Handmade Soap vs. Mass Produced Commercial “Soap”
People most often ask us how our soap is different from that which you can buy from any store. The difference is actually huge and we can assure you that we make soap better.
SOAP VS. SYNTHETICS
Comparing handmade soap to the stuff you can buy at the “store” (grocers and large chains) is almost like trying to compare apples to oranges. A lot of what you can buy in the store is not even soap at all, and legally, it can’t even use the word “soap” on the label because it is not technically soap at all. Most often they go by names such as, “beauty bar”, “cleanser”, or “body wash”, etc. In order for something to be called soap, it must contain a blend of oil and the mixture of sodium hydroxide (lye) in water (or often potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps). Lye binds the oils with the water, creating an emulsion that makes a bar of soap. Lye can be a scary thing to some that do not completely understand its role in soap making, since alone it is incredibly caustic and harmful if it comes in contact with the skin. For true soap though, lye is the essential ingredient to make oil and water blend. When an experienced soap maker blends the lye and water mixture with oil, the chemical reaction will in the end render neither lye or oil, but soap!
Most commercial body cleansers contain detergents and artificial foamers instead of a lye, water, and oil blend. Detergents can be harsh on the skin, making it feel dry and irritated, especially if you have very sensitive skin. Handmade soap, as a product of the blend of lye, water, and oil emulsion, contains natural glycerin. Glycerin is great for the skin and is derived from oils; it is a humectant that draws moisture from the air to the skin, helping retain the skin’s natural non-dry feel after cleansing. Detergent-based cleansers do not usually contain glycerin in the final product, as the glycerin is often taken out as a byproduct during the manufacturing process, and then is resold to other industries, such as lotion making. Bars without glycerin are often much harder than handmade bar soaps that do contain it, but without it they lack moisture retaining properties.
BUYING SMALL VS. LARGE
You would think these large companies could afford to make quality products that would benefit their customers. The thing is, they just don’t have to do better, not when they have large budgets for clever, multinational marketing. Instead of making a good product, it’s cheaper for them to tell everyone that their products are superior, without actually making a superior product. Smaller companies like our own cannot afford the marketing strategies that our larger competitors use, but instead we must make superior products and form relationships with those who enjoy them. We put our capital into continuing to make the soaps that our customers love, as well as develop new and interesting products. We put a lot of time and creative attention into each batch. Our batches are a lot smaller than the mass produced batches of commercial competitors, who make many thousands of bars per day. Unlike their bars, ours have to cure for at least four weeks after we make and cut them so that the water can evaporate out of them, making a solid, long lasting bar. Theirs are pretty much made and packaged in the same day. There are some handmade soap making processes that you can expedite the making of the soap, but not methods that large commercial companies would employ for reasons of cost, labor, and time.
Check out this “beauty bar” anti soap marketing propaganda:
Of course not every handmade soap is good for use on your face, that’s why we have specially formulated face soaps that are quite gentle. We didn’t need to sink millions of dollars into clever marketing to do that…
When buying small in any industry, you have more of an opportunity to be heard as a customer. If you find something questionable, or if you need clarification, you are more likely able to talk to the maker. With larger companies, you will either be ignored, or passed off into a chain of customer service representatives who may or may not give you the information you desire. We’re not saying that every small business will be 100% helpful and honest, but there seems to be a higher expectation of transparency and honesty.Very often, soap makers new to business, with the best intentions, go down a slippery slope of making medical claims about their products, saying that this essential oil or whatever ingredient in their soap will cure or treat X, Y, and Z. The FDA hates non-compliance with pseudoscience and medical claims being made in this industry, which will just about torpedo a small soap making business. If you own a larger commercial company you can afford to make these claims (and they very often do), you typically just have to a lot of money and know who to pay.
BEING A CONSCIOUS CUSTOMER
As a soap maker and a business owner, I don’t believe scaring customers into buying my products with fear-mongering and pseudoscience—not everything synthetic is necessarily bad for you, and not everything natural is honest. The term natural itself is not even federally regulated, so any entity can freely use it and not have to back it up. I want, rather, for consumers to be conscious of what they are using, and for companies to be ethical and honest in the ingredients and labeling that they use. If the consumer understands what is on the labels of what they are putting onto their skin, or into their bodies, they will get to know what their sensitivities and product preferences are.
We believe that by offering you a better and honest product, we will help you to become a more demanding customer.
Take a look at our handmade soaps HERE.