If you've only ever used commercially made soap or shower gel, you might wonder why all the fuss about handmade soap, why so many people are switching over and whether handmade soap is right for you.
There are many benefits to using handmade soap (I could probably talk all day) so in the interests of word economy, here are my top 5 reasons why handmade soap is superior to what you'll find at the grocery store.
You can influence the ingredients and design
Indie brands like Soap Cult Australia are easily able to control the ingredients used to make your soap. Working in small batches means we can tweak formulas and bring out new products in relatively quick order because we control the entire process, from:
- Creating the formula, design and the actual manufacturing
- Product photography, labelling and graphic design
- Website copy, social media, email newsletters and everything else
If you were to make a product suggestion to big business, chances are it would never happen or if it did, it'd probably take them years to roll it out and you'd never receive thanks for acknowledgement for your idea.
I routinely hear from my customers with suggestions and requests for new products and I love that.
It's a privilege to speak directly to my customers and find out what they do and don't like.
In fact, I recently added two new products to the production schedule and a remake, all based on customer suggestion.
If you have an idea or suggestion - let me know at email@example.com
It's an affordable luxury that makes a big difference
I love a bath bomb as much as the next person but I rarely get to take a bath.
Instead, I'm more of a "quick shower" kinda gal.
That's not my preference but with a young child who literally never stops wanting my attention, quick showers are my go-to.
I may not be able to splash about in the bath with a good book right now but I can use luxurious soap and get to enjoy that tiny bit of me-time.
And if I'm totally honest, it's not just post-spawn that my self-care time has been impacted. I had the same issue with work, study or other commitments as well. You can probably relate!
Sometimes, even the few minutes to fill the bath is too exhausting and hell, you may not even have one.
But every house has a shower. Huzzah!
Handmade can also make a big difference to people's lives in ways that I'd never even considered. For example, one of my regular customers had this to say about her Sailor Mouth Soaps (our brand prior to Soap Cult Australia):
The level of human connection and transformation possible with handmade products blows my mind.
Handmade soap has a much lower environmental impact
One of the coolest things about handmaking soap (specifically cold process soap) is that you can generally buy most of your ingredients locally which keeps your carbon footprint low.
Your production waste, such as excess soap, can be saved and used towards other soaps or simply used within the home.
The actual soap itself, is readily biodegradable, septic tank and grey water safe.
Any sparkles you see are either mica or eco-glitter so there are no adverse effects on the environment.
At Soap Cult Australia, earth-friendly packaging is non-negotiable.
While our packaging was always recyclable, it wasn't always convenient and if you lived in a rural area, soft plastic recycling could be a barrier due to lack of services.
So in late 2018, we invested a lot of money in importing a specialised shrinkwrap system from National Shrinkwrap in the USA.
This has allowed us to wrap our soaps in an entirely biodegradable film that is also scent permeable.
You won't need to compost or do anything fancy with it (although you totally can). Simply chucking it out with your regular garbage is all it needs.
Within 3-5 years, it has become biomass and their newly released version, breaks down in only 18 months. We will switch to that when our current roll runs out.
Compare that to the average 450 years for most plastics and we know we're doing the right thing for the planet and future generations.
Genuine cellophane bags have also been used for smaller soaps or sets that need more support as the shrink film is quite soft. We don't have any soaps wrapped in cellophane right now but who knows what may be released in the future.
Reusing supplier packaging materials also helps ensure that true waste is minimal.
We recycle and reuse all that we possibly can to ensure our business activities aren't negatively impacting the earth.
With freight, we utilise local couriers as much as possible. Sendle is carbon neutral which is very important considering local and global government inaction on climate change.
Thankfully since this post was originally written in late 2018, Australia Post have begun to offset their carbon emissions as well.
The gentle formulations, unique designs and gorgeous smell
I've barely used any ultra-cheap, grocery store, mass-produced soap since I left home at 18, and now my nose and skin are now utterly unprepared it.
The astringent, sneeze producing sharpness of its fragrance and the way it somehow manages to strip every single bit of moisture and pH balance from your skin, is enough to make you think maybe I should skip a shower tonight.
Luckily with handmade soap, artisans such as myself and other soap makers, often began making our own soap the old fashioned way because the cheap stuff irritated our skin and caused more problems than it solved.
When you create soap, you control the ingredients and even the most basic bar of soap will contain rich plant oils and butters to gently cleanse the skin without stripping essential moisture.
Handmade, small-batch soap is naturally more moisturising than the cheap stuff you get at the grocery store because it retains all of its naturally produced glycerin.
Commercially, glycerin is an important ingredient in many skincare products; it is even used in food.
Glycerin helps the skin retain moisture because it's a humectant - it draws moisture from the atmosphere onto your skin. Magic huh! If that is removed and sold, you end up with a harsh, drying bar of soap.
No wonder so many people are a bit scared of the word "soap".
Those that haven't tried a gentle, handmade soap, I can absolutely appreciate their apprehension because I cannot use grocery store soap without my skin freaking out.
Artisan soap makers are artisans.
The art and craft of soap making intertwine to create something that is unique and truly beautiful.
Limited editions, seasonal collections, the sheer individuality of each bar, that you cannot find in huge, mass-produced capacity.
This speaks to the artists' soul within each of us; that may be why so many of my own customers keep their soap on display until they are bare to use it!
Soap can be home decor, no doubt about it.
And lastly, where would be without scent?
Whether you're an essential oil junkie, or enjoy the olfactic joyride of fragrance oils, scent can enhance our mood, set the scene and even take us back deep within our own memory in the same way music does.
You help to support local micro-businesses and community
With more than 2.2 million small businesses in Australia, there is no denying small business creates a lot of jobs but did you know that more than 12% of women working in Australia are self-employed?
In an economy that puts incredible pressure and judgement on women in every aspect of their lives, being self-employed (or with a side business) gives us more opportunity to lead the life we want to lead and throw our support behind businesses that reflect our values.
When you support a small handmade business, I assure you, every purchase is received with genuine glee.
That $40 order is as awesome to me as a $120 order.
It's flattering and humbling and so damn exciting when someone you've never met, spends their hard-earned cash with you.
This money then goes back directly into the community and the cycle continues.
The benefits of using handmade soap go well beyond simply how good your skin will feel/treat yo'self etc.
That's all true, however, the environmental and economic benefits are vast indeed.