There was a time when I didn’t give soap much thought. Soap was after all, just soap, intended to get you clean. I wasn’t aware that it could be a part of a skin care regimen. When my sister asked me to attend a class with her to learn how to make soap to help remedy her sensitive skin, I was curious but skeptical.
We enrolled in a class with a certified teacher from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild who loved making soap as much as I do now. I was immediately fascinated with the chemistry portion of the process of soap making. I loved watching the oils and lye blend together to produce a soap batter which we poured into little milk cartons. I took my little diary carton full of soap home and became worried as the carton started to get very hot. This was the exothermic, or heat releasing, reaction occurring during saponification AKA soapmaking process. In fact, I put it outside in case it exploded. (It was July and 80 degrees outside, this only sped up the reaction and made it hotter, quicker). It didn’t explode and I was left with a lovely lemongrass soap, which I adored. And, so my journey as a soap enthusiast began.
The main benefit of handmade soap, in my opinion, is that true soap retains glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant that attracts water, and therefore, moisture to the skin. If you look on store shelves, the majority of “soap” you will see are synthetic detergent bars that do not meet the true definition of soap. The glycerin is usually removed from synthetic detergent bars, it is then, added to other products, such as lotions. Lotions that you will then need because your skin might be dry after using their “soap”.
I like to think of soapmaking in this improper scientific explanation: oils and butters get married with lye or sodium hydroxide and have a glycerin baby (picture of the proper scientific explanation below):
Using handmade soap is a unique sensory experience, especially if it has been crafted with the right blend of essential oils or fragrance for aromatherapy and proper oil selection for lather. Selecting the formula for the soap is important, every oil or butter lends their singular properties to the soap. For instance, coconut oil allows for big fluffy bubbles, but too much of it can be drying and should be balanced out with other nourishing oils and butter. Oils and butters also contain vitamins and minerals that are great for skin care.
Visual appeal is an important element when designing a batch of Lathering Lotus soap. By adding mineral and botanical colorants a vibrant and colorful bar can be created. Additives such as colloidal oatmeal, clays, honey, etc…. also lend their inherent skin-loving properties to make handmade soap special. Finally, most handmade soap has an excess of oils that are not made into soap that can be available to nourish the skin, this is called “superfatting” the soap.
Using handmade bar soap with minimal packaging can be a boon for the environment as well. Reducing plastic waste by eliminating the plastic bottles for body wash, shampoo and conditioner can be accomplished by using bar soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars. We keep our packaging to a minimum with this goal in mind. Our soap labels are recycled paper and any shrink wrap is biodegradable.
My hope is that when our customers use our soaps and skin care they are taking time to step back, be present in the moment; to enjoy the aromatherapy, texture, lather and overall experience of using their Lathering Lotus product. While at the same time, doing something good, not only for themselves, but the environment. Plus, I love to make people happy, even if it is one bar of soap at a time.
Live at ease,`
Jamie is a serendipitous soapmaker with a love for all things DIY, health, and wellness. She has a background as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Professional Yoga Therapist. She lives with her husband, two daughters and her labradoodle near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.