personal obsession, Soap Rehab, you could be helping someone feed their kids, or send a daughter to college, or even just helping them realize a dream.  I like that.  And I appreciate that when I send an email saying "Your Spiced Pear Soap makes me sniff my own arm all day long" I am likely to get a positive and friendly response.  Supporting small business and the entrepreneurial spirit is such an awesome thing.  And the fact that I get to do that AND have my soap is kind of incredible.

3.  Glycerin.  Commercial soap makers typically remove most of this wonderful by-product of soap making as it has some other uses (like those aforementioned lotions I don't love).  This article says it much better than I can but I love that the natural process of soap making is left largely intact with smaller batch hand made soaps.  Read up on what glycerin is and why you want it in your soap.  It'll have you buying soap on Etsy immediately.

4.  It smells good and looks nice. 

I think these are amazing reasons to keep me coming back for more.   But why do YOU use or make hand made soap?


  1. I use handmade soap because you told me to. ;-) Really, while you DID get me started on it, I continue using it because I love it. My skin is really sensitive and has become SO MUCH healthier since I went to handmade soap, plus I smell like whatever I want, rather than like the ONE commercial bar that didn't break out my skin. Dove wasn't it, by the way.

  2. I have recently made the move to use handmade soaps even if I bought it from a reputed brand here that sells organic things. I can feel the difference just after a week. I feel softer and brighter :D Next, maybe I'll try making my own soaps!

  3. It's simple. It's better for your skin and I haven't had to use a lotion for months. I have "happy skin". And who knows what other junk they throw in commercial produced stuff.

  4. Hi,
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