I have been putting off writing an article like this for a while now. In my opinion, there are so many things out there touting the benefits of handcrafted soap, I’m not sure how much I can add to the conversation. But I’ve seen some misinformation being spread, and I’ve heard some comments lately that make me think maybe I should go ahead and tell you why I use handcrafted soap.
Skin Deserves Special Attention
Everyone knows that our skin is the largest organ in our bodies. Yet we subject it to all sorts of mistreatment. Tanning bed, sun exposure, wind, products that remove moisture from our skin – it all begins to take a toll after a while. Damage is cumulative, and over time, we really do a number to our skin. Sure, you might slather on some lotion before bed, but does that really undo all the damage that was done when you were in the garden? How effective is aloe on sunburned skin, really?
The sad truth is, little that we do for our skin is actually beneficial. We scour store shelves for products to improve our skin, and drench ourselves in one chemical concoction after another. But what effect does any of those products actually have on our skin? How do we know that what we’re using is working? Most people make a half-hearted attempt to take care of the skin on their faces, and even less of an effort elsewhere on their bodies. For many people, the only time they think about their skin is when they’re having trouble with it.
Are Chemicals Really All That Bad?
Honestly, I am not chemically adverse. I don’t think that every chemical out there exists with one purpose – to wipe mankind off the face of the planet. After all, water is a chemical, and in high enough concentrations, it can kill someone. I’m also not adverse to manmade chemicals, but if that’s your thing, I respect that. If you want to choose products that contain no chemicals as often as you can, I support your right to do that. We offer a nice selection of soaps that contain no synthetic colors, and some that contain no synthetic fragrances, and some that contain neither of those things. I hope that if that’s your thing, you’ll check them out.
But even for those of us who don’t feel like we need to avoid synthetics entirely, the question is this: Is it necessary to use all the chemicals in commercially available cleansing products? And I think the answer to that question is a resounding NO.
The truth is, if you buy a bar of Dove, or Dial or any of the commercially available “soaps,” you aren’t actually buying a soap. You’re buying a cleanser. It’s a bar of some concoction of chemicals, whereas the handcrafted soaps you buy from Old Fashion Soap Co., are made primarily of oils. You won’t find any sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in our soaps. Now, I have nothing against SLS itself; it is used in commercial cleansers to create “slip” and bubbles. The “slip” is what you feel when you run your hand along your skin after using a commercial cleanser that feels slick. It’s a film left on your skin to make your skin feel soft in water. There has been a lot of debate over the last few years about SLS and the possibility of it causing cancer, but even the American Cancer Council says that’s just not true.
I Use Commercially Available Cleansers (GASP!)
Now, I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with SLS. Full disclosure: I use commercially available shampoo and conditioner. You won’t find anything of the sort for sale on my website. The reason for that is, I have not been able to formulate a recipe that leave my hair feeling good. Most of what I’ve come up with leaves my hair feeling matted and … icky. There’s just not another word for it. LOL So I gave up and went back to commercially available shampoo and conditioner. Someone once suggested I use bar soap for washing my hair. But my hair is long, and I don’t like the way it feels when I use a bar soap. I’m fine with using the commercial shampoo, because I like the way my hair looks, and I don’t think I’m going to develop cancer from using it. If you don’t like the idea of using a shampoo, I sympathize with you, but I really don’t have a suggestion. 🙁
In fact, I don’t use any handcrafted/homemade cleansing agents other than my soaps. I’m not making my own detergent to wash clothing, I don’t make my own cleaners for household chores. I feel that for the most part, commercially available cleansers are fine for these applications. I don’t roll around in the stuff, and again, I’m not chemically adverse. I don’t have a need to recreate the wheel, so to speak, so I use what’s available on the market.
So, Why Handcrafted Soap, Then?
Well, the truth is, I like it. That’s pretty much it. I like the way it makes my skin feel. I like the way my skin looks when I use it. And I like to make soap, too. That’s pretty much the whole reason why I use it. I like it.
See, I started making soap when my son was about six years old. He was having issues with his skin, and pretty much everything that was scented bothered him. He itched all the time, and he had large dry patches of skin. We tried all sorts of products, but nothing really worked. Even the doctor couldn’t help. It got so bad that at one point, he scratched himself to the point of drawing blood while asleep. That’s when I decided I needed to find something that would help him. I started reading, and doing some research, and it kept leading me back to handmade soap.
While the kids were at their dad’s house for summer break that year, I made my first batch of soap. It was hot process, made in an old crock pot I had. And I “molded” it in a shoe box lined with a clean trash bag. I cut it the next day and tried a bar for my hands, just to see what it was like. That first batch wasn’t perfect, but it seemed to leave my hands a lot more moisturized than the soap I had been using.
When my son returned home, I handed him one of those bars of soap and told him to give it a try. Within days, I could see a difference. Unscented and no color, the soap I made seemed to be working for him. He wasn’t scratching constantly. The dry patches began to shrink, slowly.
Over the years, I’ve made hundreds of batches of soap for my family, and now customers. But I’ve also been lured to try various commercially available products, too. Bath gels are probably the biggest tease for me. I love to stand in the aisle and smell them! I have tried many, but I always come back to handcrafted soaps. Why? Well, because bath gels dry my skin out so badly, I can’t even shave my legs more than once a week! I couldn’t understand why I seemed to develop some sort of rash on my shins, and it itched so much I thought I’d go nuts. It got so bad, I had to stop shaving for a month! I honestly didn’t think it was the bath gel; I thought I had a rash. I went to the doctor and she said it looked like an allergic reaction and asked if I had changed my bath products.
I went back to the handcrafted soap and it cleared up in no time. A few months later, however, I bought more bath gel, because who can resist the Holiday scents?!? I was careful to choose a different brand this time, but I had the same problem. So I finally gave up and went back to using handcrafted soaps exclusively. No more bumps or itchy shins! During the winter months, when the air is fairly dry, I may have the occasional flare up, but for the most part, I am fine. I could shave every day if I wanted to, and not experience the dryness and bumpy shin issue I have with the bath gel.
Do As I Do
I don’t just make and sell this stuff, I USE it. Every. Single. Day. I’m not just saying, You should use this. I’m not making up a bunch of reasons why you should use it. I’m just saying, This is why I use it. But on my next blog post, I’ll explore why you should be using handcrafted soaps, too. And I bet I can come up with reasons you’re not really expecting. 😉