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Aside from the obvious lack of packaging (because we really need to quit it with all the plastic bottles already - with only ~9% of plastics EVER produced having been recycled, and most cosmetics packaging comprised of even harder-to-recycle composite plastics), there is a lot more to love about switching from liquid to solid soap for your shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser, shaving foam, hand wash and even dish wash.

First, solid soaps last a whoooole lot longer, especially if cured properly so they are HARD. One of my chunky blocks of soap will outlast several standard litres of liquid detergent (and take up much less space in your cupboards).

Originally liquid detergents were developed to conteract the issue with traditional soap of soap scum, an insoluble white powdery residue created by soap reacting with trace minerals in hard water, like calcium. This is mostly a problem for cleaning your shower / sink, but can also leave a heavy feeling in your hair or on your skin - an issue many people still associate with bar soap.

Another negative association many have with soap is that it is too drying to use for skin, especially as a facial cleanser or for sensitive skin, but with the right blend of oils and some clever formulating tricks it is perfectly possible to make a truly gentle, hydrating soap that leaves skin soft and clean but not dry.

But not all soaps are made equal! Our understanding of soap-making science has come a long way in the last century, and I wanted to explain a few reasons why my soaps in particular are GREAT for (even very sensitive!) skin:

+ Soap is a reaction between fatty acids (like oleic acid, the primary chemical constituent of olive oil) and lye, or sodium hydroxide (which together form saponified olive oil, aka sodium oleate). Using an excess of oils, i.e. more than what the lye can saponify, is a process called superfatting and makes for a bar that is gentler and more moisturising.

+ The types of oils used are also important. Animal fat used to be the main ingredient for commercial soap, because it was 'cheap' and produces a stable, fluffy lather, but it makes for very drying soap. I use all plant oils like olive, avocado, sunflower, apricot, coconut and jojoba which are much more nourishing for skin, not to mention cruelty free.

+ I add citric acid (the primary acid found in citrus fruits) in all my bars. This does 2 things - it reacts with the sodium hydroxide to form sodium citrate, a chelating agent which acts like a 'chemical catcher' and readily bonds with trace minerals in hard water allowing them to be rinsed off and eliminating the problem of soap scum as well as that icky too-clean skin feel of traditional soap! It also competes with the fatty acids in the oils for the sodium hydroxide, effectively increasing the superfat level, which makes the bars even more lovely to use for skin and hair.

+ I use less than the recommend amount of essential oils, because they can cause irritation to sensitive skin and I'd rather make soap that smells maybe a little milder, but feels great to use on your skin.

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Lastly, I add other beautiful ingredients like oat milk (in the Hydrating Coco Cleanser) which is both soothing and hydrating due to the beta glucans, phenols and other beneficial constituents in oats, and locally grown fresh aloe vera juice (in the Green and Gold Shampoo Bar) - likewise incredible for skin and hair in more ways than one.

+ Lastly, my soaps are properly cured so that they last longer and are milder for skin. Curing is the process of letting soaps sit in a dry place until all the water has evaporated out of the bars and it takes time, but good soap come to soapmakers who wait.

As you can probably tell if you read this far, I'm a massive nerd about soapy science and I'm always learning and looking to make my products even better. If you have any feedback or questions for me, I would love to hear from you.

Hoping this helped shed some light on the topic of soap vs detergent, and convinced you that (well made) solid soap is the future!

Tina xx




 

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