I’m often asked how I started making handmade soap and why I’ve chosen to create a small business out of it. Like a lot of women, I’ve always loved using high quality bath and beauty products but if you’d have asked me about it five years ago I’d never have guessed that I’d ever be a producer. At the time I generally purchased cosmetics and other products based on how they felt, smelled, looked, if my friends used them, or by their brand. I didn’t really know much about their ingredients but I assumed they were safe…otherwise the government wouldn’t allow them to be on the market, right?
For more information on these toxins please visit this pdf by the David Suzuki Foundation
You’d think that you could trust what shops sell you, whether it’s food, medicine, or personal care so I didn’t bat a mascara laden eye at using any product that took my fancy. However it was around that time that I and my husband discovered films such as Food Inc. and The Future of Food and were introduced to the reality of modern food production. I remember being especially alarmed by the supposedly safe ingredients used in food preparation and storage and their potential for causing a host of health issues.
I found out shortly afterwards that beauty product ingredients and manufacture can be just as questionable. What was more shocking is that the expectations I’d had of products were based on potentially harmful artificial ingredients – the foaming action in shampoo and toothpaste is mainly caused by SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), the beautiful colour of my soap from artificial dyes created from coal tar, and my body butter from a well known brand only lasts for so long because it’s made with huge amounts of artificial preservatives.
From antiperspirant to dish soap to moisturiser, the products we put on our skin are made with ingredients that in many cases have not been thoroughly tested and are suspected in causing endocrine dysfunction, dermatitis, reproductive issues, and even Cancer. It makes sense when you learn that according to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic’s Database, one-eighth of the 82,000 different ingredients used in commercial beauty products is an industrial chemical.
It’s overwhelming and stressful to learn that all those products you’ve learned to love and pamper yourself with could actually be killing you. To simply throw them out and start from scratch can even set off panic! What I learned to do is to take it slowly and start by getting rid of the items that were the absolute worst and then at my own pace replace the ones that I had left. Even better than replacing is to learn how to make some of them at home, especially if you enjoy that type of creative process. That’s how I started to produce my own soap.
In my experiences with making handmade soap I’ve found that it’s not necessary to use artificial colours, petrochemicals, preservatives, and other chemical nasties. I feel that it’s done commercially simply to reduce costs and increase profits rather than to benefit your health. That well known brand of soap that you purchase for £1.35 probably cost pennies to produce and is loaded with toxins contrary to the message its pretty box communicates.
Experimenting over the past few years I’ve discovered that natural compounds can create beautiful products that smell gorgeous and have multiple benefits for you inside and out. Using plants, flowers, and minerals instead of harmful chemical additives ensures that the end product will be safe and pure and fit for use by yourself and the ones you love. ‘Going Natural’ also gives a new purpose to me as a gardener and beekeeper in that I’m using my own home-grown produce in new and innovative ways.
I love making soap and though I started off by just making something for use in our own home I’ve expanded my work into a small business. This way I can share my products not only with friends and family but with anyone who’s interested in discovering natural products for themselves.