Soaps are used for washing clothes and cleansing skin for centuries. Their main role is to remove dirt and excessive oils that otherwise the use of plain water hardly could take away.
However, makeup, dirt, and other substances are oil soluble, and they usually stay on your skin mixed with the skin’s natural oils. As water doesn’t mix with oils, cleansing skin only with water is not very efficient.
The soap, on the other hand, is an emulsifier: it can efficiently mix with oils and water, creating an emulsion between them. This process promotes detaching of the dirt from the skin and allows the water to wash it out quickly.
By removing impurities fast, soaps reduce the surface tension between the dirt and the skin’s surface – that is why they are often called surfactants.
Most soaps today contain synthetic surfactants, the most popular being SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate). Those synthetic surfactants are relatively cheap and widely used in many commercial soaps, shower gels, shampoos, and cleaning detergents.
Soaps made of them have acceptable cleansing and foaming properties at neutral pH, but they may be very drying and may trigger irritation, especially to many people with sensitive skin.
Because of that, some companies try to create “hydrating” bars by adding moisturizing agents and emollients to the soap. Those agents can be propylene glycol, glycerin, plant oils, silicones, and so on. However, the main ingredient remains a synthetic surfactant as SLS.
Commercial soaps will also contain artificial fragrances which in many cases are irritants and sensibilisers. Some more expensive commercial soaps may claim natural ingredients due to a small content of glycerin and/or plant oils, but this doesn’t make them natural. Let’s not forget the main benefit of synthetic soaps is their low cost and easy mass production!
The most natural way to make soap is to saponify natural oils like animal fats, plant oils, and butters.
Saponification is a reaction between the oils and an alkali which creates sodium fatty acids salts. In the past, hardwood ash was that alkalizing agent (but the alkaline levels were difficult to control, and the soap could have turned out too alkaline or with excessive fat content.) Today, we use sodium hydroxide as an alkalizing agent which allows full control of the process with predictable results.
The type of the natural oils used in soap making determine the properties of that soap. Some oils will create excellent lather, and others will contribute to skin conditioning. Combining the right oils in the right proportions will create a perfect cleansing and conditioning bar.
A well formulated natural soap will have superior cleansing and foaming properties compared to synthetic soaps forming an excellent lather. At the same time, it will not irritate and dry the skin as it contains a high amount of vegetable glycerin coming naturally from the oils as well as a small percentage of unsaponified fatty acids which further contribute to the skin conditioning.
Soaps and pH
Natural soaps will have higher pH than the synthetic ones, and many people will consider this as a disadvantage, but that is a wrong perception. As the soap is wash-out product, it doesn’t stay on the skin after taking a shower. The skin has the ability to restore its natural pH quite fast, so the natural soaps will not disturb the normal skin process. However, the short alkalising of the skin helps to eradicate most bacteria and is even more efficient than the antibacterial soaps containing antiseptic agents. On the other side, the glycerin and the non-saponified fatty acids will remain on the skin helping it to maintain its moisture and stay hydrated for a long time after the shower.
Our soaps are made of carefully selected for their properties natural oils. We have full control of the saponification process and leave a small amount of unsaponified precious oils for better skin conditioning and hydration.
Our unsaponified oils are oils added at the end of the process after the soap is formed and all the alkali has been reacted. Those oils remain unchanged in the final soap and contribute to the skin care and conditioning. For unsaponified oils, we select only the oils with the highest benefits for the skin as Avocado Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Shea Butter, and so on. We also never use synthetic fragrances but pure essential oils selected for their skin and aromatherapy benefits.
Our soaps will last long – with normal handling a bar should be sufficient for a month for a person taking a shower once a day.
Using natural soap
Using the bar directly on your skin is excellent for gentle exfoliation and superior sensation but will make the bar to last shorter. To get maximum benefits from a natural bar soap always keep it on a dry shelf allowing for fast drying after use. Using a bath sponge or loofah to spread the soap on your skin will make it last longer.