What is Real Soap?
Take a close look at the packaging of your
favorite commercial brand soap.
Do you see the word SOAP anywhere on it? Or, is it called a beauty bar, cleansing bar, or body bar?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s because you are not using soap! You are using a synthetically formulated detergent to clean your skin. If the manufacturer is following correct FDA labeling, these products cannot legally be called SOAP.
True soap is created through the saponification process which involves combining oils (fats) with alkali (salt) to create a binding chemical reaction (saponification) that forms a humectant, glycerin. Glycerin is worth more pound for pound than actual soap, and prized for hydrating results in lotions, creams and moisturizing treatments. Many commercial manufacturers often remove the glycerin from their formulations and sell it. They replace it with synthetic lathering ingredients, call it something catchy like a “beauty bar” and there you go… technically, it’s no longer soap, but you can pick up 3 bars for $1.99.
If you want a true quality soap, you need to learn to read
the ingredients label, just like you do on your cereal box!
The cold process method produces premium quality soaps, but takes the longest. This is the method I use for my own company, and have the most experience with. All of the glycerin is retained in our formulations which is why many comment that their sensitive skin does not feel tight or dry after using our soaps. The best quality cold process soaps use organic vegetable oils and need to dry (or “cure” in soap terms) for up to 1 month before they can be sold for use. There are 2 other soap making processes: hot process, which is like a speedy version of cold process, by adding heat to the formulation to get things moving. And melt and pour which is popular with crafty types and kids; think of those soap making kits you see at Michael’s with neat designs and embedded toys in soap. As my mom would say, it’s like making a birthday cake with a mix rather than from scratch.
here’s a peek at how handmade cold process soap is formed
soap logs curing in molds after being poured and swirled
soaps after curing, cut into bars
More about the author: Kristin is the founder & CEO of The Grapeseed Company. She creates botanical beauty from the byproduct of wine in Santa Barbara, California using local and organic ingredients. Kristin blogs at GreenSkinCareBlog.com and operates two Grapeseed Company stores in California. Read more from this author