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Why use handmade soap?

Somewhere between the pimple cream and the anti-wrinkle serum, the skincare product situation got out of hand in my house. I had too many bottles on my bathroom shelf and i needed to get an extra stand to keep the bottles i was still buying.

CHEMICALS IN OUR TOILETRIES

There were three types of face washes, one with salicylic acid to prevent wrinkles, another with menthol to prevent pimples and one more without alcohol to prevent dry skin.

The toiletries i was using had too many chemicals in them, and while that realisation didn't exactly set my alarm bells ringing, it really did make me wonder why i needed such complicated formulations and concoctions in my everyday routine.

NATURE'S GIFTS

I tried to move away from the 'bottled stuff' and switched to 'grandma's skincare recipes'. The thing about grandma's recipes is this - i must have put an odd concoction of kitchen ingredients on my skin and found it to be really good, but i did it only the few times my grandma mixed them for me :-/ On other days i'd remember only after entering the shower, and had to turn to a bottle that was in the shower already!

The raw-ingredients-directly-on-skin phase lasted a week. It got increasingly difficult to unclog the bathroom drain that was accumulating my gramflour scrub, the turmeric started staining the towels and the egg would make my clothes stink.

I found a great alternative in handmade soaps. 

Handmade soaps are like pickles. Just the way you pickle a fruit so that you can store it for the long haul and enjoy it in a different form, you turn your favourite oil or fat into soap so that you can use it easily and for a longer period of time. And with each different kind of oil you get a unique type of soap.

ARE THERE NO CHEMICALS IN HANDMADE SOAP?

You do use a chemical to turn oil/fat into handmade soap. Sodium hydroxide (or Lye) which is known to have a pH of 13 and is extremely caustic is essential to make soap. On its own sodium hydroxide can burn your skin, however the finished soap has no free Lye and is not harmful to skin.

The process of soap making isn't without its risks and adequate precautions should be taken to ensure Lye is handled carefully. Once the quantity of Lye in soap reacts completely with oil, we can put additional oils, herbs and fragrances to make an even more skinloving soap.

But the list of chemicals, ends there.

Whaaat, no chemicals? Sure we don't need them?

Preservatives

You don't need them for skin care. You perhaps need them to make the product last long. Especially when you are making them in bulk and transporting in large quantities. Organic soap has a shorter shelf life than regular commercial soap. The abundant oils (also called superfat) in organic soap that make it extra gentle and nourishing to the skin are prone to becoming rancid. Meaning you shouldn't hold on to your bar for too long.

Most soap makers put an expiry of 6-12 months on their soap. Yet we've all had some batches that remained okay for years. To be safe though, do use it within 8-10 months, and you absolutely won't miss the missing chemicals in them.

Hardening agents

Your organic soap bar does not have additional synthetic hardeners that are present in commercial soaps to prevent them from dissolving too much with water. This means you likely need to put in extra care when in the shower so that your wholesome bar of organic soap lasts as long as it can. 

Here are a few things that you can do.

  • Use a soap dish that drains well and avoid letting the soap stand in water.
  • Protect the soap from getting an extra wash from the shower water splashing on it. 
  • Soap that dries completely between consecutive uses lasts longer. Cutting a bar into halves and using them alternately increases the life of the bar.
  • If you use a cloth or natural fibre loofah, let the soap sit on the loofah to dry. 

Glycerine

Your organic soap has natural glycerine that was formed as a byproduct of the soap making process, also called Saponification. This glycerine, which is extracted from most commercially produced soap is an excellent moisturiser for the skin. All organic handmade soap, is glycerine soap!

So then?

What your skin really needs for a wash, is saponified oil, ie soap. The commercial soaps available are actually synthetic detergents and are therefore called beauty bars or cleansing bars. The chemicals that are put in them are not meant for the health of your skin, but for the health of the beauty bar. For it to look uniform, hold a strong smell, not dissolve too quickly and last a really long time on the shelf. 

Instead, switch to organic handmade soaps. Less chemicals, more wholesome 

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